The broad strokes of Superman’s origin is a story I’d wager the majority of the world knows. The fine details have changed with various retellings over the years, and bits have been added on to the mythos (Kryptonite didn’t show up until the radio show began, for example), but the bare bones of who he is and how he got here are common knowledge. A lot of interesting details for the Arrowverse’s version of Superman get added in, as well as a dark mirror with Morgan Edge/Tal-Ro’s life on Earth, in “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events.” And I thought the Black Lightning episode titles were complicated.
The episode starts with a young Clark way up north, setting in motion the events that lead to the creation of the Fortress of Solitude. Why this one looks nothing like what should be the same building/location on Supergirl has never been addressed, and probably never will be at this point. Young Clark explores the place, meets Holo-Jor-El and experiments with his powers. The absolute glee on his face is great to see, and a nice character moment for someone who really is just a great guy, and is finding something new and fun for the first time. After talking with Jor-El for a time, Clark goes back home and touches base with his mother. The hero to be wants to take care of something before embarking on a new career, but learns that some of his old life has moved on without him. It’s a crushing blow, but very realistic, and his mother offers what comfort she can before giving him something important to his future.
Moving to Metropolis, Clark gets very lost, saves a kid in a scene we’ve witnessed before that is a nod to Superman’s first appearance, and gets several nods in to various classic Superman bits. Moving on, we see him get his first job from Perry White, and meet Lois Lane. There’s a passing reference to another classic Superman supporting character, and we see Lois and Clark get to know each other. Lois has some concerns Clark had never considered, and he realizes even his Superman identity can’t get everything right all the time. Lois focuses on another story while fellow reporter Ron Troupe keeps doing pieces on the new mystery hero in town. It’s not only a nice shift from Lois being Superman’s early chronicler, but amusing as, in the comics, Ron Troupe took Clark’s job when Clark was missing and Superman dead after the infamous battle with Doomsday.
Working together, Lois and Clark pursue their story and grow closer. There’s one scene of sort of flirting that even manages a Seinfeld reference (Jerry Seinfeld is a huge Superman fan and referenced the character often during his show). We see the classic trope of Lois getting in trouble, Superman saving the day and then taking off. This is when Lois gives him the name Superman, which is one of the few quibbles I have with the episode. He’s clearly been operating in Metropolis for some time now; none of the other reporters have given him some kind of name before this? Later, on Daily Planet television, Lois gets the first sit down interview with Superman, and they spar about his secrets. Stepping off set for a moment, Lois talks with her producer Janet and reveals her feelings for Clark, touching on the classic, if often frustrating, love triangle, but reversing the way it usually works. I really enjoy the new spins this show puts on bits of the legend. We skip ahead to Lois being brought to the Kent farm, the proposal, and the big reveal of his secret. It seems to be a tour of big moments in Clark’s life, but we eventually get the feeling that something isn’t right.
After a few more big events, we finally learn what’s going on. It’s a version of a storytelling device that’s been used many times, often in Superman stories, but with a new ugly twist. Superman ends up confronting Morgan Edge/Tal-Ro, and the villain is just as smug and insufferable as ever. They argue a lot about what’s coming next, but Superman is still very weak from last episode’s big sacrifice. When things turn physical, Tal pounds Superman into the ground, and the fight trashes a lot of the Fortress. Back in Smallville, Lois, her sons, and the Cushing family are dealing with the aftermath of last episode. Jonathan and Jordan chat with Sarah as the adults talk in another room. Jordan, I’m amused to see, shares a blind spot with me, and gets very surprised by a turn in the conversation. Kyle even apologizes to Lois on the way out.
The Kents get home after what should have been a good day, and instead get unexpected and unwanted company. There’s an argument, a brief fight, and a lot of threats. A very wobbly Superman finally catches up, and, seeing no choice, agrees to Tal’s demands. Tal’s Fortress is a lot less welcoming than Kal-El’s, and the Man of Steel does not have a good time there. We also see more flashbacks to young Morgan/Tal’s early life, and some of what made him who he is. The episode ends with Lois, realizing things are bad, making a phone call. The call makes sense, although creates another shared world problem. It’s a setup for some really ugly events in the near future, whatever else happens.
What I liked: I get the show is forging its own path, but it was nice seeing Clark in Metropolis and at the Daily Planet. I love the show, but I do miss that aspect of his character. Kyle, who I haven’t really liked since he first showed up, showed some maturity and humility I would have thought beyond him. I’m amused by the developments with Sarah and Jordan, although the timing is horrible. It was good to see Perry, and I’m impressed they used Ron Troupe.
What I didn’t: Who Lois called makes sense in terms of the show, but not the universe. I mentioned the issue with Superman’s delayed naming. And that’s about it, really.
I continue to really enjoy this show a lot. They’ve absolutely impressed me, and have another great show to carry the Arrowverse forward. I’m giving this episode a 4 out of 5.