“Superman & Lois” Review – S01E11 – “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events”

A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Premiered: June 22, 2021
Written by: Adam Brent Fletcher
Directed by: Gregory Smith

So I says to Julian Finn, twenty minutes in, I text him and I says, “Not bad, so far, not so bad.”

(Julian Finn is my “Superman & Lois” podcast partner. We talk about this stuff as it happens.)

Five minutes later, I pause and peck at tiny phone letters with big dumb thumbs: “Maybe just stop at the twenty-five minute mark.”

“That has to be at least a two, Neal,” he says.

“Well, you know, I don’t know,” I write, in genuine sarcasm. “The way these things go, he might JOIN the Nazis by the end of this. I never assume anything with these shows.”

He grants me a laughing emoji.

Twenty minutes later, I type again: “Definitely stop at the twenty-five minute mark. Pretend it was a short episode. Save yourself.”

“Superman becomes a Nazi?” he asks. Also in genuine sarcasm.

“Well,” I type, pausing to think. “Yes.”

This episode, unintentionally I think, perfectly illustrates what is slowly destroying everything good about “Superman & Lois”. Great intentions, solid start, beautiful character moments that show rather than tell. Then comes about the halfway mark (of the season and this episode), where things that do not follow from the premises start asserting themselves demanding to be accepted as true, characters are assassinated, and everything good is thrown out the window for COOL DRAMATIC MOMENTS that are not actually COOL DRAMATIC MOMENTS because they do not proceed from that which came before.

It’s like they’re trying to make my argument for me, right there, on the screen. Present a vision and a mission statement that anyone would want to go along with, Superman and Lois in a family drama with honest stakes, and then rip the rug out, start doing weird lazy stuff, and just hope no one notices the shift.

It is obvious and very visible when you take the basic beats of “For the Man Who Has Everything” and instead decide to Krypto Drift with no brakes into “Superman Joins the Klan.” in an episode where you make such a big point of showing how Superman punches Nazis. It just is.

That the stakes are DRAMATIC and HIGH don’t justify that arbitrary jerk. Especially not when you spend, at length, the entire first half of the episode showing every single reason why Superman would not make the decision this culminates in.

“What wouldn’t happen next?” is usually great storytelling, but implicit in “What wouldn’t happen next?” is that it could, potentially, happen in that framework.

And there is no universe where Superman would think Edge would honor his bargain, where he would trade three lives for ten billion, or where he wouldn’t try literally anything other than “Join the Space Nazis.”

This is stuff a five-year-old could articulate. “Don’t trust a BAD GUY!”

Yet we are being treated as dumber than a five-year-old and are expected to go along with this as logical.

Why? Because Edge threatened his family? You meant the Edge who threatened your family last episode? That Edge?

“He’ll tell the world who Clark is, though!”

Tell me then, friend, how does that even matter if there is no world to tell?

It’s chaotically, critically, eat-paste-from-a-Costco-gallon-jug-with-a-giant-comical-spoon levels of stupid.

But was there good? Yes! And what was? Well, everything preceding that weird turn. I can crow about what was great, for once, and I relish that.

We are treated, rather out of the blue, to a beautiful, touching, extended vision of the origin of Superman and Lois. A tender, honest portrayal of the way that it would look for Superman to come of age now, when his young adulthood is Harry Potter in theaters, when a problem he may have faced in the last ten years is resurgent Nazis, when newspapers are a dying breed.

The cinematography is gorgeous, the music, the acting, even the script makes this something that I was desperate to see more of.

The “For the Man Who Has Everything.” trope isn’t what sucks here. If getting jerked away from this vision into a plot that made coherent sense had happened, I wouldn’t be lamenting this episode. At all. It’s not the shift in tone. There are many wonderful story ways to go “Watch me torture you with this dream of everything that was once good.” as a way to starkly contrast the things after which are egregiously bad.

The problem is Morgan’s turn to moustache twirling and blackmail isn’t earned, it’s just stated. His plot doesn’t make sense, and even presuming it did, Superman would not be persuaded.

I get what they were trying to do. “Look at all these wonderful things Superman has. He’d do anything not to lose that!”

The problem isn’t that. The problem is that he’s been presented with no legitimate reason to give any of that up in order to save it. Or more appropriately, he has no reason to believe that giving it up WILL save it.

