Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Supergirl Episode 211: The Martian Chronicles

Supergirl Episode 211 came out this week and was titled The Martian Chronicles. And the name is appropriate because this episode does concentrate on Miss Martian and the White Martian threat. Given the powers of the Martians, the episode is definitely action heavy and plays on some of the beats of the classic John Carpenter horror movie The Thing. (We have seen the Supergirl staff riff on the The Thing in the past in the Parasite episode. And the Despero episode from last season definitely had an Aliens feel to it). So the main plot lived up to the hype.

But there are a couple of running themes in this season which this episode continues to build on.

For one, this growing sense that Kara is pushing people away and becoming isolated was in full force here. From Alex to Mon-El to continued friction with Winn, we see some evidence that Kara is feeling more alone now than ever. (Luckily, there was some easing of this at the end and a return of the super-sisters!)

Another ongoing thread throughout this season has been one of prejudice. Whether alien immigration or Green/White Martian racism to Cadmus' xenophobia, hate and prejudice has been a strong undercurrent in season two. And furthermore, it isn't just seen in the bad guys. J'onn has had to deal with his own hate and prejudice here and in this episode he really moves forward. And this is great, especially in these days.

But, being a comic nerd for some time, the high point was still the super-powered battles. Seeing Supergirl, Miss Martian, and the Martian Manhunter fighting two white Martians was just eye candy!

On to the show. Spoilers ahead!

 The episode starts in the alien bar where Kara approaches Mon-El to talk about their awkward scene at the end of last episode. Kara tries to explain why she isn't interested in Mon-El but does so in the cruelest way possible saying she couldn't like someone who acts like him. The whole time there is a 'methinks she does protesteth too much' to the delivery as she trips over the words a bit, fiddling with her glasses the whole time.

Alex arrives and teases Kara that her little sister didn't recognize Mon's feelings before the reveal. But then Alex backs out from celebrating Kara's Earth Birthday because she has plans with Maggie to see the band Bare Naked Ladies. (Yes, I am sure there is a double entendre that Alex loved Bare Naked Ladies in college.) It's pretty obvious that Kara is crushed but she puts in a brave face.

Meanwhile, Miss Martian spies Hank outside the bar in the form of a vagrant. She confronts him for shadowing her around town but he says it is because he is worried about the threat of the Whites. It is both creepy and endearing, your mileage may vary. But it is good that he did because a White does arrive and fights the two to a standstill. The white retreats once Supergirl joins the fray.

There a couple of nice touches here. Kara saying 'mind if I cut in' when she joins the fight is classic comic dialogue. And I love that M'gann's fighting form is still as a green Martian.

 At the DEO, we see that Kara is still miffed that Winn is doing his Guardian heroics. But I have loved the growth in Winn's character this season. I love that he says he can have a calling too.

But Kara's body language is perfect. Benoist is so wonderful in all aspects of her acting.

 The White Martian turns out to be Armek (nice call back to one of Morrison's Hyperclan). And it turns out that he was M'gann's husband in an arranged marriage. The Greens have been exterminated despite M'gann's efforts.  He has a scar on his face, apparently from her hands. She is known for her treachery and he will bring her back to Mars to "please H'ronmeer and water the plains with her blood".  Well hello to you too! She knows hate like that will never be pleased and she wonders who the Whites will target next.

He gives her a two hour window to meet him and be brought to Mars.

Before she gives herself up, Hank comes to try to stop her. He talks about how he didn't think he could love again but she has entered his heart. It is a pretty heartfelt scene showing how he has overcome his own bias to see what a wonderful person she is.

 Maggie can sense that Alex is worried about Kara's feelings. So before they leave for the concert, Alex heads to the DEO to clear the air.

Alex doesn't want to feel guilty about having fun with Maggie but she knows she hurt Kara. Kara says it was she who was being immature and tells Alex to head out. But it is again clear that she isn't exactly being truthful. The body language is again perfect.

But before Alex can head back out, we see two M'gann's in the building. One is a white Martians. The white and J'onn brawl (a very well done fight scene) but with the lights flickering, the white (presumably Armek) slinks away.

 The DEO goes into lockdown, locking the white Martian in the base. But since it can mimic anyone, agents don't know who to trust. This very much felt like The Thing where know one knew who was an alien in hiding. This is tense with different agents pulling out their sidearms and threatening everyone.

And asking personal questions won't matter because Martians read minds. (We do learn that Winn hates the smell of Kara's teakwood and tobacco scented candle. Brilliant!)

 And then we get a Thing homage which is a little more on point. J'onn knows that any Martian exposed to an open flame will show their true form. So he has everyone approach a bunsen burner. Even J'onn does it, but only with some very warm words of encouragement from M'gann. She is pretty close to him when she whispers that he has the strength to do it.

