Superman & Lois Season 2: Bizarro Boogaloo!

Superman & Lois is most convenient in that I do not need to watch two separate programs to get my fix of Lois Lane & Superman. Do you prefer SAL or S&L for shorthand? How about Ess ‘n Ell or SuLo? When last I checked in on it, Legends Of Tomorrow, Batwoman, & Naomi were still alive. (Warner Bros SDCC 2022 bags still rep them.) Of course the true villains are the frequent hiatuses it takes to derail momentum! SPOILERS for whether it hit a sophomore slump are below! There’s a massive retcon in the finale that upends much of what I wrote as I went along! (I left in most what turned out to be inapplicable in anyway.)

Bizarro

The hot media trend of Bizarro World is analogues of General Zod except they’re good.

Tal-Rho looks better with a beard. He got a personality transplant between seasons. The stiff is now witty. One might argue that he’s lightened up since his masterplan was thwarted. On the other hand, it feels  a bit late to try making him charismatic. He’ll sacrifice himself to save his brother from Doomsday Bizarro Parasite.

So containment suit Doomsday is actually Bizarro in Sontaran cosplay? That’s just like how they switched in Steel for Captain Luthor. Just like Steel, he’s also trying to stop the other antagonist to Lois who’s secretly the season’s real villain. Me am so happy Bizarro no am talk in Bizarro-speak! Talking backwards is Zatanna’s thing! Residents of The Inverse World just call it Htrae.

Is Abigail Bellweather’s mom playing Dr. Kitty Faulkner a.k.a. Rampage? How will they differentiate her from Fuerza? Oh, Bizarro just killed her. In what can probably be construed as an international incident, the DOD sends its Supermen Of America to apprehend Bizarro in Bolivia. He instantly kills the two unnamed ones. Bizarro can be horrifying, but having him intentionally murder people misses the point. Us, the Jordan Peele movie not the miniseries starring Leopold Fitz, is the best adaption of Bizarro’s horror themes.

“Crisis On Infinite Earths” screwed over Lucy Lane even before she appeared here. She mentions losing her job & fiance without specifying either the DEO or James Olsen. Why hasn’t J’onn restored his former DEO co-leader’s Pre-Crisis memories? The cult subplot feels like a metacommentary on Allison Mack’s involvement with NXIVM.

Cult guru Ally Allston turns Chrissy Beppo against Lois by livestreaming an argument between the Lane sisters. It reveals Lucy overdosed while trying to ascend to a higher self as advised by Allston, which seems in line with  Lois’s expose. So why is Chrissy aghast? Beppo the Supermonkey would never fall for this shoddy manipulation! (All the budget should go toward Sophia Hasmik voicing a CGI simian ala The Umbrella Academy’s Pogo!) At least Beppo wises up after Ally drugs her.

The Inverse Society believes that people feel unfulfilled because they’ve been split from their alternate reality selves. Only through merging together can they find self-actualization. Luckily they’re on a series where that’s a viable option. Superman disagrees because he optimistically believes everyone already contains multitudes. It’s nice to hear Superman opine on philosophy that isn’t intrinsically moralistic.

Ally Allston’s childhood flashback has an eerie vibe. Allston’s nefarious scheme is to use the Inverse World pendant to restore the Snyderverse merge the two worlds! Rya Kihlstedt gets much more to do here than as Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Fourth Sister, but this villainess still feels like she could’ve been more dimensional.

Sarah kissed & girl at camp & she liked it. Not enough to dump Jordan though, so it feels like much ado about nothing. Sarah is a more realistic & positive depiction of mental health challenges than anyone on Batwoman.

A sizable chunk of screentime is given to Lana Lang’s mayoral campaign & marriage woes. They’re well written & acted scenes, but they also feel like they could be jettisoned without changing much. I wouldn’t have felt cheated she was absent until she won the election. Smallville’s Mayor is small potatoes when she could be Insect Queen!

Bizarro & Superman get unbearable migraine visions in proximity to each other, consistent with what happens when multiversal doppelgänger overlap Post-Crisis. It’s awkward that so many characters come from alternate Earths when Prime Earth believes the multiverse was destroyed during Crisis. Are they stragglers who made it over under the wire or do they come from the reborn multiverse that’s not public knowledge yet? Was Natalie getting lost between worlds when the red space energy happened a direct COIE reference?

Amy Jo Johnson the Ranger Slayer (Was that costume inspired by Carly Foulkes the T-Mobile motorcyclist?) made her TV directing debut in an episode showing Lois & Lucy Lane are hat sisters. Was that cat Bizarro-Streaky? Apparently it’s Crypto (not Krypto) played by Dexter (not Dex-Starr). Is Crypto an autocorrect typo of Krypto or is Bizarro World even weirder? (Pink Ranger & Jemma Simmons dine together between directing.)

