Monday, November 9, 2015

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 3 - Fight Or Flight

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


Cat Grant's exclusive interview with Supergirl turned into a critical expose of the "real" Girl of Steel. But Kara and her friends have bigger worries than Cat's vendetta. Because Kara accidentally let it slip that Superman is her cousin and now Reactron - an enemy from Superman's past who blames Superman for the loss of his wife - is determined to kill Supergirl in retribution.


The Sterling Gates run of Supergirl, which featured an antagonistic relationship between Supergirl and Cat Grant, and the New Krypton storyline, which reestablished Reactron as a Supergirl enemy.


It seems really unlikely that James Olsen would be so clumsy as to spill Superman's first name being Clark in front of someone besides Kara.

How did Kara not hear James using his Superman signal watch? Traditionally, the watch broadcasts a high frequency signal only Superman can hear, so theoretically Supergirl should hear it too. Does the watch work differently in the DCTVU reality? Or does it broadcast on a specific frequency that Clark listens to on a regular basis that Kara doesn't?


Peter Facinelli all but steals the show as Maxwell Lord. He manages the difficult feat of playing Lord as a conniving sleaze but a likable one in spite of that and we're left wondering if he's a ruthless man with good intentions or a villain whose philanthropy masks darker intentions.

Cherly Leigh truly shines for the first time as Alex Danvers. The first two episodes haven't given her much to do besides nag Kara about staying hidden and nagging Director Henshaw about needing to trust her sister. Here, we get some real sense of her as a character beyond that, though her dialogue is not much different than what's come before. For some reason, her sticking up to director Henshaw here resonates in a more powerful way than before.

As before, the best moments of the episode involve Melissa Benoist and Mechad Brooks playing off one another as Kara and James.


The special effects throughout the episode are of cinematic quality.

Super Trivia

Reactron was a frequent enemy of both Supergirl and The Doom Patrol in the original DC Comics. Originally an American Army Sergeant of loose morality, Benjamin Krullen gained super powers after his attempt to kill a peaceful village of Vietnamese citizens during the Vietnam War. His shocking actions triggered the super powers of an idealistic medic named Joshua Clay, who later became the hero known as Tempest. Krullen survived Clay's attack, his own latent ability to emit radiation.

Reactron's origins were changed following Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the new reality, Sgt. Krull was injured during an accident at a top secret government instillation and the scientist in charge of the project he was guarding placed him in a special suit to save his life. Reactron was later recruited by General Sam Lane during the war with New Krypton and outfitted with an artificial heart made of Gold Kryptonite. Reactron later died, triggering a chain reaction that destroyed the planet of New Krypton, but not before starting a rivalry with Supergirl.

The DCTVU version of Reactron has a slightly different origin and powers. This Reactron was a nuclear power plant worker, who appeared shortly after Superman prevented a nuclear disaster.  Two people were reportedly killed in the disaster - a married couple named Ben and Alyssa Krull, who were trapped in the power plant when Superman sealed it from the outside. It turned out that Ben survived the disaster and, blaming Superman for the death of his wife, built a power suit to seek revenge. The power suit increased Ben's strength to Kryptonian levels and gave him the power of flight as well as the ability to emit focused blasts of nuclear radiation.

Director Henshaw notes that the DEO's mission is to go after dangerous aliens on Earth - not humans with high-tech weaponry. The comic version of the DEO involves itself in the study of all metahumans - not just aliens.

The DCTVU version of Maxwell Lord is further developed in this episode. Unlike his comic book counterpart, who was a brilliant but manipulative mogul ala Donald Trump, this Maxwell Lord appears to be more of a technical genius akin to Lex Luthor, Ted Kord or the DCTVU version of Ray Palmer.

However, like his comic book counterpart, the DCTVU version of Maxwell Lord appears to be a conflicted and complex character, whose alternates between generous acts of philanthropy and just being a jerk. He'll fire an engineer for second-guessing his desire to have a train go at 500 KPH instead of 450 KPH but give himself up as a hostage to Reactron to save his employees.  He'll offer to do what he can to cure Reactron's radiation poisoning then turn around and credit Superman with saving him rather than Supergirl on the news, only to turn around and thank her for saving him twice in as many days when he meets her in person.

Reference is made to the Bakerline Nuclear Power Station. Bakerline is one of the six boroughs of Metropolis in the comics.

As in the comics, James Olsen has a special watch that broadcasts a signal only Superman can hear, which he uses whenever his life is in danger.

In the comics, Lucy Lane is Lois Lane's sister and a former girlfriend of Jimmy Olsen. She became involved in a government project overseen by her father, General Sam Lane, which attempted to create secret ways for the government to fight Kryptonians. To that end, Lucy was equipped with a special power suit that allowed her to replicate the abilities of a Kryptonian under Earth's yellow sun. This brought her into conflict with Supergirl, during the New Krypton storyline.

