Superman & Lois 1×05 Review: “The Best of Smallville”

The Best of Smallville
Image: The CW

“The Best of Smallville” is no doubt a title that the writers came up with for its sense of irony, meant to highlight the generous nature of a small-town community while also pointing out that that kind of life is not meant for everyone.

As predicted, Jonathan has snapped. It was only a matter of time; he’s been way too mature about everything. After getting dumped (over the phone, at least it wasn’t via text) in “The Best of Smallville”, he loses the last decent thing he had going for himself. His frustration builds throughout the first part of the episode, resulting in him lashing out at Clark and saying some not-so-nice things about Smallville. As someone that grew up in a small town, I totally get the feeling of isolation, and I didn’t have the city life to compare it to.

I cannot blame Jonathan one bit for the way he feels. He and Jordan have essentially flipped roles, and while he is doing his level best to be happy for his brother, his feelings and needs are valid, too. Of course, being a teenager, he decides to let loose in damaging ways, getting drunk with his friends. (I thought he didn’t have any? This show really needs to spend more time with the boys.) Unfortunately, he ruins Jordan and Sarah’s first “date” because Sarah knows that alcohol is not a solution to anything. He seems genuinely distraught to have messed up his brother’s night, but I can’t help but wonder if he maybe did intend to do so, at least subconsciously.

Logically I know that Jonathan likely doesn’t blame Jordan for any of his problems, even though he at least partially believes that the move to Smallville was for his benefit. But it has to be hard for him to watch Jordan essentially usurp his life, even if Jordan isn’t actively trying to do so. (Still, though, did Jordan have to go for football? There are any number of other sports he could have gone out for, so it does make you question if Jordan went after football to show up his brother.)

Meanwhile, Lois stumbles over another hurdle in her ongoing investigation into Morgan Edge when Derek Powell returns unexpectedly. Lois and Chrissy are immediately suspicious of his story (I’d wager that Edge sent him back to stop Lois from digging further into it) but realize that there is very little they can do. I am starting to really like Chrissy; she was so gung-ho when she was first introduced, and I worried she would sort of just be set dressing in scenes so that Lois wouldn’t be off on her own. But she’s turning into a real spit-fire and I love to see it. Her taking the initiative to track Derek’s phone and follow him was something I would never have expected from her.

Derek being involved with Leslie is not what I was expecting – at least, not in that way – but I was not at all shocked to discover he has been given abilities similar to Superman’s. We’ve already seen that Edge has been working on that – it’s why he’s interested in Smallville, remember – and it’s been postulated that Derek was perhaps one of his early experiments that didn’t work out. That seems to be the case, with Derek unable to get control of his powers.

The Best of Smallville
Image: The CW

Captain Luthor (does he have a first name yet?) also returns in this episode, finally, tracking down Lois hoping that she will lead him to Superman. I was a little surprised to discover that Luthor made the educated guess that, as Lois has covered Superman’s exploits in Metropolis, she likely knows how to find him. I’m surprised because I assumed that Luthor, with his extensive knowledge of Superman from his alternate universe, knew Superman’s alter go. This makes me even more convinced that, whoever Kal-El was on Luthor’s Earth, he might have had a different secret identity than Clark Kent.

I was further convinced when he flashed back to kissing the Lois of his Earth. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that his Kal-El wasn’t Clark Kent, just that Clark and Lois do not end up together in every universe.

So here’s what I don’t understand about Luthor’s plan. Does it not occur to him that whatever attempts he makes to stop this Superman from turning into his Superman might in fact cause the very thing he’s trying to prevent? We saw this in The Umbrella Academy; whatever the Hargreeves siblings did to try and stop the apocalypse just helped make it happen. Surely Luthor would realize that just coming out and trying to blow up Superman might piss him off just a bit?

Shows set in small towns tend to get the small-town dynamic just a little bit wrong. Shows like Gilmore Girls feature cute downtowns and quirky characters and paint a very idyllic version of small-town life. I was initially not sold on this show’s portrayal, but “The Best of Smallville” is a little more realistic (except for its continued notion that ride shares exist). And this episode really does nail one very positive aspect of living in a small town – the sense of community. (Though, to be fair, that is not true for everyone.)

The Harvest Festival definitely rings as a true-to-life event. My childhood was filled with things like neighborhood yard sale days, craft festivals, fireman’s carnivals, and the 4-H Fair. Our own Harvest Festival was held at the local amusement park (yep, you heard that right) and hosted booths like candle making and rope-braiding. Sadly, this year the Smallville festival doesn’t quite go as planned, what with Jonathan getting drunk and Clark having to leave abruptly to find Derek

The Best of Smallville
Image: The CW

“The Best of Smallville” also does a fantastic job at demonstrating just how well Tyler Hoechlin does the goofy dad energy. His earnest excitement at the Harvest Festival and sincere desire to share it with his family is completely charming, and reminds me a lot of my dad when I was younger and how excited he would get about things like our Fourth of July neighborhood picnic or the first good sledding day of the season. And Clark’s sheer delight at learning that Jordan is going on his first date is adorable.

A bit of a concern on the parenting front – I do love Clark and Lois’s relationship, but it kind of bothered me a little that Clark gave Jonathan a pass without discussing it with Lois. Lois was ultimately OK with it and they presented a united front, but even so, discipline is something that should have a conversation. I believe that because Clark had a better understanding of what Jonathan is going through, he recognized that sometimes you can make stupid mistakes, and you don’t deserve to be punished for everything you do wrong. But still. Talk to your wife, dude.

I really like that, for a show on The CW, they manage to dial back the angst when necessary. So far, all of the angsty outbursts by the Kent boys have been reasonable if not justified, and there is clear and open communication between the characters that prevents misunderstandings or arguments from lingering. It’s a nice change.

The episode ends on a massive cliffhanger, with Tag returning and attacking Jordan, blaming him for his current predicament.

“The Best of Smallville” is the last episode of Superman & Lois for almost the next two months. According to Bitsie Tulloch on Twitter earlier today, filming was disrupted and they need the break to catch up. The series returns May 18. Until then, hit me up with your theories!

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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