Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Supergirl Episode 213:Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk

I have been eagerly awaiting Supergirl episode 213, titled 'Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk' for some time and for many reasons. For one, as a big Mxyzptlk fan, I knew this would be a wild episode filled with craziness and fun. But I also knew that Supergirl comic writer Sterling Gates (along with Jessica Queller) was writing it. If anyone has proven they understand Supergirl, it is Gates who has written some definitive stories about Kara. Gates is also a huge comic fan. And I thought (and was correct in thinking) that this episode would be filled with comic references and homages. Just think back to his digital Adventures of Supergirl comic which was set in this continuity and touched on just about every age of Supergirl as well as comics in general.

But there is more to this episode then just 5th Dimensional romantic hijinx. We get progression of all the romantic subplots of the series and even the beginning of another. That's perfect for a Valentine's Day episode. I don't know if I agree that Kara would fall for Mon-El ... but the chemistry between Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood is undeniable. And Mon seems to be striving to be better which I gues works in his favor.

The best thing for me about this episode is that this is a pure Supergirl adventure. No one else really comes in to save her. She both outsmarts and outpunches all her foes. And she handles herself with confidence and strength. Just last episode I complained about J'Onn needing to come in and save her. No such scene here. Kara deals with all the emotional and super-heroic stuff all on her own and comes out victorious. Of all the great things buried in this episode, that is the shining star above it all.

Before the episode, I told myself I would need a pad at the ready to write down all the references. I was right.

On to the episode!

As we saw last episode, Mxyzptlk arrives to propose to Kara. He sets up the apartment with a flowers and music and even starts to sing 'A Whole New World' from Aladdin. When Mon-El steps in, Mxy call the Daxamite 'tall, dark, and blandsome' ... just perfect. And then, in classic Mxy pranking, he teleports Mon-El to the DEO ... albeit in his underwear. That is a great Mxy moment. But wait ... it gets better!

He then pokes fun at Mon by calling him 'McGurk-El'. Every Mxyzptlk fan remembers how he first was seen looking for his friend McGurk. In the end it was a Thinker-like statue in a museum that Mxy animates who turns out to be McGurk. Such a deep cut, meant for lunatic fans like me, but soooo appreciated!!

With Mon-El teleported away, Mxy states his intentions. He has observed Kara from afar. He has found her brave and bold (The Brave and the Bold!!) and he intends to marry her. With a snap of his fingers, he puts Kara in a Vera Wang wedding gown. She is really exasperated by the whole thing, shrugging off his advances.

He says that Kara being with him is his OTP (so awesome). And then he says 'once you go Mxy, you never go back-sy'. So utterly crude. But completely hilarious.

The whole scene had me smiling ... whether from the references or the insanity of Mxyzptlk. But it got even better.

Back in the DEO, Hank talks about the imps being on Mars during the Zook Uprising. A Zook reference!!! That might be the deepest cut of all.

In a nice aside, we see J'onn sending a written message to M'Gann on Mars, a sort of Valentine's Day card. After all writing something is often the strongest way of saying something... FORESHADOW!!!

Meanwhile, not everyone is having a great kickoff to Valentine's Day. Alex clearly loves the schmaltz and nonsense of the holiday but Maggie calls it a manufactured holiday for patsies. No fun for Alex!

Winn meanwhile is spending another Valentine's Day alone. At the alien bar he orders Lallorian Lager (a nice reference to the Heroes of Lallor). When that upsets some other patrons, another customer comes in to save the day. Lyra Strayd is a woman of action from Star Haven!! Star Haven used to be a paradise before it was overrun by the Blight! The Blight!!

Of all the planets he has researched, Winn likes Star Haven the most and quotes a famous passage. With an instant connection, the two arrange a date.

So we got Lallor, Star Haven, and the Blight in one scene!! Clearly, Gates was aiming to please the fans of the Legion of Super-Heroes. And given I still think that Mon-El will end up in the future with the Legion in the finale, why not stoke the fires??

And the references keep coming. A trio of crooks try to rob a bank. When Supergirl shows up to stop them, Mxyzptlk shows up as well. Using a move he says he saw in a movie, he has their guns float before them and fire. It is a nice riff on the first X-Men movie when Magneto has the police's guns fire on them. Thanfully, Kara is able to intercept the bullets. (I love how she elbows one of the crooks after stopping the bullet.)

But this makes it clear. Mxyzptlk has no concern about human life. He is willing to snuff these guys out. And that means he really needs to be stopped.

