The episodes before this one were good, but this is the first episode of the show that I consider really good.
This episode is all about tension with parents, specifically mother figures. Since Kara revealed her powers to the world and became Supergirl, Alex has been worried about what their mother (foster mother, in Kara’s case), Eliza, would say about it. On the phone, Eliza said she was thrilled, but now she’s about to visit for Thanksgiving and Alex is certain that she’s going to be scolded. It was her responsibility to protect Kara, after all. So that’s one conflict going on in this episode.
But wait, there’s more! Leslie Willis, a local shock jock who works for Catco, spends most of her latest broadcast insulting Supergirl. She insults her “adorkable” act, she insults her outfit, and she insinuates that Supergirl is gay and that this would be a bad thing, which made me immediately dislike Leslie Willlis.
The next day, Leslie is in trouble with Cat Grant for her broadcast.
Cat: I discovered you in that shoebox of a radio station. I mentored you to the best of my abilities. And for the most part, I am proud of that. But going after a young girl, insulting her body, how she dresses, her sexuality…
Thank you, Cat, for calling Leslie on how disgusting that was.
Leslie: The last time I checked, as long as I delivered you certain ratings, you didn’t care what sacred cows I went after. So why is she different?
Cat: I named her, Leslie. I am doing everything I can to cultivate a relationship between Supergirl and Catco. If I could legally adopt her, I would.
Ha, that’s cute.
Leslie: I read your article, Cat. You’re just as hard on her as I am.
Actually, Leslie is right that Cat’s article was really harsh. I didn’t mention it in the last review because I couldn’t really find a place for it, but Cat’s article was all about how Supergirl is immature and unprepared to be a hero, and how she embodies all of the worst traits of millennials. So I guess Cat is one of those people who read and make articles to complain about literally everything millennials do and everything they don’t do. Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds? Why don’t millennials travel more? Why don’t millennials have jobs? Because you ruined the economy, Robert, leave us alone.
Okay, getting off topic here, the point is, Cat is harsh on Supergirl in these early episodes. Anyone remember #Terriblegirl? But Cat does like and respect Supergirl. She has a weird way of showing it and I definitely think that she’s harder than she needs to be on her, but Cat really wants to see Supergirl grow and improve. Leslie Willis is just being mean for the sake of it.
Anyway, Cat transfers Leslie to the traffic chopper, Leslie is pissed, and later that evening we see her first shift in the helicoptor and it doesn’t go so well. It nearly goes down in a storm. Supergirl shows up to save it, of course, but something odd happens. Supergirl is struck by lightning just as she takes Leslie’s hand, and the lightning passes through her to Leslie.
Leslie is hospitalized and in a coma, and the scene where Cat and Kara visit her in the hospital is actually pretty nice. It’s the first time that we see Cat show some real vulnerability. She covers it up with a lot of snark, of course, but there are some cracks in the tough front that she puts up and you can see a softer side of Cat through them.
Back at the Danvers household, where Alex and Eliza are alone, Eliza finally reveals that she is in fact angry with Alex, just as Alex suspected. Eliza is angry that Alex let Kara become Supergirl and put herself in danger, which, as Alex points out, is totally ridiculous because Kara is a grown ass woman and she’s going to make her own choices and what the hell was Alex supposed to do about it? Alex has done her best to keep Kara safe, she still does her best to keep Kara safe, but there’s only so much she can do.
So listen, I have an older sister, and growing up she was given the responsibility of looking after me and keeping me out of trouble. Here’s the messed up thing: I didn’t know that my sister had been given that responsibility. From my end, it just looked like my sister, who was only two years older than me, was being overbearing and nagging for no reason. It made me very resentful toward her and our relationship was pretty strained as a result. It was only once we were both adults that I learned that she had been pressured into feeling like I was her responsibility, hence why she scolded me so much. Our relationship is much better now and we’re actually pretty close, but there was a lot of weird tension there for a while and I don’t know that it’s entirely gone away yet.
What I’m saying is, sibling dynamics can be very weird. Older siblings are trusted with a lot more responsibility, sometimes way too much of it. Younger siblings are forever treated like the babies of the family no matter how old we are, and we’re never trusted with much or given a lot of autonomy. I’m not saying this is always the case, but it was definitely the case with me and my sister, and with a lot of people with siblings that I’ve talked to. So, what’s happening with Alex and Kara and Eliza in this episode hit pretty close to home for me.
So Thanksgiving dinner with the Danvers (and Winn, who Kara invited because he had no Thanksgiving plans) ends up being very awkward. Especially when Alex reveals to Eliza that she works for the DEO. She thought this might appease Eliza, since it means that Alex is still keeping an eye on Kara. It actually just makes things worse. Eliza is horrified that Alex works for the DEO. The incredibly awkward dinner is cut short when Kara is called into work due to a power outage caused by Leslie Willis.
Leslie was discharged from the hospital and she now has electricity-based superpowers. It’s explained that because the lightning passed through Kara’s Kryptonian DNA before being passed through Leslie, it became… magic lightning. That infected Leslie. Or something. Oh, and Leslie is calling herself Livewire now. And she wants revenge on Cat, so she attacks her at Catco, hence the power outage. Supergirl saves Cat and gets rid of Livewire for a short time, but Livewire is still on the loose.
