“Superman & Lois” Review – S01E08 – “Holding The Wrench”

Holding the Wrench Review

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Premiered: June 1, 2021
Written by: Kristi Korzec
Directed by: Norma Bailey

Well, that was certainly a distinctly strange hour of television.

I suppose that I now have a choice, to accept that this show has completely abandoned its premise and move on, or hope for what was established and promised by the premise and be disappointed over and over.

The bad now firmly outweighs the good, and I can celebrate what was nice about the beginnings of this show, but I have to acknowledge the wheels are off, the cart’s running down the hill, and there’s the abyss. Hi, oblivion!

It happened surprisingly fast. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show dovetail this particularly hard. Then again, I don’t stick around when shows dovetail, so that’s a tough question. I review this, so now I’m stuck, at least for the year of reviews I promised.

Behold, a show that randomly veers into miscarriage incoherently and dwells on it. If you had told me I’d be typing that sentence last week though – well, after watching last week’s episode, I’d have probably believed you. But if you’d told me that after that first episode, I might have shouted at you a little.

But as we’ve learned this episode, we must never shout. Right? Being angry, well, that’s… losing control. If you’re a woman. When it’s a man, well… we’ll get there.

I’ll be frank with you, I can hardly remember anything that isn’t vitally important. This is what comes of having a child. I say to myself “What did I do yesterday?” and my brain doesn’t recollect, because largely it doesn’t matter. Story is the place I go to remember. The place I go to make things that matter.

When I’m writing or when I’m reading or watching, that’s the whole point.

So there’s this thing where it bothers me (call me crazy, I know) when a show patronizes me, or treats me like I have the memory of a bird, even if I do everywhere else. If I am remembering something, it’s a small miracle, and if I can then connect those dots and go “Wait, that’s not what you said,” minimal effort has been made to render a story coherent.

This show, at least, for the last little while, has just strung thing after thing after thing for the sake of drama expecting we will all simply have the memory of birds or adopt the MST3K “I should really just relax.” mentality.

The reason that works for MST3K is because there is literally no plot. In a show with that premise, you really should just relax. Same with those who might tell another what a review should or shouldn’t be. It’s mine. It has no parameters. If it’s 7,500 words or 10, dig my experiment or bug off. I don’t say “This will be 1,000 words with punky metaphors and a simple, easy-to-read style.”

This show, however, has presented us with a series of maxims for how it will proceed it continues to now violate. The initial few episodes presented us with a story where conflict sprang from character, where the plot made sense and followed, and now it’s devolved utterly into a show where things happen because they happen, character is merely what’s established in dialogue, and the characters serve no purpose save to forward the preceding two needs.

That’s worse than just being awful from the start, because it sets you up with this expectation of good television, and you open the mystery box, and it’s a surprise punch to the nads. SURPRISE NAD PUNCH! Good band name. Or a political party’s platform. I don’t have to say it, you know who it is.

Blow by blow:

I got pump-faked. The stinger, or the cold open, was Lois revealing that she’d done some kind of TERRIBLE THING that needed accounting for, so much so that she needed THERAPY. That’s compelling. Usually, even in the better episodes, they start out with an action stinger. The train. Superman and the nuclear plant.

It suggests—no—it PROMISES, that the conflict of the show springs from some character event. This promise is then broken, of course, but I said to myself, hell, they’re starting from the premise of something springing from character.

Naaaaah.

Next, even with my faulty memory, it’s very easy to recall the ending of last week’s episode, with its unfortunate optics and its strange place to leave us. John is in prison, about to be interrogated. For some incoherent reason, Clark has decided to turn John in to the DoD, a place that, just the week prior in our time, tried to shoot a kid to death. That’s really hard to forget.

This episode forgets that urgency immediately. John, who knows about the end of the world about to happen, stews in prison twiddling his thumbs.

Clark’s priority is to, yes, repair the truck.

And hey, while we’re there, let’s use one line of dialogue to skirt the entire character arc of Jordan and football. “We quit somehow.” “Better return those shirts!”

Good to know that my time and effort and regard investing myself into that storyline was an absolute waste of time.

