‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 12: ‘Luthors’
Welcome to Supergirl Talk, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of The CW’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist in the super smiling title role. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and intrepid reporter, Katie Schenkel.
This week, there’s a Luthor on trial in the court of law, and another on trial in the court of public opinion, and Supergirl must decide who she can trust. Also, Metallo returns, and romance may be in the air. “Luthors” was directed by Tawnia McKiernan from a script by Robert Rovner and Cindy Lichtman.
Chris: Hello again, Super Friends, and welcome back to another week in National City! And Happy Valentine’s Day to you all if that’s what you’re into! What’d you think of this week’s episode, Katie? Lots of prison talks and prison outfits! And returning bad guys!
Katie: And returning Super Friends who are totally not bad guys… or are they?? That’s right, Lena and her barely-under-the-surface sexual tension with Kara is back. I missed her.
Chris: I was proud of Kara for choosing to keep believing in her friend, and ashamed of James for trying so hard to get her to stop believing. And making it all about him, really. Was it just me? It really felt like he was trying to make it all about him, when it really didn’t seem all that related.
Katie: I’ll give James this --- he is running CatCo, and I think making the call to run that cover was totally appropriate (we can argue the “how definitive was that proof in a world of comic book science” but let’s just go with it was reasonably cut and dry). I do think the writers keep pushing weird conflict choices on the two of them, which I’m hoping is done now that Kara and Jimmy talked it out finally at the end of the episode.
I dunno, I didn’t totally see him making it all about himself, but I also don’t think the writing for James has been particularly even throughout this season, so I’m sort of grading on a curve at this point.
Chris: Yeah, maybe pushing is the right word. It didn’t seem weird to you how he was treating Kara's decision to keep believing in Lena as some kind of rejection of trusting him? I literally said to my TV, “This isn’t about you, Jimmy.”
Katie: Yeah, I guess I can see that. At this point, those two have had so many unspoken frustrations with each other this season that if it takes a convoluted unrelated plot to get them to finally deal with it, even though it had little to do with them, then I’ll take it.
Chris: How did you feel about the arc of their romance last season?
Katie: So here’s the thing; I really did like their chemistry last season. I was a little annoyed at the will-they-won’t-they element, but I also know the deal with these shows, and it comes with the territory. I was glad they got together at the end of the season, even if I assumed their romance would be a rollercoaster because that’s how these shows go.
My frustration, by and large, comes with the abrupt, “Whoops, I guess we don’t like each other after all” 180 at the beginning of this season, and I don’t think the show knows what it’s doing with those two ever since. What I really think at this point is, once they decided Mon-El was going to be in that pod, they needed to make sure Kara was single so they could do the storyline they wanted with her and Mon-El, even if it cut off the legs of her and Jimmy’s slowly developed relationship from last year.
Chris: Yeah, and I know they were worried about whether or not they’d get picked up for this second season, so they were in the awkward position of wanting there to be some kind of happy closure and some kind of cliffhanger. Frankly, I don’t know how to feel about all of this, but with it being Valentine’s Day, there’s hardly any chance of escaping talking about the romantic stuff.
Speaking of relationships and Mon-El, I have to skip around a little to bring up one thing that I liked and one thing that I really hoped to like.
I liked that during Alex and Maggie’s “meet my friends-family/coming out” get together, that Mon-El, who it would have been easy make a close-minded bro, was completely fine with it. I mention that part because I thought it was setting up what happened at the end of the episode when a strange man in a suit suddenly appears right as things are about to happen between Kara and Mon-El, and, for a second, I really thought this guy was going to be Mon-El’s betrothed space-husband, which would have been such an interesting and unexpected wrinkle into this weird love quadrangle we have going.
Katie: Oh, we will get to the besuited man at the end. But yeah, it was nice that despite weird “quirks” like having a planetary royal family and keeping town square corporal punishment around, Mon-El’s people are super okay with romance of all types.
Of course, that means, as you pointed out, that Mon-El himself should probably also be interested in dudes, but I’m kind of skeptical that the CW will go there even though it makes absolute freaking sense (see also: my manifesto on Starfire being pan because obviously).
Chris: It just would have been such a pleasant surprise to have things go in such an unexpected direction. Maybe I just want TV to surprise me more. And bring me flowers occasionally.
What about the rest of the episode that I didn’t rush past? What’d you think?
Katie: Well, Lena Luthor continues to be one of my favorite things about this season. I really was expecting a heel turn earlier in the season, and while that last moment with her this episode hints at a potential one down the line, I kind of like how much Lena tries so hard to be good. Not just good because she wants to rise above the Luthor reputation, but good because she’s not a horrible person. And her friendship with Kara highlights both Lena’s own good-naturedness and Kara’s insatiable drive to find the good in others and hold on tight.
Also, that hug at the end felt like it was this close to turning into a kiss, even if I wasn’t betting on it because the writers are pushing Mon-El so hard.
