Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Review - 'Supergirl', S02E11 - 'The Martian Chronicles'

M'gann M'orzz may not be as instantly recognisable as other DC characters, but the decision to bring her into the second season of Supergirl was still one that had been met with approval from many fans. Even as someone who isn't overly familiar with the character, I still new enough about Miss Martian to be, at least, somewhat enthusiastic about what she might bring to the series. Also, the prospect of her teaming up with Supergirl certainly seem to fit with the greater focus on 'superhero' action that this season was aiming for.

It's really just a bit unfortunate, then, that none of this initial promise hasn't really come to pass, in her time on the series, so far. Instead of helping Supergirl take on a variety of villains, M'gann has actually spent the past few episodes locked in a cell – only to be finally released in the previous episode, with dire warning that her own kind, the White Martians, were hunting her.

It was a development which made sense, of course. After all, with the long and violent history between White and Green Martians, there was simply no way that J'onn J'onnz, seemingly the last surviving Green Martian, was going to trust M'gann after learning her secret. With the previous episode finally allowing the two to reconcile, though, it had left me somewhat hopeful that we might finally be able to see M'gann M'orzz being to take on a more active role on the series. Unfortunately, though, it seems that this just isn't going to be the case – as, while this episode does focus quite a bit of attention on M'gann, it also goes out of its way to bring rather decisive end to her time on the series (at least, for the moment).

Still, if this is how M'gann M'orzz is going to be taken out of the series, then at least it was a good episode for her. Here, we had a story which tied directly into her past – with her own kind clearly determined to punish her for what they clearly see as an unforgivable betrayal. There was definitely a lot to enjoy about this primary plot-line, too. Armak (Terrell Tilford), the White Martian sent to capture M'gann, proved to be a surprisingly effective villain in his, comparatively, brief time on-screen – and, there was even an entertaining element of horror to be found in the episode, as the characters found themselves trapped in the DEO headquarters with an alien capable of shape-shifting.

Those scenes of tense paranoia, as no one could be entirely sure which of them was truly who they appeared to be, were very well-played by the cast – to such an extent that I honestly wish that the episode could have spent more time on this point. Also, the impressive CGI work that went into creating the fully transformed 'Martian' characters served as the basis for some very entertaining action sequences by the end of the episode.

On a similar note, there is also a lot of fun to be had in the basic idea of a villain capable of taking on other forms – since, it provies the rest of the cast with the opportunity to take temporarily take on another, very different, role. Here, at various points throughout the episode, we had both Jeremy Jordan, as Winn, and Chyler Leigh, as Alex, being given the opportunity to take on the role of 'villain' – and, each proved to be more than up to the task. Jeremy Jordan, in particular, proved to be surprisingly effective in his brief time as a disguised White Martian – giving a very genuine sinister twist to his usual good-natured demeanour.

More importantly, though, the very strong bond that seems to have developed between M'gann and J'onn was played very well by both Sharon Leal and David Harewood – with the two of them displaying a very genuine rapport in their scenes together. Sure, it might feel a little rushed to have them already entering into a sort of surrogate 'father/daughter' relationship only one episode after their reconciliation – but, you just need to remember that much of this was based on the psychic bond formed during the previous episode.

Alongside all of this, the episode also found Kara caught up in two different varieties of emotional drama – neither of which, unfortunately, really made much of an impression on me (especially when compared to what was taking place elsewhere. First, we had Alex's decision to postpone a celebration of Kara's "Earth Birthday" (a celebration of the day she arrived on Earth), so that she could go to a concern with Maggie. Here, I think that my main issue is just that it felt frustratingly out of character for Alex, even in a still very new romantic relationship, to be so ambivalent to her adopted sister's feelings. Even though this is the first that the audience has heard of the tradition, it is clearly something that has been very important to the two of them for a very long time. So, having Alex decide that it would be, in any way, acceptable to brush it off, just so she could go to a concert with her new girl-friend, felt like a very contrived attempt to force more drama where it wasn't really needed.

Along with this, there was also the continuing drama of Mon-el and Kara, and the increasingly frustrating 'will they/wont they?' romantic plot-threat that the two seem to have settled into. Only an episode ago, we had Mon-el reveal his feelings for Kara, only for them both to realise that she doesn't feel the same. It had seemed like a perfectly acceptable, and mature, way to bring things to a close (even if the long-term plan had still been to eventually put the two of them together). Now, though, we have the episode ending with Kara suddenly realising that she may actually have feelings for Mon-el, after all – only for her to learn that he may have, already, moved on to someone else. I can't honestly say that I was all that invested in the idea of a romantic relationship, to begin with. Now, though, I think I'm starting the dread the amount of tedious "back and forth" I may have to endure before the end of the season.

In the end, what we had with the second season's eleventh episode was a very entertaining primary plot-line which was, unfortunately, somewhat let down by some disappointing sub-plots. M'gann's time in the spot-light, before setting off on her own adventures by the end of the episode, has been a definite high-light of both the this episode, and the previous one – and, I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of Sharon Leal in the role, whenever she might return. I just wish that the emotional drama of Kara's various sub-plots could have been left out – since what might have worked out just fine in another episode really just felt like an unnecessary distraction, here.

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