Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Supergirl Episode 3 - Fight Or Flight

"Fight or Flight", the third episode of Supergirl show, aired earlier this week and was easily the best episode to date.

From the very beginning, even before the show was released, we had heard about themes that would be running through this program. We were going to see a young Supergirl, grasping her destiny of being a hero, but learning along the way. This was going to be an empowering story about a young woman, supported by mother and sister. She was going to strive to be her own person, not defined by Superman. And there was going to be some love interests and comedy.

This episode hit everyone of these themes. It was fantastic. Now I will say, the dreaded love triangle between 'Win who loves Kara who likes James' is the one part of the show that seems a bit unnecessary. But the rest of it was perfect.

And I haven't even mentioned that it also starred Reactron!

The episode starts where the last one ends with Cat Grant interviewing Supergirl.

The scene is great with Supergirl standing up to Cat's questions. Elements of Supergirl's origin might be similar to Superman's but this is 'her story!'. Supergirl says she takes her job as hero seriously; it's why she didn't appear earlier.

But best of all, when Cat asks her about wanting to start a family, Supergirl lashes out saying that no one asks her cousin those types of questions. How true is that? How often do we hear about professional women asked in interviews about make-up, babies, and boyfriends? Those topics are never brought up with men in similar positions. It was a much more subtle and therefore much more powerful comment than the 'is it because I'm a girl' ones we saw in the earlier airings.

Back at CatCo, Cat is giddy with her scoop that Supergirl is Superman's cousin. Cat even says 'The Daily Planet can suck it!'.

Not everyone is happy that Supergirl revealed her relationship to Superman.

Hank Henshaw thinks it was foolish, comparing it to being part of a reality show 'Keeping up with the Kryptonians'. (Hilarious.) Win isn't sure if it was smart.

And Reactron, scarred and obviously ill, sees an opportunity. Superman will pay ... and Supergirl is the cost.

At the DEO, Supergirl hears of a pile up on the interstate. Even as Henshaw tries to stall her, as this is a non-alien emergency, Supergirl flies off. She doesn't delay in desire to help people.

Flying on scene, Supergirl saves someone trapped in an overturned bus. I love that we are seeing these more simple heroics, building up good will for Kara. Even the Firefighter calls her Supergirl and tells her how she can help, recognizing her as an ally.

Reactron arrives and there is a huge brawl in the street. The Reactron power bolts look just  as they did when Jamal Igle drew them. In my favorite moment, Supergirl pulls a car door off, uses it as a shield, and then slams Reactron with it. Just wonderful!

His armor sparking and damaged, Reactron flees.

Supergirl learns that Reactron (she thinks it is a stupid name, love it!) fought Superman to a standstill a number of times. And Reactron has kidnapped science mogul Maxwell Lord to help repair his armor.

Win, meanwhile, has set up a mini-headquarters in an abandoned office in Catco. Win has figured out a way to find Reactron. Jimmy doesn't think she should face him because Clark almost died the last time they fought.

And just like that, Jimmy has outed Clark's secret identity to Win. Just insanity.

Supergirl isn't listening to Jimmy though.Kara states that she is trying to figure out what being Supergirl means, and she needs to be defined by her victories and defeats. She can't call Superman in to save the day. Given how leaving Superman's shadow and becoming her own person is a huge part of Supergirl's mythos, I loved that as well.

The Super Friends are joined by Alex and they are able to figure out that Reactron is Ben Krull, a nuclear physicist who was thought dead when his reactor melted down. Superman minimized the damage and saved the day for the most part. But Krull and his wife were thought dead. Krull must have survived and blames Superman for the death of his wife.

I don't know if I needed a sympathetic backstory for Reactron. In the comics he is always just a sadistic bastard. I did like that this origin leads to Kara thinking she can try to talk to Krull first. She will try to plea to someone who is hurting before resorting to 'punching him real hard until he falls down.'

That last statement is the sort of mix of optimism and fierceness that I like seeing in Supergirl.

Supergirl flies and is able to rescue Lord. But Reactron gets the upper hand in battle and is almost about to kill her when a familiar shape arrives to save the day. Confronted by Superman, Reactron once again flees.

Jimmy had called Superman with a signal watch. Jimmy was worried. But Kara is angry. She needs to fight her own battles.

Reactron crashes a media party celebrating the Tribune's Supergirl exclusive forcing Supergirl to engage him again. From DEO headquarters, Alex and Henshaw (clearly a Cyborg, sensing Alex is in the DEO HQ)  have figured out that Supergirl can defeat Reactron by ripping his mini-reactor out of his chest plate. But it needs to be encased in lead or it'll explode, nuking the city. Meanwhile, Jimmy lures Reactron away from Supergirl by saying that killing Superman's Pal would be more emotionally damaging than Reactron killing his cousin.

