Superman & Lois – Season 2 Episode 13

Jun 8, 2022 | Posted by in TV
Superman

“All Is Lost”

Superman & Lois deals with familial relationships and the work that needs to go into them in order to maintain them.

This show has always done character first and plot second. The former often feeds directly into the latter which works well because the character work provides a strong foundation to help carry the narrative. From a structural point of view, this episode is largely table setting with the overall narrative movement being very slight but it doesn’t fall into the category of filler because the content itself is necessary for what follows.

Superman

Better parenting

The strongest link to the main plot is the coverage of the fractured Lane family dynamic. A flashback details Lucy and Ally’s first meeting along with how Lucy came to be one of her followers. Their initial interaction is very clumsy as the conversation immediately turns to Lucy’s insecurity caused by being in Lois’ shadow. There is no small talk around Ally’s book that Lucy is having signed; it just gets straight to the point which makes the dialogue functional but lacking in realism. This problem exists throughout the episode which breaks the immersion somewhat even if it gets the point across. It stands out because Superman & Lois is typically very good at merging important information with natural-sounding dialogue.

Despite the functional nature of that initial interaction, it does reinforce that Ally is very persuasive and good at what she does. She quickly identifies Lucy’s key weakness and exploits it by making her feel appreciated. The flashback isn’t necessary to convey this information as it’s a repetition of what is already known about her but it does serve as a reminder that adds context to Lucy, Lois and Sam’s conversation later in the episode.

Much of it is reiterating what has already been said along the lines of Lois taking charge in the wake of their mother leaving and not knowing how to raise Lucy in a healthy or constructive way while Sam struggled to juggle his career and family. Lois freely admits that she made a lot of mistakes because she was a child raising a child so didn’t know any better. It’s small comfort to Lucy who suffers the fallout of the mistakes Lois made but there is a great deal of humility on Lois’ part albeit coming years later.

Suoerman

Forced family therapy

Lucy’s perception is that Lois hated her and felt shackled to her in ways that prevented her from living her own life. It wasn’t Lois’ intention to make Lucy feel like a burden though there is undeniably some truth to it as Lois definitely feels cheated out of aspects of her life because she stepped up to fill the role her mother had left behind. At the same time, she admits that she would never have made it through childhood without Lucy because looking after her gave her something to focus on to distract from the pain of being abandoned by their mother. Elizabeth Tulloch’s performance conveys genuine regret at the part Lois played in Lucy turning to Ally for support and the desire to make amends after all she has learned in the years since.

Sam blames himself for being ill-equipped to raise two daughters on his own and for letting his pride get in the way of that. He let Lois take charge rather than finding someone who could help; an attitude that has consequences leading to the current circumstances. Both daughters agree that he didn’t abandon them and they both appreciate that but mistakes were definitely made and they are only now working to pick up the pieces. Their conversation can be summed up as being about accountability and promises while olive branches are extended.

It doesn’t work as Lucy is too far in Ally’s thrall to listen to reason; a stance that seems to change after she witnesses Ally brutally attacking Sam and Superman. She has a tearful moment with Sam that indicates she may be re-evaluating Ally as a person. It’s far too much of a light switch moment rather than the gradual return of her agency as she questions Ally after reconnecting with her family though there is merit to Lucy needing a powerful display to shake her out of her misguided loyalty. She will likely feel responsible for what has happened since she was the one who summoned Superman and may want to make amends.

Superman

Flying is fun

Ally still doesn’t manage to be an actual character. There are many examples of her ability to manipulate people but there’s a very limited sense of who she is as a person. The threat she represents is easy to understand and the impact she has on Lucy comes across well but as an antagonist in her own right, she fails to measure up. Bizarro-Lana is potentially positioned as a significant threat in the coming episodes and Bizarro-Jonathan is still on the board so it could be that she was only ever intended as a figurehead threat. If that’s the case then that intention isn’t clear as there have been some shallow attempts to develop her beyond the basics. Much of the antagonist plot for this season connects to Ally and her beliefs so there needed to be stronger characterisation for her.

Clark ending up powerless after Ally’s attack on him raises the stakes considerably though the fact that he’s alive brings hope. John, Natalie and Jordan are in place to step in when required. It’s an obvious trope to increase tension by having Superman depowered but the impact of the reveal works well and it feeds into the growth of the other characters who will have to continue in his stead. There’s a strong sense of foreboding towards the end of the episode as the magnitude of the defeat sinks in. Considering the gravity of the threat being faced, the unasked question around involving the other heroes that may or may not exist in this world hangs over everything.

The John/Natalie dynamic continues to be engaging and adds to the ongoing theme of the value the younger characters can bring being dismissed by overprotective parents. Natalie’s frustration is evident early on when John sends her to get breakfast instead of allowing her to help calibrate his suit and escalates later when he learns that she has built a suit of her own. His argument is a predictable yet understandable one; she is too young and he doesn’t want to put her in danger. This is an understandable position for any parent to take but far more so for John who is still mourning the loss of the Lois from his universe. Natalie is the only family he has left so he doesn’t want to see her hurt.

