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The Late Mr. Kent

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Superman: TAS episode
The Late Mr. Kent
"The Late Mr. Kent"
Airdate: November 8, 1997 (USA)
Production Number: 034
Airdate Order: 36
Animation Services by: TMS-Kyokuichi Corporation
Written by: Stan Berkowitz
Directed by: Kenji Hachizaki
Episode images (4)

"The Late Mr. Kent" is the thirty-sixth episode of Superman: The Animated Series. While investigating a murder case, Clark Kent himself becomes the apparent victim of a murder attempt, and cannot reveal that he survived without exposing his secret identity.

Plot

A group of mourners from the Daily Planet attend a memorial at the local cemetery. The funeral is Clark Kent's. Superman watches from nearby and recalls how this all began:

A few days ago, Clark was assigned to interview Ernest Walker, a petty thief convicted of murder for 5 years, and now scheduled for execution in a week. Walker was caught trying to fence the murder victim's necklace, but swore he found it outside his door, and he claimed he was innocent. Using his super senses, Clark determined that Walker was telling the truth. He went to see Detective Bowman, who was the lead investigator on the case. Clark received the case files, and Bowman told him there was no question Walker was guilty.

Clark read through the case files, and was about ready to believe Bowman, when he decided to eat some leftover pizza. This reminded him of Walker's alibi: he was at home, eating pizza. Following up on this, Clark went to the pizza parlor nearest to Walker's home. While the parlor's delivery boy didn't work there anymore, the manager unearthed a set of disks containing old delivery records. Later, Clark called Lois in triumph: He found a record confirming that a pizza was delivered to Walker at almost the exact moment the murder was committed.

Proud of his accomplishment, Clark drove to the governor's mansion in his car, rather than go as Superman and then raise some questions. It would have been better if it were Clark's victory for once. However, someone had planted a bomb in his car, which exploded and sent his car careening into the ocean. Though he survived the explosion and the crash, the disk was destroyed and Superman saw a fisherman nearby. He couldn't emerge from the ocean without revealing his secret identity, so he swam away.

Later, Superman retrieved Clark's car for the police, under Bowman's direction. Lois attempted to convince Bowman that Walker was innocent, as only the real killer would try to kill Clark. Bowman dismissed her and stated that as he was a reporter, Clark would be prone to a number of enemies. Lois then argued that Clark could still be alive, but Bowman pointed out the eyewitness. However, Lois noticed that the fisherman had to wear glasses to read a clipboard, and went to question him.

That night, Superman went to see his parents, but even they couldn't figure out how to bring Clark back. Superman said he needed to be Clark Kent, as being Superman all the time would drive him insane. But regardless, he still needed to clear Walker.

Back in the present, Superman decides to go to the governor as Clark Kent and explain Walker's innocence, prepared to reveal his secret identity if need be. Superman heads to his apartment to change, and is surprised to find Lois already there. She explains that she was hoping he'd left some evidence of his investigation behind, but couldn't find anything. They both realize that someone has been through the apartment already: Clark's computer has been taken, and his phone has been bugged.

As they talk, Lois mentions that the eyewitness to Clark's "death" is unreliable, as he has extremely poor eyesight, and wasn't even wearing his glasses when the crash occurred. Superman is elated to realize that he can plausibly claim that Clark could have swam to shore without the fisherman noticing, but Lois denies it, claiming that had Clark survived, he would most likely have contacted someone. Lois briefly sheds tears over Clark's apparent death, and admits to Superman that she respected him and cared for him.

Looking through Clark's bookshelf, Lois sees a bomb placed inside. Superman flies her out just before it goes off. Superman puts out the fire and, scanning the crowd with his x-ray vision, sees Bowman near his apartment.

At the Metropolis Police Department, Lois confronts Bowman: He was the detective on the case, he happened to be the one closest to Clark's wreck, and Bowman was spotted near his apartment after the bomb went off. Bowman dismisses her, but Lois holds up the phone tap — standard police issue — and says she will have it checked for fingerprints. Bowman cracks and throws Lois off the stairs. Unfortunately for him, Superman was listening and saves Lois.

Bowman runs to the roof and steals a helicopter. Superman confronts him, but is shot with bullets strong enough to pin him for a few seconds. Bowman then fires a missile at Superman, which hurls him away then explodes, but Superman is unharmed. Superman captures Bowman and he and Lois together will tell the governor of Walker's innocence: It was Bowman who killed the woman, and framed Walker for the crime. Unfortunately, at the last minute, the governor had gone to watch Walker's execution. Superman rushes to the prison and manages to save Walker from the gas chamber at the last minute.

Lois reads her story on Walker's exoneration, but takes no satisfaction in her byline; Clark is still gone. Just then, she gets a phone call and bolts up from her desk in shock. At Lana Lang's penthouse, Lois finds Clark alive and well, but with a bandage around his head. He claims that he washed ashore, found a phone and called Lana, but was too weak to call anyone else until later. Lois is outraged, considering all she went through, but accepts the story.

