Supergirl 4.16: “The House of L” Review

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



Finally, Supergirl is actually making effective use of Lex Luthor! Following on from the more sluggish and sloppy, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, Supergirl manages to excel with, “The House of L”, which puts Lex Luthor square in the spotlight, namely via catching up on what he’s been up to since his arrest. It turns out that my former theory was bang on the money too; Lex does indeed have a hand in the Kaznian Supergirl clone that’s been showing up in passing at various points during the season. Further benefiting the episode is that this seemingly irrelevant Kaznian Supergirl storyline is finally starting to make sense, with Lex Luthor being the effective thread that ties all of Season Four’s big events together.

“The House of L” is one of the best Supergirl episodes to come along in quite some time, and that’s great news, because Season Four has really started to flounder by this point. Even then, we still have to sit through a bit of a weird, non-sensical intro, wherein Lex tries to get away from Supergirl with his Lex-O-Suit, only to reveal that he was somehow given superpowers! This is the only part of the episode that felt hokey and weird, with Lex crushing Supergirl under the Daily Planet globe in Metropolis, via some very dodgy effects on display, before getting away off-screen, alongside Kara. This moment basically exists as a head-scratching excuse for how Lex got away from Kara in the first place, but in that case, why bother having Kara catch him fleeing the Luthor Mansion at all? This entire sequence is unnecessary, especially since Kara would inevitably discover Lex’s hand in events soon after, since Lena was knocked out and dropped back in National City mere moments beforehand.

Fortunately, once the obligatory Kara/Lex chase is out of the way, this episode more or less fires on all cylinders, with a surprisingly great Superman: Red Son-esque storyline that explains what Kaznia has been up to with the Supergirl clone, and how Lex has used the clone to influence events throughout the entire season to date! It turns out that even Ben Lockwood and the Children of Liberty are an indirect part of Lex’s overall scheme, namely to continue exonerating himself in the public eye, with the added benefit of discrediting the Superman family. With Lex scheming to pit Kaznia and the U.S. against each other, creating a war that he will subsequently stop, it’s been Lex pulling Ben Lockwood’s strings the whole time, and in turn influencing the Children of Liberty, all to rile the U.S. up, and get them ready for a fight. It’s actually kind of cool to think that the whole anti-alien debate that has served as a key theme throughout this season is a mere front for a single-minded, egotistical scheme from Lex Luthor. This almost, almost, makes so much of the nauseating adolescent political commentary from throughout this season worth suffering through, since it’s just a side effect of Lex’s manipulation of the entire U.S. political sphere. Wow!

It’s great to see the bond that Lex ends up developing with the Supergirl clone unfold throughout this episode as well, who now appears to have been officially christened, “Red Daughter.” After the Kaznian military discovers and captures the Supergirl clone, subjecting her to tests and training, Lex begins properly educating the clone with books, chess matches, and information about other parts of the world, particularly the U.S. We see throughout the episode how most of those loose scenes with Red Daughter fit together, with Lex apparently coming and going from prison as he pleases, thanks to blackmail and manipulation, so that the world has no idea what he’s plotting in Kaznia. Retroactively seeing that Lex was just barely off-screen throughout many of the key Red Daughter moments throughout the season was great, as was Lex exploiting his name’s similarity to Alex Danvers, Kara’s sister. That’s unfortunate, since the name, “Alex” seems to be the only thing that Red Daughter can recall in her mind, leaving her a perfect target for Lex’s machinations.

There’s an especially great curveball thrown in too, when we also see that Lex took Red Daughter to National City in disguise, showing her what the U.S. is truly like, and how they live in contrast to Kaznia. This apparently happened during the events of the Elseworlds crossover episodes that Supergirl shared with Arrow and The Flash, nicely explaining how no one suspected that Red Daughter was wandering around places like Kara’s apartment and L-Corp. posing as the real Kara. When Red Daughter becomes confused about Kara’s morality however, curious about her personality and her relationships, she begins to question Lex’s intentions, forcing Lex to attack a boy that Red Daughter visits in Kaznia, with some help from Otis and Eve. Otis rescues the boy before he’s actually killed, suggesting that he may also be more sympathetic than he initially appears, but the scene is nonetheless enough to convince Red Daughter to attack a carrier in U.S. waters, which explains the naval tension rising between the U.S. and Kaznia, another intentional part of Lex’s scheme.

Everything came together exceptionally with Lex successfully convincing Red Daughter that the U.S. is an enemy, priming Kaznia for a fight with an increasingly divided and vulnerable America, all no doubt symbolized by the fast-approaching confrontation between Red Daughter and Kara. Considering that Lex is also training Red Daughter to potentially take Kara’s place, it would also appear that part of Lex’s scheme is killing Red Daughter when she prevails over Supergirl, handily killing two birds with one stone, solidifying himself as a hero, while also destroying Supergirl once and for all. It’s awesome to see a genuinely Lex Luthor-worthy plan come together in this episode, finally giving Red Daughter a believable place in the season’s events to boot, while also adding a shocking new dimension to the ongoing alien debate that seems to be particularly heated in National City.

It’s a relief to see that Supergirl is still occasionally willing to question its own hard-leaning liberal bias, ultimately making what seemed to be a very oppressive allegory for real-world immigration and Trump-era politics into a simple part of the self-serving agenda behind one man. Perhaps that’s part of the allegory, but at least that part is being executed in a legitimately smart, creative way. The long-awaited introduction of Lex Luthor to the Supergirl universe is finally paying dividends, as is the presence of Red Daughter, who has never truly fit into the season’s storytelling until now. “The House of L” finally appears to have set Supergirl on a better story path, creating a fantastic new threat that has successfully made Agent Liberty into a mere pawn, and the very conflict dividing the U.S. into smoke and mirrors. As usual, I’m hardly convinced that the show can keep up this superior story momentum for long, considering how shaky this season has been, but I hope that the various story elements all coming together here can at least lead to a strong crescendo for Lex’s big scheme, especially as Kara must face down what her own legacy has wrought.

Supergirl finally delivers a truly standout episode in, "The House of L", which finally properly capitalizes on Lex Luthor, and finally delivers a great storyline for Red Daughter.
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Red Daughter's education and brief trip into Kara's life
Lex orchestrating the Children of Liberty to exonerate himself
Previous Red Daughter snippets finally make sense
Kara catching Lex in the intro is quickly made pointless