Superman

Probably should have approached this more carefully

Natalie’s argument is that protecting her from danger by trying to keep her away from the field is pointless because danger routinely surrounds them. As long as John fights alongside Clark there will always be danger in their lives so it makes sense to be prepared when it comes. Natalie having her own suit is a really good way to do that. Despite her age, she argues that she is more than capable of helping and reminds him that she has worked on his suit all along. John orders her to dismantle the suit but she stands her ground and refuses therefore prompting him to take it upon himself to take apart what she created. Once he tries, he learns that she has made a better suit than the one he uses and is forced to admit she knows what she’s doing. He rethinks his reluctance and comes to realise having Natalie around to help in the field will be an asset. It’s likely that something will happen that reignites the fear of losing her and the overprotective streak that comes with it but for now, he sees her as an adult and recognises how capable she is.

Clark is encouraged by Lois to spend time with his sons; something he hasn’t done an awful lot of lately. One of the through-lines in this show is Clark learning more about parenting and making up for being absent in their lives growing up. His reaction to Jonathan’s actions earlier in the season was a great example of how much he has to learn as he went about it in entirely the wrong way. Following the altercation, Jonathan felt isolated and hopeless but now Clark has an opportunity to make up for it by explaining himself and offering guidance. He admits to Jonathan that he didn’t go about things in the best way and talks about how hard it is to see his children make mistakes that they have to learn from. He acknowledges that Jonathan is doing the work to make amends for his mistakes which means that he’s going about the aftermath of what he did in the right way. There’s pride in Clark’s voice as he commends Jonathan for his approach but the encouragement is of small comfort to him because he feels that his mistakes have cost him his future.

A persistent narrative surrounding Jonathan is how much he sacrificed to come to Smallville. He did so for Jordan’s benefit and it cost him a promising high school football career as well as a strong social circle in Metropolis. His reputation in Smallville has been severely dented because he cost the entire football team the chance to compete after getting caught. He points out that everyone hates him and that he’ll never play sports professionally again so believes that he has nothing going for him. Clark tries to reassure him and says that they’ll figure something out but he offers no solution with it so the words are empty from Jonathan’s perspective regardless of how sincere Clark is when saying them.

Superman

Winners of the cosplay competition

Jonathan’s mindset is further dented by Clark’s connection to Jordan. He takes him for training and helps him gain further control of his flight ability. It’s brilliantly done with infectious excitement from both parties as they bond over Jordan taking great delight in being able to fly. It’s easy and natural common ground between them and a rare display of intense emotion from Clark. Jonathan feels understandably left out when they return home because he was left alone with his negative thoughts as he worked through the list of chores that were supposed to serve as an opportunity for Clark to bond with both of his sons. It’s another example of Clark’s less than ideal parenting technique as it looks as if he forgot about Jonathan in favour of Jordan; something he has done on more than one occasion. It all contributes to Jonathan feeling adrift in his own life and giving him attention is something Clark needs to get better at. Jonathan rightly feels that Clark favours Jordan because they have powers in common which contributes to him feeling like an outsider since he really has nobody to turn to at this time.

The situation remains tense with the Cushing/Cortez family. Lana is especially overwhelmed juggling her feelings about the breakdown in her relationship with Kyle and dealing with the recent knowledge of Clark’s secret. This causes her to act in less than ideal ways as shown through a particularly pointed conversation with Jordan who goes to her asking to speak to Sarah on his behalf. His thinking is that Lana knowing the truth means she can twist the narrative in a way that might make things better but he isn’t aware of the fact that he’s asking Lana to lie for him. This is something she takes exception to as the reason she expressed her need to keep her distance from the Kents was so that she wouldn’t have to watch what she was saying and lie every time their families are together. She bluntly states that knowing Jordan is dangerous so she would rather Sarah be as far away from him as possible. This does negate Sarah having any choice in the matter but it links in with the theme of parents being overprotective and compromising the agency of their children in the process. Lana’s view is that the secret will be easier to keep if she isn’t confronted with it. This may be well-trodden ground in superhero properties where people feel betrayed because they were lied to for so long but this show is fully justifying Lana’s views and she offers a great showcase of the burden that comes with knowing the secret.

Her concern that she is a terrible person as highlighted in her conversation with Kyle was overly melodramatic. It’s reasonable that she would be concerned about how she is reacting to everything that is happening around her and feeling overwhelmed by all that has come her way but for that to result in her doubting who she is as a person is extreme. It’s in service of Kyle reassuring her and pointing out that he knows her well enough to be sure that she isn’t a terrible person. It’s unclear if they will reconcile but Kyle reassuring her could be read along those lines. They are at the point of being friendly and civil which means they can have family dinners to discuss Sarah’s burgeoning career as a singer. It’s a great scene that comes across as a reminder of simpler times and a chance for Lana to allow some of the stress she’s shouldering to lift for a brief moment. The show still doesn’t seem to know what to do with her role as Mayor but her split from Kyle and knowing Clark’s secret is providing excellent content for the character that makes for gripping drama.

