Superman & Lois 1×11 Review: “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events”

A Brief Reminiscence Superman & Lois
Pictured: Tyler Hoechlin as Clark Kent — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Superman & Lois takes a brief break from the ongoing plot arc to give us “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events”, which is a long-winded way of saying “flashback episode”. But I feel that just calling it a flashback does a disservice to what this episode actually is, which is perhaps the definitive Superman origin story. At least for most of it.

This version of Superman was introduced on Supergirl, and it was established on that show that he had already been around for a while, fighting crime and saving Metropolis. The Clark Kent we met in the season 2 premiere of Supergirl was a Clark Kent that not only was already well-known as Superman, but also already dating – and “out”, so to speak, to – Lois. So this Superman never got an origin story, and Superman & Lois has resolved this in “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events”.

I feel like at this point in time, Superman doesn’t need an origin story. Most people, even those who haven’t ever read a Superman comic or seen a Superman movie, know about how he crashed to Earth, and that his Kryptonian DNA reacting to Earth’s sun is what gives him his powers (even if they don’t know that). If you didn’t know that, this episode gives a pretty nice primer, and I appreciated the refresh. But what makes Superman Superman – not the superhero but the man?

I’ll admit to not reading a lot of comics; I grew up in a small town and didn’t really have the opportunity to buy comics, and by the time I was able to, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options. But from what I’ve seen from episode discussions, “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events” mixes Superman canon from various eras – Silver Age, modern, etc. – to create a gold standard of Superman origin stories. This, combined with Tyler Hoechlin’s stunning portrayal of both Clark and Superman, will surely lead to this episode being considered the prime example of how to do Superman right.

There is absolute joy in so many of those small flashes of memories that we are given. I love that they reused a lot of the same moments from the montage in the pilot but expanded. I especially loved Clark’s genuine dismay at realizing that all of the good he is doing in Metropolis is overshadowing a lot of hugely important issues; no one wants to read about systemic racism when there is a guy in a cape flying around plucking cars out of the sky. I think that more than anything serves to emphasize why Superman is such a great character. He just really wants to help.

I also love the spin that this scene gives Lois. Generally, Lois is shown as doing anything she can to grab an interview with Superman, but in “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events” we see that she doesn’t really care about Superman or his antics, because there is real news to report. I also love that Bitsie Tulloch’s Lois was never torn between Superman and Clark. Superman is interested in Lois because Clark is interested in Lois, but Lois is not interested in Superman at all because she’s already in love with Clark. 

But then “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events” dissolves into being yet another quality episode of Superman & Lois, as it turns out that this is more than a flashback episode, it’s Edge going through Clark’s memories looking for weaknesses. He uses his knowledge of the Kent family to blackmail Clark into helping him, and Clark agrees, which honestly… I should have been expecting. I always thought that it would be Lois and the boys preventing Clark from turning evil, and it never occurred to me that they would be used against him.

A Brief Reminiscence Superman & Lois
Pictured (L-R): Jordan Elsass as Jonathan Kent, Alexander Garfin as Jordan Kent and Bitsie Tulloch as Lois Lane — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

I have to believe that Clark and Lois have a contingency plan for this situation. It didn’t occur to me but it surely occurred to the two of them. Clark tells Lois, “He was right,” and she immediately knew to call John Henry Irons. In fact, John Henry may have been in on the plan from the beginning, and that’s why he was allowed to leave with no real consequences. I suspect Sam is involved as well, because otherwise, I can’t fathom why despite the continued presence of the DOD in Smallville, there would be no one left to stand guard at the Kent farm.

Under normal, non-Covid circumstances, I believe that dealing with a suddenly evil Superman would involve more than just calling in John Henry Irons, who is really a nobody in the established universe. I want to believe that this crisis would result in calling in all of the big guns, but especially Kara, who has proven – at least in the past – to be more powerful than Superman. But because of Covid, we won’t get to see that, and it’s a shame.

I still legitimately expect Lois and the boys to be the catalyst for whatever is happening with Clark. If he was indeed overtaken by the Eradicator as the ending of “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events” implies, then it’s possible that is what happened on John Henry’s Earth as well. Only in that universe, Clark didn’t have a family to fight for. We’ve seen from Kyle that there were moments where he was Kyle and moments where he wasn’t; was that the Kryptonian in him laying dormant, or was that Kyle fighting to regain control?

The secret to making a good villain is that they truly believe in what they’re doing, and Edge is convinced that bringing back Krypton at the expense of Earth and all its inhabitants is a glorious and noble purpose, and he is legitimately disappointed that Clark doesn’t want to help annihilate an entire planet. Edge is the perfect anti-Superman. He was sent to Earth and exposed to the worst of humanity; he creates his own fortress (in the desert instead of the Arctic) and is trained by a much meaner AI.

Now I’m curious. Before the crystal is destroyed, Jor-El warns Clark that Edge is not what he seems. Considering we already knew this (that he’s not really Morgan Edge but really Tal-Ro), what could he possibly be referring to? Are there still more secrets about Edge? Is he not really Kryptonian? Is he not really Tal-Ro?

This episode also had some pretty great moments for the other characters. Jordan and Sarah’s relationship evolving was extremely sweet, but you can tell Jordan still feels guilty because she thinks she knows the whole truth, but she doesn’t. I also really appreciated that they had Kyle apologize to Lois; it shows real growth for his character. I haven’t liked him, but that’s because he reminds me of too many people I know in real life. I think it was obvious that he was trying to do what was best to save his town, and that he thought it was Edge. Now that he’s realized he was wrong, he is doing the big thing and admitting it, rather than doubling down.

Some random thoughts:

  • I tried to imagine young Tyler Hoechlin with the floppy hair teenage!Clark had and I just can’t do it.
  • That was an amazing aging transition while Clark was running.
  • Hoechlin’s unbridled joy the first time he flies is so why he was cast as Superman in the first place.
  • Superman doing all the work to save people from the grenades and then Lois just tased the guy. I love it.
  • Seinfeld apparently exists in this universe.
  • How real are Clark’s memories, post-Crisis, particularly the birth of his sons? He didn’t actually get to experience that, if we’re following the previously established timeline.
  • Farewell, Jor-El. We knew you… not at all, really.

Sadly, there is a three-week hiatus before the next episode, so it will be ages before we get to see the aftermath of “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events”, which is plenty of time to tell me 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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