Superman & Lois recap: Let Lois be Lois
Superman & Lois took off with a relatively strong premiere last week. The hour successfully established Superman's new status quo and piqued my interests with the Jordan and Captain Luthor reveals. However, my biggest complaint about the pilot was that there wasn't enough Lois Lane, who is one of the titular characters but was relegated to some "Spouse at Home" scenes, as my colleague Darren Franich described it in our joint premiere recap. Thankfully, "Heritage," the season's second episode, goes a long way toward rectifying that as it establishes both Lois Lane's new status quo and her nemesis for the season, billionaire Morgan Edge.
"Heritage" begins with the Kent family officially moving to Smallville. As the pilot explained, Clark and Lois hope this relocation will help them refocus their attention on their two sons as opposed to their jobs. Unfortunately, that's harder said than done with the Stranger stalking Clark, and more importantly in this episode, Lois picking up the whiff of a story.
After sending Jonathan off to school and watching Clark and Jordan fly off to the Fortress of Solitude, Lois starts researching Morgan Edge, played by Adam Rayner, because she's concerned about his plans for Smallville. That leads to her attending a city council meeting where she meets Chrissy Beppo, a reporter-editor at the Smallville Gazette. She's a Lois Lane super-fan, and more importantly, has a very public confrontation with Edge, who owns the Daily Planet. When Lois first stands up to Edge and questions his promises to the town, the camera frames Elizabeth Tulloch to look like the platonic ideal of a journalist speaking truth to power — the shot is straight on and the soft, out-of-focus background makes it feel like she's emerging from a dream. But as Edge turns the tables on her and makes her out to be a villain standing in the way of the town making money, the camera pushes in, taking away from that heroic effect.
Needless to say, the confrontation lights an even bigger fire inside Lois, who pens a damning article about Edge. Unfortunately, her story never sees the light of day because Edge turns it into a pro-him puff piece. And if there's one thing you don't do, it's rewrite Lois Lane. So, Lois chooses the only option available to her: She quits The Daily Planet and describes her two-word resignation letter as the best writing she's done since Edge bought the paper, which was pretty badass exit. Not only that, but she joins Chrissy on the Smallville Gazette, which Chrissy has been running all by herself.
With both Lois and Clark free from the canonical shackles of the Daily Planet, Superman & Lois truly does feels like it's living up to its "post-mythology" goal. The Daily Planet eventually becomes an important component of any Superman story, which is fine because we stan print journalism, but taking Lois and Clark out of this familiar territory opens up a world of storytelling possibilities. I'm really interested to see how Lois adjusts to working at a small-town newspaper, especially now that she's pursuing such a huge story (Edge) without the Planet's resources.
While Lois was busy standing up for the power of the written word, Clark was off introducing Jordan to his Kryptonian heritage at the Fortress of Solitude. Their first trip there goes well and fills Jordan with a sense of purpose because he finally feels special. Unfortunately, that sensation disappears during their second visit after Jordan overhears A.I. Jor-El declare that he'll never develop full powers like his father because his cells can't store enough solar energy. Of course, Jordan is disappointed, but so is Clark. I found Clark's reaction particularly heartbreaking because you got the sense from Tyler Hoechlin's performance that Clark was looking forward to no longer being alone.
A.I. Jor-El may have given up on Jordan, but Jonathan hasn't. Although, it takes some time to reach that point. At first, there's some tension between the two brothers because Sarah's boyfriend and the rest of the football team start bullying Jonathan because Jordan, who initially isn't allowed to attend school, kissed Sarah at the bonfire. Naturally, Jonathan lashes out at his twin in frustration. The script handles this conflict very well and doesn't let the argument become too melodramatic, which keeps both brothers very likable. By the end of the episode, they not only make up, but Jonathan also promises to help Jordan figure out what's going on with him. I love that the show makes sure to remind us that these two brothers genuinely care about each other with moments like that, or simple ones like them hugging when Jordan returns from the Fortress for the first time.
On top of dealing with Jordan, Clark has his hands full with Captain Luthor, who spent the episode scouring the globe for more Kryptonite. During their first fight, Captain Luthor reveals why he hates Superman: Kal-El destroyed his planet. Of course, Clark assumes he means some alien planet and has no idea what he's talking about, but the episode-ending flashback reveals that Captain Luthor is from an alternate Earth where Superman went evil, conquered the planet, and killed everyone in Luthor's anti-Superman military squad, including that Earth's General Lane. (The '90s are really having a moment with black-suited Superman in both this episode and in Zack Snyder's Justice League).
Luthor hopes Earth-Prime's Sam Lane will become an ally like the one he knew on his homeworld, and I hope that's the case because I'm already tired of Superman being at the army's beck-and-call. Thankfully, episode 2 introduced some tension between Clark and Sam, who doesn't approve of Clark telling the boys he's Superman, which was a welcomed change from the too comfy relationship they had in the premiere. B
Wall of Weird:
- Sarah Cushing is already suspicious of the Kent family because she keeps pointing out holes in Jordan's story about staying home from school because he was sick. How long until she finds out his secret?
- On top of Kryptonite, Luthor also needs to find materials to rebuild his battle-suit.