SUPERGIRL viewers quickly learned to be the most patient fans in the world. Following the debut on CBS last year, and a brief crossover with CW show The Flash, declining ratings led the the show being put in limbo for a few months. Having just gone through this with Constantine and NBC, we all feared the worst until the show was officially picked up by CW for a second year. While the show is definitely operating in its own Multiversal pocket until the end of year crossover event, the good news is that this first episode of the sophomore year wastes no time in delivering the super goodies.
Picking up more or less where we left off during the first season’s cliffhanger conclusion, Kara Danvers/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and J’onn J’onzz / Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) investigate a pod that has crash-landed in National City. They take the unconscious man to the DEO, with Kara believing he is Kryptonian. Meanwhile, Kara’s date with James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) is interrupted by the failed launch of a space shuttle, which leads to Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) flying in to help save the day. He sticks around to investigate the connection to Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath), Lex’s sister and CEO in charge of rebranding her company L-Corp.
Following years of DC putting the kibosh on their heavy hitters appearing in TV shows, the early and extensive appearance of Clark Kent/Superman is as joyful as it deserves to be. Indeed, the Berlanti Productions Man of Steel matches the tone of SUPERGIRL, bringing a light and optimism that is the antithesis of Zack Snyder’s oppression vision in the DC Extended Universe. This is, after all, a Superman who cordially shakes hand with DEO staff and winks at a family after saving them. Teen Wolf‘s Hoechlin is a charmer, nailing both the mild-mannered Kent and super-casually stepping into the role of the Kryptonian. He shares an easy rapport with Benoist, who confidently and subtly still reminds us that this is her show, and she used to change Kal-El’s diapers. Winn (Jeremy Jordan) geeks out over Superman, but so are we.
“Hey cuz…this looks like a job for the both of us.”
Once the excitement of the team-up wears off (spoilers: it actually doesn’t), it’s wonderful to see how business-as-usual the episode is. At the core of “The Adventures of Supergirl” is a story about the adorkable Kara doubting herself, and setting up some of the new elements for the year. SUPERGIRL is distinctive of all the CW shows this year in that it does very little to mess with the formula, as Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) continues to push Kara while bathed in some digital airbrushing and soft lighting, and the unrequited romance between Kara and James is diffused for the time being. It is slightly troubling that the show established its CW identity by introducing Superman to literally support their leading female superhero, but the positive feminism that has always characterised the show still runs strong and deep.
More than anything, the first episode of SUPERGIRL Season 2 is working hard to establish an entire world. Teasing a past between J’onn and Superman, including the revelation that the former keeps Kryptonite on hand; mentioning the female President (set to appear as Wonder Woman‘s Linda Danvers); and expanding the role of CADMUS and their creations promises to make this a proper DC Comics show in every respect. The four-way crossover with Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow – not to mention the musical crossover with The Flash – may burst their isolationist bubble, forcing SUPERGIRL into the Arrowverse, but for now they are doing a great job of world-building without any help.