Superman and Lois – Season 1 Episode 9

Jun 9, 2021 | Posted by in TV
Superman

“Loyal Subjekts”

Superman & Lois accelerates Morgan Edge’s plan as Jordan encounters more complications with his fledgling powers.

As I have frequently articulated there is a lot that this show does really well. It covers a lot of ground and largely achieves what it sets out to do on a consistent basis. The family dynamic is the strongest aspect with very relatable familial issues explored through the lens of a superhero story with the other elements connecting to that foundation in various ways.

Superman

Doing some digging

Adding developing super powers to Jordan’s ongoing struggles with his mental health is a really nice touch because it acts as a strong metaphor for the chaotic nature of simply being a teenager. Growing up is hard enough under the best of circumstances -assuming those even exist- so the addition of those two particular problems has allowed for some excellent character work.

His latest issue is the manifestation of his freeze breath initially framed through his relationship with Sarah. His first encounter with this new ability comes when he and Sarah are unquestionably having a moment. They have been dancing around their growing attraction to one another all season and it looks as if things are on the verge of progressing before he sneezes and releases a patch of ice into his hand. Growth in Jordan is shown when he immediately goes to Clark for guidance and support rather than assuming he can handle the implications himself but the drawback is that he is so blind sided by this new development that he abruptly takes himself away from Sarah causing her to be confused about what’s going on and possibly doing damage to their relationship by later not being there for her when she needs him.

The impact on his relationship with Sarah highlights the complexities associated with growing up and learning how to maintain relationships with others. Everyone has to deal with their behaviour having an impact on others and address mistakes they make in how they treat those in their lives at one time or another so this part is entirely relatable. Jordan is so focused on what is happening to him that he fails to consider how his abrupt exit will impact Sarah. It makes perfect sense that he would behave this way especially when considering how unusual his problem is but you could substitute any health issue in this situation and it would work just as well.

Superman

A painful solution

It doesn’t take long for it to become known that Clark’s recent exposure to the synthetic Kryptonite has also infected Jordan which accounts for the cause of Jordan’s loss of control. His condition rapidly progresses to the point that his life is in danger which means another trip to the Fortress of Solitude to look for Jor’El’s help. The solution is to burn the Kryptonite out of Jordan’s system before the effects become life threatening. It’s a very painful process but Clark is there to guide Jordan through it and offer him strength as he endures the unimaginable pain. There’s a direct reference to having done the same to Clark in the past so the implication is that Clark has felt that pain before. Knowing what Jordan is going through means that he is better able to support him and even though he can’t take the pain from him he is able to support him through it. It’s a wonderful moment of familial connection and adds so much weight to what Jordan is going through.

Following that Clark expresses guilt and regret over what he has passed onto Jordan. Many parents pass on health issues or medical conditions to their children through quirks of genetics so this is another common issue framed through the lens of a superhero story. Pushing aside the powers, Jordan has inherited what he is dealing with from Clark and it’s difficult to deal with because his experience is so different so the territory is completely uncharted. Clark feels guilty that who and what he is causes Jordan so many issues and all but breaks down as he apologises for that. Jordan is mature enough to understand that it isn’t his father’s fault because he can’t help who he is either. It’s another beautiful moment of connection between Clark and Jordan that works because the high level facts of the situation are understandable.

Jordan’s condition has a profound effect on Lois who feels like she has failed him because there’s absolutely nothing she can do for him. A mother struggling with the reality of her children growing up and being unprepared for the challenges that brings is something that can be easily understood. In the case of Jordan, he has health issues that she has to rely on others to fix which leaves her feeling helpless. Change is coming rapidly and she hasn’t had a lot of time to adjust to the new configuration their family life has taken. She used to protect her sons by keeping them in the dark as to the truth about Clark and how scary a place the world could be but that is no longer a viable strategy and adjusting to that is something she has difficulty with. Jordan’s issues reawaken the concerns over Jonathan’s safety and she relives the points where he almost died which reinforces the feeling that she has failed her sons. Jonathan is there to reassure her by stating that these sorts of problems are just part of their lives as a family and they have to find a way to weather them together. This ties into the idea of them being the two without super powers in the family and the support they can offer one another by being connected through being adjacent to those with powers. It’s also another display of maturity, empathy and understanding from Jonathan that makes sure not to leave the non powered members of the Kent family on the sidelines as those with powers have all the attention.

