During its transition from Season 1 to Season 2, there were a lot of fundamental changes that occurred in Supergirl. As the series switched channels and hopped onto The CW from CBS, the production shifted to Vancouver from Los Angeles. Furthermore, a number of new cast members were added to the show whereas one was eliminated. But, this shakeup seemed to have worked in its favor. However, this doesn’t mean that the show doesn’t have some significant problems; there are still some hurdles that Supergirl has to overcome before it can stand alongside the top shows of the Arrowverse.
Regardless, the move to a new channel did bring some benefits to the show as a whole. Most importantly, it allowed Supergirl to make crossovers with other shows that are part of the Arrowverse. In addition, when Supergil stood beside its sibling shows, it appeared to be slightly more cohesive than before when it had stood out on the CBS. As far as tone and style of the show is concerned, Supergirl felt more and more like the good-natured sister of CW’s other show, The Flash. Also, since The Flash wasn’t the usual light show it usually is and was mired in more darkness than ever before, this year it was Supergirl’s responsibility to the cheery, bright and optimistic alternative.
Another factor that seemed to work in show’s favor is that the crew working behind most of these Arrowverse shows have gotten quite good at working within the limited VFX budgets. For CBS, Supergirl was a very expensive show, but the special effects still lacked the necessary luster thereby not indicating exactly how much money the network was pouring into it. In the second season, the special effects are actually more noticeable and the show looks even better than before, despite the fact that it is costing CW considerably less.
Some of the most noticeable special effects could be seen when the Martian Manhunter was shown in his original form or even shots of Kara flying were more convincing and realistic. Sure, there were still some seasons where the special effects were not able to do their job very well such as in the season finale, but as a whole, Supergirl did show some major improvement after switching networks. The CW chose to forgo the usual trend and picked up the show exactly where the previous one had ended; Melissa Benoit’s Supergirl and David Harewood’s Martian Manhunter were examining the mysterious space pod that crashed outside of National City.
This led to the introduction of Chris Wood’s Mon-El, a new love interest for Kara and a Daxamite refugee. The direction of the series changed with Mon-El’s arrival as DEO’s new headquarters were setup in National City and the focus was on the rising tensions between the human citizens of the planet and the increasing number of alien immigrants. The villains of the season, which include members of the Cadmus and Brenda Strong’s Lillian Luthor, tried to take advantage of this palpable tension. This seemed more like a relevant and inspired direction, given the state of the world these days.
In addition, this direction also appealed to the Superman franchise, which could be the reason behind its popularity. Kara appeared as a beacon of hope for the people in troubled times. The political elements of the show were only included as a means of promoting understanding among the people instead of anything else. The feel-good approach taken by the show for telling its story comes off as natural due to their choice of lead actress. Benoist is quite charming and wins people over easily and is primarily the rock on which the series is resting.
Kara’s character growth went even further with Mon-El’s introduction. Wood brought some humor to the show, but his character really shined in the scenes depicting the budding romance between Kara and Mon-El. He has plenty of rough edges, being the prince of a hedonistic and xenophobic world and it was great watching Kara smooth them out and inspire him to become a hero as they fall in love. Over the course of the season, both characters had their share of ups and downs and even though their romance was rather predictable, the execution was undeniably very impressive.
Nevertheless, Mon-El was not the only addition that the show made in its second season. They finally stopped playing around and cast Tyler Hoechlin in Superman’s role instead of using a stunt double in the shadows. It was apparent in a couple of seconds that he was an excellent successor to the likes of Dean Cain and Christopher Reeve as he brought charisma and warmth to the part. Two members of the Luthor clan were also introduced, which included the aforementioned Lillian and her daughter, Lena played by Katie McGrath. Season 1 had lacked a proper three-dimensional villain and the problem persisted in Lillian’s character.
Lena fared better as she wasn’t purely a villain and struggled to redeem her family name and prove that her brother’s actions didn’t define her. Her friendship with Kara added another aspect to her character, but the season failed to deliver on that end. Another compelling subplot for this season was Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) struggle with her sexuality, especially her coming out scene in “Changing”. Her romance with Floriana Lima’s Maggie added some excellent weight. But, it was the CatCo characters that became useless due to the shift to The CW.
Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant was unable to be a series regular with the Vancouver move and her departure rendered the entire CatCo elements pointless and made us question whether Kara needs them at all. But, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) were the real casualties of the second season as James’s romance with Kara was cut short and he was transformed into a superhero. His role as Guardians left him without a story and he managed to draw Winn in the whole superhero drama as well, so he didn’t really have a storyline for himself.
The end of the season didn’t turn out to be that satisfying as they brought in a new villain in the form of Teri Hatcher’s Queen Rhea and her Daxamite army instead of continuing the long-running plots. Yet, the Kara and Mon-El storyline ended up saving the day.