They’re the simplest of words, and yet it’s one of the most difficult things to execute in storytelling. But that’s exactly what Supergirl managed to do in “Star-Crossed,” as it showed tremendous growth for both Kara and Mon-El as individuals.
When it comes to characters on television, or any medium for that matter, it’s not about the perfection of the characters so much as it is about how we relate to them. And how we relate to them is by shared experiences or shared emotions, most of which include the flaws and vulnerabilities that we all struggle with.
Mon-El is flawed. Kara is flawed. Alex is flawed. Hank is flawed. All of these characters are flawed. It’s what makes them so relatable. It’s what makes them so compelling. It’s what makes them so human. They are representative of ourselves. I can look at each of these characters and connect with them in some way.
I can connect with Kara’s optimism. I can connect with Alex’s vulnerability. I can connect with Hank’s love for family. I can connect with Winn’s desire to love and be loved. I can connect with Mon-El’s desire to be the best person he can be.
That’s the great thing about Supergirl. These characters are truly alive. They are living, breathing characters of fiction that belong in the real world. We love them so much because we can relate to them. We love them so much because they don’t feel like walking pieces of perfection that we could never aspire to be.
So when it comes to portraying these realistic, fictional characters, it’s all about portraying them in the most honest sense possible. That means focusing on the flaws as much – or even more – as the strengths.
As human beings one of the things that binds us together is the simple fact that we’re not perfect. But that doesn’t mean that we ever stop aspiring to be perfect – or at least as close to perfect as we can be in our own minds. It’s the human spirit. That fight within all of us that pushes us onward even in the toughest of times. It’s that conscious that whispers reassurances of “it’ll be okay” even when we feel like we’ll never see the sun again.
So when shows like Supergirl really focus on – and successfully execute – character development, it’s a thing of beauty. It’s a thing of inspiration.
Character development isn’t about delivering this near-perfect character and making them perfect. It’s not even about delivering a character that’s not even close to perfect and making them perfect. Character development is a fundamental change within a character that inspires change from within. It’s where they desire to do better, to be better. It’s where they recognize that, even though it might hurt, that they have to look out for themselves because it’s what’s best for them and not anyone else.
One of the things I really admire about what the Supergirl writers are doing with Kara and Mon-El is how they’re allowing them moments of character growth as individuals. Yes, that meant the pair breaking up. But because Supergirl is allowing these two characters to do what’s best for themselves as individuals, it’s only going to make them stronger when they reunite.
This breakup will not only strengthen Kara and Mon-El as individuals but, ultimately, as a couple.
That’s the difference between effective storytelling and lackluster storytelling. It’s putting in the work that’s needed for your characters in order to grow, but also recognizing what these characters need in order to maintain that constant growth.
Supergirl continues to wow me in its sophomore season that has far and wide surpassed its first season. There’s a real sense of identity and responsibility in this second season. There’s a familiarity, a comfort-level as these writers and actors continue to grow more into these characters and this story. Supergirl continues to be the best DC Comics television show out there.
Let’s break this glorious episode down:
Mon-El Stayed For Himself
I will go to the ends of the Earth – well, all Earths – defending this unfair hatred of Mon-El by some fans. Mon-El has received unwarranted hate for, I’m sorry, just existing. Well, and the threat he poses being romantically linked to Kara. Ships are the name of the game, people. Ship wars are a real thing.
But Mon-El – not Mon-El of Daxam – is a character that has proven himself to be worthy of redemption because he’s allowed himself that opportunity. He has recognized the terrible person he used to be – that entitled playboy who cared only for himself – and has made it a priority to become a better version of himself. While he’s certainly far from achieving that projected “better version,” he has yet to stop trying to be. That’s what’s important.
It certainly didn’t help matters that Mon-El was presented with this opportunity to get everything back he had lost: his Prince title, his people, his family. It was something that, as Kara pointed out to him, was something that he didn’t appear to recognize the significance of.
