[This is a review of Supergirl season 2, episode 13. There will be SPOILERS.]
Whether because of its shift from CBS to The CW or not, Supergirl has seen plenty of changes to the show in its second season. Perhaps the biggest change has been the series' focus being placed more on Kara Danvers' work with the DEO as her superhero alter-ego, while her day job as a journalist for CatCo takes a backseat. On the whole, though, Supergirl has also placed a bigger spotlight on the dynamics that have arisen with aliens living publicly among humans on Earth - in National City, especially.
One of the ways this has been showcased throughout Supergirl season 2 is Kara's relationship with the Daxamite refugee Mon-El, who hails from a rival planet of Kara's own home of Krypton. Early in the season, Kara was forced to confront her prejudices against Daxam and, by proxy, Mon-El, with the pair forming more of a friendship in later episodes. Last week's episode, 'Luthors', featured Kara admitting she has feelings for Mon-El just a few episodes after he had done the same - but, their moment was interrupted by the opening of a portal breach in Kara's apartment, through which a creature named Mr. Mxyzptlk (Once Upon A Time in Wonderland's Peter Gadiot) arrived in National City.
In this week's episode, 'Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk' - written by Jessica Queller and DC Comics writer Sterling Gates (Adventures of Supergirl) and directed by Stefan Pleszczynski - Mr. Mxyzptlk tries to woo Kara and, though she believes him to be harmless at first, begins to see his methods can be dangerous. Mon-El, who has seen creatures like Mr. Mxyzptlk before, tries to warn Kara about how dangerous he can be, though she doesn't believe him at first - causing some tension in their relationship. Meanwhile, Alex celebrates her first Valentine's Day with her girlfriend, Maggie.
The Inter-Dimensional Man About Town
Although Mr. Mxyzptlk - or Mxy, as his friends and enemies call him - is a one-off Supergirl villain, he is a wholly enjoyable antagonist, one perfect for the show's first Valentine's Day episode. For his part, Gadiot brings plenty of charm to the role, from the imp's first moments setting the stage in Kara's apartment for his marriage proposal to his later admission of defeat. Of course, Mxy isn't quite the typical one-off villain since Kara doesn't even believe him to be a threat when she first meets the fifth dimensional being - and, his tricky nature causes a new side of Kara to be revealed.
Still, Mr. Mxyzptlk's inclusion in this week's episode epitomizes Supergirl at the show's most comic book-inspired fun. Perhaps more so than The CW's other DC TV series this season, Supergirl has leaned into its colorful, light-hearted comic book roots. The show has always been incredibly optimistic since its protagonist tends to focus on the goodness of the world, but Supergirl has also been more adventurous in season 2 with introducing lesser known DC Comics characters (or creating new aliens entirely) and letting the writers run wild with them.
The writing duo of Gates and Queller certainly deserve credit for Mxy's especially fun appearance, with witty one-liners including - but not limited to - "Tall, dark, and bland-some." Considering Gates' experience as a comic writer, including two separate runs starring Supergirl, he's particularly adept at handling the character of Kara and nailing her range. Between Gadiot's performance and the script penned by Gates and Queller, Supergirl delivers an altogether fantastic episode in 'Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk'.
Mxyzptlk Brings Out The Worst In Mon-El - And The Best
Of course, the arrival of Mxy in National City this week is perfectly timed from a writing standpoint since it is the worst possible point in Kara and Mon-El's burgeoning relationship for him to interfere. The Kryptonian and Daxamite have only just admitted they share romantic feelings for one another when Mxy interrupts with his grandiose proposals of marriage - fully equipped with a room full of roses and the most romantic lines from Disney's Aladdin. Paired with Mon-El's brutish nature (he does claim the best way to deal with Mxy is to kill him, after all) and the Daxamite's reluctance to admit he's jealous of the imp, the delicate relationship he has built with Kara to this point seemingly shatters.
But in actuality, the conflict between Kara and Mon-El helps them to grow - both as a couple and a fully developed relationship. While previous episodes of Supergirl have been somewhat lacking in justifying Mon-El's sudden feelings for Kara or why she would reciprocate those emotions, there was never any doubt that both Chris Wood and Melissa Benoist have all the potential to portray a charming couple with on-screen chemistry. Now, perhaps with the help of Gates, 'Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk' offers the most compelling portrayal of Mon-El and Kara's relationship - especially in the scene during which the two get into a heated argument in the middle of a bustling DEO.
Still, although it seems at one point during the episode that Kara is truly calling off her relationship with Mon-El before it even had a chance to begin - and to marry Mxy, no less - the pair have a chance to reconcile once she has dispatched with the imp back to the fifth dimension. Certainly, while Mr. Mxyzptlk is a fun element to this week's element all on his own, the character's arrival also allows for Wood and Benoist to truly shine in their respective roles and their character's relationship.
Valentine's Day in National City
Aside from Kara juggling the advances of Mxy and the troubles it brings in her relationship with Mon-El, 'Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk' is the Valentine's Day episode for all of Supergirl's couples. So, with James Olsen conspicuously absent and J'onn only able to send M'gann a heartfelt message while she's still on Mars, that leaves Alex and Maggie - and, to a lesser extent, Winn - as the focus. For his part, Winn meets Lyra, an alien from his favorite planet of Starhaven, and strikes up a human-alien romance. Although not much time is given to Winn and Lyra, the groundwork is laid for Supergirl to explore this particular aspect of its larger focus on aliens in season 2.
Supergirl's development of Alex's coming out storyline and her relationship with Maggie have been one of the strongest elements in the show's sophomore outing, providing a compelling and emotional arc that has resonated with audiences. Supergirl continues this trend in 'Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk' when Maggie reveals exactly why she dislikes Valentine's Day so much; when Maggie was in school, she revealed her feelings for another girl on Valentine's Day and it got back to her parents, forcing her out of the closet and leading to her father kicking her out. Certainly, it's only a small part of Maggie's backstory, but one that explains quite a lot about her character and helps to further develop the emotional bond between her and Alex.
While Kara's arc in 'Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk' has its sweet moments, her dealing with Mxy and Mon-El is played for laughs more than anything. In comparison, Alex and Maggie carry the more grounded emotional beats of the episode, as their relationship has for much of season 2. Alex and Maggie's semi-fight over communication and how to celebrate Valentine's Day is one that viewers can relate to - more so than the appearance of a fifth dimensional creature bent on wooing his beloved.
Still, the theme of love is certainly strong in 'Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk', though the inclusion of Mxy could have forced the series into over-the-top camp. Instead, the episode's grounding aspects and delightful script helped to make 'Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk' one of the brightest highlights of Supergirl season 2.
Supergirl continues Monday, February 27 with 'Homecoming' at 8pm on The CW.