How did Supergirl make the transition and how did adding Superman affect the narrative? What themes did the creators set the stage for and most importantly what does this signify for the sophomore season of this series – which tend to fight a real downturn in television as a rule?
These are the things I want to explore.
So let’s get this monkey smoking…
THE SYNOPSIS from TVGuide.com
Season 2, Episode 1
October 10, 2016
The Adventures of Supergirl
In the Season 2 premiere, Supergirl's famous cousin arrives on the scene to help her deal with a new threat to the citizens of National City. While having Clark Kent around is a thrill for Kara, their family reunion leaves Alex feeling a bit left out. Meanwhile, Cat Grant encourages her young protégé to make a bold decision in both her personal and professional lives; and Hank and Supergirl are stunned by the alien pod that crashed to Earth.
Season 2, Episode 2
October 17, 2016
The Last Children of Krypton
Supergirl ends up seriously injured during an attack on National City by a kryptonite-powered villain; and Superman puts the blame for his cousin getting hurt on Hank, because the kryptonite was stolen from the DEO. Meanwhile, Kara's first day at her new job doesn't go as planned after she meets her new boss
The creatives at Supergirl are some of the best storytellers of the superhero genre currently working and instinctively they knew that moving to another network was going to be a challenge. But being the fearless team they are the writer’s, director and cast instead of fearing the change, embraced it. And by embraced I mean running headlong and jumping into the arms of change. From the first interaction in the first scene to the last interaction of the second episode Supergirl is about change. Thematically it is clear in every major and minor character throughout the premiere that no one gets too rest on their laurels or ride season one’s success.
Naturally the biggest change is for Kara (it is her show) as she learns to deal with her loneliness yes but more profoundly build on the inherent theme that Supergirl embodies – empowerment. While Supergirl season one was about Supergirl stepping out of Clark’s shadow and becoming the self-empowered hero she has become. But this season it is Kara searching for voice, for a place for her own identity. Winn has a new job and Cat a new adventure, Jimmy a new outlook and no girlfriend. Alex has a new level of depth to her as a person not as an agent for the DEO. Perhaps the next biggest change, however in in the Martian Manhunter, who being the last of his race in search of his friends has a more dour and fearful nature than we have seen here to date. Which brings me to Superman…
In comics, if you want to dilute and marginalize Kara as Supergirl the fastest way to do it is to have a Superman appearance. Clark has spent Kara’s lifetime overshadowing her or creating labels for Kara like Superman-lite. When they announced Superman for this season I was worried all the work from season one would be undone because I knew they would nail the classic Superman characterization. My fear was after seeing Superman that viewers might lose interest in Kara.
I should have had more faith.
In the grand scheme of the theme of change they used Superman as the catalyst for change and let him go his merry way. But in using Superman as a catalyst to spring all the changes on the characters was genius. It enhanced Kara’s voice. Superman took a back seat lead and it paid off beautifully. From letting Kara come up with the plan to beat the new Metallos to returning to the text based communique at the end of episode two the cast and crew pulled off a Superman appearance as well as it ever had been done ‘til now. Superman is polite, kind and sappy. He is a boy scout again, as it should be. Real praise should be given to the CW for reviving Superman in a way they said would never work again for films.
The episodes are chocked full of Easter Eggs from Perry White to Lex Luthor the name drops keep coming. Fans of the comics and of the cartoon will recognize the new villains, Cadmus and minor references without it overpowering the narrative. All in all, it is clear Supergirl is a real contender for best CW show.
Supergirl’s second season is full of heart, action and thematic exploration on a multi-charactered front. It is deep in substance and the slow build to the Cadmus showdown promises to be one for noting. Watch this show and be happy.