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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Supergirl S2E3: Welcome to Earth

Series 2, Episode 3
Welcome to Earth.

So, with Clark now back in Metropolis, Cat having left (well, sort of) the show, and Mon-El now awake, this is the first episode in the new status quo, and it was always going to be interesting to see if it concretely felt any different from either the first two episodes of this series or most of series one. The answer is that it doesn't, really: In terms of tone, themes, and structure, the only really big change is that we don't have the element of Cat acting as simultaneous antagonist and mentor -- but even then, we have Snapper performing a similar, albeit reduced, role.

As the president arrives in National City to sign the Alien Amnesty Act, a piece of legislation that would give citizenship rights to any alien refugees living in the US, she comes under attack from a mysterious assailant using heat vision. Suspicion quickly falls on Mon-El, recently escaped from the DEO, and is only compounded when Kara discovers that he's from Daxom, a planet with a long and mutual enmity with Krypton. Meanwhile, Alex finds herself working with NCPD detective Maggie Sawyer, whose views on aliens are startlingly different to her own. At Catco, both Jimmy and Kara struggle with how to deal with Snapper.

It's interesting, and doubtless not at all a coincidence, that we should get an episode about politics, and particularly the politics of immigration, so close to a presidential election in which immigration is such a major theme -- it's equally probably not a coincidence that this episode involves much discussion about refugees, and airs at around the same time that the Calais Jungle camp is getting deconstructed. 

Americans are weird.

Supergirl isn't often overtly political, although it has certainly had its moments in the past, so to make an entire episode that is essentially about a real world political issue is a pretty daring and new move for it.

It's also pretty clear and unambiguous about being a political episode. The show is always very careful to couch the idea of aliens in the same terms that would be used to talk about immigration from other countries (with only Lena really touching on the idea that most of these aliens have special powers, and that alone makes it not really the same), and the president is very clearly meant to a kind of combination of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with shades of Battlestar Galactica's Laura Roslin.

Beyond that, though, the basic plotline of this episode doesn't have a whole lot going for it. It's a pretty basic plotline: Everyone thinks that Mon-El is the assassin (but it obviously isn't), they capture him, the real assassin (who is never named and gets only the thinnest motivation) shows up, Kara learns a lesson in not judging people.

In this case 'don't judge the white American dude.' Make of that what you will.

Instead, the main draws of the episode are its aforementioned political nature, and Kara and Alex's interactions with our two new cast members, Mon-El and Maggie. While I was a little cautious about both of them, they both grew on me pretty quickly. Mon-El is warm and engaging, and Chris Wood plays off Melissa Benoist pretty well in their brief scenes together. Maggie, meanwhile, is certainly the more interesting of the two, with a flirtatious rivalry-slash-friendship dynamic with Alex, and Floriana plays her with a sharpness and nonchalance that makes her pretty engaging to watch.

Maggie and Alex are clearly getting a romance subplot, and I look forward to seeing more of that. The jury is still out on Mon-El and Kara, but while I'm not necessarily opposed to them having a romantic subplot, I will be a little bit annoyed if the writers hurriedly wrote out Kara and Jimmy's romance solely so that she'd be freed up for Kara and Mon-El to get together. That would be some incredibly lazy writing, and I do expect better from Berlanti and Kreisberg by now.

Honestly, the scenes between Kara and Lena came off as pretty romantic as well, so having Kara and Lena have a romantic subplot would, at this point, make just as much sense.

Kara fangirling the president.

The episode ends with a few big shockers -- the president is some kind of red-skinned alien, and J'onn discovers another Martian, specifically M'Gann, a member of the Teen Titans in the comics. If we're super lucky, this will eventually lead into a Teen Titans television show with M'Gann, Wally, and maybe a few others, but it's doubtful.

It looks like the next episode will have a heavy focus on M'Gann, however, as she becomes involved in an underground alien fight club headed by Roulette, played by Dichen Lachman. I'm honestly astounded that this is Lachmann's first Arrowverse role. Like this week's episode, that looks to be another episode focusing on how human society pushes aliens to the fringes, which given that that idea ties into the Cadmus plotline as well, looks like it might be this series' theme.

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