There’s some good, bad, and weird this episode. Mostly good and weird. The bad—besides A.C. Peterson ever-wanting Emperor Palpatine and then Eric Keenleyside’s similarly weak performance as the conniving Smallville mayor—is when all the adults of color are mean to Erik Valdez. Valdez and Emmanuelle Chriqui are feeling the fallout from Valdez cheerleading literal supervillain Adam Rayner building a factory. They run into Valdez’s fire fighting crew at the diner, and they’re all super shitty to Valdez, and it’s hard not to see the literal racial optics of it.
Also, the “Superman and Lois” drinking game is how many times Valdez says, “y’all.” I think you’d finish a fifth every scene.
But there’s some more of my imagined Valdez backstory after Inde Navarrette tells Alex Garfin—before they get harassed by the cops, so it’s good to know ACAB works in Smallville too. Navarrette tells Garfin the family’s originally from Mexico, but they’ve been in Smallville for generations, which syncs with my theory Valdez’s dad was some shitty white guy, and his mom was a quietly suffering Hispanic lady.
Navarrette and Garfin are skipping school because Navarrette’s sick of people talking shit about her family. Garfin’s along because they’re de facto dating at this point. Meanwhile, Jordan Elsass is skipping school with junior Kayla Heller, who all of a sudden is showing interest. Of course, everyone at school knows Garfin and Elsass’s grandfather is Dylan Walsh now, and since Walsh is the general encamped in the town… people want the story.
As does newspaper editor Sofia Hasmik, who finds herself disappointed in Elizabeth Tulloch’s journalistic ethics. Tulloch’s not giving Hasmik the whole story about how Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman and Clark Kent and villain Rayner is his half-Kryptonian brother. The Hasmik and Tulloch arc is necessary but sort of weak, at least as far as giving Hasmik anything to do. Another weird thing—she doesn’t have a computer on her desk. Hasmik. The editor of the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Hoechlin’s arguing with Walsh and Walsh’s stockpile of Kryptonite weapons. Wolé Parks is still around, too, figuring into some of the conversations. He and Hoechlin have the single superhero action sequence of the episode. But there’s some more super-powers stuff because Rayner’s sitting around in his cell and flashing back to his secret mission and Peterson being mean to him.
Plus, Valdez and Chriqui have a whole arc about being ostracized in their community.
It’s a full episode. It’s not exactly soapy because it’s a decompression from action episode. The dust has settled, and everyone’s getting their bearings. But not really because the season’s not over, and there’s more super-powered danger on the way.
The episode also reveals how much it’s leaning in on the nineties Superman comics, retroactively making Rayner’s villain costume a little more fitting.
Finally, I’m pretty sure they confirm Melissa Benoist and “Supergirl” don’t exist in this universe, meaning when David Ramsey guest-starred a couple episodes ago… it’s an alternate universe version.
Oh, and now finally, finally—in addition to the nineties Superman comics nods, there’s also some very Superman IV moments. And the promise of another one. But it works. I’m still not sure how much I’d recommend “Superman and Lois,” but I’m reasonably hooked.