written by Dayna Abel and Cara Russell
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
I’ve missed Supergirl so much and the first five minutes of this episode reminds me exactly why. Kara & co. are out at a karaoke bar and we immediately dive right into Melissa Benoist singing “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys while continuing to wig me out with how much she looks like my little sister. Winn is about to launch into A-Ha’s “Take On Me” when the TV at the bar shows that his father, the Toyman, has died in prison.
From here on out, the episode focuses heavily on Winn and his troubled relationship with his parents, as his mother (played by Laurie Metcalf, who is far too good an actress to waste on the horrific Roseanne reboot) Mary Schott comes back into his life after twenty years to attempt to reconnect with her son.
This is the second time in series history that I’ve actually managed to care deeply about Winn – again, when his parents are involved – and this is 100% due to Jeremy Jordan being on his A-game. He fills every word to his mother with intense, raw emotion and I’m so glad that he and the writers can make me feel for someone who was toxic garbage at the beginning of Season One. Winn gets to demonstrate his quick thinking skills and Jeremy Jordan gets to play his character with the range he deserved from the beginning, rather than “super creepy ‘nice guy’ tech geek”.
We also get to see a refreshing renewal of other, less-focused-on interpersonal relationships. Alex and J’onn’s father-daughter bond is emphasized as she has dinner at his and his father M’yrnn’s apartment. After a brief discussion about American racism, M’yrnn and Alex have a talk where Alex accidentally finds out that M’yrnn is exhibiting signs of the Martian equivalent of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Carl Lumbly plays this beautifully with a mix of fear and anger at his situation, and my heart hurt for both him and J’onn.
I enjoyed the action sequences quite a bit as well. Glen Winter directed this one, but James Liston is listed as the director of photography and I don’t know much about making television so I don’t know whom to credit for the awesome fight with robot flying monkeys in the DEO. Kara taking them down left and right with heat vision and an improvised staff was fantastic. Also, flying monkeys.
This was a good episode to come back on. Admittedly, the extended break hurt my already-shoddy memory when it came to season-long plot arcs, but there were only a couple of instances where I had to refresh my memory. Focusing on the characters and having this be a self-contained episode was a good call.
On the other hand, I never, ever, ever, ever want to hear Chris Wood sing again as long as I live.
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After a return from a hiatus that feels like a thousand years ago, Supergirl brings us the last thing I expected to see from this show – the Beastie Boys, and not another trailer cut of “Sabotage”. Well done; I am surprised and amazed.
From there, we find ourselves in another character-driven episode, with the action driven by the quiet, unremarkable death of Winn’s father, the Toyman, causing the return of his estranged mother, Mary (Laurie Metcalf). Winn’s understandably upset for all reasons, losing the opportunity to reconcile with his father and being forced to deal with a parent he hasn’t seen in twenty years, who knowingly left him in the care of an unstable madman. To make matters worse, someone has targeted the two of them with Toyman-type tricks and machinery. As it turns out, Mary’s just as clever and mechanically capable as Winn, having once been Winslow Sr.’s apprentice, and figures out the culprit’s location before getting herself captured.
As it happens, Jacqueline Nimball (Brooke Smith) – a maintenance worker at the prison – had become Toyman’s apprentice as well, and is carrying out his last wish: that Winn would be killed if Mary came back into his life, before being murdered herself. We’re treated to a plethora of special effects, running, creepy lighting, and quippy toy remarks, complete with an action figure packaging deathtrap and a mechanical T. Rex. We’re also treated to a demonstration that Mon-El isn’t completely useless in action. It’s all tied up neatly with Winn taking some of his father’s lessons and using them in the service of good.
On the other side, J’onn’s lack of hospitality at the new apartment he shares with his father draws ire from Alex, who muscles her way into getting her alien dad to act a little more human and host a dinner for her and M’yrnn, while the others deal with the A-plot. This turns out to be even more heartrending, as it turns out some of M’yrnn’s missteps into human culture are affected by a degenerative memory condition which affects Martian elders…one that he desperately wishes to hide from his son, while Alex is set to help M’yrnn and make sure he’s safe and cared for. They fight, confusing J’onn greatly, but in a twist, M’yrnn eventually comes clean with J’onn. This ensures that they can actually deal with the situation instead of avoiding it, and hopefully lead to the DEO lending its vast resources into researching Martian medicine to treat M’yrnn’s condition.
We also learn the secret behind the Legion’s true mission – our present day was their intended destination, as one of the Worldkillers will evolve into the Legion’s enemy Blight. These two disparate plotlines are finally tied together, and they justify Mon-El’s return directly after Kara tells him that his emotional problems are his own to deal with (attagirl!) and she’s not okay with talking about Imra behind her back (solidarity, huzzah!).
This episode was like a warm soothing balm, even with all the tense feelings. I do hope that this villain isn’t a one-off, though, as there’s always room for ladies in engineering, and evil ones are just as welcome.