NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review

 

 

Supergirl is coming off of an especially outstanding Lex Luthor-focused episode from last week, the first to kick off the series’ return, following an unscheduled production delay from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Last week’s episode being a tough act to follow definitely feels prevalent throughout this week’s episode, “The Missing Link”, which is now being forced to serve as the penultimate episode of Supergirl’s current season, after three episodes were cut out of the show’s Season Five order, due to the pandemic. This leaves Supergirl just as short-handed as sibling series, The Flash, though fortunately, Supergirl at least manages to have a better lead-in to its premature season finale than The Flash ultimately did.

As much as Supergirl frustratingly handles some of its conflicts with kid gloves at times, one thing that made this episode refreshing is how effectively it created some huge, lasting consequences for the heroes, despite next week’s episode not originally being planned as the season finale. This comes after some narrative repetition early on though, especially when Team Supergirl must once again face Rama Khan, initially appearing as if they’re going to re-enact the same conflict from the Pre-Crisis Earth-38, specifically during last year’s midseason finale for Supergirl. There are nonetheless a couple of twists however, namely when Rama Khan attacks a geological survey facility in Oregon this time, rather than a public area in National City, and especially when Brainy and the DEO intervene in the operation, ultimately apprehending Rama Khan for themselves.

As much as Brainy is still outwardly falling in line with Lex Luthor’s plot, it does seem apparent that their tense working relationship is finally starting to come apart, another surprising feather in the cap of a prematurely shortened Supergirl season. Brainy’s forced loyalty to Lex eventually appears to cost him all of his remaining allies here, even Nia, and this is made all the more dramatic when it comes out that Rama Khan wanted to be caught, and wanted to be placed in the DEO! This all being a big trick by Rama Khan, done to snatch a huge batch of Kryptonite for Leviathan, is bad enough, but worse still is that Rama Khan destroys the entire DEO building on his way out! Yes, the DEO appears to be no more on Earth-Prime! This is a massive development for Supergirl, and one that creates an excellent heightened cost for Brainy, as he literally loses everything for the sake of the so-called, “Greater good.”

Speaking of the, “Greater good”, this element of the storytelling also excelled throughout a standout subplot with the Luthor siblings, who continue to be two of the best personalities on Supergirl at this point. After a prison inmate has a violent reaction to his Non Noncere programming within a stalled elevator, following a claustrophobia-induced panic attack, the entire prison eventually begins to riot, revealing a massive glitch in Lena’s Non Noncere experiment. Despite Lex helping Lena get the inmates under control, this turn of events forces Lena to confront the nature of human evolution, and realize that her experiment is a failure. It was obvious that Non Noncere would have to fail, since it wouldn’t be much of an Arrowverse with no conflict, but even then, Lex’s furious tirade at Lena, wherein he reveals that he knew she would fail, and allowed her to fail because she had to fail on her own terms, made the drama of this moment really soar. Lena rejecting Lex’s methods yet again also allowed this week’s episode to end with a full mea culpa for Lena at Kara’s apartment, where she finally admits that she was wrong to go against Kara, and admits to her anger pushing her down a dark path. It’s a heartwarming way to lead in to next week’s season finale, suggesting some hope for Kara and Lena, after so many heavy losses suffered by Team Supergirl this week.

Those are the best story turns in this episode. That being said, this better material is also layered with quite a bit of filler, resulting in a penultimate Season Five episode for Supergirl that’s pretty good overall, but also not as good as it could have been. The problems with this episode start becoming apparent when the show once again starts focusing on Obsidian, which is preparing to launch another major public event, despite the recent glitches that trapped people in the Obsidian Platinum VR network. Kelly and William team up to determine that Eve Tessmacher is connected to the late Margot Morrison, and the glitches in Obsidian Platinum, but their concerns are ultimately dismissed by Andrea. Not only does this leave Kelly and William once again getting nowhere, if you don’t count William stupidly being kidnapped by Eve while tailing her, because he’s a terrible reporter (as usual), but worse still is that this next story turn with Obsidian is probably not going to be paid off within this season anymore, making any effort to alert Andrea to Leviathan’s shenanigans ultimately feel like a waste of time at this point.

Alex also ends up being fairly wasted within another subplot that doesn’t manage to accomplish anything, at least beyond setting up another tease for Supergirl’s upcoming sixth season. We do at least get to meet the real Pete Andrews in this subplot though, giving Sean Astin a welcome chance to reprise his guest role here, as Pete and Alex collaborate to find information on Leviathan within the U.S. Congressional Library. The two are ultimately ambushed by Leviathan’s agents and forced to flee however, which feels contrived to the extreme, since Leviathan’s exact reach and methods for silencing nosy people hasn’t exactly been established well, at least outside of National City. In the end, all of this is set up to foreshadow Alex having to come to terms with losing the DEO, and potentially becoming a vigilante, possibly the successor to Guardian, in fact. That’s kind of interesting, but again, it’s clearly a development that we’ll no doubt have to wait until next season to see. This means that we probably won’t witness Alex following up on this suggestion from Kelly until well into 2021, now that The CW has confirmed that it will be at least Spring 2021 before Supergirl’s next season has any chance of making it to the airwaves.

Supergirl is thankfully avoiding some of its shakier run-ups to season climaxes in this episode, which only ceased being a problem last season. Thus, the show does feel like it’s in a good place at this point, even after losing three planned episodes to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Missing Link” carries some big consequences for Team Supergirl, particularly Brainy, after he’s forced to watch the DEO literally collapse around him, while at the same time becoming completely forsaken by his friends and loved ones. The action-packed battles against Rama Khan are also a highlight here, as is Lena facing a similar destruction of her season-long ambitions, which forces her to return hat-in-hand to Kara. The developments with Obsidian and Alex feel useless for now, especially when Supergirl will likely be going off the air for potentially an entire year after next week, but at least there was enough momentum to keep Supergirl primed and ready for the premature end of Season Five. Something tells me that Leviathan is going to endure into next season at this rate, which could potentially hamper the appeal of next week’s season finale, but it nonetheless proved to be a stroke of luck to have Team Supergirl get beaten down so much this week, bringing them to a low point that will at least hopefully help the end of this season excel in the drama department.

Supergirl 5.18: "The Missing Link" Review
Supergirl delivers some effectively heavy drama for Brainy and Lena this week, despite a few tedious subplots sometimes disturbing the momentum.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Lena having to face Non Noncere's failure
  • Some great action with Rama Khan
  • Brainy's loyalty to Lex costing him everything
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Kelly/William subplot is a waste of time
  • Alex's identity crisis still feels too tedious
80%Overall Score
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