Previously on Supergirl and the Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover that included all of the DC series in the Arrowverse: There are several Wiki pages that can explain all of this in greater detail, but I’ll try to boil this down to the most important details: All of the heroes in the Arrowverse joined forces to stop The Anti-Monitor from destroying reality, which they succeed in doing, but which results in the death of Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow (or as Vulture writer Angelica Jade Bastién calls him, “Walmart Batman”), the previous Multiverse being destroyed, and replaced with an entirely new Multiverse in its place.
Oh, and Nadria Tucker, who worked as a staff writer for Krypton and as a story editor for Underground before joining the writing staff for Superman & Lois, was released from her contract and fired after pointing out that many of the show’s scripts had a lot of problematic content.
THE STORY SO FAR: After a brief montage that explains Superman’s origin story — how his home planet Krypton exploded; how his ship to Earth crash-landed at the Kansas home of Jonathan and Martha Kent; how they both raised him as their own and dealt with his superpowers becoming more evident as he got older; Jonathan’s death from a heart attack; his early days as Superman, him joining the Daily Planet as a reporter where he meets and falls in love with Lois Lane; the two of them getting married and starting a family — Clark Kent is struggling with his duties to protect the world from harm as Superman, as well as his duties as husband to Lois and father to his 14-year-old twin sons, Jonathan and Jordan. A family tragedy brings them all from Metropolis to Smallville, leading to Jonathan and Jordan learning the truth about their family history, and Clark deciding that he needs to be a better father to his sons. This is all happening while nuclear power plants are being sabotaged by a mysterious and powerful stranger who looks like Master Chief from Halo and who is able to go toe-to-toe with Superman while knowing everything about him as well.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: The opening montage of Clark/Superman’s origins. Superman, in his classic suit from the cartoons made by Max Fleischer, being his friendly and charming self when talking to the little boy who he rescues from being crushed by a falling car. Superman using both his powers and his intellect to figure out how to stop the nuclear reactor from exploding. Jordan playing Injustice 2 and instead of playing as Superman, he plays as Raiden while beating up on Superman. (“Superman’s boring.”) Jonathan and Jordan confronting their parents after finding Clark’s Kryptonian ship that brought him to Earth hidden in the barn, and Jordan questioning whether Superman being his father has anything to do with his mental health and him being diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. Lois standing up to her father, General Sam Lane, and telling both him and Clark that as much as the world needs Superman, his family needs him even more. General Lane immediately responding to that by saying that Superman doesn’t get to live a normal life no matter how much that he or Lois wants that because of the fact that he’s Superman. Jordan and Sarah bonding with one another about their need for medications, and about what it feels like to live in an environment that doesn’t bring much comfort or happiness to the people who are in it. Jonathan being even more supportive of Jordan than he was before after realizing that he now has powers. Superman recovering from being stabbed with a Kryptonite dagger by The Stranger just in time to avoid landing on someone’s car that has stopped at a traffic light, and strikes a pose while doing so that makes him look like Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: Clark actually being able to remember when his ship crashes and when he first meets his parents, all of which happened when he was a newborn infant. The dialogue coming out of The Stranger’s mouth as he’s attacking Superman was not very good and the delivery of those lines really didn’t help. Lois doesn’t get to do much in this episode and comes off more like Anne Archer in the Jack Ryan movies with Harrison Ford where she looks worried and tells her man to go out into the world and do what he can to keep it safe. The actors playing Jonathan and Jordan both do solid work with their performances, but they’re not entirely convincing as 14-year-olds (and I say that as someone who has suspended his disbelief when watching teen shows since the Original Flavor versions of Saved By The Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210), and until Jordan’s powers are revealed, their scenes are not that interesting to watch. And I won’t even bother asking why Martha Kent’s router was installed high up in a section of her barn that is damn near impossible for anyone to access unless they can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
As much as Martha is described as a superwoman and as the heart of Smallville who looked out for her neighbors and for the people around her, she doesn’t really leave that much of an impression before her death. (Though as someone who loved watching Alien Nation when growing up, it was nice to see Michele Scarabelli onscreen again) Kyle being so unlikeable and antagonistic towards Lois and Clark about their need to live and work in Metropolis instead of coming back home to live and work in Smallville, as well as when they both point out how Morgan Edge does more harm than good when it comes to how he operates as a businessman, that he might as well be wearing a red baseball cap and a Blue Lives Matter bracelet. The possibility that Clark being reunited with high-school sweetheart Lana Lang (now Lang-Cushing) will possibly result in a very unwanted and unnecessary love triangle between Clark, Lois, and Lana. This Superman suit looks a lot better than the one Tyler was wearing on Supergirl, but it still doesn’t look like a perfect fit. Some of the special-effects shots are less than great, which is to be expected and understood, considering what Warner Bros. is doing with the budget for a television show about Superman on The CW.
