It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superm…no…EVEN BETTER. It’s Supergirl!
Pardon my excitement, but I’ve been holding this in since the first extended trailer released earlier this year.
Confession time. Waaaaaay back when the show was first announced, I was ready to hate on Supergirl. The first image we ever saw of Melissa Benoist in costume wreaked of Man of Steel. For as much as I sort of defended the Zack Snyder film in the beginning, I still hated it. Supergirl was my first female superhero growing up. I still had fuzzy warm feelings of the other super bad Super story I saw as a kid. Y’know, that one starring a young Helen Slater. I didn’t want to hate her if she was going the same route as her cousin’s movie!
Thank our lucky stars we don’t have to worry about that anymore!
The series premiere starts off like any other origin story with a network television budget: there’s a quick intro on Kara Zor-El and Kal-El. They both get launched into space as their home planet falls apart. Kal escapes the blast easily and zips right on to Earth to begin his heroic story. Kara, however, gets knocked around and reroutes to the Phantom Zone. Twenty-odd years later, Kara’s pod escapes the timeless suck hole and completes its journey to Earth. A familiar silhouette with a red cape finds the young Kara, and takes her to the Danvers, who are none other than Dean Cain and Helen Slater!
Ten-ish years after that, Kara is living the human life and working as Cat Grant’s (Calista Flockart) underling at CatCo. in National City.
Grant breaks the news that because of budgetary concerns, she’s going to have to shut down the city’s newspaper company, The Tribune — a less successful version of The Daily Planet because one lacks the benefit of having a superhero to help sell papers. Literally the next thing Grant says to Kara is to “find [her] a hero” if they want to keep the paper running.
Kara, at this point, is already questioning her life choices. Since Kal/Clark Kent no longer needs protecting, her mission is over. It was over before it even began. In her mind, Superman was all the world needed.
Then Kara finds out that her sister Alex is in a plane that is literally plummeting from the sky, right now as the news anchor is reporting it. Seriously, National City’s news team is on top of things a little too quickly, don’t you think?
As if she needed any more reasons to break up her “normal” life, Kara busts out the door and leaps into the air to save the day. Her first heroic act is saving a commercial plane from from crashing into the city. Just like Superman did for his debut.
Probably the best part of the episode is the reason why Supergirl has the word “girl” in it rather than “woman.” Cat Grant is the one who coins the name, much to Kara’s dismay. Cat doesn’t see a problem in using “girl” while Kara sees it as less empowering. You might already be familiar with this line since it was said in the promo, but that doesn’t make it any less than a cool mic drop from Calista Flockhart.
What do you think is so bad about “girl?” I’m a girl, and your boss, and powerful, and rich, and hot, and smart. So if you perceive “Supergirl” as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?
Touché, Ms. Grant. Touché.
Supergirl’s heroic feats over the next few days catches the attention of some salty aliens once imprisoned within the Phantom Zone. They know who she really is, and they want her out of the picture right now.
Supergirl faces off with one of these aliens. Here’s thing to keep in mind: Kara has never been in a real fight before. She’s Kryptonian. Because of the bright yellow sun, she and Superman are granted special powers, including invulnerability. Against puny humans, the need to know how to properly engage in fisticuffs wouldn’t even register to a noob such as Kara. She can fly, she can haul a plane on her back, she can bounce bullets off her chest like they were messy potato chip crumbs that were launched at you by your pesky younger brother. Why would she need to learn how to fight?
Well, y’see…this alien is just as strong as she is. Maybe a little stronger. And she’s wielding an axe that can not only hurt her, but heat itself to an absurd amount of degrees-Fahrenheit before exploding. Bottomline is, Kara gets the crapped kicked out of her.
On top of that, Kara finds out that her sister Alex is part of a secret government organization meant to handle hostile aliens. Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) is the leader of this organization. He sees Kara as a liability more than an asset, to which Alex agrees (at first).
So here’s Supergirl, a super hero who hasn’t even come into her own just yet, and everyone (including herself) tells her that she’s not cut out for this kind of work. The heroics is better left to her cousin.
Bump that! Alex comes to her senses about what she’s done to her little sister and reveals a message from Kara’s birth mother, Alura Zor-El. The holographic message holds a few word of encouragement to be the brave and helpful woman she knows Kara to be. It’s her destiny. Protecting Kal-El might have been her mission, but it most certainly is not what she is meant to do her whole life.
After seeing Alura, Kara gums up the will to get back out there and face the alien again. This time, Alex has her back…and a plan.
Supergirl and the alien face off once again. Our hero takes a few hits, but she deals blows just as powerful. Just when her opponent is about to split her face in half with his axe, she grabs it and uses her heat vision to overload the weapon. It explodes in the alien’s face, injuring him. Not willing to give up his masters’ plans, the alien kills himself with a shard of his axe.
At the end of the episode, we learn that The Commander, with whom this week’s baddie spoke earlier in the episode, answers to someone else. A female general, in fact. A general who looks a lot like Alura Zor-El…but isn’t. This general refers to Kara as her niece, which can only mean that this season’s villain is none other than her own aunt. And her name is Astra.
Astra, is not a happy camper. She and a lot of other criminals banished to the Phantom Zone were sent there by Alura. They want their revenge. Since Alura is dead, they’re aiming for the next best thing: Kara.
- Jimmy Olsen prefers to be called James now. Whatevs, he’ll always be Jimmy to me.
- Jimmy may be an award-winning photographer, but he still does “gofer” work for Superman. He transferred from The Daily Planet in part just to keep an eye out for Kara. He also plays delivery boy for the big man in blue. Basically, Jimmy is the cheapest way to not infringe on whatever foolish clause Warner Bros. has on itself about not showing a single character in certain mediums.
- Kara/Supergirl may be a lot like her cousin in many ways, but the one defining difference between them besides anatomy is that Kara is the type of girl who gets so excited about a secret that she has to tell a close friend who’s not a family member. That friend, in this case, is Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan). This is totally a girl thing to do. I’m not saying that in a dismissive way, because every single girl/woman/lady on this planet does that. For some reason Kara’s revealing her powers to Winn as the very first thing after her debut just stuck with me.
- I might be nit-picking here, but how do the Els know about the effects of the Earth’s sun? Are we taking a page from Smallville and saying that Jor-El visited Earth several years before Krypton blew up?
- Supergirl is quite refreshing. It is staying away from its broody, moody cousin and keeping it light like Greg Berlanti’s other show, The Flash, but with a more feminine touch. Our hero is enthusiastic, giddy, optimistic, and fun-loving. Did I mention optimistic? I feel like I should emphasize that.
- I’m in love with all the girl power in this episode. Other than Supergirl, we have Cat Grant who is a CEO of her own corporation, Alex who is a secret government agent with advanced degrees, and the villain is a female general of a bunch of hardened alien criminals.