So, the final season of Smallville has began and yes, I am watching it. I really liked season nine, despite some of it’s flaws, and so am on board for the final season.
Thus, I am going to try and start writing reviews of some of the episodes of the final season. I wont be writing reviews for every episode, (really, I do not have the time to do that), but I will try and write reviews for special episodes, like the season premier, series finale and the 200th episode, as well as episodes that I’m just looking forward to in general (as I am a spoilerholic and so do know in advance what is coming up).
So, my first review of the final season of Smallville: Episode 10×01 – “Lazarus”.
Summary: After stabbing himself with Blue Kryptonite and plunging to his death, the 10th – and final – season of Smallville begins only a few seconds after with Clark lying near death on the street below. Lois Lane – who figured out Clark’s secret at the end of last season – finds her fallen love and removes the BlueK dagger, saving his life, but sneaks away before Clark discovers that she now knows his secret. Chloe, desperate for find Oliver who was taken away mysteriously at the end of last season, makes a sacrifice to get him back. Tess Mercer finds herself alive again, after apparently dying; waking up in the still-operational Cadmus Labs where she discovers the shadow of Lex Luthor still exists.
It is true that you can sometimes be too hyped for an episode. But, going into Lazarus, I tried to make sure I kept that hype in-check. So my initial reaction of feeling let down I do not think comes from over-reaching expectations, as much as it comes for a sense that we’re now dealing with a show that knows 100% there is a ticking clock until it most definitely will be over and is simultaneously trying to wrap up stories while, at the same time, still drag some things out until the last possible moment.
So we are left with an episode that would thrill me one moment, and just frustrated me in the next.
So let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first:
With Allison Mack’s Chloe Sullivan only contracted for five episodes, one of those episodes didn’t need to be wasted here. In an already overstuffed episode, taking time to deal with the full cliffhanger of what happened to Oliver and Chloe desperate to find him felt more or less rote. That, since it was part of one of the loose thread from the end of last season that it had to be picked up and resolved in the season premier just because; when no, actually it didn’t. Resolution of this could have waited until the next episode, giving more time to the other plots in the episode that appear to look like they will have more major ramifications over the season.
I also feel that the revelation that it was the Suicide Squad that took Oliver, (because yes that’s who it was), doesn’t fully jibe with what happened at the end of last season and the implication that it was another sinister force that nabbed Oliver (but I’ll get to that later on).
Chloe exchanging herself for Oliver was intriguing, I will say that. But the whole Chloe/Oliver romance still leaves me colder than anything, given the breakneck pace it started at last season (and the way it started as well). And am I really supposed to believe these two are going to have a future together? Never mind the fact that Oliver is divorcing his long-time on-again/off-again girlfriend Dinah Lance, Ollie’s end-point (which is as well-known as Clark’s, Lois’, and Lex’s) still does not include Chloe as part of it. If the Smallville producers have actually gotten permission to change Oliver’s end-point by hooking him up permanently with one woman, I’ll be shocked. But, at the moment, I’m not holding my breath.
I’m also mixed, at the moment, about the Lex-clone storyline. First, I’m very happy they are not trying to pretend that these clones, in any way, constituted as being the real Lex Luthor. It was stated more than once that they were specifically engineered to heal the real Lex, which I think is a brilliant move by the man who will one day be Clark’s greatest opponent.
But I’m not going to lie – it felt weird to me to see anyone playing Lex, even if it was just a clone of Lex, that wasn’t Michael Rosenbaum. The actor did a very credible job, even using some of the mannerisms that Rosenbaum’s Lex used. But it still felt off to me.
And I can’t ignore the – for the moment – plot hole of wondering how clone-Lex knew not only about Clark’s relationship with Lois, but Clark’s hero-persona as The Blur . . . both of which are events that happened after the (supposedly) real Lex died in Requiem. I’ve always felt that the Lex we saw die in Requiem was nothing more than a clone himself. However, that doesn’t answer the question of, even if he was, why did this other clone – (who yes, looked a lot like Lord Voldemort for the Harry Potter series) – say “the creator” was dead, killed in that same explosion? Because, for me, the only way the clone could have known about any of the events pertaining to Clark after Requiem is if he was cloned a long time after those events happened (sometime during season 9). If the real Lex is still alive out there, (and I do think he is), I’ve no doubt that he’s been watching Clark from a distance the whole time secretly, and so would know of all the recent events that have transpired in Clark’s life since Requiem. But why have this clone think “the creator” was dead, if he was recently made? Unless, of course, the clone was just lying . . . though I have no idea why it would do that.
