[Review] Supergirl Episode 5×14: “The Bodyguard”

written by Cara Russell

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

We open this episode with the Oculus Rift–err, I mean Obsidian Lenses–about to launch, allowing us to see the glory of an old, wheelchair-using lady live her life as a dragon-hunting waif in the simulation. I dig it. I want a dozen.

It’s almost enough to distract me from siding with Lex. In the same opening, Alex reveals she feels unsafe as she’s without a concealed firearm for the first time in eight years. Nia offers support, as she can’t believe Lex made Alex give up her government-issued firearm when she’s no longer an employee of said government. I can’t believe this was even a scene that warranted inclusion. Obviously you don’t get to keep any office-provided gear after you leave a job, and Alex isn’t the sort to feel insecure because of an object that isn’t an armored exosuit.

Unfortunately, the feeling of inadequacy is a continuing theme for Alex this episode, until she symbolically proves she doesn’t need a weapon to fight crime…and then J’onn gifts her with a Martian device that will take the shape of any weapon she desires.

Meanwhile, Andrea Rojas gets a credible threat against her safety, prompting Lex Luthor to strong-arm Supergirl into acting as a bodyguard during the Obsidian launch. No one else is really pleased about the situation, either. Supergirl isn’t exactly friends with Lex, and Andrea doesn’t want to be bullied by terrorists, balking at even the most basic of safety precautions. J’onn and new partner Alex are on the case, tracking down leads while being misled by Brainiac 5’s information as he tries to further Lex’s machinations to get in good with Leviathan by keeping Andrea in danger.

After several false starts, Alex and J’onn finally run into the Chlorophyllian responsible for the threats against Andrea. Supergirl arrives to scare off the attacker, leaving the team to rifle through their belongings. The lair belonged to Todd Sapphire, who had worked for Obsidian before becoming addicted to the VR lenses and stealing company equipment…and then committing suicide after being cut off from the VR experience, which he had been using to treat homesickness for his planet.

The team realizes that it’s Todd’s widow, Amy, who sent the threats and is currently staging an attack on Obsidian. Supergirl jets off to confront Amy and manages to talk her down from destroying National City’s power infrastructure, but not before wrecking most of Obsidian’s building. With the threat over, Andrea refuses to slow the rollout of Obsidian lenses, as she insists the lenses are helping more people cope with traumatic events than harm. If only she had extended that sort of empathy to Todd Sapphire.

Elsewhere, Lex has set Lena up with prison test subjects for Non Nocere, designed not only to reduce aggression, but to balance out paranoid or anxiety-prone individuals. Given that it’s basically a mood stabilizer, I honestly wonder if designer drugs customized to each individual wouldn’t be more effective and easier to get into trial testing. However, it’s fiction, so let’s go with it. The trial goes badly, with aggressive inmates calming down, but an inmate named Steve, who was being bullied, experiences a grand mal seizure and heightened aggression. Lena throws herself back into simulations to try and correct the issue, and receives a touching pep talk from Lex. He tells her to stop trying to make the same mistakes he did, and to stop letting Supergirl’s opinion get in Lena’s way. It’s nice, even if I don’t buy his sincerity. Lena does, however, and she’s able to successfully treat Steve with a software update, coming ever closer to perfecting Non Nocere.

With Obsidian on the horizon and Lex getting his “in” with Leviathan as a product ambassador, this relatively slow episode seems like it’s important setup for a grand Luthor scheme. But that doesn’t make it more enjoyable to watch today, as it definitely feels like we’re back to making uncomfortable interpersonal drama last for as long as possible to fill out the season.

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Supergirl airs Sunday nights at 9 Eastern/8 Central on the CW. Cara can be found on Twitter @virtualcara.

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