The CW “Arrow-verse” returns for their fall season, leading off with Supergirl. Last season ended not so much on a cliffhanger but on what you’d really have to call a down note, as the Daxamites were driven off the planet, but Supergirl’s boyfriend (and future Legionnaire) Mon-El had to go, too, with no chance of coming back. Then, between seasons, it was announced that Maggie Sawyer, tough cop and Alex Danvers’ fiance, would be on less, and Supergirl’s mother Alura would be recast. All in all, a lot of bad and/or weird news for personal relationships on the show.
“Girl of Steel” isn’t just another of Supergirl’s nicknames, at least not this episode. The show opens with a really weird dream that looks like her wandering down a country road, except that there’s some large ringed planet in the sky. Mon-El and Allura both show up in the dream, which ends with Supergirl apparently… sleep-flying? That can’t be a good idea. There’s a big car chase through National City going on, as Alex and Maggie try to stop a semi-truck which keeps shooting back at them. Supergirl swoops in, saves the day, stops the truck, lets one bad guy get away to save a family, and then soars off, ignoring the child who is thanking her. A bemused Maggie comments, “She doesn’t even stop for autographs anymore.”
Back at the DEO, the all-business Supergirl pushes Winn for leads on the man who got away. We do learn he’s nicknamed “Bloodsport,” another minor Superman foe. She comes up with a new and gruesome way to possibly track him down. You’ve really gone too far when both Winn and J’Onn look taken aback. After Supergirl won’t commit to yet another social obligation, Winn compares the new Supergirl’s grim outlook to Alex, provoking agreement from everyone but an outraged Alex.
They use a big meeting to establish that it’s been six months since the Daxamite invasion, and that the new annoying bad guy is Morgan Edge, another Superman antagonist. Edge is being played by Adrian Pasdar, making him another member of the Marvel/DC club, since he’s been playing General Ross on Agents of SHIELD (not to mention his role on Heroes). Edge is smug, annoying, and misogynistic which reminds me a lot of someone. Lena Luthor and James Olsen, who are both there, speak up for Supergirl, and Edge dismisses their comments condescendingly and insultingly.
Cat Grant makes a cameo on video as the President’s Press Secretary, which is the kind of thing I expected back when they announced her more limited role in season two. She’s very cutting and sharp in answering questions, but in an intelligent way, which is always fun to listen to. Kara is at work, seeming much more normal than earlier scenes, as Olsen runs a meeting about the upcoming issue of their magazine. This is where we hear that Snapper is on sabbatical, and that Kara has somehow managed to not “get an interview” with Supergirl for the big statue unveiling coming up. After the meeting, Olsen is concerned about how she’s acting, and she’s very snappish in return. Their argument gets interrupted when Edge pops up on tv and announces he’s buying CatCo.
Kara goes to see Lena about Edge’s buyout threat. They talk about Edge, who has been buying up CatCo shares for a while now. Lena’s not sure she can do anything about it, and Kara gets evasive when Lena talks about never getting to see her anymore. At the still Nameless Bar, everyone else is worried about how Kara is acting. More tensions are added when Alex seems to be pulling away from stuff having to do with her and Maggie’s wedding.
When Winn gets a new lead on Bloodsport, Supergirl turns up at the DEO and takes over the briefing. All clues point to Fort Harrison, so Supergirl takes off on her own, finding downed soldiers and a building she can’t use her X-Ray vision on. Going inside, she ges blasted by a powerful energy weapon, which then turns on some responding soldiers. She stays to help the wounded as Bloodsport slips away with more stolen gear.
Supergirl flies up to see if she can figure out where he went, but responds to an alert beacon instead. James has used her signal watch to call her in and talk about her upcoming deadline. When she gets mad, he reminds her that Supergirl has been busy but Kara is “off the radar.” Things escalate and she quits her job, shocking James.
J’Onn gets really upset on the phone when he learns that General Lane has been hiding a Daxamite ship from the DEO. He then turns a small measure of his temper on Winn. Between them, they figure out what Bloodsport is probably making with what he’s stealing. It’s not good.
Lena goes to Edge’s office to try and reason with him, which is a lost cause and just makes me want to punch him. Aside from Edge being annoying with Lena, the other reason for the scene was to show that Edge has more tricks up his sleeve than shady business deals. He’s even scummier than he seems at first, and that’s saying something.
Kara is at home watching Cat on the news, which is one of the few things she smiles about this episode. Alex comes in with a bit of news on their current case, but mostly to ask Kara “What the hell?” about quitting her job. Kara goes on a rant that’s emotional and gives us some insight about why she’s acting like, well, a girl made of steel. Alex leaves after both telling her about the threat for the statue unveiling and trying to end it on a positive note.
At the waterfront, Supergirl is on guard from the nearby roof, where J’Onn joins her, although they seem to be doing their best to keep him in human form as much as possible. Maybe they’re having budget issues. They talk a bit about loss and how to deal with it and dreams. Alex and Maggie are down in the streets, talking about the tension regarding their upcoming wedding over coms, with some amusing comments from Winn as they resolve a bit of it. Alex also meets a mom and her child, who are no doubt there to play “menaced civilians” when the action starts.
The attack comes from a completely unexpected direction that Winn can’t trace and J’Onn’s telepathy can mysteriously not find for… reasons. Supergirl goes into action, getting knocked around by some high-power weapons and snapped out of her daze by something surprising. Mom and kid sure enough end up in trouble, but there’s a surprise there.
Kara goes to Lena’s office to apologize for how she’s been acting, hopefully signaling she’s going to get back to normal going forward. Edge comes by to be smug when he finds out something about one of his plans, and he gets shut down by Lena before Supergirl takes him away for a quick meeting/threat. Something under the water glows mysteriously and ominously.
We wrap up with Alex making a decision about her wedding and surprising someone with what she asks. Kara goes back to her apartment and looks at some of her old notebooks before surprising everyone by showing up at Nameless Bar. Later, she has a really weird dream to end the episode.
What I liked: The various characters’ emotional ties are very clear here, and I like seeing them. I’m intrigued by the new mystery woman. I’m glad they had Chris Wood back for the Mon-El dream bits, and didn’t cheap out with not showing his face or something. It will be interesting to see how Morgan Edge plays into things. I’m glad Cat is continuing to be a presence even with Calista Flockhart not really around on set. We heard a lot about Maggie not being around as much, but at least she’s still here for now.
What I didn’t: How are so many people somehow immune to J’Onn’s mental powers and no one seems worried about this? This is a recurring issue on the show. It’s nice to see Erica Durance again, and good to see another Smallville alum, but I’d like to know why they felt the need to recast Alura like that. I get the point of the show is to not constantly fall back on Superman, but really, with Kara acting that weird, no one thought to contact her cousin? Or her mom?
It was a bit of a rough start for the new season. I’ll go with a 3 out of 5 for the opening episode here.