By Sara Netzley
March 24, 2019 at 10:48 PM EDT
S4 E16
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How’d you like those Russian Supergirl credits? Almost as surprising as Red Daughter herself.

This week’s episode fills in plenty of the gaps that we’ve been curious about all season long, and both Lex Luthor and Red Daughter explode onto the scene as captivating new threats to the Maid of Might.

We open with Lex leaping out of the plane, donning his Lexo-suit mid-plummet, and shocking the heck out of Supergirl by matching her blow for blow atop the Daily Planet building thanks to the Harun-El in his veins.

He rips the famous globe statue off its mooring and holds it over his head like Atlas. When Supergirl asks how he acquired his powers, he boasts, “How do you think I did it? I’m Lex Luthor.”

Supergirl -- "The House of L" -- Image Number: SPG416a_0039r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl and Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Katie Yu/The CW

Aaaaand here come the flashbacks.

Three years ago, Lena and James testify against Lex, who’s charged with murder, ecoterrorism, and crimes against humanity. (He takes notes in what I’m assuming is Kryptonian, although I admit I’m not fluent.)

The defense he mounts is, “Superman made me do it,” arguing that he’s merely protecting humanity from an extinction event. As he’s sentenced to thirty-one life sentences, the judge, prosecutors, jury, and spectators all cough and collapse. “Better make it thirty-two,” he gloats, exiting the courtroom with “My Way” on the soundtrack.

Eve is in the crowd outside the courthouse, watching rapturously. Otis is there, too, and picks up on Lex’s non-verbal instructions to take the hot blond under his wing. She visits Lex in his uncomfortably ornate conjugal visit cell. (She asks him to call her Eve, but he prefers Miss Teschmacher.) Lex calls her a Manson girl, but she corrects him: She’s a beauty queen with multiple Ph.D.s who willingly goes undercover for him.

Lex: “What do you know about CatCo?”

Eve: “Their circulation’s down.” Harsh! But, uh, likely true.

Cut to six months ago, when an imprisoned Lex gets a call from the Kaznian embassy about a Supergirl copy with all the power but zero memories. He threatens the warden’s mother to secure covert in-and-out privileges and hops on his private jet.

In the time leading up to Lex’s visit, the Kaznian military’s been trying to turn Red Daughter into a weapon by teaching her their language and encouraging her to power up under the sun. But a stray gunshot causes her to lose control of her laser eyes, and when they shock her into submission, she falls to the ground whimpering, “Alex.”

Let’s pause for a second to collect ourselves because RED DAUGHTER’S ONLY MEMORY IS OF HER SISTER.

Alone in her cell that night, Red Daughter’s super-hearing picks up on a child calling for help, and she bursts out to straight-up murder his captors. She’s protecting the child, Mikhail, when Lex arrives. “Alex?” she asks, and he rolls with it. “Sure. Alex.” He convinces her they’re besties.

Red Daughter says she didn’t know her own strength when she attacked, and “Alex” offers to teach her. Then he gives her off-brand Oreos, and Red Daughter likes those very much. Girl, same.

Lex being Lex, he’s got plans within plans. He strikes a deal with Kaznia to accept their cash in exchange for using his operational conditioning to make Red Daughter hate whomever they want. Then he tells Eve and Otis his true plan: If Kaznia attacks America and he foils it, he’s the hero. But he needs a patsy in America, too, so he sends Otis to collect Mercy and get Ben Lockwood on board. It’s all coming together, people!

Meanwhile, “Alex” sends Red Daughter a series of books to teach her English, history, and philosophy, and he joins her for chess games and conversations. He goes with her to visit Mikhail, and he’s there when, across the sea, Kryptonite gets unleashed into the atmosphere, poisoning her.

As she writhes in pain, he quickly pierces her ears with Kara’s signature gold circles, explaining, “Someday you may have to match her.” Ha! Nicely played to cover that plot hole, show!

As she’s locked into the isolation chamber to keep her safe, “Alex” spins her a version of reality: She’s one of the last daughters of Krypton, destined to bring about peace and equality by defeating the greedy countries led by Supergirl. When Red Daughter asks why she looks like Supergirl, Lex explains that just like Lena usurped his position in the world, so did Red Daughter’s sister, Supergirl.

Four months ago, Lex and Red Daughter donned truly spectacular wigs to sneak into America, where Red Daughter perfected a smoky eye and went undercover as a waitress at a high-end club, where she trotted out her American accent and got smarmed on by gross AmerTech execs.

