Supergirl: 213 “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk” Review
Reviewed by Ben McClure.
After a couple of really high quality episodes, it’s hard not to see Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk, the latest episode of Supergirl, as something of a letdown. There are fun elements, including some impressive visuals (that was a cool looking Kryptonian statue come to life!) and an appealing performance from the increasingly likeable Melissa Benoist as our heroine. But the story is not tightly put together, and the main plot lacks believability and finesse.
I know, I know, you could say it’s a bit over the top to be complaining about “believability “ when referring to an episode of a TV show about an alien twenty-something dealing with the romantic overtures of a 5th dimensional suitor. It could be argued that to enjoy Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk, one just need to have a willing suspension of disbelief and an apprecation for light-hearted adventure, and that the episode’s tone is simply a pleasant throwback to Silver Age comic values in which the series has always been firmly esconced. Well, I definitely see all that. In fact, I’ve said such things to others. But in this case, the primary story about the love triangle between Kara, Mxyzptlk and Mon-El is just too silly to swallow comfortably.
I really like Mon-El but it’s hard to sympathize with him when he’s painted as a guy who loses all emotional self-control just because some alien wizard that Kara doesn’t even like starts giving her flowers. Justifying his reaction as an indication that his feelings for Kara are just sooooo much stronger than anything he’s ever felt before doesn’t help—it just looks like the writers are drawing from the most tired parts of the the young adult romance handbook. If Mon-El is the kind of guy who withholds important information about potential threats to the planet and then tries to kill his rivals behind his girlfriend’s back, then why on earth would Kara want to date him? It’d have been better if the mysterious power from another reality forcing him to act in such a ridiculous manner had turned out to be Mxyzptlk, rather than the show’s writers.
Mr. Mxyptlk himself is not much better. Of course, he is a risky choice for live action TV. If you know the Superman / Supergirl source material, you’ll know that Mxyzptlk is a character uniquely suited to the comic books medium—a magical imp who can change reality on a whim. Unless you are going to blow your entire season’s budget on this one appearance, then the only way to bring the character to life is to put serious limitations on his usual shenanigans. Here, the show has opted to basically make him like Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation – all-powerful, a bit snooty, but basically a human being. That in itself is not necessarily a bad choice, and Peter Gadiot does a good job playing the guy.
The problem is that he is kind of stupid. Rather than making him truly unpredictable or a genuinely threatening, he ends up being just kind of dim. He is painfully easy to deceive, for example, even if Kara’s approach is quite elaborate. Really, if all you had to do was to get him to push a bunch of random buttons, surely there was any number of ways that could have been achieved? He’s also limited in the most contrived ways. The writers really had to work hard to justify why he couldn’t just turn Kara’s doomsday weapon into a flock of butterflies or a bowl of figgy pudding.
The various relationship subplots that fill the rest of the episode actually undercut the tension of the story. The arrival of a character like Mxyzptlk should really be the sort of thing that dominates everything that is happening to everybody: reality itself is be breaking down, and nobody should have time to deal with anything else. Here, the feeling is that Mxyzptlk is something Kara can schedule into her lunch breaks.
Obviously, the producers are free to make their own creative choice, but the result is an episode that is somewhat fun, but lacks a strong drive and feels kind of inconsequential (except of course that Kara and Mon-El eventually get together, but really that’s just a holdover from last week).