Sunday, January 26, 2020

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 10 - The Bottle Episode

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.




Plot

National City has been relocated to the new Earth-Prime and the world has been forever changed. The DEO is out in the open and Lex Luthor is now Supergirl's boss! As Kara and Alex struggle to figure out what this change means for them, Lena finds herself torn between an apologetic Kara and the devil she knows, as she tries to decide who she can trust. Meanwhile, Brainiac-5 finds himself confronted with several versions of himself from other realities as it becomes clear that the universe may not be finished settling after the recent Crisis.


Influences

The Callahan's Crosstime Saloon stories of Spider Robinson. (idea of a bar full of aliens and people from alternate timelines)


Goofs

Why does Lena value Lillian's word at all when she knows that she is just as treacherous as Lex?

The logic behind why the Kryptonian witches help Brainiac-5 doesn't quite scan - how can he help them get back to their world when all the universes are dead? (Either Brainiac-5 lied or they mean their version of Earth, which coincidentally is the one they came from.)

How do the jacket-wearing Brainiac-5 and the Kryptonian witches enter the sealed bottle to wait for release? (The seal only works one way?)

The female Brainiac-5 tells the Prime Brainiac-5 of the value of love and her her marriage empowered her, yet encourages Brainiac-5 to abandon everyone he loves in order to work with Lex Luthor for a greater good.

Setting the fight scene between the Kryptonian witches and our heroes to N'Sync's It's Gonna Be Me was a weird decision.


Performances

Jesse Rath is clearly having a lot of fun playing the different versions of Brainiac-5, including the new one sans inhibitors.


Artistry

The new make-up for Brainiac-5 is a marked improvement and the costume looks like it was taken directly from the classic Legion comics.


Super Trivia

In television circles, a bottle episode is one that is produced cheaply and intentionally written with a limited scope, often making use of old sets with no guest stars or extras. The term was coined by The Outer Limits creator Leslie Stevens, who likened it to "pulling an episode right out of a bottle like a genie."

Usually bottle episodes have a single setting and have a greater focus on interpersonal relationships. Quite often bottle episodes will be written to follow after a mid-season cliffhanger or an expensive season opener so as to better budget the show's expenses for the fiscal year, allowing more money to be spent on more lavish productions.

Despite its name, "The Bottle Episode" is not actually a bottle episode, featuring a lot of expensive special effects shots for the Brainiac-5 sequences, several locations and a special guest star.

At one point Lex Luthor is due to be given the Man of Tomorrow award. The Man of Tomorrow is a title that is typically applied to Superman and one of his comics was titled Superman: The Man of Tomorrow.

It is revealed that the full alias Brainiac-5 uses while posing as a human is Barney Fife. This is the name of the deputy played by Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show.

Upon encountering his doppelganger, Brainiac-5 asks if he is Martian, Durlan or made of clay. This is reference to two DC Comics alien species capable of shape-shifting and the shape-shifting villain Clayface.

The female Brainiac-5 is played by Meaghan Rath - sister of regular Brainiac-5 actor Jesse Rath.

Mention is made of The Anti-Life Equation - a techno-organic poison that can kill Coluans through their genetic hive-mind.

In the original DC Comics books based around the New Gods, the Anti-Life Equation is an artifact sought by Darkseid which he believes will give him the power to conquer the universe by eliminating all free will.

Trapping cities or planets in a bottle is a common stunt performed by various versions of Brainiac and the people of Colu throughout DC Comics history. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Bottled City of Kandor - a Kryptonian City which Superman kept in the Fortress of Solitude, while searching for a way to safely restore its citizens to normal size after rescuing the city from Brainiac.


Technobabble

The Anti-Life Equation is described as a techno-organic poison, targeted and transmitted through the Coluan hive-mind.

The Brainiac-5s determine that they were transported to Earth-Prime through some kind of dimensional wormhole and that they must find the nexus point to return to their home dimensions. However, Brainiac-5 says that is impossible since following the Crisis there are no other dimensions. At least, none that can be detected through unique vibrational frequencies.

Coluan Personality Inhibitors block off a Coluan's access to The Big Brain - the Coluan hive-mind. This gives them more control over their emotions, but also limits their intellectual potential.