Then look! To the left. The Kents took the MURDER MOBILE and BROUGHT IT HOME. Yeah they did. The Death Camper. They just, you know, plunked it in the front yard. That’s something reasonably intelligent adults might do.

(I’m lying!)

They then choose to have Lois explore it while Superman is far far away. Why? Because he hasn’t taken the time to explore it yet. Why would he? And he can’t, right, because, as Lois notes, it’s LINED WITH LEAD.

This is the show’s way of hand waving away anything frustrating to the NEEDS OF THE PLOT of late. Can’t go in those mines. LINED WITH LEAD! Can’t figure out that camper. It’s LINED WITH LEAD!

They think that this plot is lined with lead, and really it’s just full of crap. There’s not even metal in crap. Unless robots poop. Do robots poop?

Robots must poop. Everything poops.

I picture John, arriving in is giant spaceship, you know, the one that can apparently travel through dimensions, with his battlesuit. He loses that battle with Superman, his ships straight up gets blown to hell, you know, and that sucks, so he’s like, you know, “What do I do now?”

He looks around and realizes he needs a vehicle. He sees this Breaking Bad camper and is like “This would be great for a GUN FRIDGE. It’s PERFECT!” So he gives Lester Cletus fifty dollars and gets that baby rolling. He’s changing out the spark plugs, swearing vengeance on Superman, plugging that hole in the radiator, brooding on the death of his wife. You know how it is.

He’s like “Maybe I should find Lois and talk to her. Yeah, that’s the ticket! But first—first I’m gonna spend seven weeks tearing apart and lining this entire chassis with lead. Surely that’ll stop Superman from coming in.”

And now, today, in prison, John chuckles to himself, knowing that Superman will in no way, I dunno, tear the door open and walk in that door. And if he does, OH BOY, he’s in for a surprise. Some GUNS will stop him.

I forgot to mention John spent two weeks rigging up guns for intruders.

Because that makes sense too, right? I mean, you’re a family man, you love kids, you’re a generally good person, and Superman comes and just wipes away your world. You travel to another dimension to fight Superman, and then what you really gotta do, you gotta make sure no one finds out who you are.

Why? Who cares. It’s just important.

So you go “But what if someone breaks into my MURDER VAN?” Can’t have someone messing with your GUN FRIDGE, amirite? They might find out who I really am!”

Though no one cares. John Henry Irons as a name has no significance to anyone but the audience. It’s a lie, and that’s suspect, but it’s not a lie that it makes sense to work hard to hide, if you’re him.

But he HAS to hide it. Okay. Whatever. So how does one do that? Well, you program your van so literally anyone except Lois Lane, who you don’t know yet, is immediately shot to death. But with a countdown timer. For a camper you then lock so they can’t leave. You, the family man, want them to have time to dwell on the gun murder you’re about to do on them, apparently.

Don’t program the smart AI to say “Is this a child?” That’s not what a dad would do. A Dad would make a gun fridge.

Okay, that part’s a little plausible.

The smart AI is another problem. It’s too dumb to realize he’s not Lex Luthor, but it’s smart enough to recognize Lois Lane?

But Neal, John programmed it!

Yes, but then the “Captain Luthor!” bit where he is simply using someone else’s stuff that only works for him by luck falls apart, and they said that. Out loud.

The Lana/Kyle/Sarah thing in this episode is so rushed, so pat. It’s unfortunate, the way it’s just kind of thrown out there, not given due, phoned in. Especially when there’s so much in this episode that’s dwelled on that has absolutely nothing to do with what’s going on.

Lana is now giving businesses over a hundred grand just for existing for Morgan Edge. Now granted, businesses will often give cash for PR, but that’s also not the Morgan Edge we’re looking at. Recall he’s already gone straight to NYAH!

How will good PR help his present cause? He already has the town. He already has what he wants, the X-K.

In fact, what is he waiting for?

Regardless, it has been established that Kyle has no place with Edge, Edge wants Lana. But now Edge wants Kyle, and is mad at Lana for not bringing him Kyle. And now Lana has not given Edge Kyle, but she’s still employed? Larr does an end-run, okay. Fine. But Lana and Kyle do not speak about this?

No. We get a talent show.

