Sunday, March 14, 2021

Superman & Lois Season 1, Episode 2: Heritage

This week on Superman & Lois we get another surprisingly good episode, as it continues to be the best Arrowverse show that's currently airing. That's two for two now! I'm honestly feeling a little nervous about this series, as I'm afraid any week now they're gonna drop the ball and it's gonna descend into woke nonsense... or something worse.

The theme of this week's episode is most definitely failure, as each character experiences some level of disappointment. Jordan's hopes are dashed when he finds out he's not a superhero. Clark feels let down when his son isn't as strong as he is. General Lane is furious when he finds out that Clark told the boys he's secretly Superman. Lois learns a bitter lesson about business that forces her to quit her job. And Captain Luthor experiences the biggest disappointment, when he fails to locate additional Kryptonite on this world.

I forgot to mention this last week, so I'll do it now— my favorite thing about this series (so far) is the fact that it didn't give us yet another tedious origin for Superman. It jumped right into the action, in media res. As the series began, we saw that Superman is already living on Earth and a well-established superhero. He's married to Lois, who knows his secret identity, and the two of them have twin sons. Lois' father General Lane also knows about Clark and functions as a government liaison for Superman. 

These story elements were all perfectly understandable, as they were presented to us in a five minute opening prologue which told us everything we needed to know about the characters. Frankly it's glorious, and I wish more series would do this! 

Last week I praised the series for attempting something different with the 80+ year old Superman mythos, by making Clark a family man with twin sons. That said, I wasn't completely sold on Jonathan and Jordan as characters. The older I get, the lower my tolerance for teen melodrama. I decided to reserve judgement on the Kent boys though, till I saw a bit more of them.

Welp, I saw more of them this week. All I have to say is if they're gonna act like this every single week from now on, then it's gonna be a lonnnnnnnnng season.

Back during The CW's big Elseworlds crossover, I praised Tyler Hoechlin's performance as Superman, saying:
"...I really like Tyler Hoechlin as Superman. He doesn't look much like Christopher Reeve (the gold standard of Superman actors) but he definitely embodies his spirit, and obviously understands the character more than any other recent actor. Hoechlin's Superman also had a fun, breezy chemistry with Lois, which made me want to see more of them... The CW could do worse than to give us a proper Superman series."
That was three years ago. Now here we are discussing a brand new, very well done weekly Superman series!

Do... do you think it's possible that the bigwigs at The CW read my world-renowned and highly influential blog, and decided to greenlight a Superman series? I'm going to say yes. Yes they did. You're welcome, World!

Lastly, I have some good news and bad news about Superman & Lois. First the good news— apparently I'm not the only one who likes this series. According to The CW, the first episode drew in 3.5 million viewers, making it the highest rated series premiere in the network's history! 

In fact the show's doing so well they've already renewed it for a second season— and we're only two episodes in! Awesome!

Now for the bad news. Superman & Lois is going on hiatus after Episode 5. Apparently someone in the cast or crew tested positive for Covid, which caused production to shut down for several weeks. The final season of Supergirl will then air in Superman & Lois' time slot. The series is scheduled to return sometime in May. F*ckin' Covid!


The Plot:
Clark, Lois and their twin sons Jonathan & Jordan leave Metropolis and officially move into the Kent family farm in Smallville, Kansas.

That night at dinner, Jonathan— who's joined the Smallville High football team— mentions he hasn't received his playbook yet. Clark & Lois barely acknowledge him, as they have bigger problems— namely Jordan, who's begun to manifest superpowers of his own.

Clark fears Jordan may lose control of his powers (like he did in Pilot) and accidentally kill his classmates. To that end, he and Lois suggest he skip school till Clark can teach him how to use his abilities wisely. Rather than being thrilled by the prospect of no school, Jordan shrieks about being a freak and storms off.

Meanwhile in Moldova, Captain Luthor breaks into a compound and incapacitates the guards. He scans the facility for Kryptonite, and roars with rage when he finds none. He picks up a guard and demands to know where he's hiding the substance. The terrified guard says they haven't found any in a long time. Luthor kills the guard in frustration and returns to his ship. His AI warns that his battle suit is running low on power, and needs more Kryptonite stat. Luthor says he has to stop Kal-El before he destroys this world like he did his own.

