[Supergirl] Recap • 211 Martian Chronicles

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Supergirl Recap: Martion Chronicles
By Chancellor Agard • @chancelloragard for Entertainment Weekly

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Tonight, Supergirl is lighter on its feet than it’s been in quite some time. One of my problems with season 2 — though it’s been pretty great — is that every episode has felt a bit overstuffed: too many storylines for too few minutes in any given episode. However, “The Martian Chronicles” doesn’t have that problem. The tense bottle episode’s focus is narrowed, allowing all of the characters’ beats the breathing room they need, and the hour comes very close to living up to its full potential.

The show’s first act is spent setting up all of the interpersonal drama the episode will explore once it goes into bottle episode mode. First, there’s the relationship between Kara — who rejects Mon-El once more in a cringeworthy scene at the top of the hour — and Alex, which hits a bit of a rough patch tonight when Alex makes plans to see The Barenaked Ladies with Maggie (jokes) instead of celebrating Kara’s Earth birthday. Kara’s feelings are definitely hurt, but she doesn’t say anything.

Then, there’s J’onn and M’gann. Since M’gann warned the DEO that the White Martians were coming for her, J’onn has been keeping a close eye on her by shapeshifting into an old lady, a little boy, and a homeless man, which is downright cute. However, it doesn’t take long for the White Martian to make his presence known on Earth, and he attacks J’onn and M’gann in the alleyway. Thankfully, Kara arrives in time to scare him off.

Refusing the DEO’s protection, M’gann returns to the bar, where Armek, the White Martian, approaches her less aggressively in human form. Surprise — Armek was M’gann’s mate before she betrayed the White Martians. But whatever love there was between them is now gone, and the genocidal Armek just wants kills his ex-wife and return to Mars. Armek gives her two hours to make her decision: Either she comes with him or he kills all of her friends. At first, it seemed like Supergirl was planning on treating the White Martians as a monolith — a race that only had genocide on its mind – which frankly would’ve been a disservice to the themes that the show has been dealing with this season. However, later on, it becomes clear that the show doesn’t believe that M’gann is the only White Martian who isn’t driven by hate.

J’onn returns to the bar to offer his protection again, and this time M’gann accepts and accompanies him back to the DEO. Wait, but then another M’gann shows up at the DEO, and they realize that the M’gann who arrived with J’onn is actually Armek in disguise. The power goes out as J’onn fights Armek, but by time Winn turns it back on, the White Martian has disappeared.

Realizing that the White Martian could be masquerading as either of them, J’onn makes do the only way he can: He locks down the DEO. Alex had better call Maggie and tell she’s going to be late, because WE’RE DOING A BOTTLE EPISODE!

Director David McWhirter does a great job at ratcheting up the tension as Team Supergirl tries to figure out who the White Martian is. Everyone is feeling the pressure, especially the two DEO agents locked in with them. J’onn comes up with a test that requires everyone to put their hands to a flame, which will reveal if they’re a Martian or not. Kara, J’onn, and the two DEO agents pass, but then they come to Winn. Instead of taking the test, he simply reveals that he’s the White Martian and attacks them. It’s clear Jeremy Jordan has the time of his life playing the bad guy in this moment. Unfortunately, Fake Winn manages to make his escape again.

Their problems go from bad to worse as Fake Winn uses Winn’s knowledge to reprogram the entire facility and sabotage the nuclear reactor that powers the building. If they don’t find the real Winn soon, the DEO will explode, taking out 10 blocks with it. Right now, I’m sure you’re asking, “Why does the DEO have a nuclear reactor in the middle of a populated city? Did they learn nothing from the San Andrea nuclear power plant problem in The West Wing season 7?” To that I say, I don’t know.

Anyway, everyone splits up to go looking for the real Winn. Trapping everyone in this tightly confined space forces the characters to address some things over the action. Obviously, Kara admits that Alex choosing Maggie over her hurt her feelings because she felt like she was getting abandoned again, which is interesting, I guess. I kind of wish this episode had dug a little deeper with these two. Meanwhile, J’onn comes clean to M’gann about his growing feelings for her. We rarely see J’onn be this vulnerable with someone else, so this exchange was rather satisfying and moving, especially since J’onn points out that he never thought he’d feel this way about someone again. But, alas, the love chat is interrupted when J’onn stumbles upon Winn and Alex encased in icky Martian cocoons, which means there are two White Martians, and one of them is with Kara right now.

Kara and Alex start fighting it out in the nuclear reactor room. Eventually, J’onn and Miss Martian come to blows with Armek. I quite enjoyed the staging of this pretty great fight sequence, which had an even greater impact because of the confined setting. Instead of being thrown around a big city, we see Kara, Martian Manhunter, Miss Martian, and their foes flying around corners, which is visually interesting. (This also made me wish Arrow director and stunt coordinator James Bamford would helm an episode of Supergirl. I would love to see what he could do with this show). While the fighting happens, Real Winn shuts down the reactor. Kara and Real Alex defeat the Fake Alex White Martian, and Miss Martian kills Armek before he has chance to kill J’onn.

After the battle, it’s time to turn to our show’s two aliens, who find themselves rather alone. First, Alex rushes off to see Maggie since she missed the concert, and Winn heads out to meet up with James for Guardian business, leaving Kara alone on her Earth “birthday.” McWhirter’s direction captures that loneliness with a shot of Kara in the middle of an empty DEO building. Meanwhile, M’gann tells J’onn that she has decided to return to Mars in order to find other White Martians like her who are willing to abandon their hateful ways. As I mentioned earlier, this is a small sign that the show doesn’t believe all White Martians are the same, which is definitely a line it came close to crossing earlier in this episode when J’onn said M’gann isn’t like the others. Obviously, J’onn doesn’t want M’gann to leave, but he reluctantly understands that she has to. Before she leaves, they share a tender moment on the DEO balcony before M’gann, who lets him know it’s real, beams up to Armek’s ship.

That night, Alex shows up at Kara’s apartment with a cupcake to celebrate her Earth birthday and points out the obvious: Kara was putting so much effort into this birthday because she didn’t want to focus on the confusing situation she has going with Mon-El. Kara keeps saying she’s not interested in him, but Alex knows, and we know, that’s not entirely true. Sadly, it seems as though the Kara/ Mon-El relationship will have to wait a bit because in the wake of Kara rejecting him, Mon-El has set his sights on wooing Eve Teschmacher.

Wall of Weird:

• From now on, we’re referring to the alien speakeasy as either Spyders’ (I miss Crazy Ex-Girlfriend already) or the Snakehole Lounge, because the show has neglected to give it a name.

• I think I enjoyed this episode so much because there was no Guardian nonsense, which is the weakest part of the season so far.

• Note: The White Martians were able to impersonate Alex and Winn so well because they read their minds.

• “Apparently Earth males are only supposed to express their feelings about sports and occasionally monster trucks” — Mon-El to Kara when she stops by the bar at the beginning of the hour

• Mon-El likes Dunkaroos.

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