“Supergirl” Episode 517 Recap: Case of the Lex

Welcome back to Supergirl! I know it’s been weeks since this show about Kara Danvers has aired but hey didn’t you want an entire episode about Lex Luthor, a villain who was supposed to die and stay dead months ago? Didn’t you want everything you knew about the women you watch this show for to end up being a lie and find out they were being manipulated by a man this entire time? Great, then let’s get to it!

Spoiler alert, I only like two things about this episode: The fact that Melissa Benoist directed it (and beautifully), and one particular scene. The rest was frustrating as heck, but we’ll get through it together!

Previously on Supergirl, people with broken hearts who used Obsidian to escape started getting trapped in VR and kidnapped, and Alex almost became one of those victims in a reality where she was Supergirl; the post-CRISIS world thinks Lex is a hero, and Lex being back and highly involved in Lena’s life means her and Kara are at odds and they haven’t had a moment to themselves in eons.

We start this episode in the present day, 90 days post-CRISIS, with Lex standing over the body of the Leviathan woman, with everyone lauding him as a hero yet again. Supergirl arrives at the scene, confused, and William shows her that there was a video of the woman saying she was a follower of Amy Sapphire, the woman who wanted to break the VR servers. All signs are pointing to Lex actually doing something good for once, but that doesn’t sit right with Kara.

kara looks incredulous

“Wait so you’re saying this WHOLE episode of SUPERGIRL is about LEX LUTHOR?”

And we’ll learn that her instincts are correct before she will, because we’re flashing back and have the distinct pleasure of seeing what this season of Supergirl would have been like if it was called SuperVillain instead, starting with the day after CRISIS ended. Lex wakes up in his bed with a butler reminding him that he’s about to win a Nobel Peace Prize and Lex is delighted to learn that he made a whole new world that revolves around him.

We see Lex inject his sleeping sister with something to keep her out longer and have his butler get her back to her own apartment because who cares if his only sister has autonomy over her own body, right?

Lex goes to Lillian and tells his mother about CRISIS and how his allyship with Supergirl won’t last now that they both share a reality. Lillian doesn’t understand why Lex is still obsessed with Supergirl when he seems to have it all; power, fortune, fame. He claims it’s because Kryptonians can destroy the world without breaking a sweat, but Lillian points out it seems to be Kara’s closeness with Lena that really sent him over the edge. Is it because they have a connection unlike anything he could ever experience because he is always keeping things too close to the vest, always has an agenda?

lillian sips tea

Picture me sipping tea like this every time I make a Lex dig in this recap.

Lillian tells him to keep his head on straight and to just support his sister in her scientific efforts and she’ll naturally gravitate towards him and away from Kara, who doesn’t understand her vision. Lillian basically dares him to stay focused and his ego can’t resist the challenge, so he agrees to make his sister his new closest ally.

When Lena wakes up, and Lex asks her what Leviathan is, she’s amused to know more about something than her brother for once. She’s especially amused that he got even more played by Eve than she did.

lena fakes feeling sorry for lex

“Aww did my poor baby bwuvver get played at his own game?”

Lena tells him all she knows, while calling him out for his pride and ego, and Lex sets his mind to getting rid of Leviathan altogether.

We then learn that in the Toyman episode, when Lex learned about Gemma’s connection to Leviathan, he also learned that Eve was working with them, and when he goes to find her, she’s being a kickass yet somewhat reluctant assassin.

assassin eve

We call her Killing Eve.

Lex knows that she’s only working for Leviathan because they killed her father and threatened her mother, and Eve admits that she hates being a spy and assassin. Lex offers to save her, and says he’ll do all her killing assignments for her if she acts as his eyes on the inside.

30 days post-CRISIS, Eve is stressed out because she hasn’t gotten close enough to Gemma to get on the Leviathan ship yet. Lex tells her to relax because he has men stationed outside Eve’s mother’s home to protect her, so she chills out a little and says she DID get put on the Platinum project at Obsidian North.

eve smiles hopefully at lex

I miss Hope, tbh.

Since Lex’s plan is to reverse the Toyman code to de-immortalize Leviathan, he wants to use the Platinum glitch that’s trapping sad people to their advantage, so it’s Eve’s job to make sure that the glitch doesn’t get fixed so Gemma will have no choice but to let Lex help them cover it up before the launch.

