Supergirl has not had the easiest time of it since the first episode premiered last year: Unfortunately, the first season floundered after a strong start, although arguably it was still carried by entertaining characters like Cat Grant. With many viewers disappointed, Season 2 had to be really something to recover from the criticisms garnered by Season 1.
Now, as the show pauses at the mid-season hiatus, we can safely say that #Supergirl has soared to new heights, not only exceeding Season 1 but also becoming the best of all of the The CW's DC shows.
Because The CW currently airs four DC shows, that's a pretty bold statement to make. But although we love all of them, the latest seasons of the other #Arrowverse shows, while still enjoyable, have faltered a bit. The Flash seems to have lost its edge while repeating old tropes; Legends of Tomorrow eliminated weaker elements at the expense of losing a coherent central mission.
Admittedly after Seasons 3 and 4, Arrow Season 5 has been a welcome return to form. Yet there's something about Supergirl Season 2 that sets it apart from the rest. It's the one we look forward to most each week, and that's because of all the shows, Supergirl is the one that feels most relevant to real life.
A Hero For Everyone
After Season 1 felt very paint-by-numbers, Supergirl Season 2 really tightened up the storytelling, replacing a vague and unthreatening villain with the darker antagonist of Project Cadmus. Drawing from very real terrorist organizations, Cadmus is the kind of threat we believe could actually exist, as the zealous prejudice Cadmus preaches is all too familiar nowadays.
Supergirl Season 2 performed a delicious subversion on the tired alien-of-the-week trope that was overused in Season 1. With Cadmus out to eradicate aliens from the face of the Earth, these strangers in a strange land have gone from villains to potential victims — and Kara's status as an alien only makes her sympathize with them more. This overarching plot has introduced some interesting elements, like the alien bar which has become that-place-where-everyone-hangs-out, an important location for any show.
And the underlying tensions between alien immigrants and humans don't just parallel some very pertinent real world politics, but also mirror another successful part of Season 2: Alex's coming out story.
Undeniably one of the most poignant and well written parts of Season 2, Alex's slow discovery of her sexuality really took Supergirl to another level of emotional maturity.
Alex's journey just felt so realistic, understated and yet hitting all the right notes, resonating with viewers and prompting some very important conversations in real life.
As Alex and Maggie finally (finally!) get together, there's no doubt that Season 2b will continue this thread in a satisfying way.
But it's not just Alex who got a fresh and interesting storyline this season — there have been many compelling development arcs, as new characters liven up the dynamic. For Winn, the relocation of many pieces on the Supergirl board has been a benefit, giving his character a new career at the DEO that suits him much better than being the IT guy who pined after Kara all last season.
Yet, there are some things that Season 2 has fallen down on, and some characters haven't been so lucky with all the changes.
Not Perfect, But Close Enough
Of course, the loss of Callista Flockheart from the cast — the LA-based actress chose not to make the move to Vancouver after Supergirl passed from CBS to The CW — means we are now deprived of Cat Grant in all her sharp-witted, self-assured glory. This change has also resulted in Season 2's weakest elements: Kara's new boss, and the sidelining of James Olson.
Kara's new career path as a journalist just feels right in many ways — she has more direction in her non-superheroic life, and combining reporting with crime fighting is a time-honored tradition in the Superman story. But Kara butting heads with her grumpy and challenging new male boss? That's a bit of an overdone glass-ceiling story, and it's a serious backward step after the truly fascinating relationship in Season 1 between Kara and Cat — a rare woman of power and authority.
Then there's James being inexplicably promoted from photo journalist to the head of CatCo Worldwide Media, which the writers didn't even try to make sense of. We don't get to see James struggle in his new job, and all the time he spends out of the office just doesn't feel realistic. James has been tragically underused so far in Season 2 — though arguably to make room for more interesting storylines — after his romance with Kara just sort of ended before it began (and there was no explanation of that either).
But it looks like James will fare better in Season 2b, now that he's got his new vigilante role as Guardian. His partnership with Winn is fun to watch, and as the two sneak around, secretly saving the day, we're reminded of the stronger parts of Season 1, when Team Supergirl was just the three CatCo friends.
No show can be perfect, and The CW's obvious re-jigging of the series' structure had to have some casualties. But this season has made the most of the best Supergirl has to offer, setting up some interesting plot threads to explore after the hiatus.
Supergirl is just the most fun to watch right now, with its intriguing themes, tighter story arcs, and good character development. By not shying away from some darker topics, Supergirl has really found its niche: It's the heart of The CW's DC franchise, juggling tough themes with a determined optimism that makes us eager to tune in each week.