I’ll just admit I’m sort of rooting for “Superman & Lois.” Nothing outrageous like making my wife sit through it, but I’d like it to go well enough I can keep watching it. I’ve liked Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane, I’ve been OK with Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman. Now, they’re the only things with any continuity to the “Supergirl” show at this point, as I realized Adam Rayner’s villain is an Adrian Pasdar recast. Now, Pasdar quit “Supergirl” after its move from CBS to CW (and L.A. to Vancouver), and getting him back would’ve been a boon.
There’s no boon. Though “S&L” doesn’t really have any casting boons. It sets up another couple of “surprise” casts—but it’s just misunderstood super-villain Wolé Parks; the back of his character’s head appeared last episode, not Parks. Because even though it’s 2021, the promise of a Black Lex Luthor has a wow factor. At least “S&L” did it in the spring; “Loki” did it in the summer. And then the other surprise casting possibility is a fake-out.
Oh, wait. Angus Macfadyen as the Jor-El hologram. Macfadyen’s kind of stunt cast; I’ve really liked him before. He’s terrible here, playing the role as a gruff military-type. Kind of like Dylan Walsh as Tulloch’s father and Hoechlin’s de facto boss. This episode doesn’t just drop a big Injustice nod; it’s also got some shades of Dark Knight fascist pawn Superman stuff. It kind of helps the show, actually, showing Walsh being able to manipulate Hoechlin. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or if Hoechlin’s just not that good? But it definitely leads to some sympathies towards the end.
Plus the return to Smallville stuff, particularly the brother drama between Superboy-in-training Alex Garfin and got-his-mommas-DNA Jordan Elsass, their first days of high school with potential love square Inde Navarrette, everyone having to go to a cookout at Erik Valdez and Emmanuelle Chriqui’s where a bunch of white people call it a barbecue, and then we find out Chriqui’s kind of a lush… it’s all right. Garfin and Elsass might be way too old for their parts, but they’re getting close to appearing sincere. Like the brother relationship stuff is solid.
And there’s more of the “Superman is a bad dad” stuff, with Hoechlin a lot more comfortable with Garfin and Elsass.
Sadly the muscle suit hasn’t improved enough. It’s improved a little, but now Hoechlin has an extra pair of biceps growing out of his shoulders. Only in the suit too. They haven’t just run with it, and Kryptonians have a weird extra set of muscles or whatever.
Lastly, since I started the episode noticing all the continuity breaks with “Supergirl”—she doesn’t seem to exist (no one mentions her when they should be), and Hoechlin no longer has a badass Fortress of Solitude. Instead, he’s got a sad man cave with a single hologram table and then Macfadyen yelling at him. It’s really shitty how “Supergirl” spent multiple seasons having to justify itself against a literally absent Superman (to become the stronger, more capable hero of the two) only for the “Superman” spin-off from it, ignoring all that work.
It’s not hopeless—my rooting aside; Hoechlin and Tulloch on the porch playing super-parents? It’s a good concept. The show just may have too many constraints to realize it well.