IS SUPERGIRL IN THIS EPISODE?: No.
LEX LUTHOR?: When The Stranger, a.k.a. Not-Master Chief, arrives at his own Fortress of Solitude and is given a diagnosis of his armor and the enhancements that it needs to hold up against Superman by his artificial intelligence that is not Jarvis and is not Kelor, he is identified as “Captain Luthor.” Whether or not this is actually Lex Luthor or another brilliant, bald, evil relative of his still remains unknown.
LENA LUTHOR?: No.
BEEBO?: No, we definitely don’t get to see him. The closest we get to seeing him while watching this episode is in this Public Service Announcement by The CW.
ARE ANY OTHER SUPERHEROES FROM THE ARROWVERSE IN THIS EPISODE?: No.
DO WE GET ANY GOOD SHOTS OF TYLER HOECHLIN’S BUTT IN THIS EPISODE? YOU KNOW, FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES?: Not too many, no. There’s at least one shot late in the episode when Superman flies into space and spins around while trying to track The Stranger’s location right before he gets ambushed, that will make you pause what you’re watching and say: “Nice S.”
IS DARYL STILL ALIVE? BECAUSE IF NOT, THEN WE’LL
PROBABLY RIOT IF WE HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO: You’re thinking of the wrong show, but last time I checked, Daryl is still alive and still on his way to getting a spin-off from The Walking Dead with Carol.
DOES SUPERMAN & LOIS HAVE A CATCHY THEME SONG LIKE SMALLVILLE? If there is a catchy theme song that the show is going to have, we don’t get to hear it in this episode.
ANY EASTER EGGS WE SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR?: On the chalkboard in the Kent family kitchen, there are references to “Dr. Donner” as in Richard Donner, who directed Superman: The Movie and his cut of Superman II before he was fired and replaced in the director’s chair by Richard Lester while a different cut was released in theaters (sound familiar?) and to Siegel and Shuster, as in Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the comic-book writer and artist who created Superman. For all other Easter eggs, you can check the Twitter hashtag #CWEasterEggs.
DO WE GET TO SEE LOIS LANE DOING WHAT SHE DOES BEST, AND BE THE BEST INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER ON THE (DAILY) PLANET?: Not really, other than a couple of brief phone calls where she’s trying to figure some things out, but the end of the episode hints that Lois plans on looking into Morgan Edge, a.k.a. Not-Donald Trump, and his reasons for the reverse mortgages being given to people for their farms, and also for secretly acquiring ownership of the bank where Lana works as a loan officer.
IS AGATHA HARKNESS RESPONSIBLE FOR MESSING UP EVERYTHING AND PULLING EVERY EVIL STRING?: Again, you’re thinking of the wrong show, and if Kathryn Hahn actually made an appearance on Superman & Lois, don’t you think I would’ve mentioned that much earlier in the post so I could properly geek out over her awesome/funny/hot self with the rest of you?
IS THIS THE VERSION OF SUPERMAN THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR? THE ONE WHO SMILES A LOT, HELPS PEOPLE WHILE SMILING A LOT, HAS TRUNKS AS PART OF HIS COSTUME, AND SAVES CATS FROM TREES?: If you’re asking whether Tyler Hoechlin’s portrayal of Superman is completely different from Henry Cavill’s version of Superman, then yes. We do see Clark smiling a bunch (mostly due to his interactions with his family where he’s very much a dork), there’s plenty of news footage that shows him helping others (though said news footage is shot from a distance, so it’s hard to tell if Superman is smiling while carrying an entire space shuttle or preventing a smokestack from falling to the ground), this version of his suit does not come with trunks, and though we don’t see him saving cats from trees, we do see him retrieve the baseball cap for the little boy he saves from being crushed…right before the cap gets blown off of his head yet again due to the force of Superman taking flight. And Tyler’s portrayal of Superman seems much more willing to work alongside the military when it comes to getting things done (the fact that his father-in-law is a U.S. Army general probably has something to do with that) compared to Henry’s portrayal in the DCEU.
