The Wallflower Blooms – Review of Superman & Lois Episode Three “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower”

Where the first two episodes set the stage for the unfolding drama, Episode Three of Superman & Lois delves into the personal dramas of the main cast, specifically the Kent family and the Cushing family. On top of the that, the mystery surrounding Morgan Edge deepens, showing there is a far more sinister edge to the character than we had previously been shown.

Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watch “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower”.

Whereas the previous episode focused much more on Lois and her journey from being a big-city reporter to a small-town reporter, “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower” broadens the narrative to include the internal drama surrounding Sarah Cushing, the eldest daughter of Lana Cushing and her husband Kyle (who’s a local firefighter and proponent of Morgan Edge’s involvement in Smallville). There are some heavy topics under discussion in this episode, so this is a trigger warning for you as a reader.

As someone who has spent much of their life dealing with depression, I found the writing for Sarah Cushing to be spot-on. It’s revealed during the course of the episode that Sarah has been attending therapy sessions, much to the embarrassment of Lana, who wants to present a collected face to the people of her community. We later find out that Sarah lives with depression and it’s implied that she attempted suicide before the events of the series began. When Sarah and Lana have their blow-out argument in the local diner, Sarah airs the family’s dirty laundry for all to see, something that causes a great deal of consternation for her mother. In a later scene, the two of them have a heart-to-heart, which felt as real to me as some of the conversations I’ve had with my own mother with regards to my depression. Inde Navarrette and Emmanuelle Chriqui handled the subject matter delicately and respectfully, showcasing their talents well during the sit-down talk the two have. I hope the show continues this thread with genuine conversations between the two about what this means for them both.

On the flip side, Clark and his sons have vast disagreements, particularly now that Jordan is allowed to go back to school. When Sean Smith (Sarah’s dickish boyfriend) begins to harass Jordan, Clark comes to the rescue, revealing that he’s been listening in on the boys from time to time throughout their lives. This violation of privacy disturbs the boys and rightly so. It is far out of bounds for Clark to eavesdrop with his powers on his children. When Jordan decides to try out for the football team and excels (in no small part to the enhanced strength he gets from Clark), Jonathan at first shows a deep amount of envy toward his brother. Always the athletic one of the pair, Jonathan’s crisis of identity and well-founded fear that Jordan will lose control puts the two brothers at odds, temporarily. However, in the end, it is Jonathan who advocates for Jordan to continue playing football, seeing how his brother has come out of his shell and begun bonding with his teammates. There’s a wonderful moment where Jordan flattens Sean on the practice field but then apologizes for kissing Sarah and offers Sean a hand up, which the young man accepts, seemingly burying the hatchet.

The emotional moments between Jordan and Clark are some of my favorite bits of writing in the show. When Jordan explodes on Clark, part of me understands where he’s coming from and yet part of me also agrees with Clark’s cautious approach. We later learn that Clark wanted to try out for the Smallville High baseball team but Jonathan Kent forbade it. Clark implies his desire to try out was largely due to an attempt to win Lana’s affections. As a compromise, Clark and Jordan agree to let him continue playing football, provided Clark joins the team as an assistant coach to monitor his sons.

With all of the family-centric drama occurring, the rest of the episode is devoted to Lois’ continued investigation into Morgan Edge. Even though she now works for the Smallville Gazette (and Sofia Hasmik as Chrissy Beppo is just adorably earnest in her role), Lois’ passion for pursuing the truth is not diminished. When Lois and Chrissy interview Sharon Powell about the disappearance on her son Derek (who worked at Edge’s mining facility in New Carthage), we see a mysterious figure snapping photos of them. Later on that same day, Lois’ station wagon is firebombed (which Clark jokingly admits isn’t the first time Lois has experienced this kind of intimidation tactic). Unperturbed by this event, Lois goes to meet with Sharon to discuss her son’s disappearance further, where she encounters the mysterious man again, having just gotten finished nearly strangling Sharon to death.

Clark manages to arrive in time to save both Lois and Sharon but not before getting into a fist-fight with the man, who reveals he possesses strength at least comparable to Clark’s. The fact that Edge has someone with that level of power working for him is an ominous sign, particularly since he was sent to kill both Sharon and Lois. It’s the ending of the episode that is the real kicker: Leslie Larr, Edge’s assistant that we’ve seen a bit of in the previous episodes, shows up at and uses heat vision to kill the man that attacked Sharon and Lois, burning him alive in the process. Someone with Kryptonian abilities and no moral compunction against killing is not a good sign.

So far, I’ve greatly enjoyed Superman & Lois. The writers are able to blend the family drama and the larger story arc of the season together well. There’s no feeling of the episode being overstuffed or too lean, which is a testament to their skill.

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