GRODD DAMN IT, LUCY! She drugged her dad to steal his DOD access card & free Allston. She practically disappears after this, which greatly reduces Lois’s relevancy to the main plot. We don’t even meet Bizarro Lucy.

Mitchell Anderson barely has anything in common with his comics counterpart. He’s like a worse version of US Agent. His insecurity isn’t even compelling like Agent Liberty’s. They might as well have made him Conduit instead since at least he has Kryptonite armor. For arresting Superman for treason for being a global superhero & giving Ally the pendant, Anderson needs to die by LEGO.

Most iterations of Bizarro are endearing because he has the cheery disposition of a child even as he wreaks havoc. (Is it ever meant to be analogous to Down’s Syndrome?) Superman stopping his misunderstood rampages without hurting him is a challenge. Despite not going full Silver Age with inverted powers or Htrae, the DCAU version had the perfect personality. This Bizarro is just a brooding murderer. When Anderson abruptly killed him, it wasn’t nearly as tragic as it could’ve been. (You can’t kill Bizarro without blue Kryptonite! They could’ve at least tinted X-Kryptonite blue instead of yellow.) The Beeboverse boringly botched Bizarro.

The scene where Allston’s disciples float up to the dimensional rift only to be disintegrated instead of passing through is a great intersection of sci-fi & horror. Although it only feels like a day to him, Superman is gone in Inverse World for a month. The alibi that Clark Kent the high school football equipment manager is working on a secret big story in Metropolis for The Daily Planet has some holes in it. When the plane was rescued in his absence, I thought it might be a Supergirl cameo. Instead it was just Steel doing a callback to her pilot.

Everything I learned about Smallville High football was against my will! Jon Kent said hoes before bros & paid the price. He gets expelled for not snitching on his X-K inhaler dealing girlfriend. “I’m not angry, just disappointed,” says his his dad. His mother counters “I”M DISAPPOINTED & FURIOUS!” Jon & Candice walking down the center of a two-lane road at night is infuriating. Why did they swap Tegan for Candice? I thought her dad potentially being a Central City rogue would still give her drug dealing acumen. Nobody would’ve noticed if they just recast the part. Lois doesn’t forgive Candice, whom should feel very lucky Ms. Lane doesn’t have superpowers. Of course Lois Lane knows her knots! Jordan using his powers to rescue his mom & grandpa was fun.

Lois Lane is treated with more respect than Iris West-Allen on The Flash, but she still feels incidental too often. This is a problem when she’s half the title. She can’t directly do superheroics & her reporting feels superfluous. She doesn’t even rescue herself when investigations go awry. If Batman has The Hammers Of Justice, Lois Lane should wield The Hammers Of Journalism! The show already has two Steels, however, so she can’t even get that to herself. “Dave was spectacularly awful.”

The way each season is structured doesn’t leave much room for freaks of the week. This is distinct from the Beeboverse formula, although it’s not without its own flaws. Because there’s one or two villains focused on per season, they have to be threatening enough to Superman to last for multiple episodes. If they’re that powerful, however, why doesn’t he call in his Justice League buddies? If a Big Bad isn’t clicking, mid-range supervillains would offer a breather.

“30 Days & 30 Nights” has a depressing subplot for Natalie & her dad. On the anniversary of her mother’s murder, Natalie unsuccessfully tries to recreate her mom’s waffle recipe. She accuses her dad of willfully forgetting his wife. She can’t show Sarah pictures of her mother since she’s an altverse Lois. John Henry Irons cries watching home videos of his Lois with newborn Nat.

Bizarro World is properly a cube. Its Fortress of Solitude has holograms to assorted things from the comics, which makes it the superior ice cave. (I understand logistical reasons for not sharing Supergirl’s sets, but why couldn’t they replicate that Fortress of Solitude on its own soundstages?) The rest of red-sunned Bizarro World is a bit Goth yet underwhelming. Legends Of Tomorrow would’ve made it much kookier, like “Bizarro Beebo ha-ha-hates you!” (I can make everything about LOT!) At least they play billiards with cubes. The wardrobe & props department had fun with this dimension, unlike the writers. The Inverse World just seems like another variation on dystopian altverse run by evil instead of uniquely topsy-turvy.

