Tonight’s episode of Supergirl, 01.02 ‘Stronger Together,’ was a strong second episode and acts as a promising mission statement for the rest of the season. A logistics episode yes, but a smooth and well executed one. There are still kinks in some of the character dynamics, but you can see the cast feeling out their characters and roles in the ensemble. A solid episode that delivers on the promise of the pilot.
IMDb summarizes the episode as follows:
Kara must put doubts aside as she tries to apprehend an escapee from the Kryptonian prison; Cat pressure James for an interview with Supergirl.
There are a lot of awesome things not contained in that description, so let’s get down to it. The episode opens with Kara attempting to avert an accident at the shipyard, but in the process of moving the oil ship, she causes an oil spill. It’s an engaging beginning that sets up the themes and internal development arc for Kara. The nerd in me, which is most of me, was sad that she didn’t have enough experience to deal with an oil slick the way Golden Age Superman would, and has done.
Later at the Tribune office, Kara and Winn (Friend Zohn 4 Lyfe) watch a news report featuring Maxwell Lord, discussing the repercussions of Supergirl’s attempt to do good. Peter Facinelli brings a welcome confidence to the role of DC’s ultimate salesman. “National City doesn’t need Metropolis’s problems,” says Lord. He is against our lady vigilante, but he has an interesting point: Supergirl is a target and she will bring the mayhem and destruction of super villains to the city. A nice foil with a reasonable point of view, which makes us reconsider what is best for the city. Well done Berlanti and Company.
Cat calls a crisis meeting to address the PR disaster around her golden goose, Supergirl. The Tribune needs a scoop; they need an interview to get ahead of the situation and reposition their hero. Cat puts pressure on James to make an interview happen, but James knows it’s not his decision to make, and he gives Kara a knowing look. Cat dismisses the rest of the staff, and reminds Kara to get her head out the clouds and focus on her work. It might appear that Cat is being too harsh on Kara, but the fact that she is willing to give the feedback reinforces the fact that she values Kara’s development.
We get a nice scene of James mentoring Kara and discussing the nature of heroism, and there is a lot of sexual tension. I’m curious as to how they are going to resolve this, because shipping the two of them complicates his mentor role. They do have Alex Danvers as a mentor and other figures, but I hope they take their time with this relationship.
Kara is worried that Cat will recognize her, and they address the glasses and the nerd persona, which they say are not the secret to her identity illusion. James points out that people can’t see a hero right in front of them. They don’t see Kara and when they see her as Supergirl, they’ll see the power and not the person. The city needs a hero, and James let’s her know he thinks she is that hero.
Cut to a factory at night, two security guards are discussing the potential of National City’s new hero, and they have their doubts. They come across a creepy guy lurking in the darkness and he opens his jaw like one of the vampires from Blade II. The guard shoots at him and runs, but the alien bounds along the pipes and pounces on him.
After the Break, we find Alex and Supergirl surveying the scene at the factory. Henshaw is irritated that Supergirl is there; but as Alex points out, Kara is a walking forensic lab. The factory is missing chemicals that could be used to make a bomb and they need to find him as soon as possible. We are treated to a flashback to Krypton where Supermom tells her daughter all about Hellgrammites, and in a nice tender touch she reminds her daughter that she has the heart of a hero. Back in the present, Kara saves her info with the team, and requests a shot at the alien threat. But Henshaw has reservations based on her inexperience.
Alex takes her sister to a room with Kryptonite emitters that allow them to have a fair fight, which isn’t really fair because Alex actually knows how to fight. These aliens have mastered their powers and unless Kara does the same, she will die. I’m not sure if the suit is padded but Benoist has some guns and really sells the physical action. Kara leaves the room defeated, and Alex worries she went to far, but Henshaw reminds her that she might just have saved her sister’s life by teaching her a lesson.
Cut to Kara walking funny at work, as you can see in the clip below:
Cat is a real pragmatic bootstrapper, and advises Supergirl to start small and work her way up. Kara takes the advice and summons James and WInn to the alley, and The Super Friends are born. Awkward but friendly love triangle initiated. I can’t wait till Maxwell Lord comes to town and we get a love parallelogram.
