Jimmy Olsen is having a bad week. Lois is sidelining him in favor of a new intern. Tina, the girl he likes, won't give him the time of day. He's having an all-around crisis of confidence. Then Jimmy gets a thank-you from the Man of Steel himself for his help in rescuing civilians on a breaking bridge, and everything changes. When Angela Chen can't get an interview from Superman on his latest rescue, she resorts to creating a story about Jimmy Olsen's relationship to the Man of Steel. Unfortunately, she blows the whole thing out of proportion. Although initially embarrassed, Jimmy comes to enjoy the perks of his new celebrity, until the downsides start rolling in — criminals threaten him and people hound him for favors he can't give. Then the worst happens — Jimmy finds himself kidnapped by Metallo as bait for Superman. Can a photographer save a superhero?
This episode contains examples of:
- Accidental Truth: Angela Chen comes up with the story about Jimmy being Superman's friend purely because she couldn't convince Superman to give her a statement about the rescue but saw him thank Jimmy by name. To Jimmy's surprise, she turns out to have hit on the truth.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Jimmy's crush Tina turns out to be involved with Metallo.
- Animesque: The animation and art style look noticeably more animesque than the other episodes due to the fact that it was provided with animation services from different studios.
- Avenging the Villain: A thug whose friend was arrested by Superman goes after Jimmy in retaliation.
- Big Brother Mentor: Superman/Clark Kent to Jimmy.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
- Tina. At the office, she seems like an attractive ditzy teenage girl. She's actually a sociopathic manipulator who even Metallo calls cold.
- Also, Angela Chen. Up until this point in the series, she was simply the other journalist in town, the one who's not quite as competent as Lois or Clark. However, in this episode, she suckers Jimmy into an interview he didn't want and uses Manipulative Editing to change his words into the exact opposite of what he meant. Aside from being a very unethical thing for a reporter to do, it also nearly gets Jimmy killed. Twice. Worse, when he tries to tell her that she has put his life in danger, she laughs him off and calls him “ungrateful” for making him famous.
- Call-Back: Angela Chen mentions the events of "Feeding Time", "Solar Power", and "Little Girl Lost" during her televised 'interview' - but she doesn't get all of it correct.
- Car Fu: Superman throws a wrecked car at Metallo. The android is unimpressed.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: Jimmy begins to get over his humiliation at the wildly exaggerated interview when it turns out that being known as "Superman's Pal" gets him a lot of benefits. Unfortunately, he ultimately finds out that it's not all it's cracked up to be, because with it comes many people asking him to use his relationship with Superman to help them out in various ways and people on the criminal circuit harassing him because of his connection to Superman. It doesn't help that (as far as he knows) what he's famous for is a total lie.
- Celebrity Lie: A played-with variation; Jimmy's reputation as "Superman's Pal" isn't due to him, but to Angela Chen; he's originally embarrassed and only starts going along with it later when he realizes the perks of the reputation. Then, at the end, Superman reveals he does see Jimmy as a close friend.
- Continuity Nod: Superman is also presumably referencing the events of "Feeding Time" when he credits Jimmy with "sav[ing his] life again."
- A Day in the Limelight: The episode focuses heavily on Jimmy Olsen.
- Deadly Dodging: Jimmy moves a chair so that Metallo's assistant kicks it instead of hitting him again.
- Defiant Captive: After discovering the truth, Jimmy tries to escape, but he fails, and Tina drops him into a car compactor. However, then Superman comes to the rescue and falls victim to Metallo. Determined to protect the hero, Jimmy breaks out and grabs Metallo with the car magnet, temporarily immobilizing him.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Jimmy and Tina go on a date after the news story airs, but they don't end up together. But given that she's a frigid supervillain fan girl, Jimmy didn't appear too disappointed.
- Didn't See That Coming: Metallo's plan to kill Superman for their past altercations worked well up to the point that the hero arrived, at which point he ignored the hostage completely. Because he didn't account for what to do if Jimmy entered the fight to protect his "friend", he loses again.
- Down in the Dumps: Superman and Jimmy Olsen fight Metallo in a junkyard.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Lois is miffed when Angela's manipulated interview airs in the Planet building, complaining that she would have been a better choice.
Lois: First, Superman saved us from Luminus and not the other way around. And second, what am I, chopped liver?!
Clark: Aww, I'm sure Superman likes you too, Lois.
