Friday, April 22, 2011

Sayonara, Smallville: "Kent"

Incredible but true: This year, The CW's "Smallville" embarks on its tenth and final season, making it not just the longest-running Superman TV show ever but the longest-running comic book TV show ever produced. Bananas, right?

We've been off as it's been off, but to celebrate its final year, we're teaming up our collective powers of dumb DCU trivia, long experience watching and writing about the show and general obsession with serial TV to bring you "Sayonara, Smallville" – a semi-regular feature where we'll review the most notable episodes of the season whenever we can. Everyone is invited to play along.

Kiel: I'm actually excited for this as so far my "every final episode should move the needle" paid off this time!

Ben: I took notes!

Kiel: OK, so you get the ball rolling. First note...

Ben: Do you want to start off big picture or details?

Kiel: Details...let's not blow it just yet.

Ben: OK. Let's start from the start with Lois and Clark getting the deed to the farm.

Kiel: Weird plot thread, but I liked it because I actually had no idea where they were going with it. I thought they wouldn't write the farm out of the show, but they've blown up so many other locations lately, I couldn't be sure.

Ben: I'll start with a nitpick, since that is how I roll: Didn't Clark just enroll Conner in Smallville High last episode and then he shipped him off to Washington DC, in the process sticking his powerless mother with a teenage demigod with half Lex Luthor DNA? And who's to say we didn't see Lionel this week because he was in Washington DC stealing back his "son" from the woman he spent years lusting over? Bad move, Kent. The floods in Bangkok have nothing on your own lack of longterm planning.

Kiel: Yeah, you wished they either tried a little harder to make the disappearance of certain characters make sense or just ignored their existence completely like they've done with Kara.

Ben: Back to the deed, we'll get more into the larger implications as we go, I'm sure, but like you said, it was another step in moving the needle from Clark to Superman. He can't be Superman if he's living anywhere but in the heart of the people, which is certainly not Smallville. It was a nice touch having Ma be the one to get the ball rolling on this bit of maturation and then Pa in a way finish it off as it allows the Kents to impart one finale lesson before we finish the show.

Kiel: Yeah, I REALLY like the stuff with Pa Kent this time out. Not only was it a solid performance, but it was one of the few things we've gotten this season from Smallville that was based in real situational drama and not just beating you over the head with a simple metaphor. I also really liked that they went back to a final scene for him and alterna-verse Martha. No reason to put that in but emotional impact, and they nailed it.

Ben: It was a nice capper. And the whole Earth 2 (can we call it that?) section showing that really Clark did as much for the Kents as they did for him was a nice touch. Whether it's intentional or not--let's choose to believe it is--I've really enjoyed how the last episode and this one have upped the ante on presenting Clark as a mature adult finally, first as the older brother/father to Conner and then here as the son who has grown enough to actually guide his dad as opposed to only being guided.

Kiel: 1 - Yes, Earth-2 really is the only way to refer to this. 2 - Agreed on Clark. And it's not just that the character has matured up...Welling has really brought it of late. In particular, Ultraman Clark was GREAT this episode. Very restrained and smarmy and evil in a believable way.

Ben: Well, this is probably the last time we'll get to say this, but as we always note, Tom Welling plays a decent good guy, but a way better bad guy. I hope he gets an opportunity to play some full-on villains in his post-Smallville work aka next season on "Hellcats."

Kiel: HOLY SHIT SIDE CONVO: Did you see the promos for the zombie episode of "Hellcats"? In my mind, that show is "Community" for cheerleaders, but I can't bring myself to watch it and be disappointed.

Ben: At the beginning of this TV season, myself, Megan and our friends Jordan and Chloe looked over the fall schedule for a show we could watch together knowing it would be so bad it's good and we wouldn't mind talking over. We picked "Hellcats" and have not once regretted that decision. I can't wait to watch the zombies episode. If you're looking for a show you can enjoy making fun of, I highly recommend Hellcats. But don't watch it alone, it's only good with a group.

Kiel: Noted! But back to the episode: another thing I thought was winning about Evil Clark was that this wasn't a one-off episode the way a classic meteor freak bit could be. It actually worked to be relevant to who our Clark is now and did it nicely.

Ben: Ultraman is a great adversary for Clark and I be they're kicking themselves for not introducing him earlier on (or they should be). If you look at him and at Earth-2 Pa Kent, both shared the thread of being cautionary tales to Clark about how he could turn out, and in both cases he not only righted himself but helped them in the process, which felt far more like Superman than Smallville Clark. I did feel a bit cheated out of a full-on Superman vs Ultraman fist fight though.

Kiel: Yeah, the one real knock on this outing is that I'm ACHING for some full-on superhero action. I really hope the finale isn't all close-ups and tearful farewells.

Ben: It can't be. It CAN'T be.

Kiel: Although after this week, if that's what happens with Tess, I'm IN.

Ben: How has she kept that cleavage hidden for three seasons?!

Kiel: I KNOW!

Ben: I brought it up way too many times for a show I was watching with my wife, but COME ON.

Kiel: But also in less "hubba hubba" terms, this was the best they've done in playing up that "Are you a Luthor? tension. I felt she could have gone either way up until the end, and's because they didn't beat us over the head with it.

Ben: I'll be honest, I never bought her turning. Not because of any great flaw in the acting or script, they've just made such a big deal of that character running from that past that I couldn't see her doing a 180 in one episode, even though that's pretty much Smallville protocol. I never got the sense that she wasn't just terrified and telling Ultraman what he needed to hear.