But in a way he did. Because here he was: He was awarded the thing that he had wanted for a while – the reason he was doing what he was doing in the beginning. He found his family. But Mon-El was able to recognize that his family, that old life that he led, wasn’t the person he was anymore. He literally detested the person he used to be. There was never a possibility of going back to that person. As far as Mon-El is concerned, the Prince of Daxam is dead. He died when Daxam was destroyed.
It took courage and strength to say no to that opportunity. Because he would’ve jeopardized the man that he’s become since he’s left that lifestyle behind.
Mon-El did what was best for himself. He chose the life that gave him the chance to be the best version of himself. The life that would continue to award that standard as he continues to grow.
It would be too easy to say that Mon-El stayed for Kara. Sure, maybe a small part of him is clinging to hope that they’ll be able to work things out. But Mon-El’s decision to stay on Earth was about so much more that that.
This was Mon-El standing up for himself. This was Mon-El choosing to be a better person. This was Mon-El refusing to take the easy way out. This was Mon-El doing what was best for Mon-El.
Call it selfish, but it’s a decision that we all have to make in our lives. We have to make decisions on a daily basis that in some way affect our lives. Sure, they might not be as grand as Mon-El choosing to leave behind a life of royalty for life on Earth. But we all have to think about what’s best for ourselves. And that’s exactly what Mon-El did.
“That woman [Kara] is the best thing that ever happened to me. Whether I’m with her or not she makes me a better person.”
And that’s the moral of our story, folks. The moral of life.
People change people.
Mon-El isn’t pretending to be or trying to be a better person because he wants to be with Kara. Being with Kara inspired him to become a better person.
Kara Chose Herself
Shippers get a bad rep. We’re often degraded to terms such as “teenage girl” or “unintelligent” when in fact shippers are most often neither. It’s funny and disappointing how the term “shipping” or “romance” have become profanity in fandom. Like it’s somehow demeaning. It’s not.
With that said, as a shipper I admit that sometimes I can be blinded by my love of a couple. But I can also say that I’ve in no way allowed my feelings for a couple to overshadow the right or wrong decisions of characters as individuals.
Whether it was Felicity choosing to leave Oliver last season on Arrow because he lied to her; or Iris choosing to call off her engagement from Barry on Flash because he lied about his intentions.
You can now add another superhero to the mix as I not only accept but applaud Kara’s decision to break up with Mon-El in this episode. Because it was what was best for her in that moment. This isn’t to say that there won’t come a moment where Kara decides that what’s best for her is to be with Mon-El after some separation, much like Felicity and Iris might do with their heroes.
But the most important thing that Kara did in this episode was choose herself.
Even though it hurt like hell; even though she wanted nothing more than to forgive Mon-El and accept his confession of love and go back to the lovey-dovey nature of their relationship in the opening minutes.
While Kara did seem to carry a prejudice with her in regards to Mon-El during this episode, ultimately it wasn’t the prejudice that made the decision. It was Kara.
Sure, she was fixated on Mon-El, Prince of Daxam, instead of Mon-El, her Mon-El. But when it boiled down to things, Kara couldn’t easily forgive Mon-El’s lie. And I can understand that. This was a huge secret that didn’t really threaten their relationship so much as it was an important piece of information about who Mon-El was. Because like it or not, our past is a part of us. It might not define us, but we cannot erase our past. Mon-El isn’t his past self, but it’s moments like this when he kept something huge from Kara that sends a signal to Kara that he might revert to his old ways.
Often times what’s right for one person isn’t right for another. You could say that was the case with Kara. Some people might’ve been okay with forgiving Mon-El because his intentions weren’t bad. But Kara needs time to sit with this information and decide if she’s going to eventually choose to forgive him or choose to end things permanently.
Either way, she’s going to choose what’s right for her.
