Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 19: "Oedipus Wrecks"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: March 24, 1996
Directed by Kenn Fuller
Written by David Simkins
Daniel Roebuck as Herkimer Johnson
Larry Poindexter as Dr. Maxwell Deter
Kenneth Kimmins as Dr. Bernard Klein
Renée Taylor as Roweena Johnson
Bill Dearth as Worker
Reggie Jordan as Paramedic
Superman questions Dr. Deter regarding Lois' strange infatuation with him. Deter insists there's nothing to worry about and that it's all part of Lois' treatment.
Meanwhile at the Metropolis Warehouse, a security guard breaks into a storage area containing the criminal technology of Bad Brain Johnson. He sets off the alarm, alerting Superman. As soon as Superman leaves, Deter makes romantic advances toward Lois - kissing her. The man who stole the technology is a patient of Dr. Deter's named "Mr. Smith" (in reality Herkimer Johnson, brother of Bad Brain Johnson).
Perry tells Clark not to worry about Dr. Deter - that he's a professional and that Clark should trust his judgement. Lois wants to join Clark on the Bad Brain story, but Deter insists on coming with them.
Herkimer Johnson unleashes a vicious weapon upon Metropolis that sends a shockwave of energy throughout the city leaving everyone in Metropolis open to suggestion. Lois flashes back to a number of past experiences and nearly crashes the car she's driving. Smith drops a crucial part of his control mechanism, canceling out the energy wave.
Dr Klein explains that the energy wave must have been electromagnetic in nature. Lois and Clark decide to visit Bad Brain Johnson's eccentric mother to try and get an idea of his personal background. She misses him dearly, but doesn't say a word about her other son Herkimer.
Clark suggests that Lois stop seeing Dr. Deter - he doesn't trust his motives. Lois suspects there's something no one is telling her - Clark reveals that he loves her and tries to kiss her, but it takes Lois aback and she rushes back to Deter's office, telling him that she just wants all of this to be over. Deter hypnotizes her into believing that she loves him.
Lois promptly goes to the Daily Planet and quits, explaining to Clark, Jimmy and Perry that she is moving to the south of France with 'Max' Deter. Another one of Johnson's electromagnetic waves travels through the Daily Planet and Lois has another flashback montage of memories, reminding her of all the times she has been rescued by Superman. She also realizes that Herkimer Johnson is the brother of Bad Brain - she and Deter head to the Johnson household where Deter, in a panic, tries to destroy Johnson's machinery so that Lois won't discover how he has been hypnotizing her. He accidentally sets off another blast causing Lois to remember everything. Superman arrives in time to destroy the machine and apprehend Johnson and Deter.
Lois tells Clark that she remembers everything, that she loves him and that she wants to be married.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): The pointless "Lois Amnesia" arc (or "Aaaargh!" as an L&C fan affectionately put it in an email I received) mercifully ends on a relatively high note. While there are some flaws of note, the episode is awash with enough pleasant entertainment, wonderful continuity and some fan-service that keeps it from floundering to the mediocrity of its predecessor.
The episode admittedly has a rocky start with a dazed, zombie-like Lois hanging on every word of Dr. Deter - one can sense that Teri Hatcher is uncomfortable in a scene that depicts Lois as being so utterly helpless. It's been too damn long since we've seen the world-beating Lois Lane of Season 1 and 2. For almost half of Season 3 she's been a helpless, lovestruck fool (and that's not mentioning the episodes where her relationship with Clark was used as a high-concept parody of domestic disputes) and one can forgive Teri Hatcher's seeming boredom in scenes like this. Luckily she's mostly quite solid in the episode.
Of special high note is Dean Cain who continues to play a world-weary Clark Kent haunted by his current predicament that all the super strength in the world can't solve. For all the ups and downs "Lois & Clark" has suffered through its schizophrenic third season, Dean Cain has not been one of them - he has consistently grown and matured as an actor from Season 1 and some of his acting in Season 3 has been outstanding. One particularly effective scene is when Deter and the once-again-brainwashed Lois tell the Daily Planet that they are moving to the south of France where she will attend private consultations with Deter (it seems strange that Deter would attend such an announcement, given that he must have known he'd incur the wrath of Clark, Perry and Jimmy but, however). Clark warns Deter that he has NO idea who he's talking to - it's particularly chilling, and for a brief moment you suspect that Clark would go to any length not to lose Lois again.
Any time I've watched this episode over the years, I've always found it to be an odd, almost off-putting choice to resurrect a villain (with a silly name) who only appeared in one episode (and even then, he wasn't the main villain but a scapegoat for the actual villains). Herkimer Johnson is deceptively compelling however (for someone who looks and sounds ridiculous) and it shows signs that the creators were proud of what they had accomplished in previous episodes of the series. His constant need of approval from his mother parallels Clark trying to win Lois over from Deter.
Clark's apprehensiveness towards Deter is a little bit more forgivable in this episode than it was in the previous one. At least in this episode, one of the characters sensibly tries to remind Clark that this is a well-respected, celebrated professional. Dr. Deter remains a hollow, pointless character but at least his agency makes sense in the world of the show. He's ultimately extracted in the way that we all wanted to with a magnificent KO-punch from Lois - I like to think that it was the writers expressing their frustration with the network for refusing to allow Lois and Clark to just get married already.
Some stray observations:
- Bad Brain's mother has a very odd moment of dialogue where she recalls how he used to send her meat from prison - "Tasted like chicken...only better!" Was he sending her human flesh?!
- "Charlton Heston was President?" "Actually she's right - in an alternate reality." Excellent nod back to "Tempus, Anyone?"
- An amnesiac Lois mistakes Jimmy Olsen for Jimmy Carter
- During the "brainwash" sequence in the final act, a member of the newsroom accidentally hits the power button on a radio playing a truly bizarre piece of rap music with gibberish lyrics. My initial reaction was that this was a shockingly inappropriate spoof of inaudible 90s rap, but it turns out it is an actual song called 'Old Man on the Bridge' by a band named King Kong.
This song gives us what is for me, the best Lane Smith moment in the entire series. In a newsroom full of people trying their best to dance ridiculously without looking too foolish (including an apprehensive Justin Whalin and a relatively disinterested Larry Poindexter as Deter), the god-blessed Smith is on another level - another stratosphere of hilarious. His subconscious seems to be hastily combining traditional Elvis rockabilly moves with misshapen interpretations of "What thee uh - kids are uh - doin' these days..." resulting in a sort of soul-dance that is tribal, traditional and contemporary all at once. It's absolutely beautiful and had me laughing for days afterward. This of course comes only moments after he utters the sensational Perry-line: "The gates are up and this calamity train is going to stop NOW!"
That's all for now, folks. Join me next week for what many regard as being one of the very worst episodes of the entire series "It's a Small World After All". Such a wasted opportunity to feature a cameo appearance from The Atom.
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