Thus far, the DCTVU version of Lucy Lane doesn't appear to be anything more than Jimmy Olsen's ex-girlfriend.


Bulletproof Coffee is a particular brand that is made from unsalted grass-fed butter with an extract of coconut oil that improves brain energy. Cat Grant swears by it for improving her ability to write.

A Code Grey is the DEO code for a potential alien sighting.

Reactron uses advanced bio-medical tech. He shoots highly concentrated bursts of nuclear energy from his gauntlets. His chest-plate increases his strength and allows him to fly.

Winn writes an algorithm that sweeps National City for any variable changes in radiation, hoping this will let them locate Reactron.

Maxwell Lord has designed a magnetically-levitating high-speed train that is currently capable of going 450 KPH. He theorizes, on the fly, that by replacing the tungsten alloy in the vacuum tubes with hafnium will decrease the weight in each car by 30 kilos, boosting the maximum speed to his desired 500 KPH.

Alex isolates the nuclear signature of Reactron's weapons system, after using the DEO satellite to scan the highway following Supergirl's first fight with Reactron. His suit is powered by thorium 232 - a unique nuclear isotope found in only one place - The Bakerline Nuclear Power Station.

Maxwell Lord determines from one glance at Reactron's armor that the moderator's been damaged which is preventing neutron speed reduction. He also determines Reactron is suffering form acute radiation poisoning based on his respiratory distress, skin desquamation and ulcering. To repair Reactron's armor, Lord requires thorium, cesium 137 and tributyl phosphate.

Winn is able to track Reactron by tracking the same black mold that grew in Chernobyl following the nuclear disaster there to a junkyard 60 miles south of National City.

The DEO has fancy dresses made of bulletproof cloth for their agents to use while incognito.

Reactron's chest-piece is powered by a Demon Core - a sub-critical mass of plutonium. Removing this from the suit should shut down his weaponry, but it will also cause the core to begin nuclear meltdown the moment it is released from its containment matrix. In order to safely contain the Demon Core, Kara must immediately encase the core in lead before pulling it free.

Dialogue Triumphs

Supergirl:  When I was a child, my planet, Krypton, was dying. I was sent to Earth to protect my cousin. But my pod got knocked off course and by the time I go there, my cousin had already grown up and become Superman. And so I hid my powers until recently, when an accident forced me to reveal myself to the world. To most people, I'm an assistant at CatCo Worldwide Media. But in secret, I work my adopted sister and the DEO to protect my city from alien life and any one else that means to cause it harm.  I am Supergirl!

Cat: Any plans to start a family?
Supergirl: Nobody ever asks my cousin these questions!
Cat: ... Superman is your cousin?!
Supergirl: ... this interview is over.

James: How's the covert alien hunting business?
Alex: Not as covert as we would prefer.
Kara: I didn't tell him!
James: It's okay. I can be trusted with a big secret.

Supergirl: Who are you?!
Reactron: I'm just a ghost.
Supergirl: What do you want?!
Reactron: I want the Man of Steel to suffer! I want him to know what it's like to feel everything! Starting with you!

Kara: I'm still... trying to figure out what being Supergirl means? Who I am? And now I know. I'm not Superman's cousin! I'm Supergirl! And if I'm going to be defined, it's going to be by my victories and my losses! No one else's.
James: I guess stubbornness runs in the family.

Maxwell Lord: When I was a kid, I had a train with blue streaks. Coolest toy I ever had. I know that a train that magnetically levitates is inherently cool. But still... the color's kinda bumming me out. (smiles) Let's paint blue streaks! And while we're at it, it needs to go 500 kilometers an hour.
Scientist: We've been working three years, you know, to push it to 450. The test is in six days!
Maxwell Lord; And it probably occurred to you over the last 36 months that if you used hafnium instead of a tungsten alloy in the vacuum tubes, you could decrease the weight of each each car by 30 kilos. And get it to... 500. But Carl over there will see the job to the finish. You can go. You're done.
Scientist: Mr. Lord...
Maxwell Lord: I said you're done.

Maxwell Lord: How much radiation were you exposed to?
Reactron: More than enough to kill me.
Maxwell Lord: How about we go back to my lab? Let my team analyze your case. Find a way for you to regain a normal life
Reactron: I had a normal life. It didn't work out. You're gonna repair my suit... or they're gonna start building memorials to you!
Maxwell Lord: Fine. I'll need thorium, cesium 137, tributyl phosphate and a Dr. Pepper. That last one's for me. I'm thirsty.