Shockingly, it turns out that Winn is actually the White Martian. Another fight breaks out, this time between 'Winn' and Hank. Once again, the White Martian escapes but not before it triggers the DEO's private nuclear reactor to explode.

Okay, this is where things get a little wonky. We learn for the whites to know as much about who they imitate they need to keep some telepathic leak. So Winn needs to be alive and close by. I guess I buy that.

 But then the team makes the biggest mistake in these situations! They split up! They need to find the real Winn to shut down the reactor.

Alex and Kara team up and during the sweep Kara opens up to Alex. (The sisters' recent poor communication is shown when Kara doesn't know Alex' hand signals.) Kara only knows life with her sister by her side. She is afraid of being abandoned, afraid of that since Krypton exploded. And she worries Alex will be taken away from her. Negative space in the shot adds a nice layer to this.

But Alex assures Kara that she isn't going anywhere. It is a nice scene. One thing kind of missing this season has been scenes of the super-sisters together. So I liked this.

That is until we see Hank and M'gann come upon the cocooned Winn and ... dun dun dunnnnnn ... Alex! There are two white Martians.

"Alex" says Kara is so dumb for not realizing this wasn't her sister. And then Chyler Leigh gets the chance to cut loose with the most deliciously evil monologue of the episode. Supergirl should know not to use heat vision near the unstable reactor. And it is so sick of having to be so cloyingly sweet to Kara. It wonders if Kara will whine as an attack. It is just fantastic. Delicious.

I would love to know just how much fun Leigh had playing this mean version of her character.

Winn is revived and needs to run and power down the reactor while an all out brawl breaks out behind him. (I love how he says that nothing like this happened at CatCo.)

But we get some serious brawling. Kara and her white toss each other around. Kara buzzes around him like a bee until ending it with a fantastic right hook. Meanwhile, M'gann and J'onn both in green form(!) fight the Armek. Armek's speech is horrible. He says M'gann looks like a monster in her 'green skin'. But M'gann says it is beautiful. Again, insert your real life reference to racism here.

The fight is ended when Alex uses her Dominator pistol to defeat Armek. Winn defuses the reactor. The good guys win!

 Its all over but the wrap-up.

Winn again leaves to head out with James. Alex tries to make the concert. And like last week Kara is all alone. This theme of her pushing people away a bit is going to come to a head.

 Later, Kara is alone in her apartment again watching a classic movie Auntie Mame! (Hat tip to @FilmandWaterPod and @Lawyersaregood2 on Twitter for reminding me.) That story is about an orphan being brought into a loving, accepting, but somewhat odd family. Again, it resonates with Kara's emotions much like The Big Sleep clip from last week!.

Alex arrives with the traditional 'Earth birthday' cupcake. There is a very sweet scene where Kara says she felt Alex slipping away (and as someone who missed screen time between these two this season, I felt her slipping away too!) Alex says that she isn't going to leave Kara, ever. But maybe Kara's big birthday plans and feeling so sad is because she has be avoiding her feelings for Mon-El.

That fear of being abandoned or hurt is so deep in Supergirl (something we definitely saw in the Silver Age books) that she is afraid to put herself out. She is worried she'll blow it. The risk is too great.

But if Alex has learned anything recently, it is that you need to be true to yourself. Maybe Kara should take a chance on Mon-El.

Meanwhile, M'gann feels like J'onn is family and more. She is going to go back to Mars to be a leader. She knows there has to be other white Martians who feel that she does. She will mobilize them. The two admit they love each other and do a bond! But she has to go. I guess Miss Martian is off the show. Hope she comes back for the finale!

But the 'show ends with Mon and Kara' tradition continues. Kara heads into CatCo only to see Mon-El and Miss Tessmacher leaving for a lunch date. Just as Kara was getting the confidence to return his feelings, she sees he has moved on. And he is kind of a jerk outright saying 'you rejected me, what was I to do.' Harsh.

I'm not a big fan of the Mon-El/Kara relationship but you can't deny the chemistry between Chris Wood and Melissa Benoist. And my guess is things will ratchet up when the aliens trailing him arrive.

So overall a very fun episode with action sequences and emotional beats. Anything that reminds me of The Thing is usually a good thing and the DEO scenes were great. My favorite slice of the show was probably 'evil Alex'.

This season seems to be gaining great momentum!


Anonymous said...

In the first two chapters, Alex complained about her sister ignoring her when her cousin was around (and even blamed Kara for their father's kidnapping, which is unfair and very low blow). Now she forgets about her sister's birthday because she is so focused on their girlfriend. How ironic.

Agreed, they made up so I'm not really holding it against her. And Kara is admitedly pushing people away. But if they go on to leave her alone, maybe she should reconsider her plan to move to Metropolis.

