This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 2, Episode 13
“Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk” is the kind of TV episode that would have played a bit better if it aired on the holiday it centers its plot around — in this case, The Day of Valentine — but not much. In many ways, Supergirlhas found its feet in Season 2, but it is at its best when it is seamlessly integrating character development and interpersonal drama into the mix while focusing on a more political and/or action-oriented “A” plot. When the romance is the “A” plot, those seams start to show a bit…
Mr. Mxyzptlk is a very determined suitor.
As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, Mr. Mxyzptlk, a fifth-dimenstional being, has arrived on the scene with the intent of marrying Kara. Because she’s awesome, I guess? “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk” doesn’t do a great job of articulating Mr. Mxyzptlk’s motivations, though Peter Gadiot does an admirably charming job of selling them. (To be fair, he has experience. Gadiot starred as Cyrus the genie on Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.I know this because I was one of the four people who watched the ABC spinoff.)
In some ways, this episode reminded me of Firefly’s“Our Mrs. Reynolds.” However, that Firefly episode played a lot better by crafting a more complex suitor/villain character, while also slowly raising the stakes so that the joke eventually became a life-or-death race to avoid Saffron’s trap. Here, the stakes are high — the murder of some thieves, citizen collateral damage, etc. — but they are more abstract and distant than they are specific to our central characters.
Really, Mr. Mxyzptlk’s arrival on the scene was less about tangible threats to the city and more about testing the nascent romantic bond between Kara and Mon-El. (Whose first kiss was interrupted, Supergirlfirst season-style, in the final moments of last week’s episode by Mr. Mxyzptlk’s arrival.) Frankly, I’m not sure if Kara and Mon-El’s relationship was up to the test. Though the two decide to go for it at the end of the episode, Mon-El really does spend much of the show’s hour proving that he is still an egotistical, arrogant, self-involved dudebro, even if he is a slightly more self-aware one. At one point, he literally tells Winn: “Things were easier on Daxam where I objectified women and didn’t care about anyone.”
I’m willing to stick with this romance for its twists and turns, but understanding why you are demonstrating problematic, sexist behavior is not the same thing as taking that to heart and making changes in your life. For me, Mon-El has yet to fully prove that he is really, truly listening. This is perfectly demonstrated by the fact that Kara feels she needs to manipulate Mon-El into letting her go, rather than explaining the situation to him and expecting that he trusts her wishes. (To be fair, she did say that the manipulation was, in part, because Mxyzptlk might have been listening.)
Ultimately, Kara finds a way to trick Mr. Mxyzptlk back into the fifth dimension… without using violence or murder. She uses her brain (and a seriously good poker face — remind me never to play Chicken with Supergirl). As annoyed as I sometimes am by Mon-El’s character, he is also such a believe dudebro in a way that television rarely tries to portray, and there’s something ambitious about that. In most TV shows, Mon-El’s values, manner, and mindset would be placed at the center in the form of the hero-protagonist we should admire. Here, he is the supporting love interest character who is asked to do better. I am willing to stick around to see if he is up to the challenge.
Alex shows Maggie the wonders of Valentine’s Day.
Of course the Danvers sisters love Valentine’s Day. So much that, when Maggie calls it “a manufactured holiday for patsies,” they see it as a challenge. Maggie will love Valentine’s Day, too. It’s a sweet subplot that explores some of the themes at play in the Kara/Mon-El storyline, but in a much more effective way. Ultimately, Maggie opens up to Alex about why she truly doesn’t like Valentine’s Day (not that her characterization wasn’t, you know, valid): she was rejected by her high school crush and outted to her parents, who subsequently kicked her out on Valentine’s Day. So, yeah, that’s real.
Ultimately, Maggie decides to give Valentine’s Day another try for Alex, who has never had the Valentine’s Day she dreamed of, demonstrating what it looks like to put your romantic partner first when you can. It’s not the most complex of romantic subplots, but it brings these two closer together in a believable way that the Kara/Mon-El stuff doesn’t manage: “Love isn’t making demands of someone … Love is putting someone else’s needs first.”
Winn goes on a date with a vampire.
OK, so she’s not actually a vampire, but she looks so much like a vampire from Buffythat I couldn’t not think of her as a vampire for the entire episode. (This was a very Whedon episode.) Really, she is an alien from Starhaven and her name is Lyra. When she saves Winn from some thugs at the alien dive bar, they start seeing each other.
It’s a bit of a random plot, but I’m just so happy to see Winn get a storyline that I’ll go with it for now — especially because it promises to explore the theme of the alien-human romance, which is already hinted at in their first episode. I’m not sure if Supergirlhas the narrative room to play out another romance, but maybe we can take some time away from Winn’s Sitting at a Computer scenes to add to the cause?
“Mxyzptlk. It’s spelled like it sounds.”
J’onn’s unsurprised reaction to seeing Mon-El in only his boxers in the middle of the DEO is so perfect.
Speaking of J’onn, he is going to serious lengths to court M’gann, sending a interstellar Valentine to the White Martian. Do yourself a favor and go watch Kara’s face in this scene. Yeah, she ships it.
“On some planets, to write something down is to truly say it.”
“I’m not going to let some imp stalk you and live.” Oh, Mon-El. Try harder.
One wonders if this entire episode wasn’t just a way to get that Hamiltonscene in there. This show loves its musicals (and who doesn’t love Hamilton?).And it’s a nice reminder of the Supergirl-Flash musical crossover episode that is coming.
A list of things Maggie likes: guns, scotch, tiramisu, Bonsai trees.
“I don’t have time to learn your stupid moon language!” This may have been one of my favorite lines of the night, and was delivered so perfectly by Peter Gadiot.
Should Kara consider opening up the Fortress of Solitude as a wedding venue? Discuss.