When Supergirl‘s second season took flight on The CW, it began with another strange visitor from another planet landing in National City – Mon-El (Chris Wood), a survivor from the planet Daxam. Daxam was Krypton’s sister world and was also destroyed by Krypton’s explosion, but the relationship between the two planets had been antagonistic for centuries. Daxam was a monarchy long at war with the democratic society of Krypton, and so Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) began her relationship with Mon-El with suspicion and distrust.
Throughout the course of the season, Kara began to see the better angels of Mon-El’s nature. As he, sometimes awkwardly, attempted to prove his desire to emulate Supergirl and be a hero like her, Kara’s personal hostility towards Mon-El gradually softened. She took it upon herself to mentor him both in adjusting to Earth culture and as a burgeoning superhero. Meanwhile, Mon-El developed romantic feeling for Kara which – after some misunderstandings and bumps in the road – Kara did reciprocate. Kara and Mon-El became a couple and for the most part, they were a happy couple – except for one huge secret Mon-El has been hiding from Kara all this time that she finally learned in this week’s episode, “Star-Crossed.”
It was exciting news when Supergirl once again honored the history of Superman on television by casting Teri Hatcher, who played Lois Lane on Lois & Clark: The Adventures of Superman in the 1990s (alongside Dean Cain, who is a regular guest star on Supergirl as Kara and Alex Danvers’ father Jeremiah). There was immediate speculation who Hatcher would be playing on Supergirl alongside Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), who was cast as her husband, which was soon answered: Hatcher and Sorbo are playing Queen Rhea and King Lar Gand, the Daxamite parents of Mon-El. This means Mon-El’s secret is out – he’s really the prince of Daxam.
KRYPTON V DAXAM
In Supergirl‘s universe, the worlds of Daxam and Krypton were the Hatfields and McCoys of their star system. Both once orbited the red sun Rao and their inhabitants, under the light of Earth’s yellow sun, are gifted with superhuman powers. The Kryptonians hold a few advantages over the Daxamites on Earth, specifically in that they have more superpowers, like flight and heat vision, while Daxamites only have enhanced strength and speed, though still at a lesser degree than Kryptonians do. (In DC Comics, Daxamites are as powerful as Kryptonians and have identical abilities, but their fatal vulnerability is to lead, not Kryptonite.)
When both planets were thriving, their societies were polar opposites. The Kryptonians were scientists and explorers, but were also held in contempt by Daxamites for their haughty and superior attitudes. This dislike was reciprocated by Kryptonians, and it continues to this day as Kara Zor-El continues to feel and express a moral superiority to Mon-El, Queen Rhea, and King Lar Gand. The Daxamites were a monarchy ruled by a royal family that, in Supergirl’s words, kept Daxam “a party world” so that they would be too distracted to care about the hedonistic ways of their rulers. The Daxamites made a fortune dealing in the intergalactic slave trade, as Queen Rhea and King Lar Gand had business dealings with Maaldorian slavers and with the evil Dominators.
However, in one crucial way, Daxam had the last laugh over Krypton. The arrogance of Krypton led to the destruction of their planet and also nearly did the same to Daxam. “Star-Crossed” revealed that Daxam, which was thought destroyed by Kryptonite raining fire on its surface, is once again habitable, and that many Daxamites were able to escape the planet and are scattered throughout the galaxy. Queen Rhea and King Lar Gand want to find the Daxamites and repopulate their homeworld, restoring it in a way that Kryptonians could never nope for.
In the comics, Lar Gand is the real name of Mon-El, who was introduced in Superboy ’89 (1961). Superboy thought Lar Gand was from Krypton and named him “Mon-El” (Mon because he landed on Earth on a Monday and El to share his Kryptonian surname.) Supergirl has yet to address why Mon-El on the show has a name that sounds so Kryptonian and similar to Kara Zor-El’s. It also remains to be seen if Mon-El will adopt his comic book counterpart’s superhero codename: Valor.
“HAIL MON-EL, PRINCE OF DAXAM!”
The clues about Mon-El have been present throughout the season. In a flashback to the destruction of Daxam, we saw someone who was presumably the prince of Daxam insist Mon-El enter the escape pod and flee the dying planet instead of him. This jibed with Mon-El’s cover story that he was a member of the prince’s palace guard. In the episode “Supergirl Lives,” when Supergirl and Mon-El are captured and escape the Slaver’s Moon, a Dominator prevented an alien from shooting Mon-El before bowing to him. Mon-El didn’t seem surprised by this show of respect towards him.
In this week’s episode “Star Crossed,” all of Mon-El’s lies came out to face the light of Earth’s yellow sun. Queen Rhea and King Lar Gand arrived on Earth and took a page out of General Zod’s alien arrival playbook in Man of Steel: broadcasting on all Earth frequencies to surrender Mon-El of Daxam to them or face hostilities. When Mon-El chose to surrender and Supergirl joined him in teleporting to the Daxamite cruiser, the truth about Mon-El was at long last revealed.
Over an awkward family dinner, Mon-El explained the details of his escape from Daxam: When the planet was being barraged by Kryptonite meteors after Kara’s world was destroyed, Mon-El’s loyal bodyguard pulled him out of bed and got him into a Kryptonian ship that belonged to the Kryptonian ambassador to Daxam. Mon-El and his guard literally stepped over other injured and panicked Daxamites, and the guard murdered the Kryptonian ambassador so that Mon-El could take his ship. Mon-El, to his credit, is ashamed of how he survived the destruction of Daxam and of the wild party boy he was as its crown prince.
The signal that the DEO broadcast to Daxam earlier in the season at Mon-El’s request is what King Lar Gand and Queen Rhea used to track their son to Earth. Mon-El was urged by his parents to leave Earth and return with them to Daxam so they can reunite the Daxamites who managed to escape the planet when Krypton exploded and once again rule over the Daxam. Despite Kara being unable to forgive Mon-El for lying to her about who he really was and Kara ending their relationship because of it, Mon-El seems sincere when he says he despised the person he was on Daxam and wants to change by Kara’s example. Mon-El rejected his parents and chose to remain on Earth. However, Queen Rhea and King Lar Gand aren’t going to take their son’s no for an answer and it seems the rulers of Daxam are going to continue to remain on Earth to make life difficult for Mon-El and Supergirl for the remainder of season 2.
The answer of who Mon-El really is was widely guessed by Supergirl‘s fandom and by the time it was finally revealed, the only people truly surprised were Kara and the characters on Supergirl. However, the emphasis of the story was much less about ‘answering the mystery of Mon-El’ and more about tracking Mon-El’s continued desire to grow and better himself as a person, especially when faced with his family and his past literally coming to confront him and return him to who he was. Despite Mon-El’s pledges of love to Kara and what seems to be a sincere effort to change, he still thinks of his needs first and foremost. He does know he has a long way to go before he can claim to be a hero. Can a Daxamite leopard change his spots? The final destiny of Mon-El is one of the pivotal stories Supergirl will have to address as the show’s upcoming batch of episodes concludes its stellar second season on The CW.
Supergirl continues Monday, March 27 with ‘Distant Sun’ at 8pm on The CW.