The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 8

For previous installments:

 

Season 8 of the show saw a lot of changes: the loss of the show’s creators Alfred Gough and Miles Miller, who were replaced by Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson; the departure of cast regulars Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor), Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang), John Glover (Lionel Luthor), and Laura Vandervoort (Kara Kent); and the introduction of new regulars Cassidy Freeman (Tess Mercer), Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen), and Sam Witwer (Davis Bloome).

The addition of Tess Mercer, who would later be revealed a Luthor by the name of Lutessea Lena, was an excellent addition to the show’s dynamic. In previous seasons, much of the villiany was conducted regularly by two other Luthors, Lionel and Lex, with Clark being the main opposing party, so the addition of her character changed a lot of the dynamic of the show in terms of gender representation for an extensive period far greater than previous done. This is not to say there are not negatives abound, as the themes from previous seasons were still very prevalent during the final seasons of the show, as I will address in the next paragraph about Lana.

Lana Lang was my least favorite character in the show from Seasons 1 through 5. I thoroughly disliked her for so many reasons, such as being dangerously ignorant, and not having great taste in men (with either Clark or Lex). She also goes through the most thorough transformation within the show, save Clark, as the innocent girl next door (always in need of saving, as seen in Feminist Frequency‘s Damsel in Distress series), to a very self-reliant woman.

But once she becomes a self-reliant woman, she can no longer be with Clark, and is dubbed a dangerous and/or unpredictable person (much like Tess Mercer is characterized throughout this season, and much like Lois Lane behaved when she was first introduced), due to classic double binds in storylines that reinforce hegemony, such as seen in the film, Sweet Home Alabama:

In these films, transformation is used as a rhetorical device to show audience members how to negotiate problematic career/love situations in a world shaped by feminism. The first theme involves the basic plot of each film. In all the films, a woman has a job. One is already successful, four want to advance and need to prove themselves, and one must redeem herself. Each protagonist meets (or already knows) a great guy, and must choose between this man and her blossoming career. In all six, “true love” wins and the audience is left to wonder what will become of that career for which the lead has worked so hard. This theme plays out in two ways: (1) the lead character keeps the man and likely loses job/promotion, or (2) the character keeps the man and probably keeps the job/earns respect.

The exposition and conclusion of each film are the two most revealing parts of the films. In the exposition, the audience learns about the lead character and her problem(s). At this point, the filmmakers invite the audience to identify with the protagonists by offering personal information to which other characters do not have access. For example, in Sweet Home Alabama, the audience sees a memory of Melanie’s childhood through a dream. In the conclusions of Sweet Home Alabama, The Wedding Planner, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, the protagonist successfully captures the man, and the audience is lead to believe that she loses her job or promotion. The second group of films, Down With Love, Never Been Kissed, and Miss Congeniality, features the protagonist winning her love’s affection, and probably keeping her job, but the audience does not know for sure.

Whether the protagonist keeps her career or not, the filmmakers undermine this element by avoiding closure. As all the films illustrate, even if the woman focuses on her career at the beginning, by the end, the romantic, heterosexual relationship has become the salient concern. For example, at the end of The Wedding Planner, Mary has not only broken the cardinal rule of wedding planning—she has fallen in love with the groom—but she has also acted on it. In doing so, the audience is lead to believe that she has lost her promotion. In another example, although Josie, in Never Been Kissed, makes career advancements for her investigative reporting, she is unhappy. The climax of the film is based not on a precarious career situation, but rather on a precarious romantic situation—will Josie get her first kiss? Thus, the audience is expected to focus on the “true love” aspects of the film, emphasizing the importance of “love” (or heterosexual relationships) to the characters and audience members. The second theme examines how this “love” is made possible in the films.

In each of the films, the audience is allowed to view some change in the character. This second theme of transformation occurs in two ways in the films, defining two types of double binds that mirror the two outlined by Jamieson, which I previously discussed. Set one, comprised of Sweet Home Alabama, The Wedding Planner, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, modernizes the womb/brain double bind by focusing on the transformation of the career-oriented woman into the “non-professional woman.” Set two consists of Down With Love, Never Been Kissed, and Miss Congeniality and updates the femininity/competence bind by portraying the transformation a “professional non-woman” must undergo to be a “real” woman. Because the producers of these films show this to the audience these transformations function rhetorically to illustrate for the viewer what “good” actions are in this society.

When Lana returns this season, she is no longer for love, but power, and has become very ambitious, seeking the Prometheus super-suit in order to harness superhuman abilities for herself. Tess’ ambitions, for contrast, include creating the Injustice Gang, activating the Crystal of Knowledge in Instinct which subsequently brings Queen Maxima of Almerac to Metropolis, releases the cloned Major Zod and the Kandorian army from the Orb in Doomsday, and works with Major Zod to build the Solar Towers that appear in Persuasion before a Crystal Kryptonite infected Clark confronts her, the Red Queen gives her a brief speech in Hostage, and Major Zod kills her in Salvation, before changing her ways and joining the Justice League, eventually as Watchtower. As such, either Lana chooses “love,” or feminism, but isn’t allowed to choose both, and since she was not going to return, power (feminism) was the easiest option which would allow the series to begin focusing more on the Clark and Lois relationship. When Tess formerly joins the Justice League, we also see that she now, instead of asserting her own agency, takes advice from or answers to Clark Kent, or others on the team, as though assertiveness (exercising personal power) were somehow a bad thing.

This seasons sees a record number of DC characters appearing in the show, with 18: Lutessa Lena Luthor/Tess Mercer, Bette Sans Souchi/Plastique, Maxima, Faora, Doomsday, Rokk Krinn/Cosmic Boy, Imra Ardeen/Saturn Girl, Garth Ranzz/Lightning Lad, The Persuader, Dan Turpin, Dr. Emil Hamilton, Winslow Schott/Toyman, Zatanna Zatara, John Zatara, Bruno Mannheim, Leslie Willis/Livewire, Rudy Jones/Parasite, Neutron, and James Bartholomew Olsen.

 

The Best:

Odyssey, Plastique, Toxic, Identity, Bloodline, Abyss, Bride, Legion, Bulletproof, Power, Requiem, Turbulence, Hex, Eternal, and Injustice

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In small separate parts:

  • Odyssey sees the Justice League in search for Clark, while Tess is in search for Lex Luthor. Clark is found powerless, and later is newly hired to The Daily Planet;
  • Plastique sees the introduction of Bette Sans Souchi, who has an ability to create energy blasts;
  • Toxic is primarlily involved with Tess Mercer and Oliver Queen’s past;
  • Identity sees Jimmy Olsen nearly discover Clark’s secret via a picture he took;
  • Bloodline sees both Clark and Lois going to the Phantom Zone, where Clark meets Kara, and Lois gets possessed by the Zoner, Faora, mother of Davis Bloome;
  • In Abyss, Brainiac begins erasing Chloe’s memories, bringing her closer to Davis Bloome;
  • Bride sees the return of Lana Lang, Chloe and Jimmy’s wedding, and the first appearance of Doomsday;
  • Legion happens to be one of my favorite episodes of the entire series, written by Geoff Johns, and featuring the Legion of Superheroes from the 31st Century, it’s just a fantastic episode all the way around;
  • Bulletproof sees the return of John Jones, who has been shot on duty, meanwhile Tess meets Lana;
  • Power sees Lana become Clark’s equal with the Prometheus super-suit, but in shows like this, that doesn’t mean a happy ending;
  • Requiem is the first episode to feature Toyman, a foe that I don’t like that much, but does appear in eventful episodes;
  • Turbulence displays something quite frequent during Tess’ early appearences, as she is trying to lure Clark to her, like an Evil Demon Seductress (see Feminist Frequency‘s #4) by damseling herself;
  • Hex is funny in Chloe having a Freaky Friday moment, so to speak;
  • Eternal finally reveals the past of Davis Bloome; and,
  • Injustice remains a favorite episode as it does feature the Injustice League, lead primarily by Plastique.

According to the IGN review of Odyssey:

What amazes me about Smallville is that no matter how bad the storylines may get or how tiresome the narrative becomes, there is always this glimmer of hope that pulls us back in year after year. Maybe we’re just asking for punishment or our love for future men in tights gets the better of us, but this show keeps us coming back for more. Ok, maybe I’m being a little too harsh, and let’s face it, any show that has been around for seven seasons must be doing something right. The Superman universe has a wide range of stories that the series can pull from and even though we are through seven seasons, the potential for another great season is still there.

