Two Martians enter, only one Martian leaves. Actually, that’s not right. On tonight’s Very Special Episode of Supergirl, “The Martian Chronicles,” it’s White Martian (evil) vs. Green Martian (good) with a self-hating White Martian (for good reason, since she’s not evil), M’gann M’orzz (Sharon Leal), turned Green Martian pretending to be human (standard for Martians of any hue or color) on the side of our resident superheroes, Supergirl/Kara Zor-El/Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and the Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood), with Kara’s adoptive sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), on perpetual back-up. The battle royale – like all battle royales – doesn’t happen until the last few minutes and when it does, it’s confined to a single, closed location (TV budget, in effect) that deliberately, consciously borrows from James Cameron’s Aliens and John Carpenter’s The Thing, but it’s less about the fight than the subtext: It’s all about overcoming our/their differences and fighting/defeating a common foe.
For Kara and Alex, it’s time for them to move on to the next step in their sibling relationship: Ensconced in a serious relationship with Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima), Alex’s immediate agenda includes a night out with Maggie and a Barenaked Ladies concert (she’s still a fan, apparently), hurting Kara’s feelings. After all, it’s Kara’s 13th Earth anniversary, 13 years since her Kryptonian ship landed on Earth and the Danvers clan took her in as one of their own and raised her accordingly. Kara, though, isn’t ready to let her big sister go, especially since Alex represents the rock-solid stability otherwise missing from her life. Sure, she’s a reporter for CatCo Media and her almost boyfriend, James “Call Me the Guardian” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), isn’t the type to hold a personal grudge for a broken heart (his). Then again, Olsen doesn’t even make a cameo appearance on “The Martian Chronicles.”
While Kara’s put her feelings toward Olsen on the rear view, maybe permanently, there’s a new man in Kara’s romantic life. Okay, maybe not that new. He’s been around for the entire season actually. It’s Mon-El (Chris Woods), the super-powered Daxamite-turned-bartender. to National City’s alien populace. He’s been crushing hard on Kara almost since the beginning, but his bold, maybe reckless, decision to tell Kara how he really felt turned their friendship upside down. Apparently, Kara has that effect on male members of at least two species. Kara shuts Mon-El down and not with any particular skill either. The crush gets crushed, but Mon-El shakes it off and begins dating again, right before Kara decides otherwise at episode’s end. Kara is nothing if not fickle when it comes to the men in her life.
The bulk of “The Martian Chronicles” plays out in a single, budget-saving location, the DEO’s (Department of Extra-Normal Operations) mid-town facility in National City. Since Martians, White or Green, can shape shift, taking over the bodies, voices, and memories of their human counterparts (c.f., John Carpenter’s The Thing as mentioned up top), it makes detecting them all the harder. “The Martian Chronicles” puts a spin on The Thing’s test to determine who’s human or alien: Instead of blood, it’s fire. The proximity of fire will reveal an alien’s true identity (i.e., skin color). It’s a tense, if predictable scene, but at least we learn the name of one of the DEO’s black jumpsuits (usually the equivalent of Star Trek’s redshirts), Vazquez (Briana Venskus). Exactly, like Vazquez (Jenette Goldstein), the super-bad-ass marine, in James Cameron’s Aliens. Supergirl’s Vazquez proves to be slightly more resilient than the usual black jumpsuit on Supergirl. By the end, black jumpsuits have been relegated to the sidelines (safer there, to be honest) while the real superheroes (plus Alex) take on the White Martians.
In a relationship-centered episode that pairs Alex and Kara, Kara and Mon-El, and J’onn J’onzz and M’gann M’orzz, the heavy emotions are saved for the Martians. J’onn J’onzz has finally come around to looking past M’gann M’orzz’s (genocidal) race to the inner goodness beneath. He’s also been alone in a romantic sense for the better part of three centuries and M’gann M’orzz represents the next, maybe last, chance at a romantic relationship with someone who truly gets him (telepathic connection/communication helps too). By episode’s end, the White Martians sent to capture and return M’gann M’orzz to Mars are good and gone, but M’gann M’orzz decides to leave anyway, risking Martian life (hers) and limb (also hers) for a nascent revolutionary movement that might not even exist. It seems like a futile, useless gesture, but at least in the Supergirl universe, a necessary one.