If there was a question as to whether or not the showrunners for Superman and Lois and actor Tyler Hoechlin ‘get’ Superman, this week’s opening answered any lingering doubts I might’ve had thanks to a pitch-perfect opening sequence. Superman is as loving as he is strong, and friendly even to total strangers. Spoilers follow for Superman and Lois Season 1, Episode 3, “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower.”
“The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower”
As the episode opens, the Kent-Lane family is putting their stamp on the Kent farm by repainting. Everyone is in a good mood and teasing each other, and it’s a sweet moment. But then Clark hears a sound and suddenly, he’s gone. The kids are starting to get the hang of Dad disappearing.
When we find Clark–now Superman–a bridge is collapsing, and Superman catches it just in time. He looks down to see a man fishing directly below the bridge and, listen, Clark is a friendly dude with or without this cape on. He can’t help himself, and he waves at the fisherman before realizing he’s now holding the bridge up with just one hand. The bridge doesn’t budge, but Supes looks a little embarrassed. He genuinely didn’t mean to show off.
If that’s not the most Superman moment that’s been captured on film, it’s definitely in competition for the top moments, and the best part is that it feels like it’s genuinely indicative of the tone of the show so far. Superman’s life is complicated, but he’s a happy guy who loves all the different parts of his life–even when things go sideways.
It’s a Superful Life
It seems like Superman and Lois isn’t so much about the adventures of Superman as it is what its like to live life as Superman. The show is concerned with every part of Superman’s world and with the way he has to balance those different aspects.
One aspect of this is the way he uses his powers when it comes to his family. These kinds of moments can lead to really interesting interactions. We see Superman use his Kryptonian senses to protect random citizens of Metropolis and the greater world, but what about the people he loves?
After lecturing Jordan about using his powers carefully, the boys catch Clark in a hypocritical moment. One of Jordan’s bullies was leaning on him, and Clark randomly chose that moment to show up and act like an affable dork. Left unchecked, even Superman is capable of abusing his powers with the best of intentions, making him sort of the ultimate helicopter parent.
That leads to the revelation that Lois once nearly left Clark because of his protective overreach. Even in the most normal of circumstances, it can be hard for people to let their loved ones get into trouble and screw up. Superman and Lois imagines how tough that would be for the Man of Steel who has a heart of gold and ears that can hear the whole world.
That dovetails into Lois’ own story. The intrepid reporter quit her job at the Daily Planet due to owner Morgan Edge rewriting one of her stories, and is in the process of investigating Edge’s interest in Smallville and New Carthage. Lois is following up on a lead when she runs into some Superman-grade trouble. A superpowered thug is attempting to murder a woman that Lois needs to interview when she interrupts.
Lois has a close call, but manages to hit the button on her Super Pager and Superman slams through the wall. The guy seems like a match for Superman at first–a reminder that the level of danger is higher on Earth-Prime than it was back in the days of the Hood protecting Starling City. It’s a rad fight that shows just how quickly Superman can move and lets him put some of his powers to the test. As bad as the effects on The Flash were last week, Superman and Lois are still getting lots of attention from the CW’s CG team.
Back in Smallville are the other parts of Clark’s life: the people that live around him, and his growing sons.
We see Smallville through the eyes of Lana Cushing, formerly Lana Lang. She and Clark were once a thing, but she stayed behind when he left to go literally kick ass and take names in Metropolis. Lana’s life is falling apart, though, and her daughter Sarah is struggling, too. Both feel stuck in Smallville, and while Sarah tries to maintain a hopeless-feeling life, Lana’s marriage is falling apart.
But they live in Smallville. Just as with Blue Valley in Stargirl, this is a modern look at what a small town feels like. News travels quickly in small towns, and that means that people outside your direct circle can quickly learn details of your life, and so Lana puts up a face that she wants people to see, protecting herself from her vulnerability, damaging her daughter all the while. This is an opening for a story about Lana herself, but it’s also going to end up as a wake-up call for Clark. The version of Smallville he remembers doesn’t exist anymore and it might have never existed.
Finally, there’s the boys, Jonathan and Jordan. This will continue to be the toughest part for the show to balance, and for Clark himself. The CW has a bad rap for being a teen drama channel despite the fact that most of its stars are in their mid 30s. If Superman and Lois leans too far into teen angst, it will only confirm those suspicions.
So far though, the show continues to toe the line well. Jordan and Jonathan are each going through different sets of changes. Jordan decides after being bullied that he wants to get back at his bullies by joining the football team and terrifying them. Only what happens instead is that he has a good time. He knocks his bully on his butt, and then apologizes for kissing his girlfriend and helps him up.
Jonathan, meanwhile, is no longer the football star, despite football having been his thing. And instead of freaking out about it, he realizes pretty quickly that his brother, the sad, lonely, isolated kid–who is now dealing with being different from everyone he knows in yet another way thanks to his Kryptonian-Human blood–is making friends and smiling. He sticks up for his brother rather than thinking about his own needs.
The respect and care between the twins is one of the highlights of the show. They constantly defy my expectations and make interesting decisions both for themselves and with regard to each other.
Superman and Lois is really good right now. CW shows tend to come and go in quality with each season, but Superman and Lois is quickly becoming one of my favorite superhero shows and some of the most interesting Superman-related live-action stuff out there.
Superman and Lois airs on the CW on Tuesday nights at 8 PM CST.