Supergirl: 2.13 Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk
I often feel that one big problem with introducing Mxyzptlk is that having people say his name out loud always detracts slightly from the weirdness of the word when read in a comic. Also, you have to settle on a pronunciation, which takes the fun out of it a little.
This isn't the first time Mxyzptlk has turned up in live action, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman had a rather malevolent yet underwhelming Mxyzptlk and Smallville gave us a character who was, really, Mxyzptlk in name only. Supergirl's Mxyzptlk is a rather sexy, slightly watered down version of the character. In fact, the only live action Mxyzptlk to properly capture the character was the 80’s Superboy TV show, perhaps because it was less embarrassed or happier to be cheesy? Here, Mxy (as he mostly gets called) is fun but he lacks bite.
The basic storyline is that Mxyzptlk has turned up to take Supergirl as his bride, which is a solid foundation for a Mxyzptlk story. It makes sense that they would cast aside the traditional, tiny, old, bald man chewing a cigar look of the character, which, pursuing a young Kara for marriage, would have added an unwanted level of creepy. This is, apparently, a universe in which Mxyzptlk has never bothered Superman, so he is a new threat to the gang and all information on him, including eventually his weakness, comes from Mon-El.
This episode breaks up, really, into four main story lines, with two particularly intertwined; Kara and Mon-El examining if they can have a relationship, mixed with Mxyzptlk threatening the world if Kara doesn't marry him; Winn meeting a mysterious, sexy alien woman in that goddamned alien bar they can't keep away from; and Alex and Maggie having issues with their first valentines together.
The Alex/Maggie story is oddly the most frustrating. Alex loves valentines, Maggie hates it. Alex tries to do something nice that she hopes Maggie will like, Maggie reacts like an arsehole. I hate valentines day, so I'm with Maggie on this one but now the characters have settled into a relationship I do find Maggie’s tough, macho thing versus Alex’s more fragile, sensitive thing grates just a little. The side plot was nice though, seeing Alex's upset at Maggie's lack of interest in Valentines as well as her confronting Maggie for being a dick. As I've mentioned before, one of my favourite aspects of the DCTVU is that characters discuss what is bothering them, in the moment (for Maggie, being forced to come out and being kicked out of home by her dad on Valentines as a young teen). The only downside to dealing with things as they arise is that sometimes episodes can feel a little too neatly wrapped up by the end. While I don't want the fake tension of Smalliville dragging out secrets and lies for weeks on end I would perhaps like the tensions and repercussions to be maintained a little longer than one episode at a time. I think in all the DC TV shows at the moment, The Flash maybe balances this best, better than Supergirl at least.
The Winn side is very inconsequential but works because of this, this was a very busy episode and added a few nice layers to his character, working almost as a reminder that he’s more than just the sidekick’s sidekick.
So after refusing Mxyzptlk’s advances, Kara gets in a fight with Mon-El who is being over protective and over baring, having had dealings with 5th dimensional beings in the past. I like the fact that Mon-El has had dealt with these beings, it helps ground his reactions to Mxyzptlk and lifts it just above standard jealousy. I think where Mon-El’s douche-bro behavior works in a way Jaaaames’ doesn’t, is that Mon-El doesn’t know any better, he has a misjudged sense of chivalry and cultural misogyny which he is trying to work past. Mon-El can make these mistakes and know he needs to be better - and want to be better - but Jimmy should know better and presents as knowing better, which is what makes his behavior more insidious. Mon-El pleading for Kara to give him another chance and promising to change near the end of this ep at least shows self-awareness in both characters and writers. I like the fact that Mon-El is still hugely flawed. If he’d proved himself and changed and become altruistic then they’d got together it would be a bit boring but partnering up while he’s still learning not to be a douche is more interesting.
This is a fun episode but not fun enough.
The music is great and it helps make Mxyzptlk feel more impressive than he actually is, I realise that they’re working to a TV budget but I would have liked to see Mxyzptlk do some really, crazy stuff. An awkward shoehorning of Hamilton is not all that impressive, though it was nice to see Parasite back in an earlier scene. The finale was pretty good fun too, I enjoy any time spent in the Fortress, this show’s Fortress of Solitude has a nice mix of Donner and comic book and Kara fighting a giant ice Jor-El was great! But ultimately, Mxyzptlk felt a bit like a cut price Q, in a nice suit with floppy hair and a sexy accent. This episode is a bit of a mixed bag if I’m honest and I was hoping to love it. Mxyzptlk doesn’t live up to his full potential, they could have gone far more meta with him, or been even braver and broken the fourth wall but he was very tame and never did anything truly spectacular. I also would have liked a more focused story over all, everyone’s little sections provide some good character stuff but the whole episode doesn’t quite gel for me. It’s a little bit detached and with the exception of Kara and Mon-El being a couple by the end, it feels like nothing much has been progressed.
It does have a good mix of great and truly awful lines this week, some of the cringiest the show has ever had:
Gotta love a reference to Keaton’s Batman when Kara asks Mxyzptlk “You wanna get nuts? Lets get nuts!” and I wish I'd though of Tall dark and blandsome to describe Mon-El! Mon-El telling Kara “You are my kryptonite” though? Dude? What? Lead is literally your Kryptonite. Mxyzptlk’s Nasty woman was a bit forced and soundtrack wise, things start getting a bit Smallville with all the soppy, soft rock ballads playing towards the end of the episode! Plus side, no Jimmy.
Maybe a missed opportunity but hopefully some ground work has been done for Mxyzptlk to pop back up in later eps and perhaps expand his scope of chaos! (and we get a full Look, up in the sky… so I can’t complain too much)