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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Fly Like a Girl: ‘Supergirl’ – Episode 1 ‘Pilot’

Supergirl is DC’s television adaptation of the comic book of the same name. It airs Monday nights at 8/7 Central on CBS. Our writer, Nicole Drum recaps the series each week updating you on the latest episode here in Fly Like a Girl.

Image Credit: CBS

Image Credit: CBS

Last night CBS aired the pilot of the latest comic book superhero television adaptation. With shows of similar source material somewhat common in the prime time lineup (The Flash and Arrow on The CW, Gotham on Fox,) CBS’ offering of Supergirl marked the first time in 36 years that a television show formed around a super-powered female heroine (I am not counting ABCs Agent Carter in my calculation of time because Peggy Carter is not super-powered). This is an exciting development and addition to the superhero television genre and I am excited to be covering it. If you haven’t seen last night’s episode of Supergirl this is your final warning that there are spoilers below.

Okay! So last night’s pilot was very much an establishing episode to set us up for the season. We start with a look into the past, little teenaged Kara Zor-El being prepared to launch from her home planet, Krypton, in the moments before the planet is destroyed along with everyone on it. Her parents are shipping her off to Earth to look after and protect her infant cousin, Kal-El. However, the blast wave from Krypton’s destruction knocks little Kara’s pod ship into something called the Phantom Zone, a place where time doesn’t really occur. As a result Kal-El ends up on Earth alone. Eventually Kara’s pod manages to break free of the Phantom Zone and she makes it to Earth, but twenty-four years have passed. Kal-El, now Clark Kent/Superman, is an adult and Kara is still a teenager. It is she who needs looking after so she is presented to the Danvers family who takes her in as their own. Fun cameo here? Dean Cain, who once played Superman in a television show himself, plays Kara’s adoptive father!

With Kara’s basic history established we find her in the present. She has chosen to blend in as a human rather than live up to her full Kryptonian potential. Instead of being herself she is instead Kara Danvers, assistant to Cat Grant, a media mogul who runs Catco. Kara fetches coffee and other things for Ms. Grant and it’s a pretty soul crushing existence, but Kara acts like she’s okay with it. A coworker, Winn Schott, flirts with her and asks her out, but Kara doesn’t seem intersted. She has an online date instead. When Cat Grant arrives shortly after, she also finds out that Cat is going to close her news outlet, the Tribune, and this troubles Kara. Cat says that they need some sort of exclusive to keep the Tribune alive. Kara is sent on a mission to get layout and also encounters the famous Jimmy Olsen (now going by his proper name, James) who took the first photo of Superman. James lets her in on a secret, that Supes posed for the photo and she’s all flustered. It’s cute.

Anyhow. We also meet Alex Danvers, Kara’s adoptive older sister. Kara calls her over to help her pick out clothing for her date and Alex reveals that she has to fly to Geneva. Standard sister stuff with Kara mentioning that she hasn’t flown in a long, long time. Kara goes on her date, but the guy isn’t interested her and ditches her. It’s kind of rude, but it ends up being a good thing because the news shows that a flight to Geneva has lost an engine. Yep, that’s the flight Alex is on and Kara panics. That’s her sister. She can’t let it crash so Kara takes off down an alley, throws off her coat and after a couple of struggling attempts takes flight.

Kara flies up to the plane just as it loses another engine. This is certain doom for the flight so Kara does all she can think to do: she flies under the plane and literally carries it to safety, having to turn the plane on its side to slip it through a bridge before bringing it safely down. The media goes wild (and catches a few blurry snaps of her). Back at her own apartment Kara is absolutely giddy at what she has done. For the first time in a long time she feels empowered and like she has a purpose. She’s super excited, but then Alex shows up. It’s not a “thanks for saving me” moment. Instead Alex is upset that her sister exposed herself and what she can really do. Just like that Kara is defeated and sad and feels ashamed of herself. She asks her sister to leave and the next day she goes to work feeling kind of sorry for herself and sad. Of course, everyone is completely buzzing about this mystery girl and Cat wants to use this new hero to save the Tribune and tells everyone to get to work. Kara is about to burst and asks Winn to meet her on the roof. She ends up revealing herself to him (by falling off the building) and gets him to help her. It’s admittedly an awkward scene.

Winn and Kara get to work putting together Kara’s hero costume. The first version is a no-go, the second doesn’t work because it doesn’t have a cape, and the third version has the cape, but the cape isn’t durable. Kara finally settles on a version that has her family’s crest on it, and it makes her truly the iconic Supergirl character. You can see Kara just exuding pride and confidence. She goes out to stop a fire and is taken down by darts of a green substance. Yep, it’s Kryptonite and Kara finds herself captive by the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO). It’s revealed that not only Kara came out of the Phantom Zone but an entire prison of the galaxy’s worst criminals and now they are here. We also find out that Alex is part of DEO and is kind of awful to Kara. They essentially try to shut Kara down. Kara is hurt.

