This article contains major Superman & Lois spoilers. Don’t read until you’ve seen all of season one!
Superman & Lois Episode 15
The Superman & Lois season finale, “Last Sons of Krypton,” has finally arrived and it’s as big as you might expect. For a series that started off teasing lots of family drama and that eschewed the traditional Metropolis setting for the (theoretically) friendlier confines of Smallville, it was full of blockbuster-scale action in the second half of its 15 episode run.
“Last Sons of Krypton” effectively wraps up the season’s blockbuster elements in its first two acts or so, before offering a series of codas that tie up nearly everyone’s arcs with a sense of finality usually reserved for a series finale, not just a season one. Well, with one major exception, of course.
And when you think about the journey this season took viewers on, that’s a lot to wrap up. From the Captain Luthor is actually John Henry Irons twist to the Morgan Edge is really Superman’s Kryptonian half-brother concept and everything else in between, the first season of Superman & Lois was unlike any Man of Steel tale we had seen before. It’s something that showrunner Todd Helbing says came out of an early desire to tell a “different” Superman story.
“There was nothing that was off limits,” Helbing says. “It was kind of like, we’re going to do this. Let’s just swing for the fences, and hopefully we connect on a couple of these.”
Let’s take a look at some of those big characters and concepts the show tackled in its first season, and talk about that multiverse-shattering ending.
JOHN HENRY IRONS
Those “big swings” Helbing alludes to came early on. The initial “Captain Luthor” reveal wasn’t supposed to be a fake out at all, and the idea that he was really John Henry Irons from an alternate Earth came along organically during the writing process.
“When we watched the first cut of the second episode, we knew that there was something missing that you could feel in the pilot,” Helbing says. “So we wrote a few new scenes and then a couple more for episodes three and four. From there on it kind of snowballed, and we brought up a lot of stuff that we were going to do later, and we paced up the show. I think when the John Henry Iron’s idea came, it sort of gave us this confidence, because we knew that it if we could keep it a secret, that it was really going to work.”
The secret was kept, and virtually all online speculation about the nature of Captain Luthor was proven wrong. And in the process Wolé Parks became the definitive live action version of beloved DC Comics hero Steel.
MORGAN EDGE, TAL-RHO, AND SUPERMAN’S BROTHER
Unlike the Captain Luthor/Steel thing, however, Helbing and company knew going in that Morgan Edge was going to turn out to be the malevolent Kryptonian Tal-Rho, and specifically that Tal-Rho would be Superman’s biological half-brother.
“That was part of the pitch,” Helbing says, before clarifying that not all of these elements were set in sunstone from the outset. “There were some things, some twists and turns…a lot of it was the writers and talking to Greg. The staff that I get to work with every day, they’re really talented people who love Superman, and we all just really clicked, so it was great.”
With Tal-Rho there are surprises within surprises, as DC TV shows aren’t known for creating original villains for a season’s big bad.
“We knew we wanted to tell a mythology that hadn’t been told in live action with Tal-Rho being the half-brother,” he says. “It was really just, how do we pace this reveal out?”
But Edge/Tal-Rho, despite being both unpleasant and immensely powerful (a perfect recipe for villainy) is an almost tragic figure, especially when compared to other supervillains.
“It would have been pretty easy for him to just become a mustache-twirling villain,” Helbing says. “But on our show, we want everybody to have a point of view, whether the audience agrees with them or not, and this includes our villains…The villain part of it is great, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you understand where they’re coming from, you can get into the emotion of it. And I think him being related to Kal-El and just all of his pains and struggle, that’s really where it worked.”
Despite the fact that Tal-Rho himself is an original character created for TV, the character eventually evolved into another important figure in Superman lore: The Eradicator, perhaps best known to fans as one of the “replacement Supermen” who appeared in the wake of the Man of Steel’s death at the hands of Doomsday.
But it turns out that the Eradicator wasn’t part of the plan, initially. Edge, of course, was taking humans and infusing them with Kryptonian souls and powers, turning them into “subjekts,” and there was one in particular who was going to tower over the others.
“Originally we started laying out these ‘subjekts’,” Helbing says. “We were going to build up the Subjekt-17, but it became very apparent that we weren’t just going to do 16 subjekts in a season.”
(NOTE: Subjekt-17 was a villain who only made a handful of appearances in the comics, an alien baby discovered by the Soviets and held in stasis for decades, before eventually wreaking havoc on Superman and friends. It’s part of an unfairly overlooked Superman storyline by Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco, and Jesus Merino, and you should check it out. But I digress…)
Once the Subjekt-17 concept became unworkable, the Eradicator’s name arose.
“The Eradicator was brought up pretty early on, but that was one of the elements where like, okay, we’re going to see how this plays out and how we’re going to be able to make this land the best way,” he says.
Of course, bringing the distinctive comics look of the Eradicator to the small screen brings its own challenges.
“When you look at some of the art of the Eradicator, you’re like, how do we translate this? Do we give him Ray-Bans or something?” Then we just kicked that idea around and came up with the way he is in the show. I think it’s pretty cool.”
LOIS LANE AND JORDAN KENT
But amidst all the Kryptonian fighting and love for Superman lore, the finale’s highlight is the moment where Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane pulls Alex Garfin’s Jordan Kent back from the brink, after his personality has been “eradicated” by the soul of Tal-Rho’s evil father. Lois does what we’ve seen her do several times this season, which is (with the help of some Kryptonian tech this time) help Jordan “push through his darkness” in an emotional scene that’s as triumphant as any bit of high-flying action we’ve seen throughout the season.
For Helbing and the Superman & Lois writers, it was a moment that happened naturally when working on the final two episodes of the season.
“That stuff was all kind of by the seat of our pants,” Helbing says. “We knew emotionally what needed to happen. We knew the sort of format and structure that we wanted to do in episode 14, two acts of family setup, town drama, get all that stuff up and running and then it was four acts of action. But episode 15 starts with four acts of action, and then ends with two acts of the emotional landing. But that one particularly, there was just a lot of [writers] Kristi [Korzec], Mike [Narducci], Brent [Fletcher], me, and Greg [Berlanti]. Where are the places that we have to land emotionally? Let’s build the story around that, which we did.”
NATALIE IRONS RETURNS
The episode doesn’t quite wrap up everyone’s emotional arcs. We’ve known for some time that Irons is still dealing with his feelings for Lois, even as he has accepted that this isn’t the same Lois he was married to on his world. Just as he seems to have made peace with the notion of moving on, and that he can’t stay with the Kents any longer, the multiverse throws everyone quite a curveball…as a mysterious craft falls out of the sky and reveals John’s daughter Natalie Irons (Tayler Buck) has somehow survived and made her way to this world.
Helbing won’t give many details yet on what to expect for Natalie Irons in Superman & Lois Season 2, but he does reveal that they’ve already written the season premiere.
“We knew Nat was going to show up, and we knew we wanted her in the show, because we want to explore a new family dynamic,” he says. “I’ll just say, in season two, there’s a lot that everybody is dealing with, having to get used to new members of a family, I’ll just put it that way.”
We’ll more info from Todd Helbing about Superman & Lois Season 2 right here!
What did you think of the Superman & Lois season finale? Let us know in the comments!