Supergirl Reviews: Season 1 (Human For a Day)

 

This is going to be a short review, compared to most anyway. This episode is a lot more… focused than most? Like, usually episodes are very plot-heavy and seem to have a lot of things happening at once. This episode, like Red-Faced, is driven by emotion and character more than anything, and the stories it has going on are fairly simple, so there’s not much to dissect plot-wise. This is actually the kind of narrative I enjoy most, so I’m not complaining at all.

As the title of the episode suggests, this episode is about Kara’s struggle with being human for a few days. Apparently she blew out her powers fighting Red Tornado and needs some time to recharge. This isn’t really a big deal, she’s told. It happens to Superman sometimes, and he always gets his powers back within two days at most. The problem is, it’s been more than two days, and Kara’s powers still haven’t come back. Will they ever come back?

Maxwell Lord seems to think not, and it’s hard for Kara not to believe his pessimism. An earthquake strikes and people are in trouble all over National City, but Kara can’t be Supergirl right now. On top of being sick for the first time, and breaking her arm for the first time, and having to deal with new human sensations (mostly pain) for the first time, she’s completely powerless.

It’s a terrifying thought for Kara. There’s a particularly heavy scene where Kara and James watch Maxwell Lord try to save a dying man on the street, while his daughter cries and begs for anyone to be able to help him. Kara could have helped as Supergirl, but in her current state she can’t do anything and the man dies. It’s a heartbreaking moment for her, and one that makes her question her abilities as a superhero. If she can’t be Supergirl, is she still a hero at all?

Kara spots an armed robbery going on at a store, and she decides that powers or no powers, she’s going to stop it. The robbers don’t know she isn’t bulletproof at the moment, after all. An incredibly stupid risk? Yes. Incredibly brave? Also yes. Funny how often those go hand in hand.

The scene that follow is honestly breath-taking. Supergirl, completely powerless, her broken arm out of its sling and shaking at her side, approaches an armed robber. The only thing protecting her from being killed is the belief that he won’t shoot her if he thinks she’s bulletproof. And she talks to him. She tells him that she doesn’t need to fight him, because she knows he can stop himself, he can make the right decision. Slowly, he hands her his gun.

That scene, more than any other in the show, is the one that defines Supergirl for me. It shows us that she’s not a hero because she has powers, she’s a hero because of who she is as a person. Because she’s the sort of person who will walk into a situation where she may very well die if it means saving lives. She’s the sort of person who believes that a man robbing a store at gunpoint is still capable of change and still deserving of a chance. Powers or no powers, Kara has the heart of a hero.

A second story runs concurrently to this one. At the DEO, Alex’s faith in Hank Henshaw is at an all time low. An alien prisoner breaks loose and Alex has difficulty following Hank’s orders. She reveals that she knows about Hank’s connection to her father’s death and how he lied to her about her father working for the DEO.

Alex and Hank’s story culminates in Alex trying to take on the escaped alien prisoner alone, and being saved by Hank. Afterwards, Alex demands answers from him, and there’s no point in Hank continuing to hide anything from her, so he tells her.  He isn’t Hank Henshaw. The real Hank Henshaw died on the same mission her father did. The mission was to track down and kill and alien that was hiding out in Peru. When the alien was found, Alex’s father discovered that the alien wasn’t a threat, he was a refugee. His world (on Mars) was destroyed and he was the sole survivor. Alex’s father died trying to protect the alien from Henshaw. The alien, who has the ability to shapeshift, then took on Henshaw’s appearance in order to reform the DEO, and to carry out the promise he had made to look after Jeremiah Danvers’ daughter, hence why he recruited Alex.

He then reveals that his real name is J’onn J’onzz, and shows Alex his real appearance.

supergirl-martian-manhunter-hank-henshaw

So, in the comics J’onn J’onzz is also known as Martian Manhunter, but like I said I’m not familiar with the comics and while I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the name “Martian Manhunter” before I didn’t actually know anything about the character. I looked up a few things about Martian Manhunter out of curiosity, but I’m really only familiar with his portrayal in this show and that’s all I can talk about. Just thought I would reiterate that.

I don’t know if it’s something I would have been able to see coming had I known anything about the comics, but I thought this was a cool twist. Of course we knew that Hank Henshaw wasn’t human from early on, but it was unclear whether he was something sinister or not. The glowing red eyes seemed to suggest so, plus the whole secret about Alex’s father, but I hoped that he wouldn’t be, mostly because this show is very white and I didn’t want one of the only non-white characters to end up being an evil alien. Having J’onn J’onzz be an alien refugee, the only survivor of a lost world, creates an interesting parallel between him and Supergirl. J’onn hid his true identity and worked to keep the world safe as a human, not as a superhero. Why he made the decision to hide his identity like this… well, we’ve already seen how certain characters like Maxwell Lord and General Lane react to Supergirl and Superman. Hell, from J’onn’s story, we already know how humans reacted to him in particular. It’s not that surprising that he’d think hiding his identity is for the best, though it is kind of sad.

As for Kara’s story, it culminates in her getting her powers back, of course. But not before she learns a very valuable lesson. Throughout the episode, Kara witnessed small acts of heroism from the people around her. Cat broadcasted a speech to National City, urging them to stay strong and hopeful during this time of crisis, and to continue to have faith in Supergirl despite her mysterious absence. Winn was the one who made the broadcast possible, as he got everything back online again, which got him noticed by Cat (she apparently didn’t know his name or even that he worked for… lmao poor Winn). James takes the cake when he rescues some people trapped in an elevator by climbing the elevator shaft himself. I mean… what. The people are saved, but James almost plummets to his death. Lucky for him, this is the exact moment that Kara gets her powers back and she’s able to save him. Still, James’ actions, and Cat’s and even Winn’s, further the point that powers aren’t what make someone a hero, and anyone can do good if they try.

With Kara’s powers back, she’s able to fly around the city and solve all of the problems that need solving. It seems like an uplifting ending at first, but then Kara is attacked and ambushed by three Kryptonians, led by her aunt Astra. Remember her? What has she been doing all this time? The episode ends here so we’re left with a cliffhanger, but seriously, what has Astra been up to?

This episode’s lesson serves an important function to the show as a whole, especially if you’re like me and you think Supergirl’s/Superman’s powers are actually the least interesting things about them. It’s good to get confirmation that ultimately powers aren’t what matters most. The emotional stakes, the suspense, and the cool twist add up to make a pretty solid episode.

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One thought on “Supergirl Reviews: Season 1 (Human For a Day)

  1. This made me in love with the show. Obviously the entire show is about positivity and hope but this episode tackled that more than other episodes and it was just so interesting and sweet to see. I love the fact that Supergirl managed to stop thieves without using her power. It’s an idiotic move but I adored the fact this shows that it’s Kara’s positivity and optimism that makes her a hero. And of course, Cat’s speech was just so heartwarming. As much as I like my depressing shows XD, we definitely need more shows like Supergirl, Steven Universe and SpongeBob to show more positivity and hope of this world. I just loved everything about this episode, except the whole Winn and Kara thing, which just annoyed me but I can let it slide. I loved this episode so much. One of my favorites of this show.

    Grade: A

    Like

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