Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 19: "Fly Hard"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: March 27, 1994
Directed by Philip Sgriccia
Written by Thania St. John
Robert Beltran as Fuentes
Chris Demetral as Jack
Don Fehmel as George
Alexandra Hedison as Remy
Lisa Dawnell James as Judge Ryan
Anthony Leonardi as Blackman
Macon McCalman as Willie
Late one Saturday night in the newsroom, Clark is working out a few tax forms while Jack anxiously waits for Clark to bring him to the movies. Jimmy and Perry are spring-cleaning Perry's offices which is full of decades' worth of junk he accumulated as a newsman. Lex and Lois arrive, as Lois has to rewrite her story due to the fact that her source has been arrested. Lex has opera tickets and is eager to get going; Lois re-assures him that she won't be long.
Cat arrives with a gentleman companion. The two are fondling each other until they realize that everyone else is in the newsroom as well. They quickly leave, with Cat suggesting they go to the observation deck of Metropolis Tower.
Just as Lex and Lois are about to leave, armed criminals enter the newsroom requesting that everyone remain silent in Perry's office while they conduct important business. The leader of the criminals, Fuentes, warns that he has a dirty nuclear device that will obliterate the Daily Planet and everyone in it, should he happen to see any sign of Superman.
The group assemble in Perry's office, minus Jimmy who is in a janitor's closet unbeknownst to the criminals. No one in the group believes that the criminals will let them live following the completion of whatever it is they are trying to do, and they try to formulate an escape. Lois suggests that Jimmy could save them, but Perry disagrees, noting that Jimmy couldn't save baseball cards.
Lois pretends that Perry is having a heart attack in order to try and interrupt the criminals. Fuentes comes into the office and shoots holes into the floor around Perry's feet. From this, he learns that this was just a hoax. He warns them that next time he won't be so forgiving.
Some time later, Lois asks if she can go to the bathroom, to which the criminals oblige. While she is away, Clark uses his heat-vision to set off the sprinklers. In the confusion, Lex tries to escape and is shot by Fuentes.
Fuentes introduces a buddy-system, handcuffing everyone to a partner, explaining that if anyone attempts to escape, their 'buddy' will die. Meanwhile, Jimmy is moving through the vents, trying to find his way out, grumbling at his decision to help chief spring-clean instead of spending it on a night out with a pretty girl.
While Lois is talking to him, Lex passes out from the gunshot wound. Clark rushes to his aid, using a strange healing method he learned during his travels around the world, utilizing chewing gum, tea leaves and orange peel. While no one is looking, he also uses his heat vision to seal the wound. He then pours the solution on Luthor, which causes Lex great physical agony, but which ultimately saves his life.
Because of Clark activating the sprinklers, sets of blueprints belonging to the criminals are destroyed. The captured journalists overhear Fuentes mention "Dragonnetti's Vault" and that it can no longer be found. Perry tells the story of Dragonetti, who used to run a speakeasy in the same building that eventually became the Daily Planet offices.
The episode flashes back to Prohibition times showing Dragonetti's speakeasy, and the various people who appeared there, personified by the actors of "Lois & Clark".
In the Daily Planet offices, the criminals are trying to access the MetroComp system. Clark offers to help, in an effort to get closer to the nuclear device, but Lois reminds him that MetroComp is an older system that was replaced three years ago, meaning that he wouldn't know how to use it. Fuentes requests that Lois overlay his blueprint over the blueprints of the Daily Planet offices. From here, it's clear to Lois that whatever it is the criminals are looking for, it's in Perry's office.
While Fuentes waits for the blueprint to print out, Lois tries to send an e-mail, but Fuentes halts her efforts. More flashbacks of Dragonetti's speakeasy are shown. A man named Billy (played by Dean Cain/Clark Kent) is double-crossed by Dragonetti (played by John Shea/Luthor), who frames him for murder.
Clark and Jack escape by creating a diversion, using an old Elvyra cardboard cut-out that Perry had, and go up to Willie the elderly security guard, who promises to get help. Clark and Jack rush back downstairs. Meanwhile, Cat comes back into the newsroom to get some lingerie from her desk drawers. The captured party desperately tries to beckon her over, but she simply thinks they're advising her as to which undergarment she should bring with her. She leaves, completely undetected by the criminals.
While Clark and Jack are on their way back downstairs, Jack is shot, but Clark catches the bullet at super speed. The criminals find Dragonetti's vault under the Chief's desk. Jimmy gets out of the vents, and is held up at gunpoint, and brought down to the newsroom by his captor: Willie the security guard.
Willie was behind the entire search for Dragonetti's vault, for he was 'Billy', the man Dragonetti framed for murder and the man who was betrayed by his lover Lily, who left him for Dragonetti. Fuentes orders his second-in-command, a woman named Remy to kill everyone, except Lois, who they will take as a hostage. Remy is bringing them all downstairs, when Clark cuts the lights and knocks her out.
Clark arrives on the roof just as Fuentes is about to jump off with Lois. Fuentes lands on a window-cleaning harness, with Lois. While trying to shoot at Clark, he hits a wire holding the harness, and drops Lois and the nuclear device. Clark becomes Superman and saves Lois, Fuentes and the device.
