Season ReviewsTelevision

Episode Breakdown – SMALLVILLE Season Nine (2009-2010)

This is exciting. After three seasons of below average Smallville, I’m coming up to a complete season I’ve not watched. I’m more excited, hopeful, that this will end up better than the last few. 

Saviour
Smallville goes to a darker place as Clark decides to embrace his Kryptonian side and remove himself from Clark Kent. It’s a nice change of pace for the character and the series’s latest shake-up is quite exciting. Tom Welling suits a driven moody Clark that’s not Lana obsessed and saying no to Chloe about saving Jimmy was well in character and tragic at the same time. Things aren’t right with Chloe and Clark at this juncture, and despite the stuff that lead to it – it’s a refreshing new dynamic to explore. Callum Blue is someone who has never done wrong with me in the past, and it’s nice to see him in a full villainous mode – if he really doesn’t have much to do for now.

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Smallville (2001-2011) – The WB/The CW

Metallo
This season appears to be a show about Superman without the primary colours. Something that I’m not averse to, thinking about it as it feels right for this to happen. It’s definitely no longer Smallville and rather a show called Metropolis and the change in tact with no Lex or Lana overshadowing everything again is very welcome. It kinda does miss out on the Clark aspect a bit, but it’s a nice feeling when he returns at the end. Anything that reminds me of Lois and Clark always is a plus in my book. Metallo himself is okay, even if I’ve never really been convinced with Brian Austin Green; and they do try and extend the confrontation between the two of them.

Rabid
The lack of any tension aside (because once Tess is infected you know she’ll be cured) the show continues with some high concept comic-book plots and even higher concept ways of resolving them. Though raining Clark’s blood feels a little bit creepy when said out loud. What’s interesting is that the season feels different, and the coda with Zod and his follower gives us a very interesting villain. The series feels exciting again.

Echo
Clark gets telepathy and uses it to flirt with Lois yet the episode continues Oliver’s arc of self-destruction. The darker shades of the character that we’ll see later on in Arrow are foreshadowed here. The impact of this arc on the latter series is quite apparent, and Justin Hartley gets some good stuff to do. It’s a shame that the Clark aspect isn’t as good.

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Smallville (2001-2011) – The WB/The CW

Roulette
The Oliver-slump arc reaches its conclusion with a slightly contrived ending of how Oliver’s life goes a little bonkers. It’s practically Chloe becoming a sociopath but the arc is quite interesting in how it concludes. The Clark/Lois stuff is quite entertaining as well, leaving the episode as an enjoyable whole. Five enjoyable episodes on the trot must be a record for the entire show at this point — Clark/Lois hasn’t felt as angsty or as trite as the other romance stuff, and Oliver’s arc has been quite interesting. Season nine has been surprisingly strong so far.

Crossfire
This is an interesting episode – there are two sub-plots that are given equal time and converge in the weakest of terms. Oliver attempts to gain a sidekick whilst Lois and Clark become hosts of a morning TV chat show. There’s a weird disconnect between the two main stories that doesn’t really feel thematically close to each other. The daytime stuff was originally funny but wore out it’s welcome and I can see what they were trying to do with Mia, but it just comes out a little muddled. The Tess/Zod sub-plot is intriguing though, Callum Blue does really well.

Kandor
Flashbacks to Krypton and Jo-El in person are ideas I wouldn’t really have expected to have seen in Smallville post-Kara, but the episode advanced the Kandorian arc quite significantly and helps Clark delve a little more into his alien heritage. This is the end of the season’s first act; and whilst Jor-El and Clark’s meeting is short-lived, it’s nice ending to advance the season forward. There’s a refreshing sense of something different happening, and the show isn’t rehashing the same things as it used to. Clark finally reveals the truth to Tess in his own way, and there’s even a shift of a reconciliation between Clark and Oliver.

