Supergirl, Season 1, Episode 2, “Stronger Together”
Written by Ali Adler & Andrew Kreisberg
Directed by Glen Winter
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
Many shows, and almost all network shows, either require a second episode that is very similar to the first or voluntarily replay a lot of the same story beats in order to accommodate the audience that is only tuning into the second episode or needs some details repeated back to them. Supergirl doesn’t shy away from this method in the least, as “Stronger Together” is an almost exact replica in many ways to the pilot. Some slight advances in the story, and one big advance that could have been saved for at least another cluster of episodes without issue, but the main emotional beats are more or less in sync with the pilot. By picking up one week later, these conversations and events occurring more than once in such a short time span at least makes sense, whether that is Alex repeating what the DEO does or Cat explaining the entire relationship between The Daily Planet and Worldwide Media. Kara is slowly growing into her role as the titular heroin and everyone around her is still acclimating to the existence of this heroine, even if they already knew her identity before the reveal. So it is okay, in one sense, that the repetitiveness is so present here. On the other hand, for the show to become an efficient procedural as well as a high-flying hour of fun, the writing needs to improve.
A major example of the scripts not being quite up to snuff just yet is the scene with Calista Flockhart or Mehcad Brooks. Both are accomplished actors, as proven by their past roles, but Flockhart’s Cat dressing down Brooks’ Jimmy is a stilted and awkward conversation. Some of the dialogue given to Laura Benanti in her Astra role is also too campy for what the show is trying to be right now. Supergirl is a DC hero in a more Marvel-esque city (which has a lot to do with it being commandeered by a CW creator with a CBS backdrop) and that requires more finesse than the over-the-top villains and dialogue of a show like Arrow. This show is going to have a heavier procedural element to it just based on where its home is, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have lines with higher complexity than a standard cop show. The friendships and complexities surrounding Kara’s newfound role in National City already have a lot of layers to work through, the writing rising to the occasion will go a long way to smoothing out some of these early bumps.
Some stiltedness in the script is common in the early goings of any young show though, and there is a lot to like in this episode, up to and including the action surrounding the Fort Rozz escapee of the week. As a character, the Hellgrammite is barely worth another mention, but as a pawn in Astra’s larger game he makes for a worthy inclusion to the story. Hellgrammites are not native to Krypton, and so are not familiar to Kara beyond a brief mention from her mother about one as a child. By being such an inconsequential alien species in the larger scheme of the show, using this space criminal as the fugitive allows Kara’s growing control over her powers and Astra’s larger plan to have breathing room. The first showdown between Astra and Kara didn’t have to happen this early in the season so it is a genuine surprise that the show chooses to reveal Astra’s existence to her niece this soon. It could have easily turned into the major arc of the season without Kara knowing who was controlling the Fort Rozz aliens and terrorizing the city. Instead, Kara turning down her aunt’s suggestion to join forces puts them immediately at odds and sets up a more emotionally rich (yet familiar) story about families choosing different paths. It is a comic book story as old as time, but one that can be mined for a lot here, especially with the great work Laura Benanti and Melissa Benoist are doing thus far opposite each other. The one downside about their encounter is that while the action choreography on the ground is stellar, the flying choreography does not look smooth or comfortable for the actresses. Hopefully that will settle down with time and practice but as it will assuredly be a major part of action sequences going forward, it’s important that this not take away from the stakes in any given scene.
All in all, even with the second episode very similar to the first, Supergirl is finding its footing as far as what kind of show it wants to be from week to week. Cat knows the secret and will soon know that Jimmy probably knows the secret, since Kara sacrificed keeping her identity from her boss for his job. Wynn and Jimmy both know the secret, and know each other knows the secret. Alex knows the boys know the secret, even if she isn’t happy about it. Kara is well on her way to becoming a more able fighter and strategist on the battlefield, and the DEO is embracing her abilities more fully with every case (even if there is at least one person working for Astra on the inside after this Henshaw development). The team is coming together – as well as Jimmy and Kara growing closer in another way? – and before long will be teaming up to help the city do more than get pet snakes out of neighborhood trees. Soon the “team logo”, as Cat put it, will actually belong to a team that works like a well oiled machine to take down evil. Until then, this loose procedural format works well enough to get the show into shape and set the chess board for the bigger showdowns to come.
- No “how many different pronouns did they use to say ‘Superman'” count this week, but it will return next episode. A very general guess? Still a lot, but less than the pilot. Progress!
- “Three showers later and I still smell like burning oil.” #terriblegirl
- “Drunk at 9am. That’s the last time I have breakfast with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
- This episode marks the brief introduction of National City’s Maxwell Lord, played by Peter Facinelli. Lord has many roles in the comics, some of them which could be intriguing additions to Kara’s adventures down the road. For now, he’s a tech billionaire of whom Wynn is a big fan.
- That’s Parks & Recreation’s Jay Jackson as the newscaster here. Add Supergirl to the list of shows that belong to the same universe as Scandal and Parks.
- “He knows!? You told him!?” Line readings that prove both Brooks and Jordan are set to provide some great twinkly-eyed comic relief moving forward.
- “Him, him, him. I am so sick of hearing about the man of steel.” is the “Supergirl enjoys being meta about its feminism” line of the week.
- The krypton emitters in the training room and the tie-in to the Fortress of Solitude is a nice touch. Kara’s “fortress” is one of family and support, instead of some cave in the Arctic. Some solid shorthand for the differences between Kara Danvers and Clark Kent.