- Endangering News Broadcast: Angela Chen makes the friendship between Superman and Jimmy Olsen public, thereby causing (seemingly) random thugs and one of Metallo's agents to target Jimmy.
Jimmy: You gotta take back that story. I was almost killed last night!
- "Eureka!" Moment: Jimmy gets an idea on how to stop Metallo when he spots some old car batteries.
- Eye-Obscuring Hat: After Angela's news story airs, Jimmy sneaks into the Planet office, pulling a baseball cap down over his face to hide in humiliation over the exaggerated tale she's telling.
- Foreshadowing: When Lois is annoyed by all of Tina's jewelry, she says she likes metal, setting up her secretly being in league with Metallo.
- Friendship Moment: between Superman and Jimmy at the end of the episode. The hero reassures his young colleague that he's done well and gives him the famous signal watch in case he's ever in trouble.
- Friendship Trinket: The episode ends on Superman giving Jimmy a watch, both as a thank-you gift for helping him with Metallo and as a way of calling for help if necessary.
- Groupie Brigade: "Superman's Pal" has to outrun a mob of lovestruck teenage girls.
- Hand Behind Head: Jimmy rubs the back of his head in discomfort when Angela Chen pumps him for information about his relationship with Superman.
- Her Boyfriend's Jacket: Tina approaches Jimmy after Angela's manipulated interview airs and asks him out. She also steals the baseball cap he's been using to hide his face and puts it on her own head.
- Heroic Bystander: In the beginning of the episode, Jimmy drags an unconscious man out of a crashed helicopter. At the end, he saves the Man of Steel himself.
- Hopeless Suitor: Jimmy has a crush on Tina, who doesn't want his attention until the news story airs.
- Humble Goal: After Angela's story airs, a man approaches Jimmy to ask him a favor. He says that Superman saved his life once and he never got a chance to thank him, so he just asks Jimmy to give Supes his thank-you card.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Jimmy, if his conversation with Clark is any indication. He calls himself "just a nobody".
- Immoral Journalist: The episode sees Daily Planet gossip reporter Angela Chen cross ethical lines to get her story. When Superman refuses to give her a statement, she fixes on Jimmy Olsen, who she saw him thank for helping with the evacuation. She convinces him to give her an interview on his relationship to Superman (though Jimmy insists it's just barely a relationship) and then cuts the footage to make it sound like Jimmy is saying that they're close friends and he's saved Superman's life before. This nearly gets him killed when the town crooks start taking the story seriously, but Angela refuses to recant it, instead calling Jimmy “ungrateful” for complaining about the publicity.
- Improvised Weapon: The Man of Steel uses cars; Jimmy uses a battery leaking acid.
- Love-Interest Traitor: Tina. Jimmy discovers that she is working with Metallo and only wants him as bait for Superman. The last we see of her is him locking her in a closet before going off to help the superhero.
- Lured into a Trap: Superman, who arrives to rescue Jimmy and Tina, only to find Metallo waiting for him.
- Manipulative Editing: When Angela interviews Jimmy, his side of the conversation goes like this: "I don't think I'd be real comfortable with [giving an interview]...It's not like I'd call us pals or anything." When it airs, however, it's been edited to "Real comfortable, I'd call us pals."
- Marilyn Maneuver: Lois pulls one when Superman rushes past her fast enough for the wind to lift her skirt up.
Lois: I gotta start wearing pants.
- Monster Fangirl: Tina, who’s in love with Metallo.
- Montage: Everyone asking Jimmy for favors from Superman.
- Mutually Unequal Relationship: Played with. Jimmy starts out believing that Superman would barely even notice a "nobody" like him and that all the times the hero has saved his life are simply because Superman saves everyone who's in danger. While he's right about the latter, he doesn't know that Superman is also his friend/mentor Clark Kent, who more or less connected with him on the first day in the office. In the end, Superman gives him the pep talk that Clark Kent couldn't finish and gives him a signal watch so he can contact him if he's in danger.
Superman: I thought you might need it, now that everyone knows we're friends.
- Mythology Gag:
- At the end of the episode, Superman gives Jimmy a signal watch which he can use to contact him if he's ever in trouble and needs help. Jimmy's signal watch was a major part of the comics. His joke "Just don't wear it out" could also count because of Jimmy sometimes calling Superman for trivial things.
- The title itself references the Silver Age comic book Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen.
- Never Say "Die":
- Played straight when the lead thug tells Jimmy he's going to "put [him] in the morgue."
- Averted later with one of Jimmy's lines: "How could you help him? He's killing Superman!"
- No Sympathy: Jimmy begs Angela to take back the story, telling her it's already almost gotten him killed. She only scoffs at his lack of gratitude for the publicity and rolls her car window back up.
- Now, Let Me Carry You: Zig-Zagged. Superman and Jimmy protect each other during the fight, but ultimately Jimmy takes out Metallo to save Superman, reversing the usual situation.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Tina, who acts like a ditzy intern while playing double agent for Metallo the entire episode.
- Oh, Crap!: Metallo has a short moment of dismay when he realizes that Jimmy Olsen has just removed his Kryptonite power source with battery acid. He has time for a brief shriek before he collapses.
- Quote Mine: Angela Chen does this to Jimmy Olsen. The poor kid suspects nothing, but the next morning the manipulated 'interview' finds its way onto TV.
- Recycled Soundtrack: The musical score used during Jimmy's montage is reused from "Joker's Millions", when the Joker had a similar montage.
- Rescue Reversal: Superman flies into Metallo's trap trying to rescue Jimmy and Tina after the girl sends a fake distress call, and Jimmy winds up having to save him.
- The Reveal: Tina is Metallo's girlfriend and she only pretended to like Jimmy so that she could trap him as bait for the Man of Steel. Originally, Metallo sent her to get Lois but that didn't work out.
- Revenge by Proxy: The leader of a group of thugs gloats that he's going to kill Superman's pal in revenge for Superman sending his to prison. Turns out, he was part of a test on Tina's part to make sure that Jimmy would make an effective hostage.
- Rewatch Bonus:
- A lot of Tina's part in the episode takes on a different meaning after the reveal.
- Originally the viewer attributes Tina suddenly developing an interest in Jimmy after the news story airs to simple social climbing. It turns out she just considered him easier to lure to her boyfriend's place than Lois.
- When a group of thugs attack during their date, Tina starts screaming for Superman. On the first watch, it comes across as a reasonable reaction given what Jimmy told her, but later it turns out she implemented the whole thing as a test to make sure Superman would come when she and Metallo used Jimmy as a hostage.
- When she "rescues" Jimmy from a Groupie Brigade and he begins spilling his frustration with the exaggerated interview, she claims it must be true that he and Superman are friends if he's special enough to the Man of Steel that Supes came to the rescue the previous night. Initially, it's innocent, but after the reveal, it's clearly Tina probing for information to make sure that she found appropriate bait.
- Downplayed; Superman's comment to Jimmy when he tells him to get the story revoked also takes on a slightly different meaning after the end. Originally, the viewer (along with Jimmy) might interpret his calling the situation a mess and warning the young reporter he can't be around to save him every time as an expression of the burden Angela put on the hero by falsely claiming he and Jimmy are close. After Superman affirms that he does care about Jimmy as a friend, the moment comes off as more personal.
- Shooting Superman: When Superman turns up to save Jimmy from getting mauled by a gang of thugs, one of them tries to hit the hero with a metal bar. Superman lampshades this:
"You're kidding, right?"
- Sitting on the Roof: Jimmy stands on the Planet's roof kicking himself over his part in the episode's conflict until Superman shows up to give a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech.
- Smug Snake: Metallo believes a superhero who is vulnerable to his power source and a teenager cannot possibly defeat him, leading to yet another humiliating loss for the android.
- Waif-Fu: In spite of her slenderer build, Tina lands some pretty good hits on Jimmy before he turns the tables.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what happened to Tina after Jimmy locked her in the closet (though it's very likely she got arrested).
- Wounded Hero, Weaker Helper: While Superman is within range of Metallo's Kryptonite blasts, he's weakened as the radiation poisons him. However, Jimmy defeats Metallo by slinging acid from a leaking battery at his open chest compartment, corroding the pieces holding the Kryptonite in place. Supes gives his non-powered friend credit not just for stopping the bad guy, but for saving his life as well.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Jimmy originally tells Clark he (Jimmy) is a nobody, Clark tells him that "you're selling yourself short", but the crashing helicopter distracts both their attentions from the pep talk. At the end, Superman drops by to break his teenage coworker out of his slump.
Superman: Still kicking yourself?
Jimmy: Why shouldn't I? I messed things up big time.