Lois & Clark & Chris & Ronnie: “Seconds”/”Forget Me Not”

Chris: No time for a clever opening this week on Lois & Clark & Chris & Ronnie cats and kittens! Today we’re looking at the conclusion of the “Lois and Clark Get Married but Actually No” trilogy, and as that’s L&C’s first three parter, it’s also L&C&C&R’s first time we couldn’t cover a whole plotline in one episode! We left our heroes in in disarray, with Lois still believing herself to be torch singer “Wanda Detroit” and that Lex Luthor is her one true love “Kent”, while a frantic Clark searches for his beloved with only his trustworthy parents to whine to and the Clone Lois (Cloise) to go to for clues as to Luthor’s whereabouts or ultimate plan. “Seconds” can’t hope to match the dizzying pace of the last two episodes, and to its credit, it doesn’t even try. What does instead is to slow down and offer a surprisingly tragic episode about sacrifice and unrequited love that also doubles as acting showcases for Teri Hatcher and John Shea.

Boy, Teri Hatcher. I mentioned how impressed by how she played three distinct characters in last week’s “Double Jeopardy”, and while she juggles three roles this week too, it’s Clois who gets the bulk of the camera time. In the time since “Double Jeopardy” ended she’s been taken to a cell/observation room at Star Labs where they can try and figure out what to do with her next. Clois starts the episode as the same naive childish creature she was the week before, but over the course of the episode she gets more attached to Clark and more desperate to forge an identity of her own. If she started around the emotional level of a nine year old, “Seconds” begins with her having progressed to around twelve. She has a very genuine crush on Clark that he gently tries to discourage while also trying to pry any useful information out of her about where Lex is and what his ultimate plans are.


You can tell he’s fucked up because his bowtie is all askew.

If you will recall, Lex said last week that he’d squirreled a couple hundred million dollars away for a rainy day in a secret account in Lois’s name. He needs the money to escape Metropolis and start his new life with Loi- uh, Wanda, who keeps having strange dreams where she’s hanging out with Superman. Speaking of The Man of Steel, he and Clois decide to lure Lex out of hiding by having Clois try and cash the account out and force him to reveal himself. Of course the whole thing goes sideways and Lex wallops Clark with a science doodad that he got from Timothy Busfield who’s in this episode for one scene for some reason and gets away.  But Clois follows Lex down into the sewers where she confronts him and learns that her particular clone model is only designed to last for a few days before dying and it’s at this point that the episode takes a turn.

Clois is devastated to learn that she only has a couple of days of life left and starts pleading with Lex to find a way to extend her longevity. Hatcher really goes for it in this scene and man, she nails it. Clois is a child in a woman’s body who learns she’s terminal and panics. She begs, she weeps, she trembles and, in a moment of despair, trades the only thing of value she has for help, Superman’s identity.  Lex pries the Clarks name out of her and then tells her there’s no way to prolong her life, and he was just feeding her a line to get what he needed from her. Ronnie, I really felt bad for Clois at this point. Like, really. Hatcher imbues her with so much energy and personality in “Double Jeopardy” and the early parts of “Seconds” that when she crumbles it’s really effective. I’m not saying I cried or anything, but yeah, I was a little shook. Which I wasn’t expecting.

Ronnie: Seconds is a John Frankenheimer film about the original Frank Costanza paying an exorbitant amount of money to become Rock Hudson and the consequences arising from that. “Seconds” is an episode of Lois & Clark in which, well, it’s technically more complicated than John Randolph undergoing a Rock Hudsonification. It’s not more complex, it’s more complicated. Clois is in custody of STAR Labs, Wanda Detroit remains under the sway of Luthor but is having mixed up dreams about weddings and flying and falling, Luthor calls Superman on a frequency only he and dogs can hear, meaning dogs are totally eavesdropping on a private conversation between two enemies. Wanda immediately twigs to how odd it sounds for someone to say “Wanda Detroit” out loud, almost as if it’s, uh, a stupid made-up name.  Nevertheless, she’s game to be coconspirator in Lex/Kent’s crimes.


