Superman is lashing out at his family, falling out of the sky. Something is going on. Superman is acting weird. Spoilers follow for Superman & Lois Season 2, Episode 3, “The Thing in the Mines.”
“The Thing in the Mines”
In fact, you might even say he’s acting bizarro. I told you spoilers were coming.
Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) reaches out to Ret. General Lane (Dylan Walsh) as Clark’s (Tyler Hoechlin) visions become worse during heated arguments with both Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alex Garfin). Meanwhile, Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui) shares her frustrations with Kyle (Erik Valdez). Lastly, Natalie (Tayler Buck) learns that her father (Wole Parks) didn’t follow through on a promise he made to her.
A lot goes on in this episode in terms of overall cast development. Just about everyone on the show gets a moment to shine, whether it’s Jonathan’s arc finding out about the source of his classmate’s newfound athleticism, or Sam Lane having to tangle with the knowledge that not only has he missed out on some of his two daughters’ greatest triumphs, but also some of their lowest lows. Jordan considers Sarah’s secret and what it means for their relationship, Natalie navigates her relationship with his father and his relationship with Superman. Lana takes her first steps in her campaign to become the mayor of Smallville, and Lois is scrambling to save her career.
But while all this is going on, Clark is struggling with his visions and quickly becoming a danger to those around him. Tyler Hoechlin has a unique task as this version of Superman. While Superman has three names–Superman, Clark Kent, and Kal El–he’s typically only playing Superman and Clark. Because this series looks at this character’s home life in ways that we rarely see elsewhere, though, he has to play all three. Superman is the man in the cape that the world sees. Clark Kent is the character he plays to the world, the reporter and father who stumbles over his words and makes things awkward. Then there’s the real person, who has to put on both of those masks. He doesn’t go by Kal El, but that essentially works here as a way to divide who Clark is separate from those personas.
Kal El lashes out at his family a few times this episode. Jordan asks if he can tell his girlfriend, with whom he has been on like one date, about his Kryptonian origins, somehow expecting his dad to say yes. This is perhaps the most realistic depiction of a teenager on modern television because that’s a truly idiotic thing to think. Kal El responds by yelling in a shake-the-world Superman voice, terrifying his son. Later, Jonathan gets into a fight with a teammate. While lecturing him, Kal El tosses a football helmet into the wall. INTO the wall. I’m not sure how Clark Kent laughs that move off, honestly.
In both cases, Kal El’s eyes flash with heat vision, and in the second case, he has to fire the beams into his hands to dissipate the energy. When he goes to investigate what’s happening at the mines, his powers malfunction again, essentially knocking him out of the sky as if he’d been tagged by a missile.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Bizarro Superman
We theorized last week that, based on previous instances in the Arrowverse, these “interdimensional kinesthesis” moments could be the result of Superman having a doppelganger on Earth. However, showrunner Todd Helbing had said previously that the being is Doomsday. When Kal El was worrying about this beast, Lois even said “don’t go getting all doomsday on me.” But sometimes people lie, and Todd Helbing is a liar. We don’t have to worry about the CW getting Doomsday right because they’re not doing Doomsday. This is something much more appropriately sized to the CW version of Superman and much more clever. The man in the suit… is Superman. A ghastly, pale Superman with glowing blue eyes and a backwards “S” symbol on his chest.
Guys, it’s Bizarro Superman.
The show cuts to commercial, and it’s a mirrored version of the Superman & Lois logo.
Of course, they still have to get the character and story right, but this is awesome. While so many live-action depictions of comics are focused on being cool and edgy, many of my favorite moments lean on how weird comics can get. The Flash fighting Reverse-Flash. Peacemaker talking about Bat-Mite. These things that have deep respect and love for these comic book characters, where they’re willing to engage with some of the sillier moments to look for interesting stories rather than going back to the same big events in the characters’ histories over and over again.
Bizarro Superman is a truly weird, fun character for this show to engage with. By pitting him against this Everyday Superman, the show can explore how Kal El relates to his different sides and how having a demented clone of himself running around feels, in addition to it being another villain to defeat.
The battle is short and brutal, with John Irons’ suit being badly battered in a way that not even Superman did when they were fighting.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.