Superman & Lois – Season 3 Episode 10

May 31, 2023 | Posted by in TV

“Collision Course”

Superman & Lois deals with the notion of priorities and the factors that influence them as the stakes increase going into the final episodes.

I’ve often said that the biggest challenge this show has is balancing the different types of stories that it presents. It’s a superhero show that weaves in teenage and adult drama with all of them jockeying for position at all times. The balance isn’t always correct but the variety of storytelling is definitely one of its strengths as there is a distinct attempt to ground the superhero storytelling with compelling and complex human drama that is remarkable in its realism.


One trial complete

This episode is a clear example of the show playing to its strengths as it connects the personal and superhero stakes in a really organic way. Kyle putting the puzzle pieces together leading him to the -for him- mysterious superpowered good samaritan brilliantly combines with the parental challenge of dealing with Sarah’s mistakes almost leading to her death because Jordan’s intervention neatly brings them together. Something this show does very well is making the heightened superhero problems feel natural because they share emotional grounding with relatable issues.

Teenagers going to parties and drinking underage is a standard plot for a teen drama, especially on the CW. There are a range of consequences associated with these plots with one of them being the parents finding out and reprimanding their children. In this case, the situation escalates when Sarah is in what should have been a fatal car wreck that she walks away from unscathed because Jordan saves her. The human drama is that Sarah was caught driving a car after drinking alcohol and is now facing legal consequences. Her parents are angry and disappointed with her while simultaneously being glad that she made it out alive. Her survival doesn’t net her a free pass from the lecture and the legal consequences have yet to manifest. Added to that is the damage to Lana’s political career when Governor Wexler (Christine Willes) observes Lana’s apparent inability to keep her daughter in line, casting doubts on her ability to be an effective political figure. It’s an example of unfortunate timing and highlights that the consequences of Sarah’s choices are widespread.

The more urgent problem is that Jordan has inadvertently ended up on Kyle’s radar. This escalates when Junior sees Jordan and talks about being saved by someone with powers while Sarah insists that nobody was there. It’s clear to Kyle that Sarah is lying about what really happened and Lana supporting Sarah’s story tells him that he is being lied to and only fuels his suspicions to the point that he forcefully goes looking for answers. This situation is an interesting one as a lack of communication means that Kyle closing in on learning Jordan’s secret hasn’t been on the forefront of anyone’s mind. If Jonathan had told Clark then he could have told Lana who could have instructed Sarah to be more careful. Not that it would have impacted her decision to go to a party and drink but then Kyle grilling her about being saved by someone with powers would have been less of a surprise.


Quality time. How about it?

Not discussed is the notion of secrecy and whether it’s necessary. All those in the know about the Kent family secret simply accept that the information needs to be contained among those who currently know it. The circle has expanded significantly fairly recently with Lana, Sarah and Chrissy all in the know which means that there’s an increased risk of it accidentally becoming known to others. Kyle learning the truth about Clark is perhaps a good opportunity to reawaken that debate with Kyle being the one to ask why such a secret is being kept.

The circumstances of Kyle learning the truth feeds into the accepted justification for keeping the secret. Clark lives a double life in order to protect his family and others close to him. It could be argued that the relevance of that justification is massively diminished when considering Lois’ tendency to put herself in harm’s way so it’s possible she is no safer when protecting the secret. She is known to have a connection to Superman so it’s easy to get his attention by putting her in danger. Sam is a known high-ranking member of the military so anyone looking to threaten him could go after his daughter or grandchildren. The people surrounding Clark are far from safe even when the secret is being protected but it remains the accepted approach when being in on that secret.

Kyle comes to the wrong conclusion in that he believes Jonathan is the one with powers. This makes sense when considering the information he has access to. Jonathan volunteers at the fire station which means he has knowledge of and access to life-threatening situations that others wouldn’t and his presence at them isn’t suspicious. It’s similar to Clark’s role as a journalist allowing him to be present at crime scenes and ask probing questions about them. It’s his job to investigate so nobody questions his interest just as nobody would question Jonathan being at the scene of a fire. When Kyle learns of someone with powers being present at various fires in town he draws a connection between that and Jonathan recently volunteering with him. It’s also a tacit reminder of Jordan being dismissed because he’s far less athletic than his brother. Jonathan is the more outwardly confident brother so it’s easier for an outsider to make the assumption that he would be the one with powers. In this case, Jordan is protected by his outward awkwardness meaning that others misjudge him.