Superman

Moral and musical accompaniment

Morgan Edge’s plan is starting to gain traction as his leadership program recruits are exposed to X-Kryptonite. In theory Emily (Leeah Wong) is the case study for this with her acceptance to the program, her exposure to X-Kryptonite and the subsequent impact on her life but it never quite gets there due to a lack of time devoted to covering it in the necessary detail. It definitely comes across that Emily is a tragic character manipulated by Morgan Edge through the promise of a brighter future for both her and her family. She enters into the arrangement in good faith and Edge is taking advantage of that in pursuit of his own plans. Emily has been featured in episodes before this one but only briefly in any given case so there’s very little grounding to her character beyond the basic facts of her being excited to be given an opportunity to restore some pride in her family through financial stability.

The consequences of that manipulation are quickly shown when she walks out of her child’s performance after being activated by Edge to go after Lois. It lacks the required impact due to how little attention her life has been given so far though it does serve as a capable reminder that Edge is destroying the lives of good and innocent people for his own ends. That part has never been in doubt due to Lois’ investigation and Edge being obviously corrupt but getting even a brief sense of the people negatively impacted does enhance it to some degree.

Revealing that Kyle has been through the same process works a lot better because time has been spent developing this character albeit problematically at times. His desire for self improvement leads naturally into the reveal that he has powers while tainting the effort being made to improve his relationship with Sarah in a very visceral way. Seeing him step up to emotionally -and musically- accompany her during her performance was a really strong moment and Sarah’s gleeful reaction to finding the confidence to perform in front of the crowd because she had her father’s support was wonderfully played. Looking back Kyle’s insistence on his desire to beat his demons and be the best version of himself was obvious foreshadowing as to the drawbacks of this because ultimately that’s what the Morgan Edge plot has been about in terms of how it affects the people being exploited. Kyle was his biggest supporter so it naturally follows that he would suffer the most. Whether he ends up seeing it that way remains to be seen but that’s certainly the subtext.

Superman

So much uncharted territory

Lois’ investigation is very well handled with her using some very real journalistic skills involving pouring through facts and reaching reasonable conclusions based on those facts. She is particularly drawn to figuring out the reason why Smallville is so important to Edge’s plan where his previous efforts have resulted in him abandoning the other towns. Eventually the information leads her to conclude that people from Smallville who spent their lives there are far more receptive to the X-Kryptonite due to their consistent exposure to it over a period of years. People from elsewhere reject it because they haven’t had that continued exposure which accounts for the difficulties that have been shown in others. The conclusion is that Edge needs the people in Smallville as much as he needs the town itself which makes him even more dangerous as it will be even more difficult to break that link.

Aside from that there is the strong suggestion that a situation similar to the one that ended John Henry Irons’ world is playing out here with the notable difference being that Superman remains on the side of the people of Earth. A conversation between Edge and Lois attempts to cast some doubt on the certainty of that remaining the case with Edge suggesting that he might be swayed by the prospect of reuniting with his people. Based on Clark’s characterisation up until this point it’s doubtful that he would be tempted to betray Humanity particularly with his family connection. It could be that the Superman on the other Earth had no ties of any kind which eventually led to his fall from grace. Martha’s death would seem to be a logical start to that process though the details around that may never be know. It is interesting to speculate about and I wouldn’t be surprised if the other Superman makes his way to this Earth at some point.

The end of episode reveal that Morgan Edge is a Kryptonian who also made his way to Earth works really well and could be a twist that saves this character as the soulless corporate opportunist hasn’t been working so far in terms of crafting an interesting character. Having that be a cover story to hide his true identity seems reasonable as an idea and there’s a lot that could be done with it. He is now positioned as a direct opposite to Clark in terms of his morality. All he cares about is restoring Krypton and bringing his people back from the brink of extinction where Clark wants to protect the people of the home he has made for himself. Edge -or whatever his real name is- calls him “brother” which could mean he’s biologically Clark’s brother or it could be in the sense that they are both Kryptonians. The former seems more likely considering this show’s focus on family with Clark’s loyalty potentially being tested by the arrival of a biological sibling but time will tell as to what the answer will be.

Superman

It’s good to be prepared

Sam Lane is very much the weak link associated with the Kryptonian plot because he lacks a defined place in both the action driven narrative and the family drama. The episode falls back on him justifying the creation of Kryptonite based weapons as a last resort in case Superman ever turned against the Human race but doesn’t fully explore it especially where the impact on Jordan is concerned. Jonathan calls him out on it and Sam tries to convince them that they are alike because they don’t have powers but Jonathan’s can’t imagine a scenario where he would stop trusting his family so doesn’t understand the impulse to prepare for a worst case scenario because he feels that such a thing is impossible where his family is concerned. Jordan is his twin brother and he trusts him rather than worrying about a day where he will go too far. It’s a really confident reaction from Jonathan and his declaration that he believes Sam to be a coward is cutting.

