I hate to say it about a franchise I’ve been enjoying so much overall, but the Arrowverse has been very uneven this season. However, two shows really stand out: Batwoman, and Superman and Lois. Superman is a difficult character to capture, as seen by the incredibly divisive “Man of Steel” and “Batman Vs Superman” movies. Tyler Hoechlin has, in my opinion as a lifelong superhero fan and I believe qualifying as an expert at this point, done a magnificent job. The entire show has been fantastic. This episode, “Man of Steel” serves up some great character moments and a major surprise I did not at all see coming. I’ll be doing my best to avoid that surprise, so parts of this review might be worded oddly. As a point of interest, this episode was directed by David Ramsey, best known to Arrowverse fans as John Diggle.
Last episode ended with Jordan howling in pain as his out-of-control emerging super-hearing drove him to his knees. Lois’ desperate shout brought Clark back, and he hurriedly flew his ailing son back to the Fortress. Sadly, one thing they have still not addressed is why the Fortress looks utterly different on this show from that seen in Supergirl. Hologramps, as I’ve heard him called, offers a dispassionate diagnosis, and soon Jordan is back home with what must be some really impressive noise-cancelling headphones. Jonathan, still understandably upset about his broken wrist, complains about more cover stories, which Lois offers to help with. Clark shares some stories about when his own powers emerged. Later, the kids get sent to bed (with some help from a note pad) and the adult Kents share some private time, worried about their children.
Morning comes, and Lois confers with Lana about her digging into Morgan Edge. Lois is worried and urges caution, and both of them seem to be reasonable and mature about it. Lois and Clark have a talk about what she’s learned so far about “Marcus,” who definitely isn’t who or what he claims to be. They disagree about how much to tell the kids, but do that without needless drama as well, which is something I admire about this show. They have actual grownups having real conversations. Lois isn’t the only one doing some digging; Edge and Super-Leslie haven’t been able to discover who Marcus is, either. Edge does some of the corporate, urbane threating that people like him excel at, and then Edge makes Lana very uneasy about her new job.
On the farm, Clark tries to get Jordan to adapt to his new power. The kid tries, but only briefly and gives up quickly. “Captain Luthor” works to restore his former ship’s AI, and they banter a bit, which is entertaining. His work gets interrupted when Lois shows up, confronts him, takes wise precautions, and then leaves. This combines to give the man a flashback to life on his world, some happy scenes of his homelife, and another reveal; he and his Lois had a daughter. They are definitely pulling out the stops to give him a tragic backstory, and there’s more to come.
Jordan gives another shot to mastering his hearing, and quits again. I think anyone who suffers migraines can probably sympathize with what he’s going through. Jonathan is at school, having some difficulties from his injury, and his day gets worse when Sarah comes by, mad about what she thinks is going on with Jordan. Jonathan does some masterful tapdancing around the truth, then stalks off, legitimately upset about some of what she said. Sarah, a bit too late, realizes she’s got at least some of this wrong. Again showing actual experience and wisdom, Lois goes to her meeting with “Marcus,” but has Clark nearby for backup. When dealing with an unknown, dangerous foe, I’d have one of the most powerful men on the planet behind me, too, if I could. Lois and “Marcus” argue a bit, but fairly civilly, and he makes a few good points. This gets interrupted when Lois gets a call from Crissy and leaves to check out a lead. While they were chatting, Clark snuck into Marcus’ “creepymobile” as Lois called it, and got a big surprise when the AI mistook him for the other man. Lois and Clark compare notes, as do Marcus and the AI, and we hear something surprising from Marcus.
Lana gets an unexpected visit from a friend asking a favor, and Lana is clearly in a bad spot at this point. She’s doing what she can, but has no good options, especially with Edge watching her so closely. Clark and Lois discuss their newest discovery, and try and figure out how Marcus could be a Luthor. They are trailing the shipment Edge sent out, which is unfortunately a ploy from Leslie. The Kents are doing everything right, but their surveillance plan gets disrupted when Marcus shows up to highjack the shipment. Seeing the coming ugliness, Clark changes and steps in, while Leslie gets a call and smiles at the results. Lois and Marcus argue, which is odd since there’s a driver being held at gunpoint nearby. We also see that Leslie’s powers aren’t just limited to heat vision. Jonathan has some issues with his locker, meets a new and pretty girl, and patches things up with Sarah. Unfortunately, this is about when Jordan starts getting a feel for his hearing, and misunderstands what’s being said. He’s not pleased and throws a mini-tantrum, then surprises himself.
