This Supergirl review contains spoilers for Season 5, Episode 18.
Knowing that this season came to an end three episodes before it was meant to, it’s honestly so difficult to judge the final episodes of Supergirl Season 5. Presumably, any resolutions we see in next week’s makeshift finale will, of necessity, not be terribly satisfying. There are plenty of overarching problems in Season 5 that are worth discussing: the fact that the Leviathan story has been a dud from jump, that the show let Lex Luthor take over a story that should have focused on Lena, and the season’s general abandonment of the “dangers of technology” theme it initially promised to tackle this season. (Yes, we know; every kind of tech is basically dangerous and bad if you give it to Lex!)
It’s a macro problem that’s apparent in this week’s episode as well, as “The Missing Link” is a largely workmanlike hour that seems more concerned with moving pieces into place for what’s still to come than it is in legitimately telling a story. Unfortunately, however, since we’ll never see the payoff for many if not most of these narrative pieces, the episode generally feels like an hour of our lives we’ll never get back.
So much of the plot of this episode feels like a necessary ticking of boxes—here are all of the things that need to happen before the final part of the season can play out—and while some of its developments are exciting to watch (the fight with Ramma Khan in the DEO was pretty great), most of them just… aren’t. Even interactions that very much needed to happen largely felt like they were treading water rather than moving the story forward.
For example, we have all waiting for that Brainy and Nia confrontation about his bizarre behavior for weeks now, which had honestly become weird to the point of ridiculousness. (Surely, he could have just waved a sign around that said “I am working with Lex Luthor” in massive block letters and it would have been simpler.) It’s a relief to see Nia finally call Brainy out for his behavior, but because we apparently haven’t reached the point in the story yet where he can admit she’s right and fess up about the fact that he’s been working with Lex for months, what we get instead is more stonewalling and protestations that he just can’t tell her the truth right now because reasons. It’s exhausting.
Anyway, Supergirl and Dreamer track down and defeat Ramma Khan, only for his capture to turn out to be an intentional part of his evil plan to infiltrate the DEO and steal Kryptonite. Presumably, this must be to fuel whatever it was that Lex stole from the Fortress of Solitude last week. I have to admit that I think I’ve given up on ever figuring out what it is that this Leviathan story is about, or what they want. Are they into enslaving humanity? Destroying Earth? Just trying to kill Supergirl, like everyone else? Throw a dart at a board, it’ll make as much sense.
At least the DEO blew up in spectacular fashion? That set was probably due for a refresh anyway, and the special effects involved in its destruction looked great.
The one plot development that felt genuinely earned this week was Lena’s realization that, no matter how much she might want to believe in her brother, Lex is a dirtbag in every reality. Her prison project experiment—that, let’s be honest, a lot of us had probably forgotten about—with Non Nocere fails spectacularly, causing riots among the prisoners that spread and become more violent the more they attack one another.
Lena’s conviction that she can somehow force human beings to be better people whether they want to be or not has always been a strangely more pleasant version of her brother’s desire to control and subjugate everyone. But here, importantly, she realizes her vision isn’t possible—and, what’s worse, that it really shouldn’t be. Whereas Lex, for his part, insists that it just means that, if humanity can’t be fixed, it needs to be controlled and wouldn’t it be great if the Luthors could just somehow be made everyone’s minders on a global scale?
Watching Lena realize that Lex has been manipulating her—again—is so satisfying. Not because Lena deserves to continually be punished in this way, because she absolutely doesn’t. But it illustrates that she has what her brother does not: the capacity for growth.
“The Missing Link”’s final five minutes are so strong that they’re almost enough to make the rest of the hour worthwhile. And that’s because Lena demonstrates that she is what we’ve always known her to be: a good person, not to mention someone who is not just capable of discerning right from wrong, but of choosing the side of right, even when it’s difficult. That’s honestly what her brother has never understood about her, if you ask me. Lex has always underestimated the goodness in Lena, and her desire to do good, rather than evil.
Watching her show up to Kara’s apartment, and admit to her own hurt, as well as the mistakes that hurt gave rise to, was a moment such a long time in coming, and so worth it when it arrived. Katie McGrath is terrific here, as Lena acknowledges that she has been on a dark path since she found out the truth about Kara’s secret identity, but she can’t bear the thought of Lex using her work—that she created in an attempt to do good in the world—for something monstrous. She needs Supergirl to help stop that from happening.
And maybe putting these two on the same side again is precisely what this season needs to get back on track.