The episode title, Survivors, is rich with meaning. It describes J’onn and M’gann, the survivors of Mars, who just found each other. It describes Kara and Mon-El, refugees of two doomed worlds that didn’t get along, now learning about each other as individuals. It's the awareness that you will do anything it takes to survive, and it's the guilt you can feel for surviving where others did not. For some victims of trauma, all they have left is survival; they lose the deeper sense of connection to others or investment in the world; they don’t trust and don’t seek to be trusted. That’s M’gann M’orzz when we meet her in Supergirl: broken down by a lonely, secretive life. She tells J’onn she’s anything she needs to be to survive.
We open on a flashback of the destruction of Krypton and the collateral damage raining down on its sister planet, Daxam. Mon-El is a palace guard, nobly trying to get his protectee and friend, the prince, to safety. The prince tricks Mon-El into getting in the escape pod “to program the course” for the prince, but then Mon-El is sealed inside, about to take off alone. The prince reveals he is badly wounded, so his life might not be saved by this escape from Daxam’s, while Mon-El still has a shot. It’s a lovely moment, though Kara’s response to this story is not as nice; she snarks about how unpleasant the Daxam royal family was. Like, Kara, were you not just listening to the nice story about the prince who saved Mon-El’s life? Show some respect.
They’re testing Mon-El’s strength and trying to determine his abilities. So far, they’ve determined he can leap really high and hit really hard. They’re acting like that’s it, but it sounds like they’re mostly comparing his abilities to Kryptonian abilities, so there may be some fun surprises later on. (In the comics, Mon-El has flight and other Kryptonian-on-Earth abilities, but they may be going another way on the show.)
While they get to know Mon-El, J’onn wants him to stick around the DEO. Mon-El hopefully suggests to Kara that she could take him on a field trip, since she can totally keep an eye on him. She’s not remotely into this idea, and you feel really bad for this guy. He’s utterly charming, though, so don’t worry too much–he’ll talk Winn into a night on the town.
Winn suggests Mon-El could become a superhero, and Mon-El offers to let Winn design his suit and even name his alter ego. Winn can tell he’s being manipulated just a little, but he is also being won over by the awesome bromance brewing here. They go out drinking, and while Winn is passed out in a corner, Mon-El accidentally busts up some dude’s bicep in an arm-wrestling match. Oops.
Back at the DEO, Winn is way too hungover to make up any good excuses, and the news has already reported on the bar fight. Adorably, Mon-El immediately tries to absolve Winn so he won’t get in trouble. Just in case you wondered for a moment if he could really be as cool as he seemed. I love this guy.
Kara admits her reluctance to be around Mon-El is more about her than him. It was about her parents and their failure to warn Krypton (and Daxam) about the impending disaster. It’s a little vague, but the implication is she’s shouldering some of the guilt about his planet’s fate that her parents knew about in advance.
She has decided to take him on as her protégé, the way she was originally sent to Earth to protect and teach Clark. It’s a little condescending, but Mon-El will take it.
J’onn goes to visit M’gann again, and the way the scene awkwardly starts, it seems like right after they met last episode, she…flew away without another word? I hate when scenes go like this, where you can tell they want all the conversation and interaction to happen on screen, but they can’t just continue the original scene for some reason, so we have to believe nothing of consequence was said by either character upon meeting another of their kind. Whatever.
He asks her to “take the bond,” which sounds like a marriage proposal or at least a sexy-time proposition, but that’s just because we have dirty Earth minds. It’s actually a mind-sharing experience unique to telepaths. They would have no secrets from each other. He’s confused about her reluctance. If he seems pushy or creepy, that’s because of your Earth mind. On Mars, this would be totally normal stuff, apparently. Except if it were 100% normal to do it with everyone you meet, they might not have a formal-sounding term for it…that’s probably my overactive Earth mind again.
More importantly, she gives a brief account of how she managed to escape Mars, telling him that a White Martian was kind to her.
Remember Alex’s cute cop friend, Maggie Sawyer? Alex sure does, and when Maggie calls with a case, Alex doesn’t hesitate. A dead alien has been found, and the signs point to alien-on-alien violence. Somehow, Maggie scores them a pair of tickets to a fancy, exclusive, rich folks only event no one else even knows about. There is no explanation for this.
It’s an alien fight club, presided over by a striking woman with full-body snake tatts and a bad attitude. She calls herself Roulette. (She’s played by the extraordinary Dichen Lachman of Dollhouse and The 100.)
Roulette introduces the fighters in the next match, and what do you know, one is M’gann or Miss Martian. Alex signals Supergirl to bust this place up, and what follows is an action sequence so confusing, my husband and I spent the entire subsequent commercial break trying to figure it out. I think Supergirl burst through the ceiling and landed in the cage, then Roulette signaled Miss Martian and her opponent to get out immediately so she could send in a new gladiator, Draega. It happened quickly and wasn’t very clear.
Anyway, Draega is really taking Supergirl down, hard, but Alex manages to turn off the electric barrier to open the cage. Mon-El recognizes the name Draega and provides useful tips so Kara will do better next time.
J’onn confronts M’gann about working for Roulette, and she lays a standard Don’t-judge-me line. He goes back to talk with her again after that, and she frickin’ stands there while Roulette’s thugs capture him.
The need to find Roulette has gotten desperate, now that she has J’onn. Kara realizes she knows someone important enough to be in on this type of info: Lena Luthor. Lena is all too happy to be of assistance, and Kara’s uncomfortable look indicates she has a feeling it’s bad to owe a favor to a Luthor. Duh.
Steel cage death match: Martian vs. Martian. J’onn talks M’gann into stopping the fight tells her she should forgive herself for being a survivor, stop torturing herself to pay for the simple crime of not dying when everyone else did.
Supergirl and the DEO arrive, and Supergirl not only takes down Draega, she talks the other aliens into turning against their captor. Roulette is arrested, even if the only charge Maggie can actually bring is operating without a liquor license.
Of course, even that petty charge won’t stick, because Roulette is connected. She’s out in minutes, with a sneer for Maggie and Alex. Alex tries to cheer Maggie up with a drink, but there’s a damper on this would-be date: Maggie’s girlfriend arrives.
Meanwhile, at Catco, Kara has tried to pitch her alien fight club expose to Snapper Carr several times. She finally gets him to accept it once she has a source to quote. Of course, her source is Supergirl, and she does an embarrassing job explaining that relationship. She should have asked Clark for advice on this dual identity worlds colliding bit. He knows all about writing Superman’s stories as Clark, so he probably could tell her how to not make it sound like she’s talking about her totally real Canadian boyfriend.
Finally, J'onn and M'gann share another moment, and he tells her he understands if she's not into the whole "taking the bond" thing. After he leaves, the secret she's afraid he'd learn is revealed: She's actually a White Martian, not a Green. (Of course, if you have watched the 100% amazing, best-ever animated series, Young Justice, you already knew this. Or read the comics, obvs. But seriously, watch Young Justice. It's available on Netflix.)
Next week, we see a dark side of James Olsen. I hope we also get more of Mon-El learning slang from Winn. I love a good bromance, and this one is off to a good start.