SUPERGIRL - SEASON 5 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: MELISSA BENOIST, MEHCAD BROOKS, CHYLER LEIGH, KATIE McGRATH
For the second year running, the fifth season of Supergirl was The Lex Luthor Show. Ordinarily, and especially in a show with such a strong heroic lead, that would be a problem, but Jon Cryer’s turn as the greatest criminal mind of our time has been nothing short of delightful, erasing any lingering doubts about the casting of Ducky from Pretty in Pink as Superman’s big bad. Such is Cryer’s skill in the role that it’s impossible not to revel in his sheer joy, and those moments when the veneer is off and his temper and pettiness shine through are surprising (although equally valued).
With Luthor working on his machinations regardless of, but also taking advantage of, what’s going on around him, the season-long threat to the Maid of Might is Leviathan, a tenebrous organisation pulling the strings behind some sinister threats to National City and the whole world. Leviathan manipulates smaller threats to our heroes – like J’onn J’onzz’s brother Malefic and a shadowy group of assassins – while moving their chess pieces into place for the grand finale, which is mostly wrapped up by the season’s abrupt ending (but with tantalising threads left dangling for season six’s opening arc).
Around Melissa Benoist’s Kara Danvers are the usual cast of heroes, although there is some churn in their number, with heel turns, goodbyes and welcome returns for some of the show’s most notable characters. CatCo undergoes even more corporate upheaval, Lena Luthor is still not sure which side she’s on (except to know that she’s right, all the time) and there’s still time for Alex, Nia, and Kelly to undergo some soul-searching growth as the season rolls on.
With a whole host of new threats thrown at our heroes by Leviathan and trying to thwart a hiding-in-plain-sight Lex Luthor, there’s little time for the soap opera dramatics that have become an overused hallmark of the show’s previous seasons, and the action moves faster for that. Don’t worry, though, there’s still room to inject yet another love interest for Kara, because what would be the point of the show otherwise?
The happy news that Melissa Benoist is pregnant, coupled with the delays caused by the coronavirus, means it will be almost a year before Supergirl returns for season six, having been scheduled for mid-season 2021, whenever that may be. That year-long break to wrap up the current storyline will test the audience but it will also give the showrunners an opportunity to try something different with the format. Five years in, Supergirl remains one of the CW’s best shows, with likeable leads, appropriately testing villains, and an almost complete lack of Superman combining to present Supergirl as a major hero in her own right. It’s not a great show - few are - but Supergirl is an investment that pays a healthy dividend on your time.