Friday, June 21, 2024

Starry Night, Starhaven, and Star-Crossed Lovers

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Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 16, “Star-Crossed”

Remember how Supergirl S1 had an episode about Kara being unconscious in an alternate reality and her sister had to go save her? Well, 2×16, “Star-Crossed” sets up S2’s version. Only this time, there will be 1920s aesthetic, singing, and Barry Allen. Oh, and Mon-El will go under to save her instead of Alex.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. As with the 4 episode Arrowverse crossover, Supergirl’s crossover episode mostly centers around a different plot. Namely, Mon-El’s parents Rhea and Lar-Gand (LOL) arriving, and Lyra being involved in an art heist.

Quick Recap

A rogue Sanvers cuddle has been spotted!

Kara and Mon-El have a movie night with ice cream (we miss sister dates), but a message from the King and Queen Daxam to hand over Mon-El interrupts their TV screens. (We get a nice little Sanvers cuddle shot, too.) Winn is late to work because he’s out with Lyra breaking into a museum so they can get it on. Kara plans to meet with the Daxamites. They attack her and in order to stop them, Mon-El turns himself over. At the last second, Kara flies into the transporter beam with him. Mon-El gets cranky at her because “…stuff”. (Stuff = that he knows it’s his mom and dad up there.) Winn gets called into the police station because someone stole a Van Gogh from the art museum, and he’s the only one on the video footage (o.O).

Up on the Daxamite ship, Mon-El’s family dinner makes the Danvers dinners look normal. Mostly because Mon-El’s parents are unrepentant slavers who want to ‘make Daxam great again’ now that the atmosphere has returned to normal. Mon-El describes how his guard sent him to Earth after killing a Kryptonian emissary. Now fully apprised of the truth about Mon-El, Kara leaves for Earth after giving him a dressing down about lying to her (and about benefiting from slavery and cruelty).

At the police station, Maggie thinks Lyra set Winn up to take the fall for the theft. She gives Alex 24 hours to find Lyra or Winn will be arrested. Team DEO find out that Lyra has stolen art before. They head over to the alien bar to strong arm some information about where to find her. Mon-El’s mom asks Kara to tell Mon-El to speak to them about going back to Daxam to help restart their culture. Winn confronts Lyra, who calls him no more than a mark. The Guardian dukes it out with some Valerians while Winn goes after Lyra.

That moment when Winn was the most relatable thing on Supergirl ever.

At the DEO, Lyra confesses that she’s a refugee from war and a thief. The gang who she helped steal the painting have her brother. She’s trying to prevent his death by paying off his debt with the painting. A Fort Rozz escapee named Mandrax is behind the art smuggling ring, but J’onn doesn’t want to risk Lyra conning Winn about her brother. Winn releases Lyra to go take down the smuggling ring themselves. Kara confronts Mon-El, who tells her now is the time in the rom-com that she should forgive him. She tells him he has a second chance with his family, culture, and planet, and he should start acting like the prince he is.

Lyra and Winn meet with the art thief to get Lyra’s brother Bastian, but the deal goes south when Winn offers a fake painting. Guardian shows up to help fight, then Alex swoops in with DEO agents to bring down the baddie. Lyra reunites with her brother (yay!). Maggie lets Lyra and Bastian go because they have ‘no evidence.’ Mon-El apologizes to Kara about lying; she breaks up with him because she believes she deserves better than to be lied to. Mon-El tells his parents he’s done being the privileged prince of a slaving planet and that they should leave. Darren Criss Music Meister lets himself get captured by the DEO, puts Kara under mind control, and jaunts off to The Flash’s dimension. Kara wakes up in a 1920s aesthetic and is promptly put on stage to sing.

