Imps, amirite? Can’t live with’em. The vindictive Princess Nyxly is making trouble in Metropolis, and Supergirl ended last week’s episode by calling an audible. The once-adversarial Mr. Mxyzptlk proved himself a (still somewhat chaotic) ally of the Superfriends last year when he appeared in one of Season 5’s best episodes, “It’s a Super Life,” and now he’s back for one more go-round to help Supergirl with her magic infestation. Spoilers follow for Supergirl Season 6, Episode 11, “Mxy in the Middle.”
“Mxy in the Middle”
After a couple of social-justice-focused episodes, we’re firmly back in superhero territory when Supergirl and Mxy blast off into the sky for the Tower. What follows is a pretty standard Supergirl episode elevated by the presence of Thomas Lennon reprising his role as Mxy. I’ll admit, I’m biased here. I love Tom Lennon and will watch him in just about anything. I think he was an inspired choice for the re-casting of this character–much more appropriate for the overall mischievous tone of Mxy than the previous actor, who felt more like a “CW casting choice,” if you will.
The main story of the episode has all the hallmarks of a Supergirl episode, including the team spending a lot of time in their secret base trying to come up with solutions, one of the characters (Nia) worrying that the whole team will judge her once they realize she made a mistake (but we know they won’t), trying their thing and having it fail, someone making a noble sacrifice that probably isn’t quite as much of a sacrifice as it first seems.
If it sounds like I’m saying it’s boring, it’s not. I actually had a blast watching the episode. Supergirl is continuing to avoid the pitfalls that made season 5 stop short of being unwatchable. Nyxly isn’t my favorite Supergirl villain, but she’s more fun than the disappointing members of Leviathan at the very least.
Lennon elevates many down moments with his particular brand of silliness, such as telling his life story to the tune of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” and Nicole Maines does a stellar job of making her anguish convincing and relatable. Despite these, the episode never stumbles into outright silliness or self-absorbed melodrama.
What do you burn, apart from witches?
The weird part of the episode belongs to Lena Luthor. Lena heads to her ancestral home which is not Ireland as I thought, but rather Newfoundland. That’s actually perfect. But these sequences all feel like they’re from some entirely different CW show. Lena discovers that her mother was part of a coven of actual witches. That is by no means weird or unreasonable for an Arrowverse show, but it feels wildly out of place as a connection for the Ultimate Science Woman, Lena Luthor. The whole town hates her because they think her mother burned a guy to death for no good reason.
The worst part comes when they show a picture of her mother who, of course, “looks just like her.” By which the show means, “is her, but in one of the worst wigs in all of Arrowverse history.” And I’m including five seasons of Arrow in that. It’s royally bad. It looks like a joke wig that someone brought to set only to find out that no one was brave enough to call it out. Only Mick Rory’s wigs look worse, but those are being played for laughs.
Even the way these sequences are shot feels like they took place in a different show. The sequences focused on Lena’s mother are shot in low-framerate sepia tones with all these weird dutch angles that make it feel like some 1990s music video instead of a show shot in 2021. It carbon-dates the video without actually placing the subjects in a particular time.
I’m valuing my time with Katie McGrath, one of the show’s stronger performers, but this isn’t what I had in mind when I was hoping for more character development with Lena. Lena and McGrath are both at their best when they’re with Supergirl/Benoist.
All told, it’s a fun, if uneven episode that gives us time with some of the show’s most entertaining characters, and that’s just fine.