Supergirl Recap: Shock Jock

By
Photo: Darren Michaels/CBS
Supergirl
Show
Supergirl
Episode Title
Livewire
Season
1
Episode
4
Editor’s Rating
4/5

A bit of housekeeping first: "Livewire" was supposed to air next week, when the Thanksgiving theme would be more timely than it is now. However, the original fourth episode, "How Does She Do It?" was pushed back after CBS decided its terrorism-themed plot would be in poor taste following the tragic attack in Paris. We'll see that episode next week instead.

If the switch causes any continuity mix-ups, they'll be negligible. If no one told you that Supergirl skipped an episode, you almost wouldn't be able to tell. The only plot point that sticks out involves James Olsen and Lucy Lane's relationship; after Lucy arrived at the end of last week's episode, the two are suddenly back together and about to take a trip out of town for the holiday.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

After trouncing a "havoc-wreaking lady-beast thing," Kara hurries back to her apartment because her foster mother (played by former Supergirl Helen Slater) is in town for Thanksgiving.

Before we settle into the Danvers family Thanksgiving, though, we've got to meet someone: shock jock Leslie Willis, a brassy DJ with a large fanbase and an even larger bone to pick with Supergirl. Willis has made it her personal mission to take the Girl of Steel down a peg, putting her at odds with Cat Grant, who has made branding and selling Supergirl her personal mission. And because Grant owns the radio station that hosts Willis, she tells her to stop talking about Supergirl. Willis refuses, loses her cushy position, and gets reassigned to wither away in a traffic helicopter.

This, of course, will come back to bite Cat in the ass.

Okay, back to Thanksgiving with the Danvers — now with 100 percent more Winn, since Kara found out that he had planned to spend the holiday alone. The dinner gets awkward, though, because Eliza is upset that Kara went public with her powers. She says she's mad at Alex, not Kara — which Kara doesn't quite believe. Still, Kara suggests that Alex come out with her secret too, just to clear the air.

In other words, she thinks Alex should be all like, "Hi Mom, I now work for a clandestine government agency dedicated to tracking down superpowered alien criminals, and I also keep an eye on my foster sister just like you asked. This could never go wrong, right?" Or something.

Anyway, remember how I said that Cat Grant's decision to relegate Leslie Willis to traffic duty would backfire? Well, a freak lightning storm hits National City, the traffic copter spins out of control. Kara arrives on the scene as Supergirl, and quickly saves the pilot. After Kara catches the falling chopper, she grabs Leslie's hand to save her too, but then gets struck by lightning. Electricity rushes through the both of them.

This is the problem I was talking about. I'm really big on foreshadowing.

As Perd Hapley of Parks and Recreation fame gives us the news of this near-disaster, Leslie lies in a hospital bed unconscious — with some really dope blue-gray hair — until Cat and Kara leave her bedside. Then she wakes up, electricity flowing through her eyes, and WHOA SHE'S GOT SUPERPOWERS.

In case you weren't sure about those powers, she goes outside and zaps a dude, transforms into a current of non-corporeal electric energy, and dives into a lamppost. Don't you love comic books?

As this freak storm continues, the Danvers women and Winn gather around the table. Kara wants them to do the whole "let's all say what we're thankful for" thing, but unfortunately, Alex just doesn't give a wooden nickel. Before Winn can get to his list, James Olsen calls Kara — and she runs off to take the call, still swooning over him. It all but deflates poor Winn. I hope this love triangle ends up going somewhere good.

Once that's done with, Alex decides to follow her sister's advice. She tells Eliza about her work for the DEO, which infuriates her mother, who is upset that she lied to her for years. This kinda comes across as a double standard in Alex's eyes, because Eliza is totally cool with Kara having a Big Secret, and is never ever hard on her alien foster daughter in any way. We know this because of a really charming flashback where Young Kara and Young Alex sneak out to fly around the countryside. They get caught, though, and there are repercussions. Repercussions that involve DEO chief Hank Henshaw.

Remember what I said about foreshadowing? Isn't it fun?

Back in the present, Kara gets called away from Thanksgiving dinner by Cat Grant, who has suddenly lost power to every electronic device in her massive room of electronic devices. That's because Leslie — who now calls herself Livewire — is using her powers to terrorize her.

Cat, however, has secretly been a badass this whole time. She totally takes control of the situation and tells Kara to go to security, 20 floors down, while she keeps Livewire distracted. This gives Kara enough time to return as Supergirl. Since Livewire can become a being of pure energy at will, though, it's easy for her to escape. This show needs a second act and it's not going to come out of nowhere, you know?

At least her powers look really good.

As blackouts spread throughout the city, Perd Hapley tells us that the situation in National City is becoming more dire. (Livewire is getting stronger, absorbing more energy as she blacks out neighborhood after neighborhood.) Meanwhile, Kara has changed out of her Supergirl duds and returned to Cat's ruined office with Hank and the police.

There's a really great scene here between Cat and Kara, one that echoes what Alex and Eliza are going through. Cat talks about how her mother was never satisfied with her accomplishments, and that made her demanding and pushy to those around her. She even doesn't know the first thing about Kara — like the fact that her personal history includes two parents that died when she was 13.

Cat also laments that she never pushed Leslie Willis to do better, instead rewarding her for the results that she got for being awful. In a way, Cat Grant created Livewire long before the accident did. As I said, it's a nice scene. I love that Calista Flockhart is getting to flesh out this character without sacrificing her edge.

A similar scene plays out back at Kara's apartment, as Alex returns to check on Eliza during the blackout. Eliza explains that she was so much harder on Alex because she wanted Alex to be better than she was. Kara, a little girl who lost her entire world, needed to be comforted. "You have always been my Supergirl," Eliza tells her.

I should note that a cover of "Take Me to Church" is playing under this conversation, and it's kind of weird.

So, Cat tells Kara that she has a plan to lure Livewire out into the open if Supergirl is willing to help. (She is, duh.) This plan isn't really all that complicated: They'll taunt her over the radio, then hope she shows up to fry Cat, so Supergirl can trap her with a DEO doodad.

This doesn't turn out as planned, but there is a big fight where Livewire uses her powers to make laser whips. (Comic books are so cool.) Ultimately, Kara punches a hole through the asphalt, rips open a water main, and uses that to short her out. The superfreak of the week is toast. It's the most metal thing Kara has done so far.

Time for a nice emotional beat and a final twist!

The beat involves Winn, who never got to tell Danvers what he's thankful for. At work, he tells Kara that his family never really celebrated holidays, since his father was locked up for being a criminal. (We're gonna be hear more about Winn's father later in the season. Foreshadowing! The show does it too.) Then, he tells Kara that he's thankful for her … and tries to plant a kiss on her cheek.

WINN YOU WERE SO CLOSE TO HAVING A SWEET MOMENT WHY DID YOU BLOW IT.

Luckily, Kara notices that James is back in town and rushes off, which is a nifty way for her to escape that uncomfortable situation and crush Winn's feelings. This is how nice boys become supervillains.

Oh, and that final twist? It's a good one. Throughout this really weird holiday, Eliza has wanted to get something off of her chest about her late husband Jeremiah Danvers (played by former Superman Dean Cain). The episode flashes back to the night Kara and Alex had their flight around the countryside. It turns out that Hank showed up at the Danvers home because he wanted to take Kara. Instead, Mr. Danvers offered up himself — and all the knowledge in his brain about Superman. Hank accepts the offer, and back in the present, Eliza drops the bombshell: Mr. Danvers didn't die in an accident. He died working for the DEO and Hank Henshaw.

Suddenly, Alex and Kara are very suspicious of the man they've been working for. Game on.