By Josh Melo
‘Supergirl’ Review – S1 Ep.4 (Livewire)
The mystery that is Hank Henshaw grows more enigmatic in this emotionally charged and action packed episode of Supergirl. Featuring the live action debut of Livewire, the first appearance of the Danver’s family matriarch since the pilot and a cameo appearance by a slightly less bitchy Cat Grant, there is a lot to like here.
Let’s not mince words.
The final fight scene was a wonderful spectacle that demonstrated just how far the show is willing to go in terms of special effects and how outside the box the writers are willing to go in terms of conveying powers on the show. The way Livewire seamlessly turned into living lightning, bouncing from one electric conduit to the next, even Electro would have been jealous. This was TV effects at their finest. Livewire also marked the first (excluding the beastly woman from the opening scene) female villain on the show and she definitely held her own. Kara has faced hardships in battle before but this was probably the most unique challenge she has had to face thus far. A battle as much about wits as it was about her strength. The fact that she had to come up with a plan B when the DEO’s energy absorbing thingamajig failed helped reinforce that Supergirl is more than capable enough flying solo.
However the instances building up to this climactic finish were less than electrifying (puns rule!). Merging Leslie Willis’ (Brit Morgan) origin with CatCo was an interesting route that I believe paid off. We got to see a brand new side of Cat Grant (I’m still surprised at how tolerable she is considering her horrible personality, Calista Flockhart you are magic) here as well as gleam insight into why she is so hard on Kara at work. Flockhart has rounded out Cat’s rough exterior and I love this new interest she is taking in Kara. Hopefully it isn’t just a passing feeling and the new Cat Grant sticks around.
While on the topic of Kara & Cat, why hasn’t she noticed they’re the same person yet? Cat has spent enough time around both of Kara’s alter egos to realize the truth, even if she says she doesn’t give a shit about her employees (which clearly isn’t the case in this episode).
In terms of it making Leslie a better character, meh. She was visually outstanding but character wise she didn’t offer much outside of the usual villain of the week. Vowing vengeance on your boss because you were temporarily demoted (because you disobeyed a direct order no less) is a little childish. Plus the way she was ragging on Supergirl seemed petty at best. That isn’t the kind of motivated villain audiences want to see (at least I don’t). She didn’t ruin the vibe of the episode; she just wasn’t the villain to break the mould.
The revelations at the end of the episode added a whole new layer to this seasons narrative and might have provided the push that the series needs to reach the same storytelling heights the best of the genre have already plateaued. Hank Henshaw has largely been the biggest mystery on the show and with the added admission that he was ultimately responsible for Kara’s father’s death things are more intriguing than ever. I was a little disappointed that the Danvers sisters didn’t bring up the issue immediately but considering time restraints there was little else that could be done.
As for their mother showing up (played by the former Supergirl, Helen Slater no less), she was the catalyst for the aforementioned revelations and the point upon which the episodes emotional weight balanced. But man, were her scenes painful to watch. Chyler Leigh did a great job carrying the emotion from scene to scene, which is no easy feat when the actor she was playing across was as stiff as a board.
Considering the fact that so many of the intimate moments of the episode involved Eliza Danvers I was surprised by how genuine I found them. Despite the poor acting from Slater, Leigh and Benoist’s acting managed to convey the sentiment and passion that was meant to come across. It was great seeing the former woman of steel back on the small screen but she was rough.
Let it be known that my disdain for the Kimmy (Kara/Jimmy) relationship is without bounds. I didn’t have as much of a problem with it last week when I thought that Lucy Lane would become the main romantic interest for Jimmy, which is what the beginning of this episode led us to believe. But by episodes end Jimmy seems pretty content with keeping his options open (sure, he called under the pretense of friendship but who is buying that?). With Olsen gone Winn finally had his shot at winning over Kara’s superhuman heart, but alas, it was not meant to be. Benoist’s expression after Winn’s cheek kiss was heartbreaking for any Kinnslow (just made that up, I’m working on something better) fans out there.
My faith that the writers will do the right thing is unwavering, hold steadfast true believers. It’s only a matter of time.
Being directed by one of my favorite TV directors (Kevin Tanchareon of Agents of SHIELD fame) it should come as no surprise that I liked this episode a lot. The fights were satisfying, the effects were a step above and a lot of the drama played well. Had it not been for Helen Slater, I wouldn’t really have anything to complain about.
Livewire gets an 8/10. Another great turn for Supergirl.
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