Martin Carr reviews the first episode of Supergirl season 2…
Casting is key in any programme and Supergirl had one big choice to make if this new season was going to work. In Tyler Hoechlin they seem to have found a perfect fit for that Clark Kent backslash Superman persona. Modelled as ever on Christopher Reeve, Hoechlin delivers self-depreciation, clumsy charm and iconic bearing to a role others have found more challenging.
That his incarnation is understated, under played and not looking to take over proceedings shows the producers got it right first time. Melissa Benoist, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Mehcad Brooks, Jeremy Jordan and Calista Flockhart never seem superseded or any way less integral as a result. Which says much for the actor charged with coming into an established cast, season success and effects driven series without taking time to find their feet.
In fact it takes little more than ten minutes before Hoechlin feels like a piece of the furniture. Chemistry between himself, Benoist and other cast members seems genuine and this first episode clips along at quite a rate. For Kara, Hank and Alex it seems like business as usual. There is some friction between Hank and Superman which adds a certain drama to proceedings, while threats on National City might or might not be coming from Cassidy Freeman’s Lena Luthor of Smallville fame.
Again that a new actress with an untested character can slot in so easily alongside existing players shows foresight and shrewdness in casting. Flockhart’s Cat Grant is played with an almost maternal edge this episode, while her flirtatious side comes out in the presence of our new Clark Kent. Throw in a few Easter egg dialogue nods for old school fans of Superman and it becomes apparent that episode one is shaping up nicely.
There is some vague threat thrown in forcing our newly formed duo into the mix together, which does nothing but demonstrate how good Hoechlin is for this role. Proving that Benoist has definitely met her match in terms of presence and confidence in a role few have come close to nailing since Reeve back in the Seventies. As I said at the beginning apart from a few vocal inflection Reeve and his ghost rarely intrude on Hoechlin’s interpretation. Perhaps being unburdened by the necessity to carry the show has freed him up to put his own mark on things.
Elsewhere Benoist remains perky, plucky and carries enough on-screen charisma to sit in an empty room playing cards and be watchable. She manages to pull off the role without being overly sentimental, hammy on any level or too cartoony in her performance. Ably supported by a solid cast who are committed to the premise one hundred percent, Supergirl season two has kicked off with a barnstormer. Tightly plotted, perfectly paced and tied off effectively with a nice cliff hanger ending lined up. Welcome back Miss Benoist we have missed you.