Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Premiered: August 17, 2021
Written by: Kristi Korzec & Michael Narducci
Teleplay by: Brent Fletcher & Todd Helbing
Directed by: Tom Cavanagh
Well, as hot messes go, that was the military stroganoff, wasn’t it?
I had hoped they’d stick the landing. Closure is important, obviously, but also, I’m considering whether or not this is the last review I ever write. If they’d stuck the landing, that decision would be much easier. If this is my last review, that’s kind of a bummer note to go out on. Eh. It’s the cards you’re dealt. Time to BE THE ERADICATOR.
IT’S THE END OF THE SEASON AS WE KNOW IT, AND I FEEL LIKE PROMO
I’m not sure if I’m going to do this review next year yet. I’m weighing a lot of factors to make that decision, and I’m pretty tired and burnt out right now. A good rest helps, but also, the feeling that you’re not writing into a void.
If you want to unduly influence me to write this review again next year, and also have something fun to read during the break, please buy one of my books or support my work on Patreon and then come tell me it’s because of this review.
With Patreon you get my novels as they come out, all comics past and present (there’s over a thousand pages of them that you could have this very day), and right now, I’m releasing a sequel to Cura Te Ipsum, as drawn by Dexter Wee. It’s roaring right along.
This review, as long as it is, only scratches the surface of what I do as a writer.
I’m also taking pre-orders for Wilder, my newest novel, releasing this month. You want in on that, shoot me an email by clicking my name above for details.
Before you roll your eyes and move along at the audacious thought of me asking you to compensate me for my work, and I see you thinking about it, consider that if you walk down the street and ignore the guitarist’s PLEASE GIVE sign, you don’t actually get to complain when there’s no music next time you look. If you collectively scraped up $500 and sent it my way, I’d be making four bucks an hour for these seventy-five thousand or so words I’ve produced for free, and far less than that would probably give me the clear message it’s worth it to continue.
Consider that, please. Or don’t. I’ll just go write more novels and comics. Up to you.
And to those trolls who tend to come and take shots, bear in mind that saying “Good, quit, we hate you!” will actually cause me to want to stay and fight more. You’re not part of this conversation, nor should you be.
DEVIANT ANTIFA RUMINATIONS FROM A MAN WHO (GET THIS) HATES NAZIS
Last week I got a comment, no #$%@: “When antifa writes a review.”
Well, duh. Yes. Got it in one, Adolf.
Believe it or not, Klaus, and not controversially, I have taken the stance that I am against fascism.
It might also shock and startle you to know that I similarly hate people who drown kittens, I’m against racism, and I think that kids are wonderful when they’re being cute. Baby animals are fun to watch. Dancing really gets my blood pumping. Gifts are nice to give people if you can. Art is great and enriches our lives. It’s good to be alive instead of dead. And Nazis all suck.
These and other utterly benign positions that any reasonable person adopts at 11, Wink.
I believe the comment was meant to be disparaging, as if there is any negative association with not liking jackbooted thugs among civilized people. Whenever a person says a thing like that, to me it always reads like:
“THIS GUY LIKES THE SMELL OF FLOWERS!”
That’s right, Heinrich. I’m proflo. Tell your mom. Tell Tucker Carlson. Tell Eva. Get bent.
The United States is on the cusp of cold civil war right now because people whose grandparents fought the Nazis are musing idly whether or not Nazi ideology is a good to implement, and people are dying for it, and I’m against that, Blondi.
Which leads me to my first major objection to this episode:
PLEASE STOP IT WITH THE FASCISM, LOIS, CLARK, EVERYONE (YES, YOU)
The military has been occupying Smallville for a month now, and people are mildly upset. They’re going ROBBLE ROBBLE ROBBLE and waving their hands like extras do.
Sam Lane’s immediate response is to storm forward taking men with guns to “make them leave.”
Bad look, “Superman & Lois”. Real bad.
I wonder if the people creating this show were in the same world I was last year. I hope they are simply ignorant to the message this sends, because if it’s a choice, wow.
In this world, the world I live in, that presumably the creators of this live in, last summer I watched journalists and protestors getting their helmets ripped off, getting beaten and pepper sprayed and arrested, for more than a hundred days.
All across the country, militarized police forces violently suppressed protests. Some sensibly. Some egregiously. That some suppressions were egregious is not a matter of question. Most of us saw, famously, an old man shoved to the pavement and bleeding from the head, taken down by someone dressed very like Sam’s guys here, and if you didn’t, at this point, that’s a choice.
There were some few people who deserved to be arrested and, frankly, needed to be violently suppressed. There were also a lot of people exercising their rights to free speech and chronicling the protests who were targeted and attacked repeatedly. Daily. Seemed to me like a lot more of the latter than the former, though a count is impossible. Regardless, anyone who watched any of the live videos on the ground knows it wasn’t above board, a lot of the time.
I get that people have the memory of gnats, but this was last year. Not even twelve months ago.
The worst of this in the US happened in the city I lived in, Portland, where federal troops were brought in to defend a building and promptly began beating a populace they were not a part of. I spent an entire summer, every night, listening to the pop pop pop of police munitions from my backyard while helicopters swirled overhead. I watched people getting thumped with sticks by members of the military for not dispersing fast enough—just dispersing as instructed in an orderly fashion. I watched vets get pepper sprayed for saying things the cops didn’t like. I saw a lot of abuse, and you should have too.
