Monday, October 26, 2015

Supergirl Pilot/Season 1 Episode 1 Review

It has been a heady time for DC Comics on TV. Arrow. Flash. iZombie. Gotham. gone, but it was good while it was here (And he will be returning on Arrow.) We had a short animated series for VixenLegends of Tomorrow is coming soon. And we still have a live action Teen Titans pilot coming soon. Plus we have Lucifer and Preacher shows upcoming.

But right now, we have a new comer to leading a DC series. Kara Zor-El. Supergirl!

The show is in a funny spot. It has sister shows with Arrow and Flash on the CW, while it's on CBS. And the costume reflects some of the look of the movie Superman that is part of the expanding DC Cinematic Universe. But, at least for now, the show is off on it's own. (We just need the Flash to start passing through the space/time portals around Central City and pop up in National City.

And seeing as the show is coming from the creative team behind Flash and Arrow, if the channels decide to please fans, I can't believe we don't see an eventual crossover. But Kara needs time to settle into her show and establish her own mythos.

But we know what we eventually want to see.

"Wanna race?"

The show comes from the Team Berlanti. The development team included Greg Berlanti, Sarah Shecter, Andrew Kreisberg, and Ali Adler. Everyone, but Adler, has worked in some way on some superhero series. So they've brought that and other experiences to craft a new take on Supergirl for 2015. Kara Zor-El.

From the looks the intent is to go into the vein that we've already seen on The Flash. Superhero adventures, with personal drama, and ongoing plot threads that lead to large scale threats that need a hero to fly in and save the day. Kara Zor-El will be in the center of it all, no Superman to back her up.

This will be her first time leading a cast, on TV.

Up to now we've had Supergirl motion picture, with Helen Slater. In Superman and Justice League animated series, Nicolle Tom brought Kara to the fight. Laura Vandervoort brought Supergirl to Smallville in the later part of the series. Summer Glau had a turn as Supergirl in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (even is the promotion didn't really focus on that). And we've had Molly Quinn voice her in Superman: Unbound. And let's give a shout out to Super Best Friends Forever, with Nicole Sullivan as Supergirl.

And now we just need someone that can embody and fun and approachable.

Ah! There we are.

Melissa Benoist is coming to the role of Supergirl by way of her role on Glee. Some may look doubtfully at that, but that's the same path Grant Gustin went on to become the Flash. And much like Gustin, the people casting almost immediately took to Benoist.

A pilot was completed for the show awhile back. And, apparently, it is out there. I don't know if, like with Constantine, we'll see any changes between it and the final product on Monday, October 26th. (WATCH IT!) So let's look at the key points of the pilot and series, as I understand them to be.

The pilot acts as an origin tale for Supergirl/Kara Zor-El. The series will be opening on the last moments of Krypton. (Looking at this makes we realize that Man of Steel did tweak the way we usually see Superman's origin by having Jor-El launch his son's ship a noticeable stretch of time before the plane actually was destroyed.)

"Yeah. This is all pretty cool. Just going to escape a dying planet and become
godlike, and stuff."

While Kal-El/Superman is being sent to safety as an infant, not far away Alura and Zor-El (Jor-El's borther) prep their 13 year-old daughter to make the same trip. They are giving her a mission, and necklace that will be useful later. The mission is to protect Kal-El. He's just a baby, and needs her. Plus, on the world they are going to (SPOILERS: It was Earth all along.) orbits a yellow sun that will give her vast powers.

And I'm glad to see this isn't just glossed over. It's a big moment for Kara, the last time she sees her family and world. Then she's launched.

Unfortunately, Krypton is dying, and finally explodes, sending a shockwave just as Kara is racing from the solar system. It knocks her ship off course and into the Phantom Zone.

"Ah, man! I'm going to be grounded, aren't I?"

We'll see if we learn more about the Phantom Zone as the show continues. Is it just open, like the recycling bin at work, so a ship that just accidentally pass into it?

Sometime later, the ship escapes, and Kara is finally able to reach Earth.

The trouble is that two decades have passed since she left Krypton. Kal-El is something very different from a helpless babe now. Instead Kal-El, Superman, is far more concerned about protecting his cousin.

So he places her with a family that can help her understand her new abilities, and give her a level normalcy he appreciated having as a child in Kansas. He leaves her to live with the Danvers, a couple and scientist duo who had helped Superman learn about his powers when he was younger.

They are played by Helen Slater (from the Supergirl movie) and Dean Cain (from Lois and Clark). A little shout out for the fans. I hope we'll be seeing them return to the series proper as we go through the season.

Kara also gets a sister, Alex (played by Chyler Leigh...later in the episode).

The series jumps ahead to when Kara is 24. Kara has long since taken on her adopted family name, and become Kara Danvers. She's decided that she wants to live a very normal and average life. She works in National City as an executive assistant at CatCo. She works for Cat Grant (played by Calista Flockhart), the owner and CEO. It's a major voice in the city, with it's hands in a number of areas of the media, including a newspaper. (And, yes, Cat Grant is a long standing character from Superman mythos, often a fellow journalist at the Daily Planet.)

Kara seems somewhat happy, enjoying some friendships, work challenges, and occasional date. She also is wearing glasses. Not sure why. Maybe it has a use, but, frankly, there are some Superman origin tellings where Clark Kent is wearing glasses early on for no reason. I would let that slide.

There are some changes going on at work, a new photojournalist and art director has come onboard. James "Jimmy" Olson (played by Mehcad Brooks). Yes, Jimmy has moved out of Metropolis, and looking for new horizons. He quickly connects with Kara. For now he's the guy with the history of super powered threats and danger.

