The thing about Superman moving to Smallville is that trouble moves with him. This generally smartly-written show is beginning to stack up questions that make suspension of disbelief that much harder. Spoilers follow for Superman & Lois Season 2, Episode 14, “Worlds War Bizarre.”
“Worlds War Bizarre”
A weary Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) holds vigil at Superman’s (Tyler Hoechlin) bedside. Meanwhile, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alex Garfin) continue to worry about their father who seems more human now than ever. Lastly, John Henry (Wole Parks) and Natalie (Taylor Buck) work together to figure out the best way to defend against Ally Allston’s (guest star Rya Kihlstedt) powers.
One of the best parts of Superman & Lois is the way it ties the challenges Superman comes up against into his life, identity, and family. This has done so much to flesh out and develop Superman himself, a notoriously difficult character to make complex beyond his Earth’s Mightiest Boy Scout profile. Further, the show has managed to make his family a very real part of his daily life in a way that usually doesn’t work terribly well for the Man of Steel. More than anywhere else in live-action, Superman feels like a three-dimensional person instead of a representation of archetypes.
A Confluence of Weirdoes
The unexpected problem comes from the combination of that and the decision to place the show in Smallville instead of Metropolis. The longer the show goes on, the harder it will be to justify people seeing Clark and Superman as separate people.
For the second time in two years, Smallville has been a central point for strange events that concern the fate of the world, and its also the second year since Clark returned to town with his family. Lana herself noted that when she and Clark were teenagers, all kinds of weird stuff happened in the town.
This week, as Ally Allston uses the power she stole from Superman to try to unify Earth-Prime and the Inverse Earth, a cubic sun appears in the sky. Screens glitch out with backward text, and then physical elements of the world begin to change too. But for some reason, Superman decides to go to a Smallville town hall meeting and personally support its new mayor.
Like, no one thinks that’s weird? The world is ending, and Superman shows up in the same town as his favorite reporter? Meanwhile, by the end of the episode at least one more person knows his secret identity.
A CW Crossover Event (but it’s not)
The other element of this that stands out as weird is the scale of events and who all is involved in it. At this point, this two-part episode feels like it should’ve been a crossover. Over on The Flash, Barry is dealing with a very personal, speedster-specific crisis that not even the rest of Central City is aware of, let alone the world. Clark’s situation encompasses everyone, and it feels weird to not have the show interface with that at all. Superman & Lois‘ very minimal ties to the greater Arrowverse really come into sharp relief during situations like this one. Up until now, this was a Superman issue. Now, it seems like it should be a Justice League one. Of course, with so many shows ended and canceled, that’s getting tougher by the season.
With that said, this first half of the two-part season finale is enjoyable all the same. Parasite is a great way to temporarily depower Superman and give the others in his life a chance to do something. It’s also another weakness that Superman can’t punch, and that isn’t Kryptonite (though historically speaking, Parasite has generally inherited the weaknesses of their victims, so Kryptonite may end up being key here). A big key to this is making sure to show how frustrated Clark is at every turn. He’s just a guy right now, putting him closer to Lois’ position than ever before. He can’t stop a fastball, let alone a bullet, and knows that.
The aforementioned town hall, while a little silly because of the reasons I mentioned above, is still an effective, enjoyable sequence. Lana is starting to come into her own in her new job, but the former mayor works hard at the town hall to undermine her until Superman shows up to confirm all the stuff Lana is saying. I’m not sure how the townspeople are in such doubt of her words–there’s a literal second sun in the sky, Superman is nowhere to be seen, but the idea that someone is trying to merge their world with another is laughable? Are they really that stupid? I’m not sure if this is lazy writing or political commentary.
Lana vs. Lana Rho vs. Jonathan vs. Jon El
The centerpiece of this penultimate episode is the fight between Lana Rho and Jon El of the Inverse World and the greater Kent family, including Jordan, Jonathan, Lois, and Natalie. The knock-down-drag-out fight feels like it genuinely has some stakes with Superman out of commission, and it gives Jordan the chance to fight in a real situation. Natalie is also coming into her own as a force to be reckoned with even without John around to support her.
It’s a pretty fun battle all told that acts as a good centerpiece to head into the finale with. Despite all of the issues I had with the episode, it’s still pretty effective and I’m definitely looking forward to the finale.