Spoilers ahead for “Survivors,” the latest episode of The CW’s Supergirl!
The short version: Supergirl takes on an alien fight club (and everybody is talking about it); Winn and Mon-El bro out; Roulette is apparently above the law.
The good: Kara takes on prejudice in an interesting way, Mon-El’s not bad
Trent: This episode might’ve been framed around a wild alien fight club, but it actually took an interesting turn — and told a story far more engaging than just a whole bunch of punching and kicking. The “fight club” episode is practically a staple of the genre, but “Survivors” didn’t follow the tropes as you might expect. No, Kara doesn’t go undercover as a fighter to catch these folks. She just busts in and has to fight after being attacked. It also gets to the root of why this fight club exists and persists. People, especially the rich and powerful of National City, don’t really view aliens as people. They’re treated as animals, and literally tossed in a cage to slug it out.
Kara tries to tackle that problem, and admits the world really doesn’t offer much for these aliens just trying to make a life for themselves. They have to address that problem, and simply shutting down the fight club won’t fix anything long-term. The show dabbled with those questions when they introduced the alien amnesty plan by President Lynda Carter, and we’re starting to see the fallout of how these aliens affect the world of Supergirl. They trying to use that lens to tell stories about racism, hate and what it means to be different. There aren’t a lot of shows that have an opportunity to do this (with aliens, I mean), and it’s great to see Supergirl taking advantage.
We also get to know the new resident alien Mon-El this week, as he spends the episode largely in DEO custody as they try to figure out what the heck to do with him. On paper, the Daxam native pretty much has the same power set as Superman and Supergirl. That’s obviously a prickly situation for the DEO, and we see Mon-El willing to go along with these tests as he also tries to figure out his place. It might sound obvious, but this really felt like a fresh way to tell this story. There was no manufactured conflict, and Mon-El didn’t decide to run away or revolt just to cause some drama for an episode or two. He seems reasonable and likable, and he even gets to bro-out with Winn for a while.
Dany: In a moment you will read Trent Moore explain why the Alex/Maggie is directionless. Surprise! I loved it. I'm not sure Alex was out or even knew she was attracted to women before Maggie showed up (we don't know much about her sexuality beyond Max Lord being into her). Whatever the case was before, Alex definitely knows she's attracted to Maggie now, and she's playing that mix of hyper defensive and fool rushing in to perfection. Like with Oswald on Gotham, we're in a bit of a holding pattern, but unlike Gotham, we've essentially been told that the Alex/Maggie thing gon' happen. So I'm down to watch this story slowly and realistically play out, fingers crossed.
I would also say that having Dichen Lachman guest-star as Roulette was SUPER welcome as she is the best. She didn't get the best dialogue in the world, but boy howdy did she chew the heck out of scenery to perfection. And I like the bad girl v. bad girl thing she and Lena Luthor hinted at. Any time I want to see more of something, I call it a win.
But the Dark Horse victory from behind goes to Snapper Carr, whose curmudgeonly finally paid off this episode. The way he pushed Kara to seek out facts was on the level and this week he actually feels as though he wants Kara to succeed. That's a massive improvement over the previous episodes where he came across mostly as old man who yells at cloud. I look forward to future episodes where he smile sin spite of himself/has some kind of Christmas-Carol-seque episode, which I believe to be inevitable.
The bad: Miss Martian, Alex and Maggie, Kara’s property damage
Dany: It's hard to know why Supergirl is flooring the gas on Miss Martian's story. It can't be because they think everyone already saw Young Justice and, hence, knows her back story. Maybe the spoilers for her secret whiteness (like Rachel Dolezal, but an alien) were just so out there that skipping ahead felt like the right call. Either way, color me underwhelmed by this iteration fo M'gann M'orzz thus far. Granted we're only talking two episodes of her so far, but the game -- it sneeds to be stepped up.
And though I do love me some Dichen Lachman, I would say the alien fight club itself was a little hokey, especially every time that big alien dude shows up to hit Kara. Why is he there? What's his story? He just felt super out of place every time he cropped up on screen. Hi! I'm here to punch! Okay, bye!
Trent: Introducing Miss Martian is a ripe story for how it affects Martian Manhunter, but this episode didn’t really deliver on the potential. The big reveal that she’s actually a White Martian was fairly well-telegraphed, but we hope they actually take this story somewhere interesting in the coming episodes.
Alex and Maggie also seems like a story without any real direction. introducing Maggie as a local cop with street connections has been a solid addition to the ensemble. Having a burgeoning relationship between them was also a nice change of pace — Alex needs some type of story, and Maggie at least brought out something a bit different in her. But this episode we learn Maggie has a girlfriend, and Alex is kind of disappointed(?). It’s hard to read, and it makes you wonder exactly where this story is supposed to be going. Also, just logistically, why would the DEO let Alex basically team up with a local cop when they literally have a giant staff of agents? That seems like something that has gone weirdly unexplained.
When Kara stopped Roulette, she destroyed the road in front of her. Then lectured her about breaking the law. Umm… didn’t Kara just literally destroy city property and cause thousands of dollars in damage?
Trent: Having Kara finally come around to training Mon-El was a positive development, and they did an excellent job of setting up that story here. Why is Kara doing it? Because she never got a chance to train and take care of Clark, and she sees Mon-El as a conduit to complete that mission in a new way. It makes sense, and we really hope they’re taking this story somewhere cool.
Dany: Obviously the big question is will Maggie and Alex kiss soon? And how deep will Mon-El and Winn's broship go? And, despite the rocky start, how will our Martian story play out? This version of J'onn can be pretty moody, so sparks are definitely gonna fly. Unless they just phase through everything the whole time, in which case no sparks, I guess.
Quote of the day:
“It's like soccer. With dragons.” - Kara
Next week: Jimmy is lamenting the fact that he doesn’t have superpowers! Could this be the start of his hero’s journey?