OK, so, first things first: Chris Wood and Melissa Benoist are very good at their jobs.
“Star-Crossed” brings a seeming end to the Kara and Mon-El romance. How permanent an end? We don’t know, of course — those darned stories, they just keep going, don’t they? — but don’t tell that to Wood and Melissa Benoist, who play each and every scene for keeps. This isn’t a relationship that always made sense, and the focus on Mon-El’s journey has made some of the second season of “Supergirl” feel oddly Kara-adjacent, rather than Kara-centric. This episode makes that journey and choice of focus feel much more purposeful, and that’s due in no small part to the two great actors who bring it home.
Credit where it’s due, much of the success of “Star-Crossed” should be laid at the feet of the “Supergirl” writers room, who pair Kara’s understandable fury at Mon-El’s deception with Winn’s betrayal at the hands of Lyra. As always, there are some moments that seem to defy logic, and certainly not everything about the episode works. Still, at the end of the day, tell decent stories with good actors and you can’t go all that wrong.
The first story, of course, is the revelation of Mon-El’s royal status and the truth of his escape from Daxam — not a surprise to the audience, but certainly one to Kara, who spends the episode’s early moments geeking out about musicals and generally displaying symptoms of being severely twitterpated. That comes to a crashing halt when a foreign ship appears, interrupts television broadcasts across National City, and demands the return of the “hostage” Mon-El. The team assembles at the DEO — minus Winn, but more on that later — before Kara jets off to confront the Daxam ship, getting some missiles shot at her and winding up inside an ice ball for her trouble. Mon-El can’t take seeing Kara in danger, alerts the ship that he’ll willingly come aboard if they stop firing, and prepares to beam up. Kara, of course, jumps in that beam with him (in a shot that’s strikingly similar to a recent memorable image in “Legion”). Up they go, and they’re greeted by a bunch of bowing servants. Kara looks surprised. Mon-El does not.
Surprise: the servant of the Crown Prince is actually the Crown Prince, and his parents are Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) and Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher). The King and Queen (of both Daxam and ’90s genre television, am I right?!?) demand their son join them for dinner, since they came across several galaxies and all, and Kara stays too, because she’s pretty sure this story will be interesting. It isn’t, really. Mon-El got shoved into a Kryptonian pod when his guard murdered a Kryptonian ambassador, and on his way to safety he stepped over lots of bodies, not to mention leaving a terrified girl in his bed, begging to be saved. It’s too much for Kara, who bolts.
The details could only exist on a show like this one, but the story’s pretty universal: an old betrayal surfaces, and no amount of remorse can erase the betrayal. It’s just a matter, Winn tells Kara, of figuring out whether or not the reasons for the betrayal make it worth forgiving. Mon-El does pretty much everything a person could do in this situation. He apologizes — a lot — and attempts to explain why he did what he did, he defies his parents and makes it clear that he wants to be the person he is now, not the one he was before, and he says that Kara makes him better and braver and kinder. He confesses his love for her, and here’s where Chris Wood is really good at his job, because despite the fact that this relationship has not always been either convincing or compelling, it’s an honest, affecting moment. Then he does the one thing he had to do, which is also the final straw: when asked whether or not he’d ever have told Kara the truth about his origin, he doesn’t lie. “I don’t know,” he says, and that’s the end of it.
Winn’s story is an odd reversal of Kara and Mon-El’s, in that the Winn-Lyra connection has always felt convincing, but not even the fact that Jeremy Jordan is also good at his job makes this storyline’s conclusion feel earned. While Kara’s facing down the Daxam ship, Winn’s breaking into a museum so that he and Lyra can have “divine museum sex.” The next day, a giddy Winn gets called into the police station by Maggie, who tells him that not only was he caught on camera, but that someone stole a Van Gogh while he was there, and it sure does look like it was him. Lyra’s people don’t show up on camera, as it turns out — and I’m sorry, but there’s no way that Winn doesn’t know this by now, since he’d a) look up everything possible about this culture at the earliest possible moment and b) he’d absolutely have attempted to take a picture of or with her by now — and he’s been thoroughly and completely played.
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She’s got her reasons, of course, and after James and Alex convince Maggie to let Winn out so they can prove his innocence, they track Lyra down to find out exactly what these reasons are. (Alex has precious little to do in this episode other than be a total bad-ass, but hey, that’s pretty awesome.) One big brawl later, they’ve got Lyra and the painting, but not the thugs she had backing her up, and as it turns out, that’s very bad news for Lyra’s brother. Winn pays her a visit in her fancy new DEO cell and she tells him that yes, he was a mark, but she really did like him, and none of that even matters because an art-dealing super-thug alien’s about to kill the one person she has left.
Winn being Winn, he comes up with a plan — unlike Alex, Winn only pretends to totally betray the organization he’s sworn to serve and the people he’s pledged to protect — and after making Lyra believe he’s busting her out without permission, they race off to hand over the painting. James gets his ass handed to him by the art thug, going through approximately every plate glass window in National City in the process, but the rest of the DEO shows up just in time, and Lyra’s reunited with her brother.
Just like that, Winn forgives Lyra, and while it’s nice that he gets to give Kara a speech about deciding what is and isn’t acceptable, it’s more than a little absurd. Narratively speaking, Kara and Mon-El’s relationship didn’t always work, but the ending did, while Winn and Lyra’s story did work, and it’s the ending that fell flat. Still, let’s be grateful we’ve got more of that pairing ahead.
Amidst all the chaos, Winn somehow makes time to finish doing something important to Cisco’s universe portal thing. (Winn is, of course, correct: he and Cisco would be best friends.) Just as he’s about to hand the new toy over to Kara, a new DEO prisoner shows up. Before you can say “Dalton Academy Warblers,” a mysterious and dapper fellow has somehow bewitched Kara, broken free of his high-tech handcuffs, and jumped universes — thanks a lot, Winn — in search of the fastest man alive. So, Wally, I guess.
Next up: a musical! Superflash forever.
Airing Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, “Supergirl” stars Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood and Chris Wood.