Supergirl Recap: Kara Needs to Stop Trying to Be Mon-El’s Mom in “Changing”
"I'll go get the alien. You go get the girl." -Supergirl
Is it me, or is this the episode of Supergirl where basically everyone, including the villain, was a whiny-pants crybaby? Kara’s all Do what I tell you Mon-El! And Mon-El is all No! You’re not my mom! And James is all Gimme my suit, now! And Winn is all You’re not the boss of me! And the villain is all You’re ruining the Earth you guys! And M’gann was all Oh noes! J’onn might find out my secret! I can’t help him! Even Alex was acting like a 12 year old who needs to write in her diary. At least she has coming out as an excuse. Welcome to Episode 6 of Season 2, “Changing.”
**THIS IS A RECAP – SPOILERS ARE PART OF THE TERRITORY.**
S2, EP. 6 – THE RECAP
- At a research station on Norway, a team of scientists led by a Dr. Jones (played by William Mapother, whom you should never cast if you’re expecting to hide who the villain’s gonna be) find a wolf that’s been frozen in the ice for 5,000 years … except after an hour of thawing, the wolf is at normal body temperature. As Dr. Jones examines the wolf and pokes around in an incision in the wolf’s side, he gets sucked in by something! There’s lots of screaming.
- At the alien dive bar, Mon-El and Kara have alien alcoholic beverages that were purchased for them by a giggly alien woman who’s into Mon-El. He can’t stop flirting. At first, Kara doesn’t want to try the alien beverage, but after trying to convince Mon-El to get a job and train with her, Mon-El promises to train with her if she drinks the drink. She chugs it, and immediately gets wasted! Meanwhile, J’onn is at the bar talking to M’gann. There’s a warmth between them as they each appreciate not being the only Martians anymore.
- Alex shows up, and after being very amused by Drunk Kara makes a beeline for Maggie, who seems to live at this bar. Alex is having trouble with what she should do with and about her newly acknowledged queer feelings, and after Maggie gives her some insight into her own coming-out story suggests that when she’s ready, Alex should share this part of herself with her family, because she deserves to lead a happy, open life. She then adds, “And I’m good for a drink when you come out,” which makes Alex start beaming.
- Later, at the DEO, J’onn practically carries in a drunk, stumbling Kara as Winn alerts them and Alex that they’ve received a distress message from a research station in Norway where scientists were doing research on climate change. At first, J’onn is going to fly there with Supergirl, but as Supergirl is passed out, he decides to go with Alex in the jet instead. (Why he couldn’t just fly Alex there himself, I have no idea.)
- At the Norwegian research station, Team DEO enters to find most of the scientists dead, with Dr. Jones the lone survivor. The dead scientists look as though they’ve literally had the life sucked out of them. Later, J’onn and Alex examine Dr. Jones. They want to keep him for a while, but he gets all petulant about climate change and needing to get back to work right now as if the Earth were gonna die tomorrow. (I mean seriously, I’m all about protecting the environment, but damn, it’s not gonna happen overnight!) They let him go, and as he walks away, somehow everyone else at the DEO misses the fact that an ENORMOUS SLUG COMES OUT OF HIS MOUTH, CRAWLS UP HIS FACE, AND GOES INTO HIS EAR. Seriously, no one sees this happen.
- Elsewhere in the DEO, Supergirl and Mon-El train, and Supergirl is basically handing him his own ass and asking him to hold it up so that she can kick it. This guy needs work, but he so doesn’t even care. She insists that he might wanna help someone someday, and he’s all Nah, I’m good. Before Supergirl can really let him have it for being a slacker, Alex comes in and asks Kara to come with her so that they can talk alone.
- Alex and Kara take a walk and Alex meanders around coming out. She starts by reminding Kara of Maggie and slowly revealing that she’s developed feelings for her. At first, Kara’s slow on the uptake (Seriously Kara? It’s 2016, and I’m sure there’s gay on Krypton. I mean, I get that she’s your sister and she’s never given you an inkling of this, but you let her go on for way too long without getting it. Come the eff on!), but she eventually gets it. They sit on a park bench to discuss, and Kara is trying to understand, but is really thrown for a loop. As she asks Alex to explain herself, Alex gets frustrated and says she doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. She gets up and walks away, flustered.
