Armek. a White Martian, arrives on Earth hunting M'gann. When the DEO takes her into protective custody, the team must play a dangerous game when Armek is revealed to have entered into the DEO base in disguise.
Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (the title), Grant Morrison's JLA (the introduction of The White Martians and the character of Armek), the film The Thing (basic plot of being trapped in a military base with a shape-shifter, a similar test to determine who isn't a shape-shifter.) and Aliens (trapped with a monster plot, Alex and Winn sealed up in some kind of cocoon, a tough Hispanic female soldier named Vasquez)
Granting how childish Kara has been acting lately in regards to Winn and James playing vigilante, the subplot of her getting fearful of being abandoned when Alex makes plans to be with Maggie on Kara's "Earth Birthday" really doesn't ring true.
Jeremy Jordan has a lot of good moments here - both as Winn and his brief turn as the shape-shifted White Martian.
Sharon Leal givers her finest performance to date as M'Gann, truly seeming like the kind of person who could defy the will of her species in order to save lives for the first time since her character was introduced.
It's a brief thing but there's some great non-verbal acting between Sharon Leal and David Harewood indicating a telepathic conversation between J'onn and M'Gann. We don't need to hear their voices. Their faces say it all.
Good use of light and shifting camera angles in the first struggle between Armek and J'onn.
Nice special effects on the lamprey mouth of the shape-shifting "Alex".
The action sequence in which Kara, J'onn and M'Gann battle Armek and the other White Martian in the reactor is a fantastic scene with a good balance of effects work, fight choreography, editing and direction.
While the episode does a poor job of hiding its sources (There's a fine line between a tribute and a rip-off) the script does do a good job of justifying why certain measures can't be used to solve the White Martian mystery in ten seconds (i.e. Kara using her x-ray vision to track them, J'onn using his telepathy to screen for the traitor.)
The episode title comes from a Ray Bradbury short-story collection detailing the colonization of Mars.
Armek was the name of a White Martian in Grant Morrison's JLA run. Armek was one of The Hyperclan - a group of White Martians who pretended to be a team of intergalactic saviors come to help the people of Earth improve their lives. Armek used his shape-shifting powers to disguise himself as a giant robot.
Armek makes a reference to H'ronmeer is the Martian God of Death. This is taken directly from the Martian Manhunter comics, where H'ronmeer is the Martian god of death, art and fire.
M'Gann makes reference to having left her husband 300 years earlier. While the exact amount of time differs from comic to comic, it is generally accepted that Martians in the DC Comics Universe are longer-lived than Earthlings. Some comics say Martians can live for hundreds of years. Others say they can live for millions of years,
The basic plot of this episode greatly resembles the film The Thing, with our heroes trapped in a military base with a hostile shape-shifting alien.
As in The Thing, a test is devised to determine who is or isn't a shape-shifter. In the case of The Thing, a blood test that saw the blood sample touched to a heated cooper wire since The Thing's survival instinct would cause even the smallest parts of it to avoid danger. In this episode, J'onn devises a test using an open flame that will force a White Martian to drop their disguise when their hand passes by the fire.
This test is also a nod to the original DC Comics, where fire depowered Martians - White or Green - in the same way that Kryptonite or the light of a red star depowered Kryptonians. The reasons for this weakness have changed repeatedly over the years, with the most generally accepted reason being that the Martian fear of fire is a psychological block caused by the instinctive fear of death, due to the Martian God of Death also being their god of Fire. One story claims this weakness was imposed upon The Martians by The Guardians of the Universe (the same race who created The Green Lantern Corps) so as to prevent the Martians from becoming a dangerous race of conquerors.
One of the DEO agents is a Hispanic woman named Vasquez. This may be a nod to a soldier character from the movie Aliens.
The DEO agent who squares off against Vasquez is named Demos (prounced Dee-moes). This could be a reference to Deimos - one of the two moons of Mars.
In the scene at Kara's apartment, Kara is seen wearing a t-shirt that reads "Power To The Girls". This could be a nod to Power Girl - the parallel Earth version of Supergirl in the comics.
Kara: You understand I'm just worried about you?
Winn: Yeah, you don't have to worry about me.
Kara: You got beat up a few weeks ago! You could have been killed!
Winn: (not looking up from his monitor) Mmm-hmm.
Kara: I know James thinks he has a calling but you have to see how crazy this is, right?
Winn: (suddenly intense) Have you ever thought that maybe I have a calling too?!
J'onn: Almost there. How long until you disable the reactor?
Computer: Core breach in four minutes.
Winn: About four minutes?
J'onn: That's a good answer.
(The two round the corner and enter into the reactor room.)
Winn: Yeah, as long as I can focus, it should be easy.... Oh God!
(We cut to Winn's perspective as we see Supergirl and the White Martian fighting.)
(Armek rears up over a distracted J'onn. He is suddenly hit by a blue energy blast. J'onn turns around to see Alex, smiling as she enters the room.)
Alex: Have I mentioned how much I love my new gun?
J'onn: Thank you for saving me.
M'Gann: I should be thanking you. I've been on my own for so long and.... Though I had a mother,...she wasn't warm. That's not our way, but... she cared for me. I know she did. I'd forgotten that feeling until now. What it feels like to have a family... which is what makes this so hard.
(J'onn turns to her and raises an eyebrow expectantly.)
M'gann: I'm going back to Mars.
M'Gann: There must be other voices like mine. White Martians who have the desire and the capacity to change. Who don't want to be defined by the hatred of our kind... but just... need a push, to do the right thing!
J'onn: They could kill you as soon as you land!
M'Gann: Maybe. But if I don't try... They're never going to stop hunting me. You know that's true.
(J'onn slowly nods.)
M'gann: You've shown me what it is to stand up and fight. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. Please tell me you understand.
(J'onn says nothing. Not out loud. His face expresses his sorrow but also his acceptance. M'Gann looks sad as well but slowly nods and walks away.)
Mon-El is still working as a bartender.
Mon-El and Kara discuss his confession of romantic feelings for her from 210.
Kara celebrates her birthday on the anniversary of the day she arrived on Earth. They usually have cupcakes.
Alex is a big fan of the band Barenaked Ladies.
Kara refers to the events of 209 and Winn's nearly dying when he tried confronting a mugger on his own.
K'onahr is the Martian word for wife.
Armek was M'gann's husband 300 years earlier. It was an arranged marriage.
Martians of both species - White and Green - are unable to maintain a shape-shifted disguise when in close proximity to a fire.
Martians need close, physical proximity - say within the same building - to the person they are impersonating when attempting a successful infiltration.
The DEO building's walls are lined with lead.
M'Gann leaves to return to Mars and seek out other White Martians with a conscience, like her.
When impersonating another person, the telepathic bond between the Martian and the target can go both ways. This results in the impersonated person having weak, dream-like memories of any conversations their doppelganger had.
Based on the final scene, Mon-El is dating Eve Teschmacher
The Bottom Line
A decent filler episode that does more the develop M'Gann as a character than any other story to date... only to write her out of the show. It's unclear just what the bond between her and J'onn is (romantic or familial) but things are left vague enough to satisfy fans of the characters from the comics and the possibility of romance at a later date. There's not a lot else going on beyond that.