Supergirl’s Final Season Soars When Focused on Character

Returning favorite Mr. Mxyzptlk has a great character arc, but clunky new mythology threatens to bog down the episode

Supergirl's Final Season Soars When Focused on Character
Photo: The CW

This SUPERGIRL article contains spoilers for Season 6, Episode 11, “Mxy in the Middle.”

Supergirl Season 6 Episode 11

Mr. Mxyzptlk makes his triumphant return, and not a moment too soon. He sings, he dances, he makes Patrick Swayze references, and Supergirl distracts a giant cat the same way you distract a regular cat – with her lazer vision, of course. It’s all good fun on a light and lovely episode of Supergirl that serves as a reminder of why this show was seen as a breath of optimistic fresh air years before Ted Lasso made it cool and Emmy-worthy.

Mxy is a great choice for a character to bring back. He’s fun, unpredictable, has a wide range of powers, and the writers can basically give him whatever constraints or backstory they find convenient. And boy howdy did they ever! The biggest drag on this fun episode is the metric ton of mythology and exposition it drops on us early on, right after Mxy’s bouncing musical number, to the tune of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive. For his part, Mxy found a creative way to fill the Super Friends in on his history with fellow imp Princess Nyxly without using his magic (which she can apparently sense and therefore track, cloaking technology be damned). His impromptu expository song is occasionally hard to follow without a visual, but returning guest star Thomas Lennon brought his A-game as usual, and the whole thing is charming and fun, like most of the episode.

Afterwards, though, there’s a quick rundown of an all-stone made by an ancient imp named Jared (Mxy’s ancestor?), a bunch of totems (truth, destiny, love, hope, dreams, courage?) which can be in the form of anything. Nyxly needs the totems to make a new all-stone in order to exact her revenge. But in order to do that she needs an orb to give power to the crystal and good lord can we get a limit on how many McGuffins one story arc can nonsensically daisy-chain together? Do we even know how many totems there are so we can count them down? Did Nyxly find one in this episode, or was Mxy and that orb her only victory? This shouldn’t be this hard to decipher, and frankly who cares?

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The stories that have served Supergirl’s final episodes best are the ones that allow the characters we love to continue to develop as people, setting them up so we as an audience will have idea of what their future will be like after the show concludes. Some of them may appear on other Arrowverse shows or even get their own spinoff, but even for those that don’t, it would be satisfying to get to imagine a future where the Super Friends’ continue fighting for justice, one way or another, whether that means taking up the mantle of a hero or flexing new powers. Getting bogged down in the details of brand new mythology with only nine episodes left in the series feels like a waste of screen time that could be spent with the gang doing karaoke, a Dansen training montage, or SuperCorp doing literally anything in the same place together.

That’s why Mxy’s one episode felt more satisfying than this entire season’s worth of Kara treading water. Mxy found himself essentially powerless. While he still had his abilities, he chose not to use them for the good of the mission, and he was unfortunately surprised at how useless he felt. But he wasn’t actually sitting around doing nothing – he spent the episode trying to help the Super Friends and learning from them what it means to truly be on a team. Normally a solo act and one who Nyxly rightly called out as looking out for himself exclusively in the past (to Kara’s annoyance and our entertainment), Mxy listened and took responsibility for his actions, much like Nia did when she told Kara the truth about how Nyxly got free.

Mxy has been a fun bit of seasoning for Supergirl to bring in for one-off episodes, and this was a great way to give his character more depth, making him worthy of additional screen time. It certainly seems like we’ll be seeing him again, as he sacrificed himself in order to protect the Super Friends and to keep Kara from sending Nyxly to the Phantom Zone, which was both unfair to Nyxly and something he knew Kara found immoral. It’s still unclear what exactly he did and he always has a trick up his sleeve, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this new, more evolved version of Mxy does in the final episodes to try to stop Nyxly.

Nia continues to come into her own, albeit in fits and starts. Brainy and Kara’s reactions to Nia helping Nyxly felt fair – she really was manipulated, and who among them hasn’t made a deal with the devil under the assumption that they could fix it with teamwork if things went sideways? Brainy’s reaction of advice and support – but ultimately allowing Nia to come to the right decision on her own, in her own time – was especially heartening, since he and Nia have sometimes struggled to align their levels of support. That’s been an interesting journey to watch, but one that hopefully is resolving. Brainy has often spoken about Nia’s potential and how powerful she is; hopefully she’ll have the chance to share with him what she learned about her abilities from her mother.

Finally there’s Lena, who unfortunately had to take the long way ‘round to learn about her mother’s gifts as a witch. Unraveling the mystery of Lena’s mother was a great c-plot, and it’s a relief that someone in Lena’s family is on the up and up. It’s been tough to have first Kara then Lena sidelined for so much of this season, essentially keeping them separate for the duration. However, the idea of a Lena Luthor who has both magic and science at her command is so enticing that I’m holding out hope that it might have been worth it.