This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 2 Episode 11
“The Martian Chronicles” was kind of an uneven episode, but as with virtually every episode of every CW superhero show of the 2016-2017 season, it’s tough to really come down too hard on it. I’ve been having this ongoing mental contest where I try and figure out which of these shows is the “most improved” from last year. The vast majority of the first half of this Supergirl season was astoundingly good. The Flash has rebounded in a tremendous way from the missteps of last year. I haven’t enjoyed Arrow this much since the first half of season three. Legends of Tomorrow threw its old formula out the window and is a better show for it.
But I still think that Supergirl‘s accomplishments deserve the most acclaim. This was a series that had everything working against it coming into its second season. Hell, there was plenty of doubt it would even get to a second season. Switching networks isn’t easy, and it was something of a gamble for the CW to pick up where CBS left off, and to not only do it, but make a show that another network would have left to die a centerpiece of their programming schedule.
But here we are, with a season that has been so strong that an otherwise good episode feels like a step backwards. I’ve just been getting used to exceptional episodes of Supergirl, and I don’t think “The Martian Chronicles” quite gets there.
This should have been the hardest sci-fi episode of a season that has gone all out with these elements with every installment. It’s not that there’s no place for Kara and Alex’s heart-to-hearts or Kara’s “evolving” relationship with Mon-El, but it all felt shoehorned in with this one. Kara bearing her soul to what turned out to be a disguised White Martian didn’t sit well with me, as the moment didn’t seem right, especially since I saw the big reveal coming a mile away. And having Alex “kind of” remembering their talk afterwards because of fuzzy Martian telepathic logic felt like a cheat. I should be clear, I’m not trying to be some jackass who doesn’t think feelings have a place here, I just thought this was a clumsy way to handle an important talk between Kara and Alex. It all felt a little too on-the-nose with this one.
Now, it’s possible that all of this was just felt more severe than it was because there was so much else going on. There were major J’onn and M’gann developments here, and when you’re dealing with weighty subjects like genocide, whether or not someone gets to go to a Barenaked Ladies concert or whether Kara will finally figure out her feelings for Mon-El just feel a little more trivial than they otherwise might. Again, these are important points, but you’ve gotta pick your battles, and it made “The Martian Chronicles” feel kinda wobbly.
On the other hand, when “The Martian Chronicles” was cooking, it was really cooking. The little tribute to John Carpenter’s The Thing when everyone was playing “Martian roulette” was a lot of fun. What’s more, you would never associate a show like Supergirl with the “trapped inside with an unseen enemy” format (if anyone was gonna do this, wouldn’t you think Legends would have been the one to go for it?) and I love that it flipped expectations around like that.
Considering that this was probably the most genuine alien screen time we’ve ever had in the show, it’s a good thing that the special effects were solid, too. I never really expected to get the full “J’onn and M’gann take on Armek” experience on my TV, but here we are. And I’d have to be completely heartless if M’gann showing up as backup to help J’onn didn’t move me a little.
It’s a bummer that we’re losing Sharon Leal just as I think she’s found some additional depths in the character, but on the other hand, this still hasn’t quite been the Miss Martian that would join Young Justice. She hasn’t exactly been a hero. Leaving Earth to set things straight is going to help her earn “hero” status on this show, and when she returns (you know she will), it will mean something. On the other hand, forgive me if I’m putting together a live action Young Justice lineup in my head with Keiynan Lonsdale, Sharon Leal, Colton Haynes, etc.
Kryptonian Memory Crystals
– I think this marked the most explicit they’ve gone with J’onn’s fear of fire, right? It’s more than just a comic book “weakness” like Kryptonite, it goes much deeper, and it was well played.
– I might have deducted a half a star because of the Barenaked Ladies. Not really. Maybe I did, though.
– Armek first appeared in the first story arc of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s excellent arc on JLA. If you haven’t read that, please do. It’s good comics and a classic Justice League story.