This review contains spoilers.
4.16 The House Of L
In a strange reimagining of its own history, Supergirl ret-conned most of this season to make it all about Lex Luthor. Though the episode was full of interesting character moments, it didn’t have quite enough substance to stand on its own, and ultimately felt less satisfying than it could have if it were less of a ret-con and more of a payoff.
It’s too bad that the Kasnia plot has been doled out sporadically, and almost all the real Lex Luthor information is contained in the last two episodes. The end result is that this episode feels like a rushed attempt to pull a fast one on the audience. Even the connection between Ben Lockwood and Lex’s machinations is limited to just one conversation, a line or two about having patsies in both the east and the west. The inclusion of Otis Graves and Eve Tessmacher felt far more natural.
We got an effective look at who Lex could be as a sort of caregiver, without Lena being able to fill that role. I’m hoping we’ll soon get a clearer picture of how much of what Lex has said he actually believes, and how much was for the benefit of his Kasnian counterparts or simply useful to moulding this version of Supergirl as needed.
This episode leaves us with many more Lex Luthor questions than it answers. Where did he get is Iron Man-esque suit? Is that how he could lift the Daily Planet logo – and why did he have to look so very dumb doing it? Why was Lex writing in what looked like Kryptonian at his trial? Going by the trial alone, it seemed like Lex would be a more natural ally of Ben Lockwood.
I’m curious to see what comes of Mikhail as a result of Otis’s mercy and sound advice vis a vis bald men. How will she react when she finds out he’s alive and sees his deception? Frankly, I was expecting that discovering the true identity of Alex would make a bigger impact on her, and that perhaps learning more about Lena and Supergirl’s motivations would be kept for later, as a way to eventually turn her.
The Harun-el has similarly been deployed a bit sporadically. This episode posits that it has been an animating force behind the entire last season in a way that feels less like a revelation and more like confusion. Since when? Why? To what end? It has been a presence, but it feels awfully late in the game for it to gain this much importance.
This speaks to the larger issue Supergirl has had breaking the plot for their last couple of seasons as a whole. While there are plenty of stand-out episodes and even great runs of two, three, or four in a cluster, taken as a whole it’s a bit of a jumble, especially in the home stretch.
The House of L has a lot of style but ultimately little substance. Lex scores some excellent moments, but one of this universe’s greatest villains deserves more than such a thin plot to support his entrée into the series. His character has been written with such panache but so little purposeful connection to the rest of the show that Supergirl threatens to collapse under the weight of Lex Luthor’s presence.