The next day, Jonathan's a bit jealous that he has to go to school while Jordan spends the day with Clark. At school he sees Sarah, who asks where Jordan is. Sarah's boyfriend Sean (who had a run-in with Jonathan last week) confronts him and says the Smallville football team already has a quarterback and doesn't need him. As Sean walks off, he says it's too bad Jonathan never got his playbook. Jonathan realizes Sean is deliberately sabotaging his chances.

Meanwhile, Clark flies Jordan to the Fortress Of Solitude in the Arctic. He puts the Sunstone Crystal (that Jordan discovered last week) into a pillar, and it projects a holographic history of Krypton.

Back in Smallville, Lois sits in a diner and works on her attack piece on slimy business tycoon (and current owner of the Daily Planet) Morgan Edge. She notices a woman at another table who's nervously staring at her. 

Lana enters with her husband Kyle, and invites Lois & her family to a BBQ at their home. Kyle notices Lois writing about Morgan Edge, and claims the business magnate is going to save Smallville. Lois says she isn't so sure. Lana mentions a City Council meeting that night, and Lois decides to go.

In the Fortress, an interactive hologram of Clark's real father Jor-El appears, and wonders why Jordan's there. Clark tells him Jordan's been exhibiting powers, which pleases Jor-El. He says Jordan will be able to carry on their Kryptonian heritage, which doesn't sound ominous at all.

Back at the farm, Lois asks Clark how things went with Jordan. He says for once their son actually seems happy. Just then Lois' father, General Sam Lane, arrives. He tells Clark that their mysterious Stranger (aka Luthor) has his own spaceship, and the Department Of Defense managed to get a resonance trace on it. He says next time the Stranger takes it out for a spin they'll be able to track him.

General Lane asks Clark why he tore his family away from their lives in Metropolis. He then becomes enraged when he finds out Clark told his sons that he's Superman. He predicts it'll tear his family apart. Just then he gets a distress call from Mongolia, and Clark zooms off.

Lois goes to the Council meeting, where she sees the woman from the diner staring at her again. Fed up, she demands to know why she keeps gawking at her. The woman introduces herself as Chrissy Beppo, a reporter at the Smallville Gazette. She says she's Lois' biggest fan.

Kyle calls the meeting to order & introduces Morgan Edge, who says he's bringing hundreds of jobs to Smallville. Lois questions Edge's facts, pointing out that in other towns he only provided a fraction of the jobs he promised, and at lower than advertised wages. Edge expertly says he's trying to save Smallville, but if the town doesn't want his help he'll go elsewhere. The townspeople turn to Lois and being grumbling.

Superman arrives in Mongolia, where he encounters a surprised Luthor. He says Superman destroyed his world, and he wants him gone from this one. The two then engage in another big setpiece battle. Superman eventually gets the upper hand and pins Luthor to the ground. 

Suddenly Luthor's ship powers up and rockets away. Luthor says there's a bomb onboard the ship, which is programmed to head for the nearest city. He tells Superman to choose— capture him or disable the bomb.

Of course Superman chooses to save the city. He speeds after the ship, grabs it and pushes it into orbit. It violently explodes, knocking him out and causing him to plummet back to Earth.

Later at the farm, Clark tells Lois he's puzzled by Luthor's claim that he destroyed his world. She shows Clark her article, which calls Edge a "corporate vampire." Clark reminds her that Edge owns the Daily Planet and will never let her print the story.

The next morning, Clark & Jordan return to the Fortress. Jor-El tests Jordan, and is disappointed to find he doesn't have any significant powers after all. He says his cells can't store enough solar energy, and his strength is only 1/100th that of Clark's. Jordan overhears and storms out (of course).

That evening, Jordan sulks because he's no longer special. Jonathan snaps at him, saying it's not always about him. He says thanks to Jordan, Sean is blindsiding him during practice and beating the crap out of him. Neither of the boys want to go to the big BBQ, but Lois insists they attend as a family.