Later, as paramedics arrive for Luthor, Jack hints to Clark that he is aware that Clark is Superman. Clark warns Lois that she needs to be careful with Luthor. That Monday morning, flowers arrive for Lois from Luthor, much to Clark's chagrin. Cat asks everyone what they got up to over the weekend and everyone rolls their eyes at her.
Review Rating - 4 (out of 5): A huge improvement on the embarrassment that was "Vatman". "Fly Hard" is a tremendous example of what sets "Lois & Clark" apart from other Superman shows. Throughout this episode, all of the characters seem like real people, reacting as real people would in a perilous situation like this. "Honeymoon in Metropolis" worked so well because it showed Lois and Clark 'stuck' together, forced to simply put up with each other while the plot advanced around them. This episode is similar, except it involves the entire cast (except Cat, unfortunately) and all of the characters are in danger.
Dean Cain is terrific in this episode. Up there with the pilot episode, his tense but utterly confident portrayal of Clark as a real person and not a goofball (while still credibly being a different person to Superman) is utterly splendid. The plot is perfectly tailored to his powered-down Superman, who has to use the environment and the situation to his advantage in whatever way he can. Ultimately, the situation works to his advantage, as he is separated from Fuentes, who has the dirty bomb (which is lead-lined, meaning Clark can't see whether or not it's a real bomb) and he is able to free the other characters and disable the bomb.
This episode is invaluable for Lex Luthor as well, as it gives him a credible foundation for what would ultimately culminate in the following two episodes. For the first time, Lex isn't creepy around Lois. He actually seems like someone likable enough that Lois would want to spend time with him, let alone agree to be his wife. They have a genuine chemistry and a realistic connection. Similar to in "Honeymoon in Metropolis", it's also interesting to see Luthor when he's not centrally involved in the villainous plot of the episodes and is for all intents and purposes, a civilian character. My favorite Luthor-moment in the episode comes when he tries to negotiate with the criminals, only for Fuentes to say, "From what I've heard about you, Luthor I'd be better off with the police!". It's really cool that Luthor has a secret reputation as a dangerous criminal mastermind.
Robert Beltran is great as Fuentes, the leader (or so we think) of the criminals trying to uncover Dragonetti's vault. He has a strong, no-nonsense presence of seriousness and threat, which many of the non-Luthor villains have lacked throughout the season. It's a pity more of the villains from later on in the series couldn't match Fuentes' deadliness. Most people remember Beltran as Commander Chakotay from "Star Trek: Voyager", one of the weaker Trek shows. In that series, he showcased much of the same kind of seriousness as he displays in this episode of "Lois & Clark". I'll always remember him as the ridiculous sidekick in the Chuck Norris actioner "Lone Wolf McQuade", one of the most unintentionally hilarious films in the history of cinema. Beltran's enthusiastic character is one of the farcical highlights of that ridiculous film. Do yourself a favor and check it out; you will not stop laughing.
Chris Demetral's Jack character makes his return in this episode, for better or worse. Even though his chemistry with Dean Cain and his suspicion of Clark being more than merely a mild-mannered reporter saves him from being bland and uninteresting, this episode proves more than any of his other three appearances why his character is unnecessary and interferes with the dynamic of the show; Jimmy is left skulking around an air vent for the majority of the episode, while Jack unfairly steals the cub reporter's usual role as the youthful ideas man. The episode would have been stellar had Jimmy been the one antagonizing Clark for not standing up against the villains, and then later changing his mind about Clark's heroism. I've said in the past how developing Jimmy to the point of learning Clark's secret would have been an excellent way to evolve his character. It seems to have been what they were attempting with Jack in any event (even if it didn't go past this episode). Jack's presence in the episode really just leaves a stain of a missed opportunity with Jimmy and that's a large part of my narrowing the episode down to a 4/5 instead of a perfect 5.
There are problems of course. Why was Clark doing his taxes in the newsroom? Was there some sort of tax emergency that could only be solved at his Daily Planet desk (and not that afternoon)? Did e-mails really take THAT long to send, even in 1993 (maybe they did, actually). There's also the small problem I'm starting to have with every significant location or miscellaneous device or function having "Metropolis" as a prefix. "Metropolis Tower", "Metropolis Bridge," "MetroComp"...it's a bit lazy, considering how innovative and creative the comics have always been with coming up with names for streets and organizations. Admittedly a minor problem.
There's a terrific wire-shot in the finale of this episode, when Superman is taking off after successfully rescuing Lois. It's executed really well and it's almost as high in quality as the kind of wire-takeoffs seen in the "Superboy" show (which, as I've mentioned before, were second to none in pretty much every single episode). Special effects were largely understated in the rest of the episode, but I have no problem with that. Clark made great use of the full whack of his abilities and that's the main thing.
One last thing before we go: this is the final appearance of Catherine Grant in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman". Frankly, it's really sad to see her entertaining side-character leave with such little aplomb; I understand it was a decision of the producers to simply quietly abandon the character before the beginning of the new season. I feel sorry for Tracy Scoggins whose portrayal as Cat lived on and was clearly the biggest influence on Geoff Johns' reinvention of her in his "Brainiac" storyline. It's a pity that she couldn't have existed as a recurring character, or even a special guest-star (as John Shea became). Without her presence, the Daily Planet newsroom lost a lot of its three-dimensional life-force and became a lot more drab and faceless.
Next week, it's the beginning of the end for Lex Luthor, formerly the first son of Metropolis. See you all in a week for "Barbarians at the Planet".
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