This is a spoiler-free review: Read on at the bottom for additional spoilery bits.
Supergirl is a show that is at its best when celebrating not just individual empowerment but also teamwork and family, so it’s great to see its second season continuing both themes in fine form during its second episode – if you worried that the first episode of this more confident, brighter second run was a fluke, rest assured: Kal-El’s cousin remains in good hands.
The Season 2 opener was a delight, of course, because it gave us a chance to see Kal-El, as well as Kara, in action – not as an either-or affair, but as a conscious double-act. That cheerful approach to collaboration continues here to endearing effect, as we see more of the cousins fighting crime and putting out fires together. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: it’s a treat just to see superheroes enjoying being superheroes for a change.
But Supergirl’s second season has also developed a rather nice penchant for cliffhangers – something that became apparent with the discovery that Episode 1’s villain, Corben, was being transformed in Metallo, a bad guy with a Kryptonite heart, by our Season 2 Big Bad: Project Cadmus.
Cadmus has a smart strategy for beating the House of El: double-down and make two Metallo fighters to take on Superman and Supergirl. And so Corben is joined by another prototype warrior. In no time at all, they split up and start attacking Metropolis and National City separately.
What follows is a neat piece of ensemble juggling, which makes sure that every single person on screen gets a chance to shine. Alex takes on the ass-kicking job of tracking down and taking down the mole in the DEO, who smuggled out the kryptonite needed for Cadmus’ super-soldiers. Winn, meanwhile, is given the task of using the DEO’s anti-kryptonite tech to devise protective suits for Kara and Clark.
It’s not all supportive sidekick subplots, though, as Superman and Hank spend the episode squabbling over the fact that the DEO had kryptonite in the first place; Superman remains firmly against the idea, but Hank insists that they need it for protection. With so much of Season 1 dedicated to Kara navigating the moral conundrums of becoming Supergirl, it’s a promising sign that the show is now spending time on developing both Clark and Hank’s characters and their moral stances. Tyler Hoechlin and David Harewood are good matches for each other, both able to bring out new sides to the Man of Steel and J’onn J’onzz. They even get a scene in the Fortress of Solitude, which is a fried slice of geek gold for comic book fans.
This neat balancing act climaxes with a nice little cluster of set pieces, with the action choreographed to match each character (director Glen Winter is a veteran of the Arrow-verse).
Amid all this smart writing, it’s a shame, then, that the episode also marks the farewell of one of the series’ standout regular characters: Cat Grant. Calista Flockhart reminds us just how much she’ll be missed, as she goes amusingly weak at the knees once more for Clark Kent in her office – then hands Kara off to her new boss, Snapper Carr. Ian Gomez is commendably loathsome as the newspaper editor, who stonewalls Kara’s self-ordained appointment as a reporter. (“You don’t just become a reporter. This isn’t a Facebook status update.”) He begrudgingly agrees to take her own and teach her, after she delivers an exclusive report of the Metallo smackdown – time will tell whether he can become a genuine Cat replacement…
Supergirl Season 1 and 2 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW TV. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription – with a 7-day free trial.
Where can I watch Supergirl Season 2 on pay-per-view VOD?
Flying observations (spoilers)
– The highlight of the episode’s action-packed second half is the reveal that Supergirl and Superman are, of course, not alone in their respective home towns: they’ve got Hank and Alex with them to help overpower the now-divided enemy. It’s an obvious step, but one that hammers home the teamwork message for the younger audience – and should still manage to get a “Whoop!” of approval from even the most cynical grown-up, when a young girl watching the punch-up turns out to be a shape-shifted J’onn J’onzz, who transforms to deliver the final blow. (Watch out for a carefully concealed fist through the chest to rip out the bad guy’s glowing heart; that’s about as brutal as Supergirl gets.)
– By the end, Hank entrusts the last of the kryptonite the DEO possesses to Clark, who leaves for Metropolis. It’s a sign of how much the show has grown since last year that we now expect that not just to be a throwaway conclusion to a B-narrative, but a decision that will have consequences – and further character growth – later on down the line.
– The good news is that Flockhart will return in a recurring function over the rest of the season, but the real concern is that her phasing-out also introduces another shift in the show’s core group: James Olsen is promoted from photographer to her replacement as CatCo CEO. It’s a promotion that makes little sense (compare it to Winn’s logical move to the DEO), is barely explained, and seems like it’s mostly been done to give Mehcad Brooks something to do, after Kara’s romance with him was retconned in Episode 1. Based on the rest of these two episodes, there’s reason to trust that the writers will come good on their idea, but if you’re dubious about that, at least there’s another cliffhanger to keep you distracted, as man-in-the-pod Mon-El wakes up at the DEO and immediately attacks Kara.