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SUPERGIRL Mid-Season Recap: What We’ve Seen So Far

Okay! So,
the presents are unwrapped, the relatives are on their way back to Springfield
and you’ve probably had a chance to see Episode Seven (looks at THIS) at least
once so let’s talk Supergirl. We’re
about half way through the twenty episode first season, and with the show
returning January 4th, it’s time to take stock of what we’ve seen.
Now if
you’ve been reading my Flash spoiler
reviews, you know I like to dig in deep, but considering I’m reviewing nine
episodes at one time instead of one by one, it will be better to go a little
more high level.  So, what has happened
thus far?
Kara
Danvers, born Kara Zor-El was sent to Earth to take care of her young cousin
Kal but the explosion of their home planet Krypton left Kara taking a twenty
year detour through the Phantom Zone. 
When she arrived on Earth Kal, now a grown man, placed her with the
Danvers and she grew up living a normal life and keeping her powers a secret.
She works
for Cat Grant at her media company and has a nice, if unfulfilling, life as
Cat’s assistant.  That all changes one
night when her adopted sister, Alex, boards a flight for Geneva suffers
mechanical failure after takeoff.  Kara
uses her powers to bring the flight down safely and captures the media’s
attention.
Kara enjoys
the thrill of the rescue and the confidence it gives her to use her abilities
freely and despite her sister’s protests she enlist the help of her friend,
Winn to use her powers to help people. 
She learns that her sister works for Hank Henshaw at the DEO (a
government agency tasked with monitoring alien activity on Earth) and Henshaw
asks for Kara’s help with their mission.
Kara learns
that as her ship passed through the Phantom Zone it pulled out a Kryptonian
prison.  Fort Rozz also landed on Earth
and most of the beings imprisoned within were able to escape and go into
hiding.  Kara agrees to help them on her
own terms.  Also drawn into the action is
James “Jimmy” Olsen.  The award
winning photo-journalist came to National City to strike out on his own and as
a favor to Superman, promised to be a friend to Kara.
As Kara
struggles to figure out her abilities and how to best use them she has some
early mistake that earn her the kind of press coverage normally reserve for
Peter Parker and unwittingly makes an enemy of billionaire scientist Maxwell
Lord.  She also learns her mother’s twin
sister, Astra has survived and is plotting to take over the Earth.  As the season progresses, we meet villains
such as Reactron and Live Wire.  Kara,
Winn, and James fall into a love triangle that gets even more complicated when
James’ ex, Lucy Lane, returns.
After
learning from their mother, that Hank Henshaw had enlisted their father to work
at the DEO before he died Alex begins investigating Henshaw and learns that
he’s J’onn J’onzz posing as Henshaw. 
In the
mid-season finale, Kara battle over National City with Astra and captured her
only to learn that her mother may have had a hand in Krypton’s destruction and
that Astra is work with her husband, Non to bring Earth under their
control.  Astra manages to cast some
doubt on her mother’s motives for Kara but she still goes to stop Non when he
attacks Maxwell Lord’s business.
The best,
really the only place to start, is with our title character: Melissa Benoist as
Kara/Supergirl.  
I cannot stress this
enough, Benoist is the heart and soul of this series and its successes or
failure with come from her. Like most of the best performances in the genre, as
the show has progressed she has managed to find a way to make both
“Kara” and “Supergirl” feel different from each other and
from Kara.  There’s also the small
touches, like the magnetic earrings she wears that I find endearing.
While
Benoist has been strong from the start, one of the emerging strengths of the
series as the show has progressed has been Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant.  She started as somewhat one-note as the
domineering boss but has become one of the characters where much of the
“Fun” has come from by the mid-season break.  We were also treated to an interesting
plotline with Cat as it seemed she’s known who Kara is far earlier than the
show might have you believe.   As we’ve
learned more about her beyond her persona we see a different type of friend and
mentor for Kara. 
With Arrow and Flash and now Supergirl,
we’ve seen Guggenheim, Kreisberg and Berlanti explore many different types of
mentor/parenting relationships with our heroes. 
Oliver with his father, Yao Fey and Slade each offered a type of
poisonous mentorship which ended in tragedy and were something of weakness for
Oliver at times.  With Flash, we saw
Barry’s relationships with Joe, Henry and Wells (Thawne) and how they gave Barry
strength but at the same time gave Barry a weakness that could be exploited.
Kara and
Cat’s relationship is probably closest to Barry’s relationship with Henry
through most of season one in that she is able to show Kara strength through
adversity as many of Cat’s business decision seemingly come back to haunt her
in pretty disastrous ways.  Hell, Cat is
the center to Livewire’s origin story but she manages to show Kara how to be
strong when things go wrong.
Now we shift
over to Hank, Alex and the DEO.  When we
first started hearing about the series, it seemed to most that the DEO/Fort
Rozz breakout was to be the driving force of the series on par with Oliver’s
List and the Particle Accelerator Explosion. 
Fortunately, I believe that it hasn’t been quite the driving force but
it has been a through line for most episodes. 
Alex and Henry have often been relegated to a b-level but we’ve got some
cool moments with them.  The reveal of
Henshaw as the Martian Manhunter was done very well and I even found it a
little unexpected.  (I had my money on
Henshaw being Cyborg Superman and using the DEO to build an army that could
destroy Kara at some point.) 
Speaking of
Alex, so far we’ve pointed at what is working for the show so it’s time to
address areas of the series that need improvement.  Front and center is Alex Danvers.  This series is always going to be compared to
Arrow and Flash and one of the areas that I had hoped that Supergirl would
avoid would be this.  Alex, like Laurel
and Iris before her, seems to have nothing to do. 
This might
have to do with the DEO storyline taking something of a backseat or it might
have to do with the audience liking Cat and the producers giving the audience
what they’re gravitating towards, I can’t say for sure either way.  Either way, I am hoping that they find more
for Alex to do because I really do like Chyler Leigh and I’d like to see more
from her.
Perhaps it’s
me being about twice the age of the target audience but I find the love
triangle plus one to be a bit clunky.  I
understand that nearly every story in the history of fiction has been
“someone wants something or someone they cannot have” but I just
don’t really care that Winn wants Kara while she wants James or that James is
torn between Kara and Lucy.
Also, like
Arrow and Flash before them, Supergirl teeters on the edge of silliness and
even corniness at times but to their credit, as the season arc has unfolded
they have gotten better at avoiding this pitfall.  Each episode has felt stronger than the last
and they’ve done well at self-correction.
Continuing
the comparisons to Flash and Arrow, we can address the production value.  As expected, the bigger checkbook that our
friends at CBS have is working well for Adler, Berlanti and company.  The effects hold up well, and you don’t feel
like they’ve constructed an episode with saving effects money for later in mind
as much as you do with Flash and Arrow.
Wrapping
things up, what’s the verdict on the first half-season of Supergirl?  Pretty positive.  Through nine episodes we’ve been introduced
with characters that we care about and want to learn about them and see them
succeed.  We’ve had hints that there is
more to learn; such as Kara’s mother’s role in the destruction of Krypton or
the possibility that Winn’s father is in prison (perhaps for toying around with the legal system.)
There is also the promise of new characters joining the fray such as
Bizarro or the promise of other DC heroes coming to National City to look forward to in the second half of the season.
Supergirl is
shaping up to be a fine addition to the DC Television Universe and you can
check it out when it returns on January 4th.

Just another guy on the internet.

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