Sophomore slump? More like sophomore success.
As Supergirl made the move from the predominantly male-centered CBS to the more balanced CW (a great move for the show), there was this renewed sense of purpose as Supergirl soared to new heights as the class of the DC television universe.
The series really found its footing the second go-around continuing to grow Kara as a hero while also introducing new aspects of her hero’s journey, including a sizzling romance that actually translated well.
But Supergirl also didn’t fall into the trap where the show’s central hero wasn’t the only focus. The second season really took the time to explore Kara’s surrounding cast, which some people mistake for “taking the focus away from Kara.” Here’s the thing, this show is about Kara’s journey. And her journey is nothing without the people in her life. This is an ensemble show that isn’t one. It’s important to explore these people in Kara’s life and explore more than just one person. Yes, this is still Kara’s show. As much as we love Kara, we love all of these characters and are desperate to learn more. And Supergirl delivered.
Supergirl really stepped things up in its sophomore season incorporating new characters and expanding storylines after a solid first season. Supergirl’s first season wasn’t bad. It’s just that its second season was so amazing that it’d be easy to assume that it was. Typically, shows can fall victim to the sophomore slump (like The Flash) – but mainly because their first season is just so damn good. But sometimes, a good first season can serve as the launching point for the second season as the show and its characters really start to settle into this world.
Supergirl definitely embraced who it really is during a season that brought in new faces and new storylines that didn’t compromise Kara or her journey. In fact, they enhanced it. Typically, an abundance of new faces can dampen a show, like with what happened with Arrow. But it’s all in how those characters and their stories are handled. Supergirl handled it the right way. Characters like Mon-El, who not only served as a love interest but also as someone who helped teach Kara that she can be Supergirl and love. Characters like Maggie, who also did more than just serve as a love interest for Alex – she helped her discover her true self. And characters like Lena, who served as a more than a friend for Kara but also as a source of guidance.
Kara’s Journey | My favorite storylines are always the one that focus on our main character’s journey. In Supergirl’s first season, it was all about Kara finding her confidence as Supergirl. But it’s usually the second season of a superhero’s journey that’s even more interesting because now they’re forced to juggle their superhero life with their personal life. And that’s exactly what Kara had to do. Kara was soaring high as Supergirl, but she also found it hard to balance that life with her personal and professional life. Here she was taking on a new job, as a journalist at CatCo, as well as losing romance (with James) and finding romance (with Mon-El.) Some people say that this belittled Kara’s journey, which makes absolutely no sense to me. A hero’s journey isn’t just about their hero persona. If anything, it’s their personal journey that’s even more important. That’s what shapes who a hero is. So, Kara exploring a new career and romance only added to her journey. It helped make her stronger. We saw Kara struggle in balancing her hero life with both her personal and professional lives. But we also saw Kara learn from her mistakes. We saw her come to a place in her life where she felt comfortable in balancing different aspects of her life.
Karamel | One of the most beautiful storylines of the season was a storyline that snuck up on me entirely. When Mon-El of Daxam arrived to National City, I never knew that we were about to get an epic romance that was as beautiful as it was inspiring. Karamel (which is seriously the best ship name like ever) was important for both Kara and Mon-El as individuals. The two started as sworn enemies, but they learned to overlook prejudice and what they’d been told all of their lives to find love with each other. Kara inspired Mon-El, who was once a spoiled prince, to be a better version of himself. She showed him that redemption was possible if you wanted it; and he did. Mon-El inspired Kara to open her heart to love, even though the possibility of getting her heart broken was as terrifying as never having loved at all. Then you had the sizzling chemistry between Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood, that was the most unexpected of all. Their scenes together were magic. You truly felt like these were real people and not just fictional characters. They brought us pain and pleasure. But the thing is, it was good pain. Endgame kind of pain. Kara and Mon-El found love with each other, and while that season finale hurt like hell, it just goes to show you how deep those feelings were. Feelings of love. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t expect that end up being the greatest surprises. (Side note: I’m not at all worried about Mon-El returning for season 3. It’s angst. The good kind of angst. Get ready!)
Sanvers | This was another love story that I didn’t see coming in the first couple of episodes, but once it did, I felt like I had gotten what I’d been waiting for. We don’t often get same-sex couples that are written so well on television. Most of the time it feels like fanservice, but Supergirl managed to bring such a beautiful love to life while also inspiring the audience in such a profound way. You see, Sanvers wasn’t about two women being together. It was about two souls finding each other and growing as individuals and as a couple. Basically, Supergirl didn’t make a big deal about it. They treated it like they would any other couple, which goes to show just how diverse this show is. It actually showed as a relationship – Alex and Maggie working through problems as a couple. We got to see them experience a lot of “firsts” together, while also delivering the promise of many more in the future. Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima have such an amazing chemistry that you could feel it every time they were on screen together. It was so beautiful. While Lima has gone from series regular to guest star, I truly believe that there is so much more magic and so many more firsts to be explored between them.
