This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 5, Episode 8
The ambition of CW’s DC superhero crossover events is unparalleled on network TV, existing as an annual reminder of what can be possible when TV networks dream big. That being said, working to bring together a massive logisitcal and narrative project like “Crisis On Infinite Earths,” set to begin next Sunday, isn’t without its sacrifices. This year, one of those sacrifices is the rushed conclusion (and middle, if we’re being honest) of Supergirl‘s non-Crisis storylines.
“The Wrath of Rama Khan” has a lot to do in just 42 minutes as it rushes to prepare for “Crisis On Infinite Earths,” and it doesn’t pull it off. While the episode ends (pre-Crisis prologue) with the implication that the Leviathan arc is far from over, this chapter of the Leviathan story—not to mention Lena’s failed plan to use Myriad to re-program the people of the world so they are unable to hurt others—speeds chaotically to an unsatisfying conclusion.
To be fair, it isn’t totally Crisis’ fault. This first part of Supergirl Season 5 has bitten off way more than it can chew. We’ve had the mysterious Leviathan slow burn, Lena’s plotting, the return of J’onn’s brother Malefic, and the swooping in of Andrea Rojas and what that has meant for CatCo Media. “Khan” tried to coalesce many of these storylines into one, but, as they were thematically at odds, it didn’t work. It also doesn’t help that we haven’t seen Kara’s more relatable storylines at CatCo as a journalist, playing games with her friends, or even having sister hangs with Alex to ground these more bombastic plots.
What has worked in this season has been the Lena Luthor stuff, in no small part because of a) the work this show has done to build this character and her relationship with Kara since Day One and b) the stellar performance from Katie McGrath. Unfortunately, the conclusion (for now) here is muddled. While Kara is proven right in urging Alex to trust the “good” in Lena and use Malefic to stop Myriad rather than employing a more fatal solution, the story has to do a lot of work to force this storyline into a “you have to use your heart rather than your head” and “we have to believe in the possibility that anyone can change for the better” framework.
While I think those are admirable, underepresented themes to explore, there is a difference between giving someone who has asked for the opportunity to show they have changed that chance and assuming someone will make a random 180. Alex spends much of this episode being the voice of reason—pointing out that there is much more at stake here than a friendship—and being slowly convinced by every other character that she is wrong, which undermines the intelligence of every other character and chips away at the believability of this world.
There is so much to love about the Kara/Lena angst in this episode, especially the scene that saw Kara trying to explain herself to Lena again. That being said, the show isn’t doing itself any favors by making Lena’s actions so villainous. While Lena’s plan is too vague to get any real read on (again, hurting the sense of stakes in this episode), what would this episode have played like if Lena’s plan had to do with something recognizably important and specific, like reversing climate change (which would have played better thematically with the Rama Khan plot)? Lena’s vague mission to keep people from hurting one another by using Q-waves to incept them in some way is not only horrific, but also very unclear. What would this even look like?
However you slice it, the plan would mean a breach of consent on a worldwide level, one that is echoed on the individual level by Lena’s BFF, Hope, an AI Lena forced into Eve without Eve‘s consent. When Hope offers to risk her life to fix the satellites, Hope isn’t just risking her own “life,” but Eve’s as well. Hope mentions that Eve would be OK with it, but it’s unclear if she has any way of actually knowing that. Supergirl has never bothered to explain how Hope’s character actually works, which undercuts Lena’s apparently honest fear that she will lose her one friend.
Meanwhile, Rama Khan is on a mission to cause an extinction-level event, with the reluctant and then outright unwilling help of Andrea. It’s hard to take this threat seriously when we, as viewers, are so much more emotionally-invested in the Lena stuff, not to mention aware that the stakes are about to be raised so much more exponentially in “Crisis,” in which entire worlds (as in plural) are at risk. Sorry, Rama Khan. You’re just not that scary.
By episode’s end, Supergirl has managed to stop Rama Khan, with the help of J’onn, inspired by the fact that Alex chose the more hopeful choice in stopping Lena. J’onn has sent Malefic back to Mars to help M’gann stop the war. Hope somewhat hilariously takes the fall for Lena; Alex and Kara don’t actually believe the ruse, but throw their hands up as if they have no institutional power to wield, and make respective dinner plans. (Alex going out for sushi with Kelly, and Kara sitting alone in her apartment, staring at a photo of herself and Lena from happier times.)
The Monitor pops in to tie as much of this world into “Crisis” before the crossover begins. He admits to J’onn that he was the one to release Malefic from the Phantom Zone so that J’onn could deal with his family drama before “Crisis” began. Um, thanks? The Monitor then pops over into whatever interdimensional space he is keeping Lex Luthor in because, oh yeah, he apparently brought him back from the dead. While I am hooked by the threat Lex represents to his sister, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at The Monitor’s claim that the universe needs “a mind like [Lex’s].
Cut to Tom Cavanagh having the time of his life in a much more official “Crisis” prologue, which also played at the end of this week’s Batwoman episode. In it, we see a character who is presumably Nash Wells/Pariah in Central City on Earth-1. “For so many years, I’ve travelled across worlds — across the multiverse — to do one thing: kill you. And now, here, you saved my life.” Presumably, Nash is talking to The Monitor and, presumably, being sucked through that door will change his life forever. See you at the Crisis, nerds!
I miss Nia.
This show thinks I care about Russell Rogers a lot more than I care about Russell Rogers. The scene of Andrea playing back her digital scrapbook of Russell memories just reminded me how long it’s been since we’ve seen William Dey. Wonder if that guy is still working on his crazy wall.
Will we see any repercussions to Alex using Kara’s earnest attempts to talk to Lena to plant a virus without telling Kara? That felt like a pretty major betrayal, even if it was also a clever strategic move. In general, it seems like Alex and Kara should have more defined structures in place for keeping their personal relationship interfering too much with their professional relationship at the DEO.
Not only do Lena and Kara both have printed out photos of each other to stare forlornly at, but Lena’s is framed.
Lena’s looks this season—from her bold lipsticks to her suits—have been so good.