Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
Shifting from Kara’s (other) worldly issues, A Strange Visitor from Another Planet brings J’onn J’onzz’ story front and center. Developed out of the fallout of Martian Manhunter using his abilities, the tragedy that was the razing of Mars is finally outlined. Elevated even further in part to phenomenal performances by David Harewood and Chyler Leigh, A Strange Visitor from Another Planet is a comic nerds dream (minus the Cat & son dreck).
Ever since Martian Manhunter was revealed to be a part of the show, fans have eagerly waited to learn more about the enigmatic character’s history and motivations. Getting glimpses of his tragedy that lead him to flee Mars, as well as the villains responsible, was some of the coolest imagery the show has produced thus far. The opening scene with the White Martian tearing through crowds of people at blinding speed was exciting and unexpected. The brief moments back on Mars where we lay witness to the White Martians assault on the Green Martian camps were stunning yet devastating. But most importantly, the pure rage and regret seething out of David Harewood’s performance as a result of these story beats were truly outstanding. Genuine and believable are words rarely attributed to a giant green alien talking about being attacked by underground firetraps on another planet, yet those are the first descriptors that come to mind.
To add a cherry on top of the already delicious Martian flavored cake, that fight scene! Out of nowhere we’re treated to a near film quality mid-air fight scene between the White Martian, J’onn J’onnz and Kara that blows every other action sequence the show has produced out of the water. It’s a shame that it was so brief but the fact that something that stellar found its way onto the silver screen at all is impressive. It was a little strange to see the dueling Martians change into their human forms at the end of the fight, given that (and I’m assuming here) it takes more energy to maintain a form that isn’t natural to them. From a budget standpoint it makes complete sense, but it would have been nice to see more of best CG on television.
Revenge-fueled MM was also a treat. Oscillating between feeding into his anger and killing the Martian or adhering to his Earthbound code was a dilemma we haven’t seen with Kara so having it play out made for intriguing new territory. I would have been fine with J’onzz taking out the alien but keeping the White Martians in play for another episode is probably the better choice for the longevity of the show. But yea, that fight was fantastic!
Paralleling the unearthly goings on was the mundane mother/son drama between Cat and her secret child. Adam’s (Blake Jenner, Melissa Benoist’s real world husband) sudden appearance was pretty random and served mainly to give the episode a little slack when it comes to the budget. The back and forth between Jenner and Flockhart was well delivered but in an episode dedicated to epic alien fights I couldn’t care less about real world melodrama. That being said, it was interesting to see real life couple Jenner and Benoist play off of each other. Though their scenes were brief, you could feel the chemistry between the two. If Winn isn’t going to end up with Kara, at least James won’t either!
Speaking of Winn, the fallout from last week’s revelation was almost completely absent. Neither the comatose girl from Lord Laboratories or Winn’s unrequited love was brought up to any impactful degree. Sure, there was a lot happening this week. But if they had the time to throw in Cat and Adam squabbling over dinner they could have thrown in a few more minutes of screen time of Bizarro girl and Winn.
Having just expressed my disappointment at the lack of Bizarro girl, next week seems to be addressing that storyline head on. With a cliffhanger featuring Kara’s test tube doppelgänger, their inevitable showdown looks to be happening sooner than anticipated (which is awesome. If they can replicate the stunning effects for that showdown… oh yea!)
Looking past the uneventful family stuff, Strange Visitor from Another Planet was incredible. David Harewood and Chyler Leigh deliver their best performances thus far and the added action served as an epic bonus. Emotional weight, deep and involving character development and a satisfying conclusion; these are the things that make for compelling TV, Strange Visitor from Another Planet had all three and more. Watch this episode; just skip the bits that don’t involve Cat and Adam.
Overall, Strange Visitor from Another Planet gets an 8.5/10.
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