A month ago, Supergirl gave us an episode titled “Bottle Episode.” That episode unleashed the fully-powered Brainiac 5 into the world. Now, two episodes later, we have an actual “bottle episode” of sorts. The DEO is in lockdown and our heroes have to hack their way out. Spoilers follow for Supergirl Season 5, Episode 12, “Back from the Future – Part II.”
“Back from the Future – Part II”
Last week left us on a cliffhanger. Evil Winn wasn’t dead, but the team didn’t yet know that. This week, things kick off with the team celebrating their win at Al’s Bar, where Winn reveals that he’s missing Earth food. Winn, it seems, goes by the name Computer Lad in the 31st Century. Winn says that he likes the name, and that it goes with the names of other Legion members, who are all using their Silver-Age names like Lightning Lass. I hope Matter-Eater Lad is hanging out in there somewhere.
Kara’s future ex-boyfriend William shows up and the two sing Toto’s “Africa” on karaoke for a full agonizing minute. Not only has the moment passed for that song, but these shows are also finite minutes long. Melissa Benoist is a great singer, but this isn’t the way show it off, y’all.
While they belt out the 1980s banger, Alex and J’onn talk. Alex says she’s installed spyware on her computer to try to keep an eye on Lex Luthor. She should know that Lex already knows, and we find out before long that, indeed, he does.
Too many plots
There are a lot of plot threads this week. The core of the episode is the attack on the DEO by Evil Winn that’s about to happen. Lex and Lena Luthor are trying to engineer their way into Obsidian’s VR contacts, Kara is considering whether she’s ready for a relationship with the British journalist William, and Alex is considering whether she can be a part of the DEO under Lex Luthor’s rule.
The celebration is cut short when Brainy is attacked by drones back at the DEO. As we already know, Toyman has installed himself on the DEO computer system. Bottle, meet cap.
We can’t do the simple answer because reasons
The episode works to make this situation as needlessly complicated as possible. Alex has the DEO agents start dismantling any “smart” technology around the base, including anything that has Bluetooth on it. Bluetooth is notoriously vulnerable technology, you guys. What are you doing? The team briefly considers blowing up the server system but finds out they can’t. The server is located directly above the DEO core reactor, and that would cause a huge explosion (and the episode would end 45 minutes too soon). Further, Lex has an analog phone line installed in the DEO and has Kryptonite measures in place that effectively neuter Supergirl as anything other than a bruiser. Lex tells Brainy that he wants Toyman’s code so that he can be immortal like Leviathan.
Winn searches for a solution to hack Toyman out of the system when his father, who we’ll call Toyman Sr. pops up on one of the TV screens, and Winn realizes that the only way he’ll defeat Evil Winn is by entering the computer system himself. The two have a fight simultaneously reminiscent of Captain America’s fight against himself and every fight in the second Matrix movie.
Eventually, Winn trusts his father enough that Toyman Sr. is able to hold down Toyman Jr., giving Winn enough time to delete his evil twin. Deleting his father’s code is a side effect of this that his father accepts. In a nice script-flip, Toyman Sr. says that he read the records of Winn’s exploits on the DEO database. Where most villains say things like “We’re not that different, you and I,” Toyman Sr. admits in so many words that he and his son are almost complete opposites. This is a nice bit of closure for Winn.
They’re called Lexosuits
On the outside, Supergirl, Alex, and Brainy are fighting Toyman’s drones as well as the Lex Luthor exosuits–called Lexosuits, thank you Supergirl writers–that Toyman has hijacked. We get a fun rotating camera shot of Supergirl and Alex, and then Brainy yells “Leroy Jenkins” about 15 years too late and does his science dodges to distract the Lexosuits. The teams both inside and outside the Matrix come out safe.
Lena and Lex, meanwhile, are trying to hijack Andrea Rojas’ cybercontacts as a way of infecting the world with Lena’s mind control (but it’s the nice kind of mind control!). While Andrea turns Lena down, despite her poorly-hidden Irish accent, Lex talks to Gemma Cooper. We the viewers know that Gemma is part of Leviathan, but I think the show is being earnest when it implies that Lex Luthor does not, and that Leviathan is manipulating Lex to some degree.
As a side note, apparently virtual eating somehow provides nutrients and how does that even work?
Alex leaves the DEO
Finally, both Kara and Alex’s stories come to a head. Alex realizes that she can’t keep working at the DEO and lying to Lex to keep watch. She quits, and J’onn hires her on immediately to run the Tower. I’m not sure where that funding comes from. Maybe J’onn has some old bank accounts from the hundred-plus years he’s lived on earth.
Side note: can we get a Martian Manhunter Through History series? David Harewood could carry it, and I’d watch the hell out of it.
Kara, meanwhile, tells William she doesn’t have feelings for him. We obviously know she does, and we know that they’ll probably be making out before the next few episodes are done. That’s disappointing; Kara’s worst moments are all centered around boyfriends. Her relationships with Lena, Alex, J’onn, and Nia are all far more compelling than whatever affable hunk they pair her with, and I’d rather they spend time on those. If she has to have a boyfriend, it has to be someone that can go toe-to-toe with her. Supergirl’s best season, season 4, put the focus firmly on Kara and her story.
Dreading one future, looking forward to another
This episode has some good things going for it. Jeremy Jordan is a fun actor and Winn is a fun character. If anyone in the Arrowverse could wear the name Computer Lad, even for an episode, it’s Winn. Jordan hams it up nicely for Evil Winn. We get to watch Lex plot and plan and maybe even be manipulated, and there’s some proper Super Action throughout the episode. I’m also excited at the prospect of Alex leaving the DEO. The grey computer room of the DEO has been a centerpiece of show for a long time, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Tower and Alex getting to be a leader rather than middle management.
I wish the episode wasn’t so complex, and it’s hard not to roll my eyes at the impending relationship Kara is hurtling toward.