The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 6

For previous installments:

 

Season 6 remains one of my favorite seasons, in which the series got seriously expansive compared to the likes of Seasons 4 and 5. This included introducing the Justice League, revealing that Chloe has powers (albeit passive), Lana discovering Clark’s secret, Lana’s troubled marriage to Lex, and introducing the Martian Manhunter.

Then there is Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen, as fantastic eye candy.

Like in Wither.

Hydro.

Toxic.

Crossfire.

And Savior. There was a certain pleasure of seeing him shirtless, even though I find much of this idea a superficial, and empty, endeavor. Guilty pleasure.

 

The Best:

Zod, Sneeze, Arrow, Fallout, Static, Hydro, Justice, Crimson, Freak, Promise, Progeny, Prototype, and Phantom

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In briefs:

  • Zod has the first appearance of the Phantom Zone, as well as Raya, who worked for Clark’s father on Krypton;
  • Sneeze is such a favorite episode of mine, complete with Oliver getting mistaken for a courier, a barn door flying across town, and Chloe having to explain the unexplained as explainable;
  • Arrow does not disappoint either, with Clark encountering the Green Arrow and discovering who he really is;
  • Fallout is one of several episodes this season that dealt with the release of zoners that happened in Zod, and the return of Raya;
  • Static sees Lex trapped in another frequency, and Clark encounters the Martian Manhunter for the first time;
  • Hydro introduces the character, Linda Lake, but generally the story has more body in regards to Clark, Lois, and Ollie;
  • Justice is pretty damn awesome, introducing the Justice League to the show, and also serving as Oliver’s final episode this season, as he wouldn’t return until briefly in Season 7’s Siren, and become a regular in Season 8′ Odyssey;
  • Crimson essentially sets the stage for Lana discovering Clark’s secret via bent chisel, from a red kryptonite infected who infected Clark and crashed the engagement party;
  • Freak was cool in revealing that Chloe is a ‘meteor freak,’ which was a bit ironic given as a writer/investigator on the subject in Smallville;
  • Promise sees Lana finally discover Clark’s secret through her own doing, as she gets married to Lex;
  • Progeny sees the return of Chloe’s mother, Moira, who has the power to control ‘meteor freaks’;
  • Prototype introduces a prototype super soldier created by Lex, Wes Keenan played by Tahmoh Penikett; and,
  • Phantom concludes the major story arc this season with the zoners, and introduces Bizarro, meanwhile Lana leaves Lex, and we find out what Chloe’s power is.

According to the IGN review of Zod:

Before jumping into the review for the sixth season premiere of Smallville let’s take a step back and look at the multi-cliffhanger ending from last season. Lois Lane and Martha Kent were trapped in a plane being piloted by the Kryptonian artificial intelligence Milton Fine a.k.a. Brainiac. Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor find themselves caught in the middle of a mass riot that has broken out in Metropolis due to a worldwide blackout. The notorious Kryptonian criminal Zod – now inhabiting the body of Lex Luthor – has trapped Clark Kent in the Phantom Zone and sent him hurtling off into space. Zod now plans to reshape the world in his own image.

Previous seasons of Smallville have started out with a bang and this season is no different with the effects and storytelling being turned up a few notches. Many of the threads left from the conclusion of last season are quickly resolved – save Clark Kent’s imprisonment in the Phantom Zone but even that is resolved a little over the half-hour mark into the episode.

The screenplay written by Steven S. DeKnight keeps the story moving at a fairly brisk pace only stopping periodically to explain what the Phantom Zone is and to give us some insight into Jor-El’s (Clark’s real father) sacrifice for Krypton. Other than that, the story works towards quick resolutions to last season’s cliffhangers and returning the characters to status quo – and that may be the only real problem with the episode. Everything is tied up in a nice little bow by episode’s end, and except for a few bumps and bruises, everything is seemingly swept under the rug. However, there are several new plot threads established and they look to make for an interesting season if handled correctly.

Tom Welling’s performance as Clark Kent, while a little rough around the edges, was quite polished in this episode and he is continuing to do a sound job when it comes to establishing the transition from Clark into Superman. Last season, the character of Clark had begun his evolution from a Kansas farm boy into Superman only to be stunted by a failing Clark-Lana romance story-arc that was dragged on far longer than it should have been. Hopefully, this season will move forward and continue to establish the character as someone who is learning what it means to be a hero. The introduction of Oliver Queen and several other “super” friends from Clark’s past should help with that. Other than Clark, Kristen Kreuk’s Lana Lang continues to grow into a much stronger character. Just like Clark, Lana’s character also flip-flopped between interesting and annoying last season. Again, the dragged out Clark-Lana romance is most likely to blame. It’s good to see that story thread behind us now and we can look forward to these characters growing into young mature adults.

Michael Rosenbaum’s Zod was a little disappointing. Rosenbaum appeared to be playing Zod with far too little emotion and that was never what the character was about. If anything, Zod is full of rage and it would have been better if that were expressed a bit more in his portrayal. Also, it was a great idea to reuse the “Kneel before Zod” line from the movie but it felt a little forced coming from Rosenbaum. Maybe it needed more gusto and Rosenbaum pointing towards his crotch just like the classic Terrence Stamp delivery. Of course, you won’t understand that last sentence if you haven’t seen Superman 2. No offence to Rosenbaum as he usually puts in a solid performance, but his delivery of that line was like Carrot Top trying to sing a Tom Jones song. Speaking of Stamp – that certainly did look like his ghostly figure being excised from the body of Lex Luthor.

The effects team did an exceptional job bringing the Phantom Zone to life. However, the classic Phantom Zone from the comics never contained any real phantoms. It appears that several new plot threads will stem from various unsavory Kryptonians and other creatures escaping from the Zone’s depths. Also, there were some exceptional effects used in the Lex-Zod vs. Clark fight towards the end of the episode. Especially the shot of Clark and Lex flying cross-country while struggling with each other.

“Zod” offers everything one should expect from a season premiere. A strong resolution to the previous season peppered with several hints at what is to come all mixed in with some fun action and character development. Oh, and the introduction of a new recurring character – Jimmy Olsen – played by Aaron Ashmore. This Jimmy doesn’t appear to be as goofy as previous incarnations and this episode begins to establish a romance between him and Chloe Sullivan. This was a romance that was hinted at early on last season.

In previous years, the Smallville team has fallen into the repeated problem of returning everything to status quo at episodes end. No matter how outrageous the events of an episode are the characters seem to barely be affected by their experiences. This seems to be the case once again in “Zod” and by the beginning of next episode the events of this one will probably be a distant memory. Hopefully there will be far less of that this season and more development of the characters through their experiences.

According to the IGN review of Sneeze:

After last week’s season premiere, Smallville shifts gears and this week we are treated to a semi-light hearted episode in which Clark Kent gains a new superpower and Lois Lane finally catches the writing bug. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is captured by a couple of hired goons – yes hired goons – who are determined to find the source of Luthor’s short-lived super powers.

“Sneeze” is a welcome change after last week’s effort, which felt a slight rushed. It is good to see that the writers – Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer – don’t abandon the events of last week and the destruction caused by Zod is not merely dismissed. In fact, it is weaved nicely into the narrative of “Sneeze” and even given a name – Dark Thursday. Clark has been using his super abilities to clean up the rubble in Metropolis but it turns out that he caught a whiff of a cold during his imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. Unfortunately his super powered sneezes literally blow off the barnyard doors on the Kent farm. One of these doors almost hits Lois Lane during her jog seven miles away.

Clark’s super powered sneezes are primarily played for laughs as he comes to terms with his new ability. A smart move to keep Clark and Chloe together for the majority of the episode as their chemistry is the most sound of all the characters on the show and she naturally delivers the best punch lines for Clark’s super-sneezes.

