Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 13, “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk”
The long awaited and anticipated Valentine’s Day episode featuring Sanvers and the sometimes adorably, sometimes dangerously wacky antics of Mr. Mxyzptlk (Mr. Mxy from here on out, or just Mxy). I’m a huge fan of him already and want to see him again at some point. Sadly, Elizabeth can’t join me this time, as her city is currently sliding into the ocean (not really, but it sure sounds like it). So, I am a lonely gem without her fusion; at least I have something fun to talk about!
Mr. Mxy proposes to Kara. Mon El objects and Mxy sends him to the DEO in his undies. J’onn gives an epic side eye, but walks on by without asking questions. Kara rejects Mxy, but he believes she is playing coy and he can woo her with grand gestures of his devotion. At the DEO, J’onn composes a V-Day note to M’gann (Awwwww!). Kara decides in the middle of the DEO that this is a great time and place to have a conversation with Mon El about their relationship. At Chez Danvers, Alex learns Maggie is an epic V-day Hater. Lyra, an alien from Starhaven, saves Winn from bullies at the bar, and they hit it off geeking about her culture. Out on the streets, Kara literally catches a bullet for a thief fleeing Mxy then confronts him about his dangerous behavior. Mon El advises killing Mxy but Kara says no.
Kara comes home to an apartment full of flowers (just like last week, which was totally a platonic gesture) from Mxy. Alex wants to be super cheesy and romantic about V-Day, but she’s worried about Maggie’s resistance. Kara advises re-creating the holiday for just the two of them. ‘Parasyte’ shows up and beats up both Kara and Mon El for a bit before Mxy appears dressed as Superman. Kara realizes Mxy sent ‘Parasyte’ so he could swoop in and save the day. Kara tells Mon El to leave (and he actually listens!). Mxy tells Kara unless she marries him, things will get bad for Earth.
Mon El is mad that Kara is defending herself and tells her she’s not a good judge of what she can handle. Kara is mad that he didn’t tell her how to get rid of Mxy beforehand; Kara tells him he’s jealous and he gets pissy. They have a pretty big (and kind of loud) fight in the middle of the DEO that ends with Kara telling him it was a mistake. Mon El steals a weapon from the DEO. Alex follows Kara’s advice, but Maggie gets upset because she doesn’t feel heard. Alex encourages Maggie to not stuff her feelings. Maggie opens up about how her parents weren’t actually supportive of her being gay. She was forcibly outed by a friend she liked who didn’t like her that way and kicked out of her parents house when she was 14.
At the bar, Winn has set up a fancy date for him and Lyra, but she just wants to have sexy times (what is it with Winn and sexually aggressive women? Ngl it’s pretty hot). Meanwhile, Mxy duels Mon El for Kara’s hand, and goes full Hamilton, complete with costumes and pistols. Mon El uses the weapon to cut off Mxy from the 5th dimension, but Mxy crushes it. Kara shows up just in time to save Mon El from being shot with lead (foreshadowing?). She offers to marry Mxy the next day at noon in the Fortress of Solitude. Mon El apologizes for being a dillweed, but Kara has made up her mind about Mxy. Maggie shows up at the DEO looking for Alex to apologize to (that took guts); Kara tells her how much V-day means to Alex.
Champagne in hand, Mxy waits for Kara at the Fortress, where she shows up drinking orange juice (for some reason?). She rejects him and he brings the ice sculpture of Jor El to life to attack her. After shattering the sculpture, Kara encloses them in the fortress and detonates the core to explode and kill them both. He begs her not to kill herself because the world needs her. She eventually relents and he types in the abort code, which, incidentally, is his name spelled backward. (THAT’S OUR GIRL). He disappears to the 5th dimension without having found love.
Lyra and Winn have a nice second date. Alex comes home to find a box with her name on it from Maggie, who has set up an epic Valentine’s Day prom night for them both. Maggie apologizes for fixating on her wounds instead of on the woman she cares about. They dance; I cry happy tears. Mon El shows up at Kara’s and apologizes for acting like an ass. Kara admits she tricked him about saying they weren’t meant to be together and they make out on her couch.
“On some planets, to write something down is to truly say it.”—J’onn J’onzz
Thoughts & Feelings
No better place to start than Mxy summing up what many in the Supergirl fandom have been saying about Mon El as a romantic interest for Kara (ourselves included)
“The other suitor? I didn’t see you there tall, dark, and blandsome. You’re barely there, let alone my romantic rival. Invisible is a good look on you, let’s play to your strengths.”
