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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Supergirl S2E13: Mr & Mrs Mxyzptlk

Series 2, Episode 13
Mr & Mrs Mxyzpltk.

I want to start this review by saying that I am offended. I am offended and outraged and cut to the very quick by what can only be described as an attack on me as a person, because how dare Supergirl's writers force me to write a review in which I will repeatedly have to check the spelling of 'Mxyzpltk.' It's not natural. It's not right. I have a window open on somebody else's recap of this episode, just because the title has the spelling of his name and I can check that.

In other news, this is a romance subplot focused episode, eschewing the show's arc plot entirely in favour of homing in on our two romances this series: Kara and Mon-El (kill me now) and Alex and Maggie (actually pretty well-written). I've rambled before about how I don't think Kara and Mon-El make an even remotely compelling romance, and I don't think Mon-El is a very compelling character: Well, this episode takes us from 'this romance isn't compelling' to 'this romance is actually a little uncomfortable to watch.'

In this week's episode, Mr. Mxyzpltlk, an imp from the fifth dimension, appears to Kara and declares that she will be his wife, and that he will woo her until she agrees to marry him. As Mxyzpltlk's attempts to woo Kara veer increasingly towards menacing and threatening, Mon-El is wracked with jealousy. Meanwhile, Alex's excitement over Valentine's Day is dampened when she discovers that Maggie hates the holiday with a passion.

Huh, I just realised that Kara has really strong cheekbones.

As I was writing that summary, I realised that this is essentially a sitcom plot with the dials turned ever-so-slightly towards 'drama.' Like that one gif of Tyra Banks telling models to go 'ho, but then make it fashion' which may or may not be something she has ever actually said, it seems like the CW's attitude to this episode was 'sitcom, but then make it drama' and the result is really jarring

Our B-plot in this episode is Alex and Maggie's relationship strife, and although it gets hit with the sitcom stick the hardest, the actors manage to sell it nonetheless, and we actually get a storyline that is quite sweet and earnest. There's not a lot wrong with it, which means there's not an awful lot I can say about it.

Our A-plot, meanwhile, is a study in contrasts. The storyline is effectively meant to be a study of male entitlement and Nice Guy Syndrome and the like, and as that, it works spectacularly: Mxyzpltlk's insistence that he's such a wonderful guy juxtaposed against his flagrant abuse of power and his propensity for violence, all the while as he places Kara on a pedestal while not listening to a single word she says, makes for a convincing -- if somewhat caricaturised by the fact that most nice guys don't have reality warping powers, but really only by that --  portrait of male entitlement.

It's good. I like it. Except Mon-El is also involved in this storyline, and that's where it starts to fall down.

Not pictured: The fact that there seems to be sand on the floor? What the hell?

Mon-El is initially set up to be the other side of the male entitlement coin: He's openly thuggish and controlling, and makes no secret of the fact that he doesn't think Kara can or should make her own decisions about her own life -- he is, in essence, Mxyzpltlk, except Mxyzpltlk attempts to mask his nature, however poorly, whereas Mon-El simply assumes that everybody should be okay with it.

Which would be fine, if the show really checked the behaviour, but it doesn't -- he's presented as being in the wrong, but the show takes the tack that he can just apologise and explain that it's because he's so in love with Kara, and that will sort out the whole problem, as if there aren't huge underlying problems with his attitude and beliefs. That's not true to real life, and it's an idea that seems very out of place in a story that explores male entitlement.

Once again, we hit the problem that Kara and Mon-El don't really click as a romance, and a big part of that is that Mon-El doesn't really work as a character. It doesn't feel like he actually has any place in the narrative, he's just there, as a kind of hanger-on to the main group.

Kara and Micksysplitlick.

There's a C-plot of sorts with Winn going on a date with an alien girl named Lyra, but nothing really happens in it and nothing really comes of it, so it may as well not even be there. It's presumably going to lead into some kind of plotline in the future, but for this episode, at least, it's not really a major part of the story.

All in all, the episode is fine. It's a cute story with some nice messages about male entitlement. I don't have a great many complaints about it, and most of the complaints I do have are Mon-El related. Next week, it looks like there will be distrust brewing in the group, as the gang discover Alex and Kara's father (played by Dean Cain), who as we'll all remember was last seen freely roaming around a Cadmus facility and probably working for them. Also, Cyborg Superman is back! That's always nice, he's a good villain.

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