(As James begs her not to confront Reactron directly)
Kara: Krull is not some crazed alien. He's a human being. Who's been hurt enough. That's something my cousin never knew. And that's why I'm going to go talk to him the way I'd want someone to talk to me.
James: And if he doesn't want to talk?!
Kara: Then I'll punch him really hard until he falls down. That always seems to work.

(As Kara frets about Superman saving her.)
Alex: Your story is just starting. And some day you're going be the one saving him.

(Regarding Cat getting an exclusive interview with Supergirl)
Maxwell Lord: Are you going to tell me how you pulled it off? Or am I going to have to get sneaky?
Cat: You've very sexy, Max. But as I recall you're big on promises but not much else.

(Henshaw has just uncovered Alex using DEO resources to help Kara without permission)
Henshaw: It's been increasingly difficult for you to follow orders since your sister flew onto the scene.
Alex: When you asked me to join the DEO, I didn't hesitate. Because you told me that together, we were going to save the world. Except saving the world means everybody. Aliens. Humans. I can't separate them anymore. Especially when my little sister's life is at stake.
Henshaw: Who else knows about this?
Alex: No one.
Henshaw: Good.
(Henshaw moves to the command console, types in a command to bring up a new screen and sits down)
Henshaw: Wouldn't want them getting any ideas. So... how do we defeat this Reactron?

James: Me pressing that button on my watch had nothing to do with you. It was me. I call him when things get tough. I always have. It's part of the reason I left Metropolis. My safety name became my reflex. I press that button when I get scared. And I was scared that I was going to lose you.
Kara: I really like that you care about me. But you have to care enough to let me fly my own path, separate from his. Trust that I'm going to save the day.

(Through a chat window on Kara's computer)
Clark: Hi.
Kara: Hi. Thanks for saving my life.
Clark: I talked to Jimmy. Won't happen again. :-)
Kara: I don't know how you do this.
Clark: You're doing great Kara. You stopped Reactron. Something I could never do. Guess it was a job for Supergirl.
Kara: Thanks Clark. It means a lot to me.
Clark: What else is family for?


This episode continues immediately from the end of 102, with Supergirl confronting Cat Grant.

The world now knows that Superman and Supergirl are cousins.

Jimmy Olsen came up with the name Reactron for Ben Krull when he wrote about the villain's first appearance in The Daily Planet.  Superman fought him several times, but neither one came out on top.

The DEO's duristiction applies only to alien menaces - not humans with advanced technology like Reactron.

Winn creates a secret lair for Supegirl in the CatCo offices, hidden inside a disused office, stuffed with state-of-the-art technology.

Winn figures out that Clark Kent is Superman after James accidentally mentions "Clark" in relation to Superman.

Maxwell Lord has designed a high-speed bullet train, which he plans to donate to National City as part of an effort to make people more likely to use public transportation.

Superman shows up to save Kara from Reactron, having been summoned by Jimmy Olsen's watch.

Maxwell Lord later credits Superman with saving him on the news later.

Reportedly Maxwell Lord survived an avalanche on Mount Everest the same day he released a new tablet on the electronics market.

Maxwell Lord and Cat Grant are suggested to have had a one-night-stand and may have possibly dated.

Director Henshaw's eyes glow red again, as in the end of 102.

Kara uses her cape to deflect Reactron's blasts, showing the strength of Kryptonian fabric.

A side-effect of Kara's powers is that she has a super-metabolism that prevents her from getting fat.

Untelevised Adventures

Five years earlier, Superman prevented a nuclear disaster at the Bakerline Nuclear Power Station. This event led to the creation of Reactron.

The Fridge Factor

Three episodes in and it seems Cat Grant is more of a caricature than a character. While Calista Flockhart does a great job of playing Cat as the kind of person you love to hate, there's little more to the character than snarky one-liners. As a result, her scenes are painful to watch since most of the other cast members have been offered greater depth and Cat just comes off as uninteresting in the face of that.

Supergirl is beaten by Reactron, only to be saved by the sudden arrival of Superman. And while this is used to set up her beating Reactron later, the victory is colored somewhat by the fact that Kara would have been completely helpless had it not been for her allies coming up with the plans to track and stop Reactron independent of her.

The Bottom Line

A decent enough episode, though it's troubling that Maxwell Lord has been better established as a character in one episode than Winn or Cat have been in three.  Winn still has yet to progress past the dogged "nice guy" who clearly crushes on Kara but won't act on his attraction while Cat continues to be a one-note witch. Still, the parts of the the episode that work well work very well. As with Arrow before it, the show is at its best when it tries to be a superhero show rather than a comedy about women in the workplace or a drama about an alien-fighting organization.

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