“What do you do all day when you’re not flying around town? Do you have a day job?”
These are the final questions Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) manages to shout at Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) before the young Kryptonian disappears in the distance. Having just accidentally admitted that Superman is her cousin, Kara panics and flies away from the scene. Meanwhile, reporter-turned-media mogul Cat is simply doing her job — not to mention finally scooping the Daily Planet.
So begins “Fight or Flight,” the third episode of CBS’ highly-rated new series, Supergirl. The action revolves around Reactron, an old enemy of Superman. Since Cat’s news organization plastered Kara’s familial connection to Superman everywhere, this suit-wearing version of the DC Comics character Benjamin Krullen (Chris Browning) decides to pay a visit to National City. Why? “I want the Man of Steel to suffer,” he tells Supergirl during a street battle. “I want him to know what it’s like to lose everything. Starting with you.”
The two fight it out several times, with Superman himself showing up to save Kara during a particularly heated junkyard fight. Despite her cousin’s intrusion, however, Supergirl eventually brings Reactron’s subplot to a satisfying end. Yet the real meat of the episode stems from Supergirl’s initial interview with Cat, and the repercussions it has on her assumed identity as Kara Danvers. That’s because, when Cat asks Supergirl what her day job is, the lifelong journalist doesn’t realize she works for her as an assistant.
Both Superman and Supergirl share a ridiculous ability to fool almost everyone on the planet with a pair of glasses and a slightly different hairdo. Kara even jokes about this in the series, especially when she tries on different iterations of the suit made by Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) in the pilot. But when you add multiple scenes of Kara and Winn openly discussing her latest close call in the office (which is an open one), or Kara pulling off her glasses and undoing her ponytail at a crowded party, it raises many questions: How stupid is the humanity of Supergirl‘s universe? Or the human beings who populate the planet in the many DC Comics universes that have come before it?
Scenes involving Kara coyly dancing around her advanced knowledge of Supergirl with Cat in the office can make for good awkward comedy, but in small doses. When Supergirl leans too hard on these exchanges, it detracts from the rest of the show. After all, this is only the beginning of Kara Zor-El’s tenure as one of the world’s greatest heroes. Sure, she’s going to slip up, like when she reveals that Kal-El is her cousin. But “whispering” about it in a crowded office? The device seems a little too unbelievable.
Then again, “Fight or Flight” is only the third episode in the series. With the first full season and an already-ordered second one on the way, Supergirl has plenty of time to mature. Hopefully this will involve more nuanced threats against Kara’s secret identity than a loudly whispered conversation at the office.