I read that this season of Supergirl is going to be focused on relationships. That seems to be the case in “Far From The Tree,” which tells the parallel stories of two different father/adult child dynamics. At least they didn’t bring back Winn’s crazy, supervillain father. Actually, Winn and James get barely any screen time, and Lena is busy running her various companies, I guess.
Alex and Kara are getting ready for the bridal shower, commiserating over their mother, Eliza, and her out of control enthusiasm. Their preparations and sisterly bonding get interrupted when J’Onn shows up. He’s the most hesitant we’ve ever seen him as he tells them that he’s going away for a few days and needs Kara and Alex to run the DEO in his absence. He’s reluctant, but finally tells them M’Ggan has summoned him back to Mars for some kind of fight. Kara, naturally, is going to go with him whether he wants that or not, and Alex would if she could survive on Mars, although whether that’s to help her mentor or get away from Eliza’s bridal shower games I’m not sure. Maybe both. J’Onn brings Kara, now dressed as Supergirl, to his ship, which isn’t at all what you’d expect, but at least has good tunes.
Eliza, Maggie, and Alex have dinner and Eliza asks why there are no pictures from Maggie’s childhood to add to the “bridal board.” We’ve heard some of Maggie’ story before, but now we get more detail, and it’s even uglier than the first version. Eliza is, as you’d expect, remarkably understanding and supportive.
J’Onn and Supergirl get to Mars, and he manages to figure out where M’Ggan is (not bad when you consider he’s working with a whole planet to guess from). She’s overjoyed to see him, and surprised to see Supergirl. Clearly, M’Ggan doesn’t know what Kara’s like (or that it’s her show). They meet up with M’Ggan’s resistance fighters, led by a very hot-headed man called Till’all. Why they are all in human form most of the time, and why that form is always black, I’m not sure. I’m deliberately not using “African-American” here, because the Martians are neither.
J’Onn gets a shock when he learns he wasn’t summoned for a fight, but because they recovered a special prisoner who knows something they need, but won’t share and has shielded his mind. Turns out, while most of J’Onn’s family is dead like he thought, his father is still around, which shocks him.
Continuing DC’s tradition of acknowledging their past, we kind of get a two-fer this episode. Not only does Helen Slater return as Eliza (Slater was Supergirl in the feature film), but J’Onn’s father, M’Yrnn J’Onzz, is played by Carl Lumbly. Lumbly voiced the Martian Manhunter in the DC Animated Universe, including the long-running and fan favorite Justice League Unlimited. Nice touch, guys.
M’Yrnn resolutely refuses to believe this is actually J’Onn. I guess that’s a peril of living in a race of shapeshifters; identity theft would be pretty easy. M’Yrnn’s refusal endangers them all, since they need to get a powerful Staff, supposedly a holy item from the Martian god H’ronmeer, and only M’Yrnn knows where it is. Just to up the tension, Till’all is more than willing to try and rip the information from the older Martian’s mind.
The next few scenes are alternating as J’Onn tries to reach his father, and Maggie, a bit more literally, does the same thing. She leaves a message inviting him to her shower. All things considered, that’s really big of her. Kara gives J’Onn some advice and encouragement, and Maggie and her dad have a really awkward reunion at the bus station. Oddly, both Maggie’s mother and J’Onn’s wife are wholly absent from this episode. I guess it’s a bad time for mothers.
After a lot of arguing and more attempts on J’Onn’s part to reach his father, they have to flee when Till’all gets impatient and attacks. Gee, I can’t imagine why White Martians have such a bad reputation. They, along with Supergirl, go back to the J’Onzz family home, and J’Onn finally manages to convince his father who he is. Good thing Martians are telepathic in addition to shapeshifters. Why Kara can see the telepathic exchange I’m not sure; they’ve previously commented that J’Onn can’t read Superman’s mind, and you’d think that would go for his cousin as well.
While the aliens are on the run on Mars, the humans are having a good time at the bridal shower. James Olsen and Winn make their only appearance as happy party-goers here. Maggie’s father shows up, and sort of tries, but makes an ass of himself and leaves. Maggie chases him down on the street and they have an argument. I get what they tried to do here, but the writers slip up badly. Oscar, Maggie’s father, in the midst of his ranting, mentions the wall, clearly a swipe at Trump’s border wall. Ok, I don’t like the idea myself, but on THAT Earth, the President, Lynda Carter’s Olivia Marsdin, is very tolerant of all kinds of aliens, and I doubt she’s going to endorse a border wall. Continuity, guys, it’s a thing.
On Mars, there’s a lot more action, some fighting, and even a Bugs Bunny reference (that damn left turn at Alberquerque). Eventually, the good guys prevail and Till’all even manages to be less of a dick. It’s impressive. The fate of the Staff is decided and the heroes return to Earth.
Maggie has a final confrontation with her father, and tells him off. It would have been an easy, cheap, Hallmark moment kind of thing to have a sudden reconciliation between them. While I’d like that for Maggie’s sake, story-wise, I prefer them doing it this way. It’s more realistic, if I can use that word discussing a show with flying aliens and such. After Maggie and Alex have a touching scene, we see what J’Onn and Kara brought back from Mars. Hopefully, they keep that element in future episodes.
What I liked: Usually, I find parallel stories to be contrived and sometimes obnoxious. They made this work. It was a cheap and easy laugh, but I liked Kara’s Bugs Bunny nod. I’m glad that Eliza was the kind, warm, supporting person we’ve seen so far. I think the ending with Maggie and Oscar made sense. I’m glad they cast Carl Lumbly.
What I didn’t: Ok, there were some problems here. How did Kara see the telepathic exchange? Where are the mothers (aside from Eliza)? The wall line was just badly thought out, no matter what point they were trying to make. I get he couldn’t be there, but shouldn’t there at least have been some mention of Jeremiah (Alex and Kara’s father)? Till’all was obnoxious, and his sudden shift at the end came from nowhere.
This was really uneven. Much as I liked seeing more of Mars and J’Onn, I’m giving this one a 2.5 out of 5.