Here we are again, but this time there have been a few notable cast changes that have genuinely made me excited for this season. Gone are Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) and Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk). Replacing Lex is Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman), a beautiful and hard-edged Luthorcorp executive who is overseeing the estate in Lex’s absence. Also, Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley) is now featured in the credits as a series regular. Davis Bloome/Doomsday (Sam Witwer) is also featured in the credits but does not appear in the season premiere.

“Odyssey” starts off with a fairly long recap and then jumps into the story about four weeks after last season’s finale. Tess and a team of Luthorcorp employees are searching for Lex, but Green Arrow, Aquaman and Black Canary foil their expedition. It’s a great opening sequence that features a decent amount of action and some bad special effects that Smallville is well known for.

In classic season premiere style, the story jumps from character to character, revealing what has happened to them over the course of the last few weeks. Chloe’s predicament is the most interesting as we discover she’s being held against her will by Department of Domestic Security (DDS) agents. Well, we eventually discover that they aren’t DDS agents but a band of Luthorcorp employees who are exploiting Chloe’s newfound ability. This new ability is the most intriguing development to come out of this episode. Last season, Chloe had a run in with Brainiac and it now appears that some of his abilities may have transferred into her. She is now able to decipher complex code at a lightning fast pace. This is a far more appropriate ability for Chloe than that healing power which she seems to have lost for now.

We catch up with Clark in Russia and, guess what, he’s lost his powers – again. Apparently this was Jor-El’s way of keeping him under control. Hopefully this is the last time Clark becomes “human” because we’ve seen this gimmick used a couple of other times and it has become tiresome. Without his powers, Clark is held captive by a bunch of Russian thugs until Oliver shows up to bail him out.

From here, the episode moves at a fast pace until the thirty-minute mark and is actually pretty exciting. The use of Moira Sullivan’s spinal fluid as a mind control serum was a great touch and turns friend against friend. Chloe is used to track down Aquaman and Black Canary who are captured while Green Arrow is turned against Clark. This leads to a climactic moment when Oliver fires an arrow right through Clark’s heart. Clark’s life flashes before his eyes in a serviceable montage of the series thus far. Of course, the star of the show can’t die and thankfully Martian Manhunter shows up, flies him towards the sun, which miraculously restores his powers. Yes, this is a little convenient, but far better than having Clark run around without his powers for the first few episodes of the season. While having the sun strip Manhunter of his powers was disappointing, it does fit into the DC universe as he does have a weakness to fire and intense heat. The sun would essentially be a giant ball of Kryptonite for him.

With Chloe saved and Clark’s powers back, the episode concludes with a rather long epilogue. Chloe reunites with Jimmy and she says yes to his marriage proposal. This relationship grew tedious by the end of last season and I think this could be a sore point of this year as well. Clark and the rest of the Justice League meet and discuss the disappearance of Lex, each agreeing to continue searching for him. Finally, Clark agrees to take a job at the Daily Planet. This is the second biggest development of the episode and while the way it happens doesn’t fit into the classic Superman mythos, it is a welcome addition to the Smallville universe. Now all we need are the glasses.

According to the IGN review of Plastique:

After tying up loose ends from last season’s finale, we finally get to delve into the different look and feel for Smallville’s 8th season. The Daily Planet’s presence, which increased exponentially every season, now appears to be the primary hub for Clark Kent. We’ll definitely be seeing the Kent farmstead, but there already seems to be a shift of focus to Metropolis from Smallville. There’s also a focus on the Lois and Clark relationship that will certainly be a major component and we’re finally introduced to Davis Bloome (Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice – Sam Witwer) who genuinely surprised me in his first appearance on the show. Unfortunately, this week’s tale about a homeless girl with superpowers drags the rest of the episode down with a by-the-numbers freak of the week type story.

After all these years, it’s strange seeing Tom Welling’s Clark Kent working at the Daily Planet. It’s not that he doesn’t belong there. I’ve always been a firm believer that Welling is great casting to eventually fill the role of Superman, but the series has been so disjointed up until this point that it doesn’t feel like he is at that point in his life quite yet. There were episodes last season were he was still acting like a whiny little schoolboy. Regardless, I have to say that I was really impressed with his first day at the Planet. Last week we were introduced to a Lois who looks more adult and closer to her comic book counter part, this week, Clark’s wardrobe is altered to reflect his new position at the Planet. It’s a welcome change and lends itself well to the evolution of the series. You can definitely tell there are new people running the show and they aren’t afraid to shake things up.

On Battlestar Galactica Sam Witwer was barely a blip on my radar. He was present but never given an opportunity to perform as a lead character. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had an opportunity to play The Force Unleashed and was pleasantly surprised by his voice work in that and it got me pretty excited for his first episode onSmallville. He doesn’t disappoint as the good-hearted and charismatic paramedic – Davis Bloome. His character is a welcome addition and he’s already developed a good chemistry with the rest of the cast.

I’ll personally admit that I wasn’t convinced by the idea of having someone play a “pre-monster” version of Doomsday and was scared that it would destroy the character, but after one episode I’m genuinely intrigued. A lot of that credit belongs to Witwer. I’ll even admit that I’m enjoying the romantic element between him and Chloe. Also, the brow ridges on Witwer at the end as he obviously goes through some sort of transformation process appear to be a pretty close likeness with Doomsday.

The real disappointment here is the introduction of Bette (DC Comic’s Plastique). Her story is serviceable and allows Bloome to be introduced into the story and gives Chloe motivation to restart the Isis Foundation, but it ends up feeling like any other freak of the week character. The big twist that it wasn’t Tommy who had the powers was very transparent and the actress playing Bette laid the “homeless girl with an attitude” cliche on a little too thick. Although, one great moment to come out of this storyline is the final scene between her and Tess that hints at the possible formation of some sort of super villain team – an Injustice League perhaps?

This new season of Smallville, like every season, shows a lot of promise and two episodes in, I’m genuinely excited to see what will happen next. I don’t even really miss Lex Luthor right now and to be honest, they did everything they really could do with that character after seven seasons. This is a good setup for what could be something different and exciting.

According to the IGN review of Toxic:

There was plenty of potential for “Toxic” to be a really eye-opening look into Oliver Queen’s past and his evolution into the Green Arrow. Unfortunately, the Smallville team used a great origin story as an excuse to link Tess Mercer’s past with Oliver’s and to fill the episode with pointless melodrama that led nowhere. It’s a narrow vision of a classic story in the DC Universe and, worst of all, it’s boring.

The previews at the conclusion of last week’s episode had me genuinely excited for what looked to be a detailed look at Oliver Queen’s transition into Green Arrow. We do get to see him developing his skills as an archer but his self-training is sequestered to a training montage that lasts a couple of minutes. It’s fair to say that a televised version of his origin shouldn’t spend thirty minutes on just training but events in the present weren’t much better. Lois weeping over her former love, and Clark running around town looking for clues are not my ideas of excitement.

The second half of Ollie’s drug-induced flashback is where he encounters a group of smugglers and Tess Mercer. At this point in her life, Tess is far from being the executor of the Luthor Estate. Here she is a biologist who has been kidnapped along with her friend Megan. At this point, I really should be used to Smallville taking liberties with character’s origins from the DC Universe, but regardless of whether or not she belonged, Tess felt unnecessary and far too conveniently placed. Her presence pulls the spotlight away from Ollie and this is definitely his moment to shine. Instead, it’s now about how they both escaped and the relationship that grew from that. We missed out on a young Green Arrow dispatching several smugglers with his archery skills and instead had to settle on one single, but very cool, hint at the abilities he had developed while on the island. What could have been a very exciting episode is dragged down by the need to further a narrative in the present that could have just as easily been developed in some other way.

Beyond the wasted opportunity, there is some terribly over-dramatic dialogue that makes some scenes laughable. After Megan is killed, Tess Mercer references a bracelet that the girl is wearing and how she said that she would wear it until the day she died. This is supposed to be a dramatic moment but Freeman’s delivery along with the silliness of the line really take away from the intended effect they are going for here. Another sappy bit of dialogue is Lois’ “Oliver Queen does not die today” speech to Davis. The urgency is very real but the dialogue is too grand for the moment and Erica Durance simply doesn’t have the screen presence to deliver such a moving line.