Lex also finds Richard Bates, puts on a bad wig, and acts as a bartender to give him the idea for a virtual torture chamber for his wife’s paramour.

Two weeks later, Eve skips into Lex’s house and thanks him for her new apartment. He says she’s precious to him, which of course she mistakes for affection, something we know Lex is incapable of anymore.

Eve puts on her shiniest smile

You’re flirting with a statue, bb.

Everything is working according to plan, and the next step is to make sure Amy Sapphire has gauntlets so she stands a chance against Supergirl. Because that’s right folks, everything is Lex Luthor’s fault. He’s what the girls of the Teen Creeps podcast would call a “Busy Villain.” Who knows how he has the time, but here we are.

Lex takes Eve to his lab where he…disappears a mouse? Using q-waves? I don’t know and I don’t care because Lex is pure, uncomplicated evil which is the least interesting kind of villain.

One month ago, aka 60 days post-CRISIS, around the time Amy Sapphire and Kara had it out in the Obsidian server room, Eve takes Lex to the human burrito warehouse to show him how they’ve started collecting the people Obsidian Platinum trapped with the glitch. She tells him the old lady, Margo, will be watching over them.

As a reward, Lex gives Eve a vial of poison and the information of the man who killed her father. But when he shows her the picture, she might not recognize him, but we sure do.

Eve looks at her mark

“Strange, my father’s killer seems to have Alex Danvers’ bone structure…oh well!”

Lex goes on his world tour with Obsidian, and we follow the timeline with clips from the episodes; Alex fighting Richard Bates, Jeremiah dying, Alex going into the VR, William almost finding the human burrito warehouse.

At the end of the tour, Andrea makes an announcement about how quickly Obsidian is spreading to over 100 countries in one month. Kara leaves the conference in a huff and Lena notices and follows her up to her Catco office.

lena approaches cautiously

“Is there a chance, a fragment of light at the end of the tunnel, a reason to fight? Is there a chance you might change your mind?”

Lena approaches her ex-friend cautiously, almost timidly, and offers her condolences about Kara’s father’s passing. She immediately chides herself for giving such a rote response, but Kara’s body relaxes and she looks at her sadly. “You look like someone afraid to confront the person who called you a villain.” Lena understands the pain of losing a parent, and even though Kara already knows that pain too, Lena wanted to apologize.

lena looks down

“Here we go around again. You know it, I know it, don’t try to pretend. We know it could be so much better than it’s been.”

Kara thanks her and says it means a lot, and Lena gives her a book that helped her with her grief. Kara takes the book and you can feel the strain between them, the unstoppable force of wanting to hug each other pushing against the immovable object of the pain they’ve inflicted on each other.

kara smiles weakly at lena

“I was empty inside, but I just didn’t know. You are my ten thousand roses and I let you go.”

Kara keeps the desk between them, like Lena has done to her so many times, and Lena leaves quietly.

I loved this scene because it proved what we already knew: Lena is better than her brother. In every way. Lena was hurt by what Kara last said to her, what she’s done, but she didn’t let her pride get in the way when something bigger than this space between us happened. Try as she might, she can’t forget the bond they had, even if it’s cracked now. It’s not easy for anyone.

Two days ago, 88 days post-CRISIS, Lex and Lillian are playing chess and Lex tells his mother that he saw Lena reaching out to Kara. That he thought his plan to quietly murder Jeremiah Danvers was brilliant, but it had the opposite effect and drove Lena right toward Kara again. Because empathy and sympathy and frankly even the loss of a loved one aren’t things he can relate to or predict. That’s where he gets tripped up every time. He always thinks he can predict how people will act or react but he can never predict kindness.

lillian plays chess iwth lex

Lillian is a better, more interesting villain than Lex, and her relationship with Lena is more intriguing, THERE I SAID IT.

And to Lillian’s earlier point, it does seem to be this relationship that infuriates him the most. Whether it’s because he doesn’t understand it or because it’s something he can’t have OR control – things that don’t sit well with a supergenius megalomaniac – is anyone’s guess, but he starts ranting about how one thing could lead to another then suddenly Lena is actually invited to Game Night again.

Lillian insists he stay focused on the plot but Lex, playing the part of the writers’ room, says he has to abandon every other thread to focus on keeping Lena and Kara apart. She calls him weak but he’s not listening as he storms out.

