“Bizarros in a Bizarre World” may be my favorite episode of Superman & Lois ever. From playing with the story structure to showing off the cast’s range, this episode hit all of the right notes. If you aren’t already watching this show, why not?
Set entirely on the alternate Earth, “Bizarros in a Bizarre World” is less about learning about Ally’s rise to power and more about examining the way a person’s environment affects their character. For example, this Superman didn’t grow up in Smallville. That he still goes by Kal-El shows that he wasn’t raised by the Kents. So he never learned humility. He is too caught up in the fame that comes with being a superhero and has lost sight of the good that he could do.
Not to mention, Kal-El didn’t seem to have an alter ego, and his family attended events with him. This would obviously put them in danger, but Kal-El didn’t seem to care.
Contrast that with our Superman, who saves everyone he can, even when it might affect his family – but he is still dead set on keeping them secret to keep them safe. Plus, he is still willing to help Anderson get home alive, even after everything he’s done. “Everybody is worth saving,” is such a great Superman quote, and the perfect embodiment of who Superman is as a hero and a person. (That sentiment is nicely paired with his statement of, “People are not halves.”)
Can we say Anderson redemption arc? I have basically been against this for a while; not every villain needs to be redeemed, and usually these kinds of things are handled very lazily. Anderson seemed off from the very beginning of the season, and him joining Ally’s side didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. But at the same time, his switch back isn’t that much of a surprise either.
In this episode, we can tell that Anderson was a man who was misguided. He thought that he was doing what was right, and he was wrong. And he acknowledged and admitted that, which shows a lot of growth. (I’m still not sure when and how he came to this conclusion. Have I missed something?) Seeing him realize that the reason Clark kept things from him was to protect his family was a great moment. It’s a shame that this essentially happened in one episode, because I feel that it would have worked much better with at least two episodes to flesh it out.
I will say that a character sacrificing himself as part of his redemption is kind of played out. However, I knew Anderson was marked for death as soon as he learned Superman’s true identity. There was no way he was making it back to Earth-Prime with that knowledge.
Now that both Allys are together and in the process of merging, can I just say that the whole pendant situation has been very poorly handled? We know very little about them, what they do, or why Ally wants them so badly. I mean, clearly, they allow a person to merge with their alternate self, but how? Where did they come from?
“Bizarros in a Bizarre World” plays with the normal five-act structure that most hour-long shows follow. Each “act” focuses on a different character, so the episode doesn’t follow the typical chronological storyline. We follow Jon, Lois, Anderson, and Tal-Rho. I find it very interesting what they chose to change and keep the same about each character’s alternate selves.
Like, despite the fact that this is billed as “Bizarro World”, Lois was still a reporter and apparently still wrote for the Smallville Gazette. We don’t know much about Bizarro Anderson, since his story starts from where Earth-Prime’s Anderson comes through the portal (and then he is killed like immediately). Sam was still with the DOD, but Lana was a bartender. Most of the time, it could have been Earth-Prime, only one where everyone was goth or emo.
What was mostly different were their relationships. Clark and Lois had a very different dynamic because this was a very different Clark. This allowed both Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch to stretch their acting muscles; that scene where Lois left Clark was phenomenal and both of them nailed both the emotion and the intensity.
Compare that with Kal’s relationship with Tal, which actually exists on this Earth. (Presumably, they came to Earth together? Does Krypton still exist in this reality?) I loved seeing good brother Tal, especially when he came through for Clark at the last minute and went against Ally. I could have done with less of his relationship with Lana, but I suspect they were trying to imply that Tal was the Htrae version of Earth-Prime’s Clark.
Hopefully, Clark will use this newfound perspective as a chance to examine where he may have gone wrong with his own sons. Bizarro Jon’s rant about how everything was always about Kal sounds exactly like something Earth-Prime Jon would say. After the previous episode (which I’m very sorry that I missed), it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Jon could be persuaded to go against his father.
Right now, Jon feels like Clark isn’t listening to him. Clark didn’t really give Jon a chance to explain himself, and he’s disappointed in Jon, who must feel like he’s being punished for trying to be noble. Their relationship has been splintering probably since season 1. In fact, I’d been speculating for a while that I thought Jon would get pulled into Ally’s scheme; I just never expected that it wouldn’t be this Jon.
And that begs the question, what did Jon-El see when he drank Ally’s tea? And what about what he saw prompted him to join Ally’s cause?
Bizarro World was pretty well thought out. There was backwards print on everything, even the chyrons and closed captioning on TV. I legitimately laughed out loud when I saw that the steering wheel was on the right-hand side. (Plus the reverse WB logo.) The planet itself was a cube, just like in the comics. There’s even a mention of “President Seinfeld”, referencing an episode of Seinfeld which discusses Bizarro.
Some of the things, though, felt like they were trying too hard to sell the idea that everything was the opposite of Earth-Prime – especially when you had characters whose alternate versions were very similar to their Earth-Prime versions. Lana having a black wedding dress was fine, as was Tal name-dropping the Kevins (Oscars? Tonys?). But someone please explain to me the physics of square billiard balls.
I also really loved the use of music – and the lack of music – as Superman traveled through the portal. Emerging on the other side to basically absolute silence was a nice touch. This show’s score really helps sell the cinematic moments.
Also, “Bizarros in a Bizarre World” was completely free of Cushing family drama.
We’re only two-thirds of the way through the season, which means we are in no way near the end. I really wish Clark’s time on Htrae had been more than one episode. There is so much more that I wanted to learn about these characters. I have to wonder if we’ll return to Bizarro World at some point before the finale. I hope we do!
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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