The Kents arrive at the Cushing BBQ, and are surprised to see the entire neighborhood's there. Kyle's in charge of the grill, and he and Lois get into another argument about Morgan Edge. Lois says Edge will offer low paying jobs, and Kyle says some money's better than none.

Meanwhile, Luthor arrives at the DOD and attacks. General Lane's forces fight back, but are no match against Luthor and his advanced battle suit. Lane sends out a distress call to Superman.

Lois then checks out the Planet's online edition on her phone, and sees that Edge completely rewrote her story, turning it into a complimentary fluff piece. 
Livid, she tells Clark she's not going to let Edge get away with it. Just then Clark gets the General's call and zooms off.

General Lane orders an evacuation of the DOD as Luthor advances. He knocks out the power and approaches the General. He calls him by name and hands him a small object. He pleads with Lane to stop Superman before he destroys this world.

Just then Superman arrives and attacks Luthor. They have yet another big setpiece battle, and Superman ultimately slams Luthor to the ground. He wrenches his helmet off (shades of Man Of Steel!), and is shocked to discover he's been fighting a robot. Elsewhere, Luthor watches Lane on a security camera and mutters, "To hell and back, General."

Sometime later, Jordan approaches Jonathan and thanks him for giving up so much by moving to Smallville. He says Johnathan's always been there for him, so it's time he returned the favor. Jonathan says he doesn't care what Jor-El thinks— Jordan did something to save his life, which makes him special. Yeesh.

The next morning, Clark tells the boys that being Superman has kept him away too much and he's going to try and balance his "work" and home lives better. He tells Jordan he can start going to school again.

Meanwhile, Lois returns to the Daily Planet. She barges into Edge's board meeting and accuses him of changing her story. He says he merely "adjusted" it to fit the facts. She tosses him a letter, turns on her heel and strides back out. Edge opens the letter, which simply reads, "I quit."

Back in Smallville, Jordan returns to school and walks with Sarah. Jonathan goes to football practice, and smiles when he sees Clark watching from the sidelines.

General Lane looks at the object that Luthor gave him. It's a dog tag shaped like Superman's logo, with the word "HELL" scratched into the back of it. Or the number "1134," depending on which way he holds it.

Lois goes to the Smallville Gazette, where she discovers Chrissy is actually the editor, and the paper's only employee. Lois asks if she needs help, and Chrissy hires her on the spot.

Elsewhere, Luthor's AI says it will take time to construct a new suit and ship. It also says this Kal-El is nothing like the one he knew. Luthor then has a flashback to an incident on his world, where the army's desperately battling a black-clad Superman. This evil Superman fires his heat vision at the soldiers, incinerating them. Luthor survives, but Alt General Lane isn't so lucky. He hands Luthor his dog tags and tells him "To hell and back" before dying.

• Last week I praised the Pilot episode, but noted I had one major complaint— the lack of a memorable soundtrack, ala John Williams' sweeping, inspirational score in Superman: The Movie.

They do a little better in this episode, as there was a lot more music, and even a recognizable theme or two.

• I gotta say, this is one good looking series. It's more like a movie than a TV show. Kudos to cinematographer Gavin Struthers for a job well done. Directors Of Photography don't get nearly enough credit, as their work can easily make or break a film. In my opinion they're every bit as important as the director.

• Last week I discussed age, and wondered just how old Clark & Lois would have to be in order to have teenaged sons. I determined that 
Clark was probably around 39, and Lois a couple years older.

This week gives us a fairly definite confirmation of Clark's age, at least. When Lois is unpacking in the kitchen, we get a glimpse of hash marks on the wall which denote Lil' Clark's height over the years. 

It's tough to make them all out, but the bottom one reads, "Clark '85." 1985 was 36 years ago. If we assume Clark was three when Martha ("WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME!?!?) marked his height on the wall, then he was born (or rather found by the Kents) in 1982. Which would indeed make him currently 39.

