I have been consistently impressed with the Superman and Lois series. The first episode was fantastically well done, and I admit, I wondered if that was just kind of major effort for their start and things would trail off. So far, they haven’t. The show has done well with the characters, the writing, the acting, and respecting the Superman mythos but still blazing their own trail. Their level of excellence continues in the third outing, “The Perks of Not Being A Wallflower,” which is, of course, a nod to the novel by Stephen Chbosky. I’m going to do my best with spoilers, but a few details really need to be mentioned for this review to work at all.
They start off with some family comedy about repainting the Kent house. It’s a fun scene that, of course, gets interrupted when Clark picks up on a disaster he needs to deal with. While this could have devolved into a bad drama moment, it instead is an acknowledgement of Superman’s duties, a nod to not needing to keep the secret anymore, and then Lois keeps the fun going. The show is absolutely right to put her in the title; she and Clark are a team. Superman handles things, and, in another nice touch, it is just an ugly incident, not some big villain attack or grand plan. That’s very fitting for a Superman story. This is followed up by a family meal and the kids having a lot of perfectly natural questions about how some of Clark’s powers work, and some cautions about them going to school.
Something else they do on this show that a lot of others wouldn’t bother is giving a decent amount of screen time to secondary characters. We see the Cushing family dealing with a problem of their own, and it’s not a plot to kill Superman, a secret about a big villain, or anything along those lines. It’s a simple, believable scene that could be happening anywhere in the real world. At school, Jordan talks with Sarah, then gets teased by Jonathan when she rushes off to her boyfriend Sean. They really nail the vibe of brothers who care about each other but still mock each other incessantly. Clark tries to get in some work at the farm (I guess that’s what he’s doing now that he’s no longer a reporter?), but then goes to intervene when things get tense at school between Jordan and Sean the jerk/boyfriend. This leads to an unpleasant confrontation at home later, as the kids are not thrilled to learn how close an eye (or ear) Clark is keeping on them. Later, Lois and Clark talk about their day, and Lois offers some suggestions to Clark about patching things up with their sons.
In the morning, Clark meets with the boys before school and does something so rare on tv shows in general; he apologizes. No excuses or self-justifications, he admits he handled things badly. Lois and Chrissy, her new boss, work on story ideas when a woman comes in with an odd story to tell, piquing Lois’ interest at the mention of Morgan Edge. The audience gets some confirmation that the reporters don’t about the woman’s story when we see something they can’t. At the school, Sarah has an interesting conversation with Sean, Jordan has another run-in with some of the jocks, and Sarah ends up making a few big decisions that surprise her mother.
There are more surprises at practice that afternoon. Jordan does something surprising, taking advantage of his new abilities. Some of the fallout comes down on Jonathan, which isn’t fair, but is somehow believable. This leads to an interesting scene with Sarah in the diner. The brothers really do work together well, making a nice unit and backing each other up. Things get ugly when Lana comes in looking for Sarah. The scene is mostly played for drama (between Sarah and Lana) and comedy (the twins’ reactions), but it also is an important setup for later on. Clark comes in as a very upset Lana leaves, and joins the boys for some food as they don’t quite tell him what’s going on with, well, anything.
Lois is busy with Chrissy, as they debate the merits of the information they got earlier. In the classic PI, “I’m getting beaten up so I must be on to something” sense, Lois gets a hint she’s on the right track, and Chrissy gets a good line. In the aftermath, Lois once again paints Morgan Edge as the bad guy, and, once again, Kyle Cushing doesn’t want to hear it. While Lois fumes at not getting backup from her boss or being taken seriously, Jonathan confronts Jordan about some recent choices, and they definitely do not agree about what to do next. Out on the porch, Clark brings Lois some wine, offers support and encouragement, and is generally just a good man and husband. Again, they make a great team.
Clark catches up with Lana, bringing her some paperwork, and they talk about their respective family issues and how much they miss Martha Kent. Lana drops some surprising news that she thought he knew about. Honestly, that’s one of the few weak points of the episode: what Jordan’s up to shouldn’t be possible without parental permission and, accordingly, knowledge. At practice, Jordan is showing off with his new abilities, but he does something really impressively mature for a kid his age. After that, Clark arrives, looking displeased, and an ugly family fight goes on at home. Jordan says some pretty terrible teenage things, and gets sent to his room. Jon tries to charm his way out of the trouble he’s in, but also gets sent upstairs. Lois offer Clark advice and encouragement before ducking out to run down a lead. They do get in some great banter about her borrowing the truck.
Jonathan talks to Jordan about what’s going on, and sees a few things that make him revise his opinion. In a great character moment, Jonathan goes to talk to his father, and makes a plea that surprises both of them. Jon’s quite eloquent on his brother’s behalf, and he does get Clark to listen. Lois’ work meeting doesn’t go at all as planned. Things get ugly, and she has to play her trump card. What follows is a great example of surprise and how even the best can be overconfident. It was a twist I didn’t see coming, and it played out really well.
Sarah and Lana get another scene together, and it’s a really well-written and acted exchange. I once again give huge points to the writers and showrunners for giving time to characters that usually wouldn’t get this much, and not turning it into some big plot. It was a great scene with no big action, secrets, or villains. It was just a very real moment that they did a fantastic job with. In a nice sort of balance, Jordan and Clark get a similar scene. They talk about things that happened with Clark and his father, and reach a deal about getting Jordan what he wants.
After some more entertaining high school awkwardness, and Clark seeming to revel in his role as a dork, the show ends on a very different note. A mystery man from earlier reports in, and ends up getting fired in a memorable way. Whatever is going on, I think the family has some ugly trouble coming their way, aside from the mysterious Captain Luthor.
What I liked: Pretty much everything. There were great character moments, some good action, and enough intrigue to make me wonder what’s coming next. Jordan did what could have been a simple, stereotype thing, but did it for complex reasons and showed some surprising maturity. I loved that they gave Lana and Sarah those scenes. Lois being aware she’s getting Edge-obsessed was a nice moment of self-awareness. I’m really curious about the mystery man and the one that fired him. It made sense they didn’t use Luthor or General Lane; there just wasn’t a place to put them, and shoe-horning them in wouldn’t have worked.
What I didn’t: About the only thing I can think of, aside from maybe just a touch too much angst from Jordan at times, was a question that’s been occurring to me. Clark’s youth in Smallville was generally about him, his parents, Lana, and Pete Ross. It’s weird we’re this far in and there’s no mention of him at all. Did the character get wiped out by Crisis?
And that’s my only nitpick. This show has been fantastic. I’m giving this a 5 out of 5.