Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 11, “The Martian Chronicles”
Last week was the Martian forgiveness episode that gave us all the feels. This week, we get the climax to that arc when the White Martians come to Earth in search of M’gann. It’s a fast-paced thriller of an episode, one of the tightest this season, if not ever, and we had such a great time watching. Though we might need to go cry some more about our favorite Martians. At least we got some nerdy t-shirts and Kara x food fluff alongside the heavy-hitting emotional arc that is “The Martian Chronicles.”
Guess what? Tonight is also officially halfway through the season. *cue Bon Jovi*
At the alien bar, Kara confronts Mon-El directly about their conversation and confirms they’re “not a good match.” She basically says, “It’s not you, no wait it is you.” Whew, now that’s over. Mon-El leaves and Alex joins her, at which point Kara gushes about what she wants to do for her “Earth Birthday” (the anniversary of her arrival on Earth). But, Maggie surprised Alex with concert tickets to Barenaked Ladies (?!), and she wants to go. Supportive Kara is supportive and tells Alex to go have fun. M’gann takes out the trash and calls out J’onn for following her around. J’onn warns against the White Martians (hereafter, WM) and just as M’gann says they’re NBD, one shows up. Kara joins the fight, but the WM gets away.
WM show up at M’gann’s work, and we learn it’s her former hubby that she thought she’d killed. Hubby threatens her friends unless she turns herself over. J’onn confronts her again in the alley to tell her to let him and Team Super protect her (*cue crying*). Maggie wants Alex to be honest about her feelings and tells her to talk to Kara before the concert. Alex and Kara both apologize to each other at the DEO. M’gann shows up to apologize to J’onn, then another M’gann shows up to apologize to J’onn. This means WM is in the DEO! He attacks J’onn and the lights go out, allowing WM to disappear. J’onn puts the DEO on lockdown to trap WM, but WM is a shape-shifter and can look like any of them. And he can read minds. Cue everyone shouting and pointing guns. (Yay! Vasquez is back!)
J’onn can’t find the WM through mind reading because there’s psychic interference. J’onn tells them that fire reveals the WM skin, so they take turns holding their hands up to a lit Bunsen burner. Turns out WM is Winn, and he attacks everyone. Also, WM sabotaged the reactor that powers the building; it’s gonna blow and take out a chunk of the city with it. They need to find the real Winn to shut it all down, so they split up. Alex and Kara have a heart to heart about communicating better and are more honest. J’onn tells M’gann how much he cares about her. They find Winn attached to the ceiling with webs. They also find another body on the far wall: Alex. Turns out there are two WMs! Kara and WM!Alex duke it out. J’onn takes Winn to shut it down the reactor while M’gann stays with Alex.
J’onn dukes it out with WM!Hubby until M’gann joins him. While Winn hacks them all to safety, Kara knocks out WM #2, and M’gann kills her former hubby, for good this time. When WM #2 wakes up, Alex shoots it with her snazzy gun from Maaldoria. Alex checks in with Maggie. M’gann tells J’onn she’s going back to Mars to find other WMs like herself who want to break the cycle. Alex shows up with a cupcake at Kara’s door, and they have a heart to heart for realsies this time. M’gann admits she cares for J’onn and they share a Martian moment of intimacy with the mind meld before she leaves for her former hubby’s ship to go back to Mars (NO!! DON’T GO!!). Kara runs into Mon-El at Catco heading out to lunch with Miss Tessmacher, and she seems disappointed that he’s moved on so quickly.
Best quote: “We’re the monsters Armek, this skin is beautiful.”—M’gann M’orzz
Thoughts & Feelings
Boy, this one didn’t sit well with a good chunk of the fandom, did it? We’d like to start off by making a small suggestion to the writing staff: if a significant chunk of your viewing audience could have an otherwise excellent episode ruined by the last five minutes, perhaps it’s time to abandon this course?
Now, obviously we run in the queer circles on social media, but we both saw almost nothing about the incredible rising tension of the episode, J’onn and M’gann’s amazeballs scenes, or even just the great fights between the White Martians and our heroes. Almost everyone from our Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook feedback sampling was talking about how awful Alex’s suggestion to Kara was, and how equally abysmal Kara’s reaction to it was. Elizabeth has been through the episode twice, and despite the fact that she consciously knows that 90% of it was good, she’s having trouble articulating that because fuck Mon-El.