Bizarro World is referred to as Inverse World by most of the main characters, with Bizarro occasionally tossed around flippantly. Inhabitants of Htrae in the comics would proudly call it Bizarro World & refer to themselves as Bizarros since they’re not concerned with dignity. It’s a parallel universe where everyone does the opposite of whatever Earth custom is being satirized to an absurd degree. (Was this a Communism metaphor?) A universe full of zealous conformists to terrible ideas would still be topical today. It’d even explain why Allston has a massive following there. Wouldn’t Bizarro Allston’s platform be the reverse of the uninverted one’s? Giving its denizens more unique personalities undermines this shortcut. It just feels like Earth-2 (the Pre-Crisis The Flash version, not the Post-Crisis Stargirl one). They needed more space for worldbuilding this revamp, yet chose to focus on local elections & football.

As a side effect from abusing Kryptonite as a performance enhancer, only Bizarro has cracks on his pale face. I guess that makes X-K Bizarro’s Kryptonite even though it’s not been established that Superman could get a power boost from X-K. Bizarro cared more about fame than his family.

Bizarro Lana won at wedding dresses. She had to settle for Bizzaro Tal-Rho instead of Bizarro Vartox. Why does she have Superwoman powers? (She isn’t the electric red version who briefly headlined her own title.) Why’d Bizarro Lucy still not get to be Superwoman? Bizarro Chrissy’s haircut is slightly more flattering?

The two Allstons merge via the pendant, which somehow gives her superpowers neither half possessed. That’s just like how “Morgan Edge” went from being the non-powered enemy of Lois to the superpowered enemy of Clark. Anderson belatedly realizes Superman was only keeping secrets to protect his family, which could’ve been explained to him earlier. Just as he’s starting his redemption arc, Bizarro Jon crushes his sternum.

Jon-El dresses like 90’s Superboy minus the blue & John Lennon sunglasses. (Lara Croft had a pair too.) His shirt is also “Death Of Superman” nod. His attempts to merge with Jon Kent were thwarted by Jordan. The Allstons are essentially the same, so it would’ve been interesting to see the distinctive Jons merged together. Ditto the dual Lanas. That would’ve definitely invigorated the status quo!

Clark is overjoyed that Lana became Smallville’s Mayor! He finally reveals his alter ego after she’s kidnapped & his sons scold him about secrets. Then she gets mad at Lois for not telling her. Finally she doesn’t want the Kent-Lanes in her life anymore so she won’t have to lie to her family. As realistic as they tried to write Lana, this still comes off as manufactured drama.

Now that Dr. Nate Heywood has hung up his finned helmet for good, I can just call John Henry Irons “Steel” without worrying if it’s confusing. LOT could’ve made this easier by specifying Heywood was Commander or Citizen Steel. Natalie builds her own Steel suit, winch makes me wish they’d named her Natasha more. Hers is more impervious since she coated it with X-K lacquer. Both Steels made a point of making their helmets distinctively African American in the comics, so hopefully their TV counterparts can get less generic Toonami ones next season.

Steel & Sam shrewdly decide the solution to aborting Ally Allston’s invasion is to close the portal. Superman vetoes that plan because it wouldn’t save the Inverse World’s inhabitants. Being extra altruistic is how you know Superman is written well. Plan B is to destroy the pendant so Allston can’t merge any counterparts together, but it’ll take the power of two Kryptonians. So naturally Clark calls in Kara Danvers. NOPE! He goes to his shady half-brother. Tal-Rho is desperately trying to make a Loki-Thor relationship happen, & Kal-El naively goes along with it. Lois has the more sensible reaction.

Superman & Tal-Rho team up to destroy the pendant, but Ally scoops up the fragments. She now has Parasite powers without the cool visual & drains Bizarro Tal-Rho to death. She’s not even lavender! Alexandra Allston has a niftier design in the comics & a twin brother, so this one is correct about being incomplete.

Found families have become overused by fiction as a crutch, so I was amused by The Inverse Society’s subversion. Not all all the strangers you gravitate toward for emotional support are positive influences. Sometimes the real found family is the biological family we made friends with along the way. Ally tried to be Lucy’s substitute mom when that was Lois’s role! Lucy finally turns on Ally for partially siphoning Sam, but Lucy turns out to be surprisingly irrelevant to taking down Allston anyway.

Parasite drains Superman of all his powers. Her flying into the bleed betwixt worlds to merge them looks very similar to Tal-Rho flying up to the sun to begin The Eradicator mission. Clark is ashamed that he can no longer protect anyone. His attempts to recharge are stymied when the Sun becomes a red cube. Luckily Jordan & Natalie tag team against John-El & Lana-Rho.

