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Supergirl - Growing Stronger on The CW



After last week’s heart pounding episode, Exodus, maybe it’s a good thing we get a break from a new Supergirl episode this week. We can all catch our collective breaths, patiently await the fallout from the arrival of the royal couple from Daxam, and look forward to the musical crossover with the Flash week after next.

To pass the time, now seems the perfect opportunity to stop and reflect on how much our Supergirl has grown since moving from CBS to the CW, and how good that growth has been for both the show and the network.

Like many, many shows, Supergirl has experienced growing pains in its second season and it’s done so with the added burden of having moved from one network (CBS) to the next (The CW). Moving to the CW has been great for Supergirl, and having Supergirl in its lineup has been great for the CW. Supergirl and the CW are growing, as Supergirl’s presiding Season One Theme said, stronger together.

With growth, comes change, often times wonderful and surprising and at other times painful. And I’ve found generally, people are resistant to change. But, if you exercise faith and patience you’ll come to find that change is good.

Has Supergirl’s growth been without mistakes or stumbles? No, but for all the lamenting going on out there, for everything some feel that the show has done wrong, there is so much more that the show has done right. In doing so, Supergirl has become a much deeper, richer, thought-provoking, stronger and entertaining show. And what’s so cool about that, is that it’s still growing and changing and has so much more to offer.

Here are some of the things that Supergirl has gotten very right and has made the show my one must-see program of every week!

LOVE OF TV SUPERHERO HISTORY


While some would call it stunt casting, and in a way, it is, the decision to pepper guest stars from iconic superhero or genre shows has been a brilliant idea. It shows an abiding respect of Supergirl’s history and the fans of oft dismissed sci-fi or genre shows. It was a practice in Season One that began with casting Helen Slater (the original film Supergirl) and Dean Cain (Lois & Clark’s Superman) as Supergirl’s adoptive parents Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers.

Bringing them back in Season Two, and now featuring Jeremiah’s return as a major plot focus in recent episodes has been great. Seeing Kara, and especially Alex reunited with their father has been a story I’ve written in my head so many times since learning Jeremiah was alive in Season One. So far, with what I’ve seen, I’ve not been disappointed. Were there plot holes, yes, but you know I didn’t care, because the reunion scenes I’d envisioned were more than I could have hoped for. I’m anxious and excited to see how Jeremiah’s story plays out and hope the ending is going to be different than the one I’ve written in my head, but I suspect it won’t be far off the mark, which is going to make for some great dramatic and heart-wrenching moments to come.

We’ve had Laura Vandervoort (Smallville’s Supergirl) as Indigo, and this season saw the arrival of the President played by (Wonder Woman) Lynda Carter, who returns to the show soon. And now Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and Teri Hatcher (my favorite Lois Lane from Lois&Clark) have arrived, as the rulers of Daxam and Mon-El’s (Christopher Woods) parents. (Though I have to admit all during Season One, anytime Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) spoke derisively of her professional nemesis Lois Lane, I envisioned Hatcher returning to TV as Lois just because the thought of her and Flockhart (Cat Grant) sniping at each other and trading insults, generally going toe-to-toe as rivals was something I would have bought a ticket to see!)

STUNTS AND SPECIAL EFFECTS

While I had initial concerns that moving the production of the show to Vancouver for the CW, we would see budget cuts come in the form of quality in the stunt work and special effects. I stand corrected. Particularly in the last few episodes there have been some amazing stunts and film-quality special effects.

We’ve traveled to the Slaver’s Moon alien world via a Stargate-like portal in Supergirl Lives (2x9); seen an epic battle between Supergirl and a White Martian in the DEO reactor room in Martian Chronicles (2x11); saw an epic catch and stunt with a falling crane in Luthors (2x12); watched Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) battle a giant ice-statue of her uncle, watched Mon-El thrown through a bus stop and cars flipping end on end in Mr.& Mrs. Mxyzptlk (2x13); and marveled at Alex (Chyler Leigh) taking on an army at Cadmus single-handedly and then have Supergirl stop a spaceship in flight in Exodus (2x15) and we’re still seven episodes away from the usually show-stopping season finale!

