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Post Mortems

Superman & Lois' Adam Rayner Talks Tal-Rho's Latest Victory, Suggests He's Not the 'True Villain' of Season 1

Superman & Lois Tal-Rho

Superman & Lois flew down memory lane on Tuesday, making us fall in love with the titular couple all over again. But by the end of the hour, we were also more worried about them than ever.

Before we get to our Q&A with the man of the hour (Adam Rayner), let’s rehash what we got to experience during Clark’s nostalgic trip: After watching him train at the Fortress of Solitude as a young boy, we saw Clark return to Smallville as a man; Jor-El had tasked his son with reconnecting to the human world in order to figure out why he wants to be the people’s champion. This brought him back to Lana, but he soon discovered that she had moved on — with Kyle, duh — while he was off honing his Kryptonian skills.

We then jumped to Metropolis, where Clark was climbing the ladder at the Daily Planet under the guidance of its most celebrated reporter. (Lois Lane, maybe you’ve heard of her?) But while Lois’ love for Clark grew with each passing day, her disdain for Superman also grew, as she felt the city’s obsession with its new hero was taking attention away from more important issues. She eventually warmed up to him after he helped her take down a neo-Nazi, even going so far as to name him before conducting his first-ever TV interview. (How cute was that whole scene, by the way?)

The rest was familiar territory — from Clark telling Lois his secret to Lois discovering that she was pregnant with twins — but something about the whole sequence just felt off. As we soon learned, Tal-Rho had been probing Superman’s mind, and now he was armed with enough info to fully destroy Clark’s world. And lest anyone doubt his ruthlessness, Kal-El’s estranged brother destroyed the machine responsible for running Jor-El’s consciousness.

“Uncle Morgan” (creepy much?) paid the Kent Farm a visit to threaten Clark’s family, prompting him to submit in exchange for their safety. By the end of the hour, Superman appeared to have been fully turned by Zeta-Rho at Tal-Rho’s own Kryptonian fortress, prompting Lois to call her otherworldly hubby John Henry Irons about that war he was trying to prevent. (Oh, and Sarah kissed Jordan. Yay!)

Below, Rayner talks about bringing the Man of Steel’s maniacal brother to life:

TVLINE | I hear you had a big night shoot last night. [This interview was conducted on June 18.]
Well, it was late. [Laughs] It will be an exciting piece of it all down the line. I just had to stand still in a country road — not to give anything away.

TVLINE | Quite a spoiler, I’m sure. You know, I thought I knew a decent amount about Superman, but this show is constantly blowing my mind. And you always seem to be at the center of those revelations.
I was a big Superman fan as a kid, very much so. I took the job not knowing any of the revelations, so it was also a surprise to me to hear any of that early on. I thought I just signed on to play a troublesome media type, so it’s been great fun for me as well. Sometimes jobs aren’t quite what you hope they’re going to be, and sometimes they turn into something even greater than your expectations, which is what ended up happening in this case.

TVLINE | I feel like playing a character with superpowers is on every actor’s bucket list. What was it like stepping into that costume for the first time?
It was great. I’m particularly appreciative of the muscle suit. [Laughs] I try to keep myself in shape, but Tyler [Hoechlin] is in terrific shape, and he’s 10 years younger than me. So I was relieved to have a muscle suit under my costume, just to give me the requisite boost. As a kid who ran around with his red [underwear] over his blue pajamas pretending to be Superman, it is a childhood dream come true.

TVLINE | You probably never imagined you’d kill Jor-El, though. That is what happened there, right?
That’s the implication, yes. Any kind of resurrection is possible, as we know, but that is basically what he’s doing. It’s pretty bad.

TVLINE | I know he believes he’s serving a greater purpose, but is there really no part of him that wonders if he’s the villain in this story?
If it is there, it doesn’t really come out, because it’s buried under so much of the mission that he’s on. He also has his personal desires, which are a bit twisted but also very human in the sense that he wants a family. We’re not going to get a mea culpa moment where he says he did it all wrong, because he’s fairly committed to what he’s doing. And not for entirely evil reasons, but obviously the execution is pretty bad.

TVLINE | We also met Zeta-Rho this week. He’s pretty much the worst, huh?
Yes, he’s possibly an alternative true villain for the season, given that his personality and behavior go somewhere towards explaining how [Tal-Rho] became who he is. He’s a contender for the true mastermind behind it all.

TVLINE | I knew he was a bad guy, but his relationship with Tal-Rho feels even more abusive than I expected.
Yeah, I’m not sure in the entire season that he displays one single positive trait or moment. He’s unremittingly unpleasant towards his only son. He sees him as a tool towards what he considers to be the greater good, which is the resurrection of Krypton. Without getting too biblical about it, he’s sacrificing his son in order to do that. So even from his point of view, there is a sort of logic to it. But he’s so unsympathetic towards his son and humanity in general. It’s hard to find much good in him.

TVLINE | The finale is just a few weeks away now. What are we building towards?
It gets bigger and bigger, the scale of it. And just when you think, “That has to be the finale,” they find a way to circle back around and do it all again with even more surprises and on an even bigger scale. From now on, you’ll get a series of false climaxes before the massive final showdown. It’s quite a feat in building to a crescendo.

TVLINE | So much has happened already, it’s hard to believe this is just Season 1.
I know! The writers have got their job on their hands. It feels like they’ve used up so much good stuff, but they’re a clever bunch. They’ll think of something.

Your thoughts on this week’s episode? Drop ’em in a comment below.