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Recap / Superman The Animated Series S 2 E 22 The Late Mr Kent

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Clark Kent is believed to have been killed while trying to clear the name of a thief who claims to be innocent of the murder he's about to be executed for. Now he not only has to find a way to save the innocent and catch the real culprit but also find a way to explain his survival without revealing that he's Superman.

Tropes:

  • Angst? What Angst?: Invoked when Superman spots Lois leaving the in-progress funeral.
    "Well, so much for sentiment."
    • Also Clark’s parents’ nonchalant reaction on the phone after being informed of his “death”. Of course it helps that he happened to be in the exact same room when they were called.
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  • Attending Your Own Funeral: The episode begins with Superman off in the distance watching a funeral. That's when it's revealed that the funeral is for Clark.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • After Bowman pushes Lois over the rail, Superman comes through the wall to save her.
    • Superman breaks into the gas chamber to save Walker.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Lois upon learning that Clark is still alive and at Lana's.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Fortunately, it turns out that the fisherman who saw Clark's bombed car fall into the ocean has extremely poor vision and wasn't wearing his glasses, thus providing a plausible explanation for Clark to turn up alive. Lana Lang, who knows about his dual identity, claims that she'd been taking care of him while he recuperated.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The one time Clark tries to do something for himself ("I wanted this to be Clark's victory, not Superman's"), he ends up trapped as Superman for a while. Worse, the only reason Bowman catches onto how close Clark was getting and steps in to kill him is because Clark decided to call Lois and gloat about busting the case open while Bowman had his phone tapped - and he intentionally chooses not to share any details, to make the victory sweeter. In narration, Clark later chides himself for letting his ego affect his judgment.
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  • Clear Their Name: Clark is trying to do it when someone "kills" him.
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower: Clark Kent's car is destroyed by a car bomb and he is thrown off a cliff into the ocean, forcing him to fake his death rather than reveal that he's okay, because there is no way a normal man could survive the explosion and there were witnesses to it (or so he thinks). The trope is also inverted: Since Clark was "killed" in the explosion, and took the only evidence of a condemned man's innocence with him, Superman has to figure out how to catch the assailant and exonerate the innocent man before his execution, without using Clark's information or identity.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Detective Bowman figures out Clark Kent is Superman right at the end of the episode, the very moment he gets executed.
  • Easy Amnesia: How Clark explains away his survival in the end.
  • Eureka Moment: Detective Bowman figures out that Clark Kent is Superman but is unable to use this for anything since he's seconds away from being executed by then.
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    • Also for Clark Kent himself. At the newsroom, just before he was about to eat the pizza a co-worker left behind, he remembered that the thief claimed to have eaten pizza at the night of the murder, which he could use as evidence to clear his name.
  • Faking the Dead: Clark survives a murder attempt but initially has no way to explain his survival without revealing that he's Superman.
  • Frame-Up: Ernest Walker was framed for murder by Bowman. He was the case's lead investigator, which was how he was able to plant the evidence and make the accusation stick.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you look closely at the figure in shadow as Clark drives out of the parking lot you'll notice that it's Bowman.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Lois is clearly displeased that Clark (according to his cover story) remembered Lana's name and phone number rather than hers when he (supposedly) needed help. Lana clearly enjoys rubbing it in her face.
  • Honor Before Reason: Had Lois not been in Clark's apartment at the time, Superman was fully prepared to go to the governor and reveal his secret in order to save Ernest from execution.
  • How We Got Here: The episode starts with Clark's funeral and then it goes back to the beginning of the events that led Detective Bowman to want him dead.
  • Irony: Clark realizes he can't escape from the wreck in the beginning of the episode, because an eyewitness would see him and figure out his secret. Halfway through the episode, he learns as Superman that the eyewitness was blind as a bat, so he could have saved his identity regardless - but by that point, Clark has been "missing" for so long thanks to his decision that nobody would believe he wasn't dead anyway.
  • Little "No": Ernest, as the gas is released.
  • Living Lie Detector: As Ernest pleads his innocence, Clark notices the steadiness of his heartbeat. Based on that, he thinks that Ernest is telling the truth and starts looking for evidence to exonerate him.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Nearly happens. Ernest comes within seconds of being executed for a murder he didn't commit.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Clark Kent clearly would have been killed if he were a normal human, and can't reappear until Superman finds some way to explain his survival without revealing his secret.
  • Noir Episode: It's essentially a noir mystery with Superman. He even engages in a Private Eye Monologue throughout.
  • Not So Above It All: Clark can't resist calling Lois early in the morning to gloat that he found the evidence to clear Walker.
  • Oh, Crap!: "He's Superman!"
  • Returning to the Scene: Superman spots Detective Bowman on the street right after Clark's apartment is blown up, which points him toward the real killler.
  • Revealing Cover Up: Bowman's attempt to prevent Clark from digging up evidence to exonerate Ernest leads to him being implicated as the real killer and the perpetrator of the frame-up. There's no real indication that he would have been in danger if he'd simply let Clark prove Ernest's innocence; even if this led to a new cold-case investigation, he'd have been in a perfect position to sabotage it.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Bowman's motive for committing murder is left open for the viewer to speculate.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Bowman suggests to Lois that Clark had numerous enemies who'd want to kill him. Even though he's the one responsible for this, he's still technically right, but it's not because Clark's a reporter as he suggests.
  • Secret Identity: Discussed. This episode clearly establishes Superman considers his Clark Kent identity as essential to stay in touch with humanity, and would go completely insane without it.
    Martha: Well, this is a fine mess.
    Jonathan: 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.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Discussed.
    Lois: [looking at a picture of Clark] I always teased him, but I had so much respect. [cries] And I liked him too, I really did. I wish I'd told him.
  • Wham Line: At the funeral.
    Priest: We must not forget the good times and the warm feelings we have for a colleague and a friend named Clark Kent.
  • Wham Shot: Superman seeing Bowman in the crowd of onlookers outside Clark's building.
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