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Brave, Bold and Bizarre: Unpacking Superman & Lois’s Second Season

Written by ibxis

If you’ve been following Superman & Lois, then it should come as no surprise to say that tonight’s season two finale is literally earth-shattering. Ally Allston is determined to merge the planet with its Bizarro opposite, resulting in worldwide destruction and death, and if you expect Superman to save us…well, there’s a small problem with that. He’s currently powerless.

Yes, we recently discovered that the mysterious Ally is none other than the show’s take on Parasite after she completely drained the Man of Steel of his superhuman strength and abilities, leaving him as vulnerable and weak as the rest of us. At the same time, John Henry is lost in between worlds and the show’s two young heroes—Jordan Kent and Natalie Irons—are both new to the whole superhero thing. Is this the end for the planet that Kal-El has come to call home? Or will he find a way to save the day, powers or no?

If he does, it’ll only be the second most impressive feat on display. Tops would have to go to Superman & Lois’s Creative team for managing to pull together a sophomore season that’s even more surprising, emotional and thrilling than the first. How’d they accomplish it? When did they decide on this storyline’s villains? Why was season two the right time for Clark to come clean to Lana? And more than anything—how do you make a show based on an eighty-year-old character who’s already had the small screen treatment several times feel so fresh and new?

For answers, we spoke once again with Superman & Lois executive producer and showrunner Todd Helbing about season two’s big twists and what we can expect from both tonight’s episode and the upcoming season three.

How would you describe this week’s season two finale to fans who haven’t yet seen it?

It’s big. It’s bonkers. It’s Ally—it’s the Parasite Twins trying to pull their plan together and as the title suggests, it’s Superman making his epic return.

Why did you introduce the Bizarro world seem like the right storyline for your sophomore season?

These Superman villains are tricky. What’s the most interesting to us are the villas that affect him emotionally, more so than simply “punchy-punch.” In season one, you saw a darker version of Superman that was on John Henry’s planet. With Bizarro, you see this sort of cautionary tale in this guy who lost the meaning of being a hero and what that really is and how it reflects upon our Superman. It just felt like, thematically, Bizarro, Ally, Lucy, what’s going on with the Cushings—the sort of secrets that everybody has and the different versions of people and families, that all felt very interesting to us.

With season one’s unique take on the Eradicator and now this new spin on Parasite with Ally Allston, we’ve gotten two original takes on classic Superman villains. Is that reimagining something you see as a hallmark of the show? Or could you see yourselves going with the classic, easily recognized version of a villain as your big bad in a future season?

It think that’s a hallmark of the show. There will be characteristics that are very similar, but really, the way that a villain affects Superman and Lois is the first conversation. How do we make this so it’s not just a punch-punch, fight-fight situation?

I’ve probably said this a million times, so I apologize if this is a repeated answer, but we have a lot of huge Superman fans on this writing staff who can really go into some deep dives, so that’s really what we try to do . We try to connect things from the comic books in a unique, new way and make them feel fresh, so that after eighty years of Superman, it’s a show that people want to watch because it feels like something new.

Right now, Superman is completely depowered. What sort of feelings does something like that provoke in him? On one hand, he can’t fight Ally or her acolytes directly, but on the other hand, it’s not like he’s dying or completely out of commission. He’s basically a normal human being.

What’s interesting when you get older is that your body or mind starts to betray you. I played basketball in high school and college, and now when I go on the court, my mind still thinks that I’m this twenty-year-old guy that can do specific things, but my body’s not having it. I think it was a similar frustration that you saw in the last episode where it’s like he’s used to saving people and being able to deliver when people ask for his help in whatever way that they need. Lois has to remind him that it’s all about hope—that’s what he stands for. It’s not just a crest, it’s him. I think it’s just the frustration that you get sometimes. That’s what we’re trying to highlight there. So, how do you do that with Superman, particularly when he’s needed more than ever? That’s what we were going for.

Clark finally telling Lana his secret was a huge moment this season. Did you know early on it was going to happen in season two?

At the beginning of any season, you have ideas. You have tentpoles, but you’re not sure exactly how you’re going to get there. Then sometimes you have ideas that you’re certain are going to make it into the show, and then they don’t. Collectively, we had a lot of discussions about secrets and how do we make the reveals a different feel. Are our characters going to feel betrayed or supportive of it? What are the different versions of that which different characters can have so that they’re not all reacting the same way? I think it evolved into that.

It just felt like the right time to do it. But the secret thing is hard because it’s such a trope, so I think once we were like, “Okay, let’s do this with Lana and Clark,” we realized we could also do it with Jordan and Sarah and with Lois and Chrissy. It just felt like three different versions of this one secret that we now don’t have to do ever again. (laughs) We kind of were able to get it out of the way and just move on.

It feels like the repercussions from that choice are still very much being felt, especially with Jordan and Sarah. Will we still be seeing fallout from that in season three?

I think with Jordan and Sarah, they’re probably not going to be together. It’s like a lot of teenage relationships—you sort of go in and out. There are times you’re really intense and then times when things sort of fizzle out. I think Jordan will always love Sarah, and I think Sarah will have a special place in her heart for Jordan. But right now, moving forward, they’re probably not going to be together. We’ll see if they get back together or not eventually, but for now, probably not.

In some ways, it felt like season one was about Clark learning to balance his obligations to his family with his obligations to the world, but this season seems to have been about him learning where his limits are and that sometimes even Superman needs to ask for help. Is that a fair interpretation?

Yeah, definitely. I think all of our characters have got to a spot—Lana with Kyle, Jordan with Sarah and with his powers, Jonathan feeling helpless and desperately wanting to be a part of something bigger, Lois and her sister and their complicated family relationship—all of them were going through things that illustrate how there’s only so much you can put on yourself before you have to reach out to other people. In the various versions of what’s happening and how we’re going to deal with this, it should always go back to dealing with it as a family. Lois and Lucy reconciled and the Lane family feels like they’re in the best spot they’ve been, though I’m sure there will be something coming up in season three that throws a monkey wrench in that. But that’s always to highlight how strong the character of Lois Lane is. With Superman, you’re going to see how season three unfolds and how (our new villain) complicates his life, as well as John Henry and Nat’s life. All that should feel as a piece thematically.

Finally, Superman has existed for over eighty years now. Is there anything you’ve learned about him from the two seasons of this show that you never realized before?

I think what I’ve realized, which was the goal of this show, is that being a parent is tough. When you’re told as a kid that being a parent is the hardest job, you’re like, “How hard could it really be to be Mom and Dad?”

But it really is a crazy challenge, and when you have more than one child, it can be staggering with how different they can be. When one child needs a little bit more attention than the other and how that flip-flops on a daily basis sometimes. I think to see Superman get into this scenario has made him more human to me than I ever thought Superman could be.

The Superman & Lois season two finale, “Waiting for Superman,” airs tonight at 8 pm (7 pm CST) on The CW. Looking for more on the Family of Steel? Visit our official Superman & Lois show page.

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