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Supergirl Recap: “Livewire”

"Congratulations. You have the wit of a YouTube comment." -Cat Grant

My secret identity is a goth teen at the local high school.

My secret identity is a goth teen at the local high school.

This week’s episode of Supergirl was actually supposed to be next week’s Thanksgiving episode, but a terrorism-related storyline on the former Episode 4 made CBS reconsider airing it out of respect for those who lost loved ones in terrorist bombings last week. So now, the part of Episode 4 is being played by Episode 5, which finds Supergirl encountering one of my favorite DC villains from their animated universe: Livewire!


Supergirl Ep 4 - Livewire 2

Yay! Commence holiday Mommy Issues!

S1, Episode 4 – The Basics

  • Supergirl is helping the DEO contain an escaped female alien prisoner (despite her male—to us—appearance), when she gets a call from Alex, who needs her help. No, it’s not about villains, or aliens, or crashing planes … their mother is coming to visit. Specifically, Alex’s mother and Kara’s foster mother, Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater!). Alex is on edge immediately, because apparently, Eliza has always been easier on Kara than she has on Alex and whooooo boy is Alex resentful.
  • Meanwhile, National City is listening to “shock-jock” (that’s not my pun—that’s the show’s pun) Leslie Willis (Brit Morgan), who is on the air criticizing Supergirl in truly hilarious fashion and commenting on who might be “penetrating her chastity belt.” After listening to the broadcast with Winn at CatCo, Kara discovers that he has no one with whom he’s spending Thanksgiving, so she invites him over to a “Friendsgiving” with her and her family.
  • After hearing Leslie’s broadcast, Cat calls her into her office to tell her to lay off Supergirl. We learn that Cat mentored Leslie, and Leslie has always been allowed to go after “whatever sacred cows [she] wanted” as long as she delivered ratings. But Cat is clear: Supergirl is a brand she’s trying to build, not tear down—not to mention the fact that listening audiences “don’t want [her] brand of negativity anymore. They want hope.” So, when Leslie refuses to lay off, Cat fires her from her show and puts her on traffic-copter duty until her contract runs out.
  • Kara learns that James is going home with Lucy to have Thanksgiving with her family in Ojai. [This might seem weird/sudden to you after the events of Episode 3. Note that this is the one thing that’s slightly off now that the episodes have aired out of order. James and Lucy come together in the original third episode of the series called “How Does She Do It?” Yes, I’ve seen it. No, I’m not telling you what happened—except to say that this is the one thing that might seem bumpy to you without that episode before this one. Otherwise, pretty interchangable.] Anyway, Kara is all Sadface McGee as she watches James with Lucy. Womp-womp.
Cat Grant

So, you’re telling me that encouraging female employees rather than berating them actually goes a longer way toward getting them to succeed? Ohhhhh…

  • Alex and Kara talk about Eliza, and Alex tells her that despite the fact that she hasn’t said anything yet, Alex is sure that Eliza is angry with her for “allowing” Kara to reveal her powers to the world, because she’s supposed to look after her sister. Kara tells her that she should tell Eliza about her job with the DEO, to show her the lengths to which she’s gone to look out for Kara—and the world.
  • Meanwhile, in the traffic-copter, Leslie is determined to make lemonade out of lemons, and she’s doing the traffic reporting thing. However, the weather picks up and a storm quickly knocks the helicopter off-course. Just as it’s about to crash into a building, Supergirl saves the day! But then lighting strikes as Supergirl is taking Leslie’s hand, hits Supergirl, and the charge goes through her and into Leslie, putting her into a coma.
  • Cat and Kara go to visit Leslie at the hospital while she’s unconscious, and Cat reveals that, despite her snark, and tough love, she cares very much whether Leslie wakes up. When Cat and Kara leave, Leslie’s eyes fly open, and we see electric flashes in them.
  • We’re then treated to our first flashback of the episode. As Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) are flirting nerdily with each other on the front porch of their house, young Kara and Alex are on the roof where Kara begs her to go flying with her. Alex agrees, and soon they’re off the roof and soaring through the sky! (If I had a sister who could fly, I’d never walk anywhere again.)
  • Leslie, whose hair is now white, whose lips are now black, whose face is now grey, and who now looks decidedly more goth than she did before is out of the hospital and walking the streets as electricity starts to shoot from her hands and lights flicker around her. She tries out her new electrical powers on a creepy dude who tries to push up on her in an alley, and when she sees the full extent of what she can do, she seems thrilled. Also, she realizes that she can travel through the power lines!
Winn, I like you SO much I'm making you hang out for my family drama.

