‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 9: ‘Supergirl Lives’
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 title role. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and intrepid reporter Katie Schenkel.
This week, Supergirl is back! And so is Roulette! Briefly! Plus, Winn and Mon-El have to do some soul-searching on an alien world! “Supergirl Lives” was directed by Kevin Smith from a script by Eric Carrasco, Jess Kardos, and Andrew Kreisberg.
Chris: Welcome back to National City, dear readers! We certainly hope you had a pleasant break from thwarting the forces of evil over the holidays and are ready to get back at it with Supergirl, Guardian, Alex, Maggie, the Martian Manhunter, Mon-El, the DEO, and whoever else they can find time to fit a subplot in about! Katie! How were your holidays?
Katie: They were fairly Supergirl-less, which is a shame --- although I did have time to check out the first issue of Supergirl: Being Super, and if I may say so, fans of the show should definitely check out that take on the character.
Chris: So, what did you think of our Girl of Steel’s return this week? This one was a mixed bag for me.
Katie: It did seem a little uneven. There were parts I liked quite a bit, but there was also just a lot going on. The episode before the break (the one that technically started off the big crossover even though Barry only came in at the end) had a lot of storylines either wrap up or be mostly concluded before Kara jumped into a new universe. So it does kind of make sense that the show thought it needed to re-establish the status quo for as many of the main brewing storylines as they could.
Of course, that makes me think they would have been better off not resolving so many plot bits right before the break, but that’s just me.
Chris: Yeah, I’m not sure I even know exactly what to put my finger on as to what did and didn’t work for me, but maybe we’ll stumble across it all as we work our way through it.
So, Kara’s feeling a little bit of ennui about only having bank robbers and low-level criminals to deal with, and a little cranky about having to share the superhero spotlight with the Guardian (whom she still doesn’t know is Jimmy Olsen). Both of those problems seem kind of out of character for her, and they’re what opened the show, so I guess we were off to an odd start.
Katie: It’s not one of my favorite storylines of the season, at least in terms of Kara not liking him. It might be a matter of how they frame her dislike of him; it’s one thing if she’s just uneasy about where this guy is getting his tech, but she’s actually jealous of him sharing the credit. Maybe they’re going somewhere with it.
Chris: Yeah, I’m mostly willing to always give them the benefit of the doubt on these things, because this show has consistently put a lot of hard work into getting tricky issues and plotlines right.
Katie: On the other hand, I’m kind of warming up to Jimmy and Winn’s new dynamic together, although I had a couple issues with Winn’s specific storyline this episode. They played up Winn to be clearly suffering from PTSD after almost getting shot, but the way they resolve it was pretty slapsticky, even if I kind of enjoyed his Captain Kirk-esque move of hitting the alien in the head with a small rock.
Chris: Yeah, all of his “red shirt” talk was fun, but it’s also a little tonally confusing when within a few minutes you’ve gone from him on the verge of dramatic tears in the locker room with James, to making jokey Star Trek references about his fear. I know it’s kind of within the explored parameters of his character to make those kinds of references, but this is a TV show, and it gets awkward when they don’t seem to know how they want you to feel.
Katie: I don’t think it helped that Jeremy Jordan acted the hell out of that locker room scene, so you’re anticipating the resolution to his part of the episode to have that same poignancy. So basically it’s all his fault.
But on the bright side, he made a “now you’re thinking with Portals” reference this episode, and I can’t be mad at that.
Chris: It was like they thought we might have forgotten he was the “nerdy pop culture guy” on the show, or they had a ton of references they’d stockpiled over the break and just couldn’t wait to get to all of them. (Full disclosure: I loved the Portal and Star Trek ones.)
Katie: So another plotline that I wasn’t thrilled came back after the break is Mon-El existing. I kid, I kid. Mostly. Mon-El did improve this episode in that he wasn’t a complete doofus, even if he was acting like a Goofus for the first half.
Chris: Honestly, I was just delighted to see a Highlights magazine on national television! I like Mon-El, but I felt like some of the character advances they made with him this week they’d already made before the break, so it felt like they had to roll some of that back to make the point they wanted to make in this episode.
Katie: I liked that he got a job on his own (although he took a day off after one shift), and I honestly can’t remember much of what happened to him in the previous episode in terms of if he wanted to be a hero, so that didn’t stick out to me as much. The general continued reluctance, the not getting why Kara does what she does, still made sense to me, especially considering she stomped into an alien prison with no powers, ready to help people.
I also thought this was the best their dynamic has been, especially with that ending scene, but I would like it so much more if it was strictly a platonic relationship. Unless they go 180 from the earlier hinting at romantic feelings scene from before the break, we’re supposed to be anticipating them ending up together, and I wish they wouldn’t.
Oh, and on top of that, we’re in agreement that Mon-El is clearly the Prince, right? Because there were a good four massive hints this episode.
Chris: Man, if he’s not, they better have a damn good alternate explanation for all of this. Maybe it’s all a fake out, but it sure seems like that’s the only possible conclusion. Hope that’s not a spoiler for anyone, but it doesn’t seem like there could be many other possibilities.