“Behold: the New Coke!”

But even Wanda Detroit has limits. “I’m not going to shuck my body like a piece of corn” she says, when Lex unveils his master plan. It’s to place their consciousnesses in cloned bodies so as to be able to permanently give Superman the slip, because he’ll be looking for Lex Luthor and Lois Lane, not John Smith and Jane Smith. I think he stole the clone fetuses Dr. Mamba created (sure) and worked his way back from there. “All our problems will be solved by body switching!” You’re still gonna have to pay sales tax and shit, buddy. Lex’s plan to foil Superman consists of setting up bombs in buildings, most of which are abandoned. In one lowlight for the Man of Steel, he’s convinced Lois is trapped in a building rigged to explode. It’s a voice recording of Lois in an alley. What a dumbass.

You’re right in that the Clois facing death shit is affecting and Teri Hatcher does a good job at it and all her roles in “Seconds”. John Shea too is a delight. But my problem with the episode is that it’s all over the place. You got my crazy sci-fi caper in my meditation on death, and you got my meditation on death in my crazy sci-fi caper. Like, it all ends on Lex fighting with various people over a bullshit weapon that’ll never be seen or mentioned again. As expected, Clois dies and has a dying declaration for Clark/Superman and Lex perishes in such a fashion that he’s available for future guest appearances, though they’ll be voice-only. As the secret headquarters cave-in occurs, in slow motion the real Lois is hit by a rock. We can see where this is going. Remember the Harvey Birdman episode about Fred Flintstone adopting personas because of repeated bowling ball trauma? This is that, played straight. She still can’t remember Clark so we have at least one more episode of THIS SHIT. God.

Chris: I go into every episode of L&C expecting to be baffled and overwhelmed by how narratively and tonally incoherent it’s going to be. That’s just the price of admission. My hope is just that I find one of the weird diversions or fractures to be interesting or surprising in some way. And I genuinely appreciated how “Seconds” ended by being a show about how caring about other people is a path to redemption for even the worst of us. It’s not just how being around Superman inspires Clois to grow from a kind of selfish child-monster into a caring, sympathetic person who sacrifices herself for another person; it’s also how in the end(?) Lex is able to see beyond his own desires and, if not actively save Lois, let her leave so that she can live while he dies (not really, but you know what I mean). Shea is either the best or second best performer on L&C depending on how you feel about Teri Hatcher (I think he’s the best part of season one, but by the time we get to three Hatcher has surpassed him), and “Seconds” allows him to take Lex to a deeper place than he ever really has before.


Pitch of “what if Lex Luthor was being blinded by white hot knitting needles” goes sadly unused.

This is the first time Lex is ever really scared on L&C, he’s king of the world until the very end of season one. And in season two he’s on the run, but he still has the utmost confidence in his abilities to regain his wealth and Lois. By the time we get to “Seconds” though, Lex is actually pressed. He finally, really understands that Lois doesn’t love him and will never love him. On top of that, he learns that he actually knew Superman in his alter ego and never figured out that they were one and the same. You put those two realizations together and multiply it by the knowledge that Superman/Clark is who Lois loves/is marrying, and his titanic ego has finally crashed into the iceberg of reality. Lex believes that if he can just keep Lois believing that she’s really Wanda, he can still make a life with her. But Shea plays it like deep down he knows that’s nonsense. His desperation is a symptom of his recognition that it’s over for him, that he wasn’t as smart or charming as he thought he was. And as a result, he seems genuinely dangerous in ways that he never was before.