There is one scene in “Toxic” that is very representative of what this show should aspire towards. Ollie shares a scene with Clark in which he accuses him of knowing about Lionel Luthor’s involvement in the death of his parents. Clark can’t deny it and the two share a heated exchange. It’s a very adult scene and Welling, who had been relatively held back by flat dialogue, steps it up here. Justin Hartley continues to prove the he’s a capable actor and a good fit for Ollie’s brash attitude. He once again puts Clark in his place and challenges him to be the hero he can be.

“Toxic” simply misses the point and what could have been an exciting look at Green Arrow’s origin story is instead turned into an excuse to look at how he and Tess Mercer first met. The events to save Ollie in the present are simply not compelling and feel like moments of filler between the flashbacks.

According to the IGN review of Identity:

Clark Kent gallivanting around as Metropolis’ Good Samaritan has garnered him all kinds of unwanted attention. Unfortunately, Clark lacks a secret identity and doesn’t seem to realize that running around and saving people in your everyday “street clothes” is eventually going to draw unwanted suspicion. This week, Jimmy captures a photograph of a red and blue blur that eventually leads him on the path to the truth about Clark’s secret.

Last week, John Jones warned Clark about his carelessness when it came to saving the people of Metropolis. Well, Clark apparently took nothing from that conversation and now finds himself protecting his secret from a determined Jimmy Olson. I have to admit, Jimmy’s pretty sharp in this episode and far better than his annoying usual self. He puts the pieces of the puzzle together fairly quickly and has Clark on his heels for the entire episode. It also doesn’t help that Clark’s so defensive about the red and blue blur that Jimmy managed to capture. Clark has to be smarter about that, but this is a learning process for him and the story appears to be pushing him in the direction of utilizing a secret identity. I still don’t expect him to be wearing tights anytime soon, but hopefully he will actually take something from this experience and start shopping for glasses.

The friendship between Clark and Oliver has always been somewhat adversarial, with Ollie always challenging Clark to actually do something with his abilities. This time around, it’s Ollie who has gone astray and it is the favor that he does for Clark that finally puts on him the hero’s path once again. The final conversation between the two is a welcome one and for once it doesn’t feel like Ollie is talking down to Clark but that the two understand that they are both part of something larger than themselves. Clark doesn’t feel like a kid anymore, he seems like a man with a purpose and someone Oliver can respect.

Lois’ story that runs concurrently with Clark’s genuinely surprised me. I actually expected Tess’ latest freak of the week, Sebastian, to catch Lois off guard, but it was good to learn that she had learned his true motives before their date. Just as Clark is developing into his future self, it appears that Lois’ investigative skills are improving as well. Her determination to get the first exclusive interview with “The Good Samaritan” was a great nod to her eventual interview with Superman and felt like a very real connection to the movies.

With so many other storylines developing, Chloe’s newfound Brainiac powers haven’t been a major plot point. Besides a concerned Clark, it seems like they barely get a mention and they are naturally a good fit for her character. It seemed only natural that powers taken from Brainiac would eventually overwhelm Chloe, but the twist ending genuinely surprised me. This wasn’t a situation where Brainiac had taken control, this appeared to be Chloe using her powers to kill a person in order to protect Clark’s secret. If this is the case, it’s an exciting character development and reminiscent of the whole Dark Willow storyline from Buffy the Vampire Slayer season six. There is plenty of potential here and it will be interesting to see how this develops over the course of the next few months. A Clark versus Chloe storyline would be an interesting conclusion to the season, or even the series.

According to the IGN review of Bloodline:

After the first twenty minutes of “Bloodline”, the direction the story was going had me worried. The Phantom Zone had been over-used the past couple of seasons and I had little interest in seeing that bloom-lit hell ever again. Additionally, Kara Zor-El (Laura Vandervoort) had been wasted over the course of last season and I saw very little reason to have her character return so soon, even if it was for a short stay. Thankfully, the story surprised me big time and the latter half of the episode is rich in development that builds upon a few key storylines.

Having Lois and Clark stranded in the Phantom Zone was a little surprising. Up until now Lois has seen plenty of strange events but to have her whisked off to another plain of existence seemed like a bold move. It was a bit frustrating to see that Lois noticed how familiar the Phantom Zone seemed to Clark yet she never bothered to press him on why he wasn’t as scared as she was. Her assumption that the same “aliens” that had taken them had also abducted Kara was cute but she never questioned the convenience of Clark’s cousin also being in the same predicament. Sure, with comics you have to suspend your disbelief to quite an extent, but this was too much. As expected though, she forgets everything by the end of the episode – convenient.

The story picks up after Lois escapes the Phantom Zone with the help of Kara and Clark. Lois is possessed by the phantom of Faora (Another DC character introduced!) who in this version of events was once married to Zod and they “created” a child together. We quickly learn that their child is Davis Bloome and that his mission was to be the destroyer of Earth – a.k.a. Doomsday. Davis is obviously oblivious to what she is talking about but that doesn’t stop her from driving a metal bar through his chest.

While the show’s interpretation of Doomsday’s origin is not exactly accurate, I do appreciate that the idea behind the character is still the same. The creature that would eventually become Doomsday in the DC universe had the ability to become invulnerable to what previously killed it. This is how it eventually became impervious to pretty much anything. Here we see Davis’ body adapt and now he cannot be stabbed.

As for Faora, she’s never been a major player in the DC Universe (she also was never married to Zod but did work with him) and here she serves her purpose quite nicely. I was a little worried that we were dealing with another random phantom creature after she possessed Lois but she turned out to be critical to this season’s story-arc. Unfortunately, Erica Durance was a little stiff in the part and she never seemed quite comfortable playing a drastically different character.

The Chloe we saw at the end of “Identity” seems to have regressed back into a dark recess of her mind because she appeared to be back to her same old self this week. Well, except for the ability to hack into a Kryptonian crystal. The storyline is progressing fairly well, but after last week, I definitely want to see more of the Brainiac-corrupted version of Chloe. It was good to see Ollie concerned about her as well and while Clark has been worried, he hasn’t had the opportunity to really do anything about it.

As I mentioned earlier, Kara’s character suffered from a lack of focus towards the end of last season and her character felt pointless from a narrative standpoint. Thankfully, they are doing the right thing this season sending her off on a mission to find the lost city of Kandor. Conveniently, the Kandor storyline will most likely bring her right back home in a few months.

What has surprised me the most is the abundant use of characters from the comic books that we have been seeing. Many of these characters may not be the most recognizable faces but they lend a sense of authenticity to the Smallville universe and go a long way towards connecting Clark’s story to the larger picture. It’s actually a treat to tune in every week and recognize the villain or research a name and have it turn on to be someone relevant in the Superman universe.

According to the IGN review of Abyss:

What I’ve really enjoyed about Smallville lately is how ambitious the stories have been. It’s obvious that the new series’ showerunners are eager to tell a far more ambitious story and that the CW is willing to give this aging series new legs with a slightly altered vision of Clark’s story. “Abyss” builds upon the momentum of the last few episodes with a pivotal moment in Chloe Sullivan’s friendship with Clark Kent. Brainaic, who somehow infected Chloe’s brain last season, is now corrupting her memories and it is up to her friends to try and save her before it’s too late.

Just a few weeks ago I was concerned that Chloe wasn’t being given enough to do. She had been relegated to the background and her engagement to Jimmy Olsen wasn’t bearing any interesting storylines. Thankfully, the Brainiac angle has quickly matured and now the effects of his mind-meld with her last season are coming to fruition. This is truly a frightening moment for Chloe, her memories are being stripped away and Allison Mack does a convincing job of conveying her character’s confusion and disorientation. One moment she remembers her friends and the next moment she is left frightened and confused with only fragments of memories to keep her sane and the image of a kryptonian symbol to drive the story forward.

