“Superman & Lois” Review – S01E04 – “Haywire”

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Superman & LoisPremiered: March 16, 2021
Written by: Michael Narducci
Directed by: James Bamford

You remember that complaining I was doing about how good this show was, how it would clearly last?

Sigh.

The biggest compliment I can give this week’s show is that it was aptly titled. I don’t think I’ve seen such a rapid dovetail from quality to shlock in some time. I’m hoping it’s an isolated incident, but this episode, every single character got assassinated in the name of drama. No one was spared. Almost all of the hard work of the last three (four if you count the pilot as two, and I do) episodes has been undercut and frankly hobbled by what this episode did.

This episode was a rote exercise in what makes episodic television bad, and quite frankly, a disservice to the people who had invested faith in the promise that this show would have a consistent story across multiple episodes.

It had the flavor of the very worst of Smallville, where the characters would, to fit a one-off plot, completely give up everything that defined them to service the failed workings of a broken script.

Let’s get to it. I have a lot of notes this week, and it’s already late.

BLOW BY BLOW

The very first moment of the show indicates trouble with craft, from that chyron alone.

SASKATCHEWAN – SIX YEARS AGO.

Now I’m new to Canada, I’m heading there next week to live and ideally, stay (next week’s review will consequently be, perhaps, slightly late), but I do have a basic grasp of some geography.

But that grasp ain’t so hot. I mean, I know my basic area where I live, Washington/Oregon, and I’ve been to both Chicago and Philadelphia, but I won’t lie. When I learned I had to cross through Duluth to get to Thunder Bay, I actually had to Google if it was Minnesota or Michigan. That’s how foreign the east coast is to me. And there was confusion as to whether or not Philadelphia was east or west of Chicago for some time in my brains. So I get it. It’s hard. And human to mess up.

But Google is a thing, and Google I did, and when you Google SASKATCHEWAN, you realize that saying a thing is taking place in Saskatchewan without getting more specific, it’s like saying you’re looking at something that’s taking place somewhere in Washington State, Oregon, Canada, and probably some of Idaho.

Saskatchewan is HUGE. I went and Googled it, just to be funny, and it’s 251,700 SQUARE MILES. That is, folks, just slightly smaller than Texas.

Now picture that scene: TEXAS – SIX YEARS AGO.

JAPAN – SIX YEARS AGO.

INDIA – SIX YEARS AGO.

And it’s not like there were any distinguishing features necessitating it be Saskatchewan that I saw. They mighta just said “SOMEWHERE NEAR SASKATOON” and called it a day, or really made any effort.

But anyway, it sets the tone for the careless craft that followed.

That’s the thing about an error, or errors. You see one, you can forgive it. You see a few, you can forgive them. When it happens again and again and no one fixes it, it becomes a story choice.

We see a series of meteors falling to the earth and a military convoy rushing to get at, well, we’re not sure, really. It looks like a cross between an egg and an alien. And Edge is there, because sure. That’s what businessmen do. They run around in military convoys.

So this man they’ve spent four episodes turning into a rather sinister understated villain is now just one more guy grabbing up alien tech to throw in the truck and get Superman, NYAH!

I get it, it must veer that way eventually, but you’re blowing the wad fast here, folks. You’re showing the shark.

Subtle is better. You miss things that way sometimes, but it’s better storytelling. Example, through a little research from a friend, I learned that the “He’ll destroy you!” gal is actually the same gal that used her heat vision to fry last week’s baddie. I completely missed that. Why? Because it was subtle. When I saw it this week, I had an OH, OH WOW moment. Not for this episode, for the last one.

Part of that is that she used her heat vision in the dark, but arguably, it’s because they didn’t make it clearer because they didn’t want to spoon-feed it. Maybe it wasn’t a choice, but it felt like one.

Here we REALLY KNOW IT’S HER, and why? Because they have her, right in front of Edge, bash open a solid rock wall to gloat and grin over the Kryptonite (ex-Kryptonite?), brightly lit, so we’re SURE TO GET IT, because subtlety goes out the window when writing is LCD.

The hammer and the soft touch. A writer I greatly admire caught me doing the hammer thing and called me correctly to the carpet for it. You don’t have to hit every beat like no one will understand it if you don’t. Part of craft is finding the subtle way.

You don’t say it’s ex-Kryptonite in dialogue. You let its yellow color tell you that, or you let people theorize or figure it out. You don’t have them bust open the wall, you have people in the background handle it while they talk about what’s next, without giving away the game. Any one of ten thousand ways.

“THE RESSURECTION BEGINS!” he said, breathlessly. A swiftie.

No, not Taylor Swift, you punk kids. I’m talking about Tom Swift, dialogue that says what has already been shown.

“Get your toe off my foot!” he screamed emphatically.

Neither the “screamed” not the “emphatically” is necessary, for it is already conveyed in the dialogue. It’s part of the reason the best prose writing is largely tagless save for action, or if it does have tags, it’s lots of “said” and very little adverbial modification.

