Previously on Supergirl: The Martian Chronicles
Thank you, Katie McGrath. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The Wicklow actress has brought some much needed impetus to a season that has had more than its fair share of pits and troughs. Don’t get me wrong – Supergirl has been undeniably fun for the bulk of its second season, but it has lacked bite and an overall sense of danger. Stock villains are used and reused, and while this episode is no different in that respect, at least there’s a purpose. Luthors is a character-driven episode that focuses on the relationship between Kara and Lena Luthor; Lena and her mother Lillian; Lena and her father Lionel; and Lena and her brother Lex.
The episode begins with a flashback to when Lena was formally inducted into the Luthor family, via a game of chess. It’s also our introduction to Lionel and Lex (albeit as a young boy). Lillian reveals later in the episode that Lionel had an affair, but when Lena’s mother died the Luthors officially adopted her. Having Luthor DNA is important to Lillian’s madcap scheme to rid Earth of extra-terrestrial menace. Meanwhile, though, there’s the small matter of her trial to get through. Step forward star witness for the prosecution, John Corben AKA Metallo. Seriously, prison regimes in superhero-land are notoriously lax. Just like two weeks ago, when Livewire was broken out of jail, Lillian conspires with the real Hank Henshaw to provide Metallo with enough homebaked Kryptonite to allow for his and Lillian’s escape from the courtroom. Because Lene is a Luthor, she is tarred with the same brush as her parents and brother, and she very quickly finds herself framed for abetting in the jailbreak. Kara, however, remains loyal to her friend, despite James Olsen’s misgivings. She uses her reporter’s scent for a story to prove Lena’s innocence.
Lena has Metallo commit a further prison break, by basically kidnapping Lena from her cell and shanghaiing her DNA. Lena is adamant in not wanting any part of her mother’s plans, but without Lena’s biological imprint, Lillian cannot open Lex’s Vault of Alien Genocide. Lillian preys on her daughter’s vulnerabilities saying that they’re the only two Luthors left on the planet and they need to stick together as a family. Lillian wants a second chance at being a mother to Lena, having plainly blanked her for most of her childhood and adult life. Katie McGrath and Brenda Strong bring their A-Game to their scenes together. McGrath in particular shows strength in depth, drawing on her brilliant role as Morganna in BBC’s Merlin, another character who struggled with destiny. Strong relishes being more than just a “villain-of-the-week”. When Lena refuses to cooperate, Hank Henshaw strongarms her into complying with her mother’s wishes. The vault is like something out of Christian Grey’s wet dreams, minus the whip and ball-gag. All Lillian needs to wipe out alien races on Earth is in there, but there’s a green-coloured fly in the ointment.
Back at DEO, Winn works out, with some help from Martian Manhunter, that the Kryptonite Metallo is using to power himself is unstable and is liable to blow at any moment. Armed with proof that Lena is innocent of all charges against her, Kara races to save her friend from the clutches of Mommy Luthor and the Man Who Wants To Be Tom Hardy. Rescuing Lena just before Metallo blows up, Kara gets a chance to see for herself what she’s up against. She and the rest of her alien allies face extermination at the hands of CADMUS, and it’s only a matter of time before it all comes to a head.
But Lena is struggling. Despite being grateful for Kara’s loyalty, she is faced with the curse of being a Luthor. By the end of the episode, she toys with a chess piece, recalling the time when she beat Lex in a game. Dressed in black, you get the feeling that Lena’s eventual turn to the dark side is just around the corner.
The other major subplot revolves around Kara’s belated attraction to Mon El. Granted, they’re a handsome couple, and their offspring would be beautiful, but just when they might be about to kiss, Mr Mxyzptkl (I hope I spelled that correctly) makes a sudden appearance. More from him next week.
In other news, The Guardian continues to irk me, for no other reason other than it’s a misuse of Olsen’s character. Mehcad Brooks has proven in his portrayal of James over the seasons that he’s a perfect foil for Kara’s excesses, and having him branch out on his own is a distraction for both actor and character. If the writers persist with The Guardian, wouldn’t they be better off having him as a member of DEO? Just a thought.
Overall, this episode marks an upturn in Supergirl’s fortunes. We’re at the hallway point in the second season, and with Lena Luthor front and centre, we need some fresh and immediate peril for our hero – something with consequences.