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Smallville (2001-2011) – The WB/The CW

Idol
It’s a rare instance of a Smallville episode where the initial impression is that it’s going to be an annoying episode full of forced melodrama and shoe-horned in DC characters…but the Wonder Twins aren’t the main focus. They supplement another story of Clark’s impact and legacy that he’s creating and it leads to Lois finding out the truth. The inevitable double-bluff to protect Clark’s secret was inevitable, but the light villain aspect worked for the episode and it just leads to Clark influencing more heroes. It’s a feel-good episode that isn’t as forceful with its message and becomes a strong Clark-centric episode that isn’t trying too hard to force tertiary DC characters in it. It’s even giving some great stuff in terms of the fragile state of Clark and Chloe’s relationship; which has gotten really interesting. If only other episodes were like that.

Pandora
This season is getting better and better to watch. This must be the season that they looked at when doing the modern day CW-Verse; because the mythology and arc has been incredibly involving so far. Callum Blue’s Zod and the dynamic with Clark is pushed to the fore here, and Zod is an actual long-term enemy that means something. Zod is filling in the void that Lex’s departure created and Tess is struggling to even come close to. There’s a greater emphasis on serialisation here, too – as the direction of the season takes an interesting turn and feels as if it’s working towards something with a clear direction: something the Davis arc didn’t have.

Disciple
Oliver goes up against his mentor in another strong Oliver episode that deals with mentors and students. You can see the shades of the Green Arrow mythology begin to expand and it’s stuff that will be delved into in a much more pleasing way in Amell’s series. The interesting part of the episode is the Clark/Zod dynamic; it’s getting much more exciting now – and the Zod/Lois scene tantalises with an energy that doesn’t suggest the horrid words: “love triangle.”

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Smallville (2001-2011) – The WB/The CW

Absolute Justice
A two-part story in which Clark and Oliver discover an older generation of heroes that came before them and someone hunting them down. There’s a lot here for comic book fans as there’s a lot of references to previous characters and comic books storylines throughout the ages but the main attraction is Michael Shanks’ Carter Hall/Hawkman in all his winged re-incarnation glory. The two episodes have a strong miniature epic feel to them as two generations work together to stop a murdering ice-man taking out these heroes.

The Watchmen film is an obvious influence, with classical period pieces echoing throughout some scenes; and Chloe begins to learn a little more about the difference between alliances and family. The team that will be the eventual “Justice League” begin to start forming stronger bonds with each other, and it’s a great little moment when John finally is able to get his Martian abilities back. There’s even a great little hint to the future of the season as we’re introduced to the Suicide Squad in the Smallville-universe (aka Checkmate); but you can’t help but worry if this is going to have Smallville’s knack of forgetting the main arc for a chunk of the mid-season and leave out some good quality Zod-time.

Warrior
A very disappointing climax that feels rushed crashes and burns an almost old-school Smallville episode in feel as Clark and a returning Zatanna look for an enchanted comic book. There’s some joy to be had as a kid becomes a hero; if a little old-school on-the-nose with the hero allegories. I don’t think I’ve clicked with the fact there’s a Superman-like character already in the Smallville universe – especially when teh show keeps saying that the world needs heroes. There’s also a bit of a weird bit where Zatanna tries to use magic to seduce a completely reluctant Clark that doesn’t sit right.

Persuasion
I don’t understand how a pivotal moment and development of Clark’s relationship with Zod and the other Kandorians gets relegated to a B-plot. I don’t understand the creative decisions behind having key developments of the death of a key minor character and the destruction of Zod’s solar tower forced at the very end. I forgot the tower was almost built until I saw it get destroyed. Why wasn’t this the main arc plot? Why was the episode not about Clark using human morality in dealing with Kryptonian tradition in regards to his father’s murder?

This tension alongside whether the future will come to be would make for a much more satisfying episode than what we got. It is very disappointing as the season’s done a brilliant job before this point; but we get more behaviour swaying instead of an idea that links in with the theme of the season: Clark exploring his Kryptonian side. I don’t think we got much of him learning about it with the other Kandorians and develop something more substantial with Zod before the destruction of the tower. Season nine, you were doing so, so well….

