Superman & Lois S3 Ep 5, “Head On” really slows down here compared to earlier episodes and even other seasons in comparison. For fans looking to get their fix of Superman and Lois working to expose Bruno Manheim and Intergang operations, this can feel especially slow. Still, these are characters that some or many have grown attached to and all this human interest and non-super heroic excerpts from Smallville are emotional and heartfelt as CW productions tend to be by signature.
Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) is undergoing new treatments at Hob’s Bay, a medical facility owned by Bruno Manheim (Chad L. Coleman). She knows this since there’s no better way to learn his and Intergang’s secrets and what they’re planning than on his home turf. What little is known about Intergang thus far is that they have a sample of Superman’s blood which is how Henry Miller (Paul Lazenby) got powers. With that in mind, who knows what else he could produce? The mystery villain Onomatopoeia has also gone under the radar in recent episodes. At the same time, Clark (Tylor Hoechlin) is at the clinic with Lois and hears stories from patients (Daya Vaidya and Allegra Fulton) in a very touching series of scenes that show how a seemingly powerless Superman can find hope and strength.
This episode is more so focused on the kids and their attendance at the Smallville High Valentine’s Day dance. The main arcs are Natalie (Tayler Buck) coming out of her shell to classmate Matteo (Spence Moore II) and Jonathan (Michael Bishop) coming to terms with Candance (Samantha Di Francesco) moving to another part of Kansas. The romance between Kyle (Erik Valdez) and Chrissy (Sofia Hasmik) also continues to blossom at the dance as the town attends.
Speaking of the town, Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui) continues to try to find her footing as Mayor while trying to reconnect with Sarah (Inde Navarrette) after their falling out. This is another major arc of the episodes and shaping up to be one of the main themes of the season as Lana really does struggle to balance Mayoral responsibilities and expectations in addition to her family life. This arc tends to take up most scenes in this episode. There are some hidden secrets and mysteries thrown in to spice things up like what the previous Mayor of Smallville may have been involved in.
Finally, more light is shone on what Earth Prime’s Henry Irons’ (Wole Parks) life was like and his connection to Manheim and Intergang. As revealed in the last episode, his sister, Dr. Darlene Irons (Angel Parker) is alive and well on this Earth. These parallel Earths narratives have always been major storytelling devices in the Arrowverse, so it’s still great to see it after the main shows have ended.
The Lanes have the most heroic scenes here since Superman doesn’t show until at least 30 minutes in. Sam (Dylan Walsh) is shaping up to be a mentor figure to Natalie as she tackles social situations as quite literally a stranger to another world. Lois, as she hoped, also comes face to face with Manheim and in true crime boss fashion, makes her an offer that she may not be able to refuse. We also learn that his motivation here in doing what he does and creating Intergang wasn’t wholly villainous in intention. Coleman’s Manheim is like a more tragic version of Lex Luthor and reminds us that not all Superman rogues need to be super-powered in order to be formidable.
In the grand schemes of the season antagonist Intergang, very little moves forward with this episode. That’s not to say that the human moments and scenes don’t shine. The stories and anecdotes Clark is told by the patients at the clinic could be written in textboxes above Superman comic book panels as a monologue. There are small ‘For Tomorrow’ vibes here as seemingly mortal women or men play a pivotal role in Clark’s life as he faces new challenges. Lois also continues to be the fighter she always has been in the medical and investigative journalism sense.
There is some Action Comics tier action by the end with a new rogue, a Roger Stern original, making an appearance to make the wait just a little worth it. The opening scene prior to the intro makes it clear that this is the case and that to not hold your breath for any wild fight scenes or confrontations with Intergang. However, we may be able to expect some craziness moving forward with what Intergang manages to get its hands on by the end.
Superman & Lois S3 Ep 5, “Head On” is CW juggling human interest stories at its finest. The trade-off for heavy dialogue scenes in favor of Superman vs. Intergang is worth it in some cases when it comes to Lois and Clark’s dealing with her illness but scenes like the Valentine’s Day dance may overstay their welcome. Again, very little of Intergang’s plans are elaborated on or processed in this entry and Superman is reserved for last-minute use. Still, the characters have some valuable and heartfelt wisdom to them when it comes to themes like love and forgiveness.
Star Rating: ★★☆☆☆/★★★★★
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