Ally Alston is still working to unify Superman’s dimension with the Inverse Dimension and has sent Bizarro Superman’s son, Jon El, to push forward her goals. It makes for a tough fight for Superman and ends with a shift in the series’ status quo thus far. Spoilers follow for Superman & Lois Season 2, Episode 11, “Truth & Consequences.”
“Truth & Consequences”
We pick up right where we left off with Jon-El (Jordan Elsass) smirking at Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch), who is still standing on the porch with Jordan (Alex Garfin). Jon-El, catches sight of his doppelganger Jonathan (Jordan Elsass), standing not too far away. He lunges at him and Jordan tries to intervene but Jon-El appears to be stronger and faster than him.
A Question of Identity
One of the core aspects of Superman since the very beginning is the protection of his secret identity. Regardless of how plausible the whole glasses thing might or might not be, the separation between Clark and Superman has always been key to developing both characters. Protecting his loved ones is a big part of that. When Jon El shows up from Bizarro World, then, his mere presence threatens to throw everything into disarray (it was previously in array).
In my memory, this episode is a lot more action-packed than it is in actuality, which I think says good things about the narrative importance of said action. There’s a lot of fighting between Jon El, Jordan Kent, and Superman, and it’s all satisfying and enjoyable, but it definitely doesn’t make up the majority of the episode.
The whole episode is, however, about Kal El’s identity and how it affects both him and his family to cover for him. While Kal El was in the Bizarro world for maybe a day, a full month passed on Earth-Prime. Then, all of a sudden there’s this other Jonathan, Jon El, and then Clark and Superman return at exactly the same time. Superman stops Jon El from merging with Jonathan, but then Jon El is in the wind.
Jon El makes trouble
When he resurfaces in Smallville proper, Clark goes to talk to him, only to run into Lana. Clark staring over Lana’s shoulder at the person who looks just like his own son but is dressed like 90s Superboy makes for a tense scene, both for what it means for Clark’s identity and for Lana’s understanding of who Clark is.
After that encounter, Jon El set up a clever trap for Superman, but underestimated Lana’s willingness to pull rocks out of a stranger’s chest (but then teenagers aren’t always known for their foresight and planning skills). Meanwhile, Jordan finds his own development as a Kryptonian tested when the more experienced Jon El shows up for a rematch. Seeing the rosy-cheeked teenager flying up into the sky doesn’t isn’t quite as iconic as when it’s the Man of Steel, but the show has generally done a good job of letting us watch a Superman develop his powers one step at a time while also giving us the satisfaction of seeing a fully-formed Superman engaging in superheroics and managing his life.
After the experience of lying half-dead while Lana pulled Kryptonite shards from his chest, Kal El makes the decision to tell Lana the truth about his identity. Lois isn’t exactly on board, but the Kent boys are both with him.
And so Clark finds Lana, and does things a bit dramatically, standing in the middle of the road. She begins to tell him that she’s had too much crap go on that day, and he removes his glasses, begins to levitate, and then uses his cold breath to freeze a nearby tree, leaving no doubt as to his real identity. Kal El has been fiercely protective of his identity thus far; in the world of Superman & Lois, only his family and the Irons family are aware; Jimmy Olsen would count if the show would acknowledge that the Arrowverse exists. And so for Lana to know, a person that Kal El didn’t absolutely have to tell, is a huge shift for this character and his family. The potential fallout from it is interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
So this is what it’s like when worlds collide
With this episode, the themes of this season feel like they’re becoming more and more clear. This version of Bizarro Superman, and the idea of the Inverse World are ways of exploring the schism between the Superman and Clark aspects of Kal El. The Inverse World invading Earth-Prime represents Superman and Clark’s worlds colliding, endangering his personal status quo and the safety of his loved ones. Bizarro Superman himself shows us how, in just about any world, Superman is good, but suggests here that keeping his identities separate to the greater world has helped rein in the temptations that come with being Superman, and that that has helped his family to keep their heads on straight in the face of all of that, too.
When a guy is so strong that he can punch through a whole planet, it’s questions like these that help make him an interesting, memorable character, and I love that Superman & Lois keeps finding interesting and complex stories to tell about the character.