NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Superman & Lois” are present in this review
Superman & Lois made a strong first impression during its extended first episode last week, establishing that the series has the potential to be the best Arrowverse series since The Flash. The show’s intelligent narrative and rich characterization continued into its second week as well, nicely building off of the more expected establishment of the pilot, which in turn leads to a few more interesting curveballs surrounding the lead characters. “Heritage” predictably involves the Kent family struggling to settle into their new lives in Smallville, predictably as Clark tries to take Jordan to the Fortress of Solitude, only to learn something surprising from his birth father’s hologram. Meanwhile, Lois runs into her own issues with Morgan Edge, who attends a town council meeting to announce his plans for the Smallville community.
This is the first time that we’re meeting Morgan Edge on Superman & Lois, who, like General Lane, has been recast after originally appearing on Supergirl a few seasons back. Adrian Pasdar portrayed Edge on Supergirl, but Adam Rayner has taken over the role for Superman & Lois, curiously retconning Edge into an outwardly likable British man. That’s a pretty significant switch, but maybe it’s a consequence of the post-Crisis Earth-Prime changing Edge’s and Lane’s appearance and background? Well, in any case, Lois decides to attend Edge’s town council meeting, where she also meets an idealistic reporter named Chrissy Beppo. Chrissy works for the Smallville Gazette, and appears to idolize Lois, though Lois nonetheless finds her suspicions about Edge spurned by the rest of the town, particularly Kyle, after she tries to publicly call Edge out for his prior misdeeds at the meeting.
Now that Edge owns the Daily Planet as well, Lois finds her former media platform quickly defanged, and robbed of its ability to expose danger for Smallville. She also appears to be developing fresh tension with Kyle, following Lana deciding to invite the Kent family to a Cushing family barbecue. This predictably turns into an opportunity for Superman & Lois to dive into a social justice-fueled narrative, because The CW just can’t seem to help itself in this regard, but one thing that’s refreshing in the case of this series is that it’s done in a much smarter, more mature way. Rather than being portrayed as a bully or a simpleton that’s obviously in the wrong, Kyle challenges Lois in a way that’s both engaging, and doesn’t provide easy answers. Even so, this is done without defeating Lois’ convictions, particularly when Edge re-writes Lois’ story about him, leading to Lois quitting the Daily Planet as a result, and instead taking up a station with Chrissy at the Smallville Gazette.
This is certainly a bold, very risky move for the Kent’s, who now seem to be without any kind of discernible income for the time being, but this move does nonetheless feel true to Lois’ character. For better or worse, Lois leaving the Daily Planet also completely severs the Kent parents from their former lives in Metropolis, to a greater extent than Jonathan and Jordan. These two face their own problems to equally inspired effect this week, after Jonathan predictably runs into issues trying to join Smallville’s high school football team. Jonathan and Jordan inevitably encounter their own brotherly tension after Jordan is taken to the Fortress of Solitude in lieu of school as well, only for Clark to be told that Jordan’s skin can’t contain much yellow sun energy. Because of this, Jordan is much weaker than Clark, and can barely manifest any kind of Kryptonian powers, let alone on command.
This is a standout turn for Jordan’s character, especially since it means that Jordan won’t just be handed a mantle as the next Man of Steel. It once again puts Jordan into the position of being a freak and an outcast, even if he does eventually reconcile with Jonathan, thanking him for agreeing to move to Smallville. I have to say, it’s awesome to see how much Jonathan and Jordan are written to be believable, flawed teenage brothers, and not idealized, soapboxing drama queens like too many of the characters on Supergirl and Batwoman. The tension shared between Clark and General Lane is equally effective, as Lane continues to warn Clark that he won’t ever attain, “The simple life”, and should instead focus his energy on trying to track down and defeat the mysterious stranger that he encountered during the previous episode.
The audience, naturally, knows that this stranger is a Luthor, and appears to be a variation of Lex Luthor from another Earth. On that note, it so far looks like my Alexander Luthor theory is bang on the money to boot! Captain Luthor refuses to attack General Lane when he corners him, instead handing over what appear to be dog tags, with a mysterious number engraved on them. Before Clark can knock away Luthor, he also warns Lane that Clark must be stopped, and that he and Lane were in that battle together on Luthor’s Earth. This certainly wouldn’t suggest a conventionally villainous take on a Luthor, and the end of this episode seemingly cements Captain Luthor as a tragic figure to boot, even as he obsessively hunts for Kryptonite and other anti-Superman resources. This is done via an ending flashback to Luthor’s Earth, one that may not actually have been destroyed during Crisis on Infinite Earths, and instead may have been conquered and decimated by its own version of Superman! As I suspected, the Superman of Luthor’s Earth was a villainous tyrant, one that massacred numerous people in a bid of conquest! On top of that, Luthor also confirms that his Superman was originally much like the Arrowverse’s Superman, which explains why he’s determined to stop Clark at any cost!
Between all of these many exciting story arcs, Superman & Lois continues to fire on all cylinders during its second week! Now that the show is finished establishing the Arrowverse’s Smallville and its various denizens as well, it can focus on developing the core cast of Superman & Lois to great effect, while also setting up a pretty superb mystery behind Captain Luthor, and his connection to Clark. In fact, the only slight gripe surrounding Superman & Lois at this point is the fact that it’s refusing to recognize its place in the shared Arrowverse to a fault. Specifically, the series is still refusing to reference Supergirl, the very show it spun off from. I get that the producers and writers don’t want to distract viewers with a ton of Arrowverse references and tie-ins this early, but even so, why is no one talking about Edge’s former affairs in National City? Is Edge’s history on Supergirl even still canon within The CW’s post-Crisis Earth-Prime? Not only that, but why can’t Clark’s cousin, Kara step in to help ease the world-saving load, and free up more family time for Clark? It’s distracting when General Lane acts as if Kara doesn’t exist, despite the fact that he’s also supposed to have had history with Clark’s less famous cousin in National City, at least on Supergirl’s former pre-Crisis setting on Earth-38. Again, is that still canon post-Crisis?
We may have to wait for Supergirl’s upcoming sixth and final season to begin airing later this year before we have a chance of clarifying whether Kara’s former history with Morgan Edge and General Lane still happened in Earth-Prime’s timeline, or whether these respective histories only occurred on the pre-Crisis Earth-38. As much as the show’s failure to reference Supergirl is currently creating a few annoying plot holes however, it’s tough to deny that Superman & Lois is otherwise still flying high in its second episode! The added twist with Jordan’s manifesting abilities is a nice curveball, as is Lois’ convictions fully entrenching her against the corporate machinations of Morgan Edge, even at the cost of her career and reputation. The newest hints surrounding Captain Luthor’s backstory are equally tantalizing, seemingly portraying an alternate Lex Luthor that’s trying to save Earth-Prime from Superman’s seemingly inevitable turn to the dark side. It would seem for now that Superman & Lois’ great series premiere was no fluke. Even in week two, this show appears to be the best new offering to come out of the Arrowverse in over half a decade!
- Jordan's manifesting abilities already hitting barriers
- Lois sacrificing everything against Morgan Edge
- Captain Luthor's tragic motivations
- The series refusing to reference Supergirl is starting to create plot holes
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