[This is a review of Supergirl season 2, episode 3. There will be SPOILERS.]
Since making the jump from CBS to The CW between its first and second seasons, Supergirl has kicked off its sophomore outing by giving the show fans enjoyed last year a soft reboot — sending off characters unable to make the leap to The CW like Cat Grant (guest star Calista Flockhart) and turning other characters down different paths, such as James Olsen. Additionally, the first two episodes of Supergirl season 2 heavily featured the introduction of Kara Danvers’ Kryptonian cousin Clark Kent, aka Superman (guest star Tyler Hoechlin).
However, with Kara officially working as a reporter under Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez), James taking over Cat’s office, Winn working for the DEO, and Superman having returned to his home in Metropolis, season 2 will presumably settle into its new network and narrative arcs. As such, the third episode of Supergirl season 2 focuses more on the anti-alien sentiment bolstered by Project Cadmus in ‘The Last Children of Krypton’, while additionally introducing characters that will be be instrumental to the overarching story this year.
In ‘Welcome to Earth’ — written by Jessica Queller and Derek Simon and directed by Rachel Talalay — Supergirl must try to track down the newly awakened Mon-El (Chris Wood), who she believes may be responsible for a recent attack on U.S. President Olivia Marsdin (guest star Lynda Carter). After saving the president, Supergirl is tasked with Olivia Marsdin’s safety while she’s in National City to wade into the issue of human and alien rights. Meanwhile, Alex teams up with National City Police Detective Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima).
Human vs Alien Rights
With the first two episodes of Supergirl season 2 acting like a soft reboot of the series in rearranging the status quo, ‘Welcome to Earth’ is somewhat of a second premiere — officially introducing characters that are more closely related to the central theme of the season. As for the theme of Supergirl season 2, ‘Welcome to Earth’ additionally throws itself into the human versus alien rights issue as President Marsdin arrives in National City to sign the Alien Amnesty Act and give equal rights to all inhabitants of the United States.
This particular debate encompasses all the storylines and interactions of the episode, exploring the issue from a number of different viewpoints depending on each character’s specific take. For instance, Kara is vehemently for alien rights — resisting Lena Luthor’s (Katie McGrath) invention of a device that would be able to identify aliens. But, when faced with the knowledge that the man in the pod is actually a Daxamite — hailing from a planet with which Krypton warred — she jumps to conclusions and assumes the worst of the new alien.
Supergirl’s hypocritical views, wanting to give all aliens the benefit of the doubt while also maintaining her own prejudice against Daxamites, is a wonderful example of the complexities of human nature — especially as Kara has displayed on the series. While ‘Welcome to Earth’ may feature Kara learning a lesson in open-mindedness by the end of the episode, giving it an after school special feel, it’s true to the Supergirl series to end on a high note as the Girl of Steel offers a symbol of hope (for those in National City and the show’s viewers).
Still, though President Marsdin signed her Alien Amnesty Act and Project Cadmus didn’t rear their heads in ‘Welcome to Earth’, the issue of alien rights is undoubtedly far from resolved. Certainly, as evidenced by the alien assassin — and her mention that the amnesty act requires alien registration — there is plenty of tension between aliens and humans that will boil over many times throughout season 2.
New Kids on the National City Block
In addition to further exploring the thematic arc of season 2, ‘Welcome to Earth’ literally welcomed a number of new characters to Supergirl. Mon-El, for his part, spent much of the episode fighting DEO agents (offering viewers a hint of his powers) and antagonizing Kara with a snarky sense of humor. However, the scenes between Wood and Benoist show potential for a compelling relationship, one that we haven’t seen on Supergirl yet. This time, Kara will be taking on the mentor role, helping Mon-El come to terms with losing his planet and adapting to life as an alien refugee on Earth.
Maggie Sawyer is another major addition to Supergirl as she teams up with Alex in order to help track down Mon-El while he’s still on the loose. Considering her stance as firmly pro-alien rights, Maggie offered a good counterpoint to Alex, who — like J’onn — worried for those aliens who would take advantage of the president’s amnesty act. Although Maggie and Alex worked together so well professionally (and, potentially, romantically), the character’s one-liners fell flat at times — “You guys are fun” was the right amount of cheesiness while “I’m a detective, I detect” crossed a line into being too much.
Additionally introduced in ‘Welcome to Earth’ is M’gann M’orzz, the Last Daughter of Mars, aka Miss Martian (Sharon Leal). While the character doesn’t get much of an introduction in terms of screen time, Miss Martian does get the full reveal of M’gann transforming into her full Martian form as the closing scene of the episode. The reveal is reminiscent of Martian Manhunter’s in season 1 — though perhaps not as monumental the second time — and certainly lays the groundwork for more Martian drama in season 2.
The final new character to join Supergirl season 2 in ‘Welcome to Earth’ is President Marsdin herself, who reveals herself to be an alien as well at the end of the episode. While it remains to be seen how Supergirl capitalizes on the idea of the President of the United States being an alien, ‘Welcome to Earth’ had fun with the inclusion of Carter — the star of the 1970s Wonder Woman TV series. As such, Supergirl features an homage to Wonder Woman’s iconic transformative spin, which no doubt pleased fans of the classic series.
Perhaps the weakest aspect of ‘Welcome to Earth’ is Kara’s new day job, which, with Cat Grant off discovering her own next adventure, leaves the Girl of Steel under the watchful eyes of Snapper Carr — and, to an extent, James Olsen. Still, while viewers may get a kick out of Kara learning the basics of reporting, the dynamic between her and Snapper is nowhere near as compelling as her and Cat. In fact, the focus of the CatCo offices in ‘Welcome to Earth’ has more to do with Snapper and James’ struggle for power, with Kara acting as a spectator.
With so much expectation placed on Kara when deciding her new path in the season 2 premiere, Supergirl has yet to truly capitalize on the reporter job. Instead, the series has so far used it more as a means to an end or, worse yet, let it fall by the wayside as Kara deals with more pressing alien issues. While Supergirl may simply be struggling to find its own perfect work-life balance, as of ‘Welcome to Earth’ Kara’s day job feels more like an afterthought than an important part to her story.
For the most part, in the wake of Cat Grant’s departure and Superman’s guest stint ‘Welcome to Earth’ excels in establishing Supergirl as a series that continues to build compelling relationships while exploring themes of fitting in and belonging. Although Kara’s day job is taking a back seat to more alien adventures, the new alien elements to the series have plenty of potential. Supergirl may have undergone many changes between season 1 and the first three episodes of season 2, but it’s proving to be as resilient as the Girl of Steel.
Supergirl continues Monday October 31 with ‘Survivors’ at 8pm on The CW.