Superman and Lois: The Best of Smallville

The titular characters try and enjoy a night off

The surprisingly great first season of Superman and Lois (they’ve already been renewed for season two) continues to deliver some big surprises as they come to their temporary hiatus. For reasons I’m sure make sense to network executives, and maybe are tied to COIVD issues/delays, after this episode, Clark gives his timeslot to his cousin as the final season of Supergirl airs in this space until May. Which is a long time to wonder about some of the things we saw. They raise a few interesting questions and layer in some more realism for “The Best of Smallville.”

The show opens with Clark talking about the turn of the seasons, and rhapsodizing about the upcoming Harvest Festival. It’s endearingly earnest, and so perfectly in character for him. I’m glad the writers are doing scenes like this, and haven’t forgotten who Clark actually is. His family’s assorted reactions and banter are also perfectly in character, and realistic for city folks hearing about a rural festival. There’s an ominous (or I thought so, anyway) note about something coming up, and then the kids are at school. Sarah, too, enjoys the festival, and doesn’t try to hide that from her friends. She’s a brave soul that way. There’s some great banter with Sarah and Jordan, and another good brother moment with Jonathan helping out Jordan. The good feelings from that last moments, until Jonathan gets some bad news in a really not cool way.

Back at the farm, Clark is sorting through some of his mother’s possessions. Part of the tradition of the festival is a kind of fall cleaning, where people donate what they can spare to a community center to help those who need it. It’s a great idea, and another slice of small-town life I can believe. Or maybe I just want to. He’s also doing something nice for Lois, but they get interrupted when Chrissy calls, and tells Lois about a surprising development at the Gazette. The missing Derek Powers has turned up with a somewhat believable story, although the way both he and his mother react to a few things make it a lot less believable. Chrissy’s reactions after they leave, and Lois’ subtle mentoring of her boss, are very entertaining to watch. A bit more worrying is that they’re being spied on from across the street by someone with ill-intent.

Lana, busy person that she is, is helping run the community center/donation event. She makes the name connection when Derek and his mother show up, and they exchange pleasantries, right up until Derek starts acting oddly. He ducks away, makes a cryptic phone call, and then has a serious incident that results in a major disaster for the center. Out at the farm, dealing with his mother’s stuff triggers a few flashbacks for Clark, and we see his younger self and his mom talking about things, and then what has to be one of Clark’s first forays into superheroism. Returning to the present, Clark hears what’s going on in town and intervenes in a very clever, effective way, helping people but also preserving his secret. In a world that so often seems to be getting rid of secret identities, I was very glad to see this. We also see some heroism from Kyle Cushing, which is another nice touch. It would be easy to make him a one-dimensional jerk, a foil for the Kents. But they haven’t done that, and it adds to the quality of the show.

Clark and Lois talk about the events of the day, and then the kids get home. Jonathan, completely understandably, isn’t feeling social, and Jordan does his best to explain what’s going on. Clark ends up illustrating the generation gap when he tries to talk about things with Jordan, but in a believable and funny way. Lois goes to investigate the strange doings from earlier, and has another scene with Kyle. They clearly don’t get on well, but they’re actually polite and civil to each other, which I also applaud the writers for. They just don’t make needless drama with people behaving in unbelievable or childish ways. There’s enough drama when one of the best known and most powerful heroes in the world is part of your family. Lois and Chrissy compare notes, and then things take a turn for the even more ominous.

At the diner, getting some coffee, Lois meets “August Bridgewater,” who spins a story for her about why he’s there, although we the viewers know better. She’s suspicious, which is fitting for her character, and he asks a few too many questions about one particular topic. Sharon Powell, Derek’s mother, drops by the Gazette to share some news that has frustrated her, and Chrissy proves that just because she’s not a city gal doesn’t mean she’s either foolish or naïve. Jordan and Clark get another scene of Clark being a loveable, but dorky, father as Jordan talks a bit about his plans for the night. Jonathan comes down, spewing teenage angst, and says some ugly things that are at least understandable in context. This gives us another flashback of young Clark, and we see that he was just as much an emotional teen as the next guy, and not always kind in his outbursts.

