Supergirl, ‘Far from the Tree’: Side Trip to Mars, and Exploring Daddy Issues

Supergirl, Season 3, Episode 3, “‘Far from the Tree”

This week, Supergirl took a break from the corporate grind and Kara’s mourning, and instead used parallel storytelling to shade in secondary characters J’onn and Maggie. Both confront their fathers after long absences, although the circumstances and outcomes are quite different. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Supergirl:

What’s the scoop: Alex and Maggie are having their dual bridal shower, which mortifies the rough and tumble Alex to no end. Kara is hosting the party, but has to cut out when J’onn shows up at Kara’s door talking about the need to go to Mars to help M’gann. As Kara and J’onn take off to Mars in the most convertible blue convertible ever, Alex and Maggie get some momming from Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater) over dinner, where Maggie tells the full story about her parents abandoning her. We come to find out that Maggie has been keeping in semi-regular touch with her dad over the years, and she eventually invites him to the party.

Anything new?: Maggie has always been evasive about her family life, so her backstory is all new. Maggie is the child of Mexican immigrants. Her dad had to overcome the overt racism that is a part of life in a border town, and he was eventually elected sheriff. His dislike of Maggie’s lesbianism doesn’t come from a religious place; rather, from a racist one. He worked so hard to overcome the stigma of being an immigrant to become respected within his community, so he didn’t want those same small minds to reject his daughter for her homosexuality. Dumping a confused 14-year-old on the front steps of a relative without explanation seems a little harsh, but the details are specific enough that it does make one wonder if a similar episode happened to a member of the Supergirl creative team.

What about the action: J’onn discovers he’s not the last green Martian after all; in fact, his father, a cleric of some renown, has been held captive by the white Martians for 200 years. In a clever bit of casting, Carl Lumbly plays J’onn’s father, M’yrnn. Alias and Battlestar Galactica fans might recognize Lumbly’s face, but fans of DC’s many Justice League series and movies recognize the voice of, you guessed it, J’onn J’onezz, the Martian Manhunter, himself. M’yrnn thinks that J’onn is a white Martian trick at first. Thanks to some convincing by Kara, M’yrnn comes to his senses, has an emotional reunion with his son, then proceeds to help kick the crap out of some evil, white Martians. There was a lot of CGI throughout the episode –- some good, some … not so much. The sheer volume of effects was impressive, so don’t be shocked if Kara rides the bus to the save the day, or loses her powers again to offset the money spent on this episode.

This is still a show about Supergirl, right?: While there wasn’t much Kara this week, what we got was significant to her growth in a post-Mon-El world. Kara shows an empathy not previously seen this season when she tries to convince M’yrnn that J’onn is no trick. We even get a unicorn and rainbow moment, as Kara breaks out a classic Bugs Bunny reference to distract the white Martians before the climactic battle.

GIF quote of the week:

via lesbianlenas on tumblr

What’s next: M’yrnn survived the battle and went to Earth with J’onn, so there’s some entertainment value to be mined there. Maggie got a sense of closure after her father showed at the party, but was freaked out to see his daughter all lovey-dovey with another woman. Maggie was able to deliver the kind of speech that any child cast aside by their parents for any reason would want to make. Maggie’s done being weighed down by trying to earn her father’s approval. Instead, she’s going to appreciate and soak in the love of the people who respect her for all she is. Finally, the previews hint at a creepy Supergirl cult, perfect for Halloween, I’m sure.

Last impressions: For an episode designed to give Melissa Benoist either time off or a chance to shoot next month’s crossover, this episode was surprisingly satisfying. The Sanvers relationship has always run hot and cold, so it was nice to get insight into what motivates Maggie. Throw that in with a big swing at a large number of effects, some further J’onn backstory and just the right amount of humor, and you get a Supergirl episode that feels like classic Supergirl, despite the fact Supergirl is hardly in the episode.

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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