Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Originally Aired: March 8, 2022
WRITTEN BY: Max Cunningham & Michael Narducci
DIRECTED BY: Elizabeth Henstridge
Tyler Hoechlin (Clark Kent/Superman)
Bitsie Tulloch (Lois Lane)
Jordan Elsass (Jonathan Kent)
Alex Garfin (Jordan Kent)
Inde Navarrette (Sarah Cushing)
Erik Valdez (Kyle Cushing)
Emmanuelle Chriqui (Lana Lang Cushing)
Wole Parks (John Henry Irons)
Tayler Buck (Natalie Irons)
Sofia Hasmik (Christy Beppo)
Ian Bohen (Lt. Mitchell Anderson)
Daisy Torme (A.I. Voice)
Ian Boehn (General Mitchell Anderson)
Dylan Walsh (General Sam Lane)
Adam Rayner (Tal-Rho)
Rya Kihlstedt (Ally Allston)
Djouliet Amara (Aubrey)
Joselyn Picard (Sophie Cushing)
Candice Pergande (Samantha Di Francesco)
Stephanie Cho (First Sergeant Erin Wu)
Eric Keenleyside (Mayor George Dean)
Mariana Klaveno (Lara Lor-Van)
Rating – 4 (out of 5): Well…that escalated quickly.
Jonathan and Chickens and Coming Home and Roosting
This part of the episode was the emotional gift that kept on giving. Jonathan’s series of bad decisions over the past handful of episodes culminated in him getting busted by the cops while trying to help out Candice. This led to two very powerful scenes with Lois where the writing of the episode elevated it from being cheesy or feeling like an afterschool special. It also led to a great scene between Lois and Lana, which deepened their friendship because Lana has been going through a fair bit herself.
The best part is that even though Jonathan eventually explains that he did what he did because he felt like he was the one member of the Kent family that didn’t have that one thing that made him special, it doesn’t absolve him of his behavior. To be fair, Jonathan was a freshman in high school and the starting quarterback of his team in Metropolis and then his life was uprooted, and he had to start all over again in Smallville. On top of that, his brother is getting super-powers and he hasn’t. He’s the son of Superman and Lois Lane and his brother is on the path of following in his father’s footsteps. Jonathan has football. It may seem like a small thing, but teenagers are, by and large, self-centered. This isn’t an insult or me passing judgment. They have to be because the teenage years are usually when people start to realize that they are separate personalities from the rest of their family. That isn’t the case for everyone, but when you’re just starting to figure things out everything is a big deal.
Everything Jonathan is doing makes perfect sense to me.
But, again, that doesn’t excuse him. He ingested an alien space rock that, due to his unique genetic make-up, could have done serious harm. He is lying to his family and even though he realized on his own that it wasn’t worth it that doesn’t suddenly mean he should escape any kind of fallout. His dedication to protecting Candice is admirable, but ultimately it has put him in an even worse position.
I really feel for the kid.
Kudos to both Tyler and Bitsie for playing the heck out of their scenes. Bitsie is great as angry mom Lois and Tyler does stern dad well too. However, it was Jordan Elsass’ break down at the end of the episode that made this part of the episode work so well. It was so genuine and not played to be saccharine.
It was so good.
I’m Really Pulling for the Sons of Lara
Speaking of family dynamics, I can’t get enough of Clark and Tal mixing it up on screen. Part of me wants to make the comparison to how Thor and Loki are often played over in the MCU and while there are definitely similarities, I think the differences more than make this relationship distinctive.
For one thing, Thor and Superman are two very different characters. Yes, they are both strong and they both fly and all that, but they serve two very different functions in their respective universes. Thor is a god, essentially. He was raised on Asgard and only became a hero on Earth when things from his hometown started causing a ruckus or when a nearly omnipotent alien wiped out half of the universe’s population. (Note: I am sticking with the MCU Thor for this bit. I know that the comic book Thor is very different. Don’t “at” me on this.) This version of Superman, like most, is the hero to his adoptive world. He was raised on Earth and has more skin in the game.
On the flip side, Loki was raised with Thor while Tal was dealt one of the worst hands in fictional history. Both had glorious conquest as their end goals, but their motivations were very different. Loki felt inferior and like he was the second-best son, even though Odin loved them both. Tal was abused for years by his father and firmly believed that his job was to return the glory of Krypton.
