Sunday, June 16, 2024

Supergirl Premiere Is Quite An Adventure

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Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 01, “The Adventures of Supergirl”

Premiere night!!!

There’s so much to see! Superman is here and Lena Luthor, plus a new villain and Project Cadmus. Plenty of Supergirl/Superman action and bonding throughout, and Kara makes some major life choices with Cat Grant’s mentorship. The DEO gets a brand spanking new building, too (It’s so shiny). The change to the CW doesn’t seem to have affected the tenor or writing of the show. The premiere lived up to our expectations, and felt like the same show we gushed over last season, er, last week. And now we’re back together again and ready to talk about all the excellent things that happened last night (and that One Other Thing). Get ready for some fangirling. We’re excited. But in the spirit of objectivity and fairness, we’re not without critique.

Quick Recap

Introducing Katie McGrath as Lena Luthor.

After a voiceover recap of Season 1, the episode starts with the final scene from the finale: the Kryptonian pod crashing. The nameless, comatose man in the pod gets taken to the DEO, which has some swanky new digs (a skyscraper in the middle of downtown National City). Kara is trying to figure out what to do with the opportunity Cat gave her to choose her own job; Cat pushes her to look inward. Cat’s new assistant has a ‘Kira’ kind of day (making mistakes with salad dressing). Venture, a new spaceship, launches but has trouble. Enter super dorky Clark Kent and his very undorky chiseled jawline to help save the day as Superman, after Kara gets there first. (Side Note: they’re the freaking cutest team ever! She tells random strangers she used to change Clark’s diapers. LOL. We love them. Superhero Kryptonians are puppies, it is confirmed.) Ahem. Supes visits the DEO to check on the mystery man from the Kryptonian pod. Winn is a nerd so excited to meet Supes that he almost passes out. Alex thinks Clark smells nice (he seems like an Old Spice kind of guy). J’onn and Superman have a strained greeting that Alex, true to form, doesn’t fail to comment on.

Next is bring your cousin to work day! Cat is flirty adjacent (and apparently thinks Clark, Superman, and Lois Lane have a ménage à trois). We learn Lex is in prison, but Lena, his sister, was suspiciously not present on the Venture launch despite having booked a seat on the shuttle. We also have a new villain—who was behind the Venture explosion—who has just acquired some high powered drones. Clark interviews Lena Luthor, who wants to rename and rebrand Luthor Corp in National City and make it a force for good. Kara shares how overwhelmed she feels by her options (with James, with Cat and Catco) with Clark, who encourages her to follow her heart. Alex confronts J’onn about “Operation Emerald”, the operation that put a wedge between him and Superman. J’onn had been on the team to first discover kryptonite on earth, and instead of destroying it as Superman urged, he chose to kepteep it for safekeeping. Winn figures out that Lena was the target of the Venture bombing just in time for her helicopter to be attacked by two of the drones. Superman goes to save the civilian population from more drones while Kara rescues Lena. Kara and James have a heart-to-heart-ish talk about her not knowing what she wants. Cat mentors her about diving in and not being afraid.

Brenda Strong plays an excellent villain.

Finally, the name of the new villain is revealed: John Corben, an assassin hired by Lex to take out Lena. Superman confronts J’onn about keeping the stock of kryptonite. Corben bombs Lena’s corporation renaming ceremony; the Supers save the day, with help from Alex and Lena. Corben is shot, but doesn’t die. With some prompting from Lena, Kara decides she wants to be a reporter (which Cat saw coming a mile away). Kara tells James they should just be friends, because she is unable to juggle so many obligations at the same time. Winn leaves Catco to join the DEO. Clark tells Kara he’s proud of her and offers to stay on for some family time. A mystery woman (Brenda Strong, Queen Nia, from The 100) from Project Cadmus offers Corben the chance to become Metallo.

Best Quote: “You’re standing on the shore afraid to dive into the new waters and you’re afraid because you don’t want to say goodbye to the mild-mannered, love-lorn Kara Danvers the sweet and dutiful assistant to Cat Grant. You are standing there looking out at your options: the icy blue river, the fast flowing water, and the choppy sea and they all look very appealing to you because you’re dying to go for a swim but you know that water is going to be cold and journey is going to be hard and when you reach the other side you will have become a new person. And you’re scared to meet that new version of yourself. Now we all get used to our own personas or used to our own comfort zones, but trust me. In order to live, we must keep daring, keep diving.”—Cat Grant, to Kara

Thoughts & Feelings

Let’s start by saying that this definitely felt like the same show from last season, which was a primary concern for us going into the network change. The biggest noticeable difference between Season 1 and Season 2 is the pacing. Season 1 was rather deliberate and slow, juggling only 2 to 3 plot balls at any given time. Season 2 comes out the gate juggling 5 to 6 plot balls while riding a skateboard, meaning that individual plot points aren’t getting as much screen time as we are accustomed to. This may not be a bad thing, but it so will depend on how they pace out each of these plots across the season. Frantically juggling too many plot balls often results in dropping all of them, and this storytelling problem has taken down many shows of recent memory. However, it’s difficult to make a definitive statement about whether or not this is a good change judging from just one episode, but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.