On the most surface level, take the scene where we are supposed to finally buy that Superman has no choice in this matter, at all. Why does Superman have no choice? If he doesn’t ally with Edge, the man will kill Lois and the boys.

Except that scene, Edge lands, he has Lois and the boys in his sights, he can kill them all, and he doesn’t. He instead chooses to toy. Because plot?

This has happened before, many many times. Edge’s threat is implausible by his own actions. The stakes are not established. We know that Edge will not kill the Kents, because plot. If we know, Superman knows.

“Well Neal, you can’t just have Edge kill the Kents. No show!”

I know that. This is why you MUST construct scenes and scenarios in order, in such a fashion that the audience doesn’t cry foul, and that one thing follows from the last. Story 101.

When you show a dozen scenes where the villain could achieve his sole desire right then and there, but doesn’t, and a dozen scenes where the hero with his capabilities could have stopped the villain then and there, but does not, dramatic choices ring false.

A good example: Edge decides that Superman won’t take his offer, and it comes to blows in the Fortress. This very episode. Edge beats the bejesus out of Superman until he’s unconscious. Superman is there, on the ground, the source of all his problems at Edge’s mercy, and he has clearly refused, once and for all, to be a part of what Edge wants.

(Superman did this last episode, too, notably.)

Does Edge kill him? No. Imprison him? No.

“He wants a brother, Neal! He’s letting Clark live because he desperately needs a family!”

“What about Leslie, who is clearly familial and like a sister?”


“What about the hundreds of Kryptonians he has access to that he can put in other people to make a family from?”


“What about Mal-Foy, his weird Krypton Dad? Like, dude clearly has a Dad, and has since he was a teena—”


“Well okay, but it just seems a little—”


“Oh. Okay. I see. But doesn’t he have a device, right there, that could make Superman a male person who likes him and is related to him by blood? Like, it’s a brainwash egg thing, it just converted half a town and made his ex-girlfriend into his mother. Surely there has to be one dude in all those Kryptonians who wants to be his buddy. It seems like they all do. They’d make a great brother. Doesn’t that undermine—”


“I suppose it makes sense Edge just lets him stay there without killing him, then. Point taken.”

“Yes! Now you’re seeing reason.”

“You used that egg on me.”

“I know. Great isn’t it?”

“Well it was, but now the back of my brain is tingling. I’m thinking about why, if Morgan is desperate for a brother, he doesn’t go to Superman when he makes his public debut. Why he instead chooses to slowly build a financial empire anathema to everything he knows Superman stands for. That doesn’t seem like a great method of endearment, just on a rudimentary level, for a scheming genius who—”

“SHUT UP! He toys with people.”

“Yeah, I get that, but that’s not toying with people. Toying has a meaning. Say I want to make a cat my house cat, and get it to come into my house, but I’m the kind of person who toys with things. I don’t then hatch an insidious plot to get the cat to come into my house that begins with driving by its house in a truck filled with dog food flipping the cat off.”

”That seems perfectly persuasive to me!”

“That’s because of the egg. If you think about it, dog food and antagonism is unrelated to a cat’s wants or needs. You want a cat to like you, but you like toying with them, you’ll shine a laser on the ground and lead that laser toward your house. That appeals to the cat and its wants and allows me to torture it on the way to wherever I want it to go. It’s really not that complicated.”




There are a few strange moments in the flashbacks to the past, but honestly, the emotion of all of it works so well, it’s very easy to forgive.

Heating a grenade in close proximity to other people doesn’t just make it dissipate in a light puff of smoke, as any Mythbuster fan would shout.

There is a brief, unintentionally hilarious moment when Clark zooms in on the ring on Lana’s finger and we hear Price is Right horns (that may have just been in my head, admittedly).

All in all though, the first half is just solid stuff.

I enjoyed the “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” dodge on the news broadcast. It was done artfully and well. It skirted the tradition in a way that didn’t foster the fight that usually crops up.

The fight should crop up, but I understand why the show skirted it.

The fight is, of course, that a vocal group of people insist that Superman must shout that he fights for the AMERICAN WAY, along with Truth and Justice, without thinking through what the American Way is, or the potential harms of being arbitrarily jingoistic.

