Episode #2 set a new bar for this series. It broke away from some of the problems that the pilot had. But those were also problems that I expected a pilot to have. Stronger Together showed me the promise that this hero and this show could achieve greatness. And much like the partially maligned titular hero, this week’s episode fell short of achieving its perceived potential. WARNING. SPOILERS. EARLY.
Let me address the big schmutz of this episode directly and up front. Superman shows up. And it is done in a way that I think would piss off a large number of us who come to this show as lifelong geeks and from the pages of the comics. I will be presumptuous and say that a lot of people hate, despise, and rage when a show or movie shows a character we’d all like to see, but do it in a non-descript, vague, non-transparent way. In this instance, Superman show’s up as Kara is losing consciousness, so he appears as a blurry (and clearly CGI’d) figure with no detail. At this point in the show, I wrote down “This episode is now a 4.0”. I also resolved that I was going to kick this show to the curb and tell my boss that I would quit if he continued making me cover the reviews of it (just kidding, Everett. Not really. But yeah).
I gave this incident an alibi when, in the next scene, it is cleared up as a thing that was done to create a riff between Kara and Jimmy (yep; still not calling him James). Kara is royally pissed when it’s dropped that Jimmy called Supes because he did not think she would win the fight with the show’s VoTW, Reactron. I was good with it at that point. Jimmy and Kara resolve this riff by the end of the show, though, and I wished this split had taken Jimmy a bit longer to earn his way back. I also wanted to see it used as some time to show Kara inching closer to White Cisco (aka Winn).
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s re-set and do the recap. This week’s episode picks up with Supergirl and Cat doing the interview that last week’s episode set up and left us off with. Winn shows Jimmy and Kara the new Team Supergirl Cave that he has set up in an upper, seemingly unused, floor of the CatCo HQ building. Kara has to go address a multi-car pile-up on a nearby highway, which is really just a trap set up by Reactron. After losing that fight, Reactron attacks Lord Technologies, kidnapping Max Lord and “forcing” him to repair his suit. Kara loses to Reactron in her attempt to rescue Lord. Reactron then attacks the gala kickoff event of CatCo’s new monthly magazine. Supergirl is able to defeat him with some covert help from the DEO, who has claimed that its policy is to not engage on situations that don’t involve aliens.
Where this episode falls apart for me is in the dealing with the villain and with Kara’s relationship with Clark. Kara beats Reactron in their first encounter, damaging his suit so much that he has to kidnap Maxwell Lord to repair it. When he flies away, why does she not pursue him? It is clear to everyone that his suit is damaged at this point. In the second fight, she gets her butt handed to her, literally getting knocked unconscious and needing Clark to make the save. It doesn’t make sense because she beat him the first time. In the third encounter, same thing, he is winning, despite her improved HTH prowess that allowed her to gain the upper hand the first time. Then Jimmy acts as a sacrifical decoy, which shouldn’t have been needed. Reactron knocks down a column that is about to fall on Winn and Kara catches it. The whole time Jimmy is taunting Reactron, I’m screaming at the TV saying “HIT HIM WITH THE EFFING COLUMN!!!”
The other big detractor is the scene near the end when Clark IM’s Kara and they chat. Openly. Using the words “Reactron” and “Supergirl” in their chat stream. We all know in this day and age that anything you use a company computer for is being captured and trapped, even if you are using an app out on the web that the company does not administer. Even if Winn is some mythical uber-admin who can erase the IM logs, he would have to know everything about CatCo corporate IT to erase every trace, and most companies don’t allow one person to have all the keys to the kingdom. I really hesitate to throw this phrase around, but this genuinely feels lazy, and unsupervised. Like it got into the show because no one caught it. If they wanted to Clark could have called on her cell. Or better yet, he could have flown into range (250 miles), called out her name (because both she and Clark distinctly pick up their name, as most people do across a distance or even in a crowded room), and spoken to her normally while she listened with super hearing.
Finally on the negatives, while the wire-work was improved this week, the final shot of her flying out of the window of her apartment was less polished.
I loved the sister scenes this week. And I like the continuing banter between Jimmy and Winn, especially this week when Jimmy was at the disadvantage. The Maxwell Lord scenes were also good. FAR, FAR, better than Facinelli’s scenes last week. And I liked seeing Director Henshaw turn a good cheek this time around. The HTH Combat scenes in the first Reactron fight were very good. And from the looks of Benoist in the little green dress from the party scene, she is working out, bulking up, and making a believable Supergirl in costume and out.
And therein lies my problem and why the show gets the score I’m about to give this week. I see the clear potential for the show to be doing better than what I just watched. They have assembled all of the right pieces and parts. Jimmy Olsen has sorted himself out as a character. Benoist has done the same. Cat, even Winn, are settling into a good groove in portraying who those characters are supposed to be. Chrysler Leigh brings a great Law & Order, procedural vibe a la Mariska Hargitay to the show. You’ve got the DEO, CatCo, and mentions of the Planet to round out the organizations that live in this world. I am starting to feel like it is the writers or some of the staff on the back-end who are the source of the problem. Berlanti Productions has this show, The Flash, Arrow, Mysteries of Laura, and Blindspot in active production. Legends of Tomorrow is cranking up. I wonder if this is the point where Berlanti himself and key members of his staff are stretched too thin. That’s speculation, but I feel like this show could be doing better than what I just saw. Hopefully next week will put it back into a nose-up flight profile. There are a few positive elements for the show to leverage its recovery on.
Lucy Lane just showed up, so I wonder if we’ll be getting Superwoman or if she’ll just be the source of relationship tension between Jimmy and Kara. I love that Olsen is the show’s man-candy, and my theory is that he winds up with Alex and Kara actually winds up with Winn. At least in one arc or the other.
Special Note: One of the better things about this episode was the music. We get “Cecilia and the Satellite” at the start of the party scene, which is very appropriate. There is a jam session cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” in the closing sister scene, with a great snare drum beat to it. Again, poetically appropriate. I’m starting to love the opening and closing theme; the background strings behind the main fanfare are superb. But of special note this week was the Super Rescues sequence background music for the highway scene, and the big fight scene music at the final battle. Blake Neely is killing it, as usual.