A couple significant “Superman and Lois” details this episode. First, Metropolis seems to be in the Midwest. Smallville High School is in the same conference or whatever as Metropolis High School. Second, Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman might be as old as forty-eight; at least, if he spent eight years at the Fortress a la Superman: The Movie. The Midwest Metropolis thing is cooler. I’d love to see a U.S. map of the Arrowverse.
The episode itself is one of the strongest in the series so far, despite a few major problems. The first act is poorly written. It picks up at the football game, where Superboy Alex Garfin finds he can’t be super when he’s got a migraine, and his not-super twin Jordan Elsass gets to do some human-level (sports) heroics. Garfin’s got a whole arc about confronting his childhood bullies, but Elsass has actually got the meatier part. He’s up against his old team, including an ex-friend who poached his girlfriend, and he’s trying to control Garfin. Garfin’s migraines lead to uncontrollable heat vision, something he doesn’t want to tell Hoechlin. Lots of conflict for Elsass.
He’s giving the consistently best performance on the show. A few other actors do really well this episode; Hoechlin, Inde Navarrette, Emmanuelle Chriqui, guest star Wern Lee. Unfortunately, not Garfin. Some of his problems are script-related (Katie Aldrin gets the credit), but mostly not. He just doesn’t seem to have a handle on the part yet, and it’s getting late. They’re six episodes in. So everyone else—Elsass, Hoechlin, Navarrette, Elizabeth Tulloch—has to hold up his scenes.
So Garfin’s one of the hurdles. Ditto Sudz Sutherland’s direction, which is a combination of dull, repetitive, and off. Sutherland always uses the same over-the-shoulder shots, and they’re always poorly framed. And always in the same way. It’s initially really annoying, but once they become predictable, the episode can work past them. Especially since there’s lots of drama and lots of Superman action. Sutherland does all right with the Superman action, but mainly because the situations are so good.
There’s also a series-best performance from Wolé Parks, who has a subplot with Tulloch. It’s pretty good, though she’s not really active enough. Just like Garfin, she’s a little undefined. Unlike Garfin, Tulloch can cover.
Dylan Walsh is bad. He may turn it around, but he’s not doing a good job. This episode has him and Hoechlin bucking heads—Superman being a U.S. military asset is one of the show’s most exciting turns—and Hoechlin handily walks away with the scenes. He’s still got a bad muscle suit, but he’s getting very confident in the part.
Even if he doesn’t look forty-eight.
The show’s getting really, really close. I’m almost to the point of recommending it (with the usual non-“Legends” Arrowverse caveats).