Kara (Melissa Benoist) tackles heroism from two sides this week. On the one hand, she balances the protection of her sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), and the requirements of the DEA. On the other, she spends time taking on smaller projects with best pals Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and James (Mehcad Brooks.) On the human end, she’s got her boss Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) to attend to. Kind of a whirlwind of tasks, really.
What we learn within the first few minutes is that Kara might have bitten off more than she can chew. And while last week’s pilot was all action and superpowers and fun, this week takes some of the shine off. It’s a touch of realism that breathes a new component into the show, and it gives the characters a bit more room to move around in. A lack of perfection is always more interesting to work with.
Additionally, the criticisms that Kara draws from the in-universe media sets the show up for the theme this week. Cat Grant, oddly one of the most inspirational people on this show, points out that Superman, while he had his share of mistakes, never drew the sort of controversy or discussion that Supergirl has. She reminds Kara (and by proxy, the audience) that a woman has to work “twice as hard as a man to be thought half as good.”
It’s a sentiment that follows Kara throughout the episode. The show, instead of shying away from the idea, takes the time to embrace it. It makes for better television, and a far more powerful TV show. We, the audience, are told by the show that Kara is more harshly critiqued because she is a woman. In a way, the show is reminding us to look at our own criticisms; not just of Kara and the show, but of women in general. It’s a clever move.
On a broader scale, the show gives us more of the fun charm that made it a hit last week. Kara flies around and dodges missiles, pretends to be joking about a cute kitten video, and forgets the meaning of personal space with James. The highlight of this week is doubtlessly James and Winn finding out that the other knows Kara’s secret, followed by an adorable montage of Kara saving the day with their help. The soundtrack choice is “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” because of course it is.
Bonus points for the cat in the tree gag, which turned out to be a pet snake named Fluffy. It’s kind of indicative of the whole show, actually. Supergirl is fully aware of its own tropes. But instead of deriding the campy and silly, it enjoys playing up those elements and subverting them. Comics TV could take a page out of that book!
A real standout this week turned out to be Hank Henshaw (David Harewood). Last week, Hank played the straight man to the sisters. He continues to do so this week, but with a much softer edge. His suspicion of Kara has turned to concern for not just her safety, but for Alex’s peace of mind. It makes the entire show run more smoothly, now that he’s entirely on Team Danvers Sisters. Plus, it creates a more friendly and familial feel to the DEA, which I am all about. I really hope to see more DEA members in the future! They give me a real MiB vibe.
Also, major kudos to Supergirl for continuing to put the Danvers sisters at the forefront of the show. This week’s episode focused a bit more on Kara’s Kryptonian bonds, specifically her now ruined relationship with her aunt Astra (Laura Benanti). While the betrayal of her aunt cuts Kara pretty deeply, her relationship with Alex remains the most important to her.
In fact, it gives us the quote of the week: “You’re my family.”
Can’t wait to see what next week has in store!
Supergirl airs on CBS, Mondays at 8/7c.
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