Supergirl Season 2, Episode 4 “Survivors”
Changes were certainly afoot when it was announced that Supergirl was jumping from CBS to its new home on The CW.
The differences were largely cosmetic at first. Most DEO business is conducted in a large entry hall rather than the old command center. Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant and her expensive office are largely out of the picture. Kara doesn’t spend nearly as much time in her apartment as she used to.
In the first two post-Superman episodes, Supergirl has introduced its most fundamental change. In the first season, the aliens on Supergirl‘s Earth were limited to cousins with thing for capes and the escaped prisoners from Fort Rozz. That setup served its purpose to give Kara the occasional evil alien to fight while the series and its characters found their footing.
In season 2, Earth is now actually a way station for alien life from across the universe. Supergirl isn’t exactly making a strong political statement but the immigrant/refugee vibe grounds something from science fiction to something very real in our society.
This episode deals with the people who exploit immigrants while also giving guest star, Dichen Lachman an excuse to wear something slinky. Lachman’s Roulette arranges underground fight clubs where National City’s upper crust gather to watch aliens duke it out. Of course Roulette tells these aliens that she is looking out for their best interests by providing them with money and opportunity, and it’s up to Supergirl to convince them otherwise, but not before we get to witness a few alien bouts.
This new flood of aliens has also opened the door to some the season’s character pairings. First is J’Ohn and M’Gann, seemingly the last two Green Martians. J’Ohn is elated and intrigued to discover that he isn’t the last of his kind. M’Gann is more reluctant for obvious reasons that are revealed in the show’s kicker. (Fans of the comics or Young Justice saw this reveal coming from a mile away). She is involved in the fight club and ropes J’Ohn into the mess as a result.
Most interesting is the direction of Alex, who has made a significant character change since leaving network TV. Alex found herself paired with National City detective, Maggie Sawyer, who is an expert on aliens and openly gay. Alex has feelings for Maggie that were never explored during major network family hour, but gives Alex an interesting character trajectory that once again grounds the show in modern sensibilities.
The new season has also given Kara a new boy to flirt with when she’s not handing in magazine stories book report style. Of course this is being framed as a classic good girl attracted to a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks solar system.
It was all a big bite for the show to handle in one episode, but it firmly established the backdrop for the series moving forward, while still providing action and interpersonal relationships the fans have come to expect. Supergirl is still very much a work in progress with the tall task of staying familiar to the fans who made the jump from CBS, while trying to appeal to The CW’s younger demographic. The series has struck that balance so far, but it also feels like it’s often on the verge of a stumble.