Depending on who you read, the second episode of Supergirl was either dramatically better than or a cumbersome improvement on the pilot. Unlike the first episode, “Stronger Together” let the characters and the narrative develop well past the usual straitjackets that plague new shows during pilot season, things like over-exposition, piecemeal character development, and shoddy special effects. This makes perfect sense, as showrunner Greg Berlanti had plenty of time to figure out what mistakes to avoid and what triumphs to reproduce from his work on Arrow and The Flash.
Yet one of the show’s most glaring problems is the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), the secretive CIA offshoot that specializes in extraterrestrial happenings. Kara Danvers’ (Melissa Benoist) adopted sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) works for the agency, which is led by Hank Henshaw (David Harewood). The organization, which functions in Supergirl as a means of support for the would-be superhero, feels like a last-minute narrative justification for all kinds of crazy things. (Like the escaped Kryptonian prisoners that serve as the show’s primary antagonists.)
However, the DEO is saved by Henshaw, whose name comes from the DC Comics character known as Cyborg Superman. His arc, which seemed peripheral before the end of “Stronger Together,” might follow a path similar to the comics, but who cares? What matters is Harewood finds entertaining ways to deliver the show’s cheesiest dialogue. It’s a godsend for the show.
Examples of Henshaw’s most painful, yet amazing, contributions to Supergirl‘s second episode include:
- “Is that the fastest you can go?”
- “We need to find this alien, fast.”
- “Giant insects trying to steal bomb-grade chemical compounds? This job never ceases to surprise.” (This line is delivered complete with dramatic arm-folding)
- “Well, if this thing is hungry, let’s buy him some dinner.”
- “Let’s hope this moveable feast is too hard to resist.”
- “Danvers, wait!” (This line is delivered complete with prop earpiece removal for added drama)
What really makes these lines is Harewood’s use of his soothing, baritone voice, which helps Harewood make his character’s lines his own.
So, where do we go from here? Those seeking to secure Supergirl‘s future with CBS will probably want to dampen Henshaw’s awkward dialogue. The problem is, the character’s bad lines help make the show so good (and highly rated). That may sound odd, but consider the case of Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), one of The Flash‘s best supporting characters. Throughout the first season, he delivered some of the show’s corniest one-liners, and the fans loved him for it.
Henshaw is by no means Supergirl‘s Cisco, but he could be. Let’s see what the gruff agent has to say in next Monday’s episode, “Fight or Flight,” which airs at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.