Best Quote: “Just forget about you and me for one second. Do you even understand the second chance you’ve been given? You thought you were the last Daxamite and you’re not. You’re people are alive; your parents are alive. They need you. They love you. Don’t just throw that chance away because many of us don’t get one. You’re a prince; start acting like it.”—Kara Danvers

Thoughts & Feelings

Winn! Lyra! Schotthaven! We have a lot to say about Lyra and Winn, because oh my god. These nerds. Lyra is kind of Gretchen’s baby on the show right now, especially with M’gann gone. (Come back M’gann! We miss you!) She’s been an intriguing side character to bring on, especially with the potential for trans coding surrounding her that Gretchen may or may not have written a whole piece about for her website. (Hint: she did.) The hints dropped prior to this episode that she might not be on the up and up were disappointing, to say the least. Thankfully, Supergirl didn’t leave us believing Lyra might be sketch for long. Supergirl generally prefers not to leave conflict like this hanging, and we’re glad they didn’t.

We haven’t talked about it much before, but we really appreciate how Lyra’s zest for sex has been handled. She manages to be sexual without being sexualized. It helps that most of her wardrobe thus far has been predominantly casual. She might have played the part of a femme fatale for a brief period of time, but she never looked like the stereotypical male-gaze oriented sexual object that most femme fatales are. She looked like a normal person, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer style face ridges.

Her sexual appetite, and Winn’s more submissive role, have never been used for laughs or feel male-gazey either. She’s just a strong, nerdy woman with a healthy appetite for the horizontal tango. We love that about her. Rarely do we get to see a woman with a voracious sexual appetite treated no differently than any other woman on a show. She’s not tokenized or her predilections exploited for audience titillation. In fact, we kind of dig how her race’s inability to be captured on camera was used to avoid exploiting her sexual exploits with Winn in the museum. Good job Supergirl. We approve.

And three cheers for getting more backstory for her! We admit a bit of disgruntledness that we’ve gotten more backstory for her than for Maggie as yet, but that just means we hope Supergirl makes up for the lack with Maggie soon. Knowing Lyra more only made us like her even more. We’re so glad she’s not a villain and that she’s going to stick around for Winn. They’re adorable as a couple. He’s so star (heh) struck by her. It’s delightful, especially since we so rarely see male characters be so adoring without their comrades knocking them down for being ‘whipped’.

The one smear on an otherwise lovely subplot is the way the episode seemed to treat Lyra’s and Mon-El’s situations as equivalent. We can see what they’re going for with “people always have a reason they lie”. That’s true. And, lying about being a thief to save your brother’s life is not the same as lying about being the prince of a cruel, oppressive society that runs an intergalactic slave trade because you want friends. Like, it’s a reason, and not really a bad one, per se. They’re just not the same thing at all.

But were we supposed to think of them as equivalent? To be honest, the episode was a bit off in some of the dialogue. Winn telling Kara that she ought to talk to Mon-El about why he lied before breaking it off certainly sounded like it could be an attempt to equate his choices with Lyra’s. On the other hand, Kara’s dialogue with Mon-El about him leading and participating in an oppressive system clearly points out the deeply problematic life that he was hiding from her. Which is not at all the same as protecting one’s brother from a vicious gang. So what are we supposed to think?

Perhaps Winn’s comments were merely meant as a way to remind Kara to ask Mon-El for an explanation before making a decision based on his reply rather than to say Mon-El’s reasons for lying are as understandable as Lyra’s. This seems to be supported by the fact that Alex tells her to do more or less the same thing; everyone deserves a chance to explain themselves. This was Elizabeth’s takeaway. If this is was the writer’s intention, we think they could have been a bit more clear about it. Without clear direction otherwise, Gretchen found it hard to escape the implication (intentional or not) that Mon-El’s behavior was being equated to Lyra’s. Though your mileage may vary on this, as it did for us.

This gif is unrelated, other than that we think you need more Lyra gifs in your life.

After all, Supergirl does trade in the morally grey, like the conversation where Rhea is confronting Kara for despising Daxamites. On the surface, it sounds as if it is a way to force Kara to face up to the persistence of her prejudice against Daxamites, an issue that the first few episodes this season raised. The concept intrigued us early on, as it seemed an excellent way to explore a tiny bit of the haughtiness and sense of superiority in Kara that we’ve seen Kryptonians like Alura and Non display elsewhere. Not that Kara is as bad as they were, though she does have her moments. But the in-bred disdain for Daxamites could have been an interesting way to explore Kara’s connection to her heritage in a new light.

