Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Originally Aired: June 27, 2023
WRITTEN BY: Brent Fletcher and Todd Helbing
DIRECTED BY: Gregory Smith
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)
Michael Cudlitz (Lex Luthor)
Ryan Booth (Otis)
Rebecca Staab (Gretchen Kelly)
Danny Wattley (Coach Gaines)
Joselyn Picard (Sophie Cushing)
Paul Lazenby (Creature)
Rating – 5 (out of 5): Considering the title for this episode is “What Kills You Only Makes You Stronger” I should have seen the Doomsday twist coming.
If you weren’t aware, in the comics Doomsday’s origin was that he was the result of an ancient Kryptonian experiment where the scientists involved created a life form and kept killing it repeatedly. Each time the life form came back it was not only harder to kill, but it also couldn’t be killed the same way again.
So…yeah. I should have seen that coming.
This episode, like most of the other episodes from this year, broke the template of the previous seasons. The finales of the first two seasons wrapped up their storylines and had tags that made you want the show to return. That wasn’t the case here. Ending on a cliffhanger was gutsy considering the future of the series was seemingly up in the air, but I’m glad they did because it made this finale stand out while also giving me that, “Oh man! I don’t want to wait until next year for the resolution to this!” feeling, which is good. The last thing you want to feel as a viewer is apathy towards a cliffhanger.
The opening scenes to this episode were all very sweet, especially the one at the villa with Lois and Clark. I’m sure there are some members of the audience that don’t want to think about how cancer impacts the intimacy of the partners involved, but this should has taken the “in for a penny, in for a pound” approach to dealing with Lois’ illness, so it made all the sense in the world to me. It also made for a romantic and touching scene between a husband and a wife.
The supporting characters were all given a lot to do in this episode. You could argue that the developments with them felt like the developments you would see in a typical season finale, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t good or done well. Chrissy revealing, she was pregnant to Kyle was surprising, but I liked it and thought it was a good direction for those characters. Seeing the reaction of Lana, Sarah, and Sophie showed that a family could be mature about such things, though I will give Kyle a few demerits for proposing in front of the entire town.
Sam’s offer to John Henry is the natural evolution for him and Nat with the only complication being John and Lana’s burgeoning relationship. I’ve been wanting them to get together all season and now they are on the verge of it and John gets that offer from Sam.
I love soap opera storytelling so much.
This is why it’s a shame that the supporting cast got cut as regulars for the next season. I get all of what went into that, and I am glad that we are getting another season, but I have always been the type of reader or viewer that came for the main character and stayed for the entire cast. I’m assuming that we’ll see these characters during the season, especially during the first episode, but I’m going to miss getting emotionally involved with them.
Cudlitz continues to be an excellent Lex. He has that mix of malevolence and charm that all great Lexes have. His cruelty is understated, which makes him more dangerous, and the almost paternal vibe he gave to Bizarro reminded me of the dynamic Lex and B-0 from FOREVER EVIL. It would have been sweeter if he, Otis, and Gretchen Kelly (props to the writers for name checking that character) didn’t murder him over and over again, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
Or making a Doomsday without killing inverse versions of Superman.
That doesn’t have the same ring, but I’m sticking with it.
This version of Doomsday does share some DNA (no pun intended) with the version that appeared in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. Both were created by Lex using the body of a Kryptonian. In all honesty (and surprising absolutely no one) I prefer the version we got on this show. For one thing, I like the design of this version better. Both were victims of CGI and this one looked a bit ropey in places, but I never cared for the look of the one from BVS. The other reason is that this show has earned using Doomsday, where using him in BVS seriously jumped the gun. This one popped up at the end of season three. I’m working under the assumption that this show will treat Doomsday like they did on JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, where there was a fight that didn’t result in the death of Superman. With only ten episodes of season four and the prospects of a fifth season uncertain, I don’t think they’re going to use that real estate with a riff on that classic story. I’m open to being wrong.
(Insert snarky comment about BvS rushing to it here.)
The fight with Doomsday was impressive. Again, the CGI was a bit wonky here and there, but it was epic, nonetheless. The fight started in Smallville, went to the skies of Metropolis, then the subway tunnels of Metropolis, then outer space, and finally the moon. Superman got beaten like he owed Doomsday money for the bulk of it, but having Clark come around by remembering his family was not only emotional, but also reminded me of the finale to season one where Lois used the same trick to break Jordan free of Tal’s control. Ending with the two characters flying towards each other was great for the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of this review.
I was extremely satisfied with this episode. The season as a whole was great with a few minor issues here and there. The writers took a serious issue and were sensitive about the material without sugarcoating or being unrealistic about it. The actors were equally at the top of their game, and more than a few tears were shed. Everyone involved took chances and the audience was better for it.
As ever, I can’t wait for the next episode.