Warning: SPOILERS for Supergirl, season 5, episode 10, “The Bottle Episode.”
Many things changed for Supergirl in the wake of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event. Indeed, so much has changed for Kara Zor-El and her allies it is surprising that the on-going storylines of season 5 have remained largely intact.
Of all the series making up the Arrowverse, Supergirl had perhaps the most to alter, as every superhero series on The CW was merged into a single universe. With a setting where most of the super-powered beings were aliens rather than metahumans, Supergirl stood apart from The Flash and Black Lightning. This was largely due to Supergirl starting off on another network and not originally having been designed to be part of the Arrowverse.
The series adapted admirably as it made the leap to The CW, however, and now stands as a pillar of the largest shared universe in television history. Yet so much has changed in the span of two episodes it would be easy for even die-hard Super-fans to have missed all the little changes between Earth-38 and Earth Prime. Here’s a rundown of all the differences.
“Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part 5” left Supergirl reeling, as she woke up on a new Earth where Lex Luthor was a respected philanthropist and hero to most of the world. It got worse when she discovered that Luthor now owned the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO) and was effectively her boss. A new wrinkle was introduced in “The Bottle Episode,” as Supergirl saw a commercial where she was standing proudly alongside Lex Luthor, Lena Luthor, and a team of DEO agents, assuring the public that they could be counted on to protect them. This was quite different from Earth-38, where the DEO was a covert organization that did not officially exist.
Kara ranted about having to work with Luthor to her sympathetic sister, who didn’t originally remember Lex Luthor’s criminal past. In “Crisis On Infinite Earths – Part 5,” only the Paragons (including Supergirl and Martian Manhunter) knew Lex Luthor for who he once was. “The Bottle Episode” informed us that J’onn was able to telepathically restore the pre-Crisis memories of Alex Danvers, Brainiac-5, Dreamer, Kelly Olsen, and every hero who fought the Anti-Monitor. Beyond them, the rest of the citizens of Earth-Prime have no memory of the multiverse or the Crisis.
Lena Luthor had a literal rude awakening in “The Bottle Episode,” finding her brother Lex fixing breakfast in her office kitchen. Lex explained that he had been resurrected by The Monitor and made a bargain before he agreed to help him save the multiverse; that whatever happened, Lena would survive the experience with her mind and memories intact. Lex added that reality had been rewritten so that the family business was back to being LuthorCorp rather than LCorp, and they ran it and the DEO together, with the world thinking they were simple billionaire philanthropists. It was, Lex noted, the perfect cover for world domination, including her plans for Project Non Nocere.
Lena immediately began researching the new Earth and the history she would be expected to know. A quick glance at her browser search in one scene revealed that the world thinks Supergirl and Lex Luthor joined forces to fight Agent Liberty during Supergirl ‘s season 4 finale, where Agent Liberty was originally a puppet in Lex’s scheme. The search also revealed that Lex and Lena worked together to cure rare diseases and that Lex bought the DEO after the federal organization became strapped for cash. This suggests that virtually everything in the historical record from the first four and one-half seasons of Supergirl may no longer be valid.
One interesting side-effect of the reborn Earth was that several versions of Brainiac-5 from alternate Earths appeared in the DEO, including a female Braniy from a world where she was the DEO’s director. While Supergirl was quick to offer the Brainiacs help in getting back to their home worlds, a typically tactless Brainiac-5 let it slip that there were no more alternate Earths and offered to show them the figures which proved the multiverse as they knew it was no more. This suggests that the Earths making up the new Arrowverse are unable to detect one another’s presence, as it was confirmed that there are still multiple Earths in the closing montage of “Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part 5.”
Before Crisis on Infinite Earths, a secret, alien-run organization called Leviathan almost destroyed Earth-38 with a massive monsoon and the eruption of a super volcano. Despite a lengthy historical record that spoke of the organization in legend, neither Brainiac-5 nor Lex Luthor (who had been told about the group’s existence by his sister) could find any evidence of the group’s existence on Earth-Prime. Leviathan still exists, however, though it is now managed by the alien Gamemnae and is seeking a subtler, technology-based solution to keeping humanity in check. To that end, Gamemnae has encouraged Obsidian North CEO Andrea Rojas in her plans to develop the most realistic virtual reality system ever, through her guise as Rojas’ mentor, Professor Gemma Cooper.