And this was tame fascism, in stark contrast to other countries. Don’t worry, we’ll get the other flavor soon, if we normalize this.
Point being, a military occupation is not the noble good thing this show indicates, particularly when the authority derives from a false premise, as this one does. It’s terrifying and dangerous, and often an excuse for bad people to exercise power poorly.
Notably, Sam Lane is a bad person who exercises power poorly.
In Portland, you can (kind of) make an argument that the police have a role in solving the essential problem or “rioting” as ill-defined as they defined it, though I’d argue you need leaders that actually listen to a populace and engage them to solve the problem. Here, Sam Lane’s fascist occupation serves no purpose at all. Absolutely nothing we see shows that he is of any aid in protecting or serving Smallville with his troops.
He, himself, as a plot device, does some things. His tech crew seems to have a small role. But the soldiers do nothing that we see save vague, off-camera “evacuation.” Maybe a few waves at cars stuck in place.
Even when the Kryptonians strike, his soldiers don’t even raise their weapons to fire until the very last second—and even when they do, they are using RIFLES against KRYPTONIANS when they have technology that can subdue them that has been shrunk to the size of handcuffs (see: Larr). And Kryptonite bullets. And Kryptonite grenades. They’re useless. Their presence does not help.
There’s one moment where it seems that the Eradicator suddenly has Kryptonite in his hands. How it got there, who knows? Are we meant to think the military sent it at him? Is this the excuse for why they do nothing? They tried Kryptonite, but it didn’t work? Neither justify the presence. The show then makes a huge point of displaying how utterly terribly the evacuation of the small town goes, the sole function of the military presence. Main street is a parking lot. People get out of their cars. There are, no kidding, people walking away from a rural area with a lone suitcase. This after night turns to day, they haven’t cleared a small town, with all those resources. I can just picture the way the citizens see this.
“Where y’going, Cletus?”
“I’m evacuating, Clyde!”
“It’s forty miles to the next city!”
“Ayup, gonna be a long walk.”
“Think them there soldiers could give you a ride? They say they’re here to help, and being a patriotic man, I believe ’em!”
“I would ask, but you know, they might mistake me for one of them there protestors. Ole Nance tried to ask for directions and got her a poke to the belly and a long gun pointed at her facehole.”
“Wouldn’t want that!”
“That’s why I’m a-walkin’!”
“Watch out for that there formless blue dome on y’way, though, Cletus.”
“What formless blue—OH MY SWEET LORD JESUS!”
“REPENT, CLETUS! REPENT!”
(Clyde spits) “Maybe I should blame that there Kyle guy for this, seeing as he done helped got Cletus killed.” (considers) “Yep! Sure will.” (considers more) “Unless he has a barbecue. Can’t resist me some of them Victory Ribs. ‘Course Cletus can’t have none, but that’s just more for me. Persuasive argument, Kyle!”
“SIR, GET IN YOUR HOUSE!”
“I can’t get no more in it, mister soldier! It’s an enclosed porch! You want to really help, you can… aw, dang. He went Kryptonian.”
And this when, genuinely, what is evacuation even going to do? They have no idea that a dome is going to start striking the city. The threat is Kryptonians, who can, in theory, cross the world in a few heartbeats. It doesn’t track.
The show even goes to great pains to show how, in fact, Sam’s company is ineffective, showing the soldiers become the source of the problem.
And every single character supports this, in the end. Even poor Beppo. They put a scene in here where she sides with Sam because Edge hasn’t been caught, and the entire press is advocating for this lunacy, this ineffective jackboot crap. She even calls him “Sir.”
Beppo. Come on, Beppo. You have a duty to the people. Remember?
Unless you get offered some cash. And unless the military asks nicely.
Come to think of it, I now see why a multinational corporation would want Beppo on their staff. Now it fits.
GOD NEAL WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO POLITICAL?
Yeah, I know, I really shouldn’t have put a military occupying a town and suppressing protestors for no reason in the show’s context in a way any competent reviewer would have to address. I won’t next time.
Boiling it all down, it seems that this whole convoluted plotline was put here for the OH MY GOD moment of Eradicator taking the soldiers, instead of, say, REGULAR PEOPLE.
But even that’s ridiculous, because it’s in the exact same episode where they take a frail-looking teenager to be a Kryptonian as the ULTIMATE POWER MOVE that the masterminds then promptly ignore while he’s cured.
The threat isn’t the bodies of the people they take, it’s their evil personalities. It could literally be Gramma, but with the power to sneeze the moon in twain. That’s all you need. They’re not hunting down Chris Hemsworths, they’re taking people they can subsume most.
And you want to talk about mixed messages, what are they saying when the military guys just jump right up like YAHOO, SUBSUME ME! But a teenager with an anxiety disorder can fight through?
I’m just kidding, Jordan only has an anxiety disorder when it’s convenient to the plot.
Did you notice that right after the other soldiers got taken, a new crew of soldiers walked right to where the others were just taken and did the exact same thing the ones who just got taken did while Sam Lane stood there with a numb look on his face and a thumb up his butt saying nothing?
That’s leadership! Clearly he HAS to be there.
A SERIES OF ODD QUESTIONS THAT WILL NEVER EVER HAVE ANSWERS
– Where was Jordan when Superman couldn’t find him?
