The Adventures of Supergirl:
Airdate: 10 October, 2016
Written By: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Jessica Queller
Directed By: Glen Winter
Superman finally appears and, despite the shoulder pad cape, Tyler Hoechlin proves to be the best actor essaying the man of steel role since Christopher Reeve. As Clark Kent, Hoechlin surpasses Reeve and keeps it mild mannered as opposed to tripping over his shoe strings. No one could mistake Reeve’s Kent as having sex appeal, but Hoechlin perfects the 21st century GQ geek so naturally that even Cat Grant is reaching for a new shade of lipstick. The scene where he is introduced to the DEO gets right what alludes Zach Snyder. Hoechlin’s portrayal has been rightly acclaimed, but to date, CW has not acted on calls to give him his own series and probably won’t for fear it will compete with Henry Cavill’s execrable big screen endeavors.
Still, this is Supergirl and even Hoechlin can’t outshine Benoist. “The Adventures of Supergirl” is a very good start to a sophomore season that sees numerous changes, most of which are for the betterment of the series.
After Cat offers Kara the “keys to the kingdom” through a promotion of her choosing, Kara opts for a reporter position, which casts her in the light of The Daily Planet’s Clark Kent. It’s a disappointing and imitative narrative solution. Still, it’s a small quibble. Better is Winn finally getting to prove his mettle by landing a job at the DEO, where his skills are better suited.
After Superman arrives, there’s entertaining relational angles; Winn’s hero worship, and Henshaw’s considerable tensions with the man from Krypton.
This is also the episode which brings in another strange visitor; Mon-El (Chris Wood), Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath), and her wretch of a mother: Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong). Being mostly on ice after crash landing, Mon-El isn’t a factor yet, although Supergirl gets in a good reference joke comparing him to David Bowie’s character from The Man Who Fell To Earth.
The Jimmy Olsen/Kara Danvers romance gets holstered before it even began, which paves the way for Supergirl’s first big romance. To be continued, of course.
Lena, being a Luthor, is under suspicion, but she’s actually a target, as Superman and Kara discover. As Lena, McGrath is a marvelously shaded addition to the series and a needed one. She teeters on following the family tradition of super villainy (she doesn’t hesitate to shoot down a potential assassin) and hopefully the writers will avoid that and keep her an imperfect ally to Kara.
Luther mommy dearest Lillian also shows up near the finale and we’ll see why, with Lex, the proverbial apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The Last Children of Krypton:
Air Date: 17 October, 2016
Written By: Robert Rovner & Caitlin Parrish
Directed By: Glen Winter
This is the second part of the teaming with Superman and it surpasses its predecessor, making it one of the best episodes to date.
It opens with old fashioned small-time Super heroics with Hoechlin delivering a gratifying line to a crook who opts to throw a punch after attempting to shoot the man of steel: “If the bullets don’t work, why the punching? I’ve never understood that.”
The dialogue between the cousins from Krypton flawlessly nails the spirit of golden age comics:”Does this ever get old?” Supergirl asks Superman. “If it does, I’ll let you know.” We enjoy them being super almost as much as they do.
Henshaw, still harboring a Superman grudge, naturally tries to rain on the parade. “When you two are done showboating…” Alex chastises the Martian: “You said you’d try to get along with Superman” and an eavesdropping Winn adds in an amusingly geeky Yoda imitation: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Meanwhile, Lillian is busy channeling Peter Cushing, creating dual monsters named Metallo (Frederick Schmidt and Rich Ting). Cat introduces Kara to her new boss; Snapper Carr (the underrated character actor Ian Gomez) who makes a colorfully grumpy addition (he will keep Kara in her place). “Ponytail,” he calls her. “Oh, you jerky…guy.” This is the precursor to Cat’s departure here. Although complaints were lodged about this change, it’s needed. Cat discovered Supergirl, inspired Kara, and donned the matronly position. Now it’s time for Supergirl to fly out of the nest. Lena will be an edgier (and ultimately more interesting) replacement to Cat.
The Kryptonite-charged cyborg Metallo (Schmidt) proves to be a daunting advisory and the producers pay visual homage to the famous Crisis comic when he bests Kara. His victory is temporary because this is an episode about team-ups: Superman and Supergirl; Superman and Martian Manhunter (we knew that animosity wasn’t going to last): Martian Manhunter and Supergirl; Alex and Winn (we need more of them together); Alex and Supergirl; Winn and Superman. Winn cries.
