Ricky Church reviews the season 2 premiere of Superman & Lois…
The Kent family is back with plenty more drama both within and outside their household as new threats – including one of the most dangerous in Superman history – emerge in an impressive second season premiere. ‘What Lies Beneath’ takes the best aspects from the first season and builds upon them with intriguing character work and gorgeous visuals that defy the typical look of a CW show.
Picking up a couple months after the first season, Superman, Lois and their children are trying to get life back to normal (or as much as normal is for them) but are confronted by several problems. First Lois’ daughter from an alternate universe has shown up, throwing all the Kents for a loop as each deals with and ignores her sudden appearance in their own way. Secondly, General Sam Lane’s DOD replacement Mitch Anderson is much more passive-aggressive than Superman’s father-in-law, pushing him to become an official agent for the American military and put their country first over rival nations.
Right from the start of the episode, ‘What Lies Beneath’ continues to hold up the tone the first season set with its balance of superhero adventure and family drama. There is not a scene that feels unnecessary or too long as everything is used to its maximum effect. Regarding the family drama, Superman & Lois doesn’t feel nearly as melodramatic as other CW family shows or even other Arrowverse series with cheesy monologues about family values, forced romances or a simple miscommunication turned into a big deal. Rather, Lois’ growing irritation and anger with Clark, Jordan and Jonathan is dealt with in a serious and realistic manner – at least as realistic as an alternate daughter suddenly appearing can be – but it speaks to both the writing and Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch’s acting that Clark’s pushiness for her to talk about it and Lois’ stubborn refusal to address it feels relatable, especially when Clark opens up to Lana about his frustrations.
Tulloch was fantastic as Lois throughout the episode, giving a window into Lois that was vulnerable and upset without coming across as unlikable or even unreasonable in her stubbornness. Whether it was chewing out Jonathan over his bedroom moment with his girlfriend, fighting with Clark or pushing back on Chrissy’s potential hires for the paper she portrayed Lois with a great deal of emotional range. The two scenes where she finally opened up about her own mother’s abandonment and met with Natalie were among Tulloch’s best as Lois considering she’s already been stellar as the ace reporter.
When it comes to the Superman side of things, Hoechlin again nails it as the Man of Steel. He constantly exudes the strength and humbleness of Superman when he’s in the suit and that is apparent in his scene with Ian Bohen’s Anderson, marking a Teen Wolf reunion for both actors. Their discussion brings to light the complexity of Superman’s presence in the world as he rescued a nuclear North Korean sub, an act which is heroic but causes American brass to question Superman’s personal policy of staying out of geopolitics. Bohen’s passive-aggressive manner is in stark contrast to Sam Lane’s open bluntness as Anderson tries acting like he’s Superman’s friend and biggest fan. He’s already set himself as a nice foil for Hoechlin’s Superman and the season’s overall theme of where Superman stands in the world and how Anderson is now co-opting the ‘S’ symbol for his own super-program should prove an interesting subject to examine.
For a show that airs on the CW, it is very surprising Superman & Lois looks as great as it does with its visuals and cinematography. It might even improve upon the visuals of the first season with how great the sub rescue looks as the rain comes down on Superman or his rescue during Smallville’s sudden earthquake. Compared with the likes of The Flash or Supergirl, Superman & Lois seems like it belongs more on HBO Max than the CW with how fantastic this looks. The visuals are great and certainly lends itself to the idea that Superman is the greatest and most powerful superhero in the genre. The cinematography is also impressive as is the use of colours, not being as bright and flashy – no pun intended – as other CW DC series but not nearly as dark and muted as Zack Snyder’s DCEU films. It’s more the perfect balance of both styles.
‘What Lies Beneath’ was a very good re-introduction to Superman & Lois by setting up new problems for Lois Lane and both Superman and Clark Kent to solve. The family drama was done in a serious and character driven manner while the action was visually compelling. Even the teen storylines as Jon and Jordan dealt with their respective romances wasn’t as riddled with teen cliches as most other CW or teen dramas.
The premiere promises an exciting and thought-provoking season, though the cliffhanger tease of Doomsday raises a few skeptical hairs since this marks the most recent time in the last few years Superman has dived down the Doomsday well after Batman v Superman and The Death of Superman animated adaptation, though with this year being the 30th anniversary of that landmark story it’s to be expected DC would honour it in some media. Hopefully this time will bring something new and interesting to Doomsday and a potential ‘Death and Return’ arc.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.