Lois’ near death experience at the hands of a barnyard door adds to the comic relief as she is determined to find out how it traveled from the Kent farmstead to a field several miles away. Chloe attempts to debunk Lois’ claims of supernatural intervention and the two scenes they have together are hilarious on screen. The writers cleverly use this opportunity to finally infect Lois Lane with the writing bug as her investigation leads to her first byline in a local tabloid newspaper. Not the greatest start for a future Pulitzer Prize winner but funny nonetheless.

Concurrently, we are presented with a much darker tale. Mysterious black Range Rovers are following Lex Luthor and he has hired a private investigator to find out who it might be. Unfortunately, the P.I. only lasts one scene before being dispatched off-screen and hired goons subsequently capture Lex. Yes, hired goons who come complete with over-the-top cheesy acting that you can only find on sci-fi television. Normally, this type of acting would garner a negative response but this time around their bad acting seemed to fit the characters they were trying to present.

Lionel enlists the help of Clark who is reluctant to help but realizes that Lex may know his secret. Lionel then pays a visit to Oliver Queen. Yes, that Oliver Queen. Justin Hartley will be playing the role of Queen for approximately seven episodes this season. Previously, Hartley played Aquaman in the defunct television pilot Mercy Reef. Hopefully, at some point during these seven episodes, Hartley’s acting will catch up with the character. It may be best to give him episodes to “flesh out” the character but his initial impression is pretty disappointing. There didn’t appear to be any real inflection in his voice and his attempts at sarcasm leave a lot to be desired.

Ultimately, Clark’s newfound super power and Lex Luthor’s dilemma come together for a smart and logical climax. Clark, with the help of Chloe discovers that his super human lung capacity can be used for the good of mankind and he uses this to save Lex and Lana from a fiery death.

“Sneeze” is an all-round well-written and well-paced effort that uses a smart mix of humor and thrills to tell a fun story. The only disappointment that can be noted in this episode is the stale acting of Justin Hartley that will hopefully be remedied once he gets comfortable with his new role. If Oliver Queen can work on screen; who knows how many other future Justice League characters may pop up in the near future?

According to the IGN review of Arrow:

Last season, Smallville dedicated two episodes to introducing other DC universe heroes who would one day fight alongside Superman. Both episodes were strong outings for the series in a rather sub-par season and proved that super-powered guest stars were not a bad thing. The series showrunners took note and this season we have been introduced to yet another DC alum – Oliver Queen.

The writers have patiently developed Ollie’s character so that he would fit into the series mold of relationships first and superpowers second that has maintained a rather balanced audience over the show’s five years. This careful development of Oliver Queen finally pays off in “Arrow,” which is quite possibly one of the best episodes that the series has ever put to air. A finely crafted story that manages to balance romance, drama and lots of superhero action in a well paced narrative.Smallville does not get much better than this. Or can it?

When bringing a character such as Green Arrow/Oliver Queen to the screen there are a lot of factors to consider. How does one make him “safe” for television? There appears to be a common misconception amongst TV executives out there that cheesy costumes and silly gadgets do not make for great television and worse yet, they may alienate certain demographics. The Smallville team and The CW have to be commended for taking a risk and giving this Green Arrow all the frills of his comic book counterpart. While the costume might not be right out of the comics it certainly represents the spirit of the character. Then there are the Arrows. Yes, with a capital A! Green Arrow utilizes an array of different gadget-arrows in this episode that almost feel like they are pulled right out of an episode of Justice League: Unlimited. Ollie uses gas arrows, electric arrows, grappling arrows, arrows that deflect light and then tops that by using an arrow to deflect the trajectory of a bullet. This is quality entertainment.

Truthfully, this entire review could be dedicated to how well Green Arrow works on screen but not addressing Lana, Lex and Lionel would be a sin. The Lana-Lex show has been running concurrently with the main plot of each episode since the premiere. These characters rarely intermingle with the rest of the cast and rightfully so. Lana has migrated into Lex’s universe now and in “Arrow” it appears that some of Lex’s personality is rubbing off on her as she attempts to blackmail an associate of Lex. Their story is developing slowly but episode after episode it is becoming clear that deception and the thirst for power will be the downfall of their relationship. This week, Lionel finds himself in the mix, as it appears he is trying to garner his son’s favor again. Watching this story develop is like watching a painter slowly create a beautiful work of art.

One thing that Smallville has done well this season is breaking away from the old formula that it had become far too attached to last season. The majority of episodes last season had about 30-minutes dedicated to the primary narrative with the last 15 dedicated to epilogue. This season, they have extended the primary story to almost the whole episode allowing for a more complete and fulfilling story.

Don’t worry; while Green Arrow is the focus of this episode, Clark Kent has his fair share of screen time. The final scene between Ollie and Clark represents everything that is wrong with Clark’s view of the world. He sees things only in black and white. Ollie respects Clark’s courage and determination to save his friends but attempts to broaden his scope.

“Arrow” is a fantastic hour of television that provides a quality amount of everything you look for in a story. This episode delivers some of the best live-action superhero excitement that has graced our television screens in some time.

According to the IGN review of Fallout:

Every so often a series requires a transition episode to move the overall story arc forward from point A to point B. An episode that will set the stage for things to come filled with a fair amount of exposition and plenty of retrospect. “Fallout” is one of these episodes and while it does plenty to further Kal-El’s progression into Superman it is also comprised of a rather mundane villain and an unimaginative story.

A good deal of “Fallout” focuses on Lana Lang and Lex Luthor’s relationship, which has been fairly strong up until now. Sadly for those who have been enjoying their time together, the cracks in their union are beginning to show and Lex isn’t the only one who is to blame. Lana decides to have a secret meeting with Dr. Groll who has been working on “the box” – a piece of the Brain Interactive Consciousness a.k.a. Brainiac. Unfortunately for Lana, cub photographer Jimmy Olsen snaps some photos of the meeting that make there way back into Lex’s hands. Lex immediately confronts Lana and we are greeted to several chilling scenes between the two that have them questioning the very foundation of their relationship.

One specific scene that stands out in this episode is Clark visiting Lana and Lex in the hospital. Lana knows that Clark hasn’t been telling her something, she has known for years and Clark finally makes a conscious decision to be open with her instead of keeping secrets. She is still very cold towards her former boyfriend but the dynamic of this scene is very different from any they had last season. For once they felt like equals instead of Lana always being left on the outside looking in and if these two do reconcile this will hopefully be the foundation of their new relationship.

The villain of “Fallout” is a Phantom Zone escapee that inhabits the body of Lamar (Bow Wow) who then tears across country towards Smallville searching for Clark Kent. Bow Wow does a respectable job in the role but the character is poorly written with silly dialogue like “I’m back and now I’m Supersized” and “Paying for the sins of your father can be a bitch”. Lines like these ruin a key scene towards the end of the episode. They were probably going for the “teen mixed with Zone supervillain” feel but the dialogue falls flat and is fairly cheesy; not in the “boxing arrow” good way. Baern (the creature that inhabits Lamar) is a serviceable villain but appears to be there more to place key pieces in the right place for the next few episodes.

“Serviceable” is also a word that applies to the character of Raya who is essentially in the episode to help Clark understand who he really is. Clark goes through a metamorphosis during “Fallout”. He realizes that he has been avoiding his destiny for far too long and that it is now time to train with Jor-El so that he can give back to the planet that has been home to him for so long. A key transition into what he will become and he imparts his feelings to his mother while holding a crystal with the classic Superman “S” symbol on it.

Lois and Ollie are a “no-show” this week but Chloe does make an appearance and she doesn’t have much to do besides motivate Jimmy to visit Lex and give Clark some key information.

