NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Superman & Lois” are present in this review
Superman & Lois has finally revealed Morgan Edge’s biggest secret, namely that he’s not Morgan Edge at all. Instead, the man posing as Edge this whole time is actually Tal-Roh, a lost Kryptonian half-brother to Clark, who has made it his mission to conquer Earth, and subsequently restore Krypton on what remains. “O Mother, Where Art Thou?” changes a few details behind this well-worn Superman Family storyline, but if you’re feeling like Tal-Roh’s plot is almost identical to that of regular Superman Family arch-villain, General Zod (especially Michael Shannon’s Zod from 2013’s DC Extended Universe launcher movie, Man of Steel), you’re not alone. In fact, Tal-Roh kind of feels like a poor person’s General Zod overall, and that kind of hurts Superman & Lois’ big endgame for its debut season.
Neither Tal-Roh nor his father, Zeta-Roh, a former genetic match for Clark’s birth mother, Lara Lor-Van on Krypton, appear to exist in DC Comics lore, though Tal-Roh’s father’s name could be a reference to the Zeta-Beam, a teleportation device used by DC’s spacefaring anti-hero, Adam Strange. Either way, the present point wherein Superman & Lois inevitably has to create a major threat for Superman to face during this season’s climax inevitably becomes a problem, both because many familiar Superman Family villains have already been burned through on Supergirl, and also because Superman & Lois seems to have become deathly allergic to referencing that aforementioned series that spawned it. This seemingly forces Superman & Lois to fall back on tired Superman Family tropes, rather than crafting a more effectively distinct threat that Kara hasn’t already encountered and defeated in the Arrowverse’s National City.
It previously seemed like Superman & Lois was better finding its place in the Arrowverse at large over the past few weeks, between the brilliant ‘Captain Luthor’ twist surrounding John Henry Irons, and this more recent reveal that Morgan Edge was a Kryptonian imposter all along, thus explaining his many tweaks and recasting from Edge’s previous appearance on Supergirl. Once again though, Superman & Lois is confusing the Arrowverse’s canon by crafting a narrative for Clark that’s based around the pretense of Clark not having a Kryptonian family on Earth-Prime. Except, he totally does, because Kara Danvers exists in this universe, and she and Clark have already interacted with each other during Arrowverse crossover events, most notably Crisis on Infinite Earths, a major DC Multiverse event that Superman & Lois has already referenced several times! So, what the hell is going on?! Where does Superman & Lois fit in the grand scheme of the Arrowverse, and why is the show refusing to acknowledge the events and characters of Supergirl, which would seemingly render Clark’s whole supposed ‘vulnerability’ regarding his Kryptonian family completely moot anyway?! Is that directly the reason why Superman & Lois is deliberately trying to sweep Supergirl under the rug?!
Okay, putting aside the fact that Superman & Lois’ villain plot doesn’t seem to totally work in its current form, the show’s latest episode still had plenty of great human storylines, so at least that end of the series’ narrative is still firing on all cylinders. The stakes really heat up on this end as well, once General Lane finally tracks Kyle Cushing back to his home (big leap there, DOD), at which point Lois shows up and exposes him, leading to Kyle being captured by Lane’s forces. This is also around the point when Sarah is told the truth about her father by Jonathan, leading to Sarah also having to confront what her father has become, after Sarah initially blames her mother for her father’s recent messes.
Sarah learning the true stakes behind Kyle’s behaviour does somewhat trip up her initial tension with her mother, but in the end, the Cushing family manages to come back together again, even as it finds yet another excuse to push Sophie aside. Sarah still remains mostly removed from the proper struggles of the Kent family, despite Lana now being fully in on them, and I guess Kyle as well, but she’s inching closer to more intriguing developments with the Kent boys. Sarah will no doubt inevitably join Jonathan’s and Jordan’s inner circle eventually, probably by the end of this season, though even then, it seems that all of Smallville has had to bear witness to the rise of Edge’s Subjekts, whom Edge eventually sends after Clark, following Clark predictably refusing to align himself with Edge’s Kryptonian invaders.
This marks the point when Superman & Lois has to tidy up its Subjekt problem, which it does find a fairly cool way to do, if also a conveniently clean one. In one of this episode’s best story turns, General Lane’s soldiers eventually capture Dr. Dabney Donovan, one of the overseers of Edge’s Kryptonian consciousness machine (Donovan is a co-founder of enemy Superman Family faction, Project Cadmus in DC Comics lore, but he appears to have no connection to Cadmus in the Arrowverse), at which point Lana volunteers to receive the consciousness of Lara, in order to determine how to save the Subjekts. This is not only a brave gesture that once again allows Lana to step up for Smallville in a way that not even the Kent family can, but also a heartwarming reunion between Clark and his birth mother, whereupon Lara can see that Clark became the man she always hoped he would be, complete with an Earth family of his own.
The final piece of the Subjekt puzzle is a doozy for Clark however; Using Clark’s Solar Flare ability to overcharge Lara’s Eradicator, which will erase the Kryptonian consciousnesses from all of Edge’s Subjekts. After Edge sends the entirety of the Subjekts after Clark, Clark expels all of his yellow sun energy to go through with this dicey plan, returning all of the Subjekts to their regular human forms, including Kyle, as well as erasing Lara’s consciousness from Lana. Unfortunately though, Clark failed to ‘cure’ Leslie/Irma, who was out of Smallville during the time of this trick, allowing her to regroup with Edge at some unknown location. Worse still is that Clark is now without his powers, possibly for several days, leaving him to crawl into the Fortress of Solitude with the Eradicator, before passing out. That’s definitely not great, especially when this leaves Smallville wide open to whatever dark plan Edge and Leslie are no doubt formulating at this point!
“O Mother, Where Art Thou?” sees Superman & Lois hitting a few too many speed bumps, especially for general Arrowverse enthusiasts that will quickly notice Edge’s/Tal-Roh’s plan hinging on Clark forgetting about the existence of his own cousin. Despite the show nor soaring quite as high as it usually does this week however, there were still some really great moments shared between the show’s human characters, as well as Clark and Lara, once Lana steps up as a volunteer to host the consciousness of Clark’s late birth mother. Clark’s risky plan to restore the Subjekts to fully human form is also exciting, on top of offering the Cushing family another chance to try and pull themselves together again. With the Subjekts now having all been cleansed of their Kryptonian hijackers as well, Edge and Leslie will have to pivot for their next grand scheme, possibly indicating that the war John Henry Irons warned about might not be fully averted yet.
- Sarah moving closer to Jonathan's and Jordan's inner circle
- Clark's heartwarming reunion with his birth mother
- Clark using all of his power to save the Subjekts
- Tal-Roh is a trite villain so far
- The narrative once again refuses to account for Supergirl