This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
Welcome to National City! Every week, I’ll be recapping the adventures of everyone’s favorite Maid of Might, Supergirl! This week, Kara nearly tankers her career, but don’t bug out – she’ll fix this come Hellgrammite or high water!
The desert. The DEO puts Kara through her paces as she outflies missiles (and breaks the sound barrier in her second episode – suck it, Allen!). She feels ready to get out in the field, but Alex backs up Henshaw with the need for tests.
Suddenly Winn’s on some kind of invisible headset (???), telling Kara there’s a huge fire down at the port. He’s in the office by himself, presumably because they got a brand new set for the non-pilot episodes and he wants to enjoy it. “This sounds like a job for Supergirl,” Kara declares, and flies off over the sounds of my giddy squealing.
The port. The fire’s about to reach a tanker full of crude oil; Kara stares uncertainly at it until a firefighter snaps that Superman would’ve blown the fire out by now. Kara tries freeze breath – a great effect – but it just fans the flames. She decides to move the ship away from the fire, inexplicably by pulling instead of pushing it, and after great effort she gets it to safety – only to tear the hull open and spill tons of gallons of oil into the water. Oops.
Work. Kara arrives as the dulcet tones of Television’s Greatest Anchorman Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson) ponder whether Supergirl is “miracle or menace.” She’s pretty down on herself – “I went from superhero to ecoterrorist in a single bound!” she says, and I see what you did there, writers – and Winn’s efforts to cheer her up don’t get much traction, especially when the news switches to millionaire Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) declaring that Supergirl is incompetent.
Cat, meanwhile, is pissed that “her” Supergirl has so far turned out to be a disappointment – and that the Daily Planet is gleefully covering it. (Clark, how could you!)
Kara squirms miserably; Jimmy looks sympathetic, and also handsome. Cat tells him to use his connection to Superman to get her an interview with Supergirl. When he politely demurs, she tells him she wants to scoop “Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and all of the hags at the Daily Planet” by the end of the week – or else.
Out of Cat’s office, Kara insists that she’s not doing the interview. Jimmy has no plans to even ask her, but he assures her that Cat wouldn’t recognize her if she did – hey, it worked for Clark all this time. I’m just thrilled that 2015 is apparently The Year of Jimmy Knowing Stuff, after 74 years of bowtied ignorance. He handsomes a pep talk at her but they DON’T KISS, which is frankly an outrage. FALL IN LOVE, YOU TWO!
Night, Plastino Chemical Plant. A guard spots a guy in a jumpsuit doing something sketchy and tries to stop him. Sketchy McJumpsuit splits open his face to reveal horrifying mandibles and tackles him. It’s still 100% less gross than Smallville’s second-episode bug villain.
The next day. The Supergirl and the DEO examine the plant. An agent removes a weird spiny thing from the guard’s corpse and Kara squints quizzically at it.
Krypton Flashback! Young Kara’s playing with a space iPad when Alura comes in. She’s home late because in her job as “adjudicator,” she was sentencing a kind of alien criminal called a Hellgrammite. It’s clunky exposition, but at least it’s not a flashback about daddy issues. Ahem, every other superhero TV show and movie.
Present day, DEO bunker. Kara tells Alex and Henshaw what they’re up against. “Giant insects trying to steal bomb-grade chemical compounds. This job never ceases to surprise,” Henshaw drawls, and his delivery is so weird I have to assume he’s trying to make a joke and doesn’t understand why no one’s laughing. Why, it’s almost…robotic. (Spoilers!)
Kara wants to fight the Hellgrammite, but Henshaw won’t let her until she proves her mettle. Alex takes her to a weird hexagonal room, turns on kryptonite beams, and puts up her dukes. Kara points out that only the DEO even knows about kryptonite, and no way anyone there is evil, right? (Also, does Clark not know about it? Because that’s weird.) Alex insists on wrassling anyway, so…they fight.
And honestly? This scene doesn’t work for me at all. Alex seems really angry for no reason, and Kara, who earlier in the episode tore an oil tanker in two, doesn’t seem at all worried that she might hurt her beloved sister with her delicate human bones. I mean, Kara’s got no chance – Alex wipes the floor with her – but it’s odd that she charges in so willingly. Also, it’s a terrible way to teach someone how to fight.