This Break-Up Will Strengthen Kara & Mon-El as Individuals and as a Couple
Angst gets a bad rap. There’s a difference between good angst and bad angst. Bad angst is the stuff of contrived drama at the expense of the characters as individuals as much as it is as a couple. That’s the stuff we cringe at.
But good angst – when done right – has the potential to open up your characters in a way that progresses the story while also emotionally crippling your fans. Good angst is the stuff of dreams.
And the Supergirl writers have found their good angst.
That’s just get right to it, shall we? Kara broke up with Mon-El. And it f***ing hurt. But you know what, that’s the kind of angst that’ll serve to ultimately better the relationship moving forward. Sure, it hurts right now. But in order to grow a relationship you have to experience hardships – even the hardships that end up temporarily separating you and forcing you to examine yourself, your partner, and your relationship.
In my opinion, Kara was right to break up with Mon-El. Because she did it for herself. And if you’re going to have a successful relationship – be a healthy couple – then you need to allow your characters to drive the story instead of letting the story drive them.
For a while it seemed as if Kara was blinded by prejudice. It would be easy to focus on “Mon-El, Prince of Daxam.” In fact, that’s what Kara did. There was this fixed image of Mon-El (the one from the past) that she was blinded by in this episode. An image of a stranger and not the man she’s falling for. Kara didn’t fall for the Prince of Daxam. Kara fell for Mon-El, someone who’s less than perfect but is working on becoming better.
There’s no denying that there’s a deep connection, deep care for one another. They both make each other better, which is what you hope for in a relationship. But relationships aren’t perfect. There almost need to be obstacles – especially in television where a consistently happy couple is frowned upon. Which is what often leads to that “bad angst” I was talking about. But if you handle it right – and in moderation – it can work to your favor.
I’m not going to lie, there was a part of me that – as I watched Mon-El pour his heart and soul out to Kara – where I truly thought, “she’s going to forgive him. I’d forgive him.” But then again, this is Kara. Not us.
But ultimately Kara decided that she couldn’t easily forgive Mon-El’s lie and how he kept something important from her. That’s why she decided to end things.
But looking ahead, this breakup will actually prove to be a good thing in the long run. This is what needed to happen. If there was doubt there – doubt that a lie could be forgiven – then there’s still work that needs to be done. That doesn’t mean they’re not right for each other, it just means that they need to work on themselves. And that’s life.
This breakup will force Kara and Mon-El to examine themselves as individuals. Who they are, what they want, and what they’re fighting for. It’ll also force them to examine themselves as a couple. What they had, what went wrong, how they can fix it, and what they could have.
That’s one of the most exciting things about these OTPs. It’s that you get to experience the journey. It doesn’t matter if it’s rough. In fact, sometimes that ends up being the relationships that mean the most. We go to hell and back with our OTPs. But we never give up faith that they’ll reunite. And I couldn’t be more confident about Karamel.
1. When Mon-El told Kara he loved her, I actually squealed. Like the entire scene ended terribly as Kara ended things, but Mon-El pouring his heart out to her and the ease and honesty of which he was able to say that he loved her was so damn beautiful that I cried.
2. We agree, Winn. We know you and Cisco would be BFFs. And we know we’re going to get a tease of it in the musical crossover. Seriously I’m going to need next year’s crossover event to feature Felicity, Cisco, and Winn hanging out and being badass.
3. I loved how Kara and Winn found a connection over their shared relationship trouble. Since their failed attempt at a relationship (if you can even call it that), we haven’t gotten to see too many small moments between Kara and Winn. So it was nice to see them bond over a shared circumstance and even help each other out.
4. Bravo to the writers for giving some substance to Lyra’s “betrayal” storyline. It felt too cheap when it was just Lyra using Winn for a profit. But it felt more rounded when the motive was introduced and actually gave us some substance.
5. Loved the transition into The Flash crossover musical event. Basically any excuse to see Darren Criss on my television. But I’m so super pumped.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.