Previously on Supergirl, Lex stole Lena’s Non Nocere code to brainwash half the world and almost murdered the other half, Eve was in love with Lex but he was using her and she eventually broke free of his metaphorical spell and helped the SuperFriends instead, Alex sucked the god powers out of Lex but Kara got sucked into the phantom zone in the process, and Alex is dead-set on getting her baby sister home.
We open on a scene that is not unlike the beginning of Season 3 of Buffy, in that the Scoobies are fighting without their Slayer, trying out some new cheesy catchphrases, and also it’s a vampire they’re facing.
But as it turns out, it’s not a vampire at all, but an alien named Silas from the planet Transylvane; his species is the origin for the vampire myth. Which is a fun bit of lore that I rather enjoyed. He tells them that unlike his cryptid counterparts, he’s not actually a violent creature and in fact prefers robbing blood banks for his meals, but they don’t actually care all that much who, if anyone, he’s eaten lately. They’re there to get information about the Phantom Zone.
The SuperFriends take Silas back to the Tower, where he tells them that his husband once got sent there for a crime he didn’t commit. Silas tried to break him out but failed. He tells them that the phantoms feed on fear and sopranos who can hit a high E, until slowly but surely your nightmares become a reality and you lose your whole damn mind. Which is what happened to Silas’s husband. They beg him to help them save Supergirl from the same fate, and he looks uneasy but also sympathetic to their plight.
Before they go into the Land of Nightmares, Brainy wants to train their Girl of Dreams, since he thinks she can use her divining powers to find Kara once they’re on the same plane, and also because I imagine the psychic power clash could be potentially brutal. She agrees, but first she has to save face at her day job, since she’s the only one holding down the fort as far as their civilian identities go.
When Nia gets to Catco, Andrea is telling her staff that she wants to be the leading news source on everything that’s going down about Lex Luthor right now. The world’s leading man just got cut down to size and she wants to be the first to report his next moves. Since Kara is still “with Cat Grant” working on a story that even though she didn’t sanction it Andrea is just chill with happening, Andrea appoints Nia as the new Kara, even though I’m not 100% sure she’s ever written anything for CatCo, but apparently this publication works on The Bold Type rules. It’s fine. Anyway, she sends Nia to cover Lex’s case, tells her to do whatever she has to in order to get the story, and that either Andrea will literally bail her out or Supergirl will metaphorically bail her out, so not to worry. She wants to make sure Lex’s villainy is broadcast far and wide, and she’ll do whatever she has to in the process.
Lillian goes to see her son in prison and asks him not to embarrass her by representing himself in trial, and to consider just pleading guilty and paying his dues, because Eve’s testimony is going to be damning and she doesn’t want him to tarnish the Luthor name any further. Lex is offended by the concept; his pride will not allow him to do something so pedestrian as be held accountable for his crimes, so he tells her he has every intention of walking out of the courtroom a free man.
Meanwhile in the Phantom Zone, Kara is having a bad time. Phantoms descend upon her, and at first it seems like she’s being taken into a nightmare, but then she wakes up in a cave. A shadowy figure accuses her of being a nightmare because he recognizes the symbol of the House of El on her chest, but when he turns around she realizes that standing before her is her father.
And it’s moments like this when I think things like, “Ooh I wonder if that vampire alien knows Supergirl’s father” that I remember why I love sci-fi so much.
Kara’s dad is surprised but relieved to learn that Kara and Alura survived, and he’s also grateful that probably when her pod got knocked off course, she was probably protected from the phantoms. But the truth is, she’s no stranger to reality-bending nightmares. Hers being that she was in the fortress of one of her enemies and everyone she ever loved was dead and there was nothing she could do about it. It was as visceral as a memory. And she’s not going through that again.
Despite her father looking pretty resigned to his fate, Kara has already come up with a plan for escape attempt numero uno. Fort Raz is above them and there has to be a way for the phantoms to come and go and she wants to use it. Daddio says they have to stay put. They can’t provoke the phantoms. It might not be much as far as living but at least it’s surviving.
Next page: Back on Earth (though please don’t ask me which one)
Back on Earth (though please don’t ask me which one), Andrea and Lena are having drinks and bonding over how much they hate Lex Luthor.
