‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 11: ‘The Martian Chronicles’
Welcome to Supergirl Talk, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of The CW’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist in the super smiling title role. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and intrepid reporter, Katie Schenkel.
This week, there’s a new White Martian in town, and he’s after Miss Martian! It’s up to Supergirl and friends to protect M’Gann and re-enact The Thing with a monster that can read your mind and look like anyone! Also, Alex and Maggie try to see Barenaked Ladies in concert! “The Martian Chronicles” was directed by David McWhirter from a script by Gabriel Llanas and Anna Musky-Goldwyn.
Chris: Well, Katie, iiiiiiit’s been one week since we were in National City!
Katie: White Martian came to Earth and said, “I’m angry.”
Chris: Thank you. So I should start off by saying that this was a very interesting episode for me, but not because of the episode itself, but because my local station kept having technical difficulties the entire time, so there may well have been crucial moments or lines of dialogue I missed completely! There were several times when it felt like they were actively trolling me by cutting out right as it seemed someone was about to say something very important!
Katie: Oh gosh, that puts a lot of responsibility on me to remember stuff! And while the episode was more focused and honed in plot-wise than recent episodes have been, a good amount of stuff still went on this week.
Including learning that Alex, like all modern 30-somethings, is a big Barenaked Ladies fan. How in the world were they a major plot point and yet the band didn’t have a cameo?
Chris: I was just excited to have an excuse to start the recap with that “it’s been.” For the record, I think I’ve got a handle on everything that happened, but it’ll be fun to see if I have a question or a complete misunderstanding of some aspect or scene that you’ll then be forced to set me straight on.
So, the issue that started the Kara is upset/BNL concert subplot off was that Alex was going to the concert, and forgot it was Kara’s Earth birthday?
Katie: Well, it was Kara being thrown off by her follow-up talk with Mon-El, which was weird since later it’s confirmed she does have growing romantic feelings for him, but in this scene she inadvertently rubs it in that she wouldn’t like a guy like him? It was one of the weird scenes between them, and that’s saying something.
Chris: Right up until the end of the episode, I was thinking that, if nothing else, you were going to enjoy the relative lack of Mon-El this week!
Katie: But yes, after that Kara focuses her attention on her Earth birthday, and learns Alex won’t be able to make it because Maggie knows Alex is a dork who loves quirky '90s bands.
Chris: I missed the part about the Earth birthday at the beginning of the episode, so I thought the Barenaked Ladies subplot was going to be that Alex was lying to Maggie about being a big fan and we were in for some wacky romantic comedy style hijinx.
Katie: Oh, Alex says she was super into them “in college.” Which means that Alex was into the Barenaked Ladies circa 2005-ish. Which is hilarious to me.
Chris: Yeah, this show plays a little loose with everyone’s ages I think. So we have that family tension on top of Kara’s romantic confusion as the undercurrent of a possible alien invasion from the White Martians. Is that about right?
Katie: Well, I can’t remember if J’onn ever assumes they’re going to invade, but it turns out the White Martians seem more focused on taking M’gann to punish her for her betrayal than actually wanting to take over Earth.
Chris: I guess I was jumping to conclusions from M’Gann’s bit where she was asking who would be next that the threat of some kind of invasion was lurking in the background. It’s a good threat, though I’m a little fuzzy on the threat levels sometimes, because Supergirl is right there. Just like ages, what Supergirl is and isn’t able to handle on her own seems to kinda bounce around depending on what the plot needs that week. Which frustrates me, because I often feel like a lot of these things should be well within her means to take care of solo. Because she’s Supergirl.
Katie: Well, things get complicated because it turns out the White Martian tracking M’gann is her husband, and they have an arranged and loveless marriage. Also, he’s a big murderous jerk and pretty much exactly the opposite of who M’gann wants to be.
I don’t know if he’s a guy who has ever shown up in the comics (since M’gann is almost always portrayed as a teenager), but having her pursuer be someone so personal upped the stakes compared to if it was just some White Martian, so that worked.
Chris: Has the NASA of this Earth been to Mars? Because it seems to have an entire civilization happening on it, but people aren’t talking about it… but they were surprised when a White Martian showed up previously… I’m not sure what to think about any of this if I let myself start trying to think to hard about it.
