“For the Girl Who Has Everything” could have easily been a season finale as it served as a smart reminder of the series progress, reinforced the reoccurring themes of family and what makes a hero, had a significant death, and reset the status quo to some key relationships.
How a show with such a clearly drawn main character fails so greatly in focusing on a specific theme or story every week is truly baffling. It’s a telling sign about how badly Supergirl needs to work on its focus that an episode objectively about how Kara deals with not having powers on a day when National City goes through a massive crisis barely deals with that subject at all. “Human For A Day” is instead content to look towards a plethora of other action that barely has to do with Kara, if at all. “Hostile Takeover” too is more focused on the titular hero for only a fraction of the time, making the B-plot more of a co-A-plot for no real reason. What’s the fun in bringing back Astra if the episode is only going to commit more than half the time to a ripped-from-the-headlines Sony hack storyline? There is a way to balance a big bad enacting her master plan while she tries to once again convince the hero to come to her side with a more personal story for one of the tertiary players, and this isn’t it.
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.
Part of the virtue of Elementary’s 24-episode season structure is that there is no pressure to dump on character development every week. Like a sitcom that tacks on its short, sweet heartwarming moments late in the third act, Elementary shifts its narrative camera from the weekly crime plot to remind us that Holmes and Watson are real people dealing with personal conflict. Occasionally, that conflict will take center stage, but more often than not – and in the case of “Poison Pen” – it is painted in light strokes on the episode’s much larger canvas.