Superman and Lois: Heritage

A new spin on “Take Your Kid to Work” Day

The first episode of Superman and Lois impressed the hell out of me, and, as a life-long hero-geek, that’s not the easiest thing to do, especially with a character that’s never been one of my favorites. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, as after just one episode, the show was renewed for a second season. Hopefully, that will quiet some of the “Is the Arrowverse over?” articles I keep seeing online. The only thing I was slightly worried about was if they could keep up the same level of quality as the series went on. Judging from episode two, “Heritage,” the answer would seem to be yes.

They made the big dramatic decision to move from Metropolis to Smallville last episode. For most shows, we’d just pick up on the Kent farm and that would be that. Points to the writers for thinking this through: we actually see some scenes of the Kents packing up as Lois gives a thoughtful voiceover about leaving places you’ve loved. It’s a nicely done sequence. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a show if everything went smoothly, and the next scene shows some of the problems cropping up. Jonathan never received the playbook for the school football team, so he’s at a serious disadvantage going in. Jordan gets crushing news when Lois and Clark tell him they think it might be better if he didn’t start school after his unexpected power manifestations last episode. While most teens aren’t that big on going to school, they like being told what to do even less, and Jordan stalks off. He’s definitely the drama champ of the family. Jonathan gets snarky and leaves to video chat with his girlfriend, while Lois and Clark worry about the armored stranger attacked Superman last episode.

Speaking of the mysterious “Captain Luthor,” he attacks a weapons depot in Moldova. The attack once again shows how dangerous the man’s armor is, tells us what he’s looking for, and gives another hint at his motivations for going after the Last Son of Krypton. Jonathan realizes this is the first time he’s ever gone to school without his brother (they never get sick? Seems like an indication of powers to me), and then sees that while Mom is driving him to school (I guess there’s no bus out this way), Clark is taking Jordan on a field trip. We get a dose of cliched but believable life as Jon gets harassed by jocks on his first day, despite Sarah Cushing trying to befriend him. Jon at least sticks with the family line that Jordan is sick.

Clark and Jordan arrive at the Fortress of Solitude to get Jordan’s new abilities tested. While the Fortress looks nothing at all like what we’ve seen so far on Supergirl, I believe this is the first time we’ve seen it since Crisis, so maybe it’s been changed along with so many other things. I guess we’ll see if it shows up when Supergirl returns for the final season. Jordan isn’t thrilled to find out that one of the reasons he’s here is to learn about the history of Krypton, but cheers up when he sees he’s not exactly going to be reading a textbook or getting a lecture. Lois is playing to the cliché of writing in a coffee shop, where she sees a woman paying her too much attention. Before Lois can follow up on that, the Cushings wander in. Lana is friendly and outgoing as we’ve seen, and invites the Kents to a barbecue. Lois and Kyle spar about Morgan Edge, which I suspect will be ongoing through the season.

Jordan sees the events leading up the destruction of Krypton, and I suspect there’s a bit of a hint in there about Earth’s current climate issues. Jordan and Clark talk about the elder Kent’s first time at the Fortress. We also meet another staple of the Superman mythos: the hologram/AI/personality of the late Jor-El of Krypton, Clark’s biological father. Jor-El is surprised to see them, and pleased by Clark’s news. Jordan is also happy when he hears Jor-El’s reaction. The kid has a great smile, which is a shame as he’s usually mopey or mad so we don’t see it. Back home, Jonathan practices until he sees Clark and Jordan get back, and Clark encourages Jordan to tell his brother what they were doing. It’s nice to see they aren’t randomly keeping secrets that don’t need to be kept. Lois updates Clark about their invite, and then Clark’s enhanced senses warn of company coming. Since it’s General Lane, and he “has his work face on,” Lois takes the boys to the town council meeting she heard about earlier. Which is a great plan if one of your sons is supposedly home because he’s sick.

Sam Lane is, whatever else you want to say about him, very perceptive, and as he updates Clark about the attack in Moldova, he asks some good questions about Clark’s run in with “The Stranger,” as everyone is calling him. I guess it’s bring your kid to council day, as Sarah is also there, and they talk about Jordan’s missing school and Jonathan’s issues with the team. Lois again sees the mystery woman from earlier, who proves to be Chrissy Beppo, reporter for the Smallville Gazette. I really wonder where they are going with that character, as in the comics, Beppo is the “Super-Monkey” (hey, I don’t write these, I just report ‘em). Maybe she’ll team up with Gleek, who got hinted at and then never seen again at the end of Crisis. Kyle, in addition to being the fire chief, runs the council and is a huge fan of Morgan Edge, so he’s thrilled to introduce the man himself. Lois is less happy to see him.

Sam Lane makes some brilliant deductions and then offers some unasked-for advice about raising the twins. What could be an argument gets interrupted when Lane’s team calls in and reports a sighting of The Stranger’s ship, so it’s up, up, and away for Clark. While Edge and Lois spar over the man’s track record in similar small towns, Superman fights The Stranger again, this time out in Mongolia. Superman is winning the fight this time, when The Stranger shows he can be just as resourceful and ruthless as Batman. He pulls a trick that forces a classic hero dilemma, and the way some of that played out really surprised me.

