“Event Horizon” shows that Supergirl still has better characters than plots, but it’s a promising opener that debuts a tasteful new outfit and contains a dynamite exchange between Kara and Lena.
This recap of Supergirl Season 5, Episode 1, “Event Horizon”, contains spoilers.
Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) wears pants now. Plenty more happens in the Supergirl Season 5 premiere, “Event Horizon”, but that’s the big takeaway, I feel. Then again I suppose there’s also the whole Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) wants to destroy Kara for lying about her identity for so long, which is kind of a big deal too.
Lena has a new AI friend, Hope (Kari Wahlgren), who is technologically complex but emotionally unfussy, and she fantasizes about Kara’s ruination with VR contact lenses. Encroaching technology seems a running theme of Supergirl Season 5, which laments the increasing lack of genuine human engagement in day-to-day-life.
“Event Horizon” is also a celebration of pettiness. When Kara and James (Mehcad Brooks) discover that CatCo is now owned by Lena’s old school friend Andrea Rojas (Julie Gonzalo), she apologizes for making Kara look foolish by keeping her in the dark, which is hilarious. Also hilarious: A girl who shape-shifts into a T-rex and hijacks the pod that Superman came to Earth in. That’s a problem because with the right expertise it can be turned into a bomb with enough power to wipe out several solar systems. A very obvious trap in the form of a homemade Phantom Zone projector introduces the gang to Midnight (Jennifer Cheon Garcia), the villain of the week in Supergirl Season 5, Episode 1 who wants revenge on J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood).
As ever, this stuff feels rather secondary to the on-going characterization and themes of “Event Horizon”. A major undercurrent is an endless battle between ethical journalism and for-profit tabloid reporting, which is splitting CatCo apart now that Andrea has taken the editor-in-chief’s chair and apparently somehow bound everyone into contracts of indentured servitude which, if broken, can — again, somehow — prohibit the violator from ever working in the field of journalism again. None of this makes sense, but whatever. It’s more of an excuse to sketch out some ethical boundaries and help to position Kara as a beacon of uncompromising moral good, which is, of course, how all of the Super-characters should work. Her Pulitzer — awarded in Supergirl Season 5, Episode 1 in a party cut a bit short by the return of Midnight — is exactly the kind of work that Andrea wants CatCo to move away from, which is how we find William Day (Staz Nair) rewriting one of Kara’s pieces and Kara refusing to compromise her integrity.
That party also plays host to some other shenanigans in “Event Horizon”. Supergirl’s tasteful new suit deploys when she stylishly whips off her glasses, which gets a field test, right after a well-written and very well-acted conversation in which Kara confesses to Lena about being Supergirl. This kind of thing is what the show does best, and on the level of character, it’s firing on all cylinders here. But the last-minute reveal that Lena hasn’t really made amends with Kara and is still intent on ruining her and virtually punching her feels a bit petty, like an excuse to manufacture conflict where there otherwise is none. Likewise, the stuff involving Midnight and the little girl who claims to be a brother of J’onn J’onzz has an out-of-nowhere, on-the-fly quality that is a lot less engaging than, say, the relationship between Nia (Nicole Maines) and Brainy (Jesse Rath).
Still, it’s hard to imagine anyone not finding something worthwhile in that tell-all “I’m Supergirl!” confession, which proves that the show still has the goods where it counts. It’ll be interesting to see how the themes progress throughout this new season, and what else it has in store for the characters. For now: A promising start. And you couldn’t really ask for much more.