Supergirl S2E17 “Distant Sun” is an Intergalactic Escapade
So, writers Gabriel Llanas and Anna Musky-Goldwyn and director Kevin Smith (If it’s not obvious from the quite clever Star Wars reference in the third act.) achieve the impossible and make a Mon-El-centric episode compelling thanks to some royal intrigue, bounty hunters, and super fun action scenes. Smith lines up some great sequences from a cold open pitting Supergirl against a fellow heat vision alien; Supergirl, Guardian, and Winn teaming up to take out a bald, mind control alien, and a Big Kahuna of a final brawl featuring Martian Manhunter. Other highlights, include Rhea, played by an icy and intimidating Teri Hatcher, rising up to true villain status, a strong subplot featuring Alex and Maggie working out some emotional baggage with Maggie’s ex-girlfriend Emily (Hayley Sales), and Martian Manhunter continuing to be a great father figure and even standing up to the president of the United States herself. There’s even a decent plot twist, and Llanas, Musky-Goldwyn, and Smith set up the pieces that will likely be knocked down after a month hiatus.
After spending the last episode tangling with Mon-El drama and showcasing her golden pipes in “The Duet” The Flash crossover episode, Melissa Benoist is back to being moral, a little bit goofy, and well super as Supergirl. (And Mon-El knows his place: the kitchen.) Smith shows this early on as she immediately leaves a scrumptious breakfast spread to save some innocent citizens from a heat vision wielding alien bounty hunter and shields them with her own body. When it’s revealed that someone has put a bounty on Supergirl’s head, she constantly bristles to go back into action, but decides to lie low and play Settlers of Catan so no one gets hurt in the crossfire. Supergirl will even fight a close quarters battle against her boyfriend’s kryptonite sai wielding mom to save the man she loves and protect Earth from the threat of a xenophobic alien monarchy that put out a bounty just so their crown prince would return to their ship. There have been plenty of Mon-El saying Kara is great speeches throughout this season, but I almost bought the one where he talked about admiring her as a hero. Maybe, it’s because it’s after a battle where they helped each other out and not a last ditch pity apology.
Speaking of relationship issues, Llanas and Musky-Goldwyn tell an Alex and Maggie story that falls outside the main plot, but ends up showing why their romance works so well. Maggie’s ex Emily is in town, and Alex is the best girlfriend ever and invites them all out to dinner because she doesn’t possess a jealous bone in her body. The first appearance of Emily causes a lot of strain in the usually unflappable Maggie Sawyer’s face with Floriana Lima conveying that there’s some darkness in their past. Alex finds out that Maggie actually cheated on Emily, but instead of going the soap opera route and breaking up with her, she is empathetic and understands that it’s hard for Maggie to trust people after Instead of going for the easy pre-hiatus drama route, Llanas and Musky-Goldwyn double down on relationship development via talking and even steal some adorable smooches and flirting along the way.
“Distant Sun” is a generally well-structured episode of Supergirl with Gabriel Llanas and Anna Musky-Goldwyn centering the action of the plot on the strained relationship between Mon-El and his parents in a battle between heroism and an easy life of comfort. Mon-El is pretty darn heroic in this episode and talks with his father about establishing a democracy in Daxam. Lar Gand (Kevin Sorbo) acts as kind of a buffer between Rhea’s hardline stance of wanting her son back at all costs and has a quiet, misguided nobility to her ruthlessness. (If you’ve watched or read Game of Thrones, you know how these things turn out.) Teri Hatcher is fantastic at Rhea with her unflinching devotion to getting what she wants and provides an upper crust, extraterrestrial foil to Brenda Strong’s Lillian Luthor as a Big Bad this season. If you’re a mom, it’s a good bet you’re really evil if you appear in Supergirl Season 2.
Kevin Smith helps with “Distant Sun’s” strong structure by making each setpiece a little bigger than the other culminating in an extended sequence of Martian Manhunter in his green form beating down Daxamite royal guards. There aren’t any Daredevil-style one takes in this episode, but Smith lingers on the punches, kicks, and holds creating some truly epic moments like Supergirl pushing back five guards with one of their staff weapons. This longer shot technique combined with searing glances from David Harewood makes a psychic battle between Martian Manhunter and a telepathic bounty hunter believable without wasting any of the CGI budget on the CW’s Legion. Unfortunately, it hinders some of the suspense towards the end of the episode, but the action more than makes up for it.
“Distant Sun” has yet another nuanced Maggie and Alex subplot, a likable Mon-El, the addition of interplanetary intrigue to Supergirl‘s season long arc, and rock solid action scenes from Kevin Smith, which means this reviewer will be going into the hiatus as satisfied as Kara Danvers after devouring a plate of hashbrowns and poached eggs.
Overall Rating: 8.0