Kara melts a lead piece of art in the party venue, coating her hand. In a brawl in an open lot, moves in, hoists Reactron up, and rips out the nuclear device with her leaded fist.

It is a great fight with great effects. So good.

I have left out a lot of 'love triangle' bits. Kara dances with Win until Jimmy cuts in. Alex can tell Kara is crushing on Jimmy. But the triangle becomes a rhombus when Lucy Lane, Jimmy's ex, arrives.

A bit distraught, Kara is thrilled to get some IM's from Clark. Clark says he thinks she is doing great, defeating Reactron when he couldn't, and that it was a job for Supergirl. The look of happiness and pride on Kara's face is incredible. For me, this was the best moment of the show. Not the action, not the nuclear bolts, not the romance. This scene, where Superman acknowledges Supergirl's worth, was just powerful.

The writers and producers needed to do this. Superman was the elephant in the room, the shadow Supergirl has always needed to step out from under. So we 'saw him', he knows she can handle herself, he is proud of her, he doesn't need to come back. Hurrah!

I also liked that Alex was a great sister and friend here. There wasn't the 'don't be a hero/be a hero' turn this episode. She gives a nice speech about how this is the beginning of Supergirl's career. I guess it was James' turn to doubt Supergirl.

I know that ratings are down. But this show is just getting better and better. The way Supergirl is determined to be a hero, her own hero is empowering. The way she leaps into situations to help people is admirable. The fights are fierce. It all seems to be working. I only hope the word of mouth continues to spread so that the buzz doesn't fade.


Martin Gray said...

What a wonderful episode, and I shall stand up for the young love bits, it's sooooooo Classic Kara, it hurts. And I can't see it going on for long. I would have just loved it had Jimmy, when he asked to cut in, grabbed Winn. Just for a gag. Jimmy should come to think of Kara as a sister, and go for Alex.

Jenna Tatum, in one scene, hinted at a depth Lucy rarely had in the comics; good work.

I like the Max Lord character here - enough of a hard-nosed Lex to fire a guy for not meeting expectations, but noble enough to put himself in front of a Reactron threatening another worker. OK, it's the one he wants to paint his train blue, but still...

I call Max and Cat not just as exes, but as ex-marrieds.

And Cat so sees through Kara's disguise, look at the fun she was having with that 'I know where you've been' or whatever line at the swanky do.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anj, great review! Pretty much mirrors my views on things. While I definately enjoyed the
episode and overall themes, two major boat anchors that weighed things down too heavily was
first the "love rhombus," as you call it -- thinking back to any TV series with women leads, I
don't remember many that had a romance subplot brought in by the third episode. Not to say
Supergirl shouldn't have a life outside of superheroics, but in the medium of TV it's just a major
drag on things.

The second boat anchor was the theme of keeping a secret... Jimmy can keep a secret about the
DEO, but he blows Clark's / Superman's identity 10minutes later? Reporter 101 FAIL!

Hankshaw's "Keeping Up With The Kryptonians" TV show comment had me howling with laughter... I
have to wonder how may takes the actor had to do to get the deadpan right and not break out in
guffaws :D

I appreciated Clark's IM to Kara -- while the producers'll never get the permission to show
Clark / Superman onscreen, the quick messages Clark sent reinforced the supercousins' familial
relationship "Hi. Talked with Jimmy. Won't happen again. Guess this was a job for Supergirl.
What else is family for?"

The other line that had me keeling over? "If that potsticker is not in my mouth in two seconds,
I'll melt your face." Reminds me of the one or two times they had Kara say that in the comics
when she meant business. Just before they have her leap out the window to fly out and save
the city... echoing Superman.

I'm saddened that the numbers are down, and I'm hopeful they'll stabilize somewhat. Between this,
DC SUperhero High, JL3001, and Bombshells, that's all the Supergirl there is... and I'm worried
that the TPTB will use "poor numbers" to simply bury our favorite superheroine in the dustbin again.


Anonymous said...

Romantic triangles and rhombus's are a staple, with the exception of procedurals, on almost all tv series with female leads. From Buffy to Grey's Anatomy. The problem is in the execution. If they are not well written, its an anchor.

And the writing is the issue with this show. And why its not holding an audience. It's paint by numbers plotting and writing. And if the big emotional beat of the episode is a text exchange between Kara and an off screen Superman/Clark, you are in big trouble.

It's unfortunate, given that CBS looked like they were really committed to making this work. A good budget, a solid marketing campaign, etc... but the show was doomed when they handed the reigns over to Berlanti and his team. They may understand the source material, but they don't have writing skills to appeal to adults. And without the 18-49 demo, this show is ultimately doomed.

KET said...