“Fallout” presents a mildly entertaining story about an alien with a grudge against the “El” family but it succeeds far more in setting events in motion for the next few episodes of the season. Episodes that will undoubtedly see more Phantom “Zoners” and the eventual end of the Lex-Lana relationship.

According to the IGN review of Static:

Wasn’t this the episode that was supposed to “feature” Friday Night Smackdown’s Dave Batista? Also, isn’t this show about Clark Kent? “Static” does contain both of these characters but “feature” is hardly the apt word for Dave Batista’s screen time. He has approximately two lines in the whole episode and about a minute of footage. However, this episode isn’t about Clark Kent or some “Zoner” who can suck the bones right out of a human body; it’s about Lana, Lex and floor 33.1.

The last couple of Smallville episodes have seen the steady deterioration of Lex and Lana’s relationship but “Static” renews and strengthens their bond. At the beginning of the episode, Lana is having her doubts about Lex and her pregnancy. With all the lies and deceit, is this man fit to raise their child? That answer will have to wait because an escapee from floor 33.1 has other plans for Lex Luthor. This escapee named Bronson has the ability to shift himself and others into different frequencies. Yes, the same kind of frequencies that you rotate through when searching for a different channel on an analog television. In fact, the effect used when Bronson changes frequencies is the same as a TV going static.

Bronson shifts Lex out of our “frequency,” sparking a search by Lana, Chloe and Lionel. Clark decides that this mysterious “Zoner” ripping bones out of people in Seattle is more important so he leaves the Lex problem in Chloe’s capable hands.

The majority of the episode is about Lana, Chloe and Jimmy Olson following a lead they receive about floor 33.1. At one point Lana even meets with Bronson who wants to show her this floor before he releases Lex. Unfortunately for him, someone has cleared out the floor before they get there. Meanwhile, Jimmy Olson discovers a way to tap into the other frequencies that “Static” man uses.

The episode moves at a fairly brisk pace and every so often shifts to the Clark-Zoner storyline that is running concurrently. Sadly, the only point to this encounter is the last 30 seconds. Clark is just beginning to square off against Aldar (Dave Batista), when their fight is interrupted by another hero who rushes in and quickly dispatches the Zoner. Clark finds an Oreo cookie on the ground, looks up, and sees a figure in the darkness with glowing red eyes. You guessed it – Martian Manhunter! Before Clark has an opportunity to speak with Manhunter, he disappears into the night sky. This is an extremely exciting moment to a fairly dull storyline.

Now that Lana knows Lex can hear her, she heads back to Luthor Mansion to speak with him. During this time Lana declares her love for Lex and also reveals that she is pregnant. Lex is there and able to hear, but so is Bronson who quickly takes advantage of the situation by grabbing Lana and holding a knife to her neck. Bronson demands to know where 33.1 has been moved or he will kill Lana. Lex doesn’t know the location since his father is the one who moved it, making this standoff all the more tense. Luckily, Superman’s Pals Jimmy Olson and Chloe Sullivan charge in to save the day. Lex and Bronson fight it out with Bronson ultimately taking the wrong end of the knife.

In the aftermath, Lana’s doubts about Lex have seemingly disappeared. Chloe questions her about 33.1 and Lana believes Lex when he says there was no secret operation. It appears her judgment has been clouded by this recent incident. This is what has always been fundamentally wrong with Lana; she never wants to see what is right in front of her. It happened with Clark and now the same thing is happening with Lex.

“Static” is a solid hour of television but if you are looking for Clark Kent this week you will be sorely disappointed. However, it does a great job of moving the Lana and Lex relationship in a new direction. Especially the final scene – Lex Luthor asks Lana Lang to marry him. Does she accept?

Yeah, cliffhangers suck.

According to the IGN review of Hydro:

After an abysmal end to the fall half of Smallville’ssixth season, the series bounces back with a strong outing. “Hydro” guest stars Beverly Hills 90210 alum Tori Spelling as a super-powered tabloid reporter who uses her unique abilities to get the scoop. But that’s not the only thing happening as the writers attempt to tackle a few other issues as well; including Lois’ hunt for the true identity of Green Arrow, and Lana’s feelings for Clark. This is a packed episode that attempts to answer a lot of questions and pave the way for the second half of the season.

Tori Spelling portrays Linda Lake, formerly a Smallville-Smalltime tabloid reporter who just so happened to acquire “powers” during the meteor shower from a couple of seasons ago. The appropriately named Miss Lake has the ability to turn herself into water, which helps her gather dirt on celebrities for her new tabloid column in the Daily Planet. Unfortunately, Linda’s latest story tracks her down, but she uses her powers to turn the tables and drown him. It would be easy to assume that the better part of the story is reserved to dealing with this character but you would be wrong. Tori has little screen time and is interwoven into a story that finds itself dealing with several different subplots at once – maybe too much. Spelling’s acting is suitably over the top for a character named Lake who can turn herself into water.

While Miss Lake hides in a water cooler (note: Wouldn’t she be worried that somebody might drink her?) she overhears a conversation between Lana and Chloe about Lex’s marriage proposal. Lana reveals that she’s hesitating due to her lingering feelings for Clark. Low and behold, everything ends up in Linda’s column the next day. This not only forces Lana to reexamine her feelings but Clark as well. Clark attempts to confront Lana but is stopped by Lex who uses the revelation that Lana is pregnant to keep the farm boy at bay.

This takes its toll on Chloe of all people who has to act as a buffer between the two former lovers. They both bring their issues to her and this culminates in Chloe venting her frustrations to Clark in a wonderfully acted scene. Finally, Chloe reveals how angry she is that everyone uses her as their punching bag instead of just talking to each other. In fact, her mantra for a good half of the episode to both the characters is “Maybe you should speak to (insert character name here)”. It’s about time, Miss Sullivan.

During Chloe’s venting, she happens to mention that Clark is an alien and little does she know that Lake happens to be floating in a nearby bathtub. Needless to say, the next day Lake prepares to publish the story but Chloe attempts to stop her leading to a physical fight that leads to Lake’s apparent death. However, there is no body and it is obvious to the audience that Lake turns into water to get away.

Normally this would be enough to fill an episode but there is another story that includes some Green Arrow action. Lois Lane gathers some evidence that may prove the Green Arrow’s true identity – Oliver Queen. She enlists Clark’s help to gather evidence on Green-Oliver. Instead, Clark helps Queen by posing as the Green Arrow while Lois and Oliver are together. The majority of this story is played for laughs including the kiss between Faux-Arrow and Lois just before Oliver appears.

Finally, Lana confronts Clark about the marriage proposal but also wants to know what secret of his Chloe has been protecting. Clark manages to brush this off by telling her that he knows she is pregnant. This is an extremely powerful scene and while there are always mixed reactions to Kreuk’s acting, she conveys Lana’s sense of urgency and desperation exceptionally. Lana wants a reason not to marry Lex and her eyes are pleading for honesty – just this once. Sadly, Clark gives Lana his best wishes and sends her on her way. In the next scene she agrees to marry Lex.

“Hydro” is a respectable episode that suffers from being packed with too much story. It’s well written but these stories could have been done far more justice by being fleshed-out over at least a couple of episodes.

According to the IGN review of Justice:

Early rumors outlining a sixth season Smallville episode that would include several heroes from the DC universe spread like wildfire. Was it really possible that the newly founded CW was willing to allow the Smallville showrunners an unprecedented amount of freedom in developing an episode that would feature an array of characters clad in superhero gear? Several months later that dream has become reality – sort of. Steven S. DeKnight pens an episode that is the closest live-action incarnation of the Justice League since that bad unaired TV pilot was shopped around in 1997.

