Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 17 - Deus Lex Machina

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




Plot

The details of how Lex Luthor was able to manipulate the Crisis to improve his lot on Earth-Prime are explained, as Lex enacts an intricate plan to bring Lena under his control and pit Supergirl against Leviathan, all with the help of an old ally who is about to meet Lex Luthor again for the first time - Eve Teschmacher!


Influences

All-Star Superman (the baby Sun Eater living in the Fortress of Solitude)


Goofs

While this may be a result of reality changing Post-Crisis, the Martians all seem to be much more powerful than they were previously, with Malefic somehow sensing the change in Earth's Q-waves from Mars and both J'onn and M'Gann now being able to fly through deep space without space suits. On the other hand, Martians in the regular DC Comics are crazy overpowered and the Martians depicted in the Arrowverse have always been severely under-powered relative to the comics, so what we see here is far more accurate to the source material.


Performances

A year ago, people mocked the idea of Jon Cryer being an effective Lex Luthor. This episode finally confirms how perfect that casting choice was.

For that matter, Andrea Brooks is a delight in this episode and it is clear why they keep finding excuses to bring her back as Miss Tessmacher.


Artistry

Setting the montage of Lex's trip around the world to David Bowie's "Man Who Sold The World" was frankly brilliant.


Super Trivia

This episode was directed by Melissa Benoist. It was her first professional directing job.


Technobabble

The Obsidian Platinum lenses interface with the brain by using Q-waves, which operate on a similar frequency as Malefic's brain. This means that just as J'onn could not connect to his brother telepathically, he can't find the missing Obsidian Platinum users.  

Brainiac-5 theorizes that if Supergirl uses Myriad in reverse, compressing the Q-waves in the atmosphere rather than broadcasting Q-waves into peoples' minds, it should make it possible for J'onn to telepathically track the missing people.

A Lexosuit can act as a mini-sunlight chamber if its internal radiation is set to 1,000 watts per meter.

A hydrogen explosive, contained within a Sun Eater, can trigger a reaction that will shrink it to a manageable size.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Lex Luthor screams as he plunges a Kryptonite dagger into a prone figure. We cut to a bedroom, where Lex is kneeling on the bed, punching into the mattress. He is watched by a butler, who looks stunned. He carries a tray in one hand which has a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice, along with a large breakfast. A newspaper is in his free hand.)
Butler: Are you all right, sir? 
Lex: (cautiously) That depends. Am I dead? 
Butler: (chuckle ) Heavens no, sir. But I dare say you're a bit hungover. Coffee?
(Lex hops out of bed and moves past the butler, pulling aside the curtains opposite his bed. We see the skyline of National City.)
Lex: (gasping in relief) I saved the world. 
Butler: It is all in a day's work for you, isn't it, Mr. Luthor? Why else would they be awarding you the Nobel Peace Prize? 
(The butler unfurls the morning newspaper. The front page headline reads LEX LUTHOR AWARDED NOBLE PRIZE FOR PEACE!) 
Lex: (chuckling) I didn't just save the world... I made a new world!

