Trust Lex Luthor? Oh, brother, that would be a mistake.
Four years ago, Lex (John Cryer, perfectly bald and perfectly slippery and perfectly brilliant) wreaked havoc on the world by unleashing a red sun. He also tied his sister to a chair and caused her a great deal of emotional upset by trying to show the world that Superman can bleed. “At least he’s a good man,” Lena spits, and Lex doesn’t like that.
“I was the man of tomorrow. Not him. NOT HIM,” he shouts. Then he blows up a helicopter with a tap to his extremely smartwatch and allows himself to be taken into custody.
Today, he’s delivered via helicopter to Lena on mercy furlough from prison, near death from cancer thanks to Kryptonite poisoning. His fault for trying to, you know, kill Superman.
He asks her to finish the Harun-El serum, but she refuses to endanger any lives to test it. Then Eve runs in with news about James. (Lex gives her his coffee order because of course, he does.)
James’ shooter activated his Supergirl watch—iiiiiinteresting that s/he knew about that—and she found him bleeding out in his office. His spine was badly injured, and Kara, Alex, Brainy, and Nia all wait anxiously as Lena storms in demanding answers. After all, she does own the hospital.
Brainy stops her with a reminder about managing her emotions: “Little boxes, comrade.” Then Alex is the second person that day who tries to convince Lena to uncork her miracle cure, but she demurs.
“I can’t summon a breakthrough through sheer force of will,” Lena says, but Alex points out that this is literally what Lena does.
It sends Lena back to Luthor manor, where she tells Lex she pushed James away so he wouldn’t find out that she was working with her brother on the project. Um, that’s not what happened, though? Anyway, she needs Lex’s help to separate the Harun-El’s healing powers from its superpowers. Although he’s not thrilled to be saving Superman’s best pal, they get to work.
Their lifelong dynamic is…testy. He belittles her, which drives her to work harder. Naturally, that allows him to lay claim to all of her success (*eye roll*). He does finally tell her that he’s proud of her; even he couldn’t create Kryptonite, after all.
When he’s wracked by coughs, the mean guard who brings him a glass of water intentionally drops it, and later, allows Lex to fall from his chair and sprawl on the floor. Although Eve’s uncomfortable giving Lex the run of the lab, Lena props him up, and they get to work.
J’onn, meanwhile, is convinced that Manchester shot James and uses their psychic link to track him. Kara lies to Alex that she’s needed at CatCo, and she and J’onn arrive at the spot where Myr’nn merged with the earth to stop the Kryptonian witches in the season 3 finale. Only now it’s on fire, and Manchester is brandishing the staff of H’ronmeer, which was so powerful it had to be hidden on Earth.
While Kara blows out the last of the flames, Manchester taunts J’onn with the Martians’ warlike god and the promise of the Punishments. J’onn realizes Manchester only knows about that because their psychic link works both ways. (Next page: Never, never, never trust Lex)
At the hospital, James’ sister Kelly (Azie Tesfai) arrives just in time to issue medical directives on his behalf while he’s in a medical coma. She’s calm and pulled together, and when the doctors discover he’s bleeding internally, she makes the call to rush him into life-threatening surgery rather than do as Alex suggests and wait for an experimental, possibly lethal treatment being engineered by James’ ex—and a Luthor to boot.
I cannot emphasize enough how cool and collected Kelly is here. If it were my sibling, I’d be a snotty mess on the floor. We later learn why: She’s a military psychologist who’s visited James in the hospital a dozen times. BUT STILL.
Alex is far less cool about Kara being MIA, particularly when she calls CatCo and learns Kara was never there. Kara tries to say she’s helping J’onn with an investigation, and Alex snaps, “J’onn needs a reporter to help fight Manchester Black? What are you going to do? Are you going to interview him?” Ha! Worried, stressed Alex is funny when she’s being mean.
James is wheeled into surgery just as Lena perfects the Harun-El cure, too late to do him any good. To comfort her, Lex tells her a story about his dog Ignacious, who had to be put him down when he was 7.
Lena’s not impressed with Lex comparing James to his dying dog, but Lex pulls it out by explaining that Lillian sent him on a business trip with his father to stop him from being so sentimental, and on this trip, Papa Luthor brought a woman with them. At first, Lex wanted to hate her, but the day his dog was put down, she hugged him and sang an Irish song. By the end of the trip, he wished she was his mother. But she wasn’t his mother; she was Lena’s.
