[Review] Supergirl Episode 4×15: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

written by Cara Russell


After last week’s cringefest from a show that still isn’t intelligent enough for the political sandbox it’s trying to wedge itself into, we’re back like a bad habit with an episode that shows what this crew is capable of when it’s not trying to shoehorn superheroes into some waffly “Nazis don’t deserve to be punched, Nazi-punchers are bad” stance. This, from a series where the moral imperative of punching bigots and people advocating genocide was already made (see: White Martians, Astra and Non, Indigo, et cetera).

At the end of the previous episode, James Olsen was ambushed and shot in the back. This week, we open to a hand triggering James’ signal watch. It rouses Kara from bed for a timely rescue, but not one so timely that she’s able to catch the culprit. While most of the Scoobies roost at James’ bedside in the hospital as he goes in and out of surgery, Kara and Hank go after Manchester Black, believing him to be the shooter. This goes poorly for Kara, as Alex still thinks she’s just a human reporter and blames Kara for shirking familial loyalty to James, and just as poorly for Manchester, whom Hank murders. Hank seems to take his new role of cold-blooded killer in stride (as opposed to a military-sanctioned DEO director type), though he doesn’t want to admit it to Brainiac 5 or the other kiddos who look up to him.

Meanwhile, Lex Luthor’s dying wish is to visit his little sister, Lena, which is granted as he’s really not doing so hot with the Kryptonite-induced cancer. You know it’s really bad when he calls a rodent a marsupial as he’s trying to convince Lena to finish and give him the Harun-el treatment. During this touching reunion, Lena learns that James is injured. She triples down on perfecting the Harun-el with Lex’s help, since he is so conveniently present as well as the world’s expert on working with Kryptonite. They finally do manage, and Lena injects James in a Hail Mary pass to save him. He’s immediately healed and back to being his chatty self, although still captive in the hospital.

Here’s where it gets amazing: the entire episode was orchestrated by Lex to get the Harun-el and cure himself. He’s the one who bought the president, he’s the one that got Lena into the DEO to perfect Harun-el, he’s the one who had James shot to force Lena into experimental human trials. He’s the one who owns Eve Teschmacher, he’s the one who’s been using Lena’s image inducers to hide Otis Graves as his own personal guard, he’s the one who cures himself when Harun-el is proved safe on James. He’s the one who walks out of Lena’s mansion like an absolute boss through a hail of explosions and lasers to escape on a helicopter.

This is comic book villainy at its finest, but it also shows how weak the writing has been this season. It looks like Lex will be taking credit for a lot of what happened this season and last next week in a flashback episode (an overused device recently). It’s a way to sweep any odd character decisions under the rug, including the sudden rise of anti-alien nationalism. Lex is a better villain than this and he deserves better than being the fall guy for general bigotry (we all know it’s only Superman that gets his motor running), or being against scientific development just because it came from off-planet. Even if it’s a small step in a larger plan, it just rings hollow for Lex Luthor.

Supergirl airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Cara can be found on Twitter @virtualcara.

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