Supergirl: Mon-El's not even supposed to be here today
Previously on Supergirl: Alex and Maggie Sawyer officially became a couple. Supergirl shut down an underground alien fight club run by Roulette, one of this show’s least intimidating supervillains, and that’s saying a lot. James Olsen became the vigilante superhero known as the Guardian, with Winn as his Oracle-like sidekick. Supergirl tried to train Mon-El to be a superhero, only to find out he was much too into himself to think about helping others. Oh yeah, and Supergirl traveled to a parallel universe where she met a dozen other superheroes and helped to fight off an alien invasion, but other than a brief alien cameo this week, no one ever talks about it. I guess what happens on Earth-1, stays on Earth-1.
This week’s episode is directed by Kevin Smith, and it’s titled “Supergirl Lives”, a reference to Superman Lives, the screenplay Smith wrote back in the ‘90s that was very nearly made into a terrible film directed by Tim Burton and starring Nicolas Cage. And it seems that’s pretty much the only reason for the title, because Supergirl doesn’t die, appear to die, or become reborn at any point during this episode. Though I suppose she does go missing for a few hours, if that counts.
Overall, it’s a ho-hum episode, with way too much talking and not enough action. I’m tempted to make a joke along the lines of “so, just like a Kevin Smith movie, then”, but he didn’t write the script (even though there’s a unusual amount of characters calling each other “dude” this week), and it’s probably just poor luck of the draw that he got saddled with this one. As usual, the A plot is the weakest aspect of the episode, but this time, the B and C plots aren’t a whole lot better.
In the main plot, Kara’s boss Snapper Carr makes an appearance for the first time in many moons when a desperate woman comes to CatCo headquarters and begs Snapper to run a story about her missing daughter Izzy. Snapper dismisses the missing girl as just another runaway and nothing newsworthy, but Kara knows in her heart there’s more to the story, and sets out looking for Izzy.
She recruits Mon-El to help, and soon they discover that it’s not only Izzy; several other National City residents have gone missing of late. They follow the clues to a clinic where a creepy doctor claims they’ve been looking for test subjects for a “new-to-market supplement”, but then the doctor transforms into a lizard person and runs through a Stargate-like portal. Kara, knowing that Izzy and the other missing people must be on the other side of that portal, immediately follows, and so does Mon-El, but they’re both screwed when they’re transported across the galaxy to a world with a red sun, and find themselves stranded in a harsh alien desert with no powers.
The planet is called Maaldoria, better known as “Slavers’ Moon” (surprisingly, not a reference to anything in the comics), and it’s a hub of interplanetary human trafficking. All the missing humans are being sold as slaves, and the person behind it all turns out to be Roulette, and yes, she’s still wearing that same red dress and fur. Apparently, after Supergirl shut down her fight club, one of Roulette’s alien fighters told her about Slavers’ Moon, and so she decided to set up shop on this world in the hopes of earning a buck or two.
Mon-El and Supergirl are thrown into a cell with all the missing persons, including Izzy, who just happens to be played by Kevin Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith (which makes me wonder which celeb baby name is worse: Harley Quinn Smith, or Kal-El Cage?). They also meet their potential buyer, and in the only nod to last month’s big CW crossover, it’s a Dominator, a member of the same alien race who (in the Flash and Arrow’s universe, anyway) tried to conquer Earth.
Despite being powerless, Supergirl is determined to fight back, and she inspires the other would-be slaves to rise up and disarm their captors. Roulette and the lizard doctor find themselves locked up while Supergirl, Mon-El, and all the other captives make their way back to Earth with help from Alex and Winn and the DEO. Once they return, Mon-El announces to Kara that he’d like to become a superhero after all, complete with a suit and a cape and everything.
But not long after, those weird masked aliens from last episode show up on Slavers’ Moon, still looking for “Mon-El of Daxam”. As soon as the lizard doctor reveals he’s on Earth, he gets vaporized. Also, there’s a moment earlier when the Dominator stops another alien from killing Mon-El, and even does a slight bow to him. Taken together, these would seem to support an internet fan theory that Mon-El’s story about being a palace guard protecting a prince on Daxam is bogus, and in fact Mon-El is the prince of Daxam.
