A week after the fact Valentine’s themed episode, Supergirl kicks it Silver Age style when the 5th dimension imp and classic Superman villain, Mxyzptlk, rolls into town. In a meta-casting twist, he is played by Peter Gadiot, who played a genie in ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and wants to marry Supergirl because he thought she was beautiful while traveling between dimensions. Writers Sterling Gates and Jessica Queller definitely go for broke on the goofy side with Mxyzptlk’s havoc culminating in an homage to Hamilton, but the real meat of “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” is in the romantic relationship depart where Maggie and Alex spend their first Valentine’s together, Winn takes a chance at love with the alien Lyra, and the ball is dropped yet again in the Mon-El/Kara department.
Mxyzptlk is a fantastic villain of the week, and Gadiot plays him with unbridled energy while director Stefan Pleszczynski shoots some inventive set pieces featuring him. However, the solution to beat him is pretty low budget and word for word faithful from the comics showing Mort Weisinger zaniness can co-exist with real human feelings. It’s a nice change to have a villain that is an intellectual challenge for Supergirl and not one that she can defeat by punching, using heat vision, or the DEO armory/MacGuffin closet. She defeats Mxyzptlk in a sly way not unlike the covers of the Weisinger-era Superman comics that involved him being more of a trickster than a Big Blue Boy Scout to drive sales. Kara also fights Mxyzptlk on her terms, her turf (The Fortress of Solitude.), and without Mon-El or anyone’s help driving home her agency as a character.
James gets the week off as both Guardian and in his day job at Catco, but Gates and Queller give Winn a solo subplot of his own and an adorable, yet sexy bond with Lyra, an alien whose martial arts skills help save him at the Alien Bar. In an episode where men are trying to do “rescuing” some way, Winn’s lack of toxic masculinity is refreshing. Winn is a fan of the literature of Lyra’s home planet, Starhaven, and he immediately falls for her forward approach to romance, including asking him out and kissing him first. Except their bond isn’t just physical, and they share a nice scene where Winn talks about the pain of heartbreak and getting hurt in a romantic relationship that is relatable to anyone in the dating scene. Their storyline didn’t have much to do with the main plot, but presented some nice counterprogramming to the machismo and posturing of Mxyzptlk and Mon-El, who fight over Kara like she’s not even in the room.
I think the writers of Supergirl, including Gates and Queller, are going for an aggressive bickering leads to romance kind of vibe, like Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in Empire Strikes Back or Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally… Except those couples had chemistry (Or at least great dialogue from Larry Kasdan and Nora Ephron respectively.), and Kara and Mon-El don’t have that even though Melissa Benoist are charming actors. Mon-El reaches new levels of ridiculousness in “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” by treating Kara, who taught him to be a superhero, like a damsel in distress and being patronizing towards her. Also, he’s jealous of an imp from another dimension, who has major issues with boundaries and thinks that Mxyzptlk will “take” him away from her. Most of the episode is spent by Kara rescuing Mon-El from his own stupidity when he tries to go mano a mano with Mxyzptlk and lecturing him about forcing the issue in their relationship. But they still end up smooching at the end of the episode after Kara basically walks back everything she said over the past episode as not wanting to lose her “cover” when pretending to marry Mxyzptlk. It’s the silliest thing in an episode that features a teleporting, reality warping Aaron Burr cosplayer.
The message of “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” is simple and true. Romantic relationships should be organic and selfless with both parties caring about each other instead of doing ridiculous things to impress the other person, like Mxyzptlk and to a lesser extent, Mon-El. Except Gates and Queller walk that idea back by having Kara instantly being okay with Mon-El as a romantic partner even after she has constantly said that they aren’t good for each other, and that she is tired of his rescues and stunts on her behalf. The extended make-out between Kara and Mon-El is tacked onto the verbal equivalent “I’m sorry” as the product of all the non-existent sexual tension between them. It will be interesting to see their relationship develop in a car running a red light on a busy intersection and getting majorly totaled kind of way.
But, on a happier note, Gates and Queller spend a little time with Maggie and Alex, who are celebrating their first Valentine’s together. There is a big, sad emotional beat when Maggie reveals that she was outed to her parents as a lesbian by a girl that she had a crush on in high school on Valentine’s Day. They didn’t respond well, and she had to live with relatives. From personal experience, being outed against your will is a painful, trust destroying, and agency removing experience. Maggie’s first reaction is to be alone, but she runs into Kara, who tells Maggie about how much Valentine’s means to her because this is her first one as a couple. And the ending is beautifully romantic and slightly cheesy as Maggie and Alex dance like they’re at prom together. Maggie and Alex’s relationship is pretty emotionally volatile, but through Floriana Lima and Chyler Leigh’s long glances and soft tones to each other, they truly care about each other and are Supergirl”s best romantic coupling so far in two seasons.
“Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” has a plot and villain that indulges in some true Silver Age silliness as Sterling Gates, Jessica Queller, and Stefan Plesczynski embraces Superman and Supergirl’s past canon with open arms while still having some insightful things to say about the nature of relationships. The Mon-El subplot continues to be an eyesore, but this episode of Supergirl is filled with romance, whimsy, and a touch of truth.