Supergirl Episode 2 Recap: #Terriblegirl

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS.
Does Kara have more to prove than your average, everyday superhero because she’s a woman? That’s one of the first questions posed during the second episode of Supergirl, and one that lingers throughout as Kara fends off the punches of her aunt, General Astra, and the questions of her boss, Cat Grant.

We first find Kara running some tests with the DEO, racing rockets in the sky. Kara starts to ask Hank Henshaw whether everyone has to undergo them when he interrupts, “It’s not because you’re a woman, Miss Danvers.” She continues, "I was going to say alien." The fact Hank even brought up her gender means that it is on everyone's mind. But maybe Kara does need the practice. A save-the-day moment goes very wrong when Kara, attempting to battle a fire, accidentally causes an oil spill in National City’s port.

Naturally, she's not pleased with herself, but Kara's self-esteem takes an even bigger hit at the CatCo office. Cat is angry that her city's superhero is something of a dud. #Supergirl has been "#Terriblegirl," according to Cat. To help rehabilitate Supergirl's image, Cat decides she wants an interview with her, and enlists James Olson to use his Superman connections to get in touch. While Cat may be oblivious to the fact that Supergirl is standing in front of her, giggling nervously, she does know something is up with her assistant. Her advice: Get a therapist or join a gym, and start focusing.

You know who else thinks Kara needs to add some strength training to her daily routine? Her sister Alex. A mysterious alien has been found at a chemical manufacturing facility, and, thanks to some childhood memories, Kara identifies the being as a Hellgrammite. But before the DEO lets Kara go after the villain, Alex takes her sister to a room that's laced with Kryptonite. This weakens Kara, making it a fair fight between the siblings. Alex doesn't want to hurt Kara, she wants Kara to learn that powers alone don't make a good warrior. "When you are facing a superior opponent, you need to use their strength against them," Alex explains.

Kara, who began the series so lacking in self-confidence, is now being told she’s overly confident by the women in her life. “Every woman worth her salt knows that we have to work twice as hard as a man to be thought of half as good,” Cat tells Kara, who is distraught over an unflattering Supergirl article running in the paper. Cat thinks that Supergirl is being too ambitious. Her suggestion to an inquiring Kara? Supergirl needs to rise through the superhero ranks, just as Cat ascended in media, starting out as Perry White’s assistant. According to Cat, it’s Supergirl that should be taking cues from desk jockey Kara, not the other way around.

Why are her female elders the most critical of Kara? Because they know how the game is rigged against women, who must not only be strong and assertive, but also perfect. If a woman is anything less, her credibility takes a hit.
So, off Kara goes to get her feet wet in this being-a-savior business. She enlists James and Winn, both somewhat jealous that the other knows her true identity, to help her restore Supergirl’s good name. She easily thwarts a robbery, brings an ambulance stuck in traffic to the hospital, and gets a little girl's snake out of a tree. (Cats aren't the only animals that get stuck.)

But there is evil lurking. The Hellgrammite is reluctantly acting as bait so the General — a.k.a. Kara's aunt — can capture Supergirl. While the bug-like creature doesn't nab Kara, he does get something, or rather someone, that will lure Kara to Astra: He kidnaps Alex.

When Kara gets the call from Hank about Alex's perilous situation, she’s in the middle of offering some counsel to James. Self-esteem issues: not just for female CatCo employees. Cat has threatened James’ job if he doesn’t call on Superman to contact Supergirl. But James moved away from Metropolis to distance himself from the shadow of his friendship with the city's hero. Kara offers up some Kryptonian wisdom. The “S” on their uniforms is not just the House of El's coat of arms, it's their motto: “Stronger together.” Working with others is not a weakness on Krypton.

Astra also believes in collaboration, but her version is forcible. The Hellgrammite doesn't want to participate in whatever she's up to, but she insists. What are Astra’s grand plans, anyway? “I am here to save you all,” she tells Alex. Um, sure, Astra. Astra is a formidable enemy, but when Kara arrives on the scene, she subdues her aunt thanks to Alex's suggestion of using an enemy's strength against her. Alex does away with the Hellgrammite all on her own, even in her injured state, and Hank comes in at the last moment to scare Astra away with some Kryptonite.
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It’s still somewhat unclear what Astra did that made Alura put her away in Fort Rozz. Astra says it was for "being a hero, for trying to save our world." How? We don't know. Kara remembers her mother saying that Astra "didn’t have faith in people." That's also pretty vague, but there’s a way for Kara to get more information about the past. Alex introduces her to her very own Fortress of Solitude-esque chamber, where she can communicate with a programmed version of her mother. Though AI Alura cannot grant her daughter a hug, she can tell her what she needs to know about Aunt Astra.

Astra, recovering, says that Kara's not just a "little girl from Krypton anymore." You bet she isn't. We leave Kara granting that interview to Cat. Kara flies Cat’s car to a rooftop, and hovers above her to take questions. Now that’s how you show you’re in charge of your own story.

Some other moments of note:

Parks and Recreation's Perd Hapley has moved to National City from Pawnee. Well, okay, not really, but how delightful to hear the voice of newscaster extraordinaire Jay Jackson.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is notorious even in Supergirl. “Drunk at 9 a.m., that’s the last time I have breakfast with Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Cat says entering the office.

Supergirl drinks! During one of her heart to hearts with James in this week's episode, Kara points out the bar where she always gets carded.

Looks like Astra’s not the only baddie in town. After Alex thanks Hank for letting her set up the Fortress of Solitude for Kara, his eyes briefly flash red. In the comics, Hank becomes the villain Cyborg Superman. So Kara has that to look forward to. She will also likely have to deal with Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli), who, for now, is not too happy with Supergirl. Winn, however, is a Maxwell Lord fan.
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