New Characters | Mon-El. Lena Luthor. Maggie Sawyer. This season was damn good when it comes to incorporating new characters into its preexisting world. Not only were their storylines solid, but it felt organic to watch them thrive through their connections with these preexisting characters. It was those emotional connections with the other characters, as well as their personal dilemmas that really allowed for these characters to be fleshed out in a way that the audience could really appreciate them. Mon-El provided inspiration in that it’s not your past that defines you; it’s what you choose to do with your future. Lena showed us that you can be strong in the midst of emotional tragedy while also fighting to be your own person. Maggie showed us that you can overcome your past and open yourself to love while also being a badass in the process. Those three characters hold such promising futures on this show (despite that cliffhanger and the buzz about Floriana Lima returning as a guest star.) It’s always hard to weave new characters into an existing world, but Supergirl managed to do it was beautifully while introducing us to some amazing characters in the process.
What Didn’t Work
James Olsen | Perhaps if there was a specific focus that lasted longer than a couple of episodes. But the thing that made James’ story weak was the fact that there wasn’t really any attention paid to him. I’ve been craving a storyline for James that doesn’t involve Kara. I wanted to see him fleshed out as an individual. The Guardian storyline looked like it could provide that. But the thing is, we didn’t get a lot of exploration there. It felt more like filler than focus on a long-lasting storyline. I felt like we could’ve seen more in James’ journey to becoming Guardian instead of occasional glances and then the culmination in “City of Lost Children.” Honestly, it felt like the writers didn’t know what to do with him, and then they created the Guardian storyline. Which I would’ve been okay with if we got to see more of the gradual journey there. Basically, I felt like this show didn’t give me reason to care for James this season. He’d disappear for episodes at a time only to return for a small cameo or for one of the couple of episodes where we got to see him as Guardian.
The Crossover | It wasn’t the entire crossover as a whole — which was badass — so much as it was Supergirl‘s hour of the crossover. It was touted as this four-part crossover event, but Supergirl‘s hour was literally like the final minute of the episode. Thankfully, it sounds like this year’s crossover event is going to be a true four-parter, including Supergirl. Hey, look, it’s hard to really nitpick on things that didn’t work when you feel like a majority of this season was sensational.
What We Wanted More Of
Cat Grant | This goes without saying. The biggest blow to Supergirl came before its second season even began production as production moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver, which meant Calista Flockhart wasn’t readily available to maintain her series regular status. It’s a loss that was felt during the entire season. Not that the season was bad even a little bit (it wasn’t), but you could feel the absence. So much so that when Cat returned in the final two episodes it was like a breath of fresh air. Cat Grant is such a dynamic character that brings so much to this show as a mentor to Kara and to people in general, including the audience. She’s someone that breathes inspiration into Kara and us when we need it. She’s intelligent, passionate, powerful, and complex as hell.
Kara as a Journalist | One of the storylines that I was most eager to see play out was Kara’s transition into a journalist, just like her cousin. We’ve seen Kara set her mind on accomplishing something as Supergirl and going out and achieving it. Now, we got to see Kara do the same in her personal life. I loved that it wasn’t easy. I loved that it was a struggle. I loved that we got to see Kara fight so hard for it. But I have to admit, I wished we’d seen more. Because it felt like in the middle of the season the writers opted to take a break from that storyline. Luckily, they revisited it. But I would’ve liked to see it consistently through the season.
Jeremiah Danvers | Perhaps this is the intention of the Jeremiah Danvers storyline, but after we got that focus of Jeremiah’s return on his family – and the subsequent betrayal that might not have been a betrayal – I wanted more. So much more. Call me selfish, but I live for these family moments. They’re wrought with such raw emotion, and the fact that they’re connected with one of the big bads of this series, in Cadmus, it made it even more engrossing. Honestly, I feel like this is one of those storylines that exists for a while and we occasionally get to visit it. Which I’m okay with, but at the same time I’m not because I want more.
Kara & Alex | This is something that I selfishly wanted even though I completely understand why we didn’t get it. So much of Kara and Alex’s story in season 1 was about the two as a pair. This season, they both broke out as individuals exploring individual aspects of their lives apart from being sisters. We know that their dynamic is the heart of the show. But we also know that they exist outside of each other, as well. So, I understand why we didn’t get as much of them together. But I still wanted more.
