Superman and Lois has officially wrapped up its second season on the CW, and it was certainly an interesting ride. Season two lifts a few ideas from “the Death of Superman” and repurposes them in some clever, and a few not-so-clever ways. There are a lot of early teases of Doomsday that the writers pivot into the season’s Bizarro storyline, and it was welcome surprise.
I was hoping the writers weren’t going to, directly, rehash the classic story that broke death in comics forever, and I walked away a happy man. The elements that they did use were interestingly implemented and fun to see for the most part. John Henry Irons having a larger role as the Man of Steel was great, if not always the prettiest. Seeing Jonathan from another universe in the ’90s Superboy outfit, leather jacket and all, was perfection.
That being said, there were some less-than-riveting aspects to this season as well. There is a lot of CW drama, especially with the youngsters, this year. It was entertaining for the first season, but it starts to drag episodes down by the finale this time around. Every single character has a side-story that takes almost the entire season to complete, or ties into one or several of the other side-stories so they all muddle a bit and take focus away from the main story. On that note…
the Parade of Season-long Side Stories
Jordan (Alex Garfin) and Sarah (Inde Navarette) struggle with trust and secrets throughout the entire season. Jordan wants to tell her that he has powers, but LITERALLY EVERYONE says no. He finds out that Sarah kissed a girl at camp over the summer, and the combined issues put strain on the relationship. The two of them break up for a good chunk of the season until circumstances force Jordan to act and reveal his secret allowing them to reconcile in the finale. Jordan is so cringey throughout all of this, but he is very much a teenager. He’s mostly believable, but the scenario takes so long to play out that it gets old. (Especially when you know they’re going to get back together by the end.)
Speaking of Sarah, she discovers that her dad, Kyle (Erik Valdez), cheated on Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui) at one point when he was still struggling with his alcoholism and this boils up into full-blown separation… while Lana is running for Mayor of Smallville! This story was hard to watch. It takes so much energy out of the show. I didn’t really like Kyle, but I didn’t hate him either before this. Now he’s just another guy who cheated on his wife when he was drunk and down on himself. He pops up everywhere for the rest of the season trying to show that he’s changed since then, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. The damage is done, and the relationship is over. But Lana is Mayor now, so there is that victory.
When Jordan isn’t dealing with Sarah, he’s training to be a superhero, first with Grandpa Sam (Dylan Walsh) then with dear ole dad himself (Tyler Hoechlin). I liked this, and I it was nice seeing this formerly meek and reserved character actively trying to step up. He wasn’t the best at it right away, and watching him struggle until he succeeds felt like a real journey for him. This was kind of interesting and set up a dynamic that I think would have made a lot of sense to explore further with his brother Jonathan (Jordan Elsass), his grandfather Sam, and his father. There is a strong possibility that the writers will dip into that well next season.
Meanwhile, Natalie (Taylor Buck) struggles with her father, John Henry (Wolé Parks) being the Man of Steel and his putting himself in danger to help Superman . She doesn’t want to see him hurt, or worse, but her father wants to do good and make up for hunting Clark down during the last season. Natalie secretly makes her own Steel suit, somehow, and bonds with Jordan and Jonathan as they help her gather X-Kryptonite to power it and make it even better than her dad’s. When John Henry gets stuck in the void between dimensions, she takes it upon herself to save him and prove that she can help him as a hero.
We can’t forget about Jonathan. Jonathan’s story sees him getting more involved with his girlfriend Candice (Samantha Di Francesco) and subsequently wrapped up in her dealing a new drug made from X-Kryptonite. This causes friction between not just his family members, but with the town of Smallville as a whole when it results in their team having to forfeit their football season. This is, by far, the weakest storyline of the season. Jonathan decides to go the route of not snitching on his girlfriend, whose family has been on hard times since the end of last season. As a result, he ends up being stuck in his room for most of the season until the main story picks him up for a bit.
