Supergirl ‘Livewire’ Review

Supergirl ‘Livewire’ Review

‘How does she do it?’ was the previously scheduled episode of Supergirl for this week, but after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, CBS made the decision of pulling the episode and replacing it with ‘Livewire’ as the former had some terrorist elements. There wasn’t a lot of damage to the structure and arc of the show as Thanksgivings came just a week early on it. Just like Harley Quinn, Livewire is another supervillain that debuted in the DC Animated Universe and was later incorporated in the comics as well. She had a brief appearance on Smallville, but she wasn’t fully-realized until now.

While some elements of this episode don’t exactly gel, Livewire gives us some more insight into Kara’s adopted family and gives us a new angle on Cat Grant. Of course, no Thanksgiving episode is ever complete if there isn’t any family drama. So, the Danvers family is explored for the first time in Supergirl and it is just bad luck that Winn is caught in the crossfire. Dean Cain and Helen Slater appear as the Danvers, although the former is only seen in flashbacks as we find out how the leadership of Henry Henshaw led to his death.

While comic fans were more or less expecting the twist, it was a relief to see that Kara and Alex stand on the same side in their distrust of the DEO. Some of the least interesting moments of the show are part of the organization, not the least of which is Supergirl considering her hero duties ‘work’ and using the term ‘sir’ to refer to Henshaw. The DEO’s deputation of Supergirl grates a bit, but it seems as if this problem will be loosened by Jeremiah Danvers’ fate. Also, the incorporation of a bigger mystery is bound to spice things up a bit throughout the season since we already know who will be the overarching villain.

The major problem of the episode is that there isn’t much room for Kara’s character to grow. She ends the episode in the almost the same position she began in, with the only difference is that she took down a couple of more supervillains. She is still rebuffing Winn’s advances even though he gives us a juicy titbit about his death. She is still pining after James who is off holidaying with Lucy. However, after the disastrous handling of his character in the episode, it was a good thing he was removed in this one.

Nonetheless, even without the episode that was scheduled to air this week, it seems as his character has been shuffled to the bottom. At least, we get an excellent villain this time. The show keeps Livewire close to the original character as this shock jock has a vendetta against Supergirl and also Cat Grant, as we find out later. She is blasted by lightning and ends up with super powers based on electricity. One of the best parts of this show is that it is providing us with a variety of supervillains and in different ways; not every villain gets powers due to an exploding particle accelerator or a meteor shower.

It would also have been pretty easy to make each villain an escaped Kryptonian, but we saw some interesting foes in the last two episodes. The show effectively handled Livewire’s journey from being a shock jock to becoming the big bad of the episode and Brit Morgan played it with gutso. However, there is no denying that her disdain for Supergirl and her relationship with Cat Grant would have had a more real touch if we had met her a few episodes back. Even if she could have been mentioned as just another media voice criticizing Supergirl, it would have made her journey a great deal more effective and relatable.

More importantly, her presence could have enhanced the arc of Cat’s story in this episode. The most surprising consequence of Leslie Willis journeying and becoming Livewire is the impact it has on Cat Grant because the character realizes that she is responsible for driving the radio DJ to the edge and has created the persona, which is just magnified when Leslie gets her powers. We see a prominent change in Cat Grant’s character as she feels loathing and guilt over Leslie’s negativity and Livewire’s birth. She remains tough and rigid, but we come to know that she has deep compassion.

We see the compassion when Kara tells Cat about her birth parents and inspires Cat to get to know her assistant better. This episode made a huge effort to develop Cat’s character and succeeded in doing so for the most part. Unfortunately, apart from Cat, the second primary character arc of the episode is Alex and her mother. Already, Alex is the show’s least interesting character and her behavior with her mother isn’t earning her any points. The whole point of exploring this character is to show that Alex finds it difficult to accept that even though she is a DEO agent, Eliza has always ridden her hard and hasn’t been much supportive in her endeavors.

In theory, this concept seems quite acceptable, but its execution is less-than-stellar because it gives the impression that Alex also wants the admiration and love that’s directed at Kara for being Supergirl. Alex’s is not struggling with the fact that her mother isn’t proud of her or doesn’t love her; her problem is that she doesn’t get to bask in the glory. This may not have been the intent, but it is how the performance came off. All in all, in this episode, we get a really interesting and fun supervillain and also get a chance to dig deeper into the character of Cat Grant.

Brit Morgan does a great job of playing the titular villain and the action is enjoyable. Plus, we also get some insights into the workings of the Danvers’ family, which adds a touch of intrigue. The downside is that Kara’s hero work shifts to the background as the Alex and Eliza drama unfolds.

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