This tracks for TV and exposition in a visual medium.

Morgan Edge ignores Kyle at the football game, and Kyle, despite being a fleshed out (if reprehensible) character, suddenly ignores the fact that he’s not being listened to. Trust me, if the kind of person Kyle is feels like he isn’t being heard, he’ll act out to get your attention. But he’s the first character this episode who is handed the infamous IDIOT BALL, my new favorite phrase, and I hope you like it, because I’m going to use it a lot this review.

He stands by idly like a dolt while Edge very blatantly (and again, without any subtlety) creeps on Lana from afar. All Edge needed was a fake limp, a walker, and a court case. Instead of having it be a small glance that Kyle doesn’t notice, it is a PROLONGED LOOK, right while Kyle is staring at him.

No reaction.

That’s the start of the whole Lana weirdness. More on that soon.

I watched the game where Jordan makes his sack and helps the team score, and I started mulling all the moral and ethical quandaries from the last episode, whether or not it’s right to do what he’s doing, if it’s an unfair advantage. This scene, at least, doesn’t violate my initial inclination. He doesn’t take the football and run. He lets Steve score, I think it was, the kid he was enemies with. It seems Jordan’s goal is still harmony and happiness without making it about him. He is happy to be loved, but he’s also maintaining his ethics, at least here.

Given the construction of the rest of this episode, I don’t think that was a choice so much as a happy accident, but I’ll take it. It leaves that particular bit of conflict intact for the next episode, which I really hope doesn’t drop the ball. Dad jokes forever, it’s funny, it’s not corny, you’re very wrong, Jordang it.

A positive note here—the music is still killing it. Both the music and the filming in this episode were per the quality of all the other episodes. I get a very Solomon Grey vibe off it, and Solomon Grey has been a rather constant writing friend and jam this hard, hard year. If you haven’t enjoyed them, you’re welcome:

Write well to it. Buy an album or two. I did.

It’s very idealistic and haunting, and it transports me to other times of my life and makes me melancholy for the time I’m in (both Grey AND the Superman & Lois tracks). I’m hoping they release it at some point, even if it’s just in small TV chunks.

As Clark is there, doing his coach thing, we hit the first major character assassination. A poor choice of exposition or subtlety is one thing, but actually undermining character work that just occurred is baffling to me. It was a staple of Smallville. Clark would spend an entire episode battling a man made of cotton candy who nearly smuggled Lana to death in the stuff, because the freak’s mellifluous plan was to drown her in it, and then the next episode they’d be at a fair and he’d offer Lana cotton candy as a snack and they’d laugh.

Last episode a great deal of time and effort and frankly, good work was put into the idea that Clark doesn’t listen in on his family except for emergencies. Yet here, randomly, he turns his head and listens to Sam Lane berating Lois for, well, Clark not helping?

What Sam Lane specifically wants Clark to do is never made clear, save FULFILLING HIS DUTIES. And it’s full of expositional gemmies, just to remind us of the plot instead of, you know, doing any character work. “There’s a guy out there with a battle suit trying to kill your husband!”

Really, Sam? Lois didn’t know that?

Worse, his later behavior indicates that Sam is actually more in line with Captain Luthor than with Superman, making this preceding behavior intensely irrational and out of character, just a dumb way to set up Sam’s meddling. And Sam’s meddling in this episode is clunky, grasping in such a way that in the process he assassinates both Jordan and Jonathan’s character along the way.

This episode has a number of tells. Leopard face-eating moments, where the character reveals their own stupidity and out of character qualities right there in the dialogue.

First example? Sam Lane, regarding Clark trying to help his family, and how he isn’t:

“How’s he [Clark] helping, by coaching the team?”

Well, yes, Sam. Exactly that. And that’s obvious. It’s ESPECIALLY obvious to a man whose entire career is to essentially coach, Sam Lane. What does a general do? He tells a team of people how to take a field and achieve an objective.

See how dumb that is, put in his mouth? How little thought was put into that?

I was ready to attribute it to dysfunctional blindness and his lack of rationality, but given how consistent his character was with the preceding few episodes, I won’t give it that credit, because it’s not that. It’s just a man being stubborn because the plot called for it, and if you went along with it, congratulations, they shmucked you.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If you were able to look past it, man, do I envy you. I wanted to. I’ve loved this show so far. But it’s just so obvious here, so bad.

Another bad moment for Lois, too, because here her father is telling their family how they have to be, how they should be, and the character as written so far wouldn’t have it. Here, however, she just kind of shrugs and lets it happen. While later, she screams because of the exact same behavior. And she screams, which is also out of character, as I’ll get to.

I do like that Clark comes in and is immediately not having it. The problem is, Lois wouldn’t either, so you have now crafted a scene where a man has to come in to defend a perfectly capable woman, leaving her out of character to have it happen, and I don’t even have to say anything more to expose the flaw in that.

