Supergirl – Season 5 Episode 18
“The Missing Link”
Supergirl moves forward with the Leviathan plot as Lena starts to question the decisions she has made up to this point.
I’ve mentioned before that this season has a lot of plots to juggle and episodes like this act as proof that there is too much going on for the show to reasonably cover in the necessary detail. The fact that there are less episodes than expected due to a global pandemic won’t help but there was already too much going on for everything to be covered and concluded in a satisfying way. Despite that, Supergirl does still manage to give audiences a very entertaining episode of television with a lot going on. It might be too much but the lack of time for the viewer to catch their breath does have some advantages.
A faster pace actually makes it less evident that the Leviathan plot is badly underdeveloped. It’s still unclear what their goal is; do they want to kill Supergirl? Enslave Humanity? Destroy the planet? Kill all Humans? Take your pick because I really don’t know at this point. They seem to just do things for the sake of creating a problem for Team Supergirl to deal with which goes against how ancient and influential they are supposed to be as an organisation. In this episode, Gemma tasks Rama Khan with the classic villain tactic of getting himself caught so that he can be inside the place he needs to be in order to get a hold of something they need. Gemma wants Kryptonite because it’s connected to whatever Lex stole from the Fortress and gifted to her and the DEO is the only place to get a hold of some so Rama Khan engineers his own capture in order to gain access.
What follows is an excellent action sequence where Rama Khan literally brings the house down on the DEO. The building is utterly destroyed which made for quite a surprise. Whether this ends up being the end for that organisation or note is unknown at this point though I got the impression that having Lex be in charge of it in the post Crisis world meant that the production team were transitioning to removing it from the DNA of the show. Alex leaving her post supports that theory and the destruction of the building would seem to be further evidence of that intention. We do know from previous seasons that the DEO has more than one facility but it hasn’t been established if that is still true in this new timeline. Whatever comes next it was a really shocking moment that showed how much of a threat Rama Khan can be when used in a certain way. He has literally removed one of Kara’s most significant support structures and Lex’ casual dismissal of the loss shows how much he valued it. The suggestion is that he will do nothing to rebuilt it though given its status as a public organisation with Lex as one of the faces of it there will need to be a P.R. spin of some kind.
Based on this episode it looks as if Lex is starting to see his world unravel around him. It’s possible that he has been so obsessed with taking down Leviathan that he has lost focus on other things that he should really be paying attention to. Early on, Brainy openly questions the decision he made to pledge loyalty to Lex out of a similar desire to bring down Leviathan. This comes after Lex expresses no concern over the fact that Kara and her friends could end up being killed as a result of their plans. In reality Brainy should really have questioned this long ago as Lex has never exactly been shy about how little he cares but at least now there’s a sense that the Brainy we once knew is in there somewhere. It’s also good to see that Kara and Nia are finally questioning his behaviour since the inhibitors were deactivated. Nia in particular gives him a hard time about how he has been behaving and expresses how hurt she is that he has thrown any attempt to be supportive of how much he is changing back in her face. Brainy now finds himself alone because he trusted Lex over his friends and has a mountain to climb in terms of getting back into their good graces.
Another person questioning her decision to ally with Lex is Lena. Her Non Nocere directive fails in the prison she was testing it in and ends up turning the inmates far more violent than they were before. She enlists Lex to help fix what looked like an isolated incident initially but is forced to realise that Human nature can’t be permanently changed because instinct is too strong to be overridden in such a way. The directive fails because the survival instinct is amplified to a dangerous degree and the data suggests that this would happen to everyone this is used on so she has to admit that it doesn’t work and could never work. While she’s doing that she realises that she was wrong to trust Lex because he knew all along that her project would never work. He frames his knowledge of the inevitable failure as coming from a place of Human weakness and depravity before telling Lena that he needed her to understand that before she could help him with his real plan. He sees both of them as so far above the rest of Humanity and believes that they should be the ones to rule them. Lena doesn’t see it that way and makes it clear she can’t support what he’s doing. This brings out that uncontrolled side of Lex seen in the previous episode. He becomes this when things aren’t going as planned; it’s as if he hates that he didn’t anticipate something which causes him to react with intense anger. Jon Cryer plays the transition from perfectly calm and in control to unbridled rage perfectly. His demeanour changes in an instant and Lex gets right in Lena’s face in a way that’s genuinely terrifying. He hates having his plans fail and Lena turning his back on him is perhaps a setback that he can never recover from especially when it results in her going right back to Kara. I get the impression that Lex is at his most dangerous at this point because of this setback.
Lena goes to Kara to apologise, admit she was wrong and offer her help. Katie McGrath is excellent in this scene and fully manages to sell Lena’s change of heart despite how abrupt it seems when all things are considered. The trouble with stringing out a plot like this for so long is that it becomes more ridiculous the longer it goes on. Lena’s behaviour stopped making sense after a while and her fixation on improving Humanity whether they chose to be improved or not didn’t paint her in the best light nor did what she did to Eve in the pre Crisis timeline so it builds to the point where an admission of wrongdoing and an apology isn’t a satisfying resolution because she has a lot of morally questionable actions under her belt before this point. In fairness she does want to make up for them and her decision solidifies her status as a good person who wants to help people. I suspect the show will continue down the route of her being misguided and redeem her that way. It is definitely a good thing to have Kara and Lena back on speaking terms and I really liked Melissa Benoist’s wordless performance as Kara considered what she was hearing. There was never any doubt that Kara would welcome her friend back into her life but it’s good that Melissa Benoist played that as if Kara was considering if their friendship was salvageable. Ultimately Kara strongly believes in second chances and would never deny Lena the opportunity so they’re back on speaking terms at last and that’s a good thing.