Another friend of hers is Winn Schott (played by Jeremy Jordan). He shares a name with the villain Toyman. He may still prove to be this villain in the future, but we've also seen it revealed the character's dad will be appearing on the show, and he also shares this name.

He also is the first person she goes to share her powers with. He helps her design a costume, which is an excuse to borrow bits of various costumes that Supergirl has worn for a montage.

Winn also has some rough character aspects, where he's pushy and moody about Kara. We'll see if this gets toned back post-pilot, or is part of his character's arc. We'll see if he ends up being more a Gotham's Edward Nygma (slow slid into villany) or the ally with a villainous parent.

Early in the pilot, Alex Danvers is on a plane that is crashing, scared for her sisters safety, Kara abandons her normal life and leaps into action...and the sky. She does the classic Superman move, and guides the plane in for a soft landing in the water.

"I...missed the plane?"

With that, the world witnesses a young woman who seems to be very much like Superman. Cat Grant jumps at the opportunity, and dubs her Supergirl.

But it isn't all fun and games now. There are some fun and games though, just not right now. The DEO, Department of Extranormal Operations, (It's a staple of DC Comics.) is concerned that another superpowered being is running around.

They apparently have been studying Superman for years, as they quickly catch Kara. They have tools to hold Kryptonians. They are lead by Hank Henshaw (played by David Harewood). (He's name tied to an astronaut who turns into a twisted villain of Superman.) He is suspicious and hostile towards Kara. He lets her go, but he warns her to stay out of the way.

We also learn that Alex Danvers is part of the DEO. It's part of the reason Alex has warned Kara off doing anything.

While she is at the DEO, she also learns about an unknown part of her past. It seems that while she was in the Phantom Zone, after escaping Krypton, she passed a large prison ship, Fort Rozz. And when Kara's ship exited the zone, the prison ship also was pulled out.

Now what happen? Is it all coincidence? Or was Kara stuck there in hibernation, until the prisoners released her, as part of a plan? I expect we'll learn more as the season continues.

When Kara crashed on Earth, the prison ship did as well. And all the prisoners escaped.

She also learns that Alura, Kara;s mom, put most of the prisoners away in Rozz. So they have a vendetta against the family, and Kara is a good target.

Hey? Is that Despero?

One of the alien prisoners, Vartox, sees Kara on the news, and uses a communication device to talk to a Commander. He's ordered to kill her along with anyone from the DEO (He's already targeted Alex's plane.), He pulls out his space ax and gets ready.

We also learn "The General" is coming. We'll learn it isn't who many fans may be assuming it would be. Sorry. It'll be a family matter.

Vartox contacts Kara in the classic super way, high frequency signal. She hears the message, and comes to challenge him.

And she learns he's pretty damn tough and fast. She also get her first feel of pain, as the ax cuts through Kryptonians pretty easily. (Though it still is just a deep cut, so it partly bounces away.) I'd almost wonder why he's so tough (Like, is he a Daxamite? Khund? ). But there is a list of Superman and Supergirl foes that can go toe to toe with them. (Yes, there are.)

Luckily the DEO steps in, as Alex leads a strike force to help her sister.

Later we see Alex clean up Kara, and we see an interesting addition to mythos. They pull a fragment of the ax from her arm, and the wound instantly seals. Rapid healing.

The second run in with Vartox goes better, as this time Kara knows more about the villain, and has a plan to take him down.

She takes out his truck of weapons.

She fights him a bit.

She lets him best her.

Then she hits his ax with heat vision. It seems it can't really handle being superheated.

So she blows the ax up. But Vartox taunts Kara, and kills himself, warning more will come.

To close things out, Alex and Kara are working through their issues with each other. But now they are working together. And as we saw in her fight, Alex is eager to motivate Kara, and get her to believe in what she is capable of doing.

Supergirl has a lot to learn. She has speed, strength, and powers. But her alien enemies have a variety of those things as well, as well as combat skills and experience in killing. Kara needs to work to get passed the gap. But she's already showing that she has it in her to do it.

And just like Flash, she has a way to go, and hurdles to handle as the season progresses to master her powers, which she seems to have largely not harnessed over the years. It's the heroes journey. It's what we tune into superhero tales for.

I also think some people may decide to complain about Kara being overwhelmed by her first fight and getting derided by the DEO. But, if you watched Flash in his first season, he also had trouble dealing with times his powers, and things, weren't going the way he expected. He had to grow and learn to handle things.

So many parallels of growth. Though Kara and Barry are obviously not the same.

But it is nice to see the people that they've built around Kara. She has Winn, Alex, and the DEO (to some extent), to help, advise, and commiserate with.

Also, she's got Jimmy Olson. Seems that Superman sent Jimmy, or rather convinced him to take a chance on advancing himself, while checking on his cousin for him. (Superman is trying to give Kara a confident. At least it's an experienced one.) It doesn't look like he knows Clark is Superman.

He also sent Jimmy with a present. The blanket from when he was a baby, which makes a great cape.

As a note, it seems that she's invulnerable in much the same way as he was through the 80's, 90's, and 00's. A thin aura of invulnerability around her body, which protects clothes close to the body. So her capes keep getting destroyed.

So now she has a cape that can keep up!

I should also mention Cat Grant once more. I am interested to see how they are going to use her character. She has a certain dynamic with Kara. It will be interesting to see how that grows or changes, and also see what develops between her and Supergirl. I imagine she may be a little in awe of her.

To end the episode, we get The General. But I'll let you see the pilot on your own to see what's happening there, and what they plan for the Earth (and Kara).

Check it out Monday Night, October 26!

[For a further look at the pilot episode, click here.]

But, seriously. We need that Multiverse!

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