The second episodes of new series are notoriously dicey affairs. There’s a lot to live up to, especially if the pilot episode does well, like Supergirl’s did with the highest ratings of the new fall TV season so far this year. So, while “Stronger Together” certainly hits upon some of the awkwardness of a new show finding it’s feet after doing away with much of the introduction process of the pilot, it has enough charm to get by largely unscathed, even if the dialogue could pose a problem in the future.
Let’s talk about the dialogue for a second, shall we? Because I wrote more notes about how clunky and weird it was then just about any other aspect of the episode. I don’t mind on the nose dialogue, and The Flash has gotten away with many a heavy handed monologue largely unscathed, but Supergirl needs to reign it in just a tad. There’s the tongue and cheek moments such as as Kara saying that the beginning of the episode fire sounds “like a job for Supergirl”, but then there’s moments such as the big baddie Astra (Laura Benanti) introducing herself with a bizarre line of exposition about her past, and then entire awkward back and forth between Kara and Astra in their final face off, which begins with Melissa Benoist doing her damnes to sell Kara’s spluttering “you died…you died…..you died?!”
It’s a scene that needed editing, or one that needed to be rewritten, but it was rough around the edges.
The writing is easily the shows weakest aspect with the greatest sin (if not annoyance, which I’ll mention in a moment) being just so heavily the show relies of expository sequences where the audience are talked at, the writers believing we need to be handheld through each beat of the narrative. We need to be reminded that Winn made the suit for Kara, that James had a past life working with Superman and that Alex and Kara didn’t grow up as conventional sisters. We were told that Supergirl would be different than Superman in allowing herself to work with a team, rather than working alone, instead of just being shown this. The likelihood is that the audience got the gist of whatever the show was trying to say or do without the characters having to actually vocalize it.
My personal biggest grievance is just how damn irritating it is to hear about Superman already. The show goes great lengths to show how hard women work to earn half the respect of men, with Cat even telling Kara at one point that Supergirls blunders will be picked apart more readily that Superman’s were because she’s a woman,and she needs to do double of what he did to be seen as a hero too. Despite this, the show seems to still be hanging around in Superman’s shadow by reminding us that Kara isn’t him. If the show feels the need to do this, if they could stop referring to him as “your/my/her cousin” that would be great.
On the other hand, the show is so blissfully vibrant and full of joy, shared by its leading lady, that while the dialogue remains a faulty, there’s still plenty to celebrate. The show begins with one of it’s greatest assets which is Kara flying, with each burst of air mirroring the sense of freedom that reads on her face. While flying she’s uninhibited and Benoist captures that feeling of wonder that makes Supergirl such a relatable character. Supergirl proves throughout the episode that it’s CGI is more than impressive, with an aerial fight sequence and a man bug like villain being particular highlights.
Another big set piece is when Kara is trying to stop a boat from exploding so that oil won’t leak into the sea, but while she’s attempting to save the day, still manages to let some spill, a blunder, even if it’s less than what it would have been had she not be around. This highlights another key aspect of the show which is that Kara still has a lot to learn, even if her mistake allows for some much appreciated humor. Her training sessions with Alex and learning curve with James and Winn show a series that wants to give time to the idea that she can’t simply become an indestructible hero in a week-she’s going to need help. It’s also nice to see Alex and Kara share more scenes together, with their relationship being one of the strongest aspects of the show so far, even if I’m still wary of what part Alex has to play in this series.
In terms of other relationships, I’m excited to see where the Cat and Supergirl relationship goes in their interview, but it’s James and Kara who share the most engaging chemistry, aided largely by Benoist and Mechad Brooks and I think this is the first time a superhero series has convinced me a potential romantic relationship so quickly out of the gate.
It’s a colorful show (seriously, look at the blues in Kara’s apartment, the pastel nature of her office, and how her costume stands out amongst the city), one that seems excited just to get to explore its characters, and it makes me excited as a viewer to see what they have next up their sleeves.
As a last note-theories on Hank? I’ve seen cyborg Superman but remain unsure and am having an internal conflict on whether or not I want to turn to the internet for concrete answers or not.