Alright, let’s start with some good, like Kara and Alex continuing to inch their way into some very necessary conversations. We’re also glad Alex is getting caught up in her relationship with Maggie because it shines a spotlight on how overly involved Kara and Alex are in each other’s lives sometimes. Alex blowing off Kara’s Earth Birthday is not a nice thing, but it’s not entirely surprising that this is something that would happen. We would like to emphasize that while Alex’s actions are hurtful and selfish, Alex is allowed to be an imperfect character. It should also be pointed out that Alex apologized later in the episode, and while Kara is clearly going through some… things… Alex is still there for her, if not necessarily on call 24/7. And this is a development that needs to happen because Kara really needs to start addressing her abandonment issues.
Though Alex reassures Kara that she’s not going anywhere, it’s pretty clear that Kara doesn’t entirely believe that. Considering how often this season Kara appears in a specifically framed shot all alone, this is building up to something big within the narrative. We despise that Mon-El might play an integral part in this development, however, we do like the potential directions it could take. The thing is, we can’t fairly make a judgment call on this plot until we actually see it.
Believe us; we’re just as frustrated as you. But the show does have a tendency to take a hard left when you expect it to go right. Alex and Kara’s relationship has always been the emotional center of the show, and we suggest that this relationship is being deliberately tested. We’re only halfway through the season; there’s still time for this to go in an epic direction. Patience is a virtue, after all. Especially with Supergirl.
A quick pause to take an aside to talk about how supportive Maggie is. For all the haters out there who have ragged on Maggie, we’re not here for that. At every step of Alex’s journey, she has listened, understood, and respected her. Last night, she proved once again that she understands Alex really well. Not only did she gently call Alex out for repressing her feelings, she knew Alex needed to talk to Kara to work it out and encouraged her to so. She also understood Alex’s situation with the DEO and the alien attack. It’s exactly what we would expect from two people in the police force/DEO. We’re glad they didn’t make this into drama. Plus, Maggie bought Alex concert tickets so they could go to a concert together. *cough* another fanfic trope *cough*
Now let’s talk about something not so good. We’re going to call BS on Kara’s “Every time I put myself out there it backfires.” Citation needed Supergirl. In the history of this show, Kara’s had exactly two official relationships, both of which ended with her doing the breaking up. Winn doesn’t count since it was one-sided. Girl, I get you’re frustrated with life right now, but if you’re the one telling the boy to pack up that’s not “it backfiring.”
Also, new love triangle, alert; this time, it’s whiter! Watch two blonde white girls in love/lust with an annoying jerkwad who fucked Miss Tessmacher and then never called her back until now! Yay! Sheesh, Mon-El does not deserve either one of these ladies, much less both. Neither of us is buying into Kara’s ‘pining’ when all their interactions have been either awkward, one-sided (on his side), or platonic.
We’ll admit he’s grown up a bit. We liked the moment where he commented on toxic masculinity and the limitations on men expressing their emotions. Moving on instead of pining was mature, especially after Kara’s foot-in-mouth “it’s you” at the beginning of the episode. And at least Kara didn’t find them in the supply room again. Still. There’s a huge gap between “he’s grown a bit” and “he’s established a pattern of being a decent human being rather than an entitled tool who treats women like servants.”
Anyway, we would be far less fussed about it if the show had bothered to truly establish any strong romantic feelings on Kara’s part for Mon-El. Her repeated and consistent reaction has been “I don’t like him that way.” She said it point blank earlier in the same freaking episode. For her to ‘suddenly’ feel that way now feels very unearned. We’re supposed to believe that one conversation with Alex turned “never you” into “pining”? When all she’s ever said is that she doesn’t like him that way? It smacks of lazy storytelling intent on ‘tricking’ the audience by revealing her feelings at an appropriately Dramatic moment (like when you want to start a love triangle). We admit that sometimes people don’t know the depth of their feelings for someone. Life gets complicated; we get overwhelmed by other things. It happens.
