Television 

Five Thoughts on Supergirl‘s “The Missing Link”

By | May 11th, 2020
Posted in Television | % Comments

Welcome back all you Supergirl fans! Last week’s episode was a garbage fire of epic proportions, save for Benoist’s direction and the Luthor Family’s acting, so anything is a step up. Somehow, the penultimate episode of the season managed to make it three steps up. . .and that’s with Rama Kahn returning too.

As always, spoilers ahead.

1. No Use Cryering Over Spilt Experiments

Jon Cryer is the fucking best at being Lex. Week in, week out, in spite of my deep boredom with the character’s presence, I talk about it with you all — that’s how fucking good his performance is! Even in an episode where he doesn’t have much to do, I’m spending my first point talking about Lex. I probably shouldn’t waste the words but when he’s on screen, I can’t turn away. He’s so deliciously evil and loving every second of it. And that scene where he snaps at Lena?! All that charm, gone in an instant, and the monster inside comes to the surface.

I got chills.

It gets harder and harder to say we would’ve been better off without Lex’s overly-extended presence because the ratio of great Jon Cryer scenes to mediocre Lex Luthor bullshit scenes is only getting greater, although there are a lot in the latter category.

2. Dream Me a Dreamer

Nia’s been pretty quiet this season, which kinda sucks. She’s got a rad set of powers, a great character, and so many avenues that they could take her now that she’s an actual hero. Instead, because she’s a Supergirl supporting character from CatCo, she’s gotta be shuffled off to the side. But she’s back again! And that good, good drama between Brainy and her is in full force. They broke up in the mid-season premiere for stupid reasons and she’s only been in two episodes since in a meaningful way.

There’s a lot I really liked about Nia’s whole arc this episode. She’s hurt that Brainy has been such a shitty friend and now she’s afraid she can’t trust him. That’s a horrible feeling to have, especially for someone who was recently so close to her. While Brainy did have a point early in the episode when he said that Supergirl & Dreamer didn’t call him in on the Leviathan tip, Nia’s just as valid when she says that you can’t play both sides and not lose people in the process. Trust is a two-way street, as they say, and while the two situations are not equivalent, it is indicative of an underlying issue of trust, or the lack thereof.

The best part of all this had to be the way Brainy manifested in her dream, though. Green and reminiscent of the evil version, this is the image she’s forming in her mind. Manipulative, uncaring, and concerned only with big picture problems, like, say, bottling cities to “preserve” their culture, at the expense of the people within, this Brainy is the person she feared he would be without the inhibitors and because she has no knowledge of the Crisis of Infinite Brainys, that’s the only logical conclusion.

Still, I have a problem with the choice of plot. Why? Well, notice how 90% of the above revolved around Brainy and not Nia on her own? Yeah. Nia had one episode that was about her and her life and had a subplot — or in that case, plot — that was her own. With the destruction of the DEO, maybe we can get some more side character focus instead of constant missions.

3. And Boom Goes the DEOnymite

Oh? Did I bury the lede there a bit? Yeah, the DEO building is absolutely crushed by Rama Khan. Clearly, the showrunners wanted a change of scenery for next season (and maybe they took my advice that the DEO has far outlived its usefulness in the show.) I was totally jazzed when I saw Supergirl get thrown into a table and sparks flew and it actually broke because, you guessed it, I had a feeling they were trashing the set. And glory me, they trashed the set.

Could it have been more? Yes but that would involve explosives and I’m okay without those. What do you think they’ll replace it with? More sterile, absolutely lifeless conference rooms that have about as much place as an empty box store? I vote for relocating to J’onn’s new cave of kissing. . .ew. I’m not getting into that here. I am actively blocking out that plot development.

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Oh, OH! And Rama Khan was actually fucking scary? Or. . .maybe threatening is more accurate. After his snooze-fest of an introduction, I had written him off. I still feel justified and for most of the episode, he was still a bore. Also, the writers of Supergirl really, really want to have their cake and eat it too with “Crisis.” Unless there was some other unexplained failure, they remember the pre-“Crisis” attack that never happened but nothing else. Why the fuck is Rama Khan in handcuffs at the start?

And him being all pissy about “human forms” while wearing his own? Fucking garbage writing right there. However, after he gets his shit kicked in what can only be described as the worst version of “oh no, how ever could i be defeated so quickly, curses,” things start to turn around. He’s menacing in the cell with Brainy and his destruction of the DEO is short, sweet and to the point. He has a clear goal, very little grandiose monologuing and the fighting is engaging. They established him as a threat and then delivered.

Kudos.

4. They’re Going to Steal the Declaration of Leviathan

Sean Astin is back baybeeeeeee.

That’s it. You can go now. I got nothing else.

. . .Fine.

Ostensibly, the search at the archives is meant to further the Leviathan plot, and it kinda does, but it’s more about the continuing attempts of Alex to adjust to no longer being a part of the DEO. I’m of two minds. I think it’s good that they’re taking their time to show Alex’s difficulties in adjusting and increasing discontent with being “on the sidelines.” She was sort-of working with J’onn but that all felt kinda half-baked as a way to keep her in the same role as before rather than moving her forward. Now that she’s had an encounter with her limitations, and a very obvious conversation as per The CW’s usual approach to character revelations, she can start to change.

However, it’s kinda out of nowhere? Like, I don’t think it was the lack of military connections that was the problem here. She dragged a civilian into the Leviathan problems and put him in danger but not because she had trouble giving up command but instead that she wasn’t used to operating alone without a built in framework. Sure, she has the super friends but they were always an augmentation to her work, to her team. Here, she doesn’t have that ready made team and her impatience got the better of her, “enlisting” Sean Astin’s character into what was clearly a dangerous situation, though she couldn’t have known about the shooter with stormtrooper aim.

