Supergirl 2×01 Review: A New Chapter Begins

As Supergirl made its big transition to The CW, Kara Danvers also began her new journey this season as she battled with balancing life as Supergirl and Kara Danvers, as well as welcomed her famous cousin, Superman, to National City for some incredibly fun family-bonding and world saving. You know, your typical afternoon for the House of El.

As the title would suggest, “The Adventures of Supergirl” was definitely a fun-filled hour equipped with phenomenal character interactions, action, teases, and all the Cat Grant we’ve been missing during hiatus. Seriously, how are we supposed to handle her only being a recurring guest star?! I’m seriously angry. This show needs Cat Grant.

One of the concerns heading into this season premiere – and rightfully so – was whether Superman would steal the spotlight from Kara. This show is called Supergirl, but something that was made immediately evident was just how important Clark is in Kara’s life. And the fact that he’s such an important part of her life is exactly why he needed to be on this show. This series is about Kara, and that also includes the people who define who she is both as Kara and as Supergirl.

So while Supergirl formally introduced Superman to its audience that doesn’t mean that is all of a sudden going to become the Superman show. And the show did a really good job at playing with that. Whether it was Kara teasing Clark about Supergirl taking the lead or Kara making sure Supergirl was mentioned alongside Superman, this is all part of the story. I mean, Kara’s journey this season is going to be all about learning to balance her life as Supergirl and Kara Danvers, and that’s something her cousin has accomplished that she’s going to fight for this season.

Supergirl & Superman’s Dynamic

From the first scene that Melissa Benoist and Tyler Hoechlin shared it was evident just how electric their dynamic was. Superman’s introduction into Supergirl’s world was one that was initially met with some resistance. There was a certain protective instinct by fans, myself initially included, that Superman might outshine Supergirl on her own show. But here’s the thing: the reason Superman is on Supergirl is because of who he is and what he means to Kara. This is her story. They’re cousins. Of course he’s a part of her story.

While we’ve been told that Hoechlin’s Superman appearance is slated for the first two episodes – at least – it really has opened the door to a slew of possibilities involving a recurring guest role, whether that be Superman paying a visit to National City or Supergirl stopping by Metropolis. So much of the first season was centered around developing this show around Kara, which it was able to, that now it can start to play with some other heroes. The same goes for other shows like Arrow and The Flash. After they’d let their titular heroes come into their own then they started to introduce other big comic characters into the universe. The same goes with Supergirl. Granted Superman is the biggest name to be incorporated on one of these CW superhero shows, but the same concept applies.

Now that we’ve gotten past that part, the relationship between Kara and Clark was hands down my favorite part about the episode – with Cat Grant being a close second. Kara and Clark both have very distinct yet similar personalities. They’re the quirky, clumsy, adorkable, optimistic kind of people who take care of others before themselves. And what can you say other than it must run in the family. Their similar personalities really worked well together. There was an instant rapport between the actors that made it believable that Kara and Clark had been close for years although separated by distance. It added an extra element to the relationship and to the significance of Superman’s appearance on this show. And I’m so ready for more!

Kara’s Struggle For Balance

“Last year was all about figuring out how to be Supergirl, and now it’s time I figure out how to be Kara.”

Basically Kara was able to verbalize what’s going to be her struggle for this coming season. While last year was about her learning to be the best Supergirl she could be, this year is going to be about Kara learning to balance her life as Supergirl and as Kara Danvers. Right now Kara isn’t sure how to juggle all of the responsibilities that come with being a superhero and herself. She’s watching her cousin, Clark, succeed in that regard. But he reminds her that it wasn’t always easy for him. He was in her shoes before. It’s something that she’s basically going to have to learn for herself.

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We saw Kara struggle with this balance when she made the decision to just be friends with James because she couldn’t figure out how to be in a relationship with him and be Supergirl at the same time. Sound familiar? It’s a familiar superhero troupe, but if done right by Kara it can really work in her favor in terms of character progression and her relationship with James.