That’s the other reason his scenes with Clois work as well as they do. They’re both kind of the same person, right? They’re both desperate losers who understand but refuse to accept that the life they want is beyond their grasp. And maybe Lex actually could have prolonged Clois’s life, maybe the two of them could have gone off together and built something real for themselves. Lois really was attracted to Lex back in season one, maybe the ghost of that attraction is in Clois too. But he also can’t, because he can’t see beyond his own needs and obsessions. He can’t do for other people, only for himself. So he uses Clois, and then he throws her away. And that’s why, when he says he’s going to kill Lois at the end of the episode, I kind of believed him.  And because of that fear, It felt like he’d actually grown when he let her go at the end. His genuine affection for Lois (maybe the first person he ever cared for that wasn’t himself) allowed him to finally do what he wouldn’t do for Clois or any of his other victims (many of whom were women) and put their needs before his own. It was neat, and I wasn’t expecting it.

Ronnie: I’m not entirely sure what we’re supposed to make of Lex’s sacrifice. Is he being genuine, and if so, what does that mean? Let’s for a moment consider he did give in due to love of Lois. Is this shading a character or an easy way to write the narrative or is it both. More importantly, how do we assess Lex’s exit, because it is his exit from the series. He doesn’t come back. John Shea’s voice returns, but a voice recording is not the same as the character. A cave-in caused by a clone imbroglio is a fitting end given the series this is, but it’s still something of a whimper. Like, I cannot overstate how “over” I am clones. Around the time Season 3 was airing Spider-Man underwent his Clone Saga so I think in the mid 90s we were cloned out. Anyway, I think his love for Lois proving decisive gives Lex a scintilla of dignity that the last few episodes had been intent on eradicating.


A lesser show would have Lex yell “say hello to my little friend!”.

I suppose I’m not as hot on this one because it’s a means to an end, and that end is Lois still having amnesia to draw out this stumbling block longer so the wedding can happen, you know, next season. Lois getting hit by another rock and that triggers her amnesia again to not remember the Daily Planet and Clark is an especially brutal way to write everything. I’m reminded of the infamous 24 story arc in which Jack’s wife had amnesia for a few hours. It’s stupid. I hate it. I’d rather deal with some more episodes of Clois than Lois having to be reminded of her past life. Can Superman at least drop another rock on her head to see if that undoes the amnesia?

Odds & Ends

-I find it hard to believe that the headline for a bustling Metropolis such as, well, Metropolis would be “Lex Luthor destroys abandoned building”. It says right there–abandoned! What about the buildings blown up with people inside them?
-Jimmy explains the plot and says “man, if it ain’t one thing with you guys, it’s another”. That’s the kind of meta I still appreciate.
-Lex’s henchman Asabi is introduced with a gong sound, but he’s Indian. Lois & Clark can’t even be racist correctly.
-Why does Timothy Busfield look like Mr. Mike in his one scene?

Chris: We try not to engage in victim blaming here at the L&C&C&R Home Office, but in “Forget Me Not” Clark makes it hard. It would be one thing if the clinic Lois went to was either just brainwashing senior citizens into becoming assassins for hire, or employed wildly unethical quack doctors who fall in love with their patients, but when it’s both you gotta think someone fell down somewhere in the background check department. Like, Clark’s investigative reporter sense (which he of course developed after being bitten by a radioactive investigative reporter in the pilot) should have started tingling the moment Lois’s doctor tells Clark that in order for her to regain her memories she needs to be isolated from her friends and family, and given no hints or context about her previous life. I’m no doctor but I have been in therapy for decades so I’m pretty confident when I say that’s just wrong. But not only does Clark go with it, he actively discourages Lois from snooping around the clinic and trying to uncover the above mentioned the blackmarket brainwashing-senior-citizens-into-becoming-assassins-for-hire scam being run on out of the back room of the clinic. It’s bad enough that Lois is being kept from anyone or anything that might spark her memories, Clark actually stifles her natural impulses. It’s crazy.

