Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 15: "The Ides of Metropolis"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: February 6, 1994
Directed by Philip Sgriccia
Written by Deborah Joy LeVine
Richard Gant as Judge
Paul Gleason as Henry Harrison
Tony Jay as Nigel St. John
Debbie Korkunis as Aerobics Trainer
Melanie Mayron as Detective Betty Reed
Jennifer Savidge as Lena Harrison
Eugene Laderman is sentenced to life imprisonment in front of a court of his peers, for a murder he swears he didn't commit. Lois Lane bribes a security guard to get him to allow her to speak to Laderman, but he has escaped.
Superman finds a man walking around Clark Kent's apartment in the dark, but it's just Jonathan (the apartment fuse box blew). Jonathan is worried that Martha is having an affair with an artist, as he has drawn a portrait of her in the nude.
Eugene tries to get Lois to help him with an ill-fated threat at gunpoint. Lois takes the gun away from him, knowing that he was never going to shoot her, and that he is innocent. Eugene is accused of killing his lover's husband, but he swears he didn't do it and is confused as to why the woman never communicated with him while he was in court.
Clark comforts Jonathan and gets a phone call from Martha, who tells him that she's on her way to Metropolis.
Eugene's lover, Lena Harrison arrives at the Daily Planet and speaks to Lois and Clark, begging them to protect Eugene, who she claims is guilty of the murder. Detective Reid also questions Lois, suspecting that she has information on Eugene's escape and swearing that she will catch him again. Lois informs Clark that Eugene is hiding out in her apartment while she tries to find evidence that will free him. Clark is skeptical of the man's innocence, but allows Lois to try and convince him, without calling the police.
Eugene explains to Lois and Clark that Lena's husband, Henry Harrison was working on software known as 'The Ides of Metropolis'. He says that when Harrison realized how much Laderman knew about the software, that he grew angry and frustrated. Eugene also explains that Harrison was abusive towards his wife, who would show up to work bruised and beaten. He even threatened to kill Harrison if he continued to mistreat Lena. When Lois and Clark tell him that Lena is convinced of his guilt, Eugene tells him that he took the fall for her and that she is guilty of the murder.
Lois and Clark interview Harrison's personal secretary of fifteen years, who is convinced that Eugene Laderman is guilty of the murder.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is shooting clay pigeons on the penthouse floor of LexCorp Tower. Lois and Clark arrive to talk to him about Henry Harrison's connection to LexCorp. When Clark asks him what would happen if he were to miss a clay pigeon, Luthor informs him that he never misses. Lois and Clark learn that Harrison cut all ties with LexCorp when he was let go during the recession.
Jimmy follows Lena to the Lexor Hotel, where he films her meeting a lover whose features are disguised by a hat and sunglasses. Lois and Clark are convinced that Lena is not as innocent as she once seemed and that she is connected in the scheme to frame Laderman.
Jonathan and Clark get some grief from an arrogant bodybuilder while working out at the gym. Clark uses his super strength to make a workout machine impossible for the bodybuilder to use. When Jonathan takes over the machine, Clark uses his strength to allow Jonathan to lift greater weights with ease, impressing the other patrons and shaming the arrogant bully.
Detective Reid arrives at Lois' apartment and searches the premises. Clark hides Eugene outside; while Eugene stands on the ledge, Clark hovers beside him. Reid tells Lois that Lena could not have been involved in Henry Harrison's death, as she had an iron-clad alibi.
Perry White reveals that he knows about Laderman and where he is staying, but that he already knows too much and asks Lois and Clark not to make it so obvious in the future.
After much computer-hacking, Eugene discovers that 'The Ides of Metropolis' is a virus, capable of shutting down every major computer system in the country.
Martha arrives in Metropolis. She assures Jonathan that she's not having an affair and that she's simply meeting new people and developing her own interests. They reconcile happily.
Reid digs up Harrison's body and discovers that it's not him. She explains to Lois that it's possible that his fingerprint matches were falsified by computer and that Lena was the one who identified the body; further implicating her in the scheme.
Citizens all over the United States discover that vitally important computer systems have become completely useless, at the hands of 'The Ides of Metropolis'. Eugene desperately searches for a cure, by trying to hack into Harrison's database by guessing his password. Detective Reid finds him and tries to arrest him, but Lois and Clark convince her to allow him to continue searching for a cure. Reid and Lois decide to go to Harrison's company, Harritech to see if they can find Harrison there. Unfortunately, Harrison is waiting for them and holds them up at gunpoint. Lena arrives and the two reveal how she helped Harrison fake his death to avoid substantial debts due to massive losses his company made. Their scheme was to hold the country to ransom via this lethal computer virus. Harrison puts Lois and Detective Reid into a Trash Compactor.
Eugene cracks the password by correctly guessing that the name of the virus refers to the 5th day of the Roman Calendar, "The Ides of March". He discovers that the only way to stop the virus is to upload the cure to three separate service stations in three different locations across America. The problem is that with the virus active, the connection is too slow and that the only way to do it before the virus takes over completely, is to upload the cure-disk manually in each of the locations. Clark tells Eugene that he knows of a way, and takes the floppy disk from him, flying them to the locations himself as Superman.
Lois and Reid finally start being friendly to one another as they wait to die in the trash compactor. Luckily, Superman uploads the antivirus cure in time for Laderman to shut the power down in HarriTech and facilitate Lois and Reid's escape. Reid arrests Lena and Henry Harrison.
Nigel and Lex discuss the impact the virus would have had. Lex, momentarily phased, misses a clay pigeon, which plummets to the streets.