Back in the DEO, Mon-El says that on Daxam they killed the imps because their mischievous deeds went out of control.

Once again the daily living of Daxam sounds more and more like the dark ages.

While the sisters talk about Valentine's Day woes, Kara is surprised to see the Parasite tearing up the streets. Remember, the Parasite should be dead! Kara jumps in and is soon joined by Mon-El. It looks like a team-up throwdown when suddenly 'look up in the sky'! It's not a bird or a plane or even Superman! It's Mxy in a Superman outfit! (how great to see the citizens point to the sky and say the famous line!) The imp dispatches the Parasite with one punch and then admits he manufactured the threat so he could save the day and woo Kara. He is scary. He doesn't care at all.

In the fight, Mon blurts out that you can trick an imp back to the 5th dimension by getting them to say their name backwards. Moreover, when Mon confronts Mxy about endangering people, Kara admonishes him and sends the Daxamite away. That seems rough. Mon-El once again jumps to lethal force as the answer prompting the dismissal. But it still felt pretty cold.

What happens next is the best imitation of Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard on Moonlighting that I have seen. There is a crackling conversation between Kara and Mon-El in the DEO. He says he wanted to defend Kara's honor. He can't believe how much she criticizes him while giving Mxy a pass. And he has every right to be mad. She meanwhile calls him on his chauvinism. She isn't a damsel who needs rescuing. She can defend herself. And she criticizes Mon because she expects more from him. It is a superb bit of acting, going back and forth, with great chemistry and spark.

In the midst of it, Mon says he didn't say the 'backwards name' gambit because it is near impossible to pull off. Killing them was the only solution on Daxam.

And a nice touch is Mon breaking the spat to say hi to a passing agent. It is odd to have such a heated debate in the common room of the DEO. Such a nice little throwaway moment in the middle of the tiff.

Despite Maggie's hate of Valentine's Day, Alex tries to set up something romantic at her apartment. The whole thing backfires. Maggie gets irritated and complains that Alex didn't listen.

But then Maggie opens up a bit. In the eighth grade, She sent a Valentine to a classmate, the first girl she had feelings for. That was not well received by the girl's parents or Maggie's. They sent her away to live with an Aunt for three years. Her parents did not accept her with an open mind as she told Alex before. As a result, Valentine's is something of a raw nerve.

I have to say, this was another good scene for this couple as they share their histories and feelings. Maggie has always been tough and confident. Here she seems vulnerable and still hurt. You know this early life moment was devastating. I don't know if Maggie's lying was the right thing though, regardless of her motives of wanting Alex's coming out to be a better and more supportive experience.

Armed with a DEO artifact which blocks 5th dimensional energy, Mon-El challenges Mxy to a duel for the hand of Kara. It seems so colonial but in character for these two boors

Initially armed with his powers, Mxy sets up the whole thing as a Hamilton duel, complete with stage setting. Mon fires his gun, but of course it was a fake. The fight goes back and forth for a bit. First Mxy has the upper hand, then Mon uses the artifact to block his powers and seems like he has the upper hand. And then Mxy smashes the medallion regaining his powers and almost killing Mon with a dueling pistol (Mxy thankfully mentions Mon's lead weakness, something mentioned only once so far this season). Thankfully, Kara shows up and ... shockingly ... announces she will marry Mxy, but only at the Fortress.

I loved the Hamilton setting (including a 'not gonna miss my shot' line). And I thought Kara was setting up a Kryptonian wedding ceremony including a Kltpzyxm mixed into the rites. I also loved that Mxy quoted Willy Wonka! When Mon-El said Mxy was a dead man, Mxy said 'Strike that, reverse it' and almost killed Mon.

With Mxy gone, again Mon apologizes for his behavior and begs Kara to back out. But once again she says they won't work as a couple. Marrying Mxy will save the world. And, with his powers, he can help her continue her never ending battle. So much for Valentine's Day!!

It turns out that Kara's promise to marry Mxyzptlk in the Fortress was a lie, a way to get him there so they could brawl. She again tells him that he cannot force people into love. He doesn't take the news well, promising to destroy the Earth and follow Kara throughout the universe until she agrees to marry him. But Kara won't just back down. She is so powerful here, fed up with this nonsense and ready to bring it to an end.

I love that she shows up drinking orange juice, one of the few things Mxy cannot force a person to do. It is a simple show of defiance. She lied to get him to the Fortress and way from innocent bystanders.

