NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Superman & Lois” are present in this review
It’s a bittersweet week for Superman & Lois, the series that’s continuing to embarrass the rest of the current Arrowverse lineup with its outstanding quality so far. Sadly though, after COVID-19 complications stalled the production of its first season’s next run of episodes, Superman & Lois is going on hiatus for a couple of months after this week, set to return for the remainder of its debut season in mid-May. The sixth and final season of Supergirl will be debuting in Superman & Lois’ Tuesday night timeslot starting next week, which doesn’t feel like a very good consolation prize, but at the very least, “The Best of Smallville” helps Superman & Lois enter its two-month hiatus on a reliably superb note.
“The Best of Smallville” places the spotlight on some of Clark’s history growing up in the eponymous Kansas town, specifically through the lens of Clark struggling to reach adulthood without a father, and taking his first steps as a super-powered vigilante, thwarting crime around the area. This is timed alongside the Smallville Harvest Festival in the present day, the favoured event of the Arrowverse’s late Martha Kent, which in turn happens to be timed with both Jordan’s first date with Sarah, and Jonathan being dumped over the phone by his girlfriend in Metropolis. There’s quite a lot going on with the Kent boys this week, despite General Lane and his urging to keep the boys in line sitting out this week’s episode, and by extension, the two months that Superman & Lois will be spending off the air.
This episode’s proper events get going after an incident with the initial batch of Harvest Festival donations however, after missing young man, Derek Powell mysteriously returns to his mother, who then tries to dissuade Lois and Chrissy from further pursuing their investigation into Morgan Edge. Clearly, something fishy is afoot, and that suspicion is confirmed for the audience after Derek suddenly becomes overloaded with a mysterious energy, causing a burst of heat vision to erupt and burn down the Harvest Festival donation center! Kyle and his firefighters are able to put the blaze out, with some help from an unseen Clark, but one of the Smallville firefighters suffers potentially permanent lung damage in the process, which sends Kyle into his latest drinking spiral.
It’s still fascinating to see how an otherwise fantastical concept like the one behind Superman & Lois continues to provide some surprisingly grounded stakes for its characters, and the conflicts they face. Kyle’s drunken stupor in turn ends up affecting Sarah, for example, which makes her extra sensitive after Jonathan is caught drinking with some of his high school friends, ultimately causing Sarah to walk out on her date with Jordan. I’m not really sure how that’s Jordan’s fault, but then again, this does seem to be true to Sarah’s character. I confess that the drama for the Kent boys did feel a tad hokey at times this week, especially since it merely served as a transparent excuse to migrate Sarah and Jordan into a friendship, rather than a romantic relationship, but this may pay off better for their characters in the long run, I suppose. Likewise, Jonathan’s breakup, and initial attempt to flee back to Metropolis, nicely mirrors Clark leaving Smallville at a young age himself, and regretting the time he lost out on with his late adoptive mother.
Naturally, despite Derek coming home, Lois’ and Chrissy’s investigation into Morgan Edge and Leslie Larr appears to be far from over as well. Chrissy remains on the trail of Leslie (Edge himself is absent in this episode), and is eventually surprised to see that Leslie and Derek not only appear to have a romantic relationship, but that Leslie is intentionally giving Derek Kryptonian-like powers! That, along with a subsequent chase by Superman, is exciting enough on its own merits, but the really fantastic shocker in this storyline actually came from Lois! After encountering Captain Luthor, who poses as a Reuters reporter to help Lois with her Morgan Edge investigation, Luthor continues to tail Lois and Clark alike, and eventually reveals that on his Earth, Lois fell in love with him, not Clark! Could this have something to do with why Luthor’s Superman went mad with power on his alternate Earth? Either way, this is a pretty promising twist, one that continues to highlight the appeal of the post-Crisis live-action DC Multiverse, despite the Arrowverse still not directly interacting with said new multiverse at this point.
The shocking Lois twist may be something cool to stew on while Superman & Lois takes two months off from here, but that wasn’t the end of Luthor’s involvement in this week’s events. After trying to chase down and target Superman, Luthor unwittingly mortally wounds Derek instead, whose X-Kryptonite exposure suddenly spins out of control. The result is Derek’s yellow sun energy roasting him from the inside out, while Clark at least manages to get home to his family. Before Derek dies however, he gives some key clues as to what Leslie and Edge may be up to, referencing the fact that he was, “Resurrected” in particular. Could Leslie be inserting a Kryptonian consciousness into a human body, maybe? Could she be using X-Kryptonite to try and stabilize the transformation? It would certainly explain why Leslie is in an inexplicable romantic relationship with someone like Derek Powell, especially if Leslie herself is Kryptonian, a la her inspiration from DC Comics lore, Lesla-Lar.
A final promising turn occurs towards the end of this episode as well, after Morgan Edge pays out of pocket to restore the Smallville Harvest Festival’s lost donations, including the minting of a memorial bench for Martha Kent! This seemingly wins Lana over to Edge’s side, leaving Lois with even less of a leg to stand on when it comes to trying to expose Edge’s dirty dealings to Smallville. Even so, “The Best of Smallville” does a great job of further fleshing out the mysteries behind Superman & Lois, while also effectively delving into some of the family history for both Clark and Luthor. Likewise, the interesting experiments of Leslie Larr continue to take new and interesting turns, with Tag Harris also appearing to be their latest victim, after he attacks and corners Jordan during an ending cliffhanger. It’s too bad that the series couldn’t find a more organic way to transition Jordan and Sarah into just being friends, but at least Clark was able to effectively apply his own family history to a grief-stricken Jonathan, after Jonathan loses his last major link to Metropolis upon being dumped by his girlfriend.
As much as Edge and Leslie continue to be the most active threat to Smallville as well, Luthor also continues to remain a tantalizing wild card in the equation. The revelation that he’s in love with at least his Earth’s version of Lois nicely complicates things further, in turn promising a compelling tragedy wherein another Luthor’s would-be delusions of heroism ultimately transform him into one of the world’s most dangerous villains.
- Effective showcase of Clark's adolescent struggles
- Twisted new details behind Leslie's experiments
- Luthor's surprising connection to Lois
- Some of the Jonathan/Jordan drama is a tad hokey