‘Supergirl 1.2’ Stronger Together–Friends Good, Government Bad

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When we last saw our heroine, having just emerged from the Superhero closet, she declared Earth doesn’t have just one hero anymore. Now it has me. Now it has Supergirl.”

As I watched tonight’s episode, I again felt that the dialogue was heavy handed and, unfortunately, there wasn’t much that really excited me.  My questions from last week remain: will Supergirl be the hero, and feminist, we want her to be? Or is she really just a girl in a red cape?

So, keep your tray tables in the locked upright position and buckle up as we fly through Supergirl’s second episode “Stronger Together”.  

Spoilers ahead friends. You’ve been warned!

Merely a week has gone by since the world was introduced to Supergirl. Just in case we forgot whose show we were watching, Supergirl bashes us over the head by saying, “When people see that red cape they expect to see a certain someone. Someone they know. This isn’t his story, it’s mine.”  Yeah, we got it.

We join her as she’s being put through a battery of tests by the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), courtesy of the cranky Director Henshaw. But things are going well and she’s clearly having fun as she expertly dodges missiles. She can even break the sound barrier!

She questions Director Crankypants as to why she’s being put through all these tests. Before she can call him a misogynistic pig, he declares that it has nothing to do with her being a woman. All DEO field agents are put through rigorous physical and psychological testing.

Big sis Alex backs the director up and assures Kara that she went through testing for a full year before she was allowed in the field. As the sisters have a heart to heart, Winn alerts Kara to a fire raging at the bay. Confident that she’s ready for this, Supergirl flies off to save the day, but not before bludgeoning us about the head again with “this sounds like a job for Supergirl.”  

Seriously, I yelled at the TV. Are they kidding me? You want this to be her story, but you keep using Superman’s taglines! Stop it. Now.

Anyway, Supergirl arrives at the port and attempts to stop the fire by using her super breath to blow it out. Didn’t anyone teach her that adding oxygen to a fire is a bad thing?

With the fire blazing even higher, she changes tactics and stops the fire from spreading to the nearby oil tanker by pulling the ship away from the dock. Unfortunately, somehow, she rips off the front of the tanker and spills oil all over the bay. Oops.  

When she arrives at the office later, stinking of oil, she laments to Winn that she “went from superhero to eco-terrorist in a single bound.” Once again they discuss the fact that she’s a superhero as they walk through the busy office. No one respects a secret identity anymore!

Cat is angry because not only has she been scooped by the Daily Planet again, but Supergirl isn’t living up to her expectations. You and me both Cat, you and me both. James defends Supergirl saying, “at least she’s saving lives.” “In the sloppiest way possible.” Cat snaps back, and comes up with a new name, “hashtag terrible girl?”

Cat then demands that James arrange an interview for her to have “girl to girl” talk with Supergirl and dismisses her staff with that ultimatum.

As they walk through the office, James and Kara discuss how she’s not going to do the interview.  After this morning’s ecological disaster, she’s unsure that she’s worthy of wearing the cape. “If anyone can fill Superman’s boots, it’s you,” James assures her.

But there is no time to ponder shoe size, there has been a break-in at Plastino Chemicals, where they keep the chemicals needed to make bombs, in sector 52. Noe: This is a nice easter egg for a couple of reasons. For those of you playing at home, Al Plastino was the co-creator of Supergirl and sector 52 is the section of S.T.A.R labs in The Flash where they kept the metahumans during season one.

The DEO and Supergirl survey the scene. We flash back to a moment on Krypton where Kara learns about Hellgrammites because her mom, Alura, just put one away in Fort Rozz. It’s a nice example of the difference between Kara’s story and her cousin’s. Kara spent 13 years on Krypton with family, friends and planetary customs. This is a reminder that those people and that place still inform her life. It was well done. I hope we see more of it as the character develops because it separates her story from Superman’s very eloquently. 

Back at the chemical plant, Supergirl quickly realizes that it was a Hellgrammite (shape shifting insect) that attacked.

In an example of a fight scene done right, Alex lectures Kara that she has no technique and relies on her strength too much. In her defense, she just started fighting last week, so maybe cut a sister a break? But no, Sister Fight Club starts when the lights get all glowy with Kryptonite so they are on a more even playing field. Alex wins, quickly and Kara’s confidence is, once again, lacking.

After having her butt kicked, Kara heads back to work to find the latest Cat approved headline for the afternoon paper: “Supergirl: Failure to Launch.”

Kara doesn’t understand why Cat keeps criticizing Supergirl and begins to defend herself, “When Superman started,” but she’s quickly cut off by Cat who is tired of hearing about Superman. (Me too!) Beating us over the head once again, albeit with a very good point, Cat declares, “ Every woman worth her salt knows that we have to work twice as hard as a man to be thought of as half as good.”

Courtesy CBS
Superman! Superman! Superman! Why is it always about Superman!? Image via CBS.

What advice would Cat give Supergirl if she were here Kara asks? Basically, slow the heck down. Start small and work your way up.

Well, she does just that, she gathers her Scooby Gang of Winn and James in the alley. Before she makes her entrance the boys make small talk and are both shocked that they weren’t the only one in on the secret. Supergirl needs to practice, start small and she needs the boys help to do just that.

Before we see exactly how small she’s starting, we find Aunt Astra and her minions surrounding the Hellgrammite. They are, predictably, going to use the Hellgrammite as bait to catch Supergirl.

To the training montage!

Finally, we have some fun! (And to an awesome song, Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot!”) With the boys holed up in her apartment, Supergirl stops a robbery, saves an ambulance and saves Fluffy, which turns out to be a snake. But still! The people of National City finally love her! Hooray!!

It’s all fun and saving people until Alex shows up and kills the mood. Little Miss Debbie Downer is not happy that Kara has filled the boys in on her secret. Kara puts a stop to that lecture by simply saying they are her friends who have faith in her and she trusts them. The girls makeup and we all, thankfully, move on.

The DEO has figured out that the Hellgrammite makes a meal out of the chemicals. So in what was the worst dialogue of the episode Henshaw wants to “buy the guy some dinner.” With the trap set, the DEO is easily overcome and Alex is taken by the Hellgrammite. Alex, meet Aunt Astra.

Back at CatCo Media, Cat wants to know when James is going to hook her up with Supergirl. And if he doesn’t deliver she’s going to send him back to the Daily Planet. Which leads us to a sweet moment between James and Kara where she agrees to do the interview.

Courtesy: CBS
Can we talk? Image via CBS

What’s important in this scene, though, is not Kara agreeing to do the interview but she tells James, and us, how she wants to be different from her cousin. When James laments that with his move to National City he hoped he could be his own man. Kara tells him that back on Krypton no one was their own man. As she reminisces of her home planet, she tells him she was raised to believe that to accept help is not a shame but an honor. We are reminded that Superman was just a baby when he left Krypton and can’t possibly remember, but Kara remembers. Every day.

While the entire scene is a bit heavy handed, she states simply, “I don’t want to be a hero like him. My cousin, he’s so used to going it alone he doesn’t know any other way. But I do.”  We are watching her realize that she wants, and needs, the help and support of those around her, her found family.

This is a huge theme throughout both Flash and Arrow. It’s a theme that works well in both. I can only hope that they are working toward a similar dynamic here because the most fun part of this episode was when James, Winn and Supergirl were working together.

James and Kara are interrupted by Director Crankypants, who’s calling to tell Kara her sister has been taken hostage. Once again, the producers don’t shy away from allowing Kara to be really angry. After unloading on him, Kara is assured that they are doing everything they can to find Alex. Kara storms off to find her sister.

There’s whole bunch dialogue and exposition, courtesy of Aunt Astra and hostage Alex. The gist of which is Astra doesn’t want to destroy Earth but save it. It was beautifully delivered by Laura Benanti, and probably important to the story, but it’s not what stuck out to me.

What caught my attention, was the fight scene between Astra and Kara, and how awful it was. The creative team behind this show has proven on both Flash and Arrow that they can have beautifully choreographed and edited fight scenes. This was neither. Ultimately, Astra gets away to leave Supergirl to declare the obvious, “We have to stop my Aunt.” Um, duh.

Back at the DEO, after some medical treatment, Alex has a present for Kara. Her cousin has his Fortress of Solitude somewhere in the Arctic, now Kara has, well I guess we can call it her Room of Solitude complete with a hologram of her mom, who can now give advice from the beyond.

In this week’s “big reveal,” we discover that Hank’s eyes glow red! So he’s a bad guy too. Again, duh.

We end our time together this week as Cat is about to fire James for not getting her the interview with Supergirl. He tells her the interview has already begun, as she realizes her car is in the air! Supergirl is carrying Cat, car and all, to a rooftop for the start of their interview.

By the end of the hour, I saw where the producers are planning to take us this season. Following in the very successful steps of their shows The Flash and Arrow, they are building the surrogate family that will support Supergirl as she discovers more about herself and who she wants to become.

Supergirl wants to become a feminist in the worst way. She’s just not there yet, she’s still just a girl in a red cape. The producers need to lay off the dialogue that hits us over the head and says “See?! She’s a feminist!”

Cat was 100% right this week, they need to stop invoking Superman and let Supergirl be Supergirl.

Stay tuned friends, I think, when they let Supergirl be Supergirl she’ll make us proud.

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1 thought on “‘Supergirl 1.2’ Stronger Together–Friends Good, Government Bad

  1. I loved the Krypton references and I love how they are showing how it shapes Kara. As you said, she came here as teen. She doesn’t see herself as human and she doesn’t want to be human. She refers to herself as an alien in the first scene and then the show is peppered with Krypton memories and flashbacks.

    I loved that scene with James as they talk about the difference between her world view and Clark’s. Clark came here as a baby. Martha and Jonathan aren’t his foster family, they are his parents. The only ones he ever knew. He grew up having to hide a part of himself. He learns about Krypton second hand. His first instinct is to go alone because that is his foundation. He grew up having to keep a big part of himself secret. He grew up human but he’s not.

    Kara is secure in herself and where she came from. It is what defines her. The scene with her Hologram mom was a good example. She sees the hologram and the first thing Kara asks is for is a hug. It’s not her mom but it looks and sounds like her mom. Her grief was really well played. Contrast this to Clark. Jor-El is not real to him, he’s akin to a faded photograph. The hologram Jor-El is a wishful manifestation of a man Clark never knew.

    Kara’s memories add texture to her interactions with her Aunt as well. They had a relationship. They are not strangers.

    I agree that there is some heavy handed dialog. I’m still not sold on the foster sister bond. They seem to be trying to build it by telling us over and over how close they were. On paper, the idea is a good one, but for me the execution has been sloppy.

    I agree there has been a lot of Superman references (at least this week they are saying the name. I was getting weary of trying to sidestep using it). I think it will continue for the next few weeks at least as they establish all the character. Lucy Lane will be coming in next week I believe, so I’m betting on some Lois & Clark references.

    Hopefully once they get all the proverbial pieces on the board it won’t be as self aware.

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