(Lex enters his mansion. He sniffs the air.)
Lex: Do I smell Beef Wellington? 
(Eve Teschmacher enters. She is wearing a neat black dress along with, paradoxically, a pink and red frilly apron with hearts.)
Eve: Victory and role-playing makes me hungry. ( In Margot's voice ) "Amy Sapphire was right. Technology is the greatest evil mankind has ever faced." 
Lex: Okay, stop there. Please don't ever image-induce into her ever again. I might lose my appetite. 
Eve: (laughs and sighs contentedly) I'm so glad we finally have a night to spend some time alone as a couple. 
Lex: A couple? 
Eve: I've been trying to tell you how I feel... and it's not just because you helped me escape Leviathan, it's because of who you are. How could I not love you? 
Lex: Oh... Ms. Tessmacher... you sad, silly woman... of course you love me. What's funny is, you thought I could love you back. 
Eve: (laughs nervously) I don't understand. We're a team. We're meant to be together. We're destined... 
Lex: Oh, we're destined. On another world, in another life, we knew each other very well. And in that life, you said you loved me, too. You distracted me, you made me weaker. But that's not happening this time, honey. I feel nothing for you. I saved you because you were useful. I needed a spy inside Leviathan. Oh, and as for your mother... she's still in danger, but from me. Those cars I showed you? The men in them are just waiting to pull the trigger if you ever betray me. But I'd think twice about that. That man you killed in the Andes didn't murder your father. I never bothered to find out who knocked off your old man. No, the man you murdered is Supergirl's father. 
(Lex samples something from one of the dishes and nods approval. As he continues to speak, the look of adoration on Eve's face changes to one of seething hatred.)
Lex: Oh, that's good. I have video of you killing him, by the way. Defy me, and I'll pass it on. Believe me, you do not want to be on the wrong side of those laser eyes. 
Eve: (bitterly) You are worse than Leviathan. 
Lex: Not worse. Better. 


Dialogue Disasters

Jason Mewes' cameo playing a Mississippi farmer. His Southern accent is beyond belief and breaks the fourth wall nearly as much as the fact that it's Jason Mewes showing up dressed as a farmer.


Continuity

The episode opens precisely 90 days after Crisis on Infinite Earths ended.

J'onn and Kara arrive at the hidden Leviathan ward first seen in 515. They are surprised to learn that Lex Luthor apparently uncovered the base, killed Margot (who was about to kill all the patients) and that Margot left behind a video claiming to be an acolyte of Amy Sapphire's manifesto from 514.

Richard Bates from 515 is among the people trapped in Obsidian Platinum whom Luthor saved.

3 months earlier, Lex Luthor woke up in a bed in a luxurious bedroom with a butler inquiring as to if he felt alright, as he woke up screaming from a flashback to the events of Crisis.

To his astonishment and relief, Lex confirms that he did not just save the world during Crisis - he was able to remake it according to his bargain with The Monitor.

Luthor's apartment is decorated with framed magazines where he is on the cover. This includes a Time Magazine declaring him Person of the Year, a magazine called National City Stars declaring him the sexiest man of the year again, and a CatCo Magazine about him and Supergirl teaming up to save the DEO.

Lena is asleep on Lex's couch. He gives her a shot to keep her asleep and asks his butler to see that she gets home while he tends to some family business. 

Lex informs the Lillian Luthor of the new world of the events of Crisis. She takes the news that reality was destroyed and rewritten quite well and comments, when Lex is surprised by this, that he's upgraded if his mother had been the sort of woman who would be upset by such a thing even if it had been resolved in her favor.

Lex takes his coffee without sugar.

Luthor's first priority is finding the Fortress of Solitude and destroying it and Superman/Supergirl before they can move against him.

Lillian tells Lex that the Kryptonians were his allies in this reality and that, by his account, it was his vendetta against him which led to his death in the previous reality. She advises that Lex focus on winning Lena over, since it was her turning on him that led to his previous plans failing. This sets up the scene where Lex proposes an alliance in 510.

Lena tells Lex about Leviathan and how Eve Teschmacher was an agent in their employ the whole time she worked for him and he had no clue they even existed. 

We see an extended version of the scene where Lex explored the Legion ship in 511. This time, we see Lex using the Legion computer to gather all the information that exists on Earth-Prime's Eve Teschmacher.

In the reality of Earth-Prime, Eve Teschmacher never worked for Lex Luthor, which means she never encountered anyone at CatCo Worldwide Media. This explains how she was able to hide out at Obsidian North without being recognized and why nobody recognized her as the woman who took the blame for Lena Luthor's crimes earlier this season.

In Earth-Prime, Eve Teschmache works as a spy and assassin for Leviathan, having been recruited after they killed her father and threatened to kill her mother. Lex tells her that he knows all about this and wants to help her get free of them. 

