The Struggles of a Family
Superman & Lois: Season 3
It's weird, even now, to think that the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming. is dead even as one of its shows is still marching on. Of course, considering Superman & Lois as an Arrowverse show feels a little wrong on its own. Yes, it took versions of characters originated in Supergirl -- Tyler Hoechlin's Clark Kent / Superman and Elizabeth Tulloch's Lois Lane -- and sets them in their own pocket universe outside the Arrowverse. But then that was only done because crossovers between it and Supergirl didn't materialize, and all the other shows in the universe were ending... and it was just time. One hold over, on its own, still going despite itself.
Thing is, if there was only going to be one Arrowverse show that got to continue, I'd want it to be... Legends of Tomorrow. Rest in peace, you crazy show. But seriously, of what we had left with so many shows ending, I am glad that Superman & Lois got to continue onwards. It's been a consistent, solid show, one of the few CW superhero series worth tuning in for week to week, powered by great performances from its two leads. Many of the CW shows went on for too long and lost their vibrancy but, even through this third season, the show is still firing really well... at least when in comes to its lead story threads.
Let's note that more often than not Arrowverse shows struggled after their first season or two. The Flash lost its happy vibrancy after first season and became darker, more melodramatic, and tedious as further seasons went on. Savatar showed up, the third evil speedster in three seasons, and it was just garbage from that point forward. Supergirl had the third play on evil Kryptonians in as many months, a storyline involving evil priestesses and a dark Kryptonian named Reign. It was really bad. And Arrow had a storyline about Ra's al Ghul that was so tedious and boring I forgot it even was in the series. The track record for later seasons in these shows was bad. Hell, the third season for Batwoman was so bad the show was outright canceled.
Despite corporate shakeups and a buy out of the CW during this season, though, Superman & Lois will be back for at least one more, and that speaks the general quality of the series. While this season wasn't perfect -- its side plot lines weren't always great, and does a weird villain switch-up right near the end of the season -- it still has all the qualities that make this show work so well: heart and charisma. This is a show that truly understand Clark Kent as a character and, man, does it nail that all the time.
This season sees Lois going after Bruno Mannheim (Chad L. Coleman), and underworld crime boss with a legitimate face he shows to the community. Lois has known for years that Mannheim was dirty and into some pretty shady dealings, but there was never enough evidence to prove it. However, she gets a new lead and absolutely has to try again. Unfortunately, her plans get curtailed somewhat when she's diagnosed with breast cancer, and that sends her, and her family, spinning.
At the paper Clark has to pick up much of the slack, doing a lot of the reporting while helping Lois in her investigation of Mannheim. At home, he and the boys -- Alex Garfin's Jordan Kent and Michael Bishop's recast Jonathan Kent -- have to help Lois through her diagnosis, treatment, surgery, and recovery. And Clark has to balance that with his time as Superman and training Jordan as a superhero as well. It's a lot for any family to take, and the strain feels real even as they've fighting the forces of evil. Oh yeah, and then Lex Luthor (Michael Cudlitz) shows up.
So lets get the most obvious weirdness out of the way up front: yes, the series recasts Lex Luthor. Bearing in mind that the series takes place on an alternate Earth from the Arrowverse, the producers were free to recast anyone they wanted. That led to Cudlitz coming in as a darker, meaner, more sadistic Lex over Jon Cryer's weird, if twisted in his own way, version of Lex. We don't get a lot of time with Lex to really know him as a character, but the series does some strange things with him that are hard to ignore.
This ties into the main plot of the season, which is all about cancer. Lois has it, and that sends her character on a major arc. I actually think is a dramatic arc that works for the character, and is will performed by Tulloch. Reviewers Online debated whether a cancer storyline even needed to be in the series as it added in drama, but I think it works because the characters needed something new to tackle. Just having Lois always be Superman's Best Gal and Ace Reporter was fine, but it's a storyline we've seen a lot. I don't think giving her cancer and then having her work to recover it is "fridging" her. It's her arc, and it motivates her character, and that's interesting and worth watching.
Because she's in a hospital, run by Mannheim, to treat cancer, Lois meets, Peia Mannheim (Daya Vaidya), although Lois doesn't realize Peia is Mannheim's wife at the time. That, okay, is silly. Lois is a great reporter and you're going to tell me she doesn't know what her main target's wife, the wife of the man she's been chasing for years, looks like. That's a little hard to swallow. But it does lead to the two of them becoming friends and learning to bond with each other despite their cancer. Bruno is also working to cure her cancer by any means necessary, and that leads him down the rabbit hole of stealing alien tech, including everything the Department of Defense has on Superman, like his blood. When that proves to have curative properties, they then steal the best thing they can get: Bizarro Superman.
As you will recall, Bizarro died mid way into the second season of the show, and Supes had to go over to the Bizarro world to try and fight against... well, it was not a great villain, and that storyline was kind of silly, frankly. Regardless, there's an anti-Superman here, in our world, and Bruno steals the corpse. Then he works to steal that body's blood, but in the process he wakes the dead beast. Bizarro is alive, and animalistic, and very hungry. And that leads us back to Lex. Lex, who you would think wouldn't know what Bruno was up to, gets the living corpse and starts beating on it, and beating on it, until he creates... Doomsday.
Let me just say, of all the things that happen in this season, this is the part I liked the least. We already had a play on Doomsday last season, with the Bizarro Superman coming into our world. I was happy at the time that the series zigged instead of zagging, going in a different direction from Doomsday when they did but, now... to have to do this storyline again, after so many animated versions of it plus the DC Animated UniverseStarted as with Batman: The Animated Series, and overseen by Bruce Timm, this universe of shows and films went onto be oneof the most influential crossover franchises in DC Comics history., it's just tiresome. And then to have Lex create Doomsday, as he did over in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it just makes me sigh. Seriously, guys, come up with some new ideas.
Despite this, though, I still enjoyed the season and that all comes down to Hoechlin and Tulloch. These two together are great, and the way they make Clark and Lois into real characters is fantastic. I don't know that I really cared about the side stories this time around -- Jordan becoming Superboy is expected, Jordan creeping on his ex-girlfriend is wrong, and no one gives a shit about what Johnathan is up to, ever, so much that he was recast and no one cared -- but Superman and Lois are the lifeblood of this show and they're awesome. They were great in the previous two season, and they're just as good here.
And, really, for most of us that's what we need: these two, selling the hell out of Clark and Lois, while superhero shit happens all around them. As long as the show keeps tapping into that as well as it has, I'll keep tuning back in, season after season. It's great.