Supergirl – Season 5 Episode 19

May 22, 2020 | Posted by in TV
Supergirl

“Immortal Kombat”

Supergirl ends its fifth season prematurely with a reconciliation and a combined effort to put a stop to Leviathan.

As with The Flash and Batwoman, Supergirl has a shorter season due to Coronavirus forcing shutdown of production. This fact makes it difficult to pronounce judgement on this particular episode on how well it functions as a season finale since it was never intended to be that. On the other hand it’s the only finale we are going to get so it does bear scrutiny in that respect. Fortunately it does do enough to feel somewhat like a season finale so there’s definitely something to go on with this.

Supergirl

Commencing operation Deathly Hallows

The previous episode ended with Lena renouncing Lex and going back to Kara to offer her help in dealing with both Lex and Leviathan. She has realised how misguided she has been lately, woken up to the fact that Lex has been manipulating her this whole time and wants to make amends for everything she has done. Kara is one of the most forgiving people on any planet so is willing to give Lena the chance to help deal with the current situation though their friendship isn’t restored to what it was at this point. This makes sense because what happened between them isn’t something that can be forgotten with a simple apology. Trust has been broken on both sides and such things take time to be repaired. Kara takes the mature approach and makes it clear to Lena that she doesn’t want to discuss what happened in the past because the current priority is the threat ahead of them. In effect she is defining the terms of their partnership as being purely professional because she needs all the help she can get to deal with the current situation.

As always Lena proves to be useful as she can make Kara an anti-Kryptonite suit while offering her genius level intellect and technical skills. Having her back on Kara’s side gives Team Supergirl a significant advantage that offers further hope for victory being a possibility. The episode makes great use of the fractured Kara/Lena friendship and addresses the tension between them at key points. Lena takes full responsibility for her decisions and behaviour while explaining what motivated her to react the way she did. Learning Kara’s secret at the point of killing Lex was a lot to take in for her and prompted her to react in the way she was most used to; by assuming that nobody could be trusted and putting up an emotional wall in order to protect herself by shutting others out and keeping her isolated. Kara understands why she did it but isn’t prepared to accept it at face value because Lena made some horrible decisions on the back of this. She brings up the fact that Lena pretended to be her friend while manipulating her and working behind her back. She stole from Kara, made her believe that things were fine between them and even used Kryptonite on her.

Kara also points out that she has no idea what it means to maintain a secret identity or what it means to share it with someone else. She does acknowledge that keeping the secret hurt Lena but points out that Lena did some terrible things to her and the fact that she was hurt is no excuse for that. At this point of the episode she isn’t prepared to let Lena off the hook which makes the conflict feel more real and there’s a genuine sense that Kara is finally getting the opportunity to make her side clear. By the end of the episode they reaffirm their friendship after Kara sees that Lena is genuinely sorry. She was waiting to be let down every step of the way and Lena consistently proved that she could be trusted. It’s enough to convince Kara that she and Lena can be friends again so they shake hands and appear to be stronger than ever. Katie McGrath and Melissa Benoist sell this beautifully and the gradual build-up to that point works in context but it generally feels abrupt in contrast to how long this plot was being strung out for. I am glad that it has been put behind them because it’s very limiting for Lena to be stuck in this constant tedious cycle of bitterness.

Supergirl

Eve comes good in the end

Lena’s mindset is made clear in other ways, particularly in how she relates to Andrea who is activated as Acrata and sent to kill Supergirl while she’s vulnerable. She does this reluctantly because Leviathan threatened her father but Lena is able to talk her out of it by opening up to her about her recent experience of doing terrible things in the name of protecting the people she loved. All that got her was loneliness and regret. Lena offers Andrea her friendship and support from the point of view of having being faced with similar choices to the ones Andrea is facing now and making the wrong ones. It’s further acknowledgment of how much Lena has learned and grown over the course of the season. It’s enough to talk Andrea out of killing Supergirl and removes a significant resource from Leviathan.