Granted. Sarah, and the actress, has a great voice. It is a beautiful song. Entirely irrelevant. It doesn’t follow what came before. It’s random. She was at odds with Jordan. She was just kidnapped. Now they’re both fine.

Sarah, with her suicidal ideation, is unaffected by the plethora of traumatic things occurring. Jordan, with his anxiety disorder, is unaffected by the plethora of traumatic things occurring. Lois though? Holy crap, folks, she yelled at her kid, so she needs IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY THERAPY to get over her MISCARRIAGE ABSOLUTELY UNRELATED TO HER PRESENT DILEMMA FOURTEEN YEARS AGO.

That’s a phrase I just typed. Yep. I just, yeah, right there, typed that phrase about this show. I did. It happened.

Now granted, I just, JUST, this very minute, yelled at my child for not paying attention during his remote learning. “Get back over there and stop dancing! Show some respect!” He was off-camera and distracted for about the eightieth time today.

Do I need therapy?

No.

Well, maybe, but not for that.

My anger was legit, in context, measured in contrast to what was happening, and the person I yelled at understood why I was yelling. There’s no trauma there. Or if there is, it’s so minimal that every other trauma in life outweighs it by a factor of ten thousand to one.

Context matters.

This’ll be important later, as criterion.

Superman finally flies his butt to the DoD to check on John. He stands in the back of the room and, you know, like Superman would, idly watches and says nothing as a black dude in custody gets roughed up by a white guard.

That’s SOOOOOOO Superman.

It’s not. It’s utterly horrible as a choice even for an average character, much less a great moral arbiter. But you know. Never let that get in the way of what you want to happen. That’s the show’s new mantra.

John sits down, and despite what he’s seen, he’s still very much of the mind that Superman cannot possibly be good. He is, in fact, referred to as a soulless monster.

Granted, they made that have some weight by having Superman threaten him with deadly force last episode, and it was a poor choice, but Superman DIDN’T kill John. And he isn’t blowing up the world. And there is legit no reason to believe Superman is headed that direction at all.

I don’t want to suggest a man brilliant enough to make a gun fridge might be smart enough to ken that Superman in his universe might not have been in control of himself, but…

Actually, I do.

John demands Lois come talk to him, and okay, that’s in character. What isn’t is waiting until Superman was in the room to ask, all night. Also, it’s not like anyone else who knows Lois is nearby.

Except Sam Lane, her literal father.

There is a dialogue exchange between Superman and John. I won’t identify the speakers, and see if you can recognize which came from which:

“You lied to her!”

“It was for her own good!”

Hard to tell, isn’t it? Because both characters have lied to Lois for her own good. In context it’s easy to see which is which, but the more important question is, why are these two men screaming at each other? Why is John Henry being made to be so irrational? What does this serve in this story? His role as a nemesis is over, seemingly, so it looks like he’s just irrationally pissed as a form of ill-considered characterization.

My note here: “I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!”

Drama for drama’s sake, and unearned. Their conflicts are over. There is no reason John shouldn’t know Superman is a good guy, and Superman knows that John comes from a place of loss and reason. Superman is smarter than this, and John SHOULD be smarter than this, even as an unknown quantity, particularly if he is such a learned soldier and technical genius. This scene does not follow.

My next note is pretty self-explanatory:

KYLE IS BEING A SUPER GOOD DAD. DEAD OR DRUNK SOON. And yes, that happened, and no, it had no weight, it was phoned in, and not even worth mentioning, it was so rote and without feeling. Not on the actor’s part—on the script’s, to be clear.

We have a scene where Clark and Lois talk briefly about their feelings for each other and how they’ll approach a problem. Oh yeah. This show used to do that. Here it’s so out of context, I don’t even know what to do with it.

But I miss the scenes. Please bring them back. And thanks for this one in a sea of, well, whatever this episode is.

They talk about what to do with John. Superman wants to talk. Okay. In character.

Lane goes straight to “TORTURE! MWU HA HA HA!”

Superman’s like “WOT?”

Lane is like “Look, I even got this tall dude, Trask. He’s totally not mentally unhinged!”

Superman’s like “No, no, we shouldn’t do that.”

Lane is like “You’re not in charge here!”

And Superman straight up forgets he can sneeze and blow up the moon and looks on without doing anything.