She says she's ready to 'get nuts' ( a callback to Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne), and after a brief skirmish with the animated Jor-El ice statue, turns the Fortress's Atomic Cauldron (another great callback!) to self-destruct. She'll kill herself to be rid of him. He begs her to stop and she lets him enter to deactivate code. Of course, the code is Kltpzyxm in Kryptonese. At first he calls her a nasty woman, a nice callback to recent political events. With his name written backwards (or 'said' backwards as J'onn declared earleir) , he disappears. But he sounds so lonely as he goes, declaring he was just looking for someone to love him.

By the way, he calls Kryptonese a 'moon language'. Is that a reference to Moon Supergirl from Cosmic Adventures?

What I like about this is that it showed some intelligence on Kara's part. And this was all her win. No one else rushing to her aid. She stood up to all the controlling dudes in the episode and outsmarts them all.

With Mxyzptlk gone, there is nothing left but the romantic wrap ups.

Winn and Lyra have a second date. She thought he wouldn't want more than an experience. He is afraid to to have his heart ripped apart again. So they agree to go slow .... back at his place. I like Winn having a romance.

Maggie surprises Alex with a Valentine's Day prom. I like Maggie realizing that she needs to understand Alex's needs too.

But the big ending is with Kara and Mon. He again apologizes for trying to save her. He knows maybe they are too different. He admits to being jealous. But she makes him want to be better than he is. He understands if Kara doesn't think it won't work. But she then says that almost everything she said (outside of calling him in his chauvinistic attitude) was a lie. She needed to trick Mxy and given he could be listening she needed to trick everyone (again showing some savvy and strategy in Supergirl's part).  Finally ... finally the two kiss!

I must admit I never thought I'd like this pairing. But the chemistry between Benoist and Wood is crackling. I don't know if Supergirl would ever fall for someone like him ... but he is trying to grow. And that is admirable. Against my initial thoughts, I'm pulling for them.

So much fun in this episode. From Mxy's pranks to all the references to the swoon of the romances, I'd give this a big thumbs up! Thanks to Sterling Gates and Jessica Queller for this Valentine's Day romp!


Stephen Mitchell said...

Brilliant review, hitting on so many of the references. I really enjoyed your breakdown of this episode. I learned a lot from it!

Nice to see someone coming around to the Kara/Mon-El pairing. James and Kara felt very forced and they had little to no on-screen chemistry, so I had a hard time accepting it. But Benoist and Wood are so good together with her charm and his charisma...I feel their relationship can only go up, up and away!

Also, so happy for Winn!

Anonymous said...

Great chapter, full of funny scenes, awesome Supergirl moments and nostalgic comic-book references (McGurk. I still can't believe it). Of course, I expected nothing less from Gates.

(As a brief aside, I've been rereading Supergirl Volume 5 as of late, and God, I miss Gates and Igle on the book. A great creative team who knows and respects the character at the helm, and Supergirl having strong bonds with the Kent family and interacting with the DC universe at large. When will Supergirl get that back again?)

Of course, Gates also remembered Supergirl is SUPERGIRL, the world's most powerful woman and she doesn't need to be saved almost every chapter.

I hope the Supergirl/Mon-El shippers are satisfied. Funny how seven years later, that brief "Good Luck" kiss scene during the Last Stand of New Krypton story arc became relevant.

Anonymous said...

This is a veritable Love Letter to the Best of the Silver Age Supergirl who repeatedly had to use her considerable brains to outwit Mxie since she could not overpower him. I'm calling this one the best of the second season so far, Supergirl was self reliant, self confident and self rescuing which is only as how she should always be depicted no matter what the challenge. Much like the silver age Supergirl, Kara lies and manipulates others very deftly on the way to sending Mxie back to the 5th Century...Oh and auto-destructing the Fortress with a 400 megaton nuclear PURE Captain Kirk Class Bad@ssery! BTW Mon El acts sooo obliviously entitled that he ought to wear a tee shirt that says "Daxamite Royalty" is truly blind. Anyway I don't mind this dalliance with Mon, it makes storytelling sense the actors have chemistry although Kara ought to clout Mon a good one once she finds out he fled his planet leaving his subjects to die. Keep in mind that goes right to heart of her ongoing survivor's guilt, Mon really did what Kara constantly self accuses herself of doing...
Anj you should definitely track down a few of those silverage Supergirl-Mxie dust ups...they might make interesting reviews.

Scrimmage said...