“Justice” features several popular DC characters including Arthur Curry (Aquaman), Bart Allen (Impulse), Victor Stone (Cyborg) and this season’s semi-regular Oliver Queen (Green Arrow). The first thirty minutes is dedicated to Bart’s return to Smallville and Clark quickly discovers that the young speedster is breaking into Luthorcorp facilities in order to steal files pertaining to project 33.1. It’s great to see Kid Flash return but his performance is marred by some of the worst dialogue the show has delivered in recent memory&#Array; and this show is capable of delivering some dreadful dialogue.

Clark discovers that Green Arrow has been working with Impulse in an effort to thwart Lex’s attempt to create an army of “super-freaks” at several of his 33.1 facilities. Unfortunately, in Impulse’s latest attempt to gather information, Lex manages to capture him and now has the young speedster trapped somewhere in Metropolis. This is when Arrow reveals his larger plan and introduces Clark to two of his old friends – Aquaman and Cyborg. It turns out while Clark was busy saving Smallville on a weekly basis; Arrow had loftier goals and was gathering a team of heroes to fight the forces of evil.

At this point the episode transforms into every comic book fan’s wet dream as Green Arrow’s team devises a plan to infiltrate a 33.1 warehouse and save their super-friend Impulse. However, Clark has plans of his own and with a little detective work from Chloe he decides to storm the base himself. Big mistake. Clark stumbles upon a room filled with refined Kryptonite and is rendered useless. It’s time for Arrow’s Semi-Justice League to storm in and cleanup the mess complete with codenames and Chloe manning the Watchtower.

So much has already been said about Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of Lex Luthor but not mentioning the fantastic job he does in this episode would be a crime. There are very few times that Rosenbaum is allowed to breakout and play Lex as a true maniacal villain but when he does, it is the best performance short of Clancy Brown’s version of Lex from Justice League Adventures. Towards the end of the episode, Lex makes a comment about protecting “freedom and democracy.” This is a very chilling glimpse of the character’s point of view as Lex sees himself as the hero of the story&#Array; the one who must protect the world from the supermen.

The problem with “Justice” is that it takes about thirty minutes to reintroduce these characters and quickly setup an excuse for them to dress-up in badass gear to fight some crime. It would be easy to dismiss the rushed narrative and ogle all the pretty action sequences and classic comic book characters on screen&#Array; but that would be cheating. The truth is, while it’s great to see these guys in live action doing what they do, the narrative is trite and one-dimensional. It feels like DeKnight pieced together several key moments that he knew “fans” would jump at and bunched them together; hoping that everyone wouldn’t notice the lack of depth to the story.

Maybe if this episode had aired before Heroes had ever premiered I would feel differently but that show has proven that you can tell a thrilling superhero tale without sacrificing a compelling story.

These characters and the mythos behind each of them deserved more than one episode. This should have easily been a two or maybe even three-part story that would allow this narrative to be developed and told the way it should have been.

“Justice” delivers a healthy amount of action and excitement but when you strip away all the thrills and chills of seeing these legendary characters fight it out in classic comic book flair you are left with a shallow and ultimately unfulfilling yarn.

According to the IGN review of Crimson:

Martha Kent said it best at the end of this episode when she suggested that Clark should start being forward about his feelings because this episode of Smallville definitely benefited from his candidness. Of course Clark always opens up when red kryptonite is involved. “Crimson” starts off with several laughs at the expense of a kryptonite influenced Lois Lane and ends with a shocking confrontation between Clark and Lex in one of the best moments of the season.

Everything starts off innocently enough as Chloe and Jimmy hope to find Clark and Lois some Valentine’s Day love. After a failed attempt to set up Lois and Clark with each other, in one of the funnier moments of the episode, Lois discovers a little shop. She is given a stunning red lipstick and applies it to her lips. It turns out the lipstick is laced with kryptonite and before you know it, she’s lusting after Clark.

Clark thwarts Lois’ initial advances, including a mix CD and a tattoo provocatively displaying Lois and Clark’s names on her left breast. Needless to say, these scenes were played for laughs and Welling always delivers that dumbfounded farm boy look well. As usual, Clark gets Chloe to investigate Lois’ strange behavior.

Unfortunately for Clark, Lois tracks him down at the Daily Planet and finally plants a kiss on him. For those of you who may not know, red kryptonite frees Clark Kent of his inhibitions. Yes, it’s a plot device used previously but at times it can be effective.

Meanwhile, Lana and Lex prepare for their engagement party happening later that evening. Lex wants to announce Lana’s pregnancy but she’s a little hesitant and claims that she doesn’t want people to think that is the reason she is marrying him.

The episode hits a lull in the second act as pieces are being positioned for the pivotal final scenes. Lois and Clark almost have sex before he discovers an invitation to the Lex-Lana engagement party. Chloe suffers through Jimmy’s leaps of logic in relation to her feelings for Clark. Jimmy’s jealousy comes off as forced and lacking any real foundation. Sadly, this leads to their breakup at the end of the episode.

Lois and Clark crash Lex and Lana’s engagement party. At this moment the funny ends and everything hits the fan. Clark walks around the room hurling remarks at his own mother for fraternizing with Luthors, and at Lana for only marrying Lex because she is pregnant with his baby. With that reveal he tosses a baby rattler to Lex and congratulates him. Welling does an exceptional job playing the scorned lover and the look on Lex’s face is priceless. Clark kidnaps Lana and takes her back to the farm.

Back at the farm, Clark forces a kiss on Lana and she succumbs but decides that she still wants to have nothing to do with Clark. A powerful scene between the two characters and for once it is nice to see them revealing their true feelings. Lex interrupts the interlude wielding a gun and things turn violent when Clark attacks Lex. Yeah, suspend the disbelief here as Clark somehow manages not to snap Lex like a twig. The animosity these two characters have developed for each other is now evolving into pure hatred. If there is one thing that has worked in this series; it’s the development of Clark and Lex from friends into enemies.

Martha breaks up the fight with a hidden piece of kryptonite just as Lex attempts to stab Clark. Luckily for Clark, the kryptonite didn’t weaken him enough to allow the metal to penetrate his skin but Lex thinks it did. Martha tells Lana to leave with Lex but she notices that the metal poker is crumpled on the floor. Good, it’s time Lana stops playing the idiot.

“Crimson” didn’t have Aquaman, IMPULSE, Green Arrow, Cyborg or the Martian Manhunter but it was a story-packed episode that moved the overarching narrative forward quite a bit. Also, that not so subtle bomb about Lana’s baby being something other than a natural pregnancy will have people talking until next week’s episode. What is Lex Luthor planning?

According to the IGN review of Freak:

Years ago there was an episode of The X-Filesentitled “Leonard Betts” that imparted an important revelation about Agent Dana Scully. This was a revelation that would change the shape of the series and our view of Scully’s character forever. Why would we reference a ten-year-old X-Files episode in a Smallville review? “Freak” has a very similar revelation about Chloe Sullivan that is almost as equally shocking. If done well, this well executed shocker could change the way we perceive one of Smallville’s regular cast members.

The Lana and Lex wedding is fast approaching and it’s hard to believe that Lana is still willing to go through with the nuptials after all her suspicions about Lex’s dealings. At this point, every scene between these two characters includes a dash of lying and an undercurrent of distrust that is just waiting to boil to the surface and when it finally breaks things will never be the same. Then again, it’s been that way for weeks and Lana has her baby to think about before she decides to confront the most powerful man on the planet. With the next episode being the “wedding event,” we’ll get to see how far Lana is willing to go with this farce of a relationship.