However, this same episode depicts Rhea and Lar-Gand as unrepentant slavers. At the ultimate awkward family dinner, they proffer almost every single excuse that real-life, historical slavers have used to justify slavery. “We gave them a better life”, “we treated them like family”, “they were happy”. Hell, they talk about making Daxam great again. Confronting Kara about her prejudice is one thing if it’s unfounded or exaggerated. But when the Daxamite leaders spout bigoted adages about slaves associated with some of the worst aspects of US history as well as a modified Trump slogan? Excuse us if the critique of Kara falls flat.

It could also be meant as a character study for Kara. The Kryptonians essentially orchestrated their own demise with their rigidity and superiority complex, and those decisions also led to the destruction of Daxam. If there’s one thing that has been abundantly apparent in 2B, it’s that Kara is definitely her mother’s daughter in more ways than one. She is stalwart and true, but the flip side of that is that she is rigid in her values and can be manipulated by someone who knows how to push the right buttons. Rhea knows exactly which buttons to press.

It’s therefore possible that the takeaway from the conversation between Rhea and Kara was more about how Rhea knew exactly the right thing to say to get what she wanted. If this were the case, it could have been done a bit more neatly. Especially since Mon-El himself has said almost the exact same things about Kara before without challenge from the show. It certainly looks like we’re meant to take Rhea’s (and Mon-El’s) criticisms of Kara at face value. Or maybe not?

The issue of legacy is a compelling one, though. Legacy is everything to Kryptonians, and most of that legacy is flat out gone. Rhea took a gamble that Kara would place a huge value on legacy, and she was right. It’s clear from Kara’s conversations with Mon-El later that the chance to start over and restore an entire planet’s worth of civilization is something she deeply envies, even if she doesn’t like the pillars on which that particular civilization was founded. In fact, she pushes Mon-El to go back because maybe he can be the one to make sure they get it right this time. He, in theory, has the power to change things at a systemic level, and she pushes him to see that.

But to be honest, this is kind of a ridiculous amount of wishful thinking on her part. Maybe if Mon-El were more… Kryptonian. If there was ever a perfect illustration of the unbridgeable gap between Kara and Mon-El’s personalities, this is it. Even at his best, Mon-El is likely going to want to be much more of a ‘small picture’ kind of hero. Nothing that Kara does is truly ‘small picture’. Still, it’s a big job, and a lot of pressure, for Mon-El. And he’s not exactly ‘there yet’ in terms of his approach to heroism. So we’re not exactly surprised, that he doesn’t feel ready yet to take the system down. He’s still a baby superhero after all. Hopefully the conversation with Kara about making Daxam actually better is a peek into his future. *fingers crossed*

Back of Winn, we desperately need more Maggie x Winn brotp. They have a similar dynamic to Alex x Winn, and we’re here for Sanvers being Winn’s snarky older sisters who rag on him all the time. Maggie’s “leave before I throw you into holding for fun” had us rolling on the floor. God, we love these two. Can we get more of Maggie interacting with Winn? Or with anyone else in more than an accessory to Alex way? We would like Maggie x Kara friendship bonding over cold cases and Alex’s quirks. And can we get a J’onn x Maggie protective about Alex moment? Or a J’onn x Maggie commiseration scene where they talk about the hazards of loving the Danvers sisters? Give us more Maggie friendships please!

Everything about this gif is amazing. Maggie’s “oh no you didn’t”. Alex’s “did he just?”. Perfection.

And can we just say how much Winn has grown since the beginning of the show? He made a joke about his dad and police stations. A joke. Winn, who spent most of his adult life hiding from his dad’s legacy of violence and mental illness, cracked a joke about it. This is Lapis/Peridot levels of healing, yo. And forgive us for not commenting more about this in recent episodes, but his level of loyalty, devotion, and care for Lyra is amazing. He accepts her as is, no questions asked. He’s willing to open up to the possibility for a new relationship even though he’s been hurt in the past.

