Monday, November 16, 2015

REVIEW: 'Supergirl' - Supergirl Accidentally Creates a Villain While Kara Gets a Visit from Dr. Danvers in 'Livewire'

CBS' Supergirl - Episode 1.04 "Livewire"

Kara's Thanksgiving may be ruined when she suspects her foster mother, Dr. Eliza Danvers, who is coming to town, disapproves of her new role as a superhero. When an accident transforms a volatile CatCo employee into the villainous Livewire, she targets Cat and Supergirl.

"Livewire" is the first creation of a villain in the Supergirl universe. Because Kara tries to rescue a helicopter going down after being hit by lightning, she inadvertently turns another CatCo employee into Livewire. She is a very cool villain that Kara has to deal with this week. Her presence is electrifying. It brings about good character work for Kara and Cat as well as allowing the special effects team to show off some great lightning effects. Overall, Livewire is an exciting villain for Kara to face in this episode. The show is still figuring itself out in terms of story and structure. But everything seemed to work well in this hour. That's a good sign moving forward.

Leslie is only in the doomed helicopter because of Cat Grant. Leslie is a shock jock who works for CatCo but who faces some major criticism once she starts talking poorly of Supergirl. Cat has placed so much of the company's future in being associated with Supergirl. She is critical of her performance as a hero - and pulled a full blown exposé out of a two minute conversation. But she still honors and respects what Supergirl represents to the citizens of National City. She doesn't want her plans for the company ruined simply by Leslie's performance on the radio. Sure, Cat is mean to her after that by making her a traffic reporter. But that's simply how Cat operates. She has the power to do it. She can hurt anyone who works for her but disagrees with her. That's what places the target on her back once Leslie becomes Livewire. That forces Cat to look at herself more critically - which is great for her character at this point in the show's run.

Supergirl also carries some of the blame in the creation of Livewire. It's only because the lightning mixed with her alien DNA that these powers were passed on to Leslie. She was trying to be heroic but instead created a new threat she had to handle before more harm came to the city. She feels responsible for creating Leslie. But a nice moment between Cat and Kara shows just how unafraid Cat is to embrace the truth and the blame. She wants to do something to stop Livewire before she does even more harm. The first time Cat was targeted, it was just in her office. Only she and Kara were there. Sure, the office supplies were tossed around both during the confrontation and once the DEO arrived. But no one was seriously harmed by Livewire going after Cat. But the longer she's allowed to roam around the city, the more likely it is that innocent people will get hurt.

Cat proves herself willing to stand up to such a villain. She feels responsible for Leslie's life turning out the way that it did - even before she got these incredible powers. She wants to do something about it. Livewire wants a fight. So Cat is giving her one. Cat knows that Supergirl will be there to protect her. All Kara needs to do is figure out a way to stop Livewire. The DEO figures out a containment unit that could stop Livewire from using her powers. But in the end, all it really took was some ingenuity from Kara. The street where this big confrontation was happening had a water line right underneath it. Lightning and water don't mix. So that was a very fortunate discovery for Kara. It brought an end to Livewire's terror. Plus, that action sequence was really fun to watch. Livewire got a grip on her powers very quickly. She was menacing and captivating while still being seen with sympathetic eyes from Kara and Cat. Sure, it's weird that the DEO will contain the threat in their super secret containment system. But it does bring closure to the story for now.

The action of the episode was great. But so was the personal dynamics between the characters. It's Thanksgiving already. So, Kara and Alex are preparing a dinner with their mom, Cat is working alone at the office, James and Lucy take a trip away from the city, and Winn becomes a part of Kara's family. The personal tension is just as captivating to watch because it helps inform the characters and their actions. Alex makes such a big deal about her mother being more critical of her than she is with Kara. That turns out to be true too. Eliza Danvers is worried that Alex is no longer looking after Kara now that she has become Supergirl. In fact, that's all Alex is doing right now. She is looking out for her sister's best interests. That's all that everyone wants. This family just wants to make sure that they are all safe. The family dinner doesn't end with everyone around the table as a family. But they do all talk things out eventually.

Plus, Dr. Danvers has a pretty big revelation to give to her daughters as well. The show doesn't keep it all that mysterious that Alex's father has died. The way that the family talks and acts makes that seem clear even though it's not overtly stated. But the truth is that he was working for the DEO as well. He traded his research and skills in exchange for Kara continuing to live with the family. Hank wanted to research her just like all the other alien threats that had appeared on the planet. Eliza fears that something more sinister happened to her husband than the story that she has been giving. He died in a plane crash. That's the official story that she's not buying. Kara and Alex both work with Hank. They are now personally motivated to understand the organization they have put their trust in. It has always been weird that the show essentially has two teams that help Kara in the field - the DEO and the ragtag group of friends. And now, it seems the show is purposefully moving away from the DEO being an entity that Kara and the audience should trust. Hank is not all that he appears to be. Answers could have a grave cost to Kara and Alex. But they also need to know what's going on in order to prepare for the future.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Livewire" was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Caitlin Parrish and directed by Kevin Tancharoen.
  • This is actually suppose to be the fifth episode of the season. The episode that was originally set to debut tonight was pulled due to a storyline being similar to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. I believe the plan is to show that episode next week. Hopefully, that doesn't create too much continuity problems.
  • Winn confesses to Kara that his father is in jail because he is a bad man. Going to Thanksgiving with her was the best thing he could have hoped for. He also pulls a move by slightly confessing his feelings for her and kissing her on the cheek. She's not sure how to respond to that.
  • Kara tells Cat a story about her parents dying in a fire when she was 13 and moving in with her foster parents. It's a story Cat actually listens to. She now wants to know about Kara because she's her assistant. She doesn't want to make another mistake like she did with Leslie. But then again, she still treats Kara poorly at the end of the episode. So not too much progress happened.
  • Helen Slater is so great as Eliza Danvers. She should appear more often.
  • Cat referring to Hank as "Agent Mulder" got a huge laugh from me.