In Review: Supergirl, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Jon Cryer debuts as Lex Luthor and David Harewood gets to shine.

Supergirl, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Written by Derek Simon & Nicki Holcolmb

Directed by Tawnia McKiernan

Opening with a flashback to four years ago, the audience is greeted to Jon Cryer playing Lex Luthor. He’s got his sister Lena bound to a chair in his office building which is being bathed in red light. Lex has the Earth under a red sun to kill Superman to show the world that the Man of Steel is defeatable, though it’s destroying millions of people in the process. Naturally, it’s only a matter of time before the authorities get to him and release Lena, but before they do the audience can clearly see that he’s insane with his fixation on Superman. In the present, someone wearing a black glove opens James Olsen’s watch and hits a button that only Kryptonians can hear. Kara sits up in bed and speeds out the window to CatCo where she finds Jimmy on the ground, shot in the back.

This episode was pretty good. First, Jon Cryer can play a good Lex Luthor. I’m still not sold on the goatee, but given that it’s become a visual symbol of someone who’s smarmy, it suits him. Second, after his powerful introduction, it’s revealed he dying from exposure to Kryptonite. Cryer plays Luthor as upset in his weakened state and needing his sister to help him perfect a serum that could cure him. In a wheelchair, Lex coughs a lot and does all that he can to manipulate Lena into working with him. I like a villain that can manipulate someone purely with their words and Cryer gets several moments to work his Katie McGrath over, even bringing her to tears at one time. Both actors work extremely well together. There’s also another character in the room with the Luthors who provides several moments for Lex to be sympathetic to the viewer. This was well done, with an outstanding surprise at the end of the episode.

Complicating things at the hospital is the arrival of James’s sister, Kelly (played by Azie Tesfai), who, as next of kin, determines what medical procedures can be done on him. She doesn’t want Lena’s serum tested on her brother. Alex is unhappy that she’s a the hospital without Kara, who’s out with J’onn trying to track down Manchester Black. Manchester Black is only in three scenes in this episode, but David Ajala makes the most of them. David Harewood eats up the scenery as J’onn tries to remain peaceful, but is constantly enraged by what Manchester is doing to him. J’onn came away the most changed character of the episode. Mehcad Brooks was probably the most happy to be in this episode since he was on his back for the entire episode, primarily unconscious.

The final act has an expected action occurring, with the expected results, while the action scene does have two good surprises. The effects are well done in this final sequence, with Supergirl doing some things that look great and the smackdown between J’onn and Manchester decent. The better ending is what happens to Lex, with Cryer getting to utter a person’s name similarly to the way it was said in 1978. His deliver made me so happy! The episode ends in a cliffhanger that’s wonderful.

The good: Jon Cryer, Katie McGrath, and David Harewood’s performances. Azie Tesfai has some good scenes and I’d like to see more of her. The return of a character in a last act was brilliant! The make up involving a scene with J’onn, Kara, and Alex is killer. The effects were good and the last spoken line outstanding.

The bad: Not much for Brainiac and Nia to do in this episode, being placed off to the side to fret together. The inclusion of an actor into their dialogue didn’t help things. Manchester Black doesn’t get enough to do, with his final scene in the episode not great. Not much for Melissa Benoist to do in this episode either, with the Luthors and J’onn getting the emotional stuff. Sadly, Kara just gets to react to Alex’s questions.

The final line: Jon Cryer debuts as Lex Luthor and David Harewood gets to shine in a better than average episode for this season. Seeing Lex work with Lena is dynamite stuff, leaving one hopeful for Cryer’s continued presence in the series. J’onn J’onzz has some excellent scenes, but Supergirl doesn’t get a whole lot to do that’s interesting. Cryer is the reason to watch this episode if you’ve never watched this show before. Overall grade: B

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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