Supergirl: Far from the Tree

“Sometimes parents can do really stupid things.”

An episode in which we learn that parents are only human. Well, not always exactly human, but less than perfect beings. A lesson that every generation has to learn.

This episode was less about Kara and more about two supporting characters: J’onn and Maggie. J’onn is needed back on Mars while Maggie reaches out to the parents she has not seen since they kicked her out when she was 14.

Emotionally, I liked this episode a lot. What happened felt natural to me. Alex suggests to Maggie that she reach out to her family, and although Maggie at first rejects the notion, she follows the suggestion a little later. That’s how persuasion usually works; people don’t respond instantly. And sometimes they don’t respond at all.

J’onn’s father, we learn, is still alive! As the high priest of his people, the bad White Martians had qualms about killing him and have been keeping him in prison. M’yrnn Jonzz has now been rescued by the good White Martians. He knows where an extremely powerful weapon is – a staff – and the good guys need him to let them know its location because the bad guys are about to find it. However, after centuries of abuse and tricks, he does not believe that his son is his son. All this makes sense to me, and the scenes felt real (well, as real as Green Martians ever feel, I guess).

This episode has less for Kara to do, but she proves herself a hero through and through. First, she insists on accompanying J’onn back to Mars (Alex would go too, but being on Mars would kill her). Second, when M’yrnn refuses to believe that he is with good guys now, refuses even to listen to his son, Kara goes to talk to him. A difficult conversation, but as a Kryptonian who has lost her world, he cannot claim his pain is greater than hers (although no one has been torturing her for the last 200 years). And so he bonds with J’onn and discovers that he truly is his son and not some impostor.

Maybe, at its core, that’s what heroism is. Insistence.

We have some insistence, too, on the part of one of the White Martians in the resistance. Till’all is ruthless with M’yrnn because the stakes are so high. J’onn accuses him of putting survival first, but heck, sometimes a few ethics have to go if the alternative is the complete annihilation of your cause.

Maggie’s conversation with her father at the end was necessary and a bit cliché but also satisfying. She’s not that scared little girl anymore and she can choose who she wants to be.

I was expecting the Martian portion to end with Till’all taking the staff and wielding it; I was surprised when he said that it was too powerful a weapon for either side, making J’onn (and me) respect him a lot more. I was a little surprised (and impressed) that the writers would remove this source of conflict, but instead they gave the staff to Supergirl to take with her to Earth. So, as most of the stories take place on Earth, the writers did not remove the source of conflict at all! Clever.

And M’yrnn J’onzz is also on Earth now! So Carl Lumbly can return! Excellent.

Title musings: The title comes from the proverb, generally applied to sons with respect to their fathers: “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” By lopping off the first part of the sentence, what remains implies the opposite. Maggie is distant culturally from her father, while J’onn has been physically separated from his for more than two hundred years. Moreover, the tree metaphor is apt, as both fathers are (relatively) upright pillars of strength in their own communities: Oscar Rodas is the town sheriff and M’yrnn J’onzz is the high priest.

Bits and pieces

Carl Lumbly is the perfect choice for M’yrnn J’onzz. That man just oozes gravitas.

Gosh, I loved the car that they traveled to Mars in. Why shouldn’t objects shapeshift too? And how apt, for this episode, to have it be your father’s – or your grandfather’s, or heck, even your great-grandfather’s – old car. Or at least the car he wanted to own.

I wanted to hear about the aunt who took in little Maggie. Partly because I prefer to give credit to the people who actually show up and do the real work, rather than fixating on the absent, but also because my favorite character in all fictional worlds is Miss Betsey Trotwood in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield.

I really liked the Martian mythology. Is it mythology if it is true?

Very little for Winn and James, and nothing at all for Lena, Samantha or Mon-El. Glad they weren’t shoe-horned in.

Quotes

J’onn: “Why shouldn’t technology shapeshift too?”

J’onn: “Is that all you care about? Survival?”

Maggie: “The key to most mysteries is in the mundane.”

Till’all: “Too powerful a weapon for either side to have.”

Overall Rating

I appreciate exploring relationships with parents, and enjoyed the parallel stories. Both storylines felt natural, for the most part, although Maggie’s was a little cliché – and if her father was willing to come to her wedding shower, then why would he freak out at her kiss? Or at least say that he’ll work on it? Three out of four bridal shower bingo questions.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

3 comments:

sunbunny said...

Carl Lumbly voiced J'onn J'onzz on the animated Justice League and Justice League Unlimited! I loved the way they worked him in.

Victoria Grossack said...

Thanks for that morsel, sunbunny!

Billie Doux said...

My DVR is getting crowded and I just got to this one. I was sort of dreading it because the preview told us it would be set on Mars and I haven't cared much for the green and white Martian story. Fortunately, it was a lot better than I expected. Like you, Victoria, I absolutely loved the old shapeshifting car -- it was just delightful. I also liked that the resistance leader Til'all decided that the Staff as a weapon was simply too powerful for either side, proving that he deserved to be respected as a leader. And adding Carl Lumbly to the Supergirl team on Earth made me really happy.

Maggie's story was a little more frustrating. I'm glad that they didn't go for a soppy reunion with her father, because anyone that homophobic wouldn't be likely to change so much. But I really don't like the multiple hints that Maggie and Alex will break up because Alex wants children and Maggie doesn't.