The CW Conclave: Is Lena Luthor destined for darkness?


Supergirl‘s third season on The CW put quite a strain on Lena Luthor’s relationship with the superhero she once idolized. Are Lena and Kara on a collision course?

The CW’s Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) had a rough year on Supergirl, risking her life and morality to take down crooked business mogul Morgan Edge (Adrian Pasdar) and then being charged with the near-impossible task of saving Sam’s (Odette Annable) life. In both cases, she came out on top but not unscathed.

Is she destined to follow in her brother’s footsteps, despite her best attempts to distance herself from her Luthor heritage?

I don’t doubt that Lena always acts with the best intentions in mind, including the greater good. For example, she was not at all in the wrong to take on Edge. However, the way she went about stopping him revealed that she has a dark side.

In the fifth episode of season three, Edge accused Lena of poisoning children with the lead bomb she reluctantly built to force the Daxamites to leave Earth at the end of season two. Lena had been confident that it would not harm humans, but the accusation sent her into a tailspin. She believed that she may have become the worst Luthor of all, having threatened the lives of children.

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However, when Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Sam discovered that Edge was actually behind it all, Lena immediately confronted him with the intent to kill. She was only foiled because Edge’s bodyguard intervened.

In Lena’s defense, her willingness to kill does not objectively make her a bad guy. The Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) has killed many people, though he does carry guilt with him. Even Iris West (Candice Patton) killed Savitar (Grant Gustin) back in The Flash‘s third season in order to save Barry (Gustin).

In Supergirl season two, Lena also killed in defense of another. When the love of her life Jack (Rahul Kohli) was being mind-controlled to attack Supergirl, Lena killed him in order to save Supergirl. After that, Lena understandably expressed a bitter desire for revenge. Though not directed against Supergirl, that desire was the first hint of Lena’s dark side.

The final episodes of season three directly suggested that Lena is on the path to becoming an enemy of Supergirl herself. Lena possessing Kryptonite at all, let alone homemade Kryptonite, made Kara furious. When we last saw her, Lena had secretly moved on to experimenting with synthesized Harun-El, a substance both Kara and Alura (Erica Durance) had agreed was too dangerous remain on Earth once Reign was defeated.

Ultimately, though, I don’t think it’s Lena’s darkness or her dangerous projects that will ruin her relationship with Kara. Kara’s mistrust of Lena is actually the bigger threat. The fact that Lena is the only person in Kara’s life who is still unaware of her dual identity has been played for laughs since season two, but the continued deception is, in fact, cruel.

It may not sound like a big deal, and Kara is partially trying to protect Lena. But think of it this way: Lena was devastated over losing the trust of strangers in the midst of the lead poisoning outbreak. Imagine the pain Lena will be in when she realizes she’s never even had the trust of her best friend: the one person she’s counted on to believe in her even when she couldn’t believe in herself.

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Furthermore, Lena’s relationship with Supergirl, not Kara, was permanently fractured when Supergirl tried to go behind her back and take advantage of her relationship with James. As of now, Lena still considers Kara a friend. However, once she finds out the truth about Kara’s identity, she will realize that she has been betrayed by her friend on multiple levels.

As I see it, Lena certainly has the ability and the mindset to become a villain, a formidable one. Learning Kara’s true identity could very well be what sends Lena over the edge; and, if so, Kara will be partially, if not mostly, to blame.

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