Supergirl 1.3 Flight of Fight – Cat Grant & How Not to Portray Feminism

Hi, Friends. I am so sorry for the delay in this week’s Supergirl post. Sometimes even Superheroes get sick.  So without further ado, let’s dive into Fight or Flight.

Spoilers ahead!!

This week, we pick up right where we left off, with Cat, car and all, on a roof and Supergirl ready for her close up. Well not quite close up. She flies around Cat while they talk, presumably to avoid being identified. Although I have to say, it seemed to me that the producers were just looking for a reason to have her fly or float as the case may be.

To kick off the interview Cat asks, “Who are you?” In response, Kara begins to tell her origin story, which bores Cat who has heard it before. “This is my story!” Kara asserts. Cat begins to pose deeper questions that are just dripping with disdain as if she’s bored and annoyed by Supergirl.

This incarnation of Cat Grant has been set up to be a role model for Kara/Supergirl and frankly her portrayal is far from that of a role model.

She does not have Supergirl’s best interests at heart, as any good role model should. She is only interested in Supergirl as a story that can enhance her career. Supergirl’s failure will serve Cat better, far better, than any of her successes. In fact, Cat seems to be rooting for Supergirl’s failure, as it will clearly provide a more enthralling story.

She is a perfect example of every negative stereotype that exists in media of a strong and powerful woman. She is one dimensional at best. It only reinforces the concept that a successful woman is a bitch and nothing more.

This is a concept that I am so tired of seeing over and over again. The producers had an opportunity to provide Kara with a role model who was not only successful, and powerful in her own right, but positive at the same time. A role model who wouldn’t revel in the failure of other women. They have failed at that, profoundly.

I hear you through my computer, every version of Cat Grant in the comics is exactly what Calista Flockhart is portraying. She’s not bad, she’s just written that way. Right? That argument does not hold water with me here at all. Why, you ask?

Two words. James Olsen.

Traditionally, and in every single iteration I have ever read or seen, Jimmy – not James, but Jimmy – Olsen is a geeky, awkward kid, who always seems to find himself in need of being rescued. Here, as I have said before, James is tall, athletic, handsome, and confident.

So they took everything we know of Jimmy Olsen, turned it upside down and made it pretty to look at. I have no complaints about that, but why didn’t the creative team reimagine Cat as well? Hmmm? Cat is another example, that bashes us over the head every time she’s on screen, that the producers here are unable to portray feminism and strong women positively or correctly.

So, I went off a bit there. Sorry. Back to the big interview.

Fairly quickly Cat gets to the question, “Any plans to start a family?” To which both Supergirl and I respond that no one ever asks that of Superman. In her, completely valid, complaint Kara lets it slip that the Man of Steel is her cousin. Oops. Cat grabs onto the familial ties. Flustered, Kara ends the interview and flies off.

Here again, Cat proves that she is not interested in anything other than the story. No self-respecting feminist asks another woman when she wants to have kids. So my dear producers, stop portraying Cat as a positive feminist role model. She’s not.

So just stop.

Anyway, the next morning, Kara is having breakfast. She is quickly joined by Alex who, once again, lectures Kara on the merits of maintaining a secret identity. Really, Alex is just wasting her time. No one in the FlArrowverse can keep a secret identity, so why should Supergirl? Anyway, just as quick, the duo becomes a trio when the ladies are joined by James. Adorable, and slightly awkward from Kara, flirting ensues and James is gone just as quick as he arrived. As Alex begins her lecture anew, the news of Cat’s interview with Supergirl breaks. Oops again.

At the office, after referring to the boss lady as a “super interviewing villain,” Kara discovers that Cat intends to write an expose on Supergirl in a special edition of their magazine. To celebrate the publication, there will be a party that Kara has to plan.

Meanwhile at the DEO, Director Henshaw is also none too thrilled with Kara having given an interview to her media mogul boss lady. Before his lecture can pick up speed, an alert for a code gray grabs everyone’s attention. As there are no aliens involved, Henshaw says the DEO won’t get involved, and starts to resume his lecture to no one, as Kara has flown off to help.

At the scene of the massive accident, Supergirl easily saves the driver and gets her onto a gurney. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she gets blasted by our villain of the week, who looks like a whole lot like an evil Iron Man. (His name is Reactron, by the way.) They begin to fight and Supergirl holds her own. She uses a car door as a shield from his blast and then tosses it at him causing his suit to malfunction. Defeated, he flies away. A win for Supergirl! Kinda. But I’m taking it!

