I feel like they’ve got to know the muscle suit is unimpressive because they’re going out of their way not to dwell on it or to cut straight from long shot to close-up. And this episode’s director, Gregory Smith, definitely seems to have the Superman imagery in mind, as the episode opens with a nod to the flapping red cape of Superman: The Movie. It’ll be the majority of the Super-action in the episode until Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) needs to call for help in a riff on that Dawn of Justice trailer action beat. This time, Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) saves the day by demolishing a small town motel.
Otherwise, the episode’s mostly about Superboy-in-training Alex Garfin joining the football team so he can beat up his bullies and lying to Hoechlin about it. It’s okay, though, because Hoechlin’s been lying to him too, right? Once again, however, “Superman learns to be a better dad” works out. Especially after years of Pa Kents telling Clarks he can’t play sports, it’s kind of nice to see someone actually hash it out. Here’s where it helps to approach “Superman & Lois” like Hoechlin’s still somehow a work-in-progress, because wouldn’t it be cooler if Superman were just a super-dad.
Garfin’s brother, Jordan Elsass, isn’t entirely thrilled with the prospect of his brother taking his football thunder. Still, the script manages to find the lesson of good old-fashioned sportspersonship and how it can build character. It’s basic, but it’s also “Superman” (not to mention the CW). And Elsass can sell it. He’s got less to do than Garfin—who’s also still pursuing a romantically tinged friendship with Inde Navarrette–but his scenes come with a lot fewer caveats. They keep talking about Garfin being short, but he’s the same height as Elsass unless they’re doing a forced perspective shot.
Navarrette’s got her own subplot with mom Emmanuelle Chriqui, which ends up nicely passing Bechdel. It’s still a little unclear what Chriqui’s going to have to do on the show, other than being Navarrette’s mom, local fireman redneck Erik Valdez’s suffering wife, and Hoechlin’s high school girlfriend, but hopefully, they don’t screw it up.
Rounding it out, Tulloch’s started at the local newspaper and is already giving new boss Sofia Hasmik grief about wanting to do the big stories. Hasmik tries to get her to see reason and interview the guy about the feed shop or whatever, but then Jill Teed comes in and tells them her son is missing on a secret project for the corporate bad guy. Somehow it’s immediately obvious the corporate bad guy is making his own Super-people. Even before ex-Colossus Daniel Cudmore shows up and has superpowers. Also, apparently, superpowers are a thing for other people because no one’s too surprised. When Cudmore’s handing Hoechlin his ass, you wonder if maybe they should call in Melissa Benoist to take care of it.
The show’s consistently got problems with false endings, and the epilogue here is a little too obvious (and poorly acted), but the episode’s definitely got stronger moments.