TV Review: Supergirl - Season 1 Ep 11 "Strange Visitor From Another Planet"
EPISODE 11: "Strange Visitor From Another Planet"
SYNOPSIS: Kara must help Hank face his painful past when a White Martian, a member of the alien race that wiped out his people, kidnaps Senator Miranda Crane (Tawny Cypress), an anti-alien politician. Also, Cat’s estranged son, Adam (Blake Jenner), arrives in National City.
REVIEW: All season, Supergirl has done a nice job of introducing elements of DC Comics mythology without delving too deep into the complicated extraterrestrial races that populate the pages of their illustrated multiverse. But, when the writers elected to include Martian Manhunter as a major character, the time was bound to come sooner rather than later. Tonight's story is almost entirely focused on explaining what happened to the family of J'onn J'onnz at the hands of the vicious White Martians. We also get some exploration of Cat Grant's backstory and a new love interest for Kara. All together, this ranks as one of the better episodes of Supergirl.
The main plot centers around the arrival of Senator Miranda Crane to National City. Crane is a notoriously anti-alien politician who lobbies for isolating and preventing extraterrestrials from infecting America from their "backwater" planets. While this is a fairly heavy-handed reference to real world political issues in this year's presidential race, it does hold a lot of weight both on this series and DC's upcoming BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. With the DEO on the scene of Crane's speech as well as CatCo representatives, it is only a matter of time before the horrendous White Martian shows it's face. The White Martian bares more than a passing resemblance to a Xenomorph but is a lot more agile. Supergirl quickly drives the creature away and rescues the Senator who is taken into protective custody by the DEO.
Hank Henshaw is visibly affected by the appearance of the White Martian, feeling it's arrival is due to him using his powers in the previous episode. Hank/J'onn then recounts how the war between the Green and White Martians cost his people their lives, including his wife and daughters. Using one of James Olsen's photographs, Kara quickly realizes that Senator Crane is actually the White Martian. There is a fight at the DEO and the alien escapes. Hank then decides that he must face off against his alien rival once and for all and will kill the monster even if it goes against everything he has stood for and potentially his own life. Kara and Alex decide they have to help Hank, but Kara is called to Cat Grant's side for emergency help.
Cat's emergency involves the untimely arrival of her son, Adam, who has arrived due to a heartfelt letter sent by his mother. The truth is that Kara is the one who finished the discarded note and sent on behalf of her boss. The tense relationship between mother and estranged son causes a rift that Kara is confident she has to fix. She steps in and convinces Adam to give Cat a second chance, which he does, and the mother and son reforge a relationship. Cat is grateful for Kara's help, but soon learns that Adam has more than a passing interest in Kara. The subplot here offers some nice scenes for Calista Flockhart, but it is the burgeoning romance between Kara and Adam that shows potential. Real life spouses Melissa Benoist and Blake Jenner had chemistry as a couple on Glee and show some real promise here as well. It also poses another kick to the nuts of Winn who just begins to recover from his unreciprocated kiss with Kara in the previous episode.
Back to the main story, Alex and Hank descend into the sewers to find the White Martian and Senator Crane. Both encounter her at the same time, only Alex's is really the alien who takes her hostage. Hank and the Martian telepathically come to terms where he will sacrifice himself in exchange for Alex being set free. They meet in the desert to do battle but Kara arrives and lends Hank a hand in battling the alien. The action here is pretty well done despite the blatant CGI, but ends with Hank using Kryptonite cuffs to hold Kara back so he can kill his foe. Kara talks Hank from doing something he would regret and they imprison the White Martian who teases that there are millions of fellow aliens waiting to attack. Back home, Kara and Alex discuss her potential date with Adam when a news broadcast shows Supergirl saving a truck from crashing into the river. The only problem is that Kara is sitting right there.
Ultimately, Supergirl balances on a precipice between being a light and poppy superhero series like The Flash with the darker elements (alien genocide, anyone?) reminiscent of Arrow. Tonight's episode shows that this series is fully capable of handling both types of stories within the same episode. Sure, Melissa Benoist can do great work as in the scene where she talks Hank down from making a decision he would regret, but she also has to deliver goofy lines as her alter ego. The bumbling Clark Kent schtick feels very dated when this show does so much better when it takes itself seriously. I would like to see more episodes like this, especially if they continue to give Martian Manhunter as much screen time since David Harewood's performance as Hank Henshaw/J'onn J'onnz is one of the best parts of this series.