Last season, Supergirl was the brightest and cheeriest of the Arrowverse series on The CW, Supergirl season 3, however, has ceded the role of ‘funny, optimistic show’ to The Flash. Supergirl has been more somber recently, with the heartbreaking end of ‘Sanvers’, the relationship between Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima), occurring on this week’s episode ‘Damage’. As for the Girl of Steel, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) has been uncharacteristically downbeat ever since Mon-El (Chris Wood) was forced to leave Earth at the end of season 2. As the show’s core romantic relationships dissipate, ‘Damage’ teased a spark for a potential new coupling that fans haven’t seen before: James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath).
Lena’s role in repelling the Daxamite invasion last season, which sent Mon-El away to parts unknown, may now result in a romance that would be brand new to Superman lore. Jimmy Olsen has been part of the Superman legacy almost since its inception, and for most of that time, the main Luthor in their life has been Lex Luthor. Though Lena Luthor was created in 1961, she was re-imagined and entered modern DC Comics continuity as Lex’s adopted sister following Infinite Crisis in 2006. A version of Lena named ‘Tess Mercer’ (her real full name was Lutessa Lena Luthor) and played by Cassidy Freeman was a major character on Smallville, though that series’ version of Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore) was the love interest of Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack). But an Olsen-Luthor romance of any sort has been unthinkable – until now.
In ‘Damage’, Lena is framed by her rival, the evil billionaire industrialist Morgan Edge (Adrian Pasdar), for giving the children of National City lead poisoning. To stop the Daxamite invasion, Lena and her mother Lillian (Brenda Strong) retrieved a device invented by Lex intended to poison the atmosphere with Kryptonite. Lena retrofitted the device to instead emit lead, which is poisonous to Daxamites, but in trace amounts they determined would be harmless to humans. When Edge framed Lena, public sentiment turned against her to the point where a woman tried to shoot Lena during a press conference when Lena was publicly apologizing. Kara caught one of the bullets intended for Lena, but another hit James in the shoulder. Ultimately, Kara and Samantha Arias (Odette Annable) figured out how Edge framed Lena and Supergirl saved Lena from another assassination attempt by Edge.
Since Lena had purchased CatCo, allowing James to remain Editor-in-Chief, they have had a prickly relationship. In part, this is because of James’ personal history with both Superman and Lex. Lena feared James always saw her as an extension of her evil brother. By the conclusion of ‘Damage’, their relationship warmed considerably after James literally took a bullet for Lena. When Lena went to thank James, they very amicably ended the formal way they used to address each other: James may now call Ms. Luthor ‘Lena’ and she in turn can call Mr. Olsen ‘James’ or even ‘Jimmy’. This is a very significant gesture for James – not even Kara calls him ‘Jimmy’ and only her cousin Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin) uses that nickname affectionately. Lena embraced being allowed to call James ‘Jimmy Olsen’ with a sweet flourish. It was evident something is now brewing between Lena and James.
Katie McGrath has been a fantastic addition to Supergirl. However, Lena, a beautiful billionaire in her mid-20s, has had almost no romantic prospects since arriving in National City; that one time Queen Rhea of Daxam (Teri Hatcher) tried to force her to marry her son Mon-El doesn’t count. In her past, Lena had been in a relationship with inventor Jack Spheer (Rahul Kohli), who arrived in National City last season, but he turned out to be a villain of the week named Biomax. Lena’s primary struggle has been proving herself as the benevolent owner of L-Corp and CatCo and getting out from under the nefarious shadow of her brother and her last name, all while trying not to succumb to her baser Luthor instincts.
Meanwhile, Mehcad Brooks, a series regular, has been sorely underutilized. James has been largely floundering since season 1 when his slow-burn romance with Kara (which never quite sizzled as hoped) ended abruptly in favor of the much more successful pairing of Kara and Mon-El. James had been in a rocky season 1 relationship with Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan), but that ended in favor of his ill-fated coupling with Kara. James was then promoted to run CatCo in the absence of Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), but he has been largely sidelined since the series shifted focus from CatCo to the DEO’s alien-hunting efforts. So that he could join in on the action, James also became a superhero in season 2. James adopted a crime-fighting alter ego called Guardian, which hasn’t been a smashing success for the character either. James apparently is still Guardian but hasn’t worn the suit yet in season 3 (due to Kara being much more proactive in her crime-fighting as Supergirl).
The potential of a James Olsen and Lena Luthor hook up offers something brand new to the Superman/Supergirl mythos. James is one of the most purely heroic characters in Supergirl. A romantic pairing with Lena could be a great opportunity for Lena to have a counterpart (who isn’t Kara, her best friend whom she still doesn’t know is Supergirl) who could help nurture her nobler instincts. Being with Lena could also lend some shades of grey to James Olsen’s shining armor. Opposites attract and you don’t get more opposite than Lex Luthor’s kid sister and Superman and Supergirl’s best pal.
With Mon-El still in limbo and Sanvers now over, Lena and James are the best chance for new romantic sparks on Supergirl. If nothing else, if Lena and James do get together, the reactions of both Kara and Clark will be priceless. After all, the only thing more unbelievable than a Luthor and an Olsen getting together would be a Luthor and a Kent or a Luthor and a Danvers.
Supergirl airs Mondays @ 8pm on The CW.