This week’s Supergirl finally gave us the Martian Manhunter backstory we’d been waiting for; but much more emotional than anyone of us possibly imagined. Add in an impromptu mother/son reunion between Cat and her son – as well as the first true appearance of an oddly familiar face – and you have an episode full of strange visitors and surprises.
So let’s get things under way with a Closer Look at this week’s Supergirl episode, “A Strange Visitor From Another Planet”.
“A Strange Visitor From Another Planet” – Aliens & The Alienated:
This week’s episode titled isn’t exactly hard to figure out as this episode brought aliens front and center more than any previous. Although the idea of a ‘stranger visitor from another planet’ doesn’t just represent aliens but also those who have been alienated. Take for example Cat’s son Adam. The two of them haven’t seen each other in years and aren’t exactly the best equipped for talking to one another without Kara there as a moderator. In this way, “another planet” can just simply mean a very different place, making both Cat and her son “strange visitors” in each other’s lives.
Survivor Guilt & Changing The Past – J’onn, Kara, Alura Zor-El & Cat:
This week’s Supergirl started with wondering what you would do if you could change things in your past, undo mistakes, etc. Some could see this as a reference to how things between Kara and Winn this episode are a little strange after he admitted he liked her and she didn’t say it back, but there is so much more to this. To be honest, this opening question actually sets up the major theme of the episode “Survivor’s Guilt”. The obvious poster child for this theme is J’onn – aka Hank Henshaw aka Martian Manhunter – who we finally hear about his tragic backstory. Many fans of the comics – and even the Justice League animated cartoon – knew that J’onn’s family was killed by White Martians; but Supergirl’s version of those events somehow found an even more tragic turn.
In this incarnation, the Green Martians weren’t just killed by their long time enemies the White Martians; but in fact experienced something very similar to the Holocaust. The White Martians saw themselves as ‘purgers’ and put the Men in labor camps and sent the women and child to furnaces – something even more horrific considering Martians have an extreme weakness to fire. Somehow, J’onn amazingly survived and fled; but the guilt has remained with him every day. This is one of the primary reasons he remained as Henshaw for so long – not just to escape persecution on Earth, but also to put his past life behind him. But now all those feelings are back and the overwhelming guilt of surviving is forcing J’onn to either sacrifice his life or become a killer himself.
We of course know that J’onn chose the right path; but the whole idea of being a survivor and being guilty for it isn’t exclusively a Martian thing – or even an alien thing. Kara also knows the burden of being the last and in her case she wonders why her mother didn’t come with her. This is where we realize that Kara’s mother Alura felt ‘survivor’s guilt’ even before she chose to survive or not. Alura in many ways felt responsible for what was about to happen and she felt Kara would be better without her. It is at this moment that we realize that Alura is basically the bridge between the J’onn story this episode and another character experiencing survivor’s guilt: Cat.
Cat might not have survived a planet explosion or genocide, but she sent her son away. Like Alura, she figured her son would have a better chance without her; and like J’onn she is now crippled by the guilt of being a ‘survivor’. She’s spent year – like J’onn hiding from it and not exactly knowing how to handle it; but thanks to Kara, both are able to come to terms with their guilt and move forward: J’onn with his new family (Kara and Alex) and Cat with her’s (Adam and potentially Kara as his romantic interest). Family or not, “sometimes it’s easier to face the past with a little help”.
Up, Up & Away – Easter Eggs, Quotes & Other Notables:
- Sadly the idea of a ‘politician vilifying another group of people” isn’t that farfetched. The political landscape seems to be filled with it lately. Hopefully one day they’ll have a change of heart like Senator Crane did…. or perhaps that’s the farfetched idea L
- Adam Foster is actually played by Blake Jenner, who in real life is Melissa Benoist’s (Supergirl’s) husband.
- Let’s take a moment to truly appreciate how epically the special effects team is doing. The White Martian was incredible, and the Green Martians looked so realistic that we couldn’t help but feel for them in those tragic flashbacks.
It looks like we didn’t have to wait long for that ‘Bizarro’ revelation as this episode ended with another Supergirl saving the day; but if you saw the preview, know the comics, or just really good at reading between the not too hidden lines, you know this is the start of something very bad! Lord has succeeded in making his own Supergirl, who’s not only tasked with fighting evil but also being told that the other Supergirl is bad. What Lord has against Supergirl is still unknown, but the whole ‘threatened by something he can’t control’ is seeming more and more like the obvious answer.
Needless to say, this is going to royally blow up in his face and Bizarro Supergirl – like the clone-origin of Bizarro Superman in the animated series – will start questioning its place in the world and rebel against its creator. Whether this will make Lord finally trust Supergirl or just more hell-bent remains to be seen; but considering he knows her identity, I’m hoping there’s a friendly resolution between these two. Whatever the case, we’ll find out next week! Same Super time, same Super channel – and same Super Closer Look on same Super site 😀