Supergirl – Season 4 Episode 20
“Will the Real Miss Tessmacher Please Stand Up”
Supergirl continues with Kara and Lena’s investigation into Lex Luthor’s plans as Ben Lockwood’s anti-alien stance ramps up following the death of his wife.
I’ve said in many reviews that one of the greatest assets this show has is the Kara/Lena friendship. It’s so rich and interesting to watch so having an extended period of time over multiple episodes where they work together on a problem is a definite treat. Lena is in an especially vulnerable place emotionally at this point as she has to deal with the reemergence of her brother, Lex while also having the betrayal of Eve to process. She admits in this episode that Eve’s betrayal really got to her because she went against her instincts and allowed herself to trust Eve by letting her through the barriers she puts up to keep people at bay. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of evidence of the trusting relationship built between Eve and Lena before now but Katie McGrath sells the anguish felt by Lena perfectly. It doesn’t make up for not spending the time developing this supposed close working relationship but it makes it work in the context of this episode.
There are further examples of Kara having to be careful with her powers to keep her secret around Lena. This has been used to great effect in earlier episodes and continues to be strong here. Pretending to pass out after she has stopped their plane from crashing and having her reaction to seeing Red Daughter’s room misinterpreted as terror brought on by the situation are notable highlights. If this show ever does ditch the secret identity conceit then it will definitely lose a good thing as Kara finding ways to operate while keeping her secret provides fodder for many strong scenes.
Kara and Lena’s scenes further the overall plot significantly as they find out about Lex’ plan to use Kaznia to invade the United Stakes and learn that he has corrupted the copy of Supergirl to become his own personal Kryptonian weapon. There is discussion about Lex basically weaponising his worst nightmare which is interesting on a conceptual level as it ties into a bigger idea around owning your fears and putting them to practical use. This is what many versions of Batman does for example. In this case it highlights that Lex has a use for absolutely everything and that his plans are intricately detailed even if something seems superflous.
The audience knows pretty much everything about Red Daughter but having Kara learn it allows the information to be seen in an entriely new light. Most striking is Kara’s discovery of Red Daughter’s room where there are pictures of Kara’s life pinned to the wall highlighting her key relationships while also providing an invasive look into her private life. Kara can’t stand to see someone used as a weapon against her and this is a sign of a cultivated obsession through brainwashing so this clearly angers her. This also backs up dialogue in the episode that strongly points towards Kara being more sympathetic towards Red Daughter than anything else because she was a blank slate that was corrupted by Lex into being something counter to everything that Kara stands for. It would be impossible not to learn this and have it feel like anything other than a violation. She also sees this as the darker side of her own potential and feels that this could have happened to her so easily if her pod had landed elsewhere. As always Kara approaches this from a hopeful standpoint as she wants to believe that buried within this duplicate is some part of her that can be nurtured. Lena by contrast firmly believes that nurture trumps nature though arguably she’s living proof that it isn’t always the case. Once Kara and Red Daughter face one another I’m sure that the question will be answered definitively.
Moving plot forward isn’t the only thing that Lena and Kara’s scenes in the episode accomplish. I mentioned above that Lena opens up about how deeply affected by Eve’s betrayal she is. There’s also more to the personal stake she has in the overall plot where Lex is concerned. Once again the Luthor family competitive streak comes into play as Lena is fixated with being the one to defeat Lex while having him know exactly who it was that defeated him. She has a compulsive need to be better than her brother which fuels a lot of her actions across the season as well as her life in general.
Her friendship with Kara is unique in that she’s probably the only person on Earth that Lena will be truly vulnerable with which allows Kara to be privvy to some really personal insights into Lena’s headspace. The aforementioned effect of Eve’s betrayal is a big one because that confession comes right at the point where Kara is willing to tell Lena the truth about herself. Lena talks about one of the few things that keeps her going is Kara’s friendship and integrity while making it clear that she would find it difficult to deal with Eve’s betrayal if she didn’t trust Kara implicitly. This prompts Kara to keep the secret from her because it looks likely that revealing the truth will destroy their friendship. She does tell James that she will tell Lena the truth once the current crisis is resolved which probably means it will end up coming out some other way before that happens but there’s a real threat of the truth driving a wedge between them as Kara has been lying to Lena since the day they met. Their friendship is definitely genuine but for Kara dishonesty is unfortunately one of the pillars and it remains to be seen if Lena will be able to deal with that. Hopefully Kara keeping her identity a secret from Lena for much longer as it is wearing thin in this particular relationship even if it can be an asset to the show as a whole.
