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SUPERGIRL Teams Up With The Flash in a Hit and Miss Special

By on March 29, 2016

Grant Gustin (L) as Barry Allen and Melissa Benoist (R) as Kara Danvers Photo: Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

This past week, CBS renewed most of their primetime lineup—but not Supergirl. The show is popular with critics, and does have devoted fans, but ratings have slipped every week since the first episode. On top of that, it’s a relatively expensive show (just in case you thought David Harewood was able to actually transform into a Martian, no, those are costly computer graphics), and on a highly rated network like CBS, there’s a lot of pressure to deliver on that investment.

Another important factor is that one of the most important target markets for the series, comic book readers and comic book movie fans, have been deeply divided on the series. Many of these fans tried the series during its clunky early episodes and gave up on it. Of course, the show has drastically improved since then, and especially in the past six episodes. But the perception remains that Supergirl will never be the series that the CW’s The Flash or Arrow is.

Enter The Flash. On the CW, where there is considerably less pressure to achieve high ratings, The Flash is a runaway hit (hey, if Barry Allen can spend this entire episode making running puns, I get at least one). And deservedly so: it’s a breezy, fun series, that overcomes occasionally weak plotting through the charm of its lead (a trait that it shares with Supergirl).

So this episode sets out to do two things: to boost The Flash’s profile to network viewers, and to boost Supergirl’s profile among more traditional comic fans. But does the episode ultimately work for either?

The episode starts in the aftermath of Siobhan’s sonic awakening, as the DEO pokes and prods her to find out where exactly that super powered-scream came from. She’s not an alien, and not a Fort Rozz escapee (something that even the show realizes is getting annoying). She’s fully human, and she has no idea where this power is coming from. As Siobhan wanders around the DEO, she begins to experience strange, otherworldly flashes of an evil presence. On her way out, she passes Livewire, still in the DEO’s glass cell, just in time for Livewire to make a grand speech and show off her powers. Of course, the electricity does nothing, but it looks cool, and it allows Siobhan to see what she’s capable of. It’s the first of many arbitrary moments in the episode.

So Siobhan is possessed or something, and shows up at Catco (how does she keep getting into the building???), where Cat Grant is busy telling Kara (Kira) that she should play hard to get with Jimmy. Siobhan focuses her scream on Kara, knocking her out of the window, where she is saved by The Flash.

Grant Gustin, who plays The Flash, aka Barry Allen, is, like Melissa Benoist, a Glee alum, and carries the same effortless, unassuming charm. In short, both Barry and Kara are dorks (the single best part of this episode is Kara’s super-enthusiastic “Yes!” after Barry uses his super speed to pick up ice cream cones for her and Winn), and unlike a certain tedious blockbuster film released last week, there are no angsty showdowns in the rain. He’s nice, she’s nice, everybody’s nice. Except for the girl that screamed the other girl out of the window.

So Kara introduces her new bestest buddy to her team. Winn geeks out on the science aspect of Barry’s arrival (in short, there are Earths on top of Earths on top of Earths, and by vibrating fast enough, The Flash can travel between them), while Jimmy pouts that Kara’s found a new friend whose super powers extend beyond being smolderingly handsome. Later, when Cat meets the group, she quips, “You look like the attractive, non-threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show”.

In the first half of the episode, this fun and charm carries the episode along well. Barry really does make a good addition to the team, and you could imagine Kara fitting in just as well on The Flash. It would be hard to imagine moody Oliver Queen from Arrow hanging around the DEO or sharing ice cream and girl talk on the couch with Alex and Kara, but Barry would bring his own pint and three spoons. The problem in this episode isn’t the good guys, it’s the villains.

Siobhan, we learn, is cursed. Like cursed from a magical creature—a banshee—whose actual, magical powers have worked down the generations to curse her entire family. These powers only surface when someone in the family has been wronged (as Siobhan was by Kara when Kara was under the influence of Red Kryptonite), and the powers keep growing until that person is dead. This is a huge departure from the series, but it’s never acknowledged. We accept that science turned Barry into The Flash and that Kara has her powers because she is an alien, but the series now throws in magic, and just expects us to accept it without any more detailed development.

Siobhan wants to kill Kara, but knows that Supergirl is protecting her, and she’s not strong enough to take her on. So she busts out Livewire (how exactly Siobhan was able to get her sonic scream within range of the glass cell to free Livewire is never made clear). So now Silver Banshee, as Siobhan will come to be called, teams up with Livewire to take on Supergirl and The Flash.

Now, there’s nothing I like better than a showdown between superheroes and supervillains, but none of these scenes really worked for me. A big part of the problem is that Livewire kind of sucks in general. Her episode was one of the weaker ones of the season, and Brit Morgan just isn’t believable in the part. Add to that the fact that Siobhan’s Silver Banshee costume, which is supposed to be spooky but just looks like a bad Halloween costume, is rather silly, and you’ve got a pair of villains that never seem like a match for our two bad-ass heroes.

And they are beaten so easily. After some super battling, which ends in an unbelievably corny moment where the citizens of National City come to Kara’s aide, Livewire (and, in turn, Silver Banshee) is beaten by a freaking fire hose. It’s cheesy, the effects are terrible, and even worse it short changes a plot—Kara’s need to win back the citizens of National City—that had been developing organically over the past few episodes.

So, after the “Evil Taylor Swift Squad” as Livewire calls them (to hear Katy Perry tell it, Taylor herself is evil enough) are defeated, it’s time for Barry to go home, but not before he gives Kara the advice to go for it with Jimmy. So, of course, Supergirl and The Flash decide to race each other to give Barry the momentum to get back to his Earth, and he calls her “The Girl of Steel” and she calls him “The Scarlet Speedster,” and it’s all really adorable and maybe a little gross. Then Barry zooms off back to the land of The Arrow and The Atom and Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (who would, come to think of it, fit in really well at Catco), and away from the land of a million Chuck Lorre sitcoms and NCIS: Everywhere.

So Kara invites Jimmy to her apartment. She tells him that they are like the multiverse, existing in the same spot but never coming together, and that if Barry can move between worlds, then maybe they can actually come together as well. Jimmy doesn’t quite understand (because it’s a lousy metaphor, Kara), and so she says, “I’m bad at saying, I’m so much better at doing”, and kisses him. And it’s a great kiss, one worth waiting an entire season for, but when Kara pulls back, Jimmy is frozen. Not with wonder or in fear or disgust, just literally frozen. He wanders out of the apartment like a zombie, and we see that all of the other people in Kara’s apartment are walking in the same purposeful way, with faces just as blank as Jimmy’s. This, apparently, is the long-promised awakening of The Myriad, Non’s super-weapon, which we now see is a sort of mind control device. So now, we’ll be seeing Kara going up against the citizens of her beloved city, which should make the last two episodes of this season very exciting.

I assume that CBS is waiting on fan reaction to this episode before renewing the series. And I hope that they do, because I really have enjoyed this show. It would be a shame to see all that they’ve built up here just go away. But is this episode strong enough to win over skeptics? Frankly, it was just as quipy and awkward as the rough early episodes last year. If a fan of Arrow and The Flash tried the series, decided that it was garbage, and then only came back for this episode, they would think that it’s the same bad show that they didn’t like before. The leads may be among the world’s finest, but this plot sure wasn’t.

Supergirl, Season One, Episode 18, “World’s Finest”: B-

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