I’m glad Alex is moving beyond the DEO, and so is the show (hopefully) but I worry it’s being done from the wrong understanding of her character.

5. Fucking. Finally.

Only took 18 episodes, but here we are. Lena has realized the depths of her mistakes and come crawling back to Kara. I should be overjoyed that this drawn out, frustrating, character inconsistent plot is finally, FINALLY over. . .but I’m not. This ending was frustrating for two reasons. One is that it makes all the starts and stops, like last week’s, look like what they were: artificial attempts to extend the length of Lena’s anger at Kara. Most of the season was full of these and they were maddening not because Lena shouldn’t be mad at Kara, she totally should be, but because the writers made it so she thought she was in the right in spite of her own self-understanding.

She was lost, as she admits at the end. She was angry and mad and that prevented her from seeing Kara’s side of things. Why a secret like this was not an easy one to keep or to give up. This is good, this is true and this is a fair explanation for how she could have fallen down this path anyway.

But here’s where my second reason comes into play: this whole revelation was rushed to shit. We didn’t get any wrestling throughout the season, no slow descent or ascent to explain her sudden shifts in attitude, no small moments of realizing she was being isolated by Lex or even that she was now alone again. Hell, those ideas aren’t even important to her at the end here. What is important is that her project failed and she finally stopped trusting her brother for good.

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Lex is a master manipulator and abuser and so is Lillian. The two of them worked Lena to isolate her from her friends and make her so focused on her work that she couldn’t see anything but her work. That was good storytelling. What isn’t is that none of that seems to be the reason Lena goes back to Kara! Yes, there are moments in the episode that reinforce the idea that friends are necessary and she has none left, as well as how her idea to manipulate people’s brains might be dangerous because violence and pain and fear aren’t simple or 100% bad, but those aren’t the driving force behind her anger at Lex.

She is mad that Lex wanted her project for his ends and failed to realize she couldn’t use it in a “positive” way. She never wanted to become a monster. She almost did. But no blame is put on Lex for his part in isolating her. Perhaps they wanted to leave that subtext. If so, fine but when you vocalize other aspects and don’t even hint at the possibility of multiple, more nuanced reasons, I have a problem with that.

Moreover, Kara is still crazy smug and I’m angry at her anger at Lena last episode. Sure, she shouldn’t have been so pissed without asking questions but, like, you know how hypocritical what you were doing was and Lena seeing it, and then seeing you be a jerk about using it, of course she’s be angry! What’d you expect? Be a better communicator and take the onus, Kara. You felt you had no other option, and remember? You didn’t want to use Myriad in the first place! But the dialog doesn’t make that clear and makes it seem like Kara isn’t taking ownership of her part in the misunderstanding or the complicating factors. Bah!

Let’s say we had taken the season to build to her feeling like her mind-control program was the only way. In the first half, this worked to alienate her from Kara as she wrestled with feelings of betrayal but still tried to make it work with Kara because she’s smart and recognizes that it was a difficult secret. She’s still hurt and her trust is fractured but it’s not gone, it’s not replaced by a fanatical zeal. She keeps the project secret because she’s afraid of what Kara would say, and keeps Eve close because of her Leviathan connection & has her be an assistant with proper precautions. However, Eve hurt Lena too much and when it comes time to test the system, she, in the heat of the moment, uses it on Eve.

Horrified that it was done against her will, she rationalizes and this shows the descent worsening, culminating in the scene where she manipulates Kara, not out of spite or to “get back at her” but to achieve her ends, in order to get Myriad, gets caught, and the two duke it out verbally. This betrayal hurts the both of them and only hardens Lena’s resolve. She fails at the world domination but the scene where Kara is standing in front of the kryptonite gun has far more emotional impact since Lena and Kara’s fraying friendship has been the central tension up until this point instead of the sword of damocles of Lena wanting reevvveeennngggeee. Then “Crisis” happens and Lex returns, manipulating Lena along with Lillian to keep her from returning to Kara, isolating her and convincing her that her work is the only thing that matters and the only way to ensure she’s not hurt again. That Supergirl was wrong about the project and that she’s too arrogant to see otherwise.

She doubts this, and almost goes back to Kara, but is pulled back in before ever mending any bridges because she doesn’t want a repeat of before. She suspects Lex is using her but puts that out of her mind.

Then the failure of the project, and Lex revealing he always knew it would fail in the way she wanted it to work, would be the final straw but before she goes back, we see how alone she is. It slowly dawns on her that all her friends are gone and it was her doing that pushed them away, not the other way around. She did not trust them, so they could not trust her. Trust is a two way street after all.

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Then we get the final scene of the episode and the already high emotional impact of it brought to new heights. Katie McGrath’s performance was so fucking good, y’all. I teared up. I bought every second of it. This was the ending they were building too and it delivered.

If only the lead up had supported it better. Imagine what a powerful moment of TV that would’ve been.

That about does it for now! Let me know what you thought of Lena’s return to Kara in the comments. I do read them, even if I don’t always get a chance to reply. Next week, the season finale. What will go left unresolved? What will happen? What the fuck is Leviathan’s end game? All this and possibly more! Until then, stay super y’all.

Best Line of the Night:

Lex’s How Dare You speech & Lena’s entire apology. Pure gold that I did not write down because they were loooonnngggg.


//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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