As Chloe’s memories are ripped from her, we are taken along for the ride in a visual tapestry of past episodes. We get to revisit Chloe secretly watching Clark catch a car from the season four episode “Pariah” and Clark rush to Chloe’s aid before Dark Thursday at the end of season five. The most touching flashback, and sure to be a popular one amongst long time fans, is a scene between a young Clark and Chloe (played by different actors), in which they share a quick first kiss. It’s a cute moment that is actually mentioned, but never shown, in the first season episode “Obscura”. The episode is worth watching for these flashbacks alone and anyone can appreciate these moments as pivotal in Clark and Chloe’s relationship. This makes the pain of having them stripped away all the more real.

Chloe’s amnesia forces Clark to recreate the Fortress of Solitude and seek help from Jor-El (Terence Stamp) who appears to be a little more forgiving than I remember him. Thankfully he’s willing to help restore Chloe’s memories and remove Brainiac from her system. Oliver Queen’s talk with Clark about Chloe being in danger seems to have had its affect on Clark as he asks Jor-El to keep her from remembering his secret. Needless to say, this is a shocking turn of events and while I’m sad to see Clark lose an ally who knew his secret, it was the right decision. I can see how some would be disappointed by this move but it definitely is a logic choice in the context of the story.

I was originally pleased with Davis and Chloe’s potential relationship as I’ve never been a big fan of Jimmy but as this storyline has progressed, Davis’ interest in Chloe appeared to become more of an infatuation. This week, Davis reveals his true feelings to Chloe and declares that he will not be attending her wedding because he can’t stand to see her marry “the wrong guy.” Jor-El suggests that Brainiac may be searching for Doomsday so it could be possible that Chloe and Davis share some sort of unconscious connection that is fueling his infatuation. Or, he really could just be the stalker type. Either way, it is another step in setting up what looks to be one hell of a wedding episode.

As for Jimmy, this is the first time, in a long time, that I really enjoyed his character. He did have a moment of jealousy when he realized that Chloe retained her memories of Clark but for the most part he handled himself well and made the right decisions when called upon.

What is really shocking is that “Abyss” is simply the calm before the storm. The next two episodes, “Bride” and Geoff Johns’ “Legion” could very well be the most ambitious stories ever tackled in the series’ eight year run. If you haven’t seen the preview for “Bride”, I suggest you keep it that way. I was surprised by how much the teaser for next week’s episode showed and I would have rather gone in not seeing what I saw. Needless to say, this is the most excited I’ve been for Smallville in quite some time.

According to the IGN review of Bride:

“Bride” is one of the most anticipated episodes of Smallville in quite some time. With the announcement of Doomsday appearing on the show over the summer, many have speculated whether or not the character could be pulled off on a limited budget. Well, with well-placed shadows and limited screen time, they actually managed to produce a good representation of the character on television. The episode isn’t all about Doomsday though, Chloe’s wedding is used as an opportunity to highlight the budding romance between Lois and Clark. Plus, Green Arrow is on the hunt for Lex Luthor.

There is no doubt that Doomsday’s appearance was worth the wait. While we barely saw much more of him than in last week’s teaser, what we did see of him looked great. Of course there were plenty of shots of a grey figure cast in shadow and we never got a crystal clear look but there was no mistaking his physically dominating presence on screen. At first I was a little disappointed that Clark was thrown out of the action so quickly, but this isn’t the time or place for them to fight. For once I was glad to see Clark incapacitated by kryptonite. They are hopefully saving the Doomsday vs. Clark fight for another episode. Instead of a fight, the conclusion focused on building the intriguing storyline that has developed between Doomsday/Bloome and Brainiac/Chloe. The shot of Chloe (Chloiac?) waking up in the fortress and staring up at Doomsday with a smile was creepy and promises good things for the future.

While I loved Doomsday’s first appearance, I thought that the build up to him in this episode was a bit lacking. The one scene with Davis dumping the body parts in the dumpster was a great idea but the story could have done with a bit more of that. One or two extra scenes with Bloome or Doomsday tearing a path towards the Kent farm while the wedding was taking place would have done an adequate job of building suspense before his arrival.

The other major event in “Bride,” and something that some may have forgotten in all the hype, was the marriage of Chloe and Jimmy! Even if this episode had no Doomsday, this would be a pretty big event for any longtime Smallville fan, but unfortunately this is where the episode falls a little short. While this is Chloe and Jimmy’s wedding day, far too much emphasis is put on the budding relationship between Lois and Clark. Yes, I know you’ve heard me talk enough about my issues with their relationship developing so rapidly, but I would have rather seen a little more focus put on Clark and Chloe’s friendship. Clark giving Chloe the flower he received from her at homecoming and their dance together were great moments but there weren’t many more like them. This was Chloe’s day after all and I would have preferred more scenes like that than creepy voicemail messages from Bloome or saccharine moments between Lois and Clark.

Lana Lang’s return was prominent in the advertising for “Bride,” but I expected to see her just at the wedding so I was surprised to see her bumping into Green Arrow in Alquizar. The mystery surrounding her return is a welcome one and it will be interesting to find out whom she is working for in the coming weeks. Also, her conversation with Clark was a positive change from what we’ve seen in previous years. Clark didn’t suddenly turn into a soppy schoolboy and start expressing his love for her. Instead, the two really had an intelligent, adult conversation and I’m glad Lana laid down the truth that she had moved on to something that made her happy. I also appreciated that she would never be able to forgive Clark if he wiped her mind of his secret. It’s a great tease of things to come between Chloe and Clark.

I have to admit that Smallville has some of the best cliffhangers on television. Not only are we teased with a Chloe/Brainiac and Doomsday alliance, but the possibility of Lex Luthor’s return is hinted at as well. It’s going to be a long couple of months untilSmallville returns and there is definitely plenty to be excited about.

According to the IGN review of Legion:

It’s safe to say that the fifty-six day wait for a new episode of Smallville was worth it. Geoff Johns’ “Legion” lives up to the hype by offering us faithful representations of Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl – The Legion of Superheroes. It isn’t just the Legion’s presence that makes this an exceptional story. Chloe is now fully under the control of Brainiac and is plotting the destruction of the Earth with his minion, Doomsday, hibernating and waiting. Yes, this really is Smallville and not an episode of Justice League Unlimited.

The reason “Legion” works so well is that it isn’t just forty-two minutes of Legion of Superheroes references. Johns’ tackles the hefty task of introducing the Legion, The Persuader (brief but appreciated) and all the history that comes with them without sacrificing any of the emotional weight carried over from “Bride”. He integrates these otherworldly characters seamlessly into the season’s narrative and then utilizes them to tell a story that will change Kal-El from this point forward. Of course, Johns manages to also pack in plenty of Legion references for those of you who decided to tune in for just this one episode.

Amongst all the excitement of the Legion’s presence, Clark is presented with a difficult decision – kill Chloe or allow the human race to be destroyed by Brainiac. It’s obviously a tough choice, but Clark does what comes naturally and finds a third option. Eliminating Brainiac, saving Chloe and also teaching the Legion that the preservation of life is paramount. We see Clark at his weakest, when he actually contemplates killing Chloe and then at his finest when he works with the legion to save her.

The Legion themselves are well represented by Ryan Kennedy (Rokk Krinn/Cosmic Boy), Alexz Johnson (Imra Ardeen/Saturn Girl) and Calum Worthy (Garth Ranzz/Lightning Lad). Each do a great job of portraying the classic personality traits of these characters who were created in 1958 by Al Plastino and Otto Binder. Undoubtedly, much of that had to do with Johns’ history with the Legion in comics, but these actors did a fine job bringing these characters to life.

Visually, there are some great moments that really enhanced the impact of this episode. Chloe/Brainiac still in her bloodied wedding gown is a striking image that wasn’t wasted. Beautiful and creepy all at the same time, her bloodstained gown was a reminder of the hell she had been through just one episode ago. The Legion costumes were the right balance of comic book camp and what would be acceptable in the 21st century. It was also nice to see Brainiac’s symbol used in such an inventive way.

This was the first time in a long while that Lana Lang actually felt like she was being utilized properly. Here she is Clark’s voice of reason when he thinks that he has no other recourse but to kill Chloe. Lana reminds him of what he stands for and is unwavering in her confidence that Clark would do the right thing. This is the Lana I would have liked to have seen more of. She’s a trusted confidant who understands Clark better than he does himself. Maybe even more than Chloe or Lois ever will.

