When Superman flew through the portal to the shadow world, he left our world without a hero to protect it. John Irons is trying to fill his shoes, but subbing in for the single most powerful being on the planet is anything but easy. Spoilers follow for Superman & Lois Season 2, Episode 9, “30 Days and 30 Nights.”
“30 Days and 30 Nights”
Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) thanks Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui) for sticking up for Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) when one of the football players mother’s starts dogging him for getting football season cancelled. Meanwhile, Jordan’s (Alex Garfin) unexpected departure on the mayoral election day leaves Sarah (Inde Navarrette) rattled. Lastly, Natalie (Taylor Buck) and Sarah wonder if they notice a spark between John Henry (Wolé Parks) and Lana.
Where is Superman?
Aside from the question of “what if Superman was evil,” one of the favorite questions Superman writers like to ask is “what if the world became dependent on Superman?” The previous episode ended with Superman flying into the portal to the shadow world ruled by Ally Alston, and we spend this week with those he left behind.
As tends to be the case with Superman & Lois, the show isn’t terribly interested in the world as a whole. We get glimpses of it on television, asking where Superman is after yet another disaster occurs without his intervention. It’s in this moment that I can’t help but wonder where the rest of Earth’s heroes are. This is the kind of thing that seems like it doesn’t even have to be a crossover event to establish the wider world of the Arrowverse. How about, “in Superman’s wake, The Flash and Supergirl are working overtime to make up for his absence?”
The show has taken steps to distance itself from the other shows on the network aside from just being of a higher quality both in terms of cinematography and writing, but this would’ve been a great opportunity to make that connection without having to get crew and actor schedules synced up. Instead, it just feels like a weird gap.
At the same time, the show does a great job of making good on its core concept of focusing on Superman as The Family Man of Steel. We’re left with Lois, Jordan, and Jonathan wondering if and when their husband and father will return, even as they’re completely unable to share their fear and grief with those closest to them. If we want to imagine Kal El marrying Lois and having kids with her, then we have to wonder what it’s like when the guy who they all care for suddenly disappears because he went to go punch Darkseid on Apokalips or goes to another dimension.
Elsewhere in Smallville
And indeed, for other people in Smallville, life continues on. The episode spends quite a bit of time on both Lana’s campaign for mayor of Smallville and her strained relationship with Kyle. Emmanuelle Chriqui and Inde Navarrette both do kill it this week as people trying to balance some of the most difficult moments of their lives with the need to continue living.
The same goes for John Irons and his daughter, Natalie, trying to make a life on a world they weren’t born on. Some clips of Natalie’s final moments on her Earth give us insight into how difficult a time she’s having adjusting to our world. While Lana is trying to get elected Mayor, Taylor is mourning, as that day is the same day that they lost their Lois. John Irons, meanwhile, has put his focus on making up for Superman’s absence. This storyline lands, too, both thanks to the performances from the actors and for how relatable it is. Natalie is diving headfirst into her grief while John runs away from his. Both are justified, and the actors bring all the frustrating emotions that come with that in a believable way.
The Adventures of Superboy
The center of the episode, though, is squarely on Jordan Kent. With his father–and primary moral compass–missing, he’s feeling increased pressure to use his powers to protect people and, more importantly, show that he’s capable of doing so. He puts himself in danger much to Lois’ chagrin, but she’s later forced to call on him for help when she and her father are caught snooping around an X-Kryptonite refinery.
I’ll probably never stop worrying that Superman & Lois will put too much focus on the kids, but this episode does a good job of showing how well the writers can handle it. Jordan gets a taste of the best and worst parts of being a superhero; he saves Kyle from a burning building, manifests his father’s super speed, and then has to quietly do nothing as his secret life causes Sarah to break up with him, returning the locket he gave her.
It doesn’t feel overwrought; the feelings and the way the kids express them are pretty believable and the show doesn’t seem focused on wringing them for everything they can. If this is indicative of Jordan’s journey, then I’m actually looking forward to seeing how it develops. The next episode will shift the focus back to Superman as he tries to survive in the shadow world with its red sun, but we’ll have to wait almost a month to see how that goes down.