Supergirl season 5, episode 16 review: Alex in Wonderland

What happens when Alex Danvers puts on a pair of Obsidian VR lenses to escape the real world? We find out in the latest episode of Supergirl.

Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and the Super-friends can’t seem to catch a break. Not only are they incorrectly assuming that Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) is behind all the devious goings-on in National City, but every win is followed by a loss.

At the end of last week’s episode, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) found out that her father Jeremiah Danvers had died. After years of being in Cadmus’ clutches, enabling their evil schemes, Jeremiah had escaped and was doing humanitarian work in Peru. He died of a heart attack; a ‘surreal’ end for a character whose potential was scuppered because the actor playing him has become increasingly problematic.

Alex was always close to her father, so how does his death affect her?

Alex Grieves

Supergirl -- "Alex in Wonderland" -- Image Number: SPG516a_0033b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers and Olivia Nikkanen as Young Alex -- Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Supergirl — “Alex in Wonderland” — Image Number: SPG516a_0033b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers and Olivia Nikkanen as Young Alex — Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Supergirl understands siblings, especially sisters. They are the best of friends, the fiercest allies; but the moment an obstacle presents itself, sisters tend to lash out at the easiest target – each other. The reason why so many people love this show is because of how raw Alex and Kara’s relationship is. It’s not always perfect, as we’re reminded in this episode, and yet they always find a way back to each other.

The episode begins with Alex refusing to attend her father’s funeral. She’s mourned his loss several times and now she’s spent. What’s worse is, given her immense anger and grief, Alex blames Kara for how her relationship with her father crumbled.

Believing Jeremiah’s obsession with protecting Kara led to him neglecting his older child, Alex pushes her beloved sister, and then her girlfriend, Kelly (Azie Tesfai) away. Kara throws her hands up and leaves Kelly to deal with her sister. On the other hand, Kelly once again proves what an utter gem she is by promising to love Alex unconditionally despite Alex’s behaviour. The Danvers’ relationship is occasionally so authentic, it’s like looking at a reflection of yourself and your sibling.

And, of course, by the end of it all, both sisters are back to supporting and caring about each other. Because that’s what siblings do!

Alex in Wonderland

As we had suspected, Alex turns to Obsidian’s VR platform as an escape from the reality of her father’s death. Alex is presented with several options for her escape – being a mother, becoming a doctor as she had originally planned, going back to being the young girl who cracked her first case at age 17. The one that Alex chooses? She’s Supergirl.

Promos of Alex’s Supergirl outfit did not do it justice. The sleek black look with the blue piping and Alex’s jet-black wig make for an arresting ensemble. What Alex needs is adoration, which she finds in the VR world, and also a sense of normalcy. Finding J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) as the head of the VR DEO is comforting for Alex, as is having Brainy (Jesse Rath) and Nia Nal (Nicole Maines) working side by side. Even the idea that Alex can bring Kelly to the VR bar and offer her the blueberry pancakes from her childhood makes Alex happy. It’s no wonder she doesn’t want to leave; it’s another matter that she can’t.

Leviathan Ups Their Game

Supergirl -- "Alex in Wonderland" -- Image Number: SPG516b_0422b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Azie Tesfai as Kelly Olsen and Staz Nair as William Dey -- Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Supergirl — “Alex in Wonderland” — Image Number: SPG516b_0422b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Azie Tesfai as Kelly Olsen and Staz Nair as William Dey — Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Leviathan has been quietly building their army using the Obsidian lenses. We had learnt in the previous episode that Leviathan had exploited a glitch in the system, but to what purpose? They speed up the process in this episode, as Alex meets other players like herself and soon realizes something isn’t quite right. Players begin forgetting that they’re in a fantasy land and take on the identities and powers of their avatars.

Meanwhile, Kelly and William Dey (Staz Nair) start investigating the glitch and the possibility of people getting stuck in the VR. Kelly getting more screen time is always a plus. She is a genuinely large-hearted and generous character. She and William have never had to interact before, but Kelly immediately tries to help him. In the bargain, Kelly learns that the VR glitch was never fixed. If only she knew that was because Leviathan has a board member in Obsidian – Gemma Cooper – who’s using the glitch for the organization’s own nefarious purposes. Thanks to Leviathan, people looking for an escape in VR are getting trapped in there. Is this how Leviathan plans to take over the world? Leave humanity as zombies, while they live out their dreams in VR?

William is certain Lex is behind all this, and so are the Super-friends. They can’t imagine that even Lex is being played by something worse. What will happen to Supergirl and the others when they realize how wrong they’ve been? Or worse, what will happen when they have to turn to Lex for help?

Super Sentiments

Supergirl -- "Alex in Wonderland" -- Image Number: SPG516b_0016b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Julie Gonzalo as Andrea Rojas/Acrata and Andrea Brooks as Eve Tessmacher -- Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Supergirl — “Alex in Wonderland” — Image Number: SPG516b_0016b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Julie Gonzalo as Andrea Rojas/Acrata and Andrea Brooks as Eve Tessmacher — Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

  • Who else was surprised by how supportive and proactive Andrea Rojas (Julie Gonzalez) was as a boss? She’s always been shown to be interested in the bottom line of her company, yet, Andrea not only takes Kelly’s concerns seriously, she even brainstorms with Kelly to get Alex out of the VR. And then, Andrea orders a patch for the glitch, going behind the board’s backs. We have a new respect for this character.
  • What is Eve Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) doing at the reception in Obsidian? Or is this Lena Luthor’s AI, Hope? It’s never a good sign when a Luthor pawn is in your company. She is probably spying on Obsidian. No one can be trusted.
  • The best moment in this episode is when a grieving Alex holds on to her wineglass, which already has wine in it, and proceeds to drink straight from the bottle. Why be sophisticated when all you want to do is drown your sorrows. Always be you, Alex.
  • We see a lot of guest stars on Arrowverse shows, but Tilly / Bonnie (Anne Hollister) seemed to have some extraordinary chemistry with Alex in the VR world. It makes one wonder if it’s not worth giving this character more screen time. Hollister has a very different screen presence from most other actors, which was a refreshing change, even if it was for only a few scenes.
  • J’onn, Brainy and Nia may be the nicest people, but they make for terrifying villains in the VR world. What a spectacular change in the characters’ demeanour. Kudos to all three actors for portraying the sinister side of their lovable characters.
Next: 25 most heartbreaking Arrowverse deaths of all-time

This episode of Supergirl airs at a time when the world is facing an uncertain, unprecedented situation. We’re isolated, many of us are alone, and we’re all turning to some form of entertainment to escape. But, just like Alex, we need something to ground us in reality so we don’t lose track of what’s on the other side of this upheaval.