NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review
After the far-reaching, politically-charged battle against President Baker and Lex Luthor last season, Supergirl has to contrive a new excuse to render Earth-38 enslaved by some kind of shadowy menace. “Event Horizon” wastes no time outlining the new threat to Kara and her friends either, which comes in the form of augmented reality-style contact lenses, delivered by a company called Obsidian North (no doubt a front for the previously-teased Leviathan organization), which just so happens to be one floor below CatCo. There’s certainly some intrigue to be had in this episode, though if you were hoping that Supergirl would stop its neo-liberalist preaching in Season Five, you’ll be sorely disappointed, since this fifth season premiere for the show continues to bury its better story ideas under adolescent rhetoric and melodrama.
A key plot turn that took place during the Season Four finale serves as one of the main storytelling lynchpins of Supergirl’s fifth season, specifically Lena learning from her dying brother that Kara is Supergirl. Lena has seen fit to subsequently sell CatCo to a high-powered businesswoman named Andrea Rojas as an indirect result of this revelation, who decides to rebrand the magazine as a sensationalist rag, which will combat decreasing subscriber numbers. Yes, despite Kara winning a Pulitzer Prize for her expose on President Baker and Lex Luthor, CatCo subscribers are down, and the only solution is to turn the company into a crappy tabloid news outlet, in an over-the-top turn that practically transforms Andrea into a moustache-twirling villain, mere seconds after she’s acquired CatCo. This doesn’t feel realistic at all, even by the standards of the Arrowverse, but I guess it wouldn’t be a new season of Supergirl if a colleague of Kara’s wasn’t challenging her ideals in the most infantile way possible.
This is frustrating, since the idea of Lena selling off CatCo under the guise of business preservation, while doubling down on the sale as a means to also spy on Kara at her job, is a pretty great story hook for Season Five’s early episodes especially. The problem however is that Supergirl once again comes off as juvenile and hypocritical with the characters’ response to this sale, by portraying an over-the-top jerk boss for Kara that wants to make every CatCo issue more digestible and bite-sized, which naturally results in another highly unprofessional temper tantrum by Kara, which Alex in particular inexplicably congratulates her for. It’s pretty rich to have Supergirl of all shows condemning the practice of making news more emotionally-charged and simplified, when the show has been doing exactly that with its political and social commentary for several seasons now!
On the bright side, the show’s latest disposable villain-of-the-week at least serves as an interesting follow-up to one of the Season Four finale’s other big teases. After a shapeshifter attacks one of National City’s museums, and steals Superman’s pod, Kara and the DEO subsequently discover that the technology from the pod is being appropriated to create a Phantom Zone projector. The projector is then used to call forth Midnight, a shadow-spewing alien that J’onn formerly imprisoned in the Phantom Zone during the battle against the White Martians, who is seemingly out for revenge on Earth. There is a character called Midnight in DC Comics lore as well, but that version is a non-powered detective character, so this darkness-powered alien seems to be an entirely separate personality that has nothing to do with DC Comics’ Midnight.
As much as Midnight is just the latest disposable villain-of-the-week for an Arrowverse show, she does at least provide another better story turn for J’onn, as I mentioned. There isn’t too much emphasis placed on it in contrast to other developments in this episode, but the thief that built the Phantom Zone projector is none other than Malefic, J’onn’s lost brother, whom the Monitor brought forth to Earth-38 at the conclusion of last season! J’onn seems to have no memory of a brother, but Malefic nonetheless announces a vendetta against him, promising that Midnight is just the first stage in a series of assaults! Malefic targeting Earth, while also tormenting J’onn, is definitely one of the better teases for Supergirl’s fifth season, especially since Malefic is clearly unhinged and diabolical, which begs the question of why the Monitor unleashed him in the first place. Midnight may be sent back to the Phantom Zone pretty easily in the end, especially considering that she opens an entire black hole in Kara’s Pulitzer ceremony, but at least Malefic carries a lot of promise for later.
Another great tease for later in the season comes when Kara actually confesses the truth about her Supergirl identity to Lena unprompted as well, mere moments before Lena was ready to send an expose to Andrea, revealing Kara’s identity as Supergirl to the world! After seemingly being inspired by Kara, Lena holds off on sending the expose, and the trouble that she seemingly had with Kara now seems to be over. Despite Kara fully welcoming Lena into her superhero circle, complete with Lena’s very own Supergirl Watch though, Lena nonetheless tells her A.I., Hope that she’s still going to strike back at Supergirl for lying to her and betraying her. The idea of Lena playing the long game with Kara to some unknown end is very exciting, and has her moving much more closely to her Luthor heritage, suggesting that Lena has Kara right where she wants her, and in reality, Lena has no intention of forgiving her supposed best friend so easily.
There’s a few other story bits of note too, such as Brainy having relationship difficulty with Nia on account of his brief evil turn at the end of last season, Kara finally getting a new costume, complete with pants, after her cape is (somehow) damaged, and James deciding to quit CatCo after being unable to support Andrea’s new direction for the company, despite a non-compete clause effectively destroying his career in journalism. Those are fine and good, but they would have shone more if so much of this season premiere didn’t spell out the season’s big technology/clickbait obsession debate for the drooling idiots in the peanut gallery (which it does in the first five minutes), and didn’t have Kara once again making a fool of herself by acting like an emotional head case with a high schooler’s intelligence, despite the fact that she’s now won a Pulitzer! Still, the developments with Andrea and Lena are pretty good, and another forgettable villain-of-the-week isn’t enough to take away from the drama of Malefic getting ready to strike at his previously-unknown brother, J’onn. “Event Horizon” is thus ultimately a satisfactory season premiere for Supergirl, but it does present some interesting material to look forward to later in the season, even if the heavy-handed social commentary still too frequently gets in the way of the plotting and characterization.
- CatCo being sold and turned into a sensationalist rag
- Malefic's frightening reveal to J'onn
- Lena still planning revenge on Kara, even after Kara's confession
- Incredibly heavy-handed social commentary, again
- Midnight is another lame, disposable villain-of-the-week