Martin Carr reviews the fifteenth episode of Supergirl season 4…
An ailing Lex Luthor should dominate this episode. A despicable Jon Cryer is introduced in flashback watching the world burn while Lena gets a grandstand view; think final moments of Fight Club without the split personality. Cryer plays it super sinister and has clearly done his homework falling neatly between the ham of Gene Hackman, deviant flamboyance of Kevin Spacey and underrated incarnation of Michael Rosenbaum.
Jumping forward to the present we find Luthor dying from Kryptonite poisoning and under house arrest surrounded by correctional officers. Lena is struggling to find a breakthrough with her research and Lex could provide the key. This is the thread upon which episode fifteen should have rested yet other characters require screen time, which ultimately diminishes Cryer to a bit part player. A feud between J’onn and Manchester Black continues alongside the Olsen shooting that threatens to drive a wedge between Alex and Kara. Other smaller segues involving Brainiac and Nia are window dressing, while yet more get relegated further down the pecking order.
There are nice touches between Manchester and J’onn which imply emotional struggle, psychological confrontation and an eventual epiphany but this also deserved more screen time. Story wise there is some really exciting and solid stuff going on here but forty minutes is not enough. Set pieces however spectacular are for once overshadowed by meaty character moments. McGrath and Cryer have an instant chemistry while the introduction of James’ sister Kelly into the mix creates a further dynamic of interest.
O Brother Where Art Thou might have been the title of a Coen brothers movie which in turn related to Homer’s Odyssey, yet the journey being undertaken here is not one of self-discovery. Realisation and self-discovery are two different things but whether that eureka moment comes about for anyone here remains up for debate. Everyone is too wrapped up in themselves and their own concerns to create a cohesive narrative direction. As the most formidable human foe in DC history makes his entrance you would hope that others sit up and take notice. If only because this Lex Luthor is recognisably fresh, decidedly dastardly and impishly impregnable.