Superman on Television

Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews

Lois & Clark

Season 3 - Episode 22: "Big Girls Don't Fly"

Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir

Originally Aired: May 12, 1996
Directed by Philip Sgriccia
Written by Brad Buckner, Eugenie-Ross Leming

Guest Cast:
Jon Tenney as Lt. Ching
Roger Daltrey as Tez
Justine Bateman as Sarah/Zara
Rosie Lee Hooks as Mrs. Cutler
Franois Giroday as Jor-El
Shanna Moakler as Pretty Girl


While saving some occupants of a burning building, Superman receives a telepathic communication from Zara and Ching. They explain to him that they are members of a community of Kryptonians who had colonized on another planet prior to Krypton's destruction. They explain that the tests were to find out if Clark is worthy of his arranged marriage - to Zara.

Clark explains to a shocked Lois that he has been married to Zara since birth and that New Krypton is under threat of Civil War. Zara and Ching wish for Clark to return to New Krypton to rule.

Elsewhere, a hideous alien creature is teleported to Smallville by Lord Nor to find Kal-El and kill him.

Clark tries to tell Lois how important this discovery is for him, despite the orders being imposed upon him by Zara and Ching. Zara and Ching explain to them that if Nor succeeds in killing Clark, he will succeed in taking Zara's hand and ruling New Krypton.

Nor's assassin, Taz, travels to the Kent home in Smallville and attacks Jonathan, seeking information about Clark. When Martha walks in, Taz assumes the form of Jonathan.

Lois and Clark go to Zara and Ching's craft where they are shown a message from Jor-El explaining that Kal-El must fulfill his destiny and marry Zara to ensure the peace of Krypton. Tez travels to Metropolis impersonating Martha and tries to kill Clark, before realizing how powerful he is. When Clark receives a call from the real Martha, Tez reveals himself to Clark and escapes.

Clark explains to Zara that he didn't kill Tez because he never kills anyone. He also explains to her how much Lois means to him and how much he is willing to hold onto the relationship he has with her.

Tez takes the form of Jimmy Olsen and threatens Lois, but leaves without harming her - he wants her to grieve. Lois begs Zara to leave but she believes the stakes are simply too high. She explains to Lois that she has feelings for Ching, but can't act on them because of the gravity of the situation.

Clark explains the situation to his parents and they explain that they wish they could tell him to stay, but he needs to decide if this is something he believes in. Clark decides to go with Zara and Ching.

Superman defeats Tez, who commits suicide following his defeat. Nor sends a telepathic message to Clark, Zara and Ching that he awaits their arrival on New Krypton, where he will destroy Kal-El.

Lois bids farewell to Clark when she gives her his wedding ring to wear around his neck.

Superman makes a press conference to the world explaining that he needs to leave Earth, but that a world full of heroes has nothing to fear. He says a final goodbye to his parents and Lois, before flying away with Zara and Ching.

In deep space, Clark communicates to Lois via telepathy, telling her that he loves her.

4Review Rating - 4 (out of 5): Not quite as consistently good as the previous episode, but the stakes and the scale of this episode remain far higher than the majority of Season 3 or much of the entire series prior to now.

Roger Daltrey, lead singer and founder of The Who plays the throwaway alien assassin 'Tez' in this episode. While Roger Daltrey is perfectly menacing in the role, he just looks silly and campy and not the least bit threatening. He also represents a huge missed opportunity - with a wealth of alien villains in Superman comics, here would have been the ideal opportunity to pluck something, anything from the source material rather than simply creating a forgettable new character with no interesting abilities. The lack of tension in the final fight between Superman and Tez is an embarrassment, as is his seppuku-like suicide, seemingly committed solely so the producers wouldn't have to pay to bring Roger Daltrey back anytime soon.

The quality of this episode comes from the warmth of Lois and the Kents as they begrudgingly accept that despite their everlasting love for Clark, that this is something he has to - for his people and for himself. Clark's final reminder to his parents that any good he brings to New Krypton being because of them is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the series (I had a lump in my throat). As always, K Callan and Eddie Jones are excellent.

I was again impressed with Jon Tenney as Ching and particularly enjoyed his interaction with Teri Hatcher. Ching and Lois are kindred spirits - both in love with royalty and both unable to act on their feelings. It's a shame that this is the last we see of Jon Tenney - he and Hatcher were married at the time and divorced in between Season 3 and 4, leading to his replacement with the forgettable Mark Kiely (another 90210 alum who may or may not have appeared in episodes with Dean Cain). One of Lois' final lines to Ching is reminiscent of the attitude of the John Byrne era of comics - "Without kindness, what is a homeland worth? Without love, what are your lives worth?". This was a recurring theme of the Byrne era - wherein Clark's reverence for the humanity, warmth and love of Earth outweighed his respect for the cold, emotionless 'advancement' of Krypton.

