“Superman & Lois” Review – S03E02 – “Uncontrollable Forces”

Uncontrollable Forces

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Originally Aired: March 21, 2023
WRITTEN BY: Katie Aldrin
DIRECTED BY: Elizabeth Henstridge

Tyler Hoechlin (Clark Kent/Superman)
Bitsie Tulloch (Lois Lane)
Michael Bishop (Jonathan Kent)
Alex Garfin (Jordan Kent)
Emmanuelle Chriqui (Lana Lang Cushing)
Inde Navarrette (Sarah Cushing)
Wolee Parks (John Henry Irons)
Tayler Buck (Natalie Irons)
Erik Valdez (Kyle Cushing)
Inde Navarrette (Sarah Cortez)
Sofia Hasmik (Chrissy Beppo)

Chad L Coleman (Bruno Mannheim)
Angel Parker (Dr. Irons)
Paul Lazenby (Atom/Henry Miller)
Shekhar Paleja (Dr. Aleister Hook)
Eric Keenleyside (George Dean)
Spence Moore II (Matteo)
Karen Holness (Judge Tara Reagan)
Christian Sloan (Elias Orr)
Gabriel Wihl (Onlooker)
Yasmeene Ball (Eliza)
Zachary Loewen (Travis)
Sidney Quesnelle (Skylar)

5Rating – 5 (out of 5): I’m still processing what I just watched, so my review might be all over the place. It’s hard not to jump right into the big revelation, but there was a lot more to this episode than just Lois’ diagnosis, even though that cast a shadow over everything else going on.

First there was the bit with the kids. One of the better things about this show is that the sub-plots involving Jordan, Jonathan, Sarah, and Nat are mostly played straight. There’s drama and some of it can seem over the top, but I’d argue that most things are over the top when you’re a teenager. The party was a great way to give them a fun place to just be kids. Lying to your parents is rarely a good idea, but most of us probably did it once or twice or all of the time. I liked seeing Sarah and Jordan work things out, at least for the moment. It was also nice to see the show treating Nat as a teenager. Her circumstances are extraordinary, but she needs to have something of a normal life. Michael Bishop continues to find his way into Jonathan and he’s doing a good job of it.

Lana and John Henry’s part of the episode was also well done. I may sound (or read) like a broken record, but this show is good at making all of the characters feel like they have an actual part to play. Getting everyone involved is not always easy, but tying Intergang to George Dean brings Lana into the story and her hanging out with John got him into the investigation in an organic way. It was a little disappointing that he didn’t armor up, but there is plenty of time for that later in the season.

Seeing Lois and Clark doing some investigative journalism was another high point. The show really hasn’t had a place for this sort of thing up until this point, which isn’t a complaint by any stretch. The show has been to show and I need to judge it based on what it is and not what I would like it to be. The good cop/bad cop dynamic with the judge was a lot of fun.

Then there was Superman’s confrontation with Bruno Mannheim. Again, for the first two seasons this show was doing something different with Superman. In the first season he was dealing with Tal’s attempted takeover of the planet. In the second season he literally saved two worlds from Aly Alston. Those are big picture stories. There were plenty of character moments thrown in, so it wasn’t like we didn’t get quieter moments, but they were literal and figurative end of the world scenarios. I was curious what they would do next and the answer, thus far, is to take things back a notch. Have a big bad with powerful agents but make him completely human.

And I am loving it.

The scene at Mannheim’s home was something I didn’t know I wanted to see, but once it was happening all I could think of was how much I had missed this sort of confrontation. Superman walking into the big bad’s house and just talking. I just loved it so much. And Mannheim is no two-dimensional villain. He is very similar to Lex Luthor, but from a completely different socio-economic background. Like most iterations of Lex, Bruno sees himself as hero of his own story even though he’s obviously into some pretty shady stuff. I’m willing to bet that he believes all of his criminal activities are for the greater good of his neighborhood, so the ends justify the means. No one cares about Hobb’s Bay except him and if he has to break the law to save his home he will.