NEW CHARACTERS AND CAST

While we’ve already mentioned the iconic guest star casting, this season of Supergirl is also to be commended for the addition of some marvelous new regular and recurring characters. Some great additions have included Clark Kent/Superman, (Tyler Hoechlin) putting his own nice mark on his portrayal of the Man of Steel; Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) slowly becoming Kara’s journalistic mentor; M’Gann M’Orzz/Miss Martian (Sharon Leal) whom I don’t believe is gone for good, we’ll see her again;Lyra (Tamzin Merchant), Winn’s engaging new alien girlfriend who can hold her own in a bar fight; the deliciously evil, Roulette (Dichen Lachman); our friendly alien with a gambling addiction, Brian (Josh Hallem); and the Slaver’s Moon alien with the sensitive sense of smell, Jo (Nikolai Witschl).

Certainly, the additions that have had the most impact and generated most fan attention are the twisted and evil Lillian Luthor, (the wonderful Brenda Strong) NOT a candidate for mother of the year; the mysterious and brilliant head of the rebranded LCorp, Lena Luthor (the enigmatic Katie McGrath) who has been played so beautifully, that fans are divided on whether or not she is good or evil; the Prince of Daxam, Mon-El (the charming Christopher Woods who is doing good work in a nicely played redemption arc). He has become one of the most galvanizing characters with his relationship with Kara. At first I found the character a bit annoying, but he has won me over, his character growth in wanting to be better for Kara has been nicely developed. I will admit however that Mon-El’s bumbling social faux pas are getting a little long in the tooth. He’s been here long enough that his aw-shucks I’m an alien don’t know better excuses are becoming harder and harder to accept.

Perhaps the best addition to the Supergirl family has been the luminescent Floriana Lima, as NCPD detective and Alex’s love interest, Maggie Sawyer. Lima has had a daunting task from the start, playing a character with a deep comic book history, and one of DC’s first openly gay characters, but she has taken the character and made it her own often matching this season’s acting MVP, Chyler Leigh scene for scene. The two have a fabulous chemistry together and their scenes, whether light hearted and teasing or deeply moving and emotional, are always episode standouts. And as has her co-star, she's taken her responsibility in telling one of the best coming out storylines on TV very seriously often reaching out to fans on social media.

I do think however; the cast is becoming a little crowded and we’ll see some characters cut from the show before this season’s end or the start of the next. (The show has already been renewed for a third season on the CW.) With so many wonderful performers and characters it will be a difficult decision as to which stay and which go. I don’t envy the producers their choices. (Though I do know which ones I think could be eliminated without hurting the show.)

STORYTELLING

By getting a full 22 season episode order and a somewhat more open mindset from the network, the Supergirl writers have done a masterful job in their storytelling. With more episodes and time, they are able to tell more nuanced and richer stories. And they’ve been fearless in expanding Supergirl’s universe by combining the superhero’s stories with deep, emotional socially relevant topics.

We’ve seen a wide range of takes on immigration from the President’s amnesty act, Cadmus’ relentless hatred of aliens, and J’onn growing beyond his hatred of White Martians to become interested in M’Gann.

But, as it has always been, the storylines tied to family threads are what resonate most with me: Lena Luthor’s complicated relationship with her mother, Lillian, and her struggles to restore the Luthor name; J’onn and M’Gann’s growing relationship; as we’re about to see, Mon-El’s royal ties and why he chose to hide his royal lineage, complicated by the arrival of his parents.

Once again, it’s a storyline featuring the Danvers Sisters that have been told best. I will admit I had reservations when I learned that Alex was going to be coming out as gay. It wasn’t because I had objections to a gay storyline, but rather I’ve seen many storylines like this planned and poorly executed turning great characters into clichés and I did not want to see that happen to Alex, who it’s no secret is my favorite character on the show. I should have had faith in the writers and producers, because from the first scene with Maggie Sawyer and Alex’s reaction to her, it was clear that this was a storyline that was going to be handled with great patience and care. What we’ve gotten as a result is, as I stated before, one of the best coming-out storylines presented on television, featuring Emmy-quality work from Chyler Leigh supported beautifully by Melissa Benoist (Kara/Supergirl) and Floriana Lima (Maggie).

