The State of the Arrowverse – Supergirl

The latest in the set of Arrowverse shows is CBS transplant Supergirl. I really wanted to like this show, especially since lead Melissa Benoist is charming as Kara Danvers and kick-ass as Supergirl. Season 1, for me, was a total train wreck. Season 2 seemed to right the ship a little bit, before devolving into a big mess once again. And season 3 feels like a chore, because I genuinely do not like 95% of this show. How could they get the Girl of Steel so right but the rest of the show so wrong? Let’s explore. Spoiler alert: anything up until 2017’s winter finales is fair game.

SUPERGIRL – Current Season: 3

Season 1 of Supergirl oddly aired on CBS, home to many NCIS’s and the baffling “comedy” that rhymes with Mig Mang Meory. As I said, I really like Melissa Benoist in the role, but 3 aspects of the show’s first season really failed:

(1) The Setup
Kara’s adoptive sister Alex works for the DEO, a secret government agency that deals with aliens – a truly solid way to set up a Supergirl series. Inexplicably, the DEO base is in some remote desert that Kara has to fly to whenever there’s trouble. I can suspend disbelief for a TV show quite easily, but Kara left her job so many times that Cat Grant hired another assistant to do Kara’s job instead of firing her. I think it might have been better if they didn’t address that issue, because making Cat oblivious is not as stupid as hiring 2 people to do 1 job. HR department on line 1, Miss Grant. Speaking of…

(2) The Supporting Characters
I am in the minority as someone who never liked Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant. I think she was miscast, and never believed that she was some high and mighty publishing maven; she was just louder than everyone else in the room. Winn Schott and James “Don’t Call Me Jimmy” Olsen were okay as Kara’s coworkers, but shoehorning them into DEO adventures rarely worked. James as a love interest and Winn pining for Kara also fell flat – James and Kara had zero chemistry (anyone remember Lucy Lane?), and the nerdy-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold drooling over the cute girl bit has been done to death. Super soldier Alex was solely a super soldier and supportive sister; Martian Manhunter was a cool addition, but was usually relegated to a command center instead of using his abilities to help Supergirl. Ultimately Supergirl’s Scooby gang didn’t come together organically because the show was trying to live in both the DEO world and the CatCo world.

(3) The Villains
Besides the villains of the week (including the aforementioned second assistant, Siobhan Smythe, aka Silver Banshee), Kara’s Kryptonian aunt Astra was the big bad of season 1 – though I think she was around for a total of 4 episodes. Astra was trying to take over everyone’s mind to destroy them for… reasons. But then she died, and her husband Non and evil robot Indigo took over. I don’t really remember what their plan was, but it was evil. Only an impassioned speech by Supergirl could free the public from… whatever it was. Yeah, it didn’t make much sense.

There were many welcome changes in season 2. James/Kara/Winn decided to just be buddies. Cat Grant chose her family over her career (as Calista chose LA over Vancouver). The DEO moved to National City, so Kara didn’t have to leave her job for days at a time to fight evil. Winn became a DEO agent so he’d actually have a reason to be involved with things. Kara got a real love interest in Mon-El, and Alex got a real love interest in Maggie.

Just when I thought things were on the uptick, we had these developments:
After a Cadmus tease, Lillian Luthor was a big bad, sort of? (Metallo was pretty cool)
Way too much time was devoted to Alex and Maggie. I got the emotional heft, but it just dragged on for me, and seemed like filler after a while.
That whole Guardian sub-plot (sub-not?)
Kara just becomes a reporter? Also cranky Ian Gomez is not good Ian Gomez.

And in the case of 1 step forward, 2 steps back:
Superman, for me, was just meh. I didn’t dislike him, but he didn’t add much either.
Casting Kevin Sorbo and former Lois Lane Teri Hatcher as Mon-El’s parents was genius… and then they were both killed off. Rhea forcing her son to marry Lena Luthor felt forced, as did Mon-El’s banishment by lead poisoning.
Ex-Superman Dean Cain as Jeremiah Danvers also disappeared without a trace.

Now in season 3, we have Reign to deal with. It was an interesting choice to have Samantha Arias integrate into Kara’s life and have her become Reign before our eyes. Again though it feels like the story is moving too quickly; as with the first two seasons it seems like the writers are teeing up another story for the back half of episodes.

On a side note, at one point in this current season, Lena refers to Kara as her “best friend.” I guess this a “show, don’t tell” moment, because if anyone asked me who Kara’s best friend was, my first response would be Alex. End side note.

So Sam is Reign, Maggie broke off her engagement, Mon-El is back with a wife (and soon a Legion of Superheroes), and Kara is out of commission after Reign beat her up. We’ll see how the rest of the season shakes up with Mon-El and company since I have a funny feeling Supergirl will defeat Reign (with Ruby’s love, of course). I’m not hate watching yet, but this may be the season that tips me over the edge…

MxM

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