Winn, I like you SO much I’m making you hang out for my family drama.

  • And then, there’s the most Awkward Thanksgiving Dinner ever, featuring Kara, Alex, Eliza, and Winn. Alex is not having any of this as she drowns her sorrows in wine as Kara attempts to keep things light by talking about what she’s thankful for. Eventually, Alex can’t hold it in anymore and she blurts out that she works for the DEO. Eliza gets upset about having been lied to for years, and Alex storms off. But not before James calls Kara, because he thought she could “use a friendly voice,” and Kara leaps out of her seat to take the phone into the bedroom, causing Winn to make A Face. *sigh* Watching Orphan Black might have been the better plan.
  • FLASHBACK #2: Young Alex gets reprimanded for “letting” Kara fly. Kara tries to take responsibility—after all, she did convince Alex to go—but Eliza and Jeremiah insist that Alex should “know better” and be able to keep her sister in check. Suddenly, there’s a mysterious knock at the door that makes the parents tense. They hurry the girls upstairs—it’s Hank Henshaw and some DEO agents!
  • At CatCo, Kara is attempting to help Cat get back online, but nothing seems to be working. (And in a hilarious moment, Cat reveals that she has zero idea who Winn is). Suddenly, they are not alone. Leslie, who now goes by the name of Livewire for some reason even though clever monikers are usually decided on once you’ve decided to make villainy your life and she still seems to be in “normal person with a personal grudge” territory—but still—Livewire appears on the monitors in Cat’s office, and it’s clear that she apparently did not take her demotion well at. All.
  • Kara manages to save Cat from Livewire, but Livewire ends up causing blackouts throughout the city. Supergirl goes to the DEO and wonders aloud how Livewire got her new powers if she was a human. Hank explains that it’s because the lightning went through Kara first, taking unknown properties with it, and transferring themselves to Leslie. So now, not only can Livewire shoot electricity and travel via power line, but she can also absorb energy from others, charging her battery. The DEO figures out a possible way to trap Livewire.
You're still on Hotmail?

You’re still on Hotmail?

  • Since Cat is stubborn and doesn’t heed the “FBI’s” (DEO in disguise!) warning to leave the office, Kara comes to the office to assist, as she doesn’t want to leave her alone with Livewire on the loose. They have an interesting conversation about mothers and mentors, and Cat takes responsibility for making Leslie the person she is, saying that “Livewire started long before” she got hit by lightning. Cat pushed Leslie the way her mother pushed her, and she believes that that made Leslie unkind.
  • Meanwhile, Alex comes home to check on Eliza since the power’s out. They come to an understanding and have a lovely heart-to-heart conversation over THE WEIRDEST MUSIC CHOICE OF ALL TIME. Why in the name of all that is good and holy would you choose a cover of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” as background music for a mother-daughter scene? Why?! That was SO WEIRD. (YOU KNOW THAT’S A SEX SONG, RIGHT?! DID YOU THINK THAT BY CHOOSING A FEMALE COVER OF IT THAT WE WOULDN’T RECOGNIZE IT AS THE SAME SONG?!)
  • Cat told Kara to get Supergirl’s number from the FBI, and so Supergirl shows up at Cat’s request. Cat wants to help take Livewire down, and asks Supergirl if she wants to be partners. She will draw Livewire out, and Supergirl will capture her. Supergirl agrees, and goes to the DEO, where Hank provides a device that will allow Supergirl to trap her inside it. Supergirl giggles dorkily and says “Cool. We’re like the Ghostbusters!” Because of course she does.
  • Cat draws Livewire out by calling her out on the radio. Livewire arrives and she really lays into Supergirl. Just as Supergirl thinks that she’ll be able to trap Livewire in the DEO device, Livewire realizes what’s happening and kicks the device away. So much for that plan. Cat is really composed and together and tries to talk Livewire down before she kills Supergirl. As Cat has her distracted, Kara uses her x-ray vision to spot a water pipe beneath her, so that when Livewire next attacks her, she reaches into the concrete, grabs and bursts the water pipe, and sprays Livewire down. Livewire is down, and she gets apprehended by the DEO.
So, clearly we all got the memo about black & white being tonight's theme...

