Can any of us ever really know anyone? Okay, so maybe that’s a little heavy, but certainly not outside the realm of philosophical debate found on this week’s Supergirl.
We knew there would be some changes with the show’s relocation the CW. We could expect that we might lose or gain characters along the way. What’s surprising is that with Cat Grant on hiatus and Lucy Lane missing altogether, the show is almost overloaded with new characters this season. From Clark and Lana to Mon-El and Snapper, the production team over at Supergirl seems dedicated to populating their new CW universe with every character they can get the rights to. Whether we should view this from a cynical perspective—they’re throwing new characters at us to keep us from missing much loved originals—or with a bit more grace—well, obviously they’re going to need more characters, their world is expanding and becoming more complicated—is yet to be seen.
Still there’s reason for concern when it comes to bringing new characters into your semi-secret, super-powered group of friends. Trust needs to be earned, and if you throw enough characters at the core group, it does become a bit more difficult to figure out who should be treated like a trusted ally and who should be treated like, well, a seven-foot-tall murder alien named Draaga. It’s a tough call. Which brings me back to the beginning: Can any of us ever really know anyone? Let’s take a look at the five surprises we got from this week’s new additions and the one we could have seen coming (but didn’t) from a fan favorite.
While not exactly the most prominent Daxamite in tonight’s episode, the prince of Daxam’s selflessness in sending Mon-El to Earth and choosing to stay with his people would probably come as a shock to more a few Kryptonians. For “a society of hedonist bullies,” they sure do seem to care about honor and loyalty an awful lot. Hmmm, maybe this quick little look at a character we barely know has less to do with the people of Daxam and more to do with the people of Krypton. After all, it wasn’t Mon-El’s holographic mom who started slinging speciesist rhetoric when Kara walked in the room.
Cards on the table: It’s not unusual to find cute girls running from their past working in a bar. Especially on the likes of The CW, it’s a pretty popular fictional construct. What’s a little more surprising is finding that same girl isn’t working through her inner demons by drinking or sleeping around. Nope, our newly minted “Last Daughter of Mars” would rather punch her way through her problems. Sure, in the end it’s all a form of punishing the self. Survivor’s guilt is an ugly, difficult thing to get through. Still, it’s a very Supergirl-style update to give the traumatized waif a fight to work out her problems instead of a bottle and a boy.
Snapper’s early appearances have done him no favors. He’s bullied and overstepped any sense of appropriate boss/subordinate etiquette with James, and has made it pretty clear that he’s living much more in the Perry White school of journalism—no personal feelings in your articles or in the office—than Cat’s mentor-from-afar approach. Still, for what amounts to a grumpy middle-aged man stereotype, even Snapper can tone down the antagonism when Kara presents him with a well-researched, well-structured article. The grumpy know-it-all may not fit in around here, but someone with high expectations that they’re just waiting for have fulfilled seems to be right at home.
Going back to the whole “Daxamites are bullies and hedonists” angle, you could be forgiven for assuming that, at least in the case of Mon-El, this is true. His first trip out into our world resulted in a whole lot of self-serving aggression that more than proved he’s not quite ready to live among earthlings. He manipulates Winn into taking him out on the town against orders, and once outside promptly proceeds to party and start fights in bars. He’s really doing all he can to reinforce the arrogant, self-centered jerk mantel that Kara placed on him. So it’s a bit of a surprise when he reveals himself to have more emotional depth than a puddle. Jumping at the chance to accept responsibility for he and Winn’s outing and being open to Kara even though she laid some pretty unfortunate stereotypes on him opens this character up a lot further than we’ve seen so far.
If this week’s episode contains one big “gasp!” moment, it has to be the last few seconds, in which M’gann reveals herself to be not a peace-loving, inclusive green Martian, but what we’ve come to know as a hyper-aggressive, genocidal white Martian. What this means for the plot this season is unclear, but keeping secrets from those who are just starting to trust you never really works out for the better on Supergirl.
Alex may be my favorite character on this show. As such, I feel a little protective of her and her character development. So it’s nice when her character takes a turn that may not be obvious, but doesn’t necessitate a rewrite of who she is. Alex’s newly developed crush on badass Maggie Sawyer is completely understandable, a new facet of her character that didn’t need to be mentioned before it was relevant. It’s also kind of devastating that Sawyer’s girlfriend shows up just as Alex gathers the courage to ask her out. But then, that’s the thing about people: By not really ever knowing them, they can always surprise you.
Katherine Siegel is a Chicago-based writer and director, and a regular contributor to Paste. You can find out more by checking out her website or follow her on Twitter.