- Dr. Jones is in his university lab researching what’s happening to him. Except him is “them,” but not in a cool, gender non-conforming way. More like a There’s an alien slug in my body way. His boss finds him there and recommends that he take time off. When he refuses, his boss decides to give him days off permanently and fires him. This doesn’t go over well with Dr. Jones, and he says, “We don’t accept that.” He reaches out to touch his boss and ends up sucking the life out of him. Because the environment.
- At the DEO, Winn watches footage from the Norwegian research station that he got off of one of the scientists’ laptops, which reveals how Dr. Jones got infected with the alien parasite from the wolf and ended up killing his whole team.
- Alex and Supergirl go to Dr. Jones’ university only to find his boss dead. They also find Dr. Jones, who explains that “we” are here to save the world, because all humans know how to do is destroy it, but “we” are the only ones who can save it. Supergirl tries to fight him, but he ends up draining some of her power before escaping, acquiring some of her strength and invincibility in the process.
- Back at the DEO, Winn tells the team that Dr. Jones has an alien parasite in him, possibly from the Argon system. As they discuss what to do, James shows up wanting to help. Alex asks him how he even knew what was going on, but before James can answer, Winn escorts him out to reprimand him in another room. James gets really adamant about Winn finishing the special suit he promised to make him, but Winn is just as adamant, telling him that the suit isn’t ready, and he’s the one who knows how all this stuff works, so if he says that it’s not ready, it means that if he goes out in the suit, he’ll die. It’s a pretty intense Bro Fight. James is taken down several notches, and he’s not happy about it.
- As Kara sits at home, Alex arrives to talk to her. She says that Kara’s been acting weird ever since she came out to her, but Kara said that’s she’s only acting weird because Alex abruptly didn’t want to talk about it. Then, Kara apologizes for never having created an environment where Alex could share stuff like this with her before. She understands that all of the talking and secret-keeping they did growing up was about her, and she never thought to allow Alex the space to tell her things. She then asks Alex to tell her about Maggie, and Alex gushes talking about how smart, tough and beautiful she is. She and Kara hug just before they get a report of an alien attack. Alex is going to go, but Kara says “I’ll go get the alien. You go get the girl.”
- Supergirl gets to the reported alien incident only to find Mon-El beating up some alien dude. Mon-El reveals that he’s been using his powers to make a little extra cash as muscle for a bookie. Supergirl tells the other alien to get out of there, then she and Mon-El argue. She desperately wants him to see the potential for heroism inside him, but he has zero desire to help people. She calls Mon-El selfish, and he resents that she keeps trying to mold him in her image. He then points out that Kara’s reasons for being Supergirl aren’t entirely altruistic, even though she doesn’t take money for her services, because she enjoys the adulation she gets from the public and the people she’s saved. “You are not selfless,” he says. “And you are no hero,” she says. Suprgirl comes thisclose to using the word “Daxamite” as a slur, but she caught herself.
- Furious with Mon-El, Supergirl returns to the DEO wanting to punch someone. Winn tells the team about a guy named Rand O’Reilly, a climate change denier who’s wanted Dr. Jones ousted from his university for years. They’ve realized that Dr. Jones is only hurting people he deems bad for the environment (and for him).
- Dr. Jones approaches Rand O’Reilly in a parking garage. He tries to drain O’Reilly, but Supergirl shows up to stop him. Suddenly, O’Reilly is surrounded as we learn that O’Reilly wasn’t really O’Reilly, but Martian Manhunter in disguise. Together, Supergirl and Martian Manhunter fight Dr. Jones, but he ends up draining both of them, dangerously. He escapes, leaving Alex to tend to Supergirl and Martian Manhunter, who are now husks of their former selves.
