Whilst Smallville has constantly been evolving throughout the last few seasons; it reaches a point in this season when it starts realising it’s running out of steam and needs to change but then the season gets cut a little short due to a writer’s strike…
The seventh series kicks off the boring monotony of the previous season with a genuinely exciting opener that has Clark learning more about the sun healing him. Alongside that, Tom Welling’s acting gets stretched as it is a bit of a struggle to believe he’s actually grieving Lana – especially as Allison Mack gets a much better scene of grief. But if the audience doesn’t care and isn’t convinced she’s dead: it feels all a bit trite (with the aid of dodgy green screen). Rosenbaum gets some great scenes here, with his character arc re-aligning to explore his relationship with Clark.
First things first: the resolution to how Lana survived is absolutely and utterly one of the worst creative decisions the show has done so far. No setup and comes across as cheap. Slightly better is how Lois gets a job at the Daily Planet: too easily. The establishment of Kara means we’ll and gives Clark a new family member in the wake of Martha leaving, but Laura Vandervoort isn’t the world’s strongest actress. The show wanting to give her all the abilities at once kinda retcons the idea that they develop in Clark naturally as he grows up. But she’s here and it’s more exciting a prospect than whatever last year was.
Ahh yes. Lana turns up again and immediately the life vanishes from the series; particularly as the scenes with Clark and Kara are actually quite enjoyable. Clark as a surrogate father to Kara is a good idea, and there are some interesting ideas in play as they have extremely different views on the use of their powers and fitting in. But then it’s fitted into a story that’s an excuse to get Vandervoort in her underwear for a good portion of the episode. There’s also the weird stuff with Lex being smart enough to figure out that Kara saved him. The writing is so inconsistent.
Dean Cain shows up as Curtis Knox; a man who can “cure” meteor freaks. It’s not as big an impact as Christopher Reeve was, but Cain seems to be enjoying the chance to play an out-and-out villain. I think he’s supposed to be Vandal Savage but it’s not made explicit. It’s rare subtlety for the series, but there’s a lack of Knox/Clark scenes to capitalise on the stunt casting. The Chloe aspect of the episode makes sense, however – but the breaking up scene with Jimmy and Chloe was long and drawn out and I don’t think it made much sense.
Jeez. Who’s writing Lana’s dialogue? The cringe-worthy sex references are awful. The episode touches upon fame and internet trolls with the aid of some more stunt casting of Christina Milian. Particularly interesting to watch in hindsight before the boom in the comic book genre. And really, has no-one thought about Lionel all this time? The reveal of Lana being responsible is utterly ridiculous and borderline parody. This happening in the same episode where she’s also the damsel is highlighting the fact they have no idea what to do with her.
Further retconning of history continues as it’s revealed that Kara and Lara (played by former Supergirl Helen Slater) had visited the Kent Farm previously. It does help further Zor-El as a figure that’s not to be trusted and clouds the Krypton backstory. The progression of the Lana story (which retrospectively doesn’t have the best name in Isis) is still cringe-worthy and hard to watch.
The Lana arc reaches the end of its mini-arc when she gets Clark’s powers. The fact that Clark still has his is a little bit of annoying continuity blips they try to write away but it is an excuse for Lana’s vendetta against Lex to try and reach an endgame. Lana’s transformation into Charles Bronson doesn’t convince, and it just is full of groanworthy after groanworthy scenes that just…ugh. The sex earthquakes aren’t particularly funny either.
Season arc development time as we see a mini-finale of sorts as Zor-El is released alongside Lara and Clark has to fight his uncle whilst de-powered by a blue Kryptonite ring. It should be better than it actually is, as the episode ends then has another ten minutes of debriefing itself and dropping an utterly bizarre twist about Grant Gabriel. The issue here is that they could have easily built up Zor-El a lot more, and done much more with him. Instead, they end the episode with an obvious stalling tactic of having Kara lose her memory.
The story itself isn’t bad, but the revelations of Grant Gabriel’s true identity being further explored is both slightly iffy; but in line with Lex’s character. But I still think Lex is a decade away from trying to rebuild his brother from clones. It is pretty good how Lex knew straight away Lois was being manipulated. Bonus points, however, to the genuinely surprising misdirection at the end of the episode: did not see the Brainiac twist coming.
Lana-being-stupid-for-the-sake-of-being-stupid as she can’t believe that Bizarro isn’t the real Clark. *Facepalm* Nice to know that Bizarro is another villain that falls instantly in love with Lana again. It’s a TV Trope in itself. The whole thing is just as blatantly described as stupid. Nice appearance from Marc McClure though, but the fact there’s another Kryptonian on Earth feels so much like lazy plotting to provide exposition and a quick solution to the Bizarro problem. There’s also the bad taste and quick resolution of the Grant Gabriel thing is a bit pointless but the angry-Lex we see in the editor’s office is golden. It’s these moments when you realise that Rosenbaum is still the best Lex yet.
We’re introduced to Black Canary (which makes an additional tinge of sadness in a world post Katie Cassidy) in a story that highlights Lex as an antagonist again. It’s quite exciting, and the Lois/Oliver stuff is very good to watch on screen. What’s not very good to watch is the cringe-worthy Lana/Clark stuff.