It recurs.

I also like “I don’t work for you, Sam.” A good line, and a good moment, save for the fact that he spends the rest of the episode actually working for Sam whenever Sam calls.

Sigh again.

Thaddeus Killgrave is a deep cut. I was excited at first. And then he was a boring freak of the week. And then there was another freak of the week.

And now there have been three freaks in a row, which means this is the week I have to bust out the old KO Count for this show. I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to. I know people enjoy the count, but I was thinking that it might be a show where the weird elements were so infrequent it wouldn’t have to happen.

Here’s a link to it… may this be the first and last entry.

We meet Jay Harris, said Freak of the Week, at the diner. He is complaining about how he got his injury when the heat vision explosion went off, which changes the dynamic of what happened before. I grew optimistic. There is drama in the idea that Jordan, with his anxiety disorder, would be sent into a spiral by learning that his actions hurt another person. More on that in a bit, but, of course, things don’t go that way.

Instead, Jay’s injury makes him very slightly petulant, so yet another large and irrational jock suddenly wants to insult how poor he is and beat him stupid rather rapidly, for no real reason. Two people we do not know, with no introduction, and we’re suddenly supposed to care about what they’re fighting about when their fight isn’t remotely plausible.

And the insult. “You’re uh, poor!”

In a place like Smallville, as they have expressly pointed out AT LENGTH, everyone is poor.

But the other reason for their fight, that he’d somehow hurt their team by getting injured, also doesn’t play. It was an accident, and even the dumbest jock would get that, and, to the point, THEY WON THE GAME THEY PLAYED. Where is the resentment coming from?

No one thought about this, clearly.

They repeat this exact same thing later, ostensibly so Jonathan and Jordan can see Jay get the ole shivers (which is basically a direct Smallville lift, if you recall the episode Jitters). Except I remember the character well from Jitters, because he had a sympathetic rationale, as I recall. The ole “I don’t want this to happen to me, but I have to turn to evil to solve it,” I think. It tracked.

This is just a kid who randomly has powers for reasons unknown and doesn’t even really do anything for any reason. He’s just there.

Creepy Lana dinner time. It was one of those unintentionally hilarious scenes, because they’re doing this dinner, and Edge is very clearly HAMMERING what the creators want the audience to see.

HEY.

 HEY LOOK.

HEY DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THAT RICH GUY WHO WAS CREEPY WITH WOMEN?

WHICH ONE?

WELL, IT’S EASIER TO MAKE A LIST OF THE ONES WHO WEREN’T. YOU WANT ME TO WRITE YOU THAT? WHAT? I SHOULD STOP SHOUTING? THAT’S CREEPY TOO?

I swear to God I heard the voice of Arthur Pewtie from Monty Python coming from Kyle telepathically saying “That’s, uh—that’s my wife!” right before the ten ton weight killed him.

There’s even this weird, pseudo-cuckolding vibe, which is odd, given what that term has come to mean among conservatives and pro-business folk—like Kyle.

Lana, for her part, doesn’t go “This is weird.” Which also does a disservice to her character, because she hasn’t been shown to be incredibly stupid or lacking boldness, but there she was, holding the idiot ball. At least that much can be excused by the fact that a rich intimidating punk and her dumb husband were there exerting pressure, to a degree. It still feels out of character to me.

But what’s really out of character is the second example of dialogue where someone reveals the flaw in the drama of the scene with their very words:

“I got into finance to help people!”

I’ll go ahead and give y’all a minute to think of a way that finance actually helps people and isn’t essentially robbing them of a portion of all their future cash for the right to pay for basic necessities at length. Go on. Tell me how taking some eighty percent interest for the first five to ten years of a mortgage helps people get into houses. How credit cards with exorbitant rates, payday loans, and all manner of ways to cheat you out of cash for not having cash is altruism.

I’ll wait.

Is there anything good in any of it? I can think of little.

That it could be worse is not an argument that a thing is better, by the way.

It’s a weird flex, the person who is presently, in that very scene, the victim of the power that financial institutions inflict on we “lesser” folks defending it as an institution. But okay.

Another weird thing is that they’re “FACE IT LANA, YOU’RE AMAZING!” it a bit. But at this point, at her age (not a teenager), that can be fine. She went to college and got high marks. Great. But that kind of undermines what she’s done and expressed in earlier episodes. She broke away from Smallville, got educated, and then came back for the likes of… Kyle? That doesn’t track. But it might later, so I’ll hold off too much complaint there.

The whole scene smacks of overt messaging about sexual harassment, and you won’t find me complaining about people trying to take down sexual harassment, but effective messaging is better than hammering it in without tact. To persuade, you must use craft. This is so clunky, it borders parody.

Then there’s worse after, Lana and Kyle, talking about it, where Lana is raising a rather legitimate beef about her husband not being there for her (in other words, reacting to Kyle being out of character, which is how bad plot works—you make a character do a thing they wouldn’t do to have others react to it). Another bit of dialogue where the flaw in the construction reveals itself:

“It’s not about you! I was annoyed! He made me uncomfortable and you didn’t even notice!”

