Kara Zor-El/Kara Danvers/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) just can’t catch a break on CBS’ “Supergirl”. Between arriving on a new planet, growing up with a new family, hiding her powers, revealing her superpowers and super persona to the world and fighting her Aunt Astra (Laura Benanti), watching Astra die and learning her adoptive sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) actually killed her aunt, Kara has had quite an action-packed and emotional first season. But, it’s not over yet.
Kara still hasn’t discovered what her Uncle Non (Chris Vance) has planned for Earth or that James “Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) has feelings for her. She’s still in an office war against Siobhan Smythe (Italia Ricci), who she doesn’t know is romantically involved with her best friend, Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan).
But, things are looking up for Kara at the beginning of “Falling”, the 16th episode of the freshman show. The episode begins with the ladies of “The Talk” with their guest Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), who has come on the show to praise Supergirl. The scene was a little awkward, with noticeable weird cuts and responses, but it served its purpose to show that Cat backed Supergirl 100 percent.
While that interview is taking place, Supergirl helps a bullied school girl named Laura (Kitana Turnbull), who happens to be wearing a homemade Supergirl outfit (very resourceful girl), causing the bullies to admire the girl for “knowing’ Supergirl.
The theme of “falling” applies to all of the characters throughout the rest of the episode, beginning with Senator Miranda Crane (Tawny Cypress), a character who seems on her way to take a larger role at the Department of Extranormal Operations (D.E.O.), given what happens at the end of the episode. Miranda seems to have fallen for the “man” who saved her life and helped catch the White Martian in episode 11, “Strange Visitor from Another Planet.” Even Alex and Kara noticed Miranda affectionately placing her hand on top of the right hand of Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz/the Martian Manhunter (David Harewood).
And that affection doesn’t seem to go anywhere when Miranda learns of Hank’s true identity. She still seems to care about him and hopefully viewers will get to see these two characters interact more, especially in the next episode, “Manhunters”.
Winn and Siobhan have also fallen…for one another and they have no qualms about “falling” into each other at work. Winn seems to really care about his rebound girl and viewers aren’t really sure where Siobhan is with her feelings for Winn. Does she really like him or is she just using Kara’s friend to make Kara mad? It isn’t clear if Siobhan is really the Silver Banshee yet and will become the villain because of some future event.
Jimmy has fallen into depression and over his break-up with Lucy, even though Winn had told Jimmy several times that Jimmy like Kara and had a chance with her. Jimmy has also fallen into denial about how he really feels about Kara. One minute he is swooning over her, the next minute he is scolding her. He builds her up and then puts her down and he’s sending a lot of mixed messages. He knows that she has feelings just like everyone else and just because she was under the influence of red kryptonite, he is suddenly afraid of Kara and pushes her away. He’s becoming a bit of a jerk and hopefully he doesn’t become more of one in upcoming episodes.
Kara’s fall from grace was one which impacted so many characters, yet it allowed Benoist to shine as the character and show why she was picked to as the superheroine. Benoist has a way of really allowing the viewer to feel Kara’s emotions, whether the character is mad, depressed, arrogant or hurt by the things she has done.
The bad, not necessarily evil, things Kara did were things her deepest, darkest feelings and thoughts about the people in her life and the situations she has faced. She seems to always repress what she is really feeling, so when the red kryptonite releases her inhibitions, those deep feelings and thoughts come out in a very jarring way. She even tells Hank and Alex that she feels underappreciated, both at the D.E.O. and at CatCo. It’s an understandable feeling, one Kara would have been able to keep back if not for the synthetic kryptonite Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) created to kill Non.
Benoist deserves an Emmy Award for this episode and episode 13, “For the Girl Who Has Everything”, in which she had to play Hank portraying Kara. She was flawless and continues to do an admirable job leading this series.
