Superman & Lois 2×13 Review – Deprogramming and Defeat

Superman & Lois -- “All is Lost” -- Image Number: SML213b_0187r.jpg -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Superman & Lois‘ release schedule has been pretty bumpy this year, with the network dropping a few episodes and then going on hiatus for a few weeks. This latest episode marks the last before one more hiatus–then it’s finale time. That, of course, means things have to get seriously dark this week. Spoilers follow for Superman & Lois Season 2, Episode 13, “All is Lost.”

“All is Lost”

Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) disagree on the best way to figure out if Ally Allston (guest star Rya Kihlstedt) went to the Inverse World. Meanwhile, John Henry (Wole Parks) makes a surprising discovery and Lois sets out to track Lucy (guest star Jenna Dewan) down.

There’s a lot happening in this week’s episode, and most of it works surprisingly well considering how packed it feels. Ally Alston shows her true self to her followers while Lois and Sam Lane make one last attempt at saving Lucy. Jordan tries to deal with his feelings for Sarah and approaches Lana about it. Natalie’s story arc takes a big step forward. About the only person without much to do this week is Super Normal Guy Jonathan Kent. Poor Jonathan.

The Cult Mindset

Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lucy’s arc is one of the biggest this week. Sam and Lois go after her, and Lucy is adamant that they’re toxic, while Ally cares for her. Lucy’s arc this season has been frustrating, but it also feels like one of the more realistic depictions of cult programming I’ve seen on television; Ally has manipulated Lucy and isolated her, convincing her that everyone who could take her away is against her, and that only Ally is trustworthy.

It’s impossible to fight that mentality with facts and logic–the cult member has to see for themselves that they’re living a lie. All their loved ones can do is try to find ways to get the lie to expose itself. The struggles Lois and Sam have had with Lucy match real-world descriptions of deprogramming. It’s really cool to see such a grounded, real-world thing pulled into a superhero story in such a believable way.

Lucy’s story is ultimately a catalyst for the biggest events of the episode. Superman races to save Lois, Lucy, and Sam from Ally, only for her power-draining abilities to drop Superman right onto death’s door. Supergirl had its own Parasite character (or was it two?), but Superman & Lois has blown the character out to be a season-long villain, mixed in with the Bizarro World stuff.

Ally Alston: Creep in a Trenchcoat

I’m ultimately mixed on how I feel about Alston. Actor Rya Kihlstedt is a stellar slimy, condescending, and creepy villain throughout the season; combining that with Lucy as a cult member makes Alston a very effective villain. At the same time, it’s yet another regular-looking person in a trenchcoat, much like Tal-Rho. Part of the fun of Bizarro Superman is that he felt supremely comic-booky and weird. It felt refreshing to have this serious show pulling from such a strange source. Alston is the opposite–a deadly serious and visually boring character that ratchets up the drama without the fun weirdness.

Body Armor, Emotional Armor

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The kids have their share of fun this episode, too. For Natalie, that means watching her father try in vain to destroy her version of the Steel suit, proving that she’s indispensable as a fellow maker and engineer, and that he really has no choice but to lean on her. The whole “genius teenager who can out-invent all of the adults” storyline is a bit tired, but it is kind of amusing admittedly that Superman & Lois has essentially beat Marvel to the punch that is coming with Ironheart.

Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Meanwhile, Jordan is in agony over his breakup with Sarah. He goes to Lana to argue his case, but she’s not hearing any of it; this scene again feels really believable for everything that these two characters are going through. Jordan is a good kid and isn’t one to start capital-D Drama, but it’s clear he’s hurting and consumed with it as any emotionally sensitive teenager would be. Clark sees this and takes Jordan to his favorite training grounds, the Arctic, to help him learn to fly. Because we met Superman as a fully-formed hero, we didn’t get to enjoy the moments of watching him learn to use his powers, and Jordan gives us a peek into the joy of discovering your own abilities.

I’m continually impressed by the nuance of the writing in this show, and I’m excited for the final episodes of the season, even with my concerns, and the hiatus is going to be a long wait.