Supergirl S2E16 “Star-Crossed” Gets Sidetracked by Quirky Subplots
At times, this week’s episode of Supergirl “Star-Crossed” feels like a hybrid of the worst parts of two great genre shows. It’s the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5 or so where Spike is trying to be a “good person” to win Buffy’s love combined with the early episodes of Angel that spent an entire episode on some monster of the week gimmick, like hip hop themed demon gangs or elaborate games of demon poker. In this case, writers Katie Rose Rogers and Jessica Kardos spend most of the episode’s running time on a B-plot featuring Winn’s girlfriend Lyra and an intergalactic art smuggling ring while putting the reveal of Mon-El as the prince of Daxam on the backburner. We do find out that his parents, Rhea (Teri Hatcher) and Lar Gand (Kevin Sorbo) definitely would have voted for Trump as they espouse the motto “Make Daxam great again.” and say that slavery helped other alien races “improve their station”.
Rogers and Kardos should be applauded for finding some way to connect the Mon-El reveal and alien art thief through the shared theme of lying in a relationship. The makeouts and “divine museum sex” that Winn and Lyra shared were just a cover for her being a con woman and trying to steal priceless works of art like Van Gogh’s Starry Night (So cliched.) to buy her brother back from a trailer park dwelling group of gangster aliens. Roger and Kardos invent a whole backstory for her from whole cloth and set up Lyra as a terrible person, who has been using Winn the whole time, but he stills likes her for kissing reasons, I guess. If the Mon-El/Kara romance is any barometer, people do terrible things for attractive people or aliens.
However, the fights between the alien art ring members and Winn’s friends lets first time director and veteran stunt coordinator John Medlen Jr. shoot some brutal close quarters action as Alex Danvers continues to fight dirty while still breaking off after beating the bad guys to kiss her girlfriend Maggie. Rogers and Kardos also reunites the “superfriends” of Guardian, Winn, and Supergirl as they get to the bottom of these alien art shenanigans even if Lyra gets off a little too easy.
But, for the most part, this plot feels like a cheesy diversion from the important reveal that Mon-El has been lying all along and is the spoiled prince of a country, who kept their subjects drunk and lazy to exploit them all the more. Medlen’s red tinged flashbacks are shot in stark, yet stylized documentary style with Mon-El’s selfishness on full display as he leaves his one night stand behind to flee Daxam in his pod. And to get to his pod, his bodyguard kills its Kryptonian diplomat owner and sacrifices himself while Mon-El jets off to safety. Yeah, Mon-El isn’t just a frat boy, but a murderer too in a neat deconstruction of the white male Chosen One trope. And his excuses for his behavior ring hollow even though Chris Wood uses his pretty face to wring every last bit of charm out of them.
Finally, Katie Rogers and Jessica Kardos realize that Kara and Mon-El aren’t a good match. Her motivation for being a superhero is her implicit goodness while his is to put it frankly, to get in her pants or spend time with her. The opening scene of “Star-Crossed” shows Mon-El’s selfishness as he enjoys “Netflix and chill” with Kara rather than teaming up with her to help people or listen about the articles and investigations she used to do for Catco. He’s at his happiest when Kara is at her weakest and most inactive and sits out during the action scenes except for the end when he declares his love for her in front of his disapproving parents, who spend most of the time extolling the virtues of Daxam and decrying the Kryptonians. They’re like your racist in-laws only played by Kevin Sorbo and Teri Hatcher with regal speaking patterns.
The ending of “Star-Crossed” seems to fall into a pattern of Mon-El being terrible and Kara forgiving him and taking him back, but Rogers and Kardos finally break with convention. Melissa Benoist puts on her tough, serious face and calls him out on lying about his entire past and personality and pretending to be another so she would like him. Ir’s a real moment of power for Supergirl in an episode that seems overly concerned with alien gang politics, and Jeremy Jordan’s shout-y dialogue delivery as he proves that he’s better at quick-witted comic relief than melodrama. She is single and free to be a hero, and so is Mon-El as he tells his parents to leave Earth. But their departure is a little too easy, and they’re sure to be back. Rhea is a master of a passive aggressive manipulation and uses Kara’s misgivings about Mon-El to break them up, and it would be a lot of fun to see her and Lillian Luthor match wits.
“Star-Crossed” meanders into a side character’s backstory a little too much kind of wastes Daxamites as potential antagonists. However, Kara finally sees the light about Mon-El, which means Melissa Benoist gets to exhibit some intense post-breakup emotions, and John Medlen is one hell of a fight choreographer for the Guardian vs. Trailer Park Alien Boys scenes so it’s not a half bad episode. Plus there’s a tease of Darren Criss’ Music Meister (and a Glee reunion) complete with CGI contact lens hypnosis at the very end.