As I promised, I survived seeing The Suicide Squad a second time on HBO Max. (Where can I see a clean version of the new poster with Task Force X taking a group nap?) It’s still a grisly good time!
Now it’s time for the first season finale review of Superman & Lois, which aired on Lois lane’s birthday. How dare they preempt it again for baseball! The damn Yankees are history’s greatest criminals for preventing me from publishing this post promptly! This has SPOILERS for the episodes I’ve not blogged about since the second. (Eventually I’ll blog about the rest of Supergirl season six too.)
The Kents managed to be prosperous because they had Clark do most of the work instead of hiring laborers. Are he & Lois actually going to be doing any farming now that they literally bought Martha’s farm? If they want to reinvigorate Smallville’s economy, they should hire farmhands. Extra people on the property would further complicate Clark’s secret identity & further distract him though.
Clark clearly never goes beyond the foyer of The Fortress Of Solitude. Maybe S&L can use use the sets that aren’t just a generic ice cave now that Supergirl is finished with them? It seems like this season is set during the period the Super Friends are rescuing Kara from the Phantom Zone. Melissa Benoist is too busy starring on her own show & raising her baby to guest appear for a story that would be relevant to her character. Either the writers didn’t know or weren’t allowed to reference what happens to Kara, regardless of how awkward that appears. Even a photo with Supergirl was cut from episode two.
Daniel Cudmore playing his fourth Beeboverse baddie gives me deja vu. Superman politely forgets that he can defeat Thaddeus Killgrave in the blink of an eye until his boys call for help. Why is the DOD running secret metahuman schools instead of ARGUS or the DEO? Tag Harris goes through lots of shoes now he’s a speedster. Dabney Donovan would’ve been better used as LOT’s Bishop since this geneticist is merely a cameo here.
Morgan Edge’s assistant, Leslie Larr, is actually Lesla-Lar the Kandorian science criminal? She’s resurrecting Kryptonians in human bodies with X-Kryptonite (X-Kryptonite empowered Streaky the Super Cat! Is Streaky alive again Post-Crisis?) This would be much more meaningful if Supergirl, Argo City, hologram Jor-El, & Phantom Zone criminals weren’t still around.
Clark is super excited about delicious sounding chocolate-covered bacon on a stick! His colorful X-ray vision looks nifty. Best heat vision isn’t even a contest.
After the pilot, the show forgets Jordan Kent was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. Becoming a popular footballer makes it go away? It doesn’t even infer his super-senses caused or exacerbated his condition. Sarah Cushing, warmly portrayed by Inde Navarrette, feels like a better depiction of mental health struggles.
When Jordan gets superpowers, he upstages Jonathan’s high school football career by joining the Smallville team. Jonathan’s Metroplois girlfriend dumps him for a player on his ex-team. When Jordan is about to punch that guy’s jaw throw his neck, Jonathan has his wrist shattered intervening. He may eventually get full movement back, but his football dreams are ruined. His upset mom tells him it’d be his own fault if the camper’s security system killed him. Jonathan doesn’t even get the Superboy powers he had in the comics. This show makes me feel bad for a jock.
Although the pilot was great, successive episodes slumped. Fortunately episodes seven & eight were a superb return to form. “Man Of Steel” was a great episode & the first from writer Jai Jamison. (It shares an episode title with the equally compelling origin story of Agent Liberty.) Lois & Clark decide keeping secrets from their boys wasn’t good parenting. Lois cleverly investigates “Marcus Bridgewater” so she can surreptitiously get his fingerprints without getting into his creeper Winnebago. Supes depositing a truck full of Edge’s goons onto a remote bluff before they could even open their doors was fun! That was such a perfect way to end a fight without hurting anyone.
Captain Luthor had been displaying many similar traits to John Henry Irons, so I thought that boded unwell for him appearing. Then it becomes HAMMER TIME! That Mjolnir moment was awesome! It turns out he really is John Henry Irons! This is a great twist! I love it when TV shows listen to me!
It’s a more intriguing development than him just being another Lex Luthor. Steel just stole an alternate Lex’s ship & armor without correcting its AI. The Prime-Earth Irons was already dead, which explains why this one isn’t experiencing lethal migraines. Perhaps he & altverse Lois fell in love over their mutual penchant for hammering? Natalie was his daughter with that Lois, whereas Prime Earth Lois is still tortured by miscarrying a baby who she would’ve named that. There’s still the issue of turning another superhero into a supervillain, but he’ll get a redemption arc once he realizes not all Kal-Els are evil. His go-to plan of attacking nuclear reactors to draw out Supes was too villainous, especially if he also expected this Kal-El to massacre humans.
