A quick clarification before we begin: this week’s Supergirl is the fifth episode in the series. The fourth episode, “How Does She Do It?” will be airing next week. CBS switched episode 4 and episode 5 due to the content in episode 4. “How Does She Do It?” features our titular Supergirl taking on a group of terrorists. Given the tragic events in Paris that transpired this past weekend, CBS made the sensitive choice.
That being said, it’s very easy to jump into episode 5, “Livewire,” without much issue. Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum) and James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) are a couple in this episode, so assumedly they got back together in episode 4. Save for that, there’s really no sense that we missed anything major, as Supergirl’s episodes have been fairly solid stand-alone pieces.
To put it frankly, “Livewire” was a knockout. It was an excellent episode start to finish, and the performances this episode ranged from heartwarming to intense to laugh out loud funny. “Livewire” may turn out to be one of the best episodes of the season, though we’ll have to wait and see.
What’s especially cute about “Livewire” is that it knowingly calls back to an episode of Superman: The Animated Series by the same name. In S:TAS, the opening saw Leslie Willis go after Superman and his boyscout ways. This week, we get a similar introduction to her character (played by Brit Morgan), but the rant is much, much nastier. We also get a nice little throwback at the end of the episode. Keep an eye out for just how Kara wins the battle.
Leslie, on her show, attacks everything about Supergirl, from her appearance to her sexual orientation. It’s wildly uncomfortable, but an excellent way of establishing Leslie as our villain for this week. Major kudos to the special effects department this episode. Livewire’s powers were nothing short of spectacular, and the fight scenes were breathtaking.
Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) was on point this entire episode, from her first confrontation to with Leslie to her last. Cat makes a point of telling Leslie that it’s unacceptable to attack a young girl’s body and sexuality, simply because it’s “shocking” or “funny” to do so. When Leslie points out that Cat’s article was also a critique of Supergirl, Cat serves as a reminder that there’s a difference between open-ended criticism and flat bullying.
Interestingly, Cat has been something of a bully to Kara (Melissa Benoist) these past few weeks, and it was refreshing to see her offer Kara more sympathy. Like when Miranda Priestly tells Andy about her failed marriage in The Devil Wears Prada, Cat gives us a bit more insight into her mindset, but still undeniably remains the woman on top.
Worth mentioning is how well Supergirl handled the Leslie/Livewire storyline. Often, when a show wants to make a point about a “bad” woman, they’ll go out of their way to have everyone on the show, especially the other female characters, deride and belittle her like that’s some kind of statement. It’s not. It’s gross. Thankfully, Supergirl avoids this nasty little trope completely. Is Leslie a mean person? Yes. Is she nasty? Yes. Does she go after other women? You bet!
But this is a show built on the backs of women. And Kara and Cat don’t turn their backs on Leslie, despite her attitude. Kara still rescues Leslie without hesitation, and never once holds it over her head. And Cat actually takes full responsibility for Leslie’s bad attitude. It was a big moment for both Cat’s character and for the show.
And speaking of relationships between women, we also got a closer look at the relationship between Alex (Chyler Leigh) and her mother (Helen Slater). The relationship has been somewhat frayed since Kara came to earth 11 years ago, and Alex has always felt that her mother has been too hard on her when it comes to Kara’s safety. The moments of confrontation between Alex and her mother brilliantly balance the more fantastical elements of the episode. Leigh is a stunner in every episode, but really got to showcase her talents this week as an Alex who just wants maternal approval.
Our quote of the week actually comes from Dr. Eliza Danvers, spoken to Alex. “You have always been my super girl.”
While it was mentioned earlier that Supergirl has been a series of fairly stand-alone episodes, “Livewire” seems to be setting the stage for some bigger events. For one, Director Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) grows shadier by the week, but also increasingly fatherly and sympathetic to the girls. We now know that he’s linked to the death of Alex’s father, and appeared at the Danvers home when Kara first came to live with them. In other villainous news, Winn (Jeremy Jordan) revealed to Kara that his father is in prison, setting the stage for Toyman’s Supergirl debut.
Again, next week will actually be the episode before this one, so it will be two weeks until any of the gears set in motion by this episode actually come to pass.
Supergirl airs Mondays on CBS, 8/7c.
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