Lena’s perspective on Kara’s involvement in the situation is really well done. She feels responsible for Kara’s safety and is terrified that something horrible will happen to her as she doesn’t see Kara as having the same skills when it comes to taking care of herself that she does. Lena comes across as very protective of Kara so when she believes that Kara might have been killed in the explosion she is more than upset as she feels personally responsible. It’s clear that she would never forgive herself if anything were to happen to Kara.
Ben Lockwood’s reaction to the death of his wife sends him into an anti-alien frenzy. He takes it upon himself to take control of the DEO with the singular intention of finding his wife’s killer. As reactions go it makes a lot of sense and serves as a further reminder of how dangerous it is to give Ben Lockwood access to those sorts of resources. It also proves that his calm and calculating persona goes out of the window when something truly tests him which makes him immediately less charasmatic and come across more like an insane extremist than anything else. As I mentioned last week this robs him of a lot of his nuance but it this could be the start of what sways public opinion in the opposite direction.
He also has another priority in his mind. Lockwood wants to know how James got super powers so starts to tear apart Lena’s lab at the DEO in order to find the answer. He quickly happens upon the Harun-El and learns its purpose which prompts Brainy to interject and warn him against using it since the conditions that led to James gaining powers were very specific and the version of the serum Lockwood has is very likely to kill him. Bizarrely Lockwood hears this and latches onto the small chance that it won’t kill him which all but proves how mad he is at this point. He’s clearly unwilling to listen to reason and feels that his commitment to his own cause makes him invincible. This is most likely a clear example of pride before a fall. This is backed up by his son declaring his hatred for him after seeing his father more fixated on avenging his mother’s death than being there for his son. George isn’t really a character but the idea of what he represents and how he ties into Lockwood’s current state of mind really does work.
Brainy’s function in the Lockwood portion of the episode is also really strong. He is Lockwood’s main opposition throughout and is instrumental in a pivotal moment where the DEO agents have to make a decision between bringing Dreamer in and recognising that one alien committing a crime doesn’t mean that all aliens will commit crimes. He urges them to follow their hearts and do the right thing rather than follow orders blindly which leads to them immediately turning on Lockwood who seems more crazed than ever. There’s a real sense that his message and motivations have become badly muddled and that people are starting to see a wider interpretation of the world. Even if not then there is something to be gained in unity against Ben Lockwood who is rapidly losing his grasp on rationality. This makes for a great hero moment from Brainy who continues to prove the point that heroes can inspire in many different ways.
Alex and Kelly deal with a thread that had been all but dropped until this episode; Alex’ desire to be a mother. She receives a call out of the blue to inform her that she has been selected to be the adoptive mother of a child that is soon to be born. The news overwhelms her and Kelly accompanies her to where the child will be born to offer moral support. Alex spends the bulk of her screen time internalising what this means to her and freaking out about how unprepared for this she feels. Kelly is there to offer a supportive voice to help her deal with what is about to happen. One thing she does is encourage Alex to think about the advice she knows Kara will give her and it’s all fairly obvious stuff such as there being no perfect time to take the plunge and that she is worrying over nothing because she will be a great mother. All of this Alex knows but being faced with the reality of getting the thing she always wanted throws her into a spiral of self doubt. It’s rare to see Alex so ill at ease with a situation and needing others to support her in such a profound way. Chyler Leigh performs this brilliantly and the impromptu nature of the announcement almost makes up for all but dropping the thread for the better part of the season. The fact that it falls through makes it feel all the more real and the tragedy associated with this that furthers Alex’ emotional turmoil is really well executed.
