Superman & Lois – Season 2 Episode 3

Jan 26, 2022 | Posted by in TV

“The Thing In The Mines”

Superman & Lois properly introduces the threat punching its way out of the mines while the characters continue to face their ongoing personal problems.

I have to commend this show for genuinely surprising me with the reveal that the emerging threat is Bizarro rather than Doomsday. It was a masterful misdirect to directly signpost Doomsday through the similarities to his first comic book appearance before delivering the Bizarro reveal. For those who don’t know, Bizarro is traditionally depicted as an inverted copy of Superman with key differences. Instead of freeze breath he has fire breath and ice vision instead of heat vision for example. He also talks in a backwards way and Kryptonite makes him stronger rather than weakening him. I’m referring to a specific comic take though there have been several. The character has appeared in live action before during the seventh season of Smallville where he was a copy of Clark who wanted to steal his life. Supergirl also delivered a version of the character particular to her in that show’s first season.


The stress of parenthood

It’s unclear at this time what direction this show will take with the character but signs point towards it being in the realm of the traditional comic book take. Of course it’s too early to say and I’m confident this show will have its own spin on the character but visually he seems to be along those lines so far. Bizarro as a villain makes more sense for this show than Doomsday because he can represent a very personal threat to Clark that matches with the family drama focus it commits to.

Much is made of the connection Clark share to Bizarro and how it affects him as well as the impact it has on his core relationships. The connection is disrupting the control he has over himself and his abilities. This manifests early on when Jordan comes to him asking if he can reveal his secret to Sarah because of the toll it’s taking on their relationship. Clark flatly refuses because he thinks it’s too dangerous to let someone in on such a monumental secret. His concern is for Sarah and what she would be taking on as well as his own family and the potential attention it can bring to them. All reasonable concerns but when Jordan pushes for further clarification Clark becomes angry and his voice distorts indicating the loss of control. This happens again later with Jonathan and Clark is forced to admit that he is dangerous to everyone around him when in this uncontrolled state.

This heightens some relatable problems that Clark is dealing with. One of the themes of the season so far is uncharted parental territory for Clark and Lois. Their sons are getting older and embarking on more complex relationships which brings different problems. Added to that is the insecurities Clark and Lois have around their ability to guide their kids through this part of their lives. Added to that is the instability that comes with Clark’s connection to Bizarro that can be likened to an overwhelmed father reacting poorly to his own lack of confidence in his parenting ability. His lashing out is a direct result of the impact of that connection but he also admits to Lois that he has no idea what he’s doing and is worried that he’ll make a lasting negative impact on their lives. It’s a very relatable struggle that neatly weaves in the more fantastical element of Superman being affected by a strong connection to an unknown threat.


It’s not in the mines any more

It’s well established that Clark is not a bad person and that his extreme reactions are directly attributed to this external influence but it all feeds into a compelling exploration of the problems that resulted in those reactions. Jordan wants to tell Sarah the truth because he wants to pursue a relationship with her and doesn’t want it to be based on lies. His viewpoint is very narrow because he can’t see beyond this relationship due to his age and lack of experience. He loves Sarah and sees himself wanting to be with her for the rest of his life so wants to be totally honest with her. Clark respects the strength of Jordan’s feelings and doesn’t look to belittle them as a teenage crush but he also takes a hard line with him around that lack of experience. He calmly points out that what Jordan wants from life is subject to change particularly at his age so he has to be more measured in how he deals with the decisions that he makes. A compromise is found with a promise to revisit this discussion in a year if Jordan still feels the same about Sarah at that point.

There is a lot of complexity around this issue that provides different perspectives on the well worn problems around honesty where a secret identity is concerned. In this case the secret is a legacy one with Jordan directly impacted because he has powers and carries the burden of keeping his father’s secret. He shows his maturity by going to Clark first so he recognises that it’s not his secret to tell and he needs permission before bringing someone into the fold. Clark’s reaction is to preserve the lies and deceit that protected his secret for so long which would seem to run counter to the honesty and integrity of Superman. While this is true it’s also a staple of the character with the Superman persona being open and honest while Clark Kent is a compulsive liar. There is a a longer conversation to be had around that approach and whether it’s right to lie to people constantly in order to preserve a secret. This conversation won’t be had here but it hangs over Clark’s relationship with his children.

