The characters, and viewers, learn more about the new, post-Crisis world as more ripples and changes become apparent. Supergirl and her friends (and some enemies) are trying to navigate their new reality, and the differences range from confusing to sickening. There are also some tropes from elsewhere in the Superman family mythos in “The Bottle Episode.”
The show opens with a commercial that shows right off the bat how much has changed. There are some surprising differences, and Kara is not at all happy about many of them. She spends a lot of the episode railing about Lex’s new status as beloved humanitarian to pretty much anyone that will listen. Fortunately, J’Onn has restored Alex’s memories, so Kara has a close ally who understands. There’s also a passing explanation of why this can only be done for certain people. Because of all the drama with Lena in the first half of the season, Kara is resolved to go tell her about what really happened, which Alex thinks is a bad idea (and I agree). Meanwhile, Lex has already done this with some weird chemical cocktail, and Lena and Lex try and work out their new relationship. What do you say to your incredibly evil brother who you already killed once but made a deal with a cosmic god for your benefit? Interestingly, there’s a hole in what Lex knows: he looks utterly baffled when Lena makes a passing reference to Leviathan. Considering the recent Event Leviathan limited series in the comics, I sort of wish I shared Lex’s ignorance.
Brainy and Nia are enjoying a quiet morning together, which lasts only until they get to their smoothie stand. Brainy finds another Brainy there, and things rapidly get confusing as each is convinced the other is an impostor. Martians, Durlans (the race of Chameleon Boy in the Legion of Super Heroes, where Brainy came from), and Clayface are mentioned as possible explanations. While that mystery unfolds, Supergirl goes to see Lena, only to find out she’s too late to break the big secret. The ace reporter has been scooped. One of the things I was looking forward to with the world reset was the end of the Lena drama, but I guess the writers like this plot too much. Supergirl leaves after warning Lena not to work with Lex (which a genius shouldn’t need to be told).
Going to the DEO for clarity, the two Brainys and Nia find a lot more confusion instead. Alex tries to sort out what’s going on, but gets further confused when several more Brainys show up. DNA tests reveal they’re all the “real” one, but that doesn’t help, especially not when a female one pops up as well, claiming to be the Director of the DEO. Another one shows up with a garbled warning about “the bottle” before glitching out of existence. The other Brainys talk about the Anti-Life Equation, which is a major threat in the DC Universe, but usually associated with Darkseid. The newer arrivals are shocked to learn about the Crisis and the death of the old multiverse. While this chaos goes on, Lex summons Alex and Supergirl to his office, and makes a request of them, essentially a truce of a sort. Neither woman is impressed.
Some things haven’t changed much, as we see Andrea Rojas pushing her Obsidian virtual reality project. This scene is the only time we see Kelly, and she doesn’t even get a line in as the meeting is interrupted by “Gemma Cooper,” Andrea’s college mentor. The audience may recognize her as Gamemnae, one of the apparently immortal aliens behind Leviathan. The various Brainys, including one dressed in the classic comic costume (but apparently without the force field belt he was famous for), deal with another threat, and “our” Brainy feels left behind by their speed in working things out, such as the wormhole behind the appearances being in Al’s bar. A visit there by a few Brainys and Supergirl turns up various strange artefacts, more dopplegangers, and different versions of some old foes.
Also back from the dead is Lillian Luthor, mother of the clan, now running the Luthor Foundation, a charitable organization I have no doubt hides many illegal and immoral activities. Lena visits, I guess looking for an ally or sympathetic ear. Again, not genius behavior, and she gets what I expected. Alex takes her turn to rant about the new world order, and J’Onn listens, then offers a story from his own past. The female Brainy (played by Meaghan Rath, sister to Jessie Rath, “our” Brainy) confronts Prime, as our Brainy has been dubbed. He tells her about the personality inhibitors he wears, and she’s shocked. Their discussion covers a lot of ground about limits and overcoming them. Meanwhile, Nia checks on one of the other Brainys, and makes some surprising discoveries. This turns ugly, letting us learn what’s going on, and Nia learning what it’s like to fight a Brainy who isn’t slowed down and in love with her. Prime and Supergirl arrive a bit too late to help. The post-fight explanation reveals the extent of the threat.
“Cooper” visits with Andrea, and gives her some bad ideas about what Obsidian could become. I strongly suspect no good will come of this. Cleaning up after the fight, Prime has a heart to heart with Supergirl about a major event from his childhood which led to his wearing the inhibitors. His worries sound well-founded to me, but Supergirl gives another of her great pep talks. A passing compliment from Brainy helps them realize what the other Brainy is up to. This leads to a huge bar fight at Al’s, which for some reason or other they decided to not bring help for. I can halfway see a case for Kryptonian overconfidence, but Brainy’s part of a huge team and should know better. There’s a lot of fighting, a big emotional appeal, and Bad Brainy finally listens to reason, departing with some of the other opposing forces.
Supergirl leaves to put the special bottle in the Fortress, maybe keeping Kandor company if that happened in this reality. The other Brainys talk, and the few remaining ones have come to a decision that surprises Prime. Just before female Brainy leaves, she gives Prime a warning about Lex, Leviathan, and resistance. By the end of all this, Brainy looks a lot more like his comic book version, which is a change I approve of. The Luthor siblings come to a sort of détente, with some enforced truth telling and an uneasy alliance.
Because we didn’t have enough soap opera drama on the show, Brainy makes a big decision based on his “sister’s” information, and we’ll be suffering through the aftereffects of this for the rest of the season, at a guess. At a big ceremony honoring Lex, he and Lillian do some scheming which sounds ominous. Kara chats with coworker William, who surprises her with some of his beliefs in this new reality. I suspect they’ll be back to undercover sleuthing together, and am willing to bet they’re heading for a relationship. The episode ends with Brainy going to meet with Lex. I don’t like where this is heading at all, and we get an interesting setup for next episode and the return of a long-absent character.
What I liked: The overall quality of this episode was better than most of this season has been. The multiple Brainys was entertaining to watch, and well-acted. The characters are having some very believable reactions to the new world, and I understand their frustrations. I’m glad Brainy looks more like his comic book version. The William/Kara story could get interesting. As he has been throughout, Jon Cryer keeps doing a great job as Lex Luthor. I’m intrigued by what ever “Cooper” is up to.
What I didn’t: Did we need Lillian back? I don’t like the drama they are sowing for Lena and Kara, or Brainy and Nia.
The second half of the season is going to be interesting, hopefully in a good way. I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5.