The real purpose of these scenes is to create a bond between Alex and Kelly. Prior episodes have danced around a potential attraction shared between them but this outing takes this a step further by having them really open up to one another. Kelly talks about loving a woman she served with in the military who died and the effect this had on her. This story is framed as Kelly opening up to Alex in a way that highlights she understands how Alex feels. Her lost love is an example of an emotional scar that heals and then fades over time just as this one will for Alex. It’s really well told and accomplishes the task of creating the possibility of a relationship between these characters without having it feel forced that Kelly is into women. Her tragic tale comes across as an event from her past as it’s more important to the scene that she understands what it is to feel loss. Kelly may have had a ropey start with some questionable interactions but the writers seem to be settling into her as a character and are better defining her role within the show.
A strong episode that moves the main plot forward, offers an excellent showcase for the Kara/Lena friendship and finds Kelly a more natrural fit within the show. Lena and Kara’s trip to Kaznia allows them to learn the truth of Lex’ plans as well as the truth behind the Red Daughter. Naturally learning about her duplicate is a huge shock to Kara who sees the darker side of her own potential. As always she has a hopeful outloook and is positive that there is some part of her within Red Daughter that can be nurtured. Lena believes that nurture is always the winner even though she doesn’t seem to realise that she’s living proof that this isn’t the case. Fascinating insight into Lena’s headspace is brought in this episode such as the effect that Eve’s betrayal has on her and how heavily she values her friendship with Kara. Her confession that Kara’s friendship is all that keeps her from falling apart after what Eve did to her is brilliantly played and adds risk to Kara’s desire to tell Lena the truth. There’s no telling how Lena might react at this point as she may see this as a long term deception and end their friendship. Kara does resolve to tell the truth after dealing with Lex though it’s more likely that Lena will find out some other way before then. Either way it creates fascinating tension. There are some fun scenes where Lena tries to protect Kara who she sees as being unprepared for such a dangerous situation. There is plenty of mileage in Kara finding ways to use her powers without people learning the truth about her even if Lena not knowing her secret is wearing thin.
Ben Lockwood is quickly losing control of his own sanity judging by his behaviour following the death of his wife. The first thing he does is seek revenge by tasking the DEO with hunting down his wife’s murderer. His secondary objective is finding out how James gained super powers. Once again Lockwood comes across as a crazed madman and this is starting to affect loyalties. The clearest shift in loyalty is his son who sees his father’s single minded determination to avenge his mother’s death as ignoring the responsibilties he has to his father. George isn’t a developed character at all but the weight of Lockwood losing the respect and loyalty of his son is well delivered. Brainy offers a supplemental challenge to Lockwood’s authority by urging the DEO strike team to follow their hearts rather than their orders and do the right thing rather than what Lockwood tells them to do. This causes the agents to turn against Lockwood almost immediately leaving him looking like the racist madman that he is. Alex and Kelly dealing with Alex being selected to adopt a child provides some really strong material. It’s rare to see Alex so vulnerable and Kelly makes a good counter to that by forcing her to consider what she already knows to be true. Ultimately it falls through which makes it feel more real and comes across as appropriately tragic. The real purpose is to develop a connection between Kelly and Alex. Kelly talks about the woman she loved who died in the line of duty and relates her experience of being hurt beyond what seemed like the capacity to heal from. She gives assurance that these wounds heal and then fade so it gives Alex hope for the future and makes for the best use of Kelly so far. She finally feels like she is finding her feet within the show and has a defined role.
- another excellent Kara/Lena team-up
- offering great insight into Lena’s mindset
- the beginnings of Ben Lockwood’s downfall through loss of loyalty
- Brainy acting as a hero in other ways
- Alex being portrayed as vulnerable
- Kelly opening up about her tragic past and having this link to Alex
- Kelly’s role within the show feeling more defined
- Ben Lockwood continuing to lose nuance
- having to make assumptions about the Lena/Eve friendship
What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below
User Review( vote)
We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Ratings” box
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.