The multiple Brainiac-5’s discovered that the wormhole which transported them to Earth-Prime was based around Al’s Dive Bar; the alien-friendly establishment where most of National City’s aliens went to drink in peace. Upon arriving at the bar, Supergirl and The Brainiacs found that Al’s had become Als’, with two of the burly bartender now serving drinks to a number of aliens who had just barely escaped the destruction of their respective worlds in other universes. This included a trio of Kryptonian witches, who were non-evil doppelgangers of the witches who once sought to terraform Earth into a New Krypton under the control of the World-Killer Reign.
On Earth-38, Lillian Luthor organized the terrorist group CADMUS, having come to share her son’s extreme views on the dangers of aliens on Earth. She was sent to prison for her crimes, but still found ways to aid Lex and Lena in their respective endeavors. On Earth-Prime, Lillian is out of prison and is now in charge of The Luthor Foundation, a charity run by the Luthor family. Lillian is also fully aware of how the world used to be, though this was a result of Lex telling her of his activities during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The action of the later-half of “The Bottle Episode” centered around the race to stop one of the Brainiac-5 duplicates from accidentally destroying Earth-Prime in a misguided bid to save his own Earth. In a nod to the Bottled City of Kandor from the classic Superman comics, it was revealed that this Brainiac-5 had managed to trap his Earth inside a bottle before the Anti-Monitor destroyed it. Before he could open the bottle, which required special tools that didn’t exist on Earth or magic to unseal it, the alternate Brainiac-5 was persuaded to wait until the heroes of Earth-Prime made an effort to find somewhere they could safely release the trapped Earth in normal space. Until that time, the bottle would be kept in the Fortress of Solitude for safe keeping.
Facing multiple versions of himself led Braniac-5 to make a decision he’d been delaying since the Supergirl season 4 finale regarding the inhibitor implants in his forehead. The inhibitors repressed Brainiac-5’s full intelligence as well as his connection to the Big Brain; the hive-mind made up of all Coluan intellects. While this still left him more intelligent than the vast majority of sentient beings and gave him greater control of his emotions, he felt outclassed by his other selves. In the end, Brainiac-5 was convinced that he would be just as good and his friends would still like him without the implants, leading to a transformation that left Brainaic-5 looking much more like his comic book counterpart.
Some things haven’t changed on Earth-Prime and Lex Luthor’s ability to arrange a side-hustle is as strong as ever. He finally convinced Lena to enter into an alliance with him, after briefly bonding with a Truth-Seeker (an alien symbiote that makes it impossible for its host to lie) and admitting that he planned to betray her as soon as she became an inconvenience, just like she was planning to subject him to her Non Nocere treatment as soon as she was able. However, Lena’s acceptance of Lex’s offer came after a talk with Lillian Luthor, with whom Lex had formed another partnership based around manipulating Lena to their mutual benefit. Finally, Braniac-5 approached Lex and told him that they would have to work together in secret to overcome Leviathan and that he was prepared to do anything for the greater good, even work against his friends in the DEO.
As Brainiac-5 and Lex Luthor cemented their new partnership, Luthor suggested his first avenue of investigation into Leviathan should be a particular doppelganger who had come through the wormhole into Earth Prime. Luthor had reason to believe that this man, who had just been arrested, had knowledge of the future and might know something about Leviathan that was unknown in the present. He handed Brainiac-5 a mug-shot of the man, who was clearly Brainiac-5’s ally Winn Schott.
On Earth-38, reporter William Dey had taken a position working at CatCo Worldwide Media to get close to Andrea Rojas, whom he suspected was involved in the disappearance of his best friend. Dey is just as much of a crusader on Earth-Prime, but now the focus of his private war is the Luthor family, whom he suspects were involved in the mysterious death of the same friend. This has given Supergirl an unexpected ally in her new mission to expose the truth about Lex Luthor to the world.
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