Warning: This recap for “The Adventures of Supergirl” episode of Supergirl contains spoilers.
You wouldn’t think it, but almost getting canceled last season was the best possible thing that could have happened to Supergirl. The show belongs nestled in the superhero universe that has grown around Arrow on the CW, but by incubating for a year on CBS, it had time to find its own distinct voice. Now, instead of four vaguely similar cape and cowl shows, there is the vengeance-driven soap opera of Arrow, the family-driven sci-fi of The Flash, the swashbuckling goofiness of Legends of Tomorrow, and the tireless optimism of Supergirl — which plants its flag boldly on the CW with a knockout season opener.
The newcomer in the Kryptonian pod is brought back to the DEO where nothing much is gleaned. Kara is excited for her first date with James, but it’s interrupted by a sabotaged passenger rocket to space. She flies off to save the rocket and is joined by Superman (Tyler Hoechlin). He and Kara return to the DEO, where Alex uncovers his strained history with J’onn. Kara and Clark do some investigative reporting and initially suspect Lena Luthor of the engine explosion. But after she is targeted by the assassin John Corben (Frederick Schmidt), they realize that an imprisoned Lex Luthor is behind it. Lena shoots Corben after he attacks her at a public speech and convinces Kara that she’s not evil like her brother. A wounded Corben is shown being injected with a substance that will transform him into the villain Metallo.
Superman as Second Banana?
The most impressive thing this episode manages to do — and it might be the most impressive thing about the series entirely — is that it makes the world’s most iconic superhero into a co-star beneath Supergirl. He was very deliberately not brought on in Season 1 for fear that he’d take over the narrative (the same reason Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has never had Captain America or Thor as guest stars), but now that the show is what it is, Superman feels more like a sidekick whose narrative just isn’t as interesting as Kara’s. Some of that is due to the work of Hoechlin, who plays Superman with a restraint that feels empathic rather than condescending.
Throughout the episode, Kara is hounded by Cat (Calista Flockhart) to decide on her future career path. Eventually, Kara realizes that not only has her growth over the past year shaken her from her infatuation with James, it has also solidified her desire to do good in the world by becoming a reporter. Cat shows her an envelope — Carnac-style — that proves she knew she’d make that decision all along. It’s such a great scene for the two: Cat is practically beaming with pride beneath her salty exterior, and Kara seems almost surprised that she had it within her. It’s also a great reason to move Winn over to the DEO, where his tech genius makes a lot more sense than hanging around CatCo as the IT guy.
So… Who Is That in the Pod?
That’s Mon-El (Chris Wood), and though the name might suggest otherwise, he isn’t related to Kal-El or Kara Zor-El. In the comics, he’s a Daxamite whose powers approximate Superman’s. Mon-El has been around since the early ’60s and has appeared in many incarnations, including two separate first encounters with Superman and Superboy, time in the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice League, and a stint as a Green Lantern. Which — if any — of these storylines will the show draw from? Given the number of times the poor guy has been retconned, probably none.
- The sunniness of the show always felt at odds with the DEO’s subterranean batcave. Kara’s incredulity that nobody bothered to mention it to her (“Yeah, it’s, like, a block from my apartment”) is fabulous.
- Either the CGI budget went way up or way down this episode, because it felt like a video game — in a bad way. Please do not bring cartoonish drones like that back on the show ever.
- Cat Grant Line of the Night (she gets her own category because she’d win every week otherwise): “No, this lettuce is drowning. It’s floating on a sea of ranch like little Kate Winslets in Titanic. Get it out of my sight.” Oh, Calista Flockhart, you will be missed.
- Non-Cat Line of the Night: “We’re moving back to Gotham.” Even though this show is canonically not in the same universe as Fox’s Gotham, it’s fun to think that, for this particular family, that crime-ridden nightmare is safer than National City.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on the CW.