Supergirl Season 1, Episode 1 Recap and Review


If you are like me, you can’t get enough of the wave of superhero-driven stories in movies and television. CBS, working with the creators of Arrow and The Flash, have given us something that both mediums have been lacking. A female-driven super hero series has the opportunity to tap into a new market and demographic. Did the makers hit the mark with the pilot episode of Supergirl?

Disclaimer: This review is going to contain spoilers. If you haven’t watched it yet, know that you have been warned.

Keep in mind that a pilot of any series has the goal of introducing the audience to the vision of the creators, and that often means more about creating a framework for the coming episodes rather than lead us down a path for the rest of the season. This was the case with the first episode of Supergirl, and it worked quite well.

First off, if you are looking for the origin story as it works with the comics, don’t bother. The writers have made a conscious effort to merge multiple origin stories of the various incarnations of Supergirl from the comics, and early reports are it really seems to work. The episode begins by introducing Kara Zor-El, played by Melissa Benoist (Glee).

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As the story goes, we are introduced to her after 12 years on earth living the life of a normal girl. The plan was for her to come to earth and protect her cousin. You know, the other Kryptonian hero. However, a problem forced her to crash land, and while her cousin was all grown up when she arrived, she was still a child. So instead, her path was to integrate herself into human society and be as normal as can be.

After years of having all this power and not being able to do anything with it, she decides to embrace her powers and use them for good. There’s a great scene pulled straight from the comics where she makes her super hero debut, and the writers did a great job in showing her empowered by her act of heroism.

However she soon feels conflicted by her choice, as her new hero persona is not being portrayed the way she hoped in public, even by her employer. She also discovers that she wasn’t the only alien that crashed on earth, and not all of them are wanting to do the right thing.

Benoist does a great job balancing between the awkward and quirky personality of alter ego Kara Danvers and the more confident persona of Supergirl. This was solid casting by the creators to bring in someone that can go from being a stammering hero hopeful full of anxiety and flow so well into the mode of the girl with the potential to be a hero on par with her better-known cousin.

The episode also did a nice job introducing the cast of supporting characters that will form her sidekicks. This is a direct throw to how the creators surrounded Arrow and Flash with their cohorts as well. Once again, the creators gave hat tips to the classic stories by having Jimmy Olsen in the mix as well as Winslow Schott, who is actually the villain Toyman in the comics. Could he eventually turn on Supergirl? The door is certainly open for that. 

Another aspect of the pilot that was very well done were the special effects. As good as shows like Arrow and The Flash have done with their respective budgets on the CW, CBS has bested them thanks to a major network bank account. One of the aspects of any show like this is how well the “super” in super hero is translated on screen via the CGI and special effects. If the pilot is any indication, this series isn’t going to lose viewers based on poor effects. 

The pilot also introduced the shadowy government agency that has to be a part of any series like this. In this case, it is the Department of Extranormal Operations. This is the group tasked with tracking down these alien criminals that crash-landed on earth, and this is where the action heats up.

The opening villain is somewhat underwhelming, but he helps set the stage for the micro and macro storylines that the creators will build from this. It also happens to be the agency that her sister works for, and that relationship looks to be one that will be as a mentor for Supergirl. Her first job has to be to teach her hand-to-hand combat.

As a pilot, Supergirl achieved everything you could want from an adventure series with such an iconic character at its center. Representing the regular girl and the empowered female super hero at the same time could prove challenging for Benoist, but I have confidence that the writers will handle her with similar finesse as they have with the Flash.

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