blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Superman & Lois (2021) s01e08 – Holding the Wrench

This episode starts like it’s going to be a “Lois Lane in therapy” episode—a la Aunt May and Ultimate Spider-Man, obviously—but it quickly turns out Elizabeth Tulloch’s entire arc is to support the boys. I think it technically passes Bechdel—the therapist is a woman, played by Wendy Crewson—and there’s one portion where they don’t mention boys, but they’re really talking about the boys. Whether it’s Tyler Hoechlin, Jordan Elsass, or Wolé Parks; this episode’s about Tulloch finding out her alternate universe history with Parks, complete with flashbacks to womanly traumas on both worlds.

It’s all somewhat manipulative and all moderately successful. The episode juxtaposes Parks’s interrogation with Tulloch and Elsass investigating his mystery RV. At the same time, Inda Navarrette has a typical high school kid subplot involving trying out for the musical while relying on unreliable dad Erik Valdez. Navarrette gives the best performance in the episode, followed by Dylan Walsh. This episode might be Walsh’s best overall performance. Everyone else runs hot and cold.

Worst is Parks, who’s got a concerning lack of chemistry with Tulloch—if they tested them together, whoever okayed it made a big mistake—but Tulloch and Elsass will both disappoint as things go along. Tulloch’s never able to make her past trauma subplot take-off (the dialogue’s just too generic), and Elsass never gets to do any character development. Things happen then he goes off-screen to deal with them, only coming back for the resolve moments. It’s not Norma Bailey’s direction’s fault either; the script, credited to Kristi Korzec, never delivers.

There’s some good action—Bailey gets to direct Hoechlin in a Kryptonian street fight—and some great humans in jeopardy moments, but for the big resolution to Parks’s subplot to this point… it’s a goofy finish. The show’s got the problem everyone in it could be the protagonist, so the show’s too unfocused.

It does end up having a reasonably nice subplot for Alex Garfin, who’s barely in it and nothing with the Super-Family, rather doing support for Navarrette. There are also some C plot machinations for Emmanuelle Chriqui.

Given the end result of the episode is getting Parks settled and Tulloch and Hoechlin informed, it’s actually a bridging episode, albeit a busy, cluttered one. It’s middling, but with some good moments. And the show’s aiming so high with the “Superman and Lois” family drama bit, even being mildly successful given all the soapiness is… fine.

Though it’d have been nice if Crewson were better. The show really needs to do better with its guest spots.

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