Before they’re even done with their first finger (of scotch, calm down), Andrea asks Lena to do an interview with CatCo to tell her side of the story. Andrea says they want the same things, to take down Lex, but Lena is furious that Andrea only came over because she wanted something from her—worse, only saw Lena’s value as it relates to her brother—so Lena storms out.
Alex is halfway through explaining what she’s going to order Kara for dinner back at the Tower when Silas tells her that she’s getting a little ahead of herself. The last time he made a portal to the Phantom Zone he tested it for six months before he was ready to send someone through it, and he’s not about to let her rush him and then explode herself and then be another life on his conscience next to his husband’s.
Kelly tells her girlfriend to let her handle it and goes to lend an empathetic ear, widowed to widowed.
She therapizes him, trying to ease him of his guilt, saying these strong feelings are just proof of his love. In the end, Kelly’s most convincing argument is that if helps them save Supergirl, every life she saves thereafter will be a life he had a hand in saving, and eventually all that good will start to outshine the guilt he has about his husband.
Inspired, Silas gets his portal together, but when he goes to open it, something explodes a little. J’onn is furious and tells Silas as much but M’gann tells him to chill out and try to think like the Martian Manhunter for this rescue mission instead of like Liam Nissan in Taken. But J’onn has already lost two daughters and he’s not about to lose another.
Since apparently this show is half Supergirl, half Lex & Order, we go now to the trial of The People vs Alexander Luthor, where of course Lex is representing himself in court, and for some reason he’s allowed to fully bully Eve on the stand. He uses his classic manipulation tactics to gaslight the jury into believing that Eve is just a jilted lover trying to besmirch his good name.
Lena is watching from home and she looks distraught.
Lillian goes to see Lena and Lena assumes she’s there on Lex’s behalf, but mommy dearest actually wants to sell Lena her shares of LuthorCorp so they can outvote Lex at every turn. (Side note, I think LCorp was one of the greatest casualties of CRISIS.) Lena says she saw how the trial went today and that she’s going to have to testify, but Lillian doesn’t want her to. Lena doesn’t understand; she just wanted to team up to overpower Lex but now she’s saying she wants him to walk? Lillian tells her that he somehow managed to hoodwink a jury into believing he’s still a good guy, which is great for the family name. She even tries to guilt Lena into not testifying, saying she’s as much to blame as Lex, since she did nothing to stop him.
But the thing is, Lena’s already lived in a world where the Luthor name was tarnished and she rose above it. Lena wants to do what’s right, no matter the cost.
Across town, Nia shows up late to training because it’s “impossible to get away from William” which is exactly how I feel, too. Brainy sets up an exercise for her and Nia projects a glimpse of Alex and Kara in high school, but then gets blown back. She starts to panic that she’s not cut out for this, that her family didn’t train her so maybe she’ll never know how to interpret her dreams. But Brainy looks in her eyes and says that Nia can do this. That she has to. This isn’t just about saving Supergirl. It’s about saving everything she stands for, all the people she inspires, the hope she provides. And more importantly, it’s about saving Kara. And Brainy knows Nia is going to be the reason they find her.
In the Phantom Zone, Kara waits til Pops is asleep then sneaks out to find a way out. But Phantoms immediately descend upon her and Father has to drag her back to the cave. As soon as she regains consciousness, she’s ready to try again, but her dad begs her not to. He doesn’t want to lose her, not again.
This defeatist attitude isn’t how she remembers the man that rocketed his daughter into the ether and stayed on an exploding planet to try to save it but he’s just trying to protect her. He says, “Strength doesn’t matter here.” He says this isn’t a fight she can win.
Whether or not SuperDad is real, Kara isn’t going to listen to him. She says maybe she isn’t strong enough to beat this place of darkness and fear, but she can escape it. She can get farther from it every day. If she had to live in a nightmare, she’d rather be trying to do something about it than to just accept it.
KryptoDad doesn’t know if she’s going to succeed, but he does know that he’s not letting her try all alone.
Down in National City, Lena Luthor struts into the courtroom like she’s a lawyer here to win a case when in reality she’s here to testify that her brother is an evil, manipulative, plot-stealing asshole who deserves to rot in jail.
They verbally spar, arguing about whether Non Nocere was brainwashing as egregious as what Lex did, and Lena keeps her cool while Lex flies off the handle, saying that everyone was just afraid of his power, that it’s the only one brave enough to wield it.