30 days after Crisis, Lex reveals that he has three ex-Mossad agents watching Eve Teschmacher's mother, ready to protect her if Leviathan moves against her. He also reveals that he is trying to track down the Leviathan agent responsible for killing her father.

Eve reveals that while she has yet to get onto Leviathan's ship, she did convince Gamemnae to put her to work at Obsidian North on the Platinum VR project. 

Eve reports that she found a way to patch a glitch in the bio-link that developed as a result of the Luthor tech being integrated into Obsidian Platinum which caused people to develop toxic shock while eating virtual food. This was first mentioned in 512.

Lex reveals that this was not a glitch but it was part of his plan. With Eve using her position to stop the glitch from being fixed, Lex will step in and offer his assistance to Gamemnae in covering up the problems caused by the glitch, winning her trust and earning himself an invitation onto Leviathan's ship, where he can use the mortality code Brainiac-5 is developing to make them mortal.

Lex poses as a bartender and gives Richard Bates the idea to hack Obsidian Platinum so he can get back at the man with whom his wife was having a virtual affair. This eventually occurred in 515.

43 days after Crisis, Eve Teschmacher has been moved into a new apartment.

Less reveals to Eve that he discovered a woman on-line named Amy Sapphire who blamed Obsidian Platinum and Andrea Rojas for her husband's suicide. Lex intends to radicalize Amy Sapphire by providing her with a set of gauntlets that will enable her to weaponize her bio-energy. This reveals where Amy got her gauntlets in 514. Lex further plans to order Supergirl to act as Andrea Rojas' bodyguard, enabling him to further endear himself to Gamemnae. 

60 days after Crisis is when Amy Sapphire attacked Obsidian North's offices. (514.) At the time the attack occurred, Lex Luthor was playing chess with his mother and actively ignoring Brainiac-5's calls for help stopping the power core under the CatCo building from exploding.

Eve told Lex that Leviathan was quietly ferrying the people becoming addicted to Obsidian Platinum because of the glitch into a facility in National City.This prompts Lex to provide Richard Bates with the backdoor he needs to hack into Obsidian Platinum for his revenge scheme. This occurs just before Lex goes on a world tour to promote Obsidian Platinum. 

Lex provides Eve with a dossier on the man who killed her father and a poison that will make his death look like natural causes. The man in the dossier is Jeremiah Danvers, whose death was reported at the end of 515.

The montage of Lex's trip around the world s is intercut with scenes from 515 and 516.

Lena approaches Kara to offer her sympathies over her adoptive father's death. She offers Kara a book that helped her get over the loss of her mother.

88 days after Crisis, Lex meets with Lillian and complains that Lena went to Kara and that he never considered that as a possibility. This spurs him to do something that will pit Leviathan against Supergirl and turn Lena against Kara again.

Lex has Eve leak a tip to William Day regarding the paper medical bracelet he found in 516 and then tells her to move all the bodies Leviathan is hiding somewhere else.

William's mother taught him how to bake. He makes scones, sticky toffee pudding and banoffee pie for Kara and Alex.

The fake clue Eve sends to William Day turns out to be information on Richard Bates, whose bracelet William found.

Alex recognizes the name Bonnie Walker on the list of people still trapped inside Obsidian VR who can't be found. This was the woman she met while she was playing the Supergirl simulation.

Eve records their conversation from across the street and sends it to Lex, who uses the video/audio to prove to Gamemnae that Supergirl and her allies are plotting against Leviathan. He also reveals that he knows the truth about what she and her associates are. 

Gamemnae reveals that her plan is to kill everyone who is logged into Obsidian Platinum during a global event. 

Lex says that he can stop the plan from being exposed, but he will need the assistance of Leviathan's stealthiest operative.

Lex gives Brainiac-5 a pysanka that was gifted to him by a Ukrainian holy man.

Brainiac-5 says that he was asked to help locate the people who are trapped in Obsidian Platinum and that Alex Danvers thought Luthor was abducting them. Lex promises that is Leviathan's doing - not his.

Brainiac-5 asks Lex to help him find the people that Leviathan kidnapped. Lex says he can't, because that would ruin his plan to be the inside man that brings them down.

Lex also refuses to give the cube from the Legion ship to Brainiac-5 because Lena is using it.

Lex suggests that maybe Supergirl has something in the Fortress of Solitude that might be able to track Q-Waves.

J'onn says he detected Richard Bates' psychic signature at the place where Leviathan had been keeping the victims, but there was some kind of interference blocking him from tracking them. Brainiac-5 reveals this is because Obsidian Platinum runs on Q-waves, which operate on a frequency similar to Malefic's brain. 

Activating Myriad generates an interference that disrupts Lena's experiments. This leads her, after some prompting from Lex, to go to the Fortress of Solitude to see if Kara is using Myriad after she said it was too dangerous for anyone to use.

Lex loans Lena his teleporter watch to make the trip.

Lena is trailed by an invisible creature,who follows her through the portal.

The L-Protocol which defended the Fortress from anyone with Luthor DNA in 507 does not exist on Earth-Prime. This enables Lena to enter the Fortress of Solitude without triggering an alarm.

Lena discovers that Kara is indeed using Myriad.

The invisible being is revealed to be a Morae - one of the aliens first depicted in 410.

The Morae releases the baby sun eater that lives inside the Fortress of Solitude and it drains the solar energy from Kara's body just flying past her.

M'Gann arrives from Mars, saying that Malefic sensed the disturbance to Earth's Q-waves and sent her to help.

Kara is healed after a DEO Lexosuit is reconfigured to charge her body with solar energy. 

The Sun Eater is shrunk back to a regular size and returned to its safe room in the Fortress of Solitude.

The Morae confirms that she works for Leviathan.

While J'onn and Kara are occupied with the Sun Eater, Lex rescues the Leviathan captives, leading to the opening scene of the episode. 

J'onn doesn't detect the presence of the Leviathan captives until after Lex has already killed Margot and exposed the kidnapping plot, while leaving the existence of Leviathan a secret.

Lex explains to Gamemnae that it was necessary for Margot to die to remove any hint of suspicion that Obsidian North was involved in the kidnapping plot. He does admit to underestimating Supergirl and her allies in how they were able to stop the Sun Eater before enough people were logged into Obsidian Platinum for Gamemnae to enact her plan to cull humanity, but says that just proves his point that they have to destroy Supergirl first and that only immortals, like Leviathan, can possibly have a chance of hurting her. 

Lex returns to his mansion to find Eve cooking him Beef Wellington in an apron. 

It is revealed that Eve, wearing an image inducer, was responsible for Margot's confession video.

Eve once again professes her love for him and asks is they can finally pursue a romance now that all their goals are almost achieved.

Lex admits that he was using Eve, that he lied about Jeremiah Danvers killing her father, that his bodyguards will kill her mother if she dares move against him. He also admits that he did make a mistake one year earlier: he trusted that Eve's love for him would be enough to keep her from double-crossing him, which is why he's now blackmailing her with the evidence of the murder she committed and her mother's life to make sure she continues to be the perfect minion. 

Using the watch he gave Lena, Lex recalls the last location used and walks into the Fortress of Solitude.


Location

Fortress of Solitude
Deep Space, close to Earth's sun
Luthor Manor


The Bottom Line

There's one-half of a great episode here and it's the half which explains some of the excesses of the second half of Season 5 as all being part of Lex Luthor's larger plan. The hell of it is that as good as this is, it winds up inadvertently making it look like Lex Luthor is the only character doing anything to thwart Leviathan and makes the heroes look like idiots for focusing on Lex Luthor being a part of the one sinister scheme that he honestly had nothing to do with!  The second half is definitely weaker, with M'Gann showing up out of nowhere, the Martians suddenly being far more powerful than they were before and a CGI extravaganza suddenly being inserted into what had been a nice, character-focused episode until that point. The whole thing averages out to be pretty good, but that's largely due to the charisma of Jon Cryer and Andrea Brooks.

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