Welcome To Earth:
Air Date: 24 October, 2016
Written By: Jessica Queller and Derek Simon
Directed By: Rachel Talalay
Now out of the nest with Mama Cat and Superman both gone, Supergirl takes on plenty of issues. This is the episode that inspired thousands of exploding Trump Toon heads and sent them crawling back to their basement and trailer parks, crying constipated tears of slush.
The offensive bullet points come fast and furious: Henshaw, Supergirl, and Alex engage in dialogue about the demonization of “them” (illegal aliens. Mr. Rod Serling is smiling down from that Twilight Zone in the sky); National City welcomes Madame President Olivia Marsdin (Lynda Carter channeling Clinton) who actually remembers what the Statue of Liberty is about and is “better than the other guy;” the closet door is opened for the same-sex relationship between Alex and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima); and Jimmy Olsen-you know the African-American guy-is now the CEO of Catco.
There’s a villain of the week too in Scorcher (Nadine Crocker), but that’s only half-baked. More interesting is the interplay between Snapper and Jimmy and Kara; the developments of the Daxamite Mon-El and Lena Luthor; and the finale into of M’gann M’orzz: The Last Daughter of Mars (Sharon Leal).
Air Date: 31 October, 2016
Written By: Paula Yoo and Eric Carrasco
Directed BY: James Marshall
This had an interesting premise with the villain Roulette (Dichen Lachman) running an underground fight club for aliens, but it’s short-shifted in what should have been the main story by again trying to cram in spotlights on all the supporting characters (something Star Trek was often guilty of). Despite rushed writing, the secondary narratives are all of interest: Gomez continues to add color to a character that could be reduced to cliche; In trusting M’gann; Henshaw is abducted and drafted into the fight club. Winn trains Mon-El; Maggie and Alex are slowly but surely stepping out and into…
Air Date: 7 November, 2016
Written by: Gabriel Llanas and Anna Musky-Goldwyn
Directed By: Glen Winter
This episode does a better job in pacing the ensemble narratives. Lillian Luther sends Cadmus thugs with alien weapons out to wreck havoc, hoping to draw out Supergirl. In that she succeeds. The battle scenes are like that third bowl of porridge; just right.
Under attack by the goons, Winn and Lena put their heads together and make for a charismatic pair. Olsen, long content to be the pal of super people, now wants to be one himself, but that’s to be continued. Mon-El is still adjusting, bad guys get their butts kicked, and Alex and Maggie send Mike Pence into the panic zone.
Air Date: 14 November, 2016
Written By: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Caitlin Parris
Directed By: Larry Teng
Of course, change is essential, but too much at once can make for narrative deluge.
With Winn’s assist, Jimmy Olsen becomes the flightless Iron Man-like superhero Guardian. The interplay here is well-handled with Winn standing up to Olsen. Olsen as a new hero added to the mix predictably garnered various reactions, mostly because the buildup is too rushed. Martian Manhunter, who is a complex and compelling character, is too oftenshort-shifted in favor of the Hank Henshaw persona and adding another super guy feels overloaded, although it’s downright tame compared to Avengers: Infinity Wars, which takes hero congestion to downright depressing extremes. Still, Olsen as Guardian is in the spirit of Jack Kirby’s delightfully wacky take on the “Superman’s Pal” comic, albeit with a 21st century update. With that comic being one of the most underrated of the period, the writers have room to play with.
Mon-El’s arc is a delight. We see the inevitable romance coming, but he’s such a modeled slacker that we hope he’ll take time finding his true potential.
The Alex/Maggie romance encounters a temporary wrinkle, but the real pleasure here is Alex outing herself to Kara. As usual, Benoist and Leigh outshine clunky writing. One gets the feeling of too many hands in the script room because only a few episodes back, we heard Kara explain that alcohol doesn’t affect Kryptonians, but see her getting lit here.
The DEO is alarmingly incompetent when it releases villain of the week Parasite (William Mapother), who is exactly what his name says. Throwing in the climate change controversy (well, controversial to low-informed Trump Toons) and a few nods to John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), along with The Wrath of Khan (1982) makes for a fearsome renegade psychopath. He’s so potent that he literally zaps both Supergirl and Martian Manhunter in one setting. Megan comes to MM’s aid by giving him blood and that should open interesting developments. However, Parasite disappointingly is disposed of. Odder still, is Supergirl having no qualms doing the disposing because, as she herself said, “Superman doesn’t kill” (which, yes, that was a slap at Zack Snyder).
Despite its caffeinated changing, this is a enjoyable episode in a consistently improving series.