There is some coverage of Sam’s role in Lois’ life when he acknowledges his failures as a father while she was growing up. This draws a direct connection to Lois feeling as if she has failed her sons earlier in the episode and creates understanding on Lois’ part even though the situations are very different. Their relationship has been strained so far though Sam’s heart appears to be in the right place but hasn’t always made the right choices which is a common problem associated with parents on TV. His presence does enable strong content from Jonathan and Lois in this instance but the problem lies with his character specifically. There’s very little development for him and most of the content surrounding him tends to be very repetitive. The “worst case scenario” planning has defined him for a while now and seems to be used to justify most of his actions which comes across as inorganic as far as the overall family dynamic goes. It wouldn’t take much for his contribution to flow naturally into the family unit but it isn’t quite there.

Superman

Changing the game


Verdict

A strong episode that expands the Morgan Edge plot in an interesting direction while supplying very powerful family moments. This show is at its best when framing relatable problems through a superhero lens. Jordan’s fledgling powers manifesting at inconvenient times is easily comparable to any kind of health issue and provides realistic complications in his relationship with Sarah. His concerned reaction causes her to be confused and wonder what is going on while possibly causing damage to to their relationship when he isn’t there when she needs him. He shows growth when he goes straight to Clark for support rather than assuming he can handle it himself. The scene where the Kryptonite is burned out of him is excellently done with Clark helping him to deal with it. It’s strongly implied he has had to endure this before so understands how painful it is. Following that there is a really powerful moment where Clark apologises for passing on this burden to his son particularly when he has no idea how to handle it. It’s analogous to any parent passing on a health issue due to their genetics and the guilt Clark feels because of it is wonderfully portrayed. Lois torturing herself over feeling like a failure to her sons because there’s nothing she can do to help Jordan is another strong scene. It’s easily understandable as it connects to any parent struggling to deal with the fact they are unprepared for their children growing up. She can no longer protect them from the world being a scary place and feels like a failure as a result. Jonathan reassures her by pointing out that such issues are just what their family has to deal with which nicely draws on their connection as the non powered portion of the family.

The Morgan Edge plot develops with Emily theoretically serving as a case study for the implications of what that plan involves. With almost no time developing her character beyond the high level facts it doesn’t quite land though she is clearly a tragic character. The Kyle reveal works a lot better because more time has been spent building this character and there’s complexity to be found in the way he conducts himself in this episode. Lois’ investigation finding the reason why Smallville is so important adds extra weight to the story overall while also being an impressive display of journalistic skills leading to that information being uncovered. The reveal that Morgan Edge is Kryptonian might tip the scales towards him being engaging as the show has massively failed on that front so far. His use of the word “brother” when talking to Clark is notable though it remains to be seen if it is meant in the biological sense. The intent definitely seems to be testing Clark’s loyalty to Earth and his family but it remains to be seen how this will play out following this reveal. Sam Lane is very much the weak link as a character though his influence does allow for strong moments from Jonathan and Lois. Jonathan accuses him of not trusting his family and calls him a coward while Lois understands his reasons for being absent when she was growing up after her own experience of feeling like a failure. It wouldn’t take much for his contribution to the family unit to flow naturally but it isn’t quite there.

Overall
  • 8/10
    Loyal Subjekts - 8/10
8/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • framing relatable issues through a superhero lens
  • the damage Jordan’s behaviour in reaction to his issues does to his relationship with Sarah
  • Jordan showing growth by immediately going to Clark rather than assuming he can handle the problem himself
  • Clark helping Jordan deal with the pain associated with healing him
  • Clark’s remorse over being the cause of Jordan’s health problems
  • Lois feeling like a failure because she can do nothing to help Jordan
  • Jonathan being there for reassurance
  • showcasing Lois’ journalistic skills through her investigation
  • the reveal that Edge is a Kryptonian enhancing this plot
  • Sam’s presence allowing for strong moments from Jordan and Lois

 

Rise Against…

  • Emily not quite reaching the point of being an effective case study
  • Sam’s characterisation remaining repetitive

 

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User Review
7.5/10 (1 vote)

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