After a midseason break that seemed much too long, Supergirl returned to television in Supergirl Lives, with Kevin Smith in the director’s chair. This isn’t Smith’s first Arrowverse rodeo, having previously directed a couple of episodes of The Flash, and considering The Fatman’s unabashed love for all things DC Comics, fans of Supergirl were excited to see what he would do with his chapter of Kara Danvers’ story. While the premise of the episode seemed promising, what audiences wound up with was an episode that was a little cliche and actually took a bit away from at least one of the characters. Spoilers ahead.
Everyone on Team Danvers is finally getting into the groove of things. Kara has found her love of investigative journalism, Alex is basking in the joy of her new relationship, and Winn and James have become quite the team when it comes to James’ secret alter-ego, Guardian. That is, until those same paths wind up taking the team places that none of them have ever been, both literally and figuratively.
After a bad guy brawl with Guardian goes south, Winn is knocked the hell out, taking away any confidence he had in his decision to be a superhero. Of course, when asked about his black eye, he can’t come right out and say that he was knocked out while fighting crime, so instead he tells the team that he was mugged (that old chestnut) and, for some reason, the team believes him. Sure, it is a hollow excuse and it does require a bit of suspension of disbelief when it is pretty obvious that the DEO, all of them trained agents and heroes, somehow buy the excuse hook, line, and sinker. As expected, the PTSD from the encounter does give Winn a barrier to overcome and by the end of the story, he is truly the only character that benefited from the episode, having grown after facing his fears and kicking a bit of alien ass on another planet. Watching him proclaim “I’m not a red shirt. YOU’RE a red shirt!” was probably the highlight of the episode. Winn has definitely gone through changes since the series premiered and watching the character grow into something he never knew he could become has been fun. That trend only continues in Supergirl Lives and may be one of the best parts of the series as a whole. The other characters, well…
For Kara, for the most part, it is business as usual. As she is approached by a mother who is desperate to find her missing daughter, she vows to find the teen girl, despite the protests from her editor, who insists that even his breakfast pastry is more important. The thing is that the moment that the mother begins speaking to Kara, there is no question as to which direction the Kryptonian will fly. Audiences know Supergirl is the hero and, as such, will do her best to reunite the heartbroken mother with her daughter. The investigation leads to a doctor who, under the guise of “clinical trials”, is transporting unsuspecting humans to a distant planet through a portal that more than passingly resembles a Stargate. As Supergirl passes through the portal it is unsurprising to find that the planet she winds up on just happens to have a red sun, rendering her powerless. And, since it is business as usual, of course Kara, powers or not, decides to head to a “murder castle” (as Mon-El puts it) to free the captured humans, who she quickly learns are being sold into slavery. In a play that has become expected at this point, Supergirl stands up to the captors and is tortured in front of the would-be slaves, which encourages the group to turn against their alien kidnappers. In other words, for Supergirl, nothing really changes. Sure, as Kara, she winds up finally standing up to her editor and lets him know exactly what kind of journalist she wants to be, eliciting an under-the-breath “attagirl” from her stereotypically grumpy boss, but other than that, there wasn’t much for her to do in the episode, other than exactly what she does in almost every episode.
Ditto for Mon-El, who has taken a job as the worst bartender ever at The Alien Bar. He is still trying to come to terms with living on Earth and disguising himself as human, just as he has since he first appeared. He foolishly decides to follow Supergirl through the portal instead of grabbing the DEO for help as he was instructed, then questions why anyone would want to be a hero, before ultimately deciding that he does want to be a superhero, cape and all. While the plot around Mon-El thickens and aliens are searching for the last Daxamite, presumably because he is actually the prince that he originally spoke of, rather than the prince’s bodyguard, as he first claimed, Mon-El himself seems to jump in to play the same part in every episode. Sure, in Supergirl Lives, he does make the decision to be a hero, which is definitely a bit of growth from the character that initially had no desire to be a hero, but for the most part, the character hasn’t grown much at all since audiences first met him and has become almost stagnant. Considering Mon-El’s association with the Legion of Superheroes, however, at least fans have something to look forward to in the future. Until then, hopefully, Mon-El will continue to move forward, albeit very, very slowly.
Alex, on the other hand, rather than becoming stagnant, has actually taken a step back from the badass that she is because (awww) love. At the beginning of the episode, Alex is basically acting like a cliche teen girl going through her first love. As the episode progresses and Kara is stranded on the distant planet, Alex takes another step back as she attacks her new girlfriend and decides to run, just because her little sister got herself into a jam. Everyone remembers their first love and how it changed them and it’s possible that Smith was truly trying to convey that feeling of giddiness and excitement, of apprehension and self-doubt. Instead of considering the fact that this is a grown woman who has lived her life strong and independently, however, Smith models her behavior after what one can only assume is his teen daughter, Harley, who, by the way, later shows up as the kidnapped teen the mother was pleading with Kara to find (sidenote: Kevin, it’s time to stop putting your kid in everything you direct. At least, until she gets a few acting lessons under her belt. Please.). Alex acts silly and dramatic and it is a bit of a disservice to assume that this character would act like a 14 year old, just because she is in love. Of course, by the end of the episode, Alex clears things up with her love interest while simultaneously revealing to her that Kara is indeed Supergirl. Whoops.
After last year’s massive crossover event, Invasion!, the CW seems to have become a bit too confident with their product, expecting the episode to pass unscathed, simply due to the fact that it is a Supergirl story directed by Kevin Smith. Unfortunately, the fans deserve better, at this point. Let’s not forget that horrible pilot and the commitment to the series fans have already displayed in their continued support of the series after that rough start. Supergirl fans have watched as the series started on shaky ground; they breathed a bit easier as the series found its footing; and those fans cheered when Supergirl finally began to soar and became one of the most fun series on television. In other words, those fans deserved better than they were fed with Supergirl Lives. Luckily, at this point in the series, episodes this hollow are very few and far between, and can be forgiven every once in awhile. Let’s hope that next week’s episode will be a return to form. Here’s a quick preview of things to come.
What did you think of last night’s episode?