"Supergirl," like any show, had a lot to prove in its second episode: "Stronger Together." It's hard to tell how good (or not) a show will be based on its pilot alone. It's made months before a series is green-lit, has a lot of information to introduce, and is as much a marketing tool for the networks to buy the series as it is for the viewers to watch it.
How did "Supergirl" measure up? Well, TBH, it was super. The special effects were amazing. The complex relationships and reveals continue to unfold. And, especially through the use of a flashback to Krypton and the reunion of Kara (Melissa Benoist) with her Aunt Astra (Laura Benanti), this show is doing an amazing job tying these disparate worlds together.
Don't believe us? Here are eight of the best moments from tonight's episode of "Supergirl."
Supergirl is not so good at supergirl-ing — at least at first.
While the "Supergirl" pilot was all about Kara making the decision to embrace her powers and, you know, become a superhero, the second episode focused on everything that Kara doesn't know. Sure, she has a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of raw ability, but she has no idea how to harness it.
Superhero-ing is about more than just flying and bending metal with your bare hands; it takes strategy and experience. Kara isn't so good at those things, inadvertently causing an oil spill in the process of trying to prevent a massive explosion. It's pretty damn refreshing to see a superhero show that deals with the inadvertent consequences of trying to save the day. Or the fact that the plane Kara saved in the pilot is still bobbing in the bay.
Cat has the best quotes — and the best advice.
Cat (Calista Flockhart) continues to be one of the best parts of this show. A random assortment of things she said this episode: "I don't like the fishes, but it's comforting to know that they're under there, swimming about." "Women have to fight twice as hard to be seen as half as good." "I have a policy against losing." She also uses the phrase "bro-hang." Be still, my beating heart.
Also awesome? Even though she's a terrible boss in many ways, she's also a mentor for Kara, who totally takes her advice on how to "change Supergirl's narrative." Kara starts small, relying on Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and James (Mehcad Brooks) to help her figure out how to use her powers with minimal collateral damage. Cue the superhero-ing montage! (Can we pass a law stating that every episode of "Supergirl" must have at least one montage? Thanks in advance!)
Kara subverts the patriarchy without even trying.
If you're a superhero fan, then you know the familiar alpha masculine trope that has the superhero bearing his superhero-ing alone. Kara is pretty much that lame strategy from Day One, reminding herself — and the people around her — that, on Krypton, it was an honor to let others help you. The House of El comes from a Krypton phrase literally meaning "Stronger Together." (Hey, episode title!)
Kara tells James: "Part of being your own man is knowing when to accept help." And that's not just quietly revolutionary in the superhero narrative world; that's quietly revolutionary in any mainstream narrative. "Supergirl" may have its more overt ways of commenting on gender politics, but it is scenes like this that prove, sometimes, less is more.
Flashback to Krypton.CBS
Speaking of Krypton, it's flashback time! One of the things that makes "Supergirl" so unique is the fact that, unlike her cousin, she remembers her home planet. She was 12 when she left and, therefore, was as formed by the culture there as she was by her time as a teenager on Earth. This not only makes her an asset to the DEO for her knowledge as well as her superhuman skills, but, narratively, creates a unique bridge to this disparate world.
In tonight's flashback, we see a younger Kara greeting her mother as she returns home from a long day of adjudicating. Their conversation is a bit stilted — Kara comments on how much she wants to be a hero like her mother — but it goes a long way to explaining why Kara is the person she is today. The value of service was instilled in her from an early age.
Kara comes face to face with her aunt.
As we learned at the end of last week's pilot, Kara's biological aunt — General Astra — was one of the prisoners on Fort Rozz. More than that, she is seemingly the mastermind behind the recent prisoner attacks on National City. It's unclear what her endgame is — though she does talk about "saving this planet" — but she does not seem to have many qualms with punching Kara in the face when she sees her.
To be fair, she does ask Kara to join her side first, but doesn't give much explanation as to why she should — nor does she give Kara much time to get over the shock of finding out one of her biological family members is still alive. I have to give "Supergirl" credit for not slow-burning this storyline, though I would have liked to see more time given to this moment and relationship. Presumably, we will get some killer flashbacks involving Kara, Astra, and Alura down the road, but, right now, it felt a little rushed.
Best sisters forever.CBS
While things have never been worse between Kara and Astra, Kara and Alex are closer than ever. At the beginning of the episode, things were understandably still tense between the two sisters — despite their bonding moments in the pilot. The DEO continues to put Alex in the awkward position of delivering the company line when it comes to Kara: basically, she needs training before they will put her in the field.
To be fair, the DEO can't really stop Kara from doing anything she wants to do, but they manage to come to at least a temporary understanding when Alex is kidnapped by Astra. They deliver a one-two punch in the form of Kara's literal punch and Director Henshaw's (David Harewood) kryptonite knife. Something tells me this tension between Kara and the DEO (with Alex in the middle) will continue throughout the season — especially with the reveal that Henshaw is hiding something...
Henshaw may be Cyborg Superman.CBS
What does that mean exactly? Well, in the comics, Henshaw has a super-villain alter ego known as Cyborg Superman. Henshaw was a NASA astronaut whose spaceship was on the wrong end of a solar flare. He eventually becomes half-man, half-machine with powers identical to Superman — not to mention a super vendetta against the Man of Steel, whom he blames for the accident.
Henshaw's glowing red eyes weren't the only clue that the director might be hiding a super villain backstory. He also mentioned losing his family to Kara. Could this be the first clue that he's infiltrated the DEO to take down the Super-fam (a la Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne in season 1 of "The Flash")? Or will "Supergirl" flip the comics mythology on its head by making Henshaw a superhero? Hard to say, at this point — but Henshaw's character just got a million times more interesting.
Supergirl gives Cat an interview.
Cat does not take no for an answer, so — when she demands that the Tribune get a one-on-one interview with Supergirl — she gets it. Sure, first she has to threaten James' job, but it all works out in the end, right? (#Jara #Karolsen) Kara lifts Cat's car onto the roof of a nearby skyscraper and floats intimidatingly in the sky over National City as she grants Cat her interview. It's epic.
It's also kind of refreshing to see that "Supergirl" is getting this Will Cat Recognize Kara thing right out of the way. Yes, it's RIDICULOUS that Cat wouldn't recognize that Supergirl is her administrative assistant without glasses, but — as with all incarnations of the Supergirl and Superman narratives — we kind of just have to go with it. With a show that continues to be this great in its second week, it's the least I can do for "Supergirl."