“Stronger Together” – aired 11/2/2015 – ***** stars
Teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Ali Adler
Story by Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg
Directed by Glen Winter
*Spoilers are contained herein.
The second episode of CBS’ Supergirl entitled “Stronger Together” was one of my most anticipated of shows to watch for this week. As excited as I was for it, the wait certainly came with an understandable amount of trepidation. Nancy of On Wednesdays and I spoke about the premiere last week (you could read what we had to say here) and we agreed the pilot certainly had flaws. However, despite coming across as a bit color by numbers from the writing perspective, Supergirl needed heavy exposition as the material is connected to one of the most widely known of heroes – Superman. One week later from the pilot episode (you could find my review here) and one week into the superhero career of Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and Supergirl has easily soared to the top of television programs currently on air.
Despite references to the Man of Steel, we are quickly told in the beginning of “Stronger Together” that this “isn’t his story.” Nor should it be. This is Supergirl’s story and episode two plays like one of the best episodes of The CW’s The Flash. Filled with heart, humor, and action, it’s clear that Andrew Kreisberg, Ali Adler, and Greg Berlanti know exactly what they want from Supergirl. They’ve set the series in a place that while reminiscent of certain tones from 2013’s Man of Steel, it remains more closely akin to that of Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman. While the series does delve into dark moments with scary villains, particularly this week’s Hellgramite, basically a large insect in human form and played by Justice Leak, the series is never too much for certain viewers. Because Kreisberg, Adler, and Berlanti’s lighter take on the DC Universe is more family friendly in their approach to the material, we never get the sense that Supergirl or her friends are ever in real danger. I don’t have a problem with this, but it is something that may be addressed later on, if only to raise the stakes for the sake of story telling.
Melissa Benoist is extraordinary in the role of Kara Danvers/Supergirl and she has easily made this role her own in as much a way as Grant Gustin defined the role of Barry Allen/The Flash. “Stronger Together” details Kara’s learning curve as she needs to develop her stamina, strength, speed in order to make her less sloppy and awkward when it comes to her everyday heroics. I’ve always enjoyed moments that find Superman trying to stop a train or plane, but when he flies in and grabs hold, it’s so powerful and strong that something brakes off and he then has to readdress the situation. After we see Supergirl training under the DEO’s watch, led by Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), she flies out to help during an oil spill. She tries her best, but in turn causes an ecological disaster which leads to many, including Cat Grant (Calista Flockheart) branding her #TerribleGirl. It’s only a temporary setback for Kara, but it leads to great character moments between her, James (Mehcad Brooks), Winslow (Jeremy Jordan), and Alex (Chyler Leigh). “Start small, get better” Kara tells her buddies and we get another montage scene that finds her doing Super things such as stopping a hold up, helping during a car accident, and saving a snake stuck in a tree. These moments work great and is effective as a sizzle reel of sorts reminding us of how much fun it is to watch a hero, despite gender. Supergirl is great fun and works completely in every way.
While the over arching story does tie into the villain of the week formula that many cry foul over, I’ve never had much of an issue with this. If it means we get to see more characters from the comic books represented, then all the better. While Hellgramite is the villain in this episode, he actually takes a major back seat to Kara’s aunt, General Astra (Laura Benanti). The climax of “Stronger Together” features a major battle between Kara and Astra and it’s by far one of the most impressively choreographed and stands far above anything we’ve seen on Gotham, The Flash, and Arrow. The blending of effects and wire work is just another aspect of the commitment to ensuring that Supergirl is up there with a theatrical production of the character.
“Stronger Together” works in many ways by cleaning up the dynamics of each character, giving us a major fight early on in the season, and paying homage to subtle areas of the comic books that fans will recognize.
- Clark Kent & the Daily Planet are mentioned
- Krypton flashback which is oddly reminiscent of the way 2013’s Man of Steel depicted the doomed planet
- Man of Steel nickname used
- Cat Grant referencing her early days at the Daily Planet as a gossip columnist
- James “Jimmy” Olsen referred to as “his pal.”
- Fortress of Solitude reference
- Chris Vance is Non! Is he the big bad behind General Astra? We only hear him in voice over, but he will appearing soon.
- Hank Henshaw’s eyes! They light up red at the end of “Stronger Together” suggesting that he is not all that he appears to be. Fans will know Henshaw as Cyborg Superman from the comic books. Is it possible that he’s already been… augmented?
Unfortunately, Supergirl fell in the ratings more so than most new shows to debut. According to Variety, “it averaged a 2.2 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 and 8.9 million viewers overall in the 8 o’clock hour, down 0.9 in the demo (or 29%) from its debut of last week and by about the same in total viewers; it did the same 2.2 rating in both the male and female side of the demo.”
While the decline of Supergirl is a disappointment for devoted fans to hear, it is mentioned that this was a solid second week and that it most likely won’t be for a few more weeks that we will know exactly how well the show is faring. “Stronger Together” is an exceptional episode and was a lot of fun to watch. The Insightful Panda mentioned that “there are so many ways this series can go; but right now everything is looking up.” Supergirl is an excellent addition to superhero television and “Stronger Together” showed many that this is a show suitable for both men and women. A hero’s a hero and at the end of the day, Supergirl is Super!
Supergirl airs on CBS, Monday nights at 8 pm ET. Check your local listings.