In a side plot, James Olsen as the Guardian takes down some jewel thieves. When one of them almost gets away, Winn himself leaps into action, and very nearly gets shot before James rescues him in the nick of time. But now Winn has PTSD over almost getting killed, and no longer wants to be involved in the Guardian’s nightly exploits, and he’s filled with complete terror when Alex orders him to travel to Slavers’ Moon to help rescue Supergirl. But when an alien bad guy nearly kills Winn in the same way as the jewel thief, Winn clubs him with a rock and gets his mojo back.
And in the only other notable subplot this week, Alex is totally in love with Maggie, and even referring to her as her “girlfriend”, and feeling happy for the first time in her life, particularly after Maggie spends the night. But then, for the sake of more artificial drama, there’s a moment where Alex is despondent over Supergirl’s disappearance and ends up acting cold and dismissive towards Maggie. Alex eventually apologizes, and it seems Maggie has figured out that Supergirl is Alex’s sister and Supergirl is really Kara. To be honest, I thought Maggie already knew, but apparently not. I’m kind of surprised more people haven’t figured out Supergirl’s secret identity, considering she’s always around Alex in both identities, and everybody at the DEO calls her Kara whether she’s in or out of costume.
Complaints and Annoyances:
I’m not all that thrilled with Kevin Smith casting his own daughter as Izzy, a wonderful, precious creature that Supergirl is determined to locate and save at all costs. The importance bestowed upon Izzy makes no sense for a random guest star with about five lines. If you didn’t know she’s the director’s daughter, you’d have no clue why we’re supposed to care more about her than the other dozen or so people about to be sold into slavery.
I have no idea why they shoehorned Roulette into this story. She somehow does even less than in her previous appearance. But then again, next week sees yet another return appearance by Livewire, so it I guess this show is really enamored of bringing back its lamest villains.
Remember the alien singles’ bar? The one where Project Cadmus released the Medusa virus and killed a whole bunch of aliens? Apparently, it’s open for business again, which strains credulity, to say the least. I mean, I doubt anyone’s going to reopen the Pulse nightclub anytime soon. But here, everyone’s totally fine with hanging out at a place that was the scene of an alien massacre just a few weeks ago.
And you know, I’m always happy to see Supergirl trying her best to be a hero even without powers (even though we already had an episode along the same lines in season one), but I’d appreciate it much more if she weren’t constantly telling everyone how determined she is to be a hero without her powers, while also chastising Mon-El for not doing the same. It just doesn’t work for me, mainly because it feels completely out of character for Kara to talk this much about her own heroism.
As Kara and Mon-El sit in the waiting room of the “clinic”, Mon-El picks up an issue of Highlights magazine and asks Kara if he’s “more of a Goofus, or more of Gallant?” Kara’s snap answer is, “Goofus,” but by the end of the episode she’s gifting him an issue of Highlights, and telling him that “yesterday, you were a little less Goofus, and a little more Gallant.” Though, it’s a bit weird that this episode doesn’t even allude to the romance that was developing between them prior to the winter break. Maybe we got lucky, and the writers forgot about it.
I also like that when Mon-El drops by CatCo to visit Kara, he makes sure to wear the glasses he had back when he briefly attempted to work as a CatCo intern named “Mike”, because clearly no one would recognize him without them.
When Winn arrives on Slavers’ Moon, I was amused when he repeated over and over, “I am not a Red Shirt,” to reassure himself. And then when he incapacitated his attacker, he cried out, “I’m not the Red Shirt! You! You’re the Red Shirt!”
And in the closing moments, we find out Alex brought along a “yellow sun grenade” to Maaldoria, which bathes Supergirl in a golden glow and briefly brings back her powers. It’s nice visual, even though I’m not convinced a handheld device could generate nuclear fusion.
And that’s about it for the positives. Everybody tried hard, but this was mostly a dud, and one of the weaker episodes of the series so far, though I suppose it wasn’t quite as forgettable as the previous episode that featured Roulette.
Next time: Livewire is back… again. Going solely by the previews, that’s about all that happens next week. If they can make a genuinely entertaining episode out of this premise, it’ll be a minor miracle.