Lois & Clark Season 4, Episode 22 is titled "The Family Hour" primarily because it focuses on the efforts of Lois Lane and Clark Kent to start a family by having children. In previous episodes this season it was established that both Clark and Lois wanted to have a family. In this and and the most recent episode the desire of this married couple to have children has intensified. They already knew that there were fertility problems for them as a couple because Clark Kent is literally of a different species - a Kryptonian. Clark had long suspected that a Kryptonian man and Earth woman may be reproductively incompatible. In a recent episode, Clark went to his (Superman's) physician, Dr. Klein at S.T.A.R. Labs to be tested for fertility. In this episode, Lois and Clark receive the results and are disappointed to learn that, after Dr. Klein ran every test he could think of, the couple simple is not reproductively compatible. Lois was particularly devastated to hear this news. The couple also has a meeting with a representative from an adoption agency, who informs them that because of the high-risk nature of Lois Lane's career, the couple has been rejected as possible adoptive parents and there is little or no prospect of them being allowed to adopt a child in the future.
Another reason for this episode to be titled "The Family Hour" is that it features Clark's parents (Martha and Jonathan Kent) and Lois's parents (Sam and Ellen Lane), both visiting their children in Metropolis. Eventually, both sets of parents are abducted by the episode's villain, Dr. Klaus Mensa.
Finally, in an event that marks the cliffhanger for the season, the episode ends with a surprise. In the middle of the night, after a day of being disappointed over their apparent inability to have children, Lois and Clark are surprised to find that a baby is simply left for them downstairs. A note attached to the baby's blanket reads, "Lois and Clark, This child belongs to you."
As has been noted elsewhere, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman is one of the most overtly religious media portrayals of the Superman in any media. The overall religious content in the series is higher than in most films, comics and other TV series (such as Smallville featuring these characters). Clark Kent and Lois Lane are portrayed as overtly religoius in many ways, and there are overtly religious elements in many of their adventures.
From a religious studies perspective, the villain in this episode is of particular note because the character is used as a vehicle for a satirical send-up of the Church of Scientology and its foundational methodology, Dianetics. The villain, Dr. Klaus Mensa (also known as "Fat Head") is obviously inspired in some ways by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, although there are limits to the parallels that one can draw. Dr. Mensa ultimately serves the purposes of this episode's story and is not an attempt to present a comprehensive critique of Hubbard or comparable parallel to the famous science fiction writer who founded Dianetics and Scientology.
In this episode, Dr. Mensa is the founder of "Dynomonics," an organization and methodology which a number of characters in this episode refer to using the "C word" ("cult"). Apparently these characters are unaware of the fact that the "C word" is offensive (comparable to the "N word", for example) and has been degraded in its usage to the point that the word is of no real academic or journalistic value. The episode makes no attempt to present an accurate or balanced portrayal of Scientology, Dianetics or L. Ron Hubbard. One could argue that it doesn't really have to, as this is clearly fiction and the "names have been changed to protect the innocent." Still, if one substituted "Jews" for "Dynomonics," or substituted "Dali Lama" or "Jesus" or "Malcolm X" for this episode's fictional "Dr. Mensa," it is easy to see how the one-sided portrayal of Dynomonics and Dr. Mensa as "evil" are patently offensive and intentionally disparaging. There is no evidence that the writers of this episode have significant first-hand experience with actual Scientologists. Ultimately, this episode of Lois and Clark was inspired more by pop culture myths and urban rumors surrounding Scientology, rather than real-world Scientology or historical facts about its founder. Of course, the same can be said about most fictional portrayals of real-world religious cultures and figures.
So, is Dynomonics intended as a fictional take on Dianetics and Scientology? Clearly the answer is yes.
It is worth noting that in addition to Dr. Mensa, the episode features two other "Scientologists" (that is, adherents of Dynomonics): Carter Clavens is a "rich, powerful, healthy" man in his thirties or early forties who was a devout follower of Dr. Mensa and Dynomonics before Dr. Mensa was jailed for criminal activity. Carter Clavens must have been fairly important or "high up" in Dr. Mensa's Dynomonics organization, because it is Clavens that Dr. Mensa visits first after being released from the Metropolis Federal Penitentiary. Dr. Mensa murders Carter Clavens as part of his quest to have revenge on the people who "betrayed" him. Soon thereafter we are introduced to another "Scientologist" (follower of Dynomonics): Misha is a brilliant Russian scientist and neurobiologist who is the science and business partner of Sam Lane (the father of Lois Lane). Like Carter Clavens, Misha is a former follower of Dr. Mensa. Like Clavens, Misha left Dynomonics when he realized that the organization was a front for Dr. Mensa's criminal activity and not simply a benevolent path to self-fulfillment and self-improvement. Aside from the Dr. Mensa himself, Misha emerges as the most important guest-starring character in this episode. Misha was indeed once a follower of Dynomonics and he makes a number of mistakes and displays moral failures in this episode when threatened by Dr. Mensa. Misha is, in fact, responsible for revealing to Dr. Mensa that Clark Kent is really Superman, thus endangering all of Clark's family. But ultimately Misha is redeemed as a character when he turns on his former leader and heroically helps thwart the villain's plot and save Superman's family. Carter Clavens and Misha are both portrayed as fairly admirable, intelligent and successful, but note that they are former followers of Dynomonics.
As for Dr. Mensa himself, there is no indication that he ever legitimately thought of Dynomonics as a real religion or church. Dr. Klaus Mensa appears to be driven purely by selfish motivations: greed, revenge, anger and narcissism. Unlike many comic book villains, he isn't somebody trying to force his own twisted view of a better world on people. Dr. Mensa is simply a criminal and sees himself as such. But he wants to be the world's greatest criminal.
On the other hand, despite all the negative traits that Dr. Mensa embodies, he is not a liar when it comes the potential of Dynomonics. It really does work. Using the methodology he developed, Dr. Mensa is able to deliver on his claims: Dynomonics actually did increase his mental capacity and give him vast telekinetic powers. Had Dr. Mensa been a person of nobility and character, Dynomonics could have been the path for him (and others) to unlock incredible human potential and be a benefit to mankind. Through Dynomonics, Dr. Mensa had real power that he could have used to become a great hero, comparable to Superman. Dr. Mensa's intelligence and discoveries and insight into the potential of the human mind could have made him a great leader. But his lack of character and his lack of noble aspirations were his true limitations. Dr. Mensa was right about his brain having limitless potential. But Dr. Mensa's stunted character meant that he remained a mere petty criminal.
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