While things were looking better in the Cushing home last episode, they aren’t staying that way. Kyle got some bad news he’s not handling well, and it adds tension to an already tense home. This spills over on to Lana and Sarah both. In between scenes of the Cushing family, and a small reveal about Kyle that surprised me, the brothers Kent enjoy the festival, at least for a few minutes. Then Jonathan meets up with some friends from school and acts like an upset teenager. It’s not a good or wise choice, but I get it. As this goes on, Chrissy does some snooping and sees some interesting things. Again, a nod to the writers. This would have been an easy moment to create a “damsel in distress” scene and require Superman showing up to the rescue, but they don’t do that, and I’m glad. It works perfectly fine this way.

Clark gets ready to go to the festival, and goes through another flashback of his time with his mother. Martha Kent was a very wise woman, and I sort of wish she’d stuck around longer on the show. Sarah and Jordan meet up, and he shows again that when he’s not being all emo, he’s a really great guy. While Chrissy learns more about her quarry, Sarah finally starts opening up to Jordan. Which is, unfortunately, when Jonathan, a bit the worse for his adventures, shows up with a few other guys and acts like a dick. Sarah completely loses it and stalks off, and Jordan is left taking care of his brother. Again, Jordan’s a great kid. They both are, really. Clark and Lois catch each other up on what’s been going on the last little while, and then they run into Jonathan, and things don’t go well. Jonathan gets some needed discipline, and even he seems to know he had it coming. Lois gets in a great line born of clear frustration.

On the heels of this, Lois gets a call from Chrissy that spurs Clark into a quick change and hasty exit. This leads to a confrontation between Superman and a character who has gone through some changes. It’s a long, drawn-out, dog-fight/strafing run that’s going to leave some ugly repair bills behind unless Superman comes back and cleans up. This ends after the lurking Captain Luthor gets involved and shows that, while his ship is gone, he still has some impressive toys in his arsenal. This problem dealt with, the family gathers for a discussion about Jonathan’s recent behavior. Clark is remarkably understanding, surprising everyone else there. Jonathan gets an interesting gift, and then the adults talk about what’s going on and wonder how Morgan Edge is involved.

The next day has Lois and Clark commiserate with Lana on the losses to the donation center, and learn a few surprising things. Lana makes a very touching public gesture, which triggers another Clark and his mother flashback. Luthor is still creeping around the edges, spying from afar, and goes back to his new base of operations. He’s clearly not in the mood for the input from his AI, and swats it aside. This gives him his own flashback, and we see some surprising details from his own world. Sarah and Jordan chat for a bit after their disastrous date, and she does something that, given the summation of the last day or so, I thought was kinda not cool. In a good mood anyway, Jordan walks home and has a surprising encounter that goes horribly badly. Which is a hell of a cliffhanger to leave us on, as the show doesn’t come back until May 18th.

What I liked: The overall writing continues to impress me. These are real characters, no one is coming across as perfect, but there’s no drama for the sake of drama, either. I like that Kyle, Lana, Sarah, and Chrissy are getting screen time that takes the form of stories of their own, not excuses to get the hero involved. Jonathan was acting like a real teen here, and while he was being a dick, I get it. I’m intrigued by whatever Edge is doing, and the insight into Luthor’s past was unexpected and sheds a lot of light on his motivations. Huge points for Clark being smart about his secret identity. All of the Harvest Festival stuff was just a nice little believable slice of life.

What I didn’t: Honestly, even with it being believable, I didn’t like what Sarah did near the end of the episode. It seemed, at best, horrible timing bordering on being mean, which I really don’t think she is. Maybe thoughtless would be better than mean.

The series is continuing to hit all the right notes. I’m giving this a 4 out of 5, and really looking forward to its return.

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