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Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 1 — The Adventures Of Supergirl Review

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★★★★

Regular Cast: Melissa Benoist (Kara Danvers/Supergirl), Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers), Mehcad Brooks (James Olsen), Jeremy Jordan (Win Schott), Chris Wood (Mon-El), Floriana Lima (Maggie Sawyer), David Harewood (J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter/Hank Henshaw); Guest Starring: Tyler Hoechlin (Clark Kent/Superman), Calista Flockhart (Cat Grant), Katie McGrath (Lena Luthor), Andrea Brooks (Eve Teschmacher), Frederick Schmidt (John Corben/Metallo); Written by Andrew Kreisberg & Jessica Queller from a story by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg; Directed by Glen Winter

In its second season, Supergirl has very quickly come into its own, embracing its comic book roots and moving away from certain limitations — either self-imposed or insisted upon — that were a part of year one.

In truth, the show achieved quite a lot last year, most notably establishing a female superhero in a world of film and television that, up until then, had been decidedly male-centric. It also brought a sense of hope to the genre in general and the Superman mythos in particular, serving as the antithesis of the angsty, more emo-driven take on the world of the Last Son Of Krypton as established in Man Of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Kudos on both counts.

But there was a downside as well. For starters, because in America it aired on CBS, the most mainstream of the primary networks, there was a need for a more procedural element with many stories that had to be limited to a single episode, rather than the more serialized approach that has become much more the norm. Also, a bludgeoning of the viewer with themes of girl power that more often than not resulted in eye-rolling rather than inspiration. Plus there was a romantic element that had to be played up, hence the relationship that slowly developed between Kara Danvers/Supergirl and James Olsen.

Well, CBS is out and the CW — home of Arrow, The Flash and DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow — is in, and the results are pretty immediate. For starters, it doesn’t take long for Kara and James to agree to be friends rather than lovers (so much for that idea), Supergirl’s power is allowed to speak for itself, and there is already a much greater embracing of the DC Universe. A mysterious unconscious alien who arrived in a Kryptonian pod at the end of season one and is currently unconscious at the DEO, will ultimately be revealed as Mon-El, a character first introduced in the pages of Superboy comics. He arrived on Earth with no memories, but the assumption, given the evidence, was that he had hailed from Krypton, but, in truth, he was from Daxam, a planet that had been a Kryptonian colony. None of that, however, was discussed in episode one, so at this point is moot.

Lex Luthor’s sister, Lena, has moved to National City and brought her company with her, trying to put as much distance between her brother (in jail for multiple life sentences after dropping a nuke on the San Andreas Fault — nice tie-in to Superman: The Movie) as possible. She claims to be gong for a fresh start, though how likely that is remains to be seen. Apparently carrying a grudge, the unseen Lex orchestrates several assassination attempts on Lena using criminal John Corben, who, long story short, will become Metallo, he with the Kryptonite heart.

And, oh yes, the featured guest star is Superman, as played by Teen Wolf’s Tyler Hoechlin. After a season of teases, where he were only allowed to see blurred or distant shots of the Man Of Steel, executive producer Greg (“why isn't he guiding the DC universe on the big screen?”) Berlanti somehow convinced the powers that are at Warner Bros. to let him use the character for two episodes (though one would imagine that we’ll see more of him). While Katie McGrath seems perfectly fine in the role of Lena (we’ll see where she goes), and there not enough of Frederick Schmidt to judge his portrayal of Corben, it has to be said that from the moment he arrives on screen, Hoechlin absolutely nails the Superman character. The closest comparison would have to be Christopher Reeve, which speaks worlds about how effective he is in the role. He’s humble, takes genuine joy in saving people (even offering a wink to a group of kids he’s saved from a deadly armed drone before taking off), has a bit of an edge when interacting with J’onn J’onzz (he’s annoyed that the DEO has Kryptonite on the premises), pulls off the slightly bumbling but never cartoonish Clark Kent, and, most importantly, never overshadows Supergirl. This absolutely remains her show and he’s in a support position, though one has to commend the chemistry between he and Melissa Benoist. There’s a familial playfulness between them that works wonderfully, especially when she reveals to some kids that she used to change his diapers (“You don’t have to tell them that,” he comments, to which she replies, “Oh, yesh, I think I do”) or when she rolls her eyes good-naturedly over the way that everybody fawns over him.

Benoist remains the shining light of the show, her enthusiasm infectious, her personal journey to discover who she is as Kara (she’s confident about the Supergirl part of her life) always believable. And, as always, the scenes between her and Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant are magic, the latter continuing to serve as mentor and, living up to her word from the season one finale, allowing Kara to pick any career at CatCo that she chooses (she elects to become a reporter, which Cat had predicted when she first hired her). Unfortunately Flockhart, who did not elect to relocate to Vancouver from California, will take on a recurring role throughout the season, so it will be interesting to see where things go from here.

The effects are outsanding, there’s plenty of spectacle and only a couple of, “Are you serious?” moments: First, when Superman and Supergirl team up to save a space plane in trouble (everyone loves to have these Kryptonians rescue seemingly doomed flights), the cousins safely place the vessel in a field, and then fly over to a group of kids to say hi. Uh, maybe check on the crew and passengers? Just sayin’. And then, while Superman is flying around the city taking out deadly drones, Corben fires a blast at Supergirl that briefly renders her unconscious as she crashes to a rooftop. It’s not established that the weapon is Kryptonite-based, so what’s the story with that?

Nitpicks, however, for an episode that works so effectively and indicates that Supergirl is in safe hands at her new home.

Supergirl airs on the CW in America, and season two kicks off on 24 October on Sky1

Read our review of Supergirl Season 2, Episode 2 — "The Last Children Of Krypton"

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