Editor’s note: This series of recaps of episodes for “Supergirl” will contain spoilers, especially as the season goes, and may be written to an audience that’s watching the series. Expect a full-season review once the first season concludes.
Second episode surpasses the first
There’s something cathartic about seeing a superhero (even a fledgling one) not actually be able to fight. It’s a fantastic reminder that we never start out at the top, that we have to learn new skills and become better people one step at a time.
The second episode of “Supergirl,” titled “Stronger Together,” makes this premise its core lesson, giving powerful incentive to our main characters and adding an stronger dash of emotion throughout.
“Stronger Together” acts as a follow-up to the pilot episode, addressing basic concerns of what exactly happens when a superhero comes in to save the day. (For instance, you save a jet from crashing, but who moves it from the random spot you left it?) Family and friends offer a powerful catalyst for our flying hero yet again, adding to the sense that she won’t be going solo on her quest to save National City from the villainous baddies who escaped from their Phantom Zone prison.
Kara/Supergirl (played by the ever-so-charming Melissa Benoist) is brought back down to earth in glorious mortal fashion; she has a job to get, a boss to somehow please, rent to pay, friends to balance and family to reconcile with — oh, and then’s there’s the threat of her evil aunt and some seriously nightmare-fuel bad guys trying to end her. All of this happens as Kara comes to terms with the fact that, if it weren’t for her yellow sun-gifted powers, she wouldn’t stand a chance against those who’d seek to do her harm.
The show stitches these plot points together far more seamlessly than it did the first time, using emotional connection like a scalpel, rather than a hammer, to elicit the desired effects. You’re more connected to a young woman trying to contend with her new reality (that of being a caped hero) because it’s clear she doesn’t have all the answers, just all the spirit. When she faces a A.I. created by her dead mother, we feel that tug of the heartstring because we all know loss. When she reminiscences about her home planet of Krypton (she was a teenager when the planet blew up), it reminds us just how different she is from her better-known cousin, how she remembers family and friends and traditions and customs of a world that no longer exists. Hopefully that knowledge comes to play a larger role in the episodes to come.
But, as stated, “Stronger Together” runs wild with its title’s description, showcasing motivations for a multitude of characters, especially James Olsen and his recent move to National City from Metropolis. His quest to become someone other than the guy who takes photos of Superman becomes clearer in its own right, rather than having him simply being a guardian to Kara or a connection to the Man of Steel. (Whether these relationship sparks into something more romantic awaits to be seen, but it would come as no surprise to anyone.)
Also, Cat reveals a bit of her past and a touch deeper of her own personality, allowing us to better understand why is she’s as cold and demanding as she. (Working under Perry White will do that to you.) Her single-minded determination to land the first exclusive interview with Supergirl is admirable, even if you don’t appreciate her abrasive tactics.
Kara’s sister, Alex, even gets some play, helping to make Kara realize that even she has limits.
Tidbits abound this time around for “Superman” fans, as characters make references to Superman himself (which was oddly missing in the pilot), the Fortress of Solitude and Kryptonite’s deleterious effect. We’re also introduced to Maxwell Lord (played by Peter Facinelli), a philanthropist who doesn’t have the highest regards for Superman (including Superman); and we get a glimpse of how Hank Henshaw may not have the best intentions for Supergirl and National City. However, and it’s upsetting to say, but there’s not much going on with the villain side of this equation. General Astra and her cohorts from Fort Rozz do little to add to the story, and this week’s Villain of the Week is utterly forgettable.
In the end, “Stronger Together,” the second episode of “Supergirl,” takes a giant leap forward, connecting us to our hero and her friends while allowing Benoist to shine in her usual charming ways. The action is well-done and the script solid, continuing to keep us invested as Kara saves the world. Here’s hoping, however, that Astra and her goons do something of interest soon, because Supergirl doesn’t deserved to be chained down by such a lackluster nemesis.
Four “Well, that could have gone better” stars out of five.