By Sara Netzley
March 23, 2020 at 12:33 AM EDT

Supergirl

S5 E16
B+
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  • TV Show
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All this time recapping Supergirl, how did I not notice until now that she lives on Hope Street?

It feels like the right week to discover it, though, because Supergirl’s optimistic heroism is the focus of “Alex in Wonderland,” even if the Maid of Might’s rocking a black suit and hair

That’s right, Alex isn’t handling the death of her father well at all. He died of cardiac arrest in the Peruvian Andes, performing humanitarian work at a refugee center for displaced aliens.

And while Kara’s at peace knowing Jeremiah really was a good man who loved his daughters, Alex is not. She’s day drinking in sweats and comfy socks (although who among us isn’t these days?) and refuses to go along with Kara and J’onn to the service in Midvale.

Sure, yes, Jeremiah had to live in secrecy after leaving Cadmus, but as far as Alex is concerned, he never made amends for absenting himself from her life. Worse, she feels as though her relationship with him was forever changed by his obsession with keeping Kara safe. “He treated me like I wasn’t even worth his time,” Alex says and kicks everyone out, including a sympathetic Kelly.

After she’s alone, the LexCorp ad featuring Supergirl doesn’t help things, although her Obsidian Platinum lenses might. In the virtual space, she chooses the Supergirl simulation, and there she is as National City’s No. 1 superhero in a black suit with flowing black locks and the Super-red lippy.

She ends up in a mall, where she meets Treasure Hunter Tilly — actually Bonnie, there to escape the sadness of her sister’s stage-4 cancer diagnosis — and Guitar Hero Derek, with Elton John sunglasses, a wicked riff on the Supergirl theme, and no idea that he’s in a simulation. Everybody else is an NPC (non-player character) with three stripes on their neck, a product of Alex’s brain mapping that populates the world with familiar people and places.

Then a helicopter drops a rope ladder through the mall ceiling to whisk Bonnie away to adventure as an alien dragon attacks. Alex saves the day with her super strength and laser eyes, forcing herself to play it cool as the grateful citizens applaud and a news crew interviews her.

Next, she heads out for the perfect pancakes, where she encounters Bonnie again, although the woman confusedly insists that she’s Tilly, not Bonnie.

Cut to the real world, where we see Bonnie stretched out on a couch in an RV with her sister’s picture clasped to her chest and gross red Obsidian lens-eyes. Furthermore, poor Derek, who escaped into VR following his wife’s death, is one of Leviathan’s Chipotle burrito people.

Also in the real world, Kelly and William team up to investigate the 32 satellites Lex rushed through the approval process that line up above the cities he’s visiting on his Obsidian world tour. When Kelly brings up the unfixed “end simulation” loophole, William wonders if that could also be connected to Lex. Time to investigate!

They find no Lex link, but Kelly’s shocked to learn that the failsafe loophole was never fixed. She heads straight to Andrea, who’s also surprised and says the patch was ordered, but the funds got snarled up in the board’s corporate bureaucracy. Oh and also, Andrea would really prefer that Kelly not mention this to the Obsidian users. Sketchy!

Also sketchy: Lex is the newest board member, so maybe he applied pressure to ignore the glitch. Kelly and Williams' next step is to check in on the 500 users who’ve been in VR nonstop for 48 hours or more and could be trapped. After Kelly’s text to Alex goes unanswered, they jump into making calls.

Back in VR-world, Alex gets a call from the DEO, populated with NPC versions of J’onn, Brainy, and Dreamer, about a loose missile. And then there’s Hank Henshaw on the DEO monitors, sneering that he kidnapped Supergirl’s sister Kara and demanding a nuclear warhead to set her free. NPC-J’onn warns Alex not to let feelings cloud her judgment as she heads off to fight Henshaw.

David Harewood has a marvelous time cackling evilly and chewing all the scenery as Henshaw while Alex breaks through the fancy Kryptonite restraining device to defeat him without anyone rescuing her, “because I am Supergirl!” Gotta say, this is a stressful VR simulation. Pretty sure mine would involve petting mini-elephants and enjoying time on a beach without getting sunburned.

