By Sara Netzley
November 03, 2019 at 10:00 PM EST
S5 E5
C+
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Supergirl this week dares to ask the question: Who does VR while standing at the edge of a pier?

Andrea primes her team of reporters, more than one of whom has won a Pulitzer, for some grossly unethical corporate synergy as she prepares for the worldwide virtual launch of Obsidian North’s VR contact lenses.

William applauds the loudest while privately seething to Kara how eager he is to confront Andrea directly. She urges him to pump his brakes because they lack any proof tying the Rojas family to corporate espionage and assassin operatives. “It’s a frustrating failure,” William deadpans in his funniest line delivery to date. Also, they’re having a conversation about Andrea potentially hacking the phones in the middle of the CatCo coffee shop, which seems unwise.

Kara tells William that if he signs an NDA and includes her in the investigation, she’ll take him to her sister’s super-secret government agency to witness the interrogation of Breathtaker, whom Supergirl apprehended in Elena’s apartment last week.

William’s reluctant to involve her, but in the end, he agrees, and they watch Breathtaker deny the Rojas family’s involvement to Alex, although she does mention a lady with killer tattoos (the late Caroline O’Connor and her sentient alien ink) along with a guy with detachable fingers and a guy with four arms.

Supergirl -- "Dangerous Liaisons" -- Image Number: SPG505B_0027b.jpg -- Pictured: Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers (right) -- Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Robert Falconer/The CW

William gets agitated when she shows a photo of the last fella, a baddie named Rip Roar who has an extra set of Doc Ock-like arms that retract into a kit on his back. Kara drags William from the room and he tells her that Rip Roar killed his best friend, Russell Rogers (Nick Sagar), whose body was never recovered after he started investigating the Rojas family. Mmm-hmm, yeah, supervillain, missing body, I’m sure that’s all there is to this story.

Kara immediately asks J’onn to look into Russell’s alleged death (start with whoever’s under Rip Roar’s mask, maybe?) and tells him she’s longing for certainty in an increasingly virtual world. His advice: the people who love you are rock solid. Then Kara’s phone rings and, instead of a joke for the audience in the form of a call from Lena, it’s Alex with an alert that Rip Roar himself has broken into Fort Summit and stolen a marathon laser, which can kill someone 26.2 miles away. That’s … such a specific measurement!

The timing a day before Obsidian’s big VR launch is suspicious, but the DEO can’t connect the dots, so Brainy offers to put on the sentient alien tattoos. The executive section of his brain will keep them in check and truthful with the use of a secret phrase (“Pop quiz, hotshot!”).

So Alex and Kara interrogate a Brainy with spider tattoos all over his face and a truly frightening demeanor as the alien intelligence speaks through him. Tattoo-Brainy claims not to know who’s calling the assassination shots as the camera angles work overtime to make him extra creepy as he emotes and tries to chew through his bonds. Jesse Rath is an asset to this show every week, y’all.

Afterward, Kara’s afraid of waiting too long to take action, the way she did with Lex, but Alex wants proof before she goes around accusing the woman who owns the company providing her girlfriend’s dream job.

So Kara sets out to get it, and William busts her snooping around Andrea’s office after hours. They work together; he pokes at Andrea’s laptop while Kara x-rays the hidden crevices. Kara wins (tech guru Andrea has a firewall on her laptop because of course she does) when she finds a stash of foreign currency along with a necklace and a picture of Andrea and Russell.

Now a flashback tells the rest of the story: Russell and Andrea were together, although he was convinced her family was keeping secrets and planned to confront her about it. The next day, William found Russell’s apartment ransacked and a masked, four-armed man in it. Rip Roar tells William that Russell is dead and, let’s be honest, is so obviously a villain-ified Russell that it hurts me that this was the episode’s big reveal. J’onn later announcing that his psychic sweep of Russel’s apartment showed only a struggle and not death provides the final flashing “this is the twist!” sign we were all waiting for. But we’re not quite there yet!

