This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 4 Episode 17
Lena’s entire through-line was one of the most satisfying parts of a great episode, one of Supergirl’s best this season. Kara finally found out that Lena created more Harun-el and that it’s Lex has powers. But instead of it driving a further wedge between then, as Lillian predicted, it helped heal their rift. Lena’s conflict with Supergirl may have felt like it resolved a bit too suddenly, but at least the conversation itself felt earned, if not the overall shift in their relationship. Many have feared that either Lena or Supergirl would be completely absolved in this argument. Instead, Supergirl surprised her.
They make up after Supergirl admits that Lena did some good things with the Harun-el, including saving James when/in a way she couldn’t. But Supergirl also reminded Lena that she deals with something no one else does: she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. This is necessarily subtext given that her identity is still frustratingly a secret, but Kara’s also caught between these two warring factions: the human world she has sworn to protect and the aliens, of which she is one. She passes and is beloved, but she is, in fact, an alien. I would love to see this season dig more into that, like we saw during the support group episodes that dug into passing and privilege.
Finally, it was delightful to watch Lena march back into her mother’s call, triumphant. Lena Luthor’s story is one not only of a genius (saving the day with science in the heat of battle!) but also one of choosing love over hate. Lena could have gone toward manipulation, secrets, and lies like her mother and brother. Instead she trusted Alex and Supergirl, and they rewarded that trust by seeing things from her perspective, caring about her, and trusting her back. Lena may have been raised a Luthor, but she’ll always be one step ahead because she has trust, love, and teamwork on her side.
Supergirl is a more effective hero (and a more interesting show) when she listens to people like Lena and Bitsie and can see that there is a genuine good in what Eve did for her, even if on the balance what Eve has done is wrong. Claiming that healing Bitsie was bad would be disingenuous, and while it’s good to see the bewildered reactions from Alex and Lena, it’s only because Supergirl was able to acknowledge that good that Bitsie trusted her enough to tell her anything about Tess’s whereabouts.
I’m far more interested in the moral ambiguities surrounding who get access to a super-powered serum (and by extension, whether those people remain under human laws or alien laws) than I am in any sort of Lex Luthor-centric gotcha scenario. That’s not to say Lex is an uninteresting character – far from it. The way that he tapped into his unfulfilled brotherly side in Lena’s absence to win over the Red Daughter was fascinating. It’s just that character beats and exploring moral murkiness will always give an audience more to sink our teeth into than eleventh-hour retcons and flimsy twists.
I’m a bit confused by how this psych is being written. One minute she’s trying to shove therapy referrals in his hand, and the next she’s mad that he’s avoiding triggers, which is actually a great coping mechanism and a good sign. Her dig, “God forbid you have a flashback!” is perplexing. It arbitrarily sets symptoms up along a hierarchy and feels stigmatizing and unhelpful. I’m not surprised James was upset by this interaction.
It seems that she’s more interested in making him come to heel than actually helping him heal in a meaningful way, but unfortunately, I can’t tell if that’s a character issue or poor understanding of trauma on the part of the writers, since these issues are such common misunderstandings. In a week when Grey’s Anatomy did such a phenomenal job handling trauma, it’s a bummer to see this swing and a miss. It’s clear that Supergirl’s intentions are in the right place, but everything is just a bit off here.
There’s an element of police procedural here that doesn’t quite work. We already know that all the dots connect between the various villains, so watching the heroes retrace those steps in slow, confusing motion isn’t too much fun, especially in an episode that feels crowded.
It was nice to see My’rnn back again, although it would’ve been helpful to have some clarity that he was benign earlier on. He acted just shady enough that he seemed fake in a dangerous way, which made it harder to enjoy his presence for what it was: a fun flashback to a beloved character that ultimately allowed J’onn to forgive himself and fully transition to his next stage.
Finally, this episode lived up to its title for a hot minute and delivered a fairly bleak ending, by Supergirl standards anyway. Eve’s plan was downright diabolical, and it was hard to watch Supergirl struggle and say nothing over comms to James, or not find a way to somehow make herself visible. It’s a sign of what a buoyant and lovable hero Supergirl is that even seeing a fictional doppelganger kill people bloodlessly felt so ruthless, stomach-churning and dark.
Of course, President Baker says she did it in retaliation for the repeal of the alien amnesty act, enacts martial law, and declares that Supergirl is Public Enemy #1. Is that a real thing? I suppose this is justification for keeping her identity a secret. For now, Alex and Haley don’t believe she did, and I doubt James would either, even with his tunnel vision. Lockwood seemed surprisingly skeptical of the vote on the repeal and was a bit aghast at “Supergirl’s” out of character quote on fear. I’m guessing he’s weirdly going to come through for the woman of steel on this one.
It was hard to see everyone so isolated and in need at the end of this episode – J’onn is headed off-world when Kara needs him most, and she can’t turn to her sister. Luckily James finally turns to his own sister for help. This was a Brainy-lite episode with no Nia, which likely contributed to the darker tone that the content called for. It was well done, and as much as I admire it, part of me wants these characters to have a bit more community and levity right now.
Supergirl with doughnuts isn’t as great as Kara with ice cream but I’ll take it!
Kara gave Brainy his ring back…
Love the muted burgundy double-breasted blazer on Lena Luthor.
Lillian Luthor is a master manipulator and delivers top notch mom-shade.
How has law enforcement not caught up with the visualizer tech at all?