Kevin Smith has returned to “Supergirl,” and he brought his giant convenient space-gate with him.
The Mon-El fans out there must be relieved that Smith didn’t pack light. For a minute there, it seemed that “Supergirl” was prepared to wrap up, at least temporarily, this Mon-El story. For all Chris Wood’s charms — and they’re plentiful indeed — it’s not been entirely good for the show as a whole to have a sort of sleeper protagonist, to say nothing of one on which so much of this season has focused. “Supergirl” has been an ensemble show from the beginning, giving nearly every member of the cast an episode in which they take focus, but unlike Winn’s Toyman outing in season one, or Alex’s rogue Dad-rescuing mission a few weeks ago, the Mon-El installments tend to push Kara to the sidelines. It’s all about how she affects him, not how they interact or what his journey says about her own. You know, Supergirl’s journey. The one with her name in the title.
That said, it’s easy to understand how the “Supergirl” writing team might want to write for Mon-El (and for Wood). From moment one in this episode, he’s clearly off-the-charts grateful to be back with Kara, a Kara who is not dead in a musical but alive and ready for breakfast. It’s a vibe that Wood sells the hell out of, as he so often does, and what writer wouldn’t want that kind of fun and watchability at the center of everything? Before Kara can dig into that delicious poached egg, however, there’s a news flash, and an alien with a laser eyepatch is wreaking havoc. Our heroine flies off to deal with this ruiner of breakfasts, and Mon-El starts laundry.
Turns out this friendly guy (who either gets knocked out or dies, it’s unclear, after Kara shoves her hand into his eyepatch and whatever is beneath it) is a bounty hunter, and his target is none other than the Last Daughter of Krypton. J’onn, Alex and Mon-El all beg Kara to lay low — alien battles aren’t great for public safety, or for a city’s architecture for that matter — and while she’s clearly grumpy about it, she agrees. Fast forward to board game night, interrupted by, you guessed it, a bounty hunter.
While not all of the fights in “Distant Sun” (get it?) are stellar, this is a fun one. This telepathic Boba Fett turns Mon-El into a deadly weapon, leading to a fight between the two lovebirds that’s mostly funny, rather than anguished. Two nice people have never apologized more in human history. Guardian attempts to put a stop to things, but it’s Winn who saves the day, armed with nothing but a stapler. Once they’ve got this bad guy in one of the DEO’s nifty cells, Alex seems eager to get some good torturin’ in (they’ve really doubled down on the whole “Alex has lots of questionable impulses” thing this season), but it’s J’onn who steps up. If the Mon-El fight is the most entertaining of the episode, this is a close second, as two psychic forces bear down on each other without a single punch being thrown.
So the psychic spills his jiggly-brained guts: the bounty on Kara’s head was offered up by the Daxamites. While this doesn’t surprise Mon-El, it’s a slightly unexpected twist for the audience. While the Daxamite royal family were the obvious suspects, their outright denial and Mon-El’s continued suspicion seemed to suggest that the story would follow a familiar pattern, ultimately exonerating Queen Rhea and King Lar Gand and bringing them closer to their son. Neat, tidy, vaguely heartwarming.
Not so! While Kevin Sorbo’s Lar Gand was ultimately exonerated (and offed!), turns out that Queen Rhea is, in fact, a murderous piece of work. If the Mon-El/Kara fight is the episode’s most entertaining, and the J’onn psychic beatdown the most unusual, then this one has to be the best, in which Teri Hatcher wields two Kryptonite blades as she kicks the ever-loving crap out of Kara. It’s too much for Mon-El, who volunteers as tribute. With that, he’s back on his parents’ ship, where a speech about a more progressive future for Daxam lands him in a cell, presumably for years.
Luckily, Kevin Smith brought that magic gate, so Winn does some smart technology stuff and in a flash, J’onn’s battling the Daxamites while disguised as Kara and Winn’s saving Mon-El, who quotes “Star Wars” to his friend as thanks. (It’s the best moment in the episode, followed narrowly by Kara’s reaction to bacon.) Lar Gand breaks up the ensuing showdown between J’onn, Kara, Rhea and her guards, and Mon-El and the DEO team speed back to earth, where more mushy conversations about inspirational stuff await them.
Then Rhea stabs Lar Gand while they’re hugging. If you’ve never popped the phrase “Hercules disappointed” into YouTube, now’s the time.
In a truly bizarre subplot, Alex and Maggie poke their heads out of their love-bubble when Maggie recognizes an ex from years past. The atmosphere is incredibly tense, and for some reason, Alex takes this as her cue to get weirdly involved in the drama of a long-dead relationship. After waiting for the ex in question outside a hotel, Alex prepares to dress her down before the truth comes out: Maggie brought about the end of the relationship by cheating.
Is this all just set-up for a lovely conversation between Alex and Maggie about the latter lowering her guard? Probably. Is that scene beautifully acted and well-written? Sure. It’s still a serious head-scratcher. Unless season two of “Supergirl” is trying to show us that Alex is emotionally unstable and doesn’t really recognize strange or inappropriate behavior as such, these choices don’t make sense. The fact that they work at all is a credit to Chyler Leigh, who really does get better and better in this role.
Oh, and President Wonder Woman has a nefarious scheme of some sort, which we know because “Distant Sun” reminds us that she’s an alien. See you April 24!
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.
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