Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Supergirl Episode 517 'Deus Lex Machina'

After a little midseason hiatus, the Supergirl show aired a new episode this last week titled Deus Lex Machina. And I am a little torn by it.

It is a very good episode, looking back at this New Earth since the Crisis on Infinite Earths event and seeing how Lex Luthor has been manipulating things behind the scenes to set up all his enemies as well as solidify the Luthor family. One thing I have been clear about this season is that I like how the show is recognizing its own continuiuty and building on it. I like that a lot and this episode does do that as well.  Not only does it prop up this season's timeline it even brings back old friends and acknowledges things from prior seasons.

It is brilliantly acted by Jon Cryer as Luthor who shows how he can be cold and calculating when he needs to be. It shows how he can be charming when he needs to be. It shows how angry Lex can be when he explodes. Lex is a wonderful cauldron of emotions and personality and Cryer crushes it, even down to what I think will be his downfall.

This episode was directed by Melissa Benoist and there some very nice shots and angles here. I wonder how much if anything she added to such elements as dialogue and music choices as some stuff really sings.

And it sets up the end of the season with Lex apparently seeing the whole chess board and in position to win his heart's desires. It also seems to foreshadow and Supergirl/Gamenae brawl in the climax. All good.

So why am I torn?

Well once again we have an episode with very little Supergirl in it. This is a Lex episode after all. But I am starting to feel like our title character is missing in her own show.

And this also felt a little like House of L from last season where again, in flashback, we see how Lex is pulling all the strings. I loved that episode for that trick. So is it too early for a second bite at the apple?

But maybe I am being too critical on that part. On to the show.

We start with a bang. It is the present, 90 days after Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Lex is in the warehouse where Obsidian-coma patients were being held. He literally has blood on his hands. A dead body is at his feet! And news reports that he is the shooter.

Could he have been caught doing something as nefarious and stupid as literally pulling the trigger to kill someone?

But this simple time stamp shows you just how hard Lex has been working. It's been three months and he already has basically played everybody.

When Supergirl and J'onn arrive, they anticipate they'll be bringing Lex in for murder.

But it turns out Lex is being lauded the hero, especially by the comatose folks who have been revived. He saved these people.

And even better, there is a taped confession from our old lady Leviathan lady who says she did it as an acolyte of Amy Sapphire, the angry ex-wife who tried to demolish Obsidian earlier this season. It is this Leviathan agent who is dead at Lex's feet. He supposedly wrestled with her as he freed the people and her gun went off killing her.

Now I have to be honest, at this point I didn't know what to think. Was she really dead? Did she tape this as a feint of some sort? Was she actually working with Lex?

There are so many schemes within schemes it is hard for me to know what to believe. I suppose that makes it a good mystery to mull.

But then we flash back to Lex in the waning moments of the Crisis only to wake up on the new Earth, alive and lauded as a hero. His history as villain has been erased. He is a noble prize winner, a Person of the Year for Time magazine.

He did it. He not only saved the world, her re-created it.

He then visits his mother and fills her in on the old universe and the new one.

Lillian is as cunning as usual, talking about how she is ready to help. She also tells Lex that he needs to get over this obsession with killing Kryptonians. This is important to remember because ultimately I think this is going to be his undoing. He can't get out of his own way.

Knowing how Lena worked with Supergirl in the past, indeed killing Lex last season in the old universe, Lillian gives some advice on how Lex can keep Lena in a Luthor state of mind, moving away from Supergirl and joining the family.

As usual, Brenda Strong slays as Lillian and her scenes with Lex are so fantastic.

Indeed, he visits Lena and tries to get Lena to join the fray.

She almost laughs at him and how Eve Tessmacher was a Leviathan mole in his own organization. Once again, Lex doesn't know about Leviathan and the threat they represent. It once again is clear he needs to deal with Supergirl and with Leviathan.

I absolutely love how Lena basically sarcastically shoves Lex's face in it, making a pouty face as she asks what he's gonna do about it. There is little classic family love in these two.