– Why didn’t Superman take Sam Lane, Sarah, and Jonathan to the hospital after an octuple flip rollover accident? He has super-speed and can, in fact, listen while flying.
– Jor-El is gone, but it’s clear that Jordan has powers. That means Jor-El lied to both Superman and Jordan about his emerging abilities and potential. Why? JOR-EL LIED AND PEOPLE FLYED. Or maybe he just went to the Gough and Millar School of No Flights, No Tights.
– Jonathan fires a weapon with enough force to knock another person through a wall of hay with his hurt arm, and doesn’t even wince. What?
– Why did Superman not remove or destroy all of the X-K and instead leave it conveniently in the caves? The excuse he had before was that Edge lined them with lead. Edge is no longer in charge of the mine. Oh yeah, the plot needed it.
DON’T MAKE ME CALL MY DAD
There’s almost nothing you can say that cues a character’s utter awfulness than “Don’t make me call daddy!” Maybe “Don’t you know who I am?”
And to have Lois Lane do that, so she can beat a prisoner in detention for information. Dear God. What are they thinking?
She doesn’t even GET any information. The scene is there, I guess, to show Lois and her emotional need? While establishing her as someone who beats the defenseless, abuses connections, and can’t solve a problem?
THERE HAD TO BE SOME GOOD STUFF
There was! Superman flying across the world was awesome. Superman giving a speech about how people can endure was wonderful—completely out of context. And I loved seeing John reunite with his daughter. All great, out of context. In context, well…
WE STAY AND WE “HELP”
The Cushings have absolutely nothing to do here save exist, and what does this show do when the Cushings have nothing to do but exist? They try and bandage the character flaws and disguise what’s been established to get back to status quo. They’ve been doing it for five or so episodes.
“Should we stay and help or should we go?” they ask themselves, in the military tent, where the literal military has been able to do nothing to help, and this family, who can do nothing to help, decide to stay and deplete resources. It’s a HERO MOMENT that doesn’t make sense, but is, because it is said. There’s a lot of that for the Cushings here.
In this episode, witness Kyle rushing into a burning building to save someone, which is, presumably, meant to make us believe he has a good heart and is a noble person, drawing on the fountain of “all firefighters are saints” to manipulate the audience.
And it works, because most firefighters are saints.
The problem is, Kyle isn’t. He’s an awful, narcissistic, dangerous idiot, and the show just handwaves that away and expects us to laud him, it seems. HE SAVED THAT LADY.
It’s night when the Cushings agree to stay and help. Look at the scene. It’s night when the soldiers are taken by the Eradicator.
It’s DAY, past dawn, when Sam Lane orders the evacuation through, uh, Twitter and newspapers (I’ll get to that). The Cushings, who have decided to stay and help, recall, then drive home, pack bags, and prepare to leave. It takes them all night to drive home, pack a bag, and walk to the truck.
Sophie, we are told, is with Lana’s heretofore unseen mother. Time to pack, but no time to get the child. That means they’ve prioritized personal belongings over their kid. I’m betting it’s a “we can’t use the child actor” moment, but then it should be “she’s in the car.” Not “We left our child so we could procure this bag that will in no way help us.”
They then, “staying to help” but evacuating at the same time, drive downtown, right into a traffic jam. The military has been occupying this town for a month, but Kyle, and apparently most of the town, has forgotten that main street dead ends with a military tent and Sam Lane’s set.
Instead of pulling over, or turning around, Kyle and company shrug and go “Eh, what can you do?” and GET OUT AND LEAVE THEIR CAR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. “Helping” apparently means blocking a major roadway during an evacuation so you can stare in five minutes when the big blue ill-defined death bubble arrives.
To cap off Kyle’s brilliance, we have a scene where, by his entire own fault, he is forced to take shelter in a place as blue hell rains down on the town. He went to where people were, stopped and got out on foot, and is doing exactly nothing to help. He’s been dumb.
To his credit, he’s not half as dumb as the lady who somehow managed to stay on the second floor and not evacuate. She’s a “the vaccine causes Covid” class of paste eating shmuck.
So what does Kyle do? Well, of course, he abandons his family in their time of need to save this person.
BUT SHE WAS IN DANGER, NEAL!
By her own choice, yes. And as this show has repeatedly stated, even if it means the end of the world, you should do anything to save your kids! Even become evil Superman. Right?
But Kyle needs to be a hero again, so here we go. Save the moron, save the character, I guess?
The idea of stakes in story is that they raise. You have a full crowd of Kryptonians attacking Superman all at once, it’s a step down to go to eight soldiers. Even subconsciously, this diminishes tension, and was a poor choice that I’m not sure why they made. Soldiers are fodder in a story, often, and civilian people, you don’t want to see Superman hurt. The older story was a bigger challenge by far.
Especially when the soldiers were, in the story, one-shot by John’s hammer and immediately forgotten, presumably to sew chaos down on the ground or, worse, fall to their deaths. We don’t know because the story doesn’t know, but it should.
JORDAN’S GONE ALL NED FROM SOUTH PARK
I don’t know if it was the lip sync, or the weird voice, but what was supposed to be menacing, I’m sure, in Jordan’s voice, came off as unintentionally comedic. This was my misgiving last week. A kid pretending to be a man is clearly a kid pretending to be a man.
Good effort by the actor, but a bad position for him to be put in. It really didn’t work for me.
