It’s bridal shower time, and bless her heart, Eliza Danvers has planned every shower game in existence. But J’onn arrives to whisk Kara off to Mars, and from there, we get two stories about two very different fathers. Let’s take the Earth-bound story first.
Over a pre-shower lasagna dinner with Eliza, Maggie explains why she doesn’t have any childhood pictures for the bridal board. When she was 14, she told a girl that she liked her, after which her father packed a suitcase and drove her to her aunt’s house. When she asked what she did, his answer was, “You shamed me.” Her mother removed Maggie’s photos from the family albums, and Maggie hasn’t spoken to them since. Eliza (and the audience) thinks the only shameful thing in that story is her father’s treatment of her.
Getting ready for bed, Maggie tells Alex that her dad was a terrific father until then, and Alex suggests that the shower’s a great excuse to reach out. Maggie’s not sure that “You kicked me out because I’m gay but hey, come to my gay shower” is the right approach and tells Alex to drop it.
But that night, Maggie creeps out of bed and leaves her dad a message inviting him to her gay shower. She hangs up, sees Alex watching her, and half-laughs. “I don’t know why I did that.”
Things are still awkward when Maggie meets her father (Carlos Bernard) at the bus he took rather than asking her to pick him up from the airport. They hug, and Oscar says her mother didn’t come because she doesn’t like to fly. Oooookay.
As they walk to his hotel, Oscar reveals that he follows all of Maggie’s cases. He was particularly impressed that she cracked an 18-year-old cold case, and Maggie tells him she did what he always taught her: Revisited the scene and paid attention to the mundane details. He’s touched that she recalled his advice, and she says, “I remember everything you taught me.”
I’m already high-key emotional here, friends, and it’s only going to get soggier.
At the shower, late-90s Barenaked Ladies is blasting when Oscar shows up and makes nice to Alex. When he sees no photos of Maggie on the bridal board, he takes a worn picture out of his wallet, kisses it, and adds it to the board. High! Key! Emotions!
And then the engaged couple kisses, and Oscar storms out. When Maggie follows him to ask why, he accuses her of spitting in his face. “For loving somebody?” she asks.
Here comes the backstory: Oscar came to America at 9 and by 11 was working in a factory where the white boys attacked him and called him “wetback.” But he worked hard to win their respect, and those same boys grew up to elect him sheriff. He just wanted his children to be accepted. Maggie argues that the world is different now, and he laughs bitterly. “They’re building a wall to keep us out because, in their minds, we’re nothing but rapists and murderers. The only thing they hate more than a mexicano is a homosexual.” He concludes by telling her that she can live as she pleases, but he won’t stick around to watch it.
Wow. Oscar made some powerful points … until he ABSOLUTELY DID NOT. The struggle to fit in, the desire for your children to be safe, the fear of border walls and immigration quotas — these are real and relevant and painful. But love and support your child, Oscar. You’ve done something inexcusable here, you garbage person.
Maggie tries one more time to talk to him before he leaves, waiting at the bus stop to return his wallet photo. She tells him that the girl in that picture was desperate to earn her father’s love, but he left her at the side of the road, and she’s been waiting for him to come back ever since. Then she thanks him for coming to the shower and giving her the gift of realizing she’s not that scared girl anymore. She’s surrounded by people who value and cherish her, and she doesn’t need anything from him. “I’m already good.”
She bids him farewell, and he’s left holding that faded picture.
As if that weren’t emotionally wrenching enough, Alex thinks this is maybe what Maggie needed in order to get closure and reconsider having kids, but Maggie’s firm that her idea of their life together is kid-less. Alex agrees that Maggie is all she needs. But is she?
Now, grab another Kleenex so we can shift to the father/son feels happening on Mars. (Next page: J’onn has the best spaceship in the galaxy)
When J’onn describes M’gann’s distress call, Kara points out what a terrible idea it is for the last Green Martian to waltz back into White Martian territory, so she offers to go with him. And she’s deeply skeptical of J’onn’s spaceship, a classic convertible that he fussily taps and tweaks … until it transforms into a star-faring vessel. It is perfect.
We get a quick shot of the surface of Mars (red dust, battered rover with an American flag) before we head to the underground caverns for the rest of the episode.
M’gann greets J’onn with a hug, and then a cadre of White Martian resistance fighters join them. Some are friendlier than others; the lead unfriendly one is Till’all. They tell J’onn and Kara that they stormed a White Martian base and were surprised to find a surviving Green Martian. And not just any Green Martian, but J’onn’s father, M’yrnn (Carl Lumbly).
