The Season 2 premiere of Supergirl, “The Adventures of Supergirl,” has a lot of stories to tell. I don’t just mean the handful of plot threads it barrels through from last season and all the new ones introduced but also the three meta-stories it has to convey. Those stories are:
- Supergirl, having moved from CBS to the CW with the rest of its DCTV kin, has to sell fans of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and/or iZombie on why they should tune in an hour before Jane the Virgin.
- It has to make the case that Kara Danvers’ more famous, genre-creating cousin (played by Tyler Hoechlin) belongs in the world and explicitly woman-centered narrative that this show has created.
- It needs to assure fans following from CBS that the network move–and subsequent budget cut–won’t affect the show’s quality.
Happily, other than one noticeably missing plot thread and some pacing issues, the show fulfills these three metanarratives very well and entirely in its own charming way. It does exactly what a second season premiere should do even in our binge-watching age: offer existing fans more of the same while giving newcomers an entry point.
Opening a day after last season’s finale, which ended with a Kryptonian pod identical to Kara’s crash landing, the episode opens with Kara, Alex, Winn (who becomes an official member of the DEO a few scenes later) and Hank/J’onn meeting up to discuss the deal with the strange young man inside at a new, above-ground DEO location. There’s some funny jokes about this place that has always existed but no one ever told Kara: “a bat bit me at the old place,” she exclaims. Right from the start, there’s an initial upside to the budget shift/the show’s moving to Vancouver from LA–a DEO location that can be well-lit because money doesn’t need to be redirected elsewhere.
After that, Kara & James have their first date: pizza & potstickers at her apartment while watching the launch of SpaceX stand-in commercial space rocket Venture on TV. But as soon as Venture gets into suborbit, one of its engines explodes. Cut to…
a newstand in Metropolis, where a certain bespectacled reporter is telling his boss that he’ll have his report for him right away and hears the news from an overhead flat-screen. “Wherever he is, I pray he’s watching this,” the reporter intones as the man heads off down an alley.
Back in National City,a Catco newscaster says. “I pray she’s watching this.” Jimmy says “She is” as Supergirl flies up and grabs Venture by its nose. Arriving two seconds later, Superman helps Supergirl land the shuttle safely in rural America somewhere.
Meanwhile, under pressure from Cat Grant to declare what new role she wants at CatCo, Kara tags along with Clark Kent while he interviews Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath), newly arrived to National City and new head of LexCorp with her brother currently in prison serving 32 consecutive life sentences. Lena was supposed to be on Venture with the bomb that blew up the shuttle directly under her seat, something that’s instantly suspicious. Meanwhile, gun-for-hire John Corben (Frederick Schmidt) gets ahold of two highly advanced drones and kills the guy who sold them to him.
Suffice it to say, there’s a lot going on here–as well as stuff like explaining why Superman refuses to work with the DEO directly–and to cram it all in in an hour feels a bit rushed. But on the whole, Supergirl 2.0 looks and sounds a lot more confident in itself. The new status quo reaffirms exactly what this show has always been about–a young woman dealing with the world and superherodom on her own terms, no one else’s–but it’s a lot bolder. While I wish Lucy Lane’s status had been addressed in some way, I still really liked this episode.
The returning cast is fantastic with Jeremy Jordan definitely playing Winn as having a crush on Superman, Melissa Benoist continuing to shine and Hoechlin proving that he’s easily the best onscreen Superman and Clark Kent of the 21st Century. The writing and direction are confident and zip along at a fun, exciting pace.
It’s clear that not only is this show the spiritual successor to Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, it’s also pulling in the best parts of the post-Crisis John Byrne/”triangle title” era of Superman comics (the latter name referring to the fact that from 1986-1999 roughly, all Superman comics told an interconnected story with small triangles indicating each issue’s chapter number in that year’s plot). It’s a welcome thing to see, particularly as DC Rebirth appears to be borrowing from and adhering to that era’s tone and accessibility, and I genuinely hope we see more of it.
(NOTE: a lot of reviews of Season 1 episodes were filed but never published due to behind-the-scenes circumstances. Those have now been resolved and rest assured this season will be reviewed in a timely manner.)
Tom Speelman is a contributor to Loser City and The Mary Sue and a regular writer/columnist at Comics Alliance. He’s a freelance writer and proofreader and is featured in the upcoming criticism anthology A Galaxy Far Far Away: Exploring Star Wars Comics from Sequart Publishing. Find him on Twitter @tomtificate.