Unlike villains from seasons past, Superman & Lois‘ latest invader doesn’t hail from a distant planet. As revealed on Tuesday, this season’s greatest threat is much closer to home.
After initially thinking she might be pregnant in last week’s premiere, Lois took a series of follow-up tests that confirmed her worst fear: a diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer, which is both rare and aggressive.
“I was a little shocked when [the producers] first told me that’s what they wanted to do,” actress Elizabeth Tulloch tells TVLine. “But I actually think it’s pretty wonderful. This storyline hasn’t been done, and cancer is such a prevalent force in so many people’s lives. This villain is so relatable and so real, and more than anything it’s one that Clark and Superman can’t just go handle. For Superman, who is this all-powerful superhero, to be faced with something he’s completely powerless against is even more grounding for the show, and it places a greater emphasis on the strength of us as a couple and the family dynamic. I thought it was exciting, and I hope the fans feel the same way.”
Though Lois kept this information from her family for most of the episode, the truth eventually came pouring out as she tried to stop someone — specifically the judge who approved Henry Miller’s release — from taking her own life.
While talking the terrified judge off of an actual ledge, Lois told her, “I understand that fear. Because I’m facing something uncontrollable, too. I just found out I have cancer. And it’s aggressive. And all day, I’ve been trying to hang onto hope. But it’s really hard, because I’m really scared. But what I know, or what I believe, is that the only way to take back control is to fight. If I can do it, you can do it, too.”
This is also how Clark learned about Lois’ diagnosis, as he was floating within earshot during his wife’s powerful confession. After comforting her on the rooftop, the couple returned home to share the news with Jonathan and Jordan, leading to another emotional moment for the Kent family.
Lois’ cancer diagnosis is something showrunners Todd Helbing and Brent Fletcher have been discussing since the end of Season 2, knowing that if they decided to move forward with this storyline, they would need to make sure it was told responsibly.
“We reached out to so many people — doctors, oncologists, people who had been through it, spouses who have been through it, families that have been through it,” Fletcher tells TVLine. “All of our scripts have been vetted to make sure that it’s playing real, because we don’t want it to be taken lightly. We want to put Lois on a real journey that so many other women in the world are going through. Hopefully they can take solace in seeing that a character as iconic as Lois Lane is suffering the same thing, and to feel like they have someone to relate to. We thought long and hard about it, and we felt like we had something to say.”
Fletcher expects fans to be surprised at how “in-depth” the show goes with Lois’ cancer battle without shifting the show’s established tone. “We’re not going to despair and darkness all the time,” he says. “We have a very hopeful family, and we hold onto that, but we’re never telling the audience that the threat isn’t real.”
“It’s our arc for the season,” he adds. “It’s our villain for the season, to be honest.”
Your thoughts on Lois’ diagnosis? Anything else from the first two episodes of Season 3? Drop ’em in a comment below.