Supergirl Episode 2 Review [with SPOILERS]!
The pilot episode of Supergirl has been (not exactly legally) available since about the summer. Fans have had a long time to discuss, dissect, and comment on the initial episode, but this week, we finally got a fresh episode of Supergirl and if it is any indication, the quality of the pilot was not an anomaly.
The episode began typically enough with some super-training to establish some of Kara’s powers. It soon morphed into Supergirl showing off some super feats and the whole thing felt like a Silver Age comic with Kara trying to prove her mettle but screwing up each attempt. Things got so bad that poor Kara even caused an oil spill and became a kind of super joke thanks to some scathing criticisms from J. Jonah Jam- errrm, I mean Cat Grant. Now, we know showrunner Greg Berlanti and company are fans of the DC classic comics of yesteryear so you can be assured that this echo of the Silver Age is no accident; we see Supergirl trying to solve some of National City’s problems but not having the experience to be a truly effective super hero.
Kara even got a harsh self-defense lesson from her sister Alex as the first act of this week’s installment of Supergirl focused on the tried and true theme of earning the title of hero. The training sequence also established that the DEO seemed to have an endless supply of Kryptonite, and you can bet that little plot point will come into play as the season progresses.
So things were fun if a bit typical. There was even your average villain of the week baddie with the introduction of the Hellgrammite. Now this is a very different Hellgrammite than the version featured in the pages of DC Comics. The first Hellgrammite was introduced in The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #80 (November 1968) and was created by Bob Haney and Neal Adams. The insectoid villain was once Roderick Rose, an entomologist who mutated himself into a freaky bug creature complete with great agility and exo-skeleton. He was defeated by Batman and the Creeper (and man, would the Creeper just fit perfectly within the media savvy world of Supergirl) and popped up many times over the years. This new TV Hellgrammite was an alien who was admittedly rather disgusting if a bit generic. I mean, the dude is a murderous bug, does he have to wear street clothes? When did villain costumes become verboten? Anyway, TV’s Hellgrammite looked like a rejected X-Files design and did not look like he would be much of a match against Supergirl.
And he wasn’t, despite her doubts and fears, Kara would have taken down the Hellgrammite easily. But the evil insect never really faced Supergirl. Instead, he went after the DEO. The Hellgrammite was really a villain for Alex to contend with as both Danvers sisters had to prove their mettle this week.
Which brings us to the real villain of the week- Kara’s Kryptonian Aunt Astra. You have to give props to Supergirl, it only took two episodes to feature a Kryptonian versus Kryptonian smackdown. No beating around the bush, no wasting time or padding things out, Kara now knows that her beloved mother’s twin sister is out there; in just under two hours, the show raised the stakes from villain of the week to ‘big bad’ very quickly. In case you were wondering, Alex did kick Hellgrammite’s butt, so good for her.
This week also featured a trial by fire for James “Don’t Call Me Jimmy” Olsen. This version of Olsen is still taking some getting used to. Not because he’s African American but because he’s hunky and confidant. I kind of prefer the bow-tied, wacky Jimmy but that’s just me. I mean, can you imagine James Olsen, with his confidence and immense upper body, being transformed into a giant turtle boy like his zany comic book counterpart was? I think not. But I guess this whole TV series is about growth, and the writers of Supergirl are entering the uncharted waters of a more adult James Olsen instead of trying to make him into a wannabe cub reporter. This week, James had to face down Cat Grant who demanded that he get an interview with Supergirl or be sent back to Perry White and the Daily Planet. Of course, Kara knew about the whole thing and granted Cat her interview saving Olsen’s bacon. The series continued to build Supergirl’s team of heroes, and while there is some fun banter in the group, I would like to see the series take steps to differentiate this crew from Team Flash and Team Arrow.
All in all, this episode was a potpourri of comic book goodness and Easter eggs. From the hardcore introduction of Kryptonite, to a delicious tease about Hank Henshaw, to some great Kryptonian back story, to the introduction of Maxwell Lord(!), to the first name drops of Lois Lane and Clark Kent. It was a satisfying episode due to the fact that it morved away from the villain of the week struggle and got very epic very quickly as Kara met her evil super-Aunt.
All that being said, let us not lose focus; this show’s charm and likability factor all comes down to the easy charisma of Melissa Benoist. It is her sincerity that sells this show and it is her sincerity that will have me looking forward to next Monday.