Martin Carr reviews the seventh episode of Supergirl, ‘Human For a Day’…
With Charles Halford under loads of latex this week, Supergirl continues to be worth its network weight in gold. Chiefly because it pulls a Superman II on Melissa Benoist. Yes this is clichéd. Yes I saw it coming in the closing moments of episode six, but the fact remains that they sell it well. From the second that glass cut her finger, through to a convenient spike of adrenaline we are on board. As usual Benoist sells the emotion beneath without sentiment giving ‘Human For A Day’ some heft. While Mehcad Brooks got to climb life shafts, swing from support cables and play an active role in things.
Elsewhere the cloak and dagger two hander between Henshaw and sibling Alex reaches a conclusion. As Henshaw reveals himself to be alien shape shifter J’onn J’onzz. I am reliably informed that this was a big moment for geeks across the globe as J’onzz is name checked within DC circles for partly founding The Justice League. To the credit of David Harwood this moment stood shoulder to shoulder with Supergirl facing off against armed robbers minus her powers. Imbuing a poignancy to these scenes, which once again cements Supergirl as more than just another comic book cash in.
While bridges collapsed, people died and carnage ensued across the city Kara remained powerless. Taking the premise explored in Donner’s Superman II but going deeper. Originally Christopher Reeve is mortal for maybe ten minutes, foregoing normality because he has no choice. Kara’s experience of pain, helplessness and illness is somehow more immediate, because she had no part in the decision. Plus her emotional core is based in how she reacts to others during this time and that loss of control. It is a sobering epiphany that skilfully sidesteps those more obvious comic book roots, as exemplified by Henshaw.
There have been some who say Supergirl is not gripping enough to justify weekly attendance. That this series is best viewed in one big chunk at your leisure. In my opinion how you choose to watch programmes is no measure of their popularity. No one said anything about Constantine they just didn’t watch. There was a programme of quality that just failed to connect despite originality in spades and spot on casting. Granted both properties could not be further apart taste wise, yet they share a common consistency both in terms of production values and passion.
Ultimately what makes one series popular and another side lined remains a mystery. There are so many factors that go into a network show, that apportioning blame or heaping praise on a single thing is foolhardy. Vince Gilligan once described Breaking Bad as lightening in a bottle. Difficult to quantify and nigh on impossible to replicate. Supergirl may not be a supercharged fork of god given goodness, but she sure seems to be harnessing something.