Speaking of Chloe, The Legion had some very surprising thoughts on her absence in Superman lore. It was almost as if Johns’ had sneaked around the fourth wall (without breaking it) and voiced some of the concerns the audience has had about Chloe’s place in Superman’s history. We all know why she isn’t in the comics, but any fan ofSmallville understands her importance in Clark’s development. Some of their theories were striking – including the thought that her death might be the inspiration Clark needs to become The Man of Steel. That is one of the more popular fan theories I’ve heard and for a moment I thought Johns might actually be headed in that direction in this episode.

“Legion” ends with Chloe once again knowing Clark’s secret. It isn’t fully explained how she knows but it can easily be assumed it has something to do with Brainiac. Also, when I eventually reflect back on the series, I can definitely see Clark receiving a Legion ring as one of my favorite Smallville moments. It was truly an iconic visual and is hopefully a hint that we may see the Legion once more before the series concludes. Of course, I highly doubt that we will see Clark travel to the 31st century on aSmallville budget. I have to say, “Bride” and “Legion” were a real treat. To see Doomsday, The Legion of Superheroes, Brainiac and The Persuader integrated into what was essentially one story is something that I’m certainly going to remember for some time.

According to the IGN review of Bulletproof:

After “Bride” and “Legion” we are back to more standard Smallville fare this week. The fact that characters like Green Arrow and John Jones can be considered standard is an indication of just how far this series has progressed over the past few months. “Bulletproof” presents an interesting premise – disgruntled Metropolis cops who are tired of ‘capes’ running around the streets and decide to do something about it. It’s a great concept that is executed fairly well. Meanwhile, Lana Lang and Tess Mercer’s first meeting leads to an unexpected revelation.

Clark posing as one of Metropolis’ finest gave the writers an opportunity to show the audience an entirely different perspective on the recent emergence of costumed heroes. Hearing Officer Danny Turpin (Based on a character from DC Comics) talk about superheroes as if they were a menace would probably be the natural reaction for many police officers. On the surface, it’s obvious that there is a certain jealousy revealing itself. Danny’s son revering the ‘red and blue blur’ as a hero over his own father was something that bothered him, but at the same time, costumed heroes can be a hindrance to the system that the police are trying to uphold. These concepts are well represented and make this one of the more thought provoking episodes of Smallvillein quite some time.

While Clark is dealing with corrupt cops, Lana and Tess finally meet. There is plenty of animosity between the two that culminates in a great fight sequence. The new and improved Kristin Kreuk (post-Street Fighter shooting) shows that she can handle herself with some rather complex fight choreography. Once the fighting is done we learn that Tess has had nano-transmitters hooked up to her optic nerves for the last couple of years. Apparently Lex had them installed to keep an eye on her – literally. This actually leads to a much-needed evolution for Tess’ character who so far hasn’t been much more than a stand-in for Lex. Now that she has jammed the signal to her optic nerve, it will be interesting to see how much damage she can do to LuthorCorp until Lex steps in. It will also be interesting to see how Lex will step in considering that Michael Rosenbaum hasn’t been announced to be returning for a guest appearance.

John Jones, Oliver and Clark share a promising scene together that hints at the possibility that the Justice League may be forming. It appears that Oliver’s group has been disbanded but after this episode they understand that it might be better if they work as a team. It’s a tease at this point, but we did see Tess forming her own group of super villains earlier this season, so this might be the start of something big.

It took me a while to warm up to the idea of Clark and Lana’s relationship heating up again but I have to say that I’m all for it. I prefer her character as a friend at this point in Clark’s life – however – considering how unresolved their relationship was last season I think that fans deserve to see their story conclude on a better note. If these final few episodes are the last time we will see them together, it’s best if they part in better fashion than a videotaped goodbye.

According to the IGN review of Power:

You know that old friend who visits you after being away for a few years? It’s great for a while. Those great memories come rushing back and those good times are rekindled for a short while. Then you remember how much better things were after your friend left. Your life got a whole lot more interesting and you realize that all this person was doing was holding you back. Yeah, that old friend is Lana Lang.

Now, I’m not saying “Power” is a bad episode of Smallville. It’s certainly an interesting take on the development of Lex’s power suit from the comic books. That should have any Superman fan excited for a possible future Clark vs. Lex showdown. However, the story behind Lana’s quest for power, told through various flashbacks, is a poorly drawn out and shoddily realized concept. It’s not clear if the writers were trying to tell a tale of empowerment or if they were portraying the desperate attempt of a broken soul who was trying to find strength in an artificial suit. Both would have worked if handled well. Instead, we are presented with a story that wavers somewhere in the middle and – much like Lana – it never finds its true identity.

That’s the problem with Lana Lang. We’ve spent seven years watching a girl grow into a woman and throughout all that time her motivations have never been clear. She’s what the story needs her to be in that season and never really driven by any sort of character arc. Sometimes she’s a witch, sometimes she’s in love with Clark and sometimes she’s in love with Lex. She’s left Smallville more than once with the intention of not returning, yet she always finds her way back home.

Lana Lang is supposed to be Clark’s anchor and just a couple of episodes ago we saw just that. In an insane world of super humans, Lana is a reminder of why he fights for humanity. Instead, “Power” presents a woman who is blinded by her need for artificial strength. She could never be Clark’s anchor because she doesn’t have any real strength of her own. What’s worse is that Clark, someone who has developed so much over the course of the season, is blinded by this and succumbs to his lust/love for Lana. I’d hoped by now that Clark would see right through Lana’s motivations and notice that while she wants to help others, she’s really just crying for help. Sadly he doesn’t, and that schoolboy crush rears its ugly head. I thought we left puppy-dog eyed Clark behind last season. That’s what troubles me about Lana most; it’s not as much what the writers do with her character, but how they let her affect Clark.

There are definitely a few moments that shine amongst the disappointing Lana story. Her physical and mental training early in the episode were promising. The idea of a Lana who is reborn after putting herself through several trials is what the character needs. That is the Lana we were also presented with in the first three episodes of her return. She was stronger and no longer bound to the baggage she carried from previous seasons. This was the one re-imagining of the character that showed promise. I’m hoping Carter Bowfry, the man who we see training her, returns next week. He can hopefully talk some sense into her.

Tess Mercer has become a far more interesting character now that she has discovered the truth about Lex. Her quest to destroy his empire and have him legally declared dead is a promising story arc. Regan’s brutal murder by her hands was easily the best moment of the episode. She’s vicious, angry and a loose cannon who has a lot of power to wield. It will be interesting to see where they take her character in the coming weeks.

Is it just me or have the writers thrown up their hands and decided to make Lex the villain of this season even though Rosenbaum is nowhere to be found? This reminds me of the Fox Mulder-less seasons of The X-Files. In that situation, the writers had to find ways to artificially make Mulder’s presence on the show felt even though they didn’t have David Duchovny. It was awkward and unnecessary. A Superman story doesn’t need Lex Luthor to be good. The more you point out something is missing, the more people are going to notice that it’s gone.

According to the IGN review of Requiem:

If “Requiem” is Lana Lang’s final episode on Smallville it will certainly be an appropriate send off for her character. It’s a saccharine, contrived tale of two lovers who find themselves ripped apart by forces beyond their control. There’s no doubt that this is a heartbreaking conclusion to their story, but instead of allowing these characters to part on their own terms we are offered up an overly dramatic display of emotion that only serves to prove that both Clark and Lana are better apart.

The machine-dependant Lex Luthor is on the warpath this week as he hires former Queen Industries genius Winslow Schott (a.k.a. DC Comics’ Toyman) to put an end to Oliver Queen and the Lana-Clark rekindled relationship. Toyman is well represented here by Chris Gautier who does an exemplary job of playing the creepy and psychotic mad bomber with a love for toys. Unfortunately, the script underutilizes him and he’s only really given the opportunity to shine in a single well-executed scene opposite Oliver Queen.

One of the benefits of Lana having superpowers is actually giving her and Clark the opportunity to have sex. However, I’d finally like this silly assumption that Clark can’t have sex with normal humans to be weeded out of the show. It was cute when it was his first time but as he grows into adulthood this needs to be one of those myths that he realizes is nothing more than being overcautious.

