Supergirl: Season 2 Episode 9 review – Supergirl Lives
This review contains spoilers.
I’ve never disguised the fact that I consider myself a keen follower of geek director Kevin Smith. What better way to come back from the lonely chasm of the hiatus then, than to return with a Smith episode. And not just any Smith episode, but ‘Supergirl Lives’ – an episode where the very title itself is a deep cut for Superman fans, harking back to the 1990s Superman film Superman Lives that never reached production.
Smith wrote a draft of the script for that film and came up with that particular title himself, believing it to be better than the previous title Superman Reborn. That film never saw the light of day, so it’s with a clever tongue in cheek that The CW provide Supergirl (and Superman) fans with Smith’s own nod to that lost film, in the form of his Supergirl episode.
As much as I love Smith, the crucial question that needs to be answered off the bat is: did Smith do the show proud? I believe he has and that’s not coming from a place of unconditional Smith admiration (I didn’t think a great deal of his ‘Killer Frost’ episode, although I loved his ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ debut), but rather from the critical eye of someone who loves both Supergirl the show and Supergirl as a character. He didn’t feel out of place here, but rather blended right in and even little moments like the inhabitant race of this planet looking rather like Tuskan Raiders from afar and Winn riffing on the doomed red shirt Star Trek notion also felt notably like him, whether they were there by his design or not.
It’s a good episode, helped by the fact that it meanders into the kind of cool territory that you’ll find in the comic Superman/Supergirl Maelstrom. This is removing Supergirl from a comfortable setting and placing her on a planet on which she has no powers (due to it holding a red sun rather than a yellow sun). Although that particular comic provides something far superior to what happens here (Superman and Supergirl train together and bond), what this episode provided held merit in its own way. We’ve not seen Supergirl venture out into space on this show before, let alone visit other civilisations, and in that uniqueness there is intrigue.
One negative I did notice about the quality of the episode, however, is that there is a glaring (if minor) continuity error. Smith always gleefully refers to these in his podcast Hollywood Babble-On as “sh*t that should not be” and has even stated that he places them in his own films, like Yoga Hosers, on purpose. In this episode it’s the fact that Winn escapes via the portal twice. First Winn is ushered in by Kara very quickly after he hits the button. He never leaves the frame once so it’s definitely and unmistakably Winn. Then a few shots later Kara turns to Winn – who is now oddly still by her side – telling him that there is a ship approaching and that he best leave, before ushering him into the portal (again, by the viewer’s point of view).
This could be intentional, like in Smith’s recent films, but I’d hazard a guess that The CW would not be keen to intentionally exhibit flaws. It’s a silly error to make and a fault that probably lies with the editors of the episode, rather than with Smith himself. I took it upon myself to tweet Smith about the error and also about my adoration for his input on the show. He responded by liking my tweet, which indicates that he is as self-deprecating as ever and that he probably enjoys the presence of the flaw, rather than dismays over it, which is a great attitude to have.
Another key component of this episode, which this time was very intentionally placed, was the inclusion of Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith. Now, as much as I love Smith and his large cohort of friends and family (many of whom have their own excellent podcasts), I’m a little dubious when it comes to the act of placing your loved ones within your content that isn’t your own. Smith had Harley star in Yoga Hosers – Smith’s own film – and it was great for it; she was perfect for the role.
But that film was his own machination and as kind as The CW are for allowing Smith to include Jay Mewes in The Flash and now Harley in Supergirl, and as happy as I know it makes those people to be in these shows, I can’t help but feel there’s a little cheapness to the act. That being said, Harley was fine here as the girl in need of rescuing and she even got to help Supergirl up at once point (cue me being jealous).
Also returning this week was Dichen Lachman as Roulette. I really enjoyed her faithful inclusion in the episode ‘Survivors’ and it was nice to have her back, even if she didn’t do a great deal in this episode. Mon El instead held a stronger focus, with the Dominator in question clearly holding a reverence for him. Alex also held some decent screen time, which included some joyful moments with Maggie (to Smith’s glee; as he’ll tell you – he directed Chasing Amy so he’s “got this”) and a rather unbelievable moment in which Alex nearly threw it all away.
This ranks as my second favourite Berlanti-verse Kevin Smith episode. It wasn’t as magical as ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ and it wasn’t as mediocre as ‘Killer Frost’. What’s important is that we had a fairly strong return for the show and that Smith marked himself out as someone that the Supergirl cast and crew enjoy having on board (they’ve already asked him to return to direct another episode, which he’ll be undertaking very soon).
Image credits: The CW