“You’ve spent more time in the friendzone than the Phantom Zone.”
I think we’ve found the best line on Supergirl thus far. It’s a gentle burn from Alex to Kara, about how the latter tries so hard to make everyone happy that she’ll let James Olsen talk to her about his gorgeous ex-girlfriend Lucy Lane, instead of presenting herself as a viable romantic option. But here’s the twist—Lucy is intimdated by Supergirl.
Spoilers for Supergirl 1×04 “How Does She Do It?”
Clearly that was the subplot that most interested me in this week’s episode (pushed back a week because of its bombing-centric plot), though honestly there wasn’t much meat on its bones to start with. The episode laid out three subplots and only managed to make small inroads into each… not unlike the episode’s central question!
Friendzoning and Competition
Lucy Lane claims she’s in town to work a case for the government, but it’s just an excuse (she admits it!) to see James. While everyone thought he broke up with her to move to National City, she dumped him. So, what’s changed her mind? For one, Supergirl.
My favorite scene in the episode was Kara running into Lucy at the local food joint and stammering about how cool and collected she is. (‘Shippers, take note of the earlier exchange with Winn during which Kara made a comment about how nice Lucy smells and “hell, I’d want to date her.”) “Just because I look a certain way on the outside,” Lucy calmly retorts, “doesn’t match what I feel on the inside.” It’s a keen reminder that even the beautiful, seemingly #blessed women are besieged by their own insecurities. For Lois Lane’s younger sister, her insecurities wear a big S: Turns out that the real wedge between her and James’ relationship was Superman, since James would drop everything whenever his buddy needed help. The Man of Steel became the other man.
“And this hero wears a skirt. How am I ever going to compete with her?”
Aww, Lucy. Even though Kara initially makes a “pfft” laugh at the idea of ever putting one of Lucy’s hairs out of place, it’s hard to compete with superpowers, eternal youth, and darn earnest goodness. Of course, that same goodness is what sends Lucy and James back into each other’s arms, and off to Ojai for a romantic Thanksgiving.
“How Do You Have It All?”
In addition to juggling romantic distress, Kara volunteers to watch Cat Grant’s son Carter while his mother spends most of the episode off-screen accepting a prestigious award (and rubbing Lois Lane’s nose in it). Let me just say, I am so glad that Carter—who Cat describes as “gifted”—doesn’t turn out to be a little terror, as often happens on more clichéd plotlines like this. If anything, scenes like him and Winn playing video games on Cat’s giant TV screen setup are adorable. He does have a pretty strong crush on Supergirl, however, which leads him into a bit of trouble when one of Maxwell Lord’s ex-employees tries to bomb his company’s SUPERTRAIN and Carter goes trailing after Supergirl like a little duckling. (More on that in a few.)
Look, I get the constant need to hustle, but Kara is going to burn herself out sooner rather than later basically pulling two jobs. I also refuse to believe that Cat would realistically let such a low-level employee get away with taking so many lunch breaks and emergency errands without demanding more of her time. Hell, I have trouble leaving the Flatiron for a break most days.
But Kara feels our Millennial pain at trying to do everything and be everywhere; for her, it’s just more literal. As in, “how do I stop this sad man from activating the bomb strapped to his chest while also making sure Carter isn’t in the blast radius?” Of course, that’s not what she asks Cat at the end of the episode when, crisis averted, she wants to know how Cat manages to juggle everything. Of course, that sets her boss off:
“You have stumbled across the most annoying question of the century, and you’re too young to realize it. You learn. You start juggling one thing, and then you add another.”
Not all at once, Cat cautions, and not right away. “And not with that hair.” Now that we’ve seen the softer side of Cat, I’ll let jabs like that slide. And while this was a key conversation for the two women to have, I would have liked to see it come much later in season 1, when Kara is actually exhausted from her double life.
Maxwell Lord, Villain in the Wings
Now, Supergirl’s scene halting the SUPERTRAIN—having disconnected the portion with the bomber—lacked the heart of Spider-Man halting a subway car in Spider-Man 2, but it still got some attention. Turns out that all of this episode’s crises—the train, before that a bomb leveling a building, and before that, a drone—were all tests to see if Supergirl really could do it all. And they were set by Maxwell Lord himself. Now, this isn’t really a surprise, considering that in the comics Max is a major adversary of the Justice League, but for now, he’s got his sights set on one pretty young superhero. The drone tested agility, the bomb speed, but the train… that was all about choice. Who mattered so much to Supergirl that she would stop the SUPERTRAIN?
And here I was so hoping that Carter was Maxwell’s son—remember his and Cat’s flirty banter at the CatCo party a few episodes back—but alas, they’re virtual strangers. And yet, where did he get his nerdery from? (Side note: The thought of Cat Grant playing Settlers of Catan with Carter is too adorable.)
At any rate, this episode sets up Maxwell Lord as a potential Big Bad… though of course, we haven’t seen Astra for a few episodes, so perhaps the former opponents will team up in the future.