Kara goes to work the next day and discovers that Cat has named the heroine Supergirl and Kara confronts Cat about Cat’s branding. Cat gives a great little speech about there being nothing wrong with being a girl…and then prepares to fire Kara. Fortunately James shows up with a very clear photo of Supergirl that he claims is all because of Kara. It keeps Kara in her job, but she’s upset with James for his help. Unfortunately before she can fully defend herself the alien Vartox (who we see briefly in a diner earlier in the episode) communicates with her over a frequency only non-humans can hear. Vartox challenges her to come face him at a power plant, which she does and while she fights hard, it goes kind of badly. He also reveals why he wants her dead: her mother, Alura, was a powerful judge who put him in prison. Vartox injurs Kara with his blade and nearly kills her, but Alex shows up with DEO just in time. Kara is taken back to DEO where the blade is taken from her arm, Henshaw (the guy in charge) actually mocks Kara, and Alex essentially blames Kara for the aliens and tells her that this is why she shouldn’t be a hero. Kara leaves broken, saying that the world doesn’t need her.

At home, Kara is just very down. She feels stripped of her agency. feels like she has no purpose, and feels beaten down by the world. It’s then that Alex shows up and confesses that she felt second to Kara until Kara chose to be normal. It’s clear Alex has some insecurity and jealousy, but she also brought a communication cylinder from Kara’s pod. It’s a message from Alura telling Kara how proud of her she is and how brave Kara is. Her mother tells her to always be true to herself and it’s just what she needs. It’s emotional for Kara and she asks Alex what she should do now. Alex tells her to get dressed and they go to DEO and Henshaw where Kara says she can stop Vartox.

So she goes to fight him. She stops his truck, she engages with him in physical combat. Henshaw doubts Kara and Alex says it’s because she’s a girl and that is exactly what they are counting on: for Vartox to think she can’t beat him because she’s a girl. But she can. Seems that Vartox’s special axe is powered by a type of nuclear generator type of thing that will destruct at a certain heat. All Kara has to do is use her heat vision to overheat it and win. So she feigns weakness and grasps the axe, trying to keep Vartox from killing her with it. She locks her lasers on it and starts to heat it up, but has a moment of doubt. Alex says she can do it and Kara digs deep. She overheats the axe, it explodes and then Vartox kills himself with a shard rather than be beaten by Kara.

Back at work Kara asks James to have lunch with her and he has her meet him on the roof. Turns out he knew about her from the start. Her cousin actually sent him there to be close to her, though he also wanted Kara to come to her true potential on her own. It had to be her choice. James gives Kara a box from her cousin. Inside is a cape that was made from his Kryptonian baby blanket, a cape that won’t shred. James tells her that her cousin is proud of her…and he is, too. He then suggests that she has a city to protect and then Kara takes flight. Her cousin doesn’t need her, but she’s here to protect the world instead.

And then? We discover that Vartox wasn’t the big threat. Turns out there are others, lead by a general. Who happens to be Kara’s aunt Astra, a woman who looks exactly like her mother and who vows to rule Earth. Oh and she wants Kara dead.

The plot was choppy and the writing uneven as they tried to cram a backstory and a purpose into this pilot. There were moments that the feminist importance of Supergirl was very heavy and at times it felt a little like getting beaten over the head. Melissa Benoist as Kara is occasional a little too eager. I still can’t figure out what emotion Chyler Leigh is trying to convey as Alex. These are the weaknesses, but I’m willing to give the show a pass here. It’s a pilot episode and it’s establishing things for the rest of the season. Supergirl is good. It has heart, it’s earnest, and it’s fun and empowering. I can’t wait to see where this show goes. I’m so excited for next week.

How did you feel about Supergirl? Let’s chat in the comments!

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2 Comments on “Fly Like a Girl: ‘Supergirl’ – Episode 1 ‘Pilot’”

  1. Dylan October 27, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    Agree on the unevenness. But it had lots of heart.

    Also, Winn is a total creeper and douche bag.

    And two, I find it a pretty major violation of her trust that Clark told Jimmy who she was without asking her.

  2. Sonia October 28, 2015 at 4:13 am #

    I loved the episode although I did spoil myself by watching the pilot when it leaked a couple of months ago, so the episode felt a little lackluster to me, since I had already watched it months previous (my own fault though lol).

    I agree with Dylan that Clark should not have told James who Kara was. I don’t mind Clark telling James that his cousin who is also superpowered lives in [insert city name here] and whatnot but he shouldn’t have told him her name/information without her permission

    Also, not to take anything away from Supergirl, but I don’t really feel as though this is the first television show formed around a super-powered female heroine, as Agents of SHIELD has Skye/Daisy Johnson and the Pilot episode was basically formed around her and the show was ultimately her “origins story”. Even though Skye/Daisy Johnson doesn’t get the powers until halfway through Season 2, she is still Marvel’s first WOC superpowered individual and thats amazing in and of itself.

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