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Recap / Supergirl (2015) S4E16 "The House of L"

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As Kara battles Lex, flashbacks reveal how Lex has secretly been manipulating events from behind the scenes since his trial.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Mikhail says his father was a "bad man" and left. Lex says his father was a worse man because he stayed.
    • Lex essentially acts as this to Kara's clone, teaching her while also manipulating her for his own goals. At the end, he officially names her his "Red Daughter."
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  • Amnesiacs are Innocent: All Red Daughter remembers is the name "Alex" and a desire to help others. Lex takes advantage of both to get her on his side.
  • Arc Welding: The episode takes several seemingly unrelated plotlines and reveals Lex Luthor is behind them all.
    • Why would someone as well-educated as Eve work as menial PA for Cat, James, then Lena? She's a fangirl who'll do anything Lex wishes and he wanted to keep tabs on them.
    • Ben Lockwood and the Children of Liberty? Lex needs a convenient patsy somewhere down the line.
    • Red Daughter? Lex is Kaznia's consult to train her to be their Living Weapon.
    • Lex's cancer? He gave it to himself because he needed a perfected Harun-El serum to cure Red Daughter.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Eve tells Lex she has a suggestion he won't like. He jumps to the conclusion that he needs to give himself cancer. Lex in fact anticipated that she wanted him to work with Lena, but he knows she won't do that unless he's sick enough that she'll want to save him.
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  • Call-Back: To help Red Daughter learn to talk, the General gives her the Russian edition of The Runaway Dinosaur, which was Barry's favorite book as a child (well, the English version).
  • Capitalism Is Bad: What Lex convinces Red Daughter of, mostly to sell her on Kaznia's ideals (which he doesn't actually care about). She is especially shocked about finding a whole fridge full of food in Kara's apartment, perplexedly asking Lex if all of that is really just for one person.
  • The Chessmaster: Lex, both figuratively and literally. He even teaches fellow convicts the game just for fun.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Red Daughter has this initially, but since she can't control her powers the results are... messy.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: Lex's Powered Armor that he equips in the opening battle is destroyed by Supergirl only a moment after first putting it on. However, in a subversion of this trope, Lex turns out to not need the suit to battle Supergirl, as he now has powers from the Harun-El.
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  • Dirty Commies: Kaznia plans on attacking the United States, as they want to bring back the glory of the Soviet Union. Lex lampshades that this plan makes even less sense than if Russia was going to do it. Kaznia is simply too small and weak, even with Red Daughter, to actually stand a chance.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Red Daughter, initially.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Red Daughter falls in love with The Great Gatsby, being charmed by Fitzgerald's prose, ignoring the novel's themes on the shallowness of wealth until Lex spells them out for her.
  • Emotions Versus Stoicism: In the end, Red Daughter, seeing Supergirl's emotion-driven ways as selfish, rejects such a path for herself, choosing to instead be "disciplined".
  • Empowered Badass Normal: The Harun-El treatment gave Lex super strength.
  • Engineered Heroics: Lex's plan (at least at the start) is to have Red Daughter attack America so that he can defeat her and be seen as a hero; he dismisses the idea of Kaznia ever having a chance to actually beat America, even with her. His plans might have changed a bit by the end, however, as he seems to want Red Daughter to set up an empire as his legacy.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Even a brutal thug like Otis Graves can't bear to kill to an innocent little boy and keeps him alive.
    • Eve flinches when she sees Lex ordering the murder of a Kaznian soldier. Later, she is clearly disturbed when Lex gives himself cancer just so he can have an excuse to work with Lena to perfect the Harun-El Serum.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Lex's manipulations of Red Daughter hit a few speed bumps when he doesn't manage to predict her empathy or appreciation for things like friendship and compassion, traits that Lex himself can only fake.
  • Evil Is Petty: Lex poisoned the judge, prosecution, and entire jury at his trial after his verdict was served. Lena and Jimmy were lucky to make it out alive.
  • Evil Mentor: Lex towards Red Daughter. Earlier on, he comments that he actually enjoys tutoring people, like he did with his fellow convicts in chess.
  • False Flag Operation:
    • When the atmosphere is filled with Kryptonite, Lex blames the Americans. In "Man of Steel," it was actually Mercy and Otis, Lex's own minions, who did it. The fact that Lex had an alarm warning him of when it was about to happen makes it clear that they were acting on his orders.
    • Lex has Eve infiltrate an American warship and has her fire a missile at the home of Red Daughter's friend, thus making him look like the victim of a cowardly American attack.
