We’re in full-on post-Crisis territory, and characters are starting to get used to their new normal. In National City, Kara is wary of Lex’s motives, and he’s eating up every sideways glance she gives him. J’onn, as we’ll find out, has stepped into his expanded role eagerly. As one of Earth’s paragons, he wants to do what it takes, even if that means spending unrealistic amounts of money on a secret penthouse base. Get ready for spoilers for Supergirl Season 5, Episode 11, “Back from the Future – Part I.”
“Back from the Future – Part I”
When last we left off, Brainiac 5 had dealt with a sudden influx of Brainiacs and ended it with his personality inhibitors disabled and the news that working with Lex Luthor is the only route to stopping the shadowy organization known as Leviathan. He broke up with Nia Nall to protect her and avoid lying to her.
This week, things kick off with Brainy setting up a trap to knock over a prison bus, out of which climbs… Winn Schott? This is a neat play on what can happen to these worlds in the aftermath of the Crisis. We find out that Lex Luthor orchestrated the escape and is encouraging Winn, who is extremely evil, to make a name for himself.
Winn heads straight for ToyCon, a yearly convention where supervillains go to murder people in National City (and toy vendors show off toys), to kill someone we don’t care about. Before that, we see Kara and William at the event, where William starts slinging accusations at Luthor, who is there to debut his action figure. Just a moment to note: the likeness of the action figure is pretty solid. I’d buy it. Winn interrupts that by taking aim at his target with a sniper rifle. Really, Toyman? A sniper rifle? But just in the nick of time, a size-changing ship appears out of nowhere to intercept the bullet.
This is a brief reminder that Supergirl is only as fast as the plot demands. She can travel miles in seconds when the story needs her to, but watches in horror as a bullet travels toward a guy.
The ship is piloted by none other than Winn Schott! But this one is our Winn, the one that left to join the Legion of Superheroes and battle an evil Brainiac in the future. He has a cool Galaxy Quest-style uniform and a domino mask. Evil Winn gets away and sends out a social media message about how he’ll attack again when he gets a million followers. It feels like there was meant to be a message here, but it’s really more of a MacGuffin.
The flip-flop on this was a fun bit of drama created by the post-Crisis world; we got to believe for a second that a beloved character had gone bad only to find out that not only is the good one still around, we’re going to watch them face off against each other.
The same way that last week’s episode was a highlight for Jesse Rath’s acting, this week we get to watch Jeremy Jordan put on a great show as two different Winns, and he’s a blast as both.
While Brainy is starting to show signs of conflict about working for Lex Luthor, the Super Friends are visiting J’onn J’onnz for ideas on locating the character who we’ll call Badwinn moving forward.
J’onn introduces us to the Arrowverse’s newest unaffordably expensive and high-tech secret base, which they’re calling the Tower. This is a fun scene all around. First, as J’onn introduces the place, the team compares it to Arrow’s Bunker, Flash’s Star Labs, and the abandoned hangar they recently set up shop in. Goodwinn calls that spot the name comic fans already know it by, the Hall of Justice. I don’t think these shows have called it exactly that just yet, at least not in so many words.
One good Winn
Then, J’onn restores Goodwinn’s memory, and Jordan puts on a great show of having to deal with the knowledge all at once. He plays a goof really well, and his acting and some great editing make this scene genuinely funny as he wheezes into a paper bag and then starts barfing into it. Finally, J’onn shows the team’s panel of buttons through which to call their superfriends at any time. How often this will actually get used is anyone’s guess, but I love seeing these acknowledgments that these heroes now live in the same world. With Lex in charge of the DEO, the team needs an extrajudicial place to have superhero conversations.
We also get a couple good moments with Nia here. She tries to dream up the answer to where Badwinn might be, but struggles with the symbolism of the dream. Goodwinn, who is friends with her great-great-repeating granddaughter, tells Nia about the strength of her legacy, pushing her to see her own strength even as she struggles with her breakup.
Another musical interlude
The team pursues Badwinn to Andrea Rojas’ latest product unveiling. We learned a bit earlier in the episode that Rojas in this timeline knows of Leviathan, but has never been an agent for them aside from stealing the medallion Lena sought. She’s a victim here as Badwinn drops in with a pride of robotic tigers.
The team fights them off to “Eye of the Tiger,” which is a much better music pull than last week’s N’Sync track. What’s with the pop-music fight scenes this year, Supergirl? Those songs ain’t cheap! Did CW buy song licenses in bulk and just have some extra ones lying around that they couldn’t use in Riverdale or their latest Lucy Hale vehicle?
While the team is fighting, Lex infiltrates Goodwinn’s future ship and steals his Cube of Wisdom so that he can learn about Leviathan, and probably who wins the next few big sports games, too. We also learn that Lex orchestrated every bit of Winn’s time adventure so that he could get access to the knowledge cube, and then Lex offers the cube to Lena, which shows her how to get those delicious Q-Waves she needs to do her not-at-all-evil mind control plan.
Or did they…?
The team stops the tigers and saves Goodwinn’s timeline. In what has to be a nod to Back to the Future, Winn checks the photograph of his family, which had turned into a wanted poster (that’s not how that works, writers), and we see his family photo fade back into place.
As the episode ends, Brainy is questioning his decision to work with Lex, describing Lex as chaos incarnate. Brainy is working on total logic, but while Lex is an immaculate planner, he has a knack for using other peoples’ plans as a jumping pad for his own. Brainy is starting to wonder if the risk is worth it.
Before Kara’s superfriends game night, she stops to talk with William, and they agree to work on exposing Lex together and to be more subtle about it. I’m so excited about Kara romancing another super uninteresting dude. Woo.
Also, Badwinn, who the team blew up, is now a spooky computer virus. This is a two-parter, after all.