TYPEWRITER ME AN ELECTRONIC MAIL ON THE INTERWEBS, STAT!
Sam Lane orders an evacuation in the age of Amber Alerts and instant texts from the government by telling a small town blogger to write an article, write mass emails, and get on the Twitters.
I figured this was meant to be comic relief, setup for someone to go “Uh, it doesn’t work that way, sir!” “Yes it does, fellow kid!”
But then we have a scene where Beppo, legit, is typing an evacuation notice into WordPress.
I’m sure you heard that loud crack from wherever you were when my palm hit my face hard enough to make my grandkids get a headache. Apologies for those in later time zones.
IN WHICH WE TRY TO EXPLAIN OUR ERRORS THROUGH DIALOGUE
The mains all have a meeting in the command tent where they summarize why and how the things that don’t make sense actually do totally make sense for the benefit of the audience, except they still don’t. It’s rushed and clunky and doesn’t even solve the problems it sets out to solve.
They highlight the problem with the plot through the dialogue, in classic style:
“Why would Edge take these soldiers, they’re not from Smallville! It won’t last long!”
One, good point, why would Eradicator do that? He wouldn’t.
Two, the show has established, more or less, that it doesn’t matter if you have proximity to X-K, you can still be taken.
Lois states that it won’t last long, I think, but Lois has no way to know if the conversion will or won’t last long. It hasn’t been established how long non X-K converts will last, that I recall, in any capacity.
Also, the Eradicator is a new conversion entity. It’s not the egg.
I see what they’re trying to do, but they really make things worse by accentuating what doesn’t make sense. It’s also the mere prelude to the single most ridiculous “solution” to a plot discussion I think I’ve seen in some time. And I watch a lot of superhero stories, so that’s saying something. Heat vision the giant egg was at least passably better than this.
EDGE DID IT MYYYYYYYYYY WAY
Again with the shifting Edge motivations thing. So Zeta is in charge now, because Edge is dead. He’s totally not, because once the Eradicator is defeated, there Edge is alive (WHAT?), but at this point in the story, Edge is dead, so far as we or Zeta know.
The show establishes that Zeta wants to do it his way, where Edge subsumes himself and becomes the Eradicator (BECOME THE ERADICATOR), presumably because it allows for quicker conversion? Or a big blue bubble that doesn’t really do anything? Or—it’s never really answered. But it’s Zeta’s way. That’s all that matters.
Edge’s way is supposedly different. He’s all like “Hey, you know, I want to keep living. So I’ll make Superman Zod, and I’ll convert people with this here egg, and that’ll work.”
But what is Zeta’s plan now, that he has HIS way? It’s Edge’s plan. Convert a bunch of people. He used the Eradicator to boost energy into the X-K, presumably to bring the “Defense Council” back, but that differs little functionally from an X-K MRI. Unless the council is ten thousand people, it’s not really a huge difference in time.
So what’s Zeta’s argument? Why does Zeta want to subsume his son for the exact same plot device? What does Zeta gain from that, if Edge is his ally and lackey?
Is it because the Eradicator as a person has more amplification? Maybe. The show never really says.
It should really say that. You know. What the bad guy wants. It’s a little important.
It’s also incredibly stupid, this plan, the Eradicator making Kryptonians right in front of everyone else when you could just, I dunno, pick anyone far far away, so no one would know who the Kryptonians are.
And hey, let’s think more than a five-year-old might and instead of having eight Kryptonians pile on Superman, maybe send them in eight different directions and have Superman have to take care of those eight different crisis situations so Eradicator can do his thing uninterrupted.
But that would require the villains to think, and that, too, is inconvenient to the plot.
And satisfying character work, but then, who cares about that?
Shut up, you.
THE PLOT TO DESTROY INTELLIGENT THOUGHT
So you’re Superman. And Steel. And Lois. And Sam Lane, though his “tactical brilliance” is less adept at clearing a room full of enemies than a well-placed half-hearted fart from someone who never drinks milk or eats beans. And Jonathan.
Yes, and Jonathan.
THE CHILD JONATHAN?
You say that like he’s the Muad’Dib or something.
DO GO ON.
You’ve lost Jordan because of, I dunno, high ABVs, and because you shot your Kryptonite bullet at a guy who could easily dodge it sending your Kryptonite hundreds of yards away instead of huddling around it, but it turns out that guy is somehow plot magic immune to Kryptonite anyway, so…
STILL WITH YOU. BARELY.
You gotta solve the problem of multiple Kryptonians, finding your son, and stopping the Eradicator. You have exactly one solution, because you can’t hear Jordan, somehow. For plot reasons.
WHAT SHALL WE DO?
Steel thinks that his solar flare weapon made a dent. He said it out loud.
WHAT IS A SOLAR FLARE WEAPON?
It doesn’t matter, and they’ll never tell you. All that matters is that Jonathan should stay in the tent to solve this dangerous adult problem with the adults as a peer.
Yes. Him. You leave him in the tent. He’s a minor, he has no tactical experience save football (and he quit that), and he’s kind of (very) immature, but we leave him in. He stays.
Because. Anyway, the dream team starts to brainstorm what to do, and John Henry says “I still have some solar weapons left, coincidentally and conveniently to the plot.”
BUT WITHOUT THE LATTER CLAUSE.
Yes, that’s sarcasm.
OH IS IT?
