- Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Caitlin Parrish
- Directed by Kevin Tancharoen
Kara’s foster mother visits for Thanksgiving, while an accident transforms a volatile CatCo employee into Livewire.
Catch ‘Supergirl‘ on CBS Mondays @ 8/7 central and airing in the UK on Sky One Thursdays @ 8 and available on catchup.
Due to events in Paris last week the previously advertised episode of ‘Supergirl’ ‘How Does She Do It?’ has been postponed and will now air 23/11. That means we’ve jumped one week ahead in ‘Livewire’ so there are a couple of confusing elements to the story.
Where previous episode, ‘Fight or Flight’ (reviewed here), left off we had just met Lucy Lane who is coincidentally a love interest for James Olsen – cue the required love-triangle. Clearly this was the setup for an episode which would explore Kara’s burgeoning feelings for James and his dysfunctional relationship with Lucy. We’ve missed that so here she’s more of an established character and the two are shipped off for Thanksgiving. Yes I said Thanksgiving. As we have lost a week Thanksgiving has crept up on us rather fast and that can only mean one thing… visiting relatives.
‘Livewire’ is as much the story of the villain of the week as it is about Kara’s foster parents. The episode is split equally between flashbacks and the story of Leslie Willis.
Let’s start with Kara.
So far very little has been made of the D.E.O.’s potential to do wrong with its power. We’ve seen that Director Henshaw has glowing eyes so there’s obviously something bubbling beneath the surface but ‘Livewire’ begins to drag that out in to the open. Through flashbacks we learn that Kara was fond of showing off her powers to sister Alex. This caught the attention of Henshaw who visits the Danvers home with a view to taking Kara away. In a bid to save his foster daughter from harm Jeremiah Danvers offers to use his knowledge of Krypton and its people to work for Henshaw which leads to some familial revelations in the present day.
The show hasn’t relied heavily on flashbacks beyond the origin story of the pilot. Thankfully ‘Livewire’ mixes them in with the present day story well and doesn’t fall back on cliched story tropes for the sake of driving the series forward. Young Kara and Alex are played well and there’s a tangible sisterly bond which makes Dr Danvers decision to join the D.E.O. truly believable.
In the present day the strained relationship between Alex and her mother does feel relatively forced, Chyler Leigh seems a little grown up to try the getting drunk at the Thanksgiving dinner table routine but writers Aguirre-Sacasa and Parrish decide to tread that path anyway. Sadly it’s the present day familial bond between mother and daughters which falls in to the cliche here.
The story of Leslie Willis/Livewire adds some much needed action to the episode. The character comes right from the mind of Bruce Timm so from the outset you know it’s going to be good. Her transition from really annoying shock-jock to super villain comes in a brilliantly crafted CGI sequence which feels like an update of the old helicopter crash from ‘Superman’ (1978).
There’s little of the tragic villain tale and more of a story of absolute power corrupting. Leslie was a jerk before the accident and after it she was just a jerk with powers and a grudge against Cat Grant. In fact her story teaches us more about Cat than it does about any other character in the series. Learning a little of Cat’s past and seeing her want to learn more about Kara the human rather than Kara the Kryptonian seems to be the beginning of softening her character out. Ironically her scenes seem much less softly focussed unlike her character.
‘Supergirl’ has stepped a long way from it’s Astra arc with ‘Livewire’ but wrapped up in a Thanksgiving masterpiece is a really solid character story which brings focus on to many of the wonderful people in ‘Supergirl’. I had to remark whilst watching it that part of me wanted this show to be as bad as the initial trailer but that the end product is actually thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly well made.