Written by: Kenzie Tartaglione
It astounds me what has been forgotten.
Kara Zor-El is not human. Unlike Kal-El, her secret is not so much that she has these powers, but that she is not human. Kara is Kryptonian. She is the sole survivor of her entire world. She lost her culture and her home. She watched her planet burn. “Everything was wiped from the stars.” And in season one, this was remembered with a tone of reverence and was depicted beautifully. She is filled with rage and anger and grief that she can never let out because of her fear of hurting anyone. I cannot help but wonder if the creators/writers of season two and some of the current audience watching have forgotten and cannot see past sunny, smiley, Kara Danvers. That constant smile on her face takes diligence and work. That smile hides the memory of Krypton’s destruction. It hides the memory of her parents’ faces as she was sent away. It hides the memory of Kal-El, the only person from Krypton left, finding her and immediately deserting her again. Kara is deeply troubled and hides crushing abandonment issues behind a façade of smiles.
This show is about feminism, family, friends, trust, hope, and sacrifice. It is about empowering one another. Most importantly though, it is about Kara.
If you looked back through season two to find Kara’s storyline without it being the agency for someone else’s storyline or just to push the plot ahead, you will not find it. It is not that it got lost in the jumble of untraceable plot lines that have oversaturated this season, making it almost impossible to follow. Either it completely does not exist or its incredibly unclear. Her screen time, her speaking time, and her regular appearance on the show has dropped dramatically. They have tried to build an ensemble cast for a show that is not an ensemble. Season one allowed for James, Winn, even J’onn to have their own storylines while not overshadowing Kara’s. Which means, season two had the ability for Alex’s growth and the introduction of Mon-El without sidelining the driving force that made this show.
Kara grew exponentially throughout season one. The entire point of that season was for her to figure out what it meant to be Supergirl but also to figure out who she was and wanted to be. But the people and events that shaped that growth, have been forgotten.
Vanished. Of course she was a minor character so she was not going to be around forever but she was a huge part of Kara’s life. She was James’ ex. She is Lois’ sister and despite their relationship standing, with the arrival of Superman and the mention of Lois, it could have been supposed that Lucy would have at least been commented on. She became deputy director of the DEO and we are supposed to believe the DEO does not cooperate amongst their different divisions? It is much too convenient to have forgotten about this woman.
Her story is heart-wrenching. Throwing aside the fact that she became Kara’s enemy, she was also Kara’s family. Kara was under the impression that everyone she ever knew was lost and Astra shows up and spins her world off its axis. Everyone asks so much of Kara, pitting her against a woman she cares about. Not only that but Astra was her mother’s twin. Every time Kara saw Astra, she saw Allura. They asked her to fight her aunt and she did because if Kara Zor-El gives, she gives until there is nothing left but hurt. Astra was a soldier who had a mission but she would have given that up to be Kara’s family again. There was doubt in her mind; there was the possibility that she would change for that feeling again.
Astra’s storyline was ended in season one. There was no expectation for her to be brought back. But, Kara never forgot that face. Kara does not go one day without thinking of what it could have been like if Astra had not been killed. Absolutely zero mention of Astra is a disgrace to a memory that Kara will live with forever.
There might be some disagreement about those points because Lucy and Astra are not part of season two so why does it matter? Well first of all it matters because it was an integral part of Kara’s character development (if any one finds that, please return immediately). But, if that is the logic, okay, I can work with that. Because in season two, if a character is not in an episode, they are not mentioned. Everyone acts like they do not exist.
Let us start with James Olsen.
James Olsen. A relationship built up over an entire season that had the possibility for amazing results was squashed five seconds after it started when season two came around. Representation, squashed. And oh, was it healthy. They were friends. They trusted in one another. They supported one another. They held so much respect for one another.