Also, it’s good to see Lana Lang’s unwavering devotion to finding out the truth about Clark Kent. In fact, she appears to already know so much about our superhero-to-be that she is now assuming he is a meteor freak. Even the meteor freak detector Tobias’ assurance that Clark is a normal guy wasn’t enough to keep Lana off the track this week and when she found the ricocheted bullet at the end of the episode, her determination was renewed. Too bad Clark is still not willing to reveal his secret to her, even when she so obviously wants to be with him.

Before jumping into this episode’s Krypton-shattering revelation, let’s talk a little about Chloe and Clark’s relationship. For a character who was never a part of Superman’s mythos, Chloe Sullivan has grown on me throughout the years to the point that I couldn’t imagine Clark Kent’s life without her. She has played an integral role in Clark’s development on the show and has helped shape the man he is becoming and the hero he is going to be. “Freak” stresses the emotional bond between these two characters and the foundation they have built together these past five seasons. It’s great to see it come to a headway now as it’s Chloe who is looking to Clark for support when so many times it has been the other way around.

In “Leonard Betts,” Scully learns that she has cancer after confronting a man who ingests the cancer of his victims to sustain himself. In much the same fashion, Chloe is revealed to be a meteor-infected person after being spotted by Tobias, a blind young man who has the ability to “see” such people. For those who didn’t see last week’s preview that apparently spoiled the whole thing, this is an absolute shocker and a curve ball that could have implications on the rest of the series. Of course, that is, if the Smallville writing team pursue this concept aggressively.

Chloe’s powers, if she really will have any, haven’t manifested themselves as of yet but the impact is already pretty evident. The scene between Chloe and Clark when she asks him to remove the GPS device is one of the best scenes of the year and possibly of the series. After all she has seen, Chloe is in unfamiliar territory and frightened. Clark ripping open her skin with his heat vision to remove the GPS device is going to be an image to be remembered for quite some time. The scene between the two at episode’s end built upon those emotions and was wonderfully handled by both Allison Mack and Tom Welling.

Smallville finds itself at yet another turning point. Will Chloe’s revelation be mishandled in a story that isn’t bold enough to take the characters to that next level or will we finally see a fundamental change to the series? With Lana on the verge of discovering Clark’s secret, Lex growing more sinister every episode and now Chloe’s shocking revelation there are many exciting stories that are hopefully on the verge of being told.

According to the IGN review of Promise:

After a month long wait, Smallville returns with one of the most pivotal moments in the series history. If someone had told us a couple of years ago that Lana Lang would be marrying Lex Luthor, we would have had a jolly good laugh and then stared at you curiously with that ‘you’re kidding’ face. Lana appeared to absolutely despise Lex but somehow, someway, Lex managed to win her over and we’re sure her more than distant boyfriend Clark didn’t help matters. That brings us to “Promise” and the wedding that nobody expected.

The first thing this episode gets right is that the narrative isn’t told like your typical Smallville story. The last few hours before the wedding are retold through three different points of view. These three unique viewpoints are key to understanding why Lana eventually goes through with the nuptials.

Clark is still struggling with the idea of Lana actually marrying Lex. Clark’s frustrations persist through his portion of the episode until finally, after a good talk with Chloe and his mother, he breaks down and decides to tell Lana the truth. While Welling does a great job conveying Clark’s anguish it’s maddening that it has taken him this long to realize what he should have done ages ago. Mrs. Kent, we needed that story two years ago.

There are a couple of highlights during Lex’s version of events including a scene between him and his father. Lex discusses his fears of Lana leaving him at the altar and it’s chilling to see how these two men have become so far removed from reality and what love really is. Both of these men see Lana as nothing more than a possession and Lionel even attempts to use her as a pawn in their continuous power struggle. This makes her decision to eventually marry Lex that much more tragic.

The other highlight is Lex beating and eventually killing Dr. Langston after he attempts to blackmail Lex with information pertaining to Lana’s baby. This scene is exceptionally shot in what is supposed to be a crypt directly beneath the chapel and comes complete with hair-raising organ music playing in the background.

Now for the best moment of the episode –Lana finally finds out the truth about Clark Kent! Finally! While there are plenty of better ways the truth could have been revealed, (locking Chloe in a wine seller is not what we had in mind) what is most important is that this long overdue revelation is finally behind us. With this newfound knowledge, Lana decides not to go through with the wedding and with Clark approaching her and telling her that he won’t let her go through with it&#Array; things are looking up, right? Enter Lionel Luthor. We’ve missed you. Lionel has been on the “morally ambiguous” fence for a good portion of the last two years but with his threat to kill Clark if Lana doesn’t go through with the wedding; good old Lionel appears to be back.

Lana is left with no choice but to marry Lex. Kristin Kreuk does an outstanding job selling the absolute fear Lana is feeling as she walks down the isle. This continues into the next scene with Lana finally having a moment alone to break down and cry. At this point Clark walks in to find out why Lana went through with the wedding and this is the episode’s one major gaffe. Lana decides to lie to Clark instead of just being honest with him about Lionel’s devious scheme. Here we go again but this time it is Lana keeping a secret to protect Clark. Hopefully, this unoriginal concept will be short lived and Clark will learn the truth behind Lionel’s scheme sooner rather than later. Sadly, we think the writers might drag this out for some time. But hey, at least Lana finally knows.

According to the IGN review of Progeny:

After a month of waiting, Smallville finally returns to the airwaves with a strong episode that will hopefully get the ball rolling for the final few episodes of the season. In fact, we’ve only had two new episodes of Smallville in a two month period so it might be best to recap a little before diving in. The biggest event of the year was Lana’s marriage to Lex Luthor, which coupled with her pregnancy, has been a surprising twist for her character. Lana’s decent into the world of “Luthor” has made for some emotionally intense television. The deeper into Lex’s world she finds herself&#Array; the more she suffers. Meanwhile, we’ve discovered that Chloe Sullivan is a meteor freak but we’ve yet to witness her power. This sets the stage for the final five episodes of Smallville starting with “Progeny”, which is definitely one of the superior episodes of the season.

As said in previous reviews, one of the series strengths is the dynamic between Chloe Sullivan and Clark Kent. That’s good news for “Progeny” because it features Chloe and Clark for the majority of the episode, doing what they do best, getting to the bottom of a mystery. What’s even better is that the mystery is one that the series has brushed over for the past few seasons; Chloe Sullivan’s mother. Moira Sullivan, played wonderfully by Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman!), has the power to control meteor freaks and is now in the “care” of Lex Luthor at one of his 33.1 facilities. This conveniently connects to the recent discovery that Chloe is a meteor freak herself and sets up the basis of the story.

Throughout the episode we learn that Moira is controlling her own daughter and trying to help her learn Lex’s scheme. Chloe and Clark slowly put the pieces together and learn the truth, which leads to one of the cooler scenes of the episode. Moira uses her power to control Chloe and make sure that she does everything necessary to break out of the facility. Chloe, in nothing short of kick-ass style, disarms one of the Lex-guards and steals his shotgun. Her next target is Lex himself who would be dead if it wasn’t for Clark saving him at the last moment. What’s extra special about this scene is that we see it in Clark vision and let’s just say that Clark waits a few extra seconds debating whether or not to actually save Lex’s life. Also, we’d like to add Chloe Sullivan to the “Women named Chloe who wield large weapons and are adept with computers” club.

This season has been building towards something&#Array; something big, but for most of the season it hasn’t been very clear what that “something” might be. This is the first episode that starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together and makes real sense of what we’ve been witnessing. This is especially true of the Lana and Lex’s marriage/pregnancy/miscarriage storyline that has been consistently good but provided very little in the way of any resolution. However, “Progeny” gives us a look at how far Lex was willing to go to marry Lana. The revelation that Lex faked Lana’s pregnancy was a good one and tied that storyline up in a nice and neat little package but also allows it to evolve into something else. Hopefully, by the end of the season, Lana will get her well-deserved revenge for what Lex has put her through.

