Superman & Lois – Season 1 Episode 14
Superman & Lois prepares for the season finale with Morgan Edge ramping up his plan and more tension in Smallville following the economic damage he did to the town.
I’ve repeatedly praised this show for its ability to juggle stories while giving them most of them due attention and that praise is entirely justified as Superman & Lois promises a lot through its setup that it mostly delivers on. It was always possible that it would reach a point where some of that storytelling would start to feel rushed and that has been happening over the past few episodes.
This is specifically evident in how the fallout of Edge’s influence on Smallville is impacting the town. A lot of corners are being cut to illustrate how the town is worse off in the wake of what Edge did. There is mention of businesses closing and people moving on but it’s nothing more than dialogue added to scenes that are actually about something else. It gets the point across but there’s no weight to it and it comes across as divorced from the wider context.
The town meeting that is attended by Sam to answer questions and try to address concerns is more about the military presence than the rapid decline of Smallville in the wake of Edge’s influence. It’s clear that the writers want to communicate that the town is falling apart but have no idea how to do this outside of expressing it in unconnected dialogue. Typically to make something like this work there should be a case study and in theory Chrissy takes on that role following the mention of receiving an offer on the paper that she sees to be her only choice. The paper is being bought out by a corporate entity and Chrissy believes that she has to take the offer because otherwise she faces ruination.
Once again it’s a detail that is mentioned but there’s no real weight to it nor does it organically weave into anything else the show is doing. The potential exists for a moving story about good people losing their livelihoods but there’s very little emotional weight attached to it. Chrissy’s situation is inherently sympathetic because she has been established as a character and her commitment to journalistic integrity is one of the foundational elements of who she is but tying her into the overall decline of Smallville that is happening in the background is clumsy because the work hasn’t been done to develop this as a plot.
Similarly, the Cushings act as a case study of sorts but there issues are less around the loss of livelihood and more around feeling pushed out of the town. Enough has been done to establish this as a problem for them and this episode focuses on their possible next steps. Kyle and Lana have put the house on the market because they feel that they need a fresh start. Sarah believes that they won’t be going anywhere because the only offer they’ve received is a low one so it’s not something she is overly concerned about. That changes when Kyle is offered a job over two hours away which means they have to move if he takes it. Sarah is understandably upset by this as she is getting to a place where she likes her life in Smallville as her relationship with Jordan is going well and there’s a strong implication that her social life is on stable ground.
One of the many strong elements of this show is the characterisation of Sarah. She commonly exhibits intelligence and wisdom beyond her years though never comes across as unrealistically precocious. Her mental health issues and the fact that she explores them through therapy does reasonably lead to the conclusion that she has a good grasp on her thoughts and feelings along with what those mean. She can apply what she has learned about herself to those she interacts with which includes her parents. Her outburst when Kyle and Lana spring the plan of moving away from Smallville to her is so wonderfully realistic as an emotional teenage response while also showcasing her wisdom as she directly points out how misguided her parents are. It’s a great mix of her youth and earned wisdom.
This also prompts a major emotional spiral for her which is incredibly realistic given both her age and her established mental issues. She goes to Jordan for comfort as well as looking to end their relationship as she can’t see how it would work with them being so far apart from one another. Jordan’s failed long distance relationship is cited as the key example but Jordan is more optimistic and thinks that being with her is worth the effort of maintaining a long distance relationship. This remains unresolved at this time but it’s a believable difficult situation that young people would have to deal with. Sarah’s intense emotional reaction is wonderfully played including her lashing out at anyone who says something the slightest bit confrontational. It’s refreshing to see teenagers behaving impetuously due to emotional distress rather than taking a distinct mature approach to everything.
Jonathan manages to clear the air with Tegan who admits that she was looking for information about the military presence in Smallville but also that she enjoys his company. Her honesty goes a long way and they find common ground that at least allows them to start building a friendship that will undoubtedly lead to more over time. It’s a fairly basic reconciliation that doesn’t occupy too much time in the episode but is well performed by the actors who have effortless and believable chemistry. It’s a further example of how well this show handles teenagers even if most of them are wise beyond their years.
Another key interaction for Jonathan is with John. He wants to be prepared for the trouble that will inevitably erupt by learning about how John goes about combatting it. For now John is reluctant to have Jonathan around because he feels uneasy about making meaningful connections. His desire to meet this universe’s version of his sister remains unresolved and Jonathan pushes too many buttons as evidenced by the mention of his daughter. In particular he’s triggered by Jonathan thinking that her working with him to build his suit was a good thing where John sees it as the opposite. His perspective is that Natalie had her childhood taken from her when her mother was murdered and he feels responsible for her life becoming what it did. Jonathan is trying to get through to him though it doing it without much tact which makes sense given his age. John is very much a man in pain who doesn’t know how to process that pain and still wants to see himself as someone who does nothing but fight bad people. This is the beginning of a long journey for him and he currently isn’t ready to let others get close to him.
The main threat for the episode is Morgan Edge re-emerging following being super charged by the sun. He is now the physical embodiment of the Eradicator which means that every Kryptonian consciousness stored inside it is now stored inside him. Clark tries to address him by his Kryptonian name but it is mentioned that he is no longer in control. As with every appearance of this character, Edge falls far short as a villain. Here he is simply a malevolent presence who creates dangerous situations with nothing beneath the surface. It does allow for some excellent action sequences but the lack of substance is evident and unfortunately detracts from the threat because Edge has no real personality.
