Clark’s ongoing battle with Tal-Rho hit especially close to home for Superman & Lois during Tuesday’s finale, leading up to what just might have been the biggest emotional gut-punch of an incredibly emotional season.
TVLine chatted with showrunner Todd Helbing about the episode’s biggest developments, but let’s do a quick recap first: With Leslie Larr in custody, Tal-Rho stood alone as Earth’s final threat… until he raises his evil defense council using the bodies of the soldiers stationed in Smallville. Fortunately, Tal-Rho’s entire army, followed by the man himself, were ultimately apprehended by the unstoppable team of Superman and Steel. (#SuperSteel? #SteelMen? We’ll keep workshopping it.)
Jordan was also freed from Zeta-Rho’s mental grip, but only after Lois entered his subconscious — and mere seconds before he choked his brother to death. In the days that followed the final battle with Tal-Rho, Lois bought half of the Smallville Gazette, which she now co-runs with Chrissy; Sam declared his intentions to step down from active duty, instead focusing on spending time with his family; Jor-El received a proper burial (complete with an emotional funeral!) on the Kents’ property; and Sarah returned the L-bomb that Jordan dropped on her last week.
And speaking of things dropping, an unexpected visitor crash landed at the Kent farm in the episode’s final moments: Natalie, aka John Henry’s daughter with from his Earth — and she was very surprised to see her mother, alive and well, standing next to the man who supposedly killed her. All perfectly understandable.
Read on for Helbing’s answers to our burning finale questions, from how Natalie’s arrival will impact Season 2 to whether CatCo was the mystery media conglomerate interested in purchasing the Smallville Gazette:
TVLINE | “Killing” Jor-El was a bold move. Will that loss have any profound impact on Clark moving forward? He now finds himself without a Kryptonian guide.
It was, but one of the things we wanted to do with this show was to take what had been — massive staples in the mythology of Superman — and find a new way in, and to sort of upend that stuff. So that’s what we wanted to do with Jor-El and Clark and that relationship, to see how it could evolve and become something different.
TVLINE | What would you say Clark’s journey — as Clark, not Superman — is in Season 2?
I think there’s always the parenting component. Now that the kids are sophomores and the boys are maturing, there’s a new set of challenges that they will be facing. There’s a personal journey for him, I’ll say it that way.
TVLINE | Now that they’ve been apprehended, have we seen the last of Tal-Rho and Leslie Larr?
No, we love Stacey [Farber] and Adam [Rayner]. They’re the nicest people — really talented, awesome and cool. I think you’ll see both of them in some capacity moving forward.
TVLINE | I couldn’t help but notice Lana giving the mayor the evil eye at the end of the episode, and deservedly so. Any chance she’s going to get into local politics next season to take him down?
She definitely doesn’t trust the guy after he threw her family under the bus, so I think she’s going to want to see that guy bounced one way or another.
TVLINE | Did you have a particular media conglomerate in mind that wanted to buy the Smallville Gazette? (And was it CatCo?)
[Laughs] We talked about CatCo, but we did not specify for a specific reason.
TVLINE | Now that Jordan and Sarah are getting serious, how difficult is it going to be for him to keep his powers secret from her?
It’s going to be difficult. Sarah’s the first person he’s ever fallen in love with. When you’re a teenager, you sometimes think that’s going to be the person you’ll be with for the rest of your life. We’re going to explore what that means. Clark and Lois have some very specific opinions about whether he should tell her or not, so there’s going to be some conflict in that.
TVLINE | The show has been stressing how cool Jonathan is under pressure, and he’s clearly good at handling a variety of weapons. Are the bones of a hero origin story somewhere in there?
Yeah, for sure. Both of the boys have inherited heroism from both of their parents. It’s part of their DNA, whether they have powers or not. We wanted to explore what that means, both versions of it.
TVLINE | There were theories that maybe Jonathan did have powers, they just hadn’t manifested yet. Or that he’d need to be in proximity of his brother for them to work.
I saw some of those, and I understand where those theories come from. There were other theories about Jordan turning evil. That’s stuff that we all talk about, but to me — right now, anyway — what’s interesting is to see a guy without powers, and how he works in his family the same way Lois does.
TVLINE | Speaking of Jonathan, Tegan told him that her father was in prison in Central City. To what degree will you be revisiting that reveal in Season 2?
All I’ll say is that there have been a lot of questions about how these shows are tied together now. In Season 2, you’ll get a lot more of those answers.
TVLINE | Could her father be someone we’ve already met [on The Flash]?
I don’t know, possibly. [Laughs]
TVLINE | There were very few connections to the larger Arrowverse this season, save for Diggle’s visit and a Lyla mention in the finale. Do you hope to incorporate more crossovers next season?
It was virtually impossible [to do crossovers in Season 1] because of the pandemic. We’ll see how [Season 2] plays out in that regard. It’s certainly looking a lot more promising than last season. I don’t control these things, but it feels like those massive crossovers — where it’s every show, and there’s 40 characters in a scene — are probably not going to happen again anytime soon.
TVLINE | What can you say in terms of new characters coming in Season 2?
There are going to be a couple [new characters] in the Killgrave wheelhouse. Supergirl was on for a while, and they used a lot of villains, so we’re trying to use new ones — or to reinvent them in a way that makes sense on our show.
TVLINE | In terms of the next big threat, did you plant any seeds in Season 1?
Yes, we did. A couple things. So it won’t come out of the blue, but there will be a couple of surprises.
TVLINE | But it’s safe to say any new villain will be quite different from Tal-Rho?
Quite different, yes. The threat has to be a real threat to Superman, so I know the knee-jerk reaction is that you need someone who’s Kryptonian. But Superman has a lot of weaknesses too, especially with his family. The way the show is set up, we have some cool ways in. It doesn’t have to be [an evil] Kryptonian every season.
TVLINE | We saw how much pain Lois still feels from her miscarriage all those years ago. What’s going through her head now that Natalie, the daughter she never had, is standing in front of her? Will Lois to try to make room for Natalie in her life?
We explore that in 201. Episode 8 was one of my favorites, and kudos to Bitsie for just killing it. Those kinds of stories really work on our show, so we want to explore more of that emotional stuff. I think Nat is certainly going to have a role in all of that.
TVLINE | Meanwhile Natalie is coming from a world where Superman is the villain. Will she have a difficult time trusting him?
To some extent, but we don’t want to repeat that storyline. There’s going to be some explaining from John Henry about how this world works.
TVLINE | John Henry told Lois that he still can’t look at her without thinking of the version he was married to. Now that their daughter is around, might his feelings become even more complicated?
Yeah, for sure. Now, we’re going to dive into what it means for him as a parent — the things you would do for your kids, even if it means putting yourself in harm’s way.
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With reporting by Matt Webb Mitovich