Supergirl – Season 2 Episode 11
“The Martian Chronicles”
Supergirl delivers on the White Martian threat from last week when M’Gann’s people come looking for her.
The ongoing Martian story is one of the more interesting aspects of this show. J’Onn is a really tragic character who is almost entirely defined by loss and the introduction of M’Gann represents hope that was partially ripped away from him when he found out that she was a member of the race that killed his family and people. There’s a lot of weight and depth to what J’Onn has to deal with and the difficulty accepting M’Gann has been a really fascinating arc this season.
Seeing it brought to such an abrupt close was really disappointing. This episode very much plays out like a coda for their story but there are a lot of pieces missing. Last week we see J’Onn letting go of his hate and starting to realise that M’Gann is nothing like those responsible for all he has lost. It’s an important step forward but it’s far from the end of the journey. Not that the scenes between David Harewood and Sharon Leal were bad; they were very good but there was more to dig into with this relationship.
It doesn’t feel natural or earned to have them talk about how much they mean to one another or the feelings that J’Onn has developed. It’s definitely too soon from his point of view and M’Gann shouldn’t really be ready for that either considering she only recently started to put what she was partly responsible for behind her. This episode should have been the start of them getting to that rather than skipping right to the end without any natural development. M’Gann deciding to return to Mars to show her people a better way feels very forced and removes an interesting character from the show for the foreseeable future. There was still more to be done with her so it’s disappointing to see her leave.
The White Martian story itself had potential but suffered in the execution. There was a real opportunity to explore M’Gann’s past through her interactions with her husband Armek (Terrell Tilford) but ultimately it came to nothing. The personal stakes were slightly raised by the fact that there was a connection between her and one of the White Martians chasing her but other than that the episode doesn’t really do anything with it. I would have liked to see M’Gann’s views clashing with those of her ex husband and showing how uncompromising White Martians really are through that contrast.
I did like the approach to the White Martians by giving us the second reference to The Thing this season. TV budgets can be pretty tight so shape shifting aliens are a good choice as villains since existing actors can be used and tension can easily be created by building the mystery of who the shape shifter is. It also allows the actors to play different characters.
This is on display here when Jeremy Jordan has a brief opportunity to play a cartoonishly evil Winn and Chyler Leigh clearly throws herself into the villainous role. The flame test scene was appropriately tense and was a really clever use of the Martian aversion to fire. It doesn’t quite add up because there wasn’t enough time for Winn to be replaced given what we see prior to that. It’s not a big deal because the reveal was effective enough. the disguised Martian’s behaviour was normal enough for me to not suspect anything until the reveal. The second reveal was also effective as it never entered my mind that the White Martians were impersonating two people.
I had some issues with the ticking clock but these were mostly logistical. The first and biggest problem I had was the fact that there is a nuclear reactor powering the DEO in the middle of a city. I can understand the season 1 bunker out in the middle of nowhere but this facility is in a heavily populated area so it makes no sense that anyone would allow that level of danger to casually exist. Another issue I had was that the sense of urgency associated with the countdown was inconsistent. The characters didn’t seem all that concerned about it despite the stakes involved.
With a little more work the episode could have completely hung itself on the countdown to destruction. If the whole episode had been set inside a sealed off DEO while the characters played Cat and Mouse with the White Martians who could disguise themselves as anyone then this could have been a really tense experience that tested how the characters handle that kind of pressure. It all felt so routine and it shouldn’t have.
Outside of the White Martian plot there wasn’t anything interesting going on either. There is some manufactured conflict between Alex and Kara because Kara is feeling left out now that Alex is spending a lot of her free time with Maggie. This takes the form of Maggie being unavailable to spend time with Kara on her Earth Birthday despite making the time for it every other year. This isn’t a bad idea as it could have shown Alex becoming so caught up in her first stable relationship that she neglects Kara but it came across as a bland excuse for Kara to mope about how bad her love life is. The fact that she chooses to bring that up when the DEO building is minutes from exploding is baffling as well.
Kara is finally at the point where she admits that she has feelings for Mon’El but he has made himself unavailable after her rejection. There’s the standard scene where she’s just about to tell him how she feels and sees her with Eve. We’ve seen this a million times before in other shows and this isn’t an interesting version of that. The way this will play out is obvious at this point and I couldn’t be less interested in the will they/won’t they arc that’s going to continue much longer than it should. It’s also very similar to the feelings on one side but not on the other plots we have seen in this very show which makes Kara’s love life feel more like a joke than actual character development. Wake me up when it’s over!
One thing this episode really excels at are the action sequences. There’s an awful lot of combat between J’Onn, M’Gann, Kara and the other White Martians that both looks great and is well choreographed. There’s a lot of power on display and Kara really seems like she’s having trouble. White Martians are good villains to use because there’s a lot that can be done with them when it comes to action.
An uneven episode that has a lot of potential but fails to live up to it. J’Onn and M’Gann’s relationship development feels far too rushed with a lot of significant pieces of it missing. Last week felt like a step forward on a long journey rather than the immediate step before the resolution. There was potential in having M’Gann face off against her husband but it didn’t come to any more than implied personal stakes. M’Gann leaving to try to inspire her people on Mars feels rushed an unearned as well.
There was some tension to be had in the mystery of who the White Martian was disguised as but the whole DEO counting down to destruction plot feels like it happens too quickly and there’s a lack of urgency around the impending destruction. Outside of this the manufactured conflict between Kara and Alex over the missed Earth Birthday didn’t go anywhere interesting and I’m already bored by the delay in Kara getting together with Mon’El. At least the action sequences were dynamic and interesting but this was far from a great outing for Supergirl.
- a tense flame test scene to find the White Martian
- Jeremy Jordan and Chyler Leigh embracing their opportunity to be villainous
- excellent action sequences
- J’Onn and M’Gann’s interactions
- the premature resolution to J’Onn and M’Gann’s story
- manufactured conflict between Alex and Kara as well as Kara and Mon’El
- inconsistent handling of tension with the ticking clock
- missed opportunities to add weight to the White Martian story