Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 1: "We Have a Lot to Talk About"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: September 17, 1995
Directed by Philip J. Sgriccia
Written by John MacNamara
Bruce Campbell as Bill Church, Jr.
Peter Boyle as Bill Church
Jessica Collins as Mindy Church
Sal Viscuso as Bobby Bigmouth
Clark proposes to Lois, she reveals that she is aware of his dual identity.
Lois reveals that she discovered he was Superman from the way he touched her face the day before. She explains that she's not angry, she's just hurt that Clark kept this from her for so long and he lied to her.
Clark is forced to switch to Superman when he hears a man in trouble. However, the man has already been saved by a private security firm known as 'The Church Group' funded by Bill Church.
When Clark/Superman asks Lois once again to marry him, Lois says, 'no'. Superman flies away, which irritates Lois.
Bill Church, Jr. meets his father who appears to have turned over a new leaf. Church, Jr. meets his father's new wife, a young nurse named 'Mindy'. Church, Sr. reveals that he wants to dismantle InterGang and use the resources to make the world a better place. He also tells him that his plan is to make Metropolis the safest place in the world to live, by using the Church Group to ensure safety for citizens. Bill, Jr. is shocked by all of this.
Mindy tells Bill, Jr. that she doesn't believe Bill, Sr. is making the right choice by dismantling InterGang. He agrees to help her get his father out of the way so that they can control InterGang.
Superman umpires a kids' baseball game because he has nothing else to do. Bill, Jr. and Mindy plot to frame Bill, Sr. for an insurance scam, leaving them in charge of his businesses while he's in jail.
Lois and Clark continue arguing. They interview Church, Sr. about the InterGang allegations that surround him, but he keeps getting distracted, talking about his new wife and being in love.
Clark tells Lois that he needed to know that she would marry Clark for who he was (not just because he was Superman) and that he couldn't tell her until he knew that. When Lois leaves, Clark throws the engagement ring into space. He chases after it and catches it, as Superman.
Lois meets Bobby Big Mouth and he gives her information on Church, Jr. and the bomb-maker he's hired. Lois breaks into the bombmaker's house and retrieves information that suggests he's going to attack the Metropolis Museum of Art.
Mindy and Church, Jr. set up an elaborate plan to distract Superman while they kill Lois. A nuclear power plant is subject to a meltdown that Superman averts, while Lois is forced to do jumping jacks in order to prevent a bomb going off.
Superman manages to stop the bomb just in time, allowing it to explode safely in the sky. Superman returns to Lois' apartment to find that she's angry with him because he took so long getting to her.
Lois lets Perry know her findings and that they've all been invited to the Church Art Exhibit. Perry suggests that they go accompanied by the Bomb Squad.
Martha visits Lois and Jonathan visits Clark. Jonathan reveals that Martha turned him down the first time that he asked her to marry him. Martha reassures Lois that as long as Lois and Clark love each other, everything else will work itself out and that they shouldn't worry about marriage for now. She also tells Lois that after 30 years, it's really nice having someone to talk to about her son.
At the museum exhibit Clark finds the bomb, but a special message plays designed for Superman's hyper-sensitive ears. The bomb-maker explains that the bomb is specially designed to react to Superman's dense molecular structure and that if he moves a millimeter it will go off. Clark explains this to Lois and she goes under the table to deactivate the bomb.
Bill Church, Sr. is arrested. Unfortunately for Bill, Jr., Mindy has double-crossed him and he is arrested as well. Mindy takes control of InterGang.
Superman and Lois fly into the night sky. Clark tells Lois that he'll wait for her as long as she needs him to. Lois tells Clark that she loves him and that he's not alone anymore.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): Ah, Season Three, you're here at last. Season Three of "Lois & Clark" is very much a love-it-or-hate-it season among fans. Some love that it introduced the epic, shocking, never-seen-before concept of Lois knowing Clark's true identity to a medium outside the comics. Many see it as the beginning of the camp that destroyed the series in the Fourth Season. And it's easy to see where the latter arguments are coming from. This episode is considerably marred by its attempts at goofy punchlines, entirely lighthearted villains and in the way serious character exchanges are played for laughs. Rarely have we seen Lois and Clark resemble the cartoon characters that seem to surround them in their various stories, but unfortunately even our beloved leads drift in that direction in this outing, with dialogue and setups that are awkward, contrived and detrimental to the realism, honesty and credibility we've come to love prior to this.
