Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Supergirl.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
There were undoubtedly quite a lot of clumsiness in the handling of Supergirl’s first season. The series never quite discovered just how to make their main storylines compelling on a week to week basis (especially anything involving the DEO) and the villains are forever the weakest links. However, the characters and the performances (Melissa Benoist in particular) managed to bolster lukewarm writing and illogical plot developments with natural charm. I can forgive a sloppy narrative if I care about the characters, and I really grew to appreciate all the different dynamics that the show had to offer.
It goes without saying if you’ve seen the finale that there’s quite a lot of time spent where the writers seem to be asking us to suspend our disbelief. And we do. Even with the tidy resolution of the myriad project (so many loopholes), the cartoonish threat of exploding heads, or the convenient plot point where Superman is inexplicably knocked unconscious all episode, we get through it with the promised emotional payoff.
So, with that being said, here are the three greatest highlights of the finale “Better Angels”.
This, in any number of ways, could have had the reverse effect and turned into one of the clunkiest aspects of the episode. Instead, speaking to the innate response of wonder that Supergirl and her emblem inspire, her speech instead is a culmination of just what Supergirl has grown to mean over the course of 20 episodes. Supergirl has always been a hero who exuded warmth and kindness, so of course she’ll reach the people of her city through impassioned words of seeing loved ones again, of using her own personal trauma to inspire others to find their own inner strength and fight for their independence. It sets the tone for the remainder of the episode.
For transparency sake, I’m just going to come out and say that the FIRST time the episode made me misty was when Kara told Cat that she has the biggest heart of anyone she knows. Kara sacrificing herself for the planet she unabashedly adores might not have held any real threat-obviously they were never going to kill her off-but the emotional weight is present as Kara bids her farewells in case her fight with Non is her last, afraid of repeating her experience on Krypton. Her speech to Winn is equally as moving, as is her selfless decision to push James away so he can find happiness but it’s her refusal to say goodbye to Alex that lands the hardest. While Cat and Kara are the dynamic I’m the most invested in, Alex and Kara’s relationship rings truth as sisters. Their bond is impenetrable, as demonstrated when Alex makes a daring rescue after Kara saves the planet.
It’s the last battle after Supergirl’s defeated Non with Hank’s help that uses the largest set piece of the episode, and it’s thrilling but it’s Supergirl’s long, solitary flight into space to rid the world of the aircraft infecting her people and her peaceful smile that is the hero making moment. It can’t be said enough just how perfectly Benoist embodies Supergirl. From her rage in fighting Non to her broken up goodbye to Alex, Benoist hits every beat as if she’s been playing this character for years.
I probably could have gone for a more complex or consequential moment but it’s Kara’s promotion at Cat Co. that once again made me a touch emotional. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s been Cat and Kara’s dynamic that’s been given the greatest and most intriguing development over the season. The fact that Cat sees Kara as a person, not Supergirl, and values her all the same is poignant, made even more so as she calls her “Kara” not “Kira” for the first time. Cat telling Kara it’s her “end of Working Girl” moment is great and not just because Calista Flockhart’s husband, Harrison Ford, starred in the film. No, it’s not even just because of the two bonding on how the ending always makes them cry. It’s that once again the show is embracing its feminist nature, something it’s also navigated and grown with over the season. The show has demonstrated just how integral it is to have a superhero that young girls can look up to and strive to be and lucky for them, they have a role model not just in Supergirl but in Kara too.
I’ve skimmed over some bigger moments such as James and Kara kissing and the mystery pod at the end (Superboy?) mainly due to how highly I regarded the other aspects and it left little room.
While not all of season one worked with a lot of uneven storytelling and episodes that could swing from excellent to very average, the show still has a tremendous amount of promise and like its leading lady, a lot of heart. Supergirl is a much-needed and celebrated character on the DC TV landscape, and she has room to grow. Hopefully CBS will be making an announcement soon so that we can watch Kara continue her journey because her story is far from over.
Episode Grade: 8/10
Season Grade: 7/10
Best Episodes: “Red Faced”, “Human for a Day”, “Falling”.