Something else that was noticeable was how the show just jumped right into the Season 2 plots without wasting time wallowing in the Season 1 arcs. The show does very little handholding in transitioning to a potentially new audience, and this is understandable considering how tightly the first season wrapped up. The one plot point pulled over from the last season was the Season 1 cliffhanger, which was surprisingly the plot point that got the least attention in the pilot episode. While it wasn’t exactly the number one priority to resolve this cliffhanger within the first episode of Season 2, we hope they don’t keep it on the back burner too long. It gives off the impression that the show is trying to distance itself from its predecessor, which does not inspire hope within the returning fandom.

Once again, it’s hard to make a definitive statement about the pacing with only one episode as reference, but we can say that Season 2 seems to be aiming for much faster plot development. We are willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to the writing team, but this is something we are keeping an eye on, since the deliberate and slow pacing of the first season was something that made the show really stand out.

Moving on to the new characters introduced in the pilot, we of course have to start with the Man of Steel’s small screen debut. Clark gets a great ‘running down an alley while changing costume’ sequence. He is both well cast and well written, in our opinion, so he slides into the show’s established cast very well. He is definitely his own man, but his camaraderie with Kara is well demonstrated and lives up to the subtle seeding from the first season.

Clark and Kara together is everything we’d hoped for and expected. Everything. They have such a sweet, loving, mutual, respectful relationship. Clark is supportive and treats Kara as an equal even though he’s been a superhero for longer. He jokes with her, gives her advice, and acts all around like the best older brother Kara could want. While we’d have liked more Alex and Kara time, we appreciate what they gave us enough to forgive them. Alex and Kara’s relationship is side-lined in favor of building up Clark and Kara’s, but not to the detriment of the sisterly bond. We know it’s still there, just in the background for a while.

As we were hoping last week, Clark definitely comes across as Kara’s teammate, not her superior. She gets the ‘heavy lifting’ job saving the venture and corrects Lena Luthor when she ignores Supergirl’s presence at the rescue. She comes up with the plan to save the building while Clark acts as the muscle. But they’re a true team, a partnership of equals. You don’t get the idea that her having moments of brawn and problem solving is pandering at all. It helps that Superman’s so genuinely excited for her when she succeeds and takes his cues from her, as befits a visiting superhero and cousin. They give us all the feels. And that final scene, where Superman asks Kara if he can stay so she can tell him more stories about Krypton and his family? *Hearteyes*

Second in our new character lineup is Lex Luther’s sister, Lena Luthor. Hot damn Lena Luthor. We couldn’t keep our eyes off of her; Katie McGrath commands your attention on screen. We can’t wait to see how she evolves in the season. She’s going to be an interesting foil for Kara. They’re both adopted, both attempting to use their family name as a force for good, and was it us or did Lena give Kara the once over in a flirty way?

We appreciate how she contrasts with Lord, too. She’s proved herself less distrustful and more open. She shares intel willingly where he held back from reporters and the government; she appreciates Supergirl/man instead of resenting them. Put her in a room with Lord and let them duke it out please and thank you. It is also noteworthy that she seems to be playing straight-faced when it comes to her mission to redeem her brother’s business. She’s come to National City in an effort to rebrand her brother’s company, trying to polish off the tarnish left by his crimes that resulted in 30+ consecutive life sentences. While there’s equal set up here for a villain arc, we’re kind of hoping that they don’t take that path. Thus far we’ve received no indication that she’s going to make an about-face, and when given the opportunity to she has been distinctly leaning towards the side of good. She seems genuinely interested in taking on a trademark Supergirl redemption arc; we hope she stays that way.

At the tail end of the pilot, we get to see the origin of Metallo. Damn, we’re ready for Metallo. He’s a pretty epic Superman villain—a cybernetic assassin powered by a kryptonite core—so you won’t want to miss next week’s episode. Plus, we get the reveal that Metallo is a product of Project Cadmus, presumably to fight against Kryptonians like Supergirl, Superman, and any remaining convicts from Fort Rozz (if there are any Kryptonians left). Project Cadmus as the big bad this season thrills us. We can’t wait for it all. Plus, Project Cadmus means that maybe Superboy/Kon-El will make an appearance. Fingers crossed.