Red Daughter’s horrified that Supergirl defends these lazy pigs, so Lex brings her next to Kara Danvers’ apartment. That’s right; Lex knows Supergirl’s secret identity! In her regular blond hair now, Red Daughter prowls through the empty apartment, judging Kara for her lax housekeeping and abundance of fresh produce in the fridge. (Which, since Kara’s in Smallville on vacation, does seem like a waste, actually.)

“She is like a princess in a tower,” Red Daughter marvels, both disgusted and impressed. “And on a reporter’s salary,” Lex adds. Ha! She spots a picture of Kara and Alex on the fridge, and then there’s big sis herself, there to water Kara’s plants. Red Daughter plays it off well and hustles Alex out of there, but she wants to know more about Kara Danvers’ life. (Next page: Lex molds his perfect weapon)

Lex has to head back to prison and orders Red Daughter back to Kaznia, but she’s not quite ready to leave. She wraps herself in a red afghan (we see you there, echoing Supergirl’s cape!) and reads Kara’s journal, where she learns all about her compassion, her humanity, her devotion to her friends.

Then she puts on Kara’s glasses and a pink cardigan and heads into CatCo, where she meets Lena. The cardigan looks juuuust slightly off with her Kaznian casual wear, which is such a perfect this-isn’t-Kara touch.

She steps on the elevator with Lena and has a pleasant conversation that’s interrupted by a frantic Eve, who sends her packing with an “Oh, no. No no no no no no. You are not gonna go all apple pie-eating, flag-waving Phillips Jennings on me.”

Eve calls Lex in a panic, but he’s got a plan, of course. He sends Eve to infiltrate a nuclear submarine, as one does, and launches a missile at Mikhail’s cottage. Red Daughter arrives too late and finds fragments of Mikhail’s soccer ball in the wreckage, then falls to her knees to scream her grief.

Lex shows up to redirect her rage, but instead, she flies off and starts wrecking a naval ship. Lex crashes in wearing his Lexo-suit to yell at her about having to clean up her mess. Red Daughter harkens back to their earlier conversation and tells him she wants to be more than Alexander the Great’s conquering army. She also wants to know why Kara Danvers has an Alex and is friends with Lena, but Lex cuts her off and storms out.

Then three months ago, Red Daughter falls ill. Lex and Eve hope that, since the Harun-El created her as a copy of Supergirl, that Harun-El could also fix her. Lena’s not done with the trials, yes, but Lex refuses to lose this miracle that the skies opened up and gave to him, so he steps into a Kaznian nuclear reactor to give himself cancer. (Do you want Doctor Manhattans? Because that’s how you get Doctor Manhattans.)

Newly cancered-up, Lex appears by hologram in Lena’s office to ask for Harun-El help. “You know it doesn’t grow back hair,” she snips, and when he asks if she wants to know why he needs it, she says, “I assume homicide.” Lena Luthor, unflappable quip machine!

He tells her he’s turned over a big leaf and, having heard the news about her super soldier project, warns her not to harm when she can heal. This, then, explains how the Luthor siblings ended up working together again.

Now in the present, with the Harun-El running through his veins, he heads back to Kaznia for a blood transfusion into Red Daughter, who wakes up to his apologies. At this point, Red Daughter’s fully on board the anti-America train, criticizing Supergirl for being undisciplined and acting on her emotions.

“I will follow you and destroy her,” she swears to Lex, who calls her his Alexander the Great, his gift to the world.

Then we cut to Supergirl arriving at James’ hospital room to tell Alex that Lex escaped from prison. Alex heads to find Lena and sends Supergirl and J’onn after Lex. Eve leaves Lena trussed to her offer chair with a sealed letter waiting for her, and Red Daughter patrols the skies in her new hammer-and-sickle sigil supersuit.

Snaps of the cape

  • Welp, this episode should’ve taken care of any lingering doubts about what kind of Lex Luthor we have in John Cryer. Let’s hear it for the brilliant, bald egomaniac with the deft manipulative touch.
  • Mega-props to Melissa Benoist this week, too. Her Red Daughter speaks Russian and accented American with ease, and it’s impossible not to root for her and worry about her capacity as a weapon. How heartbreaking to see Red Daughter’s instincts for kindness and compassion being twisted by her friend “Alex.”
  • Aww, that softy Otis! He rescued Mikhail before the missile strike and turned him loose in America. What are the odds he’ll pop up again to turn Red Daughter against Lex before the season’s over?
  • Pro tip: If you’ve got to go to prison, time it to coincide with Lex’s stay. You’ll get lobster and chess lessons.
  • Are you as thrilled as I am to see all of our disparate storylines finally colliding, and to have Cryer’s Lex bring such a fun burst of evil-genius energy to the show? Let me know in the comments!

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