Katie: Magic hasn’t shown up in this universe yet, has it? Because I’m looking forward to either Kara or J’onn going, “There’s no such thing as magic!” after time travel and space portals and, you know, aliens exist. But like a lot of comic shows, I do think think you need to have a good spoonful of “just roll with it” or else you’ll go mad.
Chris: If I’ve proven anything over the last several years of reviewing these shows for ComicsAlliance, I think it’s that I have a very hard time “rolling with it.”
So all of this leads to to M’Gann wanting to run away from National City, and J’onn wanting her to stay because he cares so much for her. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he absolutely hate her like one episode ago?
Katie: Okay. So. I interpreted it as he cared about her for most of the season, felt deep anger that he claimed was now hate, but he cares enough about her to help save her life by genuinely rooting for her to pull herself out of her own mind. I’m not saying it’s the most elegant thing the show has done, but I could see how J’onn turned around on his bitterness and found his connection to her again after forgiving her for lying.
Chris: That’s a great take on it. Sometimes it’s easy to not treat these characters as people with complex emotional depth, because they’re not always presented as such to us, so that’s an interesting, thoughtful way to look at it.
Katie: The bigger concern I have is the ambiguity of their relationship by the end of this episode. I want to read it as platonic, because I know them best as adopted niece and uncle, but I saw some people interpret it as the start of a romance. I am totally okay with seeing it as familial until the show disappoints me at some future date by having them be a romantic pairing. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.
Chris: Yeah, I have felt like they were playing it as very romantic the entire time from as soon as she showed up.
Katie: Yeaaah, like I said, there’s just enough ambiguity in their goodbye that I’m allowing myself blissful denial for now.
Chris: Well, all I can say is good luck with that I guess.
So, what about the actual main story this week? Supergirl and her SuperFamily, plus like two people we’ve never seen before, locked in the DEO with a mind-reading, shape changing, White Martian that wants to kill M’Gann… or take her with him… or blow everyone up? The goal was a little hazy, but a locked door murder mystery with aliens and superheroes is fun, even if some of the people were very, very quick to jump to full-on panic-y accusations mode. I guess the show’s only an hour long, though.
Katie: I am shocked those two DEO agents survived the episode. I was calling them Red Shirts within two minutes on screen and yet they both survive! But you are absolutely right that they got paranoid real quick, I’m thinking because by the time they got to the lockdown it was already halfway through the episode. I guess they both ended up making amends after they realized neither was the imposter, so at the very least this worked as a good team building exercise?
Chris: I don’t know, if I was J’onn I would have to fire that one guy for pulling his gun like that and refusing to listen to direct orders. I loved right before the commercial break, after the building got locked down, that they did this series of close-up shots on several of the cast members that were stuck in the room, and it’s all people we know and then suddenly a guy we’ve never seen before. Even though he didn’t turn out to be one of the aliens, it still made me laugh out loud when someone said, “It could be any of us” and it’s all our familiar characters and then one new guy.
Katie: I thought that, too. Of course, that’s too easy, so my thought was, “Okay, it’s probably going to be Winn or Alex instead.” And then it turns out it was Winn and Alex! Oh, have we talked about how this was just The Thing? Because it was totally just The Thing.
Chris: Haha, it was most assuredly John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is fine by me, because I love that movie so much. Also, this week’s episode is called “The Martian Chronicles” after the Ray Bradbury book of the same name, which is my favorite book, so this week’s show seemed like it was really trying to get back on my good side after last week.
And the biggest thing I complained about last week was the lack of focus and trying to pay attention to too many characters doing too many things at once, and this week was a huge improvement on that end as well. Great job at taking my constructive criticism, people in charge of The CW’s Supergirl!
Katie: So one of my favorite parts of this episode was getting to see evil alien versions of Winn and Alex. Both Jeremy Jordan and Chyler Leigh seemed like they were having a lot of fun being sinister and murdery. Even if I still don’t understand how the White Martians had enough time in the dark to kidnap the two of them, transport them to the lower levels, attach them to the ceiling, and get back up to the control area to pretend to be Winn and Alex. But as we said earlier, some of this we just have to roll with or else we’ll go mad.
