The long and short of this episode is that it serves as a continuation of the themes from “Lazarus.” Namely: pride and choice. We have a plot focused on characters swallowing their pride and being selfless for the betterment of others, whether they’re family (Cat), loved ones (Chloe and Lois) or random annoying people who don’t deserve to die (Clark.) This is the white hat response, and it serves to contrast/parallel with the choices made by the insidious Suicide Squad.
Cleverly, the show creates an argument that sometimes pride is vital. Deadshot doesn’t need people to know he’s good at his job, he gets a sick thrill out of it; whereas Clark is reminded in this episode that however far he’s come as a symbol is not far enough. To truly inspire people, he has to step into the light and take pride in his work. The problem for him isn’t pride, it is, as other characters have noted, his inability to properly bridge the gap between:
- Humans and aliens
- Humans and superheroes
- His Kryptonian side and his human side.
And the episode makes this point by comparing Cat Grant (charmingly played by Keri Lynn Pratt) and Deadshot in how they relate to Clark. Cat changed her name to protect her son; Deadshot merely wants to mark Clark for an untold purpose. So in an unlikely event, the thinly developed (yet rather buxom) Cat Grant from the comic-book takes on new life as a loose inspiration for Clark. She teaches him that to help the world, and protect people, you don’t have to betray who you are as such… you just have to create something more than yourself. It’s not a groundbreaking lesson, but it does serve as another step towards Clark becoming Superman.
Over in Africa, Lois and Carter Nelson (aka Hawkman, played by the ever welcome Michael Shanks) discuss her relationship with Clark through Carter’s epic relationship with Shayera. Not much of that will make sense to people not already aware of her status within the comic-books as Hawkgirl, yet it’s still a nice way of continuing the pride theme by having Carter relate to Lois. As we saw in “Absolute Justice” Clark influenced Carter. Their friendship continuing is a nice development, as is the subtle indication that Carter’s life is soon to be over. It suggests that he will enter into the new age of heroism (predicted by Doctor Fate in “Absolute Justice”) as a new man, and – by proxy – so will Clark. They have to let go of this age to embrace the one to come.
It’s welcome character development for Lois as well, alluding to Darkseid in the fact that her love binds Clark to Earth. If you’ll recall, in “Lazarus” Clark was conflicted between Jor-El wanting him to be a hero and Jonathan wanting him to be a man. Lois is the connective point, she accepts Clark for who he is. His choices are his choices, and she also inspires him to fly (yes, he flew in “Lazarus”) if she’s in danger. And when Darkseid tries to rip the humanity out of Clark, Lois using “the power of love” to save him will likely be a fitting pay-off to her character arc.
Sadly, a downside of the episode is the execution of Cat’s story. It’s not the theme and acting as such, because the former is inspired and the latter is enthusiastic. No, the beats fail the story this time. She runs from her former life to protect her son, but in the end it’s a red herring. I understand you need those to stop the story being completely dull and surprise free, it’s just that it feels like we miss the real reason she hates superheroes so much. And when you throw in a tension-free scene with her and Green Arrow, her story just lacks the tension and crack to compete with ye olde Lex and the flying from “Lazarus.”
But, all in all, it was a very serviceable episode. We got plot progression with Tess becoming Watchtower 2.0, and Clark has a new costume and drive. Okay so it looks eerily like Daredevil’s costume if Daredevil was a 5x motocross champion instead of a superhero, but it’s better than the ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’ special from S9. The episode is worthy and watchable, just lacks the spark of “Lazarus.”