When Supergirl was first announced, I was overjoyed. Finally, the peppy, female-led superhero show we've needed to fill the void left by Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman. Not that there aren't other excellent female-led comic book shows: Marvel's Agent Carter and Jessica Jones are both fantastic and groundbreaking. But as soon as it aired, we could tell that Supergirl was something different, a show in the vein of Lois & Clark from the people who brought us Arrow and The Flash.
With great potential, Supergirl 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 - Supergirl Season 1 was consistently enjoyable. At its best the show is beautifully heartwrenching, with Season 1 showcasing Melissa Benoist's acting chops in many a poignant scene, as Kara came to terms with her grief at losing Krypton. There's no denying Supergirl has a lot of heart, and the emotional threads — along with Cat Grant's acerbic wit — were definitely the highlights of Season 1.
The plot, however, was just a tad lackluster. Sure, there are intriguing 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, dropping interesting arcs before they could develop, and rushing through others so fast that we were left wondering if the writers also share Kara's super speed. The relationship between Kara and Cat's son should have taken several episodes, and the consequences of Kara's time under the sway of red Kryptonite should have been a major arc. And then there's Superman.
Just A Cape And Boots: Supergirl's Superman Problem
I honestly never thought I would say this, but Supergirl really needs to do something with Superman — and by showing him onscreen, rather than constantly teasing fans by keeping the Man of Steel shrouded in convenient absences, the writers can prove, once and for all, that Kara is her own hero. After all, how can Supergirl step out of Superman's shadow when it is cast over the entire show?
Yet, Superman should never become a main, or even a supporting character. Clark works very well as the absentee cousin — his instant messages to Kara have created some of Season 1's sweetest moments, as the big brother figure cheers Kara on from a distance.
But having Superman briefly show up in the finale only to be totally ignored was stretching the believability. As much as I loved Kyrptonite-enhanced Alex 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: the mind-controlled Superman was a Chekov's Gun left rusting on a table.
Of course, Superman's absentee act comes down to two things: the writers don't want him to overshadow Supergirl, and the licensing is tricky. Hopefully, Season 2 will give us a Superman plot that resolves this issue — and if this new version of Superman is the kind, compassionate hero we wanted Henry Cavill's steel-faced titan to be, then all the better.
But before we totally plan out Season 2, let's talk about the Season 1 finale, and why it felt so anticlimactic.
The Finale Left Us Wanting
Did you ever watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer? That show had a pretty shaky first season, 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). If the writers were bereft of inspiration, Supergirl even has a fantastic sacrifice story in the comic arc Crisis On Infinite Earths, that is ripe for adaptation.
The comic features Kara defying 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 Supergirl's 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 just plain badass. Ultimately though, it didn't really feel like Kara had overcome any great challenge in the finale. She had 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 Kryptonians are known to be able to fly in space without incurring damage to themselves.
Season 1 very much felt 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, leaving juicy plot threads undeveloped. And yet, the show's high points are delightful to watch, as the endearing characters struggle to face their insecurities in many an emotionally nuanced scene.
Maybe it's just that we've seen the Superman story too many times. There is definitely more to be mined from the tale, but perhaps Supergirl Season 2 should go beyond the simple alien-of-the-week structure. Dear writers, emulate the Superman and Supergirl comics' cosmic plots, with Kara actually visiting to other planets. Or how about following up on that Legion of Super-heroes Easter Egg? And of course, more crossovers with The Flash are definitely called for.
Supergirl Season 1 was not bad by any means. It was actually pretty good, even if the finale was a bit of a letdown. But by resolving these flaws, and finally doing something with the oft-mentioned Superman, Season 2 could send Supergirl soaring to the heights she deserves.
What would you like to see in 'Supergirl' season 2? Tell us in the comments!