Five Thoughts on Supergirl‘s “Deus Lex Machina”

By | May 4th, 2020
Posted in Television | % Comments

Welcome back all you Supergirl fans! It’s been a month and a change since I last chatted with y’all. How’ve you been? I’ve been OK. There’s the good. There’s the bad. You know how it goes. Supergirl was on pause and that’s both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it gave me a longer reprieve on my Sunday nights. . .

. . .and a curse because it means, if tonight’s episode is any indication, the season is gonna drag on ‘till it shambles to an end.

And as always, spoilers ahead.

1. Direct Me Like One of Your CW Girls

I was excited to see this episode. Melissa Benoist was making her directorial debut and the description made it seem like we’d finally get a breakdown of this Earth’s Lex pre-Crisis as well as exactly how he changed the world. I thought this would be something akin to the Ben Lockwood introduction episode, one of the best episodes of last season. Turns out. . .he did jack shit and this was a parade of how he was behind literally everything A-FUCKING-GAIN. I’ll get to that horseshit in a little. I also won’t link to one specific past recap because *gestures at the entirety of Lex’s season 4 involvement.*

First, some praise.

While my eyes glazed over about halfway through the episode because of scripting issues, Benoist’s directorial eye in “Deus Lex Machina” was a welcome reprieve from the usual midshot, close shot, match-shot. She let the camera linger, maybe not as much as I would like, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was letting the actors really try to sell us with their faces. While her own performance suffers a little — listen to that delivery in the opening scene, it’s like a parody of a golden age comic — the performances she draws out of Jon Cryer, Brenda Strong (Lillian Luthor,) and Kaite McGrath are exceptional.

I can see why she was bummed that this episode kept getting punted because, if I were to judge this off just the first 10 or so minutes, this would be, bar none, the best episode of the season.

2. Lex Wives

But then the rest of the episode happens.

There’s a lot I could start with but let’s go easy with Eve Tessmacher. She’s back after her tease last episode! She’s still a Leviathan assassin and we finally see her doing assassin stuff! Sure, she’s brought into the Lex fold early, answering my question from the last episode about how she was on staff without anyone knowing, but I thought, hey, maybe we’ll get an Eve that’s more than just a prop to be punted around.

I should not have had such faith.

I legitimately cannot believe how much of a non-character. If it had been revealed at the end of the episode that Lex replaced Eve with H.O.P.E like Lena did and made her pretend to be like the old Eve, I would have believed it more and been happier. Well. . .maybe not happier but at least it wouldn’t have been what we get, which is Eve throwing herself at Lex for. . .reasons.

(Yes, I know it’s because he’s the only one who’s shown her any kindness and yes, I do know it’s a gradual process of him emotionally manipulating her to feel indebted to him but my point stands.)

It’s almost as bad as last season’s reasoning, which is she found his bald head oh-so-irresistible and she just had to work for him. Or maybe Leviathan wanted information? That was never made clear because she was devoured by H.O.P.E. at the behest of Lena “I’m don’t kill, I’m not a villain” Luthor. Give us something! Her character is so paper thin I can reduce it to three traits: smart, heart-eyes-Lex, hopelessly perky.

She’s such a parody of her previous season or comics counterparts that I honestly thought she was playing Lex as a double Leviathan agent. “Oh,yes Mr. Lexy. That’s a brilliant idea.” Gag me with a spoon.

Or better yet, gag Lex and ship him back to the Smallville world so Tom Welling can punch him again.

3. Curse Your Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal

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I cannot believe how frustrated not having the episode description match up with the events of the episode is making me. They’re NEVER accurate, that’s the whole point. It’s to be as vague as can be while skirting accuracy. But here? What was the point? Nothing in the episode needed secrets to be kept. Was Lex being behind everything really that important as to needing a misdirection? It’s baffling.

To make matters worse, a good half of this episode was rehashing old scenes and, for a while, I was good with this! They were engaging and elucidated on the emotional arcs of the characters. But then we started doing fucking retcons and it made me question why none of this was shown earlier. What was the point in keeping this a secret? Why was Eve not being around so fucking vital that the seeds of Lex’s greater plan couldn’t be hinted at?