Alex finding it difficult to adjust to her post-DEO life plays out in an interesting way here when she spends some time with the real Pete (Sean Astin) who understands what it’s like to adjust from being in the military to civilian life. He observes that she isn’t making the transition very well and is having trouble letting go of the mentality that comes with serving in the military. All he can do is caution her about it and hopefully help her see that she might need help in adjusting. Pete was a great addition to the episode despite only really being there to provide Leviathan related exposition. Sean Astin’s natural chemistry with Melissa Benoist and especially Chyler Leigh made his contribution more meaningful. If this sets up a more focused plot around Alex trying to figure out how to be a civilian in the next season then I’m all for that as it could provide some really meaty content for Chyler Leigh to work with.
I’m not usually a fan of Kelly but teaming her and William up is consistently a good idea. Together they’re doing little more than finding information but they’re an engaging team and Kelly looking to expose the secrets of the place she works and the woman she works for provides the appropriate level of tension. Kelly’s realisation that she has to stay employed at Obsidian because if she leaves then she loses the ability to uncover the secrets. Her decision to keep herself at Obsidian for the purposes of espionage will inevitably prove very dangerous for her and I like that she is being kept close to that plot while contributing to it in a way that feels unique to her.
M’Gann sticks around after an out of nowhere appearance last week. Her main function is to tell John how impressed she is by how comfortable he is with himself. J’Onn’s search for a purpose in life that he’s comfortable with has been an ongoing plot for a while now so M’Gann noticing his comfort level somewhat acts as an acknowledgment that his quest to find himself has proven worthwhile. It’s not really necessary as we as viewers can see how far he has come but it is good to see M’Gann on the show again and their kiss was very endearing.
An impressively paced episode that keeps the plot moving forward, uses the characters well and has really impressive action sequences. The reduced running order for this season means that things have been moving quicker than they likely otherwise would have. This almost covers up the fact that Leviathan remain underdeveloped because at this point they’re taking a great deal of action which almost makes it seem as if they have a clear objective. In this case Rama Khan employs the classic villain tactic of being captured on purpose so that he is granted access to his target. He then proceeds to demolish the DEO which made for an impressive surprise that ups the stakes and sets the stage for this part of the show to be removed entirely. Lex being in charge of it as well as Alex giving up her post suggested that the show was heading towards discarding it and demolishing the building seems to confirm that. Lex’ world seems to be crashing down around him as people are starting to question their allegiance to him. Brainy starts to doubt his decision to work with Lex when he learns that he doesn’t care whether Team Supergirl live or die. Nia confronting him about how significantly he has changed also acts as something of a wakeup call and has been a long time coming. Lena’s realisation that Non Nocere was never going to work and that Lex was manipulating her all along brings her back onto Kara’s side. Jon Cryer’s performance as he becomes aware of his failure to anticipate that Lena would turn against him is excellent. The shift from calm to intense anger is genuinely terrifying. Katie McGrath’s performance as Lena admits to Kara that she was wrong and offers her help goes a long way towards selling that and almost makes the audience forget about the fact that this is an unsatisfying conclusion to a plot that has dragged on for too long. Melissa Benoist’s soundless performance in this scene is great as well.
Sean Astin’s Pete is a great addition to this episode and his observation of Alex’ difficulty adjusting to being a civilian works really well. Hopefully this sets up a compelling plot focused around her attempt to find a way to adjust next season. Chyler Leigh could certainly make great use of material like that. Kelly is used well here and it turns out teaming her up with William is consistently a good idea. Her decision to remain at Obsidian so that she can continue trying to expose them heightens the tension appropriately and places Kelly in a situation that works for her character specifically. She isn’t always used well but in this case what she has to do really works. M’Gann remaining on Earth is definitely a good thing despite the randomness of her arrival in the previous episode. Her conversations with J’Onn about how comfortable he seems in himself at this point only really tell us what we already know but it’s great to see them interact and their kiss is really endearing.
- the sequence where the DEO was destroyed
- Nia finally questioning Brainy’s behaviour
- Lena realising that Lex has been manipulating her
- Lex’ unbridled anger when he realises that his plan for Lena has failed
- Katie McGrath’s performance when she goes to Kara
- Melissa Benoist’s silent performance as she listens to Lena
- Pete noticing Alex’ difficulty adjusting to life as a civilian
- Kelly’s decision to stay at Obsidian so that exposing them is easier being a unique thread for her
- the tension being naturally heightened through Kelly’s decision
- M’Gann and J’Onn’s endearing relationship
- Lena’s change of heart feeling abrupt
- Leviathan remaining underdeveloped
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