Lex continues to Ted Bundy his way around the courtroom, grandstanding to the virtual jury, spitting barbs at the women in his life, saying that they’re all just jealous of how smart and wonderful he is, and that he didn’t do it, but if he’d done it, how could you tell him that he was wrong? (Pop, six, squish…)
Back at the Tower, Silas is ready to send the SuperFriends to the Phantom Zone, but when he opens the portal, it doesn’t look like Brainy’s projections. It’s not just one pocket dimension, but hundreds. Brainy thinks it could take years for them to even figure out which one she’s in, let alone find her in it.
But Alex is desperate, she doesn’t want to give up.
While they stand there and stare into the gaping maw of the abyss, some Phantoms swoop in and fight them. Silas gets blasted by one but pulls himself together enough to open the portal again so they can put those phantoms back where they came from. They end up largely unharmed but shaken by how spectacularly this plan failed.
As Lex stands ready to hear his verdict, with Otis as his guard ready to explode the place if this doesn’t go his way, the foreman tells the judge that the jury has found Lex not guilty. Even Lex is surprised, and tells Otis to stand down re: boom town, and he doesn’t seem at all suspicious about it; he thinks he’s just that great. I suspect perhaps Lillian greased some wheels, but Lex is sure it’s because being himself is just so magnetic that he cannot be denied.
After they brush off the Phantom attack, Silas apologizes to Alex for failing them, and says he really does hope they save Supergirl before she loses her entire mind. Alex sure hopes so, too.
They see then on the news that Lex is free and giving a statement about how CatCo published fake news about him and he’s actually a great guy and it’s all the media’s fault people think he’s a villain and could someone reactivate his twitter account now he has some feelings to let out.
Nia runs off to CatCo for damage control, where she’s relieved to find that Andrea still believes Lex is evil and wants to keep running stories about it. Another reporter is feeling discouraged but Nia knows that they can make a difference; just because they lost this round doesn’t mean they have to forfeit the whole game. They can’t just stop trying.
Brainy and J’onn are hard at work problem solving and M’gann brings them some pizza. Which Brainy promptly picks up and just…holds it sideways? Absolutely brutalizes the pizza. I guess he’s really in a bad way. Anyway, J’onn says he wishes he had listened to M’gann and taken things a little more slowly, because now they don’t have a next step and he’s afraid he’s going to lose Kara for real this time.
Also afraid of losing Kara, who is at her apartment throwing take-out containers against the wall because she had planned on having her ravenous little sister home by now. Alex is grappling with the fact that this might really be it, that she might really never see Kara again, and that she can’t imagine her world without Kara in it. Can’t accept it.
Kelly says that she doesn’t have to give up on Kara yet, it’s barely been a day. All she has to accept is that it will take time. But Alex hates that her baby girl is alone somewhere she can’t reach her. So Kelly does all she can do for Alex in this moment and holds her close.
Andrea makes her way to Lena’s apartment to apologize to her for trying to use their friendship to her advantage. Lena points out that it was a little hypocritical of her to react that way and accept her apology with a smile. Andrea was impressed at Lena on the stand, pressing all right right buttons, getting Lex to say exactly what she wanted him to say; it’s not Lena’s fault the jury loves a chauvinist. Andrea promises to keep going after Lex until the world understands he’s a monster and Lena promises to do the same.
Lillian goes to see her son, says she’s proud of him even though you can tell she hates him almost as much as we do. This win has done nothing but inflate Lex’s ego and it’s truly awful to watch. I know we live in a world where the bad guys win all the time but it would have been nice to give this one to Lena. Reward her for being the good person we know she is, even when it’s hard. But alas.
When Silas gets back to his apartment, he realizes he didn’t walk away from the earlier fight unscathed after all, and tries to call J’onn as a Phantom menace flies out of his mouth and out into the world.
In the Phantom Zone, Kara and her father watch some Phantoms go through portals that her dad doesn’t recognize (perhaps because he’s a figman of her imagination? I ask in front of my red-string murderboard of paranoia) and since it seems it only stays open long enough for a Phantom to go through, Kara says it sounds like they’re going to need to catch a Phantom.
Raise your hand if you’re terrified of the emotional trauma watching Kara and/or Alex have Phantom nightmares! :raises hand: At least we’ll have each other, right? See you next week! I can’t promise Kara will be out of the Phantom Zone but I CAN promise that I’ll continue to make Phantom of the Opera references until I beat that bit into the ground.