A Father’s Shadow – Review of Superman & Lois Episode Two “Heritage”

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of some of The CW shows. Like many a comic-book fan, I was initially drawn to Arrow (despite the fact that they basically made Oliver Queen an arrow-shooting version of Batman). I even enjoyed The Flash and Supergirl. But as time went on, the quality of those shows began to wane and I stopped watching. So, it was with greater reluctance than usual that I began watching Superman & Lois. Two episodes in, and I am finding this to be one of the more enjoyable experiences with the Arrowverse I’ve had.

Spoilers ahead for the second episode “Heritage”.

The opening narration of the episode is handled by Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane discussing changes as the Kent family packs up their Metropolis brownstone and heads to live permanently on the Kent Farm in Smallville. The adjustment to living in a rural Kansas as opposed to the big city is jarring for everyone except Clark, but I’ll get to that in a minute. This episode really is a Lois Lane episode, with her story leading up to her decision to quit the Daily Planet. This is another example of the writers of the show making a smart decision to remove Lois and Clark from their familiar surroundings, forcing these characters to grow in different ways from what the audience would expect.

Lois Lane leaves the Daily Planet like a boss. Source

The catalyst for Lois to leave The Daily Planet is the paper’s new owner, Morgan Edge. In the vein of the modern take on Lex Luthor that came about in the 1980s, Edge is a wealthy industrialist who not only bought The Daily Planet but has also taken a keen interest in Smallville. The first episode of the series showed that Edge was responsible for the glut of reverse mortgages that became available in the area, which would essentially be an undercover land grab. Edge is also in talks to reopen the mines near Smallville, bringing potential jobs to an area in dire need of a financial boost. During a town council meeting, Lois brings up the fact that previous small communities “helped” by Edge ended up in worse states than when he entered, which Edge writes off as mistakes that he hopes to not duplicate with Smallville. When Lois writes a scathing article of Edge and his business practices (likening the mogul to a “corporate vampire”), Edge orders her article rewritten into a propaganda piece to make himself look better. This proves to be the final straw (after Clark was fired in the pilot episode from the Planet) for Lois, who turns in her resignation at the end of the episode. Tulloch brings fire and determination, two of the qualities that modern interpretations of Lois brought to the forefront in the comics.

The namesake of the episode deals with Jordan Kent, who we learned in the first episode is manifesting some of Clark’s powers. Clark and Jordan venture to the Arctic, where Jordan gets his first experience with the Fortress of Solitude. The fact that Angus MacFayden (a character actor for many years now) was cast as the AI construct of Jor-El was a good choice. MacFayden brings a gravitas to the role, similar in some ways to how Russell Crowe played Jor-El in Man of Steel. We soon learn, though, that Jordan is not the same as his father, carrying only a small portion of the potential Clark had at the same age. To say this devastates Jordan, who for the first time doesn’t feel like he’s the outcast of the family, is an understatement.

My favorite moments in the episode, though, are the family moments. Jonathan’s hazing at the hands of schoolmates, largely because of Jordan’s ill-conceived idea to kiss Sarah (the daughter of Superman mainstay Lana Lang). The blow-up the two brothers have and their reconciliation later feels genuine, which is the best compliment I can give for the writers and how they handle the siblings’ dynamic. Jonathan and Jordan are not always going to see eye to eye but they do care for each other, which is shown when Jonathan comforts Jordan later upon discovering that Jordan’s abilities aren’t going to be the same as their father’s.

The other major development is the continuing plotline with Captain Luthor. Luthor is looking for kryptonite to power his suit (which explains why he was able to so easily overpower Clark in the first episode of Superman & Lois). When Luthor sends his suit as a drone to attack General Sam Lane (Lois’ father) to obtain the kryptonite he needs, we hear Luthor speak to Sam as if they were old friends. The reasoning behind that is revealed in the closing moments of the episode. We are given a flashback to Luthor’s Earth, where Kal-El (clad in the iconic black outfit) lays waste to a squad of soldiers, Sam Lane being one of them. It’s clear now why Luthor despises Kal-El so much. Convinced that this world’s Superman will go bad just as his did, he is trying his damnedest to prevent that, even if it means putting people in danger.

Two episodes in and the stakes are laid out for what will come in the first season of the show. The confrontation between Lois and Edge is only going to heat up, while the twins have to learn to navigate their new environment as best as they can. The writing on the show remains excellent, which is not always the case when you shift from the pilot to the second episode of a series. I’m looking forward to continuing the series and seeing what else it has to offer.

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