Pilot (Supergirl)

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Supergirl episode
Supergirl (CBS) Season 1 poster.png
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Directed by Glen Winter
Story by Greg Berlanti
Allison Adler
Andrew Kreisberg
Teleplay by Allison Adler
Production code 276088
Original air date October 26, 2015 (2015-10-26)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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The pilot episode of the television series Supergirl premiered on CBS on October 26, 2015. It was written by series developers/creators Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler and Andrew Kreisberg, and directed by Glen Winter.

The Supergirl pilot details the origins of Kryptonian Kara Zor-El, whose quest to follow in her famous cousin's footsteps would emerge while maintaining a mild mannered life as Kara Danvers.

The episode received positive reviews, especially for the performance of the series' star Melissa Benoist. It also became CBS' most watched new series of the 2015-16 television season, and the most watched new scripted series overall by Nielsen, with 12.9 million viewers tuning in and an estimated 19 million over the next week, once delayed viewing is tabulated. It also gave CBS its first successful series to target a younger demo in the 18-49 age group, which is favored by advertiser groups.[1]


The story begins with the origins of Kara Zor-El, who is sent by her parents Alura and Zor-El from Krypton to Earth to watch over her infant cousin, Kal-El. Krypton explodes just seconds later, knocking the pod off course and sending it into the Phantom Zone. She remained frozen in time in the Zone for 24 years before it escaped and crashed on Earth. Kal-El, who had by then gone on to fame as Superman, rescued Kara from her pod and takes her to live with, Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers, the scientists who helped him come into his powers, and their daughter Alex.

Twelve years later, Kara Danvers lives in National City and works as an assistant to Cat Grant, the head of the mega-media conglomerate CatCo. Alex is about to board a flight to Geneva, thinks that Kara should continue to remain a normal person, despite Kara's yearning to use her powers. After a news report reveals that the plane carrying Alex is about to crash, she uses her powers for the first time in years. Though Kara begins to wonder if she could become a hero like her cousin, Alex worries that Kara is putting herself in danger. The next day, Kara reveals her secret to her co-worker, Winn Schott, who helps Kara perfect her abilities and designs a uniform for her, and she is dubbed "Supergirl" by Cat Grant, who is unaware of her true identity. The news of Supergirl's actions attract the attention of Vartox, an alien responsible for the attempted plane crash.

While flying, Kara is shot down by a tranquilizer containing Kryptonite and brought to the secret headquarters of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), where it turns out Alex works. Director Hank Henshaw informs Kara that when she landed on Earth, Fort Rozz, a prison housing some of Krypton's worst criminals (most of whom were sentenced by her mother) crashed onto Earth as well. After Kara is nearly killed by Vartox, she begins to wonder if she's not ready to be Supergirl yet, but Alex convinces her to follow in her cousin's footsteps. Kara then challenges Vartox to a rematch, in which she causes his ax to explode with her heat vision before committing suicide. Her actions convince Hank that Supergirl, with help from Alex, can be useful to the DEO. The following day, CatCo's new art director, James Olsen, reveals to Kara that he knows her secret identity. James passes on a gift: an indestructible cape made from Kal-El's baby wrappings.

Meanwhile, in another part of the universe, the news of Vartox's death reaches his commander, revealed to be General Astra, Alura's identical twin sister and Kara's aunt. Astra has plans to take over the world and kill Kara so she can make her niece pay for her mother's sins.


The plant where Supergirl and Vartox first do battle was shot in San Pedro, California but the producers' plan to extend the fight scene beyond the plant was scrapped. The rematch scene took two days of filming in the Mojave Desert.

The producers also note that Alex Danvers was created for the series, as she does not exist in the comic series. The producers also enlisted real-life Los Angeles news reporter Rick Garcia and Leyna Nguyen to make cameo appearances in this episode, and plan to utilize more media news talent from the Los Angeles area in the series.[2]

The twist in the final scene featuring Astra was a last minute addition by the producers, as she was also created for the television series, along with her background that featured another Kryptonian House without the "S" in its shield, which will also add to Kara's family background in future episodes.[3]


In January 2015, it was announced that Melissa Benoist had been cast as Supergirl.[4]



More than 12.96 million viewers tuned in to see the episode, making it one of CBS' most watch scripted dramas of the night and of this season, tying it with NBC's Blindspot as the top-rated series premiere of the 2015-16 fall season.[5]

Critical response[edit]

The episode received positive reviews, praising Melissa Benoist's take on the character and the well scripted storyline.

Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly gave the episode a B-, and notes in his assessment of the review, "I’m glad Supergirl exists and I want it to succeed. If it never becomes anything more than a solid superhero genre show with a female lead, that’s more than fine, especially since that lead is fantastic: The best counter to all my complaints is that Benoist makes it all work. The redeeming magic of perfect casting. Her performance embraces, internalizes, and sells the character’s contradictions and paradoxes. She makes Kara feel real, she wears the costume proudly and easily, she’s joy and complexity at once. Supergirl begins to fill a shameful void that needs to be followed with cleaner, more artful wins. It will most likely come from original creations — the next Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the next Veronica Mars — or adaptations of edgier, more contemporary properties that can allow for more creative daring, like The CW’s excellent iZombie or (hopefully) the upcoming Netflix series, Marvel’s Jessica Jones. The frustrations of Supergirl remind us that super-powered super-people often make for problematic vehicles for exploring issues of Otherness, diversity, race and gender – especially intrinsically flawed comic book brands beholden to the values of another era and bound by franchise restrictions. “Can you believe it? A female hero. Nice for my daughter to have someone like that to look up to.” Yes, that is nice. Now, we need better."[6]

Cliff Wheatley of IGN gave the pilot episode a 7/10, praising Melissa Benoist's performance as Kara and the fun take on the Superman mythos.[7]

In a review from The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Feinberg said, "CBS' Supergirl shouldn't have to be a feminist landmark, but it is."[8]

Caroline Siede of The A.V. Club gave the episode a positive review, giving it a B.[9] With the exception of the Kara backstory, she was pleased with the executed fast pace of how well the episode was structured: "While Supergirl is a little more grounded than The Flash, this premiere establishes the show’s appropriately upbeat tone and sets up more than enough threads to explore across its first 13 episodes—and hopefully many more to come."[9]

Stacy Glanzman of TV Fanatic gave the episode a 5.0 out of 5 stars.[10]


  1. ^ "CBS' 'Supergirl' is this fall's most-watched series premiere " from Los Angeles Times (October 27, 2015)
  2. ^ "Supergirl:Pilot" from CBS.com (October 27, 2015)
  3. ^ Abrams, Natalie (October 26, 2015). "Supergirl postmortem: Get the scoop on that villain twist and what's next". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 26, 2015. 
  4. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (January 22, 2015). "'Glee,' 'Whiplash' Breakout Set as CBS' 'Supergirl'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 3, 2015. 
  5. ^ Porter, Rick (November 3, 2015). "Monday final ratings: 'Supergirl' and 'Blindspot' adjust down, 'Big Bang Theory' adjusts up". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Supergirl" from Entertainment Weekly (October 25, 2015)
  7. ^ Wheatley, Cliff (October 20, 2015). "SUPERGIRL: "PILOT" REVIEW". IGN. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  8. ^ "'Supergirl': TV Review" from The Hollywood Reporter(October 19, 2015)
  9. ^ a b Siede, Caroline (October 26, 2015). "Supergirl is the hero we need and deserve". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 26, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Supergirl Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Pilot" from TV Fanatic (October 26, 2015)

External links[edit]