Back at Kara’s loft, Alex, Kelly and Kara are talking about how weird it feels to do something as normal as eat dumplings when Jeremiah is dead.

alex looks all cutewith dumplings in her mouf

“You can’t control anything, eat the dumplings” has been my quarantine motto, basically.

Kelly explains that this weird feeling is normal in a time of grief. That feeling joy in a time of distress isn’t bad. That feeling pain and comfort at the same time can be confusing and uncomfortable, but it’s not wrong. Kara agrees, since she read it in the book Lena gave her, which she presumably hasn’t put down since she received it.

And Kara thinks maybe Lena is finally coming around, that maybe this was her olive branch, that she’ll soon realize that Lex is evil. William comes over with baked goods and he and Kelly tell the Danvers sisters what they learned about Leviathan’s plots.

The bracelet William found when he almost discovered the hospital bracelet belongs to Richard Bates, and when they look at a list of people still stuck in VR, Alex recognizes the name of someone she met on the inside.

kelly and alex look at an ipad together

“Oh I went on a date her. And her.” “OMG I dated her, too!”

Eve has been spying on them, and tries to use the fact that the Superfriends are getting close to the truth against her (when in reality Lex has been puppeteering everything) but Gemma doesn’t take the bait. Lex pivots her to a new plan nonetheless, and asks for her stealthiest operative.

Brainy tries to confront Lex but Lex also turns that conversation to his advantage, telling him to have Supergirl use Myriad to find the missing people. He takes this information to the Tower, and I’m just going to let you know that Alex and Kelly are there, because look at them.

Alex and Kelly stand near each other looking amazing

Bless Melissa for putting them in frame together so often.

Kara is hesitant to use Myriad but Brainy promises they can use it safely, so she heads to the Fortress.

In her Luthor Lair, Lena is doing more Non Nocere tests on Richard Bates when she notices her q-waves being interrupted.

lena is in a suit for no reason except to kill the lesbians

Lena Luthor, what are is this absolutely perfect suit you’re wearing?!? Just to hang out in your LAB?? You know this bitch is the type of person wearing heels around her apartment while social distancing.

Lena recognizes the pattern as Myriad, and thinks it’s Supergirl being hypocritical and trying to specifically stop Lena’s experiments. Of course, Lex is right there agreeing with her and telling her they should go to the Fortress of Solitude to stop her. Lena won’t let Lex anywhere near the place – she’s too trusting, but she’s no fool – so she goes alone, but little does she know an invisible Morai sneaks in with her.

lena serves face

Lena’s, “Don’t let me allowing you to be in my presence be mistaken for liking or trusting you” face is gold.

Lena confronts Supergirl and Kara tries to explain about the missing people and how Lex is involved somehow. Lena accuses her of being too quick to blame a Luthor and regrets their sincere moment from the other day.

Lena leaves, but the Morai stays and opens a door to let a SunEater out.

Back at The Tower, Alex is panicking because there’s a SunEater who probably knocked her sister out but M’gann shows up just in time to help.

While the SunEater slowly starts to swallow the sun, everyone just immediately goes into their VR. Obsidian of course is pushing out ads to encourage this. I want to say it’s wild, to see people literally being in traffic and seeing danger and deciding to just nope out of the situation. But if there was a VR world I could go into until this pandemic either passes or obliterates the planet, I’d go there.

The Martian duo flies up to stop the SunEater, but it ends up being Supergirl in a Lexosuit that saves the day.

Kara's face in the lexosuit screen

Wait I need to start using this filter for Zoom calls.

Alex and Kara go back to the Fortress to tuck the SunEater back in, and M’gann uses her telepathy to learn that the Morai works for Leviathan.

Alex and Kara

I love that everyone can just come and go to the Fortress of Solitude now. Sure, M’gann, come on by!

And then we’re back to the present day, the scene we saw in the beginning. Lex tries to gaslight Supergirl into believing the missing people, Margo’s death, it was all somehow HER fault for not trusting him.

Lex goes back to Gemma, who is pissed that Margo is dead, but he brushes her off and says it was necessary. Gammamae reminds him who exactly holds the power here and honestly I’ve never been more attracted to her.

gemma grabs lex by the throat

FINISH HIM

Lex admits that he underestimated Supergirl and her team, but that he pointed blame away from Leviathan and onto Amy Sapphire. BUT he insists Supergirl will continue to be a problem unless they kill Supergirl. But that many mortals have tried and failed. Gemma says she will not fail and leaves without taking a sip of the drink he offered.

