Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 6, 2022)
Season One of Superman & Lois introduced us to the leads as a long-married couple with teen sons. That year took them back to Clark Kent’s hometown of Smallville, and Season Two picks up where it left off.
All 15 episodes from Season Two appear in this three-disc set. The plot synopses come from IMDB.
What Lies Beneath: “Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) and Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) struggle as a couple. Chrissy (Sofia Hasmik) adjusts to running The Smallville Gazette with Lois. Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) faces new challenges on the football team. Secrets threaten to destroy Jordan (Alex Garfin) and Sarah's (Inde Navarrette) growing relationship.”
While I like the notion of friction in the Clark/Lois relationship, “Lies” loses some points because it makes her seem so unpleasant and unreasonable. That said, she gets redemption by the episode’s end, so this doesn’t become a fatal flaw.
During Season One, I enjoyed the interpersonal/character material more than the traditional superhero stuff, and that helps make “Lies” a good launch for S2. Of course, we get some action, but the development of the personalities makes this a solid start to the year.
The Ties That Bind: “Clark opens up to Lois about his ongoing struggle with visions and admits that there is only one person who might be able to help. Tensions being to rise with Lois and Chrissy. Sarah breaks plans with Jordan to spend time with Natalie (Tayler Buck).”
As much as I enjoy the character elements of the series, watching the apparent breakup of Jordan and Sarah got stretched out far too long. It semi-resolves here in a predictable and dull manner.
Some of the episode’s action enlivens matters, at least. Still, this seems like a mediocre show.
The Thing In the Mine: “Lois reaches out to retired General Sam Lane (Dylan Walsh). Clark's visions become worse during heated arguments with both Jonathan and Jordan. Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui) shares her frustrations with Kyle (Erik Valdez).”
Once again, the interpersonal elements falter here, a disappointment given that those usually act as a strength. At least Clark’s inability to control his powers offers intrigue and thus some worthwhile thrills.
The Inverse Method: “Lois and Chrissy go on a mission to find Lois' sister Lucy (Jenna Dewan). Jonathan and Jordan become more and more unsettled as Clark's painful visions continue.”
Bizarro Superman emerged nearly 65 years ago and became a staple of the comics. With so much history, this series needs to find a fresh angle on the character.
The show hasn’t gone too deep in that realm yet, but it displays promise. The thread about the cult feels a little Afternoon Special so far, but hopefully it’ll improve as we go.
Girl... You'll Be a Woman, Soon: “Lana, Kyle and Sarah prepare for Sarah's quinceañera, but things don't end up going as smoothly as they had hoped. Clark finds himself struggling with feelings of guilt about what happened to John Irons (Wolé Parks).”
Expect a pretty soap opera-heavy episode here, especially as it deals with Lana’s family. A few good beats evolve but the overall impact remains goopy.
Tried and True: “Lois tells Clark that she and Chrissy plan to do a deeper dive into the Inverse Society. Lana and Sarah try to comfort each other after the fallout at Sarah's quinceañera. Jordan notices something suspicious in Jonathan's book bag.”
Bizarro gets more attention here, and this allows him to differentiate himself from earlier versions to a greater degree. “True” also merges the Bizarro thread with the Inverse plot, which gives it some added intrigue.
Anti-Hero: “Superman pleads with Lt. Mitch Anderson (Ian Bohen) to investigate Ally Allston (Rya Kihlstedt). Lois receives some very upsetting news. Lois helps Lana prepare to fight the good fight. Jordan is still irritated with Jonathan for lying to him.”
The Superman side goes down a significant path, but the rest tends to feel melodramatic and somewhat sappy. That becomes the biggest disappointment of Season Two: the cliché nature of its character arcs. Hopefully we’ll find more interesting material down the road.
Into Oblivion: “Lois, Clark, and Natalie notice a difference in John Henry's behavior and fear something might be very wrong. Kyle encounters an awkward moment with Lana while stopping by the house to pick Sarah up for school.”
Does “Oblivion” advance some narrative beats? Yes. Does it push things along in a particularly interesting manner? No. The episode continues S2’s general lack of momentum.
30 Days and 30 Nights: “Lois thanks Lana for sticking up for Jonathan when he is taunted for getting football season canceled. Jordan's unexpected departure on the mayoral Election Day leaves Sarah rattled.”
With Superman gone in an alternate dimension, “Days” concentrates more on soap opera than usual – and that’s saying something. A little action crops up along the way but too much of “Days” feels dull and flat.
Bizarros In a Bizarro World: “Superman races through the portal after Ally Allston, but when he arrives on the other side, he discovers everything on this parallel earth is… bizarre.”
In theory, I like the series’ take on Bizarro World, but I admit I miss the wackier vibe from the traditional depiction. The series treats this domain in such an ultra-serious manner that it loses any of the spark and inventiveness from prior versions.
Indeed, we get Bizarro World as some form of silly mix of drug store Punk and Emo. Some inventive moments still result, but the episode doesn’t exploit the material especially well.
Truth and Consequences: “Jon-El catches sight of his doppelganger Jonathan. Jon-El lunges at him and Jordan tries to intervene, but Jon-El appears to be stronger and faster than him.”
As S2 should intensify, “Truth” finds it continually stuck in neutral. Oh, it tosses out some attempts at drama, but too much of it feels like the same soap opera banality that’s dominated S2.
By the way, it’s always been a silly conceit that Clark’s glasses hide his identity as Superman. The series pushes this even more due to the fact Supes a) doesn’t really alter his hair, unlike prior renditions, and b) always sports the same permanent facial stubble as Clark. When Clark reveals himself to Lana here, it becomes even more ridiculous given these factors.
Lies That Bind: “Jordan and Jonathan question whether Lois and Clark are telling them the complete story. Natalie tries her best to get Sarah to acknowledge Jordan.”
Given the in-show revelation of “Truth”, much of “Lies” follows that, and this leads to even more whiny drama. Some action comes along for the ride, but if I hoped the episode would really ratchet up the thrills, I found disappointment.
All Is Lost: “Clark and Lois disagree on the best way to figure out if Ally Allston went to the Inverse World. John Henry makes a surprising discovery. Lois sets out to find Lucy.”
Three episodes left in S2 and I view this episode’s title literally, as all seems to be lost in terms of my hopes that the year will kick into gear. Perhaps I’m coming down too hard, as S2 hasn’t been terrible, but we’ve found too much stale drama and not enough that feels inventive or dynamic. “Lost” keeps us on the same stagnant course.
World War Bizarre: “Superman is rendered powerless by Ally's attack, and the others rally as the two Earths merge.”
Without much time left in S2, the action amps up here. This tends to feel like too little, too late, but at least “War” brings some pretty decent material and pushes toward a potentially exciting climactic episode.
Waiting for Superman: “With the authorization of the Department of Defense, Chrissy has a message for the people of Smallville: not only is the merging of planets real, it is happening.”
S2 concludes with events that focus on the potential end of the world as we know it. I might not have much liked the build up to this point, but at least S2 goes out with a bang as well as the expected hint at Season Three’s events.
Which I hope fares better than S2. As mentioned earlier, I don’t want to come down too hard on S2, as it provides intermittent pleasures.
However, I thought S1 built the characters in such an intriguing manner that the more melodramatic and cliché-ridden material in S2 disappoints. While not a bad collection of shows, S2 doesn’t live up to the first year.