Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of Supergirl…
Something fundamental happened between episodes three and five. In light of those Paris bombings we have jumped ahead one and stumbled on ‘Live Wire’. A cohesively structured, powerhouse of an instalment, which puts Supergirl back on the map.
Concerning itself with less navel gazing and more substance. We get back story, Helen Slater and an hour of character building. Flockhart’s Cat Grant is revealing herself to be more than a stereotypical ice queen in waiting. Displaying depth and motivation behind those sharp suit jackets and clinical demeanour. Grant seems more human, less two-dimensional and therefore believable.
Interestingly it is the first time beyond that pilot things just flow. There is actual drama rather than relationship preoccupations clogging things up. Brooks and Benoist have some real chemistry but their separation really strengthens the show. Slater equips herself well as matriarch and keeps Mrs. Danvers grounded. While her husband actually gets some lines and proves to be quite impactful. In truth ‘Live Wire’ ultimately feels more structured and people actually have things to do.
There are no snappy montages or pop culture references to distract. While Supergirl actually starts in the midst of a battle, rather than building towards a signposted conclusion. Plus shock jock employee turned human electrical current Live Wire is actually interesting. Played by Brit Morgan, this disgruntled employee becomes the villain by accident rather than design. There are no alien origins or awkward names to get your head round. Leslie Willis has an understandable agenda and an all too human frailty. Sure there are elements of Whiplash from Iron Man 2 as well as Electro from Amazing Spider-Man 2, but at least she is relatable. Which is more than can be said for some recent foes.
Aside from that though there is the clear dynamic which has developed between Benoist and Flockhart. Whether as Kara or Supergirl there is now a desire to understand and empathy coming from Grant which had been lacking. This radical improvement may have occurred during the unaired fourth episode, but that is something to figure out next week. Whatever the reasons my faith has been restored, as this reviewer was ready to throw in the towel. After the disappointment of ‘Fight or Flight’ last week, things have definitely turned a corner. Something which is aided further by the slow reveal of D.E.O. boss Hank Henshaw’s back story.
There should be rumours and theories floating around about Henshaw’s motives on this show by now. Sure there are web pages of biographical info, but what his role is here remains unclear. Beyond cryptic hints, a stoic demeanour and glowing eyes he remains an enigma. Something which will hopefully be explored further before Season One concludes. He pops up in flashback making a bargain with the Danvers, which comes across more like blackmail than anything else. What this does do though is add scope. An element which Supergirl had been sorely lacking. A tread I hope continues as the show fulfils its untapped potential.