7 November 2015

Supergirl S1E2 "Stronger Together" review

Following a strong start, the second episode of Supergirl focuses on Superman’s legacy and Kara trying to live up to it. After a few unsuccessful heroic acts and the indirect advice of her friends, she decides she has to start small and work her way up. This involves learning to control her powers as well as continuing to track down the escaped aliens from the ship that appeared with her when she appeared on earth.

It continues the confident characterisation of the protagonist and action that made the first episode stand-out but fortunately at a much slower pace than last week. This gives time for the characters to breathe a bit more and see Kara’s relationships with them start to develop. Melissa Benoist continues to suit the role of Supergirl very well, balancing the optimism and naivety of the character, while showing enough presence to sell the superpowers she displays.

James/Jimmy Olsen continues to impress in the supporting cast, yet even with an expanded emphasis, a section of the secondary characters are  still lacking their own unique voices. The major focus this episode is placed on her sister, Alexandra "Alex" Danvers played by Chyler Leigh, and the agency that she is part of. While the scenes with Alex and Kara feel natural and add a much needed emotional core to the show, exposition heavy dialogue and obvious plot devices hamper any scenes that take place in this agency. Especially as recent plot elements solidify the importance of this organisation to both Supergirl and the show itself, I hope this area improves. It needs to show more creativity when it comes to not only the characterisation of the agency members and originality in how they affect the plot. Luckily, the rest of the cast are starting to come together and keep up the fun and bright tone that is easily one of Supergirl's best traits.

Weak villains, however, are the biggest problem at the moment, as we have yet to see any motivation or character from any of the villains shown so far. This week’s villain main trait was an admittedly cool looking effect on his mouth, but said little and had barely any impact on the show. The main overarching plot involves one of Kara’s family members from Krypton but even this character has said nothing outside of generic villain speeches. Not only this but the fact that this character is Kara’s last link to krypton and the life she had before coming to earth, their meeting should have had a much larger effect on Supergirl than what was shown. While there are teases at something bigger going on plot wise, it has yet to show anything that has a big impact or any surprises.

The effects & action scenes are still entertaining, but perhaps a bit more rough around the edges compared to the first episode. While it lacks to pace and choreography from the fighting compared to a show like Arrow, the super strength effects are well integrated into the action and give it a bigger scope than currently seen in any other DC TV show. For a TV budget the effects on the whole are still more than good. This can make up for the times where the flight effect feels a little too much like watching person suspended on a wire.

The link to Superman continues to be a large factor for the show and shows no signs of going away soon. I appreciate that the creators of the show want to add in references to please fans and solidify the relationship between Supergirl and Superman but it also needs time to stand on it’s own feet more and develop it’s own tone and cast. While not too distracting, the characters don’t need to name drop Perry White or Clark Kent every other scene.

What I am pleased it’s doing is developing it’s own take to the Superman mythology by adding it’s own meaning to the S symbol, similar to what Man of Steel did. This approach adds more to back-story of Krypton and unites the characters who wear it. I also enjoy the occasional glimpses back to Krypton that have been shown in both episodes. It will be interesting to see if these flashbacks continue through the series and mirror the current plot, similar to the plot devices used in Arrow. While I hope that they aren't abused as aggressively as they are in Oliver Queen’s story, if they start bringing in Kara's Kryptonian upbringing to the show it’ll not only give insight into the back-story of Kara but allow the show to develop a world and visual style that is unique. It's a direction I hope the show embraces.

A more relaxed pace gives the show a chance to expand on some of its relationships and back-story, yet major plot lines and some characters still feel underdeveloped at this point. The show keeps up its track record of good effects and strong protagonist with a fun and light hearted tone. It continues the promise that the pilot showed but the lack of an interesting villain or an overarching plot as well as a reliance on Superman keep it from truly shining. Aside from this, Supergirl continues in a strong direction that I hope improves as it continues.

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