“Stronger Together” moves forward in the story of Supergirl but does it resolve the issues of the pilot?
“Stronger Together” is thankfully a better effort from Supergirl than the pilot. While admittedly there is always a lot of leading character development, the weakest points of the pilot were the manic nature of the narrative. In the second episode, things slow down a lot and we get into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to be a superhero.
One of the bigger questions was what qualifies Kara to actually fight bad guys and save people, and considering she basically powers though the DEO tests by brute force on the way to disastrously stopping a dock fire, it’s clear she has a long way to go. Taking baby steps with being a hero is a clear way to gain both confidence (which Kara bizarrely sometimes is both full of and completely lacks) and training.
Some of the more tongue in cheek moments deal with the common questions of “how come no one recognizes Supergirl/Superman?” (Because people can’t believe heroes are among them), “How do super heroes pay rent?” (They get regular person jobs), and “Why do strong heroes not learn to fight?” (They rely solely on their strength and never get trained in situations where they have to fight a superior skilled opponent). Fortunately as Kara discovers more about herself and the life of a hero, we get to enjoy learning more about the world as well in a pretty transparent and non obtrusive way.
I think the weakest link though has to be this weird character styling of General Astra. While it’s unclear exactly what her end goal is other than to save the world from self destruction, her overall look and feel seems very cartoonish. Astra reminds me a lot of Empress Repulsa from Power Rangers, a caricature of evil cackles and swears of vengeance.
Meanwhile, the Laura Benanti’s ego as Alura the AI is cold and unfeeling, which, as a computer simulation makes sense, but is fairly depressing. Once Kara sees the AI system for the first time, her first instinct is to ask for a hug, which is the only thing the AI cannot do for her, and it’s quite heartbreaking. Unlike her cousin Superman, Kara was not a baby when she left Krypton. She was a teenager with friends, family, and memories of a life, and those memories have to be a part of her no matter how much she misses her previous life. It’s clearly one of the more emotional nuances that gets lost sometimes when we think of Supergirl, and it clearly will come into play for the rest of the show’s run.
In what was a surprising but welcome change, CBS seemingly has worked though whatever legal issues they might have had with the Superman properties and could quickly move towards a constant flow of name-dropping characters and references to Metropolis’s caped hero. Hopefully it doesn’t become a running motif though, as while it was jarring to go out of their way to avoid saying “Superman”, it’ll be even more annoying to have the constant reminder that it’s the same universe. Hopefully we don’t end up in a situation where we have to have her little-big cousin come in and help save the day, but I don’t think the writers would do something so callous to undercut the work Supergirl is establishing already.
Melissa Benoist powers though the episode with her pure charm and so far it continues to work.
- I really dislike the annoying Jimmy and Kara goofy eyed stares, which does a lot to undercut the independence of Kara and what she’s trying to accomplish. To be honest it feels forced to create drama for the sake of angst.
- Superman too rescued a cat from a tree, though this time it was a snake.
- Though I don’t really want to see Superman swoop in, if he was aware that another Kryptonian (and his extended family) was on Earth causing havoc, would he really leave his cousin to deal with it on her own? That seems a bit foolish and dangerous considering Kara barely is in control of powers.
- Speaking of extended family, for the confused: Jor-El (Superman’s father) and Zor-El (Supergirl’s father) are brothers. Allura is Zor-El’s wife, and Astra is her twin. Astra is not a blood relative of Superman.
- So what is Hank Henshaw? In the comic universe, he becomes super-villan Cyborg-Superman after a solar flare incident.
- We also get introduced to Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli), a Lex Luthor type tech mogul with an interest in Supergirl and her powers.