Jordan’s counter argument to the need for the secret to be kept and the burden associated with keeping it is that Clark doesn’t understand how it feels from the other side; to be the one lied to for years and Clark is forced to acknowledge that it’s a fair point. Looping in Lois at this point was arguably necessary as she has the perspective of being the one lied to for years so having her comment on her reaction to learning the secret and having years of dishonesty unravelled as a result would have added another layer to this conversation. There is no easy answer as it’s very much about justifying being dishonest with others regardless of the reasoning. Clark is starting from a questionable position as he is advocating deceit which is the opposite of what a parent should be championing but this set of circumstances is certainly unique so it’s not an easy moral conflict to resolve. Jordan understanding Clark’s point of view and the dangers associated with knowing his secret allows the conversation to evolve and as Jordan’s feelings for Sarah intensify it will no doubt reappear later in the season.


Suiting up can be epic

The Jordan/Sarah relationship appears to be repaired in this episode partially due to his conversation with Clark. He comes to realise how much he cares about Sarah and that her kissing someone else when at camp doesn’t alter that. He feels hurt and betrayed but ends up deciding not to let that get in the way of their relationship so forgives her for what she has done. There’s a strong sense that this isn’t entirely resolved as Sarah’s conversation with Lana points to Sarah having things about herself that she needs to figure out. The show isn’t making a big deal out of the fact that it was a girl Sarah kissed and her openness around it supports her assertion that she isn’t ashamed or embarrassed so there’s no sense of uncertainty around her sexuality at this point. Her confusion seems to be around why the kiss happened in the first place and how it has damaged her relationship with Jordan. Lana backs that up by stating that she is confident that Sarah knows exactly who she is and has never been shy when it comes to sharing that with the world. It is to be commended that this roadblock in Sarah and Jordan’s relationship doesn’t come with a clear map as to how it will progress which makes this particular emotional drama delightfully unpredictable.

Propping up the parental uncertainty plot is what Lois has to contribute to it. Clark’s insecurities about his effectiveness as a father are mirrored through Sam who made undeniable mistakes when raising Lois and her sister. Lois uses the damage Sam did to them growing up as an example of it not being something that poisoned her entire life so Clark’s outbursts won’t negatively impact their sons long terms. Her experience inspired to her make sure that her own children have a more positive experience and shaped her as a compassionate parent who does everything she can to be what they need from her. Sam wasn’t that for her and he acknowledges that so all she can do about it is be better than he was.

Lois is especially distraught about the prospect of engaging with her sister Lucy after so long. Her article about the cult Lucy was a part of being discredited has reopened an old wound while putting her reputation at risk so it forces an interaction between them, The only way an interaction can happen is through Sam though he’s reluctant to facilitate it because he doesn’t want to get in the middle of them. Further probing highlights that Sam sees Lucy as being nowhere near as strong as Lois and is concerned that pushing her may result in losing her but Lois points out there’s a lot at stake and there’s no other way to resolve this. The interaction with Lucy doesn’t happen yet but all signs point to her being under the thrall of the cult once again which is obviously less than good news.


Let’s make a go of this

The exploration of Lois and Sam’s relationship is really strong. Last season presented some insight into the tense relationship that exists between them while also starting the process of them moving forward by communicating. Sam in particular is addressing his shortcomings and doing what he can to repair his relationship with Lois in the here and now. They are having very difficult and open conversations that are really well written and performed.

Familial strife is evident through John and Natalie who are both trying to cultivate a sense of belonging in this new world. John’s initial approach is to turn his back on everything associated with the other world which includes his suit and trying to be a hero. Being friends with Clark and Lois is a different and difficult situation for him that doesn’t impact his overall sense of responsibility. At first his idea is to live a normal life free of scenarios similar to what led to the destruction of their former world but this episode is about the reality of being able to do that. Being around Clark and Lois renders that all but impossible and John’s fixation on doing the right thing means that he won’t be able to stand aside when he can do something to help.

Fortunately this episode does away with the notion of an endless stream of final acts for John by having Natalie confront him about that promise. Instead of forcing him to give up doing something he feels compelled to do she offers to help him which starts them down the road of finding a way to fit into the world they now live in. They can work together on his suit and do good things for other people because of the capabilities it has. This is similar to Kyle and Sarah in theory bonding over working on the car. It’s a shared project that gives them purpose and helps to define their relationship in a new way. John even strongly hints towards finding them a home to call their own. Natalie is also fitting in with Jonathan in particular when they bond over playing video games.