Her conversation with Andrea is intercut with Kara appealing to everyone inside the simulation to save themselves by shutting it down. It’s a big task for her because she has to convince billions of people to give up what they consider to be a digital paradise. The two people she happens to speak to are spending time with digital recreations of lost loved ones which shows the power of what Andrea, Leviathan and Lex have created. Ultimately this boils down to another hopeful speech that is able to inspire people to do the right thing which is a common fixture on this show. It is good that plenty of time is devoted to showing what Supergirl can represent beyond her powers. She is a symbol of hope and the potential to be better people which is worth far more than her ability to punch powerful enemies really hard. People can look to her for guidance, inspiration and as a symbol of the best parts of themselves. Kara’s speech is about how suffering is a necessary part of being Human and hiding in a virtual world where every dream can come true is no way to live because it means that nobody will ever learn from live experience and be shaped by the hardships they have to endure. It’s not an overly complicated message but it’s in line with the values the show often promotes and nobody can deliver a sincere speech quite like Melissa Benoist so it works. Running it alongside Lena’s appeal to Andrea’s better nature connects Kara and Lena and ties into the repairing of their friendship.

On a visual level, Kara stopping Obsidian is really uninteresting. Visualising it as everyone logged in standing in rows surrounding the Earth is overly simplistic and no amount of awe on Kara’s part will disguise that fact. This season started off setting up a cautionary tale about the reliance on technology and losing the personal touch by living life through a digital lens. It’s a plot that the show completely lost sight of very quickly because it was devalued by having far too much going on and diluting the focus on every element being explored. The problem with the anti-technology plot is that it was really tone deaf because so many things in our lives have been improved and enriched by technology. It has made the world safer, keeps us connected through easy communication methods, makes so many tasks quicker and a whole host of other benefits. There are drawbacks such as the loss of personal freedoms, becoming disconnected by retreating into the digital and generally becoming overwhelmed by the constant flow of information.

Supergirl

Brainy accepts his fate

Supergirl lacks the subtlety or sophistication to explore this notion with the complexity it deserves. The show always comes down on a particular side of the argument which in this case is “technology = bad”. This ignores the fact that technology has helped Kara in both her personal life and her life as Supergirl immeasurably. It has been used to help track down Human and Alien threats so that should really be acknowledged and factor into a proper exploration of this plot in its significant complexity. Instead it is used to be part of the tapestry of the season without making any significantly interesting points on the pros and cons of techology in our daily lives, In the current pandemic climate where technology is being used positively to keep people physically isolated from one another connected in some way it’s a less than timely message though that’s not the fault of the show for failing to address the current climate since this situation could never have been predicted.

Leviathan remain an underwhelming threat at the best of times. In this episode they amount to participants in the action sequences with other powered individuals that we haven’t seen before also getting involved. These action sequences are fine and provide a decent showcase for the various members of Team Supergirl but Leviathan have never managed to gain any real depth or menace. The closest they ever got was Rama Khan destroying the DEO in the previous episode but none of the storytelling has justified their threat level despite how fascinated Lex Luthor might be in them and how threatened he feels by them. The proof needed to come through their actions on their own and what was done was far from good enough. It’s a good thing that most of them were bottled by Brainy therefore removing them as antagonists though that presupposes that Lex will keep them imprisoned in the bottle which does seem likely. The only member of Leviathan left is Gemma who makes a few references to answering to someone who is presumably being set up as a threat for the next season. I would be quite happy if Leviathan were never mentioned again because the prospect of some other leader of this organisation as a villain isn’t all that stimulating as teases go. The whole thing has been ill conceived from the beginning and the writers didn’t make good use of the opportunity to fix this in the post-Crisis world.

One thing that did work well in the post-Crisis world is making positive changes to Eve. An earlier episode took her down much the same path as she had been previously while making her a more sympathetic character and this episode continues along those lines by portraying her as someone who is trapped because of Lex Luthor’s manipulations and feels she has no choice but to continue doing terrible things for him. William recognises how scared she is and tries to appeal to her better nature which ends up working once Kara offers her a way to be true to herself without losing her mother. Kara promises to save her mother in exchange for her help and makes good on that promise. This restores some hope in Eve after being shown unconditional kindness and goes some of the way towards redeeming her though Kara and Alex still have no idea that she murdered Jeremiah so I suspect that information will become known next season and they will have to deal with that in some way. It’s unclear whether Kara and Alex will understand the position she was in and forgive her for that action or if she will be held accountable for it. Either way there’s potential for compelling character interactions.