Friendship is complicated

Clark demonstrates his parental priorities in dealing with Kyle lobbying accusations in Jonathan’s direction. He has to make a quick decision as the need for Superman’s help is ringing in his ears so he doesn’t have time to take care in calming Kyle down and trying to convince him of an alternate narrative. He puts a quick stop to Kyle’s demand to speak to Jonathan by making it clear that he has powers and promises to explain everything the next day before flying off. Kyle reacts with shock and it’s clearly enough to halt him for now while Clark deals with the pressing issue. This is an excellent example of the escalation of stakes. It combines with Peia’s attack on the DOD with the urgency ramping up as Kyle won’t back down so that Clark can leave in a way that protects his secret. Kyle knowing some of the truth creates uncertainty as to what he will do with that information and how it will impact his relationships with Lana and Chrissy once he learns that they’ve been covering for the Kents. It’s character-driven and earned by the work put into building to this point which makes the associated excitement more intense.

A counterargument could be that this point was reached far too rapidly and the buildup hasn’t been focused on as strongly as it needs to. That’s certainly valid as the initial suspicion was raised, Jonathan was essentially suspended from his volunteer position and the issue faded into the background. There was certainly more potential to build tension by having Jonathan being in the midst of Kyle growing more suspicious as Jordan uses his powers to anonymously assist. It may have been an interesting plot for Jonathan to participate in but would have had to be introduced earlier in the season and it runs the risk of being repetitive. It’s true that there was a lack of extensive coverage before the revelations in this episode which does weaken them somewhat but as presented Kyle learning part of the truth is still impactful.

The Lois and Peia relationship continues to be engaging. There is genuine affection and friendship between them founded on their shared experience of battling cancer. Lois feeling guilty about publishing the story that draws attention to Peia adds extra texture to that relationship because it’s a betrayal on Lois’ part that highlights how complex the situation is. It has been made clear that Bruno and Peia are devoted parents who care a lot about the community they’ve put work into restoring but the steps taken to achieve the latter can’t be overlooked. Regardless of motivation, Peia is definitely a murderer and Bruno is at least an accessory to any murder committed by her because she does them for him. Lois still feels a strong connection to Peia while condemning her for her actions. Their friendship prompts Lois to give Peia the chance to tell her story in exchange for seeing her son before she dies. Of course, that ends up backfiring when Matteo brings her the magical cure that results in the rampage but there’s no reason to see their friendship as being anything other than genuine despite the external factors at play.


This is going to be difficult to explain

On the more personal end of the spectrum, there’s a lot of strong work put into Clark’s relationship with his sons. Lois completing her chemotherapy comes with a speech summing up what she and everyone around her as been through. It’s a succinct and effective summation of Lois’ journey to this point while serving as a reminder of the wider impact of the diagnosis and treatment. That reminder leads naturally into Clark’s desire to spend some time with his sons because he hasn’t been able to do so.

His intention is noble because he cares about his sons and wants to make up for not being around lately but he also tries to force them to take the day to spend with him even though he springs it on them because he suddenly has time without considering whether they do. It’s a natural conflict that arises as kids grow up and become more independent. Sam tells Clark that he’s reached the point in fatherhood where he has become obsolete because his teenage sons have their own lives that take priority. Lois reminds him that their job as parents is to eventually make themselves obsolete so it’s an expected development that Clark has failed to anticipate.

The episode approaches this in a really interesting way as both sides are presented with the audience invited to make up their minds. Initially, it seems weighted towards Clark’s perspective with lingering shots of him looking dejected after being rejected by his sons. The viewer is invited to perceive the twins as selfish for ignoring Clark’s desire to spend time with them and this is supported when Jordan reacts petulantly when Clark brings it up after the truth about the party becomes known to him. Jordan states that he had no interest in Clark’s plans before speeding off to his room after Clark ends the discussion by demanding he goes there.


Jordan does himself no favours

Jonathan flips the perspective to encourage the viewer to consider the other angle. He calmly points out that Clark didn’t consider them when making plans to spend the day together. It was something he sprung on them which could be interpreted as a lack of respect for their time as he seems to believe that they should drop everything now that he suddenly has time. It’s harsh but Jonathan’s perspective is a valid one. Clark’s attention is constantly diverted by being Superman which caused issues in forging a relationship with his kids as they were growing up. They both remember plenty of times growing up when they wanted their father around and he wasn’t there. They now understand why that is and accept that it’s going to be the case because of his responsibilities as Superman but they also aren’t going to cancel their plans at short notice to accommodate Clark.