  • False Friend: Red Daughter sees Lex as a friend and mentor. Lex sees Red Daughter as the "pet Kryptonian" he's always wanted.
  • Genius Bruiser: In addition to her vast physical power, Red Daughter is incredibly smart, reading through the books Lex sends her very quickly and later recalling passages to near-perfection. She also shows an emotional intelligence and insight that nearly derails Lex's manipulations, recognising Kara's compassion and Lex's motives of envy and ambition.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Lex was pushing the Children of Liberty to their level of violent fanaticism the whole time.
  • It's All About Me: Even when he's trying to come off as kind and fatherly, Lex can't quite shake his self-centeredness; in his last scene with Red Daughter, Lex keeps talking about how she'll be his legacy, barely acknowledging her as a person.
  • Immediate Sequel: This episode takes place immediately where the previous episode left off, with Supergirl staring down Lex from outside a helicopter.
  • Instant Armor: Lex's Lexo-suit, seemingly from nowhere, appears on his body Iron Man style with a push of his watch. Just in case.
  • Kick the Dog: There was no reason for Lex to poison the entire courtroom of his hearing whatsoever other than being a scumbag.
  • Leave No Witnesses: When Red Daughter attacks the American warship in retaliation for the death of her friend, but can't bring herself to kill the defenseless sailors aboard after they surrender, Lex shows up to dispatch them and make her handiwork look like sabotage.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: Lex gets 31 consecutive life sentences. He then snarks to make it 32, as he's poisoned judge, jury, and prosecution.
  • Loony Fan: Eve is revealed to be one for Lex. Lex even compares her to a Charles Manson fangirl, though she scoffs at this because she's well-educated.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Lex plans on making the attack on the American ship look like sabotage or friendly fire.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: Sort of. It's not Russia that seeks to restore the Soviet Union but Kaznia, which appears to be one of the republics that splintered off when the USSR collapsed, located in Siberia.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Lex effectively runs the prison, even able to blackmail the warden to let him leave secretly for up to three days at a time at frequent intervals without anybody noticing.
  • Motive Rant: Lex has one during his trial that sounds very similar to what the Children of Liberty will later say.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Lex calls Red Daughter "one of the last daughters of Krypton." Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton was the title of the first New 52 Supergirl comic, which also featured Supergirl waking up in an Eastern European country and not being able to control her newfound powers.
    • Red Daughter uses the Alias "Linda Lee", the name given to Supergirl during the Silver Age of Comics and in the 1984 movie.
    • Lena snarkily tells Lex that the Harun-El won't cure his baldness, in reference to him blaming Superman for his loss of hair during the Silver Age.
    • Lex tricking Red Daughter, showing himself as a benevolent mentor, is a reference to Lex doing similarly to Supergirl in the Post-Crisis comics, both with the Matrix version of Supergirl, and the Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl one.
    • Lex trying to gain superpowers, and occasionally succeeding, is a common theme for various incarnations of the character.
    • Lex covers for his escapes from prison by using a life-like hologram, as in Superman II.
    • The title is a play on both Superman and Luthor's last name, but with the connection to a Russian Kryptonian it also alludes to Superman: Red Son, where a Communist Russian Superman turns out to be a descendant of Luthor from an advanced future he created. There the House of El and Luthor family are one and the same.
  • Never My Fault: Lex's defense at his trial?
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lex talks a good game about fighting against human extinction and wanting to usher in an era of peace and equality, but he constantly undermines his own point; not long after delivering a speech about his good intentions to the courtroom at his trial, he poisons everyone there out of spite over the guilty verdict, and later, even Eve doesn't pretend that Lex's plans for Red Daughter amount to anything more than world domination.
  • Obliviously Evil: Red Daughter is genuinely good, sweet, and compassionate, but she's manipulated by Lex into serving his agenda.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kara when she realizes that Lex has powers, thanks to the Harun-El Serum.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Lex's "Superman made me do it!" defense is expanded upon in this episode.
  • One Steve Limit: An aversion to this trope is vital to the plot of this episode; all Red Daughter remembers is the name "Alex", a detail that Lex leaps on to get a foothold in his manipulations.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Usually, when she faces a villain, Kara will give them a chance to surrender, and usually will try for the capture rather than the kill. When she sees Lex, though, she has an Oh, Crap! moment and just attacks him straight-out, knowing full well how dangerous he is.
  • Origins Episode: For Red Daughter.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Subverted throughout the episode. Every nice thing Lex does for Red Daughter is meant to serve his own plans for her. Sending her books is meant to teach her to see the world the way he does, spending time with her is meant to con her into trusting and relying on him, and training her to defend Kaznia is meant to serve his plans for a False Flag Operation against the United States. Even saving her life is done more to serve his own goals than out of any compassion, as much as he pretends otherwise.