Back at the DEO, Henshaw refuses to help Kara with Reactron, because he is a human using tech and not an alien. As I shout at the screen, “Then what good are you?” Henshaw suggests Supergirl call her cousin, since he fights for “truth, justice, and the American way,” successfully earning a place on the list of characters that make me angry every single time I see them on screen.

Ever the busy lady, Kara heads back to work to fill Cat in on party details. Cat is struggling to write her expose and reminds us that Calista Flockhart can actually be funny. Winn calls the Superfriends into an abandoned office in the building to show the team their very own Arrow Cave, I mean operations center, filled to the brim with advanced tech.

Where did Winn acquire all this equipment, anyway? Was it from Cisco and Felicity? Just curious. And, clearly, Winn is eager for a crossover with the FlArrowverse.

James knows all about Reactron from his time in Metropolis and fills in the rest of us. The biggest bit was that Reactron nearly killed Clark.  At which point, Winn adorably fanboys, “Clark Kent is Superman.”

James suggests Kara call Clark for help on this one. To which she answers she is “not just Superman’s cousin, I’m Supergirl. If I’m going to be defined, it’s going to be by my victories and my losses. No one else’s.” To which I say Amen and Hallelujah sister!  James gives her a sexy smile while commenting that stubbornness must run in the family.

Meanwhile, Maxwell Lord is building a high-speed train for National City. Isn’t that nice? As he starts to tell us how awesome this will be, Reactron comes into the lab through the roof. He wants to talk to someone with a background in nuclear fission.  Lord offers up his services so Reactron doesn’t hurt anyone. However, twenty-four hours later, Lord is still missing. While Winn insists that this isn’t on Kara to fix, big sis Alex shows up and wants to help.

The trio head to the secret office. Secret Lair? Super room? Room of Justice? This lair needs a name. Anyone have any suggestions?

Anywho, Alex fills Kara in on the details. Basically, Reactron is a man named Ben Krull. He blames Superman for the death of his wife from a nuclear reactor breakdown.

At Reactron’s pad, Lord offers to help Reactron get a normal life. “I had one, it didn’t work out,” laments Reactron.  He insists that Lord fix his suit. After demanding, in a very Tony Stark-like-line, a bunch of supplies and a Dr. Pepper, Lord agrees to help.

Back at CatCo, Kara has read Cat’s Supergirl article and, shockingly, doesn’t like it one bit. She finds the tone nasty and is not a fan of Supergirl being described as a lazy millennial. Cat insists that she has given Supergirl context in yet another example of Cat keeping a sister down instead of propping her up. To which Kara insists that she is every bit the hero Superman is, she just needs to prove it. This is where I yell at the TV, “So stop talking about it and do it!” She must have heard me because she flies off to confront Reactron and save Lord.

She releases Lord from his bonds and sends him off.

At this point, I know that Reactron and Supergirl are fighting. The problem is, I can’t tell who’s winning because the camera won’t settle long enough for me to see what’s actually happening. From what I can tell, Supergirl is getting her tushie kicked.

As it looks like Supergirl will meet an untimely end, in flies Superman! Krull flies away, and I lose my mind. My husband then pauses the TiVo because now I’m yelling.

WHY DOES SHE NEED TO BE SAVED BY SUPERMAN??

Seriously, we spent the first half the of the episode saying this is her story and she wants to find her way, without being compared to her cousin. I believed it. So, let’s have him fly in and save the day!? No. Not cool. Not cool at all.

After I calm down, we unpause the show and find ourselves back at Kara’s apartment. She’s passed out on the couch, as Alex and James look on clearly very worried. She’s been out for a few hours and wakes to find Lord on TV saying he owes everything to Superman. I yell at the TV again, and the hubby pauses again while I call Lord a jerk, among other things not fit for the sensibilities of decent human beings.

We start again to find out that James called in Superman. This is where I yell, “Why James? Why?” Turns out that huge watch he has contains an emergency Superman button. Handy, sure but why does new and improved James need saving from the Man of Steel? 

When Kara left to fight Reactron, James pushed the button to call for reinforcements. Bad James! You and your sexy smile have betrayed me! But he has an excuse: he made a promise to Clark to look after her. But Kara feels like he doesn’t believe in her and kicks him out. He heads for the door but tells her, with his puppy dog eyes, that he’s sorry she’s mad at him but not that she’s alive.

Alex defends him. He was only trying to protect you, she tells her adoptive sister. Kara knows but voices her frustrations. She was sent here to protect Clark, not the other way around. She then poses the question we all have, “How do I become a hero if Superman keeps saving me?” Didn’t I say that!? Yea, I’m sure I did.  