Chris: Evil Alex was especially great, since she got to do a little more in the way of being an evil jerk and taunting Kara after the emotional moment. I now welcome all future mind-controlled Evil Alex episodes.
Katie: I was actually worried that because Kara’s heartfelt discussion with her sister happened with the Martian imposter, she’d end up not actually talking out her feelings with Alex, thereby creating a wedge between the sisters that would lead into other episodes. It says something about the show that they go, “Haha, no we’re not going to do that because that is dumb.” Because these sisters talk it out. Hooray for heroines with healthy communication.
Chris: Yeah, I hate when problems that could easily be solved by people simply talking to each other like real, caring individuals are treated as plot fodder. Talk to each other, people!
And speaking of people talking to each other, how about M’Gann and J’onn’s goodbye speech? Seems really counter-productive for them to go through all of what they just went through to keep M’Gann from having to go back to Mars to have her just decide to go back to Mars, but I also get the point they were trying to make with her wanting to show her people there’s another way. I guess I’m conflicted on how to feel about it is what I’m saying, even though I’m certain she’ll be back before the end of the season. What’d you think?
Katie: So I’m generally bummed out when a female character is shuffled off the show, even if it’s a show like Supergirl, where there’s been just so many side characters and storylines this season. But something I really liked about how they did it was making it 100% M’gann’s choice. They did a very good job having it be about her own agency, especially after spending so many years in hiding.
It probably also helps that she was the one who got to stab her crappy husband in the chest just a little earlier, so her getting to be the hero of her own story in two different ways was pretty cool. In any case, I’m glad they didn’t decide to just kill her off or something like that.
Chris: If I had less faith in the writers I’d think we were just going to get a Poochie style, “M’Gann died on her way back to her home planet,” but if I had to guess (and this is based on nothing other than a lifetime of TV and comics) she’s going to be back with some other friendly Martians to help at the end of the season.
Katie: So once the smoke has cleared and Kara has a good talk with her sister, she decides she does have romantic feelings for Mon-El and goes to find him, only to discover she’s too late and he’s going on a date with someone else.
I would be surprised by this … if it wasn’t the exact thing that happened with Jimmy in season one. I genuinely don’t mind when the show rehashes ideas here and there, but this was a tad bit annoying to me because the large majority of Kara’s male love storylines have been the weaker parts of the show. Even the one that I liked last season (again, I was rooting for Jimmy/Kara) got swept away.
At this point, if we’re not going to see her get together with Lena, I’d rather they just skip a romance with her for a while so the other side stories have more of a chance to get a focus.
Chris: I have said and will continue to say that I would be more than happy for there to be no romance subplots for Kara. At least for a good long while. I know that what a lot of people who like these CW superhero shows like is that combination of comic books and soap opera, but I just think Kara has more to offer than the same old thing you see on all of these shows, and that the show itself has an opportunity to be something even more special and meaningful if it will only allow itself to be. Or it can just be a fun time with a limited special effects budget and a great cast.
I’m not saying one is better than the other, I’m just saying I think Supergirl (the character and the show) has the potential to be something Arrow does not.
Katie: See for me, I like the idea of her having love interests here and there. She’s so cool and pretty and kind, I get why so many characters are drawn towards her romantically. There’s just never really been a time when Kara hasn’t had one since the series started. At the very least, let’s take a break from the romances.
I guess we can at least look forward to complicated female friendship as the focus next week, since Lena and her mom are coming back.
Chris: Oh, I absolutely get why everyone in the world is in love with her, and I have no issue with her having romance subplots, but like you said, it’s been constant since the show started, and I don’t think it has to. But, for all of the people that love the love stuff, I hope you enjoy it. I’m probably just jealous because I can’t date her, and even if I was able to get to that universe and ask her out, she probably wouldn’t go out with me, but if I had a million dollars, I’d try to buy her love anyway.
Katie: Would she be your Yoko Ono, Chris?
Katie: So I guess we’ll be back for another recap … in one week.
Chris: Yup, Supergirl is our Monday night life, in a nutshell, so let us know what you think of this week’s show in the comments and we’ll see you then!