Last night’s Season 2 premiere of Supergirl found Kara paralyzed by indecision, trying to figure out what, exactly, she wanted to do with her life outside of being Supergirl. And, per usual, Cat Grant had some tough love to dole out.
At the end of last season, Cat gave Kara her own office and the freedom to choose what, exactly, she wanted to do at CatCo going forward. But initially, that freedom made things difficult for Kara. Given the opportunity to forge her own path, Kara suddenly found that she wasn’t sure where it was she wanted to go.
But Cat gave her a nudge, pulling out a cliché or two (give her a break, apparently she’s only getting two hours of sleep a night) to encourage Kara to “dive in,” despite the fact that she’d likely emerge a changed person. And though the scene was referring specifically to Kara’s career and personal life, Cat might as well have been talking about Supergirl as a whole.
After moving to the CW from CBS for its sophomore season, Supergirl likely enjoyed a very new kind of freedom. Without the shackles of a big network like CBS (complete with pretty insane ratings pressures), Supergirl didn’t have to worry so much about catering to the masses. Instead, it could fall into place alongside other DC TV like The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow that manage to strike a balance between fun and impact.
Supergirl now has the freedom to be a little more fun, a little more clever, and a little less … well, network-y. Networks are famous for playing it pretty safe. Network shows and writers are often pressured to make shows widely accessible and easy to follow, and sometimes that comes at a price. Shows (and the writing in particular) suffers because there’s so little room for trust. Instead, good writing can become obscured by attempts to make sure the audience “gets it.”
If there was one thing that Supergirl suffered from consistently in its first season, it was heavy-handed exposition. Hand-holding is never fun, and Supergirl often seemed stifled under the weight of trying to spell every damn thing out for the audience in bright, blinking neon letters.
But that feeling was almost entirely absent from the Season 2 premiere. Things have changed. Like Kara, Supergirl had to decide what it wanted to be and commit to it. That commitment and focus made Supergirl a much, much better show.
Gone is the inconsistency in tone, the distracted flitting from one underdeveloped arc to another, and the lines that were all exposition and no development. Supergirl seems to be taking its time now, bolstered by the understanding that what makes this show great is Kara. She’s still front and center and though I was extremely dubious about Superman coming on board, his presence thus far has been one of support. Hes not stealing the spotlight, but adding depth to Kara’s character, and that’s the best possible scenario.
Supergirl’s committed to Kara’s entire character now, and this season is going to focus on who Kara is when she’s not saving National City. There are still plenty of great fight scenes, there’s still plenty of mythology to uncover, and there’s still plenty of conflict when it comes to both Supergirl and Kara. But for the most part, Supergirl seems to have settled into its own skin. It feels comfortable with itself and comfortable in the world it’s built. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s made all the difference.
Despite a fancy new DEO office, Winn’s move from CatCo to the DEO, and a bunch of new characters, the world of Supergirl feels mostly the same. It’s just more focused now. It’s smoother, more fun, less eager to prove that it deserves a place in superhero television. Supergirl has a place, and it’s finally come to terms with what that place looks like.
Like Kara, Supergirl had to make some tough calls, commit to some decisions, and close some doors in order to focus in on what it really wanted to say. And in doing so, it’s starting become the show it’s always wanted to be.
Supergirl airs on the CW every Monday at 8 p.m. ET.