Superman & Lois – Season 2 Episode 5
“Girl…You’ll Be A Woman Soon”
Superman & Lois further explores Ally’s cult and how that relates to the appearance of Bizarro as Sarah celebrates her quinceañera.
So far this season hasn’t felt as tightly constructed as the first. It’s unclear what the possible purpose of some of the plot threads are and the momentum drops off. Not to say what we have isn’t as good but the show is struggling to get into a rhythm where all of the elements form part of a cohesive whole. There is an attempt to bring some of that together in this episode but it remains disjointed for now.
Connections are starting to be drawn such as between Ally and Bizarro. A flashback reveals that Ally inherited the same pendant that Bizzaro was shown to be wearing before the episode reveals that she does actually have access to another world which means that what she promises isn’t the scam Lois believed it to be. It’s still dangerous and manipulative and Ally is still preying on vulnerable people for her own interests but she can deliver what she’s offering to an extent though the reality doesn’t measure up to the promise.
Chrissy is the character that allows for further exploration of what Ally offers. Early on in the episode she is positioned as being potentially vulnerable after her faith in Lois is shaken. Rather than this disagreement manifesting as crippling insecurity, it intensifies her drive to learn the truth. Her conversation with Lois where she calls her out on her selective approach to the truth is entirely fair and valid when accounting for the lack of context Chrissy has. Lois hides things because she is keeping Clark’s secret and wants to protect her sons but from an outside perspective it would appear that her journalistic ethics are dubious and that she colours the facts in service of whatever story she is telling. As the audience we are aware of why she leaves things out or changes things but it is undeniably a moral grey area that she occupies and someone like Chrissy would only be able to see it as Lois being a less than ideal example of a journalist.
She also comments on the imbalance in their partnership where it feels like Lois has all the power. Part of that has to do with Lois only sharing what she wants to share but another part of that will be down to Lois’ reputation creating insecurities in Chrissy. The only resolution to this conflict is for Lois to be completely honest which means letting Chrissy in on Clark’s secret. That is not something to be entered into lightly but it may reach a point where Chrissy can no longer tolerate Lois’ approach to managing their partnership and a decision has to be made. It makes for fascinating drama and enriches Chrissy as a character greatly.
Since she doesn’t trust Lois, she decides to interview Ally in order to make up her own mind about Ally’s organisation. She is very clear that she is only interested in facts with her opinion being unimportant. Ally takes advantage of this and drugs Chrissy to show her exactly what she can offer. Chrissy sees the other world that Ally promises and with it her other self but talks about how everything in that world seems off in some way. This would appear to confirm that Ally’s pendant can access another dimension and that Bizarro has somehow crossed over from there. This moves the plot forward while remaining focused on character through Chrissy who struggles to reconcile what she has experienced. Her mistrust of Lois hasn’t gone away but being forced to experience the other world convinces her that Ally is dangerous so there is common ground on that at least.
Chrissy’s experience highlights that she’s right about Lois’ personal connection and the associated vendetta preventing her from being objective. She proceeded on the false assumption that Ally’s promises were lies. This doesn’t alter the fact that Ally is someone who preys on vulnerabilities in order to have power over others and desires power for herself. In a way she’s looking for the same thing as those who join her organisation as she has awareness of her other self being somehow omnipresent in the other world and clearly wants that for herself. Ally’s treatment of Chrissy proves that she’s dangerous as she takes what she wants from others whether they consent to it or not and is more than willing to risk their lives in the process. This realisation is enough to confirm that Chrissy and Lois are on the same side and that Ally has to be stopped which likely delays the inevitable reckoning. There will be other example of Lois being less than truthful with Chrissy so this isn’t likely to be an isolated incident. It’s commendable that the show isn’t using that to close that conflict as it’s one that has no easy answers.
It’s very much new territory for Lois as presumably she could cover her tracks far easier in a big outlet like the Daily Planet where she was an employee. She is equal partners with Chrissy who has a strong commitment to the outlet she has built so there is far more scrutiny and Lois is expected to be held more accountable as well as treat Chrissy as an equal. She can’t hide behind being the star reporter so she will have to do things differently and show Chrissy more respect as it will be becoming more clear that she isn’t prepared to accept Lois’ half truths and excuses. All of this is handled without melodrama and comes across as a believable professional conflict with different layers to it.
