SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “What Lies Beneath,” the Superman & Lois Season 2 premiere.
The Kent-Lane-Irons family is experiencing some growing pains. In “What Lies Beneath,” the Superman & Lois Season 2 premiere, Lois had a tough time grappling with the fallout of the Season 1 finale, which bought Natalie Irons — her biological daughter from another world — into their lives. Meanwhile, Clark found himself up against an unexpected foe in Lt. Mitch Anderson, who hijacked the Superman shield for his own nefarious purposes. Worse, his Kryptonian powers appear to be on the fritz, leaving him in some dire straits during some high-stakes rescue missions.
Speaking to CBR, Superman & Lois showrunner Todd Helbing broke down the Season 2 premiere and previewed what’s ahead for this nontraditional family. He teased further exploration of Lois’ family trauma, the way her sister Lucy fits into that picture and how it will all impact her relationship with Natalie. Likewise, he promised Season 2 challenges Clark in a way he can’t fight his way out of and that his trouble with his powers will get “progressively worse.” Helbing also hinted that Jonathan and Jordan will get involved with some crime-fighting and more.
CBR: What’s something you couldn’t do in Season 1, that you were excited to get to do in Season 2?
Todd Helbing: We were so restricted because of COVID last year, I think we can shoot scenes with more people in them! [laughs] We did a pretty good job of hiding that we were shooting in a pandemic, but this year, we don’t have to hide it as much. So that’s really nice. Hopefully, Omicron doesn’t make that just end.
As I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, DC Comics recently changed Superman’s motto to “Truth, justice and a better tomorrow,” dropping the traditional “American way” from it, and it looks like Season 2 is really going to grapple with that idea. Why was it important to see Clark grapple with that this year?
Well, there’s a time and place to have Superman say something, like say a motto or, in a flashback story, you can get the Fleischer suit. There’s like moments that have to speak or have to work organically in the show. I think, coincidentally, when we had Lane quit — or not quit, retire — last year, it just opened up the floodgates for a lot of good problems to have story-wise with his new handler, the person that would take over for Lane.
So it just really felt like, if you’re a person who wants to control Superman and you can’t and you kept putting pressure on him and you kept getting “no”s for an answer or no answers at all, that this would be a good time for Superman to say something in that regard. So it just worked organically and we felt like we could explore that.
Lt. Mitch Anderson has hijacked the Superman shield for his pet project. Considering that, what do you hope to explore with that Superman legacy in Season 2?
Yeah, that’s good question. We just really wanted to get into A. that crest is his; it’s not Anderson’s or anybody else’s to give away. We really wanted to get into finding a new way to make — we really enjoy putting Superman in positions that he can’t just fight his way out of. So having a work problem in this way, where you have a guy that’s taken over for your father-in-law and is creating problems and how do you get out of those, particularly when the people that he is solving the problem with, it’s not their fault, either, but you’re in a weird — you’re almost in competition with them, or you’re trying to save them from themselves. So that’s really the dynamic we wanted to explore is how do we create problems for Superman that he can’t just hero his way out of, and this felt like a really good one, and timely.
Additionally, Clark’s powers seem to be on the fritz. How worried should we be about that?
Yeah, it gets progressively worse. There’s an explanation pretty quickly. I think you get it in Episode 2. So yeah, you should be worried, for sure.
The premiere was really focused on Lois’ inner struggle, but when might we start to get a glimpse of her Season 2 nemesis?
Yeah, it’s interesting. It sort of all comes out of — well, in Episode 2, we kick it off, but it’s tied into her family history. I don’t want to spoil too much, but we get all the villains — their stories start in different times, and they’re they’re kind of unrelated at first but you slowly start to see how they piece together.
Speaking of Lois’ struggle, it seems like we’ll be seeing her sister Lucy popping up this year. Tell me a little about getting Jennifer Dewan back on board, and what we might expect from her when she returns.
Yeah, so we were really lucky and we’re really grateful that we were able to make this work with with her. She’s fantastic. We just really wanted to dive into all of our families’ histories, and some secrets maybe that they all have and some pain that they experience in one way or the other in their lives.
So with Lois, in the premiere, obviously, you kick off the mother story, but we wanted to explain why Lane was the way he was and the relationship with Lois, why Lois is the way she is, why she can’t compartmentalize, and then Lucy, how she would react to that situation, and she’s not like Lois at all. She’s a completely different person. She’s kind of the opposite of Lois. So what that would mean for somebody, if your mother was to leave, and then how we could tie that into the bigger mythology for the season.