Supergirl

A little snag but nothing to worry about

Alex’ development is inconsistently handled in this episode which might be a symptom of the shortened season or it could simply be jumping the gun on the storytelling. Either way her becoming a vigilante with a costume after having it suggested to her by Kelly in the previous episode doesn’t really fit into what arc was being hinted at for her. Taking more time for Alex to find a renewed sense of purpose and her place in the world would have been fine because the changes she has made in her life are significant and it’s natural to not have that all figured out. Having her suit up and be fully committed to this new direction so quickly feels unearned and I found Melissa Benoist’s choice to scream in the way she did when Alex revealed her costume to be a very odd choice.

There is an attempt to redeem Brainy for his questionable choices over the course of the season when he takes it upon himself to bring down Leviathan by entering their ship and exposing himself to their defensive measures for a long period of time so that he can use their technology to stop them. Jesse Rath does a great job portraying the determination to make things right and is particularly excellent in making that continued determination believable when Brainy is experiencing unimaginable pain. His doppelgänger being there to cheer him on should be a good thing but it only creates further inconsistencies when she tells him that he shouldn’t have distanced himself from his friends considering she told him to do exactly that not so long ago. Brainy having that support from another version of himself who helps him find the inner strength to withstand the pain he chooses to endure works really well and the actors involved really sell it but the overall effectiveness is hampered by how poorly handled Brainy’s character has been in general.

We get to see another example of Lex becoming unstable when learning that things haven’t gone as he planned. He did anticipate that Brainy would do what he did but failed to account for the fact that he would kill himself in order to do it. Lex is most annoyed that Brainy didn’t stick to the plan and let Leviathan kill Supergirl but ends up seeing this eventuality as a positive thing as Leviathan are gone so now all he has to do is take down Supergirl himself; something he doesn’t see as being all that difficult. He also takes great pleasure in leaving Brainy to die as punishment for his betrayal. There is hope for Brainy as Nia learns that he’s in trouble through a dream so will likely come to his aid. This comes after M’Gann helps her open up her perspective on Brainy’s behaviour and encourages her to consider that there might be more to what he’s going through than she’s aware. Her dreams need to be dealt with or they will continue to haunt her so she does need to actually address the fact that she’s dreaming about him rather than letting it fester. In this case, it’s likely to save Brainy’s life if not their relationship. In general, none of this could be called a definitive conclusion but it was never going to be in this truncated season and now we’ll have to wait until next year to see what will happen next.

Supergirl

Friends again!


Verdict

A good finale that offers satisfying developments in the relationships of the characters while doing its best to conclude some of the ongoing stories. The Kara/Lena reconciliation is played really well with a defined arc that runs through the episode. It starts off with Kara keeping her at arm’s length expecting to be let down again and progresses to the point where the friendship is stronger than it ever was. The episode allows this rift between them to be complex and leans into the fact that Lena behaved unreasonably as a reaction to feeling betrayed by Kara. At no point does Kara let Lena off easily; she reminds Lena that she manipulated her, pretended to be her friend, stole from her and used Kryptonite on her all because she found out that Kara wasn’t truthful with her. She also points out that Lena has no idea what it means to maintain a secret identity and doesn’t understand the motivation behind keeping it a secret from her. By the end of the episode Lena proves that she’s deeply sorry and that she can be counted on which is enough for Kara to forgive her while resolving to move forward united. It feels earned by the end and as always the actors do an excellent job selling this. Gaining insight into Lena’s mindset through her conversation with Andrea where she uses what she’s learned to talk Andrea out of doing something she will definitely regret works really well and pairing it with Kara’s passionate appeal to everyone logged into the simulation connects the characters nicely. Kara’s speech is well delivered by Melissa Benoist and says all of the right things but feels a little too simplistic when considering she manages to convince every single person logged in to end the simulation. The visual representation of the simulation is also far too simplistic considering how much in awe of it Kara apparently is. The whole “perils of technology” plot hasn’t been handled all that well in general as the show wasn’t prepared to explore the debate in its entirety and consistently failed to say anything definitive about the role of technology in society.

