The Arrowverse is still trying to sort out the various effects of the COVID pandemic on their production schedules. With delays slowing down Superman and Lois, Supergirl returns to take their time slot for that show’s final season. Last season ended on a different cliffhanger than was intended, as the season lost three episodes out of their original schedule. Now, the showrunners, producers, editors, and cast of characters try and sort out what’s going on and how to tell their story. Season six begins with “Rebirth,” which is also the name of a soft-reboot they did a few years ago, undoing many of the problems from the “New 52” relaunch a few years before that.
When we last saw our heroes, Lex Luthor had made his move against Leviathan, setting him up with far too much power for a megalomaniacal xenophobe, and with Brainiac 5 dying on the floor of Leviathan’s hidden ship. The shot here widens out to give a better view of the ship, and I’m really not sure why. It was a decent visual, but it didn’t really add anything to the story. I feel like something got cut there. Dreamer arrives to see Brainy fading, while Gemma gloats and boasts. Considering she was just tricked by one of the Earthlings she despises, I’m not sure what she’s gloating about. There’s a lot of worry and struggle as the ship proves just as hazardous to Dreamer as it did to Brainy, but not to Supergirl, Martian Manhunter, or Miss Martian. Why those aliens are fine and Brainy wasn’t, I’m not sure. Eventually, they manage to get Gemma under control with a passing nod to the Anti-Life Equation. In the comics, that’s something Darkseid has long sought to control free will; here, it seems to be a (badly named) weapon against out-of-control technology.
In Luthor’s bunker, Lex absorbs a lot of power and demonstrates a host of new abilities, while his mother looks on. She must be so proud. Lex goes on what at first sounds like just another anti-alien rant, but turns into something more troubling, causing even Lilian to wonder about what he’s up to. She points out a few issues with his plan and worries about his sister, Lena. Lex is much less concerned with her. Lena greets the team when they return to the Watchtower, and fills them in on Lex’s newest plan. Dreamer gets a flash of Evil-Yet-To-Come and warns the team. They figure out a plan, divide up assorted tasks, and take off to try and save the world once again. To make things work, Supergirl decides on a desperate tactic that no one is happy with.
At Fort Luthor, Lex drinks while his mother frets about Lena. Supergirl calls in via holosystem and offers a bargain Lex knows is a trap of some kind, but he’s too tempted by to turn down. Lillian tries to warn him, but Lex is smugly certain he can’t fail now. Massive overconfidence does seem to be a Luthor family trait. Kelly Olson goes to Obsidian to do her part for the plan, and runs into a devastated Andrea Rojas. Andrea laments her circumstances, and Kelly gives her a pep talk before taking off. Miss Martian prepares for her more demanding part of the scheme while J’Onn paces and worries, and Alex offers him some good advice. Brainy and Dreamer try to patch up some of the damage to their relationship from Brainy’s choices last season, and he gives her a temporary loan of something very important to him.
Alex, Supergirl, and Lena arrive at the Fortress of Solitude, which bears no resemblance at all to the version we’ve seen on Lois and Clark. I hope that’s something they address at some point. Lena and Supergirl repair some of their friendship, and Supergirl gives Lena a huge compliment. Andrea runs an errand using her own special gifts, and Supergirl and company finish their preparations at the Fortress, after some sisterly banter between Alex and Supergirl. While Supergirl does something a bit grim, showing just how worried she is, the Martian contingent fly off to do their part. Lena gets back to the Watchtower where she and Brainy start their own preparations and commiserate on their assorted failings over the last season.
Things kick into high gear with action on many fronts. Lex keeps his meeting with Supergirl and immediately begins using his new abilities. The Girl of Steel is, at the moment, out of her league. Dreamer and Alex run their part of the mission, but run afoul of Lillian Luthor and the ever-irksome Otis Graves. Lillian gets in a quip that namechecks Nia’s better known descendant in the far future. As the others do their best, Supergirl gets blasted over and over as Lex gloats and mocks her. Jon Cryer really does an amazing job in that I want to punch this Lex almost every time he opens his mouth. Smugly satisfied, Lex walks off, convinced of his victory, and we see that Lena has left a present for her dear friend.
Lex gets one of the oddest gloating scenes I think I’ve ever seen, until he gets confronted by the assembled heroes and receives a nasty surprise. It’s a big battle of some very high end power, and Lex manages a nasty bit of petty spite that stuns the team just as they manage to finally bring him down. The heroes try and figure out what to do now, and Lex keeps taunting them. Lena does something a lot of us have wanted to do for a while now, and they begin working on some cover stories to explain what’s going on. Part of this causes some pain to William (remember him?), which Nia does her best to alleviate, but she can’t really do much. Lex and Lillian scheme from Lex’s cell and then get a surprise visit that removes their best leverage.
The rest of the episode is a combination of wrap-up scenes and adjusting to the new status quo on several fronts. Dreamer and Brainy get a touching scene that at least hints they might manage to get back together. I kind of hope they do, I thought they made a good couple, and there’s been enough relationship drama over the last season. Alex and J’Onn talk about where to go next, and Alex gets a codename. I’ll point out, again, that in a world where masked heroes are a thing (Dreamer, Flash, Green Arrow, Batwoman, many others), her relying on a hood and overdone eyeshadow is a really bad plan if she wants her ID to stay secret. Lena pops in to return something borrowed and give Alex some good advice. The final scene is someone in a new place in a situation that looks extremely not good.
What I liked: Cryer’s Lex remains amazing. It’s possibly the best ongoing performance in the Arrowverse. The team split up to do what they needed, and, while some of it was a bit of the cliché of “Oh, we have this special ability that’s never come up before,” it overall worked. I’m hopeful about Brainy and Dreamer, and glad that Lena seems to be back on the good side of things. I’m also curious to see what they do with Andrea and William as the season goes on. Otis’ brief appearance was entertaining, as he often is.
What I didn’t: They did the best they could, but this episode really had the feel of them trying to catch up with the three episodes they lost. Some of the stories seemed very rushed and choppy. I kind of miss James Olsen’s Guardian, and wish Kelly would do something with the shield. Maybe that’s coming with Alex’s new identity (that desperately needs a costume reworking. Call Cisco for a consult!) I think the hasty cover story they come up with is going to cause a lot of problems as it goes.
The final season has started, and I suspect at least parts of it aren’t going to be smooth. I wonder if we’ll get any of the characters who have left to come back for a goodbye? I’d really like to see Cat Grant at the very least, and, besides her, James, Winn, Mon-El, or some of the other Legionaries would be great.
I’ll give this episode a 3 out of 5. I think they did the best they could with what they had to work with, but there were a lot of rough spots.