I didn't like it either but 24 is the right age for Lena because she still is a little naive, she's quick to believe those with supposedly good intentions probably due to her lack of exposure and that would only make sense if ms prodigy was 24. a 28 year old with the intelligence (and position&past) of Lena wouldn't let herself be as easily influenced. she would be far more calculative if she were a 28 year old
lol idk if you’ve met a 28 year old but they can be emotionally naive too
But Lena isn’t quick to believe people have good intentions because of a lack of exposure—she’s been emotionally fucked over many a time in her life.
I mean, toward the beginning of when we’re getting to know her, she gives a whole speech about not trusting people and not being naive, grounded in her personal experiences:
“You know, when I was first adopted by the Luthors, I adored Lex. When he showed his true colors, I was crushed. I tried everything to reach him, bring him back to the side of good. But it was no use. I’d lost him.
Finally, I realized that some people are just bad. And there is nothing you can do to change that.
But, you can learn to protect yourself.”
Does that sound like someone who is new to the concept of being screwed over? It’s like… her origin story.
So regardless of if it all happened within the span of 24 years or 28, she still has the same canonical experience with people, and that’s the experience of someone who knows what it’s like to be let down. It’s a huge part of her personality when we meet her.
And Lena is pretty calculative, initially. She isn’t exactly quick to believe anyone. It’s just that she lets her emotions overpower her “logic” when it plays against her emotional needs. Which isn’t an age-restricted personality trait.
And that’s canonically the reason that she didn’t believe that Rhea was going to backstab her.
She started out suspicious of Rhea, gathering evidence about her, but then Rhea said the magic words ‘you’re not like your mother’ and Lena craved the approval. And Rhea kept giving her approval, even as she went against everything Lena stood for behind her back. That’s one of the reasons why Lena bought into it.
“How could you let that woman deceive you? I taught you to be a scientist, to question everything.”
“No, what you taught me was to doubt myself. To look for validation elsewhere, so much that I was willing to take it from the first mentor that offered it to me.”
Lena let her issues influence her judgement. She had the intelligence and the tools—more experience than she rightfully should have with being let down—to be suspicious of her, and yet she wanted to believe her. And that’s not because of her age, it’s because of who she is and how she’s been hurt.
It’s Lena’s kryptonite.
Not to mention, Lena has also been heavily influenced by Kara and her “everyone is good on the inside” worldview this season, likely because Kara is so validating and supportive of her. In a way, Kara is proving her Good People Exist worldview to Lena by being such a good friend, and it’s making Lena alter the perception of the world that she built up over the years.
In a lot of ways, I think Kara is like… Lena’s emotional mentor. (Whether or not that’s a role Kara should have—at least as Lena’s sole mentor and only true friend—is another question.)
She listens to Kara when she says that she should go see her mother, despite not seeming to want to give the relationship another shot. She calls Kara when she’s deciding if she should go on a date with Jack, calls Kara to ask if she should trust Rhea.
And when Kara can’t talk, Lena decides to trust Rhea, likely knowing what Kara would say. She seems to have internalized Kara’s worldview a bit, at this point.
I mean, it’s really a good thing to internalize, that you should trust people. It’s something Lena needs, even if Kara “Sunny” Danvers goes too far with the idea.
But Lena’s luck is shit, and this is a television show, so she keeps getting screwed over.
But I think it’s a mistake to believe that Lena is necessarily unintelligent in her newfound trusting of people, or that a 28 year old shouldn’t make these same choices.
I said that Lena’s naturally suspicious nature was shrouded by Rhea’s emotional manipulation, but she also seems to be making a conscious choice to be more trusting, for her own emotional wellbeing in the form of intimacy. She should continue trusting people until she finds the ones who really won’t let her down.
She should continue trusting people throughout her life.
She should trust people until they’ve proven they can’t be trusted, because that’s the only way you can really connect to people.
This, in a way, is her arc for the season. From semi-distrusting and secluded, to more open and accepting. And the audience is supposed to hope that she doesn’t close herself off again, worse than before, because of the people that hurt her while she is open to it.
As for Kara’s secret, we accepted for 2 seasons that a 50 year old woman didn’t recognize that her assistant of two years was Supergirl. The Secret Identity™ trope is not about naivety or experience or intelligence, it’s supposed to fool everyone. It wouldn’t be a surprise when it’s revealed that Cat has known for some time that Kara is Supergirl if it weren’t possible that she wouldn’t know.
And really? Lena should trust Kara. Like, it’s a good call. Her having this secret doesn’t mean that Lena’s foolish to accept her explanations at face value. Her read of Kara, that she’s someone she can trust, is the right and logical move to make with the information she has about her. Like, who would suspect that their friend is a superhero?
So the only kind of experience that Lena doesn’t have, 24 or 28 or 100, is with a genuine and honest emotional connection. But that’s because of her environment, not her age. When you reach 28, you don’t magically have positive and fulfilling relationships (unfortunately).
I mean, headcanon what you’d like! If you like Young Prodigy Lena Luthor who doesn’t know who to trust because she’s young, you do you. The 24 year old thing hasn’t been disproven yet, so there’s definitely room to take it where you want to in your own stuff.
Just don’t try to tell me that that’s what is canonically right, because at no point in the story is her supposed young-ness brought up in any context or used as an explanation for anything she does.