“How Does She Do It? – aired 11/23/2015 – ***** stars!
Written by Yahlin Chang & Ted Sullivan
Directed by Thor Freudenthal
*spoilers are contained within*
Originally supposed to start with a diamond heist; I’m guessing those just don’t raise the stakes anymore like they used to. Instead we get Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) having her agility, strength, and speed tested by, unsurprisingly, Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli). She’s faster than a speeding drone! She’s able to hold up a tall building which weighs 120 lbs. for each square foot (you do the math!) And she’s more powerful (and faster) than a locomotive! I think we all want to know…
“How Does She Do It?”
This week’s episode of CBS’ Supergirl was originally supposed to air last week. Due to the tragic attacks in Paris and due to the content of “How Does She Do It?”, it was then rescheduled for this week with “Livewire” airing in its place. While “Livewire” was a rather fantastic episode in a season that keeps getting better every week, there were subtle flaws in continuity. James (Mehcad Brooks) seemingly jumped into an immediate relationship with Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) after her brief appearance near the end of “Fight of Flight.” A few aspects didn’t add up and felt rushed, but you can’t fault the writers as it was just a matter of reshuffling the episodes order. Going into “How Does She Do It?” seemed as if there would be even greater issues with continuity and while the James/Lucy relationship felt off, the episode may have been the best yet of Supergirl season one!
Director Thor Freudenthal is no stranger to family drama, action, and adventure. He’s directed several terrific episodes of The CW’s Arrow and he knows how to get the best out of comic-book television. “How Does She Do It?” plays like a living, breathing, motion issue of the best run of Supergirl never made. The running plot of having Supergirl being tested with the not so surprising reveal of Maxwell Lord being the mastermind behind it comes off very Superman heavy, yet the idea of substituting Supergirl/Lord for her cousin and his bald arch-nemesis works amazingly well. We’ve seen Peter Facinelli play Maxwell Lord like a more comic-book version of Elon Musk, just with better hair and he’s seen as someone trying to save the world while developing a super train called the Super Rail. Hyperloop anyone? He’s been dismissive of Supergirl since his episode two appearance in “Stronger Together” and here he refers to her as a “glorified fireman.” We understand why he may not be the biggest Supergirl fan, but for those unfamiliar with the comic books or CBS revelations regarding the character, it may come as a twist when “How Does She Do It?” concludes with him being the big bad! Supergirl confronts Maxwell Lord, only to fly off and have him say deviously, “the fun is just beginning.” Seriously, at this point, Aunt/General Astra (Laura Benanti) seems largely forgotten.
“How Does She Do It?” revolves around Ethan Knox, a recently fired employee of Maxwell Lord and father to an ill daughter. He functions as a suicide bomber in the episode and while he’s presented as a questionable terrorist (were his motivations to truly instill terror?) there are several moments that may have played distasteful if aired last week. Ultimately it’s understood that Maxwell Lord wanted him to bomb the Super Rail and in return, he’d pay for his daughter’s medical expenses. Once again, we’re moving away from the villain of the week formula, something that many were worried about at the start of the series.
In a fun subplot, we meet Cat Grant’s (Calista Flockheart) son named Carter (Levi Miller). He clearly has a crush on Supergirl and it’s cute as he whimsically moves through the episode, interacting with Kara, unknowing that she is Supergirl. He looks for a way to meet her and after his thought of having James ask Superman to introduce him to Supergirl, he runs off to the Super Rail in hopes that he’ll see her. I really liked Carter and his affections for Supergirl and while it is arguably cliche, so much of what we as humans do is cliche when it comes to matters of the heart. Yahlin Chang and Ted Sullivan write Carter very well and when he appears at the Super Rail, it’s not because of how predictable it is, but more so because it’s probably something I would have done! I’d like to see more of Levi Miller as Carter Grant and he plays comically well with Jeremy Jordan’s Winslow, who also happens to be crushing on Kara/Supergirl. And was it just me or is he similar in ways to Gotham‘s David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne)?
So “How Does She Do It?” At the end of the episode, we’ve seen Kara/Supergirl nearly triumphant in almost every aspect of her life. She saved Carter and those on the Super Rail, and went head to head with Maxwell Lord, yet she’s awkwardly and purposely friend-zoned herself with James. Regardless of her relationship issues, Kara/Supergirl is one of the best of characters/heroes on television. Melissa Benoist brings us a sense of hopeful heroics and a joy to the character that’s very similar to the presence Christopher Reeve had as Superman. Not too many actresses have played Supergirl and even though we’ve had Helen Slater, I think we all could agree that Melissa Benoist is the definitive Girl of Steel!
Supergirl airs 8 PM ET, Monday nights on CBS. Check your local listings.