Problem solved for now

Jonathan is being let down significantly with his plot around outing a performance enhancing drug using teammate. It turns out he’s using X-Kryptonite and his girlfriend, Candice is the one selling it to him. A cliffhanger of sorts is created when Jonathan asks to be sold the drug as well though it’s doubtful his reason for asking is what it seems at face value. The plot itself isn’t that interesting but seeing Jordan driven to starting fights because he feels sidelined by someone who is cheating works well and Candice talking about her family’s financial troubles adds some texture to Smallville as a setting.

This feeds into Lana’a Mayoral campaign with her being asked about the 0% interest loan initiative she plans to implement. It is mentioned that the Reverse Mortgages mentioned last season were crippling for the town and people are wary of more of the same. Between this and Candice it’s clear there is a lot of poverty in Smallville and the town is in serious need of revitalisation. Candice in theory puts a face on it and with more work she can become a character study but at this point it’s little more than a surface level detail.

Similarly, Lana running for Mayor doesn’t go far beyond the surface. People in the town don’t take her at her word, likely due to the perception of her and her family being altered due to their involvement with Morgan Edge at the end of the previous season. The challenge she faces is being trusted and taken seriously which prompts a charming scene between her and Sarah where she live streams from her kitchen to show how relatable she is. It’s great for the mother/daughter moment but generally lacking. As with the previous episode this plot lacks momentum and fails to captivate interest.


Me am not Bizarro!


A strong episode that subverts expectations around the threat and keeps it connected to Clark’s relatable anxieties around his effectiveness as a father while presenting compelling challenges for the other characters. Setting up the threat with strong indications that it would turn out to be Doomsday and subverting it with the Bizarro reveal is to be commended and makes far more sense in the context of this character driven show. Clark’s connection to Bizarro disrupts his control over himself and his abilities. Lashing out at Jordan is because of Bizarro but it’s akin to an overwhelmed father struggling to deal with new challenges in his role as a parent. The guilt Clark feels over things he does possibly having life altering negative consequences for his sons is a relatable issue and is backed up through Lois’ example of having a less than ideal upbringing but still being a positive role model. Lois and Sam’s interactions are strongly written and performed as they work through long cultivated issues.The conversation around Jordan telling Sarah Clark’s secret and being truly open with her is complex and unresolved with lots of interesting points raised about how unfair it is to expect dishonesty along with the necessity of keeping such a secret. The Jordan/Sarah relationship appears to be repaired for now with Jordan deciding that her kissing someone else isn’t enough to end it. This could go in many directions and Sarah’s frank conversation with Lana around her lack of shame or embarrassment associated with kissing a girl highlights that a big deal isn’t being made of this fact.

Familial strife is evident through John and Natalie who are both trying to find a sense of belonging in this new world. Natalie chooses to work with him on his suit and acknowledge that he can’t turn away from his desire to do what he believes to be the right thing so facilitating him helping others comes to define their relationship instead. This is similar to Sarah and Kyle working on the car and bonding as they do it. There’s a strong hint that John has a plan to make a more permanent home for them. Natalie also fits in with Jonathan in particular as they bond over playing video games. Jonathan is being let down by a plot that isn’t all that interesting but it does touch on some background elements such as poverty within Smallville through Candice’s family. This is also shown through Lana being questioned about her economic recovery plan so texture is being added to the setting even if it’s surface level. The Lana Mayoral plot has no real momentum and fails to capture interest on its own though this episode does contain a charming mother/daughter moment connected to it.

  • 9/10
    The Thing In The Mines - 9/10


Kneel Before…

  • subverting expectations with the villain reveal
  • tying the villain story to the relatable fatherhood based anxieties Clark is experiencing
  • Lois and Sam’s relationship feeding into the parental anxiety angle
  • the complex and compelling conversation around the necessity of deceit around keeping Clark’s secret
  • John and Natalie working together on his suit and starting to build a life for themselves
  • texture being added to Smallville as a setting


Rise Against…

  • Jonathan being let down by an uninteresting plot
  • Lana’s Mayoral plot lacking momentum and failing to capture interest


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User Review
8.17/10 (3 votes)

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