There's a disease spreading throughout National City. It puts people's lives in danger. Victims often find themselves bleeding and bruised, possibly with internal injuries. They might find themselves catatonic, on the brink of death, their minds slowly warped by the infection. And patient zero is none other than Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) herself. The disease is superheroism.
James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) banding together to collectively stand up to Kara over keeping pro bono Guardian jobs is just the newest example of people feeling their destinies are wrapped in not only helping others but helping others on grand scales. It's not enough to give a dollar to a homeless vet or to volunteer at a women's shelter. Taking up jobs of pedestrian heroism often represented by Fisher Price Little People (police, firefighters, teachers, doctors) is too local, too gradual, too boring. The Guardian stops crime before it even has a chance to be pulled off and they do it multiple times a night with all the hyperbolic flare befitting a demigod (or a team with demigod aspirations).
Supergirl hasn't even accrued two seasons and it feels like everyone on the show has the potential to turn into a costumed crime-fighting vigilante at any given moment. Think about the time before Kara donned the shield of the House of El. James was a mild-mannered buddy to Superman. Winn was just a lovesick redditor in the IT department. Alex (Chyler Leigh) and the DEO were doing extraordinary things rooting out aliens but, really, how good could they have been? I mean, that alien bar was right under their noses and no one knew about it. Not exactly super sleuths.
Mon-El (Chris Wood) joining the fray with his Superboy glasses and visceral need to protect Kara is just the latest of people who've come into contact with a Kryptonian and contracted the selfless desire to throw themselves into villainous disaster. We're assembling a sort of recast Superfriends here on Supergirl (as all the Arrowverse shows are wont to do). Maggie (Floriana Lima) and Alex are teaming up with the power of the DEO and Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) behind them. Guardian is one part super soldier and one part zingers. And even the Daxamite, and I say that with all the contempt in the world, even the DAXAMITE is ready to put himself between Kara and doom. Maybe people see that as a good thing. Some at S.T.A.R. Labs might posit, "What's a superhero without a team?"
But is the superhero-ification of every character kind of genome-editing the very DNA of the show?
At one time, this show was about Kara's struggle to balance her life with her drive to be a hero. The beginning of this season was about finding out who Kara Danvers is (thus, she became a reporter... just like her cousin). If everyone she knows becomes a hero, is that Kara finding normalcy? Or is that just everyone else tilting the balance to one side so Kara can forget about her humanity so she can exist only as an invulnerable Kryptonian?
This isn't to say that I begrudge these characters from finding superhero solace. James becoming the Guardian makes sense as someone who has seen first-hand Superman and then Supergirl do extraordinary things and has been clearly very invested in their lives. It's also been very good for him on a character development level. No longer is he defined by Kara's interest in him. Guardian has given him life, vitality, and dimension even beyond his heroics. Standing up to Kara was a huge step forward for him.
But sometimes you get the feeling that Kara needs a squishy human around every once in a while. Snapper (Ian Gomez) seems to be the only person on the show now that isn't either a heart-of-gold alien or a human dressed to the nines in armor and weaponry in pursuit of hearts-of-coal aliens. In "We Can Be Heroes," we don't even see Snapper. Kara is a reporter but only really as an excuse to be on the scene so Supergirl could learn about Livewire's kidnapping. The only real, non-superhero moment for Kara was sitting through Mon-El's confession to her, which I would imagine did take a certain amount super-will to not take some kind of action, either in smooches or in spitting hot fire for him even suggesting that she needs to be protected by him. This guy, amirite?
If the thesis statement of Season 2 was supposed to be about Kara finding herself and finding balance, as was her reasoning for not pursuing things with James in Episode 1, maybe this shift is what Kara really is. Maybe there's no need for a Kara Danvers if she can be Kara zor-El all the time on the DEO's payroll. Why bother being a reporter if she can help locally without ever taking off the suit? What's the point of maintaining a mild-mannered persona?
But all of this isn't to say that it's not understandable why the humans and non-Kryptonians on the show have been so easily infected. There are threats that they seemingly have no control over and every day must feel like a slippery slope into certain peril or a compromise of their very livelihoods, what with a new terror rearing its head every couple days. The helplessness the population of National City must feel on a daily basis is probably excruciating. You want to help but what can you do as just a squishy, wandering meatsack? You are not impervious to bullets. You are not able to fly to the high ground. You do not have an instantaneous aptitude for mixed martial arts. Do you hope that a superhero is just around the corner, waiting to rescue you from the galling horrors? Or do you assume that help is not on the way, that the troubles are yours to solve, organize, and take matters into your own hands, inspired by the beautiful heroes in your midst?
Of course James isn't going to ditch Winn and The Guardian. He's not throwing away his shot on making an immediate impact and feeling that instant gratification of grand scale good. Winn might be a sleepy fella but he feels the same way. Maybe he won't win in a punching contest but he can make more of a difference from the van than he can anywhere else.
It's just interesting to think about whether this show is changing direction from earlier this season when it was more dedicated to how Kara Danvers lived to now as Kara is possibly being swept off her feet by another alien from another dead planet while all of her friends are in the crime-fighting business. If there was an insinuation that Kara would try to find normalcy in her life, that seems to have all but evaporated. What's "normal" now?
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