Lana proves not to be that useful now that she has superpowers. She now has the ability to follow Clark wherever he goes and miss giant bombs on the rooftops of buildings. I don’t know how Lana managed to check the entire Daily Planet and completely avoid seeing the large kryptonite bomb on the roof. Thankfully, Clark shows her how it’s done.

Lana also discovers that she now has the ability to absorb kryptonite into her suit. Apparently, this was an extra feature Lex added so that it could be used against Clark. Now that Lana has it, she’s forced into a choice – use her newfound ability to save Metropolis or leave the city in ruin so her and Clark can live happily ever after. The choice is obvious and the whole scene plays out with melodramatic flair that onlySmallville can deliver.

Lex’s death sets up a great little scene between Oliver and Chloe. Oliver reveals that he is the one who destroyed Lex’s truck while Chloe spouts about Ollie crossing a line that Clark never would. Thankfully, Oliver turns the tables and points out that Chloe was the one who silenced Sebastian Kane a few weeks ago. It’s nice to see that chilling moment brought back up and I appreciated Oliver not allowing Chloe to dismiss it as something that Brainiac did.

The final scene once again leaves us with Lana and Clark unable to be together. I’ve grown quite accustomed to Lana leaving the show for one reason or another so I’ve started to grow rather immune to the emotional baggage that comes along with her exit. However, buried in yet another tiring Lana departure is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking moments I’ve witnessed on this show. Their final kiss is a powerful and touching display of Clark’s love for Lana and almost makes this whole kryptonite absorbing power suit story worth it. Seeing the flesh on Clark’s face crack and break as he kissed Lana one last time will definitely be considered a classic Smallvillemoment.

What’s troubling though, and why this episode’s conclusion is so frustrating to watch, is that the writers were given an opportunity here and they missed it. This was a chance to allow both Lana and Clark to part ways on their own terms. It would have been great to see a strong willed woman leaving Smallville behind because she chose to, not because some silly plot development forced her out. Same goes with Clark, he’s leading a very different life now and has shown an obvious interest in Lois. Now that Clark has no choice but to stay away from Lana it makes Lois seem like second prize. In the end, the kryptonite power suit was an unnecessary crutch used to make Lana’s departure far more dramatic than it needed to be.

The good news is that when Smallville returns in a month, Lois will be back and Clark will hopefully be done with this school boy crush once and for all – until the next time Lana finds an excuse to return home.

According to the IGN review of Turbulence:

Clark’s continued escapades as The Red-Blue Blur have become a symbol of hope for the citizens of Metropolis. Unfortunately, they’ve also landed him some unwanted attention as Tess Mercer continues to press Clark about his secret. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s rocky recovery after being mauled by Doomsday is at the center of this week’s story after he witnesses Davis Bloom murder a drunk driver on one of his vigilante exploits. This reinvigorates the pre-wedding love triangle between Jimmy, Chloe and Davis – or is it all in Jimmy’s head?

Doomsday/Davis Bloom’s story takes an intriguing new twist as he has now found a way to control his rage by committing nightly acts of vigilantism in which the criminal ends up paying the ultimate price. It works insofar as being a perverse parallel of what Clark is doing but what is disturbing about Davis is that that he has very little remorse for his actions. A better parallel could even be made to The Incredible Hulk but Davis has already given up on trying to fight the beast inside and instead has decided to fulfill its need for blood thirst. The only disappointment is that it has stripped away any pity I may have had for Davis’ character. Now that he’s succumbed to Doomsday’s needs, he’s just as vile as the monster within.

“Turbulence” is also used as an opportunity to restart the love triangle between Jimmy, Chloe and Davis. Seeing this creep back into the spotlight was a little disappointing but some credit has to be given to Jimmy for putting his foot down and finally deciding to be on his own. The only problem with his decision is that it is fueled partially by painkillers and the jealousy that surfaces every time Jimmy sees another man in Chloe’s life. It’s hard to get behind a character like that, even when he’s right and you want so desperately for his accusations to be taken seriously. The painkillers are an understandable evil and Davis played his part in pushing Jimmy into his dependence on them but the jealous fits are growing tiresome. We’ve seen him react in much the same way even without the drugs. I’m still rooting for Jimmy’s story to finally be heard but I find it hard to be a fan of a character who continuously lashes out in fits of jealousy. Now that he’s done it one too many times he has become the jealous boyfriend/fiance/husband who has cried wolf and I’ve seen that storyline done to death. Both Aaron Ashmore and Allison Mack deserve credit though for carrying a couple of very emotional scenes toward the end of the episode.

While Chloe, Jimmy and Davis sort out their problems, Clark leaves on a jet plane with Tess Mercer. There are a couple of moments here that I thought really worked well and highlighted the new Clark Kent we’ve been seeing of late. First, Clark decides to try and get Tess drunk in hopes that she will spill any information she may have about his secret. The Clark Kent of even a year ago would never have done that. Although he needs to remember to act drunk himself next time. Second was Clark cutting off Tess’ oxygen so that she would pass out before he bailed out of the plane with her. It’s small but it highlights Clark’s resourcefulness in difficult situations. This is an important trait of the future Man of Steel.

Clark and Tess’ escape from the airplane was well handled and another good piece of effects work for the budget-strapped Smallville. Of course, we didn’t get to see Clark fly – just fall – heroically.

Tess’ description of the injuries suffered at the hands of her father was shocking to hear. The show hasn’t done enough to really flesh out Tess’ character and this added a little more substance to her back-story. What was really fascinating about Tess this week is that she really wanted to reinforce the fact that she was nothing like Lex Luthor but all the while she was staging an elaborate plane crash in hopes that Clark would reveal his powers – something right out of the Luthor handbook. I found myself in Clark’s shoes, I genuinely wanted to believe Tess could be different but as we see (Clark doesn’t find out) she is just obsessed with Clark as Lex was.

According to the IGN review of Hex:

After last week’s dark descent into the twisted psyche of Davis Bloom a far more lighthearted episode was much appreciated. “Hex” introduces the Smallville universe to Zatanna, another in the line of many DC comic book characters who have made appearances on the show this season. She is played by the beautiful Serinda Swan and the story surrounds her search for a magic book that will help her resurrect her father. During her stay in Metropolis she also grants Chloe a single wish that turns her, physically, into Lois for a day – hilarity ensues.

The story opens with a party in honor of Chloe’s birthday. Unfortunately, Clark’s “on assignment” and Lois heads off to cover a story of her own leaving the birthday girl alone with Oliver Queen to reflect on when things went wrong. Chloe’s reflection is appreciated as she echoes much of the fan sentiment regarding the gradual change in her character over the past couple of seasons. I miss the budding reporter who had a flair for the strange and unusual and its good to hear that she misses that Chloe too. Out of this frustration with how her life turned out sparks an opportunity and a single wish granted by Zatanna – Chloe becomes Lois Lane.

It’s a familiar concept and it also happens to give Chloe the opportunity to see life through the eyes of the reporter she always wanted to be. This leads to another run-in with Zatanna and another wish granted. This time Clark’s wish to not have to be burdened by his Kryptonian heritage is granted leaving him with no memories of his powers or anything associated with them. This leads to a hilarious scene on the roof of the Daily Planet in which Chloe desperately tries to convince Clark that he’s an super-powered alien. His rational explanations for breaking the door handle and for his unusual hearing ability are amusing and Welling’s dumbfounded delivery and expressions work well here. Clark’s frustrating explanations lead Chloe to literally attempt to beat the truth into him with a pipe. It’s an entertaining visual to say the least and one of the funnier moments on Smallville in a long time.

While Clark and Chloe deal with their hexes, Oliver makes a deal with Zatanna to steal her father’s book from a Luthorcorp warehouse. It’s a fairly straightforward bit of theft for Green Arrow who attempts to destroy the book after discovering its dark secrets. Zatanna stops Arrow before he can throw it into the fire and chains Ollie up to a lamppost – all with a few words spoken backwards. With skills like that I find it hard to believe she couldn’t have pulled off this theft herself. Also, I hate to say it but Serinda is a little stiff in her portrayal of the flirty magician. Zatanna is a performer but I wasn’t convinced of that here. Serinda certainly looks the part though and her costume was spot-on. I’d like to see her get another opportunity at playing the character next season.

