Since joining the other #Arrowverse shows in Vancouver, #Supergirl has done many things right — fans and critics have praised Alex's coming out storyline, and the focus on alien rights has been a great success — but there's one character whom the writers seem to have forgotten lately: James Olsen.
From the beginning of Supergirl, we knew that James was pretty different from the "Jimmy" we knew before. Just as in the comics, he's a successful photographer and friend of Superman, but he's no longer a shy sidekick; Supergirl's James is a confident and self-assured character. He also reveals in the pilot episode that he knows Kara's secret: she is Superman's cousin.
James In Season 1 Vs. Season 2
Throughout the first season, James acts as a love interest for Kara. After spending the entire season wrestling with their feelings, Kara and James do end up together, declaring their love for each other and deciding to give things a go properly.
But when we begin Season 2, the couple decide to remain friends. After spending the whole of Season 1 pining over each other, this seemed a strange move (the first of a couple strange moves for the character). After that, James' involvement in each episode seemed to dwindle; he's actually been absent from a few recent episodes entirely.
Is It Due To Cat Grant's Absence?
One of the casualties of Supergirl moving production from Los Angeles to Vancouver was Calista Flockhart's Cat Grant. In many episodes, Cat acted as a mentor to Kara, giving her advice that helped not only her personal life, but her superhero-ing as well. Though Flockhart did appear in the first two episodes of Season 2, her absence has certainly been felt — and her replacements haven't quite filled the hole she left.
It's fair to say that Catco played a large part in the first season of Supergirl, and Jimmy's role at Catco was clear; he was heavily involved in the art direction of the magazine, and also provided a number of the pictures featured in it. But after Cat left, she named Jimmy as her successor, and it really hasn't gone that well. Jimmy is very rarely seen in that capacity, whereas Cat was always giving her opinions on the news.
Winn leaving Catco hasn't helped Jimmy at all, as now there's even less of a reason to spend time in that building. Winn's new job totally makes sense for the character, but with him gone, we only have Kara working there — and even then, she answers to Snapper Carr. Perhaps this is why the writers tried to go in another direction with Jimmy.
After bank robbers break Jimmy's camera, he finally snaps and decides to begin his own quest for justice as the vigilante, Guardian. It's honorable enough, but his reasons for doing it are really quite flimsy — basically, because he knows a lot of superheroes, he decides to do it himself.
His first outing as Guardian comes when Kara faces up against the villainous Parasite. He arrives just as Mon-El is making his first foray into heroics (and not doing that great). After managing to stall Parasite until Kara arrives, Guardian then disappears off into the night, without revealing his identity to Kara.
Over the next few weeks, he goes on to help a great number of people in National City and becomes a hero in his own right though Kara doesn't exactly approve of his actions when she finds out.
James' role as love interest has been taken by Mon-El, and I'm not really a fan of his exploits as Guardian. Jimmy Olsen has been a superhero in DC Comics, so the Guardian storyline could've worked, but it ultimately felt like another strange move for the character.
He Needs A More Defined Purpose
Jimmy hasn't been given a fair stab by the writers this season. It seems like they aren't sure where they want to go with him.
He's suffered from Catco's decreasing role in the show and also losing Winn to the DEO, but even so, he needs to find his own place. It was a little strange that he missed two episodes in a row and then barely featured in "Exodus," especially when it would have made perfect sense for him to have been involved in Kara's storyline.
Maybe his absence in a few episodes could have been down to the actor's availability, but even so, as a main character, you notice when he's not there. The guy deserves to have a defined role on the show.
What do you think? Does Jimmy deserve more of a chance? Let me know in the comments!