Alex’s coming out scenes in Changing (2x6) were raw and heart-rending and the storyline has struck an emotional cord within the LGBT community who are praising the story and the stars.

Watching Maggie and Alex, Sanvers to their many legions of fans, navigate the already loaded mine-field of a new relationship on top of it being an LGBT relationship has been handled with care and respect. They are quite arguably building the most honest, stable (at the moment-though a few bumps are to be expected when we meet Maggie’s ex in 2x17) and healthiest relationship being portrayed on television today.

There have been some miscues in storytelling, such as Kara’s journalism career, (which I believe is the result of Catco becoming less relevant with the loss of Cat Grant). Another miscue is what to do with James Olsen, which is a shame because Mechad Brooks is a wonderful actor, I just believe the writers aren’t quite sure what to do with the character. I had real problems with them making a photojournalist, albeit an award winning one, with no managerial experience the temporary CEO of a major communications corporation like Catco. And I do not like the Guardian storyline at all, to me it is slowly turning James into an egocentric, unlikable character. All of his reactions to events or Guardian’s rescues are about him. Even when Alex introduced Maggie to the gang, one of his first reactions was to pull Kara aside and ask, “She doesn’t know I’m Guardian does she?”

CHARACTER GROWTH

It’s miscues with James aside, the biggest benefit to Supergirl’s move to the CW has been character growth.

One of its best moves was putting Winn (Jeremy Jordan) at the DEO, where Winn has grown and blossomed. He’s quickly become J’onn’s go-to technical expert. It’s been a delight watching him and Alex develop a sweet brother/sister type relationship, you had to love the way she helped him screw up his courage to go on his first DEO mission in the field (and since apparently, every ship has to have a name what do we call them? AlWin? Winvers?) and we’re cheering for his and Lyra’s new romance, hoping that it is the real deal. Winn is definitely no "red shirt"!

J’onn (David Harewood) has opened up considerably this season as well, taking time to hang out with the gang and the cool, new alien bar (an excellent substitution for Noonan’s that has apparently gone the way of Catco) and has even taken to showing up at Danvers family events. His reactions to finding he wasn’t (but really is) the last Green Martian and then his eventual acceptance and possible romance with M’Gann has rounded some of J’onn’s rougher edges.

The two characters who have experienced the most growth this season have been the Danvers Sisters.

While we still get to smile at Kara/Supergirl’s child-like joy and enthusiasm, this is not the same character from season one. I’d like to see it as the world-saving events of Better Angels (the Season One finale) having an impact on her. Being a superhero was new and exciting to Kara and she made mistakes as Supergirl at first, now I see a more mature, self-assured character thinking about her actions and their consequences. She's become better at expressing her feelings to Alex and her friends. One of her biggest areas of growth is we're seeing Supergirl, more often than not, defeat her adversaries with her brains and not her fists. Best example was the clever way she tricked Mr. Mxyzptlk into saying his name backwards.

And the character who’s had the biggest journey this season has been Alex, in which the writers have given Chyler Leigh a gamut of emotions to portray, which she has handled with award-worthy ease. (Just a suggestion Chyler, when putting together your Emmy reel I’d use Changing (2x6), Homecoming (2x14) and Exodus (2x15), just saying. 😉😉) She’s peeled back more layers to an already complex character, but now we’re getting to see bad-ass Alex’s softer, and fun side as she is on her journey exploring her sexuality.

There are those who feel they’ve lost the Danvers Sisters of Season One, and in a way, they have, but the Danvers Sisters of Season Two are better for it and share a deeper, stronger bond than ever before. Yes, we don’t get as many Danvers Sisters couch moments that seemed to wrap up episodes in Season One, but it’s the quality and depth of the scenes we are getting now that matter, not the quantity.

I would rather have the deep, rich quality of their scenes this season over last, (“Don’t make me pout. She’s really good at it.”) because it shows two characters that are growing as women, but still savor their deep connection/bond when it matters most. Life is not always hearts and flowers, sisters fight and even the closest of sisters have lives to lead away from their siblings. Take it from someone who had two sisters growing up, it is one of the most realistic portrayals of a sibling relationship I’ve seen on TV in a very long while and frankly it’s what keeps me watching.