A big part of Lois’ struggle, too, stems from Natalie’s arrival in the Season 1 finale, and we get this beautiful scene between them towards the end of the Season 2 premiere. How might we see that relationship grow this year?
Yeah, well, it’s not gonna be fast and easy. The two of them are in probably the most odd situation ever, and the same goes for John Henry. So I think that, at first blush, you look at these two, and there’s a version where it’s like, on Lois’ side, “Hey, I got the daughter that I wasn’t able to love here in front of me,” and on Natalie’s side, she could say, “Well, I got my mom back,” but that’s not the reality of it. They’re strangers.
So we just wanted to do as truthful of a version as we could to what that would really be like, and how there’s not always a connection with people, right? Just because they’re on the same show doesn’t mean that they’re instantly a mother/daughter. They’re not. So we just really wanted to get into the meat of that.
I have to say, I’m most intrigued about where Natalie’s relationship with her half-brothers will go. What can you tease about what that will look like?
I’ll just say there’s no romance going on between them! But yeah, it’s interesting for all three of them. It’s an adjustment for all three of them, particularly when John Henry and Natalie start living at the house. It’s a strange situation. So I think there’s an adjustment period. You know, some bonds form quicker than others. Natalie and Sarah become friends. So we explore all the kids and then all of their interactions and get them — you know, see who sparks to the other one who doesn’t.
Where would you say John Henry fits into this new Kent-Irons-Lane dynamic?
Yeah, it’s a struggle for him. I mean, coming back to Smallville and staying at the farm and seeing the doppelganger of his dead wife everyday? That’s tough, but in his head, it’s the best thing for Natalie, so he’s going to do it, whether it causes him pain or not. That’s the type of guy he is.
So yeah, it’s a struggle for John Henry too. He’s, trying to find his way with his daughter, trying to reestablish that relationship, trying to find his way in the world. He’s in a small town in Kansas now, and that’s strange. Then, on top of it, there’s the Steel aspect. So John, he’s dealing with a lot of stuff, as all of our characters are this season.
Last year, Jordan and Jonathan both grappled, for the most part, with typical high school problems, or as an extension of what their parents faced. What are the odds we’ll see the boys take some more initiative and get in on the action themselves?
Oh, there’s a high chance. [laughs] Yeah, I mean, you can only go so long if you have powers before you’ve got to start using them, whether your parents want you to or not. So I think there’s some some fun stuff coming up, and seeing how Jonathan deals with it is interesting. Yeah, I’m excited to see what people think of the brothers stuff this season.
It looks like there may be some trouble in paradise for poor Jordan and Sarah. As you developed their Season 2 storyline, how did you arrive at that decision?
Really, just kind of keeping it true to how relationships work when you’re in high school. I mean, Jordan is clearly head over heels for Sarah, but also, this is the first girlfriend he ever had. So like a lot of us, you fall quickly and think that’s gonna be the last person you’re ever with, but the reality is that’s usually not the case.
So with Sarah, she is coming back from spending some time away from Jordan, so she has a different perspective than he does and she’s been through this a little bit. She’s a little bit more mature than him, I would say. So yes, we’ll see how long these two lovebirds stay together.
As we see at the end of the episode, there’s something lurking deep below Smallville. Is this something comic fans might recognize?
Oh, yeah. Yes, they will.
Season 1 made some major changes to Superman’s mythos. How will Season 2 continue that?
There’s a few ways that we do at the season. One, in particular, I’m really excited about, but it’s just one of the things that we endeavor to do with the show, is Superman has been done a lot, right? So we really want to find a way to make these stories exciting for people that are watching the show, and part of that is to make them feel new and fresh. So we like to take established assumptions, established characters, find new ways to make connections, and reinvent a villain or a hero in a way that just makes it feel like you’re watching a new story.
What is a Season 2 moment or scene you just can’t wait for fans to see?
There’s a bunch. The first one that I’m really, really excited about is in Episode 3.
Last season, we had a couple guests return to direct, like David Ramsey and Tom Cavanagh. What are the odds we might see some other Arrowverse alums come back for Season 2?
You are definitely going to see David Ramsey. Unfortunately, Tom was unavailable. I’m gonna still call him every week and see. We have a lot of new directors this year. I wish they were all — I wish everybody could do multiple episodes, but it’s just not the way the schedules work with everybody. But there are some. There’s some directors that just have a genre cred already as actors, which is a lot of fun. So yeah, we have a great roster of directors this season, and I’m just really excited about this whole year. It’s turned out really good so far.
Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW.
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