It is absolutely fair to say that Thor and Loki teaming up and Superman and Tal-Rho teaming up have similar vibes, but there are enough differences between the two pairs that I think this show stands on its own.
And I just loved the scenes with Superman and Tal. The bickering. The teaming up. Tal’s noble sacrifice. The bits in the Fortress. Superman saving his brother. All of them just made me so happy. It was their final scene of the episode that cemented it. Tal telling Superman to tell Jordan he was sorry and Superman saying that maybe one day Tal can tell Jordan himself and then Superman calling him brother was great.
Yeah, this is another case of the villain becoming more acceptable, but the name of this episode was Anti-Hero, so what do you expect?
The Life of Bizarro
Mitchell Anderson’s part of the episode is the only part that gave me any kind of pause. It wasn’t him snapping and using X-Kryptonite to hunt down Bizarro and ultimately seem to kill him. Well, it was that, but not the actual act of him hunting Bizarro down and (apparently) killing him.
(I write “seem” because this show has proven that it will zig when you think it’s going to zag, and that zig can come during another zig. So, I ain’t saying he’s actually, factually dead. Yet.)
In this world, X-Kryptonite gives humans super-powers on par with Superman. That’s a neat idea. The problem is that once you ring that bell, you can’t un-ring it, and this sort of plot device has the potential to be overused. I’m not suggesting the writers are doing that here, but it’s a personal thing with me that once you introduce that sort of concept the natural question becomes, “Well, why doesn’t the military use it more and what is to stop other people from stealing it or using it to create an army of super people?” And on and on and on.
The answer is, the writers and show runners are the ones that stop that, but it’s still there. It was easy for Anderson to dose with the X-K and become a formidable threat for Superman and Bizarro. As long as this is a one and done thing or something that is rarely done it’s not an issue. But it was the one part of the episode where I wasn’t completely on board.
It was not even remotely enough to make me dislike the episode as a whole. It was a momentary blip because this turn of events came out of nowhere. And it fulfills something Todd Helbing said at the start of the season. Paraphrasing, he said that Lois was going to have her villain and that Superman was going to have his and that they were going to come together towards the middle of the season. The assumption was that Bizarro was going to be the bad guy for Superman, but now it seems that the bad guy was in plain sight all along and the bit at the end with Anderson giving Ally the pendant was where they came together. It was so well done.
The action during the Sand Fortress fight was fantastic, especially when Bizarro was freed from his prison and got to have a go at Anderson. The moment where Anderson realized that the Kryptonite wasn’t going to help him was great, as was the moment where he realized the X-K could hurt Bizarro. It was tense and well-choreographed and just looked cool.
The best part is that Anderson’s motivation was believable, as was his fall. Here’s a career military man that didn’t trust Superman enough to, at the very least, listen to him and it cost Anderson two of his people. The overwhelming rage from that caused him to, like Jordan, make some very bad decisions regarding X-K, and thus a heroic figure becomes a villainous one.
The best, best part is that this development means that we have no idea where things are headed. There is no roadmap. Everyone involved seems to be all in and we’re only at the halfway mark of the season.
This show just keeps getting better and better.
RIP Bizarro. You were a great take on the character.
That is if you’re dead, which I’m not one hundred percent convinced of.
First off, I always appreciate the enthusiasm in your reviews. I especially, appreciated in your Supergirl reviews. While so many people just attacked the show left and right, you always found the time to point out what worked as well as what didnt work. For me, this episode of Superman just didnt work. I thought all the stuff with Anderson was poorly done. From kidnapping Superman for treason to suddenly going basically psychotic it just stretched credibility. And Anderson basically defeating 3 kryptonians after just gaining powers made Superman appear pretty ineffectual. Basically, I wish the show would just eliminate… Read more »
Spoiler! Spoiler! Spoiler! Ok, here I go. I’m giving this episode a 4 out 5 rating. While it was a good episode, I did have some issues with it. Tyler and Bitsie continue to give a stellar performance at playing their parental roles. It’s something that this show does so well. I’m reminded of the Smallville series’s Jonathan and Martha Kent and how they raised Clark. They always loved and supported Clark, and whenever he was in the wrong, they called him out on it. It’s the same with what Clark and Lois is doing with Jonathan and Jordan. And… Read more »