‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 4: ‘Survivors’
Welcome to Supergirl Talk, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of CW’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley and intrepid reporter Katie Schenkel.
This week, Supergirl uncovers an underground alien fight club, Alex and Maggie Sawyer go on an undercover date to the alien fight club, and J’onn/Hank learns his new Martian friend is involved with the alien fight club. Also, Winn and Mon-El go to a bar! “Survivors” was directed by James Marshall from a script by Paula Yoo and Eric Carrasco.
Chris: Another week in National City, and another totally enjoyable episode of Supergirl. Lots of things to talk about this week, Katie, and I know there’s one character, in particular, you can’t wait to talk about, but first things first, what did you think of this week’s show?
Katie: I think last week we called the episode a mixed bag, and this felt like a mixier bag, but there were several amazing character moments that shone above the rest for me. For instance, oh my gosh, how amazing was Roulette? We saw her in the preview last week and immediately I was sold, but Roulette’s full intro in the episode was brilliant. I’m a big fan of the character in the JLU animated series and Supergirl’s version was like she stepped right out of the cartoon. Dichen Lachman was kind of perfect. If there was nothing else to say about the episode, her performance alone was worth the watch. What did you think?
Chris: Okay, so I may be courting your ire here, and I apologize in advance, but I barely even remember her from Justice League Unlimited. Tell me what grabbed you so about her on there, and then we’ll work our way to this show’s version.
Katie: That’s okay, Chris, I forgive you.
Alright, so in JLU she has two episodes --- “The Cat and the Canary” and “Grudge Match.” Both of them feature her fight club business and pulling in superpowered heroes to fight for millionaires’ amusement (so right off the bat, Supergirl puts this antagonist in her element). One of the things I like about cartoon!Roulette was how she had a real presence about her, a confidence that makes her really fun to watch. She knew exactly how to play to her crowd. And she was ruthless, which again Supergirl nails perfectly.
In the cartoon, she’s voiced by Virginia Madsen in this clear, cool tone, and Lachman brings something similar to her version of the character. And the costume design for her was also lifted right out of the cartoon. So when she walks down the stairs and gives her big speech to her audience, I was grinning like a fool.
Chris: Okay, that all makes sense, and I definitely recall those episodes a little better just seeing their titles, but I guess not having made a huge impact on me previously, I wasn’t overly impressed with her here.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think she wasn’t good… or bad, since her character was a bad guy, because I thought she was totally... I don’t want to say adequate, because that sounds really insulting, but I just didn’t feel like she had all that much to do in the episode. Does that make sense? I think she’s a character with a ton of potential as a member of Supergirl’s rogues gallery and the actress’ performance was what made that potential apparent, but without that previous connection to the character, she was just kind of there to facilitate the fighting.
Though I will say, that scene where Supergirl pulls the “floating above you and heat visioning the street so your limo has to stop” intimidation move and Roulette not being phased or rattled in the least was pretty great. Hmm. Maybe I liked her more than I thought I did.
Katie: I can at least admit that her part of the episode was more the catalyst to character relationship stuff than really being focused on itself (which is fine when they end the episode with her not going to jail, which means we hopefully can see more of her villainy later in the season). There’s the potential for a meaty role in there, but I do like what we’ve seen so far.
Chris: I’m realizing that this is just like something that happened a few weeks ago in the Arrow recaps, where I was really excited to see a character I already liked, and Emma was like, “Uh, yeah, he was okay, I guess.” So, I guess we’re proving that a prior relationship with a character can play a part in how we perceive these interpretations.
Katie: Speaking of character perceptions, it turns out I was totally, totally right in last week’s recap about M’gann and where they’re going with her and J’onn. Go me!
Chris: For those that missed last week’s installment of Supergirl Talk, Katie theorized that they might be going the Young Justice route with this Miss Martian and having her also turn out to be a White Martian. There’s a lot of people hiding who they really are and people having to learn that people aren’t always what we think of them, and themes around those ideas this season.
My immediate question was, “Is this the same White Martian from last season?” I realize that may be a dumb question, but I honestly can’t remember where they left things with her.
Katie: I also cannot remember what happened to the White Martian from last season, but I remember that White Martian being very cruel to J’onn and willing to kill, so unless M’gann is completely lying to him, this is a different White Martian. But the cool thing about that episode is how it drove home just how much revulsion J’onn has towards the people who killed everyone he loved. I was saying even back then that M’gann must have been coming, since it will be a huge emotional hurdle for J’onn to get past his anger.
Back to this episode, before the reveal of M’gann as a White Martian we get to see her try to half answer J’onn’s questions without fully telling him the truth. If you don’t know what’s coming, you might not catch on, but if you do know what’s coming you’ll know why she threw in that comment about a “good White Martian” helping her escape.
Chris: Haha, yeah, that jumped out at me too, but maybe it wouldn’t have been as obvious if you weren’t already expecting it like we were. That reveal at the end did have me really wondering if Roulette knows the truth or not, because that could certainly be something she could use to manipulate M’gann in the future.
