One of the keys for making sure that Superman and Lois stays interesting is for the writers to find compelling mysteries that can’t be solved solely with Kryptonian super powers. The first season of The Flash was strong because the writers found an interesting way to introduce the Flash’s arch-nemesis and to hide and play with his identity. Superman and Lois made a fun play with John Henry Irons in the last few weeks, and now Morgan Edge is beginning to show his hand. Spoilers follow for Superman and Lois Season 1, Episode 9, “Loyal Subjekts.”
I enjoyed this aspect of the episode for the same reason I appreciated it last week. As Superman’s weakness, Kryptonite often just results in him falling to the ground and struggling to get up. When Superman was fighting the X-Kryptonite-enhanced soldier, he wasn’t completely debilitated and this week we see how insidious the weapon is. Superman goes to stop a bank heist and while he still has his powers, the power of a bunch of shotgun blasts is enough to not only knock him over and out, but to leave him thoroughly bruised.
When Lois returns home to see him peppered with bruises, she reacts just as you’d expect. It’s a fun change to the way Kryptonite is typically used that gives more definition not just to Kryptonite, but to Superman himself. Even when he gets knocked around, we’re not used to seeing him beaten up, and the idea that he could be rendered closer to mortal while still having his powers could make for some interesting storytelling.
That continues when Jordan falls ill. The way the show describes it makes it sound like a sickness when it seems more like an allergic reaction. Jordan is flirting with Sarah Cushing when he sneezes up ice–his freezing breath is beginning to manifest, but the artificial Kryptonite makes it look like a cold.
While Jordan’s condition worsens, Lois’ father, Sam Lane, takes a verbal beating from Lois and Jonathan alike. Lane is in a tough spot as a person tasked with protecting the nation from superpowered threats but also being the father-in-law to the biggest potential super-powered threat. It makes sense that the government would want to have countermeasures against someone like Superman.
At the same time, Lois and Jonathan’s anger is justified and righteous. Both of them let Sam have it, with Lois telling him not to come around anymore and Jonathan calling his own grandfather a coward to his face. It’s brutal to watch but helps drive home what a strange family dynamic the Lanes and Kents have thanks to the clash of powers and jobs.
Clark takes Jordan to the Fortress of Solitude for some traditional Kryptonian “shoot your sickness with super-hot lasers” medical treatment while Morgan Edge’s plan begins to come to fruition. A couple of super-powered “young executives” show up to assassinate Lois Lane, and we get a couple of good reveals here. The first is that after Irons’ “Murder Van,” as Lois calls it, nearly killed Jonathan, he went back in and grabbed Irons’ guns and hid them in the barn. They’re Red Sun-based weapons, and Jonathan manages to get a shot off before Kyle–Sarah’s father, Lana’s husband–shows up.
Of course he is
This twist was pretty predictable. The episode opened up with a first-person view of someone walking into Edge’s office, and it’s not exactly a surprise that the person approaching him ended up being Kyle. Kyle has shown an incredible willingness to follow Edge unquestioningly, and of course he’d take an offer like the one Edge is bringing to the table.
Bringing Kyle in also lets the show start exploring what Edge is doing to these people–infusing them with a Kryptonian soul, apparently–from the point of view of a sympathetic character rather than just showing them as evil soldiers doing Edge’s bidding.
The biggest reveal this week happens in the final moments of the episode: Morgan Edge himself is apparently Kryptonian. With the way the twists have been working in Superman and Lois so far, I’m willing to bet that Edge wasn’t born a Kryptonian but rather experimented on himself and ended up infused with a Kryptonian soul–Zod, maybe?–which took him over. Edge has never historically been a Kryptonian, so it’ll be an interesting twist if that is in fact the case.
War comes to Smallville?
Either way, the pieces are now in place for Superman and John Irons to team up, and for Irons to begin trusting and working with Superman. I’ve really enjoyed Wole Parks’ portrayal of Steel, so I’m hoping he plays a significant role as the stakes of the coming conflict raise.
With that said, it’s a little disappointing that the big bad for the season is, apparently, another Kryptonian. As much as I’ve enjoyed the writing and story choices thus far, this one makes me worry for Superman and Lois Season 2. The Flash started with speedster-vs-speedster and never really recovered from it. As much fun as it is to fight fire with fire, it would be more interesting to see them fighting fire with something other than fire. Supergirl put the idea of fighting Luthor immediately on ice, though I have to imagine it’s still in the cards for this show should they want to go that route. Jon Cryer seems to enjoy playing the character. But that seems a ways off.
For now, we’re going to watch guys with diamond crests on their outfits punch each other. This is the first sign so far that this is indeed a CW superhero show, and I hope the writers don’t take the easy options that dangle in front of them like so many of these shows have. There’s still room to do interesting stuff with this–it’s just a little bit harder. Superman and Lois is still by far the best thing the CW has going right now, and it continues to be one of the more interesting looks at the character of Superman in a while. This is just a big test for an otherwise excellent show.