The Kent family has officially settled in Smallville in “Heritage”, but things are not exactly what anyone expected. Lois and Jonathan deal with the ramifications of leaving their identities behind in Metropolis, while Clark and Jordan discover that Jordan’s display of powers in the pilot may not be what they thought.
I really want to like this show, because I’m a big fan of Tyler Hoechlin and I love his portrayal of Superman, but seriously, Superman & Lois needs to fix some of its issues. First and foremost is the issue of diversity. Last week we saw a few characters that remind us that it’s not just white people in Kansas, but they barely had any screen presence, and it wasn’t very good. “Heritage” at least names Sarah’s boyfriend, Sean, but he’s still a massive jerk, and there are some Black townspeople peppered in the background who don’t have any lines.
Now, I’m not saying that every POC character needs to be a good person, because for true diversity there needs to be diversity in the roles. But we don’t have true diversity yet in film and television, and having the primary Black speaking roles going to the antagonist and a jealous boyfriend is problematic and hints at deeper issues behind the scenes. A really easy way to bring in some needed diversity would be to introduce, say James Olsen’s extended family, provided that it’s original James and not some new version (like the new Morgan Edge). Just this once, I will forgive the trope of suddenly having family we’ve never heard about before.
Also, as someone who grew up in a small, rural town, I’m not feeling the way that the people of Smallville are being portrayed. The idea that Jordan “wouldn’t fit in” – because, what, he has social anxiety? He plays video games? – is laughable. That everyone is taken in by Morgan Edge to the point where they don’t seem to read the news is ridiculous. Would some people be like that? Yes. Would everyone? No. Every single person hating Jonathan is not realistic; new kids were a novelty where I grew up. Yes, it’s likely the football team would follow behind Sean but where are the art kids befriending the new guy out of spite?
P.S. Where are the queer kids? I guarantee you there’s at least a few of them.
Other problems I have with this show are more technical. The music is still overpowering the dialogue in “Heritage”, so I’ve started watching with closed captioning on – something I do for streaming but usually don’t have to do for broadcast. There’s a cinematic quality to the show that almost does it a disservice. Some of the scenes seem fuzzy, as though filtered.
I assume that this is going to be an ongoing problem throughout the season, so I won’t bring it up every week unless it’s particularly bad. Superman & Lois was recently renewed for season 2, so I hope TPTB take the perfectly valid criticism that they’ve been getting to heart and work on making things better both on and off-screen.
OK, I don’t want to get completely down on the show. Like I said, I really want to like it, and I’ve been excited about it since it was announced. I didn’t intend this review to be completely trashing it so let’s switch tracks here.
I like the introduction of Chrissy Beppo in “Heritage”, mostly because we need some more ladies on this show, and I want her and Lois to be reporter buddies causing mischief and being awesome. (I’m hoping they expand Lana’s role as well; so far she’s not had much to do.) It’s rather interesting to me that the Smallville Gazette has such a large space if she’s the only employee; I’m also amazed that she is the only employee. How small is Smallville, exactly?
Anyway, I like bringing in Chrissy and moving Lois to the local paper because it gives her the opportunity to have her own storyline outside of Clark, which it looks like is going to be centered around Morgan Edge and whatever sinister thing he’s doing in Smallville. He’s Morgan Edge – albeit a different Morgan Edge than we’ve previously met, I wonder if they’ll explain that or if we just have to Elmo shrug and call it a day – so I’m sure he’s up to something more nefarious than basic capitalism.
Captain Luthor is still wreaking havoc in “Heritage”, but we don’t know much about him. He claims that Superman destroyed his world, which Clark takes to mean that he is from a different planet. But is he? We’ve already met Lex Luthor in this universe, and it was Jon Cryer, not Wolé Parks. Could this be a version of Lex from another universe that somehow ended up in this one? Does this planet now have two Lex Luthors? Or is he another Luthor altogether?
There is a scene with Lois’s father, Sam, where Luthor (or at least the cybernetic version of him that attacks) seems very genuine in wanting to get Sam on his side by insisting that Superman isn’t necessarily what’s best for the planet. It seems Luthor is from some universe where Superman was a villain and not a hero, and he’s trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist yet – and may never exist. If the flashback at the end is any indication, he’s the Superman from Earth-1 whom we last saw in the “Elseworlds” crossover – the suit is the same, at least.
I actually really like this take, provided it’s handled well. I think Superman & Lois already has the stereotypical comic book villain in Morgan Edge and I would love to see a more nuanced antagonist with Luthor. After “Heritage”, I think that Luthor has the potential to have a redemption arc; he thinks he’s protecting Earth, and in his mind, he is, because the Superman he knows is the bad guy.
“Heritage” also brings us to the Fortress of Solitude for the first time on this show (if you don’t count the flashback of Clark proposing there in the pilot) so that Clark can introduce Jonathan to Krypton’s history and hopefully learn more about his abilities. (Side note: Kryptonopolis? Have some imagination.) We also get to see the DCTV version of the hologram of Jor-El (Jordan referring to him as “Hologramps” made me snort).
The first visit goes well, but when Jor-El tests Jordan, he determines that his abilities are not anywhere near Clark’s level. Clark thinks that his powers will develop with time, which is a definite possibility, but I suspect that we’ll eventually learn that Jordan’s powers are tied to his emotions, which I’m sure will somehow be tied into his anxiety, which I’m not entirely positive will be handled well, considering the other issues with representation. Regardless, I believe that’s the most likely reason – his super strength came out when he saved Jordan from the pipes, and he shot lasers from his eyes trying to protect Jonathan at the party.
Either that, or Jordan can only use his powers around his brother. That would be an interesting concept to explore.
I’m still liking the relationship between the brothers. Some of the dialogue in this show is a bit stilted but I genuinely do enjoy the two of them. It’s unsurprising that there’s so much resentment simmering between them, especially on Jonathan’s side – not only did he basically give up his life to help his brother, he’s being punished for something his brother did, and he doesn’t even get superpowers to take the sting out of everything. But even though they fight, they clearly love each other; I love how excited Jordan was to tell Jonathan about the visit to the Fortress.
The one thing I’m most excited about is seeing how their relationship develops over the season, because I doubt very much that Jonathan doesn’t have any powers.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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