It’s great to see that we are completely done with the flip-flopping Lex Luthor and are now treated to a twisted villain who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Michael Rosenbaum has got his version of Lex down to a science and consistently provides a fantastic performance every week. His final scene of the episode, when he subtly threatens to kill Chloe if she doesn’t “kill” her story, is low-key but a chilling example of how far this character has come.

According to the IGN review of Prototype:

After last week’s disappointing venture into the world of film noir we were hoping that this week’s Smallville would put the story back on course for the season finale. While “Prototype” does have its moments, it lacks the punch, intensity and excitement that an episode should have this late into the season. We finally delve deeper into the Project Ares storyline but learn nothing new and the episode hypes up a fight between Wes (Battlestar Galactica’s Tahmoh Penikett) and Clark that ends up being anticlimactic.

The problem with “Prototype” is that it doesn’t introduce us to anything new. We already knew about Wes’ connection to the woman who kidnapped Lex a few episodes ago. We’ve already seen the evidence that Project Ares is somehow connected to Lex’s experiments on Meteor Freaks and that Senator Burke was involved. We already knew; well you get the picture. The only thing that we do learn in this episode is that Lois Lane just happened to spend some quality time with Wes back when she was an army brat and that isn’t BIG news as much as it is convenient. In fact, it really only impacts the events of the episode so far as keeping Wes under control so that Clark has enough time to come in for the rescue.

With the episode being nothing more than a collection of short scenes that just piece together information we already knew, we still have the final confrontation between Wes and Clark to look forward to; right? Unfortunately, they don’t build super soldiers like they used to because Clark dispatches this foe in what seemed like less time than it took to kill the mole man in “Subterranean.” At one point, Wes is walking around invisible and Clark can’t see him, but he still should be able to hear him with his abilities. We guess they turned off “super-hearing” for this episode.

Also, haven’t we been led to believe that Clark Kent doesn’t kill? There are several ways he could have tried to reason with or stop Wes before blowing a hole in his chest with heat vision. Maybe Clark is tired of good old diplomacy and is now going to start blasting his way through the enemy. There is no doubt he had every right to defend himself and we could even buy killing Wes after an exhausting attempt to stop him but instead he kills Wes within minutes of their second encounter. This is the biggest departure we have seen in quite some time from the Superman mythos as Clark will always look for another option before killing someone. After accidentally killing Titan earlier this season, Clark was full of remorse. Where was that this episode?

“Prototype” did have its moments though and seeing Lex’s endgame finally being realized was a treat. It’s interesting to see that Lex Luthor believes that Project Ares is for the good of mankind. Lex has become so delusional that he believes killing, experimenting on humans and hurting those he loves is the only way to keep humanity safe. It’s a fascinating and dangerous path that Lex has chosen and it leads directly to the person we expect him to become. Out of all the characters on the show, Lex’s progression continues to be the most realistic.

Unfortunately, we wish the same could be said about Clark who after six seasons still makes “puppy dog” faces whenever he hears Lana’s name. Not only that, his attitude towards Chloe this episode was inexcusable. We’re expected to believe that this character has aged from the farm boy in season one but his attitude is nothing short of childish. It would be great to see the same amount of evolution in character that Lex has had; but that is more of a slight against the series in general and not just this episode.

According to the IGN review of Phantom:

The last few episodes of Smallville have left a lot to be desired. Normally, when a show would be building towards its finale,Smallville has been stumbling along with episodes that seem to go nowhere plot wise and give us little to get excited about. Well, it’s finale time and this show is known for having a fantastic capper regardless of the quality of the season and this year is no different. “Phantom” presents a satisfying conclusion to several storylines and delivers a few cliffhangers that leave us eagerly awaiting next season.

The relationship saga that has continued to play out for the past six seasons finally reached a stunning evolution. Lana was privy to Clark’s powers ever since spying on him prior to her wedding in “Promise”. While it was wonderful that she finally knew the ‘truth’ we felt cheated that Clark didn’t tell her himself. “Phantom” rectifies that issue in one fantastic moment with Clark coming completely clean with Lana; not only telling her about his powers but revealing his complete origin story to her as well. It’s about time Clark Kent. This coupled with Lana leaving Lex Luthor in dramatic fashion and we see bright things on the horizon for season seven now that the story isn’t hindered by Clark and Lana’s collective secrets. Of course, Lana has to find her way out of the back of that mail truck first. We know you’re in there Lana.

Why is Martian Manhunter on Smallville again? As far as we can tell he contributes absolutely nothing to the show besides being another “superhero” for the Internet masses to get all giddy about. His sole purpose in this episode was to have his guts ripped out by a phantom-infected old man and then to tell Clark about Lionel being an emissary of Jor-El. If they are going to inject superheroes into Smallville just for the hell of it, we recommend Booster Gold. He’s funny, from the future and has a little robotic companion; what more could you want?

We suspected the possibility one of the Smallville women would not make it past this year’s finale but we were surprised to see Lois, Lana and Chloe all apparently dying at one point in this episode. Lana Luthor’s death by exploding SUV was a surprising twist but we’re going to assume that she safely jumped into the back of that conveniently placed mail truck that just happened to be driving by at that very same moment. As for Lois, it was obvious that her snooping around would eventually get her into more trouble than she could handle but little did we know that this would be the catalyst for Chloe’s power to finally manifest itself. As for Chloe, after transferring her ‘life force’ into her cousin she appeared to lay lifeless, but it’s possible that she is simply unconscious after using her ability. While her death would be a great catalyst for Lois to take her journalistic endeavors to the next level, we suspect that they’ll keep Chloe around simply because she has the best onscreen chemistry with Clark.

With about five episodes of narrative crammed into one final hour of television, it’s kind of surprising that things came together as efficiently as they did. Lex’s endgame goes terribly wrong in the best possible fashion when a phantom-infected child starts ripping holes in the chests of Luthorcorp scientists and dragging their dead carcasses across the floor. We were almost expecting a Clark vs. Phantom child showdown, which was strangely appealing, but the way events played out was far more satisfying.

At first, it wasn’t quite clear what they had planned for this final phantom. Frankly, all of Clark’s fights with these super powered alien beings have been anti-climactic and we were expecting more of the same. Thankfully, they went in a completely unexpected direction and used this final phantom to introduce Bizarro. Yeah, his origin is nothing close to the comic books but having a fully-fledged super powered super villain for Clark to fight is nothing short of fantastic and even their short bout in this episode is on a higher level than anything we’ve seen before. Having his face morph into the classic misshapen style at the very end was a nice touch but it appears that this Bizarro doesn’t use ‘opposite speak’ that the character is so famous for. Either way, we’re eagerly awaiting more Bizarro next season and hope that his character makes it past premiere.

The Worst:

Wither, Subterranean, Labyrinth, Combat, and Noir

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In pieces:

  • Wither features zoner Gloria, inspired by the character Poison Ivy, is not much of a villian, but the other scenes are much better;
  • Subterranean deals with Clark freeing immigrant laborers from a neighbor’s farm, Jed McNally, who has some uninteresting powers;
  • Labyrinth has another zoner, Dr. Hudson, who puts Clark into a Cuckoo Nest trope, which aren’t particularly creative, as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Normal Again, Charmed‘s Brain Drain, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Shadows and Symbols, and Stargate SG-1‘s The Changling;
  • In Combat, Clark faces the zoner, Titan;
  • Noir is by far the worst episode of the season, a noir, taking place in Jimmy Olsen’s dream.