So what does he do? If Eve was a Leviathan mole inside Lex's organization, he will make her a mole inside Leviathan for him.

I love this scene. We see Eve throwing down with a guy in a club bathroom, showing some serious martial arts skills before she pulls out a gun to assassinate this guy.

In walks Lex. He knows she's smart and capable. He knows an unknown agent for Leviathan killed her father. He knows they are threatening her mother. If she'll answer to him while working with them, he'll make it all better.

Glad to see Andrea Brooks back in the fold as Miss Tessmacher. And, like before, she falls right in line.

A month out from the Crisis, we see how Eve has joined Lex. He has men posted outside her mother;s house for protection. She is reporting to him about the Obsidian plot by Leviathan. And Lex talks about how he plans to use Obsidian to turn the tables on Leviathan with the reverse engineered Toyman code. But to do that, he needs to become chummy with Obsidian and Leviathan.

The best way to do that is to make sure that the glitch which keeps people trapped within the VR (as seen throughout this season). So Eve's job is to keep that problem within the Obsidian code so that they have no choice but to work with LexCorp.

And the best way to make this a recognizable problem for Obsidian is to weaponize someone ... someone like Richard Bates who earlier this season tortured someone within the VR.

You can see how she is falling for him just as Eve Tessmacher's have always fallen for him.

So we see Lex head to the bar Bates' goes to and, as the bartender, just fan the flames.

I do like how occasionally Lex likes to get his hands dirty. Here he looks like he is cosplaying as Dave Grohl.

With the glitch being fixed, the next step is for Leviathan to need Lex's help. Why not wind up an assassin against Andrea Rojas, arm her to the teeth, and then have Supergirl do his protecting for Leviathan. This will make them realize that Lex has something to offer.

We see how he actually arms Amy Sapphire with the gauntlets that affect Supergirl and almost level the city.

Wheels within wheels. Plots within plots. Classic Lex.

Now 2 months post Crisis, we see Amy Sapphire nearly blow up Obsidian.

Remember, Leviathan/Obsidian needed LexCorp's power source, the VR can't be shut down easily. It will take Supergirl and the crew to win this one (which they did in the episode).

But I love how cavalier Lex is. In that episode, Brainy calls Lex to try to figure out how to turn off the power source but Lex doesn't answer.

Here we see that he actually could have answered the call but he was playing chess with Lillian and didn't want to take the call. Hilarious.

The glitch remains in place. Leviathan is hiding those affected by having Margot, the old lady Leviathan agent, take them to the warehouse they were being stored in.

Margot has to be some sort of homage to Margot Kidder?

But again, Lex is catching up on all things Leviathan.

How can Lex exploit these bodies that Leviathan is hiding from the world, something which might impede the rollout of Obsidian Platinum.

And then, a brilliant Lex move.

He tells Eve that he has found who killed her father. He offers up Jeremiah Danvers as the killer, something we know is false. But what a way to use a dupe to deliver a blow to Supergirl.

That is cold-blooded. And cunning personified.

Eve Tessmacher killed Jeremiah Danvers. Whoa!

In a nice montage, we see Lex become the spokesperson for Obsidian around the globe. And as we see him talk about how it is possible for Obsidian to allow people to take control of their life, Bowie's 'Man who sold the world' plays in the background.

He sure is selling something that is selling the world out. I wonder if Benoist picked that.

Eve does indeed kill Jeremiah, poisoning him to make it look like a heart attack.

But the move backfires a bit.

Lena and Kara have been ice cold all season. This tragedy seems to lower the defenses and make them extend hands. Lena offers her sympathy and a book to overcome tragedy.

Are things warming up?

Benoist does that wonderful thing where she adjusts her glasses as a sign that this is an important emotional moment. Love those small touches.

We are almost caught up to the present.

Lex is again playing chess with Lillian. It's like they are constantly scheming.

Once again, he laments Supergirl's existence. He thought killing Jeremiah was a master stroke but if it brings Lena and Kara together it is botched move. He's quite irate about the whole thing.

I love Benoist's choice of shot here. Filming from above allows us to really see Lex stomp around.