Their snoop-session is cut short when Kara’s alerted that Brainy tracked the marathon laser to New Mexico, so she makes William promise not to confront Andrea while she’s gone and zooms off and gets hit hard by a new weapon courtesy of Rip Roar. Brainy explains that she was injured by a fusion cannon, which a century later combines the marathon laser tech plus a particle amplifier to create a blast that’s 100 times hotter than the center of the sun.

Furthermore, Brainy’s put together that the Rojas assassins killed three Lake Vostok Antarctic base employees over the past month, which means Rip Roar may want to turn the laser on the largest subglacial lake in the world. If he uses it to melt the icecap, it would unleash a flood that would take out the entire Pacific Coast and flood every coastal city.

Unfortunately, Supergirl and J’onn arrive at the base too late to stop Rip Roar from firing the glacier-melting weapon. He tells them he’s only following orders but doesn’t offer specifics, although we earlier saw the Leviathan lady from the season finale order him to use the marathon laser to change the world. Yep, this malicious global warming would certainly do that.

So. Complete coastal destruction happens in 12 minutes. No biggie. Supergirl and J’onn work to seal the unstoppable geyser, while in National City, Dreamer uses her powers to hold back the tides and Alex evacuates all the oblivious people who donned their contact lenses for the Obsidian VR launch. And seriously, some of them are just wandering around the street like unpenned sheep. Practice safe VR, people!

This also causes Alex to miss her date-aversary dinner with Kelly, who has a front-row seat as her girlfriend risks her neck to save the city. Although Alex and company ultimately avert global catastrophe, it triggers memories of Kelly’s fiancée dying on the front lines. Nia witnesses her breakdown and extends a hand of friendship, which is nice. That night, Alex greets Kelly with wine and the gift of a motorcycle helmet — the very gift Kara suggested Kelly get Alex when she asked — so they can be riding partners. Aww! Also nice!

Not nice is the unraveling of the Rojas investigation. Turns out the flooding would’ve cost the Rojas family billions in lost assets. So if not them, who’s behind it? Kara turns up at William’s empty apartment with one new clue, and are you guys sitting down for this? Rip Roar is… wait for it… Russell. I KNOW, RIGHT???  Yes, to the surprise of no one, William’s presumed-dead best friend is the new baddie.

And finally, Andrea climbs into her limo to find the Leviathan lady there to announce that she needs Andrea’s help stopping Rip Roar.

Snaps of the cape

  • This week’s Lena update: She and Malefic strike a deal. If he (in human form — good to see your face, Phil LaMarr!) helps her use his Q-wave inception powers to master mind-control for the good of humanity, she’ll help him sever his fraternal connection so he can kill J’onn. After some experimental hijinks involving adorable escapee alien creatures, Lena has the “human improvement” tech she needs, and she flashes green Martian mind-control eyes at Malefic to convince him that he’s happy in her cell and not angry that she went back on their “kill J’onn” deal. The only positive thing I can say about that is at least Lena still draws the line at straight-up murder.
  • Was anybody else briefly taken in by William’s VR fantasy of confronting Andrea? He was worked up enough this week after several episodes of calm smugness that it was almost plausible. But her surprised reaction in his sequence points to an interesting possibility: What if Andrea, while a loathsome newsperson, is ignorant of her family’s crimes?
  • Note: Kara hasn’t filled in Nia on what’s up with William because it simply isn’t Supergirl if somebody’s not lying to somebody else.
  • Andrea’s VR commercial was a pitch-perfect sendup of bizarre, borderline creepy tech commercials, with its beige people in a cornfield and its incongruously huge IMAGINE letters for Andrea to sit on. In fact, it may be my favorite moment of the season so far!

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Kara (Melissa Benoist) steps out from her super-cousin’s shadow to become Supergirl and defend National City in the third Arrowverse show.
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