There’s been an interesting shift if the Danvers Sisters relationship. In Season One, Alex was the mother-hen, the protector, driven by the need to protect her little sister, even if her little sister has superpowers. But as Kara/Supergirl has taken steps and growing into her own, she doesn’t need big sister’s protection as much anymore and that’s been hard for Alex to accept. It’s also great to watch Maggie’s influence on Alex, making her realize it’s ok to put herself and her feelings first.

As Alex is struggling to realize her little sister can take care of herself, she’s also discovering her own sexuality, becoming more vulnerable than ever before. And in a very nice role reversal Kara has become the big sister, taking care of Alex when she needs her sister most. Look how accepting she was of Alex when she came out to her, thoughtfully reflecting on their youth and taking responsibility, even apologizing that protecting her while growing up had prevented Alex’s self-discovery. Then, later when Alex was devastated by Maggie’s initial rejection, Kara was there and became Alex’s rock (Changing 2x6)

Even with the friction between them over Jeremiah’s return, Kara was watching out for her sister. As painful as it was she was right to back J’onn in saying Alex was so emotionally invested in finding Jeremiah it was clouding her judgement. But when things were at their worst, it was that sisterly bond that made them stronger than ever.

On a spaceship filled with aliens about to be warped across the universe, Alex had an unwavering faith that her sister could slow the ship and save them. The moment when Alex, placed her hand on the window between them, ignoring Kara's primal screams and fearful eyes, encouraging her, telling her she could do it, and then smiling at her when Supergirl succeeds will become one of the iconic Danvers Sisters moments of the series. It proves that the Danvers Sisters and the bond they share has been and always will be the heart and core of the show.

Now, 15 episodes into a second season I couldn’t be prouder of how much the show has grown and how strong it’s become, and can’t wait to see how much more it can grow for the rest of the season and in the already announced Season Three.

For another perspective, I asked Zandarl, the regular SpoilerTV Supergirl reviewer for her thoughts.

ZANDARL
I was asked by a colleague for my contribution to this article being the SpoilerTv Reviewer for Supergirl.

Supergirl had to move from the CBS because it had no place there, in fact if the move hadn’t of gone ahead there would be no Supergirl.

The budget was slashed dramatically and filming of the show was moved to Vancouver.

Here is where a few problems arose. The cast had to relocate, keep in mind most have families and lives in L.A. We lost cast members who were unable to move and screen time became limited for others.

I feel this is the reason more cast members were brought in.

We had some fantastic additions to the show, Maggie Sawyer, Lena Luthor and Ms. Martian all who have shone in their respective roles.

Another budget cut seems to be special effects, they aren’t as polished though this hasn’t affected the story and we still have seen some epic sets and locations. (Though I do think Kara has a super move around every so often in her apartment.)

The fight scenes have gotten better but she is Supergirl; a little less of her getting the beat down would be nice.

Another positive for the move was now all the Superhero shows are together and would clearly make it easier for crossover’s and as a fan of the Season 1 Flash crossover I was looking forward to seeing more interaction between these two. While the Supergirl series storyline hasn’t featured as largely in the crossovers we are assured this will be rectified next season. Next week we have the eagerly awaited Musical episode.

Supergirl had a lot of high hopes and aspirations it was the first female superhero lead show for 40 years. We all wanted it to succeed and, while we loved the life lessons of Cat Grant and the Danvers sister’s scenes, the villains were one-dimensional and often lacking in story in the first season. Season 2 we learned more about Cadmus and it brought Supergirl her most ruthless opponent to date, Lillian Luthor. Supergirl also had on training wheels in Season 1, in Season 2 she seems more confident in her powers and herself. She has also discovered it is often a lonely road being a hero as her friend’s lives go on around her.

One storyline that has stood out for me this season has been Alex ‘s coming out story and when people started to show discord about an LGBT storyline The CW response was simple love is love.

Those who have read my reviews will know, like most, I haven’t been a fan of a few episodes lately.

I have often compared this season 2 to many books you often read, the beginning was captivating but it kind of lost its self in the middle. I, for one, am hoping for a fantastic finish and on to Season 3

The CW has had resounding success in the superhero genre and I hope it continues.



What do you think? Is Supergirl growing? Add your thoughts in the comments below.