The Brainiac-5 attempting to free his Earth from a bottle is said to have piggy-backed off the personality inhibitors of Brainiac-5 Prime to hide his thoughts from the other Brainiac-5s and the Coluan hive mind.

Releasing a world from a Coluan bottle while standing on another planet can destroy both worlds, due to the gravity ripping both planets apart as they come to occupy the same space.

Coluan world bottles are sealed beneath the quantum level to prevent leakage. They can only be opened using magic or a device that harnesses Argonium 44, such as an Argonium Saber. Only one such saber exists in the Sol system in the 21st century and it is in the custody of the DEO.


Dialogue Triumphs


(We open on an image of a sunrise as a drone flies into view. As  the narration begins, we see images of doctors working on a patient and hot metal being poured into a foundry, giving way to images of children being threatened by aliens and scary ships filling the skies.)
Lex Luthor: (voice over) We live in a world on the cutting edge. And as mankind advances, so too does the danger it faces. For years, we protected America in secret. But now, we want you to know you're in good hands.
(An explosion transitions into an image of several black clad soldiers grappling down from the top of the screen before an office building. A fire suddenly blazes between them but Supergirl flies into the shot and puts it out with her freezing breath. The camera closes-up on Supergirl as she smiles like a beauty pageant queen.)
Supergirl: Hope, help and compassion for all.
Lena Luthor: (voice over) That's our motto here at -
(Cut to the scene from earlier, with Lex and Lena now standing before the DEO soldiers.)
Lex Luthor: The DEO. Call us for all your extranormal needs.
(We pull back away from the screen to see that this is a television commercial. Kara and Alex walk past. Kara looks disgusted and like she almost can't finish the doughnut she's devouring. Almost.)

(Lena slowly wakes up on the couch in her apartment. Lex Luthor is busying himself in her kitchen. He offers her a glass of orange juice.)
Lex: Hey there, sleepyhead. I fried a couple of eggs for you. Methohexital hangovers are no joke. You must be ravenous.
(Lena looks at Lex in disbelief.)
Lena: This can't be real. You're dead!
Lex: (curious) So, you remember everything?
Lena: Of course I remember! I killed you!
Yes, that's right, you killed me. But that is all in the past. Because I'm back now, and I forgive you.
Lena: What are you talking about? What is happening?
Lex: Well, it was, uh... a sort of a Crisis. 
Lena: It was an antimatter wave.
Lex: Ah, yes.
Lena: Alex and I worked together-
Lex: (nodding) Mmm-hmm. 
Lena: We built a portal....The wave still came?
Lex: Yes, and billions were lost and the multiverse collapsed, and it was all very interesting. What matters now is that a very powerful person brought me back to life. To help. But I refused to do so, unless he promised that you would make it through okay, And you have. With your noggin intact.
Lena: You gambled the fate of the entire multiverse to get your own way?
Lex: (cheerfully) It gets better! In this new world, we work side by side at LuthorCorp and the DEO to make the world a better place.
Lena: So I'm in hell!
Lex: No, no, you're in a new reality. To the outside world, we're billionaire philanthropists. It's the perfect cover.
Lena: I want nothing to do with you!
Lex: Ah, yes, you want to fix humanity with your Project Non Nocere. And using Myriad to broadcast the Q-waves? That was smart. But you should have known the moment you decided to steal from a Kryptonian, the Non Nocere was doomed. Kara Danvers will never see things your way. She'll always work against you.
Lena: (sarcastically) Right. So you'll be my friend now?
Lex: The world is ours now, Lena. You don't need a robot and you don't need friends. You need a partner. Imagine what we could accomplish together. Why not give it a go?
Lena: So you think this is your world now? You were a puppet on a string for Leviathan before. What makes this time any different?
(There is a long pause as Lex Luthor honestly looks confused.)
Lex: What the hell is Leviathan?!