This could have been so interesting if they hadn’t included the X-Kryptonite angle. It could have just been regular steroids, or any other drugs really, and achieved the same result. Making it X-Kryptonite just made the whole thing laughable, and when the season moves on he has nothing else to do. The writers try to play up that Jonathan is jealous of Jordan’s having powers and not being tech-savvy enough to be a Man of Steel either. He’s become a sort-of middle child and fears being forgotten and overshadowed by the super people around him. That’s the interesting part! Do more with that! Leave super-drugs out of it.
Finally, we come to Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) and her struggle with her younger sister Lucy (Jenna Dewan). Lucy has gotten swept up in the zealotry of cult leader Ally Allston (Rya Kihlstedt). Ally hopes to use a mysterious pendant to fuse the world and everyone in it with versions of themselves from another universe in hopes of making them all feel complete and end suffering. I’ll get to all of that in a moment. As far as Lois and Lucy are concerned, I didn’t believe for a second that these people were related. It didn’t feel like they had been in the same room with each other for more than an hour let alone years. Their scenes together consist of bickering about a past that we know nothing about and care about even less. Lucy is frustratingly stubborn to the point of being unlikeable. She is also so easily manipulated, and so deeply indoctrinated that every scene plays out the same way until the very end. Argue, seemingly change, betray family member, run away, repeat.
This particular storyline breaks Lois Lane for me. We see that her previously unscarred record of journalistic integrity is actually swiss cheese when it comes to her sister. It’s also alluded to that she may have omitted facts in other articles that had major impacts. Lois is supposed to be the paragon of journalistic integrity and the freedoms of speech and the press. Seeing her cast in this light sat very poorly with me. The writers managed to make Chrissy Beppo (Sofia Hasmik) a better journalist than the Lois Lane. I like Beppo, but she’s no Lois.
Notice I haven’t even talked about Superman yet?
The “Main” Story
The “A-story” of this season kicks off with Superman having to deal with Sam’s replacement at the DOD, Lt. Mitch Anderson (Ian Bohen). Anderson and Superman are at odds with each other because Superman doesn’t prioritize US interests, and rightly so. In response, Anderson starts an “American Superman” project enlisting various soldiers, and Tag (Wern Lee), to take X-Kryptonite drugs so they can step in on behalf of the US, but with the power and emblem of Superman. Supes doesn’t like this at all.
Superman starts having strange and uncharacteristic flashes of anger followed by visions of something tunneling through rock. This is soon revealed to be a doppelgänger from another universe! Bizarro Superman! The two battle each other a few times as the reverse-speaking doppel attempts to locate that universe’s Ally Allston.
On Bizarro World (the other Earth), Ally has successfully gathered almost everyone under her cause, including Superman’s son Jonathan who has powers on this world. The few who resist or question her are subject to torture and death. That Superman left his world to try to stop the Ally from the other Earth from uniting their pendants and becoming a god figure, but was unable to accomplish his mission.
Anderson is bewitched by Ally and her ideas, and travels to Bizarro world through the portal in the Schuster Mines. He sees the error of his ways on the parallel Earth, but not soon enough. Anderson is killed helping Superman escape the red-sun cloaked square Earth. The American Supermen never come up again after this.
The Ally’s unite and wreak havoc as they begin to merge the two universes. Superman nearly loses his powers in their first confrontation. John Henry gets trapped in the void between worlds somehow that is never fully explained, and then later Superman flies into the sun to get his powers back 1000%. Superman goes all Ultra-Instinct for a few minutes and pushes the united Ally back to Earth (Oh yeah, at some point she leaves the gap between dimensions and just starts pulling the planets together from space.) and they explode back into two people.
I’m glossing over a few things, but those are the necessary highlights. Oh, except for one important thing…
Hold on tight. This next one is a doozy.