In fact, one of the cleverest aspects to the Mr. Mxyzptlk plot this episode was how it seemed very much like a meta commentary on early complaints regarding Mon El specifically and unearned romantic arcs more generally. “You can’t just put me in a wedding dress!” argues Kara as Mxy blithely ignores her protestations that she’s not interested. Mxy is ‘persistent’ in his grand gestures, believing that his very persistence will ‘wear her down’ because she’s ‘confused’ and ‘doesn’t know her own feelings’. He reminds me of Wolf from 10th Kingdom a bit.
The commentary reaches acute levels when Mxy dresses and styles himself as another Superman, just as Mon El did in “We Can Be Heroes”. Like Mon El did with James, Mxy argues Kara needs an equal to her powers. He calls Mon El a thug and claims Kara is ‘slumming it’, which sounds once again like the writers co-opted a fandom complaint. Mxy believes grand gestures, including trying to be a hero (though admittedly in a threatening situation of his own making), and deciding she is fated to be his mate will be enough to convince her to love him, much as Mon El did early in the season.
He’s actually a pretty decent foil for Mon El, if one that’s significantly more powerful, and more destructive when he doesn’t get his way. They both arrogantly believe they know what is best for Kara and refuse to listen to her when she asserts herself. Yet, again, they differ significantly in how they handle rejection. Mon El backed off and tried to date someone new. Mxy threatens to destroy the world. Even Mon El, with all his entitlement, was never that bad. He might be an arrogant dude bro, but Mon El never responded to romantic rejection by trying to physically attack Kara. That’s not to defend Mon El either; it’s more to point out the interesting juxtaposition in what they share as romantic interests and where they differ.
It’s also worth pointing out that the depiction of Mxy’s reaction to rejection in no way read as an endorsement. Supergirl is not trying to say this is an appropriate reaction for men (or anyone) to have when their feelings are not reciprocated. Mxy is 100% in the wrong and Kara makes that clear with how she handles him.
Mxy’s mixture of puckishness, amorality, and arrogant superiority reminds me of one the most interesting antagonists of the Star Trek universe: Q. Like Mr. Mxyzptlk, Q has tremendous power to warp human reality, vast experience in the universe, a high IQ, and a propensity for mischief. They’re both equally capable of practical jokes and destructiveness, and have a playfully antagonistic relationship with their respective heroes. The comparison with Q informs (but does not justify) Mxy’s more problematic character traits, like his willingness to destroy Earth to win Kara. Both Q and Mxy suffer from big egos, near limitless power, and boredom, but they’re less villainous than flippant. It’s the “you walk through the grass without realizing how many insects you step on” phenomenon.
He’s also good fun. The Hamilton scene was A+, especially the longer it went on. These two men really are going to duel with revolutionary era pistols in frilly shirts aren’t they? Yes, yes they are. I loved the ending to the episode as well. So classic Superman in its execution, but with Kara’s own rather chilling twist on outsmarting Mxy instead of out-muscling him. I swear Kara must have had ice in her veins in that scene and not just she destroyed an ice statue of her uncle Jor El. Speaking of Kara outsmarting Mxy, I appreciate how much attention was given to Kara’s agency and intelligence this episode. She’s has a couple of idiot ball moments this season (she really never figured out James was Guardian until 2×10?), so it was nice to see her outwitting a highly intelligent inter-dimensional being all on her own.
I also love Kara standing up for herself with Mon El. She’s done it before (multiple times) when he’s refused to listen to her, or lied to her, or just generally acted like a walnut, but after last week, I was slightly worried that she might be starting to overlook the fact that he hadn’t changed all that much. I’m happy to see Kara setting boundaries around her new relationship in terms of what behavior she will find acceptable from him and what she won’t.
And to be honest, Mon El’s protectiveness is patently absurd at face value. Kara is both stronger than he is and has a wider array of superpowers. Why does he ever feel the need to protect her at all?
Physically, Kara is literally the safest and most well protected person just being herself. Mon El may be acting out or flailing because he doesn’t know how to cope with caring about someone as much as he does Kara, but the “I’m just protecting your honor” bit is already a tired trope for non superheroes. Much less when Kara is literally bulletproof and can shoot lasers from her eyeballs.
There wasn’t nearly as much Sanvers as I expected, but I realized upon further investigation that it was in large part due to overhyping from sources other than the CW. The network never promised a Sanvers-centric episode, but some entertainment outlets did, and that was the narrative that made the rounds on social media sites. Had I not seen those sources, I know I would have felt less initially disappointed. As it is, I’m far less upset now that I know my sources were incorrect, not the show.