Lois, Clark, and Marcus have a tense conversation and agree that Morgan Edge is up to no good. They agree this shipment was a trap, and Marucs once again presses for a meeting with Superman. Either he’s really playing it coy, or Superman wasn’t Clark where he came from. Which leaves me with a lot more questions. Marcus suffers through more, and increasingly tragic, flashbacks, and keeps pushing for his meeting with Superman. Lois and Crissy come up with no leads on the Luthor front, and Lois sends Clark on an errand to get some more intel, making him admire how good she is at finding things out. Marcus prepares for his meeting, going through more flashbacks of he and his daughter working together. Whatever else he might be, Marcus is very technically skilled.
Jonathan comes home and is confronted by the irate Jordan. They argue, Jonathan finally, and understandably, loses his temper, and the argument doesn’t go well. Lana makes a presentation to Edge, and he prods her a bit about a small portion of things left undone. Between them, Crissy and Lois close one more door in the Luthor investigation. They have been very thorough, although since Lois herself was talking about the multiverse earlier, I wonder why she’s still trying to so hard to find an explanation that doesn’t seem to be there.
Things build to a head as they do some great cuts from scene to scene, ratcheting up the tension. Superman lands at the meeting spot designated by Marcus, and they have a barbed conversation. While Superman tries to get a feel for who he is talking to, Lois gets a call from Lt. Rosetti, apparently their contact at DOD while General Lane is elsewhere. We learn the fate of the Arrowverse version of a big Superman character at the same time we find out who Superman is really up against, and it’s not a good development. Superman has been set up really well, and the newly revealed character is every bit as brilliant as you’d expect him to be, using one of his signature weapons and explaining how it works. Leslie, aware of the new development, uses it as an opportunity to get another shipment rolling.
As Superman is in dire peril (how often do you get to say that?), Lois tries to warn him, getting no response. Jordan’s hearing homes in on the fight, and he tells Jonathan what’s going on. The kids, again realistically, put aside their earlier fight to help their father and embark on a hell of a teenage adventure. It really does look like Superman has met his match, and then he gets saved by his clearly terrified but doing it anyway sons. Jonathan manages to help his father recover, although it shows a design flaw in the trap (ask an electrician about the difference between series and parallel sometime). There’s a brilliant visual of Marcus’ flashbacks coloring what he’s actually seeing, and then Superman hauls him off to the DOD and Lt. Rosetti’s care. One of the things Lois and Clark do makes me think it’s the first step to the horror show Marcus went through at home.
The rest of the show is wrap-up and foreshadowing, for the most part. Lana gets a visit at home and learns some surprising things. Edge and Leslie make some plans and it’s pretty clear what Lana’s job actually is, even if she herself doesn’t know. The scene also touches on Leslie being special. Jonathan and Jordan have a talk that starts calm and then builds to teenage boy excitement as they relive their earlier escapade. It’s a fun scene to see. Clark comes in, and is realistic about his reaction, which was nice, but what would you expect from Superman, really? Lois and Clark make a decision about what to tell the kids, and Jonathan makes a comment that shows how smart he is before they get started. The show ends on Marcus in his cell, getting more flashbacks, and revealing who his daughter is. Things clearly didn’t go well for her, although we don’t yet know her fate or what happened to his world.
What I liked: Really, just about everything. This show is incredibly well written, acted, produced, and executed. The big reveal about Marcus was really well done, and they give us an explanation as to why we thought he was someone else. Marcus’ trap for Superman was brilliantly thought out, and put into play really well. Lois is smart and does things to look out for herself. I really like her precautions, and her relationship with Clark. Similarly, the brothers are believably written, neither the brothers scheming against each other that’s so common lately nor the saccharine sweet “everyone loves each other always” bit. The slow development of Jordan’s powers has made a lot of sense, and Clark’s talking to them at the end was really well done. I don’t like what he’s doing, but I understand where Marcus is coming from, given what we’ve seen. Lana is being careful and scared, as she should be. I’m getting very curious about the extent of Leslie’s abilities.
What I didn’t: Marcus’ trap had one big failing, but even that required outside interference. I’m a little unclear on what happened to the driver in the hijacking.
And those few things are it for the bad. I’m giving this a rare 5 out of 5. I’m loving this show. My only big hope is that at some point Jon Cryer brings his Lex to this series. I’d love to see that.