Review: Supergirl S4E15 – “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

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The first eight minutes of the latest episode of Supergirl was full of emotion, trauma, drama laying down the groundwork and a promising start for a what would turn out to be a spectacular episode.

“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” starts off four years in the past as a young and worried Lena is being held captive by a deranged Lex who is trying to take down Superman with one of his world-ending evil plans before he is defeated and jailed. We then find ourselves back in the present where Lex is delivered to Lena, with full light support regalia, and Supergirl finds a gravely injured Jimmy on the Catco floor. Lex and Lena’s snark-filled reunion is cut short by Lena’s assistant Eve and news of Jimmy’s condition. Alex tries to finagle human trials of Lena’s serum by using Jimmy’s condition to push her to begin human trials as J’onn and Supergirl go on a mission to find and stop Manchester before anyone else they care about ends up hurt.

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Manchester decides to literally mindf*** J’onn with ” The Punishments” in a way that will break our usually level headed Martian down. I find the interaction between the two of them of the most interesting aspects of the show. The characters give us a DC version of the Professor X/ Magneto duality and, it really works for not only the show but, as a mirror for the current state of real world affairs. Ultimately J’onn prevails against Machester to save the city and himself, he’s able to return Brainiacs ring to him and sets out to figure out who he is in this new world.

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In an effort to save the love of her life, Lena leans on Lex because two super genius brains are better than one.  We get to see a vulnerable side of Lena as she pleads for Lex to help fix the Harun-El serum because, while she wasn’t okay using it to help a dying Lex, she really needs it to work in order to keep Jimmy at hundred percent.  Jon Cryer’s Lex is a bit off-brand for the polarizing character, he comes off as a knock-off Joker instead of an entitled, off-putting genius. Lena is so blinded by her need that despite Eve’s warning and the collective viewer sigh of, “Girl, you in danger!” she allows Lex access to everything and, we can all count the ways that this can go horribly wrong. I also found the level of verbal abuse, disguised as sibling rivalry and highlights the nature of toxic familial relationships.

Without Alex’s connection to Supergirl, she has lost a lot of her humanity and it’s kind of hard to watch since we all know the great sacrifice she made to protect Kara. She’s all about the job and finds herself singular in her focus and work causing her to play agent a lot more than the friend and comes off more self-serving than compassionate. There’s something to said about Alex’s character shift, it highlights the very real problem of people not being equally compassionate to “others” unless it directly affects them or someone that they know. I think it’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out and if Alex can confront some of the underlying bigotry that she seems to have towards aliens.

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Sadly, Supergirl doesn’t get a lot to work with this episode which is kind of disconcerting, since it’s supposed to be her show and while I love the ensemble nature of the show, it’s kind of offputting that she’s routinely relegated to a side story than the main story. This season has been more about what everyone else has going on and how Supergirl relates in their world rather than how they relate to her and her humanity.  This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy the wonderful character development and, the friendships and fallouts that fuel them, it’s just a bit disenchanting to watch Supergirl become moral and problem-solving tech support in her own show. Especially, the male lead DC shows allow her male counterparts to make every episode about their hero’s journey, I  wish that she was afforded the same story arc structure.

The reveals in this episode were gold star, Lena thinks she’s one step ahead of Lex but, not only did we discover that Eve was a double agent and Lex had Jimmy shot ,  we saw what we suspected all along, Lex was playing her.  He, of course, has Lana knocked out for her troubles and manages to get away after killing a squad of FBI agents in the most comic book manner possible.

Favorite Quote:

“Microaggressions are their own form of trauma. ” – Braniac

When he said that, I think we all felt that one a little bit.

Overall this episode was pretty good and a lot of ground was covered. J’onn becomes the Manhunter that we all wanted, Lex gives us a bit of evil to look forward to, even if Cryer’s portrayal promises to make thing super campy and we seem to be poised to get more Superman to detract even more from the creators sadly prevailing sentiment that Supergirl doesn’t deserve to be centered in her own show.

Overall Rating: 8.7