Hank and Siobhan both fell from their positions, but for two very different reason and yet one similar one. Their falls were in part because of the red kryptonite infected Kara. Hank stopped Supergirl, from killing Alex with her heat vision, by shape-shifting into his true form in front of D.E.O. agents and the public. Siobhan was exposed as not being loyal to CatCo by a fed-up Kara. Hank willing sacrificed his secret identity to save not only his surrogate daughters, but the people of National City.
But, Siobhan sacrificed her job and her journalistic career, by going behind Cat’s back and trying to give a story on “bad” Supergirl to Perry White and secure a position at The Daily Planet. Hank willingly fell because of his love for Kara and Alex, while Siobhan fell because of her self-serving actions. But, it appears from previews, Siobhan will only blame Kara for being fired, be angry with her and eventually, that will lead her to becoming the Silver Banshee.
Besides J’onn and Alex, the true hero of this episode was once again, Cat. She has really been a true friend and mentor, in her own special way, to Supergirl. Cat continues to encourage and trust Supergirl, even after being thrown off the roof of her own building by Supergirl. She tells Supergirl that although it will be hard, Supergirl can regain the public’s trust and Supergirl believes her. Cat seemed unlikable at the beginning of the series, but she has really shown that she is a multi-dimensional character who is very important to this show. Bravo to Flockhart for her flawless portrayal.
Highlights of the episode included two homages to the late, great Christopher Reeve’s “Superman III” movie. The first occurred when Supergirl threw Cat off of the CatCo building. Supergirl’s nonchalant reaction as Cat screamed and fell was reminiscent of Reeve’s Superman (who was also affected by synthetic kryptonite which caused to be self-centered, alcoholic and mischievous in “Superman III”) right before he blew out the torch a runner was carrying, moments before he lit the Olympic torch. The second came when Supergirl was in a restaurant and she poured a bowl of peanuts onto the counter and flicked them through the bottles of alcoholic beverages, just as Reeve’s Superman did in his movie.
Other highlights included seeing J’onn use his phasing powers during his battle with Supergirl and overwhelming her long enough for Alex to cure Kara, thanks to Maxwell’s anti-red kryptonite gun, which he whipped up in a matter of hours. Kara deciding to don a Kryptonian battle outfit, similar to Astra’s, after having the red kryptonite coursing through her veins for a while was genius by the writers. It showed that Kara, after probably hearing Cat’s warning to the citizens, prepared for any attacks by the D.E.O. or Maxwell.
The characters, namely Jimmy and Alex, also stressed to Kara the fact that she really felt the way she said she did when she was affected by red kryptonite and that it was a problem. True, Kara is an alien with amazing powers, but she has done an incredible job staying in control of her emotions with all of the things she has faced. While her superpowered cousin Superman grew into his powers, she arrived on Earth as a teenager and instantly received her powers. They act as if she can’t have moments when she wants to punch a hole through something or someone. Humans have those thoughts and while some people choose to act on their anger and pain, others choose not to, just like Supergirl does every day.
One question arose though: why was J’onn locked up after saving the city from Supergirl when Supergirl was the one who went “crazy”? Sure J’onn posed as the real Hank Henshaw, but he’s been spending the past couple of years capturing evil aliens. Supergirl threw a high-profile media personality off a building and caught her, with seconds to spare. She also broke her D.E.O. sister’s arm and probably bruised a few other D.E.O. officers. She caused hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in damages and she was allowed to go home. It doesn’t seem right, but hopefully J’onn will be released in the next episode.
The poor Khund (Gary Kasper), which is the name of an alien race in DC Comics which warred with Thanagarians, also got less than 10 minutes onscreen before he was captured and put away. But, maybe he’ll get out somehow and get a second bout with Supergirl.
The episode was brilliantly written by Robert L. Rovner and Jessica Queller. Caitlin Parrish served as executive story editor while Larry Teng directed the episode.
The show was developed by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. Berlanti and Kreisberg also developed and executive produce the CW’s “Arrow”, “The Flash” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”, according to IMDb.com.
“Manhunter”, the 17th episode of “Supergirl” Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. Central on CBS.