Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 3: "Contact"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: October 1, 1995
Directed by Daniel Attias
Written by Chris Ruppenthal
Patrick Labyorteaux as Bob Fences
Olivia Brown as Star
Larry Hankin as Dr. Martin Solsvig
Rochelle Swanson as Simone
Robby Robinson as Thief #1
Lois rushes out onto an airfield where she chases after two men driving a cargo trolley. They throw luggage at her in an attempt to get rid of her. Clark sees what's going and interrupts the men as Superman. He explains to Lois that he wants to take her home to make sure he knows she's safe, but she explains that she'll be fine - she made her own way home safely many times before she ever knew of Clark's dual identity.
On her drive home, Lois appears to be abducted by aliens.
The next day, an oblivious Lois (still wearing the same clothes) meets her new neighbor, an eccentric who introduces herself as 'Star', a psychic. After multiple misfires, Star 'sees' that Lois was abducted by aliens. Lois tells her the full story about her abduction; that she doesn't know precisely what happened but she remembers blurry images of her encounter.
Lois attempts to tell Clark about her experience, but Star bursts in and tells gives her a stack of books on alien abductions. The newsroom reacts by laughing at this interlude - Clark doesn't doubt her story, but finds it far-fetched.
Bob Fences, a software company owner discusses with his lab assistant how they need new chips and amplifiers. He tells his other assistant that his software company NanoWare has made all of their money on importing foreign microchips and installing them into their hardware, but now that negotiations have failed, he'll have to make his money another, criminal way.
Lois sees flashes of her encounter and jumps out of a helicopter her and Clark are in. Clark leaps out to save her as Superman. Lois doesn't even remember what happened afterward.
Fences manages to steal a selection of the microchips while Superman was distracted by Lois' accident. Lois and Clark meet Dr. Solvig (Fences' assistant) and he explains all of his findings regarding UFO sightings.
Lois has another mysterious episode and walks out in front of traffic. Clark uses his super-breath to blow her out of the way. Clark walks Lois home and she asks that he leave her be for the night. Reluctantly, he agrees. Lois suspects that perhaps Star really is psychic and that she may discover Clark's secret.
Star comes over and puts Lois at ease - she also encourages her to trust Clark a bit more. That night, Lois has another flashback to her encounter. She sees the 'aliens' who attempt to inject her with a syringe. She wakes up just before this happens. Clark tells his parents that he feels worried that maybe it's too dangerous for him to be with Lois. As if on cue, Lois comes over and Clark tells her how hard all of this has been on him. Lois tells him about her flashbacks and they discover what appears to be a puncture-mark on her neck.
Lois and Clark backtrack on the series of events that occurred involving her episodes. They begin to assume that perhaps the trances Lois experienced were designed to keep Superman busy while advanced technology heists took place.
Star hypnotizes Lois in an effort to try and get her to recall her abduction experience. Lois recalls the needle approaching her and she sees the reflection of Bob Fences - they suspect that the aliens are a hoax. They suspect the involvement of Martin Solzvig, only to receive a phone call from Perry where they learn that he has died.
Lois and Clark confront Fences, but he retaliates with likely alibis. Clark X-rays Fences' office and sees something on his computer, just as Fences switches it off.
Lois and Clark discover plans for an untraceable weapons system powerful enough that would give Fences the ability to blackmail any country on Earth. Star puts Clark under hypnosis in an effort to help him recall the image he saw on the computer screen just as Fences was turning it off. Clark recalls a letter demanding $1 billion dollars from an Eastern-European country or 5 or their cities would be destroyed.
Superman arrives and destroys the weapon. Lois gets injured in the confrontation much to Superman's chagrin. Star removes the hypnotic suggestions from Lois' subconscious. Clark visits Lois as Superman, telling her that he feels horrible about the whole situation - he tells her that perhaps it's too difficult and too dangerous to have a relationship with her.
Review Rating - 2 (out of 5): Before we get started I have some exciting news for all L&C fans: I've started a parody Twitter account devoted to the 'plots' from the show's unaired fifth season. If anyone is aware of the "Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 8" Twitter page, it's quite similar. Here are some examples:
"Superman battles Parasite, a villain who can rob powers and thoughts with a touch. Jimmy and Perry battle to get Firefly back on the air."
"Superman investigates the wreckage of a downed nuclear sub. Lex's pet cobra gets loose in his office during an important shareholder meeting."
"Perry White reveals he has known that Clark is Superman for years. Jimmy reveals he has known Alfonso Ribeiro for years."
Even if you don't like "Lois & Clark" that much, I'd encourage you to check it out as most of the Tweets can be enjoyed by any Superman fan. Send me some funny Superman plots in 140 characters or less and I might Tweet them! The Twitter-handle is @loisandclarks5. Follow it!
