Each Wednesday, Joe from @guyatthemovies will be recapping the most recent episode(s) of Superman & Lois following the show’s airing on Tuesdays at 9pm EST on The CW.
As a lifelong Superman fan, i’ve been through many iterations of the Man of Steel, from Christopher Reeves to Henry Cavill, Lois & Clark to Smallville. I even was a huge fan of Krypton, though the focus is on his grandfather as a youngster rather than the hero we all know and love. So of course I had a bit of interest when Superman & Lois was announced as the latest Greg Berlanti-CW collaboration set in the DC world, but having been burned by the lackluster Supergirl and less-than-impressed with Tyler Hoechlin in the tights. This weekend, however, i decided to see what all of the fuss was about and, well, I am here to tell you this: Superman & Lois is a phenomenal, beautiful, complex show boasting an incredible cast and opening new doors in the story of DC’s first superhero.
Every Wednesday I will break down the latest episode in detail while pondering what is to come. Since I am late to the game, here is a recap of the first three episodes, even though it is Thursday. So, as they say, “up, up, and away!”
Unlike previous incarnations of the characters, Superman & Lois’ Clark Kent and Lois Lane are married and living in Metropolis with their 14 year old twin boys, Jonathan and Jordan. In the opening scenes, we flash back to Clark’s upbringing in Smallville, from his arrival to Earth to his father’s sudden heart attack and death. Martha Kent is sadly not far behind, passing away after a stroke, but not before whispering that Clark needs to come home, which he hears. This results in the family moving back to Smallville and living on the farm (more on that later), which is made all-the-more easy since Clark was recently fired from his job at The Daily Planet, now owned by media mogul Morgan Edge.
The biggest difference between Superman & Lois and other shows that have told Supe’s story is the children, here played by Jordan Elsass and Alexander Garfin. Jon Kent (nod to Jonathan Kent, Clark’s father) seems to be the athlete of the family, starting quarterback at his high school and one who seemingly may have powers. Why? Because after Martha’s death, the boys are back on the farm as everyone pays their respects and, of course, the router is giving off a weak signal. Heading into the barn with Lana Lang Cushing’s daughter Sarah, the twins share that their father has told them never to go in there, which they obviously are ignoring. Jordan, who we learn feels like an outcast and has been diagnosed with social anxiety, climbs up to the router attached to a second-story pole and slips and falls, dislodging a bunch of heavy pipes that rain down on both him and his brother, who has jumped over to save him with what looks to be super strength. Clark is ultimately none-too-happy about the boys being in the barn, which of course only makes them more suspicious.
During this time, Lana and her husband Kyle (a firefighter) are catching up in the kitchen with Clark and Lois when the topic of Morgan Edge comes up. Edge, recently having pledged to help revitalize a desolate Smallville, has a fan in Kyle who spars with Lois. Lois points out that Edge ruins everything he touches, including The Daily Planet, while Kyle focuses on the job creation aspect and points out that reporters can’t keep their politics out of their jobs. This is a rather surprising angle for the show to take, obviously interweaving current political conversations between big city and small town challenges into the storyline, but I am here for it.
Back to farm in general, Clark and Lois visit the Smallville Bank where Lana is working. The one-time flame of Clark explains that Martha took advantage of a reverse mortgage years ago in order to be able to help out another family who was going to lose their farm. Now, with her death, the two options are to sell the property for a handsome sum or figure out a way to pay the half of the mortgage that is still owed. Lois is suspicious of the whole reverse mortgage scheme, which she ultimately decides to look into.
While their parents are away, the twins head to the barn and discover a cellar door that leads to, you guessed it, the spaceship Clark arrived in. Touching it reveals a sunstone and totally freaks out the boys. They confront their parents once they return and, having been apprehensive of telling the boys the truth before, Clark and Lois share the truth.
Elsewhere and throughout the episode, multiple nuclear power plants are on the verge of melting down (at different times), each looking as though someone has cut into one of the towers. In a later confrontation after General Sam Lane (Lois’ father) briefs Clark and Superman later hears another attack, Superman encounters a suited being who knows his real name is Kal-El and knows all about Krypton. The two engage in battle that takes them to the city and to the sky before the mysterious being stabs Superman with kryptonite, sending him hurtling back to Earth.
This is happening at the same time that Jordan has snuck out to a farm party where he meets up with Sarah. The two chat and are obviously growing closer, discussing their own mental health challenges after Sarah spots Jordan taking medication and then going for a beer. This leads to a kiss that draws the attention of Sarah’s boyfriend and a fight ensues. Jon has followed his brother there and joins in the melee. While being beaten to the ground, Jordan loses control, his eyes begin to glow, and his own heat vision causes an explosion.
Back to Superman, he awakes while falling after hearing Lois’ calls for help after she sees the news of the explosion and hits her own panic button of sorts that gets Superman’s attention. Clark arrives on the scene and learns of all that has happened, including Jordan’s powers.
And remember that armored being that stabbed Superman? Well we see him returning to his ship, parked in the snowy mountains. His AI discusses suit enhancements with him before referring to him as Captain Luthor. End of episode.
Look, this is such a dynamic approach to telling the story of Superman that has everything to do with the twins. Lois, played by the incredible Bitsie Tulloch, is as fierce as the comics portray her. The focus of the show is on family, exploring how Clark can balance the needs of the world with the needs of those at home. This seems like it will be the central conflict as the family moves back to Smallville and the boys are about to embark on an education at Smallville High School. By shifting the narrative from the typical, Superman & Lois has found a fresh way to explore growing up with powers, being a teenager, parenting, standing up for what you believe in, and being a superhero.