Anyone reading this either already gets that, or would quarrel with me about it, but I don’t care to hear from people who would quarrel with me on it. Not because I’m averse to opposing ideas, I’m one of those few remaining Americans who loves the idea of comparing and contrasting my ideas to the ideas of others, but because I’ve listened to so many arguments for American Exceptionalism for so very, very long, and found every single one wanting.

Especially now, having immigrated to Canada, where I can see a thriving democracy in action, and what a Way can be when it’s not wholly owned and dictated by corporations or the constant “Who is the most self-sacrificial?” zero sum game.

Superman fighting for Truth and Justice has always been enough. If you wish to impose nationalism on that, I advise you to consider that even in the past, the “American Way” was a shortsighted, destined-to-be-archaic celebration of times when things weren’t so hot in terms of how people got treated for being anything other than an ill-defined, ever-shifting “normative.”

If you cling to that stupidity, history will judge you, and it’ll be right to do so. The sane will oppose you. You will be sad.

Consider, however, that the American Way can become a part of any Superman’s code once more, if that’s your goal. All you have to do is make the American Way synonymous with Truth and Justice upon any rudimentary examination.

Right now Morgan Edge is the American Way. It’s obvious. I got me a friend right now who’s selling a car to pay for medical care. So do you. Everyone does. We all allow that. We don’t tear that down. And that’s just one tragedy among many that are only escalating, no matter how rose colored your glasses. See it. Fix it. Once it’s better is the time to whine at people for not recognizing our excellence, not when all our worst failings are on clear full display.

How does Edge know about the Fortress, and where it is? He couldn’t have followed Superman, because he is shown walking toward his own Fortress with Larr after Superman lands.

How does he subdue and put the device on Superman? Superman was conscious and awake when he arrived at the Fortress.

One also presumes the Fortress would have some security?

Another important character bit. Not only does everything Superman sees undermine his decision to ally with Edge, everything Edge sees would make Edge question his own motivation.

Edge wants a brother. He is convinced that must be a Kryptonian, because reasons. Or because he’s racist. Whatever. He is presented with a clear, powerful argument in the form of Superman’s memory that one can make a family of choice from humans, and that family is pretty amazing. Just look on the filters on that camera. That’s only half snark.

His response is to double down on killing that family. That doesn’t follow. “BUT HE’S EVIL!” is not good enough not to address that.

Edge is not shown to be reductive (generally, until of late). He is a character that is, the plot and characters insist (without showing it, admittedly), prone to nuance and meticulous planning.

Given that he’s not an idiot, is my point, his reaction should be “I could have this. Wow.” He sees a thing that would be fundamentally worldview altering, and the show doesn’t address that.

The show also handwaves two BIG character bits that really needed time to decompress and some attention:

One, Kyle goes from irrationally committed to supporting Edge at any cost to being absolutely contrite and apologetic and a good guy, admitting how wrong he was.

This is not how that works, at all, with someone like Kyle, even when he’s shown to be wrong clearly. Often especially when shown to be wrong.

When a person like Kyle is caught being wrong, they make excuses for why it isn’t their fault. They blame others. They shift responsibility. They don’t magically become #1 Dad again. They drink when their daughter needs them because their life was so hard, not because they’re selfish. They don’t grow a conscience and decide that what happened was their responsibility and get all better.

Oh, if only being shown how clearly wrong one is caused people to change.

Two, Sarah is again inexplicably treated like she’s made some kind of terrible mistake for assuming her father was behaving awfully, after clear ongoing alcoholic behavior.

“My Dad has his good side and his not so good side, but seeing him become a whole different person was—”

“It must have been strange,” one of the boys says.

Here’s where anyone with any insight goes “That’s not actually strange. At all. When your parent drinks, you are so incredibly used to and tired of them becoming a whole different person, all the time.”

Sarah would be well aware of that. But the show lets it pass without comment. Sarah goes along with it. It services the “Sarah was wrong not to think Kyle was actually doing his best.” BS.

Which is terrible.

“I just instantly assumed the worst about him [Kyle] even though my mom told me that it wasn’t all his fault,” Sarah says. Again, it’s played like she was wrong to do this.

Again, slight insight. A little thought. Why, oh why, would someone with an enabler mother that makes continual excuses for a dude who isn’t living up to his obligations as a father somehow think her mother was making excuses for a dude who wasn’t living up to his obligations as a father? What a villainous leap!

The end result is that you have a scene where the show sends a truly bad, insidious message to kids. If your parent isn’t acting like themselves (drinking), and if you mother (an enabler) tells you that it’s just that they’re temporarily not their normal selves, you’re in the wrong if you don’t give that parent a chance, your friends will judge you, and the results could be DISASTROUS and leave you with eternal regret when it turns out your Dad was just a great guy in disguise.

No. $@#% all that.

If your parent doesn’t act like an adult or live up to their responsibilities, and other adults around you tell you their behavior is fine and normal when it has a chronic negative impact on you, you’re a victim. Own that, shout it to the skies, get some help, and run like hell. Ignore this show’s dumb, saccharine-sweet justifications by way of good intentions. They say the road to hell is paved that way with reason.

Those aren’t good intentions. It’s abuse.

They’re dancing around a dumb plot thing awkwardly rather than paying attention to character needs, and consequently these creators don’t realize the awful thing they’re implying.

Take it from a guy that’s been there, kid, if you’re reading this. You’re not crazy, you’re not wrong, adults should be adults and you deserve better. Honest. All the good intentions in the world won’t heal what’s wrong with a person like Kyle, or an enabler like Lana, not until they acknowledge the problem and work toward fixing it by their own choice.

They almost never do. But one thing the rest of the world WILL do is insist that you’re crazy and tell you they will, magically, somehow. Especially in story.

They’re wrong.

Good luck.

Let’s just cap that harm off by going straight from Sarah’s stated “We’re friends, and I’m not ready to a relationship.” with Jordan to random kissing. Because reasons!

(throws notebook into the air, walks out of the room)

I know, teenagers act like this. But characters don’t have to, and this is so arbitrary, so out of the blue, it doesn’t follow. In a story, you’re supposed to have things follow. And if the argument is “We are trying to show people how they really act!” then what they’re doing with Kyle makes no sense at all.

Or any other character, but let’s not jump down all those holes. No need. It’s self-evident.

When last we encountered Jordan and Sarah, Jordan was in the hot seat for missing the piano playing, remember? Dad was the “hero.” Last episode, Jordan was, what? Present? Breathing? He existed.

We go from that, Jordan and Sarah at odds, to “I’ma kiss you now because you exist and are here!”

You don’t want to rush a thing like that. It rings false. Way too pat, with no work put in. Unfortunate, because that romance could have been great, played well, had a bunch of wrinkles and nuance.

And then the ending. Sigh.

After Clark makes his choice, the dumb choice that makes no sense, for some reason, God only knows why, Clark turns to Lois and says, regarding Edge: “I gave him more time. He was right!”

This is the most insulting part of the entire episode.

Superman has no need or reason to make Edge believe he’s listening to and going along with him. None at all. Edge knows it’s simply blackmail. Clark knows. Lois knows. The boys know. We know.

But Clark, for some reason, tries to make Lois think he’s evil in a way that wouldn’t work? Like, she’s gonna buy that? Edge is going to buy that she’d buy that? What even is that?

And of course, Lois DOES buy that, that her husband, the man she’s been in love with, this person she’s known for a bunch of years, was suddenly persuaded, if her attitude on the phone with John Henry is to be believed. “Come quick, and bring the Murder Camper. You were Right All Along!” DRAMA!

The show keeps trying to sell that, sending Clark and Edge off to Mal-Foy, who hits Superman with a slight bit of pain, and therefore, in an instant, Clark’s suddenly somehow evil. And Edge will buy that, totally, you watch. Because reasons!

It doesn’t follow. None of this follows. It’s all arbitrary, done in an instant wholly outside of character and any sense. Incoherent.

So how does one rate a thing like that, whatever that is?

Julian said it’s at least a two because of that strong opening, and I hear his logic. But is it? I mean, Superman goes off to join Space Nazis. Right after the show takes great pains to show how much he hates and fights Nazis. It’s so contradictory.

The first twenty-five minutes are obviously great. 5/5.

