Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Originally Aired: January 11, 2022
WRITTEN BY: Brent Fletcher and Todd Helbing
DIRECTED BY: Gregory Smith
Tyler Hoechlin (Clark Kent/Superman)
Bitsie Tulloch (Lois Lane)
Jordan Elsass (Jonathan Kent)
Alex Garfin (Jordan Kent)
Inde Navarrette (Sarah Cushing)
Erik Valdez (Kyle Cushing)
Emmanuelle Chriqui (Lana Lang Cushing)
Wole Parks (John Henry Irons)
Tayler Buck (Natalie Irons)
Sofia Hasmik (Christy Beppo)
Ian Bohen (Lt. Mitchell Anderson)
Daisy Torme (A.I. Voice)
Nathan Witte (Daniel Hart)
Monique Phillips (Aldy Manning)
Leeah Wong (Emily Phan)
Danny Wattley (Coach Gaines)
Zane Clifford (Timmy Ryan)
Austin Anozie (Malcolm Teague)
Rating – 5 (out of 5): I’m going to be completely honest… I was nervous about this season premiere. The first season of this show was one of those rare times when I not only liked every episode, but it was also the one time in my time as a Superman fan that outside of one very, very minor thing I was all in on this take on the character.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the main reason I was so apprehensive is that the show didn’t follow a pre-established model, so I had no idea what to expect. The first season was a done in one in terms of the main story and the cliffhanger wasn’t something that hinted at who the next villain was going to be.
So, I sat down to watch the season premiere and about five minutes in I realized that all of that apprehension was for nothing. The show continued to do what it does best…explore the idea of a Lois and Clark that got married, had kids, and left their life in Metropolis behind to forge a new path in Smallville.
The best part of this episode was how realistic the conflict between the couples was treated. Lois and Clark’s issues were hyped in the trailer to this episode, but I had a feeling that the marketing department put those snippets of them arguing in that trailer in the grand tradition of television click bait. WHY ARE LOIS AND CLARK FIGHTING? IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THEIR RELATIONSHIP? I HAVE TO WATCH TO FIND OUT!!! I had the feeling that those scenes would be important to the episode but that things would get resolved by the time the episode ended. This show isn’t SMALLVILLE. It doesn’t need the romantic leads to have beef with each other for half a season. It’s not that kind of party.
The writers also played fair with the audience and respected our intelligence. All of the information about what was happening in the Kent household over the past three months was delivered organically. No one stopped everything and said, “Man, it sure has been a tough three months with mom having a problem that she won’t talk about.” We got that from short bits of dialogue and the idea played out naturally. Clark both gave her space and tried to bring Lois out of whatever was bothering her in equal measure and boy have I been there in my personal life. When everything came out, it was dramatic but not overly so. The scene where Lois admitted the guilt she felt over freezing when Natalie called her mom and all of the feelings Lois had regarding her own mother was paced just right in terms of both writing and acting. And it made me like this couple even more than I did before.
There are some that believe that a married Superman and Lois doesn’t work. As is often the case, the idea is only as good as those executing it. When done right, it works like a charm.
I also liked that Lois and Clark’s problems were reflected in the issues Lana and Kyle were having and to a lesser extent to the problems of Sarah and Jordan’s relationship. Kyle and Lana’s rocky marriage was a thing last season, and it was nice to see that the two characters discussed how Kyle felt about Lana working with the Daniel Hart campaign instead of relying on the “Lana and Kyle are fighting again” drama. The one good thing about the marital strife going on this week is that it gave us a fantastic scene between Clark and Lana, and I love seeing their friendship on display.
Jordan and Sarah’s relationship speedbump is the only one that I don’t have any worries over. They’re teenagers. This sort of things happens all of the time. It’s dramatic and makes for good television, but it also feels very real. Like the adults’ issues, this uncertainty led to a great scene between Sarah and Kyle and it’s nice to see that all of ground those two gained last season has paid off.
