Supergirl: Deus Lex Machina

Lena Luthor: “See, that’s the thing about narcissists. You’re so focused on yourself you can’t see that you’re the mark.”

Lex proceeds to lay an intricate plan to bring Lena closer to him, defeat Leviathan's latest attack, and pit Supergirl against Leviathan; how Lex came into power after Crisis is revealed.

Instead of doing my title musings at the end, I’m going to start with them. The title of the episode is "Deus Lex Machina", a play on the phrase Deus ex Machina. According to computer definitions, Deus ex Machina is an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel. It comes, according to Wikipedia, “from the conventions of ancient Greek theater, where actors who were playing gods were brought onto stage using a machine. The machine could be either a crane used to lower actors from above or a riser which brought them up through a trapdoor.”

Although the actual title is very similar to the phrase, in one respect the plot is the exact opposite. Lex Luthor, who has reappeared on Supergirl despite having been killed on Supergirl, seemed like an example of Deus ex Machina before, where the "gods" (the Monitor) in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" restored him and we just had to accept it. However, in this episode we finally get to see what Lex has been doing all this time – the machinations he has exercised in order to get where he wants to be.

The episode has a great start, with Lex Luthor caught red-handed – literally, his hands are red with blood. Despite appearances, he seems to be the hero, having rescued a lot of people. We learn later in the episode that he was responsible for the people being in trouble in the first place, in some convoluted machination.

Lena goes to Kara to offer her sympathy at the death of Jeremiah (a reminder that Kara’s adoptive father was declared dead in the previous episode). I liked how she acknowledged how much more Kara has lost, compared to her. Lena seemed sincere – Kara and Lena are, at their core, mostly good people who truly like each other. Lex does some manipulation to make sure Kara appears to betray Lena again, to drive a wedge between them.

We also learn more about the death of Jeremiah. Lex tells Eve Tessmacher that Jeremiah was the man who murdered her father years ago. This seemed like a huge coincidence, but because TV is full of coincidences I didn’t actually question it. I loved it, therefore, when we discovered that Lex lied about that. He wanted to hurt Kara, and he needed dirt on Eve, and he recorded her murdering Jeremiah. Well done.

Lex also spends time with his “mother” – in quotes because due to earth changes, she's not his original mother – and she gives him insight into his character. Why is Lex so obsessed with the Kryptonians? (Why is a certain president so obsessed with a previous president?)

The episode doesn’t spend much time with the other characters, but most of them make an appearance. Some of our heroes have to join up to get rid of a suneater that escapes from the fortress of solitude and launches in order to, you know, eat the sun.

Bits and pieces

Because I follow Jon Cryer on twitter, I learned this episode was directed by Melissa Benoist (verified by IMDB). Benoist did really well.

All those covers of Lex Luthor seem very Trumpian. As do the remarks about his narcissism.

I really like Lena Luthor’s wavy hair! The long straight hair was too harsh and made me think of horror movies.

Speaking of hair, I enjoyed Jon Cryer in that wig playing the bartender in the virtual reality.

We finally get the back story on Eve Tessmacher. Finally!

The episode had a Star Wars reference and called attention to it, probably because this episode aired on the eve of Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you). I actually watched the episode on Star Wars Day.

Perhaps I missed it, but why did Lex Luthor have the blood on his hands? If he shot the Leviathan called Margot, there’s no need for the bloody hands.

Was there any reason to include a pysanka egg in the episode? What an obscure object! Anyway, Lex Luthor gives one to Brainy.

Quotes

Kara/Supergirl: I don’t understand. Lex – a real hero? How could this be true?

Lex Luthor: I – hate – Kryptonians!

Lillian Luthor: You have an inferiority complex over a pair of hokey heroes in blue tights.

Lex Luthor: Middle America’s desire to be gluttons without calories.

Kara/Supergirl: We have no control. So – eat the dumplings.

Lex Luthor: Miss Tessmacher!

Gemma: You don’t tell me anything. I am a god. You are a nothing. Do you understand?

Overall Rating

The episode was clever and entertaining, which is always true when Jon Cryer is around. However, so much persistent, successful manipulation is a little too much of a single note, and the episode lacks the heart and hope that we experience when we have more of Kara. Three and a half out of four pysanka eggs.
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Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

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