The resolution to Zatanna’s story was fairly by the numbers. Chloe convinces Clark of who he really is and with that the hex on both of them is lifted. This gives Clark the opportunity to talk Zatanna out of giving up her own life [and Chloe’s] to save her father Zatara.

Clark and Chloe are both left to reflect on their wishes with Clark realizing that his purpose is what drives him. Chloe, who definitely lost her way for a while, decides to stop feeling sorry for herself and in a somewhat cheesy scene she assumes her previous role as the point person at the Watchtower. Hearing those familiar League members’ names was great but it is time for a couple of new additions; hopefully Zatanna will make the cut. It’s also good to see Chloe in control of her own destiny again but I fear it may not last long with Doomsday/Davis’ story far from over.

The Lois and Clark relationship seems to have found the perfect balance of flirty banter mixed with sexual tension this week. I really enjoyed their scene at the end and the chemistry between these two actors is continuing to improve. I’m genuinely glad we’re getting another season of this. The me from a year ago would have thought that the me of today was insane.

According to the IGN review of Eternal:

“Eternal” reveals Davis Bloome’s surprising past, his importance in the prophecy of the traveler and his link to Clark Kent. The attempt to retroactively include Davis Bloome’s arrival on Earth with Kal-El’s seems a little shady. I’m usually skeptical whenever a show tries to retroactively add a character to its history and I’m especially cautious when we’re dealing with something like the Superman mythos. Even though I don’t necessarily agree with the execution, I like the concept of the two characters sharing a linked destiny that will ensure Clark’s evolution into Earth’s savior.

Speaking of Earth’s savior, there are plenty of explicit religious references that directly relate to both Davis and Clark. The story of Superman has always been comparable to that of Jesus Christ being sent to Earth by his father to be a savior. This time around, the Smallville team have elected to take Davis Bloome/Doomsday and turn him into Judas. The writers aren’t coy about this either; using Tess Mercer they explicitly refer to both as Jesus and Judas in the episode – just in time for Easter. How convenient. Regardless of whether or not you like your Smallville filled with explicit religious references, the idea behind it makes sense. Davis (Judas) is destined to betray and kill Clark so that he will rise again as the immortal Superman. The story this season has been going in that direction but I somehow doubt we’ll see Clark wearing the classic outfit in season nine. I have a feeling this just means he will be able to fly.

The various flashbacks that retroactively add Bloome to Smallville history are serviceable but I find it odd that Lionel Luthor knew when and where the space ship with Kal-El was going to crash. If he eventually found out Clark was the traveler, as this episode suggests he might have known, I can’t imagine anything in the world stopping him from taking the child by force from the Kent family. Also, why would he discard Davis so quickly? If he was found nude at the crash site it’s possible that he may still be of some value even though he isn’t the traveler. That’s the problem when trying to retroactively add characters, there are always far too many plot holes to account for.

You’ve got to hand it to Tess. She’s been able to piece together the complete mystery behind Clark Kent and Davis Bloome in just under one season. Of course she did have the help of a conveniently drawn out Luthor journal that laid out events in various pretty pictures. I was intrigued by Tess’ character after she discovered that Lex was using her but she has pretty much been transformed into Lex 2 at this point. Her obsession over Clark and his abilities is far too comparable.

Chloe finding out the truth about Davis was handled perfectly. Chloe’s a lot like Clark, she really wants to see the good in people despite their obvious shortcomings and in Davis’ case she looked the other way far too many times. The visual of the mass grave through Clark’s x-ray vision was striking and really gave you a sense of how often Davis has had to kill.

“Eternal” ended on a very strong note with Davis convincing Chloe to end his pain and kill him. Bringing back Dr. Groll’s kryptonite chamber was a nice touch and acted as a great visual when Chloe was left with no choice but to turn the switch. His desperate pleas to end his suffering almost had me feeling sorry for him despite what I said a couple of weeks ago. Even Clark was able to see through the monster and find the good in Davis.

Of course, Davis’ return in the last scene sunk any hopes of redemption I had for the character. The kryptonite making him stronger is inline with the character’s ability to adapt to his weaknesses and overcome them. Unfortunately, he has still not overcome the ‘love’ he feels for Chloe and basically gives her a choice she can’t refuse. It’s dirty, cruel and to be honest I would have rather seen Chloe leave the room. I’m looking forward to the next episode simply for her reaction to the position she’s been placed in. They’re really tearing the character of Chloe Sullivan apart this season and I’d be quite surprised if they didn’t kill her off in the final episode.

According to the IGN review of Injustice:

After “Beast” adequately set up what looks to be an epic season finale, the story treads a little water with “Injustice” this week. The problem with this episode is that it basically reiterates everything we already know and when it finally reveals something new and exciting the episode is over. There are plenty of good moments but this isn’t the lead-in I had hoped for. Especially when you consider that we are supposedly working towards a final showdown between Clark and Doomsday.

Early in the season, I was really excited by the prospect of seeing Tess Mercer’s version of the Injustice Gang face off against Clark at some point. Sure, her group is comprised of mid-card DC villains but the thought of Clark having to fight off a whole team of super villains is almost as exciting as Clark having to fight Doomsday. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see anything like that. Instead, the only injustice here is that these villains take up much needed screen time that could be used to let us in on what is happening with Chloe and Davis.

The Injustice Gang is wasted here as we never really get to see them fight anyone. The most physical interaction they have with Clark is Parasite stealing and returning his powers. Otherwise they do very little on screen besides talk about how they are getting the crap kicked out of them by Doomsday or about their past at Black Creek. It would have been great to have at least seen them fighting Doomsday but we get nothing like that here. It would have probably just been best if they had left the Injustice Gang for next season when they would have not had to share a story with the far more exciting Doomsday.

The Chloe misdirection could be seen coming from a mile away. That might have had something to do with the terribly obvious cut to the Injustice Gang acknowledging that Chloe had met up with Clark just before the credits. Maybe if they had left that out I wouldn’t have been so suspicious of Chloe’s sudden appearance but even then I thought it strange that she had suddenly decided to run from Davis after her devotion to helping him last week. Also, the real Chloe would never ask Clark to kill Davis/Doomsday.

What’s really disappointing about Chloe being a shape shifter is that this episode now lacks any real Chloe/Davis development before the finale. Chloe’s determination to help Davis Bloome at all costs is one of the more intriguing stories to crop up this season and it is a shame that it is essentially abandoned for an episode just before the finale.

While I praised Oliver Queen for lecturing Clark last week, he actually started to sound like a broken record this time around. How many times do we have to listen to this same old argument between Clark and Oliver? Oliver is willing to kill for the greater good while Clark isn’t. This was made clear last week and in previous episodes. We’ve already covered this ground so there really is no need to play out this argument one more time. Again, it felt like this was wasted screen time that could have been used to develop the finale. A finale that has a lot of ground to cover in one hour.

The last scene appears to confirm many suspicions that a certain villain is returning to Smallville for season nine. Before you get excited, it isn’t Lex. I’m not going to say who it is if you haven’t figured it out but I’m disappointed that they would go back to the well one more time with this character. After Doomsday, anything from a previous season seems like a step back. Then again, doing anything as ambitious as say Darkseid simply isn’t feasible with a Smallville budget.

 

The Worst:

Instinct, Beast, and Doomsday

8x20-Beast-110

Small pieces:

  • Instinct sees an Evil Demon Seductress (see Feminist Frequency ‘s #4) in the form of Queen Maxima of Almerac;
  • Beast deals with discovering Davis Bloome is still alive following the events of Eternal, and Chloe is protecting him; and,
  • Doomsday is one of the worst season finales ever produced by the show. Compared to the material of Bride, Legion, Power, and Injustice – this episode is quite the failure.

According to the IGN review of Instinct:

Maxima is the second new character carried over from the DC Universe this season. For the most part, Maxima is a pretty good representation of her comic book counterpart, who was never a prominent figure. Here, her quest for a Kryptonian mate ends with deadly results as everyone she kisses eventually suffers a heart attack. Charlotte Sullivan is a fairly good likeness of the character and does a pretty good job of portraying the haughty Queen of Almerac. With Maxima and Plastique both introduced so early into the season, it will be interesting to see who else may make an appearance over the course of this season. We already know a few names but hopefully more surprise characters will be making their presence known.

