There's a hilarious bit of irony to the title of this week's episode of Supergirl. It's so pointed and well-timed, I can't help but believe it's entirely intentional. World's Finest Comics was a series published by DC, beginning in 1941, which almost always featured both Batman and Superman. But because World's Finest Comics was an anthology series, the two superheroes wouldn't regularly appear together in stories until 1954, after the genre fell out of favor with the American public and DC needed to boost sales and lower-page counts.
So, the phrase "World's Finest" is often associated with Batman, Superman, and their famous friendship. It was a friendship, at least, until The Dark Knight Returns and Crisis on Infinite Earths arrived in the mid ’80s. Here's the ironic part: Supergirl titled its crossover episode with The Flash as "World's Finest" mere days after a blockbuster movie made Batman and Superman punch each other a lot. The whole thing reads as a friendly shot across the bow, a smirking way to say, "This is how you do a team-up."
Because holy crap.
Despite the presence of the Scarlet Speedster, "World's Finest" is a Supergirl episode through-and-through. All of the season's ongoing plotlines fold into it neatly, and the Flash is actually used in a way that helps move things forward without being the least bit tangential. (If you follow The Flash, it also fits in just fine with what's going on over there. If you don't, Supergirl tells you everything you need to know in this episode.)
Naturally, the episode begins where "Manhunter" left off, following Siobhan's rooftop discovery that she has a super scream. Winn takes her to the DEO to have her examined and tested, but they don't know what she is. She's just inexplicably superhuman.
While this develops, Kara is venting to Winn about how hard it's proving to win National City over again. I mean, come on! She even helps a family assemble their Ikea table.
Siobhan is sent home without any answers — but she also gets a glimpse of Livewire, the electric baddie who had a bone to pick with Cat Grant, who is locked up in her cell and ranting about what she'll do when she gets out.
Out on the streets, Siobhan begins suffering strange headaches and terrifying visions that eventually drive her to go back to CatCo, where she discovers that she's REALLY STRONG. (Poor Winn gets shoved clear across the room.) When she sees Kara, she deploys her sonic scream to blast her out a window.
Normally, this would leave Kara in a pickle — how can she save herself without blowing her secret identity? — except something crazy happens. She's saved by some guy in a red suit who can run really fast and calls himself the Flash. ("The who now?" Kara says, hilariously.) When Kara's clothes catch fire because of his super-speed, she not only remains nonplussed, but flies off to see if her co-workers are okay. That's how the Flash finds out she's Supergirl — "You're who now?" — and then they pause to be weirded out by each other's powers. After the Flash quizzes her on everyone he knows (Green Arrow, Black Canary, Firestorm, Atom, Zoom) only to be met with a blank stare, he figures out what might be wrong.
"Hi, I'm Barry Allen. I'm the fastest man alive. I also think I'm on the wrong Earth and I'm gonna need your help."
And lord, Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist are so goddamn charming together. Now that they're acquainted, Barry and Kara are instantly playful and eager to help one another out.
Kara introduces Barry to Team Supergirl in their secret CatCo backroom, where Barry explains how he got his powers and also how the multiverse works. He also makes James jealous because he is both helpful and a good-looking young man whom Kara clearly enjoys being around. (Also, the dialogue between Barry and the entire CatCo crew is so delightful. I want Barry to stop by every other week just to say hi.)
Meanwhile, Siobhan finds out her powers come from a family curse called "the banshee," which won't leave her until she kills the person who wronged her (what?) by using her scream, which also comes at the cost of her soul. (Oh, okay.)
This means Kara is now Siobhan's number-one priority. She's convinced herself that Supergirl looks out for Kara — she's under the impression that Supergirl saved her, and doesn't know about the Flash — so she decides to recruit a partner: Livewire.
At the DEO, Kara introduces everyone to Barry, who sees Kara's ship and thinks their Earth is so cool. When they get a read on Livewire, Kara decides to go after her half-cocked with no plan, unwilling to waste any time.
