Breaking Down “Holding The Wrench” With Jordan Elsass

Jonathan Kent had a hell of a night tonight, as “Holding the Wrench” put both Jon (Jordan Elsass) and his mother Lois (Bitsie Tulloch) through the wringer in a way that we had not yet seen for either character. Following last week’s blockbuster revelation that The Stranger is not an alternate-Earth version of Lex Luthor, but in fact an alternate-Earth version of John Henry Irons, best known to comic book readers as the hero called Steel, things only got weirder for the Kent family this week. Learning that John Henry’s wife on his Earth was a version of Lois Lane, and tha the blamed his Earth’s Superman for her death, the family started to realize what his motivations are, and why he’s doing what he’s doing…

…but Jon does see something in this episode that he can never unsee, and that’s going to weigh on him for a while. He also has to come to grips with some new revelations about his family’s history — a tapestry that keeps unfolding in front of him and getting more and more complex by the week.

Jordan Elsass joined ComicBook for a brief discussion of the episode, what’s next for Jon, and why he loves playing this character.

At the start of the season, Jon was closer to Clark, and Jordan to Lois. Is that dynamic starting to reverse as the season goes on?

I think it’s…I don’t know if it’s intentional, I didn’t write it. But from what I can tell, it’s got to be. Speaking with the writers and producers, it does seem like Jonathan is definitely more parallel to Lois in a few ways.

Right off the bat, obviously, he doesn’t have powers. That’s a huge one right there. That’s going to make him, over time, have to become more like Lois. Her being someone that’s constantly in presence of Superman, helping Superman all the time, assisting him, and being there for him as a wife and as a partner, and as a mother for the boys, there’s so much that she has to deal with — almost more than Clark in some ways, because she doesn’t have powers.

That alone is something that is a huge. It’s not a weakness, and it’s hard to not view it that way. It’s hard to not view it as a weakness, and I think as Jonathan starts to comprehend more of what being in the family, but not having powers, means. I think as he sort of realizes, “Oh, I don’t have powers. I can’t do this, I can’t do that. This will put me in danger. How can I help? I can’t save my dad right now because I can’t get in the middle of the situation, I would die. There’s literally nothing I can do.”

That’s so much for him to handle, and it’s going to change him as a person.

Lois came clean with Jon by the end of this episode, but he never told anybody that he saw his mom die. Is that something that he’s going to be carrying with him for the rest of the season?

Definitely. That’s disturbing stuff. And he knows it’s not his mom, but I see what makes the possibility of it being his mom. It puts that image in his mind, and makes it very real.

He now has to think about that all the time — that, “okay, well, this is always going to be a very real possibility,” because simply, she’s Superman’s wife. That’s dangerous by its very nature. As I was saying before, just being in the family is very dangerous, and so Jon now having all these things that he already knew in his head, but didn’t really want to think about or face…now he has to face them. They’re being shoved in his face. Instead of him being able to sort of face them at his leisure, as he sort of wanted to in an ideal world, he now has to deal with it like that, right off the bat. So that’s rough.

Did you know at the start that Jon was going to be dealing with so many problems personally? In the pilot, it seemed like he had it made.

I think there’s a lot that we all didn’t know. The writers were still breaking story as we were going down the line, and I think this was still being…not pieced together, because there was definitely a skeleton, but there were these subtle nuances that were added in as time went by, and so I started seeing the character forming before my eyes.

So now, I have a very good grasp of who this character is, but early on, I think it was nice to play into that [all-American archetype], because I think that he didn’t have a lot of problems. Coming from Metropolis, he had no idea. I think this is a lot for him to handle, because he thought life was perfect, and now it’s not. It’s being torn apart before his very eyes in a lot of ways, but it is making him a better person. I think that it’s going toughen him up.

I think he was already a tough guy. I think he, mentally, was very strong, but this is going to test that. I think that he was definitely a little more one-dimensional, and this is building character.

Obviously you’re not Tyler, and you’re not Bitsie, but is there still pressure in knowing that, “Oh yeah, there’s thousands of people who love this character?” Obviously, you’re doing a very different take.

Right. I mean, the character is just wildly different from the comics and from that rendition of it, so that alone has definitely upset some people. Same goes for Alex, with Jordan. I think that that character not even being in the comics is definitely something that some people see as, “Oh, this is messing with stuff.” But on the other hand, a lot of people appreciate it this new take. I would say most people seem to be positive rather than negative, which is really nice, because that’s something I was definitely concerned about. The pressure is less now than it was before the show aired.

Before the show aired it was very, very high pressure. Now that I see the show, and I see it becoming something that’s so, I think a lot of us are putting in a lot of work into, to make the show what it is, and I see the writers doing it, and I see Tyler on set….Even on days where it’s been 15 hours already, and we’re all exhausted, and we want to go home, I see everybody putting in work because everybody cares.

It’s really nice to see that. Definitely there was pressure on all of us, but I think the show is something special. I see a lot of other people saying it’s something special, and so I can only, I’m forced to the conclusion that it is something special, and we’re crafting that as we go along.

And it’s really nice to see that, so the pressure is actually less now than it was then, surprisingly. Normally, when the show starts to air, that’s what makes it real. That’s what makes it a pressure experience for me, when I actually see it, and I’m like, “Oh right. A lot of people are watching this, and judging this, and writing in their blogs about this.”

But you have to put all that aside, and just say, “I’m going to do my best, and I’m going to do what I can with this character, and making my own.” That’s what my job is, and that’s all I can do. My job is not to sit on Instagram and look at what people are saying, and go on Rotten Tomatoes. The good news is that as of now, from what I do hear, it’s received well.

This episode was a lot of emotional stuff, and a lot of family stuff, and you got three minutes of Superman punching bad guys. I do feel like most superhero things are very plot heavy, and sometimes the character can get the short shrift. Is it fun to have a show where, “No, it’s this family drama, and then sometimes we get to go get put on cables and thrown across the room?”

Exactly. It’s funny, because obviously the show is about Superman. But it’s almost incidental to Clark. It’s just like, “Oh right. You’re Superman.” I feel like, as an audience member, especially in this episode and some of these upcoming episodes, there are moments where you get lost in the groudnedness of it all, the realism of it all, and you just have to go, “Okay, well this is something more. And there’s a bigger picture here.”

I think this family drama is trying to play into that, and what people are going through today, and what people have gone through for a very long time, and will continue to go through for a very long time. That’s what having a family is. It can be tough. And even if you aren’t in a family with super powers, which I’m guessing most of us aren’t. And the show is about drawing those parallels.

I think that’s really nice for people to see that. It makes it more relatable, even though nobody can really relate to being a superhero. They appreciate it, and they can look up to it, and they can aspire to it, but they can’t really relate to it. It’s tough to relate to a superhero, because super heroes are great, they’re always on the side of the right. That is why people relate to them though, at the same time. It’s nice, because the show walks that line, and you still get that side of it, seeing characters like Clark and Jordan being kind of isolated from the world, and then you also get the fact that then you have these characters that have to be strong, in spite of everything that’s happening to them, like Lois and Jon.

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