Moving on to the characters we know and love from last season, J’onn and Alex didn’t get enough screen time for us (we love them), but hopefully that will be remedied soon. J’onn’s beef with Superman sets up the threat Metallo will serve next episode and makes sense of why J’onn has never shown much interest in having Superman around. While simple and understandable, the friction between J’onn and Superman seems a little thin, and too easily resolved. We are expecting that conflict to come back later, as it definitely could use a little more solid development considering how important it is to Superman’s relationship with the DEO and J’onn himself.

Don’t go Cat! We’re going to miss you and your epic sunglasses.

Cat continues to have some of the best dialogue, mentoring monologues and snippy one liners included. We know she is going to be making a change, since Calista Flockhart will be appearing in fewer episodes this season, and they’ve seeded it already this episode. Tying it to Kara Danvers own journey of self-discovery and pursuing her passion works well, and it gives us faith that the show will give Cat Grant the graceful exit she deserves from primary hero to secondary protagonist.

On to James Olsen and the fly in the ointment, the one letdown in this action packed ball of sunshine and adorableness that was this premiere: the potential sinking of the James x Kara ship. The conversation with James and Kara was a bit awkward and unexpected, given that we know they were kissing just a day or so ago as the family dinner shown in the Season 1 finale was the opening scene of this episode. James’ reaction was on point and fit with the overall tenor of the show toward non-mutual relationships, but this felt rushed. As much as we enjoy the lack of relationship drama on this show overall, we feel like they needed to drag this out a bit.

Relying on dialogue and exposition has always been one of the show’s strengths, but in this case it’s fallen into a weakness. While we can absolutely accept that their relationship would be heavily strained by Kara’s attempt to juggle so much at a time, we feel that the show needed to let us watch it happen, rather than tell us that it would. There hasn’t been enough time for us to accept this as a foregone conclusion. Kara having a moment of “I have a lot going on, a lot is changing, and I don’t know how to handle it all. I need time,” would have made more sense and allowed for the same amount of tension. With all the build-up from last season, this lovely interracial ship deserved better than a “we’re just friends” within the first episode.

We’re not ready to call it quits on this ship yet, though. Maybe the writers are trying to slow burn more, maybe they just thought Kara had too much going on and wanted to give her more space to grow as a person before getting them back together. Maybe she’s going to be the queer one instead of Alex (Oh please, oh please. We want a bulletproof LGBT character more than anything). Who knows? It’s honestly too early to tell. We’re a bit annoyed, but not ready to bust out the pitchforks yet.

Random Thoughts

  • They have not diminished their CGI budget it seems. Damn. Though it will be interesting to see how they escalate the stakes in future seasons. Kara saved a plane, then she and Superman saved a space shuttle. What’s next? The moon? We’re hoping for the moon.
  • We keep wondering how Superman and Supergirl keep their capes under their clothes. Maybe they have a magic pocket they tuck them into that lays completely flat? Must be special Kryptonian technology.
  • The volume for this episode was really low for Gretchen in Wisconsin. The show was barely loud enough, then the commercials blared. No idea if this is something the network can fix or if it was just the fact that she uses antennae for reception (I don’t want to pay for cable, so sue me—Gretchen).
  • They addressed the fact that Superman looks so young: apparently Kryptonians age more slowly on Earth
  • J’onn named kryptonite, that’s neat
  • Helicopters don’t fare well on this show, do they?
  • Clark uses his x-ray vision much more than Kara does. It makes sense given that Jeremiah Danvers gave her glasses specifically to block that use of her powers. She grew up not utilizing it.
  • This moment:

    Cat wrote “reporter” on Kara’s resume when she interviewed her. Priceless.
  • After being saved by Superman, a man says “We’re moving back to Gotham”. LOLZ
  • Biracial family on bikes spotted! We love how diverse the background characters are.
  • Being a reporter runs in the family, it seems.
  • Cat reverts to calling Kara “Kira” when Kara is in her ‘feeling lost’ phase. Was that on purpose or a reflex of communicating with the shy, unassuming Kara of much of Season 1?
  • ARE THEY GOING TO MAKE KARA GAY. The only way we will forgive them for destroying Kara x James is if they give her a girlfriend. Anyway, now that we’ve gotten that reaction out of the way, we can wrap this episode up 🙂

In Conclusion

Images courtesy of CW

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