Chris: I have to say, I’m going to be really disappointed if Lena does end up being super-double-extra-secret evil at the end of all this. I know it’d be nice for Supergirl to have a real evil Luthor equal nemesis, but I’m just rooting for her so hard. I want her to prove that you can be more than your name or what other people think of you when you have people that care about you and who believe in you. And I really don’t want to see Kara feel so betrayed and like she shouldn’t have kept believing in the best in people.
Katie: Oh, we also got to see Lex Luthor for the first time! Granted a young, pre-bald Lex, but Lex all the same.
Chris: And Lionel Luthor for the first time, who basically just looks like what we think of Lex Luthor looking like. Plus, later we got to see the thing I’m sure got the most social media attention, a box featuring part of Lex’s famous green and purple armored “war-suit.” I think they were trying to give us something to feel like we’d seen actual Lex even if we actually hadn’t.
Katie: I can’t recall if they’ve said where Lex was. Their mother speaks of him as if he’s dead, but I feel like he was just in prison? Or maybe he lost his mind? Either way, there’s something interesting to how Lex casts a shadow of Lena’s arc without even showing up beyond this week’s flashbacks. There are a lot of parallels between this and Clark’s unseen influence in Season One.
Chris: Ohh yeah, that’s a good point! I think I remember them saying something about him being in mega-jail, but this show does not make it seem like jails are hard to get into or break out of. Metallo and Jimmy were both able to get into the one Lena was held in no problem, so how much harder can it be for the greatest criminal mind of our time to get out of one?
Katie: Mama Luthor keeps saying “What Superman did to your brother” which makes me think it was something way more than just throwing him in jail and ruining their business. Then again, maybe their family reputation being ruined was enough for her to go full revenge on Kryptonians/aliens in general.
Speaking of being out for blood, the Luthors have gone full out Game of Thrones with their family secrets. They’re the Lannister’s by way of awkward Stark mother dynamics.
Chris: Oh man, okay, who is who in this show? Who in our show is Cersei? Who’s Jon Snow? People love it when you can relate one thing they like to another thing they like, so now this is going to drive me crazy trying to come up with parallels. It’d probably help if I could remember more of the names on Game of Thrones.
Katie: It’s hard because the rest of the show is so, so not Game of Thrones. Like, no one on Game of Thrones actually talks out their feelings and settles things through compromise and empathy … which maybe explains why everyone on Game of Thrones is so miserable or dead.
But yeah, Lillian Luthor so reminds me of strategic and emotionally manipulative Cersei, mixed with the bitterness of Catelyn Stark in terms of how they see the orphan bastards that their husbands brought home to raise with their kids.
Chris: She kinda looks like Catelyn too. Do you think she was telling the truth with any of what she told Lena, or do you think everything is just manipulation?
Katie: I took the hand-scanning machine working as proof that she was at least telling the truth about Lena being Lionel’s biological daughter. I am hella skeptical about everything else in her story. She could be flat out lying about wanting to be closer to Lena, and Lionel refusing her, or she could be so determined to frame herself as the hero in her own narrative that she misremembers being cold to Lena by choice. Either way, it’s clear that Lillian holds Lex up on a pedestal that Lena can’t dream of reaching.
Chris: Yeah, which makes me want her to go the other way even more. You’re not going to out-evil, Lex, so go with that good impulse and make it work! Or prove me and your mom wrong and be way more evil than he ever was.
It’s hard to not be rooting for her either way when you see how crummy her family life was. But if she does go evil, she better get her own suit of day-glow mecha-armor to get into fistfights with Supergirl in.
Katie: So we get to the end of the episode where Kara confronts Mon-El about not seeing the girl from her office (who for the record was super mature about the fact that she didn’t want to date a guy clearly into another girl --- I like that character). By the time they leaned in to kiss each other, I was at the, “Okay, if this is something the writers really want to happen I guess we should get this over with” level of dealing with a ship I don’t particularly like. But then something ridiculous happened. And I laughed my butt off. Mr. Mxyzptlk is here.
Chris: I give this show a lot of wiggle room with how some of these characters translate to “real life”, but I am utterly disgusted by this guy. His suit isn’t even orange! Maybe it’s a really dark purple, but if it’s so dark I can’t even tell it’s purple then what are we even doing here? If you want to have a fifth-dimensional imp on your show, but think bright colors and a little bowler hat is going too far, then I don’t even know what to tell you.
Katie: Okay, I’m on the same page as you in terms of the lackluster opening costume. I am still excited for three reasons. One. I love that that show is unashamedly jumping into ridiculous Silver Age magic nonsense. Two. That this next episode is clearly here to transition us into the magic that will be the Music Meister episode. Three. That Mxyzptlk showing up totally stopped the Mon-El/Kara kiss. Classic!
Also, the preview for next week’s episode clearly has Supergirl stealing a Q plot from Voyager. I’m not even mad. I’m impressed.
Chris: I will have to happily take your word for it on that one, but I’m certainly interested to see how it turns out!