Supergirl: So, uh, there's something I have to tell you. I know you think Lex is a good man, That he's your partner...
Lena: Save it. I already know.
Supergirl: What... exactly do you know?
Lena: The Crisis. What Lex did. What you did.
Supergirl: (muttering) Lex...
Lena: That you took the punch. What did you think would happen when you came here? That you'd tell me everything in a fit of selflessness, even if it meant that I knew how you betrayed me? And then I'd just keel over and forgive you?!
Supergirl: Lena, I hurt you. I...I know I hurt you. And I'm never ever going to do it again. And I know how much good you want to do in the world. Just think of what we could do together to help people.
Lena: (coldly) Funny. Lex gave me the same pitch.
Supergirl: He asked you to help him? (sighs) You're not seriously considering it, are you?
(Lena just stares at Kara coldly.)
Supergirl: Please, just be careful.

(Lena enters The Luthor Foundation offices. She sees Lillian Luthor wearing a pink suit.)
Lena: I never thought I'd live to see the day my mother wore petal pink.
Lillian: Technically, you didn't.

Brainiac-5: When I was eight years old, my family went on what humans might call a vacation. This was the first time I had seen the snow. It was incredible.
Kara: Why are you telling me this? '
Brainiac-5:  Because my mother saw how much I loved it. How badly I...I wanted to stay there in the snow. And so, she bottled it for me. The entire planet.
Kara: Brainy...
Brainiac-5: My father was horrified at what she had done. He freed the planet. I was so young and angry with him for taking away my planet. My planet! And that anger terrified him. He feared that I, too, could hold such darkness within me. That I could become my mother. So he placed three personality inhibitors on me. The same ones I wear to this very day.
Kara: Your three dots.
Brainiac-5: When I wear them, I'm not fully calibrated with the Coluan network of minds, The Big Brain. If I hadn't been wearing them, that bad Brainy wouldn't have been able to fool us.
Kara: And you're afraid to take them off?
Brainiac-5: Because I might be worse. And Nia... she...She might not care for me.
Kara: Brainy, you are good to your core. You will never be your mother.
Brainiac-5: How could you be sure?
Kara: Because you're loved. And the people that love you will always fight for you.

(Brainiac-5 and Kara figure out where the other Brainiac-5 with the bottle is.)
Kara We have to tell the other Brainys.
Brainiac-5: No, I...I need to do this alone.
(He pauses dramatically as the music swells and Kara just stares at him.)
Brainiac-5: But you should come, too.
Kara: I'm coming.

(Lex has bonded himself with a Truth-Seeker so he cannot lie.)
Lex: So, sis, what do you want to know?
Lena: Can you help me achieve Non Nocere?
Lex: Better and faster than anybody else.
Lena: Will you truly be on your best behavior? No homicides?
Lex: No unnecessary homicides.
Lena: This is about doing no harm.
Lex: But I won't. I have everything I want except for your partnership.
Lena: When will you turn on me?
Lex: As soon as this partnership inconveniences me. Just like you'll use Non Nocere on me as soon as you get the chance.
Lena: Good. As long as we're clear. You don't need me. Why do you really want to work with me?
Lex: Truthfully?  I don't want to be alone.


Continuity

On Earth-Prime, the DEO operates openly and has commercials informing people as to their existence.

According to Alex, based on her memories, Supergirl and Lex were once great collaborators when it came to the DEO's mission.

Alex's memories of Earth-38 have been restored.

According to Alex, Brainiac-5, Dreamer, Kelly Olsen and every hero who took part in the final battle against the Anti-Monitor in L501 had their memories of the original Arrowverse restored by Martian Manhunter.

Martian Manhunter can't restore the memories of the entire world, as it would likely blow everyone's minds given the way various relationships were changed by the merging of multiple Earths.

According to Kara, CatCo is unfortunately still a tabloid owned by Andrea Rojas and she's being wasted covering Lex Luthor being given the Man of Tomorrow Award.

According to Alex, Lena and Supergirl are partners on this world and there's no record of her having ever tried to mind-control the entire world.

Lena remembers her past-life on Earth-38 as well, thanks to Lex's bargain with The Monitor in S508. Lex only agreed to help The Monitor after he agreed to make sure that Lena survived the Crisis with her mind and memory intact. Apparently The Monitor was somehow able to make good on this promise, despite dying before the multiverse was erased.

Lex has no idea what Leviathan is.

Brainiac-5 and Dreamer encounter an alternate version of Brainiac-5 at Nia's favorite smoothie place. He uses the same human alias as Brainiac-5, but has a decidedly more cheerful personality.