Hank Henshaw gets involved in the investigation of Livewire, and in the meantime Cat is kind of in a weird place. I really like the conversation that Cat and Kara have, it’s a nice bit of bonding between them. Kara mentions having a foster mother, something that Cat didn’t know about. Then Cat talks a bit about her own mother, and how it’s affected her.
Cat: In her mind, I have never lived up to my potential.
Kara: You’re the queen of all media.
Cat: Ah! Yes. An accomplishment that never mattered to her. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am entirely grateful. Everything I am, everything I have, is because of her constant “pushing,” let’s call it. She was never satisfied with me, and so I’ve never been satisfied with myself. Which is why I keep pushing, too. Myself, and all the people I care about.
Kara: Pushing Supergirl.
Kind of predictable, but still a nice piece of character development for Cat, and it ties in with the theme of this episode. I also really like what Cat says after this
Cat: I should have pushed Leslie. Held her to a higher standard. The more awful she was, the more I rewarded her. Leslie turning into Livewire, that started a long time ago. It’s my fault. I turned her into a monster.
This is the kind of thing that would have been more powerful if we’d seen Leslie Willis and her relationship with Cat before this episode, but I still think it’s pretty effective.
Speaking of bonding, Alex and Eliza also have a very nice moment. Alex opens up about never feeling like she was good enough in the eyes of her parents, and Eliza opens up about how her expectation for Alex were so high because she wanted Alex to be better than her. She says that Alex has always been “her supergirl” and it’s very sweet.
But the threat of Livewire casts a shadow over all of this bonding. The DEO has come up with a way to contain Livewire in an energy trap, if Supergirl can get her in there. Cat wants to work with Supergirl to catch Livewire and she agrees to act as bait to lure her out. The trap is damaged in the ensuing fight, but Supergirl breaks open a water main to douse Livewire, which causes her to short circuit and knock herself out. Livewire becomes the DEO’s first human prisoner.
The next day at work, Kara apologizes to Winn for all of the family drama he had to sit through, but Winn says he was just grateful that Kara included him. He shares with her the reason that he doesn’t really do anything with family on Thanksgiving: his father is in prison. And deserves to be there, according to Winn, but he understandably doesn’t want to go into detail. So clearly we’re going to learn more about this later.
Cat also has an interesting and surprising idea for the articles she wants to run
Cat: The world is full of so much noise and snark, much of it we generate. Today, why don’t we elevate this city’s level of discourse instead with a photo essay of all the people who spent their holidays volunteering at soup kitchens and shelters. Let’s not see if we can’t bring some attention to those organizations.
Kara: I think that’s a great idea.
Cat: Well, of course you do, I pitched it. Thanksgiving sells. Liberals love to feel guilty, so let’s just squeeze as much juice out of those turkeys as we can.
This ties into something Cat said to Leslie earlier in the beginning of the episode, about how Supergirl was changing the conversation of National City. People don’t want negativity anymore, they want positivity. Optimism. Hope.
It’s almost like the show is breaking the fourth wall in a sense, because what Cat says about how Supergirl is changing things… well, it’s basically how I and a lot of people feel about this show. Optimism and hope are a huge part of this series. They’re things that are very important to Kara, things that define her as a character. She tries to see the good in everyone because she truly believes that it’s there, and while this makes her seem naive in the eyes of some of the more cynical characters on the show, it’s also the very thing that makes Kara a hero. She’s all about doing and seeing good in the world, and that inspires everyone around her. Sappy? Maybe. But it’s also just so refreshing to see heroes like Kara, who are so genuinely positive and compassionate and good. It’s something that we could use more of.
We also learn why Eliza was so angry at Alex for joining the DEO. Apparently, what she told them about their father dying in a plane crash was a lie. He died working for the DEO. He was recruited by Hank Henshaw after the DEO saw thirteen year old Kara flying around one night.
I’m really fond of this episode, and I feel like this is also the point where the show really begins. The first three episodes all kind of felt like setup, which is fair because they were, and the show was obviously still trying to find its footing. Livewire, while not exactly a perfect episode and probably not even one of my favorites in the end, felt like the show had found its footing.
A big part of what makes this episode so much fun is Livewire herself. She’s the first truly enjoyable villain the show has had. I mean, okay, to be fair Alura was pretty intriguing and she becomes even more so later on, but I can’t really say I enjoyed Alura in her first appearance the way I enjoyed Livewire. And the other two villains we’ve seen so far, Reactron and what’s-his-name from the pilot (Voltron? Vartox? Vulpix? who cares) barely left an impression at all. Honestly, the show itself didn’t even seem to care about them that much except as pieces of a larger story and theme. But Livewire is truly the center of this episode, it’s even named after her. She connects to the overall theme of family tension without getting lost in it. She’s an active part of it, not just a plot piece. Brit Morgan plays Leslie Willis/Livewire and she’s definitely hamming it up, but it’s in a very entertaining way and it’s fun to see a villain who actually looks like they’re enjoying themselves.
That, on top of giving us some interesting insight to the characters, makes this a pretty enjoyable episode.