Jonathan Kent smashes the red sun lamps with Steel’s hammer when that’s his mom’s job. So far there’s too much football & not enough Lois Lane swinging hammers. When will they adapt Glamazon Lois Lane lifting? (She had Rachel McLish energy. Her eagle swolemate could be Jayna.)
Bitsie Tulloch is excellent in episode where Lois Lane lashes out at Jonathan over her unprocessed miscarriage grief. It’s the type of performance that’d be up for an Emmy if it wasn’t on a superhero show. Lois basically stops Irons from impaling Superman after he’s gassed by saying “Save … Natalie!” She doesn’t actually say it, but there’s a similar redemption shorthand to BVS. The stuff around it is better written so it’s less unintentionally comedic.
Superman can fly from the DOD headquarters to save his son in Kansas in about a second. Unless the Beeboverse’s DOD isn’t in Virginia, that’s an impressive feat. It kind of makes it unbelievable when Supes can’t fly someplace fast enough in later episodes to up tension.
If the secondhand radiation of the synthetic kryptonite gas is potent enough to seriously harm Jordan, Lois & Jonathan should’ve been dead from Clark exhaling at them. Unless this is another scenario where writers don’t know the difference between a poison & a pathogen.
“Morgan Edge” has inverse charisma to the Pre-Crisis version. He’s actually Tal-Rho, Kal-El’s Kryptonian half-brother. So he went from discount Lex Luthor to discount General Zod. (In fairness, Edge debuted as a tycoon in the comics before Luthor co-opted that.) This is like the cancelled Superman: Flyby where Lex was a Kryptonian spy & Supes had an evil cousin named Ty-Zor. Kal’s pod didn’t include his mom’s holo-crystal because it was stolen, but where did Tal-Rho get a rocket from? Does he not know about Argo? How did the British government keep him captive for any span of time before Kryptonite was discovered?
If Tal-Rho was masquerading as Morgan Edge, what does that mean for Supergirl’s Post-Crisis continuity? Was Morgan Edge still an enemy of her & Lena or was he replaced by a different mogul? Did Kara clash with Tal-Rho, who refused to reveal his true identity to his cousin? Did nothing change because there are just two tycoons coincidentally named Morgan Edge? I expect neither series to address this, but I still demand answers!
When did Lara have time to upload so many Kryptonian minds into The Eradicator, & why are they all hostile? Why did she name it The Eradicator when it saves consciousnesses? If it just downloaded their minds into humans, why do their new bodies still get the full buffet of sunlight-enhanced Kryptonian superpowers from X-Kryptonite whereas Tag only received superspeed?
The humans imbued with Kryptonian minds & powers are called subjekts. The K is deliberate in the spelling, but you don’t notice it in dialogue. So it’s just another thing to confuse spellcheck. If these personas weren’t all taken from Phantom Zone criminals, why are all the subjekts so violent? Shouldn’t they have a wide array of reactions to being revived? The Eradicator is still more believable than posthumously hypnotizing a stranger’s persona into someone. While it makes sense that they’d all need to be on par with Superman’s powers to pose a threat, having so many subjekts runs afoul of the conservation of ninjutsu.
The Eradicator turns Clark’s ex-girlfriend into his mom, but unfortunately they don’t replace Lana’s husband with Vartox! After Clark deactivated The Eradicator with a solar flare, there should’ve been a bloody rain of ex-Kryptonians. (Lex kind of did that in 52.)
WB wouldn’t let Diggle return as a Green Lantern! Covid kiboshed its crossover with Batwoman, so his gratuitous cameo is the only thing that cements this as part of the Beeboverse. (Couldn’t they have just copied The Fortress OF Solitude sets so viewers wouldn’t get confused?) David Ramsey is one-man continuity glue.
Teen Clark left Smallville in 1995 to train (He ran so fast he instantly aged up!) & returned in 2004. It’s still weird that he never went to college or visited his mom during that period. Good Kryptonians require sufficient time to metabolize our sunlight & master their powers. Evil Kryptonians do it instantly. At least he learned every language.
Superman & Lois fucking up Nazis together is #CoupleGoals. Atoman is a deep cut who debuted in The Adventures Of Superman radio show. Inverting the usual format, Lois fell in love with Clark before Superman. “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events” is how you do an extended flashback episode!
The showrunner said this series would have adversaries for both Superman & Lois Lane to justify the ampersand, but her foe turned out to be his also. Inventing Tal-Rho & Zeta-Rho as the main villains undermines Lesla-Lar. It’s still rare for the Beeboverse to give a superhero a female Big Bad. She could’ve been manipulating human Morgan Edge with Kryptonian tech or old fashioned cunning. They didn’t need to have the villains literally be related to Kal-El for a nature vs. nurture story. The CTV airing had unfinished effects complete with timecode when Tal-Rho built his Fortress of Desolation. Zeta-Rho’s hologram exposing Tal-Rho to pain was like the Bene Gesserit testing Paul Atredies in Dune.