According to the IGN review of Wither:

fter a great season premiere and an even better second outing, Smallville is on an early roll this season and “Wither” keeps the pace with yet another satisfying episode. Remember, the show had a strong opening last season as well but was eventually mishandled and stumbled to the finish line. Nevertheless, “Wither” is another solid hour of entertainment that provides a good amount of thrills and character development.

Just like last week, the narrative is broken up into three separate stories that are told concurrently. One story deals with Clark, Chloe and Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen investigating a grizzly murder that has occurred on the outskirts of Smallville’s local make-out spot. Jimmy and Chloe’s budding relationship is explored and the two actors have already developed some great onscreen chemistry. Even with Clark in the mix, Aaron Ashmore’s Olsen holds his own and is a genuinely entertaining character. A tough assignment, considering Tom Welling and Allison Mack have been working together for years and have developed some of the best chemistry on television.

The trio’s investigation leads to the discovery of a Phantom Zone escapee who is determined to turn Earth into her own personal arboretum. This sexy female alien, who goes by the name Gloria and poses as a park ranger, is a welcome change to the usual kryptonite-enhanced baddies that tangle with Clark week-after-week. Also, these new super-powered villains can actually pose a real threat to Clark as seen in this episode. If Gloria’s power to control the plant life around her can make Clark bleed, imagine what some of the more vicious villains from the Phantom Zone can do. The Phantom Zone jailbreak will do a lot to expand Smallville’s rogues gallery beyond the regular “Freak of the Week.”

Meanwhile, Lana Lang comes to terms with her trust issues and feelings for Lex, who wants to take their relationship to the next level. While a relationship between Lex and Lana is an interesting concept to explore, it feels like both characters have been fairly underused these past two episodes. Still, Lex does have two standout moments this week. One of those moments being a heated scene between Lex and Clark culminating in Lex kicking Clark out of his mansion. Something Lex Luthor should have done a long time ago. The other is his encounter with Oliver Queen at the costume ball towards the end of the episode. Both Rosenbaum and Hartley do an exceptional job of building the animosity between these two characters that will inevitably have repercussions in future episodes. For now, this little moment was a refreshing taste of things to come.

Finally, “Wither” gives us our first real introduction to Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen. Last episode, his lone scene left a lot to be desired but this week he is much improved and appears to be quickly gaining a grasp of his character. The costume ball featured in this episode was a blatant excuse to have Hartley dress up in a classic Green Arrow style costume and it definitely works on screen. This isn’t the costume that the character will be wearing as Green Arrow for the rest of the series but it is a nice little reference to the classic comic book look. Now, if they could only get Hartley to grow a goatee, he would be perfect. Most of his scenes are opposite Lois Lane who is obviously being positioned as Queen’s love interest. First Aquaman, and now Green Arrow. Lois is going to be a very popular topic of conversation in the future Justice League Watchtower.

Now that season six is well underway, it appears that the series writers and actors are having a lot more fun this time around. With each episode there is a renewed sense of direction. Throw in a new supply of super-powered villains from the Phantom Zone and a couple of new semi-regular cast members and Smallville’s sixth season could be it’s best yet.

According to the IGN review of Subterranean:

It’s too bad that Smallville‘s final episode for 2006 ends the first half of the sixth season on such a disappointing note. Truthfully, the last few episodes haven’t really lived up to the caliber of the first five of the season and I fear that we may see a slip in quality much like what happened last season. “Subterranean’s” weak premise doesn’t help; super-powered Clark Kent aids a young Mexican illegal immigrant find his mother. When brainstorming ideas for an episode of a show whose lead character can lift a few hundred times his own body weight, it might be best to give him something a bit more… challenging.

First and foremost, for those of you who tuned in expecting a resolution to “Static’s” cliffhanger from three weeks ago; get ready for disappointment. Lana and Lex have one conversation about the marriage proposal that concluded the previous episode and Lana hasn’t decided if Lex is marriage material yet. In other words – Let’s stretch out this cliffhanger and force people to tune in next year for Lana’s answer. Lana is then whisked off to Amsterdam for the majority of the episode to visit an art exhibit.

Meanwhile, Clark is helping Javier track down his mother while investigating the farm the boy had been forced to work on for the past few weeks. Clark makes a grizzly discovery when he uses his x-ray vision on his neighbor’s farm and finds several bodies buried deep under the ground. Intriguing? This is about as intriguing as the episode gets and we soon find out that Luthorcorp owns the property that the illegal immigrants have been working. This of course leads to a Lex and Clark confrontation with Lex denying everything. These confrontations are starting to become rather commonplace in a Smallville episode. Lex just happens to own whatever it is Clark is investigating so Clark heads to the Luthor mansion assuming that Lex is behind whatever threat befalls Smallville that week. The writers should find a fresh and original way to have these two fascinating and iconic characters butt heads.

Eventually, it’s revealed that the farm handler Jed McNally is a “meteor freak” who has the ability to burrow himself through the ground much like a groundhog. Clark and Jed’s climactic (or should I say anticlimactic) confrontation clocks in at an approximate 20 seconds of action-packed thrills. Note the thick hint of sarcasm. Actually, the whole battle takes place underground and is witnessed through the eyes of Javier, who watches helplessly.

With the villain dispatched and the rest of the Mexican immigrants saved all that is left is to reunite the boy with his mother. Wait, what was that? We aren’t going to even bother showing the scene with the boy being reunited with his mother? Sadly, the boy’s mother is in this episode about 10 seconds. Chloe informs her that they have found her son and that is all we see of the character.

Instead of a proper resolution, we are treated to ten minutes of epilogue, including a nauseating confrontation between Lana and Clark arguing over Lex’s involvement in the events that took place on the farm. This harkened back to memories of last season’s “You don’t trust me” arguments that were tacked on to the end of the majority of episodes. Lex’s final moments are mildly fascinating as it is revealed he is continuing his experiments with “Meteor Freaks” in a new facility numbered 33.1. A promising hint to far more thrilling episodes in the near future.

“Subterranean” is an uninspired, unoriginal and ultimately lackluster hour of television that offers nothing new to this season or this series. Thankfully, the episode will be long forgotten when the season continues in January with stories that sound far more intriguing than this one.

According to the IGN review of Labyrinth:

Clark Kent finds himself in a mental institution with everyone insisting that the last five years have been a delusion and that his super powers are a figment of his imagination. Only one man, er, alien, can help Clark realize his powers are real and spectacular – John Jones, the Martian Manhunter (Phil Morris).

For those of you who are experiencing d¿j¿ vu, “Labyrinth” is extremely similar to a season six episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer entitled “Normal Again.” In “Normal Again,” Buffy is dosed with the blood of a demon and spends the episode flip-flopping from reality into a delusion in which she finds herself the unwilling guest of a mental institution. There, she is led to believe the last five years have been a delusion and that she really has no powers of any kind. It’s best to get this out of the way now because it really would be unfair to review this episode as a simple “copy” of “Normal Again.” Plenty of science fiction, and some non-science fiction shows, have dealt with the idea that the reality being portrayed is nothing more than an illusion. It can act as an interesting mirror for the characters as they have to come to terms with the fact that they may have been living a lie or that their delusion is sadly more appealing than their reality.

Clark escapes from the mental institution and then visits several of his friends and family individually. Each reaffirms that Clark has been insane for the past five years and that this alternate reality is “the real world.” These scenes become a little repetitive until Clark finally runs into Chloe. She believes Clark does have super powers but is quickly revealed to be just another part of his delusion and she also happens to be as insane as Clark.

Everything points to Clark’s reality being a delusion except for a fellow patient who tries to convince Clark that a Phantom Zone escapee has in fact taken over his mind. Unfortunately, that patient also claims he’s from Mars and worst of all Clark is starting to come to terms with the idea that maybe he has been living a lie. This doubled with Lana’s insistence that they can be together once he is cured has Clark convinced that this new life may be for the better. Who would want to give up this Lana Lang? This “dream” version is much more akin to her earlier season 1-2 character than the current version.