While 'Contact' is undoubtedly a far better episode than 'Ordinary People', the indelible, trippy stain that sour installment left on the flow of the episodes is felt in this episode, when once again, the characters and their actions seem a bit off.
I find it difficult after all this time to buy the notion of Clark suddenly having a crisis of conscience over his relationship with Lois. In fact I've always found these kinds of stories difficult to swallow. It's been public knowledge that Lois is at least acquainted with Superman on a friendly basis since his arrival in Metropolis and that frequently saves her life. Why does the added element of them engaging in a romantic relationship make any difference to her safety? She's constantly in danger anyway and she's constantly putting herself in danger knowing Superman will save her (regardless of whether or not she knows his identity) - Clark breaking up with her at the end of this episode seems like unnecessary shipping for shipping's sake. Given how Clark retroactively acts regarding his decision in later episodes, I'd be inclined to think that the writers even agree with me.
I have a bit of an issue with how people react to Lois claiming she got abducted by aliens. Why is this considered so bizarre in a city where a flying alien who can shoot fire from his eyes has done battle with cyborgs and pushed asteroids out of the sky? It only highlights how little the world at large has actually reacted to the idea that Superman is a strange visitor from another planet (outside of the excellent Bureau 39 episodes early on in the first season). I'm at least glad Lois reminds everyone how absurd it is to think that Krypton and Earth should be the only two planets capable of supporting intelligent life.
And yet, the whole thing turns out to be a hoax anyway. It's probably for the best really, there's too much going on in the private lives of Lois and Clark for something as huge as a REAL alien invasion to shake things up even more (although we'd get to that in just a little while longer).
So for the second episode in a row, we have a villain who is a playful jibe at a real-world media magnate of some kind. In the last episode it was Spencer Spencer very loosely based on Hugh Hefner (until we discover that he has no body, that is). In this episode, it's a closer resemblance - instead of Bill Gates we get the humorously (I guess) named 'Bob Fences' head of 'NanoWare', yet another multi-billion dollar computer company headed by an egotistical yuppie who isn't Lex Luthor (remember when it took an entire YEAR to bring him down? Lois and Clark seem to bat away all-powerful billionaires like flies now). It's a fun if corny little wink at older, more aware viewers and I certainly didn't catch it as a kid, not knowing who Bill Gates was and probably not being in a position that I interacted with computers very often (it was still only 1995). What isn't fun however is Fences' bizarre action figure obsession, like they were trying to poke fun at the fact that essentially Bill Gates is just a big kid. Once again, it was excessively campy and off-putting. Even as a six-year old watching this episode for the first time I recall thinking how strange it was for a villain to be playing with action figures and acting so unprofessional around his subordinates. Actor Patrick Labyorteaux does the best he can with the material, but...man. Once again I'm left wondering who the villain was even supposed to appeal to.
Larry Hankin gets a fairly brief guest-starring role as Dr. Solsvig, Fences' confidante and ultimately the off-screen sacrificial lamb. What's interesting is how absent-minded Solsvig is, quite similar to his recurring role on 'Friends' as Mr. Heckles, from around the same time as this series. I've already mentioned my friend Parker's multiverse theory where 'Friends' exists in the same universe as "Lois & Clark" (we're 90s kids, alright?), this is another example - perhaps Solsvig didn't really die and was simply subject to bizarre experiments that caused him to lose even more of his mind and he retreated to a New York apartment where he lived out his days in mild dementia. Or...maybe it's just a TV show.
Finally there's Olivia Brown as Lois' charming neighbor 'Star'. Star would show up once or twice more in the series before being quietly forgotten about. It appeared as though maybe the producers were planning on making her a larger recurring character (especially since she makes the acquaintance of Perry and Jimmy at the close of the episode) and while she does take a little bit of getting used to, the main cast could have used a dose of quirkiness by this point. It's starting to become increasingly difficult to accept the lack of interesting side-characters in this series compared to the calibre it boasted in Season One. Again, I think the writers agree with me, as Jimmy and Perry get a little bit more to do in this season.
One thing I forgot to mention about 'Ordinary People': There's a bit where Clark freezes Spencer Spencer with freeze-breath; then the latter's goons come in and machine-gun Clark - the bullets bounce off Clark and shatter Spencer's frozen shell. When Lois asks what happened Clark says, "He was...a broken man...". This is obviously really out of character for Clark Kent and the freeze-breath-death was similarly distasteful in the "All-Star Superman" DVD movie from a year or so ago. Nevertheless, I'd be lying if I said if my mouth didn't curl upwards just the tiniest bit. At least because it means we'll never have to suffer through Spencer Spencer ever again.
Next episode...oh boy...better fetch the pawtatoes, the leprechauns, the shillelaghs and any other awful Irish stereotypes you can think of, as we're getting another really embarrassing episode "When Irish Eyes are Killing". Don't forget to follow Twitter handle @loisandclarks5!
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