Supergirl 2.09: Supergirl Lives
Andrew Kreisberg, Eric Carrasco, and Jess Kardos
The experience of watching Supergirl has always been different, even when it was revealed last season to be a distant part of the DC television Universe. Yes, it's mainly the cheerful and optimistic tone that sets it apart from Arrow and The Flash, and that's been pinned to the show ad nauseum. But there are also virtues to the "dark and gritty" nature of those sister shows. Particularly Arrow. There's more weight to the events in the episodes, along with an acute sense of danger to the heroes.
Supergirl (and Superman stories as well) is limited by the sort of outcomes that are a result of the one-off plots the show takes on. That impression is made in the teaser, where Supergirl stops a trio of bank robbers... who are somehow armed with a pair of rocket launchers. While the weaponry is impressive and it's visually dynamic to have Supergirl be temporarily stopped by a couple of explosions, it's clear from the start that it won't really affect her. The sequence serves only to continue the adventures of the Guardian in taking on various criminals in National City. The Guardian storyline takes a bit of a backseat in this episode, aside from Kara voicing her continued annoyance at his invasion of her turf as the city's resident hero.
Instead, it opts to showcase the various dangers that come with the involvement of a civilian like Winn. Winn takes on a larger-than-normal role in the episode, which is fitting with his promotion in-series (or rather, a change of jobs) from assisting Kara in her superhero adventures to basically being the Guardian's hidden sidekick. He has to prove himself to be much more than the DEO's tech savant when he goes on the rescue mission to save Kara and Mon-El once they're stuck on Maaldoria. This is much better usage of the character than in previous episodes, but it sometimes feels like Winn is made to conveniently be the smartest character on the show, and thus using that intelligence to come up with the most outlandish solutions to problems that inevitably have to work because the good guys on this show always win.
That said, the episode is saved by the continued interaction between Kara and Mon-El. The whole avoidance of heroism and danger concept from Mon-El is understandable, albeit pushed a little too hard by the show, but it does benefit from furthering the chemistry between both characters. De-powering both of them on Maaldoria, and then building a small storyline about an alien planet that is using kidnapped Earthlings as slave labor is supposed to be one of those plot points in the show that demonstrates how far-reaching the world of Supergirl is. Yet, there isn't that much time devoted to the storyline because the show has to get to the resolution as quickly as possible.
It also has to squeeze in the week's prominent theme, which in this case, means having to fight for those people who can't defend themselves, even if the hero doesn't have the very things that make them special. Kara doesn't have her powers (until Alex conveniently provides a neat yellow sun grenade that enables the use of those powers on Maaldoria) so much of the time, she has to put on a brave face to hide the panic of not having a viable solution for their collective imprisonment by Roulette and her doctor minion.
The show often has trouble balancing each of its storylines within the space of one episode. Sometimes, a main plot will be so engrossing or intriguing that it can carry much of the episode. When there isn't much that is interesting in the episode, it becomes a glaring problem that can't be compensated for. A prime example of this is the episode's handling of Alex's growing relationship with Maggie. It wants to advance the relationship to the next logical step, having Alex bask in the glow of happiness at the prospect of maintaining a steady relationship with a girlfriend. But, just as quickly as they dive into this step, a problem crops up that has Alex rejecting Maggie outright.
There are fans of the show out there who are ecstatic that there's an out gay relationship between these two characters. I'm just not one of those fans, partly because the show has gone out of its way to push the pairing to the forefront every chance they get. The writers still haven't gotten a clear handle on this relationship, as they've introduced yet another obstacle in it that makes it appear rocky. The back-and-forth gets tiresome. I don't want to make it sound like I don't enjoy this show, or nitpicking it to death most weeks. On the contrary, it's still a likable enough show. It's just that I still wonder how ambitious the series really is during most episodes, and it's been magnified this season because the series has had to change networks. It shouldn't be stuck in neutral, or have one pattern for its stories, for so long.
- Winn gets some much-needed attention
- Kara’s lack of powers neatly highlights her internal heroism
- The show is starting to feel formulaic, even with its earnest exploration of social topics
- The writers still seem to be struggling with balance between plot threads
- For all the hype, did Kevin Smith bring anything special to the table?