Superman and Lois: Closer

“I know we need to save the world and everything, but the couch is really comfy. Does the new season have to start now?”

With so many superheroes shows being cancelled, supposedly as a part of the big shakeups going on behind the scenes at DC Comics, it’s nice to see that some of them are still going strong. Superman and Lois, arguably a survivor of the Arrowverse (hey, that’s where these versions of the characters started) returns for a third season, and I’d say they’re off to a good start.

Between seasons, Jordan Elsass unexpectedly announced he was stepping away from acting, leading to Jonathan Kent being recast. Michael Bishop takes over the role, and does a fine job. I admit, visually it’s throwing me a bit, but that’s something I need to adapt to, not a reflection on the actor or the performance. I hope the rest of the audience gives him a chance.

It’s apparently been 27 days since the season finale and the world-wide chaos from Bizarro-World nearly merging with this Earth. Lois does a voiceover as we see segments of the cast doing things ranging from checking out the new Fortress to repainting their homes to starting new jobs. It’s a hopeful opening, and I’d argue Superman is one of the more hopeful characters out there.

After the montage of scenes, we see Clark and Lois enjoying some luxury left over from Tal-Rho, who elected to move to Bizarro-World during the big event, and is presumably living happily after. Their conversation includes the boys wanting to practice, and name drops two big villains from the comics: Bruno Manheim, head of Intergang, and Lex Luthor. The adult Kents enjoy themselves a bit more before going off to be parents.

Clark is training Jordan some more in the use of his powers as they travel to the new Fortress. We get a sort of a cameo from a long-time DC villain, and Clark gives Jordan some freedom, clearly elating the teen. In a much more common rite of passage, Lois is teaching Jonathan how to drive, and it’s not going wonderfully well. Sam Lane drops in on the Irons family, where he makes two very different invitations, one to John Henry and one to Natasha.

In a reversal of what I would have expected, Lana is apparently dragging her feet on signing divorce papers, and Kyle is politely trying to prod her along. Their brief talk gets interrupted when the new mayor is summoned away for yet another crisis in the town, although this one, at least, doesn’t seem to be villain related. Clark’s day at work gets interrupted when his hearing alerts him to another disaster he needs to go attend to, leaving behind a bemused Chrissy. Jordan has managed to combine the mistakes in judgement of both a teen given some options and a rookie hero, and Superman isn’t pleased at either. I see both sides on this one, but Jordan really did screw up several things at once.

At Smallville High, Lana deals with the newest problem, then Clark shows up to talk to her and confirms its worse than it appears (and it looks bad to start with). There’s some good friendly banter in the scene, and we learn that Lois and Lana are meeting up for drinks later.

One problem this show is following in the footsteps of Smallville about is the distance between Smallville itself and Metropolis. Lois, in one day, travels from Kansas to the East Coast for an appointment and then makes it back hone in the early evening. Either Clark is flying her around off camera or the Kents, who have never been close to rich, and don’t have rich friends like Bruce Wayne in this world, have a hell of a frequent flyer program. At any rate, Lois has booked a doctor’s appointment under a fake name (how did she do that, considering the ID and insurance issues at doctor’s offices these days?) to try and do some poking around about a story. Things don’t go well on any level, as the person she wants to talk to isn’t interested, and Lois’ fake appointment turns out to have some real concerns.

Back in Smallville, there’s an awkward scene between Jordan and Sarah. Sarah seems determined to make the “just friends” thing work, and Jordan is understandably less than thrilled about it. Again, I see both sides, and I don’t think of either of them is handling this well. Sarah rushes off to pick up her younger, rarely-seen, sister, and accidentally really stings Jordan on the way out. There’s also mention of the twins’ birthday party on the following day. Natasha and Sam spend some time together, and he, too, handles things remarkably badly. A lot of smart people are doing a lot of dumb things this episode.

On the farm, Clark is ranting about Jordan’s earlier actions. When he finally pauses for breath, Lois shares some potential news from the doctor. It’s a good scene that shows the strength of their relationship. Nat comes home from her outing with Sam, and is very unhappy over how things went. John Henry is also clearly not pleased as he learns what happened.