Kiel: True that I didn't think she'd turn flat out, but the reality of the situation made it feel like self-preservation might kick in for me.

Ben: I was actually a bit disappointed by the revelation that she's apparently crushing on Clark if only because it seems such an obvious route to go down and one they had nicely avoided up until now.

Kiel: But the chemistry worked have to admit it!

Ben: With Ultraman? Sure. With our Clark? I have my doubts. Plus it's a weird revelation so close to the finale and with Clark and Lois so set in stone. If it's just setting her up to sacrifice herself to save Clark in the final moments, that will feel unearned to me.

Kiel: I really hope they find a few ways to twist the finale around with characters like her and Chloe and other "non-canon" folks. To me, the more complicated this thing goes out, the more entertaining it'll be.

Ben: We've said often that the non-canon folks will just be cannon fodder in the finale (see what I did there?) but I think I'd be more interested to see some less obvious endings to their stories.

Kiel: For sure! But yeah, the only other thing that I wanted to note from this week – and it's another pet topic of ours – is how much Erica Durance crushed it in her brief dual role this week. When Ultraman was like, "Let's get rid of this star gazer crap" I LOST it, man. Her face was so perfect.

Ben: That scene was awesome! She was great in it. And I like that after ten seasons characters on Smallville are finally catching on that if a friend or loved one is acting weird, they are most likely possessed or an interdimensional doppleganger or something. It happens weekly to all of them, so you think they'd be more paranoid, thus I liked that both Lois and Tess realized what was up more or less immediately.

Kiel: Yeah! It's weird. I was talking with Nick Spencer (oh I'm so cool on CBR) about his influences on "Morning Glories," and he mentioned the influence of "Scream" and how characters in situations like this should just KNOW what the tropes are in some ways. "Smallville" wins that idea through long term development more than pop culture, but the idea is the same. You have to acknowledge the ongoing plot tropes in a show like this at some point, otherwise you lose credibility.

Ben: We'll see if it was just a one episode deal or not since even with only a few weeks left I'm confident there will be at least one more case of identity theft before the series ends. How long did it take for Clark to figure out something was up when Lois was Isis again?

Kiel: At least 15 more lines of dialogue than he should have.

Ben: Maybe it's more that Lois and Tess are just smarter than Clark, Lana and Chloe, all of whom were consistently clueless when something was up. I remember there was some point during the middle seasons where Lana was possessed for some reason one week and was a total bitch but never apologized for it and then Clark was a dick because he was on Red K or whatever the next week and when he did apologize she didn't accept. Drove me nuts, Kiel. I'm glad she's not coming back for the finale. I said it.

Kiel: Yeah! It's so funny how no one is crying out for her return in fan circles either.

Ben: They got their Lex fix, they're fine

Kiel: I can't tell if it's the performance people don't want back or if it's the tabloid take on KK that has turned everyone off.

Ben: All of the above. Lana Lang was always meant to be a placeholder. At this point Erica Durance has blown her out of the water in every conceivable way. There's no need for her. Lex never got replaced, thus the void remains and demands to be filled.

Kiel: Totally.

Ben: It's the same way Ollie is 100x cooler than Pete so there's no outcry for the producers to pay Sam Jones III's bail to get him on work release for the finale.

Kiel: HAHAHAHA! I always forget about him in general and his crazy conviction, but I love how you're always there with it.

Ben: It's my crowd pleaser. So to wrap things up, I actually didn't mind that they did beat us over the head with the moral this week as it was a good one, that being that Clark needed to learn that people matter more than places/things, obviously another key lesson on the road to becoming Superman.

Kiel: Yeah, the tail end was a nice emotional capper to what was really a crazy sci-fi episode. A good solid start to the final five. I'm just wondering where the bottom will fall out in this run. Fingers crossed!


Jason Kerouac said...

Man, I ALWAYS love reading these, because I know NO ONE who watches this show personally, and when I mention it on the PoP!Cast, I can hear Lee and Knize zone out...

Anyways, this week's episode was fantastic. I was initially upset to see a return to Earth-2 since they were JUST there, but I think as you pointed out, they're kicking themselves for not having hit on this gem sooner.

Morse, I gotta call BS though... "Maybe it's more that Lois and Tess are just smarter than Clark." I'll agree that Chloe and Lana have been played as imbeciles, but isn't it Clark's inherent good-willed naievete that SHOULD be clouding his judgment rather than a simple case of ignorance? Clark Kent is the guy who I want to ALWAYS be blindsided by things; such a "nice guy" that when someone he loves slaps him, he's too hurt by the betrayal to think beyond "She slapped me" and get to "Maybe she's not herself." It's one of the biggest reasons I wish we could've gotten Bruce on the show. I'd have loved an exchange where Clark meets up with Bruce to try to track a shape-shifter or something, grumbling about Lois or someone's unusual behavior, only to have Bruce turn to him "Clark. We're looking for a shape shifter and Lois isn't acting like herself. That doesn't seem like an awfully big coincidence to you?" And just hang on Clark looking bewildered "Oh... uhh..." FWOOSH!

Anyways, this show's been great this season, and the only thing better than watching it is seeing what you guys have to say after the fact.

Ben Morse said...

Kerouac, we should come on the show to talk Smallville the week before or after the finale. Kick those other nerds off.

Jason Kerouac said...

I TOTALLY support you guys calling in for a post-finale wrap up. That'd be fantastic!

And, sorry I missed this before, but yeah... Cassidy was motorboateriffic in this episode. I was stunned. STUNNED I tell you!

Now I just can't wait to hear your musings on the single best Smallville episode ever. There. I said it.

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