Ally Allston wants to change the whole world, and Superman stands in her way. He, however, is at the center of another world-changing event. Spoilers follow for Superman & Lois Season 2, Episode 15, “Waiting for Superman.”
“Waiting for Superman”
Chrissy Beppo (Sofia Hasmik), with the authorization of the Department of Defense, has a message for the people of Smallville, not only is the merging of planets real, it is happening.
Superman & Lois continues to be one of the most enjoyable superhero shows on television thanks to consistently good writing, acting, and visual effects combining to make an immersive story. This second season has proven that there’s genuine life to be found in a show centered around Superman and his family, and the finale gives us the kind of Superman action we love to see before leaving us waiting for Season 3.
Things are looking pretty dire: John Henry is trapped in the void between worlds, Superman is stuck on the ground, and the world around the Kent family is flickering between Earth and Bizarro Earth, eventually separating Lois and Sam from the rest of the family as they become stuck on Bizarro Earth.
Because we’ve come to know this family so well, seeing two of the five members get trapped in a literal other dimension is legitimately stressful. As the Lanes head into town to look for Bizarro Chrissy, though, it becomes to border on actually being scary; As Sam and Lois move through down, people are wandering around aimlessly in the streets, arms outstretched as they look at the sky, waiting for their savior to make good on her promise. The worlds flicker back and forth, with planes crashing and disappearing.
Later, Lois finds Kyle there, too–the Kyle from her Earth. He’s despondent, feeling as if he’s being punished by the cosmos for the harm he did to his family with his affair. Of course, we know that that’s not true, but it helps to ground how strange these moments must feel for the people of Earth. It would’ve been really cool to see the show double down on this for a little bit longer and let us get scared alongside Lois and Kyle, but there’s only so much you can do in an hour.
Tal-Rho Joins the Fight
One of the surprises this season has been the redemption of Tal-Rho. At first blush, it feels like it shouldn’t hit, but I think it actually works, though the show maybe could’ve sold it better. When someone is caught and held accountable for their actions, when they have to sit in time-out for a while, they tend to do one of two things: stew and get angrier or start to realize how their actions affect people around them, especially those they care about.
The whole idea behind the first season was that Tal-Rho was under the influence of his father, a dude who looked more like Lord of the Rings’ King Theoden than he did a person with their full faculties intact. Tal-Rho has been disconnected from his influence for some time now. The one real feeling he had during that time, love for his brother Kal El, remains. That opened the door for him to begin considering his brother’s family and his brother’s wants and needs.
Superman’s unwavering goodness, mercy, and patience chisel away at all but the most devoted evil, and Tal-Rho was evil primarily because he thought that’s what he had to do. Superman showed him another way.
When he flies off into space to make an ill-advised attempt against Ally, then, it totally makes sense for his character, and it feels like a huge step forward. Of course, it goes badly. With Superman depowered and the Irons family trapped in the void, Jordan is the only person that can help. This is actually pretty satisfying, too. Showrunner Todd Helbing said in a recent interview that a Superboy suit and haircut for Jordan might not be too far off into the future, and it’s fun to see Jordan becoming more confident in his abilities. He clobbers Ally long enough to save his uncle, and it’s a nice ‘hell yeah’ moment for the character.
This is, however, a Superman show, and we weren’t going to end the season with Tal-Rho or Jordan Kent saving the day. Superman kind of inherently has to do completely bonkers stuff in his stories, but often times it feels like a story contrivance; we’re not given a way into Superman’s head to understand why that thing makes sense to him, even if we understand why it makes sense in the Superman + X = Story equation.
Depowering a superhero main character is a risk, and The Flash has done it to Barry one too many times for a few too many episodes, but Superman & Lois found the right balance with it to let us see Superman really suffer without dragging it out. When he tells Tal-Rho to take him up out into space and throw him into the sun, it feels like a real decision made by a believable Superman, as a last-ditch attempt to save the world or die trying.
Into the Sun
And the sequence that follows is pretty awesome. Tal lovingly throws his half-brother into the heart of a 5,800∘K star, and Superman nearly burns up in the process. If Superman is normally on wireless charging, this is him plugged directly into the nuclear power plant instead. He resists the overwhelming power and flies out of the sun in a glorious splash of energy. The solution is, of course, the same predictable one that always comes up when you have a villain who can drain power: overpower them until it backfires. Superman holds Ally’s hand against him as she quickly realizes what’s happening, and he quite literally punches the two joined characters apart. It’s awesome.
Somewhere in here, Sam Lane drops a line on Jordan and Jonathan that wasn’t Sam talking at all, but rather the writers speaking directly to us: There are “Leagues” of superheroes on other Earths, but on this Earth, they only have Superman. We dove into what all that means in a separate editorial that you should read if you consider yourself an Arrowverse fan at any level.
A good third of the episode, for all of that, is devoted to the aftermath of the event. Superman punches the two worlds apart, and everyone celebrates. Again, Superman is really making too many personal appearances in Smallville and no one is ever like “hey why is Superman here in our dying small town like every week.” But okay. Lots of stuff happens quickly. Sarah and Jordan have a heart-to-heart about the real reason he was so secretive with her. She’s more understanding than characters usually are on these shows.
Lois, exhausted with lies, tells Chrissy Beppo about Clark’s real identity, and she freaks out. Sophia Hasmik does some of her best acting on the show thus far as she tries to come to grips with this major revelation. Lana breaks it to Kyle that they probably aren’t getting back together, and he takes it surprisingly well. Kyle has had a rough go of it since the start of Season 1, and he’s grown in ways that make him really enjoyable to watch as a mundane dad in a show about Superman.
Setting Up Next Year
Uncle Tal gifts both of the Kent boys those huge, oversized, pedestrian-killer pickup trucks with blindly bright LED lights that I definitely don’t have strong feelings about. Natalie and John Irons make it home safely. Finally we get some setup for Season 3. John Diggle–not the one from Arrow, of course–shows up to ask for John Henry’s help with Intergang. That’s a name that should have plenty of meaning for Superman fans. Meanwhile, Clark takes his family out on a boat ride where he establishes a new Fortress of Solitude that he wants the whole family to have access to. He tells Jonathan that he’s going to get access to some Kryptonian tech, which suggests that both the Kent boys will be in on the action next year.
I’m admittedly a little ticked about the Arrowverse connection thing, but this is still a hugely enjoyable finale for a show that still feels as strong as ever. The shifts with Jonathan, Natalie, and Chrissy threaten to push the show closer to the usual Arrowverse tropes of the superhero having a bunker and everyone he knows either being a superhero or a tech genius, but so far Superman & Lois has resisted that, and I hope it will continue to do so.