Anyway, Alex tells NPC-J’onn that despite her team, her family, and her heroics, she has the sense that she’s forgetting something. But J’onn blows it off and takes her to the alien bar to celebrate, where she gets applause when she walks in to find Abe Lincoln karaoke-ing “Feelings” (and killing it, honestly).

But one of the Kryptonian witches, serving as karaoke emcee, yanks him off the stage and laser-eyes a patron who objects. Then the witch silences Bonnie/Tilly’s cheering with, “No more Britney Spears songs if you want to live.” Way harsh!

At first, Alex is slightly taken aback, but her companions roll with it, and she soon agrees that she’s never been happier. When she says this, her lenses turn red in the real world.

In VR-land, another Supergirl rolls up in the original skirt costume and uses her super-breath to cool the drink, confusing Alex about how there can be a second Supergirl. When her NPC-DEO team offers to escort her to the med bay, she realizes this isn’t real and wakes up in her apartment, removing her lenses to respond to Kelly’s text.

Then J’onn summons her to stop a Psi attack that made everyone doubt their reality, and Alex Supergirl, in the black suit but with her normal hair, is on the way. Excellent fake-out, and nice job of her brain and/or the loophole using her existing knowledge to explain away any doubts.

In the real world, Kelly finds Alex unresponsive on the couch, and even an injection of the in-case-of-blueberries EpiPen doesn’t rouse her. Time for Kelly to enter the simulation.

There she finds the DEO tossing somebody who’s clearly not Yael Grobglas into a cell. Kelly tries to talk sense to Alex, but the increasingly nefarious NPC-DEO team claims that Kelly’s a Psi victim, too. Kelly quickly ends the simulation and asks Andrea for guidance. Her suggestion: confront Alex with something that’s unexplainable and undeniable. O…kay?

So Kelly programs an NPC teenage Alex who offers to show Alex the truth she’s avoiding. “Or are you afraid of facing reality?” Alex takes her teenage self's hand, and they go to the Cadmus facility where she last saw Jeremiah.

As the NPC-DEO team opens fire on them, they approach Jeremiah, who’s got his back turned to them and clearly isn’t Dean Cain. When Alex touches him, he dissolves, and Alex faces the truth that now that her father’s dead, they can’t ever repair their relationship. Being Supergirl for a little while let her live with hope. (You know, like the street Kara lives on!)

But with the appearance of NPC-Eliza Danvers, Alex finally ends the simulation for real, and her lenses go from red to blue. She wakes and apologizes to Kelly, saying that she was actually angry with herself, not everyone else, because she couldn’t save Jeremiah. Still, she can save Derek and Bonnie and anyone else trapped in the VR. Kelly assures her that she’s on it.

In fact, William’s just gotten a text from his source at the NSA telling him that of his list of 402 VR super-users, 337 are legit with no Lex connections. But the remaining 65 are all using an IP address at the same location in National City.

When William arrives to check things out, Margot throws up a cloaking device that hides the whole burrito operation from him (although if he’d walked forward another step into the seemingly empty warehouse, he would’ve bumped into the row of gurneys holding unresponsive VR users, which now includes Bonnie). As he leaves, he finds a discarded ID bracelet with a patient number, so at least he’s got a clue to work with.

Andrea, meanwhile, leaves a voicemail for Gemma about the goings-on and orders an Obsidian employee to do a full patch work-up to close the loophole. And that employee? Friends, it’s none other than Eve Teschmacher!

And in the end, Alex makes it to the Midvale church in time to join Kara in the pew to hear Eliza’s eulogy.

Snaps of the cape

  • Between this episode’s title and all the goings-on at Batwoman, Lewis Carroll's having quite a moment in the Arrowverse these days. How long before Cisco’s making a White Rabbit joke over on The Flash?
  • Anybody else physically recoil when Alex and Bonnie shook hands? YE GODS, PEOPLE, NO TOUCHING.
  • This episode definitely weaves together even more of the various plotlines involving Obsidian, Lex, and Leviathan. It is curious, though, that one of the messages that’s starting to emerge, either intentionally or not, is that VR is the domain of unhappy people.
  • Hey, how about a little more Supergirl on Supergirl next week?


Related content:

Episode Recaps

Supergirl

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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