Supergirl: 211 “The Martian Chronicles” Review
Reviewed by Ben McClure.
The Martian Chronicles has a lot going for it. First off, it deals with the White Martians, which are by the far the most promising threat the show has ever introduced. It also manages to keep its subplots in their place, which is both subservient and integrated into backdrop of the Kara’s storyline. This is a feat which should be standard, but hasn’t always been achieved in this series. And its got a main dilemma (the DEO under siege from hostile aliens) which while not entirely original is fairly fresh for the series and a lot of fun.
We also get our second week in a row of lots for David Harewood to do. The guy is one of the show’s real strengths, having created the deepest and most textured of all of the series’ characters. Watching J’onn from grow from being hostile to M’gann to recognizing his inextricable link with her—potentially even being in love with her?—has made for fascinating viewing. It is indeed becoming one of Supergirl’s most compelling relationships. Thus it’s with mixed emotions that we watch M’gann exit the stage this episode. One the one hand, I’ll miss what she brings out in J’onn, but on the other hand it’s probably good to slow down that relationship a bit. And of course, we all know that M’gann will be back: probably in the show’s second to last episode, hopefully to warn earth of the impending full-scale Martian invasion! Or maybe Kara will accompany J’onn on a mission to Mars to rescue her. Or something similarly spectacular.
As I mentioned before, the rest of the subplots are also settled well in their positions this episode. Alex’s romance is actually relevant to Kara as a character, which is refreshing. James is wisely kept off-stage since he has nothing to do, but Kara’s disapproval of his “lifestyle choices” still hangs over her friendship with Winn. And Mon-El’s romantic disappointment and Kara’s confusion create a nice backdrop for Kara as she deals with all of her other primary relationships. All of these threads directly and effectively impact the development of our characters.
Unfortunately, what the story does not do well is figure out a way for these character moments to actually find airtime in the midst of the show’s drama, which is to the show’s detriment. The biggest problem is the way that the characters have not one but two extended personal conversations in the midst of what should have been the most tense sequence of the week, where our heroes tip-toe through darkened corridors while a shape-shifting and murderous alien stalks them. I mean, a devastating explosion is only minutes away, but somehow Kara still feels this is a good time to work through the fact that she’s bummed out that Alex was going to miss her birthday.
Of course, Alex was one of those shape-shifting evil aliens at the time, so maybe it was all a ploy to get her to waste time? No, that’s clearly an excuse I’m making up for the writers, since these White Martians don’t demonstrate any conspicuous intelligence. Fake-Alex sneaks around with Kara, but to what point? She doesn’t lead her into a trap or attack her from behind or anything…she just waits until she is discovered and then fights.
And if the aliens know everything Winn knows, they also know that he’s the only one who can stop their reactor from exploding (something which is already pretty contrived). So why don’t they just kill him before he can undo their dirty work?
Why do we have to listen to both a fake relationship conversation between Kara and Alex, and then a real relationship conversation between Kara and Alex? It’s tedious and repetitive.
In the end, these weaknesses are sort of par for the course for this show, but still the episode is ultimately enjoyable. The plot had a freshness to it, the fight scenes did not disappoint, and the potential romances are developing believably. And like I said, the White Martians are a great comic-book import, and their appearance here again teases the possibility of a knock-down earth-shattering brawl with Kara and her allies all standing together against an army of foes that make this season one to remember.
So yeah, this show is not perfect and often the writing is flawed. But Supergirl stays a lot of fun when the character and action are well integrated, and when the focus is on Kara herself dealing with high stakes adventure. Like in The Martian Chronicles, those basic qualities help to cover a multitude of sins (or weaknesses, in any case).