Supergirl: 5.19 Immortal Kombat
So here it is, the Supergirl season finale! It is, obviously, worth noting that this season was completed in the early days of the global pandemic; its hard to say exactly where and how much that has effected things, so I’ll go easy on the episode but its not the best finale they’ve delivered and Covid-19 cannot take all the blame!
Lex has finally managed to get his access to Leviathan, quipping to Gemma that he didn’t expect her to live in a casino! Gemma gives him the pin badge that will allow him to access the ship without dying. This all seems a little convoluted and McGuffiny but this season has been full of McGuffiny plot strands. Brainy is horrified and shocked when Lex, who had initially agreed to give Brainy the pin so he could sneak onto the ship and plant his Immortal defeating virus, tells him he can’t have the pin until after the Immortals have killed Supergirl and her friends. Oh. Shock. Come on Braniac, you’re a pretty smart guy, you really didn’t see this comng? I know that Brainy is working against his better judgment, at the insistence of his parallel selves that he is working for the greater good, but I’ve not been a fan of this Brainy working with Lex plot from the start and the culmination here is sloppy (even if it drops some good emotional beats at the end).
Lena and Kara pick up from where we left them last week. Lena has bared her soul without begging too hard for forgiveness. Kara isn’t exactly over the moon with this change of heart but she agrees that they need to work against Lex and that the past for now doesn’t matter. My initial worries were that we might just now flip flop between Kara being angry at Lena but it doesn’t seem to be that dramatic.
Rama Khan has loaded up with Kryptonite and is ready to take out Supergirl, so Lena offers to build another Anti-Kryptonite Suit for Kara and to sneak her across town to LuthorCorp. It's decided the Martians will works as decoys, to distract Rama. We then get a scene of J’onn complaining that Supergirl’s new pants-suit rides up in the crotch but, this makes no sense as what he wears has always been an extension of his shape shifting abilities? Gags at the expense of internal logic are unacceptable, Supergirl!
Alex shows off her new vigilante suit and I’m a little conflicted. I like Alex being upgraded to a higher level super-hero but I don’t understand how she is now supporting herself financially? Gotta say, her costume isn’t great. Its similar to her last one, just with a splash of colour and some crazy eye-shadow. Its not a dicredit to the costume designers themselves but as an overall production, I wish Supergirl could move away from the motorbike leathers aesthetic of so may of their costumes. When lined up, their heroes all look very, very similar – including Supergirl since her costume re-design. I’d just like to see something more interesting, even J’onn’s costume has become muted and off the peg. Kara, though, getting excited about Alex finally having a superhero costume is great and a fun moment.
The team distract Rama enough so that Lena and Kara can get to LuthorCorp and Lena can start making the super suit. This is going to take a couple of hours but hay, no rush guys. During this time, Alex goes on a side quest to save William by getting into Obsidian in a Mission: Impossible style break in. There is a lot going on this week! Brainy decides to go against Lex, and summons up female-Brainy to help him break into the Leviathan ship and stop the Immortals himself. This is a suicide mission but he doesn’t mind dying to save his friends and the world. Jesse Rath has proven to be really great in this show and his role. I do feel like Brainiac’s development has been a bit stilted, he kind of jumps back and forth a little so his story hasn’t been entirely satisfying, but he’s made a lot of it work.
Back with Lena and Kara and everything finally comes out, with Kara calling Lena out on her selfish, spoilt behavior. Telling her she made one mistake and all she did was try to protect the people around her, really offers a strong moment of confrontation and catharsis for the two characters. Kara tells her that things aren’t okay, no forgiveness has been given but its good to have things out in the open. I haven’t enjoyed this plot line; Lena’s reaction to Kara’s secret was a disservice to the character and frankly, boring and predictable drama. I actually want everyone to move on so we can focus on more interesting and sophisticated narratives. I love Katie McGrath and really wish she had had a less of a messy, predictable arc this season.
Eventually everyone converges on William’s location, where Eve has him tied up, ready to kill him as she’s become obsessed with protecting her mother. I would have liked deeper exploration of the abuse Eve has been through to get to the point of murdering so many people, but I think we have to take a fair amount at face value for this version of the character. Of course, Supergirl gives her a rousing speech about hope and we can see that Eve is as much a victim as the many, many people she has murdered without question for various vying super-villains. I think this scene is meant to leave Eve as someone partially forgiven or on the road to redemption maybe? I’m not sure but, like, she murdered Dean Caine! So Maybe She’s a Goodie Now Eve spills the beans on what Gemma and Lex are planning and Supergirl has to… go into the VR world to save everyone.
