Supergirl has accomplished something a lot harder than defeating Myriad - it has genuinely earned a second season.
The show premiered in September under a lot of pressure to deliver on a beloved comic book entity. Despite Melissa Benoist's faithful delivery of Kara Zor-El's unwavering optimism, the first half of the season struggled with a Superman dependency issue and an identity crisis that made it sometimes hard for Supergirl to get off the ground, let alone reach her full flying capacity.
The second half of the season found Kara feeling much more comfortable in her cape, with the Red Kryptonite episode, "Falling," a major turning point. The show's growth was further bolstered by the Flash crossover and sealed with a thoughtful, emotive first season finale that played into the show's core strength - hope.
The final hour of Supergirl's first season - which was penned by "Falling" scribes Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller — was again anchored by Benoist's expert ability to pull on the audience's heartstrings. After Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater) helped prove that a sense of hope can break Myriad's hold over the humans, Kara broadcast a message to all of National City that they have the power to fight back against the Kryptonian control. What could have easily been a cheesy, over-the-top ploy became a poignant touchstone of the episode and proved that Supergirl has deftly nailed the ability to be uplifting and bright without sacrificing drama. Not only was it a well-written speech, but it also represented Supergirl's relationship with her city and what she represents to the people she's dedicated her life to saving. This is what Supergirl means to National City. This is what Supergirl means to us.
Of course, Non is the type of super villain to have a backup plan. When the humans refused to save the planet under his control, he and Indigo (Laura Vandervoot) decided to kill the human population by using the Myriad signal to make their heads explode. Supergirl then had mere hours to come up with a plan to destroy the Kryptonian power source, and none of her options gave her a likely chance of returning from the fight alive.
Kara's round of cryptic goodbyes in light of the dangerous mission she was about to embark on could have easily waded into heavy-handed territory, but instead, added a deep level of heart to the episode and consequently worked as a reminder of what the audience would miss if Kara Zor-El never came back. The first stop highlighted her friendship with Winn (Jeremy Jordan), which has achieved comedic camaraderie as he's let go of his obsession with dating Kara. The second stop was her mentorship with Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), which has become the gem that keeps on shining for the show. Her third stop was Kara's heartbreaking desire for James (Mehcad Brooks) and the slow burn that's finally been fanned into full flames. No one is ready for that fire to go out yet. The last stop was to see J'onn J'onzz (David Harewood) to show that Supergirl has matured into the brave, selfless hero all of Kara's father figures could be proud of.
The final emotional gut punch of the episode came after Kara defeated Non and Indigo and realized that the only way to stop Myriad from exploding the heads of everyone she loves would be to fly Fort Rozz into space and leave it there, along with herself. While Kara was at peace with sacrificing herself, her goodbye speech to Alex (Chyler Leigh) could melt the coldest of hearts. This show is about camaraderie, love and, dare we say it again, hope.
The tour of goodbyes also came with good payoff. Alex got her own chance to be the hero by using Kara's pod to save her sister from floating in space. J'onn J'onzz is no longer an alien enemy of the state, but Supergirl's partner in crime. Cat Grant let down her prickly exterior to allow the best assistant she's ever had know how much she means to her. And Kara and James finally got their (consensual) kiss. For intrigue, Kara's pod returned to Earth with a mysterious inhabitant that left fans eager for answers — along with a trip to Project Cadmus. (Our only request is that Kara and Clark find a more sophisticated way of communicating than through Instant Messages that any half-witted IT person could read. Surely there's a Kryptonian code system they could use instead).
In a superhero landscape (especially the DC universe) that peddles in dark and brooding, Supergirl has fulfilled the promise of the ambitious symbol of El that's stamped on her chest. Kara has learned to not only embrace all aspects of being a hero, but also how to work on a team. Supergirl not only found who she is, but proved why we need her.
Currently, the superhero drama awaits a formal second season announcement. If the powers that be still need convincing, the season finale proves that we need Kara's optimism and her bravery. Supergirl has earned its right to fly.
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