[This is a review of Supergirl season 2, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]
In the season 2 premiere of Supergirl, the show aired its first new episode on its new home network of The CW -- and 'The Adventures of Supergirl' featured plenty of other changes in the show. Most significantly, Kara Danvers welcomed her super-powered cousin, Clark Kent, aka Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), to her home in National City as the Girl of Steel and the Man of Steel teamed up to protect Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath). However, Supergirl also featured a number of other changes, such as Kara choosing a new job within CatCo, her relationship with James Olsen going in a new direction, and the DEO headquarters moving from a distant underground location to a highrise in National City.
The season 2 premiere continued many of the throughlines from season 1, while also establishing a number of new directions for the characters -- notably, James seemingly transitioning out of the role of Kara's love interest and readying himself for a different kind of arc. Additionally, while the introduction of Clark to Supergirl brought a renewed sense of connectivity with the show's DC Comics mythos -- as well as a strengthening of the dynamic and supportive relationship between the super-cousins -- it doesn't necessarily establish a new status quo since Superman is currently only set to appear in two episodes.
Now, in the second episode of Supergirl season 2, 'The Last Children of Krypton' -- with a story by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, a teleplay by Robert Rovner and Caitlin Parrish, and directed by Glen Winter -- the show wraps up Superman's two-episode arc. In this week's episode, Kara begins her new job as a reporter working under a new boss, Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez). Meanwhile, Supergirl and Superman take on a Kryptonite-enhanced villain courtesy of the mysterious government research lab Project Cadmus.
Project Cadmus & Metallo(s)
At the center of 'The Last Children of Krypton' is a plot orchestrated by Project Cadmus using Kryptonite-enhanced cyborgs -- reviving and repurposing the assassin from the previous episode, James Corben (guest star Federick Schmidt). Although Metallo (both versions) fall entirely under the banner of underdeveloped villains that have become a notorious problem among superhero media, Corben is a bridge from the premiere and the rest of the season as the show sets up Cadmus as the main villain.
For its part as somewhat of a mystery within the Supergirl mythos, Cadmus is beginning to take shape as an anti-alien organization, led by Brenda Strong's charismatic and autocratic character -- who spends as much time experimenting on human test subjects as she does offering anti-alien rhetoric. Already, the threat of Cadmus is more well-developed than that of Non and Astra in season 1, with 'The Last Children of Krypton' establishing the organization as powerful enough to declare war on the alien "invaders" who have the powers of gods.
Certainly, the dichotomy between viewpoints of Superman, Supergirl, and Martian Manhunter as invaders versus refugees will undoubtedly provide plenty of emotional drama throughout season 2. Strong's as-yet-unnamed character is a compelling antithesis to Supergirl especially, who has spent the majority of her life living as much of a human life as she could but will always be considered an outsider. These story threads and themes are established well in 'The Last Children of Krypton', giving season 2 a much stabler foundation -- and, more importantly, direction -- for the upcoming episodes.
Still, while Project Cadmus is more compelling than the one-dimensional Metallo characters, the writers' choice of villains provides for some exciting action sequences. Particularly, Supergirl and Superman's fight with Metallo on the bridge (ending with a nod to the Crisis on Infinite Earths comics) as well as the final showdown in which Supergirl and Alex Danvers take on one Metallo while Superman and Martian Manhunter face off with the other. Both sequences indicate in no uncertain terms that Supergirl won't be shying away from superheroics in season 2, and the show will be better off for it.
What has always worked best about Supergirl has been the show's portrayal of Kara's non-romantic relationships, particularly with her sister. Now that Clark has been in National City for the longest period of time since Kara became Supergirl, Kara's strengthening relationship with her cousin has a negative impact on her relationship to Alex. The tension between the sisters reaches a breaking point when Kara tells Alex she's thinking of moving to Metropolis to be closer to Clark, though Alex views the potential move as being abandoned by her adoptive sister.
While the dynamic between Kara and Clark is portrayed as fun -- if somewhat superficial -- the relationship between Alex and Kara has been an emotional core of the series, and 'The Last Children of Krypton' proves that their bond is stronger than Kara's adoration of her cousin and Alex's jealousy. The strength of their relationship is capitalized on in the climactic battle scene when Kara and Alex are literally stronger together.
Additionally in the episode, Clark and J'onn J'onzz confront their own tense history. Their previous conflict over J'onn keeping a stock of Kryptonite just in case is brought back to the forefront when it's revealed that Metallo was created using Kryptonite stolen from the DEO. However, when Clark and J'onn head to the Fortress of Solitude (which has also received somewhat of an update since season 1) to investigate Metallo, the two confront their inability to get along despite coming from similar backgrounds as refugees of their home planets.
But, as Alex and Kara are able to come together to face Metallo, J'onn and Clark work together to defeat the other villain. Both emotional arcs of the episode help to ground 'The Last Children of Krypton' in the struggle to find a place to belong, a theme that has been part of Supergirl since its pilot episode.
Change has been a particularly major theme in the opening episodes of Supergirl season 2, with the show reflecting and building off of the changes behind the scenes of the series. With Kara moving on from her job as Cat Grant's assistant -- joining a team of reporters under Snapper Carr -- her former boss is additionally looking for her own change of pace. Since Calista Flockhart is no longer a series regular on Supergirl, it was only a matter of time before Cat made some sort of exit.
But, 'The Last Children of Krypton' gives Flockhart a deserved sendoff, once again highlighting the strong mentor/mentee bond between Kara and Cat. The scenes in which Cat says goodbye to both Kara and Supergirl are filled with the charm, strength, and sweetness that drew viewers into the series from the start. Certainly, Flockhart and Melissa Benoist shine in their scenes together, as they always have, and Supergirl will be a different show without this particular relationship.
As for Snapper Carr, in an episode so focused on other things, the new boss isn't given much of an introduction. His way of running an office is undoubtedly different from Cat's, but it remains to be seen how Kara's new job as a reporter will truly fit into the show on the whole. But, Kara's job and Cat's departure aren't the only changes around the office as James takes over Cat's role.
All in all, 'The Last Children of Krypton' provided a worthy (and unavoidable) sendoff of one of Supergirl's strongest characters, while wrapping up certain story and character threads -- particularly Clark's presence in National City -- and establishing an overarching threat in Cadmus. With a fun elements in Winn's fawning over Clark and the cheesier moments of Superman balanced by the emotional heart of the show's relationships, Supergirl has provided another compelling episode. Now, with Mon-El awake, it remains to be seen how Supergirl continues to expand upon National City's alien population, especially with Cadmus as an antagonist.
Supergirl continues Monday October 24 with ‘Welcome to Earth’ at 8pm on The CW.