Men Are From Mars, Women Are Also From Mars.
Warning! Full spoilers for the episode below.
We’re just about a fifth of the way into Supergirl Season 2, and while the main conflict has only been teased so far, Survivors managed to still remain relevant even without progressing that chief narrative. Survivors, although promoted as an “alien fight club” episode still managed to give focus to the characters that make Supergirl so great. Even so, Survivors continued to show some of the cracks in Supergirl’s façade.
While Survivors had various missteps with another bad batch of both “Alien of the Week” and “Villain of the Week” showings, the episode still managed to be successful, focusing on various character interactions throughout. This began with a flashback to Daxam, in which we saw Mon-El protecting the Daxam Prince, and inevitably being tricked into taking the Kryptonian pod to safety. Overall, Survivors gave some much-needed screen time for Chris Woods’ Mon-El to shine. This ranged from his interpretation of soccer and PlayStation, to his night out on the town with Winn, to his acceptance and partnership with Kara. But we’ll get to all of that in a bit.
Survivors showcased the ensemble cast of Supergirl, and gave each pairing a significant amount of scenery to chew on. You had Winn and Mon-El, Kara and Mon-El, Alex and Maggie, and J’onn and M’gann. While this episode could have spent a majority of its time on the alien fight club, there was a great balance and focus on the characters that make Supergirl stand out. This began with the return of Maggie Sawyer, and her relationship with Alex. A dead alien is found in a trunk, and Maggie is on the case. Both Alex and Supergirl show up, but the repertoire between Maggie and Alex overpowers the sisterly bond of Alex and Kara. As with many of the character moments featured in this episode, it was great to see Alex begin to exist outside of her solely DEO-focused role. While Survivors may have put a lid on that for a bit, with Alex discovering that Maggie has a girlfriend, I hope that these developments with Alex don’t stop.
While most of the pairings in Survivors work, the relationship between Kara and Snapper still hasn’t hit much of a stride, instead existing inside of similar moments that we’ve already seen. While Cat Grant and CatCo worked (mostly) well in Season 1, with Kara discovering who she was both as Kara and as Supergirl, the CatCo storyline hasn’t panned out as well since losing Calista Flockhart. Yes, there has to be a duality and balance between Kara and Supergirl, but Season 2 hasn’t captured that magic quite yet. In Survivors, Kara presented an idea to Snapper. Snapper rejected it. Kara came back with a fixed story. Snapper was less grumpy. Same old same old. I hope that Supergirl can find footing when it comes to Kara’s role as a journalist, because it hasn’t made headlines yet.
While both J’onn and Alex were both mildly involved with the DEO in Survivors, Winn and Mon-El took the reigns this week. Winn is a much better fit with the DEO, compared to CatCo, and that was evident in his pairing with Mon-El. Winn is tasked with running test after test on Mon-El, evaluating his powers and abilities. This also led to Winn having the “Quote of the Week” telling Mon-El about his abilities, saying, “I’m talking about like, ‘tall buildings in a single bound’ type stuff.” Furthermore, as Mon-El becomes restless, he convinces Winn to take him out on the town for a great sequence of Daxam-infused shenanigans. While these interactions end up less-than-ideal after Mon-El hurts some humans, it helped to advance the relationship between Kara and Mon-El.
I’m talking about like, ‘tall buildings in a single bound’ type stuff.
Besides Snapper and Kara, the other pairs in this episode went over swimmingly. As we saw Alex expand outside of her role in the DEO, we also saw J’onn get some of the same. J’onn and M’gann interacting throughout Survivors was great, with various emotions satiating through their various scenes together. We had J’onn pining to share minds with M’gann, and the conflict that came from that. We also had the inevitable fight that came with their pairing, and some important revelations as well.
As far as the “Alien of the Week” and “Villain of the Week” went, well, they certainly went. We had the introduction of Roulette (Agents of Shield’s Dichen Lachman) as the brains, and Draaga (Falling Skies’ John DeSantis) as the muscle. While Lachman was a highlight of during her run of Agents of Shield, her talent wasn’t used quite as effectively in Survivors. Her villain was one-dimensional, and although the hint that she “has powerful friends” may end up linking to Cadmus, it was another fault that Supergirl has come to know all-too-well. This goes for Draaga as well, as the generic baddie that Kara must face in the alien fight club. Kara gets beat up on her first attempt, and of course comes back again to beat Draaga in the second attempt. It’s textbook, through and through. I did, however, appreciate Mon-El being the one to give advice to Kara about how to defeat him, which led to their relationship taking on a new shade. Overall, the alien fight club was mostly a let-down, outside of that development with Mon-El, and the aforementioned showdown between J’onn and M’gann.
For J’onn, his budding interactions with M’gann came to a forefront when they’re forced to face off in the alien fight club at the climax of Survivors. He realized that M’gann is fighting to punish herself for escaping Mars, but not exactly for the reasons that J’onn believes. It’s a great scene, where J’onn accepts who he is, where’s he at, and that if he is to die, it would be at the Martian hands of M’gann. Of course, she refuses to kill J’onn, and they live happily ever after, right? Well, not so much. While J’onn accepts M’gann, even without linking their minds, it’s revealed that M’gann is actually a White Martian, explaining her deep-seeded guilt. That has to throw a wrench into J’onn’s plans! Although this reveal could have felt rushed, after just meeting M’gann at the end of last week, I’m happy for the weight and variety it has already added to J’onn outside of the DEO.
It was also interesting to see Lena Luthor brought back into the picture for just a brief moment, aiding Kara in finding the new location of the alien fight club when it moved after the first confrontation. Lena voicing that she knows Kara will be there for her at the right time, when she needs her, which lends to more intrigue surrounding Lena’s character. Fingers crossed that it provides to be interesting!
Once again though, Supergirl defeats the “bad guy” in Survivors, and while the overall story was beat-for-beat and predictable, it led to a charming and intriguing ending. With the small tip from Mon-El about Draaga, Kara allows herself to ignore the prejudice she was raised with, and aligns herself to be Mon-El’s mentor. Supergirl put a strong spin on the narrative that she was sent to Earth to protect Kal-El, but never got that chance. Now, well, she has that chance with Mon-El. It’s an interesting approach to the dialogue that we’ve heard over and over in the Supergirl introduction, and with Chris Woods’ Mon-El appearing throughout Season 2, I’m optimistically excited to see their relationship continue from Survivors.
Supergirl continued to find itself lacking in villains this week, but managed to make characters outshine those flaws. While I don’t care if I ever see Roulette or Draaga again, Survivors managed to create character interactions that I want to invest in. From the chemistry between Alex and Maggie, to the struggle between J’onn and M’gann, all coming full circle with the new mentorship between Kara and Mon-El, Survivors showcased what makes Supergirl radiate with potential.