Picking up right where last week’s episode left off, “Fight or Flight” begins with Supergirl giving an “exclusive” interview to Cat Grant, Kara’s boss and founder of the media conglomerate, CatCo. Although the conversation is brief, Kara lets it slip that the Man of Steel is, in fact, her cousin. When Cat begins to ask her if she intends to start a family, Kara replies, “Nobody ever asks my cousin these questions.” It’s as much a commentary on sexism in the media as a moment of strength from Supergirl (and Kara).
The latest villain terrorizing National City isn’t a Fort Rozz escapee, but a regular human who was a thorn in Superman’s side long before Supergirl revealed herself to the world. While preventing a nuclear explosion from killing millions, Superman was unable to prevent a blast of radiation from hitting two workers. Ben Kroll survived the accident and developed the ability to manipulate nuclear energy, but his wife was killed. Kroll, who James dubbed ‘Reactron’, has been seeking revenge since the accident. When he learns that Supergirl and Superman are cousins thanks to her interview with Cat, he decides the best way to punish the Man of Steel is to kill someone he loves.
Reactron’s connection to Superman provides a way for the show to deal with an important question: why doesn’t Kara call her cousin for help? In their hurry to separate Kara from her famous cousin, Supergirl ends up spending a lot of time talking about Superman. However, Kara’s desire for Supergirl to stand on her own makes sense and she makes a strong point about how Clark didn’t have help when he started, even if he wanted it. So Kara is understandably miffed when Superman shows up to save the day.
The Man of Steel swoops in to save Kara from Reactron during their junkyard battle and she wakes up in her apartment. It was a little frustrating to see Kara rescued like some damsel in distress, but the choice was redeemed when it served to develop James’ character. Last week James admitted he’s worried his success is due to his friendship with Superman rather than his talents as a photojournalist. This week James admits that he’s kind of a coward.
In Metropolis, James found his first instinct whenever he was frightened was to use his super-watch to call the Man of Steel. He moved to National City in part to separate himself from that safety net, only to call for Superman’s help in dealing with Reactron when it appeared that Kara’s life was in danger.
In addition to James’ character development, this episode helped to strengthen the relationships and dynamics between the characters. James and Winn’s rivalry was reinforced in every interaction and although it’s not yet to the point that it can be considered a love triangle, the set up has definitely been done. Winn is the nice, boy-next-door type of guy, while James is handsome and talented and just out of reach. The introduction of his ex-girlfriend, Lucy Lane (younger sister of Lois), will no doubt put a new spin on the Kara/James dynamic, and I’m excited to see how the new development plays out.
The sisterly bond between Alex and Kara feels far more real in “Fight or Flight” than it has in the previous two installments. In a sweet scene at the end of the episode, Alex says “I hope you get fat” while begrudgingly handing over the last potsticker and Kara instructs her sister not to watch Homeland until she gets back from crime fighting. These moments solidify their relationship much more than any of the conversations in which they flat-out say, “I have faith in you.”
Cat Grant also gets some much-needed depth this week as she decides to write the Supergirl exposé herself. I have found Ms. Grant to be more of a caricature of a boss-from-hell than a developed character so far, but the idiosyncrasies that were introduced – such as requesting that maintenance deal with a non-existent humming from the vents and that redheads be removed from her line of sight – added a bit of humour to her character. Cat also gets to flirt a bit as she dances with Maxwell Lord. It’s the first time we’ve seen her interact with a peer rather than a subordinate and it helps humanize her quite a bit.
Superman makes one last “appearance” in the episode as Kara gets an iChat from Clark Kent. It’s glaringly obvious that the instant messaging is being used to avoid showing (or casting) a Superman, but the moment turns out to be fairly endearing. Clark apologizes for interfering and gives Kara some words of encouragement, reminding us that Supergirl’s strength is its upbeat, if occasionally cheesy, tone.
- I understand that superhero shows require a suspension of disbelief, but Kara’s “disguise” is basically just lightly waved hair and a lack of glasses and we’re expected to believe that Cat wouldn’t have recognized her?
- It was a little strange that Evil Twin Astra goes completely unmentioned this episode, especially since Kara only learned that her aunt survived Krypton’s destruction last week.
- I think a lot of people would watch Keeping Up With the Kryptonians.
Overall, “Fight or Flight” does a lot of good. It develops characters and relationships while maintaining the warmth and light that differentiates Supergirl from other superhero shows on television.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS.