What’s the baldest Luthor really been up to since the Crisis on Infinite Earths? This week’s Melissa Benoist-directed episode fills us in on his plans within plans within plans.
It opens 90 days post-Crisis, with Margot the Leviathan lackey dead in a warehouse full of comatose Obsidian Platinum users and Lex with literal blood on his hands.
He rescued all those people from Margot’s captivity, you see, and the gun went off in the struggle. Furthermore, he tells Supergirl and J’onn, Margot was working with Amy Sapphire, the woman who tried to destroy Obsidian to get revenge for her husband’s death.
That Lex! What a hero.
We then cut to the events of the Crisis, and EXCUSE ME, SHOW, but I need a little warning before you drop Superman Brandon Routh onscreen. Give a lady a chance to brace herself, ya know?
Anyway, between Routh, Tyler Hoechlin’s Supes, and Tom Welling’s human Clark Ken socking Lex in the jaw, we’re pretty much up to speed on how much Lex hates Kryptonians — and how shocked he is to wake up in his mansion the day after the Crisis to discover that not only is he alive, but he’s created a whole new world.
He heads straight to his mother to explain why he’s not the son she raised, and Lillian coolly asks, “Would your Lillian have been frightened by world destruction? If so, you’ve upgraded.” My queen!
She urges him to remember that this Earth’s Luthors are cool-headed, so he'll need to put his Super-vendetta on ice and cozy up to Lena to keep her away from Kara. Lex is offended that Lillian's questioning his strength of will.
Then we flash through several events post-Crisis, but with a Lex-centric spin. He delivers his “let’s be allies” speech to Lena, who fills him in on Eve working with the ancient aliens who’ve subjected the world to periodic floods and plagues. Lex immediately vows to exterminate the Leviathan.
Next is the Toyman threat, which allows Lex access to the Legion ship. There, he learns all about Gemma, Margot, and Eve and tracks the latter down mid-assassination. Eve's shocked that the Lex Luthor even knows her name, and he offers her a deal: Leviathan killed her father to force her to work with them, but Lex will protect her mother and handle all her dirty work if she’ll be his eyes and ears in Leviathan.
To prove himself, Lex kills her mark for her, and with that, Eve’s on board. He puts ex-Mossad agents outside her mother’s home and gets her assigned to the Obsidian Platinum project.
Buckle up for Lex's big plan: If Eve keeps the "end simulation" glitch in place, Leviathan will come to Lex for a coverup to keep people using their product. Once they trust him, they’ll invite him to their ship, where he’ll introduce the code that Brainy’s reverse engineering to make them mortal.
As part of this plan, Lex starts putting pressure on Richard Bates, the man who built the Obsidian Platinum torture chamber to punish his wife’s virtual lover. Lex does this by posing as a bartender in an amazing long-haired wig, embroidered shirt, and leather bracelets. It is a LEWK and I love it.
By 43 days post-Crisis, Eve’s totes in love with Lex, and he uses that to get her to help Amy Sapphire attack Obsidian headquarters with the gauntlets that will make her a worthy Supergirl adversary. He also shows Eve that he can use Q-waves to make a mouse vibrate out of existence. She, in turn, brings him to the warehouse where, at Gemma’s request, Margot’s been stashing the Obsidian users trapped in VR thanks to the glitch Eve declined to patch.
As thanks, Lex hands Eve a vial of poison and gives her the 411 on the man who murdered her father. But zoinks! He gave her a dossier on Jeremiah Danvers.
With Eve off taking revenge on the man she believes murdered her father, Lex globe-trots to talk up Obsidian Platinum. As he does, we watch the Danvers sisters finding out about their father’s death, Alex’s stint as VR Supergirl, and William finding the discarded hospital ID bracelet in the empty warehouse.
Then Lex’s plan goes awry. Moved by Kara's loss, Lena extends her sympathies, apologizing and offering a book that helped her cope with the challenges in her own life. Frustrated, Lex vents over a game of chess with Lillian: First it’s an apology, then coffee before work, then Pictionary. “That cannot happen,” he bellows.
Lillian chides him for this display of weakness, but Lex being Lex, he hatches yet another plan, checkmates his mother, and leaves.
It begins with feeding William info about the name on that medical bracelet, which Alex recognizes immediately: Richard Bates. They start to put together the plight of the missing VR users.
Eve surveils this meeting across the street from Kara’s apartment, giving Lex the footage to share with Gemma. Gemma lets on that the Leviathan plan is to gather all of humanity into a VR gathering at the same time, then kill them all with a flick of her wrist. But Lex warns her that Kara’s about to expose her, so he asks for permission to stoke public fear.
He does this by convincing Brainy that he’s not involved in the missing Obsidian users and encouraging Brainy to help his friends by asking Supergirl for something that would let them track the Q-waves in the users’ lenses. Something like, say, Myriad.
Since the Q-waves interfere with J’onn’s ability to lock on to the users’ locations, Kara heads to the Fortress of Solitude to use Myriad in reverse to compress the Q waves, allowing J’onn to zero in on their locations.
Alas, Lena notices that Myriad’s interrupting her experiments, and Lex feeds her outrage over this hypocrisy and gives her his portal watch to head to the Fortress to confront Supergirl about it.
Lena does just that, scoffing that Supergirl didn’t want her to use Myriad but is fine using it for her own purposes. Supergirl's all, heck yes, I'm using this technology to help people, then tells Lena she’s trespassing and orders her to leave. So much for that fragile truce, huh?
Even worse, Lex sent an invisible Morae along with Lena to release the baby sun eater locked away in the Fortress. It grows large by absorbing Kara’s powers and sets out to fulfill its raison d'être.
This, naturally, is alarming to our heroes, who are saved by… drumroll, M’Gann! Malefic sensed the Q-waves from Mars and sent her to help. “Let’s go save the sun,” J’onn says grimly. They’re assisted by Kara in a Lexosuit, who detonates the hydrogen explosives with a suit missile and delivers the (adorable!) baby sun eater back to its cell.
In the meantime, people around the globe are terrified by the imminent destruction of their sun, and each country receives the same alert on their phones: “Escape the event and find comfort in Obsidian North Platinum VR.” One by one, they activate their lenses.
Ummm is this a little too close to our lives right now? “Escape the event and find comfort in Tiger King/Animal Crossing/Never Have I Ever.” I'm feeling called out. (But seriously, you should be watching Never Have I Ever.)
At this point, we join the action where we started: with Lex killing Margot to “rescue” the warehouse full of trapped Obsidian users. “On this Earth, I’ve always been the hero,” he smugly tells Supergirl and J’onn. With Lena and Kara on the outs again, the Morae blaming Leviathan for the release of the sun eater, and Margot’s actions tied to Amy Sapphire, Lex has sewn this all up into a neat bow.
Unfortunately, Gemma’s not pleased about Margot’s death and morphs into a terrifying computer god as she hits Lex with her alien lightning. But he explains that he protected Obsidian and Leviathan from suspicion. He’s also on board with the kill-everyone-in-VR plan but warns Gemma that they’ll have to take out Supergirl first, which no mortal has been able to accomplish. “I will not fail,” Gemma declares.
And now the time has come for Lex to show his true colors. A jubilant Eve puts on her best apron to make them a nice beef Wellington dinner, but Lex casually shatters her heart: he could never love her, those Mossad agents will kill her mother at his say-so, and he’ll send Supergirl the recording of Eve killing Supergirl’s father if she doesn’t stay in line.
A crushed Eve accuses him of being worse than Leviathan, but he replies, “Not worse, better.”
In the end, Lex revels in the knowledge that he handled the situation his way. But, as Ol’ Blue Eyes plays in the background, he can’t resist the lure of the portal watch’s last destination and transports himself to the Fortress of Solitude.
And that's where we leave the megalomaniac billionaire genius, like a bald kid in a candy shop
Snaps of the cape
- Let’s hear it for Melissa Benoist’s inaugural directorial outing! Like last year’s "Man of Steel," “Dues Lex Machina” fills in the gaps to show us how the villain’s been positioning himself all season long. And like that episode, this one’s great fun — particularly because Jon Cryer is, as always, such a blast as Lex.
- Other especially enjoyable things this week: the return of M’Gann, Lex’s framed Time’s Person of the Year cover alongside his CatCo spread, and, of course, “MISS TESCHMACHER!”
- Even though the greenscreen for Lex’s international jaunts was extra greenscreen-y, I barely batted an eye. Is this because I’ve spent the last six weeks in Zoom meetings full of wacky backgrounds and questionable greenscreen's just my new normal now?
- Homemade scones, sticky toffee pudding, and banoffee pie. Do you think William delivers?