A bit later, Jordan makes his way home and lands somewhat less than gracefully. He and Jonathan talk on the porch, and it continues the brotherly bond we’ve seen before, even with the change in actors. Out shopping, John Henry encounters Clark making a very specific purchase, and the two have a good scene of male friends not quite knowing how to share potential good news. John gives some good advice that Clark ponders. Lois and Lana meet up for the night out mentioned before, and Lana figures out what Lois isn’t saying. It’s another great friendship scene, and I’m glad they’re over the tensions after Clark’s big reveal last season.

The big day comes for Jonathan, and things are off to a bad start.  His evaluator isn’t exactly a neutral party. I guess there isn’t a code of conduct for that particular profession. There’s good news out at the farm as they prepare for the big party. Even at a festive event, various tensions are running high. Jordan, still stung by yesterday’s meeting, is using his powers to avoid Sarah. John takes Sam to task for his ham-handed offer to Natasha. And Chrissy has the quintessential awkward adult talking to teens conversation with Jonathan and some of his friends.

Kyle, who has previously been established as a master griller, samples Clark’s food and offers suggestions. He’s not the annoying jerk he was first season, and, while he doesn’t say the kindest things, it really does seem like he’s trying to help Clark. Going inside for supplies, Kyle meets another of the guests and they compare notes on being outsiders. Lois and Clark have a video of the kids’ lives to show, with all a parents love of both their children and embarrassing them in public being catered to. Lois easily covers when Clark ducks out to attend to another big problem, in this case, someone he defeated before once again on the loose and terrorizing Metropolis.

While Superman faces off with a powerful foe, Sarah finds Jordan, gives him a present, and has a somewhat contradictory talk with him. Maybe if she needs space from him, she shouldn’t be both at his party and tracking him down to talk to him? Jordan’s senses pick up on Superman’s fight, but he follows earlier instructions and ignores it, or at least doesn’t rush off to help. The fight wraps up with a mysteriously disappearing foe and graffiti referencing Suicide Slum.

Suicide Slum, officially Southside, is a poorer area of Metropolis. At various times, it’s been the home of the original Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, Black Lightning, and Gangbuster. Traditionally, the residents there don’t tend to see much of the Man of Steel. I doubt they’ll bring in any of those heroes on this show, since they seemed determined to keep this world’s heroes to Superman, Steel, and their immediate relations, but it could be an interesting new story.

The events at the party are far from done. Defeated ex-Mayor Dean shows up and threatens Lana about some of the town funds she’s been accessing to try and fix the situation at the school. He doesn’t make a lot of sense, but is clearly shaken and worried. Lana dismisses him, and John encourages the man to go away. Sam, nothing if not brave, finds Natasha, apologizes for the previous night, and does his best to both admit fault and patch things up. The night ends with some more warm banter among the Kent family.

The morning after I think you could title “Kyle’s Really Bad Day.” He and the other guest clearly enjoyed themselves, and just as clearly, that guest is very much not ok with the aftermath. She babbles a lot, and isn’t too careful of his feelings as she goes. Then, things get worse when there’s a knock at the door and Kyle gets something he both wants and doesn’t want at all, with an audience even. A tribute to both writers and actors is that as much as I really didn’t care for him in the first season, I really bad for him here.

Two scenes wrap up a very eventual season premier. Speculation and research into Superman’s recent fight get interrupted when Lois receives a call that has several different forms of bad news. In the city, we see the villains at work, and the ruthlessness of the one in charge. Things could be about to get very interesting for Superman and company.

What I Liked: First off, I’m just glad the show is back. I really enjoy it, and they’ve been impressing me since the first episode. I like the warmth of the Kents to each other, and how this isn’t a family with deep secrets from each other. I enjoyed seeing all the characters again, and getting updates on how they’re doing. Well, most of them. I could’ve done without ever seeing Dean again. I’m intrigued by whatever he was up to with the town finances, and the reference to Suicide Slum. While Sam handled things with Natasha badly, I’m glad he was honest enough to own up to it and try and fix it.

What I Didn’t: As I said before, I could happily never see Dean again. I feel bad for Kyle, and worse for Jordan. The kid couldn’t catch a break this episode. As I mentioned above, a few aspects of Lois’ trip to Metropolis didn’t really work for me. I keep wanting to like Sarah, and on balance do, but they keep having her do some really poorly-thought out things. Realistic enough for a teenager, but it occasionally makes me wish they’d let her get some sense, or at least empathy.

Overall, I really enjoyed the return of the show. I’ll give this one a low 4 out of 5. They started a lot of interesting ideas here, and hinted at several more. It’ll be interesting to see how things develop.


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