“While I came from poison, you came from love,” he concludes. Lena wipes a tear and touches her brother’s shoulder before leaving.
Manchester’s using his psychic connection to reaaaaally screw with J’onn, making him see a vision of dead, zombified Kara and Alex, and let me tell you, IT IS UPSETTING. Corpse-ified Alex attacks him in his vision, and then the real Kara breaks through to wake him up.
J’onn recognizes it as a warning about what could happen if he sits idly by, but Kara says that just by J’onn standing alongside her and Alex, it makes them stronger, even as he upholds his vow for peace.
Then she heads to the hospital, where she gets a warm greeting from Kelly and a cool one from Alex. Kara says she didn’t like standing around feeling helpless, but she’s back to wait with her friends.
Brainy also isn’t doing well. A struggle with the hospital vending machine causes him to melt down over his exile from his own time, his evil ancestors, Supergirl’s brush with death, losing his flight ring, and Mon-El’s dismissiveness. (“Microaggressions are their own form of trauma!” True, true, true.) Basically, this situation has forced open all of his emotional boxes, and to calm him down, Nia kisses him. Then the lights flicker and fail all over town.
It’s Manchester, causing problems at the dam that powers the whole city. When Supergirl and J’onn arrive, Manchester deflects Supergirl’s laser eyes with his staff, causing a crack in the damn. “Dammit!” Supergirl explains, which made me laugh.
That leaves James mid-surgery with no power and no back-up generators, but thankfully, Eve brought the cure and Lena arrives to kick everybody out of the OR and injects James with what looks like an unnecessarily large-gauge needle. He comes to with a gasp.
At the damn dam, Supergirl laser repairs the damage as Manchester uses the staff to show J’onn images of his children being menaced by White Martians. J’onn screams in rage, puts on his hunter face, and psychically pulls the staff from Manchester.
He turns the staff on Manchester, and as Manchester starts to Thanos into dust, he gasps, “So beautiful!” He poofs out of existence, leaving behind Brainy’s flight ring.
At the hospital, James is apparently good as new, but J’onn isn’t ready to explain to Brainy how he came to possess the Legion ring. Killing Manchester gave him a crisis of purpose, although he knows one thing: “I am not a man of peace.” He gives Kara the ring and walks out.
At the same time, Brainy’s having a tough conversation with Nia about the words of a wise man: Relationships built on intense circumstances never last. “The wise man is Keanu Reeves,” he confirms.
Brainy tells her they can never be together and walks away before she can get a word in, but after he leaves, she just smiles. “Whatever you say, Wildcat.”
At Luthor manor, Lena’s starting to see some things clearly. Namely, that her brother used the attack on the damn to cut the power at the hospital, forcing her to rush there with the cure.
Not only does he not deny it, but he goes a step further: He had James shot to spur her into action. After all, he’s dying of cancer, and well, he’s a survivor. In fact, he was administered the cure ten minutes ago. At this point, the mean guard’s image inducer shuts off to reveal Otis Graves!
And then and then AND THEN, y’all, he bellows “MISS TESCHMACHER!” Yes, just like in the Christopher Reeve movies, and yes, Eve runs in to confirm that she’s been working with Lex for ages! “Sorry not sorry,” she tells Lena before shooting a guard.
Otis chloroforms Lena and leaves her cuffed to Lex’s chair. Eve stays behind to deal with her (I don’t like the sound of that) while Lex uses his extremely smart, extremely evil watch to take out all the guards with lasers and land mines.
Supergirl arrives as he’s taking off in his chopper, and oh brother, is he pleased to finally meet her.
Snaps of the Cape
- Listen, if the last few minutes didn’t make you exclaim in delight, I don’t wanna know you. Lex, ten steps ahead! Otis, back from the dead! MISS FREAKING TESCHMACHER! As sad as I am to see the (apparent) end of the Elite, I’m all about this new triumvirate of evil.
- Speaking of Manchester, what did he see that was so beautiful? Any chance he merged with the collective Martian consciousness? Could we see him again somehow?
- And speaking of seeing people again, if Otis is alive, does that mean there’s a chance that Mercy made it out, too?
- So Brainy tells Nia that they’re not meant to be. I’m left wondering if it has to do with her mystery ancestor in the future.
- So many callbacks tonight! Not just to episodes past or the movies, but also to the ‘90s comic run Superman: The Man of Tomorrow. Fun. Tonight was just pure fun!
- Until next week, friends, be the Speed shout-out you want to see in the world.