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Supergirl Season 2 Premiere Recap: “The Adventures of Supergirl”

"I'm just a woman trying to make a name for herself outside her family." -Lena Luthor

image via Bettina Strauss/The CW

image via Bettina Strauss/The CW

Season Two of Supergirl has kicked off at its new home at The CW, and I am thrilled to have it back! The wonderful thing about the Season Two opener is that nothing we’ve loved about Supergirl has changed. What’s changed is that certain things have been honed and amplified to make them even better, while trimming away the unnecessary or distracting bits that occasionally bogged down the show in the first season. Plus, this new Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman is charming AF. Welcome to “The Adventures of Supergirl.”

**THIS IS A RECAP – SPOILERS ARE PART OF THE TERRITORY.**

supergirl-s2-ep-1-1

S2, EP. 1 – THE RECAP

THE VENTURE

The world is watching as The Venture, the first commercial sub-orbital flight is about to launch. Over 200 people have paid for the privilege of leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, and everyone is really excited. On her first date with James now that they’ve finally decided to try and be a couple, Kara can’t help but watch the launch on TV. Meanwhile, everyone is watching in Metropolis, too, where we meet Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin) as he has a hilarious conversation with his boss, Perry White, on the phone.

Suddenly, a part on The Venture explodes! Supergirl and Superman each fly to the rescue (Supergirl gets there first, because she’s faster), and they team up to bring the flight down safely. The DEO investigates and realizes that the explosion occurred because one of its passengers, Lena Luthor, was the target of an assassination attempt … by her jailed adoptive brother, Lex. The DEO finds the assassin, John Corben (Frederick Schmidt), and takes him down alive. However, he’s removed from the hospital by a mystery lady who promises that he will survive if he accepts what she’s about to do to him. She welcomes him to Cadmus.

SUPERGIRL/SUPERMAN TEAM-UP

Kara is thrilled to have her cousin in town, and she immediately tries to incorporate him into her day-saving activities, to which everyone responds differently. Kara herself misses no opportunity to remind Clark that despite the fact that he has more experience in the hero department, she’s older and changed his diapers. She’s also extremely proud of the name that she’s built for herself in National City and asks him if it bugs him “even a little bit” that she gets top-billing in their joint rescues there. However, Clark couldn’t be happier for her, and he genuinely respects what she’s accomplished, giving her advice on technique that comes with experience (like scanning the mysterious Kryptionian who landed in the pod at the end of Season 1 with her x-ray vision to check for mechanical components) without ever undermining or second-guessing her.

Winn (who now officially works at the DEO) is absolutely star-struck and tongue tied around Superman (also, does he have a bit of a crush?). Alex, who’s clearly met Clark before, still loves teasing Kara by talking to her about how good Clark smells. Cat Grant is absolutely smitten with Clark and basically turned into a horny teenager around him (and he totally uses that to his advantage, even as he reminds her that he and Lois are still very much together).

And then there’s J’onn, whose interaction with Clark seems almost hostile. Turns out that back when Superman used to work with the DEO, Clark and J’onn discovered the existence of kryptonite on Earth in something called Operation Emerald. Whereas Clark wanted to destroy it immediately once he learned the effects it had on him and anyone like him, J’onn insisted the DEO needed to keep it to defend the Earth against Kryptonians who might not be as nice as Clark or Kara. Clark still has trouble accepting that decision, and so their relationship remains strained.

By the end of the episode, Clark tells Kara that he’d like to stay for a little while. He enjoys not being the only Kryptonian in a city for a change, and he wants Kara to tell him stories about Krypton and his parents, which she’s more than happy to do.

image via Diyah Pera/The CW

image via Diyah Pera/The CW

LENA LUTHOR

Once her brother Lex was imprisoned Lena (Katie McGrath), who was adopted by the Luthors when she was four, took over the family business. While many people, including Clark, are automatically suspicious of her because of her last name, she wants to make a fresh start and create something good, turning the company into a socially conscious one that makes the world a better place. She’s even going so far as to rename the company L Corp, removing Lex’s stink entirely and hoping to forge ahead with something new.