Superman’s approach to dealing with Sam is kind of like the Susan Collins approach to governance. She witnesses a group of people doing something utterly abominable that she knows to be wrong, she has the literal power to stop it, and she just kind of frowns and expresses false consternation and that’s supposed to be perceived as moral character.

That’s not Superman at all, in any way, in any reality, but okay.

The only flimsy argument for this, that he cannot violate the law, and Sam is the law here, fails utterly. Lawful evil is a thing, and Superman is not too dumb to know the difference between lawful evil and lawful neutral.

Superman can be lawful good (though I’d argue he’s more neutral good), and that’s fine. But his literal ARCH-NEMESIS Lex Luthor’s ENTIRE JAM is lawful evil. If there’s one thing Superman should see coming, beyond Kalibak with a club, it’s a lawful evil person using the law as a shield to do awful things.

He sees it. He knows it. He can even point at it and say, without prompt, “That’s bad, um-kay?”

His utter bafflement at what to do with Sam for the sake of the plot is crap. Obviously.

It carries through the episode. He immediately forgives Lane for having Kryptonite, and they’re cool right after Lane says “Yeah, I know, I’ll have to rebuild trust. I have work to do.” That’s just supposed to be what we accept as resolution.

“Listen. Neal. I know I just straight up let some dude with an ‘I hate Neal.’ shirt on hang at my house when you came over to help mow my lawn. And yes, he did go into my Anti-Neal Weaponry basement that I really should have told you about. He did get the machete and try and take a chunk out of your ear. And yeah, okay, he did machete on you a little. That was…unfortunate. I recognize I will have to rebuild some trust with you after this.”

If you even begin to think about it, Superman putting up with Lane literally any further, at all, should make you angry at how stupid this story thinks you are.

But we should never even have gotten there. The SECOND Lane mentions torture, this story ends. Superman removes the prisoner, no matter who it is. Period. This isn’t a controversial hot take, it’s simple fact. If you disagree, first, you’re wrong, and second, please don’t ever write Superman, even if they ask you to.

Though the way they’ve treated the character lately, clearly they might!

SMASH CUT TO Jonathan creeping around the Murder Camper. There’s one amusing moment where he straight up pops open the GUN FRIDGE. He gives a wry smile. Then the Murder Camper tries to kill him.

Let’s go back in time once more, shall we, to when John was working on the Murder Camper.

“Yes, yes,” he says to himself. “I have now rigged up a whole bunch of GUNS to stop that Superman or any random child who breaks into my Murder Camper. But what else can I do? What else does this need?”

He rubs his bald head. “That’s it! Metal shutters in a hidden compartment above all the windows.”

“BUT CAPTAIN LUTHOR,” the AI says, “IF YOU CLOSE THE PERSON IN, THEY WILL BE TRAPPED AND SURELY DIE.”

”Yes, yes, I have become a murderer because my back story is so sad.”

“FAIR ENOUGH. BUT EVEN SO, IF THAT IS YOU NOW, JOHN—ER, LEX—WOULD IT NOT BE WISER TO SIMPLY LASER THEM WITH YOUR LASER THING THAT CUTS ROCKS WITHOUT ANY WARNING? THEN YOUR COMPUTERS WOULD NOT BE DAMAGED, AND THAT LEAVES NO TIME FOR SOMEONE, I DON’T KNOW, A HYPOTHETICAL MAN THAT IS SUPER, TO PREVENT YOUR LITERAL CHILD MURDER.”

“Silence, robot friend, and Google the Home Murder Depot. I must have shutters!”

“IN THIS UNIVERSE, CAPTAIN LUTHOR, SMALLVILLE HAS A LOWE’S.”

“Is it a Murder Lowe’s?”

“NEGATIVE.”

“Fine! I shall do it myself! Pass me the sheet metal.”

“SIGH.”

“Do not sigh at me, robot!”

“THAT WAS NOT A SIGH. IT WAS THE SOUND A ROBOT MAKES WHEN IT POOPS.”

Lois hears Jonathan in the camper, and she somehow arrives within twenty seconds, and calls Superman with eight seconds to spare, and Superman appears instantaneously to save Jonathan, because any real question of how powers work and why don’t matter any more to the show, only drama, drama, drama. Go with it or you’re screwed. Jonathan is saved.

