Credit where credit’s due. The late (very late) Russian author Leo Tolstoy was onto something major when he said, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” more than a century ago. That axiom applies to the “Luthors,” the first family of corporate crime in the DC universe, on or off the comic-book page. On Supergirl, the Luthors include not just Lex and his father, Lionel, but also his biological mother, Liliane (Brenda Strong), and his adopted sister, Lena (Katie McGrath). As it turns out, though, Lena’s not just a stray orphan the Luthors decided to take in out of the kindness in their hearts, but the product of an illicit affair between Lionel and Lena’s (unnamed) mom, gone at the four to accident or disease. In short, Lena’s biological connection to the Luthors raises the distinct possibility that she’s just as evil, amoral, and sociopathic as her brother, (adopted) mother, and biological father.
It’s all Lena can do – the hope of a fresh start in National City more a pipe dream than a reality at this point – but to try and try again to prove she’s a “good” Luthor, eager to use the Luthor fortune for the public good, but with her mother on trial for crimes against aliens (of the outer space kind), Lena’s forced to prove her loyalty to law and order over her mother and family. That doesn’t stop the principal players in Kara Danver/Supergirl’s (Melissa Benoist) life from constantly, consistently arguing not to trust Lena. When John Corben/Metallo (Frederick Schmidt) escapes from a lightly guarded National City jail, the evidence, manufactured or not, points to Lena. With suspicion high and the benefit of the doubt MIA, Lena ends up in jail, apparently the exact same cell in the exact same jail that once housed Metallo (budget, yo).
Supergirl, though, refuses to believe the worst about her newest BFF, Lena, arguing for her innocence even as James “Call Me the Guardian” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), Alex (Chyler Leigh), and Hank Henshaw/Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) are all but ready to drop Lena into a black site or the equivalent thereof. But with a newly escaped Liliane and a literally volatile Metallo making life difficult for Supergirl and National City, Lena’s involvement, real or fake, becomes of primary importance for National City’s heroes. Ultimately, we, along with Supergirl’s fickle friends and family discover the truth: Lena might be a Luthor, but she’s unlike the other Luthors in her family, especially her alien-hating mother. Still, Lena’s last scene – a callback to an earlier scene where at just four years old, she beats her older brother at chess and a potential easter egg for another super-secret organization in the DC universe, Checkmate – suggests we haven’t scene the last of Lena or the Luthor clan. Olsen accuses Lena of playing a long con, of planning something big, something major Kara will miss because she’s blinded by feelings of friendship toward her friend. He might be right. As always, time will tell.
It’s not Supergirl, of course, without a hint of romance in or out of the air. The stop-start, push-pull romance between Supergirl and Mon-El (Chris Wood), the super-powered Daxamite turned bartender to National City’s alien residents, goes back into on/off mode with Kara all-but-ready to express her feelings toward Mon-El, but Mon-El, a newbie in love and war, moving on after Kara not-so-gently let him down. Kara used the “I’m focusing on my career as a reporter and my other life as a superhero” as an excuse to build a lead wall around her emotions, but Mon-El keeps breaking too. The one-season love of Supergirl’s life, Olsen, has been, like Winn long before, relegated to the friend zone. Olsen, though, has a superhero career of his own as the Guardian and a super-helpful sidekick in Winn.
Before Supergirl and Mon-El can seal the deal (no, that deal, the other one), next week’s villain/antagonist, Mr. Mxyzptlk (Peter Gadiot), interrupts the night’s festivities. He’s in National City to declare his undying love for a perplexed, stunned Supergirl. Little does she know that Mr. Mxyzptlk, a mischievous, near omnipotent, dimension-hopping imp obsessed with the Kryptonian super-cousins, will prove difficult, if not impossible to defeat within the confines of an hourlong episode. Mr. Mxyzptlk has never been known to go quietly into the good night (his fanboy, stalker-like tendencies suggest otherwise), especially when there’s a superpowered alien (Kara) to romance and impress (Kara’s feelings matter not at all). It’s unlikely that will change next week.