Season One, Episode Twenty – “Better Angels”
By Molly Jane Kremer. After twenty episodes, we’ve arrived at the end. The first season of Supergirl hath ended, and it was an enjoyable (if occasionally rocky) few months. Finally past the worst of its growing pains, the series has become a new touchstone for what superhero media can be, eschewing fashionable cynicism and the recent penchant for “maturity” or “realism” as imagined by thirteen-year-old boys. (Insistence on realism in stories about flying alien people who shoot lasers from their eyes will never not elicit a chuckle from me.) Instead, this is a show with smiles, optimism, sunny skies, realistic stakes, emotional resonance, and tons – TONS – o’ hugs.
The finale—which could be considered anti-climactic by those expecting a BIG CRAZY KNOCK-DOWN FIGHT—focused not on the boss-fight fisticuffs (even though there was a bit of that) but on the cast’s relationships and interactions. (Also the effects “saving the world” can have on a hero’s life.) It was a fitting capstone to a debut season that, despite some wobbles, was much more pleasing than perturbing – and yes, more than a little heartwarming.
WHAT WORKED: Supergirl knows how to tug on our heartstrings, fittingly so for a lead character who relies on her compassion as much as her inhuman strength. Sometimes wearing its heart on its sleeve can sacrifice a bit of believability, but mostly the show toes the line between sympathy and crass sentimentality with aplomb. This finale purposefully relies more on drama stemming from emotional connections between characters, ignoring the usual punch-the-bad-thing-until-you-save-the-planet tropes (as has been done a few times this season). Kara at first beats the bad guys by inspiring the populace to hope, and later—after she’s decided she’ll sacrifice her life for the planet if necessary—goes around the office giving everyone thinly-veiled but heartfelt goodbyes. Yes, it’s a little overly sweet for some tastes, but if you’ve enjoyed even one episode of the past season, you’ll have learned to cherish the flavor by now.
WHAT DIDN’T: Why why WHY would Kara not be able to fly or even survive outside the Earth’s atmosphere? Flying through space is a feat we’ve seen Superman accomplish in how many movies, tv shows and comics? Yet now apparently Kara can’t propel herself or breathe outside our atmosphere? Sounds like an easy way to jack up the suspense just before the ending (but it was a lovely touch to have Alex save Kara for once). It’s just weird rescinding from Kara an ability that most of the audience has seen (countless other versions of) her cousin do easily. Better writers would have found an alternative.
Non accelerated from “Astra lackey” to “genocidal madman” with unnatural speed. Not sure why we need to have sexy-bad-girl-temptress-villain Indigo be the one who pushes Non over the edge, but we’ve already seen that the show doesn’t know how to make a lady-baddie without also making her hottt and/or aggressively sexual. Move past your tropes, people. Ladies can have machinations and dastardly powers without wearing costumes to actively give you bonerz, or acting like a cat in heat. Though comics and tv and movies would tell you differently, confident/powerful/sexy women aren’t actually scary, they’re just written that way.
Relatedly, Indigo’s makeup and costume looked worse-for-wear in the blinding sun of the desert sequence—if she returns for the second season, my fingers are crossed that she gets a costume redesign. And a personality rewrite. And jeez, get rid of those braids, guys.
“I’m sorry if I kissed you when you weren’t in control of yourself, because I am all about consent.” – Kara.
“You people were more punctual when you were drones.” – Cat.
“No offense, you just have that hypoglycemic, I-haven’t-eaten-in-twenty-five-minutes look.” – Winn.
Alex: “What the hell is in Nevada?” Max: “In my experience, mediocre buffets and regret.”
Cat: “This is your end of ‘Working Girl’ moment.” Kara: “Ms. Grant? The end of ‘Working Girl’ always makes me cry.” Cat: “Oh, me too.”
BEST MOMENT: There were certainly a few to pick from this episode, but I have to go with the scene where Kara lifts the hundred-ton spaceship-prison that is Fort Rozz all the way up into space. The effects on the scene were top-notch, with the massive craft spinning slightly around Kara, swirling amongst clouds as she heaved it into the sky. Additionally, Kara’s assumption of her own certain demise outside our atmosphere (which makes no sense, but I already mentioned that) makes the stakes that much higher.
SEASON’S MVP: Seriously though, how could it not be Melissa Benoist? (I’ve found it difficult to not make her MVP for every single episode, to be honest.) Her goodbye-tour of the office underlined the heart she’s put into this character. And, in stark contrast, she even gets to unleash the rage-filled heat-vision-scream (it’s such an arresting visual, and thankfully we saw so little of it this season) as she and Non sort-of recreate (but with laser eyes) every wand-duel Harry Potter and Voldemort ever undertook. Like Christopher Reeve and Kevin Conroy (or his voice, at least) Benoist has become, in my mind, the most iconic Supergirl of them all. I only hope she’ll remain in the role for a long time to come.
– The Omegahedron, while also mentioned in the previous episode “Solitude”, was a Macguffin from none other than the Supergirl movie. The breadth of this show’s reference points is vast and gratifying.
– Although, yet again, Helen Slater is not a strong addition to the show. Her appearance in itself is one of those just-mentioned cute reference points, but I don’t enjoy her moments on screen when they entail speeches or emoting. Fingers crossed her appearances next season will be kept to a minimum.
– Holy heck, I think I actually… don’t hate Maxwell Lord now? It finally feels like he’s entering protagonist territory in this episode, though they’ve been pushing him as such for the last couple weeks. Even if his behavior at the very end is QUESTIONABLE.
– Seeing nothing of Superman, save for his l’il red booties, while he’s prone on a hospital bed is… pretty funny, actually. He doesn’t need to physically be in this show: in fact, I would have been devastated had he swooped in and saved the day during the climactic finale battle. The show’s called Supergirl, and I’m glad the writers have enough faith in her to keep it that way. (Also, goodness knows WB probably wouldn’t let them fully show Supes even if they wanted to. But if they did, I hope it’d be a funny team-up episode along the lines of “World’s Finest”.)
– Max: “That’s like using an Uzi on a mosquito.” Alex: “And we’re the mosquito.” While that whole scene was splattered with even more messily-written exposition, those two lines stood out to me the most, partially because they immediately reminded me of this. Eesh.
– Even though it was obvious they were building towards it, hearing Cat Grant finally pronounce Kara’s name correctly totally made me go “Awww.” I love their interactions together – one of the two most compelling relationships on the show – and if this series doesn’t get a second season to explore it further I’m gonna be SO. MAD.
– I was hoping for one whole episode without a grating pop song thrown in, but this was sadly not that episode. Hearing Charlie Puth’s “One Call Away” (with the ever so on-the-nose line “Superman got nothing on me”) during an emotional scene between Kara and Jimmy just makes me hope against hope that we’ll get to hear the Spin Doctor’s “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” eventually. (Even though its interpretation of James’ character differs sliiiiightly from the show.) Though *sigh* even if we do it’ll probably be some bleh cover anyway…
– (P.S. I happen to legitimately like that song. And a few other Spin Doctors classics. Fight me.)
– Though the episode was an emotional maelstrom, the fact that all the good guys had a happy ending, and *gasp* no characters had to die, confirmed my admiration for the show’s positivity and direction.
– This show is Pollyanna af, and I LOVE IT.
8 out of 10
Season One Score: 8.5 out of 10
Before: “Myriad”, here.