Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Supergirl 2x14 Review: "Homecoming" (Broken Hearts) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: February 27, 2017

All right, we have a lot to unpack this week, so let's just dive right in. Although it works to move the season arc along, this is definitely a “character” episode. Action and villains of the week take a backseat to the emotions, relationships, and growth of the Supergirl characters — something I am all for, especially since it meant some really great work from some of the actors.


The big, pivotal event of “Homecoming” is the return of Jeremiah Danvers, an event that was self-spoiled by the “previously on” segment before the episode. Jeremiah is rescued from a Cadmus transport by Kara and J’onn, who bring him back to DEO headquarters and everyone welcomes him home with open arms. No one is more thrilled by the return of Jeremiah than Alex, who goes into “dedicated daughter” mode immediately. Mon-El, however, is more suspicious: the appearance of Jeremiah seems too coincidental, his rescue too easy, and his open access to the DEO too potentially useful to the brainwashing Cadmus folks who had kept him captive.

Mon-El is right, we all learn, but he’s right in the worst way. Tact is not something that enters Mon-El’s mind, probably because he has zero experience putting the feelings of other people before his own. While Team Supergirl celebrates the return of the Danvers patriarch, Mon-El and Kara get into a huge fight because Kara’s boyfriend is a tactless douche and brought his suspicions up during family dinner. Alex is the angriest, however, and I think she’s about ten seconds away from punching Mon-El in the face (broken metacarpals be darned) before Kara manages to defuse the situation.

Uuuuntil Mon-El screws up again, with the help of Winn, and the two of them convince Kara to confront Jeremiah over him secretly accessing DEO files while no one was around to see him. Jeremiah has a ready excuse that computer details back up, which leaves Alex furious at Mon-El, Winn, AND Kara. She even tells Kara that she needs to pick a side or, essentially, stop considering herself part of the Danvers family. I feel like this part of the episode, while well-acted by Chyler Leigh, was a bit extreme for Alex’s character. From past situations and her near-unconditional love of Kara, I think “desperate confusion” would be more fitting than the hurtful rage that she throws at Kara in “Homecoming.”

Anyway, Jeremiah does turn out to be working for Cadmus in the end. Because of course he is. They gave him a cybernetic body and, I assume, a pretty extensive brainwashing procedure and he gives them all the DEO’s information on the aliens currently living on Earth. You know, I keep forgetting Cadmus’s anti-alien mission statement? It’s just always a bit overshadowed by Lillian Luthor’s singular craziness. In the back of my mind, I assume she’s just trying to take over the world, like your average evil cliche.

The action of the episode involves Martian-punching cyborgs and blowing up train bridges, the threat of nuclear explosions, and some gunfire. But as I said, this episode is more about the characters than the action. The fact that it’s Jeremiah who turns against the DEO and his family, the tension between Kara and Alex, and the tension between Mon-El and Kara — all of this is more important and more intriguing than Cadmus’s nefarious schemes (for now). When the truth comes out, it looks like no one gets away unscathed.

Alex’s storyline — from her joy at seeing her father again, to her anger over what she sees as Kara’s betrayal of their family, to Jeremiah’s actual betrayal of their family — is absolutely the emotional weight of the episode, even though so much of “Homecoming” actually revolves around Mon-El and Kara’s relationship. Alex gained the most and lost the most in this episode. Even her mother couldn’t quite accept Jeremiah’s return, nor promise to simply wipe away the fourteen years he’d been gone. But Alex was on board immediately, and she was burned for that instant forgiveness. The fact that she’s the one who let Jeremiah get away in the end, because she couldn’t bear to shoot him even though she knew he’d be taking critical information back to Cadmus, adds another layer of awful onto this very awful series of events.

It’s no wonder she’s drinking at the end of the episode, when Maggie pops up to ask her how the reunion with her father went. And it’s no wonder that that question turns Alex into a sobbing mess in her girlfriend’s arms. Uhg, poor Alex.


Wow, what a surprise — Supergirl stopped treating Mon-El like he’s some charming rogue whose mistakes are instantly forgiven because of a rakish smile and a peppy attitude, and I like him a bit more than I did before! My issue with this character has always been that he’s boring. He’s predictable. He’s a handsome, extroverted and care-free former hedonist with (allegedly) a heart of gold and his arc is practically set in stone: Kara will teach him how to be a hero through faith and love, Mon-El will end up the True Hero that he’s always had the potential to be, and everything is magical and as bland as unsalted soda crackers. I’ve seen this character a million times before and I’ll see this character a million more times.

More than just being boring, though, Mon-El has remained confusingly selfish and sort of terrible while the show itself seems to insist that he's still a future hero and we should all be charmed by his actions. Mon-El didn’t really learn anything after “We Can Be Heroes” (arguably the episode in which his problems are most clearly underlined by Kara) and he continued not learning things in subsequent episodes, but his careless and quippy attitude — and budding romance with Kara — meant that it was fine. No probs here, folks! Mon-El’s still putting himself and his own desires before morality and the safety of the people around him (not to mention before the feelings of the woman he probably cares for more than other other person on the planet) but haha, he’s so rascally! Ain’t he a stinker?

Finally, blessedly, Mon-El’s selfishness and inability to listen to Kara backfires on him in this episode. Usually, these big revelations in characters of Mon-El’s type would come via his own stupid actions and have huge, life-altering losses attached to them, over which our soon-to-be-hero would brood for ages. I suppose Supergirl pulled a semi-interesting twist on this sort of karmic retribution tale by invoking some Boy Who Cried Wolf attributes. Mon-El has spent so much time not taking anything seriously and being selfish that, when he actually turns out right about something, he’s the one who can’t get anyone to listen.

Mon-El’s turning point isn’t a dramatic loss in the heat of battle, but the growth of some self-awareness. Brought about by Winn, of all people. Apparently Winn’s alien girlfriend makes him a wise, wise man — or maybe it’s because Winn’s history of angsting about Kara has actually evolved into some character growth. He even offers up the most perfect bit of advice regarding Mon-El’s relationship: "[Kara] doesn't need a protector or someone to show her off. She does that all by herself."

For the first time since the character has shown up, we actually see Mon-El absorbing the advice and lessons he’s supposed to have learned throughout the episode and putting them to use. Unlike previous times when he’s supposedly “learned” things, he doesn’t just shrug everything off with a grin. When Kara is curled up and crying, rightfully devastated by the events surrounding Jeremiah’s betrayal, Mon-El carefully and deliberately asks her what she needs from him and then follows through with her request, without comment.

Basically, Mon-El learns to shut up and listen in this episode. Hallelujah. I don’t really know what this means for his future as a hero, or if the writers are going to — as I kind of hope they do — just arrive at the conclusion that some people aren’t meant to be heroes. Non-heroes aren’t necessarily bad people. They’re just... more centralized people. As amazing as it would be, not everyone in the world can be Supergirl... but the lack of Supergirl-like attributes in an otherwise good person doesn’t automatically put that person in the realm of villainy, either.

Other Things:
  • I can’t figure out where the “Mon-El doesn’t understand Earth culture” joke ends and the “Mon-El is just a jerk” character trait begins.
  • "And you're right, Alex does deserve the best." Maggie’s pretty fantastic.
  • Mon-El’s secret is probably that he’s actually the Daxam prince, but I can’t figure out why Kara would hate him for that. My favorite theory is that he’s actually evil and being around Supergirl has made a way more significant change in his morality than the show has let us believe.
  • Wonder how long my uneasy truce with both Winn and Mon-El will last. Winn’s probably safe for a while, but frankly, I give Mon-El until the next episode.


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