Leviathan remains an underwhelming threat and amount to little more than participants in the action sequences in this particular episode. This includes introducing a couple of other members we haven’t seen before and having them defeated by Brainy putting them in a bottle. This leaves Gemma as the only one around but there is the tease of someone that she answers to that will likely come into play next season. I’d be fine if that didn’t happen as this plot was never something I was invested in. The post-Crisis world was a great opportunity to make positive changes to Eve. Having her come across as desperate and in a position she can’t escape works really well at making her more sympathetic. Kara offering her the help she needs to save her mother and following through with it is enough to give Eva hope and frees her from the obligation she was forced into. The issue of her being Jeremiah’s killer is still in the air which will likely be dealt with next season. The potential for compelling character beats is certainly there. Alex’ development is inconsistently handled. Her decision to become a vigilante complete with her own costume is far from earned as it still feels like she should be much earlier on her journey towards finding a renewed sense of purpose following the massive changes in her life. There is an attempt to redeem Brainy through his sacrifice to bring down Leviathan. Jesse Rath plays the determination in the midst of unimaginable pain brilliantly and his doppelgänger being there for him as he waits for death is a nice moment though it does create more inconsistencies when she tells him he shouldn’t have shut his friends out when she was the one who told him to do that. Brainy’s actions offers another look at Lex becoming unstable when he sees that things haven’t gone according to his plan but he quickly regains his composure when he realises that he can now focus on killing Supergirl and can leave Brainy to die. It’s likely that Nia will come to his aid after dreaming about him and realising that she can’t just ignore those dreams after M’Gann helps her expand her perspective to consider what Brainy might be dealing with. All of this is far from a definitive conclusion but it was never going to be under the current circumstances and now we will have to wait until next year to see what happens next.

Overall
  • 7/10
    Immortal Kombat - 7/10
7/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • the slow burn development of Kara and Lena’s reconciliation
  • mirroring Lena’s appeal to Andrea’s better nature with Kara convincing everyone to end the simulation
  • making Eve sympathetic and using her well in the episode
  • Jesse Rath’s performance as Brainy accepts his fate
  • Lex’ complex reaction to Brainy’s actions
  • Nia having her perspective expanded to help her understand Brainy’s decisions

 

Rise Against…

  • a less than impressive visual representation of the simulation
  • Leviathan remaining underwhelming as villains
  • Brainy’s doppelgänger being inconsistent in her advice
  • Alex’ rushed development

 

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User Review
8.5/10 (2 votes)

What’s Next?

The season ends in such a way that there isn’t a great deal set up in terms of threats to the team. Lex Luthor remains the most obvious lingering threat. Arguably he is more dangerous now as the DEO no longer exists, Leviathan are no longer diverting his attention and he has made a pledge to kill Supergirl. He will have to go about this carefully if he still wants the public to think highly of him. A period of time where Lex and Kara play cat and mouse as she tries to bring his less than ethical activities to the attention of the public could be a good way for the season to begin. Lex certainly has a long shelf life as a villain but the production team should be careful how much they lean on him as his continued presence will make new antagonists more difficult to care about since he always has to be portrayed as so much better than anyone else Kara might face.

Brainy adjusting to the changes he has experienced after removing his inhibitors has a lot of potential as well. We’ve already had the part of his development where he makes the wrong-headed decision to isolate himself from his friends because he feels that it’s for the best to do so. With the realisation that he was wrong to do so there’s a lot of potential for this to progress in different ways especially in terms of his relationship with Nia so spending some time exploring Brainy’s “new normal” could prove interesting.

The writers need to take more time with the Alex plot as it’s moving far too quickly. Her decision to become a vigilante may well be the best end point for her adjustment to her new life but equally it might make more sense for her to go in a completely different direction. Having her struggle to find a sense of purpose now that she doesn’t have the DEO in her life has been the good basis for an arc so hopefully more time will be taken to explore the options now available to her rather than settling on something so quickly.

I would like to see Eve have a more prominent role in the next season. Perhaps she could try to use her skills and intelligence to help Team Supergirl in some way or the partnership she once had with Lena could be restored without the betrayal putting an end to it. There will almost certainly be a reveal of the fact that she killed Jeremiah to be dealt with which has a lot of potential in itself. Lena and Kara defining their friendship after everything that has happened between them could feed into this as well and will almost certainly be one of the cornerstones of the next season.

Andrea coming back to pick up the pieces after the failure of Obsidian Platinum and figuring out what it is she is going to do next may be worth exploring. Especially if the strong connection between her and Lena is a part of that. It’s more likely that she will disappear but that doesn’t have to be the case. We also still have the fledgling Kara/William romance that I could take or leave at this point and the mystery surrounding Gemma’s boss that I could definitely leave.

Supergirl

No more of this please

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