Look for a "Clark Has A Midlife Crisis When He Turns 40" episode sometime this season or next.

By the way, why did Martha (or Jonathan) write Clark's name next to all his height marks? He was their only kid! Who the hell else would they be recording? Obviously his name was some visual exposition for the audience, so we'd know whose hash marks those were.

• Callback Alert! Last week Joran climbed up to the hayloft in the Kent barn in order to reboot the router (don't ask!). Unfortunately he slipped and fell fifty feet to the ground. A huge rack of heavy metal pipes that were inexplicably stored in the loft then fell on him and Jonathan.

Why were these pipes stored so dangerously high off the ground? Who put them up there in the first place? All good questions. The answer of course was plot related, as the accident forced Jonathan's powers to manifest so he could save himself and his brother.

Anyhoo... in this episode we see Clark as he's wisely stacking this pile of pipes on the ground— where they should have been all along.

• At one point Luthor travels to Moldova, where he attempts to steal Kryptonite in order to power his battle armor. 

I'd have bet just about anything that Moldova was one of those fake countries that always pop up in comic books (so they don't inadvertently piss off a real nation). Nope! Amazingly it's a real place! The Republic Of Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, sandwiched betwren Romania and the Ukraine.

Eh, what can I say? Geography class was a LONNNNNG time ago! And even when I took it, it was never my best subject.

• Clark worries that Jordan's unable to control his burgeoning superpowers. As a result of this, he & Lois decide it'd be safer if they kept him out of school. Not that at no time do they ever mention remote classes or homeschooling him. He doesn't engage in any learning activities whatsoever!

I don't know what the laws are like in Kansas, but I'm pretty sure you can't just let a minor drop out without some sort of legal consequences.

Last week Jonathan & Jordan discovered the ship that brought Baby Kal-El to Earth under the Kent barn. When Jordan touched the ship, an amber crystal emerged from its surface and he quickly pocketed it.

I assumed the crystal would then become a major plot element in a future episode. Nope! In this episode Clark uses this shard, which he calls the Sunstone Crystal, to power the Fortress Of Solitude's holographic display. 

So I guess Jordan must have given it to his dad while we weren't looking and that it's NOT going to be an important plot element after all.

• Clark uses the crystal to play the holographic equivalent of a YouTube video, outlining the history of the planet Krypton. At one point the hologram says, "Your family history begins in Krypton's second largest city, Kryptonopolis."

Wait, what? Was there really a city on Superman's homeworld called "Kryptonopolis?" That'd be like having a town named "Earthopolis" here on our planet.

• Clark's biological father Jor-El is played by actor Angus Macfadyen. All I have to say about him is that he's definitely no Marlon Brando! Jesus, I've seen more energetic performances from drawings of people!

• When Holographic Jor-El finds out that Jordan developing superpowers, he's pleased by the news. He says, "Well then. It is possible for us to further our Kryptonian heritage after all." Well that was definitely ominous! In fact it almost sounds like Jor-El's planning on replacing humanity with a new race of Kryptonians!

I wonder if this'll be a plot point in a future episode, and Clark will have to face off against his holographic father in order to save Earth's population?

• During the Fortress Of Solitude scenes, the FX team added visible breath to Clark & Jordan. They did an extremely good job of it too, as it looks completely natural. In fact I didn't even notice it until I watched the episode a second time. Well done, guys!

• At the Council Meeting, Lois meets Chrissy Beppo— editor of the Smallville Gazette and her biggest fan. Wait a minute... Chrissy Beppo? That name sounds awfully familiar.

Over in the Superman comics, Beppo The Super Monkey was a thing. He was a Kryptonian primate who somehow stowed away aboard the tiny ship that carried Baby Kal-El to Earth. Once he was under the yellow sun of Earth, Beppo developed superpowers and scampered off.

Beppo, along with Krypto The Super Dog and Streak The Super Cat, formed the Legion Of Super Pets. No, I didn't make up any of that.

The Superman comics also feature a supporting character named Bibbo Bibowsky, a hulking longshoreman who worshipped the Man Of Steel.

