SUPERGIRL EPISODE 2.11: The Martian Chronicles

After a couple of underwhelming offerings, The CW’s Supergirl soared for its first time in 2017! In its best episode since the Winter break, we saw two separate subplots reach their conclusion. For much of Season 2, both Kara Zor-El and J’onn J’onzz have struggled with seeing the inner potential of their closest friends. However, a White Martian attack on the DEO in Week 11 appeared to force a shift in those dynamics. After stridently opposing her friends’ involvement in the Guardian project, Kara had no choice but to watch Winn save both the DEO and an entire swath of the city as he defused a reactor detonation. Meanwhile, J’onn J’onzz witnessed M’gann M’orzz taking on her White Martian pursuers, and afterward assume an even bigger mission. Together, these events should spell big change for the back half of Season 2, with one of the impacts felt immediately. (WARNING: Spoilers below!)

J’onn and M’Gann

This week’s Martian storyline began with M’gann calling out J’onn for shadowing her across National City. Despite using his shape-shifting ability as a cover, M’gann remained aware of his presence. The Martian Manhunter had been tailing her since she revealed that White Martians would soon be coming for her. Not long after sending J’onn away, M’gann encountered her first one, and it was a ghost from her past. Her long-estranged husband, named Armek, approached her at the alien bar. He demanded that she turn herself in. Though M’gann would rebuff Armek, he delivered a parting threat that all of M’gann’s associates from the DEO would burn unless she surrendered.

At first M’gann seemed prepared to face this threat alone. J’onn, however, would not relent in his offer to help. Staying true to the show’s original theme of “Stronger Together,” J’onn convinced M’gann that she no longer had to run. She could rely on her DEO friends as her family. Her decision to accept protection nearly came too late, as a White Martian bounty hunter disguised as M’gann infiltrated DEO headquarters. Soon, no one knew friend from foe and to make matters worse, the impostor had rigged the DEO’s energy reactor to explode.

Recalling his days in the Green Martian resistance, J’onn submitted everyone to a fire-test in order to determine who was real and who was disguised. The gambit exposed Winn as the fake, and he fled almost immediately. The team then launched a double-mission: Find the real Winn (who still had to be in the building) and then revive him in time to head off the detonation. During the frantic search, a second White Martian would reveal himself – but Supergirl, J’onn and M’gann would prove victorious. Likewise, the real Winn would be freed and save the DEO from destroying up to ten city blocks.

The heroes’ victory would shortly prove bittersweet. Afterward, M’gann informed J’onn that she had decided to return to Mars. But rather than leaving as a prisoner ready to die, she would instead go as a leader for those ready to resist. She intended to become a symbol of hope for White Martian dissenters. Just as J’onn uplifted her to let others in her life and continue surviving, M’gann wanted to pay that inspiration forward for White Martians suffering in silence.

While J’onn accepted her decision, David Harewood played J’onn’s personal devastation to perfection. The pair shared a final touching mind-meld before she beamed out. If there was any flaw in the execution of M’gann’s swan song, it was that the plot didn’t make clear how M’gann would return to Mars. Was she hikacking Armek’s ship? Or were other bounty hunters waiting for her on-board, meaning M’gann traveled as a political prisoner? Hopefully, this isn’t Sharon Leal’s final appearance and this conclusion can be more clearly resolved. For Leal’s time on Supergirl, the Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian storyline was an excellent feature.

Kara, Winn and James

The other current to seemingly reach a turning point in “The Martian Chronicles” was the division between Kara and the superhero team of Guardian (James as the brawn in armor, Winn as the brains in the truck). Supergirl began the episode sounding the same paternalistic note that grated in the previous edition. “You know I’m just worried about you” was her refrain to Winn. The DEO’s super-geek immediately bristled. This dynamic brings to mind a facet of the series we’ve seen before, and perhaps that was the showrunners’ intent.

In Season 1 on CBS, the writers of Supergirl clearly had fun reversing typical gender tropes. Through that lens, you can see a continuation of that experiment, here. Kara is trying to make the choice for her male counterparts as to whether they can also fight crime. She patronizes Winn and James by saying she only wants to protect them. Yet, in so doing, Kara clearly denies their potential. You can almost sense an underlying sentiment that heroism isn’t “humans’ work”. While this manipulation of gender roles is intriguing – and for this male viewer, educationally frustrating – it still does the program a disservice to have Kara play this part. Supergirl has always been the hero that sees the better angels in people. She is the constant symbol of optimism. Having Kara be the one who rejects possibility in others puts distance between the audience and the main force bringing them back to the show. For Supergirl to both see and acknowledge Winn’s contribution in the installment’s climax hopefully means that Kara now values what Guardian can bring to National City.

What I Took Away

If that prediction proves true, then “The Martian Chronicles” will go a long way to restoring the early season momentum that Supergirl lost in January. The division of the one-time CATCO trio has felt particularly to blame. It could also be beneficial if the Season 1 core – Kara, James, Winn, Alex and J’onn – is once again the series’ center. Considering that next week’s offering is entitled, “The Luthors,” the reunion of The CW’s “Superfriends” may not be more timely.  

Submitted by Jody Money

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