But once they were no longer romantically involved (if it can even be called that; they never got their proper date), they apparently could no longer be friends. Kara and James have been fighting since the beginning of the season. First it was about trusting Lena Luthor. Then it was about Guardian. The Guardian story is boring. It came out of left field; it does not fit. People can be heroes in many ways and James was a hero before this most recent season. James was always proud to be Superman’s photographer; he never was inclined before to become a vigilante and then all of a sudden, that was his only wish in life. But at least when Guardian was involved, James got screen time. He runs CatCo, he is part of the super-friends, his absence is uncalled for. And not only his physical absence. If he is not on-screen, he is never mentioned. Kara and Winn are his best friends and Winn is his partner in crime but neither of them ever have a moment where they think about him. His existence is solely based on his appearance on-screen, which creates a problem of disbelief.
Lena is a very intriguing character. She has proven time and time again where her loyalties lie. From the beginning, all she wanted was to make a name for herself outside of her family. To rebrand Luthor Corp into L-Corp and make it a “force for good.” She has made it abundantly clear that outside of her family, she had no one. Kara is her “only friend in National City.” But despite that, she crosses her mother, sending her to jail, saving the entire alien population of National City. The “is Lena evil or not?” implications that come up every single episode in which she appears (she has the same problems as James Olsen does in that respect), are getting exhausting. Lena not being evil is far more interesting and could be taken so many more places than if she were evil. The toying back and forth is monotonous and overdone.
This woman is a great friend for Kara. She is definitely not Cat Grant, but she was influential in Kara realizing she wanted to be a reporter. Even if they do not discuss it, they both know what if feels likes to be alone, to be adopted, to grow up somewhere other than where they were meant to be. And even if they butt heads and have doubts about each other, as they do, they always come back to an understanding and a level a respect for each other that is admirable.
Cat Grant came into Kara’s life and since that moment has only been a force for good, a mentor, someone that would push Kara to her breaking point just so she could find out how strong she was. Cat Grant, the woman who knew from the beginning that Kara would end up being a reporter. Cat Grant, the voice of blatant and unapologetic feminism. When she left, the misogyny entered. Every decision Kara has made, everything that has happened to Kara in season two, Cat Grant would not have stood for. She would have called her into her office and laid down what was going to happen.
Those gifs are actually from season two and somehow, they still managed to ignore this precedent. Kara losing her reporting job and giving up on getting it back? No. Unacceptable. Kara is a journalist; she was always supposed to be a journalist.
And hopefully with episode 2×18, “Ace Reporter,” being mostly about Kara’s journalistic efforts outside of CatCo, there will be a return to that side of Kara Danvers. The intuitive, dedicated, passionate woman who cannot let a story go until the truth is told.
Cat Grant, the woman who lived everyday knowing she gave up her son, knowing she did it for the right reasons but also knowing she wanted him back; she wanted him in her life. Cat Grant, the woman who built up a media empire with no one’s help. Cat Grant, who still runs said media empire while also caring for her second son the way she wishes she could have been there for her first. Every single thing Cat did, impacted the way Kara saw the world. Yet, she has not been mentioned this season with any significance since she announced her departure from CatCo in episode one. She played a pivotal role in Kara’s life. Kara would not be where she currently is without her. That is not a woman you forget.
Who else has been lost?
Alex “I come back with my sister or I don’t come back at all” Danvers. The sister relationship was hands down, without a doubt, the best relationship on the show. Kara’s storyline may be the most important, but next up is the Danvers sisters. But it just fell apart in front of my eyes.
Alex Danvers cares about no one else more than Kara. And there is no one who cares more about Kara than Alex Danvers. This season, Alex got her own storyline and for representation’s sake, I appreciate the effort. But not only has it been pushed more and more to the side since it originated, it also has taken precedence over Alex’s relationship with Kara, which is a highly improbably occurrence. Alex Danvers’ entire life had been formed around protecting Kara; she surely deserves a break, especially now that Kara has proven how capable she is as Supergirl. But Alex Danvers does not simply stop protecting her little sister. She also does not put anyone before her little sister. She has been through it all with Kara. She knows better than anyone else what Kara has been through which means she knows about the abandonment issues. She would never due anything to exacerbate those and make it harder on Kara.