For now, Ally is the most significant threat as indicated by Bizarro who says he has crossed over to save both worlds from her. More information is required but it’s clear that he believe that Ally threatens both worlds and he is the one tasked with saving it. In some ways this is very similar to the previous season with the alternate universe being a major part of ongoing stories but the associated mystery is pointing in a different direction for now. There are questions around how this other world looks and functions with everything being “off” in some way.
Bizarro is the only physical example of that world so far. He talks in reverse and some of his powers are the opposite of Clark’s such as fire breath and ice vision. He also identifies as a soldier which is an opposite mindset of sorts as Clark identifies as someone who is trying to help without any specific loyalties other than to humanity itself. It may never be fully outlined exactly how formal Bizarro’s soldier role is but it stands out as being in opposition to Clark’s outlook.
From a characterisation point of view, the beginnings of actual personality start to appear with Bizarro in this episode. Once Lara manages to translate his backwards speak and he has a voice things start to become clearer. Beyond him identifying as a soldier it’s clear that he is motivated to save his world and there are hints at loved ones he may have; perhaps a Bizarro version of Lois and/or their sons. A Bizarro version of the Natalie Lois and Clark could have had is also an option. Between Bizarro and the Superman native to John’s Earth there is a clear appetite to explore corrupted or fallen versions of Superman in this show.
Bizarro is perhaps an example of what Clark could be driven to under the right circumstances. He is shown to have killed in this episode and there are strong suggestions that this is out of desperation as he feels his world could be lost. Clark is someone who is vehemently against killing so the show could be exploring what could potentially drive Clark to compromise his values in a roundabout way through a corrupted or fallen copy of him. It could also be in service of reinforcing the notion that this version of Clark can’t be compromised in that way because of what he has tying him to his humanity. It also might not go anywhere but the potential is certainly there.
Completely separate from this plot there are two different explorations of embracing heritage. One comes from Jonathan and Jordan following Jordan beginning his training with Sam. On the surface it’s largely standard stuff with Jordan being prepared for something far more intense than standard military training allows. He is held to a much higher standard by Sam because following in Clark’s footsteps demands that standard, at least in his view. It’s not especially deep where Jordan is concerned but it starts him down the path of having the skills to match his sense of responsibility and amounts to acceptance of his heritage as Superman’s son. He sees those powers as things he has to use to help others because that’s what his father does so it makes sense and feeds into his journey towards maturity.
More interesting is Jordan’s role in this and perhaps baffling as well. It’s interesting in that he is antagonistic in the midst of Jordan’s training due to what appears to be jealousy. At first it comes across as innocently wanting to be involved with Sam using Jonathan to establish a baseline for Jordan to work from and quickly gets more intense as Jonathan inhales X-Kryptonite and becomes far more hostile as a result. He violently attacks Jordan during their sparring and later talks about how he’s so much better than his brother. He eventually apologises and confesses that his powers are manifesting. At this point it’s unclear if the powers are entirely drug induced and therefore temporary or activated by the X-Kryptonite. Either way his personality is being affected by what he is taking and it’s only going to get worse from here. This creates conflict between the brothers and furthers the idea of Jonathan feeling left behind following his brother getting powers. The show sometimes flirts with this without fully committing to it so for now this may be Jonathan’s main arc for the season.
On paper it’s a strong idea to have brothers in conflict because one feels left behind due to circumstances affecting the other but this isn’t something the show has earned. Any jealousy or animosity on Jonathan’s part is something he has been able to work through, learn from and apologise for so having him regress to the point he’s willing to take drugs to catch up to his brother stands out as being out of character. Adding to this is Sarah talking about how personalities don’t simply change for no reason though she does qualify that by detailing that her depression started as misdiagnosed bad moods and escalated from there. Something similar is clearly happening to Jonathan but it isn’t flowing organically due to Jonathan being pushed into the background. In a way this supports Jonathan’s arc as he might feel sidelined but from a narrative and characterisation point of view there hasn’t been enough focus to develop hm to this point.