Lex goes home, feeling overconfident as ever, basking in the glow of having rewritten the whole show to be about him. Eve fawns over him, says she loves him, even tries to kiss him, but he doesn’t need her anymore, so he shatters the pedestal she had put him on. He calls her sad and silly, tells her he only saved her because she was useful. That the guards outside his mother’s house are actually ready to kill her if she became difficult, and that he doesn’t know who killed her father; the man he sent her to murder was Jeremiah Danvers.

Eve looks distraught

Honestly I hope Eve is the one who finishes Lex off in the end. Lena doesn’t need that kind of guilt, Kara wouldn’t do it, and Eve has been THROUGH it and already has some murders under her belt.

Eve is horrified; fooled and manipulated by this man in yet another universe. “You are worse than Leviathan,” she says. He smiles proudly; this is a compliment to him. “Not worse. Better.”

He hops on his high horse and gallops around singing “I Did It My Way” as he uses *69 on his transport watch to stroll right into the Fortress of Solitude.

The end. Now, I am so, so proud of Melissa Benoist for her directorial debut. I’ve been following her career for almost a decade, and she continues to surprise and delight me. I wish she had been given a better script; I think she would have been better suited to shoot Alex scenes, or even more Lena scenes, but that’s just me. I’m sure this won’t be the last we see (or don’t see) of her behind the scenes, especially if Hollywood gets back up and running before Melissa has her baby.

But this episode highlighted a lot of why I’m increasingly frustrated with this show. Why is Lex Luthor still here? Why are we now rewriting history to make him MORE involved than he already was? Or even if this had been planned all along…why? Lex Luthor is part of Superman’s story. A story that’s been told a hundred times, and will be told a hundred more. Supergirl’s story isn’t told nearly as often, and this show was doing it brilliantly for so long. Lex belongs in Clark’s story. Lena is Kara’s Luthor. And they were subverting the Super vs Luthor stereotypes, they were bucking against the system of rivalry they were born into. But then Lex had to come in to blot out the sun.

I want to trust that the writers know that Kara and Lena are stronger and smarter than their male counterparts, that they’ll overcome this manipulation and find their way back to each other, better together than they were before. That the show will get back to its feministy, girl powery-roots. But it’s getting harder and harder to pull the sunlight.

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 560 articles for us.

16 Comments

  1. I am just writing to say that you hit exactly my feelings regarding this episode. Those were literally the only two things I enjoyed about this episode; that scene (which almost made everything else in the episode more painful because it gave us a glimpse into what could have been), and Melissa’s directing (there was certainly a different style to the shots, which I really liked). But otherwise, good lord, but I really really disliked this episode, especially after the long hiatus. This is not why I’ve watched this show.

    I watched Batwoman immediately after seeing Supergirl, and that differences were stark in contrast. Batwoman is a show that is consistently getting better and better, the women aren’t sidelined. Supergirl feels like it’s going in the opposite direction.

  2. This is the third time we’ve had to stop the plot for an episode to villain-splain with flashbacks. (Waverly voice) “No thank you…”

    Post-Crisis Lillian is a gift and I wish she was the season big bad, not her petulent, mediocre man-child of a son. Who says a super villain can’t wear pink?

    I’d watch an Agent Carter-esque “Miss Tessmacher” miniseries about Eve’s history in Leviathan.

    The extended Danvers sisters must not watch Wynonna Earp, or they would not be so trusting of free baked goods.

    Surely Eve didn’t use _all_ of that poison to kill Jeremiah Danvers? It would be a delicious irony if she poisons Lex with it later on.

    ——–

    I’m right there with you; Lex has long overstayed his welcome (heck, I think he was too much a part of the Red Daughter arc). They have almost ten women in the story this season and I would be shocked if they pass the Bechdel Test more than half the time. Gah!

    I feel like the stories are always too timid. Even since season one. Nothing has lasting consequences. Ms. Grant figures out that Kara is Supergirl? It gets walked back the next episode. Kara and Mon-El break up? It gets walked back the next episode ON A DIFFERENT SHOW. Meanwhile, look at Batwoman.

    I also feel like they squandered the opportunity the Crisis gave them. They could have done anything with the aftermath (again, look at Batwoman). Instead … none of the changes feel consequential. What if they had made Lillian a full on villain?

