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Our long national nightmare is over
There we were, at the end of the season, a nice run to the finish line. Kara (Melissa Benoist) had saved the world with a message of hope and a barrage of super fists and we could finally settle into the calm succeeding a stage boss well vanquished. Hank (David Harewood) resumed his role as the head of the DEO. Cat (Calista Flockhart) used Kara's real name. People felt the warm fuzzies about the word "family." It was a good time.
But then we still had the Abyss of James (Mehcad Brooks).
My feelings about the James and Kara coupling the show tried to impress on the audience are no secret. In fact, my previous articles on Supergirl are, more or a less, a litany of reasons I thought James was less of an admirer of Kara's and more of a fetishist of Kryptonians. Clark. Kara. It didn't really matter. Lucy Lane's (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) later confessions of being jealous and a historical revisionist encouraged me to step back my James-as-a-pervert rhetoric. But I still maintain this should still be on the table.
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But what mostly fed that line of thinking was the absolute lack of chemistry between our hero and the photojournalist that hoped to see the El coat of arms on his bedroom floor. After Winn (Jeremy Jordan) was sloughed off, this James and Kara thing was the 'ship of the season and no one could care less. It was an emptiness, a chasm of feeling, the lone true failure of a season that'd really improved with a fun run of episodes. In the face of a bright shining star, it was oblivion.
Kara Likes to Please People, James Is People
OK, maybe that's a little strong. But it seems like the audience wasn't the only one that noticed the romantic hiccup. Almost as suddenly the window opened for the relationship to finally happen, the Season 2 premiere closed that window, locked the doors, and burned the house down. Karames/Jamara/Karimmy asphyxiated almost immediately.
Rather than burying the romance in the elided time or making it secondary until James finds someone else while Kara punches asteroids away from Earth of whatever, the show decided to address head-on the fact that their chemistry has all the edge of lukewarm milk. James mentions that, after the path was cleared for them to finally be together, something changed for her. But nothing changed in the two days between the defeat of Myriad and the whole Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) fiasco. Kara just realized that, with the path wide open, she was walking down a road she didn't want to travel.
Kara explains to James that she has a lot of self-discovery on her plate and I get that. The chaos of Supergirl's life doesn't lend to the kind of quotidian existence that James represents. But she also knows in her heart that she and James are better as friends. Which leads me to believe that she mostly wanted to make James happy by sacrificing herself. The theme of the Season 2 premiere differentiates itself from Season 1 by Kara giving herself the permission to put herself first. And that means spark-less romances need to be left by the wayside, even with their muscles flexed and their heart lamps lit.
On the Lookout for Mr. (or Miss?) Right
There are some that might equate her numbness to James and the "flimsy" Joey Potter excuse of finding oneself to maybe that it's not just that James isn't the one. What if Kara actually finds herself on somewhere different on the gender preference spectrum? It's not exactly an unprecedented move and the narrative flags are not not present.
The difference though between Supergirl and other properties is that Kara is, like, the poster child for CW Chaste Hero Syndrome (a pathology that should probably be left to Berlanti's well-trained therapist) which means the show would rather see the Danvers sisters hole up together Grey Gardens-style than to allow Supergirl have her personality defined by a non-heteronormative sexuality. Maybe she's a gray ace, but I don't see the Berlanti-verse allowing Miss Danvers to wander into work one day humming Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl (and I Liked It)" any time soon.
But this also brings up an interesting theory. Kara's very much an alien. What are Kryptonian preferences like? It's one thing for Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) to fall in love with a human because he was raised human and the only Kryptonian he knows is his cousin. Earthlings are all he's ever known. But Kara was on the crest of womanhood by the time she flew into the Phantom Zone. How has that affected her approach to dating and sexual preference? What if she's not asexual or chaste? What if humans aren't her thing?
I mean, they are her thing since she's really into making sure they don't all die. But what if Kara is only into humanoids from her own destroyed planet? And what if her only shot at a soul mate happens to be the handsome devil that just fell to Earth in a Kryptonian escape pod? James: what a poor, not-powered-by-Earth's-yellow-sun sucker.
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No One Needs to Move on Kara
It's worth noting that Kara's passing interest in smooching is also a little refreshing. It's not like Kara had a lot of time between her many, many punching contests; a large, extra-terrestrial criminal syndicate out to destroy her; and Danvers sisterly moments (which better carry over). Complicate her life with a job in journalism and does this very busy woman have time to have it all? I'm starting to talk myself out of this position.
The point is/was that it's nice that Supergirl doesn't lament about no boys in her life and doesn't fall into the traps of her running into battles on tilt because a boy that she could throw into the stratosphere forgot her birthday. Kara zor-El is a better, more nuanced character which is a strong feat for someone with a Superman Problem (a white hat with no flaws and few vulnerabilities). She honestly does have a lot on her plate and the might not be room to take a lover. I'm OK with there being no romantic storyline and I say this as an intense Jane the Virgin enthusiast.
What I do know is that we dodged a bullet by the show not continuing the James and Kara arc. Maybe they're setting up something up for later and this isn't the last we'll hear from them. That's fine. Give it some room to breathe. Make something beautiful. I'm just happy we get to move on to discuss other things. Like the DEO's above ground digs that still has a lot of glass around. Is no one afraid of death-from-above shards in a building that's basically a sitting duck for giant space monsters? Come on now.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, the parent company of The CW.)