Smallville s10e19 review
|REVIEWS - TV|
Imperial bully Zod gives Caleb a welcome break from the Royal Wedding...
It’s Smallville meets Spartacus this week, as Clark and Oliver head into the Phantom Zone. Slade Wilson has been found back on Earth, somehow having escaped the Kryptonian Alcatraz, and Clark decides to take time off from unpacking at his and Lois’ new apartment to see how anyone could escape, as only a member of the House of El can activate the gateway. Oliver tags along to help, and they are immediately taken prisoner by Zod, banished to the Phantom Zone by the Kandorians, and united with the phantom of the elder General.
The dynamic between Lois and Clark shows that they still have a lot to work out before they head down the alter. Clark still needs to come to terms with his human upbringing and sensibilities, and his Kryptonian biology which seems to sometimes override his better judgment. We also get to see more of that tender side of Lois, who has fully accepted that Clark is more than her spouse-to-be, but a true part of her. She also shows how far she will go to protect Clark. It is revealed that Clark’s plan is for Tess to destroy the crystal and close the gate if he doesn’t return in a set amount of time. Lois doesn’t take this news well, and holds Tess at gunpoint. Tess tells her that part of being with a hero means accepting their sacrifices, and Lois retorts that being a hero’s wife means not accepting their defeat. In a scene like this, Erica Durance is able to show both that fear of losing the person she cares about more than anything, and yet still show a strength that proves she can still hold her own, even if she isn’t bulletproof. Durance has come quite a long way throughout her tenure on the show, and she is a pleasure to see in the role. We also see her love for Clark, and her need for him, when she asks about his plan to destroy the crystal, and Welling does a marvelous job of delivering that confidence in his decision, and an almost sheepish feeling when he realizes that his decisions don’t just affect him (you would think he would have learned that one by now).
Zod is at his manipulative best tonight. He explains to Clark that the blood transfusion last season allowed him to manipulate the gateway, and tries to bring Clark around to his side. It turns out that Darkseid stopped by on his way to Earth, and promised Zod rule over the zone, as long as he got Kal-El out of the way. So he sent Wilson back, knowing that Clark would come through to investigate. When he realizes that Clark won’t be swayed, he tries Oliver, knowing that Ollie already has the darkness inside of him. Which of course leads to both of our heroes meeting each other in the arena, where gladiators fight for Zod’s amusement.
Watching Clark and Ollie in gladiator gear was one of the best parts of the episode, and the cape for Clark was a nice touch. We are given the impression that Oliver has been swayed by Zod, when he runs Clark through with this sword, but it was a ruse to lure Zod into the final killing of Clark, whereupon he grabs the crystal from Zod’s neck and the two escape, leaving Zod stranded in his kingdom in Hell.
The arena battles harkened back to stories in the comics, where Darkseid brought warriors from all over the universe to fight on his home planet of Apokolips, making a nice nod to all of us that grew up reading the books. Watching Clark fight proved that he’s more than ready to face off against the best villains of Earth, especially if he can still show the fortitude to fight even when powered down. He won his first fight, but refused to kill his opponent. Zod chastises him, because it is kill or be killed, a lesson he feels upset about that Clark still hasn’t learned, and we see the horror in Clark’s face when Zod kills the fallen fighter in front of him. This is the strength of a character like Superman, in that while he could kill with a single strike, he constantly shows restraint. That example is what has made Supes a hero that has been able to not only stand the test of time, but also a hero we can all admire.
The battle scenes were plenty bloody and violent, even more than usually seen on Smallville. But it definitely set the stage for what’s coming, and Clark will need to get used to a little more violence if he’s going to be Earth’s champion and protector. And tonight’s episode seems to really be pushing the message that Clark needs to trust more, which seems a little out of place, since about every couple of months, he needs reminding of this fact. I hope maybe it’s finally setting in, and he can come to trust those around him that can be of help to him.
Overall, some nice nods to the comics tonight, brilliant moments between Lois and Clark, and we see Oliver trying to come to terms with the darkness that has infected him. The last we see of him is talking to Tess, as he’s finally discovered the final pieces of the puzzle as to where to find Darkseid, and he reveals his plan to fight him alone. Somehow, I just know that’s not going to go as planned.
Great episode, some very nice moments between characters – the private moments with Lois and Clark are wonderful - and a splendid cameo by Callum Blue, who was such a terrific part of last season. It was nice not only to see him back, but to see how the addition of the phantom Zod made him that much more evil, a truly dangerous enemy. And in the end, it was nice to watch an hour’s worth of television that didn’t involve the Royal Wedding (sincerest apologies to my UK-based co-writers – I love you guys).
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