And he’s got the right balance of concern without being protective. He knows Lyra can take care of herself in a fight—he saw it first hand last episode. But that doesn’t mean he can’t worry about her. And did you notice how well he handled being hurt? After opening up about having his heart stomped on before, Winn didn’t shut down or cut Lyra off. He took time to calm down, then confronted her. He shared his feelings openly and honestly, and was willing to listen to and respect her responses without pushing her away. Just look at that growth! *sniff* That’s our baby, all grown up and being an adult in romantic relationships! We love you, Winn, and want happy things for you and Lyra.

In other pleasant news, we got character growth for Mon-El this episode. He’s learning how to respectfully disagree with his girlfriend and listen to her when she asks him to stay put and let her deal with the bad guys. It’s nice to see that aspect of his relationship with Kara being addressed. We spent far too long with disrespectful Mon-El. We’d like to see some lasting growth from him from now on, and this episode seems to have delivered. It built upon previous positive change without undermining it for the sake of a dramatic argument. Here’s hoping this continues the rest of the season.

We also appreciate that Mon-El told his parents he wasn’t returning after the break up with Kara. This clearly puts him on the side of positive character growth and becoming a hero. We suspect that some may have expected him to go home after being dumped, but that really wouldn’t be true to the show’s larger theme, would it?

Hearing him say that he was a better person around Kara regardless of relationship status was a step in the right direction as well. If he were the same person he was at the beginning of the season, he would have peaced out and went back to Daxam. But he didn’t. He made a point of telling both Kara and his parents that he doesn’t want to be the selfish prince of Daxam anymore. He has demonstrated that he has an understanding of what it is he did wrong, though his grasp on where to go from there is not as strong as it needs to be.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “behind every good man is a very tired woman.” We’d say the more modern adaptation of that is “behind every reformed fuckboy is a very tired woman.” No, it isn’t Kara’s job to fix that, and her breaking up with him was a staunch assertion of that fact. He got a humongous smack in the face for lying to Kara, but he seems to understand why she broke up with him. He also has at least a medium-strength grasp on what he needs to do next. Hopefully this means the show will take the opportunity to let him grow on his own accord, while also allowing Kara the space to explore her needs outside of his arc.

Moreover, when people lie, it’s usually not with malicious intent. We mentioned earlier that his reasons for lying are pretty grey. We don’t like that he lied, but it’s pretty transparent why he did considering how everyone reacted. There just isn’t a positive way to spin ‘I benefited from a society built on slavery.’ Lying is cowardly, but understandable considering the circumstances. The truth is harder for some people than others. In a show full of true paragons, good cops, and legendary heroes, the fact that Mon-El is much closer to ‘regular dudebro’ makes him stand out a lot more than he would in the ensemble of another show. But he’s learning. It may be slower than we’d prefer, but he is making progress.

The last thing we’ll say about Mon-El is that we would have liked his shame regarding his history to have been teased out more earlier. “Maybe he’s just a guy who’s ashamed of his past and looking for a fresh start” would have landed better if we’d seen more of his psychology about his planet teased out. Because we didn’t actually get a character ashamed of his oppressive heritage. We got a pleasure seeking young man who would none to gently correct Kara’s ‘prejudiced’ assumptions about Daxamite culture by telling her it wasn’t that bad.

Only it was that bad. If he were trying to minimize to deflect his shame, the show could have made this point more powerfully. As it stands, it hasn’t been fleshed out enough to justify Alex’s comment. Perhaps this is something they will explore more in future episodes? We certainly hope so.

We’d like to close on a less controversial thought: Sanvers. They’re for sure the strong and steady power couple of the season. We said earlier that we’d like more of Maggie’s backstory. Thankfully, we know we will be getting more since future episode synopses have leaked out and apparently one of Maggie’s exes (no, not that ex. Dare to dream, Batfans) will be showing up in National City before the end of the season. That will certainly be some grade A drama to look forward to, considering Alex is a condensed, stress-filled cannon ball of insecurities.