And then Lois turns to Jonathan-who-shouldn’t-be-here-because-it’s-child-abuse and says “And there’s those guns you totally stole from the murder camper!”
SHE DIDN’T SAY MURDER CAMPER.
Will you let me tell the story? John Henry doesn’t notice or remark on the fact he’s been robbed, note, and that his deadly weapons have been stolen by a child that said deadly weapons almost killed, and only after he set traps on his murder camper to presumably kill people who would break in. Like mostly children, or hobos.
SEEMS IRRESPONSIBLE OF A FATHER AND SLIGHTLY OUT OF CHARACTER.
Yeah, well, he makes up for it by letting that child endanger his life willingly soon after once more, so cut the dude a break. And LATER, when his reaction to having his weapons stolen doesn’t matter at all, he’ll give Jonathan the stink eye.
GOOD. TELL THAT KID NOT TO—
Not because Jonathan put himself in danger, because he stole his stuff. That’s the stink eye we see from John Henry.
It also means that Lois let Jon keep the weapons even after the murder camper straight up nearly murder campered her son.
WHAT ABOUT NATALIE? I THOUGHT LOIS AND HER DESPERATE IRRATIONAL CONCERN FOR THE SAFETY OF HER KIDS MADE HER—
Shut up. You yelled at me. Time for therapy.
OKAY THEN, BUT I REALLY THINK—
Be the Eradicator.
BE THE ERADICATOR! HOW DID YOU DO THAT?
Where was I?
Oh yeah. The big plan. Superman and John Henry are going to take care of the Eradicator and the Kryptonians.
GOOD, GOOD. MAKES SENSE. THEY ARE SUPER STRONG AND NEARLY INVINCIBLE.
And Lois and Jonathan will take on a Kryptonian on their own.
YES, YES, THAT MAKES TOTAL SEN—WAIT, WHAT?
Yeah. I mean, it might seem on the surface like dumb posturing to put characters where you want them to be for an emotional beat, but in FACT, Jonathan absolutely should be in that room making the plan, and there to take on a Kryptonian despite having no powers at all, with his tiny mother.
THAT ACTUALLY MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL.
But it does, because Lois says it does. She says, quote, “I have seen him [Jonathan] under pressure, and he is in complete control.” This means he can handle anything, even the utterly impossible. It was spoken in dialogue.
Lois said it.
BUT HE’S MUAD’DUMB! No he isn’t.
WHAT ABOUT THE TIME WHEN HE MISSED EDGE WITH THE GUN?
WHAT ABOUT THE TIME HE TOOK HIS BROTHER TO THE DRINKING PARTY WITH HIGH ABVS SO THEY COULDN’T BE FOUND AND GOT HIM EDGELORDED?
That was six whole hours ago.
WHAT ABOUT HIM DATING GOSSIP GIRL?
They both moved somewhere. Didn’t you hear them at the underage drinking party he went to in a time of crisis? That’s a deep connection.
WHAT ABOUT THE TIME HE GOT DRUNK AND RUINED HIS BROTHER’S SHOT WITH SARAH WITH SOME JOCKS?
He doesn’t drink any more. He learned his lesson.
YES HE DOES! AND HE DIDN’T!
I didn’t see it.
WHAT ABOUT THE TIME HE ALMOST GOT KILLED IN A MURDER CAMPER?
HE TOTALLY DID! THEN AFTER THE MURDER CAMPER HE TOOK THINGS THAT NEARLY KILLED HIM AND KEPT THEM.
They were rad.
AND THEN HE COULDN’T STOP KRYPTONIANS WITH THOSE THINGS.
HE HIT JOHN HENRY WITH A TRUCK.
That was intentional.
JONATHAN KENT CANNOT ADJUST A ROUTER WITHOUT BEING KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS BY PIPES.
He’s IN. And that’s final.
FINE. I’M OUT.
Where are you going?
You have a suitcase and no car and the nearest town is forty miles away.
I DON’T CARE.
Anyway, Lois mentions something about the deep darkness that Jordan has within him, and how she’s been helping him through it—
NO SHE DID NOT.
She did. I thought you were going.
I WAS. BUT JORDAN HASN’T SHOWN SIGNS OF ANXIETY IN FOREVER.
But he’s totally dark, man. Like, a darkness is inside of him. Can’t you see his haunted eyes?
HE WAS DROPPING HIGH ABVS FROM THE TURNBUCKLES!
Oh yeah, brother. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
THE WRESTLING THING AGAIN?
It never ends. Like this bit.
SHOULD WE STOP?
No, we’re not printing this. The internet goes on forever, just like the love that brings you back from eradication. It lasts as long as we can keep going and stay conscious.
BETTER START CLOTHESLINING SOME HIGH ABVS.
The “unhealthy obsession with alcohol” discussion comes later in the review.
THIS INEPT CHILD AND HIS SMALLER MOTHER WILL SOMEHOW STOP A KRYPTONIAN WITH SAM LANE’S KRYPTONITE WEAPONRY?
No. They won’t use that at all. In fact, Sam Lane will offer nothing to this plan after occupying the entire town save closing a flap to ensure privacy and a car ride with a suitcase. Which is funny, because if you’ve ever been in a military fest tent, you know they have no sound dampening qualities. It is a wholly symbolic act of “F you guys, time for a hard decision, I’m out!”
THAT’S IN CHARACTER AT LEAST.
