‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 13: ‘Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk’
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, it’s the second week of Valentine’s Day in National City, so, of course, everyone is having dramatic relationship-related misunderstandings! Also, spell check’s most hated super-nuisance is here attempting to marry Supergirl! “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk” was directed by Stefan Pleszczynski from a script by Jessica Queller and Sterling Gates.
Chris: Hello again, Super-Friends, and welcome back to another week in National City! Quite an episode this week to say the least! What did you think, Katie?
Katie: “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk” walked a very fine line when it came to how Kara was treated and how that treatment was framed, and personally I feel like it was able to still be fun and enjoyable even when things happening to her were Not Okay. What did you think about the Silver Age imp showing up proper, Chris?
Chris: This was one of the most frustrating episodes ever for me. I couldn’t enjoy all the fun parts because this episode had an overabundance of one of the things I absolutely hate the most in TV shows, and that’s people --- especially romantically involved people --- having short “conversations” that immediately escalate into “fights,” and then one of the people storms off or is asked to leave. And it felt like that’s all this episode was.
I know some people will say, “Oh, you’re okay with unbelievable things like people flying and having magic powers, but the arguments being a little unrealistic bothers you?” and that’s a fair thing to say, except for the fact that characters acting in ways we can understand as though they actually are “real people” is what allows us to invest ourselves in them. Something has to ground you enough to feel like you understand the rules of this world you’re watching and be able to see something you can relate to in it. And, I’m not saying this show doesn’t do that, I’m just trying to explain why that kind of thing bothers me so much.
Sigh. I know I ask too much of this show.
Katie: We’ve talked about Mon-El before (and we can talk about the Alex/Maggie stuff in a bit, too), but I really am mostly disappointed in the series pushing this romance so hard. I just don’t like them together like that, and the way he acted this episode really justifies that to me. Every fight Kara and Mon-El had made me go, “Yeah, she’s right to be mad at you and you’re being kind of terrible.” Even at the point where he was supposed to learn a lesson and trust Kara, he doesn’t really trust Kara. Which makes his apology at the end ring more than a little false.
Gosh, I wish I could be down for this pairing, but it does not work for me, and at this point, I’m just kind of hoping it runs its course as soon as possible.
Chris: I didn’t like how anyone interacted with anyone this episode for the most part, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think they were cute together. I was against it for a long time, and this is all completely excluding how they’re written, but they’re both just very cute. Like I’ve said previously, there is no chance for them to actually work out as a couple, because that’s never how these shows work, but I didn’t mind seeing them finally smooch.
To actually answer your earlier question, though, I didn’t care for this version of Mxyzptlk to start, but it kinda grew on me by the end.
Katie: You know, this is what I’m talking about with the framing. The show did a pretty solid job framing us as on Kara’s side. Yes, some of his bits were funny, but Myx was still out of line. When he gets mad at Kara, they frame it as genuinely threatening and not okay. It’s similar to a storyline in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl where Moleman (after Doreen is nice to him for like five minutes) decides he’s in love with her and then threatens all the world’s monuments until she dates him. Yes the premise is ridiculous and the villain is funny on his own, but the message is still, “Don’t be a creep to women.”
Chris: Did it seem like there were some scenes missing from this episode to you?
Katie: I didn’t notice anything. Was there something specific you thought was missing?
Chris: So, things go from introducing Mr. Mxyzptlk to Kara calling him “Mxy” in one scene, and I didn’t quite understand what would lead her to be treating this guy with such kid gloves for so long in the episode when he’s clearly a very dangerous threat.
I know he’s very powerful, so you have to be smart about things, but she didn’t know until almost the end of the episode that there was a way to trick him into leaving, and normally she’s much quicker to punch bad guys. Especially bad guys that put innocent people in danger by making other supervillains appear.
Everything just felt wrong this episode. I expected her to completely blow up at him when she realized he was responsible for Parasite showing up so he could play hero. But then she tells Mon-El to leave. Granted, I just kept wanting Mon-El to shut up and not open his mouth, but… I don’t know, it just felt like I was missing some other part of this episode that made everyone’s behavior make sense.
Katie: Now that you mention it, I could maybe imagine a shorter scene before the Parasite business that could have been cut out. Oh speaking of Parasite, can we talk about how the fake Parasite that Mxy was controlling hit Kara right into a car? So... it’s really hard to not see that as Nice Guy Mxy smacking the girl he wants to marry. I mean I know she’s super resilient and later he sends a giant crystal statue of her uncle after her, but that moment with Parasite was really messed up to me.
Chris: Alllll of everything with him seemed really messed up to me. And that’s what I’m talking about, it made no sense to me that she was treating him the way she did. She had to stop him from murdering three bank robbers in cold blood and she’s still calling him "Mxy." I just… I’m at a loss.
Katie: The saving grace for the main storyline for me is that Kara is the one to trick him into his own dimension. If it was anyone else (especially one of the men, and especially especially Mon-El), I would have had a fit. So if I’m giving this episode any props, it’s that.
