NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl”, including a major character death, are present in this review
With the Kaznian invasion stopped, and nothing standing between Lex Luthor and absolute power in the U.S. government, the stage is set for a pretty exciting season finale for Supergirl. “The Quest for Peace”, despite strangely wanting to reference what’s easily the most awful Superman movie made to date, 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, manages to deliver no shortage of genuine thrills and drama. The busy writing does continue to disturb the narrative at times however, as more hasty resolutions leave Supergirl’s season finale falling a bit shy of its potential, despite still setting up a promising fifth season to come, as well as delivering more exciting teases for this Fall’s upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event.
Naturally, despite his nuanced and unpredictable plan to seize government power in Washington, a huge part of Lex’s plans boil down to the same ever-present struggle for his character– Killing Superman. It turns out that the aliens being drained of their powers by Lex’s forces are being exploited to power an even bigger version of the Claymore satellite (I guess this is on top of the miniature one that’s now built into his Lex-O-Suit?), which is being aimed at Argo City, in an effort to destroy Superman and Kara’s family for good! This provides a decent way to involve Superman in this season finale storyline without actually physically dragging him into it, which allows Lex Luthor to keep his eye on his arch-nemesis in an inspired way, especially when his operation apparently doubles as a way to provide truly clean, renewable energy for the world, albeit at the cost of alien lives.
In many respects, the best moment of this season finale occurs when Lex invites Lena and Lillian into the White House, so he can show them the scale of his success. Seeing the Luthor family take digs at each other, try to kill each other, and yet still share their eccentric, twisted love and adoration of one another, made for a lot of standout drama in what’s otherwise a predictably action-focused season finale for Supergirl. This also leads into an exceptionally brilliant moment with Lena later on to boot, after she and Lillian both break free of Lex’s agents and escape, while Lex flies off to Shelley Island, the site of his alien-harnessing technology, when Supergirl and co. inevitably show up to interfere with his plans.
Disappointingly, the payoff to J’onn’s and Nia’s capture isn’t that great. While Lockwood and some super-powered Children of Liberty conveniently show up to keep James and Alex busy, J’onn and Nia try to overload the Claymore satellite so that Argo City isn’t destroyed. Brainy, in his Brainiac 5 state, keeps urging them to stop, but upon seeing Nia straining, Brainy just returns to normal, and that’s it. This is a massive missed opportunity, especially since the episode also tries to put the altered Brainy in with Kara, Alex and Lena shortly before Lena’s White House invitation, yet none of them seem to put together that anything is wrong with him either, somehow. Moreover, Brainy returning to normal just because Nia was in danger, and J’onn and Nia inexplicably surviving an energy overload that should logically kill both of them, felt like a pretty big cop-out in the storytelling. What was even the point of Brainy being temporarily reverted to his Brainiac 5 state then, beyond providing a stupid excuse for J’onn and Nia to get close to the vulnerable satellite core?
Fortunately, as much as it’s evidently constrained by the costumes and the show’s budget, the final stand of Lex against Supergirl is nonetheless pretty cool. Red Daughter even flies in to shield Kara from a Kryptonite blast, right when Kara appears defeated! This is another stupid cop-out by the writers if I’m being honest though. It provides an unrealistically easy way to dispose of Red Daughter, and bring her back into Kara, which begs the question of why the show bothered to have Red Daughter survive into the season finale at all? Lex even conveniently gets away from Kara by faking his death with an exploded Lex-O-Suit, only to be shot twice by Lena soon afterward, who confronts him and says that the world will never be safe with Lex in it. This was a much smarter story turn, particularly since Lex shows Lena that Kara is Supergirl with his dying breath, which devastates Lena greatly. Lena acts like everything is fine to Kara later, but a final scene makes clear that Lena is far from happy about Kara’s deception, likely setting her up as a new threat for Supergirl’s upcoming fifth season, or at the very least, driving a huge emotional wedge between her and Kara.
Regardless, with Argo City saved, the aliens freed, Lockwood, the Children of Liberty and President Baker all thrown in jail, and Kara’s article on Lex inexplicably being believed and never challenged across the world (just go with it, the season’s ending), it seems like anti-alien tensions in the U.S. finally settle down. Still, it’s tough not to feel like this is an overly quick and clean resolution for such an intense and widespread ethical debate for the Supergirl universe, even if there are some good last-minute teases for next season, beyond Lena faking calm around her friends, and fuming about Kara’s lie in the shadows. Alex and Kelly getting together isn’t really unexpected, but there are a few great turns that should have Supergirl fans eagerly anticipating Season Five, as well as this Fall’s crossover event with most of The CW’s other DC shows.
The revelation that Eve is an unwitting agent of Leviathan, a relatively new criminal organization from DC Comics lore, is pretty promising most of all, and quickly sets up Leviathan as the next major villains for Season Five, as they tell Eve that she can’t escape them. It would definitely appear that Leviathan’s trademark mind controlling influence from DC Comics lore will be maintained in the Supergirl universe as well! Likewise, The Monitor makes an appearance in the final moments of this season finale to continue teasing this Fall’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, unleashing J’onn’s evil brother, Malefic on Earth-38, while also approaching the dead Lex Luthor and working some magic on him in the final seconds of the episode. This does somewhat deflate Lena’s shocking twist of murdering her own brother, but we’ll have to see where this tease with Lex ends up going before we fully judge that, I guess. It’s certainly easy to get excited about Malefic joining the Supergirl universe though, and hopefully he’ll provide another fantastic family obstacle for J’onn next season!
“The Quest for Peace” couldn’t ultimately bring the many moving parts behind Supergirl’s fourth season into a fully satisfying resolution, but it was at least very exciting to watch, and did lay some pretty strong groundwork for next season. I wish that the show had bothered to do literally anything with Brainy being reverted into his Brainiac 5 state, rather than just make it a minor nuisance that the heroes didn’t even truly notice, but the especially dark turn with Lena was fantastic, especially the uncomfortable way that she finally learns the truth about Kara’s secret identity. The Monitor nonetheless appears to be undoing Lena’s murder of Lex at this point, but the tease of a darker, more ruthless Lena next season is definitely something to look forward to. I think that Lockwood and President Baker were ultimately brought down far too easily, clearly a casualty of the season running out of room in its episode count, but Leviathan should hopefully make for some cool new villains in Season Five of Supergirl, even if I imagine that all eyes are probably going to be on Crisis on Infinite Earths most of all, considering that The Monitor is also making it a point to poke around Earth-38 as much as Earth-1.