Smallville S10E18 Review
|REVIEWS - TV|
A fleeting visit from two other DC favourites makes for an enjoyable - if not a little rushed - addition to the current Smallville series...
There are times when a story has all the makings of a great tale for episodic television. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always translate the way we want them to. Now, it’s not that “Booster” is a bad episode, but it has more than its fair share of things going against it. Again, there are strengths to “Booster” - each of which make it an entertaining entry into the ongoing Smallville saga - but the lateness of its arrival was always going to cause problems.
First off, we have Clark railing against having to 'dumb himself down'. He knows deep down that he has to be able to separate the man from the hero, and that either Clark wears a mask or The Blur does. But he’s not accepting the glasses very well, nor is he taking Lois’ direction at being clumsy and less poised. And to make matters worse, there’s another hero out to make a name for himself - a blowhard braggart by the name of Booster Gold. Booster makes his first appearance by saving a young man, Jaime Reyes, from being hit by a vehicle, just before Clark arrives on the scene.
Soap opera star Eric Martsolf is amazing in the role, and really breathes life into Booster Gold. He has the natural charm of a salesman, with a winning smile and plenty of bravado to go around. And worse, he seems to know who Clark is. He calls Clark out, basically telling him to make a stand or stand back, because he’s out to take Superman’s place in Metropolis. It soon turns out however that Booster messed up his life in the 25th century, and through stealing a super suit, equipment and a Legion ring, has travelled back to be a hero. He uses a computer that has historical information so that he can be the first on the scene. Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men often go to hell, and in the end, he learns his lesson from Clark: It’s not the suit that makes the hero.
Jaren Brandt Bartlett does a good job as Jaime, a shy kid who is constantly the butt of his peers’ jokes. Lois tries to get him to stand up for himself, but he seems to be a lost cause. Interestingly, the truck that nearly hit him is owned by Ted Kord, who had, at one point, worked for the government tracking down weapons; and it would just so happen that one particular weapon, a piece of alien technology in the form of a blue scarab, escaped from the truck and left with Jaime. As it merges with Jaime it creates a body armour, which seems to have a mind of its own, and seeks out Booster. The appearance of Blue Beetle was very well done - despite the restraints of television - but I was disappointed as to how little he featured within the episode.
There was so much going on in “Booster”, it felt as though it should have been a two-part episode. Scribe Geoff Johns is a talented writer in both comics and television, and he could have given us two episodes that would have made the story feel much less rushed. The episode gives us everything we need to know about Booster – his past, his motives, and his thought process - but a little more time could have been spent on fleshing out Jaime, who seems slightly two-dimensional as the token clumsy nerd. Even after he becomes Blue Beetle, there’s precious little screen time. It’s only when Booster’s life is threatened that he gives Reyes the speech that Clark gave him, and Reyes is able to control the suit. Furthermore, Kord agrees to allow Jaime to keep the scarab as he’s the only person that has been able to control it. But again, you can't help but feel it's been rushed, coming across more as a ham-fisted attempt to set up possible DC-based properties on CW, rather than as an integral continuation of the Smallville series. When previous episodes threw new heroes at us like this, we knew there would be plenty of time to recall those characters in later episodes. Here, we get a slight glimpse, and that’s that. There are only three more episodes, and so we have to say goodbye to these two heroes as soon as we said hello.
Of course, the story could have been written differently so as to not include the Blue Beetle character, but he’s needed. The whole thing is really a catch-22, because the arrival of Booster Gold in Metropolis sends Clark a message, which is that he needs - more than ever - to get his face out in the open for the world to have a hero to look up to. He also sees how Cat Grant reacts to Booster, spouting off about how the world needs a hero who isn’t hiding anything, and isn’t afraid to come out of the shadows. And the inclusion of the less-than-graceful Jaime becoming a hero in spite of who he is makes for a nice metaphor, whilst Clark tries to re-invent himself. It would have been nice to have more time to spend with these two new characters, but they have served their purpose and shook things up for Clark.
The last few scenes are terrific. Lois gets the promotion she has been working for, leaving her desk empty for Cat to take. Clark plays the part of loveable oaf well, knocking over a box of Cat’s things, causing Cat to ask Lois why she would stick with Clark when “he’s no Blur”. Upon over-hearing, Clarke is upset that he has made Lois look stupid but, in a rather nonchalant manner, she assures him that they’ll “make it work”. Oh Smallville, how you tease us.
Finally, we are treated to a scene of Clark changing into his 'work' clothes in a phone booth, a pleasant nod to stories past. Overall, a really great episode that could have been one step better by being split into two. Like Doctor Who’s “Victory of the Daleks”, there’s just too much story to be crammed into the allotted time frame. Not a failure, just mayhaps a misstep; still very entertaining television. And if you missed it, there was an extended preview for the upcoming Green Lantern, which only added to the awesome. I’m still hoping that, somehow, Smallville will live past the series finale, perhaps with TV movies or even an eventual feature film. Hey, if Snyder’s Man of Steel doesn’t pan out, maybe it’ll be the next reboot.
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