Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of Supergirl and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.
Today, we’re breaking down episode 11 of Supergirl, “Strange Visitor From Another Planet” where we discuss J’Onn J’Onzz tragic history, the return of Cat Grant’s estranged son, and the importance of family on this show.
This episode had a multi-family theme as we saw family lost and family gained. What are your thoughts on the brilliant family dynamics we continue to see on this show?
Supergirl continues to prove that at its core it’s very much a show founded on the basis of family. In this episode we saw two different iterations of family – Cat Grant’s estranged son Adam returning and J’Onn J’Onzz being brought back to his tragic past when a White Martian arrived in town. Both were incredibly emotional storylines that highlighted that it doesn’t matter if you’re human or not, if you have a soul you feel with all of your heart. The ability to love isn’t strictly a human emotion, and it was beautiful to see.
I think the show is doing something very cool and something that feels very current with the family dynamics, in that it’s making them fluid. Family is many things, not just blood, and this show has presented us with many examples of this, including Hank’s relationship with both Kara and Alex, the one between those two, and, of course, now the relationship between Cat and her son. The funny thing about the latter is that, despite the fact that they do share DNA; their relationship is the most complicated. Mostly because Cat sometimes can sometimes fail at the basic human functions. It’s not that she doesn’t care, though, it’s that she doesn’t know how to show that she cares. It’s the same thing that happens to her with Kara – she clearly has soft spot for her, and yet the only way Cat knows to show that is to be harsh on her. That’s the way she made it to the top, after all.
There’s a moment, though, when Kara’s standing up to her, that I sort of expected Cat to remark that she was proud. Kara has grown so much in just half a season, and though a lot of that has to do with her Supegirl persona, a part of it also has to do with Cat. Kara has always wanted to live up to Cat’s unfairly high expectations, and in trying to do so Kara has clearly become a better version of herself.
But I’m getting distracted. Family dynamics – that’s my favorite part of the show. It’s 100% the reason I tune in.
It’s a feels train that I didn’t expect. Supergirl didn’t start off as a show that I could bet on. Now I’m all in! J’Onn’s story resonated and balanced out Cat’s loss. It showed us that there is hope after surviving. Most importantly, that there’s nothing wrong with surviving.
With the arrival of the White Martian we got a glimpse into J’Onn J’Onzz’s heartbreaking past. What were your thoughts on that and how it served to motivate his actions in this episode?
It’s hard to believe that a few episodes ago – before we learned who Hank Henshaw really is – that I could not stand Henshaw. There was just something inherently bland and unemotional when it came to Hank. But ever since we learned about J’Onn J’Onzz and what he’s gone through, what he’s lost to get to this point – to help from Earth from these aliens gone rogue – I can’t help but love and appreciate him and never want him to leave. While we knew that something bad had happened in J’Onzz’s past, we finally heard the gory details which are even more tragic than believed possible.
Watching J’Onzz legitimately freeze up at the sight of a White Martian – the race that slaughtered his people and his wife and daughters – and learning the tragic story behind the whole thing was incredibly sobering as it reminded me of our own world’s tragic past. When J’Onzz revealed that his people were herded into concentration camps, where the men where forced into labor and the women and children burned, it was a gruesome reminder of the evil that exists in the world. To be honest I couldn’t even fault J’Onzz for nearly killing that White Martian. He was more than justified. But I understand what Kara meant when she said that the White Martians would still win if he killed that last one. J’Onzz would lose himself in the process. He would become that which he hated and feared most. So it was really nice to see J’Onzz come back from that and rise above.
If you’d told me Jon’Onn J’Onzz would have me tearing up a few episodes ago, I would have scoffed. Fact is, when the storyline was first introduced, I wasn’t too excited. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Like many things in this show, the whole thing just didn’t interest me. That all changed this episode. For all that the story of how his family died might have felt like treading on old ground, for me, it just hit close to home. I don’t know what it was, if it was the way it was presented, or the performances, but I really, really connected to him in a very real way this episode.
This helped me understand him completely. Doing what Kara asked him to do, in the end, is HARD. I mean, hard doesn’t even cover it. It means putting brain above heart, and when you want revenge, sometimes that’s nearly impossible. The fact that Jon’Onn was able to do it just goes to show much human he’s become. Just like we talked about family dynamics before, what you are is not just those things that you are born with, but what you learn, and what you see from the people around you. And, in this case, that’s a good thing. That’s a great thing. That’s the thing that, all the sudden, has me interested in what’s coming next.
Could I just insert a crying gif as my answer? I was tearing up the entire time that J’Onn was talking his past. It’s easier to see why he distances himself from normal human contact. He’s afraid that if he steps out into the world or cares for someone he could be putting them in danger. His fears were proven true when Alex was hurt by the White Martian. Supergirls support and kind words motivated him to stop hiding in the shadows and defeat his past.
We met Cat Grant’s estranged son Adam Foster in this episode where we saw both struggle to find clarity in this relationship but ultimately came to a good place to continue improving upon. What did you think of how both handled this situation and what do you think about their relationship moving forward?
