REVIEW: Superman & Lois – Season 3, Episode 6 “Of Sound Mind”

With “Of Sound Mind,” Superman & Lois has officially become a CW show – or, more accurately, a Greg Berlanti show after the veil has been removed. It’s no longer about showing Superman in a positive light, talking about his virtues and why he still matters. He’s become a punching bag, the evil man, selfish husband, and dopey dad who’s always wrong and needs to be set straight on everything, including how to be Superman. It’s tough to watch the show devolve into this, but I suppose it was inevitable, and with the CW in its current form falling apart bit by bit, we shouldn’t be surprised that one of the only holdouts is taking its last shot at being a finger-wagging lecture.

Superman and the DOD discover something disturbing about Intergang’s super-powered agents. Lois reads Bruno Manheim’s files looking for evidence of criminal activity. Clark trains Jordan to use his powers. Jonathan finds he has to work his way up the ladder at the firehouse. (If you want that to be a pun, feel free to see it that way.) Sophie, Lana and Kyle’s younger daughter, is feeling forgotten by her parents and sister, which is hard not to interpret as a meta-commentary on the show itself. Kyle and Chrissy ponder when to go public with their relationship.

One of the more frustrating things about “Of Sound Mind” is that it starts with a very good scene. While Lois is getting her treatment and waiting for Manheim’s files, Clark sits in on a group therapy meeting for the spouses of cancer patients. The performances from the actors playing the other spouses are great, each one being human and showing how difficult it is when someone you love is sick, sometimes terminally. Clark doesn’t say anything, simply observing, offering encouragement and sympathy, and perhaps seeing his own struggles in their stories. It’s played just right. The next few scenes at the Kent home are also good; Lois and Clark are in step with each other after their conflicts from the past few episodes, basically in good cheer but dealing with whatever familial issues arise. Lois even shows some growth when she acknowledges that she’s too tired from her treatment to leave the house. The season looks like it’s finally progressing.



Then, we immediately take several steps back because “Of Sound Mind” is about how Clark sucks at all the things ever. When Lois reads about Maneheim’s criminal test subjects dying of cancer, she wants to plan for her possible death by getting her estate in order. Clark would rather stay positive and act like she’ll make it, and despite agreeing to help Lois plan if it makes her feel better, he’s still a monster for clinging to hope. Clark is also training Jordan to use his powers, and Jordan is improving, using his head to get out of a dangerous fight in a simulator at the Fortress of Solitude. But Clark has some hidden lasers waiting for him and shoots him, trying to teach him to expect anything and never let his guard down. Again, Clark is a monster for trying to make sure his son is prepared for deadly situations with superhuman villains who will want to kill him, and Lois accuses him of shooting their son with lasers and demands he apologize. That the lasers were harmless and part of a simulation apparently means nothing. Then, Clark and Jordan hear Lois screaming for help, so Clark flies off as Superman; but it turns out to be Onomatopoeia simulating Lois’ voice, and Lois decides he would have known that if he wasn’t so intent on making sure she doesn’t die from cancer, so again, he’s a monster.

I think part of the problem with this season is that they’re stretching the cancer storyline further than it should go because they don’t know what to do with Manheim and Intergang, or at least not enough to make a whole season out of them. So what should be a subplot is now the main plot, and since there’s only so much they can do with it, they have to revisit the same story and character beats over and over. Clark isn’t dealing well with Lois’ cancer, but she yells at him and he apologizes, and then he learns there are some things even Superman can’t fix. Then, in the next episode, Clark isn’t dealing well with Lois’ cancer, but she yells at him and he apologizes, and then he learns there are some things even Superman can’t fix. But in the next episode, Clark isn’t dealing well… you get the idea. It’s maddening because, on a show about Superman, it’s nothing but doctor visits and being told he’s an uncaring spouse and a lousy father, with the occasional brief intermission for a fight or some talk about crime. I know the idea behind Superman & Lois is to show him as a family man as well as a superhero, but there’s got to be a balance; the first two seasons handled that pretty well, but in season 3, the scales are tipped decidedly on the family drama side, and that part isn’t as interesting as it was in the past.