Jonathan has a really rough time at football practice. It’s an interesting twist, seeing the jock get bullied. I feel bad for the kid. Clark gets home and he and Lois catch each other up on their days. The Kents mull over more of The Stranger’s cryptic comments, and Lois tells him about her current project. When Clark gets worried, she gets in a great line that I can see most versions of Lois from the comics uttering. Jordan tries to catch up with his brother, but now Jonathan is uncharacteristically sullen. He makes a snarky comment as Clark and Jordan return to the Fortress, which Lois hears. She acknowledges what he’s doing to help his brother, trying to build him up that way. Things don’t go well at the Fortress, where Jor-El delivers some surprising news that Clark doesn’t quite believe and Jordan gets upset about. I’m with Clark on this one, personally.

No one is happy when they all get home, but Lois isn’t having it. She snaps out orders in the definitive Mom Voice, and Clark, looking bemused, just says, “You heard your mother.”  They go to the Cushing barbeque, which is apparently something of a local event, with Kyle being an accomplished grill-master. Very much not in their element, Lois and Clark make an agreement about how long to stay, while the twins wander off and find the kids. Sarah questions Jordan being there, what with him being sick and all, and Jordan manages to tell the truth, make everything make perfect sense, and still keep the big secret. It’s a brilliant little bit of writing. Jordan also points out how little sense it makes for the jocks to be mad at Jonathan, and Sarah has the grace to look a bit embarrassed at least. It’s a bad situation that on the one hand is completely believable, and on the other hand isn’t Sarah, Jonathan, or Jordan’s fault. Kyle and Lois spar at the grill, and while I don’t agree with the man at all, I do see some of his point. Also, to his credit, he did some research, which a lot of guys defending their hero wouldn’t even bother with.

The Kents weren’t planning on staying long, but they weren’t thinking things were going to end with Clark getting called away because The Stranger is attacking the DOD and General Lane. This comes just after Lois finds out her story on Morgan Edge was substantially rewritten. The Stranger fights his way inside and there are a few surprises here. One is what he wants out of this visit. Another is that the DOD, in a world of superpowered people, doesn’t seem to have anything better than M-16s to fight with. We won’t get into how rarely troops are actually armed inside the United States. Superman seems to take a while to show up for this fight, but he gets there and wins, sort of. The Stranger is a sneaky foe, you have to give him that. Regrouping at home, Lois and Clark talk about their day, his fight, and her story. It’s a nice, calm, Lois and Clark scene and a good example of their strong and healthy relationship, a rarity on tv these days.

Another good relationship scene takes place between the twins. The writers really have the supportive/antagonistic dynamic of teen brothers down. Jordan comes up with a brilliant nickname for Jor-El, and Jonathan offers some help. I really like these two. In the morning, Clark sits the boys down for an adult discussion, apologizes for not being there more, and is clearly genuinely trying to make things right. He gives Jordan something and lets him do something that makes both twins happier. They ask about mom, and Clark says she “had a thing.” Her thing is a surprising meeting with Edge, and it really changes the status quo for Lois, taking her to a place I’ve almost never seen the character before.

In a nice bookend, most of the wrap up scenes have a voiceover from Lois that mirrors her opening monolog. Things aren’t suddenly perfect for the twins, but they are better, and Clark manages to keep a family commitment. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re also one of the world’s most powerful and best-known heroes, it really does mean something. As the voice over ends, Lois makes a decision that I expect is going to change a lot of things. I also have a prediction about an upcoming subplot, but I’m holding that back for now for spoilers. The final scene is Captain Luthor working on more plans, and having a telling flashback to his past that shows just how bad things got on his homeworld. I can understand why he has it in for Superman, to an extent.

What I liked: Once again, almost everything. The writing is great, all the performances are good, and while there’s some teen drama, it’s an understandable and realistic amount. It’s really nice to see an actual, functional family as the focus of a show without them plotting against each other or keeping secrets. Captain Luthor seems like a dangerous mix of Lex Luthor, Batman, and Iron Man, and it makes him formidable. Lois is living her own life, and is a strong presence, which really says something when she’s sharing screen time with Superman. While Kyle is clearly an antagonist, he’s a believable one and not a one note “I hate you because the script says so” type. Lois even complimented his cooking. It would be easy to make Sam Lane some kind of caricature, and he’s not.  They are taking the Kents into the unknown and not being shy about it.

What I didn’t: Very little. The DOD really should have better weapons, not to mention possibly this government having their own metahumans by now. There was a little bit of good luck for Lois near the end of the episode that seemed both unlikely and makes me think this is another show that’s going to ignore the money aspect of modern life, despite it being a part of the premier.

I’m giving this episode a 4 out of 5. This show is really impressing me on every level. I look forward to learning more about what’s going on in Smallville and with Captain Luthor.