Cat Grant is a character that I want to know more about every time she appears on my screen. It’s hard to believe there was a time when I thought she was nothing more than an angry woman hell-bent on being in power. I should’ve known better. Since, we’ve seen her character pushed to the brink emotionally and watched her evolve into a strong, powerful woman who is very much a hero in her own right. One of the things that makes Cat so interesting is her past and how it’s shaped her. In this episode we met her estranged son Adam, who she gave up when she was younger because she didn’t think she could take care of him. His return set the stage for an emotional storyline where we got to see both of them hash it out and explain their side.
We see how Adam is willing to try to get to know his mother, but at dinner we see his frustration when Cat seemingly keeps making everything about her. It takes some help from Kara to get the two together again to hash out their feelings. Adam admits he doesn’t like how everything is about her, from giving him up to the way she acted at dinner. We see Cat hone up to her mistakes and admit she regrets her actions. She wants to make it work. Adam is still willing to give her a chance, which leads us to believe that he wants to make it work. I can’t wait to see more of these two and how they continue to reconnect or essentially just get to know each other. I’m emotionally invested in this relationship now, which means it probably won’t end well.
I think Kara should do couple’s counseling or something. Because neither Cat nor Adam really handled anything until Cat stepped in. Sure, Adam tried. He showed up, he gave Cat a chance, but really, he seemed to have come with an attitude of waiting for the other shoe to drop. He was waiting for his mother to disappoint him from the beginning. And, Cat …well, she just doesn’t know. For all her brilliance and business acumen, Cat doesn’t really know how to behave like a normal human being sometimes. Kara told her repeatedly what Adam wanted to hear, what she would have wanted to hear, and Cat just didn’t take her seriously.
Cat thought she knew better. She thought she knew Adam. Likewise, Adam thought he had his mother figured out. It took Kara to get them both to a place where they could even try to discuss their multitude of issues. Now that they did, though, I think things can only get easier. It might take Cat backing down more times than she’s used to, and it might take more prodding from Kara, but these two are in the perfect place to discover what kind of relationship they can have at this point.
I think they handled this situation better than expected between mother/son and for viewers. Cat and Adam didn’t fly off the handle or have dramatic exits like most tropes would have wanted. It was awkward and stilted in the opening but grounded itself with the help of Kara. Moving forward I’m hoping to see them work on their relationship. No crazy twists or turns where he’s evil. I want something to soften the hard edges of Cat’s personality. That’s how you make a character like her more relatable.
While J’Onn J’Onzz might’ve lost his family in the most tragic way possible, one of the good things that has happened to him has been growing close to Kara and Alex and essentially thinking of them as his daughters. What are your thoughts on those three and their relationship?
One of my favorite things about Greg Berlanti’s shows is that he gives me things I didn’t know I needed, mainly relationships. I’m someone where characters and their relationships make or break a show for me. It’s why I ultimately fell in love with Arrow (with Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity), it’s why I became emotionally attached to The Flash (with Barry and Joe), and it’s why my heart swells when I see that Supergirl has given me the gift of Hank (J’Onn) and his girls Kara and Alex. The beautiful thing is that while J’onzz lost his family, including his two daughters, he essentially has gained two more daughters in Kara and Alex along the way. “Any man would be proud to call you his daughters,” he tells them and they embrace. And I cried. That’s what making an audience care about the characters on your show does; that’s how you get them coming back for more; that’s how you get multiple seasons.
Where did these FEELS come from? How did this happen? I don’t get it. I didn’t even LIKE Hank a few episodes ago. Or, at least, I didn’t care. Now, however, I’m invested. I like the relationship these three have developed. It feels real. And I think it does because the show didn’t try to push it, or develop it too fast. It just happened.
I feel like they’re on the fast train to ‘Angst Family Town.’ Whenever moments like this happen with the grumpy and quiet ones it’s best to prepare for the pain coming. They will be tested continuously and in different ways until we’re crying messes on the floor. (Heed my words!) But being together makes them stronger and increases their chances of surviving. They got this!
We saw the introduction of Bizarro Girl in the final moments of the episode taking on Supergirl’s identity. What do you think lies in store for Kara in this next episode?
Nothing good that’s for damn sure. When you have what you can refer to as an evil twin out there posing as you and essentially being used to be your downfall that’s never good. I’m trying to decide what Bizarro Girl will be used to do essentially. Is she there to make the world believe that Supergirl cannot be trusted? Or is she strictly there to take out Kara? With Maxwell Lord being behind this you know it’s complex and calculated and won’t be easy to watch.
Well, for one, I think National City’s confidence in Supergirl is going to take a hit. I can’t imagine Maxwell Lord’s plan is anything but that, to destroy Supergirl in the public eye. To make her an outcast, a pariah. Hated and feared by everyone. On a more personal level, though, I think Kara’s going to get Winn back, mostly because, she’s going to need him, and Winn is many things, but the kind of person who just abandons a friend in need is not one of those. I think this is one of those experiences that’s destined to make Kara come face to face with the worst parts about herself, or with the worst things that she could do. But Kara’s strong, and most importantly, she has the support system to get through this. After all, Bizarro Girl can’t take on the real Super girl, can she?
Kara will have trouble convincing the people of her city that Bizarro Girl isn’t her. BG will end up doing something to smear the good will Supergirl has gained. It’ll be an uphill battle with Cat on her side to clear her name.
What are your thoughts on “Strange Visitor From Another Planet?” Sound off in the comments to keep the discussion going!
Join us for another Supergirl roundtable next Sunday.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on CBS.