While I’ve been outspoken about my love for Supergirl‘s fourth season, the show has been struggling this year to find a focus. There’s a big villain looming in the form of Leviathan, and Lena is finally making her turn toward the dark side. But the episodes feel messy and confused. This week’s episode has more focus, but I’m still not sure it’s focusing on the right stuff. Spoilers follow for Supergirl Season 5, Episode 6, “Confidence Women.”
It’s time to go back—way back—to the year 2004. Lena Luthor is the new girl in her school. She has no friends and is feeling alienated from her family. Cue Andrea Rojas. Andrea joined the season early on as a rival of Lena’s, and this episode gets into their backstory – how they became friends and then, eventually, enemies.
The episode centers around Lena’s search as a young adult for a powerful medallion. Andrea helps Lena in her search but Leviathan, the secret organization at the center of this season, coaxes her into betraying Lena. Later, the medallion unlocks Andrea’s ability to move through shadows.
There’s some fun stuff in this episode, but a lot of questionable stuff, too. You know how whenever someone time travels in a story, they’re warned not to create time paradoxes? Well, there’s no literal time travel here, but the writers’ decision to leap back into the past and stamp years on things opens up a bunch of gaping plot holes. It seems that the writers’ room didn’t go back to check the Supergirl lore book when putting Lena in boarding school or when revisiting her history with Kara from seasons 2-3.
Speaking of those scenes: because actress Melissa Benoist decided to change hairstyles this season, the show had to put her in a wig for those scenes. I haven’t seen a wig that bad in an Arrowverse show since Oliver’s flashback wigs on Arrow. Oof.
On the good side of things, this episode gives us a lot of time with both Lena and Andrea. Despite Lena living up to her genetic lineage, the show hasn’t given us much time with her outside of her twirling her metaphorical mustache. And Andrea we’ve had almost no time with other than the times she’s making Kara’s life more difficult. This episode does a lot to flesh out both of these characters and give them much-needed motivation.
For Lena, Kara’s ‘betrayal’ isn’t the first in her life, but the latest in a series. Lena’s family pushed her out, and then Andrea betrayed her. When she found out Kara was lying to her, then, it seems more justified that Lena saw it as a betrayal rather than well-intentioned coddling.
On Andrea’s side, we see a person trapped in a complicated situation. While her powers make her a dangerous person, it’s clear that she’s terrified of Leviathan and that a lot of her behavior is a result of justifiable fear. Her actions leading up to the current day have no doubt hurt many people, but she wouldn’t be alive for this storyline if she’d turned her back on Leviathan in any of those previous scenes.
And while the episode does a lot to develop those two characters, it’s also an important one for this season’s big-bad, Leviathan. While I have no doubt that we’ll get a true reveal for what or who Leviathan is later this season, this is the episode where Leviathan changes from a whispered name to a looming threat. The name is on Kara’s lips now, and Lena’s focus is shifting toward it as well.
Leviathan in DC comics is a vast criminal organization, but here it seems supernatural. Supergirl has mostly dealt with Kryptonians, other aliens, and very smart humans so far, but it seems like Andrea’s abilities are more on the magical side of things. That could end up being an interesting shift for the show, though it remains to be seen just what Leviathan is.
Still messy though
Despite this episode doing a lot of work to enhance the stories of the two visible villainesses, it still feels messy. The show should’ve done this stuff earlier and spread it out more. Instead, what we end up with is more like a big exposition dump, like someone paused the story to tell us why something is important rather than weaving that into the story. The two actresses, especially Katie McGrath, were both great throughout the episode, but the whole concept of the episode feels questionable. I’m hoping, though, that with both Andrea and Lena’s motivations clarified and Leviathan’s name out there in front of Supergirl and the DEO, that things can move forward.