Season Two, Episode Three — “Welcome to Earth”
By Molly Jane Kremer. Three episodes in, and CW’s Supergirl is the most consistently good it’s ever been in its admittedly young life. Despite our first completely Cat Grant-less outing of this new CW paradigm, we get immense character growth from Kara this week both personally and professionally, including a healthy admission that, yes, there are flaws to be found in our perky heroine.
In fact, there’s development enough for everybody (finally, Jimmy has more than two lines, and something to do!) and a more refined than usual villain-of-the-week. It’s Scorcher this time, if you were wondering, and she has valid reasons for distrusting the government and wanting to assassinate… well, not to assassinate the President, actually. The fight choreography and action sequences continue to impress, and the special effects are still looking pretty okay. (I do miss the flying-through-blue-skies sequences we used to get wholesale on CBS though.)
Snapper Carr may chide Kara for lack of objectivity in her interview with Lena Luthor, but this entire episode wears its heart (and its politics) on its sleeve. Fitting that Kara, the cousin of a character who has been literally fighting for social justice since 1938, would star in a show utilizing its aliens as parallels for refugees, racism, and illegal immigrants. (Yeah, it gets a little heavy-handed with its metaphors, but was subtlety ever Supergirl’s strength?) Even Kara reveals internalized prejudices of her own in her bias against Daxamites, but her realization of it — and her determination to fight it — is a step towards more thoughtful discourse than any of the other (non-Netflixy) superhero television series’ even attempt.
The current political climate and the episode’s air date make the decision to have a female president enthusiastically draft an Alien Amnesty Act more of a statement than it should be (signed by former/forever Wonder Woman Lynda Carter as POTUS Olivia Marsdin), and with lines like “how did anyone even vote for that other guy?” it’s plain to see where the show’s sentiments lie.
Also worth mentioning, “Welcome to Earth,” was directed by a woman (Rachel Talalay) and co-written by one too (Jessica Queller, with Derek Simon). Last season only three Supergirl episodes were directed by ladies (though most were at least co-written by women), but since Jessica Jones announced that all thirteen of its episodes would have female directors, I can’t help but hope for something similar from Supergirl.
Back in August during the Television Critics Association press tour, producer Greg Berlanti stated that an already established Supergirl character would be coming out this season and holy moses, after watching “Welcome to Earth,” I don’t think I’m reaching when I say it’s gotta be Alex. Early in the episode, she meets Detective Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) of the NCPD Science Division (one of DC Comics’ first out characters) and sparks fly even before they visit an alien “safe haven” bar for leads on where their escapee (Chris Wood) might be hiding out. Though the bar can’t help but look like a low-low-budget, less-fun version of the Mos Eisley Cantina, it’s an eye-opening experience for Alex, as she realizes she doesn’t need to toss most aliens she comes across in a cell. (You’d think her loving alien sister might have caused that epiphany already, but whatevs.)
“For the record, she’s the one who’s lucky to meet you.” – Aw, proud papa J’onn, to Supergirl, about meeting President Marsdin.
“People on this world don’t have much tolerance for others who look different. I say that as an alien and as someone who’s worn the face of a black man for fifteen years.” – J’onn, in one of the episode’s more topical moments.
“How did anyone even vote for that other guy?” – Kara.
“It’s hope, J’onn. How can it be false?” – Marsdin is a pretty quotable POTUS.
“No, that’s fine, I flew here. On a bus.” – Kara, when refusing parking validation, maybe don’t slip about saying you can fly to a Luthor, okay?
“I don’t know how to stay emotionally neutral when I am writing something I’m passionate about. I have passion, Winn. A lot of it.” – Sometimes Kara as a character is simply relatable, but then other times it’s like she actually steals words from my mouth.
Kara: “I still can’t believe I got to see Air Force One.” President Marsdin: “If you think that’s cool, you ought to see my other jet.” Dammit these shows know just where my nerd buttons are and they hit them just right and then I can’t help but just squeak in happiness.
BEST MOMENT: A truly great hour of television makes the decision of one singular “best” scene nearly impossible. Somehow Supergirl has managed to confound me this way for three weeks in a row. The scenes between Alex and Maggie have an undeniable, ineffable spark, but most especially their time together connecting at the alien bar has me cheering for them like you wouldn’t believe. I also found Kara’s conversations with Lena incredibly compelling, and I’m really enjoying them as casual-acquaintances-approaching-friendship. And Kara’s admission of her own failings, and her apology to Mon-El for her incorrect assumptions about him, was a relatable teaching moment even for the best of us. Ugh, I love this show.
EPISODE’S MVP: What’s that? Alex is finally getting some development beyond “protective and long-suffering big sister”? Chyler Leigh is obviously rocking the heck out of the more meaty material she’s been given. Alex has mentioned before that she doesn’t have time to have a life, but it looks like life might be happening to her anyway. If her palpable disappointment at Detective Sawyer’s exit at the end is anything to go by — or their first oh-so-obvious meet-cute spat — she (and we) will be seeing more of Mags, and soon.
Addendum: the debut of Floriana Lima’s Maggie sees her as a warmly-engaging, smart and snappy presence I didn’t realize this show so desperately needed, and is unquestionably this episode’s MVP runner-up.
– So. Mon-El’s topless, sweaty, and hunky little rampage through the DEO, is a bit obvious, don’t you think? I feel like he should be wearing a “My Name Is Love Interest” nametag, if such a thing would actually stay on his glistening chest.
– Okay, full disclosure: I really don’t like Snapper Carr. He’s mean and pushy and petty and obviously not that fundamental to CatCo (or we’d have seen him last season), and, well, I hate to say it, but he’s too… real-life. Which is to say, he simply doesn’t belong within these fifty chipper minutes of escapism. He needs something (anything) sympathetic added to his grump-ass personality, stat.
– To the complete and utter surprise of no one: Lynda Carter looks fucking awesome as the President.
– I’m pretty disappointed we only experience Kara and President Marsdin’s first verbal interaction as exposition told to Alex. Weird and anticlimactic storytelling choice, methinks.
– Also, the President’s first and last names are homages to both Wonder Woman’s creator and inspiration: Marsdin from William Moulton Marston, the writer of Wonder Woman; and Olivia from Olive Byrne, Marston’s partner and a visual inspiration for the Amazon (and for her iconic bracelets).
– Kara and Lena are a delight together in conversation, but I’m really worried that Ms. Luthor has some shady goings-on… well… going on. I’m hoping she stays on the up-and-up, but right now? This is all a little too reminiscent of the friendly relationship between Clark and Lex in Smallville for my comfort.
– Okay, so maybe “theres no ‘K’ in ‘diabolical’.” How many T’s are in “bloodletting,” eh, Winn? Or L’s in “ambivalent”? Or F’s in “catastrophic”?
– Dang, Mon-El’s already flirting with Kara and talking about getting drinks with her before he’s even out of his cell. It’s looking like Alex won’t be the only one hooking up soon…
– Miss Martian! Miss Martian? Miss Martian!!! I am unbelievably excited to see more of M’gann. And she’s possibly not a White Martian now, unlike her comic book incarnation? Hmm. Time shall reveal all.
8.5 out of 10
Next: “Survivors,” soon.
Before: “The Last Children of Krypton,” here.