When Supergirl was first announced, I was overjoyed. Finally, the peppy, dramatic, female-led superhero show we've needed since Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman! Not that there aren't other excellent female-led hero shows: Marvel's Agent Carter and Jessica Jones are both fantastic and groundbreaking. But Supergirl was something different, a show in the vein of Lois & Clark from the people who brought us Arrow and The Flash.
Needless to say, this show had great potential, and it got off to a strong start. Although the premiere felt a lot like arranging the pieces on the board, the first few episodes were the perfect mix of cheesy, exciting, and poignant.
But somehow, Supergirl couldn't quite carry its strong start to the finish line.
Taking The Story At Superspeed
Don't get me wrong - it was always very enjoyable, and I've loved the show since the beginning. At its best Supergirl is beautifully heartwrenching, as Kara came to terms with her grief at losing Krypton. There's no denying this show has a lot of heart, and the emotional threads along with Cat Grant's continuing awesomeness were definitely the highlights of season 1.
The plot, however, was just a tad lackluster. Sure, there are intriguing plot points to explore next season (Jeremiah's return and whoever's in the pod, along with the chemistry between Alex and Max), but season 1 failed to really pack a punch.
There were so many arcs that would have been so good, had they just been taken at a slower pace. Kara dating Cat Grant's son comes to mind (how was this dealt with in two episodes?!), as well as the consequences of red Kryptonite. And then there's Superman.
Just A Cape And Boots
I honestly never thought I would say this, but Supergirl really needs to do something with Superman. I'm still torn about it actually, because if this season proved nothing else it's that yes, Kara can step out from Kal-El's shadow and be her own hero.
Obviously, Superman should never become a main or even supporting character. Clark works very well as the absentee cousin - his messages to Kara are some of the sweetest moments in the show, as he cheers her on from a distance. But having him briefly show up in the finale only to be totally ignored was stretching the believability a bit.
Did Non never even think to use the mind-controlled hero to fight Kara? As much as I loved Alex in the suit battling her sister (one of the high points of the finale), this seemed a little like Non was using a sword when he was handed a bomb. Basically, Superman ended up being the worst Chevkov's Gun ever.
Having said that, Superman being portrayed by a cape and boots was pretty hilarious. But I was hoping for Kara to at least glance Clark's way and say something about her finally fulfilling the mission to protect him. Oh well.
Of course, Superman's absentee act comes down to two things: the writers don't want him to overshadow Supergirl and the licensing with Warner Brothers is tricky. Hopefully, season 2 will give us a Superman plot that resolves this issue. This could mean taking him out of the picture entirely, leaving Kara to protect the whole world, or involve him in the show somehow.
So, let's talk about the finale, and why it felt so anticlimactic.
The Weight Of Sacrifice
Did you ever watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer? That show had a pretty shaky season 1, running into may of the same pitfalls that Supergirl did. Yet the first finale was fantastic, featuring Buffy literally dying and facing all her greatest fears. And then staking them right in the heart. It was awesome.
This was what the finale of Supergirl season 1 should have been, sans the actual staking of vampires (although that would certainly have been the shock twist we were hoping for). And the most annoying thing is, Supergirl even has a fantastic sacrifice story in the comics, when Kara saves the day in the Crisis On Infinite Earths plot.
This choice is incredible, as Kara defies a lifelong held abhorrence of killing in order to protect her cousin and the future of humanity. With all of that talk of sacrifice in the season 1 finale, and Kara preparing herself for a suicide mission, it definitely felt like the writers were building up to parallel this iconic moment.
But they didn't. They came pretty close though: Supergirl flying Fort Rozz up to space was beautifully done, paralleling Kara saving the plane in the very first episode. And that moment when she harnesses her rage to defeat Non wasn't only a callback to the excellent episode Red Faced, it was also frikkin badass.
Ultimately though, it didn't really feel like Kara had overcome any great challenge in the finale. She'd battled Non and won before, so that wasn't a great shock. And as lovely as it was to see Kara fly a ship into space, it didn't make a lot of sense that this was a sacrifice, as the Super-clan are known to be able to fly in space just fine.
So what's the problem here? It feels a little bit like the writers are trying too hard, throwing everything at Kara at once and speeding through plots. Compared to The Flash season 1, which ironically took things at a much slower pace, Supergirl seems to lack depth. And yet the show can be so, so good, with characters we genuinely care about struggling to face their insecurities.
Maybe it's just that we've seen the Superman story too many times at this point. There are definitely more things to be mined from the tale, but perhaps season 2 should go further than a simple alien-of-the-week structure. Show us the cosmic side of the Kryptonian story, with Kara actually going to other planets. Or how about that time travelling Legion of Super-heroes Easter Egg? And of course, more crossovers with The Flash are definitely called for.
All in all, Supergirl season 1 was not bad by any means. It was actually very good, even if the finale was a bit of a let down. It's just so easy to see the flaws when the show is almost amazing, but we have no doubt that season 2 (should it be renewed) will resolve these issues and sent Supergirl soaring to the heights she deserves.