Perry congratulates Lois on another great story and Lois tells Clark to be more mindful of the goodness in peoples' hearts in future, rather than simply looking at the facts.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): One of the most filler-iffic episodes there's been in the entire series so far. As ever, it's mildly enhanced by two or three quality dialogues between the two title characters (Lois and Clark discussing the hypothetical situation of lying to one's partner is GREAT), but the main plot is riddled with plot holes. I've mentioned before that I really wish there was an episode entirely comprised of Lois and Clark (pre-relationship) talking about their opposing views on life and relationships with the underlying tension of Clark being both in love with Lois and leading a secret double-life as Superman. Thom Zahler's excellent webcomic "Love and Capes" comes close to this 'Seinfeldian-Superman' concept, but the characters in his story are original characters. I want Lois and Clark! The closest we've had so far in the actual show has been "Honeymoon in Metropolis" and indeed there are future episodes that have a similar laser-targeted focus on the wonderfully entertaining mundanities of the Lane and Kent friendship (and ultimately romance), but none reach the heights of "Honeymoon". And unfortunately, the gem-like scenes peppered into the otherwise smotheringly-mediocre plot of this episode barely suffice.
Why didn't Lex ever intervene? Surely there was millions of dollars at stake for him? What exactly was the full nature of Lena's relationship with her husband? Was he actually beating her up or was that all staged as well? And finally, there's the small matter of Martha and her artistic hobbies. Granted, maybe she wasn't having an affair, but she never does explain what business her artistic associate had painting her in her birthday suit. It's mentioned at the start of the sub-plot and then never again.
I thought the inclusion of Lex was kind of forced in this episode. It's almost as if they were simply trying to shove him in because he had been absent for a few episodes and that John Shea had so many appearances written into his contract that if he didn't appear, they'd be overpaying him. He literally served no purpose; his dialogue with Nigel about how vulnerable computers make us was ultimately impotent as he didn't really do anything about the threat Harrison presented. The clay pigeons thing was brilliant though, and so completely in-tune with this version of the character, as was Clark's disapproval of it.
I did really like the (admittedly silly) idea of Superman having to deliver the antivirus cure to three separate locations across the United States of America. Up to this point, as is often the case with "Lois & Clark", this was just a simple detective story. With this logistical, geographical nightmare, it actually became A Job for Superman (or The Flash!). And funnily enough, even though there are many labored scenes of awful exposition about 'The Role of Computers in Modern Society' that recklessly date the episode; the peril of an Internet connection being slowed down by a virus to the point of not being able to upload a crucial file is hilariously relevant enough that it makes up for the other shortcomings. There's been plenty of times in college where I had to upload an essay to the group server at the last second, only for the system to fail, leaving me wishing I could somehow get to the central database at superhuman speed, where I could manually upload it myself. I also adore Eugene Laderman's handy-dandy GoogleMap of the U.S.A. highlighting the three separate service stations and their infection-status. Granted, "Smallville" had Chloe Sullivan display far, FAR sillier graphics to us over the years. I don't begrudge the writers and production designers for adding this into the episode; it was an acceptable storytelling tool. It doesn't mean it wasn't funny, though.
There is a very impressive, understated effect at the start of the episode, reminiscent of a similar effect in "Superman: The Movie". Superman is speaking to a miserable Jonathan and tells him that he's going to change out of his outfit. Jonathan slumps over to a sofa and in the same shot, Clark zips back onscreen in a tank-top and track-pants. The visual effect is seamless; the quality of the image never shakes or stumbles (as is usually the case) and we never DON'T believe that Superman has just transformed into Clark Kent at super-speed. It's terrific and frankly, just as good as in the actual movie. The special effects were unusually impressive in this episode, with more than a few interesting visuals that the episode didn't necessarily rely on. My favorite was Lex's clay pigeon plummeting towards the streets of Metropolis. And speaking of Jonathan, that scene in the gym was a lot of fun.
- Richard Gant appears as the judge at poor old Eugene Laderman's trial at the start of the episode. He also played the new principal of Smallville High in "Smallville", although he ended up only appearing for a few short episodes in Season Two. IMDb tells me that he's one of only seven actors to appear in both series. The guy who played Leslie Luckabee on "Lois & Clark" also appeared as Henry Small in "Smallville"; Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher both appeared on it as well. That's five. Anyone care to guess the other two?
- The scene where Lois and Detective Reid are trapped in the trash compactor could only be a reference to Star Wars. It's bizarre and I don't really see why they felt the need to put it in there, but there you go.
- Henry Harrison is played by Paul Gleason, who played the take-no-prisoners teacher Mr. Vernon in John Hughes' immortal classic "The Breakfast Club". He's completely wasted in this episode, unfortunately, as his one-dimensional character could have been played by anyone.
I've been pretty harsh on this episode, but ultimately, I'm sticking with the 3/5 for the simple reason that if there is anyone out there who is looking to get into this series for the first time and is trying to know which episodes to simply avoid altogether, this is not one of them. There are scenes that make the episode worthwhile and as ever, the two leads do such a wonderful job of making the viewers fall in love with them that it's impossible not to have a good time watching the episode.
Before we go, I want to throw in the tiniest bit of self-promotion and ask all of you very kind readers to have a look at my blog over at feelingthefury.blogspot.com. There's PLENTY about Superman (including some small bits and pieces of opinion about this particular series) as well as lots more about superheroes in other media in general. You've all been offering wonderful feedback on these reviews and I'd really appreciate it if you could do the same over there. I'm writing an article every day this month so there'll be plenty of content.
Next week, David Warner plays Jor-El as Krypton explodes around him, and his only choice is to put his infant son in a rocket-ship bound for a bold new destiny on Earth. Also Luthor steals the Venus De Milo's arms. Didn't Stan Lee have some saying about enough having been said?
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