Supergirl: 5.18 The Missing Link
After last week's heavy flashback episode revealing Lex Luthor’s plans, we get to watch this week as he gets the wheels in motion for his final stage. We’re very close to the end of this season and it feels like the show is rushing to pull its various plots together. With Crisis on Infinite Earths splitting the show up mid-season, the various plot strands and character arcs have been very erratic this season and while this week’s episode pulls a lot of those strands closer together, I’m not convinced everything can form together by the finale.
The opening scene is set during the Sun Eater event from last week; we see all Lena’s Project Non Nocere volunteer prisoners doing peaceful yoga, thanks to her very successful… uh oh. The solar event of the Sun Eater attack triggers some kind of reaction with the Non Nocere prisoners and one of them, trapped in a lift, completely freaks out. I know a lot has happened in a short amount of time this season but I feel like Lena has been working on this idea for yeeeeaaars. This turn of events was so predictable from day one, that this really isn't much of a dramatic twist.
Brainy confronts Lex and accuses him of being responsible for the Sun Eater, which he of course denies and yet again reassures Brainy that he needs to keep to the plan, even if it means his friends might die. I’ve not really been on board with the Brainy works with Lex plot. Here it seems like Lex is acknowledging that Brainy is only working with him for the greater good. Lex heads off to the prison with Lena to try and help her fix the glitch in the Non Nocere system. Lena figures that what’s happened is kind of natural instinct overriding the Non Nocere system, causing the subjects' brains to short circuit. Lex is confident he can fix it but inevitably, the rest of the prisoners start to freak out and a full on riot ensues, trapping Lex and Lena in the prison to try and develop a fix.
We get a nice return from Sean Astin this week, with Alex visiting him for some help collecting info on Leviathan – when he was in the show before he was only actually ever J’onn’s brother in disguise and I do feel like they’ve slightly retconned what he is and to fit what the story needs. Still, its always good to see Sean Astin, though they don’t really use him to much effect, a little bit of info dump, a quick action scene where Alex protects him from attack that leads her to realise she needs to wear a mask and that’s about it. Use your guest stars better, Supergirl!
Rama Khan is busy this week – after Gemma gives him a weapon stolen from The Fortress of Solitude he goes on a bit of a rampage. Dreamer has a series of dreams that allow Supergirl and the rest of the gang to confront and catch Rama. I definitely think Cara Buono is better that what she’s being given to work with and, while he’s having fun with his pantomime level performance, Mitch Pileggi is wasted in his role. Supergirl has had some fine actors turn up to play their villains but too often they’ve been a little two-dimensional (with the clear exception of Agent Liberty and almost Sam/Reign). The villains this season have been very Saturday morning cartoon. After catching Rama Khan and taking him to the DEO, Dreamer suddenly realises – at the same time Brainy does – that it was trap all along and Rama manages to break out of the DEO and steal all the Kryptonite.
Eventually, Lena and Lex manage to cure the prisoners by effectively entirely removing the Non Nocere. Lena has a bit of an epiphany and realised that her system could never work and was morally questionable. Lex comforts her, saying people are just bad and you can't fix that. And that’s it, Lena just gives up her entire scheme. The episode ends with her finally going to Kara and apologising. I don’t think its disingenuous to say, as a long time viewer, when Lena first arrived in the this show it was clear they would do some kind of Lena goes bad/redemption storyline along the way. But it really has been a very lackluster version of that narrative. In the past, Lena has had some dark, morally close to the edge moments. Her relationship with Jimmy actually allowed for the exploration of her own sense of moral justice and she has had a far more ends justify the means approach, which is a nice contrast to Supergirl and her buddies.
But this season, Lena’s journey down the wrong path has been muddled and unconvincing. She’s simply come across as unsympathetic and, in regards to Lex and his clear manipulation of her, dumb. It feels like the show has been overly focused on making sure we know she’s good deep down inside, so that her ultimate redemption is easily palatable and they’ve steered away from having her do anything truly dark, or perhaps anything interestingly dark. She’s sulked and complained and tried to guilt trip her friends at every turn. And really, we’re just not going to address what she did to Eve pre-Crisis? Lena was never a true villain, so her redemption feels empty.
Katie McGrath is great though, and when she does finally turn up at Kara’s home, she lays herself bare and presents herself not as trying to win back her friend or seek forgiveness but as someone who wants to help stop Lex - which does seem true to character. Kara doesn’t look too happy but she invites her in and the episode ends. Hopefully next week when we pick up, we won’t simply reverse the dynamic and shift to Kara being angry and Lena begging forgiveness.
This was an okay episode over all and is clearly teeing us up for a finale of some sorts. This season has been, in my view, negatively affected by Crisis on Infinite Earths and the way it split its season. Of course, the current global situation has effected its production schedule, so I am prepared to cut it a little slack as the production may have started rushing things in the light of impending shut down… though its hard to know how much that has actually effected these last few episodes as the show does have form for rushing its endings in the past. It’ll be interesting to see how the season finale itself plays out.