Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Case of the.... Smallville - Episode 9-7

After waiting nearly a week, the CW Website finally got around to posting the latest episode of Smallville. I can’t really understand their mentality in waiting so long to make their shows available, because I’d assume that many other fans would either get impatient and download it illegally, or just wait until it pops up on YouTube. I must say, it’s rather frustrating.

Anyway, before getting to last week’s episode, I want to respond to a comment made regarding the previous week’s episode, where Clark and Lois finally kissed:

Wow, Smallville has gone from an original masterpiece, to something that resembles Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The latter was a good show, when I was 11. Smallville has really gone down, and I do hope this is the last season, before the bastardize the show anymore.

I may be biased, but I have to disagree. I feel the writing has been phenomenal for the past few seasons, however I have consistently felt that Smallville is at its weakest when the powers that be stubbornly restrict themselves to ideas that made sense when the series was first conceived, but no longer ring true at this stage of the game. It’s hard to believe, but Smallville has been on for nearly a decade. And with that in mind, the show has naturally outgrown several – if not most – of the “rules” that were originally set forth. Several episodes last season were borderline unwatchable because of this inexplicable need to make Lana relevant. And at this point, this ridiculous “no flight” rule has done far more harm than good.

So, yes, Smallville does now resemble Lois & Clark, but that’s only because the show has grown into that phase of Clark Kent’s life. When the series debuted, he was what, 16? By my count, that means he’s now approaching his mid-twenties. I’d personally be disappointed if Clark was still parading around drooling over Lana Lang.

At its core, Smallville was ALWAYS about Clark Kent’s journey towards becoming Superman. And I believe the series has remained true to THAT vision. That being said, I’ve long thought that the powers that be should re-evaluate their stance on a number of issues. Particularly the flying. Just because he’s flying doesn’t automatically make him Superman. Kara flew, and she didn’t feel any more like Supergirl than Clark seems like Superman now. If that makes sense.

Anyway, let’s move on to this week’s episode. I’ll say this right off the bat: It was certainly worth the wait. Thus far, this was THE episode of the season.

If you recall, a couple of seasons back, Kara and her father went back in time to the destruction of Krypton, and the scene amounted to about five minutes of the episode. I was hugely disappointed, feeling that the show can really only do the destruction of Krypton moment once, and they really blew their opportunity. They more than made up with it in this episode. Aesthetically, it FELT like Krypton. Everything was so….pure and spectacular looking. Even the war scene, while rather ordinary, felt like a different world. My favorite part, though, was Jor-El’s scene with the high council. The floating, echoing heads, in a strange way, was really how I imagined this lost world.

And best yet, the flashbacks served a real purpose. We learned a bit more about Jor-El (as his character continues to get softened, thankfully), and we discovered a great deal about Zod. As it turns out, these two enemies were once the best of friends. In fact, Zod came to Jor-El’s defense and rescue on more than one occasion. However, Jor-El regrettably wasn’t able to return the favor for ethical reasons.

My favorite part of this shocking revelation? The similarities this relationship shares with Clark and Lex. In both cases, the supreme enemies were once the best of friends. And in both cases, the hero can’t help but feel somewhat responsible for the villain’s descent. And with each relationship, rejection was the downfall. Jor-El rejected Zod’s request to clone his son, and Clark ultimately rejected Lex’s friendship altogether. And, fair or not, this truly did lead to the villains’ downfall.

As a side note, I should state that I don’t find Jor-El to be a hypocrite, since he did take significant measures to save his own son years later. Jor-El was saving a still living child from an event that had not yet occurred. Zod was asking Jor-El to bring somebody back to life after the destruction had already transpired.

And, finally, we learned why Zod is on earth, alive, powerless, and a mere Major. As it turns out, the Kandorians are clones – the result of an experiment – and Jor-El, not wanting the Kryptonians to conquer earth, tainted the samples with blue Kryptonite to ensure that they remain powerless.

If season one of Heroes had “Company Man,” season nine of Smallville may very well have “Kandor.”

Part of me was disappointed that Jor-El died and that his interaction with Clark was so brief, but ultimately I think it was the right decision. Quite honestly, how far could they have taken this relationship? Clark already regularly speaks with Jor-El in the Fortress, so it’s not as if their physical encounter had to last forever. I do think that their meeting served a grander purpose, which was that Clark learned that his birth father was a good, noble man. As he indicated earlier in the episode, Clark is still reluctant to accept Jor-El, despite his softer image. I think this episode mended their relationship.

Of course, there was some other stuff going on this episode. Clark finally revealed his secret to Tess, in what I thought was a pretty neat scene. It’s funny how Tess’ insistence to Clark that he’s the Blur was not all that different from the way Lex used to act – yet the banter between the characters is so different. Clark just never displayed the same defiance around Tess. I should add that I loved Tess’ devious grin when she realized that Zod had incorrectly identified the Blur.

That’s it for this week. I assure you, you won’t have to wait this long for the next episode review!

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