In the fifth season of Supergirl, there are a lot of changes to the show. I have to say, overall, I don’t care for the ones I’ve seen so far, or most of the ones I hear are coming. Hopefully, if nothing else, they will at least stop clubbing us over the head with modern morality plays. Things get off to an odd start with “Event Horizon,” which sets up for a lot of new and different things.
The show opens with an improbable, but in keeping with the tone of the show, accident with endangered school kids. Supergirl flies to the rescue, but all is not as it seems, and we end up getting a lot of insight about where Lena Luthor is at this point. She’s drawing some very fine lines that I’m not sure really make as much sense as she’d like to think. A conveniently placed newspaper also lets us know Kara is winning a Pulitzer for her stories about the corruption in the last administration.
Maybe enough people like me complained, but the café where everyone hangs out when they’re not at the alien bar actually shows its name, Noonan’s, in the next establishing shot. Meeting for coffee are Kara, J’Onn, Alex, and Kelly. The new craze sweeping National City is VR contact lenses, giving people a silver-eyed, blank stare, and creeping out Kara, who of course, takes this chance to rant about voter registration. Even Clark relaxes with friends sometimes, O Crusading Reporter. Kelly is starting a new job at Obsidian Tech with our newest tech mogul, Andrea Rojas. That’s also the name of a very obscure hero from the comics. Kelly runs off for work, J’Onn is teaching kids tai chi (what, there wasn’t a cat for him to rescue?), and Alex stays to push Kara about sharing her secret with Lena, which she’s been putting off during the entire season break apparently. Finally, Kara resolves to tell her during a planned lunch later. Nia and Querl start a running joke about who the greatest movie villain of all time is (votes include Diehard’s Hans Gruber, The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly, Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter, and Voldemort from the Harry Potter series). Nia and Querl have a very awkward parting, and everyone finally gets to stat their workday. I don’t recall CatCo and the DEO being in the same building before, but they sure seem to be implying it here.
Upstairs, James is running an editorial meeting, and uses the passing Kara as an example of what good reporting can get you. With truly horrible timing, this is when Andrea Rojas shows up, and she comes bearing assorted bad news. She bought the entire building, including CatCo, and is shaking everything up and taking James’ job. If I could pull the strings, all this would set up for the return of Cat Grant to save the day, but I’ve heard nothing at all about that, sadly. So Lena has managed to sell a major communications company with no publicity at all, and managed to set up bad things for her supposedly best friend she’s nursing a grudge against, and her ex, who she supposedly has no ill-will towards. To me, it sounds like that Luthor heritage is manifesting. Elsewhere, some kids are brought to a museum exhibit about Krypton, with actual artifacts donated by Superman and Supergirl. What could go wrong? Well, there’s a kid on the tour acting really oddly, so I bet we’re going to find out.
The lunch that was referred to earlier starts up, with Kara going to Lena’s office to meet her. Lena isn’t happy Rojas jumped the gun on the announcement, but confirms she did sell CatCo, and gets off several double-edged comments, sinking in barbs about her knowing Kara’s secret without admitting it. Kara’s planned confession gets derailed when she receives an alert about the museum. Claiming it’s an elusive source for a story, Kara bolts, leaving behind a very annoyed looking Lena. For all her super-senses, Kara isn’t that perceptive. It turns out there’s a T-Rex on the loose at the museum, because of course there is. Guest star Kate Micucci, probably best known for Scrubs, gets off a great one-liner as Supergirl and J’Onn do battle with the big beastie. There’s a very strange psychic flare of some kind when J’Onn gets too close, and Superman’s original escape ship from Krypton flies off during all this, watched closely by the aforementioned strange kid. Regrouping at the DEO, Supergirl comes up with a disturbing theory, Brainy not only says it’s possible but worse than the Girl of Steel thought, and then goes on about Supergirl’s cape, which was somehow damaged in the fight, although I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Brainy mentions Takron-Galtos in his babble, which is a prison planet in his native 30th/31st century. Kelly gets the feel of her new job, and has more interaction with Ms. Rojas, who has some ambitious plans. Rojas then meets with Lena, and we get some background on their relationship and a secret Lena is supposed to share with Rojas to boost readership for CatCo.
Somewhere or other, the kid from museum is working on a science project that’s definitely more advanced than the baking soda volcano stereotype. Rojas holds a meeting at CatCo, and… we’ll just say her strategy is a lot different than Cat’s or James’. No one is happy about her decisions, and when some try and make a stand, she pulls out some extremely unlikely things about non-competitive clauses in contracts. Not only are those largely unenforceable, it makes it sound like everyone in the room signed a contract they don’t know about or didn’t read. Aside from the unlikely business maneuverings, this scene pretty much removes any doubt that Rojas is going to be an adversary for the season. I never thought I’d say this, but she’s almost making me miss Colonel Haley.