    What if, and here’s your fanfic premise for the week, they had brought Jack Spheer back from the dead, and he was secretly a villain? A Kara/Lena/Jack love triangle, hero and villain battling for her affections? Now there’s a battle for Lena’s heart AND soul!

    ——–

    The scene between Lena and Kara at CatCo was amazing. So much subtle acting going on in their faces. The tension between them was palpable, since this is the first time Lena has talked to Kara (not Supergirl) since the third episode.

    • i truly feel sorry for whomever didn’t watch that flash/supergirl crossover because they must have been so confused during the next episode of supergirl. i wouldn’t wish that level of confusion on anyone. i almost even hate to say it but i lost respect for kara seeing how she took mon-el back so fast

    • Okay, now having watch last night’s Batwoman episode; they had almost as many women with names in that EPISODE as Supergirl has had in the entire SEASON. And every single one of them had a part to play.

      (beleaguered sigh)

  3. DEAD @ Melissa’s face is all of us realising this episode is about lex, Killing Eve, Lena social distancing in heels, new zoom filter. Always been a fan of your screenshot captions but YOU’VE OUTDONE YOURSELF!

    Also, what if, they’re in the process of writing Lena off…

      • The mere idea of Lena being written off the show is horrible, but what if… Lena got sent to the island of misfit toys? By which I mean the Waverider.

        Lena Luthor could join the Legends.

        • Somehow that thought is simultaneously hilarious and beyond my ability to comprehend! Trying to picture Lena in one of her richy-rich power-dresses (or suits) standing on the deck of the Waverider in her high-heels is the most comical thing I have ever seen.

          There would be a sharp-learning curve there, starting with her footwear.

          However, she would bring a much-needed voice of logic to the Team that we lost with the exit of Amaya and Ava’s complete transformation to the ‘Dark Side’. I’m also imagining all the beautiful top-offs between Lena-Sara, Lena-Ava because you know a certain CEO would be appalled at the number of decisions made just so the Legends can, basically, have fun.

  4. Pheww, after all the madness IRL, it wasn’t really fun to come back to SG for this trite storytelling. Same, Valerie Anne, same! I wish, they had given Melissa a better script to work off, and less space to a narcisstic man-child. The world (even fictional) doesn’t need any MORE of that.

    Putting on Obsidian lenses to forget about that show-eater…

    It was good to see Lena and Kara interact in a friend-ly manner for a second. Interested in that book now :)

    M’Gann is back, just like that. Random, but hey, cool suit.

    Eve will be the ultimate woman scorned. Looking forward to her revenge.

    / End simulation /

    Be real SG writers, this show is not about Man being trash but about Women saving the day while enjoying their dumplings. Never forget.

  5. Why does this show think that the only thing to do when they need an episode light on Kara for production reasons is to write a whole episode with almost none of the regular cast?? This one and all of the ones where Melissa needed to be shooting crossovers. Didn’t we even have an episode just like this last season, showing us how Lex has been manipulating everything the whole time? I know we just had an Alex episode, but give her more than two brief scenes! Give us Kelly! Nia! I’ll even accept Brainy and J’onn! Let us hang out with our supporting characters who we actually like!

    Also, does Kelly know Kara is Supergirl at this point?? Do the writers and actors even know if she knows??

    Also also, why have M’gann back for THIS? It’s nice to see her, sure, but there’s not actually any plot reason that she needed to show up and they didn’t really have her do anything.

  6. Also also also Eve clearly has serious mental/emotional issues?? Falling in love with this narcissist? I just want her to be okay and find healing and stable relationships and real love in her life! But no one in the show or in the writers’ room seems to care about her wellbeing; she’s just a plot tool. I hate how she’s written as this lovesick housewife-y fool. Either dig into the underlying issues that have made her like this, or give her some damn agency!

    • I’m REALLY hoping they turn it around and Eve gets some agency by the end of all this. She’s been manipulated by him in two separate timelines and it hurts every time.

  7. After barely getting through a season of the boring, annoying Agent Liberty villain, this never-ending focus on Lex Luthor is too hard to take. Sounds like I should be watching Batwoman regularly and downgrading this show again.

  8. While the fantastic red suit was wonderful to see, Lex Luthor’s shtick is not at all interesting. The whole outsmarting everyone in the world thing would make more sense if there wasn’t a good guy literally named Brainy around, plus immortal aliens and such.

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