This obsession with all things Kryptonian is an Achilles' heel. He is winning here. But he is still upset.

So he needs to set something in motion to break Lena and Kara again before they start to have 'coffee before work' again.

The hospital bracelet William found when he investigated the people trapped in VR had Richard Bates' fingerprint on it.

If there was a way to track where those people were it could be the breakthrough they need to bring down Lex.

But this is all a ploy by Lex to point the good guys at Leviathan.

He warns Gamenae that the journalists are getting close. If they discover the comatose patients, they'll report that. Suddenly this glitch is a threat to Gemma's plan. She needs Lex.

And we learn Gemma's plan. Remember that Leviathan's purpose is to protect the world from humanity's excesses. She plans to have everyone plug into the VR and then she'll kill them all in one move. Suddenly overpopulation will be a thing of the past.

That is chilling. Just unplugging everyone.

So Lex sets in motion his next ploy.

J'onn can't find the comatose patients because they are buffeted by Q-waves. Brainiac asks Lex if he knows of anything that could track them, as a way to combat Leviathan. He recommends that maybe something in the Fortress could.

And yes, Myriad can do it. You might recall that Kara stopped Lena from using Myriad because it was so dangerous. Now they can use it for good, to hone in on those brain waves.

I forgot just how much Brainy is being played this season. He is working with Lex to stop Leviathan without knowing that Lex is working with Leviathan. Poor Brainy, He is just a dupe here.

And that play works just like Lex wants it too.

The activation of Myriad in the Fortress interferes with Lena's Non Nocere experiments. And how dare Supergirl use it and not allow Lena too?

Lex figures they should use Lena's teleporting watch to both go to the Fortress and stop it.

At least Lena has the sense to not let Lex join her.

But he must have known that as well. Because he has a Morae, the invisible aliens from last season, tag along. Lex always has a back up plan.

Once in the Fortress, Kara tries to explain how she is using Myriad for a good cause but Lena wants no part of the explanation. It reinforces the idea that Kara will always look at Luthors as villains.

The rift grows.

And then the Morae does what it was sent to do ... it releases the suneater from its cage.

It sucks the energy from Kara and flies off to the sun.

Now what would Lex get out of the suneater getting released?

Well, it occupies the heroes.

In a very nice return visit, M'Gann shows up with weapons that can stop the suneater.

She and J'onn share a moment before they fly off.

Brainy and Alex fly off to get Kara and put her in a Lexosuit which will bathe her in yellow sun rays.

As for the world, rather than rally or say goodbye to loved ones, they activate their obsidian lenses and retreat.

Look who has a cameo! Jason Mewes!

That was nice of Melissa to include him.

In space, J'onn can't get deliver the payload to knock the suneater back to baby form. It is up to Kara, in the suit, to deliver the bomb and grab the now shrunken suneater and return it to the Fortress.

At least she got to be the hero? After all we haven't seen much of her here.

That brings up back to the present.

While flying off to fight the suneater, Lex killed Margot to be the hero.

He then has to explain his actions to Gemma.

The glitch was going to come out. By killing Margot as a scapegoat and blaming Amy Sapphire, it protects Obsidian from backlash. Even if it meant killing Gemma's trusted agent, it was worth it.

But Supergirl almost uncovered the truth. Supergirl will always be there to try and stop their plans. Supergirl must be stopped.

In a brilliant move, Lex goads Gemma by saying no mortal can defeat Supergirl. Gemma says she can handle it herself. That means Lex has pitted his two most powerful enemies against each other. As I have said throughout this review, brilliant.

And nice look at Gamenae's true form.

It looks like it is all going so well that Eve confesses her love of Lex to him. In a cute apron and serving a delicious dinner, she tries to grab a kiss.

Then Lex shows his true hand. She betrayed him in  the past (albeit on another world) so he won't allow it again. So he admit that the men 'protecting' Eve's mother are actually killers waiting for his order.

And, oh by the way, she killed Supergirl's dad. (I guess that means Eve knows Supergirl's identity now.)

