This review may contain spoilers.
It's hard not to have high hopes for an episode that is entitled "Supergirl" with commercials and publicity pictures boasting Laura Vandervoort in her Supergirl costume. And, for the most part, the episode is a roaring success and the sky is the limit.
Like Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) in season six, Kara returns as a fully fledged hero and serves as a benchmark for Clark (Tom Welling) to measure up to. What keeps the episode fresh is the freedom Kara has in becoming a hero to the world -- she simply flies out of nowhere to save the day and comes without any of the baggage that has cluttered the series in recent years. She is not a savior or a champion, nor does she have a destiny to fulfill.
And Vandervoort keeps it fun, with photo shoots featuring numerous Supergirl costumes (with talk of a superhero pin-up calendar) and secret disguises, all the while winking at the fundamentals of the franchise and the future of Clark himself.
The highlight of "Supergirl" is clearly the flying lesson. Although Clark is still ground bound, there is enough hope now that he will take to the air in a moment of need in epic style. The entire sequence was wonderfully scripted with a calm and subtle tenderness between the Kryptonian cousins and the effects rightfully mirrored the moment. Worthy of particular mention is the butterfly, which serves as the key to Ka-El taking flight.
It was nice to see the introduction of Darkseid being among the repercussions of Clark's actions last season, however this news only highlights the fact that Zod and the Kandorians - and their impact on Clark's life - are being conveniently dismissed.
Also absent without leave is the development that took place with Kara in season seven, specifically, her connection with the late Jimmy Olsen. Both Jimmy and the Kandorians could have offer more substantial development for Kara than what the single episode appearance allowed for.
The Lois (Erica Durance) and Clark romance still fails to deliver anything of interest, and their ballet of avoidance instead becomes a lumbering march around their relationship. The nuances of their romance are cast in simpler shades these days and lack the contrast that once made them a dynamic and vibrant couple.
There is something almost epic about the introduction of Supergirl and, just like previous disasters, borrows something from "Superman Returns." The falling sign in a public place which is hauled to safety wasn't quite as big as an aeroplane in a baseball stadium but the principles are the same and it reveals Supergirl in a very appropriate style. In much the same vein, the music comes with a more epic tone and the flying sequence is somewhat similar to the flashbacks from "Superman Returns" itself.
It is almost natural that Kara is the one to reveal herself to the world before Clark (what with girls maturing faster than boys and all that) and it no doubt sets a precedent on how Clark should do the same.
The overall story may have been borrowed from the Legends stories, but the direction may be more closely linked to Marvel's Civil War series, in which heroes are forced to decide whether or not to unmask and fight for the Government or remain hidden as fugitives.
Even the ending comes with a Marvel feel with Oliver Queen outing himself as Green Arrow in the middle of a press conference : how very Tony Stark of him.
What Didn't Work
Kara has clearly been character assassinated by a Kryptonian bullet, and is certainly not the same fleshed out Kara of Krypton that we last saw on "Smallville." As fans will recall, Kara was very close with Jimmy Olsen (and remains close to him if you follow the comic lore) but their friendship wasn't even a blip on the radar in "Supergirl."
Also, in her last appearance on the series, Kara left the planet in search of other survivors from the destruction of Krypton : survivors like Zod, Faora and the other Kandorians.
The tongue dueling from all parties was again less than stellar, and the moral dilemmas of Oliver Queen were poorly handled, limited to a smattering of scenes.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Supergirl" was written by Anne Cofell Saunders and was directed by Mairzee Almas. "Smallville" stars Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Allison Mack, Justin Hartley and Cassidy Freeman.
"Smallville" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
About the Author