Armed with a likeable lead and coming from the minds behind Arrow and The Flash, Supergirl has the makings of another hit for Greg Berlanti and Co; however, the pilot has a lot of potential but appears more like a patchwork of ideas i.e. a proof of concept than say an actual episode.
This series has a lot of potential, but the biggest obstacle so far seems to be finding a balance in its storytelling. The pilot episode tries to do too much too quickly, which results in a great first act followed by several okay chapters that are often filled with underdeveloped subplots.
The strongest moment in the episode is Kara Zor-El’s (Melissa Benoist) introduction to the world of crime fighting. It highlights her discovering and rediscovering some of her powers. Unfortunately it’s a quick fight before revealing the final version of Kara’s costume (complete with cape). The show could have showcased her superhuman abilities against everyday criminals before diving into the world of supervillains.
That said, Benoist’s performance is fantastic. Whether she’s playing the bumbling assistant at CatCo Worldwide Media or the eager heroine she makes for a distinctive, fun protagonist. An Arrow/Flash crossover is still a ways off but her bubbly personality should fit right in with Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Barry (Grant Gustin).
The weaker moments come in the form of Kara’s relationships with the supporting cast with exception of James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). Prior to finding out that her sister Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) is an agent for the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), the chemistry between Benoist and Leigh seems genuine but quickly takes a turn for Smallville melodrama town. It’s better than the alternative, which would be flashbacks. Dean Cain and Helen Slater would be a welcome addition to the cast; however, Malina Weissman’s (the child actress who plays a young Kara) over the top performance is hard to watch.
Jeremy Jordan is likeable as Winn Schott, but the depth of the relationship between Kara and Winn is unclear, which makes her rooftop reveal a little hard to believe. The only other complaint was the DEO. The set pieces looked very cheap and generic almost as generic as David Harewood’s stereotypical performance as the no nonsense, dickish, military commander Hank Henshaw. These two problems can easily be fixed if the show spends more time developing these characters, their motivations, and stories.
Overall the show is fine, but the biggest thing the show needs to work on is slowing down the pace a little. With the number of ideas crammed into this episode, you’d think this was a TV movie instead of a television series. The series has already matched the hopeful tone of Richard Donner’s Superman (1978). If they can nail the pacing, it’s not hard to image Supergirl finding a home on CBS’ network as well as on television sets around the world.