Supergirl becomes #Terriblegirl
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Previously on Supergirl: Kara Zor-El Danvers wasn’t living up to her full potential on Earth, and was mostly just fetching coffee for catty Cat Grant. But then she decided to save an airplane, which exposed her to the world, much to the dismay of her sister Alex. And then it turned out Alex worked for the DEO, a task force that protects Earth from aliens, and with their help, Supergirl defeated Vartox the Super-Trucker. And it would seem no one even has to bother watching last week’s episode, because they’ve basically replayed the whole thing in the previouslies.
We begin with Supergirl flying around the desert and outrunning missiles, and this turns out to be the DEO testing her abilities before allowing her to join up. Two more heat-seeking missiles are launched, and Supergirl uses her super-speed to evade both missiles and cause them to collide in mid-air and explode.
She lands near Director Hank Henshaw, asking, “Well, did I pass?” Henshaw replies with, “I see you share your cousin’s appetite for wanton destruction, Ms. Danvers!” Was that a subtle swipe at the complete obliteration of Metropolis in Man of Steel? She tells him it’s okay to call her Supergirl now, and he just looks at her like she’s insane.
Supergirl then receives a message on her earpiece from her co-worker Winn, who’s still doing the thing where he monitors police communications and tells her about crimes and other emergencies in progress. This time, there’s a huge fire raging down at the National City port, but Alex points out she spent the whole day being put through her paces, so maybe she should rest before responding. However, Kara doesn’t want to miss a moment of being a superhero, and “Besides, this sounds like a job for Supergirl!”
She flies down to the port, where the fire chief says that the fire is getting dangerously close to reaching an oil tanker and causing a major catastrophe. Supergirl hesitates, and so the fire chief yells at her, saying that Superman would’ve blown the fire out by now. Amazingly, Supergirl refrains from vaporizing him on the spot, and attempts to put out the fire with her super-breath, which somehow makes it worse, at least according to the dialogue.
So Supergirl thinks fast and decides to move the tanker. She flies to the bow of the ship and pulls it forward, which does the trick, but then suddenly the entire front of the ship cracks open and oil comes gushing out. Though, I’m sort of doubting that oil tankers would actually have oil in that part of the ship. Also, I have no idea why Supergirl doesn’t just quickly seal up the crack with her heat vision, instead of just hovering there looking mortified.
Aerial footage of L.A., I mean, National City, accompanies news reports wondering if Supergirl is really a “miracle or menace” due to the mess she made. Kara goes to work, where she tells Winn that she “went from superhero to eco-terrorist in a single bound!” Right, right. “Single bound.” “This sounds like a job for Supergirl.” She’s related to Superman, we got it. Though, the big red S logo at the top of the show kind of tipped us off already.
Kara and Winn look at a TV, where reporters are interviewing wealthy businessman Maxwell Lord, who’s offered to help clean up the oil spill. He also talks about how Metropolis has become a bad guy magnet since Superman showed up, and he argues that having Supergirl around is only going to cause the same kind of problems for National City. This is Lord’s only scene, but he’ll obviously be back later in the season, because he’s played by a recognizable actor (Peter Facinelli, the patriarch of the Cullen clan from the Twilight movies), and also because Maxwell Lord is a pretty important character in the comics, having helped form the late ‘80s iteration of the Justice League.
Kara then uses her super-hearing to detect Cat Grant coming up in her private elevator, and overhears Cat saying (to herself?) that she’s already drunk at nine in the morning. “That’s the last time I’m having breakfast with Ruth Bader Ginsburg!” Hah! The kids love the memes about Supreme Court justices.
Cat calls another meeting of her reporters. She notes that with all of her screw-ups lately, Supergirl is becoming the “opposite of super”. She then says, “Hashtag… terrible-girl?” Well, to be fair, she did say she was drunk.
Cat hopes to rehabilitate Supergirl’s image, and also scoop the Daily Planet (she even name-drops Lois Lane and Clark Kent here) by scoring a sit-down interview with Supergirl. She’s convinced that James (née Jimmy) Olsen can work his super-connections to get her an interview by the end of the week.
Cut to a chemical factory, which is called, per the sign out front, “Plastino Chemicals”, a reference to Al Plastino, who co-created Supergirl with Otto Binder. Two night watchmen are making the rounds and shooting the bull, and I think we’ve all seen enough superhero movies and TV shows to know what’s in store for these guys.
Sure enough, one guard comes upon a skinny guy with stretch mark-like scars on his face who’s doing something suspicious. The guard pulls a gun on him, but is terrified to find the guy can open his mouth really wide. Like, really wide. He can also crawl across walls and overhead pipes as he chases the guard down and eventually kills him.
The next day, the DEO is there to investigate, and Henshaw is a bit miffed to learn that Alex invited Supergirl to the scene. Another DEO investigator pulls a long, translucent spike out of the guard’s body, triggering a bright light for Supergirl. It’s not a near-death experience, however, but rather a flashback to her younger days on Krypton.
With lens flares-a-plenty, we see L’il Kara playing with a tiny computer in her palm and waiting up late for her mom Alura to get home. Though, based on the view outside her window, it’s the middle of the day (and for those curious, they’ve gone with the reddish-orange desert planet of Man of Steel over the ice-covered Krypton of the previous movies). Alura tells Kara about her day, and how a dangerous criminal was brought to the “Citadel”, and “His people are called Hellgrammites!” She says it’s her job as “adjudicator” to make sure he never hurts anyone again. And once she leaves, Kara looks up “Hellgrammites” on her tiny computer.
Wait… Kara remembers her mom being an “adjudicator” on Krypton? Are we just going to forget that in the pilot, she was totally stunned and shocked to learn her mom was responsible for locking up a bunch of criminals in Fort Rozz? Indeed we are.
Armed with this flashback, Supergirl tells the DEO people that she’s seen a translucent spike like this before, and it’s actually a “stinger”, and the killer is a Hellgrammite, an insect-like race that can shape-shift into any form. And “Hellgrammite” is the name of an obscure Superman villain (even more obscure than Vartox, if you can imagine that), which means they’re doing that thing that all comic book TV shows do nowadays, where they dredge up all the Z-list villains so as not to interfere with anything planned for the parent company’s cinematic universe.
Also, “hellgrammite” is an actual English word (it refers to the larval form of a certain species of fly), so it really makes no sense for an alien race to be called that on Krypton.
Henshaw thinks this Hellgrammite must be trying to acquire bomb-making materials. Supergirl wants to go after him, but Henshaw decides Supergirl has to first submit to another “test”.
Alex takes Supergirl into a training room, and tells her she has to learn how to fight. Supergirl doesn’t see the point, since she can “bend steel”, so Alex punches her in the face and knocks her flat. In turns out this room has devices that emit low levels of Kryptonite radiation, removing her powers. And the room glows green, but only after Alex reveals the Kryptonite emitters, which was obviously done so as not to ruin the surprise punch.
The two proceed to have a big martial arts fight where Alex has a powerless Supergirl on the ropes, while dispensing wisdom like, “When you are facing a superior opponent, you need to use their strength against them!” Alex kicks her ass and Supergirl walks away feeling defeated, thinking that she might not be “DEO material” after all.
Kara goes to work, noticeably sore from the fight. She sees that Cat has cooked up a new asinine headline for the Tribune that bashes Supergirl, and asks Cat why she has to be so critical. Cat goes on a rant about how women need to work twice as hard as men to be considered “half as good”, and Supergirl is taking on too much too soon. She says there’s a “learning curve” to being a superhero, and Supergirl should be more like Cat, who started out as “Perry White’s assistant”, and had to fight her way up to writing a gossip column, indicating that this is indeed the same Cat Grant we know from the Superman mythos, just older and richer and much, much bitchier.
And then I’ll see you here next week on the Agony Booth for my recap of episode three of Supergirl!