This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 5 Episode 10
The fallout from the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover will undoubtedly be felt across all of the Arrowerse, but no show is more likely to be affected than Supergirl, which saw its National City transferred to the Earth-Prime that The Flash, Arrow, and the other major series inhabit, while Lex Luthor was elevated not just to a beloved worldwide philanthropist, but the head of the DEO.
Supergirl is also the first series back on-air in this new post-Crisis universe, so in many ways we’re all looking to it to set the tone for what we might expect from these shows going forward. If that’s the case, then it feels safe to say that this new era of the Arrowverse promises both fun and heart, as well as new and intriguing ways to play with the comics lore we all love.
For the most part, “The Bottle Episode” eases us into this new reality, plugging in a lot of exposition into the opening minutes that set up the bulk of the ground rules for how things work now. The bulk of humanity can’t be given their pre-“Crisis” memories back because their brains will literally melt, but, thanks to Lex, a lot of folks who weren’t the specific heroes involved in the crossover get to remain the versions we knew.
Thanks to a heretofore unknown deal with the Monitor, Lena’s memories of everything that transpired —including her ongoing emotional rift with Kara—remain intact. Since the rift between these two women has been such a big part of season 5 thus far, it’s a relief to know so early on that their story hasn’t been erased or otherwise altered by the events of the crossover. (I don’t know about y’all, but I honestly don’t think I could stand to watch another installment of Lena Finds Out. Your mileage may vary.)
Here, however, Lena’s desperate search for affection is even more heartbreaking than ever before, as she looks for someone, anything to believe in and love—whether that’s Lex, Kara, or even her mother Lilian, who’s also been conveniently filled in on everything Crisis-related. Lex’s Truthseeker-fueled confession that he, too, doesn’t want to be alone anymore plays on everything that’s empty inside her in the wake of what she sees as Kara’s betrayal.
And its intriguing in its own right since, on some level, it’s true. Here’s hoping the rest of season 5 really digs into this bizarre family connection, beyond the obvious manipulation that will occur between them.
The rise of the Luthors as what essentially feels like a first family of evil isn’t exactly what I expected from a post-Crisis Supergirl, but it’s a decision that makes a certain amount of sense. In its quest to become something new, Supergirl must face its past, in the form of Lex, the Luthors, and everything that they’ve meant to Kara and her family.
Though, take heart, Supercorp fam. It’s deeply obvious that Lena wanted to choose Kara, so badly that Lillian had to sabotage Supergirl’s chances by teaming up with Lex. If there’s a way this story ends that doesn’t involve her ultimately choosing the path of light and rejecting her family, I can’t see what it is.
Though it begins as something of a screwball comedy, “The Bottle Episode” evolves into a surprisingly moving story about self-acceptance and believing in the good within yourself. (So, you know, a fairly standard Supergirl hour. That is in no way a criticism.)
The episode features at least a half dozen versions of Brainiac-5, all brought to Earth-Prime through a wormhole in Al’s Bar that will definitely be a season-long subplot. They include an emo Brainy wrecked by the loss of his universe, a capable Brainy who feels very like our own, an eyepatch wearing Brainy that disintegrates after just a few moments, and a female version, who is by far the most interesting of the lot.
As you might expect, a lot of this is played for laughs during the episode’s first half. Jesse Rath gets to have loads of fun playing a bunch of characters at once, as the brigade of Brainys interact in various ways, expressing entertaining levels of shock at the others’ existences, and engaging in competitions to prove who is the best and most Coluan Brainy of all. (Fun fact: Female Brainy is played by Rath’s real-life sister, Meaghan.)
However, what begins as a slapstick comedy evolves into something deeper, allowing Brainy to confront darker elements of his own history (his mom, as it turns out, was into a little world bottling on family vacations) and his fear of the apparent rage ball he’ll become once he removes the personality inhibitors that adorn his forehead (he got dangerously angry when his father released some of those bottled worlds his mom stole).
But thanks to pep talks from both Nia and Kara that reassure him that the people that love you will always have your back, Brainy saves the day by removing his inhibitors and convincing his Emo Self that releasing his bottled homeworld onto Earth-Prime and destroying all life in the process is a bad idea. He also turns green (!!!) and gets a new comic accurate costume (!!!!!), so wow those inhibitors really were putting in some work.
“The Bottle Episode” isn’t likely to be an installment that winds up on our best episodes of the season list. But it’s an entertaining hour that still manages to put Supergirl on solid footing in its first post-Crisis outing. With the bulk of the exposition out of the way regarding how the world has changed now handled, it’ll be exciting to see how the series ties in the pre-existing season 5 plots going forward, namely Leviathan and Obsidian Tech.
– All this talk about bottling various worlds really makes me miss SYFY’s Krypton.
– Brainy and Nia’s break-up feels annoyingly contrived. Behold, a problem that could be speedily and easily resolved if any of these people actually talked to one another. You’d think that after roughly three dozen instances of something terrible and/or nigh apocalyptic happening because someone kept a very obvious secret from everyone else, these people would have learned, but oh no. Creating manufactured strife between Nia and Brainy for nebulously defined reasons that basically equate to “for her own good” isn’t the same thing as a real story.
Plus side: Does this mean we can get a real arc for Nia this season? She deserves it, and so do we.
-No matter what universe we land in, Kara/William is going to be inevitable, isn’t it?