At the same time, the “she doesn’t know her feelings until she almost loses it” is such an over-used trope we’re sick of it. And all too frequently, it is used to reward entitled Nice Guys for being ‘persistent.’ Basically, Mon-El is being rewarded for being an entitled asshole to Kara, never accepting her ‘no,’ refusing to respect her agency and personhood, and valuing his feelings above hers. It sends the message that if a woman tells a man multiple times she’s not interested, all he has to do is wait around, and she will be. Because saying “I don’t like you” secretly means “I do like you.” And we’ve had our fair share of that bullshit growing up watching teenage romcoms in the 90s tyvm.
The show may not have intended this to be the message. Maybe it’s an accidental side effect of Benoist’s/Wood’s lack of on-screen chemistry and mishandled ‘growth’ arc for Mon-El. If he hadn’t been quite so entitled at the start or had been a bit less sexist and a bit more awkward. If he hadn’t treated Miss Tessmacher as if she existed for his pleasure and to make his life easier (so…a slave, given what we know of Daxam). Maybe if Mon-El had been goofier and less gross, we might not have resisted this so much. Maybe if they had bothered to have her verbally express some kind of ambivalence about him rather than relying entirely on subtextual clues that were clearly muddied since so many watchers were not invested in it.
Alright, we’ve said enough about it by now. We don’t want to spend the whole time talking about this maybe relationship because we’re not invested in it. But we are in other things! Like M’gann and J’onn. We loved the hints about White Martian culture – the arranged marriages, less tender home life – and wanted more (though we’ll probably have to wait to get it). And we got some pretty awesome fight scenes tonight; the choreography and cinematography for them were on point.
More than anything, J’onn’s and M’gann’s relationship drove this episode in an organic way after last week. J’onn’s forgiveness of M’gann was the most poignant moment last week, and we weren’t disappointed with where it led this episode. J’onn tailing M’gann to keep an eye on her is exactly what we would expect from our favorite grumpy Martian space dad. He may not open up quickly, but once he’s accepted someone entirely, he’s 100% loyal. Like, Kara, he holds on fiercely to what little family he has. It’s what tragedies like genocide and surviving a planetary explosion can do.
Don’t underestimate the importance of his willingness to admit he cares about her, has made a place in his heart for her. It isn’t just that he wants to protect her. He all but admitted he loves her. J’onn lost everything to the White Martians: his wife, his children, his culture, his entire race. He has every reason to hate them. The last episode he forgave her, this episode, he opened his heart to her. He hasn’t just found a woman to admire, respect, and care about; he chose to love a White Martian. (This is some epic Hatfields/McCoys type good shit here, folks.) And? He’s willing to let her make her own choices, even if it means losing her.
J’onn reached out to her when she was afraid and asked her to trust him. He knows what it felt like to live on the run and in hiding. He spent centuries not trusting anybody. It took Jeremiah Danvers protecting him for J’onn to regain his trust in others. But J’onn hasn’t fully needed to offer that trust to anyone since then. He hasn’t had to ask someone to trust him as Jeremiah asked him, someone, who could reject him. At that moment, he was asking M’gann to let him be for her the person that he needed for centuries and found in the Danvers. That’s huge growth for J’onn.
Speaking of growth, M’gann herself. When attacked by the WM, she instinctively chose Green Martian form, despite the WM form being both larger and probably more physically powerful. And she chose to do so in front of her people. It’s yet one more moment showcasing her breaking ranks and rejecting her culture’s history of violence. And also a giant ‘fuck you’ to the WMs.
As if she couldn’t get any more amazing, we learn she tried to (and believed she had) kill her husband Armek as part of her escape from Mars. She was willing not just to turn her back on her people, but on her mate. She’s willing to stand her ground and, when faced with the possibility, call her own people out for their violence, bigotry, and genocide. Doesn’t get much more badass than that, people.
It’s worth pointing out that her interactions with Armek were coded as a woman escaping from domestic violence. He doesn’t refer to her by name, but rather by her status as a possession: wife. He treats her as belonging to him and wayward for leaving. Then, he threatens her life and takes pleasure in telling her he’s going to hurt her, kill her, and then desecrate her body. When she doesn’t back down, he threatens her friends and demands she turn herself over to him.
These are all classic tactics of an abusive husband seeking to intimidate a spouse into returning home. And she responds in similarly coded ways. She stands her ground and shows her allegiance to her new way of life. Only when her loved ones are threatened does she show any sign of fear, but it is on their behalf. Rather than endanger them, she plans to draw him away, preferring to potentially bear his wrath alone than see people she cares about hurt. When we find out that she physically injured him in her escape, we can’t avoid the implication that he is one of the ones she was directly defying the order to kill the child.
