Supergirl: 212 “Luthors” Review
Reviewed by Ben McClure.
This season of Supergirl has given us a lot of bright spots, including the debut of Superman to the show, more Martian Manhunter, more delving into DC comics superhero-lore (it was awesome to see the Fortress of Solitude, for example) and more high-powered action in general. It’s featured positive developments like the addition of both Mon-El and M’gann to the cast, and it’s had what on the whole has been less repetitive storytelling. On the other hand, it’s had lots of disappointing elements as well: confusion over James Olsen’s role on the program, the absence of Cat Grant, the way the Cadmus storyline has advanced in fits and starts, and the overall distracting quality of Alex’s romantic life.
One of the biggest let-downs to the series has been the introduction and development of Lena Luthor as a character. She’s felt shoe-horned into the series, like the producer’s wanted to trade on the name but had no idea what to do with her, so she’s spent most of her time sitting around her office looking unusually glamourous.
At least, until now.
For the first time in Luthors, the show begins to deliberately pull back the curtain on Lena’s true nature, as the apparent master of the long game. We still don’t know what she’s up to, but presumably it’s diabolical. But after weeks of her effusing earnestness and gratitude in a way that seemed forced and unnatural, at least we can now assume that this is all an act, and that Kara is simply too naïve to notice. It could have been pulled off more smoothly, but it makes watching the character in the future way more of an interesting prospect.
And it’s an effectively done twist. After all, we’ve all been expecting–or at least hoping–that there was more to Lena then met the eye. But it was by the end of this week’s story that I was finally becoming convinced otherwise…just in time for a suggestive flashback and a pensive fiddling with a chess piece. If Lena is truly a big bad—bigger and badder than her mother, for instance—then it gives me something to look forward to. She has the potential to be a much more engaging arch-enemy for Kara than the more simplistic Livewire, about whom such a big deal was made a couple of weeks ago.
Hopefully, the series won’t rush it, though. That’s something the show has been guilty of, especially just before the mid-season break. Let’s let the full disclosure of Lena’s intentions be a slow burn, lasting us at least until the end of next season. We’ve got enough to keep us busy this time around with her mother, Cadmus, and the ill-named Cyborg Superman.
I find it difficult to think about Luthors without being caught up by Lena’s semi-reveal, but there was a lot more to enjoy about the episode. The conflicts with Metallo were well done and avoided the awkward pacing that often plagues the CW superhero shows. The drama of the climax with the Kryptonite explosion was well done, and though we off course knew that Kara was not going to die or anything, the concern from Winn and Alex was heartfelt and believable. Most importantly, the story kept Kara front and center, allowing her to drive the action. Along with this, the rest of the cast were well-positioned around her, supporting her but not distracting from her. Kara’s interaction with James, for example, was as good as we’ve had all year (though his timely arrival in the prison as Guardian was more than a tad contrived).
And of course, Kara’s relationship with Mon-El takes a believable step forward, and even makes a hearty effort to make sense of Kara’s abrupt break up with James at the beginning of the year. Having her kiss with Mon-El interrupted with the abrupt arrival of Mr. Mxyzptlk whets the appetite for next week.