Well here’s an interesting turn. “Luthors,” is about Lena Luthor committing a serious crime that ultimately resulted in Lillian’s escape from prison. Honestly, this episode could coast on the surface idea, but Supergirl does some interesting things with the Luthors in order to show the effects of the reputation of this famous family. Lex Luthor’s fall from grace has been noted by Supergirl’s previous episodes. but even if it wasn’t, Lex Luthor is a cultural icon, (gotta love pop-context) so it could have easily been inferred. Having said that, I admit that I was originally annoyed that Kara needed her own female Luthor, but the idea of a dynasty of wrongdoing does raise interesting questions about certain familial values working contrary to public well-being. Before you ask: no I’m not comparing Lex to Trump on purprose, (though Lex did become president at one time and both share distrust and even hatred of aliens…okay that time I was) and Supergirl isn’t either. In fact, I was surprised at how self-restrained “Luthors” was as it focused on what being a Luthor means in the Supergirl universe, and the baggage that comes with. It also duly divides the characters in a situation that has them falling back on their respective prejudices, which they can’t even be blamed for having. I’ve always been down on Lillian Luthor for simply being evil for evil’s sake, but now she’s clearly shown that she’s not even evil, she’s just a predator. We’re finally able to see what’s only been implied about Lillian’s skills as a manipulator and strategist. Lillian preying on Lena is the absolute worst thing we’ve seen her do, and it highlights her obsession with Lex along with her ruthlessness. Katie McGrath, portrayal of Lena’s vulnerability and skepticism makes the episode work. In order for the audience to buy what Lillian is selling, we have to be convinced that Lena is buying it too. The tragedy comes from Lillian knowing that Lena simply wants it to be true, and she takes advantage of that sentiment to construct her con. The fact that it’s an obvious lie only makes Lena’s attempts to believe it all the more tragic. There’s a side story about Kara and Mon-El trying to sort out their feelings as well, and it makes an honest effort but it’s essentially meaningless in the face of the mythos building between Supergirl and Lena Luthor.
Here’s another interesting turn. An episode of Arrow actually about stuff, that acts as a backdoor origin for Wild Dog. It’s controversial though because gun control is a real hot button issue for most people, and the episode doesn’t shy away from strong opinions either way. If you hate metanarrative, this is not going to be your favorite Arrow episode because that’s pretty much all there is, but it fits with Arrow well enough to be excused as just the characters talking about stuff that’s similar to real issues. I’m just going to get this out of the way. The biggest and most complete failure of “Spectre of the Gun” concerns world building. The Arrow characters deal with the tragedy in a believable way, but they conveniently ignore other facts about their world that would undoubtedly change the conversation (metahumans, time travel, parallel universes, magic, friggin aliens.) You’d think that these would be glaring x-factors to the typical arguments for and against gun control. Instead, their omission makes the metanarrative far less subtle than it hopes to be. Having said that, this is still a really good one. The identity of the shooter parallels the randomness of real world violence, and the actual direction of the shooting sequence is a lot closer to real world massacres than your typical action-packed bulletfest (which Arrow has had plenty of as well.) Whatever your opinions about the second amendment, Arrow probably has a character that reflects it. It’s interesting to see these lines drawn between characters, who have interacted both positively and negatively in the past, that show how divisive they really are. There’s a lack of Arrowing this time around, because the episode puts Oliver’s political agenda right in the limelight. It’s a familiar callback to fans of Green Arrow comics (since Oliver is technically a “liberal superhero”,) but the debate is still measured, considered, and modern. Still, it’s seeing where each character ends up in the argument that got my attention. While these are characters in a TV show, their backgrounds are still a reflection of the opinions they have as adults. Curtis’ opinions about guns differs greatly from Rene’s, and it’s easy to see why when you consider where they came from. Seeing these backgrounds’ influence in action served to make the characters who owned them seem more alive. “Spectre of the Gun” is a sad wake up call, but it doesn’t leave any perspective out in the cold.
Final Word: The star of “Luthors” has got to be Lena. Whether Lena’s journey is that of hero or villain still isn’t clear, but it’s one that’s peppered with tragedy. She seems to be the only Luthor who isn’t in control, and it’s because she still has a conscience. Once/If she loses it, she’ll be just like Lillian. Whether she wants to or not, she might be doomed to follow in the footsteps of all Luthors. Surprisingly though, Arrow out-liberaled Supergirl this week. The episode drew parallels between real world gun-violence in order to start and intelligent and considered conversation about gun control. It’s tragic to see that the saddest and most frightening parts of “Spectre of the Gun” are the ones that mimic real life shootings (randomness, availability, and neccessity of countermeasures.) Despite having a clear side in the whole thing, “Spectre of the Gun” didn’t have a one sided argument, which is something that Supergirl has been more than guilty of doing in the past. Both perspectives are given equal ground, and the argument is used to reveal a little more about Rene’s tragic past as well as points-of-view from Curtis, Dinah, Lance, Felicity, and Diggle that all make sense. Yes the episode doesn’t fully utilize the Arrowverse or the possibilities of their respective contexts like Supergirl did in their gun control episode, but the amount of ground regarding the issue covered in “Spectre of the Gun” is staggering when you also consider that the main plot (catch bad guy) is still pulled off effectively. “Spectre of the Gun” is the clear winner. It was an important episode, I only hope that when Arrow wants to get political in the future, they can weave it in to the narrative a little less obviously.