‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 10: ‘We Can Be Heroes’
Welcome to Supergirl Talk, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of The CW’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist in the super smiling title role. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and intrepid reporter Katie Schenkel.
This week, everyone is in a bad mood at all the wrong people and our heroes are acting wildly out of character! Also, Livewire is back! “We Can Be Heroes” was directed by Rebecca Johnson from a script by Caitlin Parrish and Ali Adler.
Chris: Well, we’re back for another week in National City with the Girl of Steel. What’d you think of this week’s episode, Katie?
Katie: I don’t know about you, but the villain plot of this episode is one of my favorite villain plots of the season so far! And to be honest, I didn’t mind the side stories, either.
Chris: I think my problem with this episode was that there was too much episode trying to happen in it, and so nothing got enough attention.
Katie: See, I thought it did a better job of balancing out the plots than last week’s did. And the fact that two of those plots were ones I was actually interested in probably helped quite a bit. For instance, I was really pleased that the M’gann stuff came back in a big way this episode, mainly because I like the character and I’ve been patiently waiting for her relationship with J’onn to get back on track.
Chris: Before we even got to the “Supergirl” title card, I wrote down, “There’s already too much going on in this episode”. My issues were two-fold. First, it felt like they were trying to rush through stories I think could be handled better with more room to breathe, and then, like I mentioned with Mon-El last week, backing character advancement up. You’ve got Hank/J’onn suddenly being way more interested in actively hating M’Gann, which did not feel like where they’d left things. I think there was a lot of people seeming kind of out of character to suit the various stories they wanted to do this week. I don’t know, maybe I’m just exhausted and upset by the real world, and wanting my escapist heroes to be happy and get along.
Katie: I know this was before Christmas and it really feels like a lifetime ago, but I remember J’onn feeling this much rage towards M’gann before the winter hiatus. It didn’t bother me as much here as it did back then, if that makes sense. Basically, this felt like correcting course from an earlier over the top reaction than this episode being the problem.
And I won’t lie, a big part of the storyline that did work for me was Alex talking to J’onn about it and him ultimately asking her and Kara to be there for support. I missed their little family group --- it’s still one of the show’s biggest strengths and I was happy to see it focused on again.
Chris: Yeah, I think I was able to like this show more when there weren't as many characters to try to take focus, but I missed that core of the three of them being a little surrogate family too. And it’s not that I want any of these new characters gone, I just would rather not try to focus on all of them at once in every episode, because then I feel like everyone ends up getting short changed. I promise I’m really not trying to be negative!
Maybe I just hold this show up to a higher standard or want more from it than is fair. I want Supergirl to fix everything.
Katie: I might be at the stage where I’m just happy for little things I like about each episode, even if not all the episode are perfectly paced. Imperfect Supergirl episodes is better than no Supergirl episode at all in my brain right now. Which I’m not sure helps the reviewer part of my watching experience.
Chris: Yeah, that’s true. Let’s change gears a little and let me ask you a question: How do you feel about Jimmy’s insistence on being a vigilante?
Katie: I’ve been on the fence about Jimmy’s storyline this season. I never really loved it, but I was never really hating it either. The show has made a point of showing he’s not necessarily bad at coming in as backup for Supergirl, so when he tells Kara that he wants to keep being a vigilante I see his point. And I think while Kara has a thing about protecting those around her, telling Jimmy he can’t do this while her sister (who granted is professionally trained, but still very much human) is out there fight the good fight does seem hypocritical. Plus it’s not like she hasn’t seen other non-metahuman heroes on that other Earth she recently visited who managed to survive.
Chris: Yeah, this is part of my “out-of-character” problem with this week’s episode. She’s right that Jimmy shouldn’t be doing this because he hasn’t had a lifetime of training and he doesn’t have superpowers, but the way he seems to just like doing it because he gets a thrill out of it, to the point of giddily telling Winn they’ll just do “one more” that night, even after having just been shot, is really troubling to me.
Jimmy complains about Mon-El not actually caring about people, but he doesn’t seem interested in helping people as much as he seems interested in beating people up and getting to play hero. This is a very frustrating set of mixed signals the writers are giving us. Then you add Winn going back and forth on whether or not he even wants to be involved multiple times in the same episode.
Katie: See, I disagree. I honestly think Jimmy has shown in earlier episodes his focus on helping nearby civilians and stopping the bad guys, and in this episode, in particular, he did help those cops. If anything, I still think Kara is the one in the wrong because she’s so inherently against a human taking up a hero mantle even though she works with non-powered heroic people in the field often.
I will admit this storyline is not the strongest writing of the season by any means, although I don’t find myself as bad about it. I think your main point is correct --- the whole arc (for Jimmy, Winn, and Kara) should have been stronger by the writers making it clearer whether we’re supposed to be rooting for him or be worried for him going down a bad path. As of now, we’re interpreting it in confusing ways, and I’m not sure that’s on purpose.
Chris: You’re probably right, and I’m reading too much into that opening scene, because I don’t think they’re trying to imply he’s doing it for the wrong reasons, that’s just how it came off to me.
What about Mon-El’s attempts to get his act together? I know it’s supposed to seem like he won’t listen, because he tried to help Kara when she told him not to, but I have a hard time faulting him for wanting to help a friend that’s being attacked by two bad guys at once. I know the point is supposed to be that she didn’t need his help, but come on. If I had only been on Earth for a few months, had like a total of five friends, and only one of them had any idea what life was like back on our home planets, and that one friend was being hurt by two electric lunatics, I would have done the exact same thing.