True. No, the plan is to put the mind thing from the “For the Man Who Has Everything.” homage/ripoff episode on Jordan’s head and convince him not to be programmed through the power of love.
THAT’S NOT HOW PROGRAMMING WORKS.
I know. It’s also a repetition of an earlier dilemma, except with lower stakes. Like with fewer Kryptonians attacking Superman. It’s almost like they had to tack on three more episodes and got stuck on a concept.
BE THE ERADICATOR!
The other fun thing is that Sam Lane is still walking around after rolling in an SUV four thousand times during this whole talk.
SHOULDN’T HE BE CHECKED FOR INTERNAL BLEEDING?
Well yeah. There was this great episode of The Good Doctor where a character dies because it is pointed out that even low-grade impacts can have catastrophic consequences on the body.
IT’S A STORY.
Fair enough. But you’d think he’d limp a little. Or get wheeled in.
OR MAYBE GET AN MRI IN THE SIX HOURS BETWEEN NIGHT AND DAY? YOU CAN GIVE ORDERS FROM AN MRI. AND HE’S NOT REALLY DOING ANYTHING ANYWAY.
YOU TAKE THE HIGH ROAD, I’LL TAKE THE LOW ROAD
OR ”GO AWAY, HELP!”
Lois Lane gets a ride from her father, not Superman, because it makes sense to have the person who is probably bleeding internally take you home. Because Lois couldn’t take that suitcase on her own. She doesn’t drive herself, you peasant.
She then dismisses her father, who she was fully prepared earlier to utilize to torture a prisoner in custody, recall, and drags him. It’s not that Sam Lane isn’t a fart deserving of grief, it’s that what Lois says is ridiculous.
“You go take care of the world, I’ll take care of my family.” With scorn.
Now even if you set aside the fact that, all of his actions in the past to the side, he is presently helping Lois and enabling her to do what she believes will save her family (even though it’s stupid and he shouldn’t), it’s not really like Lois to suddenly snap and treat Sam like this.
It’s merely an appeal to emotion to cue the audience that Sam Lane is “in trouble” and shouldn’t be around for convenience to the scene, even if the reason why is never articulated, to justify the ludicrous and impossibly stupid decision to put Lois and Jonathan in a room with Jordan when Jordan is being controlled and has the power of a god.
It’s made worse because she’s so “Rah rah!” that the military is there when it’s convenient to her. A bad scene.
WHY DID THEY DO THAT THOUGH?
Because this show is far less concerned with what follows of late, and more concerned with what looks interesting and seems to have emotional or literal symmetry, however false the premise.
Outside of context, if you describe a scene where Lois has to delve into her son’s consciousness to help Jordan through his darkness because he’s being controlled, and to stop him from killing Jonathan while brainwashed, that sounds compelling. It is compelling.
The problem is they simply phoned in the work to get the characters to these positions, so it rings utterly false.
It’s like last episode, the moment with Larr and the hammer. It should be a culmination, but it’s dramatically undercut by the premise of Lois going “I must climb to a roof, because reasons!”
In a vacuum or if you’re not concerning yourself with A to B, it’s fun. If you think, it falls apart.
This episode relied on an awful lot of not thinking and going along to get along.
“I HAVE A RED SUN HAMMER NOW,” SAID JOHN HENRY.
Superman nods approvingly. “I never would have considered that before.”
“I would have, but I’ll pretend I didn’t.”
“I mean, how did you come up with the idea of taking it out of the bumper and putting it in something mobile?”
“When I failed to murder you, I realized it’s more effective if you can move it without spending ten minutes doing an eight-point turn. This is after I lined the walls of my camper with lead and filled them with lasers in case children wandered in.”
“Oh yeah! You tried to kill me! Hah. Good times. Even though I was being rational and kind and trying to help you and would have proven I had no ill intentions. I completely forget things that happened to me.”
“That happens a lot around here.”
“Anyway, you have a red sun hammer. That’s good.”
John beams. “I know, right?”
“Think we should bring some Kryptonite bullets? Or those cuffs that incapacitate Kryptonians? Or some of that gas?”
“I’m not even going to bring a spare battery for my suit, so I can almost die in space.”
“Awesome! That’ll be super dramatic!”
“That’s right. We don’t need competent weapons or any kind of tactical advantage. We’ll just beat on these dudes with our fists. Let’s do this, Superpoops!”
“UP UP, AND AWAY!”
FARTING NOISES ENSUE AS MEN OF INTELLECT RISE INTO THE AIR.
JONATHAN IS SMART
He is the only person to say, seeing Lois getting ready to take on a Kryptonian on her lonesome, “This is a dumb plan.”
He still engages it, and participates, and doesn’t try and come up with something else, but he says it out loud.
He is then handed a Killgrave rifle that has been modified. He asks what it does. The parents HANDING A CHILD A GUN refuse to tell him and instruct him only to pull it out at the last minute if something dramatic happens.
THEY DID NOT DO THAT.
They totally did. And he totally does just that. He fires it with his hurt arm.
And he only gets to fire it because Zeta Ro sees him aiming it at him and in no way dodges.
BUT IT WAS JUST ESTABLISHED BY THE ERADICATOR AT THE END OF LAST EPISODE THAT KRYPTONIANS CAN DODGE PROJECTILES. WHY WOULDN’T HE IMMEDIATELY EYE LASER JORDAN AND LOIS WHO ARE—
Shhhhh. Just shhhhhhhh. No thinking here.
