Superman and Lois season 3, episode 9 review: The Dress

Superman & Lois -- “The Dress” -- Image Number: SML309a_0005r -- Pictured (L - R): Dylan Walsh as Ret. General Samuel Lane, Tyler Hoechlin as Superman and Wolé Parks as John Henry Irons -- Photo: Justine Yeung/The CW -- © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Superman & Lois -- “The Dress” -- Image Number: SML309a_0005r -- Pictured (L - R): Dylan Walsh as Ret. General Samuel Lane, Tyler Hoechlin as Superman and Wolé Parks as John Henry Irons -- Photo: Justine Yeung/The CW -- © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

“Mannheim wants to talk.” Spoilers for Superman & Lois season 3, episode 9 follow.

Bruno Mannheim tries to make a deal with Superman and John Henry Irons to see his wife Peia in the D.O.D., but it leads to nowhere for the time being.

Meanwhile, Lois’ cancer treatments are going well, but she still understandably scared.

Here’s everything that happened in Superman and Lois season 3, episode 9 “The Dress”.

Superman and Lois season 3 episode 9 review

Making a deal

The conflict for this episode begins almost immediately as Bruno Mannheim comes to the D.O.D. wanting to see Peia, and understandably so. He might be a murderous crime boss, but he still loves his wife. However, it’s not that simple as that as John Henry Irons won’t let him in because he’s using Peia to bargain, telling Mannheim that he will only budge if he returns what he stols from the D.O.D. (which would obviously incriminate him). The approach is somewhat understandable with someone like Bruno. It’s hard, if not impossible for most people to show even the smallest sliver of empathy toward monsters who’ve hurt them, and others, so drastically in the past.

On the flip side though, Clark being empathetic toward Mannheim during this time is exactly why he’s Superman. He saw the pain in Mannheim’s eyes at the end of the previous episode and he doesn’t want to torture him, no matter what he’s done in the past. It’s a perfectly Superman thing to do. No matter who or what someone has done, they deserve some form of empathy, no matter how hard that is to muster.

But this leads to an inevitable confrontation between Superman and John Henry because of their conflicting approaches in dealing with this complicated situation. And what’s great about it too is that they’re both right. Neither of them are incorrect in how they’re approaching this given who Bruno Mannheim is, but they just view the world extremely differently.


Interspersed throughout this episode are flashbacks to Lois and Clark 17 years ago. This was before they got married and back when Lois was nominated for a prestigious award. But the main crux of these flashbacks is the dress that Clark buys for her and that she wears to the event. These scenes are really cute, and extremely smile-inducing, but how does it tie-in to the modern day narrative of the show?

The purpose of these scenes are to showcase that Lois is still scared. Not just about the cancer, but the aftermath and the double mastectomy that she’s going to have as a result of the cancer. And it’s such a valid fear, but seeing that assuaged by Clark after Lois gathers the courage to tell him her fears, it’s genuinely beautiful.

But before we get there, we get to see Lana and Lois have a fantastic, serious conversations about her fears and worries about what her mastectomy will do to her and her marriage. This is a conversation that is exceedingly rare on television, especially on superhero television which makes the fact that it’s executed so well make it feel all the more special.


Unsurprisingly, John Henry is being over-protective of Nat, with good reason. He just was nearly killed by Bruno and Peia and he’s scared that Bruno will do something to Nat if he’s not around. And he was right. Mannheim’s guys come to get them in the middle of the day, on the Main Street of Smallville, but John easily fends them off

In the meantime, while John tries to deal with Bruno on his own, Nat goes to see Matteo to try and figure out what he knows. This is definitely the weakest part of the episode, and maybe season, as it feels perhaps too CW for its own good. The “I love you” conversation between Nat and Matteo feels rushed (they have seen each other like three times). Yes, they are teenagers in a charged environment, but even then, it feels like rushed for a show like Superman and Lois.

Bruno then sets Atom-Man loose for one last time and he comes for John Henry, which leads to a great fight scene in Smallville to end this episode. The results of that fight, which saw John Henry use the hammer to kill Atom-Man for everyone in Smallville to see, will further the divide between Superman and John after John.

And again, it’s hard not to see where John’s coming from (even if he did escalate things throughout the whole episode). He has a super-powered man who’s trying to kill him and his daughter and he snapped. But it’s then impossible to not understand Superman immediately afterward. “I didn’t have a choice,” John says. To which Superman, matter of factly replies, “You always have a choice.” It’s a perfect Superman line that encapsulates the idea that we can always be better, no matter the situation.

Superman and Lois season 3 manages to balance the high stakes of the plot with excellent character moments once again.

If you’re a fan of Superman and Lois season 3 and would like updates about the show’s future, and the future of DC TV, listen to The CW Spiral Podcast. Subscribe to their YouTube Channel here.