APPARENTLY, this show isn’t part of the Arrowverse anymore! Nope. Sam Lane just offhandedly mentions that he’s seen “glimpses of other Earths and the Leagues of superheroes that exist in them,” but apparently they only have Superman on whatever un-numbered Earth this is now. I’m sorry, what? What was that, Sam? Are you seriously telling me in the season two finale of a spinoff show that you’re just going to disassociate yourself from the thing that gave your show life in the first place? And then you have the balls to bring Diggle (John Ramsey) back AGAIN in the final minutes of the episode? No. Just, no. You can’t have it both ways.
Things don’t look as crisp as they did last year. Season one wasn’t perfect by any means, but it used its CGI budget very well. This season doesn’t feel nearly as polished, and it starts to show especially with the younger actors. Tyler Heochlin continues to be the best Superman, and the show does him the most justice when he’s being the Big Blue Boyscout. Some of the flying visuals did start to wear a little thin though. Gotta save that money for Ultra-Instinct Superman in the finale.
Most of the season is cast in a gloomy haze. Almost like everyday in Smallville for 6-8months was overcast but there was never a rainy day. The colors of the town, the farm, everything are all toned down and desaturated. Even Superman’s suit is darker. This all serves the tone of the season, which is much more somber than the previous, but it also comes across as drab and uninteresting until we go to CGI set-pieces like the void or in space.
Conversely, Bizarro world was really interesting. I loved seeing all of the signs and lettering for everything be reversed and seeing the cube planet and sun was fun. The writers and the visual effects team leaned into how ridiculous it was while not feeling compelled to explain it. The unique differences between the two universes was interesting and posed Superman in an interesting light that we don’t normally see him in.
The Final Word: 7/10
Season two of Superman and Lois didn’t disappoint on anything major. There was a lot that didn’t feel like it was necessary or was added in to create drama for some of the non-superpowered characters to deal with, but the main story is fun, interesting, and entertaining. The side-stories, while they can overstay their welcome or get a bit more ridiculous than one would expect, all tie into the main story or into each other. With the sheer amount of characters that this show tries to juggle, this is no easy feat.
The action is less fluid this year, and relies a lot on lasers meeting in midair or CGI flying that can be a bit iffy sometimes. There are some really interesting visual effects throughout the season though, and they mostly make up for some of the lack-luster moments. The sound design here though is very good. Everyone from Bizarro world speaks in reverse, and this is used to great effect. The music is tense when we’re at our lows and triumphant when we’re at our highs.
Now this next part is a bit unorthodox.
A question for the creators…
Why not keep this in the Arrowverse? Seriously? It makes no sense. This show spunoff of Supergirl, and uses the same established actors. You had Diggle appear in what was obviously a multi-show spanning arc about the glowing green box in your first season. AND THEN, you have him come back again this season in continuation of his appearance on the Flash. How can you claim that this is a different universe?! HOW?
The Flash now stands as the official last surviving “Arrowverse” show. And I think that’s a shame considering his fellow hero airs on the same network just a day before, sporting the same face we all asked for a show to be centered around when we saw them together.
Just a thought.
You can stream the full second season of Superman and Lois free on the CW app or on HBOMax. Definitely make sure to check back in for more news, reviews, interviews, and more here on GVN. Catch ya next time.
Good, but very Bizzaro
I’ve worked my whole life to become a comic book illustrator, writer, and stand-up comedian. Batman and Captain Benjamin Sisko helped put a good head on my shoulders. I spent most of my childhood saving Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom and seeing the Justice League save all of creation time and time again. I live in Johnson City, TN with my wife Kary and daughter Laila enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery and occasional show. Three puppies round out the family and take up the rest of the time that isn’t spent debating which Wes Anderson or Studio Ghibli movie to watch. I spend an inordinate amount of time binge watching SVU, Futurama, and Letterkenny, and when I’m not watching I’m listening to “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” or playing the occasional game of D&D. If there’s a nerdy endeavor out there, I’ve probably at least tried it.