There’s also the consideration that, in the absence of Maggie backstory, we have Sanvers being explicitly and consistently depicted as the domestic couple. They don’t dominate the screen time, but their presence is very much felt in every single episode. As we’ve said before, even when they aren’t being romantic, you can tell Alex and Maggie are a couple. They are always framed in that light, and there’s really nothing else in genre fiction tv like it. We think we can all agree that Sanvers is one of the best things to happen to queer television representation in the last decade.


  • Did you get all the ‘star’ references: ‘Starry Night’, Starhaven, the Daxamites crossing the stars to get to Mon-El, star-crossed lovers…yay themes.
  • Minor Nitpick: “Starry Night” isn’t actually that big. We’ve both seen it. It’s 11 x17 at the most. Also, the paint is too thick for you to roll it up like that.
  • “5 seasons in and winter still hasn’t come yet!” Nice Game of Thrones joke.
  • Seeding the musical episode with Kara and Mon-El talking about watching a musical. Subtle.
  • Lyra has super strength!
  • Excellent CGI again this episode.
  • We finally have an answer for Mon-El using a Kryptonian pod! The Kryptonian emissary that was murdered to use it was House of El, too.
  • Kevin Sorbo’s name is Lar-Gand (that’s Mon-El’s Daxamite name in the comics).
  • Mon-El had a bit of a super jump on Daxam, odd.
  • We adore Kara accidentally hurting James and Winn with high fives. Can we get more Superfriends in the future, please?
  • Lol, Hamilton tickets. Someone in the writer’s room really likes that show.
  • Lovely shout out to Dream Girls right there at the end.
  • Kara Danvers slays us in that dress at the end.

In Conclusion

The House of Gand family dinner of extreme awkwardness did not disappoint. From the promos, we’d imagined it going about this well (or poorly, as the case may be), and we enjoyed seeing all the characters squirming. We love awkward family dinners so much, guys.

Speaking of family, Teri Hatcher was an excellent addition to the cast, we think. She plays the hypocritically haughty yet disdainful Daxamite queen well. We’re so here for a cartoon villain-esque mom queen. Sorbo, on the other hand, seemed barely more than a set piece. Maybe he’s Rhea’s king-consort? We like that idea. He barely spoke more than five words at a time, and with flat, monotone delivery. Not that we expected much from him; he’s not exactly known for being the peak of acting acumen.

This was not a line, it was a comment on acting direction.

Still, it’s nice to see Supergirl carry on its tradition of highlighting the importance of the mother figure. Rhea as Mon-El’s primary antagonist in the conflict over whether or not he should go home to Daxam acts as a fitting parallel/foil to Kara’s arc with her mother and aunt in S1. It will be interesting to see how they turn Rhea into a villain. Her clear disagreement with Kara over Mon-El , and the difference in how they perceive each other on a cultural level seem ripe to be turned into a larger conflict. As much as we have mixed feelings about Mon-El overall, the idea of him being the prince that sparks a conflict between two powerful women amuses us. It’s a delightful inversion of the damseled princess being fought over by her father and love interest.

Guardian made a good showing tonight as well. See? He works well as part of the DEO team. Why couldn’t he have joined them from the beginning instead of running around in secret and lying to Kara? Ah well. At least we got some great teamwork. And it’s a good thing he’s around now, too, as Kara has a lot on her plate at the moment. We approve of Winn/Guardian/DEO team ups and would like to see this working partnership continue. The scenes came with great fight choreography, too, so that’s always a plus.

All in all, we’re pretty pleased with how the show is ramping up to the big climax of the season. Kara has a lot to handle with her personal, professional, and superheroing life, and we eagerly await the impending fallout. She seems poised for a struggle in more than a superhero way. It’ll be rough to watch, but we know our girl of steel can make it through. And can someone put Hatcher and Strong in the same room as villains please? We’d kill to see a Lillian Luthor/Rhea villain team. Maybe that’s where the show is headed? If so, we’re so ready for it.

Again, unrelated gif. We just have to say we would totally watch Supergirl: Girl of Steel Detective.

Speaking of being ready, tune into The Flash tonight for more 1920s aesthetic and singing!

Images Courtesy of The CW

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