Katie: My only alternative is that he killed the Prince, but even that doesn’t explain the Dominator bowing or why Mon-El lied. It also makes sense why this guy who says he was a noble guard of a prince would act like such a buttmunch for so long. Because he was a royal buttmunch.
So we also got some development from Snapper Carr this episode, with him doing his normal grumpy, “No, you have bad ideas, Danvers” schtick and actually being proud of her, albeit only after she’s left the room. For me, what made it work was Kara defending her choice of what story to pursue; about how she’d rather follow leads that don’t pan out as long as she follows the ones she believes in. Which, if I may say, feels a little Lois Lane-like to me. Have I mentioned I want Lois Lane to guest star on the show? Because I do.
Chris: Part of me is a little guest-starred out, if that makes sense. I’m all for people showing up normally, but I’m starting to feel like it chips away at the star’s spotlight a little too much if you keep doing it over and over. I don’t want her supporting cast to be one-dimensional, but I also don’t need it to be a hundred characters deep. And most of all, I’m watching Supergirl to see Supergirl. I don’t know, I might feel completely different about this next week.
Also, it’d be very hard to cast as great a Lois as the Clark/Superman they got this season, and you can only get those perfect castings so many times.
Hey, speaking of casting, it was pretty neat to see James Urbaniak as the evil… lab technician? I started to call him an evil scientist, but he really just led people into a room and told them where to stand.
Katie: I swear, between Supergirl, Agent Carter, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent I’ve seen Urbaniak play all forms of vaguely science-y/medical evil person. And then there’s Dr. Venture, whose evilness is... debatable. But yeah, it’s always fun when he shows up, since he sounds exactly like Dr. Venture and looks vaguely like Dr. Venture with hair.
Chris: Except when he’s doing his David Bowie impression. Too bad he won’t be showing up again, though.
What else happened this week besides all the off-world stuff? Oh, we got to see Alex and Maggie enjoying a post-staying the night breakfast/cute couple kind of thing… before Alex had a complete freak-out and thought everything that happens is tied to whether or not she’s happy. You can really tell she’s not had a lot of dating experience. Part of me was like, “Dang, you are really messing up here,” but part of me also felt really bad for her, because this is all obviously so new to her.
Katie: I feel like even in Season One they set up her tendency to self-sabotage, and that’s definitely coming into play here. And it’s also really sad that there’s some deep part of her that doesn’t think she deserves to be truly happy because the weight of the world needs to be on her shoulders. I really hope the DEO offers good insurance, because Alex probably needs to try out a therapist and work through some of this stuff. That being said, her cute scenes with both Maggie and with Kara talking about Maggie were so freaking sweet. Chyler Leigh’s little bouncy step made me smile a lot.
The other big thing with her storyline this episode is that Maggie found out that Kara is Supergirl... mostly because it’s pretty obvious. I’m glad of this because, 1) Maggie is a detective, she should figure it out, and, 2) this avoided the DC shows’ annoying tendency to have main characters hide important information from love interests in order to create cracks in the relationship. They also got in a little joke about Kara’s glasses not being a super convincing surprise.
Chris: Yeah, it would be dumb for Maggie to not immediately figure it out, but also, I worry about what happens to the structure of your superhero universe’s reality if you start pulling on that thread. I’m sure it’ll be fine. (Looks around nervously.)
Katie: As long as no one points out that wearing black smudge makeup over your eyes for years was a stupid way to not be recognized, Oliver... I think we’ll be OK.
Chris: I’m thinking of adopting that look, but… you know, just for fun. To look cool.
Katie: Speaking of cool, Roulette shows up for a cool minute as one of the bad guys, and while I do adore this version of her and I do want to see her keep showing up, I have to admit she felt a little wasted here. Maybe if they hadn’t locked her in that cage it would have been better. I admittedly did like how casually she discussed her growing human trafficking ring as if she opened a bakery. But to your earlier point, this episode had a lot of characters and maybe she could have been put to better use in an episode down the line when she could get more focus.
Chris: I knew you were going to be stoked when I heard she was going to be returning in this episode, but seriously. There was absolutely no need for her here. They could have just had the whole thing be alien Dr. Venture’s scam. Roulette is too cool a character to waste on a nothing appearance like this where she basically never even unfolds her arms or does anything.
Speaking of that jail cell scene, once we were through the Stargate and on the alien planet, that was, of course, under a red sun (and also coincidentally toxic to Martians), Kara and Mon-El have no superpowers and Kara gets to prove that powers don’t make her super. Which was a story they did in the first season too, but it’s a theme worth repeating once a season.
Katie: Her moment of choosing to get shocked over and over to protect the other captives was probably my favorite part of the episode. It’s so Kara to unwaveringly put herself on the line like that. I feel like having Kara know how much it hurts to get hurt when you’re depowered from that episode in season one, have it happen again and still stomp into danger because people need her is what makes it work. And look, Melissa Benoist knows how to sell heroic Kara, so even on her performance alone, I’m okay with it.
Chris: Melissa Benoist is the perfect Supergirl on and off the screen. Okay, SuperFriends, that about wraps it up for this week’s episode. Let us know what you thought in the comments and be back next week for the return of Livewire!