Superman and Lois has a tough job this week, and its their own fault. The pilot was so good that it set expectations for the rest of the first season up, up, and away. The second episode manages to expand on the family dynamic of the Kent-Lane home while making sure all the characters, including both Clark and Superman have things to do. Our one misgiving is the same as it was last week. Spoilers follow for Superman and Lois Season 1, Episode 2, “Heritage.”
The Kent kids know that their dad is Superman, and that at least one of them has inherited some of his abilities. Meanwhile, they’re also trying to move from the hustle and bustle of Metropolis that both kids have known since they were born. This week we see how the new power differential between the Kent twins changes their relationship (or doesn’t!) and get a better idea of what Lois might get up to in her new environment.
For Jordan, that means hang time with pops. The two zip over to the Fortress of Solitude, and Jordan’s eyes are wide as his dad begins to let him into all of these secrets he’s been keeping. In the fortress, we meet the hologram of Jor-El, Clark’s Kryptonian father. It should’ve been obvious right up front, but the show makes it clear for all us dum-dums: Jordan is named after Jor-El. The simulated Kryptonian assesses Jordan’s abilities and determines that he has little in the way of actual Kryptonian power.
It’s not hard to sympathize with Jordan. The kid, who already deals with severe anxiety, has been through a rollercoaster of emotions. He almost died, found out his dad is a superhero, that he’s half space alien, that he’s moving from his birth home to a rural town, and that his powers are a barely-controllable pile of diddly squat in a very short period of time. He handles it pretty well, considering.
Jonathan’s time is comparatively limited. He’s getting harassed at school over his brother smooching Sarah Cushing at the bonfire where every kid in town was apparently hanging out. The show does something I didn’t expect though, putting Jonathan in the same corner as Lois. He’s someone who had a promising and normal human life in Metropolis. Like his mother, he gave that life up so that his Kryptonian counterpart–his twin brother, in this case–could learn about his abilities in a safe space. Superman and Lois doesn’t shy away from showing the brothers being at odds with each other, but so far its always returned to the idea that they’re close and that they ultimately care deeply about each other.
One of the things Superman and Lois is going to be constantly fighting with is to keep the show about Superman and Lois. The show isn’t titled Jonathan and Jordan, but as discussed in the review of the pilot episode, the CW is kind of known for teen drama. One of the important aspects will be to carefully balance letting us see things from the twins’ point of view and from Lois and Clark’s points of view as parents.
Problems you can’t punch
Meanwhile, Lois is already starting to get into trouble. By the end of the episode, she’s quit the Daily Planet and picked up a job at the newspaper in Smallville. The dying town is in the crosshairs of Morgan Edge, a powerful businessman. To the townspeople, it looks like he’s there to give them jobs and save the town, but Lois has personal experience with the guy. The show is setting up another problem perfect for Superman. Any problem that you can punch, Superman can handle with aplomb. A good Superman story needs problems that give Superman a tough time but that he can’t punch. Morgan Edge is ultimately a problem for Lois to dig up and fix on her own, but one that will affect Clark and the kids before that resolution.
Press Start to Begin
Superman and Lois makes good on the Superman part, too. We learn more about Captain Luthor and his motivations, and how that will come down on the Man of Steel. But first, I want to address the elephant in the room. It’s normal for a Luthor to have power armor to fight Superman; that’s a tale as old as time. But usually they do something interesting. Supergirl had its share of problems in season 5, but they had the confidence to give Jon Cryer’s superb Lex an equally noteworthy suit and the courage to call it a Lexosuit.
Cryer’s Lexosuit is brightly colored with green, purple, and orange. It takes inspiration from Superman stories, Iron Man, and Gladiator armor. If you dropped this image in front of anyone who thinks of themselves as a Superman fan, they’d be able to identify it immediately.
Now, Captain Luthor is not Lex Luthor; Earth-Prime has a Lex, and he’s busy hanging out in Central City. But Captain Luthor, whether he ends up being an interesting character, has the least interesting possible power armor. It’s so boring that two video games have already done the same thing. Here’s a picture of Captain Luthor, flanked on either side by Halo’s Master Chief and the protagonist from the DOOM games.
I know what you’re thinking. They’re the same picture. I agree. In this particular aspect, the creators seem to have leaned too hard into the “What if its a thing people like, but Dark and Gritty” question studios have been asking themselves since the 1990s. Unless Captain Luthor is the fabled Doom Slayer (no, not that one), that armor is incredibly disappointing.
With that said, I’m super interested to see what this Luthor’s story is. We get enough glimpses to see that on the Earth he comes from, Superman wore a black suit and killed soldiers indiscriminately. Luthor thinks all Supermen on all Earths are the same and seeks to destroy this one. We don’t know yet if this Luthor is as smart as Cryer’s; he might be a soldier using otherworldly tech he brought with, rebuilding with help from the AI that accompanies him. Hopefully that’s not the case.
But I still can’t help but wonder if the creators are aware of how much their generic powersuit looks like the other generic powersuits out there. And whether or not id Software and Microsoft are getting ready to sue. I’m joking, mostly.
Right now, Superman and Lois has a great balance. It seems to be Clark and Lois first, Superman second, and the kids third. They’ve really met only one other teenager in town in any meaningful way, and the show doesn’t lean too heavily on angst before balancing it out with some genuine joy. But seriously, does no one on the Superman and Lois staff play video games?