[Review] Supergirl Episode 1×05: “Livewire”

written by Dayna Abel, Jason Froikin and Cara Russell


EDITOR’S NOTE: CBS chose to air episode 5 of Supergirl instead of episode 4 out of respect for the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, as episode 4’s plot dealt with several bombings. The episode has been rescheduled to air November 23rd.

I’m going to take a moment to gush here: I have grown to love Cat Grant on this show. While a lesser drama would have gone with the easy portrayal of Kara’s boss as a cardboard “ice queen hardass CEO bitch,” Supergirl‘s writers and Calista Flockhart have given Cat surprising depth and complexity. She has a heart; she just prioritizes it under practicality and efficiency. But when there’s no need for her to be “on” and in charge, she’s perfectly capable of opening up, as she did with Kara on the couch after Livewire’s attack. She also takes absolute responsibility for her own actions, copping to making Leslie Willis into a controversial shock jock (DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO GET THAT JOKE I AM ASHAMED) who was rewarded for being terrible. Cat is an actual responsible ethical journalist as well. When faced with a choice between mocking a drunken pop star or outing a closeted celebrity, she chooses neither, instead opting to spotlight the kindnesses National City’s denizens show one another during the holidays. I am very impressed by this portrayal of what could have been a one-note character and I’m dying to see how it plays out throughout the season.

Speaking of playing out throughout the season, we’re starting to see some major plot threads beginning to weave themselves into the story now that Supergirl has had a few episodes to reel us in. From episode one, I’ve been needing to see more of the Danverses. What connection did they have to Superman that made them so important, he gave them his cousin to raise? We don’t have the entire answer to that yet, but we learned that Jeremiah and Eliza were scientists who had ties to the DEO through Hank Henshaw. Hank, who apparently wanted Superman for an unnamed “project” and was shot down repeatedly. How Henshaw and the DEO knew about Kara and her adoptive family is another unanswered question, but I think we’ll be able to get to that soon.

Major kudos to Alex for not letting her obvious heartbreak at her mother’s favoritism towards Kara turn her against her sister in a fit of jealousy. This is yet another example of Supergirl veering away from obvious clichés in favor of complex female characters and relationships we so very much need in media. Finally, it has to be said that I found Livewire’s villainy quite believable, as she is basically one of those people who prioritize the right to spew whatever crap they want over thinking about how it would hurt other people. As Cat said (magnificently), “congratulations, you have the wit of a YouTube comment.” I hope to see more of Livewire later this season. Hell, I’d watch an entire show about someone who got hit by lightning and gained superpowers as a result.


* * *

Due to unfortunate events in France, the subject matter of Episode 4 was considered by CBS to be “too soon”. So Thanksgiving came a week early to Supergirl. It worked well, though, because it honestly wasn’t so much a Thanksgiving as an excuse to gather Kara’s family together and work out lingering issues and missing history. There were a lot of lingering issues. They’re well beyond a typical family, but they share many typical problems that we as the viewers can relate to. They also have some very atypical problems, in that the entire family seems to be nearly enslaved to the DEO, who may have gotten Kara’s foster dad killed somehow. And in the midst of all that family-driven drama, a fact that’s easy to miss is that one man has been in charge of the DEO across two generations. That’s a lot of power for one person to have, and something to keep an eye on.

The more screen time Cat shares with either Kara or Supergirl, the more likely it’s becoming that she knows the secret. Cat is no stranger to secrets, so I’m not going to expect her to dramatically reveal that she knows. It seems to be entertaining to her to “play the game,” to be part of the secret but pretend she knows nothing. If she’s officially told, she’ll probably feign surprise and shock in a most unconvincing way.

If you’ll notice, I didn’t mention the battle of the week, Livewire, early on in this review. That’s because out of everything that happened this episode, that battle was actually the least interesting part of the show. It appeared quickly, ended quickly, and almost felt like it was shoehorned into an already filled episode. It was fun to see Cat try to get directly involved, but that didn’t last long after she fell back into insulting comments and ended up sidelining herself again.


* * *

This week we are treated to a seasonal out-of-order episode featuring Thanksgiving, and while it seems to be missing a bit of character growth, the show picks up without any sense of loss or confusion for the viewer. Comics could take notes from this.

One of Cat Grant’s protégés, Leslie Willis, catches Cat’s ire after dehumanizing Supergirl in a radio broadcast and is demoted from radio talk jockey to traffic reporter. An accident ensues, causing both Leslie and Supergirl to be hit by lightning, granting the former electricity-based powers and putting her into a temporary coma. Meanwhile, Alex and Kara get to deal with their mother, Eliza Danvers, coming into town for Thanksgiving and all the trappings of a terse family reunion. Conflict resolution comes in the form of a trap using Cat Grant as bait in an alliance with Supergirl, and Eliza finally giving support to Alex, whom she had held to far higher standards than Kara as the girls grew up at the expense of Alex and Eliza’s relationship.

This episode also brought in another mystery – Jeremiah Danvers is absent, having died sometime previous as a member of the DEO. This easily explains Eliza’s outburst upon learning that both of her daughters were working with the same organization, while setting the stage for something that could possibly carry an entire seasons worth of action by itself – the third such arc, when we recall General Astra and Hank Henshaw’s secret. I am concerned that the writers are focusing on getting balls in the air, rather than planning where they will fall. Only time will tell, and I am still entranced watching this cast in action, and seeing Cat in particular revealing the methods behind her madness.


Supergirl airs Monday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on CBS. Dayna can be reached on Twitter @queenanthai, Jason at @Mangacool, and Cara at @virtualcara.

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