Earth birthday would not have been thrown aside. She would not be encouraging Kara to give Mon-El chance after chance when he hurt her sister so many times. Jeremiah’s return would not have turned them on each other, it would have shown them grieving, hoping, and working together to bring him back. Alex was the only one who could bring Kara back when she was under the influence of the Black Mercy; she is certainly the only one who would have been able to save her from the Music Meister.
Episodes used to have them training together, making each other better. They used to have sister nights where they ate a ton of pizza and ice cream and bonded. They showed the amazing support and love they held for one another. Where is that now? The Danvers sisters are there for each other unconditionally, without question, and always.
All these people had a wonderful impact on Kara’s life and should not be forgotten but this show is ultimately about her. Which is where we come to the biggest problem, the biggest detractor from Kara’s time on-screen.
The introduction of Mon-El has Kara negating everything she came to believe in the first season. It negated her character development. It does not help that this season has given Kara such a high and mighty attitude that it clashes with her core values.
Season one proved that she did not need a relationship and the relationship they had started building was open, honest, completely supportive, and built on respect. They traded that for a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship where Kara is gaslighted in every argument and blamed at every turn.
He never actually apologizes for anything because he never truly believes he is in the wrong. There is no respect.
“I just wanted to say a few things before I lose you forever…I love you. You’re so special.” This is a perfect example of an attempt at manipulation.
Mon-El acts like she needs someone to take care of her, he disregards her wishes, he constantly lies and has repeatedly told her she is not the hero she thinks she is. Kara has done well on her own, she has done well with her team, and she has never needed a savior. He tries to isolate her from her friends and family. If he knew Kara at all, he would have known that she would NEVER leave those she loves. And in reality, he is only trying to shirk his responsibilities to Daxam.
He makes her question who she is which is what she spent the entire first season figuring out. The line “Maybe being Supergirl and having you is enough” is the most out of character thing I have ever heard. That has never been enough for Kara. She needs her friends and her sister. Her job at CatCo was the one thing she could fall back on when being Supergirl was becoming too much; it was the one thing that made her feel complete.
It could have had potential. It could have been good. The show is a completely other canon of course, but they did draw from the comics. In the comics, Mon-El works with Superman, he works with Superboy, he joins L.E.G.I.O.N, which is a team of extraterrestrial superheroes. He wants to be a hero in the comics. He could have been made into a hero on the show. But instead, he’s a self-proclaimed misogynist and ex-slave-owner who defends his planet’s traditions, which are universally acknowledged as horrendous.
They even gave him a possible saving grace. He could have chosen to go back to Daxam and fix the society for the better but he was selfish, took the easy way out and stayed on Earth. The only reason he shows any interest in saving anything is because he wants to impress Kara, not because he has any internal force that tells him to do this. Kara was born with the urge and need to help people, that is what is at her core. She has had to push Mon-El to try to make him into a hero and they have solidified that that is not who he ever wanted to be. And if that is not for him, that is allowed. But then his storyline of becoming a hero needs to be halted.
He has not grown at all over this season. Every single episode is the same. He and Kara start out on as good of a footing as they can be on, then they fight because he does something that goes against her values, he does his pleading for her to take him back, and she forgives anything he said or did while they were fighting. At one point, she breaks up with him for very good reasons, “I deserve better than being lied to,” along with the others listed above. But in the next episode, she instantly forgives him for absolutely no reason. Because the Music Meister told her to? With the line, “Love is about letting yourself be saved,” I’m not sure anyone should be taking his advice. Nothing had changed. Mon-El was exactly who he had always been.
And the problems with Mon-El are even more exposed when paralleled with Kara’s other friends and family as seen in this gifset:
Here’s the crux of the matter. The parts of Supergirl that are good, are really good and sometimes great such as the best scene of season two:
But the bad parts have become overwhelming. They overshadow the good. This show has a duty to care. It has a duty to continue being about fierce women. It has a duty to all the young girls who look up to Supergirl, to show them just how incredible they are and to teach them responsible and healthy lessons.
It has a duty to be about Supergirl, a woman who can change the world.