Warning: This recap for “The Martian Chronicles” episode of Supergirl contains spoilers.
We saw the classic military-style alien invasion earlier this season; this week, we get the shapechanger infiltration invasion. White Martians are impersonating DEO agents to get to M’gann, but the rehashed clichés aren’t enough to drag down a great episode that sees Kara, Mon-El and Alex doing their best to navigate through a whole new palette of emotions.
The Plot A White Martian has come for M’gann, but it’s not just any White Martian: It’s her former husband, Armek (Terrell Tillford). He threatens to kill everyone she loves unless she turns herself in, but Hank convinces her that he and the DEO can protect her. Hank locks down the base when Armek is discovered impersonating M’gann. In the ensuing fight, he changes shape, and now he could be anybody. The Martian fear of fire reveals that it’s Winn, and Armek uses Winn’s knowledge to make the base’s reactor overload. While searching for the real Winn, they realize there’s a second White Martian — and it’s Alex. The impostors are defeated, but M’gann realizes they will never stop hunting her and chooses to return to Mars in hopes of finding other compassionate Martians to start a movement.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Supergirl is usually a little better at reusing old sci-fi tropes than this. The classic paranoia from The Thing scenario is overdone at the same time as the “crisis averted with 12 seconds to spare” threat is given too much play — and the cocoons from Aliens are the unnecessary icing on this pile of pastiche. However, the story did allow Alex and Kara and M’gann and J’onn to pair off and talk some issues out, and anytime you can use an clichéd plot to further character development, that’s a good thing. Plus, any excuse to see evil versions of Winn and Alex is worth it. The White Martians look nasty (sorry — needed something for ‘ugly’).
Club Soda You can see the trainwreck coming on Alex’s face as Kara talks about her earth birthday plans; she’s burying herself in fantasies of line dancing to escape her conflicting feelings about Mon-el — he’s a shallow frat boy, but he also tries to be better by taking up her habit of club soda. The hurt on Kara’s face when she realizes she’s being blown off for plans with Maggie is pretty devastating. They have time to talk it out (albeit, through the psychic link of a White Martian), but it’s nice to see that the Kara/Alex/Maggie triangle isn’t being glossed over. It’s a sea change for both sisters and, like the push and pull of Kara and Mon-el’s relationship, it feels grounded in real emotions rather than the soap opera-y drama that the rest of The CW’s DC shows traffic in.
Kryptobites *Why does Alex show up to talk to Kara wearing her uniform? It would have made more sense and been way more fun if she got caught in lockdown — and been forced to fight the White Martians — in her Barenaked Ladies t-shirt.
*They’re not on lockdown for five minutes and Agent Demos (Curtis Lum) goes from zero to bug-nutty crazy in nothing flat. Even though they made it through okay, Hank would be doing everyone at the DEO a disservice if he didn’t get that guy transferred somewhere far away from aliens, preferably unarmed.
*Why does their reactor look like a Pokéball?
*Sad to see Sharon Leal go — though her departure is open-ended enough that she could return temporarily or permanently at any time. The M’Gann/J’onn pairing was an odd one; it felt less like romance and more like the companionship of two widowers. It makes sense that Supergirl would give up on trying to move that relationship forward, but it’s a shame.
*Line of the Night: “This did not used to happen at CatCo!” It’s a tribute to Winn’s fortitude that he’s not wishing he were back at CatCo a dozen times an episode.
*Runner-up: “I know what excited Alex Danvers looks like.” Sounds like sex talk, but apparently, Alex’s happy place is defeating bloodthirsty aliens, which is why she’s the best.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on The CW.