[This is a review of Supergirl season 2, episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]
The second season of Supergirl has explored the theme of aliens on Earth as refugees, challenging the perceptions of humans and other aliens alike, including Kara as well as J'onn J'onzz aka Martian Manhunter. While Kara has managed to move beyond her prejudices against Daxamites through her friendship with Mon-El, J'onn has had a harder time in his relationship with M'gann M'orzz. However, this is largely because she first claimed to be a Green Martian, like J'onn, but was revealed to be a White Martian - the race of Martian responsible for killing J'onn's family and decimating the Green Martian population.
However, as seen in last week's episode 'We Can Be Heroes', J'onn grew closer to M'gann when she fell into a mysterious coma and he needed to use the Martian mind link in order to save her. He learned that she was trapped in a mental prison where she was still on Mars and feeling guilty for the White Martians' war on the Green Martians. As M'gann explained at the end of 'We Can Be Heroes', the coma had been a mental attack on her by the White Martians and they were on their way to Earth -- arriving on Supergirl in this week's episode.
In 'The Martian Chronicles' -- written by Gabriel Llanas and Anna Musky-Goldwyn and directed by David McWhirter -- the White Martian Armek (Terrell Tilford) locates M'gann on Earth in an effort to take her back to Mars to face punishment as a traitor. Armek is able to shapeshift and infiltrate the DEO headquarters, which creates a problem for Team Supergirl as they realize the White Martian could have changed his features to look like any of them, leaving all of them unsure of who they can trust.
White Martians Invade the DEO
'The Martian Chronicles' is essentially a bottle episode, with most of the major Supergirl players trapped inside the DEO, questioning each other's loyalties as they try to fight off a White Martian and stabilize the building's reactor core. The situation is a perfect storm of paranoia with J'onn, Alex, Kara, Winn, M'gann, and two other DEO agents - Vasquez and Demos - all suspicious of each other, and since they all carry weapons, the situation nearly gets out of control very quickly.
The initial mystery of who the White Martian Armek is masquerading as doesn't last for too long. Given the time constraint of the episode, he's fairly quickly revealed to be disguised as Winn - offering Jeremy Jordan a rare chance to play the villain, with a fiery fight sequence that was as fun to watch as it undoubtedly was to film. While this particular twist was given away in the teaser for 'The Martian Chronicles', the Supergirl writers had another trick up their sleeve since it's later revealed Armek isn't the only White Martian running free through the DEO disguised as an ally - a second White Martian has disguised themselves as Alex. Of course, the reveal doesn't come until after Kara and Alex have had a heart to heart, making sure the revelation packs the biggest emotional wallop.
Still, the main emotional throughline of 'The Martian Chronicles' is M'gann being forced to face her past - but not on her own. This time, J'onn prevents her from running away from Armek - who was M'gann's mate when she was on Mars - and, instead, convinces her to confront the White Martians with him, Supergirl, and the might of the DEO at her back. Of course, it doesn't pan out quite like J'onn or M'gann anticipated, with Armek attempting to blow up the DEO - Martians, Supergirl, and all. But, the final fight sequence between J'onn and M'gann, both suited up as Green Martians, against Armek proved to be well earned and well executed.
'The Martian Chronicles' provides a number of compelling scenes for - as the title hints - Supergirl's two Martian characters. J'onn has fully moved beyond his prejudices against M'gann, and is able to form a bond with her that is unlike even his close, near-familial bond with Kara and Alex. M'gann, meanwhile, has chosen to finally stand up and stand against the hatred of her people that she knows to be wrong. Unfortunately, now that M'gann has decided not to hide any longer, she leaves to return to Mars in order to find others like herself willing to fight Martians like Armek. The goodbye between J'onn and M'gann is as powerful as it is heartbreaking.
Kara Celebrates Her Earth Birthday
Although recent episodes have given plenty of attention to Mon-El and his romantic feelings for Kara, he is largely absent from 'The Martian Chronicles'. The episode is bookended by scenes between him and Kara, the first in which she attempts to reject him - in Kara's signature stumbling, wholly likable, trying-to-be-nice way. Rather than focus on her own feelings for Mon-El though, she shifts her attention to planning her Earth Birthday (the day she crash-landed on Earth and Clark brought her to live with the Danvers) with Alex. However, while Kara has a whole evening planned, Alex tries to bow out since Maggie surprised her with tickets to a Bare Naked Ladies concert.
Considering how close the Danvers sisters are, and given how Kara has watched the majority of her friends pair off into couples or vigilante duos (with the exception of Mon-El), she's understandably hurt. Then, though it seemed Kara and Alex had hashed it out during the lockdown at the DEO, the second White Martian was revealed to be disguised as Alex. At the end of the episode, Alex does broach the subject with Kara, since she did have a psychic link with the White Martian and obtained the memories of the Martian-as-Alex's conversation with Kara.
Both the conversations in the DEO and in Kara's apartment afterward between the sisters are realistic and compelling. The relationship between Kara and Alex has always been one of the biggest strengths of Supergirl and, since Kara's mentor Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) departed National City, the sisters' bond has become that much more integral to the fabric of the show. As such, it's an especially sweet and grounding emotional element in 'The Martian Chronicles'. It does, however, set up the eventual romance between Kara and Mon-El, as Alex encourages her sister to take a romantic leap of faith.
'The Martian Chronicles' concludes with Kara running into Mon-El and James Olsen's assistant as they're headed to lunch. It's the classic missed-their-chance romance trope that isn't quite as final as the characters may believe. Plus, with Supergirl planning a Valentine's Day episode in next week's 'Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk', Mon-El and Kara are bound to confront their feelings for each other sooner rather than later.
Supergirl continues Monday February 13 with ‘Luthors’ at 8pm on The CW.