The mystery man from Mars continues to try to convince Clark that their doctor is the Phantom and Clark must kill him in order to regain control of his own mind. Clark refuses to believe this and decides to undergo a procedure that will keep him in this new reality forever. Luckily, Clark notices a sly smile on Lana’s face just before the procedure commences and he is able to escape and stop the doctor, allowing Martian Manhunter to trap the Phantom in the real world.

For some reason, at the end of the episode Manhunter greets Clark only for a second before being scared away by Martha Kent and darting off into the night sky. This episode was a prime opportunity for a proper introduction to this character but for some reason he is held to only three scenes. Hopefully, we will see a full episode dedicated to the character and soon.

There are several references to old Smallville episodes; including Lex Luthor’s car accident from season one. Sadly, in this alternate reality, Clark wasn’t able to “completely” save Lex and now he is a paraplegic. Rosenbaum does a fantastic job of playing this alternate self-pitying Lex. Also, Phil Morris does a respectable job of portraying John Jones in the few scenes we see him in. He lacks the screen presence of someone like Carl Lumbly, who voiced the character on Justice League, but Morris holds his own and delivers the lines in that strong, straight forward tone that is signature Manhunter.

This was a good episode of Smallville that had the opportunity to be great if it wasn’t for some poor pacing early on. There will undoubtedly be repercussions from this episode as one scene eerily depicts Chloe being shot to death by Lex’s men. Possible foreshadowing? Also, Clark comes to terms with the fact that he really does still love Lana and he may be willing to finally attempt to win her heart back from Lex.

According to the IGN review of Combat:

As we hit the latter half of the season and as Smallville is about to go on another month long break we are treated to a rather lackluster effort in “Combat.” With the marriage of Lex and Lana Luthor offering up plenty of exciting stories to tell you would think the writers would jump at the opportunity but sadly we are treated to this rather uninspired story of an underground superhuman fight club. However, “Combat” does have some redeeming Lex and Lana moments that keep the episode from being a total loss.

Earlier this season, Friday Night Smackdown‘s Batista guest starred onSmallville as a super powered Phantom Zone escapee. Actually, he was barely in the episode and with the questionable acting chops of most wrestlers that may have been for the best. “Combat” gives us two more WWE guest stars in Ashley and Kane. Kane is handled perfectly as the light on the talk, heavy on the action Titan who is yet another escapee from the Phantom Zone. Fighting is Kane’s natural ability so it was no surprise that he was able to handle most of the action sequences with ease. Then we have Ashley who was unfortunately given one-to-many lines to read as the sultry Athena.

After last week’s ending that left Clark watching helplessly as Lana married Lex it was interesting to see that he had been taking out his frustrations on the general criminal element. It’s good to see Clark coming into his own as a hero but Welling dropped the ball in this episode. He generally plays an angry, brooding Clark Kent well but there was definitely something missing from his performance this episode. It may have been the lack of a strong story and dialogue but he simply wasn’t very convincing.

We learn that Lois Lane was hunting Chupacabras (Goat Suckers) in Mexico and that is why she missed last week’s wedding. Itching for a new story she sneaks through Chloe’s files and finds herself caught in the middle of the superhuman fight club that Clark is investigating. Lois’ presence in this episode is unnecessary and doesn’t add anything to the narrative besides an awkward confrontation with Clark and a sexually charged scene opposite Athena. We would have much preferred to see Chloe far more engaged in this storyline, as she was pretty much strapped to her computer this week.

When it comes down to it, this episode was essentially about giving Clark an opportunity to blow off some steam and to give the audience some well-deserved action. The final fight between Clark and Titan delivers surprisingly good results. There were several “special effects” enhanced punches thrown that looked great on screen and it was wonderful to finally see a Clark vs. Villain fight last longer than thirty-seconds but the ending is rather anticlimactic with Titan falling onto one of his own self-generated spikes. It is good to see a more focused and action-oriented Clark.

Surprisingly, the far more intriguing Lex and Lana story is relegated to the B-plot this week. Even with its limited screen time, the subplot delivers far more story and character development than Clark’s clash with Titan. In a startling turn of events, Lana suffers a miscarriage and worst of all it may be all part of Lex Luthor’s sinister machinations. Lana’s final scene is particular heart breaking as she sits in the mansion’s nursery room suffering from what appears to be a mild case of shock. Her life has now been completely turned upside down by the events of the last two episodes and with no one to turn to it will be interesting to see how this story develops.

According to the IGN review of Noir:

Imagine this: We open the episode with the beautiful Lana Luthor mysteriously shot in the lobby of the Daily Planet. Young reporters Jimmy Olsen and Chloe Sullivan stumble upon Lana’s body just barely clinging to life. Jimmy uses his camera phone to catch a quick photo of someone rushing away from the crime scene. When the police finally arrive, he begins uploading the picture to his computer and BLAM – an unknown assailant knocks Jimmy unconscious. But, and this is the kicker, instead of continuing with this intriguing storyline, we’ll just spend about thirty minutes of the episode in Jimmy’s mind. Then, when the thirty minutes have passed and our actors have finished play-acting in 1940s film noir; we’ll cut back to the story and cram 42 minutes of plot into the final ten minutes of the episode.

We’re assuming that this is how the pitch went for “Noir,” one of the more pointless episodes of Smallville in recent memory. Now, don’t get us wrong, we love it when a TV show breaks from formula and thinks outside the box, but “Noir” is a failure in every respect possible. First and foremost, there are only a handful of episodes left in the season; it’s simply not the right time to be trying something experimental. Also, the noir portion of the episode is “shoe-horned” into the main plot and lends absolutely nothing to the narrative besides allowing Jimmy to remember a cigarette case he saw amongst Lana’s belongings.

Technically speaking, the scenes in Jimmy’s noir wet dream are fairly sound. Anyone who is a student of film will enjoy the throwback imagery, lighting and framing of the noir style but unfortunately the story was a stereotype-ridden snooze fest. The crux of the story is a love-triangle with all sorts of twists and turns culminating in characters shooting each other and Clark revealing to Jimmy Olsen that he’s an undercover cop. Maybe this is supposed to be some sort of foreshadowing to Clark’s dual identity or all the double crossing we’ll be seeing in the final three episodes of the season but in the end it’s all completely pointless because this is all happening in Jimmy Olsen’s mind!

Last week, we mentioned Lionel Luthor’s flip-flopping character. One week he is Clark’s protector and the next he’s threatening to kill Clark if Lana doesn’t marry Lex. Well this week he seems to be back to his devious self&#Array; yet again. Maybe if they devoted more of the episode to the reasoning behind his actions we could give you a more sound explanation as to why he tried to have Lana killed. What we know is that Lana was going to take the information she had on Project Ares to the Planet and Lionel couldn’t let that happen. As it stands, forcing an episode’s worth of exposition and development into the final ten minutes is a horrible way to tell a story. Especially when you’re trying to string together a complex series of events.

There were two good moments in “Noir” that are worth mentioning. First is the brilliantly edited car chase sequence using stock footage from an actual film noir feature. The second is Clark Kent zipping into the Daily Planet to save a falling Chloe Sullivan. That’s it. There was an interesting little scene between Lois Lane and Lionel that mentioned Project Ares (Lex’s Super Soldier program) but apparently this is unimportant and is quickly brushed over.

“Noir” is concept first, storytelling second and that is why it suffers. If you can’t tell an absorbing story utilizing the concept you have developed for the episode, it might be best to take the whole thing back to the drawing board and give it another shot.

 

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Next in the best and worst is Season 5.

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6 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 6

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