NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review
It was inevitably going to be a big midseason premiere for Supergirl this week, considering that it’s arguably going to be the Arrowverse series that’s most drastically affected by the multiverse-scale fallout from Crisis on Infinite Earths. “The Bottle Episode” kicks off Supergirl’s 2020 run of episodes almost immediately after the show’s characters have had it sink in that their original Earth-38 home is gone, and that they now live on the new Earth-Prime, alongside The CW’s other flagship DC heroes. While there are no cameos or direct connections to the rest of the Arrowverse in this midseason premiere (although the prior episode of Batwoman on this same night did take advantage of the fact that Supergirl now operates in the same world as The CW’s other ongoing DC shows), “The Bottle Episode” is nonetheless a very strong start to 2020 for Supergirl, outlining some shocking new circumstances for the former denizens of Earth-38, to great effect.
The first and biggest change for Kara, aside from now living on the same Earth as Barry Allen, Kate Kane and the late Oliver Queen, is having to try and get used to working for Lex, which her former history on Earth-Prime indicates she was all too happy to do. The events of Supergirl’s fourth season have even been noticeably retconned by the new Earth-Prime, with Lex no longer having been killed by Lena, and no longer being exposed as the mastermind behind the Kaznian invasion. Hell, it doesn’t seem like Lex ever even came into conflict with Superman within the new history of Earth-Prime, despite the fact that Supergirl’s heroes remain vigilant about the fact that Lex used to be an arch-villain on Earth-38.
One of the more interesting surprises in this episode as well is that Lena remains fully aware of Lex’s former life as a psychopathic criminal mastermind, and fully recalls the events of the Crisis, along with the destruction of Earth-38. This creates a great conflict for Lena right out of the gate, considering that she also has an Earth-Prime history wherein she happily partners with Lex as a DEO owner and LuthorCorp executive (L-Corp is back to being called ‘LuthorCorp’ on Earth-Prime, apparently), but she’s nonetheless immediately sobered to the fact that her brother can never be trusted in the present. Better still is that Luthor family matriach, Lillian is no longer in prison on Earth-Prime, and is now running her own legitimate affairs, being similarly adored as Lex in the new Earth-Prime history. Lena getting a renewed chance to form a tense alliance with her family is very promising for sure, especially when it once again comes from Lena continuing her work to pacify humanity, while once again shunning Kara after their former falling out.
Of course, the Luthor family politics aren’t the main crux of this midseason premiere. The main storyline gets going when Brainy and Nia stumble on another Brainy at a smoothie stand, with both believing that the other is a phony. After they arrest each other and bring each other to the DEO (yes, this is exactly as amusing as it sounds), Alex is also shocked to see that several Brainy doppelgangers have shown up at the DEO, all of which were displaced from their now-destroyed Earth’s. There’s even a female version of Brainy that runs the DEO on her Earth, amusingly played by Jesse Rath’s real-life sister, Meaghan Rath. This is another thing that creates compelling consequences from the fallout of Earth-Prime’s creation, playing nicely off of a similar twist at the end of this same night’s midseason premiere of Batwoman, namely that some doppelgangers from other Earth’s are now seemingly co-existing together on Earth-Prime. Even Al’s bar is literally being run by more than one Al, as well as some doppelgangers of the Kryptonian witches that created Reign during Earth-38’s original history, though they don’t appear to have done so on their own destroyed Earth.
What begins as an initially funny and intriguing concept with Brainy also evolves into a pretty compelling conflict for his character too, one that keeps building in momentum as the episode goes on. This character conflict begins when one of the Brainy doppelgangers is killed by a techno-organic virus based in the Big Brain, the shared neural network that houses all knowledge from Brainy’s race of Coluans. This virus is apparently based around the Anti-Life Equation, which should get DC fans very excited, since it could mean that the New Gods and Apokolips may be making their way to Supergirl in some form! That tease is simply left to hang for now though, since it’s soon after revealed that a seemingly timid Brainy doppelganger is actually behind the murder of his counterpart, and has secretly bottled his Earth before the anti-matter wave hit it, insulating it from being destroyed along with the rest of the original multiverse.
This certainly raises some more interesting questions, since the epilogue of Crisis on Infinite Earths saw a new live-action DC Multiverse being born, one containing the Earth’s that serve as home to several live-action DC shows that are made for WarnerMedia’s new DC Universe and HBO Max streaming platforms. It would seem however that there’s no way to detect these Earth’s by the citizens of Earth-Prime, leaving the Brainy doppelganger desperate to un-bottle his world, with the help of the Reign witch doppelgangers. This would destroy both Earth’s however, leaving Brainy wrestling with whether to unleash his true power by disabling his personality inhibitors. Yes, apparently those three dots on Brainy’s alien head are personality inhibitors, which allegedly prevent him from becoming a sociopath, like his mother (is this supposed to be the main ‘Brainiac’ of Earth-Prime, as in the one that likely battled Superman?). Brainy having to disable them to save the day does lead to an interesting evolution for his character however, along with the chance for a visual redesign, allowing Brainy to fully adopt green Coluan complexion, alongside new ‘life projectors’ that maintain Brainiac’s three-dotted symbol, this time on his chest.
Truthfully, this climax is a bit weird, especially with the inexplicable NSYNC tune layered over it (seriously, what the hell?), but regardless, Brainy choosing to embrace his full potential allows him to stop his doppelganger, and convince both him and the witches to go into their bottled Earth. This is a bit odd, since this redesign, along with Brainy’s new ‘life projectors’, eliminates the Brainy doppelgangers and witches too easily. That’s disappointing, since it made what should be a complicated problem get solved rather quickly. Still, the subsequent tease of Brainy having to avoid future peril by isolating himself, breaking up with Nia, and forming his own alliance with Lex, presents a ton of promise for the back half of Supergirl’s current season. This is especially true when one sees that Leviathan potentially doesn’t exist on Earth-Prime anymore, or at the very least, has no longer made itself apparent in the revised Earth-Prime history. The Leviathan characters clearly still have some kind of presence on Earth-Prime however, with Gamemnae now embedding herself at CatCo as a disguised board member and mentor to Andrea named Gemma Cooper. Is Gemma Cooper still Gamemnae though, or has Earth-Prime’s history been so radically changed that Leviathan truly no longer exists as it once did on Earth-38?
Whatever ends up happening there, it’s assuring to see Supergirl rising to the challenge of capitalizing on the massive change to its status quo in the fallout of Crisis on Infinite Earths. “The Bottle Episode” is a fun, clever and intriguing way to settle Supergirl fans and general DC enthusiasts into the new reality of Earth-Prime, one that presents some cool surprises, without needing to lean on the temptation of Supergirl now co-existing on the same world as The CW’s other current DC shows. The new politics of the multiverse are especially interesting, alongside the fact that Leviathan potentially no longer exists in the revised Earth-Prime history, or, at the very least, Rama Khan never exposed them to the world, as he formerly did during Supergirl’s now-retconned midseason finale. It looks like the revised history of the Luthor family especially is going to forge new alliances and break former bonds as well, particularly considering that the first nugget of intel to come from the new Brainy/Lex alliance is that Winn is back in the present, and he may not be the upstanding citizen that he once was on Earth-38…
- Clever hook behind the Brainy doppelgangers and bottled Earth
- The revised Luthor family history having big ripple effects
- Leviathan potentially not existing as it once did on Earth-38
- Climax is a little bizarre and contrived