I also appreciated the fact that for once, Supergirl was the star of her own show. This episode was so jammed packed with action and exposition that there was no time for the writers to touch on each and every supporting character or subplot the way they usually do, which gave it a lean, more focused feel. There was no Catco, and best of all, NO James and NO Guardian! Perhaps TPTB have finally gotten the message that this iteration of Jimmy Olsen simply isn't working, and have decided to put him on the back burner if not write him off the show altogether.

Now THIS was more like it. Not only was Supergirl LITERALLY “faster than a speeding bullet,” she was also large, and in charge. I even did a little fist pump when she reminded Mon-El in no uncertain terms “I'm SUPERGIRL!” She said it with more than a little pride and a great deal of conviction, like the title actually MEANS something, namely that she doesn't (or shouldn't) NEED anybody to save her from anything other than in the most extreme circumstances. What a change from the mousy, uncertain, reluctant heroine of season one.

I thought Mxyzptlk's characterization was wildly inconsistent. Anyone – even an “imp” from the Fifth Dimension – who had been following Supergirl's exploits would know the value she places on human life, and if he was really trying to win her love, he wouldn't have needlessly endangered innocent – or even not-so-innocent – bystanders, much less threatened to shatter the world with a snap of his fingers. To me, that kind of power in the hands of someone so irresponsible somewhat justifies Daxam's “kill them first” attitude toward Mxy's race. Still, his nearly unlimited power over everything except for love and orange juice(?) made for some fantastic moments.

First of all, Kara looked stunning in that Vera Wang wedding gown. I was surprised, and a little disappointed that she didn't take notice of how gorgeous she looked. I didn't particularly care for the fake Superman bit, even though it was right in character for the surprisingly handsome, and purple derby-less Mxyzptlk, but I loved Kara's battle in the Fortress of Solitude(!!) with the Giant Ice Jor-El, and her apology to her “uncle” when she smashed him into so many ice cubes. THAT was a fight scene worthy of Supergirl! Mxy's banter with Mon-El was a lot of fun too, and sending him to the DEO in his skivvies was hilarious.

The best part of this episode was that in the end, Supergirl ultimately won the day with her BRAINS, instead of the usual superhero solution of pummeling an enemy into submission. I also liked that she was clever enough to trick Mon-El as well, and confident enough to trust that she could handle Mxy all by herself. That might be a first on this show. The way she finally acted like an adult, and declared her true feelings for Mon-El, was another positive sign of the growth of her character.

Looking ahead, I'd like to see more use of Kara's less “spectacular” powers; x-ray vision, super-hearing, and so forth. I'd also enjoy seeing her deal with maintaining her secret identity, a staple in the comics for ALL heroes, but something that is all but ignored on this show. It seems that everybody and their alien mothers at the DEO know that Kara Danvers is Supergirl, and it doesn't help maintain the illusion of dual identities if Kara is seen hanging out at an alien bar with the DEO on a regular basis, especially when an inter-dimensional menace manifests one of Supergirl's enemies right outside of Kara Danvers' apartment. It wouldn't take Batman to put two-and-two together and come up with ONE.

All in all, though, this was a thoroughly entertaining episode; easily one of the best of the season.

Scrimmage said...

There's still room for a lot of improvement in the way Kara's powers are portrayed. When Kara had to look out the window to see what all the commotion was about RIGHT OUTSIDE HER APARTMENT , I wondered why she didn't use her x-ray vision instead. Even the old black and white “Superman” show of my misspent youth made better use of that particular, and very handy power. It reminded me of the comments from last week about Supergirl instinctively ducking away from Winn's flamethrower, when it wouldn't have even singed her hair. An invulnerable person wouldn't react that way, unless of course, they were a Green Martian. I was hoping we'd get a better idea of Mon-El's power levels in his fight with Mxy, but outside of a vague inference that he doesn't actually “fly,” but instead, “leaps tall buildings in a single bound” was all we got, and I'm reading a LOT into that one.

The only negative comment I have is that I've been very disappointed with the way Alex has been portrayed this season, going from a strong, confident, dedicated soldier, and a hero in her own right, to this whining, needy, insecure girly-girl we see today. I'm so bored with Alex and Maggie's weekly “misunderstanding” which is always resolved by the end of the episode in a way that's better suited for some Disney After School Special about “caring and understanding,” that if it wasn't for the FF button on my remote, I'd probably fall asleep in the middle of the show. I don't care that they're a gay couple; I just don't want to watch a BORING gay couple. I'd much rather see uber cop Maggie and super-soldier Alex as a “kick ass and take names” kind of couple. A “Lesbian Lethal Weapon” duo, if you will. But that's a minor complaint in the big picture, since both Alex and Maggie should be nothing more than supporting characters in a show about a super hero.