There are also issues with his newfound abilities as it seems like he can simply imbue anyone with consciousness despite this being something he had to spend a lot of time preparing the host for earlier in the season. Now anyone is at risk when he has contact with them. This further robs the situation of depth as the Kryptonians amount to anonymous henchmen with no agency of their own. They are easily defeated by either Clark or John as well which devalues them as threats. Exposition to establish why things are happening is often far from the best approach but the viewer is expected to accept a lot that runs counter to previous knowledge without bothering to explain what has changed.
Despite the issues there was a lot of emotional weight to be found within the set pieces. Lois reporting from the roof just as her counterpart did on John’s Earth with Lesley coming up behind her ready to deliver the killing blow was a strong obvious mirror to that similar situation. Jonathan and Jordan helplessly watching this on TV ramps up the threat while drawing attention to the symmetry of the moment itself. John being able to save Lois from being killed by Lesley was a really satisfying resolution that has an immediate connection to his personal history. The build-up to this was flawlessly executed with the right amount of time taken to allow the reality of what might happen to sink in. Of course it’s pretty much guaranteed that Lois won’t be killed but it’s a testament to all involved that the threat was believable for the time it was on screen. Lois putting herself in that position was perfectly in character for her as well as it utilises her courage along with her commitment to truth in journalism. She reports because she feels that the people deserve to know the truth about what is going on. This builds from her discomfort around keeping the people of Smallville in the dark earlier in the episode which makes this an appropriate payoff.
The ending where Edge attacks Sam, Jonathan, Jordan and Sarah to kidnap Jordan was similarly well handled. Sam instructing Jonathan on how to fire the Kryptonite loaded gun and make the shot count was a really strong beat that showed how capable Jonathan is and how well Sam can articulate instructions. It’s an important display for Sam as it highlights one reason he has managed to reach the rank he has while also showcasing how much he cares for his grandchildren. He remains calm because it’s the only way to weather the situation and he’s aware that the teenagers are looking to him for guidance.
Jordan being kidnapped and parting by declaring his love for Sarah was very on the nose though believable for Jordan as the intensity of his feelings for her have never been in doubt. It’s also reasonable to assume that he’s sure this will be the end for him as there seems to be no way out of the threat they are facing. Ending the episode with him being possessed by Edge’s father is an appropriate family driven development for this show that focuses on family as one of its core ideas. It’s twisted and unsettling which makes it an excellent lead into the season finale.
An engaging episode that leans into strong character work and flawlessly executes the build-up to a threat. There are weaknesses to be found in how the downfall of Smallville is being handled as it amounts to little more than background dialogue in scenes that are about other things. Chrissy in theory acts as the case study for the loss of livelihood with mention of the offer to buy the paper but it’s something that comes out of nowhere and fails to rise above the inherent tragedy of this happening to an established character. The Cushings are another potential case study for this but the focus is more around them feeling pushed out of the town. Sarah being sure they’d be staying before a strong emotional reaction to Kyle’s job offer all works brilliantly and offers a realistic teenage reaction that also takes into account Sarah’s enhanced wisdom that is well founded. Her behaviour when she goes to Jordan for comfort is equally believable and stops her from being too precocious. Similarly Jordan’s reconciliation from Tegan who admits she did want information but also likes him is believable as a teenage interaction. It doesn’t take up much time but is engaging while featured. Jonathan’s attempt to learn from John also makes for strong character work as it highlights how reluctant John is to allow anyone to get close to him. He is triggered by Jonathan mentioning Natalie which further reinforces how long a journey he has to take.
Morgan Edge is a weak threat in terms of character once again. He is bereft of personality now that he is the embodiment of the Eradicator and there are issues around how the possession works since it was something that hosts needed to be prepared for before. Edge amounts to little more than a malevolent presence which means he is lacking as a threat. Despite that there was emotional weight to be found in brilliantly executed set pieces. Lois almost being killed by Leslie as she reports on the situation was an excellent mirror to the Lois of John’s Earth meeting her end in a very similar way. Jonathan and Jordan helplessly watching on TV helps to ramp up the tension while drawing attention to the symmetry of the moment itself. John saving Lois was satisfying and draws an obvious meaningful connection to his personal history. Lois reporting on the situation is very in character for her given what has been established as well as paying off her discomfort lying to the people of Smallville earlier in the episode. The ending is another strong display of character work with Sam showcasing why he is in the position he is within the military as well as how much he cares for his grandchildren. Jordan confessing his love for Sarah was on the nose but also fits his overall intensity. It’s also believable that he thinks he’ll never see Sarah again. Jordan being possessed by Edge’s father was an appropriate development for this family driven show while being twisted and unsettling.
- Sarah’s complex and believably teenage reaction to being told she will be leaving Smallville
- the brief yet engaging reconciliation between Jonathan and Tegan
- showcasing that John has a lot of healing to do
- the flawlessly executed build-up of tension when Lois was threatened
- mirroring the death of the Lois from John’s universe
- John saving Lois being a satisfying moment that ties into his personal history
- Sam showing why he’s in the position he is within the military
- the appropriate, unsettling and twisted ending
- the downfall of Smallville being nothing more than dialogue found in scenes about other things
- Edge failing to be a threat that has any character or personality
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