Once the credits roll after the final shot of “Better Angels,” the 20th episode and season finale of Supergirl, viewers are left with one final question: What’s in the pod? Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and J’onn J’onzz, otherwise known as the Martian Manhunter (David Harewood), had just discovered a Kryptonian vehicle similar to the one the former arrived in decades earlier. They first noticed a burning streak of light in the sky during a dinner with family and friends, which prompted Kara to mimic Christopher Reeve’s iconic suit-reveal and race to the unidentified flying object’s landing site in National City. When Supergirl and J’onzz find it, she ignores her fellow alien’s warning, opens the pod and exclaims, “Oh my God!”
So of course everybody wants to know what’s in the pod. Unfortunately, they won’t find out anytime soon as this is where “Better Angels” fades to black — meaning the obvious question won’t be answered until Supergirl returns for a second season in the fall. Yet the cliffhanger begs another question, one that results from the series’ stellar debut, subsequent rocky ratings and gradual return to form throughout its 20-episode run. A question that wonders if finale writers Ali Adler, Andrew Kreisberg, Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller had intended Benoist’s homage to Reeve to be the final shot of the finale had CBS decided to pass on further seasons of comic book television adaptation guru Greg Berlanti’s expanding DC Comics universe.
Despite the creative team’s willingness to talk to the press, most of Kreisberg’s second season discussions have been less about the first season’s troubles and more about the presence of Project Cadmus — a throwback to the “Death of Superman” story in the comics. The secretive facility that specialized in studying alien technology and biology, and using genetic engineering to produce clones for various purposes, resulted in the creation of Superboy. In March, Kreisberg told Entertainment Weekly that he couldn’t “speak to that” when they asked him about Project Cadmus. He simply admitted that the facility would “be something that gets saved for season two.”
In other words, this means there’s a good chance that a young clone of Kal-El is contained within the pod. Viewers familiar with Project Cadmus probably already suspect as much, but the more die-hard fans among them make up a fraction of Supergirl‘s target audience. After all, these are the same aficionados who tune in regularly to Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow — Berlanti’s three other DC Comics adaptations over on The CW. CBS doesn’t have to work too hard to attract their eyeballs, especially when so many of the program’s episodes dive deep into the mythos of the subject matter. But what about those who watch Supergirl because it’s a show that’s all about a super-powered heroine who works as a personal assistant for an equally powerful female executive?
Adler, Kreisberg and the rest of the team tasked by Berlanti to run Supergirl couldn’t just make another CW show rife with random geeky references and Snapchat-worthy sentimentality. They had to craft something that would appeal to both the most ardent Flash fans (especially for the crossover episode, “Worlds Finest”) and typical CBS watchers tuned into the latest derivations of NCIS and CSI. Supergirl had to be many things to many people, and if the first season’s ratings battle and hard-won second season renewal are any indication, it was a creative fight whose outcome didn’t always look so good.
Thankfully, Supergirl flew out of the network’s phantom zone — both to score additional first season episodes and a coveted renewal, as well as to mature beyond a fledgling prime-time hopeful. Powerful, dramatic episodes and enlisted guests helped move it past its creators’ penchant for including overbearing amounts of comic book Easter eggs and dripping-with-feelings sentiment. Yet as the finale’s cliffhanger ending as-is proved, old habits die hard despite a solid first season’s worth of growth. So instead of a more ambiguous departure by Kara — complete with her costume’s “S” peaking from behind her everyday clothes — we were left with a more concrete tease of things to come, and a preview of a second season that will hopefully take the best parts of this one while shedding some of its bad habits.