- Back at the DEO, Supergirl is under a yellow sun lamp recharging, which could take a while, but which will ultimately get her back to normal. Martian Manhunter is worse off, as he lost a lot of blood during his fight with mutant Dr. Jones. Alex explains that having absorbed so much energy from these two caused him to change and mutate and get larger (and have three mouths!). Now, Supergirl will be out of commission for too long if Dr. Jones strikes again. As for J’onn, Winn says he needs a blood transfusion, but as the last Martian … Alex corrects him, “He’s the last Martian man, but he’s not the last.” She races off.
- Meanwhile, James pulls Winn aside and asks about the suit since Supergirl is out of commission. Winn has it ready, but before he lets him put it on, he asks him if he’s ready, because once he puts the suit on and “goes hero,” things will change, and “There’s a cost.” James insists that he’s been ready for this ever since Clark Kent told him he was Superman (really, though?), and that if there’s a cost, he’s willing to pay it. OK, dude.
- Alex finds M’gann at the alien dive bar and tells her that J’onn needs her help. As M’gann goes to get her things to go with Alex, Alex spots Mon-El at the bar drinking away his self-inflicted sorrows. Alex goes the tough love route and berates Mon-El into being a hero. He insists he’s not one, that he shouldn’t have to be one, and that Alex should take her belief in him elsewhere. Alex says she’s not the one who believes in him, Kara is. For some stupid reason. He asks what she expects him to do, and she says “You can start by standing up like the rest of us.”
- At the DEO, Alex tells M’gann that J’onn needs a blood transfusion, and there’s immediate panic on M’gann’s face. After all, she’s not a green martian, she’s a white martian, and even though she seems to be the lone “good one,” she knows that J’onn would hate having her blood inside him. To him it would basically be like getting a blood transfusion from Hitler. Like, thanks? But I fucking despise you and don’t want you near me, let alone coursing through my veins. But Alex begs, saying that if M’gann doesn’t help, J’onn will die, and since M’gann does seem to be a good one, and her kind were already responsible for the death of all the green Martians, she doesn’t want to be responsible for the death of this one, so she agrees. She whispers a plea for forgiveness to an unconscious J’onn.
- Mutant Dr. Jones (who I guess is Parasite, even though he’s never called that in the episode) attempts to go after the real O’Reilly in the street, but Mon-El steps up to try and stop him. Except since he hasn’t trained or anything, he’s basically just an annoying distraction at best.
- Then … Guardian shows up. It’s James in his new suit, complete with shield that can withstand damn near anything, and a Robo-Cop-looking helmet. Meanwhile, Winn is in a nearby van communicating with him and helping him use the weapons in his suit. They all team up to fight Parasite, and Mon-El saves a little girl who’s standing there with her hand out inexplicably, like she’s attempting to cast a Harry Potter spell on the car being thrown at her.
- Meanwhile, Supergirl is up at the DEO, and even though she’s not up to full strength yet, when she hears that Mon-El went to deal with Parasite, she insists on going to help. She makes a pit stop at the local nuclear power plant first.
- Supergirl arrives as Guardian and Mon-El continue to keep Parasite busy. She confronts Parasite, and when he tries to touch her to absorb her energy, she hits him with two chunks of plutonium 239, overloading him and making him explode. Of course, she does this after giving him “one last chance,” because she wouldn’t just out and out kill someone without giving them an option first.
- She sees Guardian, thanks him, and asks him who he is. “A friend,” he replies in a gravelly voice that sounds like he’s about to say, “I’m Batman.” It’s amazing how much he loves messing with Kara.
- The next day at CatCo, James gleefully watches news reports of the “mysterious Guardian” who appeared in National City last night. Winn enters, and they question their sanity and why they love being heroes so much. Winn asks if it’s wise to keep their partnership and Guardian a secret from Kara, but James insists, “at least until we get a handle on things,” because Kara would likely try to stop them. However, they imagine the day when all of them will be fighting crime together. “To the superfriends!” they toast, with no drinks.