Chris: I liked and was then disappointed by how they seemed like they were going to do something neat with turning Mon-El into the damsel in distress, with Supergirl having to show up to save him, but then Mxy just zapped him off somewhere, so they didn’t get to do anything with it. Could have been a nice moment to show us Mon-El realizing Supergirl isn’t the one who needs protecting, instead of just having someone say it later, but all of these things are why I wish “dating” wasn’t such a prominent part of this show. If they don’t do it just right, it has the potential to make these characters look bad or to send the wrong messages, and they seem to have a hard time walking this tightrope.
Hey, speaking of “dating,” I love Winn, but what on Earth was this subplot of him dating an alien doing in this episode? As though there wasn’t already more than enough going on with a Fifth Dimensional imp?
Katie: I’m so torn about this. On one hand, the guy has had a real rough time in the romance department from last year, and I’m already anticipating this ending badly before the end of the season. On the other hand, it’s nice to see one pairing this episode actually talk about their feelings and not storm off.
And while Mon-El/Winn still makes so much sense to me that I’m pretty mad the show isn’t pursuing it (seriously, why the heck not), Winn being interested in this alien girl’s world and clearly having studied up on it in a respectful way is... actually really cute.
And the part where she realizes he doesn’t just see her as a “fun experience” but someone he wants to spend real time with is also cute. Jeremy Jordan (who I just saw in Newsies this weekend, where by the way he was charming as hell) sells these scenes enough that I thought they were nice. But it did feel like they wanted to introduce this in the Valentine’s Day episode that was already crammed with couples plots instead of starting it in an episode where it would have had room to breathe.
Chris: Oh, for sure, he’s great and I have no problem with the story/those scenes in and of themselves, but when everything else in the episode felt like it had scenes missing, it feels frustrating to me. I promise I’m not just trying to have a bad attitude in general though!
Katie: I’m probably giving the episode more credit than it’s due because I was bracing myself for the Mxy stuff to play out way worse, with mansplaining and gaslighting not getting called out, instead of ultimately getting called out.
It wasn’t perfect, and I could absolutely nitpick things --- like, for instance, how Mon-El only let her go because she was rejecting Mon-El after all and was giving up, not because he actually trusted her to defeat Mxy on her own. As it was, I’m in a, “Well, I’ll take it!” mood with this one for not completely making me furious the way it potentially could have. And I did like most of the jokes. I won’t lie, calling Mon-El “blandsome” was a highlight of the episode for me.
So should we talk about the other fighting couple on the show this episode, namely Maggie and Alex?
Chris: How long do you imagine has passed since they started dating earlier his season?
Katie: It has to be a few months, right? Because they keep doing holiday-connected episodes and they got together in fall.
Chris: Yeah, that makes sense. It comes across to me sometimes as though this show wants to have them fill in for whatever stage of a relationship they want that week. Does that make sense?
Katie: A little. On one hand, I could see Maggie just choosing not to talk about her family a lot to avoid this topic. But if she really didn’t want to do any Valentine’s Day stuff, she could have just said “A girl really hurt me on Valentine’s Day one year and I don’t like doing anything at all” and still not mention her parents, you know?
Also while the story of how she was forced out is a very common one and I thought was handled well in the moment, it makes Maggie telling Alex to come out to her sister right away even the more baffling to me.
You might remember during that previous recap I couldn’t imagine a gay woman telling a newly “realizing she’s gay” gay women that she should definitely come out to her family next, but it makes even less sense now that we know Maggie had a terrible experience with her own parents. I don’t know, it reads to me like they decided later to give Maggie this backstory and had to fit it into what they already did, which took away from the scene.
Chris: These are exactly the kind of writing problems that just gnaw at my brain. Do they expect people not to remember, or do they forget, or do they just not care?
Katie: And again, the iffy writing was wrapped around a legitimately moving monologue from Maggie, so it’s hard to completely dismiss their plotline, either. That’s the thing about this episode and this season in general --- it’s a real mixed bag with questionable choices, but just enough good stuff that keeps me enjoying it, even when I go through lots of little moments of frustration.
Chris: Exactly, it’s individual moments that are great if you take them on their own, but that get muddled when they’re in the middle of stuff you feel like you’re having to slog through, or are actively put off by. I just want to love this show as much as possible, and I want it to be as good as it can be.
Katie: More than anything, this episode makes me that much more adamant that next season we need a female Supermite, basically a lady Batmite, but like, a super fan of Kara’s who wants to be her best friend and help her fight crime. All the wacky shenanigans of this episode, but 0% of the Nice Guy peacocking.
Chris: Oh my god this is the best idea! You are a genius, because that is exactly what I want to see on this show! And on that note, we’ll wrap things up! Be sure to let us know what you thought of this week’s episode in the comments, and join us again next week when more strange things are afoot in National City!