REVIEW: Supergirl: The Complete Second Season
The biggest problem with the DC Comics series on the CW is that they are overstuffed, robbing the title character of the spotlight and forcing them to work as part of a team. The formula can be repetitive and stifling, demanding that the star rise above the noise to get noticed.
As Supergirl moved from CBS where it was a well-reviewed, low-rated buzz series, to the CW, changes had to be made. Calista Flockhart chose not to join the team in Canada so Cat Grant, one of the more interesting members of the cast, was gone but the crappy looking DEO set got a major upgrade.
With Supergirl: The Complete Second Season now available from Warner Home Entertainment, we’re given a chance to evaluate how the sophomore outing went. They certainly aimed high, opening with the inevitable arrival of Supergirl (Melissa Benoist)’s cousin, Superman (Tyler Hoechlin). Of course, once you add a second Kryptonian, you keep expecting them to see one another and partner when the stakes demand it, such as the concluding story arc. Still, his initially appearances were most welcome, a heroic super-hero who actually enjoys his work. The scenes of them flying and fighting crime with big smiles on their faces remain one of the best parts of the uneven season.
Along the way, we had plenty of aliens, both invaders and immigrants and there was an opportunity to use them as metaphors for the immigrant experience in America, but it was largely window and paid lip-service rather than grounding the show. The production team definitely intended this series to be frothy, female-power and little else.
Of the many storylines (too many that come and go with little in the way of proper story development), the best was clearly Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) discovering and accepting her sexuality then sharing it with her friends and family. Handled with taste and sensitivity, it stood out. Her growing romance with Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) was certainly the best part of the show.
Considering its called Supergirl, that’s not a good thing. With Cat gone, Kara Danvers needed a purpose and she emulated her cousin, trying to be a journalist for boss Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez). An aside: since Snapper was a one-time supporting character in the Supergirl comics, it makes sense to bring him in; what makes no sense was taking him from scientist to older editor. Why keep the name? With no J-school training, she blunders ahead, making rookie mistakes time and again with little in the way of mentoring.
Over at the DEO, we now have the mystery of the occupant from the end of season one and it turns out to be Mon-El (Chris Wood), a Daxamite which opens the issue of race hatred between worlds, setting up the painful final arc. As Mon-El learns to acclimate himself to Earth, his character is either a sweetheart or an idiot or a jerk, depending on the needs of the story. The inevitable romance with Supergirl is a slow burn, finally ignited in the wonderful Flash musical crossover two-parter.
But we need time to focus on Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) and his romance with Megan along with getting comfortable being an out and proud alien on Earth, working closely with the US President (Lynda Carter). Her reveal later in the season feels silly and the ramifications of aliens easily invading Earth is a thread deserving follow-up on season three and I bet you won’t see it.
The first half of the season is largely the anti-alien schemes of Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong), strengthening the friendship and alliance between her daughter Lena (Katie McGrath) and Kara. The second half brings Mommy (Teri Hatcher) and Daddy (Kevin Sorbo) El to Earth to bring their son, the Prince, home. When he refuses, Queen Rhea goes nuts, kills her “weak” husband and invades Earth intending to either destroy it or bring her son home.
Throughout the season, we are also treated to Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) moving from CatCo to the DEO because apparently, no one else had computer skills. His bromance with James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) evolves as the latter is tired of being the token non-costumed character and becomes the Guardian, borrowing a character from the comics with no connection to Supergirl. It doesn’t fit the character and is added merely to keep the character in the mix, showing how character bloat harms the cast. More interesting was Winn’s romance with an alien, who is still learning to trust humans.
The Earth vs. Daxam battle was far too concentrated on National City without explaining how this impacted the rest of Earth. Especially with Superman’s tardy appearance and no other heroes on that world (and Supergirl alludes to at least Batman operating in this world). The one-on-one finale was better as was sending Mon-El to the Phantom Zone where he can learn to grow up before coming back for a guest shot.
Kara Zor-El as Supergirl and Kara Danvers has learned a lot but more from observing than actually doing. She was ill-served by writers who have yet to figure out how to use her powers consistently. This was about a young woman coming to accept who she was and how to make a positive impact on the world. That strong season one message was overshadowed by too many alien invasions, too many other heroes, and nowhere near enough time to show, reflect, and grow.
All twenty-two episodes are presented in fine high definition transfers and the Blu-ray set comes with a Digital HD code. The other three parts of the “Invasion!” crossover or the Flash half of their crossover are absent. The fun Supergirl ad promoting Wonder Woman should be here but isn’t.
The discs include a handful of spread out special features including Supergirl: 2016 Comic-Con Panel; Supergirl: Alien Fight Night, Aliens Among Us, A Conversation with Andrew Kreisberg and Kevin Smith, comparing directing this show versus The Flash; Supergirl Lives Audio Commentary from Kreisberg and Smith, and Did You Know facts from the cast and crew for fans. All are entertaining, none are essential.