Siperman

Wholesome family time


Verdict

A good episode that neatly weaves the exploration of tense familial relationships through the various character stories and connects them to the main plot in interesting ways. The strongest link to the main plot is the fractured Lane family dynamic. A flashback details Lucy and Ally’s first meeting along with what led to Lucy joining her organisation. It’s largely repetitive as it’s something that has been detailed previously but it does serve as a reminder that adds context to Lucy, Lois and Sam’s conversation later in the episode. The flashback also suffers from containing dialogue that is functional but unnatural; something that plagues the rest of the episode. It stands out because this show is typically good at natural-sounding dialogue. The flashback does reinforce that Ally is persuasive and good at what she does. This fuels the conversation Lucy, Lois and Sam have about the failings in the past that ended up pushing Lucy down this path. The conversation is about accountability and promises while olive branches are extended. Lois is honest about her take on how she failed Lucy when they were both growing up having reflected with all she has learned since. This is wonderfully delivered by Elizabeth Tulloch. Lucy is too far in Ally’s thrall to listen to reason but changes her stance after witnessing Ally brutally attack her father and Superman. It’s far too much of a light switch moment but there is merit to Lucy needing a powerful display to shake her out of her misguided loyalty. Ally still doesn’t manage to be an actual character. There are many examples of what she can do and what she stands for but very little sense of who she is as a person. Much of the antagonist plot for this season connects to Ally and her beliefs so there needed to be stronger characterisation for her. Clark ending up powerless after Ally’s attack on him raises the stakes considerably though the fact that he’s alive brings hope. John, Natalie and Jordan are in place to step in when required. It’s an obvious trope to increase tension by having Superman depowered but the impact of the reveal works well and it feeds into the growth of the other characters who will have to continue in his stead. There’s a strong sense of foreboding towards the end of the episode as the magnitude of the defeat sinks in.

The John/Natalie dynamic continues to be engaging and adds to the ongoing theme of the value the younger characters can bring being dismissed by overprotective parents. Their argument over Natalie’s suit ends in a predictable way but the two sides of it flow from their character and the points raised make sense from their perspective. Clark being encouraged by Lois to spend more time with his sons feeds into the ongoing through-line of Clark having to learn to be a better parent. He commends Jonathan on the work he is doing to make amends for his mistakes and explains his angry reaction as difficulty accepting that children have to make their own mistakes in order to learn from them. The encouragement is of small comfort as Jonathan feels he has ruined his life and future with his mistakes; something Clark doesn’t agree with but also offers no solutions. He fares better with Jordan as they bond over the excitement of teaching him to fly. It’s beautifully done with a rare display of intense emotion from Clark. Jonathan’s mindset is further dented by Clark bonding with Jordan as he feels forgotten about. It all contributes to Jonathan feeling adrift in his own life and giving him attention is something Clark needs to get better at. Jonathan rightly feels that Clark favours Jordan because they have powers in common which contributes to him feeling like an outsider since he really has nobody to turn to at this time. The situation remains tense with the Cushing/Cortez family. Lana is especially overwhelmed juggling her feelings about the breakdown in her relationship with Kyle and dealing with the recent knowledge of Clark’s secret. This causes her to act in less than ideal ways as shown through a particularly pointed conversation with Jordan who goes to her asking to speak to Sarah on his behalf. She expressed her need for not having the Kents in her life being down to not having to lie when their families are together. She bluntly states that knowing Jordan is dangerous so she would rather Sarah be as far away from him as possible. This does negate Sarah having any choice in the matter but it links in with the theme of parents being overprotective and compromising the agency of their children in the process. Her concern that she is a terrible person as highlighted in her conversation with Kyle was overly melodramatic. It’s reasonable that she would be concerned about how she is reacting to everything that is happening around her and feeling overwhelmed by all that has come her way but for that to result in her doubting who she is as a person is extreme. Kyle reassuring her may be leading to a reconciliation or just continue to be civility but either way the family dinner is a great scene. The show still doesn’t seem to know what to do with Lana’s role as Mayor but her split from Kyle and knowing Clark’s secret is providing excellent content for the character that makes for gripping drama.

Overall
  • 7.5/10
    All Is Lost - 7.5/10
7.5/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • the open and honest Lane family conversation
  • excellent acting from Elizabeth Tulloch
  • John and Natalie’s argument flowing naturally from their established characterisation
  • valid points made on both sides
  • Clark continuing to learn how to be a better father
  • the delight and excitement from Clark and Jordan during the flying lesson
  • Jonathan’s mindset being worsened as he feels left out by their bonding
  • Lana’s difficulty dealing with the knowledge of Clark’s secret and the decisions that prompts her to make
  • the strong family dinner scene

 

Rise Against…

  • Ally still not managing to be an actual character
  • Lucy’s change of heart being a light switch moment
  • functional but clumsy dialogue throughout
  • Clark losing his powers being an example of an overused trope
  • Lana fearing she is a terrible person being too extreme a reaction

 

What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below

Sending
User Review
8.75/10 (4 votes)

We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Review” box

If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.