Lex-focused episodes are always worth watching, and it’s always half-decent when they come along. Even when wrapped up in Smallville’s usual method of subtlety, the episode manages to help explore Lex’s psyche and his current way of thinking. Even if you can’t buy his reasons to look into Kara, there’s still the scraps of goodness in his that Clark seems to want to cling on to; and there’s the final moments with Lionel that sums up six and a half seasons of resentment of the Luthor family. At least the show is starting to try and explore Clark and Lex’s relationship again on a stronger level and it’s not just about Lana. Thank God.
Hey! Pete’s back! Yay, Pete! Did you miss him? Pete? You know, Clark’s friend? He was a main character…he’s back, anyway. He’s now got super-powers and is stupid enough to want to be seen and get manipulated by a load of people. You can see why it was a good decision to write him out. The quest for the bracelet is simply a macguffin that surrounds the developments in relationships – particularly with the ever-confusing Lionel situation. Oh, and I always, always find any product placement that doesn’t feel like a joke or a natural part of the plot. This time we have Stride gum and One Republic songs being played throughout.
“Astronomy Club.” Oh naff off, Lionel. Sometimes I wonder how Lionel was able to detract the truth in press conferences. I don’t fully understand the logic of what exactly Lionel wanted to do with Clark; excuses aside. Why not just be completely open with Patricia in the first place instead of unleashing an infected-hating bounty hunter on him? This whole thing just feels really iffy, and clouds any sympathy or redemption we were supposed to feel towards Lionel. This whole Veritas/Traveler nonsense is bizarre ret-conning that makes no sense at all; at least the cave wall paintings drove the idea that Clark/Superman as a mythological icon that will mean many things to different people. Here it’s just highlighting Lionel as someone who believed in an alien-saviour…so why wasn’t this brought up in the second/third season? It’s just hard to muster anything and Patricia’s death just feels senseless.
The show writes out Lana to allow Kreuk to be Chun-Li. An example of fridging a character in the show as Lana had felt completely useless and peripheral for seasons. But the main part is the separation of Lionel and Clark as allies. Again. Lex’s memories and the further revelations of Lionel’s sudden religious belief in Clark is ridiculous and it just doesn’t make any sense. There’s an interesting idea under the surface here which could harken back to Virgil Swann’s pro-active nature in regards to Clark, but to tie it up with the Queen and Teague family feels like it’s trying to connect everything that’s happened when it clearly doesn’t make any sense in the long term. The first half of the season wasn’t as bad as I remember it being, but these unnecessary retcons are affecting the show extremely badly.
An event several seasons away from when it should’ve happened: Lex murders his father. Clark’s about-face on Lionel again is annoying but it’s an episode that is more about Lex and Clark’s relationship and Lana isn’t a factor. Rosenbaum brings forth his A-game here, particularly when you remember it’s doing its literal representation of Lex destroying what good was in him. There’s a surprising structure to the episode in that Lionel’s death appears at the start of the episode; and I think that does eventually help the rest of it – as it gives it a very solid structure. It’s just that the circumstances surrounding it, and the fact that it seems to be based on this whole “Traveler” stuff is just not strong enough to feel as if it justifies killing Lionel. Not considering everything else that’s happened between them.
Jimmy Olsen goes all Bond in a side-episode that’s an admittedly fun distraction. Ashmore gets to have a bit of fun as the show slowly builds up the Clark finding Kara and Brainiac story. There are some interesting parallels on secrecy in relationships with Chloe and Jimmy as with Lana and Clark. But it brushes over a whole lot of stuff. It does also open some plot holes in that Chloe must’ve made a massive digital footprint that hasn’t really been followed up upon.
A “what-if” episode that’s actually pretty good for the most part. Smallville often brushes the future too often than what is healthy but the look at a Clark-less world offers some fun and Clark creeping ever forward to what he’s meant to be. James Marsters’ appearance as Brainiac is fun, as Marsters always does a good turn as a villain. The episode is let down, however, by the quite epic-sounding finale where Clark travels back through time to Krypton and saves himself and sends him to Earth. There seems to be a great story here, but it’s rushed through a sequence where the Fortress set is relit. It’s a shame but it gives Clark the ideals that time travel shouldn’t change the past. It does have a couple of moments of Clark/Lois that are quite fun to watch – and the appearance of the glasses is another great moment; but that ending. So potential squandering….
Ooh boy, this was a bit naff in places. Not even the usually reliable Robert Picardo can save the episode. It feels like it’s repeating similar things that have happened before (Clark on a slab surrounded by liquid Kryptonite). The forcing of the caves and Teague elements of the plot feels just like an excuse to try and connect everything together. The familiar saving graces are the bits that include Lex. That cliffhanger is exciting.
Seven years of build-up for a short scene and the destruction of the Fortress. This is the point when the writing team have crossed the boundary of this being the original idea that they wanted to accomplish, through the Comic-book nature of seasons five and six to become a Superman show without Superman. There’s no reason Clark shouldn’t be him at this point, and they essentially kill off Lex Luthor before everything happens. The scene itself is great, but just ends too quickly before anything happens. The twist with Kara is telegraphed early on and you have the feeling that the writer’s strike at the time were rushing a few ideas. Not the strongest season closer, but the latter half of this season has been full of bad ideas anyway.
What do you think of this season? Let us know on Twitter, on Facebook, or in comments below.