RECAP: Supergirl – 2×01 + 2×02 – “The Adventures of Supergirl” + “The Last Children of Krypton”

Airdate: 10th October 2016 & 17th October 2016

Supergirl ascends to its rightful home on the CW. As Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) puts it: “it’s like the old place but better”. And we welcome the Man (of Steel) himself : Superman.

Supergirl was an odd choice for CBS and is much more suited for the DCTV lineup of the CW which now has 40% of his fall lineup dedicated to comic book shows. The change has moved the filming of the show from Los Angeles to Vancouver and the changes in tone and budget are immediately felt.

In the first installment “The Adventures of Supergirl“, we pickup with effervescent superhero Kara Danvers  (Melissa Benoist) right off the season 1 finale. There’s a dude in a pod from Krypton.

The theme swells as we are introduced to the iconic Clark Kent played by Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf) in this incarnation. I had my doubts about this casting but Hoechlin pulls it off with simultaneously being steely strength and #relatable sincerity. He switches between the sillier Clark and the solemn Superman with ease.

It could be easy for Superman to overshadow Supergirl but the show lets Kara be front and center while letting Superman still be Superman. There is a playful chemistry between the two (“I changed his diapers!“) and some genuinely touching parts where Clark asks Kara to tell him stories about their home Krypton. It’s a nice reminder that while Clark may be Superman, Kara is still his older cousin and is a mentor to him in other ways.

The changes from filming in Los Angeles to Vancouver bring about major and some puzzling plot changes: The Kara/Jimmy Olsen romance is abruptly retconned, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) is relegated to special guest star instead of series regular and somehow Winn (Jeremy Jordan) joins the DEO as a tech wizard (?) when he  was a simple tech reporter literally one month before. I guess Winn did design Kara’s first super suit so maybe he has something to make him into Cisco-Lite.

The fun continues in “The Last Children of Kypton” where the teamup between Superman and Supergirl continues. It’s a pure thrill to watch these two icons in action. Winn fangirls out, much like the rest of us. The villain for this season is project Cadmus, namelessly portrayed by Brenda Strong (Desperate Housewives).

Phasing out Cat Grant, means Kara needs a new job and a new purpose, and she finds it in being a journalist in Cat Corp. Her new boss is Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) who promptly dismisses her. It’s all part of Kara’s arc this season: to evolve more into herself, to find her place as Kara Danvers now that she has found her place as Supergirl. It (unintentionally?) mirrors Cat’s only new journey to discover and challenge herself in new ways. (But really it’s just because Calista Flockhart doesn’t want to move to Vancouver)

I watched all of Season 1 of Supergirl and the marked improvement in just these two episodes is huge. A lot of those episodes were painful in Season 1. The action sequences are better this season. The fight scenes between Supergirl/Alex and Superman/Green Martian is one of the best and most intricate the show has dared to do.

Emotionally, the show hits lots of great beats. Cat Grant has truly evolved into a great character on the show and the bond that Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart infuse into their characters is truly lovely and it makes their farewell scenes far more impactful.  You really feel the loss as Cat as evolved from steely employer to friend and at times, a mother to Kara and Supergirl. Similarly, Kara and Clark have an easy and fun chemistry as well and it reminds me of Season 1 of “The Flash” where the show was just fun and not all broody and serious. Alex  is given an emotional arc too, as eventually cracks with jealousy over Kara bonding with Clark. This is the other great female relationship of this show: Alex and Kara. Season 1 was incredibly clunky but the female friendships on this show always worked and was often, the saving grace of an episode. It’s punctuated with it being Kara and Alex working together to defeat the big bad and pairing Superman instead with the Green Martian.

The promotion of Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) to Cat’s new position is puzzling and weird but it’s part of reshuffling the characters in light of the show’s move. Superman exits and takes with him all of the DEO’s Kyptonite stores.

Hoechlin was marvelous as Superman and a great addition to the cast. The first two episodes of Supergirl were boosted with Clark and Cat and it will be a real test next week to see how the show flies with just Kara alone, without her mentor figures of Clark and Cat. The loss of Cat Grant in particular will definitely be huge. The dynamic between Snapper and Kara is no way near the mentoring mother that Cat Grant became. But in a lot of ways, Season 2 Kara seems to veer towards taking the training wheels off and bringing Kara into her own, without her cousin and without Cat. Supergirl has a lot of potential and I’m happy it was given a second shot at life on The CW. The big bad of the season appears to be Cadmus and finding Jeremiah (Daddy Dean Cain). I hope Cadmus proves to be less of a snore than Non last season. The villains were not that impressive. At times, down right embarrassing. Let’s all try to forget Livewire and Banshee. Ugh. Bleh.

GRADE: B- /  B+

Next Week / Random Observation:  Between Clark’s “I’m With Her” and and Kara’s  “We are Stronger Together“, is that a subtle nod to Hillary Clinton for President? (I am choosing to think yes with a wonderful woman coming up in episode three. Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) guests next week as the President (of National City? of America? definitely of my heart!). Cue my fangirl screams.

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