Episode 111 “Strange Visitor From Another Planet”
Written by Michael Grassi & Caitlin Parrish
Directed by Glen Winter
[Photos: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.]
This is the episode where we finally see the White Martians. And we get a little heavy-handed with the subtext. Or rather, what would be subtext if it were a little more… subtle?
I mean, it’s no “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” level of not-subtle, but…
We start with Kara rescuing a family from a forest fire, which has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the show but to give us a setup for the theme of the show: Kara saving families.
Again, the rest of the episode has no connection at all with this first scene.
Over the visuals, we hear Kara reading a letter. It’s a letter full of regret and an attempt at reconciliation, and it’s signed, “Mom,” making you think it’s from Kara’s mother. But it’s not. It’s actually Kara meddling in Cat’s business, as she’s taken it upon herself to finish one of the thousands of unfinished letters Cat has attempted to write to her son Adam.
Cat, of course, is furious. Then freaked out. Then fearful. She goes from “You’re fired!” to “What do I do?” in the same time it takes most people to decide what pants to wear. And it’s done with masterful execution by Calista Flockhart, who brings Cat to the brink of panic before the “Cat Grant Mask” slips into place and she’s at least pretending that she can handle this.
And that’s the B-story.
The main story is the one with the White Martians who’ve been drawn to National City because they detected J’onn’s use of his powers when he infiltrated Maxwell Lord’s Sekrit Lab™ and found Bizarro Girl.
They happen to attack just as National City is getting a visit from anti-alien Senator Crane, whose rhetoric is nothing short of over-the-top zealotry. I get that Hollywood wants to take every shot at certain politicians every chance they get, but even this was so heavy-handed that Twitter noticed.
— One Tweet Geek (@1TweetGeek) January 26, 2016
— Kevin Holland (@KevinHolland57) January 26, 2016
— Reality is Rigged. (@mohtdor) January 26, 2016
In an interview with Variety, actor David Harewood acknowledged the “art imitates life” scenario that plays out in this episode, with the politics of Senator Crane being so intensely anti-alien. So they knew going into it, that the episode was going to paint a certain political group with a rather broad brush. And depending on how you look at it, the holocaust elements of J’onn’s history force you draw certain connections between Nazis and those who are espousing rhetoric ranging from rabid anit-immigrant to cautiously wanting a secure border.
Really broad brush.
Twitter also complained about the lack of screen time for Winn this hour, as he’s sulking in the elevator after his soul-crushing rejection.
Rejection is at the forefront of Cat’s fear of meeting Adam, and it plays out pretty much the way you’d expect the first time, with Cat spending way too much time talking about herself. Clearly, she doesn’t quite know what to do with herself here. And when Adam figures out it was Kara who sent the letter, things go from bad to slightly worse until Kara plays Dr. Phil and sits them both down for a heart-to-heart that rivals anything you’d see on Maury.
Speaking on a very personal level, this scene was the most intense of the hour for me. Yes, David Harewood gave a stellar performance as he described the destruction of his people. But having lived through the death of a child, I was struck more by the missed opportunities Cat was spelling out for Adam. Not putting pictures on the fridge. Not being there to teach him how the world works. Those are missed opportunities suffered by people who lose children, and by people who never get to see their children. I would almost think the latter is worse, because you know they’re out there.
J’onn’s struggle is intense, personal, and powerful as he tries to figure himself out in the wake of the destruction and death caused by the White Martians finding him. The guilt he’s feeling is there on the surface, and it makes sense that only Kara could talk him down. The “Last Son of Mars” has a thing or two in common with the Girl of Steel, both of them being survivors and suffering from both survivor’s guilt and incredible loneliness. And while Kara has Clark, she’s pretty much on her own. And she’s learned the value of having a family even if they aren’t blood relatives.
Throughout the episode, we get those moments where it seems like the show is saying “family trumps everything,” even though it doesn’t in all cases. But it does drive some of the more satisfying moments of the hour, and as always it forms the core of Kara and Alex’s regular ice cream sessions on the couch.
Which is where they see live coverage of Supergirl saving someone. Only it’s not Supergirl, because she’s on the couch with Ben & Jerry.
The introduction of the White Martians, of course, already has fans speculating that the door is now open to introducing M’gann M’orzz, otherwise known as “Miss Martian” (especially to those fans of Young Justice). Perhaps CatCo will acquire a TV show called Hello, Megan! as an Easter egg this season to help set it up…
One can hope.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on CBS.