TV Review: Family Comes First in Supergirl S2 E2 “Last Children of Krypton”
Even though most of the action deals with the emergence of Cadmus and the deadly effects of kryptonite, especially when you stick into a deadly ex-mercenary now named Metallo (Frederick Schmidt), “Last Children of Krypton” mainly focuses on the familial bonds between Supergirl and Superman, and Supergirl and Kara Danvers. With Cat Grant leaving her work and new boss Snapper Carr (Cougar Town‘s Ian Gomez) being just a general pain, Kara ponders leaving National City to be in Metropolis with Superman, who is one of the few people she can be comfortable with in both her superhero and civilian identity. Alex has been Kara’s rock since she landed on Earth, and this conversation drives a rift between them. Most of Robert Rovner and Caitlin Parrish‘s story is dedicated to the reconstruction of this bond and drawing a parallel in the relationship between Superman and J’onn as they go from not trusting each other to connecting over the loss of their homeworlds and finally becoming allies and teaming up in a badass, cross-cutting action sequence from director Glen Winter.
It will be sad to see Tyler Hoechlin though as his two episodes playing Superman have kind of been a masterclass in playing the character, and his bond with Supergirl has just been plain adorable. The cold open where they joke about bullets and punching fists while easily apprehending a pair of armed robbers shows that unlike what Cadmus has been saying that these godlike beings truly care for humanity. But Hoechlin can do serious too in the Kryptonite subplot as he deepens his voice while confronting J’onn about some missing kryptonite that is being used by Cadmus to power up Metallo. Even though he doesn’t curse or drink alcohol and uses the word “jiffy” unironically, Superman in Supergirl isn’t a naive boy scout, but a veteran superhero, who isn’t afraid to be confrontational. He is competent and cute.
The scariest parts in “Last Children of Krypton” isn’t when Supergirl is knocked out with a kryptonite blast (Her healing factor should be able to deal with that.), but when Kara Danvers is completely ignored by her new boss Snapper Carr after getting her big promotion to reporter last episode. Melissa Benoist does an excellent going from the pretty damn confident Supergirl to the too flustered to say a single word cub reporter. Ian Gomez is in complete control with his portrayal of Carr using a deadpan delivery with a side of passion when he tells Kara that she has basically been handed her job. And, on paper, this makes sense with her sudden promotion from assistant to investigative reporter. Rovner and Parrish don’t fall into the storytelling shortcut trap of quickly making Kara an excellent reporter, but give her a small victory when she hands in a story about the Metallo fight. Carr doesn’t throw her out of the office, but she is very much at the bottom of the food chain and is far from having the perfect dual life of skilled reporter Clark Kent and superhero Superman.
On a technical level, “Last Children of Krypton” is an improvement from the season premiere with Winter making the action center around hand to hand combat and energy blasts instead of complex aerial maneuvers, which are difficult to do on a CW budget. J’onn mostly stays in his Hank Henshaw form, but Winter breaks out the Martian Manhunter effects at just the right moment for a big action climax or a sad mini monologue. Superman was a baby when Krypton fell, but J’onn had to see his entire people wiped out by the White Martians so he isn’t adverse to using more proactive means to keep his new home, Earth, safe. Just like last week, the best action scenes feature Alex Danvers as she joins the whole cast of Arrow by getting a nice little parkour scene while she is on the run from Cadmus goons, and her reunion scene with Kara is on the field of battle. The mirrored superhero fights in “Last Children of Krypton” have a kind of healing effect on the strained relationships between J’onn and Superman and Alex and Kara. They connect to the episode’s main theme and aren’t just there as some kind of “Well, it’s been almost 40 minutes. Let’s fight.” afterthought.
The only small flaw in “Last Children of Krypton” is the fact that secret government organizations like Cadmus have been done to death in superhero and science fiction shows. However, Rovner and Parrish add a couple new wrinkles to keep this well-worn trope from being boring. First, there is the fact that Cadmus’ goals are very similar to the “good guy” DEO’s goals as they both want to protect Earth from aliens. But the DEO has a more nuanced approached to dealing with extraterrestrials because they have two of them on staff. Next, Cadmus is the polar opposite of Non and Myriad from last season, who were Kryptonian supremacists while Cadmus is alien supremacists. Finally, there is the general mystery angle between who is pulling the strings because we have only seen some unnamed scientists and soldiers so far. It is probably Lena Luthor, but some dialogue about Alex’s dad Jeremiah seems to hint that he may be under their control. So far, Cadmus aren’t the best villains ever, but the parallels to the DEO keep things running for now while the best writing of Supergirl is reserved for the relationships between characters, and Kara struggling in her day job.
The cherry on top of “Last Children of Krypton” is the tearful goodbyes between Cat Grant and Kara as well as Supergirl. There is hugging all around as Cat decides to leave Catco and start on a new, unknown adventure. Her willingness to jump into the unknown acts as an inspiration to Supergirl, who is losing the support of Superman a little earlier than she though and is trying a new job as investigative reporter. These scenes show that there can be great emotional payoff to cultivating relationships between characters instead of focusing on plot twists and gimmicks, and hopefully, the writers of Supergirl will continue to develop the themes of family and friendship while the mystery of Cadmus deepens, and the Kryptonian Mon-El wakes up.
Overall Rating: 9.0