iReview :: SUPERGIRL #204 - "Survivors"
Supergirl's world becomes more dangerous when she uncovers a lethal underground "fight club" that caters to National City's elite and pits its alien denizens in arena cage matches to the death. Kara finds herself in the spotlight when Martian Manhunter discovers one of his own is a star attraction in "Survivors"!
One of the greatest tricks introduced into the genre-show has been the element of a mythology. It started with daytime soap operas which pioneered the idea of serialized and extending storylines, and was perfected with the advent of perhaps the most popular television series in the line, a little known primetime behemoth called The X-Files. Chris Carter’s exploration of the supernatural and paranormal against the backdrop of an investigational drama incited by conspiracy, led to a string of similar inspired genre shows.
With the DC TV Universe continuing to expand into primetime and dominating the 8 o’clock hour on The CW, the series creators have capitalized on more than 75 years of already established mythology published in the pages of DC Comics. With the move of Supergirl now siting alongside the other Berlanti Productions based on the DC Comics characters all on the same network, a pattern is beginning to emerge to establish a synchronous narrative that weaves a tapestry and is based on a long established legacy.
Supergirl starring Melissa Benoist as the Maid of Might is among the best examples of how that legacy is leading to a very innovative story that is evolving beautifully and continues to surprise. The fourth episode of the show’s sophomore season entitled “Survivors” is picking things up very easily from the initial thread introduced at the top of the season which is examining the presence of aliens on earth. Kara teamed-up with her famous cousin, and the world’s greatest hero Superman (played by guest-star Taylor Hoechlin) in the season’s opener.
The threat of CADMUS a scientific think tank dedicated to containing and controlling the alien presence on Earth is at the epicenter of the xenophobia that is coming to light since Supergirl made her identity public and chose a similar path inspired by Superman to protect National City from any danger. Since then National City has become a hub of sorts for all interstellar despots and refugees, some hide in plain site while others in the shadows, others still have been discovered to frequent a dive bar tended to by Ms. Martian (new series regular Sharon Leal).
J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) is intrigued by the discovery of the last living daughter of Mars and he confronts M’gann (or “Megan”) about her existence on Earth and how she escaped the genocide inflicted on their planet by the White Martian. Experiencing survivors remorse M’gann rejects J’onn’s offer to mentally bond. Instead we learn that Ms. Martian is actually taking part in an underground fight club run by the elite criminal mastermind Veronica Sinclair (guest-star Dichen Lachman) calling herself Roulette.
To appeal to the insatiable interest of the socially elite in National City, Roulette is running high-stakes gladiatorial combats pitting extra-terrestrials against one another for the pleasure of her wealthy audience. When someone dies in Roulette’s arena, the loser is discarded like yesterday’s trash. Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) of the NCPD has been collaborating with DEO agent Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and when a body turns up the two go undercover to learn more about Roulette’s cage fights.
J’onn is disappointed to learn that under the name of Ms. Martian M’gann has been competing as one of Roulette’s star attractions, and when the two find themselves facing each other death, J’onn refuses to kill M’gann. The two are confronted by the arena’s greatest combatant Draaga (played by John De Santis) and the two are joined by Supergirl, who learns about the alien’s weakness from Mon-El (new series regular Chris Wood) the refugee from Daxam, a sister world to Krypton that shared the planet’s fate.
Now on Earth, Mon-El is learning to fit in. Kara decides to take on the responsibility of mentoring Mon-El, especially since it will in some way fulfill her original destiny to protect her cousin Kal-El, who grow up without her guidance to become Superman. The two agree that the time to put aside the differences of their people and learn to depend on each other since they both have so much in common. Mon-El is grateful for Kara’s help and looks forward to proving himself as capable a hero as Supergirl.
The episode capitalizes on how comfortable and familiar the characters are becoming with one another and scores very high to continue to establish its unique brand against the tapestry of its predecessors. The complexities of a world, a culture that is coming to terms with its place in a universal community that accepts there are visitors here from other planets, is moving into the spotlight on Supergirl. The series growing cast of supporting players, including Maggie Sawyer and Mon-El are also well crafted additions that easily expand on the character drama.
At the conclusion of the episode J’onn visits M’gann and apologizes for having come on so strong and hopes that the two, the last of their kind, can become close friends. M’gann agrees that she is also open to a fresh start. After J’onn leaves, M’gann reveals her true origins — that she is in fact not a Green Martian like J’onn, but a White Martian — the treacherous species that exacted a genocide on J’onn’s people! This plot twist will undoubtedly develop over the course of the season, and may or may not lead to the revelatory moment that makes Ms. Martian a hero in her own right.
“Survivors” is told from the perspectives of Mon-El and M’gann — both are outsiders trying to fit in and learn to survive any way that they can. By comparison their paramours Supergirl and J’onn are proving that they have a purpose, as the last of their kind, they stand as heroes and examples of the best hope for a cooperative between Earth and its interstellar kindred.
Supergirl • Episode #204 — “Survivors” directed by James Bamford and James Marshall written by Paula Yoo & Eric Carrosco. (Original Airdate: October 31, 2016)