8:15am PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
DC TV Watch: 'Supergirl' Delivers Season 4's Best Episode, Thanks to Lex Luthor
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 delivers the best season four episode yet, all thanks to an inventive hour full of flashbacks telling Lex Luthor's whole story. Note: The Flash and Gotham did not air new episodes this week.
The big news: Supergirl rewrote history in an inventive hour full of flashbacks that revealed Lex Luthor's (Jon Cryer) whole plan: to reignite the Cold War and then save the day, acting as America's hero, to be forgiven for all his past crimes.
What it means: If that seems larger than life, it's to the Supergirl writers' credit that this episode was not only pulled off, but it also actually turned out to be one of the best episodes of the entire season. Every single plot line, from as early as exposing President Marsdin's (Lynda Carter) alien nature to picking Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer) from obscurity to become the face of growing unrest even to training Red Daughter (Melissa Benoist) to be the Supergirl of Kaznia has all been leading to this moment. The creative and seamless flashbacks successfully retconned every single storyline into one massive and brilliant manipulation from Lex that began years ago when he was in prison, although it's not like he'd actually let a few iron bars stop him from masterminding a global plan from coming to fruition. Just as Lex's debut episode last week told why he was (rightly) Supergirl's ultimate villain, this week's "House of L" built upon that excitement to prove it by showing exactly how and why. Hopefully Supergirl has permission from DC to continue using the character of Lex season after season and Cryer is down to become a series regular, because any villain who comes after Lex is going to be sorely disappointing.
Other noteworthy moments: In a surprising bit of emotion, Supergirl flipped the script on what fans expected to see from Red Daughter. All season long, she's been teased here and there as the opposite of Supergirl, a disciplined and evil counterpart trained by the Kaznian government to become their secret weapon. But "House of L" retconned Red Daughter's storyline as well. She's not a villain. She really is the exact mirror image of Supergirl, right down to her kindness, compassion and empathy for others. She briefly abandoned her training to befriend a local boy and risked everything to save someone in need when she heard the screams. She finds beauty in art. She even knows that someone named "Alex" is important to her in some way. But the only difference between Red Daughter and Supergirl is that Lex swooped in and manipulated her, brainwashing her to believe that America is evil and greedy and Supergirl is their evil symbol embodying all those terrible qualities. By pretending to be Red Daughter's "Alex," Lex poses an interesting thought experiment on cultural perspective. No one is evil by nature, but everything depends on the information you're fed and the way you're raised. Yet another significant cultural and political allegory fed through the superhero lens, but arguably this is Supergirl's best attempt yet as it doesn't hit viewers over the head with the obvious. The story is just presented subtly and lets viewers mine their own meanings.
It's starting to become clear how Lex is going to use Red Daughter to ignite a war with America only to heroically swoop in and end it himself, but is he going to have to kill Red Daughter to tie up all the loose ends? He seemed to really start to care for her like a real daughter, but remember: This is still Lex, the egomaniacal sociopath responsible for all the hatred, death and destruction from this whole season. Don't assume anything.
On top of everything revealed about Lex during the flashback-laden hour, here's what most concerning, even more so than Lex's control over world domination: Lex knows Supergirl's secret identity. He literally took Red Daughter on a recon trip into Kara's apartment to see how "spoiled" and undisciplined she is by how big and comfortable her apartment is. And this reveal was just dropped into the episode like it was no big deal! No lie, this was a spit-take moment that Supergirl just glossed over like it was nothing, which made it even more effective. Lex controls everything, knows everything and has access to anyone, anywhere and anything. Seriously, how can Supergirl ever go back to any run-of-the-mill villain after this?!
The big news: As is becoming a pattern for the Emiko (Sea Shimooka) storyline, Arrow finds history repeating itself as Oliver (Stephen Amell) can't get over family being his blind spot. Because not only is Emiko working with Dante (Adrian Paul), she's actually his boss.
What it means: While Arrow could have made a grave misstep in repeating Diggle's (David Ramsey) story of trusting his brother only to be betrayed, the series is actually taking things to the next level with Emiko. She's not a sibling who has been led astray by an evil organization. She is the evil organization. She's the leader of the shadowy terrorist group Ninth Circle, and rose through the ranks after putting her father's death into motion. That's right: Arrow retconned Robert Queen's (Jamey Sheridan) death once more, adding another layer of betrayal to the moment that set all the events of the series into motion. After being spurned by Robert one too many times in her life, Emiko put all her trust in the other father figure in her life: Dante, who had actually begun training her well before Oliver ever got marooned on his island. Emiko has actually been fighting harder and longer for almost her entire life which could mean she could be more formidable than Oliver and has just been holding back all this time. While this Emiko twist does mean she no longer has the potential to take over from Oliver as the new Green Arrow after he's done, it does introduce an interesting quandary for Oliver as there is no chance for redemption for his half-sister. She knew about Malcolm Merlyn's (John Barrowman) plans to crash the Queen's Gambit and did nothing to stop it from happening. When Oliver learns this, there's no way he'll still believe Emiko can be saved.
Other noteworthy moments: It may have taken all season, but Earth-2 Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) is finally feeling the pressure from living her double life as Earth-1 Laurel. There's no way she thought assuming a dead D.A.'s life wouldn't backfire in some way, especially after she spent the beginning of her time on Earth-1 as a villain, did she? But Emiko sparked the public outcry by releasing photos of Laurel working with Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo), and it's rightfully going to cause a lot of problems for her. Hopefully they have some lasting consequences, because Laurel suddenly becoming good was just too neat and easy of a story.
Legends of Tomorrow finally returns with new episodes Monday, April 1, and they've got jokes about missing the Batwoman crossover! Check out the hilariously meta sizzle reel for the back half of season four, below.
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.