[Review] Supergirl Episode 1×07: “Human For A Day”

written by Dayna Abel, Jason Froikin and Cara Russell

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

Last night on Supergirl, we were introduced to a new recurring character: the plot! AND HOLY MOTHER OF KITTENS WAS IT ONE HELL OF AN INTRODUCTION. We’ve spent the past six weeks setting the stage and getting to know our characters pretty well, and apparently now it’s time to drop some anvils. I am instantly regretting limiting these reviews to three paragraphs per person because we have a lot to go over. So you know what? It’s my website and I say we’re going for four tonight, so there.

First and foremost, there’s Kara. There’s a line from Peter David’s time on the comic about how Supergirl holds herself to impossible standards, and we’ve seen this throughout the show. Kara sees any failure as permanent and finds it impossible to rely on herself, instead being constantly unable to bounce back from mistakes and failures without being propped up by others. Granted, I’m probably allowing my opinion to be colored by my own depression, but on the other hand, is it so unreasonable to assume that Kara might suffer from the same? Clark doesn’t remember Krypton; Kara was fully aware of the loss of her entire planet. Not having Kara suffer from emotional consequences from that would be unrealistic. While I’m glad the series is showing rather than telling, maybe just once I’d like to see it explicitly stated that “yeah, it messed me up and I’m gonna work through it.”

Alex was definitely letting her emotions cloud her judgement when she vilified Henshaw for hiding her father’s secrets when she herself did the exact same thing to Kara for years. So maybe a little less “handcuffing first and asking questions later” next time, hmm? BUT HEY. GUYS. MARTIAN FREAKING MANHUNTER! We’ve known for a while that Hank was something other than human but I expected, you know, cyborg stuff because comics. My heart absolutely soared when Hank told Alex the truth about her father and revealed himself as J’onn J’onzz. I can’t wait to see more details about what J’onn is doing here on Earth now and especially why he made Alex promise to keep it secret from Kara. I mean, wouldn’t Kara benefit from having a mentor who knows what it’s like to be a refugee from another world?

Villain-wise, we had a few: Jemm Son Of Saturn, who failed to bring glamour, glitter, fashion or fame to the show, but at least served as a plot device. Max Lord’s grandstanding and insistence that humans needed to rely on themselves felt a lot like the writers grafted Lex Luthor’s personality onto him. And was it just me, or did that scene with the dying father feel a lot like Max set it up to deliberately bait Kara into revealing herself as Supergirl? “BOY, if only we had some kind of X-RAY MACHINE OR SOMETHING, since Supergirl is TOTALLY NOT HERE TO HELP.” He probably either knows or suspects and is a real tool about it. Finally, oh hey, it’s Astra In-Ze, here to look fabulous and have family issues and she’s showing no signs of running out of either. Nice little cliffhanger at the end, and I am completely strapped in for this ride. This Supergirl is my Supergirl, and I hope she’s inspiring you guys so far. I know she inspires me.

-Dayna

* * *

Kara proved to be all too human at the beginning of this week’s episode. Not just lacking in superpowers, but suffering human feelings of inadequacy – watching someone die while powerless to do anything about it. She’s also making very human mistakes. While Nearly-Nameless IT Guy was kind of insensitive pointing it out to her, he was kind of right: James Olsen does have a girlfriend, and Kara should be more respectful of that. At the same time, though, IT Guy also revealed an almost creepy hero worship thing he has going about Supergirl that left more questions in my head than the Martian Manhunter reveal.

Speaking of which, the clues were many before the big reveal of Martian Manhunter. Because I noticed those clues early on, I found far more interesting the reasoning for him being chosen as a character to set Supergirl on her path. There was a compelling enough backstory for it revealed in this episode, but I also strongly suspect the timing of both his guiding of Supergirl and his reveal to her sister was carefully planned to take place just before Kara’s Kryptonian aunt’s plan goes into action (next episode). And I strongly suspect some history there, as well. I also strongly suspect he hasn’t told the whole truth about what he knows.

Cat Grant proved to be a shining star again in this episode. Not just for us viewers, but for Supergirl as well. The woman who started out appearing to hate everything and everyone defended Supergirl and spread sunshine to the city via her television network. Maybe it was just to one-up her wealthy rival Max Lord, or maybe because she actually loves the city she lives in. But I can bet, her being Cat Grant, that it was also a message sent directly to Supergirl, which at the end of the episode proved to be received as planned. It’s still too strong a coincidence that she either looks directly at Kara or involves her somehow in the conversation every time it’s about Supergirl.

It looks like the “winter finale” episode next week was planned to be a possible ending if CBS didn’t renew the series. The writers and producers were caught as much by surprise as CBS was by the following Supergirl has. Their “disaster planning” will pay off when the show’s resumption after the holidays provides a second jumping-on point for those who missed it from the beginning. So if you haven’t been watching up until now, it’s not too late!

-Jason

* * *

In a stunning move, a major plot bomb in this week’s Supergirl was spoiled for West Coast viewers, and every other viewer who didn’t watch the episode in real time (including myself). While I don’t expect the internet to remain spoiler-free in this age of live-tweeting, I feel tonight would have been a great time for a major news outlet to exercise the use of clickbait links, à la “Hank Henshaw Reveals His Shocking Secret!” instead of “Hank Henshaw Revealed as Martian Manhunter!” with a huge, unavoidable screenshot of the Last Son of Mars himself. It definitely would’ve helped me watch the episode without wanting to punch someone in the face…at least, it would’ve helped me from wanting to punch someone who isn’t Winn.

This week, an ill-timed earthquake causes a de-powered Kara to injure her arm, and allow an alien criminal psychic to run loose in the DEO base. Kara fights the clock towards regaining her powers as she must come to terms with the city’s dependence on her, and her inability to assist in a more super-manner as pundits like Max Lord lament Supergirl’s desertion. Meanwhile, Alex is locked into an underground base with Henshaw and a cadre of redshirted agents, as Henshaw acts weird, agents die, and psychic Jemm tries to release fellow prisoners and escape the sealed DEO base. Kara eventually regains her powers, after learning the true meaning of heroism, and Alex performs a stunning one-woman assault that weakens Jemm, for Henshaw to save Alex in the final moments. It’s then that Henshaw reveals himself to be the shapeshifter J’onn J’onnz, who had taken the place of the original (now deceased) Henshaw as a promise to Jeremiah Danvers to protect his daughter, who gave his own life to save J’onn.

If that weren’t enough to chew on, Winn Schott turns out to be the biggest Xander on TV since Buffy the Vampire Slayer – after seeing Kara and James share a hug he throws a tantrum that persists through the episode. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to trip Kara up too much. She’s able to give a gracious thanks to Cat Grant for rallying the city towards more positive endeavours during a crisis, before getting herself caught by Astra. Exciting times for our Girl of Steel, and I’m glad the team is continuing the trend of answering more questions than they ask!

Unfortunately, despite all of these juicy emotional moments with such huge implications, I find my thoughts and feelings still overcome by a singular, very rude, website. It’s human to be selfish, but it’s also human to rise above one’s weaknesses and said site failed hardcore.

-Cara

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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