Finally Kara stalks off and Alex tells Henshaw: “I hate that you made me do that.” If that’s the case, I wish Leigh had played it with any conflict at all, instead of sneeringly cold rage.
Day, CatCo. Cat’s still down on Supergirl, and has no sympathy for the “Superman used to screw up too” argument: “Every woman knows that we have to work twice as hard as a man to be thought of as half as good.” Kara unsubtly asks what advice Cat would give Supergirl, were she, say, standing here in a sensible blouse and flats.
“There’s a learning curve,” Cat says. “Start small and work your way up.” Why, she herself went from Perry White’s PA to writing fluff for the gossip column to the glorious tiny goddess we see before us. I love this take on Cat’s backstory, which transforms her from weirdly slut-shame-y T&A/a feckless rival to Lois for Clark’s affections to an ambitious, clear-sighted badass who balances being admittedly ridiculous comic relief with a hell of a brain. GO CAT! Also Flockhart does some weird business during this scene where she’s trying to chose from multiple pairs of fancy chopsticks and it’s oddly hilarious.
Kara asks Jimmy and Winn to meet her in the alley, where they awkwardly try to shoo the other away (“I like to smoke out here,” Winn says, which is almost as unconvincing as this alley set) before Supergirl lands with a flourish.
“You told him?” they chorus. Hee! She asks them to help her to practice crimefighting. “I’m in,” they say. “I said it first,” Winn mutters, and Kara beams. EACH ONE OF THESE MUFFINS IS CUTER THAN THE LAST.
Night, somewhere sketchy. A handful of Kryptonians round up the Hellgrammite, who has apparently gone rogue. Astra shows up and reminds him that they are “stronger together,” and that he’ll be serving as bait for Kara. She’s got a weird white streak in her hair that looks like she cut it off a My Little Pony. Apparently they used up the budget for this show on flying scenes and all the monitors in Cat’s office, not hair extensions.
Day. Kara flies around the city while Jimmy and Winn Oracle out crimes for her to stop from her Urban Outfitters apartment.
Winn brags to Jimmy about making the suit: “I got some mad sewing skills.” Winn is SO much better in this episode, it’s amazing.
Kara successfully montages her way through stopping a robbery, rescuing an ambulance, and saving what Winn tells her is a cat stuck in a tree but actually turns out to be a snake (named “Fluffy”). Even if the rest of this episode wasn’t a delight, Supergirl handing a little girl her pet snake would make it basically the best thing that’s ever happened on TV, ever.
Night. Kara’s jubilant about her successes until Alex shows up. She’s not thrilled that Kara’s shared the secret with the boys, who vamoose, but she does apologize for beating on Kara at the DEO bunker earlier. They sweetly reminisce about Kara’s earliest days on Earth and how Alex always looked out for her, and Alex basically seems like an entirely different person than her previous scenes. I do not understand what makes this character tick.
Kara tells her that she needs Alex to have faith in her, but before Alex can answer she gets called into work. The DEO has figured out that the Hellgrammite eats DDT. “If this thing is hungry, let’s buy him some dinner,” Henshaw says. No one laughs. Henshaw’s so lonely.
CatCo. Cat still wants Jimmy to get her her interview with Supergirl: “The S isn’t some ‘who wore it better’ fashion faux pas. It’s a team logo. Maybe Supergirl is his sister, maybe it’s his girlfriend, but there’s definitely a connection, and because you are famously his pal I have to wonder why you haven’t exploited that relationship to get me what I want.” Kara, listening in with super hearing, makes a hilarious face at the suggestion of Super-incest.
Cat tells Jimmy to get the interview, or he’s fired. Cue sad tinkly music.
Night. A couple of DEO vehicles loaded down with agents and DDT drive across a bridge. “Let’s hope this movable feast is too hard to resist,” Henshaw quips, to dead silence. GUYS, IF YOU DON’T LAUGH AT HIS JOKES HE MIGHT DESTROY COAST CITY, JUST SAYING.
Suddenly: Hellgrammite! He kills a bunch of agents, fires a spike into Alex’s thigh, and carries her off to Astra, who’s bummed that it’s not Kara but will settle for a living DEO agent to toy with. She caresses Alex’s face, which is not actually incest but SUPER FEELS LIKE IT, yikes.