BE THE ERADICATOR.
Jordan is incapacitated by John Henry, and then has to be flown a huge distance to get to Lois and Jonathan.
Assuming that this plan of theirs relies on their ability to bring Jordan back, wouldn’t it make sense to bring them slightly closer to the action? I know, I know, but how will they get there?
If only the device they were using were in a convenient suitcase, and the people involved in the plan were easily carried by two people who could fly with super strength. Oh, if only.
Guess we’ll never know.
When Jordan is finally incapacitated, and unconscious, and in the barn, by all means Lois and Jonathan, pause for a moment and tell Lois you got this. And Lois, you go on and delay putting that device on your head for a minute to tell him you know. And then SLOWLY ease the device onto your head. Time is not of the essence here, at all. It’s only your son’s life.
And to put the last nail in the coffin, Lois is in Jordan’s head for the whole “LOVE WILL SAVE YOU” scene, but if you look—Jordan REMOVES the headband and doesn’t have it on when Lois is trying to reach him after he wakes up as Zeta.
Meaning all she needs is the device to get into Jordan’s skull, so Jordan didn’t have to be in proximity in the first place, so the entire dumb plan makes even LESS dumb sense.
NINETEEN AND EIGHTY-SEVEN
That’s what the year was, as we reckon time. Because that’s how teenagers raised on Earth talk when their name is Morgan Edge in a flashback.
PARENT OF THE YEAR
As they huddle in the diner, Lana shouts at people not to stand next to the windows, taking charge despite having no authority at all save, I dunno, existing and being a character.
Then she promptly watches numbly as her beloved daughter stands and is showered in glass by a breaking window.
Watch it again. You’ll see it.
I was disappointed by one missing beat, though. It was almost requisite. They forgot the bit where Sarah shouts, “Mom, that bubble of death is going to kill us if you don’t protect me!” and Lana replies, “That bubble of death is your father and he means well. I won’t have you questioning him.”
Thank you, thank you.
I MEAN, WELL DONE.
That’s how I like my Victory Ribs, my dude.
John is running out of juice because it’s convenient to the story for a false drama moment. He’s about to fall, and Superman asks him if he’s ready. As this happens, John is hearing proximity warnings and klaxons.
Superman can hear a duck burp in China. He’d have heard that warning. That means he ignored it. Or the writers did. I’ll err against the side of Superman being a monster. John didn’t, but I will.
I do wonder, though, if, as he was falling, John Henry didn’t think to himself, just a little bit, about his plan.
“Hmmm. Maybe if we can launch missiles from silos in the middle of America and hit targets in Russia, perhaps instead of flying into space to get enough distance to hit this guy, I should have gone far away on the ground, thrown it up, and let the hammer arc down. Then I wouldn’t have to pretend to nearly die. And my character is smart enough to do that.”
YOU COULD ALSO BRING A PARACHUTE AND STILL THROW THE HAMMER FROM SPACE.
“Thanks, shouting guy who sometimes serves as a foil in the review. Good idea.” YOU’RE WELCOME, JOHN HENRY. CONGRATS ON FINDING YOUR DAUGHTER.
“It was nice.”
“Although thinking about it, it was slightly offensive that the Kents held a funeral for Jor-El’s construct instead of helping me honor my daughter and my wife. You’d think they might help me bury some artifacts from my former life to find closure. Jor-El was an AI. And I know that theoretically, AI constructs have consciousness, but I mean, even so, Lois as a flesh and blood person would have more weight as a loss regardless, and—” I’M SORRY, I’VE GOT TO LEAVE TOWN, SAM SAYS IT’S TIME. CAN WE CONTINUE THIS CONVERSATION ANOTHER TIME?
“That’s remarkably convenient to your plot here.”
I KNOW. THIS WAY I DON’T HAVE TO DO THE WORK. ISN’T IT GREAT? I CAN JUST RUN AWAY FROM THE PROMISE OF MY PREMISE.
“You’re a shouting disembodied voice.”
I POOPED MY PANTS. BYE!
“KRYPTON’S RESURRECTION HAS FINALLY COME,” SAYS THE ERADICATOR
But I looked around and all I saw was a big blue bubble.
It’s almost as if it’s a dramatic moment with no weight or thought put into anything save the emotion of it.
SUPERMAN HOLDS THE ERADICATOR WHILE A MISSILE COMES FOR BOTH
He has to hold him? The plot says there’s no other way? Oh well. Guess it’s a worthy sacrifice.
He doesn’t die?
He doesn’t even feel it?
He just catches John and goes about his day?
I thought red sun nearly killed him on the bumper of the—oh, hell.
All right then.
OH YEAH YEAH YEAH BROTHER: DENOUEMENT
Edge survives, though it was made clear he had to TOTALLY die to become the Eradicator.
And again he’s back to “All I wanted was a family.”
Supes says, “You had it. We were brothers.”
Uh, he didn’t? They weren’t? They were always fighting. I’d buy “You can still have one, given time and hard work. Turn from this path.” Not this.
VICTORY RIBS FOR EVERYONE
The Cushings are magically forgiven and staying. The reason?
Kyle makes good ribs.
“Look, I know last week I spray painted your house to get revenge for my brother dying because the megalomaniac you brought into town turned him Kryptonian, but man, can you cook meat over an open flame? I don’t know anyone else who can do that in the country. It’s such a unique skill.”