This news rocks J’onn to his core as he processes the news that his father is alive and has endured two centuries of torture.
The resistance fighters speculate that M’yrnn, the Green Martians’ religious leader, was kept alive because he knows the location of the staff of their god, H’ronmeer. The White Martians want to locate it because it will allow them to track down and destroy every member of the resistance.
So J’onn enters the room where his father is praying and announces himself as M’yrnn’s son. But M’yrnn says his captors can’t break him by pretending that his son somehow survived. In fact, J’onn’s story that he’s been living on Earth is proof that it’s a trick because M’yrnn’s son would never have fled. Ouch.
When J’onn can’t convince his father to reveal the staff’s location, Till’all threatens to find it by powering through M’yrnn’s mental block, which could kill him. J’onn won’t allow that and tries again.
This time, his father shifts into a humanoid form and explains the origin of the staff, which J’onn knows but we don’t: To test his two sons, H’ronmeer offered them a choice of gifts. Deimos chose the book of symbols that governed moral life, which could be shared for the benefit of society, while Phobos chose the staff of power, which could only be wielded by one. H’ronmeer was furious that Phobos chose destruction over knowledge and banished his son, who became the first White Martian. His descendants eventually rose up and destroyed the Greens. Now, M’yrnn serves his god by keeping the staff’s location safe.
Sensing failure and afraid that the White Martians are close to finding the spear, Till’all knocks out M’gann so he can try to break the mental block. But Kara knocks him down and urges J’onn to take his father someplace safe.
So J’onn takes them home.
M’yrnn is furious that this imposter would bring him to the place where the White Martians murdered his people. This finally breaks him, and M’yrnn vows to pray for his family amid the ruins of their home until the White Martian executioner delivers the fatal blow.
Then Kara approaches him. He can sense she’s Kryptonian, which means he knows she’s from a dead planet. She reminds him that his people may be dead, but his planet remains. If he would embrace the belief that H’ronmeer is testing him, he might be able to save his planet for others who want to do better than those who came before.
M’yrnn fears that opening his heart but learning that this J’onn is an imposter would be like losing him all over again, but he allows J’onn to share his favorite memory. We see their home the way it looked, with J’onn’s daughters playing and M’yrnn arriving early for worship to surprise J’onn on his birthday. In the memory, J’onn’s two daughters giggle and play and delight both their father and their grandfather. The memory fades, and last two Green Martians fall into each other’s arms, overcome.
High! Key! Emotions!
The moment is interrupted when the resistance burst in to urge them to hurry because the White Martians have found the staff. M’yrnn provides the location, and they set off.
The White Martians have found the staff, and to distract them, Kara drives up in J’onn’s convertible, rocking old, old, old-school Britney Spears and using all of her Cali girl charm to ask for directions back to Earth because she took a wrong turn at Albuquerque. It’s fantastic. This lets the rest of the group get the drop on the befuddled White Martians, leading to a big ol’ CGI alien fight.
It doesn’t look good for our heroes when the spear causes the resistance fighters to drop from psychic pain and Supergirl’s punches don’t bother the White Martians overly much. Thankfully, J’onn’s car transfers into a ship complete with heavy weaponry. He shouts, “This is for my people!” before opening fire.
Once the White Martians are dispatched, Kara hands over the staff, but Till’all declares it too powerful for either side to have. If the resistance is going to win, they need to be better than their enemies, so he asks J’onn and Kara to hide it on Earth. M’gann stays on Mars to keep fighting for a better world, while M’yrnn hitches a ride in the backseat of the convertible.
They land in a sketchy part of National City, but M’yrnn loves it, particularly the scrubby parking lot weeds. J’onn thanks Kara for the support, and she tells M’yrnn, “You raised a good one.” When she flies away, M’yrnn asks in wonder, “Can everyone on this planet do that?”
“No. She’s special,” J’onn says. Then they walk home together.
Snaps of the Cape:
- Oh, Maggie. I don’t have anything else to add to that. Just … come over here and let us all hug you, sweetheart.
- On that topic, friends, I don’t like these child-sized cracks in the Sanvers relationship. I don’t like it at all.
- How amazing is every single moment that Kara and J’onn spend bonding over their shared experiences as orphaned aliens? They both hope that their parents would be proud of the lives they’ve created, and then J’onn actually learns that his father considers him a coward. Thank H’ronmeer that M’yrnn revises his opinion.
- Which bridal shower game is worse: Bridal bingo, or toilet paper wedding dress?