In the Season 5 premiere, “Event Horizon,” Kara came out to Lena as Supergirl, and Lena went into Luthor mode. Whether you view their relationship through a platonic or a romantic lens, this dynamic shift that the writers have been threatening the audience with for some time now is highly problematic.
First, the tropes the writers are relying on to sustain the plot are mummified relics. The older audience has seen it all ad nauseam, and the younger viewers have different priorities altogether. More importantly, however, the writers have missed the most salient point in Kara and Lena’s relationship — Krypton.
Kara Zor-El’s entire reality has been shaped by planetary extinction — by having flaming, freezing chunks of her dying world glance off her fragile pod. Her reality has also been shaped by the fact that her cousin was a baby and can’t remember experiencing those events for himself. Clark has had it relatively easy as a result. He wouldn’t be suffering from P.T.S.D. the same way Kara has over the years.
Logically, Clark would internalize this key difference with Kara, and it would color the rift between him and Lex. The Luthors are the human equivalent of the sort of family that Kara would’ve married into if Krypton hadn’t fallen. Estrangement with Lex — bleakly necessary as it became — would prevent Clark from introducing Lex to Kara as a potential suitor and placing Lena in her life as a potential sister-in-law. Clark would take his inability to provide his cousin with a Kryptonian-esque social framework to heart. Over time, Kara would become aware of what Clark had wanted and that lost opportunity would inform her relationship with Lena.
If that weren’t enough, Lena began stockpiling Kryptonite — the now toxic remnants of Kara’s dead world that she witnessed and felt glance off her fragile pod. Then, because karma is as stone cold as space itself, Lena made synthetic Kryptonite — synthetic, toxic, dead world that glanced off Kara’s fragile pod. Put it all together, and Lena became a P.T.S.D. trigger.
All of this sets up a compelling story, except the writers won’t deal with the Kara-Lena-Krypton triangle — the most layered triangle ever on a CW show — because that would mean addressing the Danvers’ inability to find or adapt P.T.S.D. treatment protocols without outing Kara as an Extra-Terrestrial. That would mean addressing the Luthor family dynamic as the collective clinical condition it is and exploring childhood trauma from both Kara and Lena’s perspectives.
On paper, the introduction of Kelly Olsen should solve these problems. She’s a trauma therapist, specializing in P.T.S.D. Kara outs herself to Kelly and she and Lena begin the long process. Unfortunately, there are issues.
First, the core of Kara’s trauma is planetary extinction. How does Kelly help Kara get to the core of her fear when that fear is planetary extinction? Kara can’t immerse herself in planetary extinction to lessen the shock of the trauma without having video of planetary extinction. Video of planetary extinction requires monitoring worlds as they go extinct, something Kelly can’t and won’t do.
Second, Kara could go back to Argo City for help with Kelly in toe. The Argoans lost Krypton too, and they’ve channeled their trauma through the asteroid that was once their world. Kelly could do a comparative study to develop bespoke treatment protocols. However, that would require narrative time spent on Argo City — time the writers no longer have now and time the writers wasted on other things when they introduced Argo City into the story.
As for Lena, the writers can’t address her issues in any meaningful way as long as DC only lets the show have Lex for a few episodes here and there. Crisis will likely be the immersive treatment they both need, assuming they can shoehorn it in with everything else they have to do.
The unfortunate paradox of Supergirl seems to be that the show suggests worthwhile story points, but viewers need a completely different show with different writing to bring those story points to fruition.