What we did get, though, was just lovely. Ever since Maggie Sawyer appeared, she’s had pretty thick walls around certain parts of herself. While she was never glowing about her past, tonight we learned that even some of her positive statements were lies. Her parents were not affirming of her being gay. They kicked her out of the house when she was 14, and she had to live with an aunt for three years (taken largely from Renee Montoya’s backstory, by the way). It’s a gut-wrenching story, and one that’s all too true even in our day and age. Just one more way that Sanvers is one of the realest representations of wlw I’ve ever seen.
And the entire conversation showcased how far Alex has grown and how comfortable they are in their relationship. Alex has grown enough to recognize when Maggie is shutting her down, and is willing to push Maggie to be as honest as she pushed Alex to be. It takes tremendous trust on both sides for this kind of conversation to happen. Maggie being willing to open up instead of further shutting down highlights how much she’s grown in her ability to trust Alex with things she’s probably never talked about with anyone before.
Her instinct after that is to apologize, too, which yet again is a mark of maturity and overall relationship health. Moreover, rather than getting defensive when Kara gently pushes her about Valentine’s Day, Maggie turns thoughtful. She takes Kara’s advice to heart, and does everything she can to make the woman she’s crazy about feel special. When you think about it, there’s tremendous power packed into the terse narrative surrounding Sanvers, and I adored every second of it on my screen.
As Elizabeth and I have said before, one of the best things about Sanvers is its down-to-earth domesticity. Alex making Maggie her favorite breakfast, even though she thinks it’s gross. Her gushing about Maggie to Kara, listing off all of the things Maggie loves as she tries to decide how to make Maggie’s Valentine’s Day special. Alex coming out in lingerie (OMG), as part of Maggie’s special Valentine’s Day. The dancing. They’re happy together and healthy as a couple. They listen to each other, are open, and have a strong communication dynamic that is both supportive and appropriately challenging.
It’s actually jarring to see Maggie and Alex with their open, honest communication juxtaposed with Mon El and Kara yelling. Especially since the latter had more than one loud argument versus Alex and Maggie’s single disagreement that Maggie immediately wanted to apologize for. Additionally, Maggie and Alex steer clear of insulting each other and being accusatory, something Mon El and Kara can’t seem to be able to do. Did Mon El really need to tell Kara she’s full of herself and doesn’t know what she can handle?
There’s also a jarring irony to Kara encouraging Maggie to make changes for Alex when Mon El has not changed some of the things that upset Kara the most about this attitude. He’s apologized, which is a good first step (and one I am frustrated didn’t happen sooner), and I expect actual character growth, not just me being told he’s different. From here on out, I expect to see him listening to Kara and respecting her agency and her ‘no’. I expect less over-protectiveness, less overbearing egotism, and less patronizing arrogance.
It’s funny, because as I write this out, these are precisely the things that James Olsen has been struggling with as well, and yet that relationship fizzled out. Oh wait, the writers did that. I am still bitter about the fact that James was sidelined only to be replaced with a white character with similar personality flaws this season. And now Mon El/Kara have gotten more actual screen development than Kara/James. It’s unintentional I’m sure, but the sidelining of a man of color in favor of a white male love interest squicks me out, big time. Both Elizabeth and I have been saying so since our first review this season. And now that Kara/Mon El is happening, I’m not any less uncomfortable than previously, especially with how weakly Mon El’s character development has been written.
I’m trying to see both sides. On the one hand, Sanvers is beautiful and amazing. On the other, I wish Maggie’s discussion of her forced outing to her parents and her first real crush had been given more narrative space to breathe. At least two of the Kara/Mon El scenes were redundant. And yes, I know Kara is the protagonist. I’m not arguing to make this the Sanvers show instead of the Supergirl show. I’ll be blunt, which will get more narrative oomph for the input: greater exploration of Maggie’s backstory (which audiences have been desperate for), which is a moving, painful, and real story that many young women face. Or, one more scene of Kara and Mon El fighting about how arrogant he is and how he thinks she’s full of herself and needs to accept his protection or advice.
Part of my struggle isn’t so much with Kara and Mon El fighting this episode, though it was discordant given Sanvers’ relationship health. It’s the pattern of this relationship overall. Kara and Mon El don’t just ‘bicker’ or have disagreements that they work out by communicating honestly, like Maggie and Alex do. They dredge up old hurts, re-open old wounds, repeat the same frustrations over and over again. Kara thinks Mon El is overprotective, patronizing, arrogant, and disrespectful of her agency and personhood. Mon El thinks Kara is self-centered, self-important, and doesn’t know what’s good for her. But only one of these perspectives is borne out by the narrative, and it isn’t Mon El’s.