Both versions of Brainiac-5 carry handcuffs on their person in case they need to arrest someone while off-duty.

Lena is seen researching the history of Earth-Prime, apparently having no memory of her life in the new reality. Apparently she and Lex worked together to cure some rare disease and Lex teamed up with Supergirl to fight Agent Liberty within the past year.

The web search also reveals that LexCorp bought the DEO due to it going over-budget and being in danger of being shut down by the Federal Government.

Supergirl tries to reveal her secret identity to Lena, not knowing that her memories of the old reality are intact. Lena is skeptical about her reasons for doing this, but Kara still tries to reach out to her and warns her away from working with Lex.

Three more Brainiac-5's appear at the DEO. One is a female version of Brainiac-5 who claims to be director of the DEO. Another is a male who wears a jacket covered with equations. The third one wears an eye-patch and dies, shortly after warning the others not to let "him" open the bottle.

The Brainiac-5 is determined to have been killed by the Anti-Life Equation - a techno-organic poison known to all the Braniacs except the Brainiac-5 of Earth-Prime.

According to Brainiac-5 Prime, the multiverse is dead. At least, he cannot detect other Earths through the old method of tuning to a specific vibrational frequency.

Lex suggests a truce between himself and Alex and Supergirl for the moment, saying they should focus on threats like Leviathan and see their conflict as a friendly chess game played out slowly. Neither Kara or Alex are agreeable to this, but Lex says he'll give them a day to think it over before declaring all out war on them. 

According to Alex, there is no sign of Leviathan existing in the new Earth-Prime.

According to Andrea Rojas, 82% of Obsidian North's customers with cel-phone plans have purchased their VR plans.

Gamemnae is still the leader of Leviathan in the new reality and has been posing as a woman named Gemma Cooper for several years.

Gemma Cooper was Andrea Rojas' mentor in college and is part of the Board of Directors of Obsidian North.

The Brainiac-5's trace the wormhole nexus to Al's Dive Bar, where two versions of Al are now offering shelter to various alien doppelgangers from now-dead Earths.

The jacket-wearing, nervous Brainiac-5 almost falls prey to the Anti-Life Equation. He is saved when the cheerful Brainiac-5 manages to root out the virus using a process the Prime Brainiac-5 isn't familiar with that involves stroking his forehead and calming him down.

It is clear that Brainiac-5 Prime is much less quick-witted than his doppelgangers.

The doppelganger version of Al says that he had to close his bar down in 1979 when Disco died.

The doppelgangers include alternate versions of the trio of Kryptonian witches who created Reign during Supergirl season 3. They came from the same reality as the alternate version of Al, who claims they came to Earth as tourists and never left. He let them run a side-hustle out of his bar, telling fortunes, to get by.

Lillian Luthor is out of prison in the new reality, and now running The Luthor Foundation - the charitable wing of LuthorCorp.

Lillian Luthor doesn't have her memories of the old reality, but was told everything about what happened by Lex. She is somewhat annoyed that he only felt the need for Lena's memories to remain unaltered, but has put that aside given her apparently improved station.

Lena had a teddy bear named Miss Pizzly whens he was four.

Lillian encourages Lena to consider Lex's offer of a partnership, saying that she knows for sure that Lex can't be trusted but that her judgement regarding Supergirl is questionable and she can't be certain that Kara will never betray her trust again.

Alex vents about not being able to work for Lex Luthor to J'onn. He tells her a story about how he once saved an alien woman named Izzy from a co-worker who found out she was an alien and took her hostage, even thought the DEO regulations at the time prohibited him from moving against violent humans. He says that honor lies in running toward the bomb, regardless of what rules tell you.

The female Brainiac-5 hacks Lex Luthor's computer and determines that he is researching Leviathan.

Brainiac-5 reveals that he wears personality inhibitors. This stuns his female counterpart.

The female Brainiac-5 was married to a woman and credits the relationship with making her better - stronger and smarter in spirit. She says her wife is still with her thanks to her connection to The Big Brain.

Dreamer stumbles across the Brainiac-5 with the jacket trying to open a bottle containing a shrunken Earth in a DEO store room. He quickly asserts his true personality.