The writers paint it as a negative, because he didn’t listen to Kara, but then they also have this whole subplot about Kara being wrong about someone (Livewire), as well as the subplot about her being at odds with The Guardian/Jimmy, so who are we supposed to be rooting for here?
I also, don’t understand why Supergirl didn’t just tell those cops to GTFO of there.
Katie: Ugh, Mon-El. I mean I think there’s something to questioning his motivations thing and I’m guessing they’re setting something up for later in the season when they reveal he’s really the prince. Still, I haven’t been able to get a bead on Mon-El as a character beyond being flighty and being attracted to Kara. But if I had to guess, I’m wondering if the point of the episode was that Mon-El does have flighty tendencies and when push comes to shove is more in it for Kara than for helping other people?
Before we get to Livewire, can we talk about the last scene with Mon-El and Kara? Because I have a bone to pick, Chris.
Chris: Of course.
Katie: *rolls up sleeves* So the episode ends with Kara confronting Mon-El about their dynamic and how he’s been acting towards her, and of course the kiss he says he doesn’t remember. And in the process of coming clean about remembering the kiss, he manages to admit his romantic feelings towards her. Immediately after, he makes a point of backing off and saying he knows she doesn’t feel that way and he doesn’t want to risk losing their partnership. To be fair to Chris Wood, his performance here was actually very compelling and I bought that he takes his relationship with Kara seriously beyond just wanting to kiss her.
Chris: I’m with you so far.
Katie: However. The scene’s ending (and the hints recently in general) show Kara clearly does have feelings for him, and the show is clearly setting up her admitting her feelings at some point coming up. So, while Mon-El admirably rejects the toxic idea of the friendzone, it’s infuriating to me as a viewer that he’ll ultimately be rewarded with her romantic affection by the writers. The message it sends to young men is, “If you show women respect and give them space, they’ll eventually come around to loving you.”
For once I’d love it if a male character who dismisses the friendzone idea did not get with the girl, and the result wasn’t treated as a failure. And the fact the show probably won’t go that route disappoints me.
Chris: Oh wow, okay, I can totally see that take on it now, but my read on her reaction was like an exhausted, “Sweet Rao, I need this nonsense like I need a hole in the head.” I thought Melissa Benoist played her reaction as, “I stood up for your intentions and now I have to deal with this… great.”
I guess they could go any which way with it from here, but yeah, I really hope they do something less predictable with it. Like I’ve said since he showed up, I’d really enjoy if the two of them could just actually be friends that uniquely have a lot in common and are able to appreciate that.
If it makes you feel any better, my prediction, which is based on absolutely nothing except a lifetime of watching TV, is that Mon-El is going to die heroically before the season’s over.
Katie: One can only hope. That’s probably not fair, because there are moments when they act more like buddies where, like you, I do like their dynamic. Also remember that brief moment we thought they might be setting up a Winn/Mon-El romance? That was a good week.
But really, even in his better moments, I can’t imagine Mon-El’s presence doing much good past this season. And frankly, now that we know Supergirl is getting a third season, I’m really banking on the show pushing hard to bring in more superheroines along with M’gann.
Chris: I don’t think there’s any point in me continuing to say this, because these shows always seem to just accumulate more and more characters as they go, but I’d love if the show would just focus more on Supergirl. I think it’s easier to fill out twenty-something one-hour episodes if you’ve got a whole basket full of characters to bounce around from, but I think that ends up being at the expense of solid writing. I mean, if you can do it well, and you have a story you’re really trying to tell, then go for it, but I wish all of these comic books shows would spend a little less time on expanding the universe and a little more time on the scripts.
Did you watch Young Justice? Because that was a show that did a great job of having a very clearly thought out story they were trying to tell and managing a huge, expanding cast to tell that story. I never feel like these live action shows show the same care when planning things out.
Katie: Yeah, I did watch Young Justice, which is honestly why I was rooting for M’gann to show up after J’onn was revealed last season. My feeling is that these CW shows end up having pretty big supporting casts of established comic characters, so if they’re going to do that anyway, it might as well be filled with awesome lady heroes instead of white dude alien guys.
Chris: Oh, absolutely! I just don’t want any of these great characters to show up for nothing, which is what it feels like when the shows aren’t well written. Does that make sense? I mean to say, don’t waste having this great opportunity to show Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian on TV every week by not using them well! Put as much effort into writing everyone as you did into making sure you got Superman right in those first two episodes.
I’m really hung up on wanting solid writing, I guess, and speaking of the writing, let’s get to the main plot of our returning villain, who it turns out isn’t the villain of the piece, Livewire!
Katie: So turning to what I feel is the most successful part of the episode, I honestly really liked the twist of having Livewire be kidnapped and used by other evil jerks rather than escaping. The episode’s marketing did a good job of not giving that away, and the pay off worked for me. Beyond that, I really liked Livewire’s begrudging respect and loyalty to Supergirl as her archenemy. Having her give Jimmy and Mon-El crap for being subpar compared to Supergirl was a great moment.
Chris: Haha, and she’s definitely not wrong about it. They are empirically and repeatedly much worse at this than Supergirl! Maybe you guys should just let Supergirl handle things?
What did you think of our second mad scientist in a row?
Katie: I mean, there was a moment where the mad scientist went, “Did you know most scientists use themselves as guinea pigs?” and I actually said outloud to my partner, “... I don’t think that’s actually true. This sinister scientist is giving us incorrect information about the scientific community.” I don’t know if that adds anything to our conversation, I just really was bothered by that moment.
Chris: Maybe the sinister scientific community has different rules and regulations?
That’s it for this week, let us know what you thought in the comments and join us next time as at least one White Martian and our SuperFriends are ready to put on their own version of John Carpenter’s The Thing in "The Martian Chronicles"!