Supergirl has never shied away from making a statement on social issues happening today in our reality. Indeed, they can be about as subtle as an elephant trying to sneak through a tiny shop that sells glass ornaments and percussion instruments, but it’s the heart the characters put behind each statement that get us to listen. This week is no exception. Wonder Woman…er…I mean the President of the United States (Lynda Carter) extends the Alien Amnesty Act to all alien immigrants/refugees, forcing our characters to revisit their own prejudices and biases. Even Supergirl‘s.
“Welcome To Earth” starts off pretty simple: Kara is a bleeding heart in favor of the Alien Amnesty Act, and Alex is the cautious type who can only trust as many aliens as she can count on hand with two fingers remaining. J’onn’s view is a bit more complicated. Not only is he an alien refugee who has experience first-hand what humans are capable of doing when something different from them appears, but he’s also had to experience humanity’s prejudices from the perspective of a black man. As a result, J’onn/Hank is not entirely in favor of the Alien Amnesty Act. He’s worried that potentially dangerous aliens will become emboldened, but he’s also wary how humanity will react once aliens do step out of the shadows.
Hank is not entirely in the wrong here, either. First there’s Cadmus, who doesn’t appear this week. They don’t want any aliens on Earth. Then there’s at least one alien who doesn’t see the new act as an open-arms welcome, but just a pretty way of saying that they want to register aliens so they can keep track of them. This particular fireball-throwing alien is so enraged by the AAA that she tries to kill the president.
Then there is the show’s newest addition, Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima). She is a staunch supporter of aliens’ rights because she feels sympathetic to their plight as a gay woman of color growing up in Nebraska. She even states that she prefers the company of aliens more than humans. As blunt as Hank’s and Maggie’s dialogue about prejudice is in this episode, at least it tells us that the show doesn’t pretend real-world issues such as racism and homophobia aren’t things that have been resolved already, as most genre series tend to do.
Supergirl also runs into her own lesson on prejudice and bias when she finds out that the mysterious alien who crash landed in the season premiere is from Daxam, a sister planet of Krypton. Krypton and Daxam were rival planets with a bitter and bloody history. Basing her judgement only on where he comes from, Supergirl automatically thinks that the Daxamite is the mysterious assassin. He’s not. In fact, the refugee spends his time trying to send a signal to his home planet.
By the end of the episode, everyone, especially the Danvers sisters, learns an important lesson. Not all situations are as black and white as they want it to be. Alex has a little more to go than Supergirl, but I’ll chalk that up to the fact that she’s basically a cop whose job for the past few years was to capture aliens who posed themselves as dangers to humanity. Supergirl is able to swallow her pride and formally introduce herself to the new alien, Mon-El (Chris Wood). She also has the unfortunate responsibility to tell him what happened to his planet — the debris from Krypton threw Daxam’s planet out of whack and turned it into a wasteland.
The fact that someone as empathetic and optimistic as Supergirl can turn cold with prejudice is a powerful statement to make. The show itself doesn’t muster enough nuance to explore such a revelation, so this aspect of Kara’s storyline falls little flat. I do foresee another culture clash happening soon, though. Until then, we’ll just have to assume that he’ll be Kara’s little lost puppy.
All this talk about prejudice and I almost forgot to talk about Lena Luthor, sister to the world’s biggest xenophobe.
First let us all appreciate the fact that since becoming a reporter, Kara no longer has these weird and awkward check-ins from her superhero life to her profession one, which often had nothing to do with other. Making Kara a journalist not only allows us to explore conflicts from different angles, but also weave in and out of her double with much less clunk than last season.
While Supergirl gets to meet the President, Kara has to interview Lena Luthor to get a different perspective on the Alien Amnesty Act. While Lena doesn’t exactly share her brother’s views, she does believe that humans should have the right to know whether or not their neighbor is an alien. This irks Kara who understandably doesn’t feel like giving away certain privacies. When asked to try it out herself, Kara zaps it with her heat vision while Lena isn’t looking. I don’t know how that whole thing was supposed to work considering no holes were burned into it, but it served Kara’s purpose just fine.
The most hyped appearance for this season is Lynda Carter as our Lady in Chief, President Olivia Marsdin. The woman who played the strongest superhero on TV in her time now playing the most powerful woman on TV in our time is something to behold. Melissa Benoist plays up Kara’s bubbliness to the max. The only other time we saw Supergirl nerd out this much was when the Flash appeared. While there were definite nods to Carter’s old job (Marsdin references her “other jet,” and Supergirl does the classic Wonder Woman twirl to put out the flames on her suit), the President herself gives us a sneak peek into an interesting through-line that we will undoubtedly revisit in a future episode.
The biggest surprise of the episode has to do with Martian Manhunter. J’onn steps into a secret alien dive bar, which Alex discovered first and apparently told him about, and finds a bartender who recognizes him. Or rather, she recognizes his species. The bartender freaks out and leaves, but J’onn follows her demanding answers. Then…something amazing happens. The bartender reveals herself to be M’gann M’orzz, aka Miss Martian! AAAAHHHHH!
- I love Maggie. She’s a badass with a heart of gold. More partnerships with Alex please!
- I’m super excited about Miss Martian, especially the dynamic that will happen between her and J’onn. [SPOILER] Anyone who knows her from the comics and Cartoon Network’s Young Justice will know that M’gann is actually a White Martian in disguise. [/SPOILER]
- I hope we get to see more of Mon-El. His abrasive personality is a direct contrast to Kara’s. I’ve already started shipping them in my head. What? They look cute together!
- This one episode hit a lot of points that remind me of the X-Men and Civil War. It makes you wonder: Has DC Comics ever explored either of these routes before? I feel like the answer should be a “No…not really.”
- Is the POTUS an alien or a meta?
- If she’s a meta, is she Cadmus’ meta???
- If she’s an alien, has she always been so, or is she an alien who took the real Marsdin’s place?
- “How did anyone even vote for that other guy?” *snerk*