Some kind of CatCo balcony. How Donnerian! Kara offers to do the interview to save Jimmy’s job, and he admits that the real problem is, once again, living in Superman’s shadow, when he wants to be his own man. Kara tells him that on Krypton, no one is their own man: “I was taught that accepting help was not a shame, it’s an honor.”
The S isn’t just a crest, she explains; it stands for her family’s motto, “El-May-Arah”: stronger together. She doesn’t want to be like Superman, who goes it alone; she wants a team. Jimmy looks absolutely dazzled (YES!) but they still DON’T KISS (BOO) because Henshaw calls with the news that Alex has been taken.
DEO bunker. Kara storms in and reads Henshaw the riot act. “She’s my family!” she snaps, and asks if he knows what that means, if he has a family. “I used to,” he says. Too pissed to listen to his origin story, Kara flies off to track Alex down with super-hearing.
Warehouse. Astra continues to be aggressively homoerotic as she explains to a confused Alex that she’s Alura’s twin. Alex tells her she doesn’t need to kill anyone in National City, and Astra says she wants to save them, not kill them. “Supergirl will find me,” Alex spits, and Kara hones in on the sound – but the minute she arrives, Astra cold cocks her. “It’s been a long time, little one,” she says.
Kara’s shocked, but knows right away it’s her Aunt Astra and not her mother. What she didn’t know is that Alura sentenced Astra to the Phantom Zone for, as Astra puts it “trying to save our world.” “I remember so many nights sitting on your lap, listening as you taught me all the names of the stars,” Kara says, and it’s lovely and sad – until Astra backhands her through a wall. #family
They shoot heat vision at each other while the Hellgrammite attacks Alex, who knees him in the space balls before stabbing him to death with his own spiky thing. Meanwhile, Astra and Kara launch themselves into the air and…well, it’s not the best. They’re very obviously on wires, with hunched shoulders and dangling feet, and the choreography is awkward. Even animated Superman fights don’t tend to take place in midair, and for good reason – there’s no leverage in a punch when you’re flying. This battle mostly just looks silly.
Kara manages to toss Astra through a wall, and then Henshaw shows up to stab her with a kryptonite knife. She flees. Phew!
DEO bunker. Alex says she can’t imagine how Kara feels, knowing she still has family. “You’re my family,” Kara says. Um, also Clark, though?
Kara’s determined to stop Astra, apparently without any conflict about this at all. She says Alura and Astra were always fighting; according to Alura, it was because Astra didn’t have faith in people. Alex takes the hint and smilingly says she’s always had faith in Kara. Except for the first half of this episode, and also last week, and also always, I guess?
Then Alex shows Kara a room modeled on Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, which Clark apparently uses to “commune with his Kryptonian ancestors” but has never shared with Kara because he’s a total jerk. Alex has rigged up a Jor-El-style hologram A.I. of Alura from Kara’s ship.
A.I.-Alura says Kara can ask her anything she’d ask the real Alura. “I’d ask for a hug,” Kara says, and she and I both tear up. That won’t work, of course, so she asks about Astra.
Outside, Alex thanks Henshaw for helping set up the Fortress of Motherly Sadness. As he walks off, his eyes glow red. (At which point I leaned over to my friend and said “Do you know whyyyyy his eyes are red?” and she said “No” and I said “Because he is a ROBUTT.” I am a joy to watch TV with.)
CatCo. Cat gets into her car, which suddenly lurches into the air. Kara places it gently on top of a mountain and floats out of face-recognizing range: “Let’s talk.”
Nerdiest Hat Tip: If it’s not Plastino Chemicals – Supergirl’s other creator – it’s the streets named after Jerry Siegel and Richard Donner.
Best One-Liner: “I don’t like the fishes, but it does reassure me to know that they are still under there, swimming about.” Oh, Cat.
Worst Thing: Alex’s character is a mess right now. I believe that she loves Kara, but I don’t know who she is or what she wants beyond that, and she keeps switching from hostile to devoted with no conflict in either mode to tie them together.
Best Thing: The dynamic between Kara, Jimmy, and Winn is perfect: every scene between any combination of those characters was spot-on.