The Mysterious Kryptonian

Of course the big question that viewers were left hanging with in Supergirl’s season finale was the occupant of the Kryptonian pod that crash-landed on Earth. In the season two premiere, we watched the scene play out in its entirety and watched as Kara came face-to-face with an unconscious, mysterious Kryptonian sporting a red turtleneck that they brought back to the DEO. While the finale indicated that it might’ve been someone familiar to Kara, the premiere proved otherwise as we found the DEO scrambling to find out who this mystery alien was. Of course one of the interesting things we learned is that he was in a place where time had stopped, which is why he appeared to look so young. Kind of similar to Kara’s story. Now the question for the time being is who the hell is this mysterious Kryptonian?

Kara and James Take a Break

While I’ll be the first to admit that I’m all for romance on superhero shows, my one problem with Kara and James’ romantic evolution was that it was lacking substance. Basically, it was rushed and it didn’t feel genuine. And when Kara told James that she thinks they should just be friends – which translated to, “I can’t be with you right now” – I got my first glimmer of optimism for the future of this ship.

Here’s the thing, I don’t really have a definitive romantic ship on Supergirl. I’ve got plenty of other ships: Kara/Alex, Kara/Alex/J’Onn, and Kara/Cat, but those ships aren’t of romantic implications. Ships don’t have to be romantic. All they have to do is make you root for these characters and their relationship, whatever that might be. After the pilot I thought I was firmly on the Kara/James train, but then it sort of fizzled out because it wasn’t being treated the way it should’ve been treated. Then I thought I might like Kara/Winn because of the friends thing and Winn being in love with her (it reminded me of Clary and Simon in The Mortal Instruments), but the show kind of shut that down for now. Then Kara had that temporary boyfriend – Cat’s long-lost son – which didn’t last long. So basically, Supergirl isn’t my go-to for romance. And that’s more than fine. Actually, it’s perfectly fine.

So basically breaking up Kara and James before they ever truly started was probably the best thing they could’ve done. Now, the show can develop their relationship more and let the slowburn build. If that’s what the show wants to do. And obviously these superhero shows are seeking that out. For Arrow it’s Olicity; for Flash it’s WestAllen; for Legends of Tomorrow it was Captain Canary. Those romantic ships have great power in promotion for the series and in capturing the fans’ hearts in a more gripping, holding-on-for-dear-life kind of way.

But Supergirl hasn’t found that yet. And that’s okay. Arrow didn’t find it until season two with Olicity (when they actively decided to pursue it) and same for The Flash in season two. Basically, this is the season where if Supergirl wants to develop Kara and James as the epic love story of Supergirl that they really take their time to develop these characters as individuals and as a couple while really using that sexual tension to drive their journey. If they can manage to do that then I might be back on board!

The Threat of Cadmus Begins

While there’s no denying that “The Adventures of Supergirl” was all about living in the fun of this world and the introduction of Superman, the final scene of the episode reminded us that this season is going to be more than just fun. This season’s overarching conflict appears to revolve around Cadmus, a secret organization that we learned a little about last season. What we do know about Cadmus, apart from their controversial and dangerous experiments, is that Jeremiah Danvers was taken in at Cadmus following his “disappearance” and presumed death several years back.

Perhaps the most chilling thing about that final scene was who appears to be the leader of Cadmus, a mystery woman with a kind face but cold demeanor. Whatever she’s offering, it’s not salvation. This week’s baddie, John Corben, got wind of that firsthand. This woman gave him an offer: die or stay alive. He chose to keep living, which might appear to the worst of the two choices as he was injected with something – or someone – in what we saw is just the beginning.

The prospects with this Cadmus storyline are endless. It presents so many different layers. It’s not just an evil organization that Supergirl and the DEO have to take down. There’s something very personal about it because Jeremiah Danvers was involved, whether that’s being held captive or working for them. Can you imagine if he’s working for them?! This is what good storytelling is all about. It’s introducing a compelling conflict but also making the audience care even more than they should about it – because it’s so much more to the characters that they care so much about.

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on the CW.

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