Winn & James and Winn & Mon-El | I’m all about the bromances. And two bromances that I never saw coming or knew I needed so badly are the thing that I crave more of. Winn and James’ bromance dates back to season 1, where we got a taste of their awesome chemistry. But this season we got to see them in action as Guardian, which provided for a nice balance in their partnership, as well as added layers of depth to their friendship. But while we got to see that a couple of times, I wish we would’ve seen it more. Then you have Mon-El and Winn’s bromance, which is something that functions perfectly off Chris Wood and Jeremy Jordan’s natural rapport but also the two characters’ unique personalities. They just mesh so well. We got to see bits and pieces of it, but I really wish we could’ve seen more.
What We Wanted Less Of
James Olsen as Guardian | It pains me to say it, but the lack of focus on James made the few episodes where he was a focus seem out of place. I’ve been eager for Supergirl to give James a purpose this season, and it looked like we were headed there with Guardian. But then it became more of a forced storyline as James would disappear for episodes at a time. It felt like a storyline they failed to do justice in its entirety. Hopefully this is something we’ll see remedied this season. (Can you tell I’m stretching here because there’s practically nothing I wanted to see less of?)
Commercials? | Honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot that I wanted to see less of. Unless you count the commercials that interrupted my viewing experience and made for four minutes of agonizing hell.
“Nevertheless She Persisted” (Season 2 Finale) | This is so damn hard because I loved pretty much all 22 of Supergirl’s episodes in season 2. But I’m going to go with the season finale because there was just so much emotion that came with that episode. It had everything I loved – Karamel, Sanvers, Cat Grant, Superman, damn good pain – and it managed to leave me as a heaping mess of emotion of the ground. It was so damn good, even though it hurt like hell. That’s the sign of a great episode of television. Phenomenal performances all around. Way to leave us hanging on a cliff headed into hiatus.
Least Favorite Episode
Honestly, I don’t have an episode that I disliked. That’s a first. But if I have to pick one…
“Medusa” (Episode 2×08) | While I loved the emotional components of the episode, for a midseason finale it just lacked the “umph” I was looking for. And that’s not the first for Supergirl. Last year’s midseason finale was much the same. But even at its weakest, Supergirl was still one of the best DCTV shows out there. It reinforced the heart that drives this show and makes it one that the audience can connect to. But for a midseason finale, it left me underwhelmed.
Season Finale Impression
I’d be lying if I said the Supergirl didn’t punch me in the gut emotionally but also leave me feeling completely satisfied. And the fact that “Nevertheless She Persisted” was able to make me feel pain but enjoy it is quite the accomplishment for an hour of television.
Following last season’s lackluster season finale, “Nevertheless She Persisted” showed us what a season finale should look like. It had our final confrontation with our Big Bad, Rhea, but it was so much more than that. If anything, Rhea served as the catalyst for the events that followed that left me sobbing into my wine and cursing summer hiatus. Supergirl managed to deliver a thrilling hour of television that also managed to pack an emotional punch that is sure to leave fans reeling as we head into season 3.
“Nevertheless She Persisted” had everything I wanted: Viable Big Bad, action, romance, heart, Karamel, Sanvers, Cat Grant, and an ending that’ll stick with me for some time to come.
Season 3 Speculation
Supergirl’s season 2 finale left viewers with a lot of questions that need answering. Like, what the hell happened to Mon-El? When is Mon-El coming back? Did Maggie say “yes” to Alex’s proposal? Is Cat Grant staying permanently? Was that Reign that was alluded to in the final scene of the episode? Basically, what next?
While this show brought us one of the most teary goodbyes we can remember, if there’s one thing we know it’s that Kara and Mon-El’s love story is far from over. While Mon-El has been sucked into a wormhole (that’ll most likely bring him back to Earth), it’s going to be the journey of how Mon-El gets back to Earth – and how he builds up a tolerance to lead. While their reunion won’t be quick, it’ll be worth it.
With news that Floriana Lima has stepped down from series regular to guest star, we’re curious as to how Sanvers’ love story will pan out. Given Alex’s proposal to Maggie in the finale, we can’t help but feel anxious as to what the answer might be given Maggie’s reduced role in season 3.
With Katie McGrath being upped to series regular, we’re sure to get more focus on Lena Luthor. Given Lena’s ties to her Luthor name, we can’t help but wonder if this is the season where we’ll start to see more alluding to her going to the dark side, like her brother. It’ll be interesting to see how that’ll affect Kara and Lena’s friendship.
Supergirl managed to do something that’s entirely hard to do: Improve on a solid season and deliver an impressive and strong second season. The question is: Can they keep it going? So long as they keep delivering on what works, there’s no reason why Supergirl shouldn’t be able to remain at the top of DCTV.
Supergirl returns for season 3 Mondays this fall at 8/7c on The CW.
What were your thoughts on Supergirl season 2? Sound off in the comments!