"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.