“Livewire” – aired 11/16/2015 – ***** stars
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Caitlin Parrish
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen
*Spoilers are contained within*
Due to the tragic incidents in Paris, CBS had reshuffled the airing of “How Does She Do It?” (EP. 104) with “Livewire” (EP. 105), which was set to air next Monday, November 23rd. For a fan such as myself, the rescheduling of Supergirl episodes saw that I got to see the episode “Livewire” one week earlier than expected. We’ve been covering Supergirl for a while and after learning of the inclusion of the “tougher than a lightning bolt” character who first appeared in Superman: The Animated Series, this was an episode that we’ve been waiting for since the summer.
Livewire in many ways is very similar to Harley Quinn. They share very similar comic book origins in that both were created by Bruce Timm and developed for the Superman/Batman animated series. It’s amazing to think of the humble start Harley Quinn had within the DC Universe, especially considering her iconic position in pop-culture today and with her live-action debut in August 2016’s Suicide Squad. Interestingly, Livewire was rumored to make an appearance in the film and while nothing has been confirmed, she made her second live-action debut during this week’s Supergirl, appropriately titled “Livewire.”
- Livewire was first introduced in the Superman: The Animated Series episode “Livewire.” She was voiced by Lori Petty (Point Break, Tank Girl, Orange is the New Black)
- She also made a brief appearance in the Smallville episode “Injustice” and was played by Anna Mae Routledge.
Brit Morgan was cast as Leslie Willis/Livewire on August 12, 2015. We wrote our thoughts on that here. She plays the shock jock with the same confident and abrasive personality that Lori Petty gave the character during Superman: The Animated Series. We learn that is was Cat Grant (Calista Flockheart) who found her in a “shoe box of a radio station” and gave Leslie her start. It’s alluded to that both women have had a falling out over the years and after Leslie takes one too many shots at Supergirl during her Alive and Wired show, Cat punishes her by relegating her duties to the news chopper. Of course there’s a lightning storm on the night Leslie goes out and when Supergirl tries to pull her out of the chopper, lightning strikes and transfers from Kara into Leslie. Her hair immediately turns electric white and we know that no good will come of this.
We’re introduced to Leslie Willis not more than five minutes into the show and Brit Morgan (True Blood, Graceland) plays her perfectly. It plays very much like a live-action adaptation of the Superman animated episodes and it’s no surprise considering that the “Livewire” episode was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Caitlin Parrish. I’ve read several reviews that have critiqued the development of Livewire which I can’t fully agree with. Supergirl is a solid show and while there is room for improvement, it plays magnificently like a live-action episode of an animated series. It’s an inviting show to both girls and boys, men and women and is easily the most family friendly approach to a DC Comics character on television. The Supergirl episode “Livewire” plays almost beat for beat the same way that the Superman: The Animated Series episode plays. Could we have had a better developed character arc for Leslie Willis, especially considering how much is hinted that Cat and her shared a mother/daughter relationship with one another? Sure and it would have been very special seeing a character like Leslie Willis nurtured through several episodes that built to her turning into Livewire, but this is not the way she was developed and that’s okay. We didn’t get an origin story for Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heatwave (Dominic Purcell) and they’ve become some of the best recurring villains The CW’s The Flash has.
The Leslie 2.0 known as Livewire is transcendent in terms of villains on CBS’ Supergirl. While we’ve seen Kara (Melissa Benoist) face off against Vartox in the pilot, Hellgrimite in “Stronger Together”, and Reactron in “Fight or Flight”, we haven’t gotten an exceptional villain in terms of recurring villain status. Vartox and Hellgrimite were disposed of pretty quickly and General/Aunt Astra (Laura Benanti) is more of the main, over-arching villain of season one in the way that Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanaugh) was used during The Flash season one. Livewire causes “inexplicable blackouts” and with her ability to siphon off energy, she’s an interesting character to be used again this season. Brit Morgan is the first actor portraying a villain on Supergirl to demand a second appearance and 20 or so minutes into the episode, we get another great showing of theatrical level special effects being used on television.
Director Kevin Tancharoen, who’s no stranger to comic-book television, delivers an excitingly choreographed and heartfelt episode which fetaures Helen Slater and Dean Cain. It’s great seeing them return after a cameo appearance in the pilot episode. There’s a bigger setup for Dean Cain as Jeremiah Danvers and while we don’t see Hank Henshaw’s (David Harewood) eyes light up, his involvement with the Danvers family over 12 years ago is another reason to be suspicious of the man who would be Cyborg Superman.
“Livewire” does feel uneven at times, particularly with James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Lucy Lane’s (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) accelerated relationship. That’s only because “How Does She Do It?” was supposed to air before “Livewire.” Because of the rescheduling, the certain parts of the story that don’t necessarily work will be overlooked.
As a Livewire fan, I could not have been more proud to see her depicted to many viewers, which had improved since last week’s drop.
According to preliminary national estimates from, “Supergirl” averaged a 1.8 rating/5 share in adults 18-49 and 7.9 million viewers overall in the 8 o’clock hour, up a tick from last week when the show saw its second straight sizable decline following its strong premiere (which benefited from a lead-in from “The Big Bang Theory”). It still placed third among the broadcasters in 18-49 for its timeslot, but pulled to within a tick of ABC’s “Dancing,” which had beaten it by a quarter of a ratings point the previous week (1.95 vs. 1.7). Last week’s “Supergirl” grew in Live+3 to a 2.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 10.1 million viewers overall.
Brit Morgan, whom I greatly enjoyed as Amber on season two and three of USA’s Graceland was perfectly cast as Leslie Willis/Livewire. She captured the voice for the villain that Lori Petty defined for animation and truly brought her to life on-screen for Supergirl. It will be great to see her again.
For more on “Livewire” and an extended look into the rest of the plot, you may want to check out The Insightful Panda’s recap/review here. And may we suggest giving Ms. Brit Morgan a follow on Twitter? You could find her on Twitter @MsBritMorgan
Supergirl airs 8 PM ET, Monday nights on CBS. Check your local listings.