Hell, why didn’t we see anything, anything from Eve’s perspective? That would have gone a long way to making her arc feel more impactful and Lex’s betrayal at the end all the more gut wrenching. Why did we have to focus so much on Lena’s asinine plan or tease the eeeeeeviiilll of the old woman from Leviathan? I wanted to like this episode, I almost did, but then it folded like a cheap deck of cards and caught on fire as a “twist” because it was actually self-igniting flash paper and looked blank but only right before it caught fire for no apparent reason.

4. Waste Not, Want A Lot

I can now add the Old Leviathan Woman to a list of wasted side characters and villains. They’ve been building her up since last season as this mastermind on the level of the other named Leviathan people, only to have her put aside for Rama-hecking-Khan and Goddess of Tech lady who, by the way, has not been referred to as such before. Unless that was in the interminably boring episode I continue to block from my memory.

But I digress.

Her being killed isn’t even what bothers me. This was an interesting resolution to the kidnapped people arc and the hook at the start got me hyped to see how Lex found this place and how he killed her and why. But. BUT. WE DON’T EVEN FUCKING GET THAT. Yeah! The episode cuts away before we get any resolution, forcing us to fill in the details. The most important scene in the entire god. damn. episode and we don’t even get to see it played out. I’m livid.

I’m so livid that Lex having Eve kill Jerimiah and also that one stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid line from Alex about Jerimiah’s death and even Lena’s progress with Kara being upended by her inability to communicate with Kara and Kara’s own fucking hubris after one fucking episode pales in comparison. At least with that the thread of Lex manipulating her is made clear and I can buy it because, after three quarters of a season, I’ve reached the final stage of character-assassination-induced grief and simply accepted that Lena this season is utterly incapable of thinking things through because of the blinders that she put on herself and the cocaine eyedrops Lex keeps feeding her.

5. My Long Con is More Bullshit Than Your Long Con

I had a whole rant in my head about how fucking stupid Lex being the ultimate manipulator is and Lillian pushing him on despite almost zilch of what is revealed in this episode in any way being supported by the text of previous episodes other than the occasional, “I know Lex is behind this because he was Leviathan BEFORE the Crisis event,” which, again, they never fucking addressed or even talked about, but I think I’ve yelled at the uncaring void of a season that cannot be changed by some schmuck on the internet’s ramblings enough for one night.

I think you can tease out my critiques of Lex being mastermind out of my comments above and my past frustrations with the very same approach to last season. It didn’t work then, it doesn’t work now. The only saving grace Lex has is that Jon Cryer is the perfect Lex Luthor. Other than that, he’s a pointless character that takes precious screen time and development away from Lena and other side characters that would benefit from some work. Why he has to be Mr. Perfect Secret Mastermind with the Achilles Heel that is his hatred of the Kryptionians is beyond me. Do something more interesting with the schmuck! You had the perfect fucking opportunity and your squandered it.

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Shame. Shame. Shame.

That about does it for now! *Phew.* That may just be the most frustrated I’ve been at an episode of Supergirl in a long while. What a way to mark the return. What did you all think? Were my frustrations well founded or ill-informed? Let me know in the comments and next week, we’ve got the return of Rama Khan. . .godfuckingdammit.

Until then, stay super y’all.

Best Line of the Night:

Alex: “Isn’t it weird that we’re sitting here, like everything is normal, and Jerimiah is gone?”

(Excuse me while I facepalm so hard at that galaxy brain take, I restart the DCW multiverse.)

//TAGS | Supergirl

Elias Rosner

Elias is a lover of stories who, when he isn't writing reviews for Mulitversity, is hiding in the stacks of his library. Co-host of Make Mine Multiversity, a Marvel podcast, after wining the no-prize from the former hosts, co-editor of The Webcomics Weekly, and writer of the Worthy column, he can be found on Twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and really needs to update his profile photo again.


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