(Chewing gum.) “I know, right? Heals all wounds.”
“I mean, when I moved here from Central City—”
“Wait, you moved once?”
“I just almost moved!”
“Did we just become best friends?”
“I think we did!”
And then Kyle pours out a drop of brew for the dead brother they will never speak of again, gets blind drunk, and ignores his wife and daughters until it’s time for them to bring him his socks the next morning so he can attend the FIREFIGHTERS RULE parade with a hangover.
With a special appearance by the ARMY, who you will clap for. OR ELSE.
THE CUSHINGS (TOO)
The Cushings decides to stay in town because, externally, everyone magically loves them again now because Kyle saved that dumb lady on the second floor, and, as stated, barbecue.
But Lana also says they’re staying because Kyle got offered his job back.
My understanding was that he was on leave, and could come back when he wanted. But okay.
It still means that the reason they stayed, again, was not what was best for their family, but money. What does Sarah need? Sophie? They don’t care.
Did Sophie even survive the attack?
Someone make a phone call. Write a letter. Send a mass email or something. Get on the Twitter. Print a paper.
JONATHAN IS SMART AND CAPABLE LIKE LANA FROM SMALLVILLE
He sees Gossip Girl, Gossip Girl sees him, and he’s like “Yep, that’s what’s good.”*
ANOTHER SIDE OF BARBECUE
– Lois sells a Brownstone in the equivalent of Metropolis or New York to buy half ownership of a WordPress blog. This is so Beppo can…pay Lois?
– Lana Lang, whose husband struggles with alcoholism and abandons his family when on a toot, gleefully laughs with Lois about demolishing an entire BOX of white wine with the person she almost got murdered. Lois, who knows about the problems with alcohol in this family, sees only one solution, which they also laugh about, because alcohol abuse is so funny, you guys:
– Sam Lane is retiring from the military, not for being utterly inept and failing at his mission or being part of a family, but because family is what’s important to him now. Google Translate tells me this means he’s becoming a series regular despite having regularly endangered the family’s life for more arbitrary drama, but sometimes Google gets a word or two off. It’s absolutely sure that he hasn’t been shown to give much of a care for his family nearly so much as his ego, at all.
– There’s a great moment where they could have done something in this episode and didn’t. John Henry tells Lois that he’s not going to stay (he totally will). Lois tries to reassure him. She says that Clark trusts him now. He says “It’s not about him.”
That, right there, could have been the beginning of an interesting conversation about how John doesn’t need Superman’s approval as a black dude to navigate his own destiny. Instead, it becomes a conversation about how he has to leave because he’s so attracted to Lois, unrequited love. As a choice after that tee-up, it’s a misstep. I want to know what it’s actually about for John, and we never really got that.
JORDAN AND SARAH
In the golden hour, hand in hand they swing. They kiss, declare their love, and what should be a moment is instead colored by all the things that were focal INSTEAD of this relationship, all the side plotlines the show went down. All the “What’s Sam up to?” beats as opposed to Jordan’s anxiety or Sarah’s ideation.
Instead we get the bold from the blue happy ending. These earnest kids and the actors playing them deserve this moment, certainly, and this is one of the obvious good outcomes we all want, but it’s largely unearned. We got THREE WEEKS LATER and a kiss, essentially.
I wish we’d had more exploration of these two, as opposed to Beppo’s struggle not to sell a blog to a corporation. Or Kyle’s woe-is-me “Oh no, the consequences of my actions!” difficulties.
There was a whole episode centered around how oppressed the Cushings were that could have been devoted to Jordan and Sarah.
Or even just Sarah. She’s the biggest underutilized asset this season, frankly, and in this show. Put her in, coach. You got something there, if only you see it.
DON’T GET IT TWISTED
Natalie arrives, and it strikes the wrong tone. Entirely.
We have the cliffhanger moment, which, good. The ship is arriving. What is it? Another John Henry? The real Luthor? Doomsday? A plot? Cool.
Then Natalie steps out, and John rushes to embrace her, but the music remains ominous. It’s the first time a musical cue hits wrong for me in this show.
This is a moment of joy. This is a moment of success. John and Natalie behave that way. They rush each other, tearful, and hug.
But look at Lois. Listen to the music and its dour tone. Lois is almost angry. Sullen. Bitter. She’s terrified.
Maybe you’re thinking “She lost her Natalie. Of course she’s distressed.”
That’s not what a parent’s reaction to another parent reunited with their child is, especially if that child was presumed dead. Ever. To be bitter or angry or concerned in this moment of joy for another human being is way off base.
It’s played as if Lois has a justification for this, but if anything, even if she can’t share in John’s joy, which she should, she should be joyful herself. She gets to meet the daughter that never was, and see the potential of another life lived.
Instead it was Lois getting her dead daughter back—and being sour or distressed about it. Huh?
Bleh. Not an auspicious start to next season, but then, finales are always hit and miss, trying to do too much with too little time. It’s one of the reasons the mid-season is so important, it builds the blocks that prevent maladies like this.
A lot of lost potential here, but still a solid foundation to build something from, if, you know, they actually pick up the hammer.
Rating – 1 out of 5.
I SAID GOOD DAY
If this is the end of this, thank you to all of you who have been kind.
Take care, and have a good summer. Mask up, stay safe.