It goes without saying that this review contains spoilers. So we said it anyway.
Sometimes superhero TV gets it so right you can just weep tears of geeky joy. While some shows ponder how much of their comic book origins should be revealed when playing to a broader audience, SUPERGIRL teams up its hero with the even more famous Man of Steel, throws Martian Manhunter and Metallo into mix, and expands on a storyline involving Cadmus. Did we mention it also introduces Snapper Carr? And that *snap* is the beginning.
In a moment of pure televisual joy, Supergirl and Superman team up to fight crime in National City, much to the disapproving gaze of Hank and the jealousy of Alex. Before Clark can return to Metropolis, Cadmus unleashes the Kryptonite wielding John Corben/Metallo (Frederick Schmidt) on the cousins, forcing Alex to hunt down a mole in the DEO. Meanwhile, Kara’s new editor Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) refuses to accept her as a new hire, and Cat Grant’s announcement that she is leaving CatCo leaves Kara feeling completely without a home. However, by the end of the episode, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Supergirl and Alex have all learned the value of working together.
That lesson comes with some of the coolest team-ups this side of a crossover special. The visual of Superman and Martian Manhunter fighting side-by-side is carried out so casually that you believe there is a whole history of these brave and bold companions joining forces. The fanservice certainly doesn’t stop there, in an episode that includes a trip to the Fortress of Solitude, Metropolis (complete with a Krypton Park) and a visual tribute to the famous Crisis on Infinite Earths cover of Superman holding Supergirl’s lifeless body (one that is replicated in the episode poster, embedded above). Sure, Snapper Carr is nothing like his comic counterpart, but that is probably the wisest choice anyone has every made in the history of casting.
“Does this ever get old?” ponders Kara early in the episode. We really hope not, because we’re having so much fun at the moment. Given the decision Cat Grant makes this episode, Season 2 so far could be considered to be a soft-reboot of the entire SUPERGIRL series. This is perfectly understandable given the move to a new network, but hopefully this doesn’t ultimately alienate existing fans in the quest for new audiences. Indeed, it actually makes sense of last week’s dismissal of the Kara/Jimmy romance, but is a great example of how a year’s worth of faithful viewing can be undone in the pursuit of ratings happiness. Yet when that quest has already given us one of the Trinity in his most charming portrayal in decades, it’s definitely one we can get on board with.
Some questions to ponder
- While the visual nod to Crisis could be a throwaway, similar and more overt references have peppered The Flash over the last three years. Is a TV version of this classic event on the cards in the near future?
- Is Cat Grant gone for good? Telling Kara she has “done all I can do here” is a meta reference perhaps. Maybe CW simply couldn’t afford Calista Flockhart or the digital airbrushing on her face was eating up half the budget. Either way, the show has left the door open for future appearances, with her “extended leave of absence” far from conclusive.
- Will Kara continue to use the Fortress of Solitude in Kal-El’s absence? It’s unlikely Tyler Hoechlin will be around for more than a few episodes at a time.
- You know what would have helped this week? The rest of the DC Universe. The show is demonstrating the limitations of the separate worlds, and while SUPERGIRL can stand on its own two feet quite confidently, hopefully the December crossover will allow for more casual cameos and other extended appearances.