Superman and Lois: Fail Safe

Newest show in the Arrowverse, still got field support before Batwoman

I’ve been raving about Superman and Lois since it debuted, and I’m likely going to continue doing so. The show consistently amazes me, doing some very different things in the superhero genre, but still staying true to who both the main characters are. The time they take on things other series would ignore or gloss over keeps impressing me, and this week is no exception. Superman shows he’s a hero with a lot more than his amazing powers in “Fail Safe.”

We’ve been spending a lot of time here the last episode or two, and this one starts off back in the Ro Fortress, with young Morgan Edge/Tal-Ro going through the incredibly painful conditioning program his father devised. Tal is just a kid, and his father has no patience for that. The Ros are definitely very different from either the Els or the Kents. In the present, the imprisoned Morgan Edge gets a visit from Superman, who wants to know what became of the powerful Eradicator artefact. Given what we’ve seen it do, I’d kind of like to know that myself. Edge refuses to talk, and Superman isn’t one for high pressure interrogations. Superman does try and persuade him, but gets nothing about either the Eradicator or the missing Leslie Larr (again with the LL motif in Superman’s life).

Back at the Kent Farm, the family talks about a slight change in plans from the DOD and the boys take a shot at getting to skip school. They discuss the cover story that’s been agreed on for the recent strangeness in Smallville, and then Lois goes to respond to some messages from Chrissy, her notional boss. Clark offers Lois some food and she suggests he check on their guest. At the Cushing house, the mayor tells Kyle he needs to take a few weeks off and let the furor about the Morgan Edge situation calm down. Kyle is not at all happy to hear this.

Things aren’t much better at school, as Sara is getting very unwanted attention and decides she’s ditching the big assembly. With a nudge from Jonathan, a very brotherly moment, Jordan goes after her. Alone now, Jonathan gets a lot of questions about his grandfather, and then gets lured away by Tegan, the mystery girl Sara warned him against a while back. She’s cute, and Jonathan’s a teenage boy, so of course he goes with her. Chrissy and Lois talk about how to proceed with the story, and Lois isn’t happy about some of Chrissy’s questions.

Out at the barn, Clark brings some breakfast to John Henry Irons as the man works on his equipment. They talk about food, future plans, and adapting to a world that isn’t your own. Their discussion gets interrupted by an alert that the missing Leslie Larr has turned up. Superman flies into action, with Steel close behind. The fight is short, and Steel shows his armor is very capable of dealing with powered foes. Turning Leslie over to the DOD, Superman hears some of Sam Lane’s recent decisions and is surprised. Jonathan and Tegan drive around talking about relationships, or lack of same, while Sara brings Jordan to a spot out in the woods she likes. Sara shares some of her understandable concerns.

With the kids out of the house, Kyle and Lana go to the diner to discuss the future. Not only the problems with the townsfolk turning on them, but their more immediate employment prospects. Some of Kyle’s crew comes in, and it’s not exactly a happy reunion. Lois goes to see her father and argues with him when she hears the DOD isn’t putting out a formal statement. Sam makes a few good points, but so does Lois, and neither of them are coming close to convincing the other. In his cell, Edge has some more flashbacks and we see exactly what kind of father he had. The kid never had a chance. This segues into Superman asking him about the Eradicator again, and Edge refusing to answer and still preaching his Kryptonian Supremacy Manifesto.

At the Smallville Gazette, Chrissy and Lois argue about Lois’ approach to the story, truthfulness, and a reporters’ responsibilities. As Lois walks out, Tegan and Jonathan are actually talking about her. Tegan sounds like a fan at first, but Jonathan notices a pattern in her questions and gets annoyed. Deciding he’s had enough, Jonathan opts to walk home. It’s an interesting reversal of a girl walking out on a date that went badly. At home, Kyle rants about the way his crew treated him, and Lana tries to reassure him. Kyle’s ready to make some big changes, but Lana isn’t there yet.

Sara and Jordan talk about her family history, some worries for the future, and then get in some indulging of teenage hormones after a good line from Sara. This gets cut short by the sheriff stopping by, although how she knew they were there I’m not real clear on. Sam and Superman talk future plans for the DOD, and Superman has some surprising opinions about what Sam should do. Irons tinkers with his suit, argues with his AI, and gets an unexpected visitor. Said visitor gets in trouble when Clark discovers them in the barn.

While a worried Sam reaches out to Lois, Kyle and Lana talk more about their dimming prospects. This gets interrupted by a phone call bringing more bad news for them. Clark is expressing his disappointment with one of the boys when Lois gets home and comical miscommunication takes place. They have a passionate argument about Clark’s earlier decision, and then they, too, get interrupted by a phone call. Lois gets a great series of parting lines, funny and believable and heart-felt. Lois goes into full angry mother mode, which is fun to watch, and then crosses paths with Lana. Lana is very not happy about everything going on, and is done trying to hide it, venting to Lois for a few minutes.

Wayward teens corralled, the Kents continue their earlier discussion. They both have some valid points, and Clark shares some concerns you don’t generally hear from the Man of Steel. The two of them, being intelligent and mature adults, finally come to a compromise they can both live with. This involves looping in someone else, and a very confused John Henry Irons is approached with an interesting request. He’s not sure about this at first, but finally agrees with the logic of the situation. It has some echoes of a classic comic book conversation between Superman and Batman. At the Gazette, Lois returns and brings a surprised Chrissy some materials and an idea. I was amused because Lois is essentially telling her boss what to do.

Locked in his cell at the DOD, Edge has another flashback about an important confrontation with his father. In the present, Edge makes some kind of important decision and undergoes a very apparent change. The Kents finish admonishing their kids, and enjoy a few moments of domestic happiness. Things are going far too well, so of course something is coming.

Sam is dealing with some alarms and sends a team in a very dangerous assignment. Things go badly, but not in a way anyone could have expected. Superman rushes to the rescue, but the problem has gotten away from him and his super-senses. We get to see why, as his quarry has ended up someplace utterly unexpected. It’s not wholly clear what he’s doing, but it can’t be a good thing for anyone. I suspect this is going to be a big problem for Superman and Steel to deal with next episode.

What I liked: Everything about this show keeps hitting the right notes. The writing, acting, characterizations, and flow of events are all fantastic. It can be hard to create a believable show about an actual challenge for an immensely powerful being, but they’re doing a great job with this. They also give a lot of screen time to the characters that don’t fly around in costume, and do a great job balancing things. The characters that were in opposition all came from believable points of view, even Morgan Edge’s villainy, or Clark and Lois’ disagreement about his decision with Sam. Now that he’s not being a sneak and misguided assassin, Irons is growing on me. I really like Sara and Jordan, and, as I’ve mentioned before, Jonathan and Jordan’s relationship is fantastic.

What I didn’t: I’m not quite sure how the sheriff found Sara and Jordan. They weren’t near anything or bothering anyone. I really don’t have a good feel for Tegan, why she’s doing what she’s doing or what she’s hoping to accomplish. Irons’ AI needs a name, and the genius inventor needs a better base than his “murder van.”

Another great episode in a fantastic series. I’ll give this a 4.5 out of 5.