Or visiting Gotham City. I'm sure that two ladies that answer to the names of Barbara Gordon and Stephanie Brown would love making friends with her.

I still think Mon-El will have to leave sooner or later this season. Good grief, may you imagine the shipping wars if Brainiac-5 is introduced?

Anyway, good chapter.

Anonymous said...

Forgive a discursive comment, but how much money does Fox pay Howard Stern to praise "Gotham" (a show that is about as much fun as a pistol whipping) and slag "Supergirl" week after week on his Sirius XM radio platform? He must devote five minutes a week to dumping on the sure seems very deliberate to me thats all.

But I digress.

Yeah Supergirl seems isolated this year but she goes thru bouts of isolation. Remember the season climax last year (lobbing Fort Rozz into orbit) was a very willful self sacrificing act of isolation. Kara is compelled to a chivalric life of service consequent on her own personal PTSD, she gives a lot but she also asks a lot of her friends and relations as well. For sheer Karatharsis this ep was a step in the right direction, good brawls and SG beating down whatzisname via Main Strength, which is sometimes I all ever ask of the show. Otherwise it seems like the writer's have run out of plotlines for Miss Martian and are clumsily sending her back to Mars she was probably costing too much in CGI FX anyway. Still waiting for the hunt for Jeremiah to resume and the President's doppelganger issue to be resolved or for Cat Grant to drop by for a visit....meanwhile I'll just have to satisfied with Mon El and The Guardian.....


KET said...

"Forgive a discursive comment, but how much money does Fox pay Howard Stern to praise "Gotham" (a show that is about as much fun as a pistol whipping) and slag "Supergirl" week after week on his Sirius XM radio platform? He must devote five minutes a week to dumping on the sure seems very deliberate to me thats all."

It's probably a running gag, since Supergirl EP Ali Adler is a Stern fan, and she knows he's been watching the show since its inception. In reality, he loves the show (Cat Grant's quip of "Queen of All Media" is a riff off of Stern). In fact, last season, writer Derek Simon produced a photo tour of the entire Burbank set with a stand-up of Flat Ronnie.


Anonymous said...

Finish this joke, if you can : "So a Kryptonian Woman walks into a bar, the Daxamite Bartender asks her..." It's been
bugging me since watching the opening of this episode. Otherwise, I'd have to agree the fight scenes and the whole
theme of prejudice -- between how the Whites will never sate their hate, and J'onn getting over his and accepting
M'gaan into his heart -- were definitely the highlights of the episode.

Next would be Winn and Alex playing against their usual selves as the White Martians, after the guessing game of who is
the White. Reminds me of a game of Werewolf, with everyone rushing to accuse one another of being "it."

Also, and I'm thankful for pointing this out, Vasquez (the DEO agent from S1) is back. Did not know that! :)


Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

I loved that Vasquez was back too!

Scrimmage said...

No Guardian subplot = Best Episode since Superman left.

That being said, this show is really getting bogged down in all it's left-leaning symbolism. First it's a (Wonder) woman President propping up illegal “alien” immigrants, then it's “alien” gun control, followed by Alex suddenly deciding she's a lesbian, and now the “WHITE Martians” are racist bad guys committing genocide. Enough already! We get it!

Why don't they show Supergirl spending some of her time looking for her adopted father, Jeremiah, or figuring out where Cyborg Superman ran off to? Instead of letting every alien, or souped up human with a ray gun stand toe to toe with her, until her non-powered friends come to her rescue, why don't they show Kara doing something “super,” worthy of the most powerful woman on Earth? How about having her deal with a natural disaster, or an episode featuring Kara as a reporter, using her powers covertly to uncover the truth about a story? How about giving us some some stories with a little more imagination, and a LOT less soap opera?

Martin Gray said...

I realise this is a CW show so yes, soap, but seriously, they have 15 minutes to stop a nuclear explosion and even if you assume the Kara/Martialex and J'onn/Megan (please don't asked me to remember where the'apostrophe goes, or how many Ns) heart-to-hearts are simulatanous, they've just wasted two minutes. Get a grip, folks!

I did enjoy Awful Alex, but thought Wicked Winn was even better, Jeremy Jordan was terrific. And how lovely to see David Harewood properly smile. I realise I am always suggesting they write J'onn out, but I'd love him to stay in long enough to play a Brit from Birmingham (the real one!) so you guys can hear his natural accent! It'd be a hoot.

Sharon Leal really sells the emotion, I hope she comes back soon.

Mon El continues to be adorable, so what if she and he don't work out, they're young, they'll live. Have fun kids, the chemistry is everything that it wasn't with 'Call me James'.

Martin Gray said...

Oh, and I love Kara's POWER to the GIRLs sweater –. I see what they did there.