“O Mother, Where Art Thou?” does some interesting things with Superman’s mythology as the back half of the season attaches rocket skates to the plot.
This recap of Superman and Lois season 1, episode 10, “O Mother, Where Art Thou?”, contains spoilers.
After last week’s shocking revelation that Morgan Edge is really Superman’s Kryptonian brother, “O Mother, Where Art Thou?” had a lot to live up to in terms of its plotting. It could have gone two ways, really. This development, like everything involving John Henry Irons, could have unfolded over a few episodes and then been either shunted aside or neatly resolved. Luckily, we got the second option, which is that the show simply embraces its essential comic-book-y weirdness and just gets even more bonkers at an even faster rate than before.
For instance, this was probably the last place I expected to hear much about the ins and outs of Kryptonian society – leave that for, you know, Krypton – but Superman and Lois episode 10 nonetheless, through Morgan Edge’s backstory, provides heaps of suggestions about the planet’s culture and eventually destruction that simply seems like too much for this show to unpack. – not at the rate it’s moving, anyway. Consider the following.
So, Edge’s plan is to use a device known as “The Eradicator”, invented by his Kryptonian mother Lara Lor-Van to preserve the planet’s culture, in order to essentially colonize Earth and stock it with the minds of true Kryptonians. So far, so villainous. But Lara is also Superman’s mother, who fled from her first genetically matched marriage to Edge’s father, Zeta-Rho, in order to shack up with Jor-El. It was her warnings about the planet’s impending destruction that compelled Zeta-Rho to send Tal-Rho (Edge) to Earth, where he was obviously tormented and tortured and grew up into a fittingly sleazy businessman.
You can see how this all fits in with the show’s ongoing themes of family. But why would Superman’s darling mother create a device known as the Eradicator, and why are Zeta-Rho and Edge so cavalier about colonizing Earth? Are we to understand that all of Krypton was like that and the House of El was the outlier or is Zeta-Rho a fanatic? None of this is particularly clear, and it should be since it’s suddenly pretty integral to the show’s worldbuilding.
Looking for answers, Clark decides to ask Lara directly, which requires Lana Lang to host her consciousness and gives Emmanuelle Chriqui the opportunity to be beautiful and great twice over in one episode. This is also pretty significant as a scene, as far as Superman mythology goes. Martha Kent is always Superman’s mother, and Jor-El is the link to his Kryptonian heritage. “O Mother, Where Art Thou?” manages to reconcile Clark’s enduring love for Martha with Lara’s joy in seeing how happy he has become and how well looked after he has been; it’s quite a lovely moment, really.
There’s also something about Edge’s backstory that challenges the typical Superman origin – the idea that he, quite by chance, fell into the laps of loving, doting parents. Superman: Red Son is obviously the most famous and indeed the best exploration of this idea, and the question of what might have happened had he crash-landed elsewhere, but Edge is a bit of an answer to that as well. He wasn’t raised by Soviet Russia, but he was subjected to hatred, mistrust, and loathing all throughout his life. Nurture versus nature has always been integral to the Superman mythos, and it’s nice to see Superman and Lois season 1, episode 10 doing something with the theme.
With all this plot, not to mention a solar flare, it’s difficult to even guess at where the next episode might go. But it’s almost certain to be fun finding out.