He embodies everything she left behind. As she put it, “he’s the worst of her kind.” After being on the run for centuries and hiding from WM culture and history, she comes face to face with the worst possible reminder of it. And she doesn’t fucking flinch. She wholeheartedly chooses the Greens and never looks back. She stands by J’onn’s side and wholeheartedly supports him when he’s afraid of the fire knowing that her former husband is in the room watching and hating.
When she fought and killed Armek as a Green alongside J’onn, we were cheering. It stands for every step of her growth. It’s the climax of her choice to break ranks and the cycle of violence. We can’t help but see it as a symbol of her killing every single murderous, racist (species-ist?), bigoted thought and belief she was raised on. And then she makes the choices to go back and try to inspire others to have the courage the way J’onn inspired her to have courage. This is Supergirl “choose your better angels” at it’s finest.
There’s a reason we chose her comment on the Green Martian body as our favorite. She was raised to believe herself better than the Greens, but she chose to be one and calls them beautiful. And she’s a black coded character saying this, a black coded female character no less, which adds even more depth and meaning. Just…we have no words. It’s one of the most poignant arcs we’ve ever seen on this show.
We’ll miss her, but by god, we love her and can’t say enough good things about her presence on this show. We only wish we had more and that we get to see her again! Please let this not be the end of Miss Martian!
- Vasquez is back!! Her hair is freaking amazing.
- Alex likes Barenaked Ladies. Girl, why? FINE. She’s a child of the 90s.
- Maggie has a periodic table Barenaked Ladies shirt. OMG, what a nerd. We love her.
- Why did Alex change into her DEO uniform just to apologize to Kara?
- We’re so here for Kara sassing J’onn about lining the DEO with lead.
- Heh, Winn complimenting himself. Dork.
- Kara’s “Power to the Girls” shirt is adorbs. We want one. Apparently, they’re from H&M and already sold out online.
- Kara eats her cupcake with a fork and knife. We love her.
- How does Mon-El know about Tinder enough to make a “swipe right” joke? This is the guy who didn’t know what club soda was.
- Would have been nice to know who the second WM was.
- Jeremy Jordan killed it with his acting tonight.
- OMG, did you all catch the shot of Lex Luthor’s war suit in the promo for next week??
This was a roller coaster of an episode, mostly in a good way. We’d argue it is the most cohesive, tense, and thrilling episode this season regarding danger and plot tension. The WMs are a real, tangible threat even to the superpowered Kara, M’gann, and J’onn, so there is real dramatic tension. The villain motivations both made sense and created a compelling arc. The Winn as WM reveal was excellent, and the second WM being Alex was even better. M’gann finally actually killing her brutal former husband was also really satisfying. Her development over the season, especially after the last episode, heightened the catharsis of seeing her choose Green Martian form, call it beautiful, and eventually decide to go home and find other White Martians who want a new, different way of life.
Trouble had been brewing between the Danvers sisters or at least the need for a heart to heart, and we’re so glad they didn’t let it build even further. Setting aside the unfortunate derailing to talk about Mon-El, the conversation needed to be had. It touches on wounds and worries they’ve both needed to talk about. Alex’s desire to have something for herself and not feel guilty for being happy after spending much of her life focusing on Kara. Kara’s fear of abandonment and isolation after the destruction of her planet and uncovering her parents’ mixed legacy. Their honesty and vulnerability were very much in line with what we saw in S1, and we’re thankful.
This is the third episode in a row that we’ve gotten a shot of Kara on screen alone with no one else. There’s no way this is an accident. Something’s brewing on that score, and we’re not entirely sure what. Abandonment and isolation are themes this season thus far, especially for Kara. Alex touched on that wound in Episode 2 when she mentioned Kal abandoning Kara with the Danvers family. Kara has been increasingly isolated from all her closest friends and family, each of whom has something/one in their life they’re more focused on Alex/Maggie, James and Winn/Guardian, J’onn/M’gann. We sense some kind of crisis for Kara on the horizon and look forward to seeing it unfold. We’re hoping the end result isn’t a fresh, new take on Injustice. Just sayin’.