    • Played straight with Otis sparing Mikhail.
  • Playing Both Sides: Lex support the Kaznians in attacking the United States, but secretly plans to foil the attack in order to present himself as the hero.
  • Powered Armor: Lex briefly takes out his Exo-Suit after he jumps out of the helicopter. Supergirl quickly destroys it.
  • Pun-Based Title: The title is an allusion to the phrase "House of El", which refers to the Kryptonian noble family that includes both Superman (Kal-El) and Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), but here with 'L' obviously standing for "Luthor".
  • The Reveal:
    • Lex was the one who ordered Eve to become Cat's PA, so he could keep tabs on James and later Lena.
    • Lex has been the "consultant" to the Kaznia military on how to train Red Daughter for their use. In fact, Lex has been in league with Kaznia for decades. Lex wants them to attack America so he can be the hero who stops them.
    • The Graves siblings recruited Lockwood to be the leader of the Children of Liberty on Lex's orders because he needed a patsy somewhere down the line, making him the true Big Bad all season long.
    • Lex is well aware of who Supergirl is, even showing Red Daughter her apartment when Kara was visiting Smallville.
    • Lex's cancer wasn't from Kryptonite poisoning. He gave himself cancer via radiation poisoning so he could work with Lena to perfect the Harun-El serum so he could use it to cure Red Daughter.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Despite having been created from the Harun-El, Red Daughter is not villainous like Reign and has the same drive to protect the innocent as Kara; she's simply being led down the wrong path by Lex.
  • Sensory Overload: Happens to Red Daughter when she's exposed to yellow sunlight, resulting in Power Incontinence.
  • Shame If Something Happened: How Lex convinces the warden to allow him to leave the prison for 72 hours. He lists the warden's mother's address and her weekly routine.
  • Shout-Out: When Eve catches Red Daughter visiting Lena at CatCo, she scolds her, saying, "You are not gonna go all apple pie-eating, flag-waving Phillips Jennings on me."
  • Skyward Scream: Red Daughter after coming to her friend Mikhail's destroyed home, believing the boy to be dead.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Lex teaches Red Daughter how to play, explaining that he learned both chess and Russian from Anatoly Karpov, a Russian grandmaster.
  • So Last Season: At the beginning of the episode, Lex equips the Lexosuit much like the one his mother used last season that gave Supergirl so much trouble. It doesn't last one punch from Supergirl, though fortunately for Lex, and unfortunately for her, thanks to the Harun-El he didn't need the suit anyway.
  • Special Edition Title: The logo gets replaced with Red Daughter's chest emblem two times. It also says "Red Daughter" in Russian before switching to "Supergirl" in English.
  • Super-Speed Reading: Red Daughter reads all of the books Lex gives to her in this fashion.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Lex's introduction to Red Daughter:
    Lex: My name is Lex.
    Red Daughter: Alex?
    Lex: ...Sure. Alex.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Invoked by Lex; he gifts Red Daughter a packet of cookies to get her to trust him.
  • Undying Loyalty: After some crisis of faith, Red Daughter firmly pledges her loyalty to Lex.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Lex has several:
    • Ben Lockwood, the apparent Big Bad, has been nothing more than a convenient patsy for Lex the whole time.
    • Red Daughter. When she starts becoming independent and begins to believe that America isn't as bad as Lex and Kaznia says, Lex "kills" the Kaznia boy she's attached to and frames America for it to get her back under control.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Red Daughter is just as innocent and well-meaning as Kara, but thanks to Lex's manipulations, she's driven to become a fierce nationalist, determined to destroy Supergirl for the greater good.
  • Wham Episode: Lex is the true Big Bad this season with Lockwood being nothing but his pawn. He's been the consultant to train Red Daughter and she's now in National City ready to strike.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Lex catching Kara's punch, revealing himself to have superpowers.
    • Lex giving Red Daughter a uniform with the Hammer and Sickle insignia in place of the S-shield.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: After the initial battle between Lex and Kara, the episode switches to Lex's exploits with Red Daughter. At least until the final few minutes then it goes back to the present.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Lex is fully prepared to murder an innocent child just to better manipulate Red Daughter. Otis turns out to be an aversion, as he saved Mikhail's life, with the implication that Lex is unaware of what he did.
    Otis: If you see a bald guy? [mimes having no hair] Any bald guy? You lie on the floor. You pretend you're dead.

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