Sunday’s Supergirl offered a peek behind Agent Liberty’s mask, revealing how mild-mannered college professor Ben Lockwood grew to become the anti-alien hatemonger he is today. And wouldn’t you know it, the straw that broke the camel’s back turned out to be… Teri Hatcher?
OK, I suppose some context is required here: The episode took us back to Season 2, when things started to go south for Ben’s father’s steel (“American steel!”) factory. Already an anti-alien conspiracy theorist, Ben’s dad Peter was beginning to question the administration’s too-close relationship with aliens (actually, make that “roaches”) like Supergirl. And things only got worse when Ben attempted to stop his father’s workers from beating up an alien, only to be accidentally impaled by one of the alien’s spikes.
The DEO arrived on the scene to keep the peace, but when Ben and Peter realized that they were taking the alien’s side, they began to ask dangerous — not to mention completely misguided — questions: “Why is the FBI working with Supergirl? And why are they working against us?” As a last-ditch attempt to save his father’s company, Ben ambushed Lena to find out why LutherCorp was no longer working with Lockwood Steel. She explained that, as part of
LuthorCorp L-Corp’s rebranding, it’s converting to more sustainable building materials, adding that his father was merely a victim of “progress.”
“Progress” turned out to be Ben’s trigger word, as he quickly worked it into his lessons at school. “Our leaders have been obsessed with progress,” he told his students, “but what’s so great about it?” He challenged them to consider the victims of progress, those who pay the “price” for others’ success.
That’s where Teri Hatcher came in; just as Peter was telling Ben that he was shutting down his factory for good, Queen Rhea appeared on the family’s television, as part of her worldwide announcement of the Daxamites’ invasion. “Supergirl won’t save us,” Ben told his family. “She’s an alien, just like the invaders.” And as if his fire needed any more fuel, J’onn landed on their front lawn, engaged in a battle so fierce that it sent the Lockwoods’ home up in smoke. (Oops?)
Ben’s next stop was CatCo, where he asked James why the company’s news divisions aren’t reporting on the “real” victims of the alien attacks. (“Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover alien invasion!”) And when he found out that CatCo had recently been acquired by L-Corp, he went off the damn rails. Suddenly, his lectures became anti-alien rants (“I would be proud if you should call me a nativist!”), and when his students started to complain, he was given an unpaid leave of absence.
“Did you tattle on me, snowflake?!” Ben asked one of his alien students after following her to a bar. He had completely lost it. Fortunately, Kara — in her street clothes, just looking to slay some karaoke — was there to intervene. But Kara didn’t exactly extinguish Ben’s fuse. In fact, he began handing out anti-alien propaganda pamphlets in the hopes of starting an Earth-first movement, one that gained even more steam after his father was killed during the great Terraformation of Season 3. In a fit of rage, Ben found and killed the alien who hurt him earlier in the episode, a senseless act of violence that caught the eye of Mercy Graves, who effortlessly enlisted him to her side. (To be fair, how does one turn down an offer like “What do you say, besties?”)
Back to present day… Though the DEO was able to filter the kryptonite from Kara’s blood, the process wasn’t happening quickly enough, forcing Alex to contact Lena for assistance. She brought along an exoskeletal suit that would keep Kara safe inside until she can be properly detoxified. So, yes, Kara remains in critical condition, but at least she’ll remain that way in some fly new duds!
Your thoughts on Agent Liberty’s origins? Which of this week’s callbacks did you enjoy the most? Whatever’s on your mind, drop a comment with your review of the episode below.