We’re only just getting started this season of Supergirl, but one of my favorite aspects thus far is the focus on J’on J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter. It still blows my mind a little that we’re five seasons into a live-action television show where one of the main characters is the Martian Manhunter and that the show has spent as much time on him as it has. But it seems like things are really kicking up this year. Spoilers for season 5, episode 3 of Supergirl, “Blurred Lines,” follow.
J’onn J’onzz is having a rough time this season. In hopes of filling in the blank spaces in his memory, J’onn enlists the help of the Dreamer, Nia Nal.
In the dream space, the pair discovers some secrets about J’onn’s past. The white Martians did not grant Malefic his dangerous powers; he was born with them. Further, he was never connected to the Martian collective consciousness rather than being cut off, so his banishment just isolated him and pushed him toward the white Martians all the more.
Witnessing his father drowning in anguish pushes J’onn out of the dream. It’s a rough way to start things off, but it’s a huge credit to actor David Harewood once again. I wish we could see more of the Martians looking like Martians, but I also understand just how much make-up and VFX that would end up being. At least Harewood is really nailing it as J’onn in the meantime.
On Supergirl‘s side, the Kryptonian Cousin is trying desperately to repair her friendship with Lena Luthor. Kara confessed and Lena forgave her, and for a hot second, everything was alright. Lena is now embracing her family name fully and manipulating Kara into working for her.
In the supporting cast, Alex is worried about her girlfriend Kelly’s safety following Malefic’s attack last week, while Kelly is confident that she can handle herself and doesn’t want to change who she is over one attack. Which, I get it, Kelly, but that dude is a flying alien with mind-control powers. Brainy continues to drive Nia up the wall with his very bad poetry.
Forget about it
As the episode title suggests, this week’s episode is about relationships affected by unclear or broken boundaries. It mostly works, too.
For J’onn, the boundary is societal. As he explores his memory he first believes that his father erased Malefic from their memories and then discovers that he, J’onn J’onzz, is responsible. For green Martians, this is a crime worse than murder; Martians live on in the collective consciousness after death, but erasing them prevents that.
We get to see younger versions of J’onn and his father M’rynn. The show does a good job of aging them down! But first, we witness M’rynn’s over-the-top anguish–which feels appropriate for the character–and then we see J’onn’s in real-time. J’onn now has to contend with crimes that he allowed himself to forget, and Harewood does such a great job of making this feel heavy and real.
The more Supergirl explores Martian culture, the more I like it. It’s ambitious for a show mostly set in a modern city, so I understand the desire to keep these scenes short, but they’re always so cool and so interesting. I’d love to see more time in these places and memories.
Lena the Damsel
For Supergirl, the boundary is personal. Lena has given up on silly and childish ideas like friendship and is devoting herself single-mindedly to fixing the flaws of humanity. She plans to do this by editing their brains using sci-fi waves being used by Andrea Rojas’ company (who is almost entirely absent from this episode) and apparently being studied by one Lex Luthor. Hope, the AI occupying Eve Tessmacher’s body, tells Lena that Lex had key information about Q-waves recorded in his encoded diaries, which are currently under lock and key at a federal facility.
Lena just knows that if she had those, she could finally get some closure on her brother’s death, if only she had a way to get them, like a super-powered friend who just flew to France and Ireland to buy her pastries. Oh right, Kara. Kara volunteers herself to break the law for Lena.
Meanwhile, Supergirl is helping the DEO investigate the mysterious death of a young billionaire inventor, and it turns out there’s an assassin on the loose whose body is host to an alien that can live on a human in the form of a tattoo. Kara ends up in the assassin’s apartment, who then gets the drop on her. James jumps in to save her as Guardian, only to get tatted up himself.
Later, he tells Kara that “when a friend is in trouble, you jump in. Period. Doesn’t matter the consequences.”
This, of course, is the last thing Kara needed to hear. What she needed to hear is “don’t turn yourself into a doormat for someone or they’ll walk all over you.” Thanks for that great advice, James.
And so Kara breaks the law for her friend who is, of course, extremely grateful. Lena apologizes for asking Kara to cross a line for her. Kara shows Lena her sleeve and says, ‘right here: this is my heart, just in case you wanted to take it and stomp on it later this season.’ What she actually says is that between the two of them, there are no boundaries. Yikes, Kara.
Weirdly, one of the B stories has a highlight moment. Kelly is in the crosshairs of Malefic the shapeshifter. Her similarly open heart keeps her from being suspicious, though, even of a friend appearing suddenly from nowhere. For someone so smart, Kelly is kind of dumb. But then again, her friend is played by none other than the head Goonie, Samwise (Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Bob Newby (Stranger Things). You’d help that gentle face, too, right? (Side note: Astin is apparently a big fan of the show and watches it with his daughter.)
The boundary Kelly is crossing here is professional. It’s the least impactful of the various transgressions but helps kick off a confrontation between J’onn and Malefic that puts Malefic in the wind once again and ends up with Alex and Kara deciding that Kelly would be safer in hiding. This moment stuck out to me. Kelly has been a vocal character thus far, but here we see Alex infantilizing Kelly and she just accepts it. I acknowledge that she’s probably shaken after an alien threw her through a window and tried to make her stab herself in the neck with a glass shard. This scene felt more like the writers shuffling her off for a while so that Kara and Alex could do some Real Superhero Stuff, and to get James out of the picture organically as Mehcad Brooks turns down the volume on his involvement.
So many villains
This season, Kara has to contend with Malefic, Lena, and Andrea Rojas. We still don’t know what Andrea is up to. There’s also the charming Brit reporter, who one minute looks like a liar and a thief and the next is framed as a good guy. Brainy walking out on Nia puts their future in question, too. There are a lot of pieces moving here; places to build and break trust. Will Lena ultimately stay the course and force Supergirl to face her, or will Supergirl’s heart break through to her? How will J’onn deal with his crimes, which he acknowledges Malefic is right to be angry about?
With so many villains and so many threads moving, it’s hard right now to see where it’s all heading toward. The Supergirl writers’ room hasn’t failed yet, though, so I’m still hanging on with interest to see where this goes.