Superman & Lois Of Sound Mind

The larger problem is that they don’t know how to write Lois Lane. This is a general Hollywood issue right now in terms of writing women; they think “strong” means screechy and perennially angry, then they get mad at the audience for disliking their work. That’s what Lois is now, and they’re using the cancer plot as an excuse for their deficiencies. The problem is that they also refuse to acknowledge that she’s wrong sometimes, so they use the illness shield to make her act irrationally, then argue that she’s right anyway. The result is an insufferable fishwife. Look at her reaction to Jordan’s training, for example; Clark never put Jordan in danger and is trying to ensure Jordan will be prepared when he has to fight Mongul or Darkseid or whoever. But Lois yells at him, tells him he’s wrong about something she didn’t witness and doesn’t understand, and orders him to apologize, with the attitude of “I think I know a little bit more about being Superman than you, Clark.” And, by the way, Clark was right because when Jordan heads out to save him, he’s shot by a blast from an enemy he didn’t see; of course, nobody mentions this, and Clark remains a monster. Can’t wait for next week.

Elsewhere, “Of Sound Mind” puts more strife on the Lang-Cushing family, with Sophie feeling neglected because… she is being neglected. Lana rushes out and leaves her with Sarah, who also brushes her off. Kyle takes her to work with him, but since he’s at work, he can’t do anything fun with her. And when he has custody for a day, he makes a date with Chrissy and leaves her with Sarah, who again brushes her off. Sarah is a little mean here, but I also think it’s unfair to put the responsibility on her. Sophie’s parents are responsible for her, not her sister. This, of course, leads to Sophie running away, Lana blaming Kyle, and Lana finding out about Kyle and Chrissy’s relationship in the most awkward way possible. It’s not bad; it’s just kind of by-the-numbers, although I like that it’s Jonathan who is able to reach Sophie better than her family. He’s the odd man out in his family, too; he doesn’t have powers, so Jordan gets most of their father’s attention, and since his troubles and victories are mundane compared to supervillains and avalanches, no one notices them much. But having him be the one to make Sophie feel better reiterates that while Jordan has his father’s powers, Jon has his heart.

Superman & Lois Of Sound Mind

Pairing up Jon and Sarah worried me; I thought “Of Sound Mind” would try to get them together romantically, which would have been awful. First of all, Jon wouldn’t do that to his brother, and second, this is a tired, angsty plotline the show doesn’t need. Luckily, it never happens, and keeping them as just friends makes the resolution of the Sophie story stronger. Jon didn’t help because he wanted to make time with Sarah or anything as self-serving as that; he helped because he saw a sad little girl and wanted to make her feel better, just like his dad would. This also helps his subplot at the firehouse; Jon would naturally gravitate towards work like that because he wants to help people. He can’t save anyone like Superman or Jordan can, but he can pull someone out of a burning building or resuscitate a car crash victim. “Of Sound Mind” draws a nice parallel between the Kent brothers, with both toiling through the tiring beginners’ work until they’re given a chance to prove themselves to their mentors. (I have to say, Jordan’s jokes about Jon’s sweatshirt made me laugh; Jon’s revenge about spending the day with Sarah was a good one, too.) I hope they do something interesting with this down the line.

The only big development in “Of Sound Mind” is that Onomatopoeia is revealed to be Peia (see what they did there?), Lois’ fellow cancer patient who lent a sympathetic ear to her and Clark. On the one hand, Onomatopoeia now being a woman is another example of this show going full CW (and full modern comic book adaptation). But I do like the twist that Peia is not only working for Intergang but that she’s Bruno Manheim’s wife. This humanizes Manheim even more, and it gives Peia something to do beyond cheerleading for Lois and Clark. So, is Manheim really trying to do something good? While they’re having lunch, Peia tells Lois that so much of Manheim’s work has helped others, and the ending makes me wonder if Manheim is perhaps trying to cure cancer. If so, that makes the conflict more interesting, especially between Manheim and Superman. How many innocent lives would Superman be damning by putting a stop to Manheim’s experiments? This makes Lois’ diagnosis more pertinent as well; he now knows the pain of seeing a loved one go through this. Will he doom the rest of the world to continue suffering as Lois and his family have because of his moral code? Is that even consistent with his moral code? There are so many great possibilities to explore, which makes me wonder why they keep sidelining this in favor of endless Lois and Clark shouting matches.

Superman & Lois Of Sound Mind

What’s it say about an episode when the subplots are more interesting and better executed than the A plot? Not much good; “Of Sound Mind” is a mediocre episode of a lackluster season that needs to pick up steam faster than a speeding bullet.

Superman & Lois – "Of Sound Mind"

Plot - 7
Acting - 7
Progression - 7
Production Design - 6
Themes - 6



“Of Sound Mind” starts off well and has a couple of good to decent subplots, but most of it feels like an excuse to beat up on Superman, and the cancer plotline is stuck in a ditch, repeating itself without moving forward.

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