Erik Valdez as Kyle Cushing and Emmanuelle Chriqui as Lana Lang Cushing. Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW

‘Superman and Lois:’ 1×13 — When the safety of home fails

The Lang-Cushing and Lane-Kent families face angry neighbors in the latest episode of “Superman and Lois” as eradication looms over everyone's heads.

12 mins read

Watching “Superman and Lois” (almost) every week always rekindles my inspiration. I’ve been a prolonged Superman fan for over two decades and this show just adds to my obsessive spirit for the Man of Steel and all related characters.

Over the past 20 years I have filled my brain with knowledge on the world of DC. These characters have captivated the imaginations of generations and that weight of responsibility often crushes certain movies, shows, (etc.) trying to reiterate these icons in a new light. 

This is my first review of my new favorite series so please bear with me. I’ll try my best to refrain from major spoilers. 

“Superman and Lois,” in my opinion, does not fall prey to this. It feels more like a continuation in the mythos rather than just another reboot. Each actor portrays their selected characters brilliantly and believably. Episode 1×13, directed by Ian Samoil, titled “Fail Safe,” conveys this to be absolutely true. 

Something I’ve often struggled with when it comes to live action adaptations of Superman is differentiating the character from the actor. I almost always see the actor first and this really hinders my belief in the authenticity of performance. Superman titles have showcased some phenomenal talent, but this struggle always continued. The only exception has been “Smallville” and now “Superman and Lois.”

Tyler Hoechlin as Superman. Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW

Watching this new series, I only see the characters portrayed. That’s the level of authenticity and professionalism housed within this one-hour time slot. It’s truly like a comic book.

Here’s my rating for “Fail Safe.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Soaring into the episode

“Fail Safe” follows the Lang-Cushing and Lane-Kent families as they face the repercussions of Morgan Edge’s (Adam Rayner) attempted Kryptonian takeover. Smallville’s citizens are scared, angry and confused, and they blame the Lang-Cushing family.

Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez) struggles with this isolation. He loves his hometown and its people and truly only wanted the best for Smallville, but his neighbors and former friends still place all the blame onto him. Weird how you live your entire life trying to help others, saving them from burning buildings (Kyle’s literally a firefighter) and people still turn their back on you. I sincerely felt the brunt of this blow, being a small town man myself. 

Erik Valdez as Kyle Cushing and Emmanuelle Chriqui as Lana Lang Cushing. Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW

Meanwhile, the “super sons” Jon (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alex Garfin) face a newfound popularity from their peers. Being that their mother, Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch), was publicly involved with the story of the millennium in Smallville, everyone looked to them for insight. They wanted to be the first to spill the Kansas-based hamlet’s hot tea. It’s an annoying truth in rural America. Everyone is nice until they’re not, and no secret is ever safe. 

That’s the fun thing about “Superman and Lois.” The focus isn’t strictly placed on Superman and the antagonist. There’s this wide array of colorful characters to explore, and it keeps the show grounded with a sense of realism and relativity — something a show about an extraterrestrial super-being capable of splitting a planet in half desperately needs. 

This can be felt in the interactions between Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) and his loved ones. He’s a husband and father first. He’s Clark Kent first. And that’s so important. He’s human by heart, but physiologically he’s alien. He’s constantly holding back just so he can simply hug his wife or drive a car. The constant fear that a simple action could kill someone must be excruciating to deal with and this episode really did explore that with Clark. 

Sometimes I feel writers forget that, on their homeplanet, Kryptonians are just as frail and fragile as any carbon-based organic life form. They always paint them with this “better than thou” attitude that always rubs me the wrong way. I understand that not all Kryptonians are good, but Kara hails from the doomed planet and her heart is just as pure and heroic as her super-cousins. It’s an argument of nature versus nurture that’s previously taken an interesting narrative on The CW’s “Supergirl.” I have a feeling “Superman and Lois” will soon also explore the topic.

