Superman & Lois (2021) s01e07 – Man of Steel

“Superman and Lois” has a toxic masculinity problem. Not a huge toxic masculinity problem, but enough of one, it affects creativity. Maybe it’s more a male stoicism problem because then we can wrap Alex Garfin’s super-hearing subplot into it. The primary toxic masculinity and male stoicism issues hamper the Wolé Parks storyline. But there’s enough leftover for Tyler Hoechlin. If only Dylan Walsh were around to at least embrace it. It’s actually a dude-heavy episode; pretty sure it fails Bechdel.

This episode’s big reveal is Parks’s mysterious backstory—complete with poorly acted, on the cheap flashbacks to a Kryptonian invasion of his Earth. There are answers for everything in the flashbacks, though the worst AI computer in the world figures in. Though Daisy Tormé’s voice acting of it is far better than the other voice-only performance this episode, Angus Macfadyen doing a Marlon Brando and telling Hoechlin how Garfin’s just going to have to man up and deal with the super-hearing. It’s the opening tag, with a quick trip to the literal hole in the wall Fortress of Solitude (remember how bitchin’ it was on “Supergirl”; anyway).

Hoechlin’s terrible in the scene too, but he makes up for it later. Currently, he’s the only grown man recognizing his errors and trying to correct them. There’s eventually some positive effort from Garfin and Jordan Elsass on that front as well. Garfin’s convinced Elsass is moving in on Inde Navarrette since Garfin’s out sick. The show doesn’t reveal whether or not his concern’s justified, concentrating on the invasion of privacy angle and Navarrette and Garfin being “just friends.” Meaning she’s open to becoming property or scenery to Elsass. It’s such a lousy subplot, not even Elsass can save it; it’s not entirely his fault, of course—David Ramsey’s direction is wanting, and the script, credited to Jai Jamison, is weak sauce.

But then we’ll discover Parks’s whole arc is a manly, righteous vengeance arc. He’s not just trying to save the world; he’s literally Charles Bronson from the Death Wish where the wife finally dies trying to save the world. It really would’ve helped if the flashbacks to Parks’s Earth were better. Or if Elizabeth Tulloch and Parks had any chemistry. She’s his alternate Earth wife or was before Superman cuts her in half with heat vision. “Superman and Lois” doesn’t do the Injustice or even Zack Snyder bit with Superman going bad because something happens to Lois; maybe he’s just bad because he didn’t get the girl. Big sigh.

There’s a decent fight scene with an effective conclusion and the possibility Hoechlin’s Superman shrivels under Kryptonite, which is kind of cool. Unfortunately, it’s more likely the still troubled muscle suit just doesn’t bend well. One can hope, however.

Emmanuelle Chriqui has an all-right subplot discovering Adam Rayner is a manipulative shit. Navarrette’s never not reduced to “the girl.”

There are some other universe details, like Tulloch and Hoechlin being aware of the multiverse—presumably post-Crisis—and lots of Lex Luthor talk. It’s all a distraction, though, meant to gin up interest in Parks when it ought to be Parks who makes the character interesting. But not with the script or, at least so far, the performance.

It’s also a bummer since last episode was so strong, and this one’s not at all.

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