Regardless, she sees him for the snake he is. She traded one master for another,

On the phone with his mother, Lex coos how he has done it all.

He has become friends with Leviathan but has set them up perfectly.
He has brought Lena back into the fold.
He has plans in place to defeat Supergirl.

'I did it My Way' he says, hearkening back to when Sinatra's My Way played at the end of his showing his true intentions last season.

He holds up the teleporting watch and pauses. He seems to put it away. After all, why does he need anything in the Fortress at all. He has all the moves planned.

But then that obsession creeps in and he activates it and heads to the Fortress. Somehow, this move will bring about his ruin.

So now we know all the moves Lex did to get things where they are. Was this as shocking and enlightening as much as 'House of L'? Was this as innovative?  I don't know if the things we see revealed here are as earth-shaking and incredible as last season's Lex episode.

Still, it shows how much he can get done. And I think it shows just how his Super-family obsession will always lead to his downfall.


Anonymous said...

I think a lot of "Lex-Centricity" of the ep was dictated by Ms Benoist's limited availability due to 1.) she directed it and 2.) she is large-with-child.
Isn't it odd that the Martians can fly into outer space sans worry or woe, even get into close proximity with our sun and still Supergirl needs a yellow-solar energized Lexsuit to save the day? Well at least she (or her stunt double) indeed saved the day.
Lex is a character of almost Shakespearean Tragic Dimensions, he has intelligence, shrewdness, a dark charisma everything to make him a success in life either in a dark or light connotation. Like all evil men, he is first and foremost, a hero unto himself. And yet every time he ruins it for himself, he cannot get out of his own way, His Jealousy and continual projection onto The House of El is his downfall, you can set your watch to him.
Cryer gets that about Lex some of the other Lex Actors don't necessarily have that insight. its as if Lex has spent 50 billion dollars on a handheld fusion blaster of unimaginable power. Which he then points at his own head and screams at Supergirl, "YOU ARE NEXT!!!"


Anonymous said...

It wasn't terrible, but I watch Supergirl for Supergirl not so much the ensemble. As great of a supporting cast as you may have it doesn't make up for a lack of the main character in some significant way.

KET said...

The series has always been an ensemble drama. It has always defined 'supergirl' as more than merely the trademarked character, which is a specious argument still missing the point. In this episode, Lex may have plotted to do things 'his way', yet he still sought support and approval from all the women he surrounds himself with. They are the 'supergirls' who still have influence over his life, even when he seeks to manipulate them.


Anonymous said...

Good point he is desperate to impress the women in his life, classic case of ...inadequacy.



Nutation said...

I agree that this flashback connect-the-dots trick has to be used sparingly.

I did get the answer as to what Eve Tessmacher has been doing. She seems to be capable of more and more each time we see her. (And, I assume her mother lives in Hackensack NJ. I was actually expecting that to be made explicit.)

Martians can survive in space? I don't know about that.

I don't really buy that Kara absolutely needed to use Myriad to locate the missing people. She has located people before (including Alex) by using a variety of methods. But, the Supergirl on this show is sometimes a touch arrogant. It's normally for the right reasons, though.

And a final congratulations to Lillian, who proves to be amazingly fast at putting together the pieces of a new way forward just seconds after being told the entire world was remade.

KET said...

"Good point he is desperate to impress the women in his life, classic case of ...inadequacy."

Yes, and this is REALLY why Lex hates Supergirl, because she's symbolic of what he's incapable of: true empathy. And her circle of influence is what he desperately wants to destroy.

"I did get the answer as to what Eve Tessmacher has been doing. She seems to be capable of more and more each time we see her. (And, I assume her mother lives in Hackensack NJ. I was actually expecting that to be made explicit.)"

I suspect that this locale may yet come into play, if Eve decides to confess to Kara what she did to Jeremiah. I'm getting a sense that the series might provide another nod to Chris Reeve's 1st Superman film before the season is over (that is, if they were able to film the scene before production shut down early). :)

BTW, I would presume that Melissa chose the David Bowie song for Lex's world tour, since she and Chyler are fans of his work.