Did the writers intend for Chrissy to be a gender-flipped version of Bibbo? Or did they really just name her after a goddamned chimp?

• Smallville's Mayor Dean is played by Eric Keenleyside, who— according to his IMDB entry—seems to specialize in playing Mayors, as well as Police Chiefs and officers.

• This week Superman has yet another battle with Captain Luthor. And once again, it felt VERY similar to the one at the end of the abysmal Man Of Steel.

In fact at the end of their skirmish, Superman reaches out with both hands and grabs Luthor's helmeted head. For a terrifying moment I thought he was gonna snap his neck, just like Zack Snyder's grim & gritty, nightmarish version of the character. Fortunately that didn't happen here, as the Superman & Lois creators actually understand the character.

I really hope this series is gonna give Superman some different villains to fight fight soon. I'd hate to think he's just gonna punch Luthor over and over every week for the next thirteen episodes!

• Gosh, do you think this scene might possibly have been an example of foreshadowing on the part of the creators?

In this episode we learn that Captain Luthor's from an Earth where Superman went nuts and wiped out the population. Then we get this shot of our Superman, with his face hidden in deep shadow. Subtle!

• The Daily Planet has been a part of the Superman mythos since the character first debuted 80 some years (!) ago. Last week I was surprised to see Clark fired from his job there. I was even more surprised when Lois quit the Planet this week! 

Part of me's sad to see them dispense with such a traditional piece of the lore, but on the other hand, I'm excited to see them trying new things with this series. When a character's been around as long as Superman, it's important to update them now & then to keep 'em from becoming stale.

R.I.P. Daily Planet, 1938 - 2021. 

• In this episode Superman finds out that General Lane has been quietly stockpiling all the Kryptonite he can find for years. Needless to say, Supes isn't happy about this. And who could blame him? I know I wouldn't want my father-in-law hoarding a substance that could kill me!

Of course the General says he's doing this to protect Superman, by keeping the Kryptonite out of the hands of his enemies. I dunno... I don't completely trust Lane. What if he's squirreling it away in order to take out Superman if he ever thinks he's gone too far?

• Luthor approaches General Lane and hands him a dog tag. Later on Lane stares at the tag, which features the Superman logo on one side for some reason. The other side is inscribed with the word "HELL" or the number "7734," depending on which way it's turned.

The HELL's pretty obvious, given that Superman destroyed Luthor's Earth. But what does the 7734 mean? Is that Luthor's address? His email password? Combination to his gym locker?

Turns out the number 7734 is actually a comic book reference. In the Superman comics, General Lane founded Project 7734— a team of operatives devoted to protecting Earth from rogue Kryptonians who threatened the planet. His team consisted of Doomsday, Metallo and Reactron. 

Does this scene mean we'll see something similar here on the show?

• Luthor's AI scans the entire world for Kryptonite, but can't find a trace of any on the entire planer. That's odd, as just seconds before we were told that General Lane is hiding a huge supply of it. Luthor clearly possesses technology that's far more advanced than ours. So why can't it find Lane's stockpile?

• At the end of the episode, Luthor has a flashback in which we finally get a glimpse of his world. Seems that he and a version of General Lane served together in some branch of the military, where they fought against a rogue Superman who was bent on destroying the world.

I gotta ask— how's this particular Luthor from another Earth? Didn't the Crisis wipe out all the Multiverse, leaving Earth-Prime the only one? If there are still other universes and Earths out there, then what the hell was the point of the whole Crisis?

Also, when Superman attacks, note that he's wearing a black suit identical to the one in the Elseworlds crossover. Actor Tyler Hoechlin confirmed online that it's the exact same costume, saying he had a bit of trouble actually fitting into it three years later.

Thing is, the Evil Superman we saw in Elseworlds wasn't Clark Kent— he was actually evil madman John Deegan, who used the Book Of Destiny to transform himself into an evil version of Superman. Comic Book Logic!

Obviously at some point we're gonna get a "Superman Goes Bad" storyline on the show. If I had to bet, I'd say it'll happen in the season finale.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter