Smallville: Arctic
May 15, 2008

CW, Thursdays at 8:00PM

Genre: Sci-Fi Drama

Conceit: Superboy Meets World.

Supergirl was always an iffy concept, even in the comic books.  It was basically a girl Superman, who was more immature.  Not terribly compelling.  In Smallville, Kara Zor-El was suspect because Laura Vandervoort is not much of an actress.  From her introduction in the beginning of the season, it was obviously that Vandervoort was cast more for her looks than for any acting ability that she may have.  But give the girl some edge and she’s actually interesting to watch.  Flying out of exploding planes, double dealing Lex, this is a Kara I can get with.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t Kara, was it?  It was Milton Fine, Brainiac.  Kara was sent to the Negative Zone  Brainiac.  He has been the villain of choice this season.  I know that Brainiac is an important character in the Superman universe, but I’ve been terribly bored by him this entire season.  Which is why I took so much personal satisfaction in Clark’s slow motion punching him in the face.  I also took personal satisfaction in Clark killing Brainiac.  This has always been central to the Superman mythos: when it means more than who he is, can Clark break his own moral code?

And Lana is gone.  Man, what a lame way to get rid of her.  I mean, I know that Kristen Kreuk wanted off the show, and I know the reality is that Lana and Clark don’t end up together, and I even know that Clark and Chloe are more entertaining that Clark and Lana ever were, but that was a weak send off.  Here’s hoping for the occasional guest appearance.  

We finally got the face off we’ve waited seven years for.  Lex finally knows.  No gimmicks.  No memory wipes (yet).  Michael Rosenbaum shows why he knows the character of Lex Luthor so well.  An even balance between a desire to do the right thing and flat out narcissism.  To “save” the world, Lex needs to control Clark.  And so the fortress collapses in on itself, in this less spectacular special effects.  And that’s it. 

I know that season finales are supposed to be cliff hangers, but that was just…meh.  I mean, the show faded to black with no real pay off.  With nothing to wonder about.  Sure, Kara’s in the negative zone.  Yawn.  Chloe’s been arrested.  Ok semi-interesting.  Black Lex cradling Clark in a dying Fortress.  Lame.  Here’s hoping that next season (which I’m pretty sure is the last season) finds a workable path and sticks to it.

Final Grade: C

Smallville: Sleeper
April 25, 2008

CW, Thursdays at 8:00PM

Genre: Sci-Fi Drama

Conceit: Superboy Meets World

It really was spy vs. spy tonight as Jimmy Olsen was hired by the Department of Domestic Security to investigate possible terroristic activities by his lady love, Chloe Sullivan.  And did Jimmy spy it up, in true James Bond style.  Was any of this even the slightest bit believable?  Not really.  Even if we buy that someone from the DDS handed Jimmy a briefcase filled with cool gadgets, his kung fu fighting and cat like agility seemed to appear out of nowhere.

But who cares?

Aaron Ashmore could easily be one of the better people to inhabit the Jimmy Olsen persona in a long while.  He’s got the goofy charm and yet the heroic ambitions down pat.  And he’s just fun to watch.  And while I’ll always be on the “Clark and Chloe” train, I have to admit that Jimmy and Chloe have some serious chemistry.  They were nothing less than a delight to watch this episode.  The episode was just escapist fun.

Lex, meanwhile, continues on his master of the universe path.  He flies to Sweden to find a safe deposit box that Veritas was keeping.  In a scene reminiscent of “The DaVinci Code”, Lex finds what I assume is a historic compass which points somewhere.  This will surely point to The Fortress, if I know my Smallville.

The oddest part of this week’s episode had to be that Clark was barely around.  And the episode was still solid.  This will always be Tom Welling’s show, but it was nice to see that in his absence, the show still works well.  However, he did reappear at the end to set up what I’m sure is going to be a huge episode in the series next week.

Final Grade: B+

Smallville: Descent
April 20, 2008

CW, Thursday at 8:00PM

Genre: Sci-FDrama

Conceit: Superboy Meets World

Y’know, even though the show “Smallville” exists outside of DC comic continuity, and so the producers can pretty much do what they want (except, apparently, put Lois and Clark together), there are certain things that the show gets right.  Chloe, though she isn’t an actual character from the comics, is one example.  But a more pertinent example of the show getting something right is Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor.  Even when the show has taken the bizarre liberty of making Clark and Lex friends for years, it still gets the character right.  Lex is a villain, for sure.  But he’s not a villain in the classic sense.  Lex suffers from thinking he knows best, and so he will force his “best” on the world for its own sake.  In the last couple of seasons, Lex has gradually taken steps from well intentioned young man to the megalomaniac he is destined to become.  In this episode, when he pushed his father to his death, Lex may have sealed the deal.  In classic Lex form, the decision “to do what it takes” haunts him.  And in classic Lex form, he brushes past it to accomplish what he needs to.

Meanwhile, in a nod to things to come, Lois and Jimmy engaged in some Daily Planet quality investigative journalism when Jimmy finds out that he has a picture which may show that Lionel’s suicide was in fact a murder.  And Lois got shot.  In pretty comic fashion.  The one downside of this episode was that yet another person discovered Clark’s secret.  Which surely means that person is going to die in an episode or two.  Oh wait.  Nope, in this episode itself.  This device is getting kind of old.

Clark and Lionel have had a truly odd relationship.  For the last three seasons, Lionel has wavered between full-on protector, to slight of hand enemy.  In his death, he showed that he trying to keep two keys which, when combined, would allow the possessor control Clark from falling into the wrong hands.  He was caring for Clark as if he were his own son.  This show has always been about fathers and sons.

This revelation lead to a face off with Lex which could be considered one of the finer moments in the season.  Both Lex and Clark uttered words which embody who both characters are meant to be and why both characters were destined to be at odds with each other.

Before this episode, I really believed that this show was at least a half season past its prime.  With key actors departing at the end of the season, I figured this was as good a time as any to take a bow.  However, this episode really opened up brand new possibilities.  This episode alone may have justified a new season of “Smallville”.

Final Grade: B+