It's always strange to me when it's assumed that only one demographic is being examined in regards to ratings success for a show, when in truth there are a LOT of differentiating factors that go into it today. Nowadays producers and networks are looking at viewer numbers 3 to 7 days past the live transmission, such as DVR recordings, pay-per-view and streaming services such as Hulu, which show TV episodes the day after they air live. This is the REAL trend to where the future of TV viewing has been moving towards in recent years. So in reality, looking merely at the 18-49 bracket is entirely misleading in the case of most programming. That's just not the only deciding barometer for TV success anymore.

However, in regards to Supergirl, a recent article from USA Today cites that the median age for the show has been 56, which is a much higher demographic than any other superhero shows currently on the air. That's most likely because all shows on CBS usually skew for older viewers, who I might add, more normally STAY AT HOME TO WATCH TV in the evening hours than younger ones. Also, about half of those viewers are female, which is a higher percentage than any other superhero show currently on the air. Female viewers are highly prized by advertisers, since they normally account for the majority of overall consumer spending habits. And in this week's viewership breakdown, Supergirl still beat EVERY pre-scripted show in its scheduled time slot. So yeah, the reality contest shows did better this week, but that's probably been an expected result all along. Supergirl still received more than double the total viewership than (for example) Gotham when all's said and done. Also, San Diego markets were preempted by a football game, whose ratings adjustments weren't even accounted for in the reported estimates. So at this point, any talk of some grand exodus of viewers is mostly smoke and mirrors; Supergirl is doing just fine in overall viewership after merely three episodes.

But now that I've gotten this off my chest, thoughts on the actual episode itself in another post. A quick summary though: I was highly satisfied with how they handled the Superman issue, and how James Olsen was prodded by Kara to 'man up' for a change.


garyb said...

Martin, I concur with your thought that Cat knows Kara=Supergirl. I think she clearly knew last week when describing how Supergirl should start small then get better gradually.

mhunt said...

I like it :) nothing to add that wasn't said above.


who I want to see... The Gang, Blackstar, PSI. Foes from still my favorite run of her comic.

Anonymous said...

The grand exodus is smoke and mirrors? A 50% drop in the total number of live viewers! in 3 weeks, is something whether you want to believe it or not. And the reason CBS green lighted this series was to attract a larger 18-49 demographic to the network. They may be the leader in total ratings, but advertisers aren't willing to pay large sums for an older demo nor will they for the inevitable live + 7 bump that is occurring for almost all tv shows these days.

The big question is whether CBS feels the show can be profitable for the network in the long run? Do they feel the show will build an audience once the ratings stabilize (hopefully soon) and is there enough revenue from streaming and other sources to justify the investment? None of us know the answer to that at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Loved this ep, the whole "Save" from Superman was handled with a great deal of forethought...although for the record, in the comics at least, Supergirl saved Superman well over twenty times from 1959 thru 1985, Kal saved Kara maybe four times over the same period I'd like to see Supergirl "Even the Score".
Anyone else think Win Schott will be season one's big casualty going forward? He knows Clark's big secret which is generally a short mortality indicator....and Berlanti isn't shy about killing off supporting characters.


KET said...

"A 50% drop in the total number of live viewers!"

Wrong. A 50% drop in a single demographic, which was mercurial to begin with. You need to read these ratings articles more carefully.

"And the reason CBS green lighted this series was to attract a larger 18-49 demographic to the network."

You don't know this any more than you understood the overnight ratings articles. Supergirl is still attracting more viewers than any two other DC comic book shows, COMBINED.

"but advertisers aren't willing to pay large sums for an older demo nor will they for the inevitable live + 7 bump that is occurring for almost all tv shows these days."

Again, you're spouting complete ignorance and fallacy. You also have proven that you don't understand how marketing works, and what advertisers are willing to pay for. Do yourself a favor and quit imagining that the sky is falling on this show already. Supergirl has already proven itself a GLOBAL SUCCESS story, not merely in the US. In England, the show logged the biggest premiere for Sky 1 in 3 years, by a massive amount of viewers. That's more audience share than any other superhero show has EVER done, including The Flash and Arrow. In Canada, it's pretty much the same thing: big success. FYI, the USA isn't the only place this program is playing.

Or to paraphrase Cat Grant, "Calm the hell down!" Supergirl isn't going anywhere, because it's already won.


Anonymous said...

I stand corrected. A 4.75 million drop in total viewers (35%) and a 45% drop in the key demo from the pilot. Regardless, its hardly mercurial. Links provided below.

And while its great that show pulled in viewers in the UK and Canada, that will have nothing to do with its fate. Other than Baywatch, which was syndicated and not broadcast, I can't recall a single American tv series whose fate was decided by ratings in other countries.

