Kara and J’onn are Kinda Lonely in Supergirl S2E11 The Martian Chronicles
Supergirl is definitely at its best when all of its various plots flow together with a single theme that permeates everything from the character’s interpersonal drama to the main villain. This theme is loneliness as Kara is having issues juggling her feelings for Mon-El and not seeing much of her sister, Alex, because she’s dating Maggie Sawyer. But Supergirl and her amazing friends definitely have quite the foe in “Martian Chronicles” as Miss Martian’s ex-husband (In an arranged marriage.) Armek and a White Martian comrade come to Earth to bring her back to Mars and try her for treason. Writers Gabriel Llanas and Anna Musky-Goldwyn build off the relationship between Miss Martian and J’onn in the previous episode that pays off super emotionally even if they don’t get the happiest of endings while director David McWhirter gets to shoot a lot of dark corridor action scenes. The shapeshifting, telepathic nature of the White Martians also leads to a rift between the characters as J’onn, Miss Martian, Supergirl, Alex, Winn, and two redshirts fall into Secret Invasion “who can you trust?” mode albeit in an enclosed CW budget friendly space.
In the action scenes against the White Martians, Supergirl is total powerhouse punching and heat visioning any bad guys in her path. However, when the costume is off and the glasses are on, Kara Danvers is really feeling the struggle. Before the Supergirl logo drops, Kara is in deep water, and she doesn’t completely recover by the time Lego Supergirl pops up after the closing credits. Melissa Benoist plays Kara with awkwardness galore in the opening scene at the alien bar where she utterly fails at letting Mon-El down easily questioning the character of a man, who is smitten with her. I’m not a fan of a romantic relationship between Kara and Mon-El, but she is still pretty tactless around him.
This awkwardness extends to her inviting Alex to go country line dancing with her to celebrate her “Earth birthday” instead of the usual cupcake, which doesn’t work because she is going with Maggie to a Barenaked Ladies concert. (I didn’t see that coming, but Tegan and Sara maybe would have been to much of a stereotype and awesome.) Sadly, Kara is insecure and makes a big deal about it because she thinks Alex is leaving her. Benoist nails the “trying to be cool” face when they chat about Alex missing the dance thing at the DEO headquarters and eventually vents the full force of her anger on a White Martian masquerading as Alex. In classic Supergirl fashion, the episode ends in cupcakes and understanding, but Benoist’s look in the episode’s final seconds as Alex is with her girlfriend, and Mon-El is on date with her co-worker Eve Teschmascher had this sad, forever alone vibe. Kara might be an awesome superhero and an up and coming journalist, but sometimes finding romance is difficult. This goes into fan fiction territory, but she and Lena Luthor would make a great couple. (And Lena is back next week.)
The theme of loneliness extends on a more dramatic level to the characters of J’onn and Miss Martian, who are the only members of their species left on Earth. During the scenes that don’t involve them shapeshifting and punching things, David Harewood and Sharon Leal pour out the feels with their performances and blur the lines between romantic and familial. J’onn wants to keep Miss Martian safe, but doesn’t pull the overprotective father and is cool with her helping the DEO find the White Martians. This is smart because of one of them is her ex-husband. They look out for each other in battle and execute some cool team-up moves to help defeat the enemy. Then, Miss Martian decides to mix things up and twist the knife of loneliness even deeper into J’onn’s heart and declare that she is leaving for Mars to show other White Martians a better way that doesn’t include death and genocide. It’s a natural end to her arc where she went from hiding who she was to being downright heroic and saving J’onn’s life while also showing him that White Martians can change their ways. She is inspired by both J’onn and Kara’s example to become a hero on her own world, but this doesn’t stop David Harewood from having sad eyes. Sharon Leal’s passionate performance as Miss Martian will also be missed on episodes to come.
Some of the CGI and lighting is awkward for the DEO/White Martian lockdown scenes, but David McWhirter ekes out a lot of tension with smart cuts, hesitations, and placements of not one, but two red herrings. The obvious choice for a shapeshifter is a character we haven’t seen before, but McWhirter, Llanas, and Musky-Goldwyn defy expectations and choose Winn before revealing Alex as one right after a dramatic scene. McWhirter alternates between long takes for the relationship building scenes between J’onn and Miss Martian and quick cuts for the action sequences giving the episode a watchable rhythm. He also adds some nice frosting to the theme cupcake of loneliness by having lingering shots of J’onn and Kara alone in the frame as they watch the ones close to them get in romantic relationships or teleport to other planets.
“Martian Chronicles” doubles down on both Kara and J’onn’s innermost feelings and relationships to those closest to them (Alex, Miss Martian), which leads to a memorable return to form for Supergirl. The hard hitting action and bursts of special effects of the battle between against the White Martians adds to the entertainment value while also slipping in a metaphor that this group of people are basically extraterrestrial white supremacists. Thankfully, they get punched a lot.
Overall Score: 8.0