Supergirl – Season 5 Episode 12
“Back from the Future Part 2”
Supergirl further explores the perils of technology when every piece of tech in the D.E.O. turns against them and Lena moves ever closer to achieving her goal.
One thing the Arrowverse has never been good at is using technology properly. Whether it’s the internet being housed inside a warehouse in Star City or the various devices that Cisco can whip up on a whim designed to solve a particular problem that would change the world as we know it if they were mass produced. This episode has to be up there with the most ridiculous examples of technology usage yet. It doesn’t make the episode terrible but it does make it hilarious.
The episode is built around Toyman downloading his consciousness into a laptop that later allows him to infect the D.E.O. servers. He uses this access to turn all of their technology against them which includes sentry guns, exploding computers and later the power armour suits built by Lex. It’s all more hilarious than tense which is a shame as there was a real opportunity to have the characters locked up in a single location where everything is trying to kill them. Instead the focus is all over the place and the threats feel more like inconveniences. It also doesn’t help that the viewer is bombarded with information like a core failure in the building wiping out all life within a three mile radius. If that were true then surely it wouldn’t be ethical to put such a thing anywhere near a population centre. When the D.E.O. headquarters was out in the middle of the desert it made more sense as it kept the general public away from potential dangers but housing so many risky things in the middle of a city is both reckless and stupid.
Toyman’s re-emergence is to serve as the springboard for a proper send-off for Winn who gets the opportunity to deal with unresolved feelings about his father and face off against his dark side. It’s an odd choice to have Winn facing a dark mirror of himself as there has never been any suggestion that he was battling against darker impulses. He was afraid he might turn out like his father at one point but it has been long proven that he’s incapable of ending up in any way like that so he really has nothing to prove at this point. The conclusion of his arc involves him deciding to own the name Toyman as his Legion call sign rather than going by the far less impressive “Computer Lad”. In order to put these issues behind him, Winn has to digitise himself and enter the digital space to defeat the consciousness of his duplicate.
Winn runs into a digital representation of his father when he enters the digital space who keeps begging to be released so that he can help. It’s a standard scenario on this show and the others in the Arrowverse where a character who has proven themselves untrustworthy in the past begs to be trusted. The tension comes from wrestling with the decision to accept their offer of help or play it safe. In this case it’s not especially interesting as there hasn’t been much focus on Winn’s troubled relationship with his father since way back in season 1 so there isn’t much emotional resonance here. His father telling Winn how proud he is and that Winn represents the best part of himself is all predictable standard stuff that feels tacked onto an already ridiculous situation. Jeremy Jordan makes the best of what little he has to work with here but it’s far from interesting on the whole.
The situation does create an excuse for a cool action sequence where Kara and Alex get to stand back to back while taking on Lex’ power armour as Brainy performs some impressive acrobatics to make himself a more inviting target. Every now and again this show delivers the goods when it comes to action and this is definitely up there with some of the stronger examples. It’s good to see Kara being able to cut loose with her powers as she doesn’t have to worry about hurting anyone since all she’s fighting it technology. It’s certainly a welcome break from the norm and a good excuse for the people responsible for putting these together to show their talents.
It’s unclear if this will be Winn’s final appearance in the show -I’m guessing he’ll be around next week for the 100th episode- but if so then it was a really good send-off for him. The resolution of his relationship with his father wasn’t entirely necessary though Winn returning to the future having put that weakness behind him and reclaiming the Toyman name as something he plans to use for good is satisfying enough and it was great to see him imparting some final wisdom to Kara around what to do about William. There’s a sense that Winn is going back to the future a more complete person and the life he’s returning to is a really good one. It’s a strong exit for such a prominent character that pays him the appropriate respect.
Kara’s main struggle in this episode is over what to do about William. She admits to Winn that she likes him but doesn’t feel that she is able to have a relationship because of the life she has chosen to lead. Understandably she doesn’t want to begin another relationship with lies and deceit. She’s especially wary of this after what happened with Lena. Winn’s advice is very common sense based; he tells her not to plot out the entire lifecycle of a relationship before they’ve even been on one date because she’s setting herself up for failure and heartache that way. It’s a fair point as Kara is clearly already planning the breakup before things have even started which leads her to conclude that the venture is pointless in the first place. Winn identifies Lena’s reaction as an exception that won’t apply to everyone else in Kara’s life and he encourages her to see how it goes because she has to have a personal life outside of being Supergirl or being a journalist.
This advice seems to help Kara but she participates in lying about a sick grandmother as an excuse to get away quickly early in the episode and has it come back to haunt her when William gives her a gift to show that he was concerned about Kara’s fictitious Grandmother. This was such a great moment that immediately confirmed Kara’s fears about entering into a relationship on this basis. She lied to William about a sick grandmother and that lie had a consequence; a small one but no less a consequence. This leads her to conclude that her first instinct was right and she tells William she doesn’t feel that way about him. This definitely won’t be the end of the relationship plot but it was a really strong individual moment that forces Kara to examine her relationship to the truth.
