Superman on Television

Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews

Lois & Clark

Season 3 - Episode 17: "Seconds"

Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir

Originally Aired: February 25, 1996
Directed by Alan J. Levi
Written by John McNamara and Corey D. Miller

Guest Cast:
John Shea as Lex Luthor
Kenneth Kimmins as Dr. Bernard Klein
Shaun Toub as Asabi
Andrew Shaifer as Leonard
Joseph Chapman as Bank V.P.
Mark Daniel Cade as Doctor

Synopsis:

Lois is still living with Lex Luthor under the illusion that she is the fictional Wanda Detroit.

Luthor lures Superman into the open and taunts him by blowing up a nearby building, declaring war between them.

Clone Lois has been imprisoned in STAR Labs and agrees to help Clark. She and Clark plot to withdraw Lex's fortune in bearer bonds (in Lois' name) to flush him out.

Luthor and "Wanda" infiltrate STAR Labs to steal Dr. Mamba's frozen clone subjects. Luthor calls on his old assistant Asabe to train he and Wanda to transfer their consciousness into the clones.

Clark's plot to foil Luthor fails when Luthor creates a diversion with more explosions. Luthor kidnaps Clone-Lois and in exchange for her life, she betrays Clark's secret to Lex.

Lex buys a high-tech molecular destabilizer weapon (capable of killing Superman) from an underground arms dealer. He goes to Kent's household and tortures him, vowing to tell every criminal in the world who he really is. He kidnaps Martha and flees. Clone Lois manages to follow him and lead Superman to his lair. Lex orders Wanda to shoot Superman, but she can't do it. Lex tries to kill Superman himself, but Clone Lois sacrifices herself to save him, killing Luthor in the process.

Wanda/Lois sustains another bad blow to the head and loses her memory entirely.

3Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): A serviceable, enjoyable finale to Luthor's swan-song - it's not that there's anything particularly wrong with it, I just didn't find myself as delighted by it as I was with 'Double Jeopardy'. I do enjoy that Lex becomes privy to The Secret, however killing him off was something of a cop-out when this would have been a ballsy opportunity to re-integrate him into the series (which badly needed a more effective villain by this point). John Shea is of course beautiful throughout the episode - his hamtastic lines so delicious that I find myself wondering if Shea himself didn't contribute to some of the dialogue decisions himself. What always strikes me about this episode however is Hatcher's touching, heartbreaking performance as the Lois Clone, who just can't seem to understand the world no matter how hard she tries and no matter how much she thinks she loves Clark. When she explains to Clark that she has betrayed his secret to Lex, Clark has a sudden sigh of utter panic tempered by his understanding for her situation and his general inability to resent her (or indeed anyone) - it's a really nice, understated moment of acting for Dean Cain, the kind of thing that regularly goes unmentioned where his performance throughout the series is concerned.

Despite Lex's apparent ability to strap bombs to buildings all over the city and his declaration of war towards Superman, he doesn't really do much other than keep Lois' Clone at bay and continue towards his plans of escape with the clueless Wanda Detroit. In "The House of Luthor", it was Lex's utter hatred of Superman that proved his undoing - in this case it's no different (he does seem to buy a multi-million dollar experimental weapon for no particular other reason than to kill Superman), but it would have been more satisfying had there been an evil plot to foil as well (similar to Luthor's destruction of the Daily Planet).

A few notes on various things I liked throughout this episode:

- Lex meets Clone-Lois on the corner of Kirby and Steranko. It's always nice to hear more direct references to the comics.

- When Clark praises the clone's decent-enough plan to draw Lex into the open, she asks "Does that mean you love me?" Genuinely heartbreaking. Really good stuff from Teri Hatcher here.

- Like in "The Phoenix", Lex Luthor uses tranquilizer guns on his enemies. When he offers one to Wanda, she hesitates as seriously as if it were a real gun. I know that the series was specifically family oriented at this point, but come on. The Animated Series that came out that same year got real guns!

- It's taken me this long to realize that the building they use for the exterior of STAR Labs is the same building they use for O.C.P. Headquarters in the original "RoboCop" - Dallas City Hall. However in that film, they matte-painted more stories onto it.

- Lex has a magnificent evil-gasm when he finally discovers that Clark is Superman. When the clone asks him if he will now help save her life he responds - "Never trust anyone. There's no reversing your lifespan. You will die. In two days. A soulless, paper-thin copy. Unloved in life, unmourned in death and forgotten faster than you ever lived. Have a nice week!" AMAZING. What a sick burn. Ironically the clone wasn't forgotten very quickly at all, as this storyline is still brought up as the jump-the-shark moment for the series (even if I'd argue that it's not that bad and certainly no worse than some of the horrors to come).

- A completely unnecessarily silly scene with the arms dealer derails the tense tone of the episode. Has Lex got an unlimited list of shady people with weapons that can kill Superman?

- Lex's final epitaph is a little too tortured-teen: "How little you understood me. How little anyone ever did."

Next week we begin to trudge through the real junk of Season 3 before ending on another high note. Join me for 'Forget Me Not'.



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