Supergirl Review: S1E11 ‘Strange Visitor from Another Planet’


It’s all about family on this week’s “Supergirl” as one member of the cast recounts the loss of family while another finds a familial bond thought lost. While these two disparate family tales were thematically linked, they didn’t quite blend as well as they could have in a strangely paced episode of “Supergirl.”


Let us begin with the less epic of the two family issues. This week saw the onscreen debut of Adam Grant, Cat Grant’s estranged and hunky son. Adam is introduced in an amusing little scene in a coffee shop as a handsome dude that Kara thought was a curious Cat Grant fan. Turns out, it was Adam arrived in National City because Kara took it upon herself to write a letter as Cat, begging him to come to National City for a family reunion. Yeah, it was a bit contrived but Mellissa Benoist and Callista Flockhart sold the heck out of it leaving viewers with a heartfelt bit of family drama that played out nicely over the course of the hour. We have the obligatory drama scene, the Kara stepping in to fix things scene, and the eventual convivial coming to an understanding scene. We are even left with Adam asking Kara out on a date scene as it looks like Adam might become a player in the “Supergirl” saga. It was sweet, it was cute, and it was totally drowned out by the epic-ness of this week’s other family drama.

This week, we learn the secret origin of J’onn J’onzz. Now, did any of you ever think you would witness the origin of the Martian Manhunter play out on live network prime time TV? No, of course not, but there it was – Mars in all its glory, the invasion of the White Martians, the genocide of J’onn’s people, and the death of J’onn’s family all front and center. Kind of wish the episode allowed us to see a bit more of Mars as it was all very flashy and jump cuty. I understand TV budgets are what they are but it would have been nice to linger on Mars for a bit and get to know what J’onn lost to truly feel the impact of the tragedy.


So why did we flashback to Mars you ask? Well this week we see a rally held by a female, alien hating version of Donald Trump that was attacked by a White Martian. It was more like a Flesh Martian as the episode did not go with the classic albino design from the comic. Instead, the White Martian was very Giger inspired and suitably creepy. The White Martian orchestrates the attack to draw out J’onn so it could kill the last Martian. The whole thing gets very X-Men as Supergirl and J’onn had to protect the senator that fears and hates them.

J’onn was suffering from some major Martian PTSD and became frozen whenever his sworn enemy would attack. This is where the episode gets rather good as J’onn decides that he had hidden on Earth and mourned his family for too long and decides that it was time for him to expire. The pathos surrounding J’onn is really powerful as he openly mourned his past and the only thing that held him together are his new surrogate family, the Danvers sisters.


While all this was happening, the White Martian takes the form of the xenophobic senator and springs a trap for the DEO. The beast kidnaps Alex, forcing Hank Henshaw to reveal his Martian side. The DEO track the Martian with a severed finger that really looks like a giant penis and we come to the climax. The final battle had a great set up but when a fighting mad Martian and a Kryptonian team up against anybody the villain isn’t going to stand for long. The real conflict comes when Kara talks J’onn out of murdering the White Martian and I have to say, the hero talking someone out of killing is becoming old hat. Maybe it’s a reaction to the death of Zod in “Man of Steel,” but it is becoming old hat. We get it – heroes don’t kill – but does every third episode have to deal with that little morality play?

So the White Martian is captured, J’onn has a new lease on life, Cat and her son are reunited, and Kara even gets asked out by Adam Grant. All well and good, but both stories were incongruous. Kara stopped the hunt for the Martian to help out Cat and Adam. I get it, Kara wants to help her friends, but you know, genocidal super powered Martian on the loose? Hello? While a nicely done bit of business, the Cat Grant stuff just seemed too small when juggled with the White Martian stuff. I felt bad that during some well thought out, well acted scenes I wanted to yell at the screen to save the drama for later so Kara can go save the world from Nazi Martians. I really feel that the Cat stuff should have waited for a more appropriate episode because a Martian invasion and the origin of one of DC’s most iconic heroes could have really been more than enough to fill an episode.


But J’onn J’onzz continues to be an absolute joy and now that fans have a deeper understanding, things can really get moving. The episode did lay the ground work for a White Martian invasion of Earth and let’s hope that if that does happen, it’s not interspersed with low stakes, if well told, family drama.

3 stars


  1. Thanks for the recap..It was very surreal indeed to see the Martian Manhunter’s backstory play out as it did on network TV…
    I’ve been a long time fan..and you rarely see his tragic past handled well even in the comics.

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