This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 4 Episode 7
This week on Supergirl,Kara and J’onn learn the truth about how far Manchester Black is willing to go for vengeance, Lena tests her first human subject, and James finally sees how vulnerable he is to the Children of Liberty.
Throughout Lena’s deeply unethical first human trial, she tries to keep her one and only test subject at an arm’s length. Adam, AKA Subject 0331, won’t let her, and it frankly makes her a better scientist. While Lena learns a lot from this experience – Adam’s test yields results in spite of his death and he has a profound effect on Lena – she still seems to have a deep misunderstanding of the problem she’s trying to solve. At one point, Lena (who lies to Adam about her name) says that she’s trying to cure, “Everything that makes men weak.” But that’s not exactly true. Lena’s trying to cure diseases and give humans powers. Lots of things make humans weak, and in this case, make them fear and hate what those who are different. Her fundamental lack of understanding is deeply troubling.
Will Lena be more honest with her next test subject? Will she refine her understanding of the problem, or at least reframe the problem she can realistically address with her program? It doesn’t take a Luthor-level intellect to see how the Children of Liberty would use Lena’s eventual innovation, just like they weaponized Kryptonite dispersal in the atmosphere. I would love to see Lena in intellectual conversation with those who created the atom bomb, considering the obvious implications of her inventions, or at least held accountable for not doing so.
On the positive side, I was glad to finally learn more about Lena’s backstory. Too often her story is focused on her Luthor-ness and this was a welcome look into another side of her. It was also nice to see her emotional side, rather than just the calm, cool, collected Lena we’re so used to.
James had something of an awakening this episode, finally coming to terms with how violent the Children of Liberty could be toward even someone like him. His status as a journalist and an example of human exceptionalism did not protect him from their coercion and threats of violence, which may ultimately cost him his reputation as a journalist. I’m not surprised that James wants to tell his side of the story about his time with the Children of liberty, since they made him say things he didn’t believe, but it may not be enough. He risked everything, but without any recording devices or other ways of capturing a story, it’s hard to find a justification for why. It’s not that there isn’t a reason to give the Children of Liberty a platform – it’s just that Supergirl didn’t give us one, weakening this drwn-out story line and James’s overall arc.
On the James and Lena front, things seem to be headed in a good direction, even if Lena was too exhausted to talk. Kara is a good friend for giving James the right advice here, and telling him to go to Lena. Kara could have used Lena lying to James to better her position in her fight with Lena, but she values her friendship with James and James and Lena’s happiness more than any concept of winning.
Manchester Black finally showed his true colors to Supergirl and J’onn J’onzz, and it nearly cost Supergirl dearly. Seeing her in chains was reminiscent of Aslan, and I still don’t know Manchester Black well enough to care too much about what he does, and I’m having a hard time connecting too strongly with J’onn’s breakdown at the end of the episode, other than perhaps anguish over the position he put Kara in by vouching for him. Still, Supergirl is regularly in peril, so it feels a bit out of step.
Where does everyone go from here? For Ben Lockwood, it seems like it’s time to pick a new target, and perhaps a new symbol for their movement. Or maybe a little smearing of James Olsen. Manchester Black was headed to Ben Lockwood’s family steel plant, which can’t be good news for anyone. J’onn seems like he needs to take a step back. And Lena is probably going to keep moving, with her 87% likely success rate.