From a thing he would never do.

From a thing Lois would never allow him to do.

From a Murder Camper that would not be on their lawn.

That Superman would have already examined before he left it alone with his family.

In a fashion that would have clearly happened before they fixed the truck.

But long after he TALKED with John while he was on the floor in the warehouse instead of threatening to kill him and leaving him to rot in a cell.

BUT NOW, folks, NOW we get to talk about PSYCHOLOGY leading to the ole MISCARRIAGE-A-ROO. Here comes the fun.

Despite the fact that none of these events in this episode follow from the events preceding them, we have to examine each situation based upon the premise presented, for good or ill. And here are our premises.

1) Jonathan, in a fit of brick-filled-with-cheese level dumb, goes into the Murder Camper. 2) Jonathan is almost thereby killed. 3) Lois told him not to do it, she would be going back in there with him. 4) Lois was correct. 5) Jonathan has a history of doing dumb stuff that gets him nearly killed.

Just last episode, remember, he and Jordan conspired to drive a car into a man and enter a super-powered fray. Which was, notably, FAR more stupid and intentional than this accident. Regardless, both actions are “I eat paste not even for the taste” level megastupid on par with thinking masks don’t save you from airborne covid infections.

Lois, predictably, and reasonably, gets MAD.

Here’s where the timelines bisect. There’s one timeline, where the character as defined matters. In this timeline, the best timeline, Lois calmly speaks to Jonathan and teaches him what not to do. Actually, in this timeline, Jonathan isn’t this stupid to begin with, that’s the show that lasted until the fourth episode, and that’s already gone.

So we’re in the second timeline. In this timeline, Lois randomly, screams as she has only done once before, with John. It was also weird with John, and atypical for her character thusfar.

The one with John made no sense. This one did.

And why? Well, if you believe the show, because she had a miscarriage fourteen years ago, and the trauma is suddenly and randomly resurfacing in what is treated as a negative way.

Is that coherent? No. It reads and plays as an issue she was given for this episode, inappropriately and arbitrarily, so they could left turn to focus on miscarriage for reasons I still can’t make any sense of after spending a LONG time trying.

It’s not wrong to analytically examine something you are not directly connected to, despite what the internet would have you think, but a pedigree gives you more weight, perhaps.

Let me give you my pedigree for speaking to any of this.

The first time a woman and I conceived, we experienced a painful, difficult miscarriage together. To be clear, this is not me making a joke. This happened.

Said person is also a psychologist with a Master’s Degree. A practicing therapist of the kind Lois sees, just coincidentally.

Though I did not experience the loss physically like my partner did, I know the deep and personal pain of losing a child, even when the child isn’t viable. It hurts. It sucks. It lasts. It’s real. I do not in any way question that with any of the following critiques.

I question if this show, in this way, is the appropriate way to suddenly dive into that, randomly, chaotically, with little to no relation to the actual dilemmas the characters are facing.

I also object to the way Lois and her anger was presented. It was treated as crazy, irrational, bad parenting that needed correction. Even if you go with “Lois is a calm, talky parent.” as I do, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t yell. And yelling is not inherently bad.

As a victim of dysfunction and abuse myself, I’ve spent a long time thinking about what is and isn’t appropriate in human interactions.

A thing that people get dead wrong, over and over, is that any expression of anger is wrong. I don’t know if this is because passive aggression and meekness is so lauded as a quality in society, because we are so utterly fearful, human beings, or if it is a fear of anger’s direct quality.

All I know is that anger, no matter how necessary, no matter how right, is almost always perceived as wrong from the outset, to the point where saying “You’re just angry.” is shorthand for “Of course you’re wrong.”

And an angry woman? Or an angry minority? Don’t even get me started.

We hear someone yelling, the initial response is to call the police. That person is dangerous. Oh my. Passion. Run.

Yet anger is an energy. Anger does good. Anger drives people to change. Anger is the font from which every good thing I’ve ever written spreads. Anger at injustice. Anger at pain. Anger about a miscarriage I can’t do anything about.

Anger can be a very good thing, Andy, perhaps the best thing.

And the worst. Anger is bad when it’s irrational or dangerous or violent or chaotic.