It doesn't go too well. Although Kara and Barry work admirably as a team, they're blindsided by Siobhan, who apparently got a villainous makeover and now calls herself Silver Banshee. Unready to take on the duo of Livewire and Silver Banshee, they retreat and regroup. (Sidenote: This is a very strange thing that Supergirl does all the time.)
They head back to CatCo, where Kara opens up to Barry about her Red Kryptonite episode. He encourages her to slow down (heh), and encourages her to accept an important truth: "When you can solve problems with brute strength or amazing speed, it's humbling to know there are things outside of your control."
The next day, the pair head our to the DEO to develop a countermeasure for Silver Banshee's powers, but not before she and Livewire kidnap Cat Grant. While holding Cat hostage at a park, they challenge Supergirl to come stop them before they execute her. Of course, the Flash tags along too.
"Why don't you step away from the nice lady and let's settle this like women," he says, getting a weird look from Kara. "What? There are more of you guys than me." Barry Allen, Supergirl is going to miss you so much.
Despite having an initial edge, Kara and the Flash eventually succumb to Livewire when the Flash gets zapped. Livewire then turns her attention to a news chopper, which she blasts at full strength. Kara throws herself in front of the blast, in front of a crowded park full of people.
It's the big self-sacrificing move that people needed to see to believe in Supergirl again, and while it's hokey as hell, it kind of works. There's a magnitude of difference between doing good deeds to win people over and laying down your life for them. As Supergirl lies on the ground barely able to move, National City huddles around her, a crowd of everyday people standing between her and Livewire. They'd be in a lot trouble, too, if someone didn't turn on a firehose and short Livewire out. Don't thank Barry Allen, though — this heroic act belongs to a bunch of firemen. "It was our turn to help you," they say.
I love this show so much that I'm not even going to be wonder why nobody bothered to think of this already. The moment is worth the narrative oversight.
But alas, with Livewire and Silver Banshee now apprehended, it's time for Barry to go home. How, exactly? Kara throws him as hard as she can while they both run at top speed. Comic books!
"Worlds Finest" doesn't end there, but with James Olsen dropping by Kara's apartment after spending most of the episode being jealous and sulking about Barry. (Incredibly, he's not even too unbearable about it. He's just like, "Oh, this must be what it feels like to not be the most handsome and interesting man in the room, how novel. Now go back to your own damn universe, Barry Allen.") Kara, who has been encouraged by everyone from Cat Grant (I know, right?) to Lucy Lane (I know, right?!) to just freaking go for it with this dude, spends a few minutes stumbling over an extended multiverse metaphor for their relationship before admitting, "I don't know what I'm saying, I'm so much better at doing," and then FINALLY GOING IN FOR THE FREAKING KISS.
Except when they finish kissing, Jimmy doesn't say anything. With a blank face, he leaves her apartment. All of National City steps outside simultaneously, as the streets are full of mindless people walking somewhere in tandem. Kara doesn't know it yet, but Non has made his move, and he's wielding a device that affects all of National City.
Guess the grace period is over.
- Cat Grant Line of the Night: "I thought I told you to tell Bernie Sanders I'm not interested in hot yoga."
- Other Cat Grant Line of the Night: "He was so unfailingly cheerful and nice that he either had to be a Mormon or a superhero."
- Winn loves busting James chops. "I didn't know your face muscles could go that way! Jealousy, thy name is Olsen!"
- Let's do this again, Barry. In case you haven't been watching, The Flash is one of the best ongoing superhero comic adaptations this side of Justice League Unlimited. Although it's not always perfect, it shares Supergirl's optimism, joy, and total celebration of the goofier aspects of its source material. These shows stand in stark contrast to the way DC characters are portrayed in big-budget cinema, emphasizing warmth and humanity over spectacle and might. The DC Universe is a vibrant place full of grand, outrageous ideas — and that it only works when it's injected with a ton of feeling. It can only succeed when you want to follow the characters to worlds beyond reason. The movie and television corners of the DC universe don't need to share anything in common, but there's nothing wrong with them learning a thing or two from one another.
- Like, really soon. Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist are so cute onscreen together. It's almost kind of disgusting.