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Hello and welcome back to Maid of Steel! We are a podcast dedicated to the CBS television series Supergirl and this week we are talking about the episode entitled “Livewire” which originally aired on Monday November 16, 2015. If you were slightly confused by the content in this episode, it bears noting that in light of the tragedies suffered by Paris and Beirut, CBS chose to replace the originally scheduled episode, “How Does She Do It?” with this one due to thematic elements that may appear insensitive.
As it is still the first season of this show, wink wink, most of the show elements are not mission-critical. Even if they were critical, I fully support and respect the decision CBS made and our thoughts and prayers go out to the cities and citizens affected by these blatant acts of terror. It is our luck that the show is still building up the characters and the story, so we didn’t seem to miss too much. I have a couple guesses as to what happened in the episode we missed:
- Bombs went off. (I know! How did I come up with that one?)
- Kara got a little training in hand-to-hand combat
- Jimmy begrudgingly mended fences with Lucy and has resumed a relationship
Comic books seem to be plagued by Daddy issues. Some worse than others. This week we got some good, old fashioned holiday-centric Mommy issues. As a woman with a mother, I could very much appreciate the approach this storyline took to the various dynamics between a mother, or mother-figure, and a daughter, or daughter-figure. Eliza and Alex. Eliza and Kara. Cat and Leslie. Cat and Supergirl. Cat and Kara. I included Cat and Kara not because I actually see them as a mother-daughter relationship, but more that as Cat warms up to Supergirl, it’s making her more motherly (friendly? nice?) to Kara. The five combinations gave us a full spectrum of approaches to the relationship dynamic and, mostly, a mature approach to dealing with the conflicts.
What makes them great stories, though, is that they don’t start out by dealing with their issues in a mature way! That’d be no fun to watch, right? To me the parallel is fairly straight forward, Alex is to Eliza as Leslie is to Cat; Kara is to Eliza as Supergirl is to Cat. Where Alex and Leslie are the “long-standing” daughter figures who receive the tough love, Kara and Supergirl are the protected, adopted daughters. What was most surprising about the change in the continuum between the mother figures was that as Eliza grew to be comfortable criticizing Kara, Cat saw a need to protect Supergirl and, by extension, “see” Kara. Kara’s tough love came directly and solely from Cat up until now.
In my own experience, both in dealing with my mother and in dealing with friendships, the first confrontation is the hardest. It’s difficult to know how to approach a situation differently when you’ve always approached it in the same way. There’s something unspoken and awkward about making that change. The best I can describe it, it’s like people wouldn’t understand why I started behaving differently or treating someone differently, and then a fear rises that they would stand up against that change or act in defiance of it.
It’s easier, of course, to be warmed up to, as Cat warmed up to both Kara and Supergirl, than to be dealt with in a more honest way, as Eliza offered up her criticism to Kara. It’s not criticism in the sense that it bears the negative connotation of, say, the wit of a YouTube comment; Kara refers to Eliza’s “room for improvement” comment as a qualified compliment. Baby steps. But Kara takes it gracefully, much more gracefully than when Cat criticized her as Supergirl.
The fact that these are essentially mother-daughter relationships make the exchanges bear significantly more weight than if they were merely colleagues or casual acquaintances. We can choose to listen or ignore anyone who offers us compliments or criticism, it’s our right as humans and our prerogative as sane members of an overly critical and blunt society. Personally, there are a couple individuals in my life who only ever speak to me when they have some “advice” or “criticism” to give me. Depending on my mood, I will act on it or ignore it, but I feel no obligation to be confined or ruled by their interjections. But when it comes to my mother, it is a total paradigm shift. I don’t ignore her advice or criticism because to do that would be to invite a rift between us. Something I do not want. It’s taken me years to really understand how that dynamic works between me and my mom, but I am so incredibly blessed by where it is now. She can tell me something important without me taking offense, and I can hear it, act on it, and grow from it without significant self-deprecation.
However, I believe it is worth observing here in this situation that it is much easier to accept criticism, or qualified compliments, when a person has been kind and loving. It’s hard to take criticism from someone when that’s literally all you get from them. Just something to keep in mind. Don’t be a witty YouTube commentator in someone else’s life.
The theme and nature in which these important relationships were told was very impactful to me! I enjoyed seeing the journey. And, particularly in the case of Lesley and Cat, seeing that sometimes it doesn’t quite work out the way we’d hoped.
One thing that always amuses me about superhero shows, and this is not exclusive to Supergirl (not even exclusive to Berlanti), is that villains always seem to learn how to use their powers faster than heroes. Off the top of my head, I’d surmise that it’s because 1) villains are, by nature, bigger risk-takers and are bolder with experimentation and 2) villains have a significantly reduced allotment of responsibility, which enable them to sidestep the appeal to consequences argument.
I don’t know if there’s a great way around this, and as I’m only just getting educated in comics now, I can’t speak to the history of how this has been portrayed. But it isn’t necessary a bad thing, it’s just a painful thing. It’s sad that Kara has such a small percentage of things on Earth that can actually kill her, and she cannot improvise her powers enough to take on a woman who, in less than 5 minutes, learned how to transmit herself through light. (SUPER cool, by the way.) Kara has been sitting on her powers for 14 years, or whatever, and does not know herself as well as Livewire does.
There is a learning curve for every hero. The Flash went through it, almost getting beat by Dr. Light this season, even (I’m definitely not counting Zoom on this); Arrow (now Green Arrow) certainly went through it, much of it during his early years on Lian Yu. My goodness did we see Clark Kent go through it and through it on Smallville for a decade. It’s just a little embarrassing for our hero when their rival nearly kills them!
Even so, Kara did seem to fight better than she did in episode 3… So as I stated above, I wonder if she got a little training in the unaired episode!
Cougar’s Comic Corner
This week, our very own Scarlet Cougar recommends Action Comics #835 by Gail Simone! In this comic, Livewire is featured for the FIRST time in print. Karen also recommends that you follow Gail on Twitter!
For bonus reading material, check out Superman: Up, Up and Away! by Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek! And don’t forget to read Charles’s blog post about the rumored Jemm, Son of Saturn, addition to the Supergirl cast.
Next week is the week of Thanksgiving, but we are still getting a fresh episode! As of today (Wednesday November 17, 2015), it appears that CBS will be airing the skipped-over episode “How Does She Do It?” on November 23. There are conflicting reports, but it seems like we’ll get the blanks filled in earlier than I expected!
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