Review: ‘Supergirl’ takes on the greatest Superman story of all

Senior Television Writer
02.08.16 25 Comments

A quick review of tonight's Supergirl coming up just as soon as I give you a case of Dr. Pepper and access to your Netflix account…

“For the Girl Who Has Everything” had a high bar to clear for the comics fans in the Supergirl audience, since it was adapting arguably the greatest Superman story ever written, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' “For the Man Who Has Everything,” where it's Kal-El, not Kara, who falls victim to the Black Mercy and gets trapped in dreams of a life on Krypton(*). But while the episode had its moments, it suffered from the Berlanti-verse tendency to try to do too many things all at once, and as a result rushed through so much of what made the original story so powerful.

(*) It also features Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman (who shares a surprisingly passionate birthday kiss with the Man of Steel), and the villain Mongul, and is more than worth the two bucks it would cost you to buy it from Comixology.

It was certainly fun, for instance, to fully bring Kara's separate supporting casts together, first with Hank doing a poor job of impersonating her with Cat, then with Winn playing with all of the DEO's wonderful toys. But even those beats had to be raced through (James and Winn discovering that Hank was the Kara doppelganger was dealt with in a clumsy bit of dialogue that seemed to have been added in much later), and distracted from letting us fully appreciate Kara's time on Krypton.

Some of that's likely budgetary, as there was only so much of an alien world that the episode could show us. And the episode was also clearly designed to emphasize Supergirl's larger themes about the family you're born into vs. the one you choose (or, in the case of Alex, that chooses you), and thus used Alex to help Kara realize the truth, where in the comic, Superman figures it out largely on his own (and even subconsciously influences the dream so that this version of Krypton isn't the paradise he hoped for, or that Kara finds herself in here). But the Krypton scenes were so abbreviated, and the focus so much on Aunt Astra and Little Kal-El, rather than Kara's parents or anyone else who really died when the planet exploded, that pulling her out of the fantasy didn't feel as devastating as it should have. Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh were excellent in the episode's second half – ditto Laura Benanti as Astra struggled with her sympathies before dying in combat with Alex and Hank – but you don't bother adapting this particular story if you're not prepared to wreck the audience emotionally at the end of it, and there wasn't enough build-up for that to happen.

What did everybody else think? And how are you feeling about Supergirl at this stage of the season?

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