This isn’t really related, but can we please get some kind of consistency on what Kara and Alex call Martian Manhunter? Sometimes it’s J’onn, but then they’ll change it to Hank, or back again with no discernible reason. Sometimes in the same scene!
Katie: Oh my gosh, I didn’t even notice that. I did notice how they keep finding reasons for J’onn to use his human form. “I just want to, don’t tell me what to do,” seems to be the main one. Also, I had to laugh when Alex made a point of telling J’onn they’re calling M’gann “Miss Martian” in the ring. Just to make sure everyone important knows M’gann’s codename.
Chris: And she said it so dramatically! It honestly cracked me up. “They… they’re calling her... Miss Martian.” I mean, I get they have to come up with reasons to call these characters silly comic names, but… I don’t know.
Katie: Alas, not every universe gets a Cisco Ramon to make it seem effortless.
Chris: Hey, while we’re on the subject of that, Winn and Mon-El got to hang out and a little of that was addressed at least! What’d you think of Winn and Mon-El’s Excellent Adventure?
Katie: Well, for one they have way more romantic chemistry than Mon-El and Kara (although if they go platonic partners in superhero-ing, I think that would work). But no really, the two guys hanging out seems to be the start of a beautiful relationship, and they do have a good amount of chemistry right off the bat. My Twitter feed tonight was filled with people already shipping them.
I’m not holding my breath for them revealing Winn as not-straight, but it would certainly be more interesting for those two to get together than Mon-El falling for Kara. Their whole subplot also handled up your complaint from last week that Mon-El didn’t seem nearly excited enough about his powers --- turns out he’s really into the idea.
Chris: Almost as excited as he was about getting to just go hang out anywhere besides the DEO. I get that everyone is nervous about all the things that are going on, but do they really have to have him completely under house arrest?
But you’re absolutely right, Winn and Mon-El definitely have more chemistry than Kara and Mon-El, but I’m hoping from her speech at the end that their relationship is going to end up being more familial, with Kara having a chance to look after Mon-El in a way she didn’t get to with Superman. And while we’re talking about it, Winn and Mon-El’s first date definitely went better than Alex and Maggie’s.
Katie: But Chris, Maggie held Alex’s hand! I’m a Legend of Korra fan, so I know exactly what that means!
I’m still hoping for there to be more than one character coming out this season, so that Winn is one of them, since it’s super duper clear Alex is going to get with Maggie this season. As we said last week, the show is not subtle about these things, and they are dropping all the hints. Including said hand holding. And the looks. And Kara’s “okay, I am sensing weird sexual tension” face when she’s standing in between Alex and Maggie.
Chris: With touches of “when did this happen??” face.
Katie: Melissa Benoist has some amazing faces in this show.
Chris: I don’t know how she could possibly be more perfect. But that’s a whole different topic, I’m incredibly impressed by their restraint in not getting Alex and Maggie together this episode, even if we all know that’s exactly where it’s headed.
Katie: Me too, although I do question the weirdness of Maggie’s girlfriend just happening to be at the place they arrested Roulette. Unless that was supposed to be later at the police station, but I don’t remember that being established. Either way, Maggie’s girlfriend might have the superpower of impeccable awkward timing, since she pops up exactly when Maggie is being “casually” asked out by another woman.
Chris: I think that was supposed to be later. And just to make matters worse, Alex has made a special trip to ask her out only to see her hard work as a DEO agent and a lady trying to get a date go to waste.
Also, it’s hilarious to me that we haven’t even talked about all the alien fights yet! I think that shows how invested in the characters we are… which I think is a good sign.
Katie: I was going to say, the alien fights aren’t bad at all this episode, and there’s certainly some drama with M’gann and J’onn battling, but there is something compelling about the relationships they’re exploring right now.
We also haven’t talked about Snapper Carr this episode, who was the most reasonable in his criticism of Kara’s work so far. If anything, a modern newspaper strictly trying to avoid running juicy rumors as confirmed news might be the most unrealistic part of this episode about an alien fight club.
Chris: Yeah, he clearly sees that she has potential, so he’s out of the “just be a total jerk to her” phase, and has moved on to the “gruff” phase. I assume next he’ll be moving to “gruff, but lovable.”
Katie: Although that first scene with Snapper and Kara also included the cringeworthy “alien on alien violence” line. Really, Supergirl? Do you really want to use that phrasing?
Chris: Yeah, I’d have thought twice about it, but maybe they’re trying to be... something? Also, do you really think Snapper would just let it slide that Kara is suddenly “close personal friends” with Supergirl and run with a story like that?
Katie: And also, maybe it’s super unethical for Kara to use her other identity to get ahead in her job? That’s a Silver Age Jerk Superman move right there.
Chris: I don’t mind a little Silver Age jerkiness if we can get all the fun/bonkers stories that go along with it. Bring on the Red Kryptonite that gives her the head of a lion and the 5th Dimensional imps!
Katie: In the meantime, it looks like next week is a Jimmy episode, particularly setting up that storyline we know is coming for him thanks to recent showrunner interviews.