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Smallville (2001-2011) – The WB/The CW

Conspiracy
The season gets back on track after the blip of last week – – the actions of Clark having real consequences. The ever evolving dynamic of Clark and Zod continues to shift in new interesting ways if Clark’s miraculous healing powers feel a little deus ex machina. Tess continues to not be very exciting and the Chloe/Oliver relationship sped up incredibly quickly that it felt as if I’d missed an episode.

Escape
They often overly force on Clark’s naivety in places but at times it’s in character and played to comic effect. The double-date is quite funny and the awkwardness pays off extremely well. The plot itself is quite throwaway, however, and not particularly interesting. I think the rushed Chloe/Oliver developments are quite jarring and hard to stomach at first. It means the overall theme of the story in exploring both their and Clark/Lois’ relationship falls a little flat. The Tess/Zod sub-plot is a mixed bag. The inevitable coupling of them is a little disheartening to see as the show can’t resist going down that route. But the Zod-as-The-Blur thread looks to be offering some interesting developments.

Checkmate
Smallville does the Suicide Squad. Or at least Checkmate as Amanda Waller turns up being played by Pam Grier. The episode seems to think it’s a bit better than it is and the placement of what should be a recurring antagonist at this point in the season feels misplaced.

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Smallville (2001-2011) – The WB/The CW

Upgrade
Another Red Kryptonite episode with an appearance from John Corben who goes on a path of redemption and ends up with a temporary friendship with Zod. It’s quite exciting and advances the season plot quite considerably when you think about it. Why it works is when Smallville works: Clark having a complex relationship with an enemy and having to work out how to deal with him. The episode even references Lex and thematically the episode highlights the differences between Clark and his foes.

Charade
The character of Maxwell Lord turns up and tries to assimilate a picture of Clark’s likeness from people’s memories but the main thrust of the episode is the idea of people keeping The Blur’s identity a secret. It’s something that’s a major theme in Superman lore – and it’s done here without Superman being in the show! You have to stretch credibility a bit here, but at least the characterisation of Lois feels on point.

Sacrifice
As things gear up for the finale, the season ramps itself up a few notches as the developments with the Kandorians absolutely sizzle. There’s great stuff here, Zod descends into even more villainy and it leads to an excellent closing scene in which the Kandorians pledge allegiance to Zod and fly off. The Chloe/Tess scenes actually appear to be more for Tess’s benefit and showing her more development into a murkier potential ally for Clark.

Hostage
As great as it was to see Martha and Perry, the odd placing of the episode means that the pace of the previous is slightly undercut. It’s also a let down to see that Martha has become The Red Queen: a revelation that more baffling than logical. Tess is getting more interesting stuff to do now, but trying to shoe-horn Martha into the arc at this point feels odd. The fact that the Book of Whatever It’s Called is given to Clark and what it does is just dumped on him at this point by Martha doesn’t really fit that well. It’s a shame as it’s great to see Michael McKean again as Perry White, but the episode wastes a return from Maxwell Lord, too. The season arc hits a few oddly placed beats throughout the season – and this is one of them. Shame, as the season is still much better than most before it.

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Smallville (2001-2011) – The WB/The CW

Salvation
The tradition of great finales continues with this brilliantly tense gem. The Clark/Zod fight is well choreographed and staged particularly well. The resolution of keeping Clark on Earth is handled quite well and the dangle threads of the season are wrapped up. That said, the finale opens up some interesting stuff to mine for season ten: the mysterious knitting lady, Lois figuring out the Blur and the attack on Oliver – – things are lining up for the final season and the show wants to set things in motion. It doesn’t derail the final moments though, and Clarke selflessness shines through. A great end to an absolute corker of a season.

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Episode Breakdown – SMALLVILLE Season Nine (2009-2010)
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