When Parasite begins merging the two worlds, people & objects randomly blink back & forth between dimensions. That’s alternating not merging. This doesn’t even get into how the established time dilation between worlds factors in. They show the sphere fused inside the cube in some of the space shots, but it’s not reflected in the ground level action. While Lois frantically tries to return to her universe, Bizarro Lois mutely stands on her porch. The process is catastrophic, but I still don’t understand what the outcome would’ve entailed.

Steel unsuccessfully fights Parasite in the void, so his daughter comes to rescue him. They transfer all their armors’ energy into the pod & use it to destroy the rift between universes. They share a heartfelt farewell as they presume they’re sacrificing themselves. Meanwhile Tal-Rho throws powerless Clark into the regular Sun on the Bizarro-side to energize him. When the portal goes boom, suddenly Superman & the two Steels are back on their home Earth.

Parasite splits back into two Allys when she tries to siphon supercharged Superman. He then flies around the planet to separate it back into cube & sphere with his excess energy in a cool-looking sequence. This works somehow with everyone winding up on the correct Earth. How did the other Earth & Sun return to its dimension after the portal was destroyed? None of the cosmic logistics are intuitive. Maybe they could’ve explained it better if they also didn’t have to cram a denouement into the same episode.

At least it’s a well written one. Lana politely explains to Kyle that they’re never ever getting back together. Characters who aren’t in on secret identities can’t fully participate in superhero shenanigans, so every scene with Sarah & Kyle feel like it’s cutting in to something more engaging. At least Jordan finally tells Sarah & they reconcile. Now she can be included in the fun antics of him, Jon, & Natalie! Even Chrissy get in the loop. Before she wouldn’t even considering hiring Clark for his resume literally being only one national newspaper, as if The Smallville Gazette is drowning in more qualified applicants. So now can they write Kyle out & give his screentime to Nat?

Both of the Allys are incarcerated at the DOD but don’t have debilitating migraines once sharing a cell. They admit merging didn’t make them feel complete. Are John-El & Lana-Rho there too, or were they already sent back? I was wrong about him buying the farm, but Tal-Rho buys his nephews ginormous trucks as a thank you present. Then we see he’s on Bizarro World looking for his dopplegänger’s wife. How’d he get back there?

Diggle cameos to tell John Henry that Intergang’s Bruno Manheim killed his doppelgänger on this world. Lucy reconciles with her family without facing repercussions for aiding a supervillainess. Superman makes a replacement Fortress Of Solitude out to sea he claims his whole family can use.

Superman’s initial enemy always turns out to be another character disguised out to stop Lois’s enemy who’s the true Big Bad. Will the formula change next season? Bitsie Tulloch says “I will say that I do know we are getting a very cool villain.” Cythonna for season three confirmed! Will she be played by Alexandra Daddario or Kate Easton?

The season finale was promised to clarify why this show barely references the others. Sam Lane’s dialogue implies that its Earth isn’t Earth-Prime. Tyler Hoechlin also considers this series separate until he’s told otherwise. That could explain why only a version of Diggle has stopped by to help, although he referenced other superheroes last season. This universe doesn’t even have a Supergirl, which everybody would’ve liked to have known from the outset so they wouldn’t keep asking why Kal-El never contacts her or other superheroes.

Showrunner Todd Helbing confirmed it’s another Earth in an interview. This would’ve been much less confusing if they’d just clearly established that from the start. So The Flash is the last Beeboverse show standing. This reveal alienates fans invested in DC TV interconnectivity, but will it draw in new viewers that don’t want to worry about other series’ continuity? I’ve seen people dismiss it just for being a CW show, so they’d really need to advertise that as a marketing point. If this is an altverse Kent-Lane family, what have their Prime Earth counterparts been up to since Crisis? Is the Earth-Prime mini-series still canon? (This cover nailed Tyler Hoechlin’s permanent 5 o’clock shadow & absolutely nothing else!) Does this mean Supergirl’s versions of Lucy Lane, Sam Lane, & Morgan Edge exist on Earth-Prime Post-Crisis?

While it wasn’t bad, this is what I’d consider a sophomore slump despite its ambitions. For every nifty Superman moment, there were a dozen mundane scenes. Half the titular characters got sidelined in her own show. They made one of the zaniest altverse concepts bland. The interdimensional threat is befuddling. The bait & switch about its setting is frustrating. I’d still recommend it over Batwoman & The Flash because it still has plenty of superlatives like its perfectly matched leads. It’s not fit to lick Legends Of Tomorrow’s spats though.

~

The Flash season eight finale review is coming up faster than a speeding bullet! So hopefully tomorrow!

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