DC TV Watch: Lex Luthor Is (Rightly) 'Supergirl's' Ultimate Season 4 Villain

The Hollywood Reporter rounds up the major twists, epic fights and big reveals on all the DC Comics TV shows.
Katie Yu/The CW
'Supergirl'

Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter's weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on the small screen. Every Saturday, we round up the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries and anything else that goes down on The CW's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Black Lightning and Fox's Gotham. This week, Supergirl showrunners Jessica Queller and Robert Rovner, along with actor Jon Cryer, reveal how important Lex Luthor has been to season four this whole time without anyone realizing it.

Supergirl

The big news: Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) is actually the supervillain mastermind behind every single Supergirl season four plot ... we just didn't know it until it was too late.

What it means: The end of this week's episode revealed that despite Lex acting contrite and attempting to redeem himself and make amends before he dies from kryptonite radiation poisoning, he was just putting on an act to get Lena (Katie McGrath) to finish her serum that would cure Lex's fatal disease. In one of the season's most brilliant moments, Lex revealed his master plan with a flourish, throwing off the blanket covering his suit and tie, standing up from his wheelchair to gleefully make his escape from the Luthor manor. Set to classical music and with Lex pretending to conduct an orchestra as the bombs and lasers go off all around him, it was the moment that Cryer's real take on the iconic supervillain shone through. 

But his dramatic underhanded engineering didn't just stop at manipulating his own sister into perfecting the serum that would save his life. It goes so much deeper than that.

"Lex Luthor is involved in everything that's happened the season," executive producer Robert Rovner said at a recent screening. "There's a lot of things to fill in and so we fill them in in flashbacks in the next episode."

Cryer then interjected, "There’s a lot of flashbacks."

"A lot of different time periods and filling in the gaps," executive producer Jessica Queller added.

Lex didn't just shoot James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) to motivate Lena into perfecting the serum. He was working with Otis Graves (Robert Baker), who is remarkably still alive, but he also had been working with Eve Tessmacher (Andrea Brooks) this whole time, using her as a sleeper agent inside CatCo.

"You will get the backstory of how Eve and Lex met, and how he has masterminded her as his spy and brilliant helper throughout the entire time that we have known Eve," Queller said.

But wait, there's more! "One of our big storylines this season which we have been teasing out is the story of Red Daughter," Rovner said. "And so in episode six you get to see that Red Daughter’s backstory is not only involving Red Daughter, but also involves Lex Luthor."

"You'll see the whole origin story of Red Daughter" and how Lex Luthor had a hand in her story this whole time, Queller added.

"We have a lot of fun with Lex and Kara [Melissa Benoist] coming up," Rovner continued. "The story continues in the next episode. We get to see what Lex has been up to in the past and how he's intersected with our cast unbeknownst to our characters. Everything that he’s doing permeates the rest of the season."

Now that's a twist worth celebrating. Supergirl didn't introduce the ultimate villain just for a one-off appearance, and rightfully so. The series is taking full advantage of their chance to finally use the iconic character by making him not only the new big bad, but the big bad who orchestrated every single issue we've seen this season.

Other noteworthy moments: Just as Lex thought he had successfully pulled of the greatest escape into a helicopter, Supergirl arrived to see a newly healthy Lex attempting to leave. That cliffhanger ended the hour, but don't worry, that scene picks up immediately in the next episode as Supergirl and Lex have their first official fight. 

"It's too short as far as I'm concerned. I could punch her forever," Cryer said with a laugh. "The 14-year-old boy in me comes out because we did one of the shots where Supergirl lands on the roof and she's got the Beyonce fan blowing her hair and I got chills."

That fight is filled with a lot of fun Easter eggs for comic book fans, according to the showrunners. "What's cool about the fight is that it takes us to the Daily Planet, so we get to see Lex and Supergirl at the Daily Planet messing stuff up," Rovner said.

Cryer also revealed that while he didn't do all of the stunts in the fight scene, he did do some of them. "I was rolling around, and I haven't done that in a while!" he added with a laugh. "Usually on Two and a Half Men, my stunts were falling off of things, and this actually involved punching and that was really fun to do, although I hurt my wrist at one point. You can't really sell Lex Luthor when you're coming up and going, ‘Guys, I hurt my wrist.’ But I'm fine now!"

Arrow

The big news: The entirely flash forward-filled hour "Star City 2040" mainly served to get the old team back together in the future to save the city, but the big reveal came at the end in present day. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) finished a project she had been working on and it actually was successful. But the bad news? That project was none other than Archer.

What it means: The computer program Archer is the exact security surveillance system that caused the downfall of Star City and the rise of The Glades, which is why the future flash forwards are such a dystopia. And that's why Felicity faked her own death in the future even for her kids, to try and right her wrongs from the inside of the corrupt organization. She is responsible for making the city a worse place for her children, and why she risked everything to fix it, including her own happiness. 

Other noteworthy moments: While THR still believes Oliver (Stephen Amell) is going to die before the series ends, it's interesting to note that he's at least still alive nine months in the future when Mia (Katherine McNamara) is born. The Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover must happen after that. It's also important to see that Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) is the one to teach a growing Mia how to fight throughout her entire childhood, and not her own father — further evidence that Oliver doesn't live long enough to see Mia grow into a toddler. Nyssa handing Mia Oliver's bow and arrow is a moment that should have happened with Oliver, unless he isn't alive to see it happen — which he totally won't be.