The latter hurried rest of show is among the worst fifteen minutes in the entire run, and manages to assassinate multiple characters, drive-by, as if they were hurrying to do so out of pure spite. That’s 1/5 stuff. But 1/5 has a scale.

It starts at “This did not meet my standards to be in any way entertaining, and in fact was more burden than pleasure.” But extends all the way back to the negative one million that is badly articulated Nazi propaganda filmed on a Super 8 camera to the tune of “It’s A Small World.”

If I had to use that scale, the negative scale, I’d put my level of bugged at -15/5.

That averages out to -5/5, and that’s just incoherent. I have no idea what to do here.

But since I am running out of time and don’t know what to do, I figure I’ll take a cue from the show. Since I cannot wrap this up in a way that will satisfy anyone but must proceed, I will simply say something random and arbitrary and expect you to just go along with it, to understand and sanction it, as you might this episode.

I therefore give this show 12.7/64 Randy Macho Edges, in the metric, not the imperial scale:




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Until next week!

Neal Bailey

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June 23, 2021 10:06 pm

I respectfully disagree with a lot you have said in this review of episode 11. Superman never said he stood for the American way in this flashback of sorts themed episode. Clark said he stood for “truth and justice” while he was being interviewed by Lois on a TV program for the Daily Planet. Lois was the one instead who suggested the American way being something Superman might also stand for, but Clark never said he stood for it right off the bat. I don’t understand how it is you’re able to suspend your belief when it comes to a… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Anthony_Mage
June 24, 2021 12:31 am

Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! Ok, here I go. I’m going to list the things that I really liked and the things that I didn’t rather than give a full review. I just want to sum up my thoughts for this purpose. As I had said before in a previous comment section about this episode, I love most of the episode but not all of it. So here are the things that I really wanted to note. I’m going to list everything because I want to summarize my thoughts. The things I really enjoyed. 1. The homage to the… Read more »

Neal Bailey
June 24, 2021 12:35 am
Reply to  Superman2878

Awesome write up! Glad you enjoyed the show. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

June 24, 2021 1:53 am
Reply to  Neal Bailey

Thanks Neal! Thank you for liking my comment. 🙂

June 24, 2021 4:44 pm
Reply to  Neal Bailey

I want to ask you some questions about Superman’s now newly established family tree Neal, and if anyone else wants to chime in as well I would also like to hear their thoughts about this. I was just thinking about how old Edge was when he arrived on earth and how old Kara was in the pilot of Supergirl. Given the fact that she was stuck in the phantom zone for wat appears to be 20 or so years maybe more by the looks of when Clark became Superman, she stayed 10ish until arriving on earth, while Edge was what… Read more »

June 24, 2021 9:22 am
Reply to  Superman2878

I also wanted to point out that now that holographic Jor-El has died, that this is Clark’s third parental loss. We’ve seen him lose his adoptive at the beginning of the series. His mother dies later in the episode years later, and now the interactive hologram of Clark’s biological father has now died. So now the only parental figure that Clark can talk to for advice is Lois’s father General Sam Lane. Although from the looks on that father-in law and son-in law relationship, it’s a strained one. Even more so for the relationship between Lois and her father.

June 24, 2021 9:52 am
Reply to  Superman2878

I want to make a correction. I had forgotten Lana/Lara. While it was weird that Lara possessed Lana, Kal-El still lost Lara’s consciousness. Even though he didn’t have much time to get to know her, he still lost her when he turned all the reborn Kryptonians back into humans including her. So he must’ve been aware of that loss when it happened.

Last edited 2 years ago by Superman2878
June 24, 2021 2:08 pm
Reply to  Superman2878

“We’ve seen him lose his adoptive at the beginning of the series. ”

I forgot to say his adoptive father.
I got ahead of my typing

June 24, 2021 9:34 am

Meh… I thought the whole skirting “The American Way” thing was yet another example of the writer of the episode making (either intentionally or unintentionally) a political message where one doesn’t need to be made. I stand firm on the idea that entertainment should be entertainment first, not propaganda for political opinion. Which… As I write that, I realize is a bit ironic, considering “The American Way” was added in the 40’s to help with war efforts during WWII… But we were fighting Nazi’s back then, and I’m fairly sure you’d support “The American Way” during that horrific war, too. Make no mistake, the horrors… Read more »