Another piece of technological hilarity is Andrea’s new generation of lenses. The latest magical thing they can do is project a fantasy that people can live out the rest of their lives in which includes consuming food that will actually give them nutrients. By eating something that doesn’t physically exist somehow the body gains nutrients. I felt that was necessary to repeat as it boggles the mind that such a thing would make it out of the scripting stage. It’s such lunacy that I wonder how we’re supposed to take this plot in any way seriously.
The issue is that eating the food causes toxic shock in the body so another piece of technology is needed to fix it. Luthorcorp have that technology and Andrea stubbornly refuses to accept it from Lena because of the issues they’ve had in the past. This prompts Lex to approach Gemma as an alternate angle. Lex knows about Leviathan while they are unaware that he knows about them so he’s putting something in place to be able to trick them. Gemma thinks that Lex is offering her exactly what Leviathan needs to achieve their goals so each party theoretically thinks they have the advantage here. Whether Lex has outsmarted Leviathan and will end up being the victor is unknown at this time but the idea that both sides feel that they’re closing in on their goal is an interesting one. Jon Cryer and Cara Buono play off each other well so I hope to see them interact more regularly. Lex and Lena’s partnership continues to make for interesting viewing as well. I like that Lex seemed genuinely proud of what Lena has accomplished and Lena immediately assumes that Lex will default to murder as his go-to solution.
I get the impression that Supergirl is going to remove the D.E.O. from the show entirely by the end of the season. Putting Lex in charge of it creates problems for the characters that are affiliated with it as they now have to take orders from him. Alex reaches the end of her tether with that and resigns because she isn’t sure who she can trust in the organisation any more. Her conversation with Brainy after she figures out that he deleted her spyware where she points out that she has noticed that he has changed since removing his personality inhibitors shows that she is aware that things are being carried out behind her back and she’s struggling to put up with it. It’s similar to Alex’ feelings about working with Colonel Haley but she was always able to find a way to work within that system as opposed to the one Lex has created which has her feeling completely compromised. She is able to resign with a clear conscience as J’Onn offers to let her work with him but I hope the show plays with whether this was the right decision for her. Brainy is still an asset to Team Supergirl that gives them access to those resources and Kara will continue to be involved as Supergirl at least for the time being but there’s still plenty of scope for Alex to doubt her decision.
A strong send-off for Winn that pays appropriate respect to such a prominent character in the midst of a ridiculous plot that does allow for a cool action sequence. This shows grasp on technology is laughable at the best of times though this may be the most glaring example of how laughably bad the treatment of technology is. Uploading Human consciousness onto servers is one thing but virtual reality contact lenses that allow the user to consume virtual food and get real nutrients from it is baffling. How that got beyond the scripting stage is beyond me. Winn coming to terms with his relationship with his father through interacting with him in the virtual world works well enough but it’s an unnecessary resolution as it hasn’t been part of the character in such a long time. It plays out in such a predictable way as well so there’s no real emotional resonance. Jeremy Jordan does well with what he has to work with and sending Winn back to the future in full ownership of the Toyman call sign is satisfying enough. Winn’s contribution to the character dynamics is strong so if this does serve as a send-off for him then it’s a good one. Kara struggling with what to do about her feelings for William works really well. Winn’s advice about not plotting out the lifecycle of the relationship before the first date is a fair point that helps Kara a great deal. Having the lie told to make a swift exit come back to haunt Kara later on and prompt her to decide not to risk basing a relationship on lies was an excellent moment. It won’t be the end of this but it does give Kara something profound to deal with.
Lex approaching Gemma to convince her to take the offer of help from Luthorcorp makes for a really good scene. Cara Buono and Jon Cryer play off each other wonderfully and the idea that both parties think they have the advantage adds extra intrigue to their conversation. Lex and Lena’s partnership continues to be compelling. I really liked that Lex seemed genuinely proud of what Lena had accomplished and Lena thinking that Lex would default to murder as a go-to solution was an amusing touch. Alex quitting the D.E.O. was surprising but made a lot of sense especially after it came to her attention that even Brainy was working against her. Hopefully the show will play with whether it was the right decision for her but I can see this as another step towards removing the D.E.O. from the show entirely. Brainy and Kara will still have a connection to it but it’s unknown how long that will last.
- a strong send-off for Winn that felt appropriate to him
- Kara struggling with how to deal with her feelings for William
- Winn’s advice to Kara about not getting ahead of herself before the first date
- the Lex and Gemma scene having so much beneath the surface
- Lex and Lena’s partnership continuing to be compelling
- Alex making the choice to leave the D.E.O.
- a really cool action sequence
- the ridiculous technology usage
- a fairly standard and uninteresting emotional plot for Winn to work through
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