Despite wandering into melodrama from time to time, Superman & Lois is one of the best live-action depictions of the Man of Steel to date. This week’s episode does a great job of tying the family and small-town drama in with the superhero stuff in meaningful ways. Spoilers follow for Superman & Lois Season 3, Episode 10, “Collision Course.”
Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) attempts to interview Peia (guest star Daya Vaida) in the hopes of unearthing the truth about an old case, while Clarke (Tyler Hoechlin) struggles to spend quality time with the boys. Meanwhile, Jonathan (Alex Garfin) and Jordan (Michael Bishop) find themselves at a party, where tensions between Sarah (Inde Navarrette) and Jordan come to a head. As Kyle’s (Erik Valdez) suspicions about a local meta-human grow, Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui) must juggle her personal life with a visit from the governor. Finally, Matteo (guest star Spence Moore II) makes a life-altering decision.
There’s a lot going on this week. Peia is still being held by the D.O.D., and her son Matteo wants to see her. Lois hopes to speak to her before that, though, to give her a chance to come clean about the things she’s done. Meanwhile, Clark wants to spend time with his sons, but they head off to a party instead. Lana is handling a visit from the governor, and Sara goes to that same party.
A lot of what happens this week boils down to the relationship between parents and their children, and how complicated that gets when those children are on the cusp of adulthood, when they’re not as smart or wise as they think, but are too smart and strong to simply be kept home.
With Lois heading to the D.O.D. to interview Peia, Clark picks up tickets to a wrestling event in Metropolis. This is one of those moments that reminds me how much I love Tyler Hoechlin as both Clark and Superman. He’s the biggest dork in the world as he leaps into the kitchen with a goofy grin on his face and tickets in his hands. Clark isn’t supposed to be a serious brooding guy all the time–he’s a farmboy at heart, and that’s on full display here. We see his other side later, but this is just a joy to see. Of course, we get our hearts broken a moment later when the boys make up an excuse not to hang out with the coolest guy on Earth and we see Clark’s grin fall and disappear. More on the kids’ side of that in a bit.
While that’s happening, Lois is reminding us of just how complex her situation is. She made friends with the wife of her own personal archnemesis, Bruno Mannheim, and has found out that the same woman is also the metahuman that has been attacking her husband. The two talk about Peia’s struggle and it seems like Lois is making some headway, but then Matteo shows up for his visit.
What to do about family?
Where the storyline around Jon, Jordan, and Sarah is about teenage independence from their parents, Matteo’s is about what to do about your parents’ legacy when it’s as complicated and dangerous as Mannheim’s. Even when you know Bruno is a loving father and husband, those become incidental facts when you look at him from the outside; he’s caused countless deaths and endless harm in his life. For someone like Matteo, though, who has seen him as a father up until then, and seen how well his father treats him and how willing he is to do anything to save his mother, the criminality is the incidental part.
It’s easy to understand, then, why Matteo would sneak in a dose of the supposed cure his father has created for his mother–he’s going all-in on family. Even accounting for the bad that will come with her breaking out, the answer for him was obvious. There will, though, be consequences. Matteo is now an accomplice in his mother’s escape and his father’s enterprises, and that will probably come back around. And then there’s the assumption on the parts of both Bruno and Matteo that the cure is actually a cure. That’s never how it works in these stories–there’s always a price for something like this.
For the Smallville kids, meanwhile, it’s all about testing the bounds of independence, and each of them suffers for it in different ways. Jordan is the most interesting here. In a lot of other stories, he would be the self-insert character, the one that kids are meant to glom onto and see themselves in. He’s young, brash, and has these new-found powers that are exciting to fantasize about possessing.
But he’s also a high school kid and someone who has struggled deeply with depression and anxiety, and those problems don’t suddenly go away because you can fly. Jordan struggles with seeing Sarah associating with other guys. He’s inexperienced in relationships and feels possessive of Sarah, also seeing their breakup as a personal failing. The result is that he often comes across as pretty creepy with her, and his superpowers–and the fact that Sarah knows about them–give their interactions an additional complicating element. I love that the writers aren’t letting Jordan’s creepiness masked by awkwardness go unchallenged.
The Mystery Meta
Knowledge of Clark and Jordan’s true natures is making additional trouble for, well, most of the core characters. Kyle is starting to clue into the fact that there’s someone watching over Smallville. All of the women in Kyle’s life–Lana, Chrissy, and Sarah–know about Clark and, to at least some degree, Jordan. Jordan saves Sarah and her friend George from what would’ve surely been a deadly crash, but it puts her in the strange position of having to deny having any knowledge of what happened to her father, her friend, and the authorities.
That, of course, culminates in Kyle approaching Clark. After seeing superheroics at three instances in which Jon Kent was nearby, he thinks Jon is the superpowered one, and he’s decided he’s going to get answers. This a surprising heelturn for the character after the writers spent a season and a half turning him from an alcoholic who shills for billionaires into a likable dude. He comes at Clark hard right as Peia is blowing up the D.O.D., and Clark makes some surprising decisions here. He pushes Kyle back with two fingers, and Kyle looks stunned. Then, Clark flies off right in front of him to go protect Lois and stop Peia. That decision has the potential to put the Kent family in danger and blow up lots of relationships between Clark and Lana’s families.
Superman is nigh invincible, but just like Barry Allen, he can’t be everywhere at once–despite how fast he is. It’s one of his very few real weaknesses. He doesn’t have time for Kyle’s rage and needs to be elsewhere, and these are the kinds of moments where he can’t simply punch his way out or be a bumbling nice guy to smooth things over. Tyler Hoechlin plays this character holistically, embodying both of his major sides in every scene, and it makes moments like these that much more powerful.
I really enjoyed this episode and I’m looking forward to seeing how the consequences of its biggest moments play out.