Supergirl 1.05 “How Does She Do It?” and 1.06 “Red Faced”
So after being pushed back a week due to unfortunate similarities to real-life events, Supergirl’s fifth/actually-fourth episode, “How Does She Do It?” aired this week. Like I said last time, the shuffle actually rather worked in the show’s favor. The only real shuffled narrative threads—the rekindled relationship between James Olsen (Mechad Brooks) and Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) and the revelations about Hank Henshaw and the death of Alex’s dad Jeremiah (Dean Cain)—don’t get all that confusing. Aside from some dialogue, not much is really lost. And given that this show will almost certainly be ordered properly on DVD/iTunes/CBS All Access, this scheduling quirk ultimately doesn’t matter.
With that out of the way, this episode’s title refers to two things: 1. A question posed by Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli, less Tony Stark lite here and more slimeball) in relation to Supergirl and 2. The very real question viewers might ask as they see Kara struggle with foiling terrorist bombings around National City as well as babysitting Cat’s teenage son Carter (Levi Miller of Pan infamy) while Cat is busy receiving the Siegel Woman of the Year award in Metropolis.
Alex discovers that cutting-edge technology found in the first bomb to go off (although Kara saves the building from collapsing) was developed by Lord’s labs, immediately putting him under suspicion. However, Lord points out that the bomb was inside a lab owned by one of his companies; why would he sabotage himself? It’s a mystery that only gets deeper while Kara tries to draw the shy Carter—who has a crush on Supergirl, naturally—out of his shell. Winn, getting drawn into this, finally does something besides moon over Kara (we see that he knows how to run videogames on the giant wall of monitors in Cat’s office) and with him, a little goes a long way.
The core problem of this episode is, indeed, how Kara juggles these two situations. It’s not exactly a new angle for superhero stories—hero and hero’s secret identity being needed at the same time has been a staple of the genre since at least Action Comics #7—but the unique circumstances here make it very fresh. Not only is Kara struggling to prove herself as both a superhero and as an assistant, she has to do both of these while as a modern young woman. Thankfully, this show doesn’t overdo that last angle which makes for a nice change of pace.
However, while I’m not gonna go into spoilers, the ending here might either be totally off for you or remind you of Man of Steel. I definitely felt shades of that but I would like to point out that these are Kara’s early, early days of herodom we’re seeing here and that the situation as it plays out is almost telegraphed to end the way it does. Having Kara prevent that would be very cheap.
One final thing: Kara and Alex earnestly debate whether James has “friend zoned” her. Which: come on, show. Come on. That myth is damaging and harmful enough; don’t parrot it to the kids watching this show. Just don’t.
Meanwhile, this week’s Supergirl episode sees the debut of a villain that not many were looking forward to. Mostly because of the truly atrocious looking promo photos but also because, if you did even just a tiny bit of Google-Fu with the character, you learned he wasn’t even really a villain.
That’s right, “Red Faced” sees the long snarked-about premiere of the first live-action version of Red Tornado, the android superhero who’s famous for crying almost as much as the Vision and is best known for being both a member of the Justice Society and den mother to Young Justice in the ‘90s and being given wonderfully bemused life on Batman: The Brave & The Bold by Corey Burton and on Young Justice by Jeff Bennett.
Here, the Big Red Bot appears as the mute, drone-like creation of Dr. Morrow (first name T.O.) (Iddo Goldberg, who also plays Tornado), who built him with U.S. military funding under the eye of General Sam Lane (Glenn Morshower) who rolls into National City to have the DEO test the robot against Supergirl’s abilities to see if it’s a match for alien combatants.
Lane is also here to emphatically state to James that his daughter Lucy (who it turns out is his legal attaché) is not good enough for him. Meanwhile, Kara, dealing with public fallout after stopping road rage-afflicted drivers from hitting kids by stopping their cars and breaking the one dude’s hand, snaps at Cat in frustration after being demeaned yet again. Cat has her own issues to deal with this week—her demeaning, icy mother, famous book editor Katherine Grant (Joan Juliet Buck) has swept into town—but she takes Kara out to dinner for what is indisputably the best “civilian” scene the show has had yet.
I really hope someone uploads the full scene onto YouTube eventually but basically, the gist of it is Cat calmly explaining that Kara “cannot get angry at work.” She delves into her past for examples saying that she once witnessed Perry White throw a chair through a window but “if I had even…thrown so much as a napkin,” her career would have tanked. It’s the sort of candid talk about workplace sexism that not enough female-led shows do and especially not popular shows. It’s a thrilling scene with some dynamite acting from both Callista Flockhart and Melissa Benoist and I hope this, plus their conversation at the end of “Livewire,” means their relationship evolves over the rest of the (newly-ordered!) season.
That scene takes the cake for me but a close second is when James & Kara try anger management techniques: him using a punching bag, her using a hanging car. Couple that with a story of Kara having to take down a rogue Red Tornado after she attacks it so hard it enters self-preservation mode and wreaks havoc on National City and you have a fine episode that is this show at its best. There’s action, pathos, romantic angst, character development. Basically, this show proves itself each and every week and is further proof that more than anyone, Greg Berlanti and his team get how the DC Universe works and how to make people care about it.