Tess’ story line really intrigued me, (her story lines always tend to do so at the beginning of each season at least before they descend into incomprehensibility), but I do think there was a slight cop-out as to the start of it. At the end of last season, we clearly saw an old woman enter Tess’ hospital room where Tess had just flat lined. So, what happened with that? Who was the old woman? Standard suspicion, even confirmation, came of the summer that it was, as many people guessed it to be, Granny Goodness, one of the villain Darkseid’s many Elite followers. This episode, however? No a peep about that, or about what part, if any Granny Goodness played in getting Tess to Cadmus Labs. Right now, I’ll just hold out hope that this isn’t just a dropped plot thread, and just hadn’t been addressed yet.
Speaking of Darkseid – I didn’t geek-out at the image of him that we got towards the end. But, here I’ll admit that that could be my own fault because I pretty much expected it. Darkseid is one of my favorite villains in the DCU, so I’m hoping Smallville can pull this off and not make me regret ever wanted a storyline involving the New Gods on the show for its final season.
And now the biggest issue I had with the episode. Well, more like the most mixed reactions I had: the Al Jor-El/Clark showdown at the Fortress.
Right off, I think Tom Welling acted the hell out of the scene; the problem with it is – I don’t not know if I really feel if the scene was an honest one, and that is because if we are talking about the sin of Pride, then that is a sin that Clark Kent on Smallville is the least guilty of. Wrath, maybe; Pride, no way.
And part of me thinks they only wrote Clark they way they did in this episode to underscore AI Jor-El’s point and make him right. Because after my first viewing of the episode I thought Clark was acting cocky. Really, if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought Clark was on RedK he was acting so self-satisfied, and thought so as I was watching.
A caveat to that however is that RedK doesn’t change Clark, it just strips away his inhibitions. So idea that he doesn’t have any pride is not without merit.
All right, enough with what I didn’t like. What did I like?
Well, if you know me, then it goes without saying that I fully enjoyed all the interaction between Clark and Lois in this episode. While I think playing the idea of the secret reveal in a “she-knows-but-he-doesn’t-know-she-knows” is nothing more than a stalling tactic until we get to the 200th episode (and, frankly doesn’t make Clark, as a character, look all that good), I do admit to finding it all rather amusing in this episode . . . for the most part. The scene with the pen is a nice, lighthearted moment and what could otherwise be seen as a relentlessly dark episode.
One of the scenes I really loved was the scene between Lois and clone!Lex in the corn field – the same corn field that Clark was strung up and hung as the scarecrow in the Pilot episode of the show 10 years ago. Now, Lois is strung up in the same way, the “Scarlett Letter” S painted on her white T-shirt. And clone!Lex even quotes from the Scarlett Letter to make his point:
“And would that I might endure his agony, as well as mine!”
Lois, in her faith of The Blur/Clark, has become known as his number one supporter around Metropolis. But what she doesn’t know is that her density will be not not only be his strongest supporter publicly, but privately as well. Who will the greatest hero the world has ever know turn to when he feels like he can’t continue on? Who will he lean on for support, to keep him going when some times he feels he wants to quit?
Who, basically, will have to take the strongest man in the world and put him together when he’s – emotionally – falling apart?
His soulmate, Lois Lane, that’s who.
With all the problems this episode had, that is one thing I do see the show getting right. They don’t have Lois undermining Clark’s character, or taking anything away from him. She, in contrast to every character in this history of Smallville (with the exception of The Kents and, oddly Lex Luthor) compliments Clark’s character. She truly supports his character as the main one on the show. Never overshadowing him or being written by the writers to make her more important than him.
Another highlight of the episode was Clark getting to talk with the ghost? specter? of Jonathan Kent. It’s been almost five years now since we’ve seen Jonathan on the show, and his strong fatherly presence here shows how much his character’s death took away from the show. As wonderful as Annette O’Toole is and was as Martha, Clark and his father really did enjoy a unique bond that one sees only with a father and his son. I truly don’t think I’ve heard Clark voice so much his deep fears about his life and his future than when he has spoken with Jonathan Kent, and it was like a glass of water after having to guess what Clark was thinking and feeling during most of season 9. The producers have said that we will see Jonathan again before the end and I really hope so.
So, on the whole, I guess I’d call Lazarus a mixed bag. When is shined, it really shined. But the main problem was that it tried to do too much in too short of a time. Still, I am looking forward to the season, and hoping for the best that they can truly pull this out and make this season memorable for the right reasons, and not any wrong ones.