The Hellgrammite is accosted by two humanoid aliens of unknown origins, and forced to meet with General Astra. Astra conscripts the unwilling Hellgrammite to capture Supergirl, who she plans on using as bait to lure Superman. Hellgrammite is reluctant to tussle with the Big S, which I’m hoping implies that the TV version of the character has tumbled with Superman. I get the feeling Hellgrammite will be a regularly occurring villain.
A montage set to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me WIth Your Best Shot” shows The Super Friends starting small and working their way up. There is a fun gag with a shotgun going off in her hand. But the best part is Supergirl saving Fluffy the snake from a tree for a little girl.
Kara has another heart to heart with Alex, where she asks for her sister’s faith, which she needs more than anyone else’s faith. But the moment is cut short when the DEO call Alex into action. They’ve realized that the Hellgrammite eats DDT and that they can lure him by setting a trap with the banned toxic chemical.
Meanwhile, Cat steps up the heat on James and makes it explicit that if Superman’s Pal can’t get the interview than he is fired. Kara hears it all via her super hearing, and let’s James know that she will do the interview. Not just for James, but for the larger good they are all working for as The Super Friends. The S stands for her family motto “Stronger Together,” and Kara stands by the message, with her friends.
The DEO transport of DDT comes under attack from The Hellgrammite. He shoots Alex with an organic knock out dart and he whisks her off to a factory where Astra is waiting. Astra is happy with this human, because she can use her to lure Supergirl into a trap. Astra reveals her motivation to Alex; Astra is here to save us.
Supergirl scours the city with her super senses and when she locates her sister she charges into the action alone. She literally just gave a speech about teamwork and then charged in solo. Alex warns her but it is too late, and Supergirl is cold cocked by General Astra. She recognizes her Aunt, who says, “It’s been a long time, little one.”
There is a lot to unpack in that clip. Astra says Supermom put her in jail when she spoke out to save the planet from annihilation. But Jor-El never ended up in the Phantom Zone, so there is obviously more to this story than what we are being told. Henshaw has a kryptonite knife, WTF? Why not just use a kryptonite bullet and be done with it. She would have never seen that coming. I’m getting the feeling that there is a master manipulator pulling the strings in this situation.
Back at the DEO Base, Alex gets medical attention and the sisters have another Supernatural style sibling chat. I think it’s funny that people will probably be annoyed by these Bechdel Test destroying lady talks, but never blink an eye at the overt homoerotic stylings of the Winchesters. Sexism is funny sometimes, when it’s not heartbreaking.
Alex is worried that Kara is distressed from realizing she has living family, but Kara reminds her immediately that she is her family. Kara reminds her sister that her mother and aunt never had faith in each other, and that is why she need’s Alex’s faith. Alex has faith in her sister and says, “You never let that loss diminish your light. You always had the heart of a hero, long before you put on that crest.”
Alex shows Kara to a room with a living memory AI of Supermom recovered from Kara’s ship. Kara is alone with Holo-Mom and it says, “Ask whatever you would ask your Mother.”
“I would ask for a hug,” Kara says with tears in her eyes, knowing that a hologram can never hug. Niagara falls here too Kara.
Alex thanks Henshaw for helping set up the room, to which he replies that it was the least he could do for Supergirl. Alex promises not to tell her sister that Henshaw respected her name choice. But as Henshaw walks off frame we can clearly see his eyes glowing red. There are a lot of possibilities here: Henshaw could be The Hellgrammite or a similar alien in disguise, a robot like his comic book counterpart, or perhaps he is under the influence of mind control.
In the final scene we see Astra being treated by her Space Doctor, and they both seem genuinely surprised by the knife. I don’t think Astra or any of the other aliens know about Kryptonite, which makes sense as far as other aliens fearing Kryptonian might. I’m sure in upcoming episodes as we are introduced to villains like Metallo, everyone will receive an education in the effects of Kryptonite.
Astra talks to a deep voiced mysterious benefactor, who remains off screen, about their plan to take over National City being delayed by Supergirl. My theory is that the benefactor is Maxwell Lord and he is using his powers to manipulate Astra and probably Henshaw as well. This would explain why Astra believes herself to be a hero. I’m calling it now, and I might be wrong, but I think that Maxwell Lord is the true Big Bad for this season. It makes sense thematically since his powers are an affront to the themes of faith, family, and trust. I’m predicting a noble sacrifice and redemption for General Astra before the season is over.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.