When you’re going to use a cheap dramatic trick as demonstrated above, a good tip is not to call direct attention to it. Those paying attention will hear you.

The Beppo and Lois assassination then begins. Edge’s Otis (who is also our physical baddie, I now ken, but missed, which is on ME) comes in and she screams “HE IS SERVING NOTICE!” Well, not really. But she comes in and says “I told you he’d destroy you!” by pointing out that Lois is apparently under contract and can’t print stuff about Edge.

I’m no lawyer, but I’m smart enough to know that’s not how it works.

There is also a weird bit of unexplained stuff here where they somehow have her article with no way to have it at all that’s never made clear, just because somehow.

But Lois, being smart and in character, says “Oh God, you’re right! I can never publish this! Oh noes!” and then as soon as the lady leaves, she turns straight to Beppo and says “Paraphrase all of this in your own words and publish it as your work and they can’t do a thing.” Because she, you know, is smart enough to earn a Pulitzer, as the show says. In dialogue. In this episode.

Sigh the third.

Only she doesn’t do that, she suddenly cows and can’t write anonymously or become an anonymous source or any one of ten thousand things she’d know to do. And Beppo’s right there with her. So they decide that the solution is to have Clark proxy at the Town Hall meeting and speak for them. Sure! Because Beppo can’t do that. Has to be Clark. A man speaking for two women. That’ll, uh… wait.

At least this has some merit to it, arguably. Clark is an accomplished journalist, Beppo is small change. But it’s still clumsy writing, because they didn’t think about what that would track like. Have Lana do it. She has more clout in Smallville than Clark. But that involves thinking through this dilemma that doesn’t make sense in the first place, and I’m done.

We have a scene where Lois is Lois in a lot of ways, despite the irrational premise that she can’t write about what she knows. She goes to Edge, confronts him straight up, and owns the scene. I give Bitsie most of the credit for this, but the scene is actively sabotaged by bad craft.

Edge somehow magically kens that Lois and Clark moved to Smallville because of some SECRET, and seems to just know that there’s something she’s hiding. Edge is bright, but he can’t see around corners without a mirror, and there’s no mirror in this scene. This isn’t A to B to C, it’s A to C, for the sake of plot, as is most of this episode. I loathe that, in case it isn’t clear. It’s everything that was wrong about Smallville, where the past episodes of this show embodied all that was initially good about Smallville, so I’m even more resentful that it’s taking that turn. It should be better than that. It has been.

Clark stands idly by while the coach effectively bullies the other students, saying nothing, which is deeply out of character. We are, I suppose, meant to forget he’s there, but I didn’t. I know he’s needed for the next scene, but you don’t get him there by having him stand dumb while a person is cruel to children. It’s made better by the fact that they show he didn’t know his son and the other boy left, but that’s made worse by the fact that this man has super hearing, and as this show establishes, he is breaking his own rules of not listening, yet doesn’t here. Contradiction upon contradiction. Small details that add up to big failures.

We meet Killgrave as he monologues, which he does extensively twice. The two guards, trained professionals, presumably, listen and say nothing as he presents his chewing gum bomb, explains it’s a chewing gum bomb attuned to a watch, and they neither remove the watch or react when he spits it at them. It’s so. So. Clunky.

It’s the first really schlocky, campy, CW-verse moment in this whole series that I can point to and go “Yes, that fits in another show, not this one.” I’m sure this will make the people who want this to be one more Arrowverse show happy, but it really disappoints me, as did the faux Joker “I am deep because I talk slow and weird” trope.

There is a mention of Bishop Six, which makes me think there might be some Checkmate in there. That’s interesting, if throwaway.

So Thaddeus escapes, and Superman is too late because Smallville and Metropolis are far apart, but too late for what? Well, you might have missed it because it’s so throwaway, but he literally flies all the way to Metropolis to find an overly elaborate device through which Thaddeus taunts him, “See you soon, big blue!”

MWA HA HA HA! Very CW-verse, but not the good parts.

Also bad writing, because Superman has, you know, super hearing. And tons of powers. He can follow spectrums and such. If you beam noise to where he is, he can follow it with those ears of his. You know, the ears that Thaddeus then a few scenes later knows enough about to make a sonic device that paralyzes Superman with? So Thaddeus is well aware of that, but still makes a trackable frequency and sends it to Supes. Who of course does nothing.

It’s almost like they chose the thing that would undermine each character most before making them take an action, and went for it.

And Superman, experienced crimefighter that he is, sees a strange device on the ground connected to a villain and approaches it with caution, scanning it before just picking it up.

I’m kidding, of course, he just plops that bad boy right in his hand, because otherwise, how does the exposition we didn’t need that he would soon face the villain (really, he will?) happen?

Sam assassinates himself and both boys by going to the boys and apologizing that they are even in Smallville, without really much of a reason that I can ken.

I mean, in the abstract, maybe he thinks that if Superman isn’t in Metropolis, bad things will happen. I can give that a spin. What he plunks down in dialogue isn’t much of a threat. “Intergang is planning things!” is rather vague, like a fart cloud in a high wind. But I get the idea that a Metropolis without its hero is a place where villains might be emboldened. Maybe he really, earnestly believes that the powerful people capable of making a difference need to be where they can do the most good, not in Smallville! Sure!

Except Sam Lane is in Smallville. And he’s a powerful person capable of making a difference where he can do the most good. It doesn’t track.

Undercuts the point a bit, huh? It’s almost like no one thought this out.

The worst part of this scene isn’t that contradiction, but what it does to the boys, who, unlike Sam, are mains with a good deal more work put into fleshing out who they are, so we know who they are. They’re good boys.

If Sam was bagging on their Dad irrationally, they’d defend their father. Or they’d tell their father, at very least, after being respectful to the awful old coot. What they wouldn’t do, as established, I can say with certainty, is then leap to the conclusion that they cannot ask their father for help for fear of taking him away from his extensive duties.

One, there is no precedent for them to believe that, no catastrophe he hasn’t prevented. Two, they see that he is there and his duties are being attended to just fine. Three, what kid believes their grandparent, particularly their clearly dysfunctional grandparent, over their loving, kind, and clearly wise parents? If the parents were a crapshow, like Kyle, and Sam were stable, you might be able to play that. But Sam’s clearly a wonky nutjob and Lois and Clark are great parents they know they can come to and be frank with.

But take that another step forward. Later in the episode, Jordan talks about how much he loves it here now. You think he would then trust Sam, who thinks they should leave, or Clark and Lois, who brought them here—and were right?

There’s also another throwaway infuriating bit. Sam very casually acknowledges that they know the secret, and these boys, who pitched absolute fits that Clark kept the secret from them (perhaps rightfully) then hear that Grandpa knew—and say NOTHING. They don’t call him to task. Instead, they trust him implicitly with obviously terrible advice. “Don’t call Dad if you’re in trouble, because he MIGHT be busy!” And later Jordan, of the two brothers the one most likely to be skeptical of what Sam has said here for aforementioned reasons, almost lets a kid die for the notion.

Think hard about that. The writer didn’t.

The Town Hall scene is also a mess. Lois, a heroic character, an ICONIC F#*@ING FEMINIST, stands idly by and waits for her husband to speak for her, and doesn’t take action when he doesn’t. Instead she paces and wonders aloud, in dialogue, where he could be.

An investigative reporter of the highest caliber has no idea where Clark Kent, SUPERMAN, might be, if he suddenly isn’t in a place he said he would be. What, oh what could he be doing?

And she proceeds to be angry at him for this, despite every other episode showing that she gets what Clark and Superman’s duties are, for the most part, and is at peace with it when it’s necessary. And yet in this episode, they set it up for arbitrary drama turning her from a strong character into the person who needs a pampering not to throw a tantrum.

I resent this most because Lois means a lot to me. A lot.

More clunky “I’d speak but for the lawsuit!” dialogue (paraphrased badly by me here), said out loud, so we really know what we already really know is going on in the scene.

Clark and Lois then have a FIGHT. This is the first FIGHT, capital letters, we’ve seen, because the rest of the conversations we’ve seen in this series have been discussions, at times heated, aiming for equitable compromise or a resolution. The kind of thing adult parents with some parenting time in do. I’ve noted it and complimented it multiple times, and here it’s just thrown out the window wholesale so that Clark and Lois can call each other BABE (twice, very awkwardly) and so that Lois can give Clark arbitrary hell for doing what she knows he has to do. It’s completely out of character, the loud, hostile posture for both, and to cement that, they end the scene with Lois not finishing the argument with resolution, but instead taking off to go get drunk with one of Clark’s old flames.

Because, you know, her position is that family and commitment is important, except when you feel like a drink.

To be clear, this doesn’t reflect poorly on Lois, because that ain’t Lois. At all. This is at the feet of the writer.

The dialogue also continues to highlight the problems: “Lately my Dad has had your ear!”

Lady, you’re letting him stay in your house. And worse, Clark very pointedly did NOT let Sam have his ear in an earlier scene, and has, you know, MOVED THE ENTIRE FAMILY TO SMALLVILLE to get Sam Lane and his influence about having to be Superman all the time OUT of his ear.

There was another line where she complains about being far down on his list of priorities after, again, he MOVED THE ENTIRE FAMILY TO SMALLVILLE (with her explicit blessing), to work on family and their relationship.

It’s like the show suddenly became unaware of its own premises.

Pop quiz: What’s the bigger crime, not being at a Town Hall to save lives, or walking out on your spouse in the middle of an argument to get drunk?

Take your time. I know you won’t need to, but go on.

What follows is a rather ridiculously skewed and absurd scene that just runs both Lana and Lois through the wringer for what, I guess, is supposed to seem like two powerful women lamenting how mature they are compared to the men in their life, but actually comes across as adolescent.

Actual dialogue:

“What is it about men that everything is about action?”

“I’m not complaining, I’m just verbalizing!”

It’s like they took two fifteen-year-olds pretending to be mature, recorded them, transcribed it, and put it into the mouths of two forty-year-old professional women, one of whom is Pulitzer quality, the other, as the show emphasizes, is also college educated and could make her way anywhere.

And yet they resort to rote, poorly expressed sexism toward men and blatantly nonsensical statements.

“Don’t be so harsh, Neal! Why do all of your complaints have to be about the character’s actual actions?”

I’m not complaining, I’m just verbalizing.

The catch phrases coming from their lips sounded like they were taken word for word from a bad Twitter account.

“Are you two doing all right?” (Lana to Lois)

“I don’t know.”

Seems to me they were pretty healthy until this week the writers decidedly randomly to make them not so. And to what end?

After this they have a brief parlay where Lana says that Clark left a dweeb and came back confident and a grown man, and then suggests that all of Clark’s personal growth is because he met Lois.

They toast this, and it’s treated like a GO GIRL! moment. It’s probably effective for anyone who doesn’t think about it for half a second.

Now imagine Clark and one of Lois Lane’s exes at a bar, and they’re half drunk. Lois Lane’s ex starts telling Clark that she was just a nerd when he met her, but then she went and met Clark Kent, and now she’s a Pulitzer-winning journalist and a strong, confident woman. He knows what did that. What, Clark asks, feeling better. Meeting Clark Kent, says the ex.

YEAAAAH, BOY! A TOAST TO HOW AWESOME CLARK KENT BEING SEXIST AS HELL IS!

Barf.

Not so hot flipped, is it? It’s almost like there’s something deeply flawed in attributing a person’s entire personal growth to their spouse, especially when both, like Clark and Lois, are incredibly capable people on their own.

Can you imagine how “I know why you survived all those brushes with death, Lois! You had SUPERMAN!” would play?

Doesn’t track. Borderline offensive, if it were poignant enough for me to care about it much in any way, but it’s not.

Meanwhile, as all of this is going on, the kids are attending a party with rampant drinking and violence and no adults at all.

Backtracking a bit to the freak of the week, so I can keep the freak thoughts together. Clark and the boys for some reason see someone obliterate a CAST, and accept “I ripped it off” when he had one hand without thought.

He then goes to this party, and there’s a pointed moment where someone is like “Dude, your arm!” and he’s like “Guess it healed somehow!” and it’s just kind of casually accepted.

Like, that gets no comment.

But then. But THEN. That dude, at a “more time for drugs and alcohol” party, accidentally DAMAGES A TABLE. Well, this, comparably, in this show’s logic, is then UNFORGIVABLE and cause for a beatdown. Got him all shook.

Dad jokes forever, you’re wrong, it’s funny.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, the daughter who Lana thinks is still suicidal for reasons she doesn’t understand and has to hover over at all times is now somehow unattended randomly at a massive party without supervision, as are Jordan and Jonathan, who, you know, are totally the types to lie to their parents and do stuff like this, especially right after the last time it happened Jordan nearly killed a whole bunch of people and caused Jay to get SHOOK.

I’m not giving up on that joke even though I know Jordan didn’t do it.

There’s some other choice dialogue here to cringe at. Sarah talking about how punk rock they both are, her and Jordan.

Oh Sarah. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. No, Sarah. No. No, Sarah. No, no, no. Nope. No Sarah. Sorry, Sarah. No. No. Just no Sarah. Sarah, stop. Wayward youth? No Sarah. Sarah. Come on. Come on, Sarah. SARAH.

I like you too much for this dialogue to be put in your face.

Her citation? She quit cheerleading, and Jordan, no kidding, she says this, joined the football team. Just like Johnny Rotten and Billie Joe and Fat Mike and Jesse Michaels. I think Lint was a tailback. Wait, no, that was some sports guy whose name I don’t know because the jocks were always beating the punks up and I hated them all for it and mostly still do.

Just clunky, bad writing.

There’s a complicated bit in here that deserves some time, where Jordan indicates that his anxiety has gone away because he’s happy.

Speaking as someone very close to someone with huge anxiety, yes, this is possible. But improbable. Anxiety disorders can be, but often are not, causal. In fact, great success or happiness can often trigger the worst reactions, in my experience, because there’s a whole load of imposter syndrome in there even with perfectly capable, wonderful people.

If this were a well-crafted episode (in the writing) I might excuse it here, thinking it will come back. For Jordan, perhaps this is the overconfidence that characterizes the first bit of time before the inevitable crash.

I don’t think this is that. I think this is legit someone thinking and writing that happiness solves anxiety disorders and makes them go away.

I will give it time to fix that, but if it doesn’t? Disappointing. Not enough people know about anxiety and how it works, and this is a choice opportunity to give it verisimilitude. I hope they don’t bork it with the old “Depressed? Have you tried being happy?” pill.

It’s also very weird that jittery Jay just grabs a knife by the blade. I know he’s shook (I CAN’T STOP DOING IT SEND HELP), but it still seems like dudes with Parkinsons aren’t just randomly grabbing knives by the blade or going “I tried to close the damper and somehow grabbed fire!”

For those of you paying attention, the dude who got mad because Jay shook shook shook Jay shook no, Neal, Neal, no, shook shook shook Neal NO.

Et-hem. It’s late.

The dude who got made because Jay got shooky shook shook and then wanted to beat him for messing up his table? You play it out, you realize that he invited the dude he hated and wanted to beat, Jay to his party.

Little odd.

A lot odd, really, because bullies—never mind. I won’t think it through any more than they did.

The scene between Superman and Killgrave is utter garbage, top to bottom. First, Killgrave sneaks up on Superman when he’s attentive and looking for a threat that Killgrave himself projected was coming. Supes gets blindsided once by a sonic gun, okay, but then he, you know, doesn’t move. The gun turns off, and he waits to be blasted again. Also, while it was on, what stops him from moving?

The dialogue is corny monologuing, not even worth time. And then Superman, to solve the problem when he learns he has to leave fast, doesn’t grab Killgrave at the speed of sound and wrap him up in steel or anything, really, he claps his hands loud enough to knock a half dozen innocent people unconscious before just jetting off.

Did Snyder direct this? It’s on par with that level of inconsideration for civilian damage. And it was, even more oddly, a scene choice. They had people walk up to watch the fight like dumb sheep.

And these people, before they’re taken out, just stand and watch as a dude with a gun tries to kill Superman when they could mob and overpower him?

Terrible.

I’ve already ranted about how Jordan not using the signal watch makes no sense. That’s obvious. What’s strange is why Superman has to take him up into near space to knock him unconscious in order to slow him down. It seems ostensibly a tender moment, but if you think about it, it’s really weird. If he continues to shake, he won’t hurt Superman. If he gets to a hospital, they can sedate him. His only option is the old mesopause?

Sam Lane talks about yellow phosphorescence, later revealed to be “ex-kryptonite,” which is weird. It’s also shown that it gives people powers. So they just wholesale went “We need adversaries every week. Let’s make this Smallville now.”

I hope I am so wrong. But that’s what they seem to be positioning here, lock, stock, barrel.

He oopsies that he told the boys not to call his Dad, and then Lois and Clark, two responsible, quiet, mature problem solvers, erupt into out of character yells. It’s supposed to be dramatic, but it just makes them look like people who don’t know how to resolve problems.

It makes them both look like Kyle has been depicted.

It’s incredibly out of character.

Beyond that, Lois is now siding with Clark, defending him, after the drinking, the rant, the “Maybe we’re not okay!” that fell from thin air?

Then everything has to be resolved, so they just, you know, resolve things without resolving them. Not with a reason, but with depicting things as being resolved.

Lana, who was furious enough at her husband to walk off in a huff because he was letting Edge treat her like meat, suddenly thinks Kyle sexy and wonderful and a great Dad again—because he made pancakes.

There’s also the bit where they say his pancakes are the only thing he can do right. Except we all watched the episode where people came from miles around for the barbecue. Continuity is a thing.

Clark, who just last episode brought Lois flowers for a thing he did many years ago as a way to show romantic love, unprompted, makes up for all the “missing date nights” he establishes in dialogue that have in no way been seen as an actual problem by being romantic in the barn with candles and blah blah blah, you saw it.

What follows is rather awkward, stilted romance language that’s as forgettable as it is false. Couples that have lasted more than ten years don’t tend to act like this, because relationships that require arbitrary false romance instead of real presence and hard work fall apart. There are exceptions, and token moments like anniversaries, but petulance over a lack of date night ends with the arrival of kids, or the marriage ends. That’s not to say romance isn’t a thing, but to say that if it’s performative and not natural (like the flowers in the last episode, which was very real), it rings false, like someone in their twenties writing what they think adults they will one day be are like.

Then, just to further undermine every point the show has arbitrarily tried to make, Sam calls on the Lois phone after he’s been booted from the house for what is essentially dysfunctional abuse, and both of these characters who, recall, shouted him down for it like teenagers, and who were also on the cusp of DRAMA DIVORCE because Clark went to this man, shrug and go “Hey, waddayagonna do?” Clark takes the phone and goes to see Sam, enabling his dysfunction, which no remotely healthy or adjusted person would do, and leaves Lois in the lurch.

But hey, at least we got to see that clunky HELL amulet and have Sam say something about it that makes no sense before we are beaten on the head by exposition about ex-kryptonite.

That’s like Kryptonite that was once married, but its husband had an obligation or something, so it got drunk and said it wasn’t complaining, it was just verbalizing, and then they had a fight, she said he was green, he said she was yellow, and it got all tense, and then the kids heard them fighting, she called a lawyer, and anyway, now they’re exes.

Dad jokes are my ex-kryptonite.

You’re still wrong. They’re great.

Here’s hoping this is a one-off they learn a big lesson from, because this is a big, glaring warning sign that this show is quickly forgetting what made it good entirely, and rapidly enough to squander a lot of good will. A lot.

1Rating – 1 out of 5.

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Until next week!

Neal Bailey

16 Comments
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Superman2878
March 17, 2021 8:34 pm

As a huge fan of the Superman and Lois series, even I have to admit that this episode didn’t quite come to par with the previous episodes. However in its defense, I will say that with the success that it’s been having there’s bound to be at least one or two episodes that won’t hit the mark. And I’m sure that better episodes are ahead. I do have a question about this episode. The villain Killgrave used a sonic weapon on Superman. I could only think of one other live action Superman related series where a villain used a sonic… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Superman2878
gerrym51
March 17, 2021 9:14 pm

Neal- i think your overreacting. The biggest thing is -most of us are NOT Cw’s desired demographic. they still have to pull in young viewers-especially young women-to pay the bills. Advertisers are not paying the cw to get us(older folks) to watch.Now having said that i actually thought this episode was OK. They may be referencing a lot of things in the comics -however their desired viewership has no knowledge of what’s in the comic books. The biggest plothole to me though is the one that never seems to be addressed. Who’s paying the bills? Clark doesn’t seem to work!… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by gerrym51
Superman2878
March 17, 2021 9:33 pm
Reply to  gerrym51

You do bring up a good point. The only explanation that I can think of for now is that maybe Clark and Lois saved enough to get by for a little while. I don’t know if Clark working as a water boy for his kids high school football team pays much. Maybe with the money that he earns as a farmer and as a water boy combined with the money Lois earns as a reporter helps get them by? I would like to see Clark do some reporting at some point. It’s part of his historical persona as well as… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Superman2878
neal bailey
Admin
March 18, 2021 4:24 pm
Reply to  gerrym51

I dunno, I find “This story not working is excused because the audience isn’t of the target demo,” to not ring true. I wasn’t in the target demo for the first four episodes, but I can step outside that analytically and say the story was well crafted. It sounds like an excuse for a lack of craft to me. As for the bills, they imply that Beppo has hired Lois, but there is a mitigating factor that, for me, make this more excusable than it was in Smallville the show, where late teenagers could afford a new Yaris, say. Lois… Read more »

Superman2878
March 18, 2021 6:44 pm
Reply to  neal bailey

True. Clark can make diamonds out of coal, although I wonder how he would he explain the extra income on his taxes. Ha ha ha. 😀

neal bailey
Admin
March 19, 2021 8:07 pm
Reply to  Superman2878

Job-related deduction. HAH!

redcape
March 18, 2021 1:16 pm

“Did Snyder direct this? It’s on par with that level of inconsideration for civilian damage”. “Level of inconsideration”….what a laugh. You mean as far as making a movie with a bit to much realism to suit you. The Adventurers of Domesticated Superman……just your speed. Thank the stars Snyder Never made anything this simple minded.

lcmcbain
March 18, 2021 1:48 pm
Reply to  redcape

Except it’s not realism when a being like Superman would inherently understand the ramifications of any fight and take it elsewhere. And asaid being would have no iddues with the ability to do so. He could have easily done so with Faora and Super-Non and then Zod in MOS. And, no any counter that states “zod would have just killed everyone” is laughable. Zod knew he had to defeat Kal before killing the world and would have followed him anywhere. Not to mention how absurd it is to fight into space and come back down in the exact same area.… Read more »

redcape
March 19, 2021 1:07 pm
Reply to  lcmcbain

Well……obviously we’re going to have our differences in “definitions” of what constitutes realism. If,… one can apply that to a comic book movie.

I don’t think there’s any movie made you can’t apply and rearange a different set of plot circumstances to.

lcmcbain
March 19, 2021 1:59 pm
Reply to  redcape

I think you can set basic reasoning to any movie, comic book or otherwise. And asking for in-universe rules to be consistently applied isn’t asking too much either imo. I’m certainly willing to suspend my disbelief and be forgiving; but for me, there were just too many glaring issues to overlook. To each their own though.

redcape
March 19, 2021 1:12 pm
Reply to  neal bailey

Why don’t you just say, “I can’t seem to write anything without dissing Snyder”.

lcmcbain
March 18, 2021 1:38 pm

I thought the same thing. They went full bad Smallville right quick. Quite disconcerting. Thanks for the review !

neal bailey
Admin
March 18, 2021 5:04 pm
Reply to  lcmcbain

My pleasure. 🙂