On the heels of all this bad news, Kara gets a call about more developments on the missing ship. Hm. I suppose with the new boss, both Kara and Nia are going to have a lot more trouble sneaking off to play hero. I wonder if that’s going to come up? At any rate, they find a Phantom Zone projector that’s been cobbled together, and Supergirl admits Brainy had a point about her cape being important to flight. As they try and figure out what’s going on, some mysterious woman appears and attacks, using some kind of strange energy attack. J’Onn knows her, but things are a bit busy for an explanation. The unlikely fight includes Brainy telling J’Onn how to use his powers, and the woman, of course, getting away. Apparently, she’s known as Midnight, and appeared during the war on Mars, siding with the Whites and gleefully killing whoever she could. Because of a plot-convenient psychic trauma, J’Onn can’t remember how they beat her before, and Brainy gives everyone the requisite countdown until she attacks again. Kara tries to use this as an excuse to get out of her award ceremony that night, but Alex won’t let her.
James, stunned by the day’s events, goes to visit his sister, who has some good advice for him. Kara has another clash with Rojas, whose new recruit had turned one of Kara’s thoughtful, well-researched pieces into clickbait. At the award ceremony, Kara rants to Alex about the horrible new boss, which really does make me wonder what happened to Haley. Did she just disappear between seasons, as supporting characters tend to (see Winn’s girlfriend Lyra)? Kara is also still agonizing about not telling Lena her secret, because we were low on drama flakes. Alex tells her sister to give herself a break on her reward night, and gets dragged off to the dance floor by Kelly. Alone for a moment, Kara gets an unexpected gift from Brainy: a special instant change gadget linked to a new costume, that will be triggered by her “whipping” her glasses off.
Kara bumps into Lena, finds out her best friend is going to introduce her, and loses it. Kara makes a tearful confession about her double life, taking off her glasses during the speech (her new costume does NOT appear). It’s a dramatic speech that, to me, was full of self-justifications from Kara. Lena is clearly stunned. She drifts around for a bit, and gets a reminder from her new AI, Hope. Because what problem would there ever be with a genius building an AI that already seems to be getting independent? Mark my words, sometime this season, Hope is going to go rogue and/or become a villain. Hope is voiced by Kari Wahlgren, who has been both Lillian Luthor and Alura Zor-El on the DC Super Hero Girls cartoon. Clearly conflicted, and equally clearly making some last-minute changes, Lena gives Kara a great introduction speech and doesn’t send the promised file to Rojas. Take that, Click-Bait Lady! The ceremony gets interrupted when Brainy warns the new mystery woman, Midnight, is on the way. Alex evacuates the civilians, and Lena gets to see Supergirl’s new costume change/debut.
Brainy, Supergirl, Dreamer, Guardian, and Alex (who humorously complains about the others changing so fast) confront Midnight in a big fight that involves black holes (as does the Flash premier), a lot of yelling, and some unlikely science, even by comic book standards. Dreamer does absolutely nothing in this fight but pose and fire her weird energy bolts to no effect, so she’s about as effective as Guardian, who… is there. Mystery kid watches from the balcony. After this big fight, someone comes to a decision and quits CatCo, not wanting to be part of the Rojas regime. They seem happy with the choice, ignoring the legally questionable threats and leaving with a smile. At the alien bar, Nia and Brainy continue the villain bit, and then have a serious relationship talk, which goes better than I expected.
J’Onn, in his Hank guise, goes back to his office, and the creepy kid is there. This turns out to be another of what I presume will be this season’s Big Bads, played by Phil LaMarr. LaMarr has done a lot of superhero voice work, most notably as the voice of Green Lantern on Justice League Unlimited. There are some strange revelations that make me think I know at least part of what happened here, and a plot device to keep them from fighting too much this season, at least directly. The last two scenes are one between Supergirl and Lena, with a gift given and a resolution made, and a familiar face showing up to get kidnapped.
Whew, that was a lot.
What I liked: It was nice to see Guardian in sort of action again, even if he didn’t do much. The villain gag was amusing in and of itself, and meant a lot more when Brainy and Nia had their chat. Kate Micucci’s cameo was entertaining and her quip was great. Lena makes some great plans. I’m glad J’Onn was in the fight again, even if he wasn’t as effective as usual. Alex was in character and I enjoyed her. I applaud the resignation, even if it was real-world driven.
What I didn’t: Honestly, most of it. I don’t like the new status quo with Lena and Supergirl/Kara. I don’t like the new costume, either. Supergirl’s is a classic, and I’m not loving the new one. I mentioned the unlikeliness around the business shenanigans. I think they’re missing a big bet here. A lot, if not most, people don’t like their jobs. Why do I want to see someone stuck in a horrible job in what is supposed to be a fun, escapist show? Rojas seems thoroughly horrible. I have grave suspicions about Hope the AI. I’m not sure about the new supervillains (besides Lena) or the plot device around them.
I think Supergirl started off really strong back in season one, and has lost a bit since then. I’m giving this a low 2.5 out of 5. I personally think it’s the weakest of the CW hero shows at this point. Yes, I’m including Legends of Tomorrow.