Your story is just starting, says Alex and someday you’re gonna be the one saving him. Go Alex with the pep talk!  It’s almost as if the producers are saying, “trust us, we will make her the heroine you want. We just want to show you how she gets there.”

I’m trying, but you aren’t making it easy because you know, Cat Grant. 

We have no time to dwell on how to be a hero, Kara has a party to get to and nothing to wear!

Once again, big sis Alex to the rescue. Apparently she has raided the DEO closet and brought a cocktail dress, you know, just in case.

Part of the DEO's Fall Line. Image via CBS
Part of the DEO’s Fall Line. Image via CBS

Is anyone else curious as to why the DEO has a closet full of evening wear? Just me? Okay.

The party is in full swing. Waitresses are dressed as Supergirl, there are ice sculptures and huge posters of the magazine with Supergirl on the cover. Winn’s in a bow tie looking sharp and he creates an excuse for Kara’s tardiness when Cat comes to yell at her.

Maxwell Lord is present and we learn that he and Cat have some kind of history. Also, he’s quite interested in Supergirl. While Cat gives him nothing, he’s clearly being set up as another big bad. I wonder if Lord and Aunt Astra will join forces? And while we are on the subject, where was Aunt Astra this week?

Back at the DEO, Henshaw gets all glowy-eyed and goes to find Alex. She’s someplace within the DEO she’s not supposed to be, trying to help Kara stop Reactron. She can’t separate humans and aliens anymore she tells him, and he agrees, a bit too easily for my taste, to help her.

At the party, Winn and Kara are still dancing when James comes in looking fine in a suit. Anyone else feel sorry for Winn here?  

Poor Winn doesn’t stand a chance. Image via CBS

James wants to explain why he pushed the button and called for Superman. It wasn’t about her, it was about him. Turns out when the going gets tough James calls Superman. “I was scared I was going to lose you,” he says. While Kara likes that James cares, she tells him that he as to, “care enough to let me fly my own path separate from his. Trust that I’m going to save the day.”  

He tells her that she is amazing for leaping to the sky headfirst without a fear of falling.”What’s so bad about falling?” she asks him, as I once again yell at the screen, kiss him!!

Sadly, Reactron comes in and ruins everything. He even blows up a poster. Oh, scary, kids. Reactron zeros in on Lord, while Kara runs off and slips into something more durable. She returns and just knocks him down. As we watch what is a decent fight, Henshaw and Alex are suddenly in Kara’s ear telling her that she needs to destroy the core on the suit. She uses her x-ray vision to find some lead to make a glove so she can touch the nuclear core.  As if he needs to prove to Kara he has 100% faith in her, he gets Reactron’s attention and runs off with Reactron giving chase.

Once she has her lead glove, Kara makes straight for Reactron and destroys the core and Reactron.

Back at the DEO, Henshaw agrees to help Supergirl since Alex, “can’t follow orders.” This makes Kara want to celebrate. And how do we celebrate? Let’s go find James!

At CatCo, Kara finds James in his office, but he’s not alone. James introduces Kara to Lucy Lane, Lois’ little sister. The girls make friendly, polite chatter and Kara leaves. Once out of the office, she super-eavesdrops. Turns out that James and Lucy were a couple, things did not end well and no one is happy about it. So, they agree to have dinner to talk it out, but now, Kara is sad and not in the mood for the super sleuthing that Winn has in mind.

While she’s at her desk, Clark sends her an IM. Clark praises her for stopping Reactron, which is something he could never do. He tells her, “it was a job for Supergirl.” Marking the first time I don’t mind the show co-opting a Superman catchphrase.

Now it’s time for the Danvers sisters Chinese food night, which includes face melting threats for the last pot sticker.  This is a fun scene, and the chemistry between these two women is beautiful and a pleasure to watch. Alex read Cat’s article on Supergirl and thinks Cat respects Supergirl.

Sorry Alex, I completely disagree. But I’ve covered that already.

Overall this was a very enjoyable episode. It was fun to watch. The world has been established and we are off the ground. To me, Supergirl is heading in the right direction, even with the horribleness that is Cat Grant.

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By day, Lisa is a writer and TV producer. Passionate about children’s media, she has had the privilege to work on shows such as The Electric Company, Sesame Street, Johnny and the Sprites, Between the Lions, and Monica’s Mixing Bowl. She believes everything, both on TV and in life, is better with puppets! By night, she spends time with her husband wading through the ever growing list of shows in their TiVo; feeding their mutual addiction as scripted TV junkies. In her spare time, she teaches her daughter all about Doctor Who, Superheroes, Star Wars, Disney movies and to never ask an owl how many licks it takes to get to Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.