So, clearly we all got the memo about black & white being tonight’s theme…

  • The next day at CatCo, Winn tells Kara that he never got to say what he was grateful for Thanksgiving dinner. He mentioned that his father is in jail (and is not a good person) and that his family was never about celebrating anything. So, he’s grateful to have been included in Kara’s family dinner, despite the family drama … and he’s grateful for Kara herself. He kisses her cheek in a moment that is surprising for Kara, but also genuine and not creepy.
  • Meanwhile, the experience with Livewire has caused Cat to not only “raise the discourse” in her media outlets, but to learn more about Kara as a person.
  • As Eliza is leaving after her visit, she decides to tell Alex and Kara a secret she’s been keeping from them for a while. Not only did she and her late husband know about the DEO, but Jeremiah traded his work and Superman knowledge, agreeing to work for the DEO under Hank Henshaw, in exchange for them leaving Kara alone.
  • Now, Kara and Alex are all weirded about by Hank at work, and their determined to figure out what happened to Jeremiah and how he died.
Kira, I told you. Breath mint!

Kira, I told you. Breath mint!

The Review Bit, Wherein I Express OPINIONS:

Overall, this episode was solid, and despite the change in schedule, I don’t think watching this episode out of order hurts much. The thing that impressed me the most was Calista Flockhart as Cat and her relationship with Melissa Benoist’s Kara. I loved how Cat’s relationships with Kara and Supergirl were explored here, and we really got to see how much Cat actually does care about the people in her life through her interaction with her former protegee who she fears she’s wronged. I loved watching them together, and I loved the fact that they had so much time together. Cat is truly emerging as one of the most intriguing characters on the show.

I was also thrilled to see Helen Slater and Dean Cain finally included in the proceedings, though I have to say—not only was Slater’s performance a bit rocky, but the character of Eliza was written really weird. She seemed to be written “the way Alex remembers her” not as a character in her own right, if that makes sense. Her one-note motivation of wanting Alex to look after Kara seemed forced. However, Chyler Leigh completely sold her performance, and I totally bought her slightly irrational feelings about her mother. I just wish Slater would’ve matched that.

Brit Morgan was an awesome guest star as Livewire, and since the DEO now has her in custody, I’m keeping hope alive that she’ll return. I already loved Livewire as a character, but Morgan actually managed to make one of the most over-the-top villains in DC completely human. Though I still don’t buy that a normal woman with a grudge and these powers would randomly give themselves a nickname like Livewire without villain plans beyond taking care of the woman who fired them.

Despite the few writing hiccups mentioned above, I love how mother-daughter and female mentor-mentee relationships were explored throughout the episode. Obviously, there was the stuff between Alex and her mom, but I was more interested in Cat connecting the dots between how her mother treated her and how that informs how she treats others. She sees herself in younger women like Leslie or Kara, and she struggles to find the balance between tough love and genuine encouragement. I don’t buy that Cat still doesn’t know Kira Kara’s name. However, I wouldn’t put it past her for her to continue calling Kara by the wrong name on purpose to keep her in her place.

I’m also glad that Kara and Alex’s new mission of discovering what happened to Jeremiah may build new story arcs for the show and allow them to stay away from doing monster-of-the-week plots all the time.

Oh, and lastly, I’m THRILLED that Livewire’s power worked exactly the way it does in the cartoons. I was wondering if they were going to do that (and how they’d do it), and I was not disappointed!

But seriously though—”Take Me to Church?” For THAT scene? Did no one else in production think that was weird?

Tell me what you thought of “Livewire” in the comments! (and also, tell me if you had a hard time not saying “Limewire” instead. Awww. Remember Limewire, you guys?)

(Images via Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8PM ET/PT on CBS. And for more Supergirl fun, check out The House of El on Thursday, and subscribe to my podcast, Supergirl Radio!

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.