General Zod’s mind is inserted into Clark. Like the Zod hallucination in Supergirl, this big name baddie turns out to be much ado about nothing. Steel hammers Zod right out of Superman’s noggin before he can even say his catchphrase! I’m glad we got that possessed Superman out of the way quickly instead of dragging it out though since evil Superman is very overdone.
General Lane apologizes to Superman & decides to scrap Project 7734. Superman counters that Kryptonite weapons are necessary countermeasure if he goes bad. He does get mind controlled often! Lois is furious at Clark for his about face. They compromise by giving control over the weapons to John Henry Irons. Smallville’s draconian police arrest Jordan & Sarah for truancy.
Clark & Lois are sort of bad pals. Clark calls Lana his best friend, but this is a rare continuity where she hasn’t known his secret identity for years. If he trusts & loves her so much, why hasn’t he told her yet? This unnecessary secrecy could blow up like Kara/Lena & Prince Adam/Teela. Chrissy “not a supermonkey” Beppo is mad at Lois for not giving her the scoop on the subjekts because it’ll compromise her family. The Cushings are being hounded out of Smallville for their association with Edge. Lois neither offers to interview them for a human interest take on Edge’s attack nor suggests Chrissy do so.
Tal-Rho merges with The Eradicator. His black space-trenchcoat still looks bland, especially compared to the spooky redesign. With him, Steel, & a Superboy, they just need to borrow Cyborg-Superman to make it reign. As The Erradicator, he’s immune to Kryptonite & can turn anyone into a subjekt by zapping them full of blue energy. He puts his dad’s mind into Jordan’s body. He makes a big deal about reviving the Kryptonian Security Council, whom are utterly unremarkable.
Steel being able to save this universe’s Lois from televised execution by Lesla-Lar was great. He also saves the day by throwing his red sun hammer at the Edgeradicator. It’s cool that they give him so many big hero moments. Lois & Jonathan save Jordan from Zeta-Rho with the telepathic headband & sonic blaster, both of which I’d forgotten about. Since her name is half the title, her subplot should’ve gotten more emphasis than the denouement.
Episodes ten & twelve both feel like they could’ve been season finales before fifteen. They’re variations on a theme of body hijacking that get resolved with surprising ease. So none of them reach full dramatic impact. Maybe they could’ve smushed them together for one epic finale? Separating them loses narrative momentum as episodes need to be padded out with domestic scenes that are less gripping the further away they’re from the core Lane-Kent unit. Perhaps they should’ve just pick one (Smallvillians, Superman, Jordan) to really delve into.
Since they helped during the unsuccessful evacuation, Smallvillians don’t hate the Cushings anymore. General Lane retires from the DOD to spend time with his family & hopes Steel will fill his job. Lois buys half The Smallville Gazette to prevent it from inexplicably gobbled up a conglomerate. Superman gives Beppo an exclusive interview on camera in case her newspaper pivots to video. Just like the first two Supergirl finales, this ends with a spacecraft crashing to Earth. Inside is Natalie Irons. She’s way more endearing than Mon-El! Are they going to be using her as Steel II, or will we meet Prime Earth’s Natasha Irons?
There should be an episode similar to Firefly’s Wash being interrogated about Zoe where Clark gushes about Lois. “I love my wife! She’s so tenacious she has no sense of self-preservation!” Tyler Hoechlin’s hair curls on the wrong side!
Although I’m always game for more of Jon Cryer’s Lex, season two needs fresh threats. Cast Alexandra Daddario as Faora/Ursa, you cowards! I will also accept her & Kate Easton as Lashina & Mad Harriet if they’re allowed to use the Female Furies.
Superman & Lois gets its titular characters as right as Supergirl with a much sturdier inaugural season. If this is your first ever exposure to Superman, this series perfectly distills so many great moments. Not only does it portray these characters better than most recent movies, it’s shot widescreen with anamorphic lenses so it looks wonderful too. If you’re already a Superfan, it’s more repetitive. The overall plot of the season is a standard alien invasion. The character dynamics are wonderful but the plots are definitely not innovative. On the other paw, it’s far less nonsensical than The Flash season seven has been.
The Wages Of Cinema review the Superman & Supergirl movies, tangentially due to me. It’s weird how the Superman movies pivoted away from canon foes for no discernible reason. They changed Faora’s name to Ursa but she was still recognizable. Dudley Moore as Mr. Mxyzptlk was considered for Superman 3. Ross Webster & the supercomputer are basically Morgan Edge & Brainiac. Nuclear Man is a less fun Bizarro, an unnamed version of whom was in deleted scenes. I understand changes for budget, but much of these seem arbitrary.
Superman: Red Son the cartoon is an improvement over an already great comic.