A more overt exploration of embracing heritage is Sarah’s quinceañera. This event is treated as a milestone in her life and is a proud declaration of her Latin heritage. Sarah being a teenager is reluctant to be in the limelight and have so much fuss made over her but she recognises the importance it has to her parents so goes along with it. There is talk of their name being changed from Cortez to Cushing in order for her grandfather to better fit in during a less accepting time but now there is no stigma or shame so plans are made to switch back to the old name and fully embrace where they come from.
Adding a sour note to the celebration is Lana and Sarah learning about Kyle’s extramarital activities. Sarah is understandably horrified and Lana puts a brave face on it, refusing to address the revelation at that point as it will ruin Sarah’s night. On the other side, Kyle is full of remorse and fears that his mistake will destroy his family. His dishonesty and deceit is catching up with him in ways that may also negatively affect Lana’s Mayoral campaign, not to mention the damage it will do to his family. It will come down to individual tolerance as to whether Kyle’s transgressions can be forgiven but it’s undeniable that he has actively been trying to be better which has been reflected in his behaviour so arguably this coming back on him now does not reflect the person he currently is, particularly when the attempt to rekindle the affair was declined by him. As with other plot lines it doesn’t naturally line up as having purpose beyond creating character drama but the handling of it is mature and sophisticated with excellent performances from the actors involved and strong writing for their characters. In particular, Sarah and Lana’s interactions are brilliantly done and the remorse displayed by Kyle.
A strong episode that starts to bring together some of the plots while adding compelling texture to them through well cultivated character conflicts. connections are starting to be drawn between the different plots. For example Ally and Bizarro are connected through the pendant that Bizarro was shown to be wearing. It is revealed that she does actually have access to another world which means that what she promises isn’t the scam Lois believed it to do be. It’s still dangerous and manipulate and Ally is still preying on vulnerable people for her own interests but she can deliver what she’s offering to an extent. Chrissy allows for this exploration when she interviews Ally for the facts following her having reason to be wary of Lois. The conversation Chrissy has with Lois about her selective approach to the truth is fair and valid when accounting for the lack of context Chrissy has. Lois has her reasons and the audience is fully aware but an outsider would draw the conclusions Chrissy does. She also comments on the imbalance in their partnership with Lois’ reputation creating a lot of tension. It’s a fascinating conflict with no easy solution and it is being handled maturely. Chrissy ends up being right about Lois’ personal connection and associated vendetta preventing her from being objective. They are on the same page about this issue but this is an example of a larger problem that will need to be addressed.
Ally is the most significant threat as indicated by Bizarro who has crossed over to save both worlds from her. More information is required but it’s clear that be believes that Ally is a threat to both worlds and he is the one tasked with saving it. Bizarro identifying as a soldier stands out as being an oppositional stance to Clark who sees himself differently which creates a lot of potential to explore and challenge Clark’s values particularly around what he might do when pushed in particular ways. Bizarro begins to gain personality once he is given a voice. It’s clear that he motivated to save his world and there are hints at loved ones he may have so there is plenty to build on. Embracing heritage is explored in different ways. It is obliquely brought in through Jordan’s training as he sees responsible use of his powers as something he has to live up to. Added into that is a depression/addiction plot involving Jonathan that is promising but not fully earned as presented. Sarah’s quinceañera is a more overt exploration of heritage. This event is a milestone and a proud declaration of her Latin heritage. She recognises how important this is to her family and embracing the original surname supports this idea of taking pride in heritage. Kyle’s past extramarital activities adds a sour note to the celebration and is handled really well by the involved characters. Lana refusing to let it ruin Sarah’s special night and offering emotional support to make it through is brilliantly handled. It’s also clear that the past catching up with Kyle doesn’t represent the man he is now. It’s complex and brilliantly done if not completely clear what the purpose of it is beyond creating drama.
- the complex conflict between Chrissy and Lois
- positioning Ally as a significant antagonist and connecting her to Bizarro
- Chrissy’s decision following her experience
- Bizarro beginning to gain personality and getting a sense of his background for further development
- highlighting that he’s opposite to Clark in terms of how he sees himself
- the exploration of legacy through Sarah’s quinceañera and how she embraces her heritage
- the handling of Kyle’s transgressions coming to light
- Jonathan’s arc not being fully earned
- a lack of clarity what the overall purpose of some of the plots is beyond creating character drama
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