There’s a rather steep learning curve when it comes to being a superhero, and this is a lesson most newbie superheroes are forced to learn in their first year in tights. You don’t just put on a cape and join the Justice League and start saving the world. You have to build up to that.
In tonight’s episode, Kara’s excitement and overconfidence gets the best of her, and she’s forced to check herself (after wrecking herself). “Stronger Together” is strong follow-up to last week’s fun, albeit super-stuffed, series premiere that includes some great character development for Alex and starts to reveal what kind of a superhero Kara hopes to be.
The show’s infectious joy returns right at the start of the episode. We open out in the desert, where the DEO is testing Kara’s skills. She’s zipping through the sky and dodging missiles like it’s no problem at all. Once she’s done with the assessment, Kara flies off to put out a fire that erupted right next to a docked oil tanker. Unfortunately, in attempting to move the tanker away from the fire, she accidentally breaks the bow of the boat, thereby flooding the bay with oil.
“I went from superhero to ecoterrorist in a single bound,” Kara complains to Winn when she returns to the office later that day. We’re only a week after her debut, and she’s already turned some of National City against her, like billionaire Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli), who is shown talking to reporters about all the damage and problems Supergirl will bring to their city.
Supergirl’s recent failing also has Cat Grant on edge because not only is she annoyed that Supergirl isn’t living up to her name, but The Daily Planet is running front page stories about her. Wishing to scoop Daily Planet hacks Clark Kent and Lois Lane, Cat orders James to use his connection to Superman to get her a one-on-one meeting with Supergirl. Yeah, Kara definitely isn’t going to agree to that.
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A Fort Rozz escapee attacks some workers at chemical plant, which leads to the DEO being called in. As she surveys the scenes, Kara realizes she knows what attacked these men: a Hellgrammite, an insect that can take the form of anything it wishes and must consume chlorine to survive. Kara knows all this because she remembers reading up on this species after her mother imprisoned one in Fort Rozz years ago.
(ASIDE: Tonight’s episode starts to touch on the emotional implications of Kara arriving on this Earth when she was 13, unlike infant Kal-El. Can you imagine how hard it must’ve been for her to adjust to life on Earth after knowing something different for 13 years? I really hope the show flashes back to her first few days on Earth. END ASIDE).
Hank is concerned that Kara doesn’t know “how not to be killed.” So, Alex takes Kara into a Kryptonite-lined room for some hand-to-hand combat. It’s actually a great-looking scene, and I love how the camera circles around the women. On an equal playing field because of the Kryptonite, Alex beats Kara and severely bruises Kara’s confidence.
Then, Kara returns to work and sees Cat’s latest headline, “Supergirl: Failure to Launch.” Naturally, she takes offense at it and tries to defend Supergirl by pointing out that Superman made mistakes when he first started. That argument doesn’t fly with Cat, who insists that this scene passes the Bechdel test by declaring she’s tired of talking about Superman and then, dishes out some Eli Pope-like wisdom: “Every woman worth her salt knows that we have to work twice as hard as a man to be thought of as a half as good.” Cat thinks Supergirl need to calm down and start small.
Meanwhile, Big Bad Aunt Astra and her minions corner the Hellgrammite. Astra plans on using the Hellgrammite as bait to lure her niece out.
NEXT: What does the “S” mean?
With Cat’s advice in mind, Kara forms her own Team Supergirl, comprised of James and Winn, to help her get the hang of this superhero thing. CUE MONTAGE! This week’s groovy montage finds Supergirl taking on small hero tasks while Winn and James provide support from the comfort of her apartment. It’s zippy and fun until Agent Well-Intentioned Buzzkill, a.k.a. Alex, shows up and reprimands Kara for telling Winn and James about her secret. Alex is really there to apologize for what happened earlier at the DEO, and the two of them make up.
The DEO decides to lure the Hellgrammite out of hiding by transporting a large supply of chlorine through National City. Like all traps on TV, this goes awry. Several DEO agents are killed and injured, and the Hellgrammite kidnaps Alex. This leads to some bonding time between Alex and Aunt Astra, who reveals that she’s here to save the world and humans.
Meanwhile, Cat continues to press James for an interview with Supergirl and gives him 24 hours to make it happen or he’s going back to The Daily Planet. After overhearing the conversation, Kara tells James she’ll do the interview, but he turns her down. He came to National City to become more than Superman’s pal, to “become his own man.” Kara then proceeds to shatter his outdated view of masculinity.
“Part of being your own man is knowing when to accept help,” Kara says, explaining that the “S” on her chest stands for Kryptonian phrase that means “stronger together.”
This scene also clarifies Kara’s approach to being a superhero. She has no intention of lone-wolfing it because she knows she’ll succeed with people like Winn, James, and Alex by her side — people who push her to be the best she can be. (ASIDE: This is also an interesting juxtaposition with what’s going on in the current Superman comic titles, which find a significantly de-powered and secret-identity-less Superman insisting on working alone instead of accepting help from others. By the way, you should be reading Action Comics. END ASIDE).
Unfortunately, Kara and James’ heart-to-heart is interrupted by Hank, who calls to tell her about Alex’s abduction. Using her superhearing, Kara’s able to track Alex down and finds her being held by her Aunt Astra. The Flash waited nine episodes for a confrontation between The Flash and Reverse Flash, but Supergirl decides to go there in its second episode. As they fight, Astra reveals that Alura sentenced her to Fort Rozz for “trying to speak the truth” — for trying to be a hero and save their world. Kara spends most of the fight losing until she remembers something her sister taught her in their brief training session and uses it. Hank shows up, and Astra tries to kill him. But he stabs her with a Kryptonite blade, and she runs away.
They return to the DEO headquarters, and a recovering Alex gives Kara a gift: her own little Room of Solitude inside the DEO that contains a hologram of her mother that’s a database of Kryptonian information. Kara’s first request is for hug, but the hologram isn’t programmed to do that. So, she asks for the next best thing: everything it knows about Astra. Meanwhile, Alex thanks Hank for setting the room up. As he walks away, his eyes glow red. Clearly, he’s hiding some kind of secret, too!
As Cat Grant leaves the building and gets into her car, Supergirl shows up and whisks her away to a secluded mountain side for a one-on-one interview. (This is another homage to Superman lore.)
Wall of Weird:
- Winn is a big Maxwell Lord fan. He owns his biography, autobiography, and like three of his watches.
- Alex kills the Hellgrammite while Kara is fighting Astra. We can expect the killing to definitely become a point of contention between the two sisters.
- “This sounds like a job for Supergirl!”
- We learned a lot about Cat Grant tonight. She drunk brunches with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and she used to be Perry White’s assistant.
- “I don’t like the fishes, but it reassures me to know they’re still under there swimming about,” Cat says after Supergirl creates an ecological disaster.
- “What is the opposite of super? #TerribleGirl?”
- The show insists on telling us multiple times tonight that Kara has the “heart of a hero.” It’s doing a quite a good job of demonstrating this and should have more faith in the writing and acting so that it doesn’t need to actually say it.
- Do you have theories about Hank’s eyes? Sound off in the comments, or reach out on Twitter @chancelloragard.