Many kudos to Hoechlin’s portrayal of the character. While strong as Superman, his Clark is vulnerable and accessible in a way that we haven’t seen done before. While not very action-packed, the premiere showcases the chemistry between the immediate cast which I hope continues to develop even further.
The show itself blew me away, from the writing to the effects. In a way, this seems like a sequel series to Smallville with a different tone and a much-needed fresh approach.
In the second episode we blow open the story a bit more. We learn that General Lane is not thrilled that the boys now know the family secret, warning Clark that rather than bring everyone together, it will tear the family apart.
Lois, meanwhile, is off putting together a story about Morgan Edge and the havoc he creates. She visits a town council meeting that Edge attends and publicly questions the mogul, who seems to be well versed in dealing with her. Later, at a barbeque Lana invites the family to, Lois argues once again with Sam over Edge’s intentions. Lois of course finishes her article and, once submitted to The Daily Planet, Edge takes it upon himself to fluff the piece up and gloss over the negative, enraging Lane and leading her to quit. She later takes a job at the Smallville Gazette.
The boys have their own issues going on. Fresh off of the discovery of his powers, Jordan is being kept home from school while Jon goes and bares the brunt of the bullying from Sarah’s boyfriend and cronies, also teammates on the school’s football team. In a later conversation that is actually quite heartwarming, Jordan and Jon chat about what Jon has given up to come back to Smallville, where it may be a better place for Jordan to find his way. The brothers have a great relationship in the show that is just…ugh… *chef’s kiss*.
Speaking of Jordan, Clark takes him to the Fortress of Solitude to learn about Krypton and his family history. Later, a hologram Jor-El (who Jordan is named after) runs tests and determines that the boy doesn’t have the level of powers his father does, upsetting Jordan. Clark assures him that they may just be taking a while to develop.
And finally, Captain Luthor returns, attacking a military installation and really wrecking all involved before Superman shows up, punches almost straight through his chest, and rips off his helmet/head. This time, however, the suit is all mechanical. As Captain Luthor looks on through the camera twirling a chain with a different-looking Superman ‘S’ on the front and “hELL” on the back, we are shown a scene of Luthor and Lane in the trenches with other soldiers as Superman, donning his black suit, eviscerates them all with his heat vision. That chain, by the way, was also given to General Lane and, when flipped, has the number 7734 on the back.
So what is going on? Basically this Captain Luthor guy, who may or may not be Lex Luthor from another planet, believes that Earth’s Kal-El is going to turn into the devious and dark Kal-El of his planet and he wants to stop it from happening. That’s pretty much all we know.
Episode 2 definitely dives deeper into the story presented in the premiere as Clark begins making inroads with the children. We also spend more time at Smallville High. What I am enjoying most about Smallville thus far is that it is giving a fair amount of time to each of the main four characters, not just on Superman. It is also clear that the showrunners seem to be ignoring the character’s introduction in Supergirl and doing their own, more mature thing.
This continues in episode 3 as the bullying continues, now against Jordan who is allowed to go to school with his own panic button beeper. Jordan decides to take matters into his own hands and level the playing field by trying out for the football team and using his strength, though not nearly as intense as his father’s, to absolutely lay out those that have been causing him and his brother trouble. Though initially annoyed that Jordan has joined the team, and after Coach makes him run laps for not sharing his brother’s talents with him, he ultimately persuades an angry Clark to let Jordan play. Clark has a heartfelt conversation with Jordan, again a strength of this show, and ends up becoming the assistant coach of the team.
Elsewhere, Lois is hard at work at the Smallville Gazette when she is visited by the mother of a missing man who disappeared working for Morgan Edge while a shady character watches on from outside. Shortly after, Lois’ car is set ablaze. She later heads to speak with the mother again, but is met by a tall, powerful man who throws her around. She hits her trusty panic button and Superman arrives. After realizing just how strong this guy (known as Subjekt 11, employed by Edge) is and taking a beating, he uses his super cold breath to freeze him, then beat him up. Later, Lois is back at the Gazette and her editor, once hesitant to pursue the story on Edge, has a wall of articles and pictures attempting to link every part of the story. This, of course, is a nod to Smallville’s Chloe Sullivan and her Wall of Weird.
We also have some hearty conversations between Lana and Sarah, the latter of which has been dealing with her own mental health challenges and quits the cheerleading team (that Lana coaches). Lana confides in Clark later that she and Kyle barely talk, her youngest daughter is a bully, and Sarah hates her. Another conversation between mother and daughter dives deep into their differences, referencing Lana being afraid Sarah might kill herself and getting heavily into weighty teen topics. I’m loving the vulnerability each of the characters is showing, a strength that I believe sets DC shows apart from many.
This week end’s with Subjekt 11 on the phone as he drives out of town where he encounters a woman (who, putting pieces together, is named Leslie Larr… continuing the history of LL alliteration) who uses heat vision of her own to torch him. She picks up the phone and says “it’s done. I’ll call a team.”
So yes, I am absolutely loving the show so far. They have planted a ton of seeds from which this show will just continue to take off. For instance…
- Who is this Captain Luthor fellow really and where is he from? Is he an alternate version of Lex Luthor?
- Will Jordan’s powers continue to develop?
- Does Jon Kent have powers, too?
- What does Morgan Edge really want with Smallville?
- Who is Leslie Larr?
My mind is already racing with theories and i can’t wait to see how it all plays out!
Not every recap will be so long, but I felt it was important to set the stage for the series. Check back next Wednesday for Episode 4’s recap and let me know what you think over on Instagram: @guyatthemovies.