A tale of two angers:

When I yell at my son for not paying attention in school after the fifteenth time he’s been distracted, he attends school and understands the escalation. It’s been fifteen times. I have spoken softly fourteen. It is in context and makes sense. I am allowed to have emotion. He is allowed to make mistakes. We are working together toward a common good in good faith.

When I yell at my son for interrupting my drinking time, supposing I do it randomly throughout the week instead of helping him with his homework, when I feel chemically emotional, he learns that anger is the response to anything, doesn’t have parameters, and its lack of context leaves him reactive and afraid to everything. He develops an anxiety disorder.

Almost everything is like that, it can be good, it can be bad.

By default we assume anger to be bad. This is dumb. It pisses me off.

There are so many ways this character move is a bad take for Lois.

It’s criticizing a woman being angry at a man when it’s justified, and worse, showing that woman to be a hypocrite (given how she’s in constant danger herself).

There’s the choice of making a woman’s rational anger the result of a reproductive issue fourteen years ago that she blames herself for.

There’s the statement it makes that anyone who gets angry for any reason, context aside, clearly needs therapy, and emergency therapy during a crisis at that (patently false).

And most importantly, and most simply, Lois is right to be angry, and her expression of that anger, though yelling, is flatly measured, either in character or out of character, so her being portrayed as out of control is just bad story.

When your child nearly dies, you get to yell. The child will understand that. It is completely in context.

Some anger is good. Beneficial. Healthy. A stern response to a child in danger is one of my things. When my kid almost touches a stove, I will not strike them, striking a child is lunacy, but I will say “HEY, DON’T TOUCH THAT!” loudly, and be angry they were that dumb if they know what “hot” is. And I will not feel bad about that.

I have seen the effect of parents who are passive and never get angry with their children. They’re usually the ones lecturing you on how you parent while their kid, who has never faced a stern word for anything they do, is in the other room hitting your kid because there are never any consequences for their actions.

I feel confident saying that, though it’s a generalization, because I feel we’ve all experienced it.

That’s not better.

This is not to say there aren’t people out there who yell and scream and are abusive that need to stop. OHHHH boy, no. No no no. They’re the worst.

They make me angry. And that anger too is good.

Soft talk, quiet regard, can be DANGEROUS. American society has spent the better part of forty years soft talking the wolf at the door. Sometimes soft talk lets the bolt sit against your temple. Cows low quietly.

We celebrate people when they persist, not when they quiet down and sit, when the cause is just.

Anger is an energy, anger is a tool, and anger is not wrong if a choice. And anger CAN be a measured choice. It should not be as demonized as it is.

Anger is driving this intellectual exercise of a review today, and even if you don’t like it, it is a thing that helps me. It’s good.

Often it’s dispassion, but today it’s anger. Though people think I write these reviews angry, I tend not to. But today this show made me think of the kid I lost and used it as an emotional lever to make a feminist woman look unstable, and I resent that personally.

The reason people think anger is bad by rote is because practically every bad person you ever see is an angry person. It makes sense. I see where that comes from.

But that’s like saying because most of the good people you meet are religious, it’s because of that religion. The majority of people are religious, so the majority of the bad people you meet are religious as well. It’s a cognitive bias. Stop it. Think a little.

Each situation deserves its own pragmatic regard.

Blanket thoughts without critical looks, like “Anger is bad, it only destroys YOU!” are, ironically, bad for examining yourself and your motives and what you should be doing.

Passivity is often worse than anger. Both, like anything, can be bad if used without care.

John decides he’s gonna be mad at Lois because he’s “the only unarmed one” in the family. I mean, yeah. True. I didn’t know needing to be armed was a thing one needed in daily life. Then again, I do live in Canada now. I used to carry a daily knife, but I never had to draw it save to open a box.

But does he need therapy, by the show’s reckoning? His anger is irrational and arguably, stupid as hell.

Clark comes up to Lois and is like “Hey, uh, didn’t you get a little over angry there?” Aside from again, in dialogue, pointing out the plot flaw, which is a dumb move, it’s also the bird memory thing. Remember just last episode, my friends, when Clark almost laser-eyed an unarmed black dude because he was angry?

I do.

Does he need immediate emergency therapy?

Superman, a dude, arguably a dude who when he gets angry is the most dangerous person EVER, gets angry and almost kills someone irrationally, he’s ALL GOOD.

Lois, a gal, gets angry at her son for nearly killing himself with his own stupidity? TIME TO CALL THE THERAPIST. Too much emotion there, little lady.

Maybe they thought about it. But if they did, why is there a point where they cut from somber talk about miscarriage to, no kidding, a kid doing a bad American Idol style song. No segue at all. It’s not for effect. It’s just clunky and there. Jarring. Horrible. Undermining everything they were trying badly to do. More than the fact that a small town talent show has tryouts.

“Why did you yell at Jonathan?” the therapist asks, with real concern for Lois and her behavior as a misstep.

How about: “Let’s get Jonathan in here and ask why his behavior shows that he’s clearly suicidal. I mean, he’s actively courting Murder Campers.”

SIDEBAR INTERRUPTION FOR THE GOOD OF ALL HUMANKIND: I just called and spoke to the woman I conceived with who is a therapist (vague Neal is intentionally vague).

I gave her the basic beats of this plot, because it’s bad form to stand here being a dude talking about what a woman goes through when she has a miscarriage without, you know, asking a woman what her thoughts are too. I went through it too, and there was a plethora of emotional stuff involved for me, too, but her loss was physical.

She pointed out, as a therapist, that (OBVIOUSLY) she wouldn’t simply randomly bring up a traumatic event from a decade and a half ago as an explanation for a present behavior, particularly the behavior as described. She was also immediately aware of the danger of labeling a woman’s legitimate emotional anger as wrong.

She said she would validate Lois’ anger, and help her try to calm herself if she were distressed, but not assign it a negative quality. Further, she finds the premise implausible, not because it states that women who miscarry can have traumatic aftereffects (that’s legit), but that if it were to be a thing that happened to Lois, it wouldn’t suddenly manifest fourteen years later, particularly if the thing that incites it happens frequently (Jonathan being in danger). It would have been a problem ever since the miscarriage, generally, if it were a problem to deal with at all.

As a therapist, it offended her like it offends me as a lay geek.

We talked about the grief of losing a kid, which we had named as well, by the way, and both agreed that this show is kind of insulting and reductive to what we went through. Onward.

Let’s just follow all that noise with a scene where Superman stands and watches Sam Lane threaten a prisoner with WAR CRIMES. Superman would totally gloss over that for a dude he knows has good intentions who is disarmed to, you know, protect Sam Lane’s process. I mean, he knows Sam has good intentio-HEY WAIT.

Going further to prove that Sam is the absolute best person for Superman to trust with problems, Rosetti, this random guy we’ve never met, suddenly has powers and goes BONKERS HOMICIDAL.

So there were three stages to freak of the weeks here on Superman & Lois. The “smart” phase, where it’s someone we establish and get to know who recurs, Tag. Then there’s the “rando freak a la Smallville” style, where they show up for one episode, go nuts, and die. And now we have “LOOK OUT HE CRAZY!” which is all the work this dude got in this episode.

Apparently, he’s a multigenerational soldier, you know, the type that randomly go off the rails and HEY WAIT.

His motivation is, I think, to both kill and not kill John, and do something that attracts Superman and hide from him at the same time until he gets to project 7734, and then, when he gets Superman’s attention, physically beat him to death?

Magic Eight-Ball says: ROBOTS POOP.

He has “all of the powers” Superman has, but uses none of them beyond being invulnerable and using his fists. Bold choice, Cotton.

SMASH CUT TO:

Jordan, having not practiced in years, goes up on stage and can play a song he’s been handed literally thirty seconds ago. It is literally that scene in Walk Hard. The only real difference is the lack of an improvised bridge.

Superman doesn’t want Lois in the same room with John. Why? Because it would make sense, that’s why, and people would be acting smartly. What is John gonna do cuffed to a table? Cut a particularly smelly fart? They’ve been alone together already many times and she ain’t dead. And even if he tried, Superman would be standing right there. Makes no sense. John has no ill will toward her, he has love, and it will get answers. Garbage.

To be clear, Lois is allowed to go into plenty of situations where she IS in danger, but here, where she is in no danger, Superman knows better than Lois, and doesn’t let her make her own choice.

Kay then. Compliments the show’s politics of “Is your lady reasonably emotional? Time for some therapy! Something’s wrong with her.” really well.

The fight scene. Dear God. It’s quite literally, and I mean beat for beat, the fight scene from Batman v Superman (even now, years later, I feel like I’m talking about a made-up fake movie some slower four-year-old said as his second option when I type that title). Superman runs right into the fight without thinking, gets hit with the Kryptonite cloud, they have a long, unnecessary, incoherent fistfight, and then the bad guy holds a spear over Superman and only drops it when he learns that Superman, who everyone knows is a good guy, even the most cynical bad guy, is actually, get this, a GOOD GUY.

Except it’s dumber.

Rosetti HAS to be invulnerable to Kryptonite, right? In which case, one punch kills Superman, if he’s as strong as Superman, and Superman is depowered.

If he IS vulnerable to Kryptonite, hitting Superman with the Kryptonite is hitting himself with Kryptonite and makes no sense.

(I am worrying about what makes sense in the middle of a fight with a dude who has no motivation at all who randomly appears and does things that make no sense, I am well aware.)

So, we presume, he is NOT vulnerable to Kryptonite.

And then a spear made of Kryptonite pierces and kills him. So he IS vulnerable.

He straight up wanted to fistfight Supes and try to beat him to death?

Well, okay. But, like, you’re a soldier. You get rudiments of strategy. You know that Superman has fistfought about eight hundred dudes and won.

How about you hit him with Kryptonite and, I dunno, SHOOT HIM IN THE FACE. Like, what’s the number one weapon of a soldier? A GUN! It even comes with the action figure, Rosetti. C’mon, Rosetti. This is the third generation as a soldier. Even Destro, who’s a talky villain, got a gun, and he’s just like, a soldier in name only, he’s a boss guy.

I just picture John standing there, watching the fight, shaking his head, going “Bro, where’s your GUN FRIDGE?”

And John sees the whole thing. He just stands there, watching it, this dude who thinks Superman is a SOULLESS MONSTER, recall. He’s glad, he purports, to watch them beat each other to death. He gets the upper hand with the spear. Does he stab Supes?

Nah, he hesitates.

And the troopers arrive, with Sam. And Lois. And they let Lois in the room. SIGH.

“John,” Lois says. “You look angry! Have you had a miscarriage? Might I recommend some therapy?”

No, it’s stupider. We cut to John now somehow FREED after threatening to blow up an entire city with his ship, after attempting murder, and in the VERY MURDER CAMPER that nearly killed JONATHAN.

And Lois is there.

SENDING HIM OFF.

The problem was clearly her anger, not that this man almost killed her son to protect a camper.

Meanwhile Clark is in the background, on the phone with Sam, going “Wait, even I’m confused. You let him go? You? Me I could see, but you?”

“Just make sure my Lo Lo stays in therapy, son. Wouldn’t want her getting angry. She might write a review or something.”

1Rating – 1 out of 5.

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Until next week!

Neal Bailey

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2 Comments
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lcmcbain
June 3, 2021 11:24 am

Aside from the acting, which I thought was generally really good, especially from Ms. Tulloch, this episode continues the downward trend and was laughable. (in a bad, ridiculous way) I understand the anger, but I’ve already checked out of this show 3-4 episodes ago and now I can only laugh at the asinity. (against by better judgement, I will trudge through this season in the hopes sanity returns) Add gluttony to anger. 😉 Thanks for the review as always !

Perhaps at some point over the ensuing decades, writers will get back to writing Superman and not Ultra/Omni/Jupiter/Anger/Stupid-Man.

June 5, 2021 7:26 pm

I think this kinda ignores a lot about the episode, the characters in it and previously established information, and assumes things that the episode doesn’t say or show, as far as I remember seeing: For Lois, that’s losing control. Lois being someone who tries to stay in control. And, in this situation, more what she said while in an emotionally intense situation, not being emotional in general. This episode does showcase conflict from character. It may provide new information in service of the context of which that character conflict comes from, but it’s from character. Lois’ miscarriage is a new… Read more »