Superman & Lois (2021) s01e12 – Through the Valley of Death

This episode has several things going on, like Wolé Parks delivering (compared to before) when the story requires it, Emmanuelle Chriqui having a great mom scene (shedding any memory of her lackluster performance a couple episodes ago), one low-key but big twist, what sounds like Man of Steel music cues (but for Super-sons Jordan Elsass and Alex Garfin), and a cameo from David Ramsey to tie the show into the Arrowverse. But it’s also an exceptionally efficient resolution to last episode’s cliffhanger.

While Adam Rayner and his shitty hologram dad A.C. Peterson try to make sure Tyler Hoechlin turns evil, the good guys are all trying to figure out a way to rescue Superman. Except for Parks, who’s planning to kill him no matter what anyone says. And his arguments are starting to work on Dylan Walsh, seemingly because Ramsey is on Elizabeth Tulloch’s “find a non-lethal solution” side. Ramsey actually has a bit to do in his cameo (including name-dropping “Oliver” and making broad illusions to the other superheroes Walsh apparently isn’t calling for help), and he’s good. It’s a little weird because it’s a superhero-free universe besides Hoechlin so far, but they get past it fast, thanks to all the drama.

In the meantime, Erik Valdez is recovering from being taken over by an evil Kryptonian hell-bent on planetary decimation. But more he’s upset because everyone in Smallville is blaming him for inviting Rayner to invest in the town and turn everyone in supervillains. Chriqui and Inde Navarrette try to convince him not to overreact and macho his way through it, leading to a good juxtaposition with Tulloch, Elsass, and Garfin’s story.

Most of the episode is pretty talky—Ramsey’s not in the episode in an action capacity—but the resolution finale, which they only really needed to put off another five or ten minutes to push to next episode, is some very solid Superman action. Director Alexandra La Roche does well with it, juggling multiple opponents and even some space-fighting.

Speaking of the space-fighting, Parks also breaks down how he got to this show’s Earth from his Superman-destroyed one, and it’s unclear why it doesn’t have more narrative weight. Like, bopping between Earths accidentally is a very comic book thing to do, given the episode’s grandiosity—not in a bad way outside some recycled flashback footage for Hoechlin to imagine when he’s getting brainwashed—it seems like there’d be more to it. Maybe they’re waiting.

Especially since the episode opens with actual character development for Parks—and his obnoxious A.I. assistant (Daisy Tormé).

And the episode even avoids an emotional impact-reducing cliffhanger. I wasn’t exactly worried, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise given there are only three episodes left to the season.

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