Some time later, Bowman sits in his prison cell, and growls as he angrily reads the story of his own scheduled execution written by Clark Kent. He then turns and gasps in horror to see two guards unlock the cell and solemnly tell him, "It's time". As he sits in the gas chamber, he looks down and quietly wonders aloud how Clark survived the car bomb. Bowman suddenly looks up and realizes that Clark Kent is Superman right before the lever is pulled taking his realization with him to his grave.

Continuity

  • Bowman's corruption was foreshadowed in the episode "Target".
  • Clark calls on Lana to help him since she is one of the few people besides his parents who know his secret identity, as revealed in "My Girl".
  • Interestingly, Superman tells his parents that he needs to be Clark Kent and he'd go crazy if he had to be Superman all the time. However, in Batman Beyond, "The Call", Superman has apparently abandoned his "Clark Kent" persona, as Clark Kent, supposedly a normal human, would have passed away by then.
  • Also, in "Mxyzpixilated" when Mr. Mxyzptlk threatens to reveal his secret identity to the world, Superman shrugs it off, saying he'll just come up with another alter ego. Though it is possible this was a bluff on Superman's part.

Background information

Home video releases

Production inconsistencies

  • When Clark calls Lois to tell her has the evidence to clear Walker, his shirt, tie, and pants change from yellow, black, and green to Clark's usual white, red, and blue.
  • When Jimmy and Lois hold up the Daily Planet, the lead is "Superman saves condemned man". In the next shot, the "con" is missing.
  • Both Walker and Bowman are sentenced to execution by gas chamber. Most states in the U.S. abandoned lethal gas as a method of execution in the early-mid 1990's, before this episode was produced. Furthermore, Metropolis is located on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. (the same as Gotham City), and only two states on the eastern seaboard have used the gas chamber (see also Justice League Unlimited, "Task Force X"):
    • Maryland discontinued the gas chamber in 1994, but allows prisoners sentenced to death before March 25, 1994 to choose that method of execution; assuming Metropolis was located in Maryland, Walker might qualify, but not Bowman;
    • North Carolina formerly used the gas chamber, but now uses injection only.

Trivia

  • This is one of the only two episodes that is narrated by Superman in flashback. The other is "Absolute Power".

Cast

Actor Role
Tim Daly Superman/Clark Kent
Dana Delany Lois Lane
David Kaufman Jimmy Olsen
Joely Fisher Lana Lang
Eddie Barth Detective Kurt Bowman
Paul Colbert Ernest Walker
Peter Renaday Clerk
Priest (uncredited)
Gregg Berger Manager
Shelley Fabares Martha Kent
Mike Farrell Jonathan Kent

Uncredited appearances

Quotes

Superman: Luck. That's what it all boils down to, doesn't it? The smallest break one way or the other. It can save a life or destroy one. And you can't fight it, no matter how strong you are.


Superman: Dinner was hard to pass up. I hadn't eaten all day... not that I needed to.


Superman: I suppose I could have flown to the governor as Superman and given him the disk, but that could have raised some awkward questions. Maybe there was some ego involved too. I wanted this to be Clark's victory, not Superman's.


Lois: Who else but the real killer would have done this? He was probably afraid Kent was getting too close!
Detective Bowman: Kent was a reporter. Who knows how many enemies he had! This might come as a kick in the pants, Lane, but nobody likes you guys!


(On the phone.)
Martha Kent: Yes, Detective Bowman, I heard you. My son's car blew up and went into the ocean.
Detective Bowman: But are you sure you... understand? I mean, this is serious...
Martha Kent: I know. I-I guess the shock just hasn't set in yet. If you hear anything else, give us a jingle. Bye now. (hangs up) Well, this is a fine mess.
Jonathan Kent: It's not like he's really dead, Martha, he just can't be Clark anymore.
Superman: But I am Clark. I need to be Clark. I'd go crazy if I had to be Superman all the time!


(Watching Lois depart early from Clark's funeral.)
Superman: Well, so much for sentiment.


Lois: I always teased him. But I had so much respect. (Shedding tears.) And I liked him too, I really did. I wish I'd told him.
Superman: Well, maybe he'll show up yet.
Lois: I thought for sure he would, especially after I talked to that so-called eye witness.
Superman: The fisherman?
Lois: Yeah, I found out he has 20/200 eyesight! And he wasn't wearing his glasses on the boat. It's a wonder he could see the ocean.
Superman: Then Clark could've made it to shore, after all.
Lois: Yeah, but he would have contacted someone by now. That's the real proof he's dead.


Lois: (Answering her phone.) Lane here... what? (Bolts up from her desk.) WHAT?!


Lois: I don't believe it! You've been sitting here in the lap of luxury while I'm out risking my neck!
Lana Lang: He was recuperating. Poor thing, when I picked him up he could barely remember his own name.
Lois: But he sure remembered yours, and your telephone number.
Lana Lang: Clark and I go back a long way. Are you... jealous?
Lois: Yeah, jealous of his endless luck.


Detective Bowman: (Last words.) How did he survive that car bomb? How? (Realizes.) He's Superman!



Previously produced episode:
"Prototype"
Episodes of
Superman: The Animated Series
Next produced episode:
"Apokolips... Now! (Part I)"
Previously aired episode:
"Prototype"
Next aired episode:
"Heavy Metal"

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