This is a spoiler-free review at the top, with Spoilers & Theories at the bottom, for those who scroll down far enough.
Some critics have been saying that The CW-verse has reached a saturation point with the number of its DC superhero series, and that it’s become a chore to try to keep up with them all, even for the hard core fans. As one of those fans, I can relate to that. Several seasons ago, I gave up trying to watch them all, and dropped a couple from my “Must-Watch” schedule. Even the ones that I still watch haven’t felt the same, especially last season and this one. I can sense lead actors becoming less enthusiastic in their ongoing roles, some they have had for 5 or more years now. I can see costume and character designs becoming less elegant. I can hear dialogue that is clumsy or un-inspired.
But with the arrival of Superman & Lois, I would almost be tempted to give all the others up, and just watch this one, and feel satisfied. It’s that good. It’s got everything provided by all the other series combined, except for the what’s-going-to-happen-this-week wackiness of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Romance? Check. Teenage angst? Check. Sense of humor? Check. Surprise twists? Check. Excellent CGI? Check. Kick-ass battle scenes? Check. But most important of all, it’s got a sense of gravitas that no CW hero series has consistently had since Arrow.
As I outlined in my last review, S&L is definitely guilty of repeating the successful formula of The CW’s first hit hero series Smallville. A significant portion of this episode repeats the battle that teenaged Clark had, learning to control his newly-developed sense of super-hearing. This time it’s Jordan who struggles with this overwhelming power, and for way too long it felt, and after too many “I can’t do its”, and “I’m not yous.” But, credit must go to the overly-whiny emo twin for finally finding a way to deal with it.
Lois’ Morgan Edge subplot advances a level, when Lois recruits Lana to help expose Edge’s X-Kryptonite plot. Creepily, Edge has appointed Lana to find his next X-K lab rats, telling her she’s headhunting for new company executives. In the comics, Edge was at one time an agent of Darkseid, helping him in his plan to take over the Earth. It will be interesting to see if that storyline develops on S&L. It would certainly explain why Edge is using X-K to create an army of soldiers with Kryptonian-like powers.
But, the subplot about the Stranger Who Knows Way Too Much About Superman is the big focus this episode. Lois and Clark confront him about w
ho is, but he claims he will only reveal all to Superman himself. Although he is bald and a tech genius, and his AI calls him Captain Luthor, is the Stranger really a Luthor from another Earth? We find out, and anyone who said they saw this coming gets mega-geek points. We have seen glimpses in previous episodes about how his Earth’s Superman is a cold-blooded, black-suited mass murder. This time, we see exactly why he hates Superman as much as he does, and why he is more than a little unhinged and determined. It’s tragic, and shocking in its presentation.
That sense of humor I mentioned? It shows when Clark must intervene as Superman, but doesn’t want to have to explain why Superman is in Smallville so much, and handles a problem at superspeed, depositing the bad guys far, far away.
If you watch any CW show, let it be Superman & Lois.
Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays on the CW, and streams the next day on cwtv.com
Spoilers & Theories below
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | At first glance, the title of this episode “Man Of Steel,” appeared to be a reference to Superman himself, but the major twist revealed otherwise. It also explained how this albeit-bald tech wizard could possibly be a Luthor. Answer: he’s not. He was only wearing Captain Luthor’s battle suit, and had fooled the suit's AI into thinking he was its owner.
Who the Stranger turned out to be was an even bigger surprise than if he had actually turned out to be Luthor, somehow. Not only was this man married to Lois Lane on his multiverse-version of Earth, he had a daughter with her, who looks very familiar to longtime readers of DC Comics. The reveal that this man is another version of John Henry Irons, was done very well. We find out in the same moment as the characters do in the show, as Irons is springing a red sun trap on Superman (how/why did Superman not scope out the situation before going in?). He has also constructed a special hammer, just like the hero Steel in DC Comics. During his battle with Superman, we see Superman through his eyes, and it’s the black-suited, laser-eyed demon from his world. Irons is truly insane.
Have we seen the last of this Irons? I hope not.