Lex Luthor Has Revitalized the Villainous Side of 'Supergirl' Season 4

Supergirl was floundering a bit when it came to the villains of Season 4 — until Sunday night’s introduction of Lex Luthor. The iconic villain, and Jon Cryer in the role, more than lives up to the hype, and finally, this season has a worthy bad guy.

Spoilers for Supergirl Season 4 Episode 15 below.

“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” begins with a dying Lex seeking help from his sister, Lena. Her Harun-El serum can save him — and James, who’s going into surgery but badly injured after he was shot in his office. Despite their messy past, they do work together to eventually produce a viable serum, just in time to save James’ life.

However, just as Lena is ready to send her brother back to prison without the serum, she’s in for a rude awakening. Lex has already been given the serum. The agent supposedly watching (and hating) him is really Otis Graves, under an image inducer, there to help Lex escape. They do, leaving Lex’s other associate — Eve! — to take care of Lena. What he means for her to do to his sister is unknown, since he does stop Eve from shooting her.

As Lex escapes in a helicopter, he crosses paths with Supergirl. Those two will engage in “a super-awesome fight” at the Daily Planet in Episode 16, showrunner and executive producer Robert Rovner told Entertainment Weekly.

That’s just the beginning of what we’ll see when it comes to Supergirl vs. Lex. The promo for Episode 16 (above) confirms his involvement in training Red Daughter and teases a fight between her and Supergirl to come.

In just this one episode and the preview for the next, Lex is the villain that Season 4 deserves. He embodies what the previous villains stood for, but in a way that doesn’t have us rooting against the majority of humanity. He may be against aliens just like the others were, but not in the same way that had us counting the human characters (series regular and recurring) on one hand. The anti-alien sentiment gave birth to the Children of Liberty, President Baker’s bad decisions, and Colonel Haley’s witch hunt to figure out Supergirl’s identity.

supergirl season 4 kara alex danvers
Kara and Alex's relationship hasn't been the same since Alex had her memory wiped of Kara's superhero identity.

The latter led to J’onn wiping that from Alex’s memory, which, in turn, changed her relationship with Kara. While it’s been interesting to see that new side of it, with Alex in the dark about her sister, it’s getting tiresome. Instead of understanding where Kara is in Episode 15, Alex is upset that her sister isn’t at the hospital while James is in surgery.

As the flashback to Lex trying to put the world under a red sun four years ago shows, he doesn’t care about humanity if it means accomplishing his plan. His plans are on a much grander scale than any of the villains’ thus far this year — and that’s what you expect from a comic book show: something extreme. Superman (and Supergirl) can’t live under a red sun, but neither can the world. His plan would have killed millions, had he not let himself be taken into custody. But that’s just Lex.

“In the bigger picture, if it kills millions of people, there will be plenty more millions,” Jon Cryer told Variety of Lex’s thinking. “We’ve got billions.”

Depending on what Lex does next, that could give Kara millions to save, a move that could also endear her to the world and give her a chance to get those against aliens and her, especially President Baker and Colonel Haley, on her side.

Lex is, in short, a villain we can understand hating and a villain with a compelling relationship, with his sister. The scenes between Jon Cryer and Katie McGrath in Episode 15 are easily among the best of the season. They offer insight into the siblings’ history and a twisted dynamic that has us wanting to see more, even as we know that no one, especially Lena, can trust anything Lex has to say.

In fact, through Lex, Lena learns she can’t trust those beside her all season, either. Though “Miss Teschmacher!” (as Lex summons her) has been working with Lena on the Harun-El project, she’s been on Lex’s side “forever.” (“Sorry, not sorry,” Eve informs Lena as she aims a gun at her.) It’s just another way, like with Red Daughter, that Lex has clearly been pulling the strings for much longer than he’s been on-screen.

It’s his machinations off-screen before his debut that make him more compelling than the other villains as well. Would we have cared if one of the Children of Liberty had shot James? Probably not, since that storyline has felt stalled for a while. We’re rooting for the aliens the Children are against, and James crossed paths with them earlier. Retaliation would have made sense.

But having Lex be the one to have James shot not only ties him into Lena’s story, motivating her to finish the serum, but also recalls James’ connection to Superman — and Lex’s hatred of the superhero. “We’ll kind of see them lock horns by the season finale,” Rovner told EW of James and Lex. This also brings James back into the fold in a way that he hasn’t been when it comes to the superhero side of the show.

Finally, Lex also seems to be the key to uniting groups that haven’t been working well together this season. Kara hasn’t been able to work with the DEO as Supergirl because she refuses to reveal her identity. However, shouldn’t the threat of Lex be enough for Colonel Haley and President Baker to hit pause on that for the greater good? Lex is a threat to the entire world, not just Supergirl or Superman.

We may not know what Lex will do next, but we do know his actions and presence will affect nearly every part of the series, so we can’t wait to see what he does next.

Supergirl Season 4 airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on The CW.


Related video: Lex Luthor Debuts in Supergirl Season 4 Episode 15 Trailer

Does Lena really know what Lex is capable of on 'Supergirl'?
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