For Clark, this is a challenge to recognise that his sons are growing up and are building a life that he isn’t a part of. It’s all new territory for him as his pledge to be more present in the lives of his sons happened when they were teenagers so he missed out on a lot of their formative years where they would look to him in ways they won’t now. Jonathan makes the point so well that Clark has no rebuttal and now he has to reconsider his approach while accepting that his having time is only part of the equation. This shows growth from Jonathan to approach this with such measured maturity, especially when taken as a contrast to Jordan’s approach. Jonathan gets Clark to pay attention because of how he handles it whereas Jordan doesn’t. Another indicator of growth is Jonathan’s complete avoidance of alcohol showing he has learned his lesson from his prior experience. It all amounts to Clark having no choice but to pay attention to him and consider his points.

Another personal plot that received attention is Jordan’s continued difficulty being friends with Sarah. He barges into her conversation with Junior because he’s jealous of how friendly they seem from a distance and feels wronged when Sarah suggests he go away so that Junior can finish his story. She points that out to him and asks if she can expect this every time she speaks to another guy. Jordan is unquestionably in the wrong in this scenario and it seems Sarah is running out of patience with him. Earlier in the episode he’s obviously uncomfortable with Sarah texting Jonathan instead of him and is unable to make the link between his behaviour and the way Sarah is treating him, even when she explains the reasons to him.


Damn he’s mature!

Jordan’s perspective is understandable and evidenced by his standing on his own surrounded by friendships and couples. He feels lonely and latches onto Sarah because he was once in a relationship with her and can’t move on from his feelings for her. This causes him to be possessive and make his presence felt when she sees him around other men. His behaviour is not acceptable but steps are taken to explain why he does this.

The problem with this plot is the lack of consistency in approach. Jordan acts like this when the episode is about to do something with it whereas the rest of the time he is shown to be capable of behaving normally around her. It’s realistic that his wrong behaviour wouldn’t be the entirety of his interactions with her otherwise she wouldn’t spend any time with him but only deploying it when it becomes relevant for an unrelated plot development makes it a clumsy addition to their relationship. Regardless of the issues, it still works within this episode and adds an interesting wrinkle to the overall tapestry of Sarah and Jordan’s relationship that signifies the requirement for Jordan to grow as it’s negatively impacting other aspects of his life.

Now that Peia is free and the suggestion of Lex Luthor gaining his freedom for being imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, the stakes are very high in the superhero plot, Kyle learning the truth about Clark and possibly Jordan at a later point ramps up the stakes on a more personal level and the other challenges such as Lois’ upcoming mastectomy, Lana’s mayoral career and the various iterations of teen drama to be found sprinkled throughout create a lot of opportunities for the final episodes to explore these in interesting ways.


Don’t make me use a third finger!


A strong episode that expertly melds the superhero plot with various ongoing character-driven narratives in order to raise the stakes in meaningful and organic ways.

  • 8.5/10
    Collision Course - 8.5/10


Kneel Before…

  • the complexity of Kyle and Lana handling Sarah surviving the car wreck but not ignoring the mistakes that led to it
  • Kyle’s growing suspicions coming to a head when he recognises that he is being lied to
  • the urgency of Kyle demanding to speak to Jonathan as Clark needs to leave because Superman is needed
  • Clark’s decision to reveal his powers to Kyle in order to calm him down enough to clear the air later
  • Kyle reaching the conclusion that Jonathan has powers making sense when considering what he knows
  • Lois and Peia’s engaging and complex relationship
  • Lois honouring their friendship by giving her the chance to tell her story while still condemning her actions
  • Clark being forced to consider having respect for his son’s time
  • the complex handling of this by encouraging the viewer to see both sides of the situation
  • Jonathan’s calm and mature handling of it that forces Clark to consider his approach
  • Jonathan’s approach being a direct contrast to Jordan’s petulant one
  • Jordan’s behaviour towards Sarah being an indication of jealousy
  • showing why he feels that way by highlighting his loneliness


Rise Against…

  • Kyle getting to the point of learning Clark’s secret suffering from a lack of prior coverage
  • Jordan’s wrong behaviour only being featured when relevant to an unconnected plot


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

User Review
6.67/10 (3 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 with me directly, I’m also on Twitter