Take for example Lois' heartbreaking argument with Clark/Superman ("I don't even know what to call [him]!" to throw in a reference to "SUPERMAN II"). All throughout the writing deftly acknowledges Lois' difficulty with reconciling that yes, Clark was probably right to do what he did for all these years, but also that she has every right to be angry with him. Unfortunately, the seriousness and drama is marred by the sitcom-worthy line "That's not fair - you KNOW I can't fly!" when Clark flies away.
This is the biggest problem with these "Lois knows" episodes and it was a similar problem in "Smallville" (to a lesser extent) - the writers are too quick to play up the comedy-value in having a superhero engage in domestic disputes. There's an equally terrible moment later in the episode where Superman arrives to save Lois, only for her to be angry with him because he prioritized stopping a Nuclear Meltdown over saving her. The exchange goes on to have Lois question Clark as to how much of a priority she is in his life now - typical of a lovers' spat between husband and wife, Lois is even holding a broom, which she then slams into Clark's steel chest (with an admittedly fun "clank!" sound). It just seems terribly forced and completely contrary to everything we've seen so far. And yet, some people love this stuff and equate it as being part of what made the third and fourth seasons so successful in the ratings.
While it's always a pleasure to see Bruce Campbell return as Bill Church, Jr., again the back and forth between the Churches and the insufferable Mindy is just too hammy to really enjoy. The ultimate plot involving the Church Group is daft and unfortunately swallowed up by all of the romantic drama occurring throughout the episode.
I'd like to address a question asked by Mindy Church in the second act: "Maybe I'm new to all this, but why don't we just kill her?" (meaning Lois). It's a perfectly reasonable request that many people ask in stories like this. The obvious thing would have been to just shoot Lois. Instead they set up an incredibly bizarre 'metronome bomb' threat where Lois has to perform jumping jacks in her sweats in order to stop the bomb going off (and give the viewers a chance to see Teri Hatcher get all sweaty). One of the most bizarre moments in the entire series so far. Similar to this was the finale bomb which was specifically calibrated to Superman's dense molecular structure, leaving Clark powerless to stop it - but now that Lois 'knows', he's able to direct her to the bomb and she's able to stop it. Why is this in any way a challenge to the bomb squad who are circling the event? I mean, couldn't Lois calmly go over to one of the squad members and tell them where the bomb is so that they could deactivate it without all the fuss and contrived tension? Bad writing, guys.
And yet... I gave this episode a 3. I think it just barely deserves it given the real quality of writing hidden beneath all of the cornball humor. As always, I reward episodes when I feel the plot is advanced and the characters grow. And they really do in this episode, and not just because of the obvious, life-changing piece of information Lois becomes aware of. Martha's conversation with Lois about Clark's lifelong loneliness because of how different he always felt is the best part of the entire episode, and her admission to Lois that it's nice to finally have another woman to talk to about her boy is arguably the best Martha moment in the entire series. As always, K. Callan knocks it out of the park - truly one of the most maternal and sensitive Martha Kents we have been lucky enough to have in the role.
This conversation is rounded out nicely at the end of the episode when Lois promises Clark that he's not alone anymore - a mammoth moment in Superman lore and the greatest argument for why Lois and Clark/Superman are such a wonderful couple - because really when you think about it, it's not just Lois saying that to Clark, it's her realizing that about herself. They're both misfits, they've both struggled all their lives to find a place in the world, it's just that one of them happens to be an alien with god-like powers. I think that's kind of nice.
So, 3 out of 5. When you wade through the junk, there's some interesting stuff in there.
Next week it's more camp, but it's one of the more noteworthy, outrageous, so-bad-it's-good examples of camp in the series "Ordinary People". Join me!
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