And in a weird turn of events, both Arrow and The Flash dropped Spider-Man references in this week's episodes. So Marvel properties exist in the Arrow-verse. That's some interesting food-for-thought.

The Flash

The big news: The moment Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) dreaded all season finally came to pass: Team Flash found out she had been working with Eobard Thawne (Tom Cavanagh) this entire time.

What it means: While Nora had been preparing herself to tell the truth to Barry (Grant Gustin) all episode long, it was actually Sherloque (Cavanagh) who figured it out on his own and spilled the beans. That made the eventual moment all the more heartbreaking, because it just makes Nora look even guiltier. Barry didn't even let her try to explain herself either; the moment she confirmed Sherloque's theory, he super-sped her all the way into the pipeline prison and ran away. This isn't just a breach of trust for the Flash family, it's the ultimate betrayal and it's clear that The Flash isn't going to pull any punches when it comes to Barry's reaction. Putting his daughter into a metahuman cell without a second's hesitation was savage, but it's clear that Barry isn't taking any chances when it comes to the Reverse-Flash. 

But when it comes to Thawne, it's still unclear why he's been working with Nora this whole time. They were trying to stop Cicada (Chris Klein), but when the timeline changed and Grace (Sarah Carter) came from the future to become the new Cicada, Thawne seemed to believe they had run out of time. There's only 11 minutes left until ... what? He dies? How did stopping Cicada stop his own clock? There's still a lot more answers that need to be revealed before any of this starts to make sense.

Other noteworthy moments: Just when it seemed like Orlin Dwyer could have been a new ally for Team Flash, Grace proved just how far gone she was by killing her own uncle. Now that was brutal and unexpected. It will be interesting to see how Team Flash treats Grace as a enemy now, and if their rules about needing her consent to give her the metahuman cure with stick. If all their problems could be fixed by giving her the cure (a much safer option than trying to stop her by sheer force where either she or one of the team could actually die in the process), it's hard to imagine that they won't go that route.

Black Lightning

The big news: War is coming to Freeland next season, as the Markovian government plans to use their massive metahuman army to take out the second largest metahuman population. 

What it means: While most of this season was treading water when it came to the metahuman kids in the pods, it wasn't until the final scenes of the season two finale that Black Lightning revealed why it was so important. The government led by Agent Odell (Bill Duke) was trying to get the pod kids woken up and powered up to defend Freeland against the impending threat of the Markovian metahuman army. It's a solid reveal, but one that should have come much sooner. Because before this moment, there were no stakes or reason to really care about the pod kids no matter how hard the show tried to make viewers do just that.

Other noteworthy moments: It looks like Jennifer's (China Anne McClain) heart isn't done breaking just yet. In another last minute reveal, Khalil (Jordan Calloway) was shown as being alive (kind of), just frozen and in Odell's custody. If/when he wakes up, will he remember his old life or will he be reborn as another new metahuman?

And where was Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy)? After focusing so much of season two on Grace's emerging metahuman abilities and her relationship with Anissa (Nafessa Williams), it was an odd choice to just leave that storyline out of the finale altogether. It's clear that the show has big plans for next season, but it shouldn't have come at the expense of this season.

Gotham

The big news: Bane (Shane West) and Nyssa al Ghul (Jaime Murray) both made their debuts as "Walker's" real identity and mission were revealed.

What it means: While Walker seemed to be from the military earlier this season, it turned out that she was really Ra's al Ghul's (Alexander Siddig) daughter Nyssa seeking revenge on Bruce (David Mazouz) and Barbara (Erin Richards) for killing her father. Her goal? To work her way inside the government and enact a secret order to bomb Gotham and reduce the city to rubble. Transforming Eduardo Dorrance into Bane was her first step to getting to Bruce and Barbara for her personal revenge, and Bane actually broke Alfred's (Sean Pertwee) back in a brutal moment ripped straight from the comics. By the end of the hour, Nyssa succeeded in cornering Barbara in Sirens after murdering all her female guards, and Gotham was on fire from the many bombs dropped on the city while Bruce, Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey (Donal Logue) could only look on in horror. How the city rises up from the ashes to band together against Nyssa's corruption into the military is anyone's guess, but now we know why in the season premiere flash forward all the villains were working together with the heroes in No Man's Land. 

Other noteworthy moments: Barbara gave birth the only way she knew how: as a total badass. During Bane's siege on the hospital when she was about to give birth, she pulled double pistols and shot all the bad guys coming after her with total precision in between and even during her contractions as Lee (Morena Baccarin) wheeled her backwards in a wheelchair. Now there's a fresh new way to show a birth on TV. 

Looking ahead

All those moments where Lex Luthor called James "Jimmy" in this week's Supergirl weren't just snarky nods to the comic book version of James' character. It turns out that there is more history between the two men than meets the eye, and Lex shooting James is just the tip of the iceberg.

"The impact of Lex Luthor on James’ character is profound moving forward and it's something that he deals with the rest of the season," Rovner revealed. "We’ll see them lock horns by the season finale." And Queller added, "We’ll excavate their history a little bit more." More Luthor vs. Olsen drama is incoming!

Note: Supergirl airs Sundays, Arrow airs Mondays, The Flash airs Tuesdays, Legends of Tomorrow returns April 1 and Black Lightning will return for season three on The CW. Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox.