Supergirl’s Pilot Episode Promises A Character And Show That Will Soar

Credit: CBS
Credit: CBS

When the Supergirl pilot was leaked several months ago, I didn’t give it a watch. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I knew that I was doing these recaps so I wanted to give the show a fair shot without ruminating about it for months on end.

I preface with this because this will be a recap/review of the pilot episode.

So let’s see if Supergirl can go up, up and away, shall we?

Let’s recap what happened.

This Is Not Superman’s Story: Right before Kyrpton goes boom, Kal-El was sent off to Earth. This we all know. Kara, his cousin, was sent to protect him. Due to the destruction of Krypton, however, Kara’s pod was knocked in the Phantom Zone where she slept. Superman grew up in the meantime and didn’t need her protection. So he puts her with foster parents (former Supergirl and Superman, Helen Slater and Dean Cain), and leaves her to grow up normally.

The Normal Life: Kara decides to live a normal life where she works as an assistant to Cat Grant. She decided to live this because, in her words, the world already has some super and they don’t need her. Of course, this leads to her trying to find a date online, be oblivious to her friend’s romantic interest, and feeling unfulfilled in her potential. She doesn’t know who she is supposed to be in the world, and it leaves her feeling uncertain. Her sister Alex is very encouraging for Kara to keep her head down and live as normal of a life as possible.

The Hot New Guy: Cat is downsizing on her print paper, The Tribune, and Kara feels absolutely horrible for all those families. She tries to beg Cat to go for another way, but Cat points out not every city has a Superman. She sends Kara to pick up layouts for the new design guy: James Olsen. Kara immediately starts crushing hard on him (and who can blame her? Boy is fine). He gives a famous print of a picture he took of her cousin and wishes her well. Later, when Kara tries to assert herself over the Supergirl name and Cat nearly fires her, James comes to the rescue with a picture of Supergirl and giving Kara the credit. Kara berates him for not letting her fight his own battles, but he doesn’t back down from what he did to help her. At the end, when Kara gets the courage to ask him out, he reveals that he knows who she is. On the rooftop, James said that his friend in blue asked him to check in on her, but not influence her choices. He hands her a box and in it is the blanket Kal-El was sent to Earth in. It apparently will make a pretty awesome cape.

The Embracing Of Supergirl: The majority of the pilot is about Kara embracing the life of a superhero. Originally, she does it to save her sister’s life when the plane she is on nearly crashes. The rush of saving people, however, gives Kara the idea to become a hero of her own. She lets her best friend Winn in on the secret, and he agrees to help her by designing her costume. Alex, however, is not as thrilled by her sister’s turn into heroics, and with a good reason. It turns out she is part of some sort of super secret organization dedicated to tracking down rogue fugitives from the Phantom Zone. Apparently whatever happened when Kara escaped from their pulled a prison along with it, leading to a mass escape and hiding of the prisoners. The organization now plans on bringing them in, led by the douche-tastic Henshaw. He alternately belittles and degrades Kara for her heroics and believes she will turn evil given half the chance. One of these bad guys, whose name I cannot recall, goes after Kara by calling her out via radio wave and telling her about her Mom’s day job of putting away the bad guys on Krypton. He then makes her feel pain with some sort of weird axe. This moment causes Kara to have a crisis of self, and leave. Alex comes and talks to her sister, admitting that way she loved her part of her wanted Kara to suppress who she was so Alex could feel special. She admits that is wrong and its time for Kara to step out into the light. Between that and encouragement from a hologram of her mother to find her own path, Kara goes and defeats the big bad of the episode. But he warns her there are more coming.

So The Big Bad Is… In a button of the episode, we learn that Kara’s aunt is, in fact, the person pulling the strings. She will do anything to rule Earth since she can no longer rule Krypton, even kill her niece.

The Verdict: Supergirl delivers a fun yet flawed pilot. It’s clunky at times. The Exposition Fairy does a lot of visiting. I also think that Jeremy Jordan’s character should have been included more. Also I would have liked to see some hint of interaction between Superman and Kara about the whole superhero business. Even his name appearing on the caller ID or something would have been enough. They should have given the pilot episode another half an hour to help with the pacing issues. Ultimately though, the cast creates individually charming and fun characters. The real star of the piece, however, goes to Melissa Benoist. She has broken free from the shackles of Ryan Murphy and, like Grant Gustin, finding safe haven with Greg Berlanti, who uses her charm and sincerity to perfection. Benoist truly takes Kara’s complex nature to heart, and elevates material that, with a lesser actress, could have been hokey into something fun. Actually, the majority of the cast makes the show fun to watch and soothes the clunky moments. The best parts of the pilot are between Benoist and Chyler Leigh’s sisterly bond, nailing the focal relationship of the show. (Also just Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant is like Miranda Priestly and I love it.) My hope is, with better pacing, that Supergirl will soar.

Seriously. Watch this show.

See you next week!

Bec Heim