Supergirl Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot” Review (Minor Spoilers)
Supergirl series premiere packs an action filled, light-hearted punch into TV’s superhero landscape. The team behind Supergirl borrows much of the bright, breezy formula which makes The Flash a runaway hit.
As polished as the pilot episode is, it’s going to take a few more episodes to see if the writers can work out some of the kinks which is holding back Supergirl from truly taking off as a must see superhero TV show.
There’s an off-screen presence which looms over the pilot: namely Superman. In this version of Supergirl’s origin story, Kara Zor-El is thirteen years old when she is sent to Earth to look after her baby cousin. Due to an accident, by the time Kara’s pod arrives on Earth, Clark Kent has already grown up and become Superman.
A major challenge that the pilot acknowledges is that Kara’s story is tied into Superman’s mythology but Supergirl as both a character and a show must be able to stand on its own feet.
The reality of airing on a major TV network is that Supergirl’s origin story is retooled to appeal to a wide demographic. Kara is not human but her struggle to be her true self and finding her mission in life is readily relateable.
On one hand, it could have been a fun approach to have a fish out of water story, where we see our humanity through Kara’s unique alien point of view. But that version of Kara could be challenging for some audiences to identify with, so instead she’s very much human, raised by an adoptive Earth family since the time her pod crashed down.
One of the strongest elements is lead actress Melissa Benoist, she is excellent as Kara aka Supergirl. It may be a bit too much for some viewers, but Kara has a cute, bubbly geek vibe going on.
It’s understandable that since Kara has been hiding her powers for a long time, she starts off as meek and less confident. It’s pretty clear from the pilot that Kara isn’t a fully formed superhero from the start and she’s more compelling for that reason.
Not to worry, the pilot doesn’t waste any time in Supergirl asserting her powers. Supergirl takes her share of physical punishment but also kicks ass. The action sequences are visually well shot and the major network budget is going to hopefully help Supergirl pull off consistently solid special effects.
Supergirl’s supporting characters have potential, each of them offering a different dynamic with Kara. The best of the bunch is a self-assured James Olsen played by Mehcad Brooks. Olsen is Kara’s connection to her cousin Superman and functions like the watchful caring big brother/mentor.
Kara’s relationship with her sister Alex Danvers, which starts off on a cold note, is quickly developed into something deeper and takes a much needed promising twist.
While Calista Flockhart as media mogul Cat Grant offers some comic relief, she’s isn’t written to be instantly likeable and will need to be developed into a multilayered character. Jeremy Jordan as co-worker Winn Schott has a fun chemistry with Kara but it could be too much if he’s crushing on her each week.
The other less than stellar aspect of the pilot is that even though the villain of the week makes for some great fight sequences, the personality is forgettable and the acting is exaggerated in places. It will also take more episodes to get a handle on the types of stories Supergirl will tell each week. There’s a tried and true blueprint for these types of comic book shows which the writers are likely going to follow.
Supergirl series premiere delivers a solid, entertaining episode which introduced us to a lively and likable Kara. The balance between character set up, origin story and action scenes are nicely done. The pacing is fast and there’s a lot of exposition to process but it doesn’t get too confusing to follow. So far, so good Supergirl!
Will you be watching Supergirl Season 1? Are you excited about a female superhero show?