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By any measure, Season 1 of Supergirl stands as an unqualified success. In fact, Supergirl may have been the best comic book adaptation we’ve seen, regardless of medium, this past year. A large part of the show’s success can be attributed to an exceptional cast, led by the winsome Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers/Supergirl. But the Supergirl writing staff, as led by showrunners Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg, deserve a lion’s share of the credit for delivering a series that appeals to comics nerds and first-timers alike.
This list of the top 10 moments in Supergirl Season 1 was hard to write because there were so many great moments to choose from. But somehow I managed to compile such a list and arranged the moments in chronological order in advance of the Season 2 premiere. Enjoy!
Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.
Supergirl Makes Her Debut (E1: “Pilot”)
When the series begins, Kara is leading an ordinary life as the henpecked assistant to National City media mogul Cat Grant. But when Kara sees a report of engine failure to a commercial airliner—one that her adopted sister Alex happens to be on—she uses her powers to save the plane and, in the process, reveal herself to the world as Supergirl. The scene is a nice callback to stories in the Super-universe, such as 1978’s Superman, in which preventing an airplane crash brought a Kryptonian into the public consciousness.
Cat Grant Shows Her Soft Side (E4: “Livewire”)
From her first appearance, Calista Flockheart’s Cat Grant is a formidable on-screen presence. Her biting, Dorothy Parker-esque witticisms and her take-no-prisoners attitude manage to unnerve even the Girl of Steel on several occasions. But when a vengeful ex-employee with electricity-based powers seeks her revenge on her old boss, Cat displays a tender side that shows she’s more than a one-dimensional harpy. Starting with “Livewire,” Cat demonstrates that she’s as admirable and sympathetic in her own way as Supergirl herself.
Choose to be a Better Man (E7: “Human for a Day”)
Kara copes with the temporary loss of her powers as National City undergoes a major crime spree without its red-and-blue-clad champion. The absence of Supergirl encourages a desperate man to take advantage by robbing a convenience store. Despite the loss of her powers—and with a broken arm to boot—Kara puts on her Supergirl costume and, rather than overpowering her assailant, convinces him to give her the gun. For fans of the Super-mythos, this scene can be favorably compared to the powerful scene in All-Star Superman when Superman talks a teenage girl out of committing suicide. As a series, Supergirl is at its best when it emphasizes the hope and optimism of its lead character, and this scene does that beautifully.
Hank Henshaw Revealed (E7: “Human for a Day”)
While Supergirl deals with her power loss, her sister Alex makes a startling discovery about Hank Henshaw, her boss at the DEO. Recent events had caused Alex to distrust Hank, and as comics fans we couldn’t blame her; after all, in DC Comics continuity Hank Henshaw is the human identity of the Cyborg Superman, a member of Superman’s rogue’s gallery. But the Supergirl showrunners cleverly upended fan expectations by revealing that Hank is actually J’onn J’onzz, aka the Martian Manhunter. This revelation has reverberations throughout the rest of Season 1, as Hank/J’onn must struggle between protecting his secret identity and protecting his adopted home of Earth.
Cat Grant Deduces Supergirl’s Identity (EP9: “Blood Bonds”)
Cat Grant may be many things, but one thing she surely is not is a fool. She puts two and two together and concludes that Kara Danvers and Supergirl are one and the same. When Kara proves unable to dissuade her boss’s (startlingly accurate) hypothesis, she enlists Hank’s help by having him use his shape-shifting abilities to pose as Supergirl while the real Kara appears by “her” side. The scene offers a sly nod to stories in the Silver Age when Superman and Batman would exchange identities in order to confound criminals (and sometimes Lois Lane), as well as offer a reasonable enough explanation as to how a brilliant reporter like Cat could be fooled by a simple disguise like eyeglasses and a conservative wardrobe.
Death in the Family (EP13: “For the Girl Who Has Everything”)
The title of this Supergirl episode may allude to a classic Superman story, but as usual the Supergirl showrunners adapt the source material in new and fascinating ways. What makes Kara’s Black Mercy-induced dream of her idyllic family life on Krypton especially poignant is that it includes Astra. Up to this point, Astra may have been Supergirl’s most dangerous antagonist, but she was starting to experience doubts about the righteousness of her mission. The timing of Astra’s death—not to mention the fact that Alex is the one to deliver the killing blow—makes this one of the more shocking events of the series and its impact would be felt throughout Season 1.
Journey to the Fortress of Solitude (EP15: “Solitude”)
In an effort to find out more about the mysterious Myriad plot, Supergirl and Jimmy—excuse me, James—Olsen travel to the Fortress of Solitude, the Artic base of operations for Supergirl’s cousin Superman. “Solitude” offers an intriguing, albeit brief, look at the Fortress and includes such comic book Easter eggs such as a key made from a condensed dwarf star and a cameo from Kelex, Superman’s robot assistant. The scene may be inessential when compared to other moments in Season 1, but its awe-inspiring scope makes it a worthy addition to this list.
Supergirl Embraces Her Dark Side (EP16: “Falling”)
As a result of accidental exposure to Red Kryptonite, Supergirl embraces her inner Mean Girl and proceeds to terrorize National City. But perhaps the greatest destruction she wreaks is to her relationships with her closest friends and loved ones. In one particularly devastating scene, Kara intentionally seeks to hurt Alex’s feelings by telling her she’d be nothing without Supergirl. Even after she’s cured, the show writers don’t whitewash Kara’s dark side as an aberration but rather the manifestation of dark and ugly thoughts she’s always had. Both in her private life and as Supergirl, Kara works hard to mend broken fences, thereby proving that she isn’t a perfect hero but that she is a good one.
A Team Up with the Flash (EP18: “World’s Finest”)
After the portentous events of the past few episodes, “World’s Finest” serves as a refreshing palate cleanser as we’re treated to a good, old-fashioned team-up between superheroes. Even the supervillains get into the act as the previously-seen Livewire teams up with new villain Silver Banshee (seen in previous episodes as Cat’s assistant/Winn’s hookup buddy). Instead of presenting us with brooding, overly serious superhero drama, the episode is quippy, light and, above all, fun. And here’s hoping we see a rematch of their race this upcoming season.
Supergirl’s Broadcast to Humanity (EP20: “Better Angels”)
The last two episodes of Supergirl bring Season 1 to a dramatic conclusion as Supergirl and the audience alike discover the secret of Myriad. As Myraid controls the minds of nearly every citizen in National City, Supergirl is desperate to figure out a way to stop it. Max Lord suggests a solution that would foil the plot but cost the lives of thousands. Instead of resorting to Max’s plan, Supergirl instead gets on broadcast TV and uses the power of hope to break the spell of Myriad’s mind control.
Is the moment a bit corny? Of course, but that’s part of what’s so great about it. As with the scene in E7, “Better Angels” gives us a Supergirl who is all the more powerful for not resorting to her fists but by using her inner goodness and faith in humanity to prevail. It’s the sort of scene, among others, that helped make Season 1 of Supergirl such a success—and it’s precisely the sort of thing I hope to see more of this upcoming season as well.
Were there any moments we missed? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet us at @EntertainFuse!