Supergirl – Season 2 Episode 12

Feb 14, 2017 | Posted by in TV


Supergirl explores Lena’s relationship with her mother as the time for her trial comes around and Lena’s loyalties are tested once again.

In Superman lore the Luthor dynasty is always one of the most interesting aspects. We have seen a variety of interpretations of the Luthor family tree over the years but some level of villainy is always consistent. Supergirl chooses to explore this through the adopted sister of Lex, Lena and in turn has created a really fascinating character who still has lots buried beneath the surface.


Lillian teaches Lex tactics

The last time we saw Lena she had made the decision to turn in her mother and fully cement herself as a good person. This episode follows on from that when Lillian comes to trial. It’s clearly a difficult time for Lena as she is under a lot of scrutiny because her name connects to two known criminals. The trial is a public shaming of her family name that was already tarnished because of Lex. All eyes are on Lena now that her mother has been identified as a criminal.

It’s the perfect time to dust off the old “is Lena evil or not?” plot and the episode plays with this in different ways. To begin with there is really damning footage that is enough evidence for her to be arrested. Her guilt seems certain at that point to everyone except Kara who is keen to give her the benefit of the doubt. Kara’s instincts tell her that Lena is a good person who couldn’t possibly be guilty but she’s the only one championing this cause since the evidence seems to make this an open and shut case.

This results in possibly the best use of James this season. We haven’t seen much of him in his role as CEO of CatCo but this episode proves that there is value to it. In this case he occupies the opposite position in an argument to Kara in the argument and it works really well as it shows their conviction as well as framing the issue at the heart of the episode. James comes from a position of experience as he saw Clark go through the exact same thing. Everyone except him believed that Lex was corrupt but Clark was determined to see the best in him and found himself betrayed as a result. This is a relationship I would actually like to see as it feels reminiscent of Smallville. I also wonder if Lex knows Clark’s secret identity. Maybe someday we will see them interact.

Back to James and Kara’s argument over Lena’s innocence. James takes issue with the fact that Kara isn’t willing to consider his point of view out of her own naive idealism. She has no reason to believe that Lena is innocent other than her own gut feeling but the fact that she steadfastly dismisses James is interesting. In a lot of ways Kara has tunnel vision when it comes to her own beliefs which makes her ignorant to certain facts. Of course she turns out to be right in this instance but she could have easily been wrong and it’ll be interesting to see if her conviction will backfire in the future.


Lena confronts Lillian

Another good thing about the Luthor plot is that it successfully brings together the two sides of Kara’s identity. Her insistence that Lena is innocent tests her as both a reporter and Supergirl to prove it. Sadly there isn’t a lot of development where her journalistic instincts are concerned as this would have been an ideal opportunity to show her instincts could be backed up with facts. It’s a missed opportunity to simply have her insist that Lena is innocent without actually doing anything about it as Kara. At least it’s a step in the right direction but it doesn’t go far enough.

A lot of this episode explores the relationship between Lena and Lillian. We see the day Lena was adopted in a flashback which gives context to the strained relationship between mother and daughter. Lena learns in this episode that she is actually Lionel’s biological daughter from an extramarital affair which explains why Lillian resents her. Seeing her only reminds her of the fact that her husband was unfaithful and knowing that adds quite a bit of depth to the dynamic. Lena has grown up with this lack of acceptance and this has caused her to have the thick skin she has now. It also fuels her desire to create her own legacy that restores credibility to the Luthor name. Perhaps finding out that she’s a Luthor by blood will further encourage her to clean up the family name.

The interactions between Lena and Lillian are really fascinating to watch. In the past I’ve found Brenda Strong’s performance to be cartoonish and that’s still the case but any scene where she is trying to manipulate Lena by offering affection is really well done. There’s a hint of something more than necessity under there but Lillian clearly doesn’t want to take it as far as Lena would like. Katie McGrath counters this by playing Lena as someone who feels disgusted by her mother’s actions with lots of betrayal in there too. Luthor parent/child dynamics are a really rich playground and this is a great example of that.