YOU MENTIONED NADRIA TUCKER BEING FIRED FROM THE WRITING STAFF OF SUPERMAN & LOIS. HAS SHE SAID ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT HER EXPERIENCE WITH THE SHOW AND WITH THE CW SINCE THEN?: Yes, she has. Besides her interview last November with writer/film critic Jonita L. Davis, Nadria posted this short thread of tweets while the pilot was airing about her time on staff with Superman & Lois…
The pilot for this series was already written when the rest of the writers were hired. I was one of the first people brought on— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
We had lots of discussions in the early days about mental illness and how to depict it in the show. We talked about race too. We talked about gender and sexuality. We pitched so much “blue sky” stuff — all ideas generated by what was there in this pilot— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
But then reality started to set in. Casting wasn’t diverse. Lois wasn’t getting much story. So I raised these issues. This is part of the job— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
I can’t say I felt heard. Todd Helbing told me we’d have to ship Black people in cause there aren’t many in Canada pic.twitter.com/pWrKJkGLsG— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
Oh no my DVR has almost caught up to reality!— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
Anyway the pilot hasn’t changed much since the last time I read it. I’m sure the rest of the series will be more of the same.— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
Listen, if pointing out actual shit that happened in the writers room is “shitting on the show” then idk what to tell you lol— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
To clarify, I wasn’t the only POC or femme writer on Superman and Lois. Whatever amount of representation you see on screen are hard fought wins from some very talented people despite everything else.— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
For those of you who might be wondering if Nadria ever crossed paths with Geoff Johns (yes, that Geoff Johns) when she was working on Krypton or on Superman & Lois, wonder no more.
I haven’t spoken to Geoff since the day on Krypton when he tried to tell me what is and is not A Black Thing— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) February 24, 2021
And Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg in the theatrical version of Justice League and in Zack Snyder’s Justice League which streams on HBO Max next month, had this to say about Geoff Johns when responding to Nadria’s tweet:
I feel every bit of your pain @NadriaTucker— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) February 24, 2021
Among many other things, I had to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining to Geoff why he was NOT the authority on how the existence of Cyborg’s genitals would be perceived by the Black community.
He strongly disagreed. https://t.co/7j94xDPGig
TO SUM IT ALL UP: This was not the most impressive pilot, especially considering what has come before with Smallville and with other shows in the Arrowverse, but for now, Superman & Lois does enough to grab hold of the viewers’ interest and keep them wanting to see more in order to find out what happens next, both with Clark and Lois and their kids, as well as with Superman going up against “Captain Luthor” in his new and improved Warsuit. It’s not the bright, enthusiastic, and fun-filled Superman adaptation that many have been clamoring for, especially since the pilot does show that Superman & Lois has clearly been influenced by what Zack Snyder has done with Superman in Man Of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. But Superman & Lois looks like it’s hoping to try something different with this onscreen version of the Big Blue Boy Scout, by giving us Friday Night Lights with superpowers. Only time will tell if this approach truly works.
And whether or not you even feel comfortable watching Superman & Lois after knowing what was done to Nadria Tucker is entirely up to you as the viewer.
One last thing: I don’t know who needs to read this (Oh, who the f-ck am I kidding? Yes, I do), but there are some Superman fans who need to be reminded of this: You can like Tyler Hoechlin’s version of Superman. You can like Henry Cavill’s version of Superman. You can also like the versions of Superman played by Tom Welling, Brandon Routh, Tim Daly, George Newbern, Gerard Christopher, George Reeves, and last but never least, Christopher Reeve. (Hell, you can even enjoy the version of Superman played by Dean Cain, even though Cain turned out to be a racist f-ckboy who barely deserves any acknowledgment whatsoever as he spends what’s left of his career making direct-to-DVD movies with Gina Carano that will make their MAGA Twitter fanbase very happy) But I promise you from the bottom of my cold, black, misanthropic heart that you can like/enjoy/appreciate one version of Superman without talking sh-t about any other version on some “Out with the old, in with the new” nonsense, and without being an intractable gatekeeper about what you think Superman should be. (And I say all of this with the obvious knowledge that I can’t stop anyone from expressing their positive or negative opinions about any and all things Superman) It may sound like an impossible task, but take my word for it, it can be done.
This episode of Superman & Lois has been brought to you by “My Hometown” by Bruce Springsteen: