Monday, March 20, 2017

Mon-El's Built-In Bomb Goes Off In "Star-Crossed."


The Good: Good performances in the a-plot, Mon-El's character
The Bad: Predictable character issues in the b-plot, Dated references, Poor transition into the crossover with The Flash
The Basics: "Star-Crossed" is a poorly put-together episode of Supergirl that serves a number of plot purposes in an unremarkable way.


As Supergirl has progressed into its second season, the show has done a decent job of differentiating itself from the other DC Comics Television Universe shows. Supergirl's first season was hampered by being fairly derivitive of The Flash. The first season of Supergirl had Supergirl working to stop the Alien Threat Of The Week, much the way The Flash alternated between its serialized elements and the episodic Metahuman Of The Week. In the second season, Supergirl has mostly been preoccupied with relationships, while dealing with the anti-alien agenda of Cadmus. That changes some with "Star-Crossed," which sets off the ticking time bomb of Mon-El's backstory while giving Winn Schott an unfortunate b-plot that is likely to make every fan of his cringe.

"Star-Crossed" follows on "Exodus" (reviewed here!) and given the climactic events of that episode it is tough to discuss the new episode without some spoilers. "Exodus" saw Kara Danvers losing her reporting job at Cadmus after she published a blog article intended to warn extraterrestrials on Earth that Cadmus had the U.S.'s Alien Registry. Snapper Carr fired Kara for doing the wrong thing for the right reasons and left Kara fairly adrift while an alien ship arrived behind Earth's moon. "Star-Crossed" seems like its whole purpose is to break Mon-El and Kara up just in time for the next crossover episode where Melissa Benoist's Kara Danvers appears on The Flash. The episode is marred by dated references, cliche reversals and character issues that come across as entirely sloppy to any viewer who is awake, perceptive and has watched pretty much any other episode of Supergirl.

Mon-El has been a part of Supergirl since he crashed on Earth in the second season premiere, but he has been revealed through flashbacks and scenes where other characters reference him (most notably when Kara and Mon-El rescue humans from the slaver's planet) as an unreliable narrator. Mon-El has claimed to be the assistant to the Prince of Daxam, Kypton's sister planet. But long before "Star-Crossed," there were ample indications in the scenes of Mon-El fleeing that he was not quite who he said he was. In fact, given what comes out in "Star-Crossed" about the Daxamites using slave labor, it seems entirely ridiculous that Kara never before figured out that Mon-El was lying to her about his past.

As Kara and Mon-El are enjoying streaming movies while Kara is unemployed, National City's television signals are bombarded with a message from the ship in orbit, demanding Mon-El. Winn Schott, however, is not at the DEO when the message comes in, he is out with Lyra, who encourages him to break into the National City Museum Of Art. The next morning, the DEO finds the ship that broadcast the message for Mon-El and Supergirl attempts to board it. When its weapons systems come to bear on Kara, Mon-El gives himself up to the occupants of the ship. Kara goes with him and aboard the alien ship, she discovers Lar Gan and Rhea, King and Queen of Daxam. She also learns that Mon-El is the prince of Daxam and that he has lied to her since he landed.

Maggie Sawyer calls Schott and asks him for help on a case she is working on; it seems that Van Gogh's "Starry Night" has been stolen from the National City Museum Of Art and Schott is the lead suspect, as only he appears on the museum's security footage. Olsen and Danvers get Sawyer to release Schott into their custody for 48 hours to prove his innocence and they soon track Lyra down to her alien clan's trailer park. There, she informs Winn that he was her dupe, but the DEO team manages to apprehend her. In DEO custody, Lyra reveals that a prominent art thief alien is holding her brother hostage for a debt and Schott and the DEO work to liberate him and get "Starry Night Back." While the DEO tries to deal with Schott's situation, a jaded Kara rejects Mon-El and considers Rhea's plea to Kara for her to encourage Mon-El to return to Daxam with them.

"Star-Crossed" is littered with problems, not the least of which is that all of the supposedly smart characters fail to notice that when the alien ship demands Mon-El, they demand that his captors release him. In other words, the Daxamites arrive under the impression that Mon-El is someone's prisoner, yet none of the DEO personnel seem to catch that and suggest sending the alien ship a message like "no one here is holding Mon-El prisoner!" In a similar way, when Schott encounters Lyra at the alien trailer park, his hurt outburst over the nature of their relationship is formulaic, but realistic-enough. Unfortunately, the very next scene opens with Schott approaching the imprisoned Lyra at the DEO and essentially saying the same thing! It is almost like director John Melden Jr. shot two different confrontation scenes where Winn Schott searches for the truth from Lyra and then he accidentally put both in the show! Those types of scenes in "Star-Crossed" are just sloppy.

The tone of "Star-Crossed" is also off. The episode begins with commentary on musicals and references the formulaic nature of romantic comedies . . . only to have "Star-Crossed" mimic the formula and lead Supergirl into the musical crossover with The Flash! As well, "Star-Crossed" makes a reference to Hamilton and it is hard not to hear Kara's outrage over the state in which the Daxamites were kept and not hear a commentary on the state of political apathy in the United States today. Instead of feeling fresh and hip, those references and allusions make "Star-Crossed" actually feel strangely dated.

The tone being off continues in many of the performances in "Star-Crossed." For a change, Jeremy Jordan and Tamzin Merchant have little organic on-screen chemistry and David Harewood and Mehcad Brooks are stuck in the episode in roles that do not allow either of them to have anything remotely substantive to perform. Chris Wood does fine as Mon-El, though.

"Star-Crossed" marks the return of Teri Hatcher to the DC Television Universe. Hatcher's Rhea is stern and authoritative in a way that Hatcher was not able to play Lois Lane on Lois And Clark, so it is nice to see her range her. Unfortunately, Hatcher is given some of the episode's most troubling lines as she and Kevin Sorbo (Lar Gand) play characters who do their best to articulately justify slavery.

The details, the awkwardness, the lack of truly compelling performances make much of "Star-Crossed" feel like a contrived a-plot, b-plot intended to tear apart Kara and Mon-El, Schott and Lyra and kill enough time for the episode's otherwise unrelated climax that leads into the next episode of The Flash. It is, sadly, a disappointment almost the entire runtime.

For other works with Teri Hatcher, please check out my reviews of:
Coraline
Tomorrow Never Dies
"The Outrageous Okona" - Star Trek: The Next Generation

4/10

For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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