This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 2 Episode 16
Hi everybody! Jim from Legends of Tomorrow reviews here, filling in on what is probably the second best DC TV show. Everything Legends does, Supergirl does too, but where Legends keeps things light and fluffy, Supergirl adds in some soapiness and some real world parallels, sometimes to its detriment. Ultimately, “Distant Sun” was excellent, only kept from perfection by being a touch on the nose.
The major plot of this episode is Mon-El’s family – his father, Lar Gand (YES I KNOW!), played by God’s Not Dead But You’ll Wish You Were’s Kevin Sorbo, and his mother, a name that isn’t an obvious Easter egg, played by Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman‘s Teri Hatcher – show up on Earth demanding he be returned to them. Kara finds out that he was a Daxamite prince, and thus one of the leading assholes in the state, and her trust is betrayed.
The writers do an outstanding job of weaving the supposed backup story into the main plot, making it relevant to the entire episode. Winn and Lyra open the episode sneaking into the National City Museum of Art to fool around, only Winn gets picked up by Maggie the next day and questioned about why he was the only one on camera in the museum right before Van Gogh’s Starry Night disappeared. Winn, James and Alex track Lyra down and throw her in the DEO hoosegow, where she reveals that her brother is alive and being held captive by the non-human traffickers (posthuman traffickers? No, they’re not evolved humans. I’ll workshop this) who helped them escape Star Haven. They’ll return him after she finishes her elaborate art heists on their behalf.
This is a good place to talk about where the episode failed. One of the things Supergirl does, usually well, is weave in real-world concerns with their fantastical plot. The aliens-as-immigrants parallel is explicit early in the season – the writers are not interested in hiding what they’re talking about, waste no time trying to dance around the metaphor, but usually focus on making the metaphor serve the story. That’s no different here: Lyra’s refugee admission is important to turning the plot, but most of why it works as a turn is because of the effort the writers and Jeremy Jordan as Winn have put in building trust in his character. There’s always a little concern that he’s getting played, but for most of this season he’s been portrayed as having his head on straight, so we bought his play.
Mon-El hasn’t earned the same trust as a character yet, so the more on-the-nose archetypes his family falls into don’t work as well. Lar Gand and…I don’t remember her name, so I’m just going to call her Ke Leanne…their douchey patrician act is enough without having to have Ke Leanne snarl “We’re going to make Daxam great again.” I mean, this whole plot is basically Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner if Sidney Poitier was our collective liberal revulsion at a “My Drive With A Trump Supporter” article in the New Yorker.
Ultimately, the episode works because this cast is really, really strong. Melissa Benoist is cranked up to 11 for almost the whole thing – bubbly without being twee, determined, but believably hurt by the fact that Mon-El wasn’t being truthful with her. It helped that the stakes, what she broke up with Mon-El over, were solid: the writers have dropped the ball on these kind of “keep them apart at all costs” reveals in the past, but Mon-El’s bodyguard killing a Kryptonian diplomat to send him offworld is pretty legit. Meanwhile, Jordan, Chyler Leigh’s Alex, Floriana Lima’s Maggie, and Mehcad Brooks’ James are awesome together. Their comic timing as a group is stellar, especially for a melodramatic cape show, and Maggie and Alex are settling into a really nice routine as a couple that’s fun to watch.
I was worried when the episode opened with Mon-El talking about how their life was “like a rom-com” that that’s the pattern they would follow. The writers changed it up enough to make sure the show wasn’t predictable, but not so much that it wasn’t entertaining either.
SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-REFERENCES
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– ”Six seasons in and winter still isn’t here,” Kara complains to the TV in the cold open. Preach, sister. I hope she’s not a book reader.
– Mon-El’s dad’s name is Lar Gand, which is funny because Mon-El’s name is actually Lar Gand. He was originally Superboy’s Daxamite friend who catches a bad case of lead poisoning (not a mafia euphemism) and gets placed in the Phantom Zone so he doesn’t die from the lead exposure. He is eventually brought out of the Phantom Zone in the 30th Century by the Legion of Super Heroes, and this WHOLE episode fuels my moral certitude that we will get a version of The Great Darkness Saga at some point in the future of this show.
– Kara jumps in a teleportation beam with Mon-El to head back up to his ship, which is a fucking TERRIBLE idea. That’s a surefire way to end up with a messed up hybrid, like Kon-El…wait…no way!
– “The guy who plays King George [in Hamilton] is from Rimbor 5.” OK imagine Ultra Boy (from the Legion) singing “You’ll Be Back” to Phantom Lass (his eventual wife) and this gets A TON funnier. And weird.
– Did I catch that right? Is the art fence named Mandrax? Or is he named more than one Mandrakk? He does bear a passing resemblance to the vampire Monitor from Final Crisis…