All Hail Superman and Lois
Superman made his debut in 1938. Superman predates Gone With the Wind. Superman is as old as the first feature-length Disney movie. Superman started before World War II.
I say all of this so that you understand the weight when I say that Superman and Lois found a Superman story we’ve never seen before. That’s hard, man, it’s hard, he has fought the KKK, Muhammad Ali, Dracula, Aliens, Predators, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Doom, and Goku… in a rap battle… he’s wielded Mjolnir, been a herald of Galactus, he dated a mermaid, he’s been split into twin heroes Superman Red and Superman Blue on two separate occasions, he’s done a lot of stuff in 83 years. But Superman and Lois found a new thing.
It’s not just “what if Superman and Lois were parents,” they’ve been canonically parents since Superman Rebirth, when [lengthy explanation redacted] and so now they had a ten-year-old son and that’s just how it was. But Superman and Lois took it farther, introducing twin sons Jonathan* and Jordan Kent, one of whom (Jon) is a football-playing golden boy, and one of which (Jordan) struggles with social anxiety and depression, and at time of writing only one of them gets powers, obviously it’s Jordan, that’s the more interesting path.
So we have Clark Kent trying to teach a son to use his powers, a son who’d rather not have gotten them, while a second son tries to figure out what his place in the family is. Thankfully he has his non-powered mother Lois to talk him through that. Meanwhile Lois’ father is skulking around the edges, constantly calling Clark for help with crises, and being a bit of a pain even before we find out about his stockpile of kryptonite weapons. Seriously, family is so important to this show you practically expect Dom Toretto to show up with a muscle car and a bucket of Coronas.
(*Their son in the comics is also named Jonathan, that always happens, apparently Lois has no thoughts on baby names in any continuity.)
It’s also the best-looking Arrowverse show, with a little bonus budget coming from HBO Max. The cinematography is occasionally stunning, we never get episodes where Clark doesn’t have powers to save money, the town of Smallville is very well realized.
In a bold move, Superman and Lois quickly abandons Metropolis, moving the Kent/Lane family to Smallville, a location that even the latter seasons of Smallville couldn’t be bothered with. This allowed the show to examine how corporations prey on small towns: reverse mortgages, promises of jobs as long as you don’t unionize, the resentment of those who couldn’t get out for those who could as small town life is choked out and big-city life is not. Our season villain, Morgan Edge, is able to sweep in and lure the citizenry into his evil scheme because small towns are that desperate for a new source of employment, given how many small middle America towns hinged on mines or factories that automated or outsourced or did something else to prove that blue collar jobs are dying and universal basic income is society’s only way forward.
That last thing isn’t an argument Superman and Lois is making but come on think about it.
Now that I’ve brought up Morgan Edge… okay yes they’ve recast and reimagined the character since he was a co-Silver Medalist for Best Guest Star on Supergirl, but despite my undying appreciation of Adrian Pasdar that’s not my issue. My issue is that something about Morgan Edge as a villain never clicked with me. I wasn’t intrigued by his schemes, I was a little irritated how long I’d have to wait for them to be foiled. Late in the season, when he actually hit some setbacks, things improved, but he had some Agents of SHIELD level smugness and did not wear it well. However, he allowed for something a little neat to happen.
Morgan Edge’s plan hinged on a device called the Eradicator. The mysterious stranger in a powered suit convinced Superman’s going to turn on the world turns out to be a strange visitor from an alternate Earth named John Henry Irons, aka Steel. Jordan Kent is a Superboy. If a Cyborg Superman rolled up for the finale, we’d have a full Reign of the Supermen reunion going on. And yes, Supergirl already had Cyborg Superman a few years back, but Supergirl had a completely different Morgan Edge and a different actor playing Sam Lane and here we are just the same. So maybe down the road?
One final irritant, though. I get that crossovers were impossible this year. I get that Melissa Benoist turning up on Superman and Lois would be doubly so given that COVID and maternity leave meant she had to miss somewhere near half of her own show’s final season. I get that the main heroes are never going to just pop back and forth between their shows, even if we do get to a post-COVID normalcy on sets. But the main plots of the season involved a previously unknown Krypton survivor trying to restart the Kryptonian race (at the expense of humanity), and the Department of Defense having a secret stash of Superman-killing weapons “just in case,” and in both of these, it’s weird that Supergirl’s name never once comes up. It feels relevant, very relevant. Morgan Edge seems to only care about Kal-El, nobody wonders how Kara would react to the DOD stockpile, John Irons is trying to take Superman out before he declares war on humanity and never once says “Wait, there’s two of them? Son of a–” I’d have been happy if at least one of the super-sons realized his crush on Supergirl is suddenly highly inappropriate. If Smallville hadn’t been on the John Diggle National Tour (Arrow’s David Ramsey guest starred on every show except the one that filmed in Georgia to make up for the lack of crossover), it wouldn’t even be clear Superman and Lois was in the shared universe.
All that said, it’s been a good, emotional ride, and I’m excited enough to see where it goes that I might have ranked it highly despite having two episodes left in the season. Look I stalled as long as I could.