Ricky Church reviews the third episode of Superman & Lois season 2….
Whatever amount of skepticism there was at the start of this season regarding Superman & Lois‘ new villain has been wiped away thanks to the surprise twist. ‘The Things in the Mines’ did a great job of subverting expectations while focusing on the character development for Clark, Lois and several of the supporting characters in another well balanced episode.
There is already a marked difference in how the series is treating its plot this season compared to last. Whereas the first season dealt with the external threat of preventing an alternate future/universe, this season is much more personal as both Superman and Lois are affected by internal issues either within themselves or their family. The most pertinent problem Superman faces is his power loss and mysterious connection with the creature trapped in the mines and the stakes get considerably raised as Superman is no longer just experiencing visions from it, but its feelings of anger and violence as well. The moments where Clark’s frustration briefly boiled over into anger and he flashed his heat vision at his sons was unexpected but served to underline the threat posed to the whole family.
When the premiere episode initially teased Doomsday as the villain, I noted some amount of skepticism utilizing Doomsday since he’s been used so much in a variety of media over the last few years from Batman v Superman to the animated Death of Superman adaptation. The surprise that it was not actually Doomsday, but Bizarro trapped in the mines is a pleasant one that raises a whole bunch of questions for how season two will move forward. How exactly did Bizarro end up there, what is this version of Bizarro and how will the characters deal with him? With Doomsday generally the same outcome can be expected given his usage over the years, but a character like Bizarro offers plenty more opportunities for the writers to explore. As it was, Clark’s struggles to get a hold of these outbursts and his difficulty fighting Bizarro even with John Henry Irons’ help sets a nice stage and Tyler Hoechlin did a great job expressing Clark’s vulnerability, uncertainty and heroic side as he refused to risk Anderson’s team of rookie superpowered agents fight this being, even if that meant keeping them in the dark to the threat.
As for Lois, when she wasn’t helping Clark deal with his power shortages and outbursts she had her own personal problem going on. The return of Dylan Walsh as Sam Lane was a welcome one which continued a theme from last season (as well as Lois and Sam’s typical relationship in the comics) of how he was never really there for Lois or her sister Lucy, both as children and adults. That an old investigation of Lois’ was being called into question, and Lucy is the lynchpin for it, opens an interesting window into her past and family. Walsh very nicely portrayed Sam’s denial that he did the best he could, preferring ignorance from how Lucy was trapped in a cult rather than admit any failings as a father. Elizabeth Tulloch again displayed a lot of emotional range as Lois opened up her frustrations with Sam and worry for Lucy, so much so the heartbreak and fear she felt in her closing moments was quite clearly etched on Tulloch’s face.
Elsewhere the other stories were fine and balanced. There was more progression in Jordan and Sarah’s rocky relationship that seems to have evened itself out for the time being, Jonathan investigating his teammate’s doping on the ex-K and Lana’s mayoral campaign. Jordan’s story felt like typical teen/romance drama for the CW, especially with giving her what is essentially a promise ring, but it still didn’t feel too much like a soap opera. Jonathan is more compelling and his motive for trying to get ex-K himself is interesting and Lana’s quest to become mayor is actually intriguing. Wolé Parks and Tayler Buck also got some good moments as John and Natalie rekindled their bond after a personal setback, vowing to develop a better Steel suit together if he’s going to be helping Supeman regularly. While the character work with the supporting cast is good, it’s nice to see the show doesn’t spend more time than is needed on the other plots and taking away from the main storylines with Superman and Lois, balancing each one out while keeping its eye on what its audience really wants to see get the most screentime.
‘The Thing in the Mines’ was an entertaining episode that succeeded with its surprise and character development. The fight between Superman, John and Bizarro was well done and the acting from everyone showed how well the cast understands these characters. With the advancement on all fronts for the various storylines and Bizarro revealed, it is definitely hard to predict where Superman & Lois will go next and that makes it all the exciting.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.