Jonathan getting caught in his bedroom with his girlfriend was played somewhat comedically, but it was neat to see the talk that Clark had with his sons about something that fathers and sons should be talking about. The best part of the Jonathan end of the episode was the look on Clark’s face when all of his attempts to make Jonathan feel better about his place on the football team went nowhere, but one comment from Jonathan’s girlfriend worked.
The scene at the Smallville Gazette was brief, but I like that Christy Beppo has been bumped to a series regular. From the way the interview played out and from how Christy acted towards Lois I’m curious if we’re going to be seeing a play on the battle between old media vs. new media or if the drama is going to come from Christy working with Lois as an equal instead of as a role model.
Natalie and John’s issues were also written very well. The idea that your world is gone and that you are now on a world that has versions of people you knew but these versions have no idea who you are is upsetting. It’s also one of those things that only works if the writing and the acting sell the idea, and that was the case in this episode. I liked that Lois was the one to invite them to come back to Smallville and stay on the farm until they get settled. It was good for the journey she was on during this episode, and, on a practical level, it gets John and Nat to Smallville in a mostly organic way.
The mention of rhubarb pie in the scene at the diner was a nice little easter egg. Well done, writers.
The Superman side of the episode didn’t disappoint either. The show continues to do a great job showing Superman doing Superman things. Him saving the sub was great and dealing with the calamities from the earthquake was even better. The action was well done, and I like that we get to see more than him flying and being strong and shooting lasers out of his eyes. Super breath is an oft forgotten power and I like that it’s in the writer’s utility belt as often as it is.
The introduction of Mitchell Anderson has all kinds of possibilities. Anderson is an antagonist, but so far, he’s not a villain. His scenes allowed the writers to play with the idea of Superman as a world figure, not a tool for one particular country. The controversial idea that Superman isn’t beholden to the United States has been litigated before, but it makes perfect sense for the show to deal with it because Superman worked closely with the military when Sam Lane was involved. Sam knew who Superman was. They were related. Clark doesn’t have that connection to Mitchell Anderson and the fact that Anderson is creating his own super powered team that appropriated the S symbol is a big deal and I look forward to seeing this plotline play out.
By the way, naming the character Michell Anderson was fun. For those who may not know, Mitchell Anderson was a character introduced during the DOOMSDAY storyline in 1992. He was a teenager whose house was destroyed in the Justice League’s initial battle with the creature and after Superman died Mitch traveled to Metropolis to speak with a woman claiming to be Superman’s wife to apologize for thinking that the Man of Steel was lame. Superman died stopping the monster that destroyed his house. There was some serious guilt there. Later, the character developed super-powers and took on the name Outburst and became part of a group called The Supermen of America. So, it’s kind of funny that a character named Mitch Anderson is forming a sort of, kind of, they’re even using the symbol Supermen of America.
And that leads us to the final scene and the cause of the earthquake.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m surprised that Doomsday is coming to this show. It’s not that I don’t think the show is capable of doing a version of Doomsday that I’m going to like. Before season one I didn’t think that I would like Superman having an actual, factual brother and the writers and showrunners made it work. I also know that this isn’t going to be a straight up adaptation of the story in the comic because, in all honesty, you can’t adapt the comic beat for beat. So, knowing that and knowing that the people producing this show know what they’re doing when it comes to writing Superman and his world, I am optimistic that wherever this season goes and wherever they take the character of Doomsday, I’m going to enjoy it.
As a very biased fan of the original Death and Return of Superman storyline, introducing the character (or the character’s fist, I guess) by having him beat his way out of an underground prison was great. I even heard the sound effect, “Doom! Doom! Doom!” from the comic as Doomsday punched his way to freedom in the final moments of the episode. Having the show logo shake with the pounding was a great touch.
Season 2 is here. There is a lot of promise. The cast is established. Things look great. I’m really excited to see where the show takes us.