So I’m left with what I think is supposed to be them ‘bickering’ on even footing (“butting heads” because they’re strong personalities), but only one of the characters actually has a valid point about the other’s behavior. And he only now started listening. It’s hard to imagine what Kara finds attractive about a man who repeatedly rejects her agency. It’s clearly something, otherwise she wouldn’t be so ready to make out on her couch, but I’m scratching my head at what it could be.
- Oh tiny bitter Maggie and her “manufactured holiday for patsies” line.
- “Things were a lot easier on Daxam when I objectified women and didn’t care about anyone.”—This better be a cultural marker, because I didn’t find it funny.
- “Once you’ve been adored by the all-powerful Mxy, there’s no going backsy” “Your one true pairing as the kids say.” Mxy had quite a few punny/culturally amusing side jokes. I approve.
- Mxy had champagne, Kara had orange juice, together they’re a mimosa?
- Mon El’s Kryptonite line was kind of weird. 1) He has a “Kryptonite” and it’s lead, and 2) Kryptonite isn’t just a ‘weakness’, it’s an extremely painful, torturous experience for Kara to come in contact with it. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean “you have the potential to kill me.”
- I caught that Nasty Woman reference. A+
- I dig Lyra/Winn and approve of Winn’s attraction to strong women.
- NGL, Lyra looks like a vampire from Buffy.
- Speaking of Lyra, why is she ‘British’?
- Okay, but like, ALEX WAS WEARING LINGERIE FOR MAGGIE.
- J’ONN SENT M’GANN A SPACE VALENTINE.
- I hope James is doing okay on V-Day all on his lonesome, with no one to check in on him.
- The ongoing saga of Alex’s disgust with Maggie’s eating habits gives me life.
- Shout out to Cat Grant!
- Also a nice shout out to Starhaven.
Overall, this was what I’d like to call a warm blanket episode. Was it emotionally heavy? No, but it was a delightful romp sprinkled with some great character moments. Most of all, Kara got to shine as her strong, powerful, intelligent self. She was seriously channeling the metal as fuck In Ze women (her mom and aunt) in that final scene with Mr. Mxyzptlk. Her feelings about her mother and aunt have been justifiably mixed since Season 1, but’s nice to see that there is some Alura In Ze in Kara deep down. She just needed a mischievous 5th dimensional being to bring it out in her. Just showing up in her supersuit drinking orange juice all casual and then rejecting Mxy before setting of the core’s self-destruct? Hard. Core.
Other characters had great moments as well. I adore how casually J’onn just accepts Mon El in his undies. Either he can read Mon El’s mind (but he can’t read Kara’s) or his bar for Mon El’s behavior is just that low. Also, J’onn writing M’gann intergalactic love notes is everything I ever wanted from my favorite Martians. Space Dad is the best Space Boyfriend #RelationshipGoals.
Speaking of which, Winn with his new girlfriend! I love how eager Winn was to show her off and honestly gave zero fucks about anyone seeing him in a relationship with an alien. Then you have the layers of racial coding onto her experience as an alien. She thought she would just be an exotic ‘experience’, for example. I’m happy for Winn. He deserves it.
Last night’s episode was also the first real moment that Mon El seemed to actually recognize his need to change. And he apologized, more than once. Do I wish it had happened five or six episodes ago? Yes. But I still appreciate it here, even if it does feel misplaced. Now he starts thinking about the consequences of his behavior, and apologizing for being an ass, and actually emoting. But why this late in their relationship? And why only in response to a romantic rival? It would have been nice if he’d figured this out when it was about Kara herself, and not tinged with jealousy over Mxy.
I’m hoping that the show is building up to something with the tiny hints we keep getting from Mon El about what life was like on Daxam. It can’t be a coincidence that both he and M’gann come from societies that did not show affection. He’s mentioned public shaming being common, and slavery was not just normal, but condoned. His objectification of women and entitled attitude stems from his culture. It is entirely possible that the show is leading up to yet another “hero rises from the ashes of trauma and a fucked up culture/home” narrative like we’ve gotten with M’gann and Lena. I won’t judge it until I see it in it’s entirety, of course. But, if this is where his arc is headed, I’m interested in taking a step back once it’s done to see how it hangs together.
And let’s not forget the lovely, genuine wlw romance that is Sanvers happening right before our eyes. There is just so much to it, that even their small scenes sparkle in a way that the main plot can’t outshine. My Sanvers shipping heart is full to overflowing. What a treasure of a love story.
Tune in next week for Danvers Family Conflict, aka Heartbreak. Go ahead and punch me in the face right now, it will probably hurt less.