Superman's speech to planet Earth on the eve of his departure is terrific and symbolic of the growth Clark has made in strengthening the Superman persona - you can tell that he's not just putting on an act anymore, he truly has become the man he was trying to be in Season One. When he speaks to the people of Metropolis, he's not uncomfortable or shy by the way that they look up to him, there's gravity and strength in his voice. When he says that the world is full of heroes and that it's got nothing to fear, you believe him. Huge praise to Dean Cain who has consistently improved as an actor since the first season.

On a lighter note, Ching has one of the sickest burns of the series when describing the harsh environment of New Krypton: "No fast-food or situation comedies there, Clark!"

I mentioned way back in the early days of these reviews that I had a Fan Theory that would explain away the flimsiness of Clark Kent's disguise in "Lois & Clark". In most other versions of Superman, Clark's public persona is usually quite different to how he looks and acts as Superman - in the Reeve films in particular, his clumsy manner is in stark contrast to how he carries himself as Superman. It makes the somewhat preposterous disguise mildly convincing and it was certainly very entertaining. In "Lois & Clark," the show-runners consciously tried to make Clark Kent, the farmboy journalist the 'true' identity with Superman being the disguise he wears in moments of danger (Clark even uses the word 'disguise' during the first episode when explaining his idea for the Superman costume). The problem with this is that Clark and Superman still appear very similar to each other and unlike the Reeve movies where Clark is such an unlikely candidate for a superhero in disguise, in the world of "Lois & Clark" he's actually quite a plausible candidate. I submit this to the council: Throughout this New Krypton Arc, the Kryptonians are shown to be able to communicate to each other telepathically. In a number of prior episodes, Clark has demonstrated that in moments of extreme emotional stress (such as when he nearly died of the Kryptonian virus), he is able to communicate with Lois across distances. I posit that Clark (and any Kryptonian) can use these mild telepathic abilities with normal Earth humans as well and that Clark is utilizing a 'Super-Hypnosis' to dispel anyone's notions that Clark is anymore than mildly similar in appearance to Superman. It was an idea that floated around in Bronze Age comics before being scrapped (probably because it took the idea so far that they established that the hypnotic image of Clark was that of a weedy little man with a receding hairline and not the handsome square-jawed hunk we were used to). Am I overthinking this? Yes, but that's half the fun of these things.

Reflecting on Season 3 is not an easy task - in many ways it succeeded in finding the right balance of human interaction and comic book action in ways that the previous seasons didn't, it also finally, mercifully embraced a more serialized storytelling approach rather than settling on mostly self-contained stories like Season 2 and especially Season 1. Special-effects wise, Season 3 is inarguably the best season so far, with terrific special effects playing a part in nearly every episode of the season. This is the season where I believed that a man could fly.

But it unwisely pumped in more campy elements than were necessary. I don't believe that the world of Superman should be a humorless, deadly-serious space opera like Zack Snyder or the writers of the New 52 version of the character do - I think a little bit of comedic self-awareness is invaluable to making the character and his world fun and inviting. Half the reason the first Christopher Reeve movie works as well as it does is because of the comedy elements that are interweaved so well into the film's plot. But when you fall too far into the comedic pond you end up in the murky swamp of self-parody, which "Lois & Clark" found itself in too many times this season. There's also the 'tabloid' style of many of the episodes - illegitimate children, evil twins, faked marriages and amnesia, not to mention frog-eating clones. While I enjoyed some of these episodes, it's not unreasonable to see why so many view this as the season where the series jumped the shark.

For me though, for better or worse, this is the only season of the series where the producers, actors and writers genuinely seem to be proud of what they're making and each episode, even the bad ones have a sense of craftsmanship that wasn't always seen in the years where they were desperate to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. For what it's worth, while it's not my favorite year of "Lois & Clark" (that honor probably still goes to Season 1), it might be the best when you sum up the averages of everything that worked and subtract everything that didn't.

As we move into Season 4, this is the last time we'll be able to look forward to another season of the show. It's also the season I've seen the least amount of times - when watching the DVDs, it occurred to me that I was actually seeing some of the later episodes of Season 4 for the first time, which is really quite shocking. It's certainly an underwhelming season overall, full of a lot of the same problems as Season 3 but with less of the enormous scale. Still though, there are some moments of greatness and there's plenty to look forward to. See you guys next week.

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