Supergirl’s second season is now over and it’s a good time to look back on why it failed, despite some of the highlights. When Supergirl’s 1st season ended, no one knew if they were going to stay on CBS, move to another network, or have it be cancelled altogether. We found out that Supergirl was renewed for the 2nd season, but that it would not stay on CBS. Instead it moved to the CW for a few reasons – it was produced by Greg Berlanti, who produces the other comics shows, California did not renew its incentives, and the crossover with the Flash. Not only did Supergirl moved to the CW, it also moved to Vancouver along with the other DCU shows. Already the CW President wanted a mega-crossover between all four shows. The show’s producers and writers probably didn’t have time to plan Supergirl’s 2nd season.
To cement Supergirl’s launch in CW, they were able to bring in the biggest character Superman. There was hype surrounding Superman’s appearance in the CW. He appeared in the first season through body doubles and silhouettes so that he doesn’t overshadow Supergirl. Basically Superman got more attention than Supergirl and that’s expected because he still commands star power, despite the focus on Batman. He was slated to appear in the first two episodes. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive after seeing his dark portrayal in film. History was being made to see both Superman and Supergirl together live-action in suit and flights unlike Smallville. Viewers wanted more Superman, but couldn’t since WB controls Superman’s film rights.
Also most of the characters and plots from the first season did not return for the second season and the only rogue who returned from the 1st season was LiveWire. The things from the first season that made the show great were not translated to the second season. It was night and day here. Half of the writers from the first season left and they brought in new writers who had no understanding of Supergirl. They brought in Kevin Smith to direct a couple of episodes and Sterling Gates to write one episode.
After Superman’s appearance, Cat Grant also left as Calista Flockheart did not want to relocate to Vancouver with the rest of the cast and her status was reduced to recurring. They brought in new cast members in Mon-El of Daxam, Maggie Sawyer, and Lena Luthor. Mon-El would become Supergirl’s love interest and Lena Luthor would become Kara’s best friend. Maggie Sawyer serves a purpose for Alex in that they decided to explore Alex’s life outside the DEO, which didn’t happen in the first season. The void left by Cat was filled by Snapper Carr and James Olsen became acting CEO of Catco in her absence. They also brought in Miss Tessmacher as a winking nod to the Superman movies. Winn no longer works at Catco and works at the DEO as it’s tech equivalent to Cisco of Flash. They also brought in Miss Martian to highlight Martian Manhunter’s background.
The plot of the season was supposed to be a mysterious organization called Cadmus, whose mission is to eradicate all alien life from Earth and that includes Supergirl. They had the right idea up until the mid-season finale when Supergirl participated in the Mega-Crossover, which she was not well integrated with. One of the first big problems of the season was turning James into a vigilante hero out of his desire to be one and we didn’t see any of those things in neither season. Instead we see James doing it out of self-serving glory and endangered Winn in the process. The reaction to him being Guardian was negative and rightly so as Supergirl didn’t need additional help other than Martian Manhunter and the DEO.
When we got to the second half of the season, this was when the creative problems escalated. After the Cadmus arc came to an end in the episode Medusa, we didn’t see the Luthors or Cadmus until a few episodes later. They also focused on James as Guardian, which took up plenty of screentime that was not necessary. The producers and writers decided late in the game that they were going to do a Daxamite invasion led by Lar Gand and Rhea, whose mission is to bring back Mon-El. They also turned Alex into a Mary Sue where she was able to cross lines and take on Cadmus by herself and didn’t pay the consequences. That caused her popularity to take a hit and we didn’t see Cadmus until the season finale. The season had no direction and was left deciding between Cadmus and the alien invasion. They chose the latter.
The biggest failure was that they made the show too political and failed to focus on Kara’s journalism. Instead we saw her love life with Mon-El and there were only two episodes that focused on her journalism. It was also clear that Snapper could not fill the void left by Cat and him being unlikable didn’t help matters. James hardly spend time at Catco and many were wondering if it’s going to exist for the third season. Close to the season finale, they did an episode spotlighting on James in an attempt to redeem him. Thankfully the problems were resolved in the 2-part season finale where both Superman and Cat Grant returned. Start the season with Superman and Cat and end the season with Superman and Cat. Certain people in Supergirl’s staff have a political agenda that was really pushing it and it’s preventing Supergirl from reaching its full potential like the Flash.
The two-part season finale is where the show regained the things that made it great, but it was too little too late as the whole second season was a failure. However, the two-part season finale made me forget about the creative problems in most of the second season. With the third season early renewal, they have plenty of time to plan these things out and will have to work extra hard in regaining the viewers they lost. Clearly the highlights of the season were Superman, Cat Grant, and the lesbian story with Alex and Maggie. When Supergirl is not emphasized and not being in the highlights section, you know something is clearly wrong. It’s time for the third season to go back to the basics and regain its greatness.