As well, the ratings of the other super hero shows don't matter. They are a different network with a different cost model. This show would likely be considered a runaway hit on the CW, but it isn't airing on the CW.

It's foolish and naive to think CBS is happy with the viewership declines and the fact that is sitting in 3rd place given the cost of the series to produce.

The sky isn't falling, but there is a large storm on the horizon.

KET said...

Anon: you're still proving that you know nothing about how marketing shows work, and how TV show success is measured these days. But I'm done commenting on this silliness, as I know that CBS still won't give a damn what you think anyways. Supergirl is still the network's second biggest show that it's airing right now, right after Big Bang Theory (which was already renewed quite some time ago).

On to the episode itself...

Best part of the episode for me was when Kara kicked James out of her apartment for falling back on his usual Superman Messiah Complex. She needed to get him back on HER team and be 'stronger together'.

Biggest groan worthy gag: "Millienium Falcon". Cute nod to Calista's hubby, but then again...

Favorite gag: The sticky buns scene.


Uncle Screensaver said...

I actually watched it and enjoyed it, though I loathe "Carra". I'm not a big fan of how she's portrayed in her secret identity, the show has captured the spirit of Supergirl and there were many instances where the writers showed love for the character and for what has come before. I'm going to watch it. For now.

KET said...

Correction to the previous post: Millenial Falcon. Oops....apologies to any Millienials out there. Yeah, laugh it up, all you fuzz balls. :)


Anonymous said...

Back to one of the comments from previous Anon :

> Romantic triangles and rhombus's are a staple, with the exception of procedurals, on almost all tv series with female
> leads. From Buffy to Grey's Anatomy.

...thinking back to the mold / models previously done for this, off the top of my head :

- The Secret World of Alex Mack -- this was a Nickleodeon production for the tween / teen age group.

- Xena -- Joxer had a silly crush on Xena, but that went nowhere. I don't recall any other romantic interests intro'd
for Xena offhand.

- Murder She Wrote -- IIRC there was a push for Angela L's character to marry / settle down, but there was an equally
opposite push for her character to remain independent.

- Charmed -- from what I (vaguely) recall of the first season, other than the childhood friendship / crush of Prue and
Andy, there wasn't much in the way of romance. There was the romantic triangle in the 2nd season with the middle sister
and two guys, but then it was dropped after that.

I do heartily agree though, it's the execution that needs to be handled well...


Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

I thought this was a great episode and I understand all the points.

We are three episodes in and I am thrilled.

I think everyone will feel better once we see some stabilization in reported viewing. While there reported numbers are limited, perception is reality. I hope CBS does some publicity trumpeting the show if the true numbers are better.

But I am thrilled.

Uncle Screensaver said...

To Anon RE: Xena: I believe there might have been Ares but the actor was killed, but overall, the romance was between her and Gabrielle.
I didn't realize that about Jessica Fletcher, although there were a few romantic interests, they didn't go anywhere, so that's probably because there were so many people who didn't want her to be "tied down."

RE: Supergirl, I think that there are way too many love interests too fast, but that can be said for The Flash - Barry/ Iris West, Barry/ Linda Park, Barry/ Patty ... I think in part that Supergirl suffers because of the incorrect notion that it's a rom-com, the trailer's comparison to SNL's Black Widow sketch.

The show was over-hyped but then suddenly nothing. My brother suggested that they either put so much money into marketing either directly in the show or continue to market it heavily. Taking away the lead in of Big Bang Theory might have hurt it slightly. Also, I've read people take issue with Supergirl's portrayal as being weak in character and power. There are those fanboys still aghast at a Jimmy/ James Olsen being portrayed as a muscular leading man (who is also Black). There is also dislike to Cat Grant to being poorly acted and that "her boobs aren't big enough." There are those who are heavy hitting the dialogue, which to me fits with a family show and no worse than what's on many American TV series. There are those upset with Aunt Astra, upset with the special effects, and upset with the "feminist" references, and that Superman wasn't/ isn't in it enough or is mentioned too much. Also, it's not dark enough, SMH.

I do wonder how much of this is because it's a female super hero against how many just feel it's not a great show even if the was male.

Still, Supergirl.TV is assuring everyone that the show is prime for renewal not cancellation, and they'd let anyone know if there was a reason to be concerned.

Anonymous said...

@Uncle Screensaver
Can't comment about the Flash romances myself as I haven't kept up of late.

Admittedly, _I'M_ still trying to a) keep an open mind, and b) give it that it takes time for any show to find it's place.
The fact that someone believed enough in this to put Supergirl onto the screen again... I unreservedly say "I wouldn't have it any other way!" :) :)


Gene said...

Overall it was a great episode because it felt like a live action adaptation of a Gates/Igle Supergirl issue.