‘Supergirl’ 4×18 Review: ‘Crime and Punishment’

Everyone has a weakness. That one thing that can affect you like nothing else. And it tends to stem from an emotional place.
In Supergirl’s latest episode, “Crime and Punishment,” there was a focus on these characters’ Kryptonites — the things that can emotionally compromise them. Be it a family member or the loss of a belief from the people of National City, these characters were forced to deal with the very things that have defined who they are.
Not to mention things have drastically changed. Supergirl is now Public Enemy No. 1, Lex is considered a good man and Ben Lockwood over here is calling for Supergirl’s head and getting approval from the new President of the United States.
Let’s breakdown Supergirl’s latest episode, “Crime and Punishment.”

From Hero to Zero

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

An intriguing dynamic shift has taken place on Supergirl as Supergirl has transitioned from hero to enemy following Lex staging Supergirl’s attack on the White House, through Red Kara. While Kara is practically alone on the “Supergirl is innocent” front, she does have some solid support from two people that haven’t necessarily been Supergirl’s biggest fans in Alex and Lena, who also happen to be two people that don’t know that Kara is actually Supergirl. I don’t know, it felt like this was setting up for something later down the line. Could Supergirl’s big reveal destroy these two alliances?

Supergirl has always been a name synonymous with “hero” and “protection” and “safety” and “hope.” But Lex’s plan to turn the world against Supergirl — thus making her life even more difficult and emotionally taxing — proved to be a good one. Then again, this is Lex Luthor. Dude knows what he’s doing.

While Kara vowed to not let the government stop her from saving people, even trying to save people is igniting anger from the population. Citizens shooting at her as she’s trying to save a man. The man she saved saying that she broke his daughter’s heart with her betrayal. Kara is someone that, while she might not realize it, is someone that has cherished and even relied on support from the people she saves. Not in a self-serving way, either. But they’ve provided emotional support when she needs it. They’ve also been a reminder of why she’s doing this, why she’s sacrificing everything, why she continues to fight for those that can’t. Only now, she doesn’t have that anymore.

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Due to the aforementioned struggles that comes with being an enemy of the freaking world, Kara found it incredibly difficult to do her job in “Crime and Punishment.” Especially when it comes to focusing on the biggest problem of them all, Mr. Lex Luthor. Lex is someone that is manipulative, yes, but he’s also incredibly intelligent. He’s typically several steps ahead and able to manipulate his way into or out of any situation.

As Supergirl, Alex and Lena teamed up to find a way to take down Lex, Supergirl found herself struggling to get information that would act as Lex’s Kryptonite. Only, easier said than done. While she and Lena found Lex’s former cell neighbor, he was obviously unwilling to spill all of his secrets to her.

But then something changed. After Supergirl was forced to disguise herself as Kara Danvers, after being affected by Otis Graves’ Kryponite, Kara found that she was getting more from being Kara than she had been getting as Supergirl.

Suddenly, Lex’s cell neighbor — who also happens to be a huge fan of Kara’s column at CatCo — is crying like a canary eager to help bring the bastard down and please Kara. The two have a conversation about the power of the press and how important it is in providing a fair and accurate account of what’s happened. Lex’s cell neighbor gives Kara a hard drive that is full with information. Information that can bring Lex down.

So, yes, the pen is mightier than the sword. And as Kara said,  “Maybe even mightier than a cape.”

Lena’s Kryptonite

I found this episode intriguing in how it, whether intentional or not, found a way to showcase most of these characters’ Kryptonite. And not literal Kryptonite. I’m talking about the thing that can weaken them from an emotional standpoint.

For Kara, it was literal Kryptonite but also having people that she’s sworn to protect turning their backs on her after Lex staged her committing an act of treason on the White House. You didn’t realize just how important that acceptance and appreciation was to Kara until she lost it.

For Lena, it was Lex. It’s always been Lex. Her brother has gotten so inside of her head that it’s impossible for her to get him out. Even reading his words — looking at his handwriting — is enough to make her sick. She feels every part of her brother in how he’s manipulated her and caused her pain.

Despite everything, Lena loves Lex. He’s her brother, be it blood or not. Some flashbacks shed some more light on that fact, as we saw how Lex was the one that would protect her from their dick of a father. Where Lex promised to get rich and build them a house where he could never hurt her. A time before Lex had grown into the manipulative, sick human being he’s become as a product of his environment. Lena really is an anomaly. She was able to escape the emotional turmoil of it all. Or perhaps it was Lex that was trying to shield her from it and took the brunt?

Anyway, I find it interesting how Lena’s struggling to come to terms with just dealing with thoughts of her brother. He’s really done a number on her. He’s tortured her — multiple times — and hurt those she cares about. And yet, she still cares for him. That’s the part that has to make her sick more than anything.

And as we start to wind down this fourth season, it’ll be interesting to see how Lena continues to deal with these emotions and how she’ll address them come her next, inevitable meeting with her brother.

Alex’s Struggle

Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Speaking of Kryptonite, Alex found herself prompted to resort to extremes in order to preserve Supergirl’s freedom. With Ben Lockwood trying to trap Supergirl — and ultimately kill her — Alex had to find a way to get through to Colonel Haley and protect Supergirl from these dangerous people.

While Lena assisted Supergirl in the field, Alex remained on home turf to try to assuage the fear and fire that was starting to spread. Especially as Ben Lockwood came knocking and demanding action.

Alex got some advice from James’ sister, Kelly, in how to help the situation. Everyone has a weakness, a Kryptonite, and it’s about discovering what it is and exploiting it. And that seemed to be the central theme of the episode. For Haley, it’s her daughter. And while at first Alex’s plan completely backfired in her face, eventually the truth settled in and Haley realized that this wasn’t the world she wanted her daughter growing up in. So her decision to protect Supergirl stems from her desire to build a better world for her daughter and not have to wonder if she’ll even be left at the end of this to pick up the pieces.

That’s Not Just PTSD

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Did someone not tell James of the possible effects of the Harun-El? You know, this whole superpowers of it all? Just like Lex developed super abilities following his injection of the Harun-El, we saw as James began to develop similar super abilities.
While James and his sister were quick to point to PTSD as the reason why James has been so real, James didn’t really take the time to consider what was happening. Well, this episode all but forced him to.

James clearly has some PTSD, as evidenced by his terrors and past with Lex Luthor, but what’s happening as a result wasn’t just PTSD. Those were his powers manifesting in a way that was almost like it was protecting him.

Clearly this entire thing has a profound effect on him because James is Guardian, which means he’s the one that’s supposed to protect people. He’s not supposed to need the protection.

If only we could’ve had a superhero without powers. Watch out, Alex, you’re probably next.

Supergirl airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.

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