Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 16: "Double Jeopardy"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: February 18, 1996
Directed by Chris Long
Written by Brad Buckner, Eugenie-Ross Leming
John Shea as Lex Luthor
Billy Dean as Red Dixon
Troy Evans as Bibbo Bibbowski
Clark, unaware that his new bride is a frog-eating clone version of Lois, is frustrated and confused by her odd behavior. Meanwhile the real Lois has been kidnapped by Lex Luthor who plans to hide away with her in the Alps.
While searching on her computer for information on Luthor, Jimmy discovers a steamy romance novel Lois had been working on, using thinly veiled analogues of herself, Clark and Superman.
After discussing his concerns with his parents, Clark begins to suspect that the woman living with him is not the real Lois.
The real Lois manages to escape from Luthor's clutches, but is run over by a car and gets a severe head injury, impairing her memory greatly. She begins to think her name is Wanda Detroit - a character from her romance novel.
Clark x-rays Clone-Lois looking for the scar from where she once broke her ankle. From this he deduces that this must be an impostor.
Lois/Wanda gets a job as a blues singer at the Ace of Clubs. Clone-Lois plans to kill the real Lois and take her place. Luthor travels to Clark's apartment and begs for his help. They learn from Jimmy of Lois' whereabouts.
Luthor finds Lois first and manipulates her fragile mental state. Clark tries to reason with her, but Lois/Wanda tells him she wants nothing to do with him.
Review Rating - 4 (out of 5): "Double Jeopardy" continues the Season 3 trend of increasingly insane, larger-than-life soap opera tabloid-plots wholly unlike the fairly standard murder-mystery fare of Season 1 and the action/intrigue of Season 2. Much like 'A Bolt from the Blue' and its claims of illegitimate children, this episode is straight out of a 1980s Aaron Spelling drama with amnesia, evil twins, steamy romance novels, manipulation and broken hearts. All it's missing is an oil-swindling subplot. It even has a character from Dallas (albeit the state, not the series).
First and foremost, the mighty return of John Shea is cause for celebration. Whereas before he was a cunning puppetmaster of industrial espionage and corporate greed, he has now descended to a point of pure self-adulation, comparable to the Gene Hackman incarnation. He's relishing in his own despicableness like it's a fine wine. The embrace of his nefariousness is best evidenced in his wonderfully hammy line about his fantasy, to create - "An empire of pure...evil...created solely for the enrichment and the glorification...of us..." (listen to how John Shea just caresses the word 'evil'...if only he had a mustache to twirl). It's over-the-top in the best possible way. My favorite part of the episode is when Lex is having a disagreement with the clone of Lois and he barks at her "I AM GOD! GOD will SMITE YOU DOWN!" Pure 1990s cheddar cheese. As was the case in 'The Phoenix,' his acting presence throughout the episode just demonstrates how lacking "Lois & Clark" has been in the villains department. Even fan-favorite Tempus doesn't come close to the level of raw menace Shea's Luthor exudes.
Teri Hatcher's performance as the latest juvenile duplicate of a lead character is endearing and convincing enough that we truly do believe she's a new, different character and not the same old Lois and we don't quite become annoyed or bothered by her just yet. It may be grating for some, but I was fine by it. Similarly, Dean Cain was convincing and enjoyable in his frustration - it's nice to see Superman get angry when there's a proper context to it for a change.
That's not to say that the episode is great however, far from it. It's an outlandish, bizarre affair chock full of wonderful coincidences (how come Clone-Lois and Luthor are always able to find each other no matter where in the city the other one is?) and again there are over-indulgences in the angst-department with a jarring montage of stock footage (?!) played over a horrible love song in the second act as Clark wonders what the heck is going on with his blushing new bride. Ultimately I'm at odds with this episode - it's as loopy as it is camp, but there's no doubting that Luthor's seat-of-his-pants scheme to steal Lois away forever has loud, Shakespearean echoes of the Magnificent Bastard he was in Season One. His delivery of "Tough break old man," might be the most deliciously despicable thing he's done in the entire series. I can't pretend like I wasn't entertained from start to finish. Thus, 4 out of 5.
A few notes before we go:
- As is customary in this series, lightning and thunder break at the same time. Dean Cain actually remarks in the commentary of the pilot episode how this isn't how it works in real life. A really minor complaint.
- Lex Luthor is the proud owner of Ridiculous Mission Impossible skin-mask #345 at the start of the episode, for no particular reason other than I guess it was a cool entrance for John Shea.
- Lex has hair again. Flowing, lusciously curly locks in fact. I'm fine with it. I guess it grew back.
- It's interesting to note that in some incarnations of Superman, Clark would be probably be able to tell it wasn't Lois straight away, based on the difference in her cell biology, her scent or even her life-force aura. Again, I'm happy with the level of suspense-friendly power this Clark wields.
- "Lex, you should turn yourself in now and finish out your time."
"I was doing a double-life sentence..."
"You could catch up on your reading!"
- Lois' awful sparkly pink pant-suit that Lex supposedly designed for her to wear after their wedding. He really is crazy.
- The Kents magically appear in Metropolis again. Another week, another $500 flight. They should just establish some kind of portal from Smallville to Metropolis.
- According to IMDb, this episode marks the very first appearance of Bibbo Bibbowski outside of the comics (he didn't appear on the Animated Series for another year). I'm glad he showed up on the series eventually - he could easily have been one of the series' many informant characters.
- "I am the creator, you are the creature!" - This has echoes of Superman IV. Someone should really tell Lex to incorporate some kind of fail-safe device into his creations.
- The scene where Clark and Lex bond over their mutual love for Lois fell a bit flat for me.
- Wanda Detroit's lovesick suitor from Dallas is a dead-ringer for 1989 Patrick Swayze, whether it was intended or not.
Anyone for "Seconds"? Join me next week when we find out just how crazy this story arc is going to get.
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