- At the DEO, J’onn awakens to M’gann sitting by his bedside, having given him the transfusion. He thanks her, and she looks really guilty. She notices that his hand is shaking. White Martian blood might not be good for green Martians for reasons other than history.
- At the alien dive bar, Alex finds Maggie and tells her that she came out to Kara. Maggie is overjoyed and gives Alex a congratulatory hug. Alex then goes in for the kiss, which shocks Maggie. As it turns out, Maggie isn’t really interested in dating a Baby Queer. She tries to let Alex down as gently as possible, and insists she wants to be her friend, but Alex is way embarrassed and flees as quickly as possible.
- Later, Alex is back at her apartment, having not gone into work and drinking hard alcohol. Kara flies in worried about her. At first, Alex wants to be alone and doesn’t want to talk about it. But eventually, in her sadness and anger and humiliation, she tells Kara that Maggie isn’t interested in her like that and breaks down crying. She regrets having come out now and feels so stupid. Kara consoles her.
- That evening, Mon-El is walking down the street and, having been inspired to give hero-ing a try, he stops to see if he can help a homeless man. That homeless man turns out to have an electrified baton that can take own a Daxamite. Mon-El is then grabbed by a group of masked people and put into a dark van. Driving that van? The scientist from Project Cadmus. Jeez! The ONE time Mon-El tries to help someone …
S2, EP. 6 – THE REVIEW
You may have guessed from the snarky tone in much of the above recap that I wasn’t particularly thrilled with this episode, mostly because it felt like it was mistaking a lot of whining and petulant pouting for actual character growth and development. It was weird, because usually one of the best things about Supergirl is its attention to character growth and its knack for exploring the nuances of their personalities.
Everything in this episode seemed so one-note, and a big reason is that we didn’t really explore reasons why feels were being had. Like, I thought Kara learned to allow Mon-El to be himself last week, but this week she continues to prescribe a cookie-cutter existence for him. Mon-El’s not much better, not even giving what she has to offer a try. Now, he actually might have a reason for feeling the way he feels about heroism. Namely, that the prince he was supposed to defend actually stepped in to save him and get him off the planet while he died with his people. But this is just me guessing at Mon-El’s motivations, as we’ve seen nothing from him yet but rampant flirting and he’s been nothing but obstinate despite telling Kara he’d try.
James is the most puzzling of all. In this episode, he says that he’s always felt like being a hero, and that he’s felt that way from the moment he learned Clark was Superman. While I’d understand him feeling inadequate and being inspired to heroism by his super friends (seriously, is there a Superfriends spin-off in the works?), I don’t buy this James Olsen has always been a hero malarkey. Like Kara’s journalism, James’ heroism seems like less of a calling and more like A Thing To Do, yet the show and the dialogue seem to be trying to get us to believe that these things are integral to who they are. Up until this season, James has been a voice of reason. To have him all of a sudden try to go all action hero seems weird. Worse, it seems to come out of nowhere.
Also, Parasite was a weak villain, and having already done a “we will save the Earth our way because humans don’t know how to do it” storyline in Season 1 with Astra and the Kryptonians, doing that again in Season Two fell flat as it tried to fit a motivation that took half a season to develop in Season One into one Season Two episode.
By far the strongest part of this episode was Alex’s storyline. Her continuing coming out story feels so real, and having Maggie not want to date her because they’re at different places on their journey was so real, and heartbreaking, and good. Chyler Leigh has been killing it this season, and I couldn’t even with her heaving sobs at the end of the episode. She’s navigating this performance perfectly, and as she is basically enacting the story of my life from earlier this year, I can say that I’m sure there are many people who see themselves in her story.
I’m also intrigued by the relationship between J’onn and M’gann and the inevitable fallout of J’onn finding out that she’s a white Martian. But the show hasn’t spent nearly enough time on them, and I hope it continues to explore that story in a nuanced and smart way. And with more real estate in the scripts.
“Changing” was sadly a low point in an otherwise awesome season. I just hope that the changes the characters are going through now are all for the better as far as the storytelling is concerned.
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