Too often in serial storytelling we see characters overcome important issues or events through growth and development only to revert back to their default setting once a new story arc begins. Episode 4 of Superman & Lois’s new season, entitled “Too Close to Home”, breaks that format quickly and decisively by having everyone’s previous season behaviors dealt with in realistic ways. Trust through honest communication is the main theme of this episode and drives the drama without the typical angst or misdirection.
Written by Juliana James and directed by Stewart Hendler, “Too Close to Home” manages to give us a nice blend of action and drama while continuing the slow burn of Bruno Mannheim’s mysterious plans. The major super heroics focus more on Steel and builds on story threads planted within last season. Wole Parks portrayal of John Henry Irons trying to both stay apart from and find a place within a world not his own is fantastic. Current events have forced him to confront his doppleganger’s past and seeing him go solo as Steel for a few scenes is a real treat. Unlike other shows with multiple superheroes in the cast, Superman & Lois goes far to showcase Steel as more than a side character.
Not to be completely outshined by this Steel centric episode, we continue to see Alex Garfin’s Jordan Kent train with Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman during the opening scenes. There’s some subtle comedic moments as these two work together that brilliantly convey Jordan’s inexperience. Most of his story revolves around how to better protect and guide Jordan on his heroic outings which gives us a glimpse on how he and Dylan Walsh’s Sam Lane characters used to interact. Showing us they’ve learned from previous seasons, Sam and Jordan reconcile within this episode resulting in the tease of Jordan’s own super suit.
The drama aspect of the episode is one part dealing with domestic disputes and one part managing Lois’s medical condition. The Lang/Cushing family deal with Lana’s incident with Sarah from last episode which really shines a different light on Kyle. Erik Valdez’s Kyle Cushing has probably seen the most character development since the first season. His ability to have Kyle knee-jerk react to events as he normally would but instantly reign it in feels realistic of someone really trying to break toxic habits. The advice he gives to Inde Navarrette’s Sarah and Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Lana could easily be applied to Kyle’s own broken relationship with his family and something in Sarah’s reaction seems like she sees that as well. The entire Lang/Cushing family dynamic feels relevant to the show mainly due to how well these three actors play off each other.
Of course, Lois’s condition plays a big part as well. Bitsie Tulloch captures the struggle of an extremely independent person having to reconcile the need to tone things down masterfully. Most of the default behaviors we see from the Kent family stem from their over eagerness to keep things calm for her, but it’s not Lois’s nature to sit on the sidelines. Fortunately, the famous investigative reporter calls her family out on how they’re acting and reminds them who she is. No scene showcases this more than when she confronts Candice’s dad on his inappropriate incident with Jonathan while her sons watch in awe.
Jonathan’s bit for Superman & Lois S3 Ep 4 leads to a classic homage to both Superman II and Man of Steel. Michael Bishop fully steps into Jonathan Kent as his encounter with Adrian Glynn McMorran’s Emmitt Pergande (Candice’s dad) forces him to attempt to keep a secret yet again. Unfortunately, there are physical results from their encounter and Lois uncovers the truth. Having dealt with it her way, Clark then finds out and after a day of bumbling missteps with both John Henry and Lois earlier, gets one of the more tense moments of the episode.
Finding Emmitt at the diner, Clark calls Emmitt out to “talk”. Being mostly bluster, Emmitt refuses but Clark isn’t taking no for an answer. The end result is a quick take down for all to witness as Clark quickly pins Emmitt to the bar. It truly felt reminiscent of the diner scenes in Superman II and Man of Steel while staying true to the type of Clark Kent that Tyler Hoechlin has been portraying.
Although this season has so far been light on the super heroics of both Superman and Steel, the dramatic storytelling around all the characters have been extremely entertaining. Bruno Mannheim clearly has an “ends justify the means” plan in play and Lex Luthor has yet to make an appearance, but thus far it’s been refreshing to see the cast play their characters without the backdrop of world ending events.
Star Rating: ★★★★☆/★★★★★
Haven’t watched Superman & Lois S3 Ep 4: Close To Home yet? You can watch it for free NOW via The CW website.