I’ve not been so keen on the VR plotline;I feel like it's old hat and has been full of little logical flaws. They do, though, touch on a couple of my issues this week which I was thankful for; not everyone in the world is in the VR, which is good – seriously, this scheme of Gemma and Lex’s for world domination never takes into account consumer poverty levels or disinterest in some markets. There are people in this world who can’t afford food each week, let alone a high tech VR system and some people just don’t care about that stuff! But more importantly, when Supergirl enters the VR world (where, for some reason everyone is literally floating in a ring above the world) we see that actually many of these people are sad and lonely and looking for some way to reconnect with something they’ve lost. This helps the story because it not only makes more sense why so many people would want to escape, it makes them a little more sympathetic. Lets be honest, if Supergirl was saving a bunch of wealthy, spoilt gamers who wanted to play Westworld in VR, we wouldn’t have a lot of sympathy. An old lady trying to recreate her dead husband? Now you’re talking.
While Kara is doing all this, J’onn taunts Rama Khan into a fight which also allows Brainy to enter the ship, where he immediately turns green and starts to die. But with his female Brainy there to support him, he holds fast to upload the virus that will allow him to shrink and bottle the Immortals. Jesse Rath really sells his physical pain in these scenes and its kind of emotional to watch. Gemma also twigs that Kara is in the VR world trying to save everyone and sends her assassin to kill her unprotected body in the real world. Cue Andrea turning up at LuthorCorp. To be honest, I’m really checked out of the Andrea storyline. It feels like a watered down retread of some of the Reign stuff, plus she’s basically got the same motivation as Eve now, so I’m just not and never have been invested in her character. Still, this allows for a great scene of Lena stepping between Andrea and Kara’s body. I’m not sure if Lena has strayed from the path enough that we need this grand gesture, but it works and Andrea stands down.
After making her self visible to everyone in the VR system, Supergirl gives another rousing speech about hope (not her best but it's okay) and everyone decides to log off, just before Gemma pulls the plug! Phew! No one dies. Well… almost no one… maybe? Brainy manages to bottle Leviathan, ridding everyone of Rama and the gang. Gemma just seems to phase change into a scary robot lady but still hangs around ? This is enough to alert Lex and he goes off to find Brainy.
This is where the season kind of starts to end and it all feels a little rushed… Lex finds Brainy and tells him that it was his plan all along to let Brainy think he was betraying Lex and sacrifice himself. The problem this show has had with Lex is, they want him to be very clever but they don’t seem capable of writing him clever, so they write everyone else stupid. After Lex legs it with the shrunken Leviathan to meet up with Mummy Luthor, Dreamer - who has spent the whole episode dreaming about Brainy dying – rushes to Brainy’s aid. Kara, after seeing what Lena did to protect her, finally forgives her and together they set off to take down Lex! Go team Klena… Lara? Kara & Lena.
But the episode ends on a sort of a cliffhanger, you’re left to wonder if there was meant to be an additional episode to actually finish things up? It’s a solid enough mid-season break episode but for a full season finale, it’s a little lacking in closure. This season has, I think, suffered from its involvement in Crisis on Infinite Earths in a way the other Arrowverse shows haven’t and it maybe has suffered from the pandemic. Even the sub-Black Mirror technology bad storyline feels a little more trite thanks to current global issues. We as an audience can’t put our phones down and go outside, we cant engage with the people around us. There is a reason sales of the Oculus Quest have gone up since lockdown procedures went into effect. Even with the pseudo ecological backdrop of Gamma’s involvement, Supergirl this season has tackled it’s most uninteresting subject and it feels underwhelming in our current world.
For me, this has been the weakest season or Supergirl so far, especially after last season was relatively strong. Apart from the issues above, its had a slew of new but underdeveloped characters and pre-existing characters like J’onn have just tread water this season, plus Lena’s whole arc has been a miss-handle. The show hasn’t been much fun this season and while next season will have to start by dealing with the immediate fall out of this one, I look forward to moving on and having a focused bad guy and Team Kara & Lena being back together for some fun adventures!