The jacketed Brainiac-5 reveals that he was able to save his Earth by trapping it in a bottle before the Anti-Matter wave destroyed it. Unfortunately, he lacks the tools to reverse the process.

Dreamer sends a psychic message to Supergirl and Braniac-5 Prime after the Evil Brainy attacks her.

The female Brainiac-5 notes that trapping worlds in bottles is an ancient Coluan practice.

Gemma Cooper encourages Andrea Rojas in her developing a more realistic shared virtual environment.

Brainiac-5 reveals that the reason he wears personality inhibitors is because of a tantrum he threw when he was 8 after his father freed a snow-covered world that his mother trapped to make him happy.  He feared Brainiac-5 would take after his mother and Brainiac-5 wore the inhibitors ever since, for fear he might go mad or that Nia would not love his real self.

After removing his inhibitors, Brainiac-5's skin becomes a darker shade of green and his hair a darker shade of blonde.

Brainiac-5 convinces his counterpart to allow him and his friends a chance to safely release his world somewhere it won't endanger either Earth.  The jacket-wearing Brainy and the Kryptonian witches enter into the bottle to wait for release.

The bottle containing the other Earth is taken to the Fortress of Solitude for safe-keeping.

The other Brainiac-5s decide to give up their corporeal forms and bond with The Big Brain of the new universe, saying it is the closest they have to going home, living on as digital ghosts of a sort.

The female Brainiac-5 warns Brainiac-5 Prime of Luthor's research into Leviathan and says that she nearly destroyed her world fighting against Luthor over Leviathan. She gives him her knowledge of how events played out on her Earth, saying they are similar to how things stand on Earth-Prime now.

Brainiac-5 Prime now carries the Life Projectors of the other two Brainiac-5s.

While bonded to a Truth-Seeker, Lex promises to assist Lena with Project Non Nocere and to avoid any unnecessary homicides. He does admit, however, that he will turn on her the moment their partnership becomes an inconvenience, but that he also realizes Lena plans to use Project Non Nocere on him the first chance she gets. Lena finds these terms acceptable because they know where they stand with each other.

Brainiac-5 breaks up with Dreamer.

William Dey reveals to Kara that he doesn't trust the Luthors and thinks they're involved in the death of his best friend, Russell Rogers, who died mysterious after the Luthors tried and failed to buy his company. He got hired on at CatCo hoping to get close to Lena Luthor, before she sold the company to Andrea Rojas. This is a change from Dey's backstory earlier in the season, where he thought Andrea Rojas was involved in the death of Russel Rogers.

Lex has a partnership with Lillian to manipulate Lena to their mutual benefit.

A photo reveals that Alex and Kara ultimately accepted Lex's offer of a truce, as they are seen standing besides him, Lillian and Lena at the Man of Tomorrow awards ceremony.

Brainiac-5 approaches Luthor and informs him that he wishes to work with him to find Leviathan, despite knowing Kara and Alex would not approve of it.

Lex asks Brainiac-5 to track down a doppelganger he believes has information on Leviathan from the futre - the doppelganger is an alternate version of Winn Schott.


Untelevised Adventures

Apparently, up until the Crisis, Supergirl and Superman in the original reality thought The Luthors were good people and had no objection to shooting commercials with them. This means there could be a whole host of adventures involving the Luthors and Supergirl working together that we aren't privy to. Indeed, this is implied by Lena's web search, which says that in the new reality Lex Luthor joined with Supergirl to fight Agent Liberty.

One of the Brainiac-5's makes reference to the experience of dealing with multiple versions of himself reminding him of "some crabs on Helven." The other Brainiac-5's agree that was a terrible experience.


The Bottom Line

A rather odd episode to come back with. On the one hand, it does an effective job of establishing the new status quo-post Crisis and the changes at the DEO and CatCo while showing where Lex, Lena and Leviathan stand.  On the other hand, the subplot with Brainiac-5 and the otherworldly duplicates seems like an unnecessary addition and revisiting the "will they/won't they?" nature of Brainiac and Dreamer's romance seems like a step backward... amusing though it is to see Jess Rath play the multiple Brainiac-5s. It accomplishes what it sets out to do and gives us a more comics-accurate Brainiac-5 in the bargain but the action elements are largely forced and the return of the Kryptonian witches maddeningly random.


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