However, Lex is clearly not thrilled, and he clearly wants to do something about it, despite the fact that Lena tells Kara and Clark that Lex was always in her corner and made her “proud to be a Luthor” throughout her childhood. After The Venture incident didn’t go as planned, Corben comes after Lena with drone weapons while she’s travelling by helicopter. Supergirl saves her as Superman takes out the other drones Corben has sent around the city as a distraction. Corben comes after her again at the company renaming ceremony and there, an Alex-Supergirl-Lena combo finally takes him down.

Lena thanks Clark for the subsequent story that he wrote about the incident, because he made her and the company look good. He insists that he merely told the truth. Then Lena unwittingly inspires Kara’s new career choice.

KARA BEGINS TO FIGURE OUT KARA

While Kara’s superheroing is going extremely well, her personal life is going less well. She’s agitated whenever she talks to James about them having an uninterrupted date, and when Cat brings up the fact that she still hasn’t clarified what new job she’d like at CatCo now that she’s no longer Cat’s assistant, Kara freezes, overwhelmed with the choices she has to make.

When Clark and Kara first question Lena about The Venture, Lena mentions that she’s “just a woman trying to make a name for herself outside her family.” This resonates with Kara, who steals a glance at Clark before telling Lena that she totally gets it. Later, Kara asks Clark how he does it, and he reassures her, telling her that it was just as hard for him. That balancing being a superhero, being a journalist, and being a good boyfriend didn’t come easy, but with time and practice, and that “being Kara is just as important as being Supergirl.” Meanwhile, Cat gives her usual unsolicited but extremely insightful advice. She points out to Kara that Kara is afraid of taking a chance on making firm decisions, because that might mean that the identity she’s built as “Kara Danvers” might change, and that idea is terrifying.

Thanks to Lena’s assumption that she was a reporter, Clark’s shining example, and Cat’s encouragement, Kara realizes that she has a calling as a reporter, and presents this to Cat. Meanwhile, Cat has apparently been waiting for Kara to come to this realization, having scrawled “reporter” on her resume and keeping it in her desk when Kara originally applied as her assistant. Cat not only sees herself in Kara, but admires Kara for her integrity and devotion to the truth.

However, Kara also realizes something kinda sad. That when she listens to her heart, it tells her that she and James are better as friends. He’s clearly disappointed by this revelation, but he also lets her know that she’ll always have his friendship.

image via Diyah Pera/The CW

image via Diyah Pera/The CW

S2, EP. 1 – THE REVIEW

Right off the bat, I’d love to talk about the fact that I’m thrilled that the look and feel of the show has not changed since the move to The CW. If anything, the aesthetic has gotten brighter with the DEO’s other headquarters (that everyone knew about except Kara) in a sunny office building. However, it’s more than just sunlight that has set the tone for Season Two, its the fact that in this first episode, the show feels less “dumbed-down.”

This wasn’t something I noticed when it was at CBS, but now that it’s at The CW it seems blaringly obvious. At CBS, which is a larger, more mainstream network, ideas like feminism and things like superheroes were often over-explained and dumbed down for a wider audience that might not be familiar with talking about these things, or with putting certain ideas in certain contexts. Since Supergirl existed on a network that didn’t have any other superhero shows, episodes often felt like Comics 101. This is understandable, of course, especially for a new series. However, it’s not just a little bit frustrating for those of us for whom feminism is a way of life, or for whom superheroes are very familiar.

“The Adventures of Supergirl” was a breath of fresh air. It was inherently feminist, so it didn’t have to talk about it. It no longer feels like it’s constantly justifying its own existence as a superhero show. Granted, some of this has to do with the fact that Supergirl is in its second season and has found surer footing, but I also think it has to do with the audience for which it’s being created. Rather than trying to appeal to everyone, it’s appealing to a smaller, but savvier audience, which I think makes it a stronger show, because it isn’t diluted.