I guess it tracks that Lois would get nonsense treatment though, because she also seems to have a nonsense form of amnesia. Not only does she not know who she or any of her friends or family are, she also doesn’t have much of a knowledge of the wider world? I think? At one point she compares herself to Nancy Drew and then says “I just wish I knew who that was.” What? How can you feel like someone and also not know who they are? That’s like, existential, and doesn’t fit at all in the same story where an old man blows a house up with a bazooka. Not that I’m complaining about the bazooka toting old man mind you, he’s the stand-out of the episode. The thing about that is that the other partner (as in not the one “treating” Lois) is supplementing the memory loss clinics bills by subliminally hypnotizing the odd patient into commiting murder for hire and lobotomizing them (or something) afterwards so there’s no trace of his meddling. It’s a brilliant plan except for the part where it doesn’t make a lick of sense. I can’t imagine anything more conspicuous than Carl from UP very slowly dragging a rocket launcher from a massive explosion.


“Uh, yeah, receiving flowers from a friend could make her remember even less.”

I’ve said this before, but I don’t really care about the whole marriage plot, in large part because this show is so sexless I’m not convinced they’ll even move in together after the wedding, to say nothing of actually fucking. Not that that’s something I’m gagging for either. Despite Axel Braun’s best efforts I’ve never been into the idea of watching superheroes designed for children have sex. For me, the pleasure of the show is in watching the characters interact with each other, and this week actually had some reasonably good stuff. Hatcher and Cain had some really good scenes where she’s trying to needle things out of him and he’s resisting and it’s pissing her off and they fall into familiar squabbling. It’s a good way of reinforcing the bond the two share without actually having to state it outright. There was also a part where Perry almost had a plotline which I felt was pretty sharp. There’s a lady in the mayor’s office (maybe? it’s some political position, I don’t care) who he disagrees with politically but also kind of wants to hug and kiss. Lane Smith is the second best actor on the show and they should give him more to do. I can see how if you cared at all about the wedding shenanigans in real time this would all be beyond insulting, but I don’t, and if I did, I could just binge watch until the marriage that I know is coming actually arrives. So whatever. I feel, Ronnie, like this is another one that’s gonna bother you more than me.

Ronnie: I differ in that I am very interested in how these characters knock boots. If Siegel (or Shuster, don’t remember which, don’t care) could draw light bondage of them, they can be placed in a sexual context. I don’t require a hard R here, but PG-13 (in the Scream parlance) would be acceptable. The question of sex for Lois and Clark will become very important come Season 4, if I’m reading my episode summaries correctly. Anyway, that’s for another time. Here and now it’s time for crooked neuroscience centers/old age homes. This one seems to be both things. You’ve got two plotlines running at once, and the show can only support one of those. You’ve got the doctor falling in love with Lois and therefore advising Clark to keep his emotional distance and you’ve got the guy who played Section Chief Blevins on The X-Files moonlighting as “The Hangman”, programming the elderly to kill. The fact that both are happening under the same roof is way more than coincidental. Like you said, Chris, what the fuck, Clark? Vet your locations better. He says this place is best in the nation, but isn’t it lucky that it’s the best also within city limits. Methinks Clark pulled a Costanza and went all the way to the cheap pages of the neuroscience section.


“As long as your insurance covers it, we’ll attach all sorts of electrodes to your brain.”

The Hangman plot reminds me of Eagleheart’s “Once in a Wattle”, in which the elderly are lured into a recording studio to provide sound effects for Hollywood productions. It’s on HBO Max, check it out. Hangman’s procedure involves “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and flashing images with the text “Save Yourself Kill ______”. Lois notices a lot of old people are suffering strokes around here so she investigates in spite of her handicap. Snooping on some files leads her to seek Clark’s aid and the Three’s Company bullshit is elevated to 11. See, Dr. Deter told Clark not to ever mention his romantic relationship with Lois, so he has to do this whole charade of having a girlfriend, because otherwise Lois thinks he’s lonely. He needs to constantly explain away why there’s pictures of her in his apartment and that he stocks cream soda, Lois’ favorite, in his fridge. The plotline is pretty tired, though I do like Dr. Deter giving Superman shit when he visits Lois on the grounds. He fumes Superman is not on the approved visitors list.

