Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Supergirl 2x04 Review: "Survivors" (Alien Fight Club) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: October 31, 2016

Yeah, I’m not really sure what to do with this one, you guys. This episode was kind of all over the place, and not in a fun, bizarre way — just in a way that made me lose track of the plot and yawn a lot. All the elements that interested me in previous episodes were nowhere to be found or considerably lacking in this one: Lena Luthor had about five minutes of screen time, James Olsen was Sir Not Appearing in This Episode, it had very little of the cheese-filled gooey center that made last week’s episode enjoyable, and the interlocking plots were gracelessly shoved together in one scene that felt like the writers accidentally sent their episode outline to the set instead of the script.

There was some promise: big-picture themes like alienation, loneliness, survivor’s guilt, and straight-up guilt are compelling, I’m glad J’onn J’onzz is getting a story that isn’t directly related to the Danvers sisters, and it’s fun watching Alex/Maggie start to play out, but... sigh. My heart isn’t in “Survivors.” As someone who actually gets bored during fight/action scenes in TV shows and movies, even the Fight Club stuff from this episode was working against me. It’s a real pity, too, because I could tell that a lot of things that happened this week — from the introduction of Roulette to the reveal of Miss Martian — are going to be important later on in the season. If Supergirl were a school subject, I think I’d be failing the final exam.


The episode’s main plot begins when Maggie Sawyer invites Alex to see a dead body, only without the coming-of-age drama that usually unfolds when that sort of question is asked. The body is an alien and evidence points to the killer being alien, too. Thus, a mystery unfolds as to what could have happ — SPOILER: It’s an Alien Fight Club. Spectators wear pointless masks (seriously, comic books and related media, you gotta know that eye coverings don’t do a thing to disguise a person, right?) and watch as aliens battle it out in a big cage. This Alien Fight Club scouting mission is basically Alex and Maggie’s first date, but it’s interrupted by a huge — and apparently ridiculously strong — alien almost killing Alex’s sister. Bummer.

Once Kara is safely away from Thunderdome: Extraterrestrial Edition, she and Alex get to share the news of the fight club discovery with J’onn. They also have to break some bad news: the Green Martian he met at the Alien Bar (seriously, how lousy with aliens is this town? What’s the demographic split? Should they be unionizing or something?) is a part of the fight club. I’m not really sure why he’s upset about an individual doing whatever she wants with her time, but J’onn is upset. Mostly, it seems to be a Green Martian thing — an idea that they don’t have to live a life of violence or self-flagellation spurred by survivor’s guilt. At least, that’s what I gleaned from the angry shouting J’onn does when he slips through Miss Martian’s apartment door without so much as a faux “Telegram!” announcement. Rude, J’onn. Very rude.

Miss Martian — real name M'gann M'orzz, Earth name Megan Morse — tells J’onn not to visit her (unannounced or otherwise) anymore and sends him on his way. After J’onn learns the episode’s lesson on making people do things they don’t want to do (I guess?) he goes to the Alien Club in order to apologize. Because it’s only the second act, J’onn gets knocked out and M’gann helps haul him to Roulette’s fightin’ cage (which was not as voluntary as Roulette or M’gann implied, apparently) so we can get to the finale and end this episode once in for all.

And how do we end this episode, exactly? With an imploring speech from Supergirl, of course! She tells everyone that they don’t need to fight each other to survive and they all need to learn to get along with each other because they’re strangers in a strange land and should be able to rely on their alien brethren, or something. I kind of stopped paying attention a while before this speech happened, so I can’t really vouch for the accuracy of that one. I’m sure it was very nice.

In the end, Roulette gets hauled off by the police for fudged charges like distributing alcohol without a license, since they can’t exactly arrest her for kidnapping aliens and making them fight in a cage while people paid to watch. Unfortunately for the good guys and justice in general, however, some higher-ups tell Maggie to release Roulette for mysterious reasons. Bye, Roulette! Probably see you later.

Alien Fight Club ties into just about everything in this episode except for the C-plot involving Mon-El (formerly known as Coma Dude) trying to escape DEO headquarters in order to live a little in the outside world. The DEO officials set Winn up as an authority figure over Mon-El being able to leave, which is proved to be a huge mistake because Winn’s authoritativeness has the tensile strength of mashed potatoes. They go off and get drunk at a bar together, until Mon-El gets into a fight or two and a few people get hurt. He gets chastised for it later, first by J’onn and then — more gently — by Kara. They bond a bit over being aliens on Earth, over being the apparent last of their kind(s), and over having new powers they didn’t have back on their respective planets.

It feels like the show is trying to push Kara and Mon-El together as a romantic pairing, but I don’t actually know what this show intends with romance anymore. Kara was in love with James for a whole season before she wasn’t. She went on one date with Cat Grant’s son before deciding she didn’t want to go on another. Her non-romance with Winn was just a mess. Remember the weird (and gross) flirtation between Alex and Max Lord? And Cat Grant and Max Lord (also weird and gross)? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been so unsure about romantic hints in a show before Supergirl. I think the only pairing I can understand — from build-up to actually getting together — is probably Alex and Maggie, but that’s only because buzz around that couple has pretty much made them into a sure thing.

Anyway, I hope Kara/Mon-El doesn’t happen and their interactions this episode were just more of Supergirl’s classic romance clumsiness. Because, like so much of this episode, everything involving them was boring.

Other Things:
  • Hey, Kara? I love you, but calling someone’s dead friend “the worst” is sort of insensitive.
  • That said, who else thinks Daxam Prince made it off his planet alive and will become a villain later in the season?
  • “It’s like soccer. With dragons.” I’ve never had a favorite sport before, but Garata would be it.
  • Has anyone else noticed the weird coincidence of Martian names sounding like alliterative and very generic Earth names?
  • "Don't make me pout." "She's really good at it." The relationship between the Danvers sisters and J’onn is still A+.
  • "Maybe don't let Winn teach you too much about women on this planet." Or anything else. Just don't let Winn talk. Ever.
  • Roulette’s extemporaneous fight introduction skills are pretty top-notch, I must say.
  • I find something subtly hilarious about J'onn deciding that Winn is 5'2". He knows how tall he, himself, is. He could mentally compare his height with Winn’s and get a closer estimate. He chooses not to, and it’s great.
  • "We went to boarding school together, I never liked her." Katie McGrath’s line delivery. Hee.
  • Did Maggie invite her date to the corner outside the arrest site? She didn’t know she’d be releasing Roulette — was Nameless Girlfriend going to show up at that corner regardless? I have questions.
  • M’gann is actually a White Martian, by the way. That was a shock for anyone who didn’t Google Miss Martian before the episode, I’m sure.
  • Snapper Carr was in this episode. I still don’t like him.


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