I also noticed that, while the show at CBS made sure that Kara had a million and one love interests, Season Two at The CW (despite it being the network of Sexy People), has Kara more comfortable with being alone. She breaks things off with James, and he doesn’t react in an overly dramatic way. They are adult, and mature, and it’s very clear that romance is only one part of this woman’s life, and not even the most important part. The show is no longer playing to a larger audience who might need things like constant love triangles to be entertained. It’s more comfortable doing its own thing.

image via: Diyah Pera/The CW

image via: Diyah Pera/The CW

I love the addition of Superman to the proceedings, not because the show “needed” Superman, but because the way that he and Supergirl are written makes sense for the show. Their relationship is amazing, and Hoechlin is absolutely charming in the role. I believe him when he says that his clumsy moment in the elevator is real, and I also believe him as a square-jawed hero. Most importantly, his portrayal is imbued with kindness. Even in those brief moments of hostility with J’onn, we never get the sense that Clark is anything less than kind. He is very definitely Supergirl‘s Superman, and I love that guy.

Speaking of performances, both Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart brought not only their “A” games, but their “B” and “C” games to this season, and they’re just playing all of them at the same time. Benoist started the show wonderful, but this season, having inhabited Kara for over a year, she breathes this role now, and as Kara struggled with her life’s direction while simultaneously loving the crap out of being a superhero, Benoist let us see all of it in a finely-calibrated performance. Meanwhile, this is the best Cat Grant we’ve gotten yet. She hasn’t lost her edge, but she’s also much more human and less of a drama queen, and she’s a lot kinder to Kara. I loved the reveal that Cat has always been rooting for Kara from the beginning. That, through all the yelling and all the “Kiras,” Cat has been on her side all along, even if she hasn’t always been great about showing it.

The entire main cast was great in this episode, and they have clearly gelled as a unit. It was wonderful to see Chyler Leigh have the opportunity to be funny as Alex, and Jeremy Jordan’s delivery of Winn’s humor seemed more organic in this episode than it ever has.

image via Bettina Strauss/The CW

image via Bettina Strauss/The CW

While the episode did have a “villain of the week,” it didn’t feel like a “villain of the week” episode, because every storyline for every character was wonderfully interwoven. Writers Andrew Kreisberg and Jessica Queller fit everything in the episode, from Superman’s arrival, to the attempts on Lena Luthor’s life, into the main theme of being unafraid about forging your own path and figuring out who you’re supposed to be. Season One was about Kara figuring out Supergirl, and this season is clearly about her figuring out Kara, and nothing in the episode was wasted and didn’t contribute to that overall mission.

A surprising addition to the show is Lena Luthor, who in this version of Supergirl’s story (unlike the version we’re getting to know in DC’s current Superwoman title) is a woman who, like Kara, is trying to come out on the other side of family drama and tragedy with her soul still in tact. I think the decision to have Lena want to use her family name and company for good is a great one, and I love McGrath’s portrayal of Lena, making her a confident, competent businesswoman without making her cold. Her vibe with Kara was lovely, and I really enjoy the fact that Kara has a potential ally in a Luthor, which is exactly the flip of what Clark generally gets to have.

And unlike Cat Grant, Lena Luthor has an easier time accessing her feelings, making her a wonderful addition to the diverse portrayals of women on this show. Every time a new female character is added to Supergirl, we see even more possibilities for what women can be on television.

There were also some intriguing side-plots acting as bread crumbs that will inevitably pay off later in the season. First, there’s obviously the mysterious Kryptonian Kara found in the pod. We got to see him, but we still don’t know his deal, and that’s okay. The other side plot was the one between Clark and J’onn. They seem to be setting up the issue of whether or not a government agency should maintain kryptonite as one that’s going to come up again. And of course, there’s the ending with Corben at Project Cadmus, which also happens to be where Alex and Kara’s father is. We haven’t seen him yet, but with another person there now, I’m sure we’ll be getting to Cadmus soon.

“The Adventures of Supergirl” was a well-paced, well-acted episode that didn’t feel the need to announce or defend itself. Supergirl as a show finally feels comfortable and confident in its own skin, and I can’t wait to see the continued evolution of Kara Danvers/Zor-El!


Well, enough of me! What did you think of the Season Two premiere of Supergirl? Let’s chat about what we hope for in the coming season in the comments below!

As you may have noticed, I formatted the recap a bit differently this time out. Hopefully that makes it clearer and more enjoyable to read! If you want more Supergirl fun, there will also be new House of El videos coming up, but those will change in format as well, and they’ll be starting next week.

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8PM ET/PT on The CW.

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