I like the brainwashing the elderly plot, but Dr. Deter falling in love with Lois and concealing her recovery or lack thereof from Clark irritates me. It’s classic Florence Nightingale syndrome and it happens too quickly for it to have any meaning. We’ve just met the guy and already he’s duplicitous, so who fucking cares. It’s an excuse for the Lois amnesia plot to be stretched out for another episode, which really we don’t need. I keep on saying it: hit her with a rock again! It’ll solve everything, or it’ll kill her. Either way we’ll be past this narrative cul de sac.

Chris: I confess that I’m curious at just how Dr. Deter sees all this going. Lex was betting on Lois’s latent affection for him bleeding into the Wanda Detroit personality and that the two of them could escape into anonymity by transferring their consciousnesses into the clone bodies that his non-Tony Jay butler grew in the sewers and live the rest of their lives on the two hundred million he hid before going bald and getting locked up. That’s just common sense. But Dr. Deter is just going to start dating his amnesiac patient and hope that she never recovers her memories? Is he going to actively suppress any recollections of the past she may have? This is a woman famous enough to have been cracking wise with President Fred Willard just a few weeks ago. There would be dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands of people who could confirm everything Clark might tell her about her past and their relationship.


The Villages Fight Back!

That’s not even mentioning how his practice must now be in shambles. His partner was programming assassins and then chucking them out like disposable cameras and he never noticed. And the money generated by the contract killings was used to keep the clinic afloat. There’s a lot of questions he’s going to have to answer and crazy insurance forms he’s going to have to fill out. I don’t know about you, but if I took my Gamgam to a clinic to help her cope with memory loss and that instead brainwashed her into killing the mayor then lobotomized her so she couldn’t squeal I’d want a refund. Dr. Deter is probably staring down a honey of a class action suit and he doesn’t want to show up at his depositions with his girlfriend-who-is-also-his-patient, that does nothing for his credibility. But I guess that’s what the rest of the season will be devoted to, unpacking the ramifications of this scandal. It’s got personal, political, and business ramifications that will probably be felt for years to come in Metropolis.

Ronnie: I don’t have a whole lot left to say about this one, but there’s a few odds and ends worth mentioning. One instance is the continued offscreen love life travails of Perry White. He goes to Clark for advice on dating and Clark understandably tells him to hold on for grim death. Maybe it’s not the best idea to solicit from the guy whose wife-to-be is an amnesiac, but the alternative is asking Jimmy what to do, and he is just a collection of puerile sex tips that border on date rape. I’m accepting Whalin’s character from Serial Mom as canon with this series by the way. I wanted to highlight this because it speaks to how poorly Lois & Clark juggles its supporting characters. I don’t ask for regular spotlight episodes, that would lead to more shows like the Jimmy Olsen pediatrician one, but things like “subplots” or “positive contributions to the plot” would be helpful. Lane Smith is a great actor. Use him, goddamnit!


“Threatening to drop Lois from the sky until she remembers her past” is not an effective strategy.

“Forget Me Not” is filler, pure and simple. The old folks assassinating people plot could’ve happened in any season and the doctor falling in love with Lois subplot exists to prolong Lois’ amnesia. He’s literally prolonging it for his own ends. I can’t help but think this is a reaction to the writers’ fear that the show will go the way of Moonlighting once the will they/won’t they couple get married, but Moonlighting didn’t even become Moonlighting so I don’t see the worry. I do understand it insofar as the writers show no capability to write adult relationships. No wonder they’d rather be doing amnesia nonsense.

Odds & Ends

-Speaking of sex, an old timer asks Lois to split a cream danish with him. How did THAT pass by the censors?

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