That’s all conjecture. We’ll see if I am anywhere near right.

Bruno’s contempt for what he believes Superman represents gives him depth and makes his hatred more understandable. He kept mentioning that Superman is good at putting out fires but not at the small stuff and that is a fair moral quandary to put Superman into. Years ago, former DC publisher Dan DiDio compared Superman to a fire fighter. He waits to be calls, answers the call when it comes, and then goes back and waits to be called again. I never fully agreed with that assessment for reasons to involved to get into here, but it’s easy to see that as Superman’s role. It’s not. At least not completely. There’s more to Superman than just putting out fires, but a villain like Bruno won’t see that. I hope this dynamic gets more play and that we see Superman dealing with a more boots on the ground problem than a big, world ending one. He started out as the champion of the weak and the oppressed. It might be cool to see him go back to that, even on a small scale.

(Yes, I do realize that Superman dealing with real world problems is tricky because once the story is over those problems are still there, but it would still be cool to see the idea kicked around a bit.)

Finally, for this episode, we get to Lois’ diagnosis.

This one hit really close to home. My mother died of breast cancer when I was 17. She was first diagnosed when I was 15 and went through a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She was declared cancer free about a year later but there was a portion that had metastasized to the lining of her lung, which made it hard to locate. It spread and she passed away six months after her second diagnosis. I also have a wife that has a number of serious health issues and there have been many times that I was spending days at a hospital with her because normal visiting hours don’t mean anything to me.

I write all of that to give context about why I burst into tears on two different occasions while watching this episode. I’ve been both a husband that has to care for a sick wife and a son that is told his mother has cancer and all of those memories and emotions came up to the surface and between the excellent writing by Katie Aldrin and Bitsie’s performance it was, to quote the movie SCROOGED, Niagara Falls on my face.

I don’t want to leave Tyler or Alex or Michael out of this either. Tyler’s reaction to her finally telling him what was going was so well done. To be fair, I kept thinking, “There is no way in hell my wife would be going to any of those doctor’s appointments leading up to her diagnosis alone,” but I understand that Lois and Clark have a different dynamic than my wife and I and it’s unfair to hold them to my standards. Lois wanted to deal with it privately before bringing it to her husband and her family. I get it. It’s weird, but I get it.

And I think that’s why the scene in the kitchen with Lois and Clark and then Lois, Clark, and the boys hit so hard. I have been where Clark is. Not with cancer, but I did help my wife re-learn to walk again on more than one occasion thanks to her brittle bone disease. I also know what it’s like to have a strong-willed wife who doesn’t want to be seen as just her medical ailments. And I know what it’s like to be there when your mom gets the call that she has cancer or, two years later, to have your dad tell you she has it again.

It was just so much all at once. And all the actors did such a phenomenal job conveying all of those emotions.

I’m getting a little choked up writing all of this.

So, as much as I loved the scene where Lois talked the judge off the ledge, which is getting a lot of attention, especially since it is similar to a well known scene in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, it was the more private moments that got to me.

And I really want to thank the show for going where it did. It’s a brave thing to do. Cancer storylines are tricky, and I have no idea how this is going to play out, but for the moment I think they’re doing things just right.

Anyway, I don’t want to leave things on such a heavy note, so I’ll end the review with this question.

Was Chrissy really seven or eight years old when Dean was first elected Mayor? How long was he Mayor? And how old is Chrissy?

That scene made me chuckle. It really did.

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March 24, 2023 5:47 am

I won’t say any spoilers just in case someone hasn’t read the full review yet. But I want to say this….This episode was very powerful. I was not expecting such a powerful and emotional reveal. I am truly looking forward to see how the story continues to develop from here on.

March 24, 2023 10:39 am

Agreed. And this episode makes me care even more for Lois than I already had before. I’m not saying why, but its a very good reason.

March 27, 2023 8:44 am
Reply to  Superman2878

Exactly! Same here! I want to make it clear that I’ve always admired and cared for Lois Lane. But this episode was heavy and pulled at my emotions which made me care for Lois more than ever before.