The following contains spoilers for Superman & Lois.
Superman & Lois Season 2 Episode 10
Superman & Lois returns from its month-long hiatus with what is, pardon the pun, one of its most bizarre episodes to date, an hour that takes us through the proverbial looking glass (or portal, as the case may be), to an alternate reality that looks like it has a lot more in common with Riverdale than Smallville. This “Bizarro World” is the inverse of our own, and these changes are reflected in both its main characters and the society they inhabit. To put it bluntly: We are definitely not in our version of Kansas anymore.
In this world, the vibe is generally edgier: Everyone’s sporting a lot more leather and seems to love Manic Panic, their outfits are much more sexy and suggestive, and there’s a general air of debauchery that is diametrically opposed to the more wholesome feel of Superman & Lois’s normal reality. Superheroes are pseudo-celebrities, as concerned with brand management as with helping others, and kryptonite is basically a performance-enhancing drug, rather than a deadly weapon. It’s…a lot.
“Bizarros in a Bizarro World” is both an extended flashback sequence that shows us the events that occurred after Superman passed through the mysterious portal chasing cult leader Ally Allston and an origin story of sorts for the Bizarro Superman we’ve seen throughout Superman & Lois Season 2. Both threads ultimately converge in a dramatic face-off, with several intriguing reveals surrounding key characters, including the Bizarro versions of Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Tal-Rho, and, perhaps most importantly, Jonathan Kent, who goes by Jon-El.
In this world, Jonathan is the Kent child born with superpowers, and that’s hardly the only thing that sets him apart from the Arrowverse version we know, from his relationships with his family to his sartorial choices. Yet, according to actor Jordan Elsass, who plays both Jonathan Kent and his Bizarro alter-ego, Jor-El, the pair have more in common than you might think at first glance.
“[He’s] so the complete opposite of Jonathan Kent in every way. [From] the way he presents himself and a totally different demeanor and attitude, and way of approaching things. So many differences,” Elsass says. “But something I tried to get at—yes he’s way different. And he is that Bizarro version, but he’s also similar on the inside.”
After all, the rules of Bizarro World are about inversion and opposition, not drastic wholesale change.
“It’s not that he himself is a different person,” he explains. “I think he’s actually very similar to Jonathan in terms of how he perceives the world. It’s just that he was raised differently and so he deals with situations differently. And he chose a very different path. And in the end, he thinks of himself very differently.”
Jon-El grew up in a very different reality than Jonathan: the Kents certainly don’t seem terribly close, and the combination of his newly manifested powers and the fishbowl of fame that surrounds their family means that he’s perhaps had to grow up a lot more quickly than his real-world counterpart has. It’s actually shockingly easy to forget that Jon-El himself is also still a child, a fact that Elsass himself points out.
“He’s still a kid, you know, even though Jon-El is totally different than regular Jonathan. And he’s experienced life in a much darker way,” he explains. “But at the same time, he is still fifteen. He wants to publicly look like he’s a badass and like he’s really cool. But he has a lot of insecurities and a lot of [emotional] holes that need to be filled. It was an interesting thing to delve into. I thought through a lot of different factors.”
One of those factors is the “big void” that is his “missing relationship with his parents” since it’s obvious that Jon-El doensn’t have nearly the same bond with Clark and Lois. As a result, he turns to other, outside forces like Ally Allstone to validate him and tell him who he is. But, the episode also makes it clear that he has almost no relationship with his brother Jordan, who is probably the most important person in “our” Jonathan’s life.
“That’s a huge part of it too,” Elsass says. “He has nobody. The Jonathan that we know is probably the closest to his brother. [But] then he’s also very close to his mom and dad and just the whole family was very tightly knit. This [Bizarro] Jonathan is completely isolated. It makes sense because I think that his family is very broken and it’s very different than the Kent family that we know.”
Despite the fact that Jon-El betrays his family and is maybe more than a little bit evil—though fingers crossed he sees the light next week—it is still pretty fun to see Elsass get the chance to play a character with powers after a season and a half as the Kent family’s designated “normal” child. (A process which, according to the actor, involved a lot of “core strength” and “grueling takes” in an uncomfortable harness that left him with bruises.)
But, more than anything else, “Bizarros in a Bizarro World” underscores that while Jonathan Kent may be the most technically normal one in his family, he still has an important and necessary role to play in the world of the show.
“Jonathan is very, very normal,” Elsass says. “He brings a sort of groundedness to [the canvas]. He’s a very strong kid. “[But] I think that because of the fact that he doesn’t have powers, he’s even more powerful in a way. He [still] steps up.”
But, it also doesn’t hurt that he has multiple strong examples to learn from, though to hear Elsass tell it, he’s much more like one distinctly non-superpowered relative in particular.
“I mean, he’s young General Lane, you know what I mean? He’s very much like [his grandfather]. And I think that he takes a lot of inspiration from both Lois and General Lane, and the fact that they don’t have powers. They’re very normal, but they’re tough, they’re leaders, and they use their intellect and use their hearts to fight.”