“The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower” focuses more on the Kent family than on the mysterious Captain Luthor, with Lois becoming a target, Jordan trying to stand up for himself, and Clark struggling to let his sons make their own mistakes.
I don’t want to start every review of Superman & Lois by harping on my problems with it, but I really take issue with how Sarah’s mental health is dealt with in “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower”. Perhaps it’s because it hits a little too close to home, but I am extremely bothered by the idea that Lana wants her daughter in therapy yet at the same time is embarrassed for people to know she’s in therapy. Also, Kyle saying, “It’s been a year,” as though therapy is some magical cure-all and how dare it not have “worked” yet, rubbed me the wrong way. This show could be doing its best to normalize therapy and discussions of mental illness, and instead, I feel like it’s being treated like a dirty little secret.
But then Sarah called her mother out for the way she cares more about the family’s image than their problems, and Lana acknowledges to Clark that she feels like the family is falling apart. I appreciate that she’s self-aware enough to realize that she is probably doing more harm than good, but I do have to wonder if any of the writers are from small towns. I guarantee you that no matter how hard Lana tries to pretend that everything is OK, that entire town knows what’s going on. I mean, Lana has them sit in the parking lot rather than the waiting room so that no one will see them, as though no one will recognize their car. And Sarah’s suicide attempt – if that’s what it was – would have been the talk of the town for a while.
Anyway, by the end of the episode, Lana approaches her daughter to talk to her, so you can understand that this is coming from a place of love even if she is bad at showing that. I believe Lana is meant to represent one of those parents who is trying to change their perceptions because of their children. She just wants to make sure Sarah is OK, but she isn’t listening to Sarah telling her that she is. Hopefully, that will change.
Jordan joins the football team in “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower”, which at the time comes across as him being petty and attempting to shut up his and his brother’s tormenters by beating them at their own game. With his amplified strength, he is easily able to tackle virtually every other player with ease, impressing everyone. He used the opportunity to tackle Sean, but then he surprised me by apologizing for kissing Sarah, and Sean seems to forgive him. So hopefully this means that Sean will stop being such a jackass, because I’ve got to tell you, Superman and his sons being tormented by Black men is really not a good look.
As I said, at first it seems like Jordan is just doing this to be petty, but Jonathan realizes that Jordan is actually enjoying himself. He argues with his father that this could be a good thing for him, because it’s allowing him to make friends and it’s giving him a purpose he doesn’t seem to have had before. However, I foresee that this will eventually be a problem between the brothers. Jonathan has already tried to argue that football is “his thing”, which Jordan scoffed at, but I totally understand what it’s like to have your whole identity revolve around something specific and then to lose that.
Something that “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower” does that I haven’t really seen in other Superman-related media is showing how flawed Clark is as an individual. We often think of Superman as beyond reproach; he was one of the first superheroes, and he’s always been portrayed as a clean-cut do-gooder with a heart of gold. But the Clark in Superman & Lois is just a human being (even if he’s not human). He makes mistakes the same way the rest of us do, in both his role as Superman and his role as a father.
In this episode, he uses his abilities to spy on the boys, showing up at school in the middle of the day in every teenager’s worst nightmare. The interesting thing about this is that he used to do the same thing to Lois, until she found out and almost ended their relationship over it. But here he is, making the same mistake again, only this time with his sons. I suppose this is meant to imply that parents can get stupid when their children are involved, and his protective instincts overrode his common sense.
Whatever my problems with this show may be (and I do have them, and they are concerning), I do love Tyler Hoechlin’s portrayal of Clark and Superman. He just exudes this kind of earnestness that perfectly exemplifies what it means to be Superman. I especially love the scene at the end, when he’s so excited about the new jacket and hat he got for being the new assistant coach of the football team.
“The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower” does not give us any new information about Captain Luthor, but it does advance the plot surrounding Morgan Edge and mysterious disappearances among employees at companies he has purchased. Now at first, I did not like how Lois was coming off; she seemed paranoid, spouting off accusations without any real proof. Of course, we know that Edge is a bad guy, but the people of Smallville don’t yet.
But then Lois flat out told Clark that she looked like an idiot by doing that, and that made me sit up and take notice. Superman & Lois may be a little ignorant about certain things, but at least the characters are aware of how they look and acknowledge when they make a mistake. It’s sort of sad how refreshing that is. This also gave the show the chance to remind you how amazing these two are as a couple. Lois thinks she should give up on the story and try to mend fences with the townspeople, and Clark tells her that he will support her no matter what she chooses. I love having a married couple on television where the woman works and the man supports her.
Anyway, what we learned in this episode is that Morgan Edge is somehow connected to people who have powers. Lois is attacked by a strange man when she goes to check up on a source (this after her car is set on fire), and when Superman comes to her aid, he is barely able to defeat the guy. He only wins by using his freeze breath. So now we have to wonder 1) where did they get abilities from, 2) how many of them there are, and 3) what is Morgan Edge doing with them.
Superman & Lois definitely has its issues, but I can still see the potential in it.
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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