On the surface Lena seems resistant to her mother’s influence as shown by her refusal to allow access to Lex’s weapon cache. I’ve always thought that Lena is more interesting if she doesn’t turn out to be a villain and so far the writers are sticking to that direction for her. The disgust on her face at what her mother is involved in is clear but there is the suggestion that there is more to Lena than she is letting on. She could be playing a very long game that will result in her becoming the main antagonist or maybe she will simply fall from grace like Lex did over on Smallville. There is always that tinge of darkness to the character and Katie McGrath’s performance that comes across well.


Lex’s weapons cache

Her friendship with Kara is also interesting to watch. They are two very different people in almost every way but Kara essentially acts as an emotional pillar for Lena whenever she needs it. Someone as routinely dismissed as Lena would have issues trusting people as well as simply carrying on as normal due to all the pressure that she experiences. Kara is always there to listen to her and offer unconditional support which seems to be exactly what she needs. From the other side Kara seems to recognise that Lena is a good person who has an inherent desire to do positive things for other people. This is something Kara is drawn to so their friendship really works from a dramatic point of view. If we are to learn that Lena is a villain and that Kara was wrong in the long run then this friendship dissolving should be really fascinating.

This episode brings back two villains previously seen this season. The first Metallo aka John Corben makes his return and Hank Henshaw aka Cyborg Superman is in the mix as well. Corben isn’t an especially deep villain with his over the top rants about how dangerous aliens are but Frederick Schmidt has more than enough presence to feel significant as villains go. As a threat he comes across as dangerous and formidable unlike so many others that we see week on week. Henshaw really needs a lot of work as all of his appearances have put him in the role of glorified henchman. Last season we found out that Henshaw hated aliens with a passion and clearly he had enough clout to be in charge of the DEO so much more could be done with him. We know how good David Harewood is as J’Onn so this should be taken advantage of to bring a villain who is a physical as well as an ideological threat.

I found the action sequences fairly hit and miss. Considering the pedigree of villains in the mix there was an opportunity to deliver something more interesting to look at. Any action sequence felt like the standard action beat for an episode rather than anything else though the crane sequence was impressive enough.

One nice touch was the ticking clock attached to Corben. The idea of him building to a massive Kryptonite explosion that could kill Kara added real urgency to the climax even if it made no sense for Kara to go herself considering J’Onn isn’t affected by Kryptonite. I get that the lead of the show has to save the day but common sense should also prevail. Despite that the life threatening danger added tension to the action climax and Kara’s regretful look as she made the choice to save Lena while leaving Corben to die reinforces her compassionate nature.


Corben goes critical

Mon’El and Kara’s will they/won’t they dynamic gets more attention here and I can’t bring myself to be all that interested in it. Chris Wood and Melissa Benoist have good chemistry for sure but the plotting feels overly familiar. It’s easy to predict the beat that will prevent them from moving forward. When that interruption is Mr. Mxyzptlk (Peter Gadiot) that isn’t so bad but I’m still underwhelmed by this formulaic romance.


A strong episode that builds on Lena’s relationship with her mother as well as the rest of her family. The reveal that she is Luthor by blood works well and the internal conflict she experiences as well as the further tarnishing of her family name makes for interesting viewing. It’s still unclear if she will turn out to be the villain of the season or fall from grace at some point but Katie McGrath’s performance keeps it ambiguous enough to remain interesting. The Luthor plot allows Kara’s dual identity to connect in a really natural way. Unfortunately the episode doesn’t do enough with her reporter skills which makes her insistence that Lena is innocent feel somewhat naive but it’s a step in the right direction. Having James be on the opposite side of this and speak from experience is a good fit for him as well.

Metallo and Cyborg Superman were a good villain team-up despite being glorified henchmen for Lillian. Despite being thinly written Metallo has a lot of presence and the urgency associated with him building to an explosion helps add tension to the final fight even if it wasn’t that interesting to look at. Mon’El and Kara’s romance feels somewhat by the numbers but at least we have Mr. Mxyzptlk to kill time next week.


Enter Mr. Mxyzptlk

  • 8/10
    Luthors - 8/10


Kneel Before…

  • Lena and Lillian’s mother/daughter dynamic
  • melding the two sides of Kara’s life in a way that almost works
  • James feeling like a necessary part of the plot
  • Katie McGrath’s subtle performance suggesting something hidden

Rise Against…

  • the formulaic Kara/Mon’El romance
  • not taking the opportunity to develop Kara’s journalistic skills
  • underwhelming action
User Review
8/10 (1 vote)