Synopsis : Fellow Kryptonian and cousin of Superman, Supergirl crash-lands on earth and must decide what to do with her secret identity.
It’s finally here! After all the hubbub with the Pilot leaking six months early, Supergirl has finally premiered full-stop. And, as those who may have watched the leaked episode can tell you – it’s flipping awesome.
Thirteen year-old Kara Zor-El was launched into space along with her infant cousin Kal-El (known now as Clark Kent) when Krypton was under attack, and their families made a last-ditch effort to save them. Kara’s mission was to protect him and look after him on Earth, but her ship was blown off course by debris from Krypton’s destruction, and she floated in stasis through The Phantom Zone for nearly 25 years.
Finally, she was spit back out on earth, still thirteen, but Superman was already grown and had revealed himself to the world. So he dropped her off with a nice suburban family – The Danvers – so that she could have a chance at a normal, happy childhood like he had.
In present day, Kara Danvers is an adorably flustered executive assistant living in National City and working for media mogul Cat Grant. It’s apparent that she’s decided to conceal her powers and her heritage from everyone other than her adopted family, and she lives somewhat in the shadow of her fast-moving and jet-setting but well-meaning sister, Alex.
At work she is equally overshadowed by her boss’ cold and dismissive demeanor and the level of good ideas she provides to co-workers for no credit. She has a friend though, in endearingly nerdy and conveniently pro-space alien IT guy Winn Schott. He clearly has a crush on Kara despite her disinterest in him romantically, but his hopes are further dashed when famous photographer and former Daily Planet employee James Olsen shows up for his first day. Kara bumps into him and sparks fly.
After a disastrous online date, Kara is feeling a bit sorry for herself, living such a lonely and mundane life, knowing all the things she can do, when she sees a news report that the plane Alex is on is in the process of crashing.
Springing into action, she runs down an alley, tossing aside her jacket in a clever visual homage. After a few tries, she takes off flying and manages to help the plane land safely in the water – making a bit of a mess in the process. The world starts buzzing. Another superhero! Who is the mystery woman who saved the plane?! Does she have good intentions? Kara is delighted by the attention and hilariously proud of herself. Alex is less so. The sisters argue after Alex entirely kills Kara’s buzz, insisting that it was dangerous and reckless and it should never happen again.
This all happens before the opening credits.
At work, she’s further discouraged by Cat Grant’s coining of the name ‘Supergirl’ – she thinks it’s childlike and diminishing the significance of a new hero in the mix. Cat tells her there is nothing wrong with ‘girl’ and that’s the name so she might as well get on board. Irritated and disappointed, she reveals her secret to Winn, hoping that at least on person will be excited for her. He is, to put it mildly.
There is an amazing montage where the two go through several variations of the Supergirl costume and try their hand at crime-fighting. The fun is cut short though when super-villain Vartox is sent to kill her, after she exposes her presence in National City to the public. He lures Kara to a secret location and she fights valiantly – doing a wonderfully believable turn from dorky Kara Danvers to a heroic, Supergirl persona, but she basically gets her butt kicked. She’s rescued though, by… Alex! Her own sister, who, as it turns out, has been working all along for a secret government agency dedicated to protecting National City (and presumably the rest of the world) from super-human threats.
They, specifically big boss Hank Henshaw, believe Kara to be one of these threats, and Kara is further shocked and hurt that her sister would work for such an organization. After an emotional sequence where Kara talks with Alex and watches a hologram left by her mother, they agree it is in her, and the world’s best interest if she continues to be Supergirl. Henshaw reluctantly agrees, and they mount a second attack against Vartox.
Kara allows herself to be cornered by him, and proceeds to use her heat vision (!) to overload his energy weapon and blow him to smithereens. The day is saved! It turns out though, when Kara’s ship finally freed itself from the Phantom Zone, it brought with it an entire prison of super-villains, that also crash-landed on earth. Most of them were put there by Kara’s mother – who was apparently some kind of Space Prosecutor, and thus, all of these villains are not only still in National City, but coming for Kara personally in want of revenge by proxy. Or something.
At the end, Kara meets with James Olsen, who gives her Superman’s cape, and reveals that he was sent to National City by Clark Kent to keep an eye on Kara, and guide her if she ever chose to be a Superhero.
Lots of articles and blog posts have been calling the show silly and ridiculous and cheesy, they’ve also said it was rushed, blowing right through the mythology and exposition to make Kara into full-on Supergirl before the episode was even half over.
To my mind, that’s amazing. I think we’ve had enough of broody, introspective anti-heroes, of television that’s “dark” and “gritty” and full of bleak worlds and explicit content just for the sake of it. Or the belief that fun and easy is somehow inferior. I am all about a flashy, funny, female-led superhero show that does away with the lead time. Unlike Smallville, which ran for nearly a decade without ever encroaching on the Superman persona until the very end, Supergirl gets right up in there. Admittedly, the pilot, by nature of being a pilot, was fast-paced and heavy on the exposition. But now that we’ve already established who Supergirl is, we can jump right in.
And I’m so excited.