Betrayed by her best friend, Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) has taken things to exactly the kind of extreme that you might expect from somebody with that last name. Besides conspiring against Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), she has essentially taken on an AI best friend in the form of Hope, the AI currently inhabiting the body of Eve Tessmacher (Andrea K. Brooks). It should be noted that there's probably something deeply psychological about the fact that she has chosen to take on a best friend who, as far as she knows, is bascially incapable of lying to her...but that's a whole other conversation.
Lena, like the rest of National City, is going to be facing some huge problems in this week's midseason finale, followed by an even bigger threat the following week when the Arrowverse shows begin the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover. She joined ComicBook.com to talk about what's driving Lena through the challenges.
"I still think that at the core of her, not even at the core of her, like on the surface, she keeps telling you that she's doing this for the right reasons," McGrath explained. "She's trying to make everything better. She's not trying to hurt anybody. She's trying to stop them from hurting. So from her point of view and her view the world, she is a good guy. As she sees it, she's trying to save humanity. She's trying to protect people from hurting. She's trying to make the world a better place in her way of looking at it."
That, of course, is the strain that runs through a lot of the best Superman family villains, and McGrath has grabbed onto it.
"I don't feel like she's become a villain," McGrath continued. "I'm very happy that the writers and the showrunners, that they respected her, the character enough because I don't think it would've been believable for Lena to become out and out bad. Not with the way that they have crafted her and spent so much time making her so sympathetic and so wonderful. If they had turned her bad, I don't think you would have believed it. And I think what makes her so compelling this year is that you still don't believe she's bad. I kind of hope, fingers crossed that the audience is with us on this, that every time Lena says she's not a villain, they're like, 'No, she's not.' She's going about it a screwy way, but she really honestly does believe that she is helping, if that makes sense."
If that "screwy" way feels decidedly Luthor-like -- a personality trait that Lena tried to avoid early on in her run on the series -- McGrath says Lena has not yet faced that reality.
"I have thought about that, and the way I sort of sat down and looked at it and looked at the script, and looked in the way it went was she doesn't have that moment right now. She doesn't have that ability to be so self-reflecting with what she's doing. She's all emotions and she's all action right now. I think if she took a step aside and was able to look at herself dispassionately, I think she would be able to see that she's a very smart woman. But right now she was so caught up in the pain and the hurt and the need to make it better that she's not thinking about it from the outside. She's only thinking about it from where she is and how she's feeling, so she's very reactionary right now. She doesn't have the emotional ability right now to separate herself from what she's doing. I think she's so caught up in the reaction of what it is that she's doing, the need to deal with this pain that she isn't capable at the minute of separating that from what it is actually that she's doing. If that makes sense."
Supergirl airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. "The Wrath of Rama Khan" will air on December 1st. The series will then take part in the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover before going on hiatus until January.
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” kicks off on Sunday, December 8 on Supergirl, runs through a Monday episode of Batwoman and that Tuesday’s episode of The Flash. That will be the midseason cliffhanger, as the shows go on hiatus for the holidays and return on January 14 to finish out the event with the midseason premiere of Arrow and a "special episode" of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which launches as a midseason series this year and so will not have an episode on the air before the Crisis.