A few thoughts on tonight's Supergirl season premiere, and the changes to the show now that it's moved from CBS to the CW, coming up just as soon as I internet-search a calling…
Early in “The Adventures of Supergirl,” Kara is stunned to learn that the DEO has a second headquarters in downtown National City, which they will now use in favor of the underground bunker out in the desert.
“It's kinda like the old place. Maybe better,” Alex tells her, in a comment that's as much about the move of network as it is about constructing a new set. Having a base out in the middle of nowhere seemed an apt metaphor for Supergirl's old home – not that the higher-rated CBS is a TV wilderness in general, but that it was a barren, inhospitable territory for one of the Berlanti-verse series to grow. Supergirl always should have been on the CW, and moving the DEO scenes to the center of town sums that up nicely.
There were similar tweaks – some cosmetic, some more substantial – apparent throughout the premiere. Having Winn officially go to work for the DEO was smart, for instance, because season 1's attempt to divide Kara's superhero work between alien threats and everything else never made much sense, and now most of her support system is literally working in the same place.
It does, however, leave James feeling more extraneous than ever, especially now that Kara has sentenced him to the
Phantom Friend Zone. On the one hand, her decision seems to come out of nowhere, given all of last year's flirtation. On the other, it fits what most of us could see last year, which was an unfortunate lack of chemistry between Benoist and Brooks, and good on the creative team for recognizing that their One True Pairing was fundamentally flawed (and without requiring the kind of glaringly obvious alternative like Arrow had with Felicity when Oliver and Laurel were failing to spark). And if Winn works at the DEO, while Cat Grant is about to go walkabout, what purpose does James still serve on the show? The idea that Kara is going to follow Clark's footsteps into reporting does theoretically give him some utility, but at the moment he seems extraneous.
And losing Calista Flockhart's full-time presence (a casualty of the production's move to Vancouver) is unfortunate, as evidenced by how much fun every Kara/Cat interaction in this episode was. Cat as easily-frustrated mentor to “Kira” was always a great mix of comedy and warmth, and it'll be tough to fill that void whenever Flockhart's not around.
But that's to worry about slightly down the road. In the present, a far bigger development than the new DEO HQ or Kara's love life was the introduction of Tyler Hoechlin as Superman. In the first season, the creative team essentially kept saying that they didn't want to put Superman on camera to avoid upstaging their heroine, especially at the start of her solo series. Whether that was really the case or DC needed some extra convincing to let them play with the company's biggest toy, Clark's existence as only a figure in Kara's instant messages, and then a distant blur in the season-ending arc with the bad Kryptonians, became just as distracting as using him as a Very Special Guest Star like this. Hoechlin made a fine, Christopher Reeve-esque Superman, and the episode was peppered with references to various Superman screen incarnations, including his line about flying being statistically the safest way to travel, and Cat constantly yelling for her new assistant, Miss Tessmacher. And he and Benoist had good sibling-ish chemistry, with the writing walking a very delicate tightrope where you can understand why Kara would roll her eyes at how much more impressed people are by Clark than by her, yet without Clark coming off like a smug glory hog. This feels how the world would treat Superman after he's been around for as long as he has on this show, and Kara's envy of her cousin didn't reflect poorly on either. Superman is supposed to represent the best of us, and Kara can see that as plainly as the Supergirl creative team. Her desire to get her non-superheroic act together was also well-balanced with her acceptance that she's become good at the caped part of her life, as she should following that time she saved the entire planet without Superman's help.
All in all, a promising debut in the new home. I'm going to wait and see on both Lena Luthor and Metallo (especially since the latter only appeared in his generic terrorist human guise), and also how well the non-superhero material functions in Cat's absence, but on the whole this felt like what a second season premiere should be for a show that had promising elements in its first year but never entirely put them together. It emphasized the parts that already worked, pivoted away from some parts that didn't, and pretty seamlessly incorporated Superman in a way that didn't overshadow the title character. I'd probably enjoy a Hoechlin-fronted spin-off, but I didn't watch his scenes and wish that he would just replace Benoist as the star of this show, which can always be a danger in this kind of circumstance.
I'll check back in later in the season, but what did everybody else think of the premiere?