At this point, I’m convinced that we are supposed to despise Jimmy Olsen. Chloe sums up my thoughts best during the episode in a single sentence – “This constant insecurity about Clark is really starting to wear thin.” It really is and I know I’ve complained about it in countless reviews before but the Smallville writing staff continues to go back to the well during this Chloe/Jimmy farce of a relationship with this tired storyline. We all know Chloe is smarter than this and that Jimmy is far from deserving of her affection. How long until Davis Bloome makes her realize the terrible mistake she is making? Hopefully this will happen sooner than later.

The relationship between Lois and Clark appears to be developing far too quickly. The writers have always teased us with foreshadowing of their future relationship but we are now seeing a jealous Lois reacting to Clark with another woman. It’s obvious that their relationship is being put on the fast track after this episode and while I absolutely love the Lois and Clark chemistry, they really need to tone things back a little. There is a lot of fun that can be had with the right amount of sexual tension and flirtatious banter without hitting us over the head with the blunt force of these characters destined future together.

The story surrounding the Kryptonian crystal is growing into a very intriguing mystery and looks like it will tie into the story behind Chloe’s new Brainiac-powered brain. At the end of the episode, we learn that the crystal has been stolen and is now in the possession of a mystery person named – X. I’m sure we are being led to assume that this might be Lex Luthor, but hopefully this will be used as an opportunity to bring yet another DC Universe character into the Smallville fold. It’s also interesting to note that Tess seems to be more out of the loop than I had originally thought. We knew that she didn’t know about Clark’s secret but she appears to know very little about many of Lex’s little projects.

“Instinct” is an improvement over last week’s disappointing Green Arrow origin story but unfortunately suffers from a Chloe and Jimmy storyline that is dragging the rest of the narrative down. If the show focuses on having fun with the new Lois and Clark dynamic and introducing more exciting villains, it should continue to improve.

According to the IGN review of Beast:

Has Chloe been replaced by an evil clone? Are we dealing with Bizarro Chloe? Has she been brainwashed into believing that there really is still hope for Davis Bloome? The Chloe Sullivan we’ve known and loved appears to have gone insane and is now protecting the fugitive Doomsday from Clark and Ollie. What could possibly make the sweet and loveable Chloe Sullivan help one of Superman’s greatest foes? To be honest, it’s not clearly explained but it does make for an intriguing hour of television.

Oliver acts as the voice of reason and as a mouthpiece for the audience this week. There are a lot of characters making the wrong decisions and Oliver isn’t afraid to call them out when they do. Clark doesn’t want to grasp that this freak isn’t going to be wrapped up in a week and that Doomsday needs to be taken out of the equation – permanently. Sure, Clark draws the line at killing – but at what cost? Does he wait until Doomsday stops just killing ‘criminals’ and starts preying on the innocent? Ollie really pushes Clark to question what he believes here and I honestly don’t know if he’s getting through to him.

The truth is, Clark does very little of anything in this episode. He swoops in at the last moment to save Ollie and Jimmy and then gets into a small fight with Davis. I was really hoping to see a more assertive Clark here but instead we got the ho-hum farm boy who isn’t ready to be the Man of Steel just yet. Ollie really stole the show from right under him. Clark’s best moment was in his final scene with Chloe when the gravity of the situation finally kicks in and he realizes his best friend is now working against him. The story is definitely going in the right direction and while Chloe might not be super-powered she is the one who defeats Clark this week.

Chloe receives a great lecture from Ollie after almost becoming Doomsday’s next victim. I have to say that this was easily my favorite scene in the episode. We’ve seen Chloe making bad decisions for the past few weeks and it was great to see someone finally call her on it. While Clark comes up with excuses for why Chloe would be helping Davis, Ollie just doesn’t give a damn and calls Chloe out as one of the bad guys. It’s hard to believe that she honestly thinks that protecting Davis is the best decision for everyone. She’s put herself and the entire world in a very dangerous position.

While some may hang on to her excuse that she is protecting Clark, it’s obvious that she’s attracted to him in the most unusual way. I’m really hoping for a logical explanation as to why Chloe is helping Davis besides her need to help those she cares for. It’s plausible that there are still some residual effects from her merge with Brainiac that are fueling her need to help him. The need to protect those who ask for help is definitely part of the Chloe we know – but to the extent that she may endanger everyone else? I don’t know if I buy that quite yet. It still makes for an interesting and tragic story arc for Chloe but I just hope we get a good explanation as to why she isn’t thinking straight.

Seeing Chloe’s character being torn apart is a rare case of being hard to watch while also lending itself to great television. I mentioned earlier this season that her fall is comparable to that of Willow during Buffy’s sixth season but I’m actually preferring Chloe’s storyline a little bit more. Willow’s fall belongs in the category of ‘absolute power corrupting absolutely’ while Chloe’s inherent need to help everyone around her is what has dragged her into this situation. She may or may not have feelings for Davis but it appears her need to help him is what drives her decisions. When it comes down to it – this could just be Chloe being Chloe. That makes her decision to help Davis all that more tragic.

Every time Chloe was trying to tell Clark that she was really protecting him it was clear that she was really only trying to convince herself. There were a lot of tears for Miss Sullivan this week and I give Allison Mack credit for playing that subtle line of someone who wants so desperately to help everyone but deep down inside knows what she is doing is wrong.

Jimmy is becoming a more prominent character again leading up to the finale. His painkiller addiction storyline is a little cliché but it does fit well into the story at this point. Will he eventually get around to telling Chloe “Ha, I told you so?” I some how doubt it but the guy deserves some recognition for figuring out that Davis was the killer before anyone else did. Thankfully, Ollie recognizes a friend in need and offers Jimmy a job. I’m not to clear on what the job offer was exactly but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him in action next week.

According to the IGN review of Doomsday:

Calling an episode of Smallville “Doomsday” sets up certain expectations that need to be met despite a tight budget or only an hour to work with. Unfortunately, while “Doomsday” has its moments, the story and action fall short of what is expected of such an epic match up. This entire season has worked towards Davis Bloome/Doomsday vs. Clark Kent and what we got was something very different.

Yes, I know that it is ludicrous to expect Smallville to deliver a film-caliber final showdown between these two heavyweights and I will state right now that I wasn’t expecting anything close to that. What I did expect was an episode worthy of the title it was given; an episode that would live up to the quality of the rest of the season. Instead we get moments of greatness mixed with moments of mediocrity and disappointment.

Let’s start with what works. The introduction of Black Kryptonite last week and the subsequent use of it this week are handled well. Separating Davis from Doomsday makes a lot of sense in the long run and sets up Superman’s fight with the beast at some point in the future. The pleasant surprise is that it turns out Davis was no better than his monstrous counterpart. Davis killing Jimmy is definitely a highlight of the season for me. As Clark tells Jimmy earlier, he was right about everything. Jimmy was right about Clark and about Davis but nobody listened to him. Now, just as he puts the pieces of his life back together, he’s killed. It’s fitting to have Jimmy killed by the very same man he accused of murder earlier in the season.

The Lois and Tess fight may have actually lasted longer than Doomsday vs. Clark and while it wasn’t quite visually as stunning (debatable, considering the combatants) it certainly had a better conclusion. I was pleased to see Cosmic Boy making an appearance to replace Clark’s Legion Ring that was destroyed earlier this season. What I wasn’t expecting was Lois accidentally stumbling upon the ring during her fight with Tess and then being transported to… the future? It’s an intriguing turn of events; I just wish they had followed up on it at some point in the episode. At least one shot of where she may have ended up would have been great as a tease for next season.

When we first heard about Doomsday being on Smallville everyone questioned if and how they would pull off a fight against Clark. Well, they tried to emulate the fight between Superman and Doomsday to a small extent by having the two fight it out in the streets of Metropolis. Doomsday’s punch to Clark that sent him flying through several buildings was great but there wasn’t much else after that. Clark grabs Doomsday and leaps into the air all the way to the Geothermal plant. I would have liked a couple of more minutes of punches being thrown but visually I wasn’t expecting much more than I got.

smv

Next in the best and worst is Season 7.

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8 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 8

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