Adam Rayner as Morgan Edge and Tyler Hoechlin as Superman. Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW

Subdued by this fear, Clark urges his U.S. general father-in-law, Sam Lane (Dylan Walsh), to develop Kryptonite weapons further instead of completely scrapping the project. This is exactly why Superman needs a Batman. Bruce would be the perfect failsafe for such an occasion. 

Anyway, a not-too-pleased Lois Lane confronts her husband on the topic and the two debate the continued creation of Superman killing weapons. After a bit of arguing, we see a truly rare sight. An absolutely vulnerable Clark Kent admitting his inner thoughts of fear to his wife. Instead of holding the concern in, Clark shares what he believes to be his darkest secrets with the love of his life. 

The scenes between Lois and Clark are truly magnificent. This dynamic duo has a romantic history full of complex storylines that have been explored to death but, being parents and in a relationship for 20 years does something to a couple. And you can see it. There is absolutely no one Superman respects more than Lois Lane, and this show just iterates that perfectly. 

Bitsie Tulloch as Lois Lane. Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW

Meanwhile, Jon and Jordan skip school. Jon plays hooky with his potential love interest Tegan Wickhem (Kayla Heller) while Jordan takes off with Sarah Cushing (Inde Navarrette). One major flaw with this episode for me was making these two super-sons seem like supporting characters. Both actors are such phenomenal talents and I feel their characters are being underutilized. 

Jon has been struggling to make genuine connections with his peers since his family moved to Smallville. He’s suffered a major tonal shift in his social status. Once the popular jock in Metropolis, Jon is now the isolated former footballer at Smallville High. He attempted to connect with others but ultimately failed. Tegan was no exception. A cute, little hangout with his crush turned into her manipulating Jon into spilling the beans on what he knew about the mysterious recent developments in the Edge Smallville incident.

Elsewhere Jordan and Sarah continue to connect. Their relationship has truly blossomed over the course of this inaugural season and it’s been fun to watch. It’s everything I wanted from the first few seasons of Smallville when I actually wanted Clark to date Lana. Their relationship truly feels reminiscent of Superman and his first love and it’s spectacular. Even though Sarah and Jordan have suffered trauma over their lives, they look to each other and connect through their conversations. The super-sons have such potential for rich storytelling and I hope to Zod that they’re explored going forward. 

Erik Valdez as Kyle Cushing. Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW

Speaking of untapped potential, as my friends over at Always Hold On To Smallville have so graciously pointed out, what’s up with Sophie Cushing (Joselyn Picard)? She seems to be a nonexistent child to the Lang-Cushing family and it’s kind of getting on my nerves. I assume it has something to do with the pandemic, which has shut down production on the show twice, but writers seem to forget she exists. 

Moving on, after disconnecting with Tegan, Jon travels home where he has a brief discussion on self identity with John Henry Irons (Wolé Parks). Irons has always been a favorite of mine since the ‘90s. To paraphrase a sorrowful Lois Lane from the ‘90s in the wake of Superman’s death, John Irons possesses Superman’s spirit. He’s compassionate and hurt, but he tries his best and cares for others like no one else. 

In his conversation with John, Jon seems to open up a bit more. He learns that you’re not just destined to be one thing in life, then his dad walks in and busts him for skipping school. 

The major core of this show is family, and I love it. It’s not just family in the familiar sense of the word, but family of close peers, relatives and loved ones. It’s one of the strengths that pushes this series forward. 

This 13th chapter of season one wasn’t too action packed, but it was full of heart and story. The series has you theorizing, but the ending has you guessing. It’s truly unpredictable. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I just hope the citizens of Smallville grow up and take some responsibility for their own actions.

Zack Benz

Zack Benz has been a fan of the Daily Planet since he was eight years old. The Daily Planet has always been a beacon of hope for him and it’s his life’s mission to make it shine in a similar light to so many around the world. Zack graduated with a degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2019.

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