Supergirl: “Far From the Tree” Review

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By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

This week, Supergirl was all about the feels. It wasn’t the silly and romantic emotions. It wasn’t the wallowing in self-pity feelings. It was the passionately deep feelings that only come from issues with family, and Supergirl laid them on heavily in “Far From the Tree.”

Warning: Spoilers below!

One of the major issues of Supergirl this week was the simple lack of Supergirl (Melissa Benoist). After focusing heavily on the titular character and her emotional struggle at the start of the season, this episode felt a little out of place by taking the focus almost completely away from her. While I was not necessarily all that fond of the “woe is me” attitude of Kara after the loss of Mon-El (Chris Wood), it felt a bit incongruous to ignore her story altogether this week. That being said, a well-rounded show should be more than a single character, so Supergirl should be commended for developing the stories of supporting characters (even if they lacked subtlety in doing it).

So if “Far From the Tree” wasn’t focusing on Supergirl this week, what kind of story was the episode telling? The episode title gives a clue – there were daddy issues in spades on Earth and Mars alike. On Mars, J’onn (David Harewood) found an unexpected relative – his father (who was played by none other than the man who voiced Martian Manhunter in the animated Justice League: Carl Lumbly)! There was something else about a powerful spear and a Martian resistance, which is generally hard for an audience to connect to, without some human or Earth-based foundation to keep the story grounded and relatable. The flaw of that other-worldly storyline made the war on the other planet a clear second fiddle to the emotional reunion of father and son.

Was there some over-acting with unfortunate close-ups of CGI Martian faces that aren’t quite perfected yet? Absolutely. But the emotional content of family reunions and hope for a new future made up for any mistakes, as they paled in comparison to the beauty of serious feels!

The daddy issues didn’t end there. With a wedding shower in the works, Maggie (Floriana Lima) reached out to her estranged father who had left her at her aunt’s door at a very young age after discovering her sexual orientation. The story of Maggie is one that many viewers will find themselves relating to, whether their familial disconnect has occurred because of coming out, or because of other reasons. Striking a nerve I didn’t know I had, I found myself crying with every word that came out of Maggie’s mouth in “Far From the Tree,” and feeling a special connection with the character that I had lacked until that point. Supergirl may not have necessarily felt like a superhero show this week, but it was a hit nonetheless.

At the end of the episode, I was left with more than one comic book logistics question. If Supergirl is underground on Mars, is she still getting power from Earth’s yellow sun…or should she be weaker than she normally is on Earth? Do all Martians, both white and green, turn into people of color when they take human form? (I appreciate diverse casting and 100% support it. I was just left wondering if it was a casting choice, or true to its comic book origins.) And that car/spaceship…say what?! Supergirl driving a car on Mars that turns into a spaceship while playing a Britney Spears 90s hit cannot be canon, can it?

Overall, “Far From the Tree” was less superhero and more drama this week, but it struck the right emotional chords, making it an interesting and deeply felt episode. It was true to the message and underlying themes of Supergirl, becoming a beautiful and heartfelt addition to the series.


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