Anonymous said...

"What happens next is the best imitation of Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard on Moonlighting that I have seen."

My thoughts exactly, Anj! And RIP to Al Jareau who sang the theme song, an underappreciated 80's song.

"What I like about this is that it showed some intelligence on Kara's part."

Showing off the use of the most powerful muscle in our body...THE BRAIN!

"Finally ... finally the two kiss!"

And when that kiss happened I could only think one word...SHAZAM! It was like a bolt of lightning.

This was one of the most fun eps this season to go with the first two. I hope Sterling Gates is ready to join the team...maybe as HEAD WRITER?

Love was in the air...and love this episode I did.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you definitely picked up the more obscure references there, Anj. Thanks for sharing! For me, I think the weakness of Mxy
this ep was I kept thinking back to Star Trek's Q, specifically the episode where Q comes to Voyager to win over and sire a child
with Janeway. Then again, one has to wonder if Mxy was the original inspiration for Q... now THAT thought boggles the mind!

I do appreciate how everyone got a Happy Valentines Day by episodes's end, though I'm with Maggie in that I'm a "Happy Singles
Day" kinda person.

As for the "You want to get nuts? Let's get nuts!" scene with Supergirl... remind me NOT to play poker with her ever... WOW!
As JF mentions, a Kirk-like level of badassery!!


Martin Gray said...

Is it appropriate to feel very, very proud of 'our' Sterling? What a terrific job he and Jessica Queller did, definitely the best episode of the season ... even with the beyond tedious Maggie/Alex business (what Scrimmage said!).

I'm miserable that I can't one-up you in spotting a single reference you missed. How about if I suggest that bringing the Jor-El statue to life was likely another McGurk reference - I thought you could even see the Golden Age McGurk in there, if you throw off the beard!

Anj said...

Thanks everyone for the comments moments.

Sounds like everyone agrees that this was one of the stronger episodes of this season.

I do understand all the controversy about Mon-El and this relationship. I truly can see both sides. I suppose that sort of will they/should they energy has added some punch to the proceedings.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I'm not overly invested in the romance angle. Although I'm annoyed at the shipping wars. Shippers often take everything out of proportion.

Of course, Sterling Gates did a great job (I wonder whether he still reads your blog). Steve Orlando is doing great so far, and it's clear he respects Supergirl and knows her story, but I miss Gates writing Supergirl's main book again.

Or that Daily Planet book pitch he mentioned was turned down. And to think that back in the Sixties, Superboy, Jimmy and Lois had their own books and Supergirl and the Legion were the main features of a magazine... and they sold several hundred of thousands of monthly copies... Things have definitely changed.

KET said...

"Lyra Strayd is a woman of action from Star Haven!! Star Haven used to be a paradise before it was overrun by the Blight! The Blight!!"

Curious if the Blight might tie into Mon-El's big secret that he's holding back from Kara. Starhaven was also home to Professor Alphonse Luzano (episode 1.14, Truth, Justice and The American Way). I strongly suspect that Lyra won't be a momentary fling for Winn.

"Not only was Supergirl LITERALLY “faster than a speeding bullet,” she was also large, and in charge."

Well, Kara was forced to assert herself, since she was fighting against the patriarchy being exhibited by both Mon-El and Mxy all throughout the episode. Mxyzptlk in particular, came on like an overindulgent fanboy, who insisted that Kara march to HIS agenda instead of where her heart was leading her instead. It was sort of a song cliche: "Torn Between Two Lovers", but with neither guy making any concessions over how Kara felt about either of them.

Likewise, Maggie was feeling the strain of coping with a 'greeting card holiday' that reminded her of past painful encounters, while Alex had to break through on a more intimate level, which she hadn't dealt with before. Luckily, she got a little advice and assistance from her sis on the matter.

Once again, the show used the threat of a nuclear incident as a ticking time bomb to induce a sense of urgency, which is becoming a bit repetitive at this point. Perhaps it's time for the next hostile alien invasion to occur...

James was definitely conspicuous by his absence this episode, which is ironic given that he was involved in most relationship subplots last season. I think this is a major clue to the shape of the overall season story arc, along with the replacement of Noonan's with the alien dive bar as the new 'social gathering place' for the characters after hours.