[Review] Supergirl Episode 2×03: “Welcome To Earth”

written by Dayna Abel and Jason Froikin

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

First order of business:


I SHIP IT. I SHIP IT HARDER THAN I HAVE EVER SHIPPED BEFORE. PUT IT INTO MY EYEBALLS. THAT SEXUAL HAS MORE TENSION THAN I DO. DON’T TELL ME YOU DIDN’T SEE IT.

Reluctant as I am to move on past the magnificence of possible Alex/Maggie this season, there is a theme to be touched upon here. Supergirl has been a show which has not shied away from addressing social justice issues. It’s not remotely subtle, which has led to accusations of bad writing, but Supergirl is an all-ages series. You can’t really address nuances when your potential audience consists of young children. (Speaking of Supergirl and young children: look, I’m not a fan of kids at all but would you look at this it is adorable.)

This episode touches on confronting your own biases. Kara is clearly proud to be an immigrant who has been, for the most part, welcomed into American culture. When she pushes J’onn to try to assimilate in his Martian form, she’s totally oblivious to her privilege as someone who can pass for human and as a white woman.

J’ONN: “People in this world don’t have much tolerance for others who look different. I say that as an alien and someone who’s worn the face of a black man for fifteen years.”

It’s something Kara hadn’t really had to consider much in her life, and it’s a good example of how social justice can fail at intersectionality a great deal of the time. We all have biases, we all have privileges. Constant learning and working through those biases are what makes us better people, and Kara shows that even Supergirl can be a better person. She is innately prejudiced against Daxamites like Mon-El (sidebar, why did neither character address the “El” name? Come on!), but when she realized she’d made a mistake in labeling Mon as “just another Daxamite”, she went out of her way to push down her innate bias and apologize to him. What better role model in today’s politically charged society?

-Dayna

* * *

It’s pretty common for a show like Supergirl to use various alien races like cannon fodder for a “fight of the week” – each one incrementally more challenging to showcase Supergirl’s powers, abilities, planning, and test her physical and mental stamina. Far more rare is to turn that on its ear, present those cannon-fodder-like aliens hiding from the hostile world, frightened and lonely. A part of me hoped that would have a lasting effect on Supergirl, and allow her to give the next “fight of the week” a chance to redeem themselves. And she did, when she decided to treat who was once a moral enemy of her people as a person. Because now they were both lonely and lost in a hostile world.

I repeated that last part because it also ties into the other plot in this episode. Starting out, James Olsen and Kara were lost in the world of journalism – Kara for not knowing at first how to set aside her own feelings while writing an article, and James for not knowing how to take command. For all his seeming aggressiveness, it’s a little ironic that what Snapper Carr is really accomplishing is gently nudging both Kara and James toward a much better work performance. Completely the opposite effect of what I expected, because at first it seemed that his style, in sharp contrast to Cat Grant’s, was to seed chaos throughout the newsroom.

And closing out the theme, it would seem that the loneliest person in the entire show may not be alone after all. Since this isn’t the first episode of Supergirl, and I’ve been watching the whole thing, I am of course suspicious until this new arrival becomes a regular. Martians aren’t the only shape-shifting aliens, after all. It could quite easily be another shape-shifter who wants something from him, and knows just how to capture his attention.

I also have a concern to address. While I’m glad the CW didn’t immediately tie Supergirl into a twisted maze of its other superhero shows to force us to watch them all (a frequent tactic in the comics), expanding Supergirl‘s own universe too much has dangers as well. Too many different additional alien regulars runs the risk of either the show facing derailment for a few episodes – for instance, Martian Manhunter and his “new discovery” getting an episode of their own – or potentially wasting new and interesting characters that have to be pushed aside at some point to avoid derailing the show. It’s a tough choice, and it’s why most shows avoid introducing too many new regular characters.

-Jason

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

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