Season One, Episode Five – “How Does She Do It?”
By Molly Jane Kremer. After the sparkling fun that was last week’s “Livewire” (no pun intended), we comedown with a cluttered episode attempting to accomplish far too much. “How Does She Do It?” finds Kara overreaching in her personal, professional, and caped identities, and while she struggles with that we finally discover what Maxwell Lord really thinks of our chipper heroine. While last week’s “Livewire” suffered minimally from CBS’ timely episode switch, this episode’s potential was certainly deflated because of it, almost to the point of obsolescence. In viewing the episode, however, the rescheduling was understandable, as it contains a rather distressing suicide bomber plotline, and, well, the visual of billowing flames from a high rise building would obviously hit too close to home.
WHAT WORKED: Once again, visually stunning action sequences are par for the course. They bookend the episode, and make the hour’s climax extra, well… climactic. Kara in flight never ceases to both impress and amaze, and looks just as good as her big-screen counterparts. (Steel-y cousin included.) It’s always a joy to have a minute or two of just that to open the episode. And though much of the episode was crammed and muddled, well-placed action scenes gave the story room to breathe. We could have certainly done with more of that breathing room, to be honest.
The continued development of Hank Henshaw and his possible (Probable? Probable.) villainy is a suspenseful itch that I hope doesn’t get scratched for a good long while yet. Yes, Astra is being built up as Kara’s Zod, and sure, Maxwell Lord is definitely her Lex Luthor; but the vague menace of Henshaw makes for much more compelling television. Although it would be preferable for Kara to fight her own rogues instead of her cousin’s (crossing my fingers for Superwoman eventually), having her fight the same baddies that continually vex Supes (like Livewire, Metallo, and maaaaybe Cyborg Superman) is infinitely better than facing off against characters that are little more than analogs for other, more well-established villains.
WHAT DIDN’T: A couple time-displacement issues – stemming from the show’s rescheduling due to the Paris attacks days before the intended airing – didn’t ruin the episode exactly, but were enough of a distraction to pull observant viewers out of the show. Cat is dismissive after bringing up Kara’s mom, while in the “last” episode, the two make an actual connection when discussing that Kara’s parents are deceased. Also, the cute trick where the DEO badges can transform into FBI badges for less intrusive questioning would have been cuter if we didn’t already see them pose as FBI in the “last” episode—not to mention everything is still glaringly hunky-dory between the Danvers ladies and Henshaw. But the most obvious disparity was the relationship status of James and Lucy: airing “Livewire” before this episode completely spoiled their reconciliation, deflating any “will they or won’t they” tension. And sadly that storyline was one of the major arcs of the episode.
Most of the episode feels rushed and underdeveloped, with Kara quickly hopping between office work, babysitting, superheroics, and back again, very little of it given proper chance to make an impression. Though the introduction of Cat’s shy and nerdy son is delightful—and gives us a chance to see a new and entirely different side of the show’s most interesting character—he’s used more as a plot device than as a character to develop (beyond being adorable and having a crush on Supergirl).
“Do you think he could get Superman to introduce me to Supergirl?” – Carter. She might be a little old for you, kiddo.
“You spend more time in the friend zone than in the Phantom Zone.” – Alex. Much as I hate the notion of “friendzoning”, I can’t deny a clever turn of phrase.
“Are you really ready to move on? Because if you’re not, that might not be fair.” “Fair to whom?” “To… whomever comes next.” – Kara and James. Aww, look at these two, using “whom” in their hyper-correct grammar, and being responsible with rebounding.
“She knows how to play ‘Settlers of Catan’ almost as well as you do.” – Carter. Now I want an episode called “Game Night With Cat.”
“So you can have it all.” “Of course. Just not all at once, and not right away. And not with that hair. Use conditioner for gods sake.” – Kara and Cat. Harsh, bosslady. Harsh.
BEST MOMENT: The episode’s final action sequence sees Kara confronting a (reluctant) suicide bomber as he threatens a train of bystanders, and preventing disaster by separating the rest of the train from the terrorist. She tries to talk sense into him beforehand, of course, and learns more from the forlorn dad than she expected about an as-yet-unseen menace. The visual effects give the scene some much-needed visceral suspense, as Kara realizes for the first time that she can’t save everyone.
EPISODE’S MVP: Supergirl. Melissa Benoist continues to be a bright and optimistic light in the television-superhero sky, perfect as both Kara Danvers and as Kara Zor-El. Her confidence while wearing the red cape and the big ol’ “S” communicates both a commanding presence and a reassuring calm, while still underlined by the vulnerability of someone learning a new job but trying their damnedest. Benoist was made for this part, and—even if the writing doesn’t always quite measure up—she just gets better with each episode.
– So Cat won the “Siegel Prize for Women in Media”, beating out Lois Lane for the first time? That award wouldn’t be named after Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, now would it? (Oh of course it is, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.)
– Cat points out that Lois has freckles: so should we assume TV-Lois is a ginger too? Or more the classic brunette Lois of yore, and like Jenna Dewan Tatum’s Lucy? Will we ever know?
– Hark, I hear the… aggravating, too-loud, distracting pop music muscling its way into the soundtrack again – and it’s even a dreadful cover of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’. Ugh.
– So Lucy’s in town to review depositions for her job—in JAG? Had Supergirl aired ten or so years ago, we could have had the weirdest tv-crossover in history.
– When picking up Carter, Kara changed from her costume into her office clothes… how, exactly? Does she hide her glasses and a button-down in her thigh-high boots?
– In their first scene alone together, Maxwell Lord hits on Alex hardcore, and aside from just being icky in general, the two don’t connect. Like, at all. This is the second time Lord flirted with a resounding thud (the first being with Cat whilst not-dancing in “Fight or Flight”).
– So, on this fancy bullet train maiden voyage, no one noticed the duder with the explosives strapped across his chest…? C’mon, he didn’t even have his shirt buttoned up, guys.
– Lucy and Jimmy making out in the middle of the CatCo offices is raaaather inappropriate for a workplace environment.
– That is definitely General Sam Lane in next week’s promo. Click.