'Superman and Lois' struggles to find its footing — and intentions — in its second episode.
- 💻Always on board for a Lois-heavy episode.
- 💻Morgan Edge is appropriately awful and Adam Rayner does a great job showcasing it with such a brief scene.
- 💻Not quite sure what this show's intent is just yet.
- 💻This series could exist without Jonathan and Jordan and would be better for it (by no fault of the actors).
This post contains spoilers for Superman and Lois.
Check out our last review here.
Superhero media has been successfully integrating moody teens into its stories for decades now. Regrettably, Superman and Lois doesn’t seem like it’s going to be able to list that as one of its accomplishments. It’s nice to see that the series remembered that “Lois” is a part of its title, though! She’ll go toe to toe with Morgan Edge before it’s all said and done, but she finds herself journalistically hobbled by the fact that he still owns her paper.
“Heritage” spends its first half exploring just what in the world is going on with one Jordan Kent (Alex Garfin). We get graced with a brief smile, even! That is, until tests at the Fortress of Solitude prove that his cells will never be able to absorb enough of the yellow sun for him to consistently exhibit powers. The ability to call on the strengths of a Kryptonian whenever you find yourself in a tight spot seems like a pretty sweet deal. But, y’know… teenager.
Speaking of teenagers, Jonathan’s (Jordan Elsass) having a pretty rough time as well. He gave up a lot in Metropolis, and agreed to to move to Smallville because he knew it would help his brother. His frustrations don’t seem rooted in jealously of Jordan’s powers — Jonathan’s used to being special. But that’s the issue. He’s not special in Smallville. Everyone hates him at school because his brother kissed the wrong girl, he’s not the star of the football team, and his brother gets to skip school while he gets pummeled. Despite his rough go, he’s still as supportive as he can be by the end of the episode.
The issue here is that there’s just nothing engaging about these kids or their struggle. We have watched so many straight white boys have straight white boy problems for so long that there is just absolutely nothing to connect with here. The boys come through in the end, and have done so in both episodes so far, but the bottom line remains: who cares? These two well-meaning but ultimately whiny teens have no real problems, and watching the show bend over backwards in an attempt to create them is exhausting. Even worse, they have zero impact on the story. Zilch. Clark and Lois still could have decided to move back to Smallville when they realized the danger it was in under Edge's control without these kids' stories ever playing a part. If you're going to tout your show as being "different" because of the family aspect, it makes sense to be sure that the characters are as impactful as Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Cecile Horton (Danielle Nicolette) are in The Flash, or the way the Pierce family all matter to the Black Lightning narrative. Even Arrow made sure to make William (Ben Lewis) and Mia's (Katherine McNamara) stories relevant to Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity's (Emily Bett Rickards) lives and the overall arc of the story.
Meanwhile, there’s Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch). While Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) struggles with how to be a dad and Superman at the same time, Lois is there to keep her family together and take on Morgan Edge (Adam Rayner) in tandem. Edge wins their first skirmish when he attempts to make her look like the villain in front of the entirety of Smallville at the town hall, but she plans to have the last word with a scathing editorial outlining all the ways he’s killed small towns he said he’d come to rescue.
The problem there is that Morgan Edge also purchased The Daily Planet some time ago. After Lois turns in her story, it’s completely re-written and published as a fluff piece. Edge quickly learns what all of us going into the show already knew: we don’t re-write Lois-fricken-Lane. Realizing that she no longer has a future at the place that was once her home, Lois quits and joins the Smallville Gazette with full intent of helping Smallville’s residents realize that Morgan Edge is not there to save their town. But not everyone is looking to be saved.
Residents like Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez) believe that Edge is there to ensure the people of Smallville have jobs. He knows what’s happened in those other towns, but the people there tried to unionize, so it’s their fault, right? He doesn’t care about living wages. He cares about baby steps that will allow his town to survive. Because, like so many Americans, Cushing still believes that trickle down economics work.
Superman and Lois’ exhausting teen issue aside, it doesn’t seem to be sure what it’s trying to say just yet. Let’s say Lois does manage to reach Cushing. What’s the message there? That small-town America has been manipulated and it needs big city gals to save it? That we can all meet in the middle if we just set aside our differences? Shows featuring Kryptonian leads have always and should always be about hope, but preaching the powers of centrism right now is the last thing we need from anyone. Especially a show whose only primary Black character is the series villain.
The shows of the Arrowverse have typically been pretty masterful at weaving real-world issues into their fantastical stories but, as of right now, Superman and Lois’ message is more confusing than impactful.
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