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Mon-El’s integration into the main Supergirl storyline has been both good and bad for the overall health of the series. On the good side of the ledger, his journey from callow royal scion to fledgling hero has been interesting to watch, aided in no small part by Chris Wood’s charming performance. On the bad side, shipping him with Supergirl hasn’t served to present the characters in their best light: it’s turned them both into swooning, mooning saps, Mon-El in particular. Maybe the move to the CW this season dictated the show’s noticeable increase in the romance quotient, but while that’s paid off in some areas (e.g., the Alex and Maggie coupling) the Kara and Mon-El dynamic was far more interesting when they were presented as two people trying to overcome their ingrained cultural prejudices toward their respective alien cultures.
The intergalactic cultural differences bit comes to the forefront in “Star-Crossed,” which marks the first full appearance of Mon-El’s parents. In a standard bit of stunt casting, the parents are played by 90’s geek TV icons Teri Hatcher (who portrayed Lois Lane in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and Kevin Sorbo (who was Hercules from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys). Mon-El’s parents make a great first impression on their son’s girlfriend: first they send a global transmission demanding Mon-El’s return, followed by firing on her with their Daxamite ship and encasing her in a seemingly impenetrable plastic bubble. (Spoiler alert: She gets out.) Rather than let any harm to come to Supergirl or National City, Mon-El declares that he’ll allow himself to be beamed up by the Daxamite ship—this is before anyone but Mon is aware that it’s his parents on the ship—but Supergirl rushes into the path of the beam at the last second so that she’ll be transported too.
Once Supergirl is aboard the ship, she gets to meet the parents and learn the true story behind Mon-El’s escape from Daxam. As it turns out, Mon-El was decidedly unheroic in that moment: he’s ushered to safety by a royal attendant who gifts Mon with an escape pod after killing a Daxamite for it, and ignores the people in need in order to save his own hide. Kara is understandably upset that Mon-El hasn’t been fully forthcoming about his past, but she’s even more disgusted by the imperious attitudes of her boyfriend’s parents.
Rhea, Mon-El’s mom, announces her intentions to have her royal prince son lead the charge “to make Daxam great again.” Mon-El’s rejoinder: “Daxam was never great.” (The allusions to our modern political climate are so frequent in Supergirl these days that you could make a drinking game out of moments like that one.) Supergirl takes what might be termed the liberal position on this matter and expresses her contempt for the Daxamites’ “top 1%” mentality while Mon-El’s parents patronize her bleeding heart way of looking at things.
This all sounds a bit heavy handed, and in truth there’s nothing subtle about the progressive messages that have been slipped into Supergirl this season. At the same time, however, the show deserves credit for not making Kara a perfect paragon of virtue; indeed, the show’s writers made clear that Kara’s initial dislike of Mon-El was firmly rooted in cultural intolerance. “Starcrossed” episode writers Katie Rose Rogers and Jess Kardos further this theme by highlighting Kara’s high-and-mighty attitude toward Mon-El’s folks in a manner that that might seem familiar to those on the right.
A later scene between Kara and Rhea does more to buttress the latter’s point of view as she points out that keeping Mon-El tethered to her (while still contemptuous of the world he grew up in) is selfish. Perhaps this moment motivated Kara to break up with Mon-El—that, and the lying of course—so that he could feel free to pursue his destiny as a royal prince. The fact that Mon-El rejects his past as a selfish rich kid despite being romantically rejected by Kara was a good moment both for his character and the show in general—it shows that Supergirl’s influence on him doesn’t have to be limited to the romantic and gives him a greater degree of depth and maturity in the process. Above all, it also means that they’re not a couple (at least for now), which is probably best for reasons stated in the opening paragraph of this review.
The episode’s title of “Star-Crossed” (as in the phrase “star-crossed lovers”) also applies to the B plot of this episode, which is the intergalactic relationship between Winn and Lyra. What seemed on the surface to be a fun, sex-filled romp between the two turns out to be a long con perpetrated by Lyra; she uses his tech skills to break into a museum where van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” is being displayed and frames him for the robbery. (Conveniently enough, her species can’t be seen on video cameras so it appears that Winn is the only one in the museum.) With Alex and James in tow, Winn attempts to clear his name by investigating Lyra’s background. As it turns out, she needed to steal the painting in order to save her brother’s life from a smuggling gang. It’s here that both Winn and the audience learns Lyra’s hard-luck background as an alien refugee exploited by others (take a shot!).
Winn hatches a plot to save her brother and bring the smugglers to justice. In the most action-packed sequence of “Star-Crossed,” Winn and Lyra encounter Mandrax, a former Fort Rozz alien escapee who takes to wearing snazzy suits and apparently has a fondness for post-impressionist paintings. The Guardian crashes in to fight Mandrax—or more aptly, get his ass kicked by him—and is later met by Alex and other DEO agents to subdue the smugglers. (It’s curious that Mandrax would be so easily subdued by humans with guns after previously boasting how easy it was to kill humans, but those are the sort of plot holes one would do best to look past.)
Even though Lyra lied to him and almost successfully framed him for a crime he didn’t commit, Winn is willing to look past all that because her heart’s in the right place. Winn’s willingness to forgive Lyra’s deceit would have seemed to be an eye-opener for Kara, but she decided to break up with Mon-El anyway, demonstrating that some lines cannot be uncrossed. Hopefully this star-crossed romance ends in mutual respect and friendship, rather than in a tiresomely angst-ridden romance.