ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 10.7: Ambush
Love it or hate it, the “Smallville” TV show has been one of the most popular mass media adaptations of a comic, reaching millions of viewers each week with stories of what Clark Kent’s life was like before he became Superman. Now, we’re marking its passing by having ComicsAlliance’s Chris Sims and David Uzumeri, two guys who have never actually watched the show, watch and review every single episode of the tenth and final season.
David: This week, Smallvillains features the second stop in the “Smallville Does Bad Versions of Movies, But With Superman” tour with the comedy Meet the Parents. The episode was actually titled “Ambush,” which kind of makes sense.
Chris: Sorry everybody hoping for an Ambush Bug appearance: This is just an episode about Clark getting yelled at by Lois’s dad. And I’ve got to say, it’s starting to feel like the further we get away from the ongoing Darkseid plot, the worse this show gets.
David: This episode tried to go for both schmaltzy sentimentality and quirky humor, and it failed pretty terribly at both. Rick Flag is a more cartoonish villain than Darkseid at this point, which is saying something. “Ambush” kicks off with a morning-after Clark and Lois scene where she’s wearing his football jersey, and before Lois is able to convince Clark to bang on the swing (this is in the text, folks), her father Sam Lane and sister Homewreckin’ Lucy Lane stop by to torment them and recreate Meet the Parents, but with a dead mom.
Chris: Sadly, Lois telling Clark she wants to get it on right there in front of God and everybody will be the highlight of the episode. General Lane — not to be confused with The General — sort of gets us back to having a DC Universe guest star, but it has nothing to do with the ongoing Darkseid plot. It’s a little ironic considering that Sam’s played by Michael Ironside, who did the voice of Darkseid on Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League. Also, you may remember him From Total Recall, the second best Paul Verhoven movie.
David: Sam Lane, like his DCU counterpart, is a total dick about superheroes, and doesn’t understand why Lois is with a guy like Clark whose cover is that he stays under the radar. As a result, he decides to test Clark with a list of tasks he has to perform around HIS OWN HOUSE, like fixing pipes and chopping wood.
David: Also, Lucy decides she’s going to try to get with Clark, for no real discernible reason other than “she’s kind of a bitch.”
Chris: Which is completely true to her character in the comics. Lucy Lane was mostly seen in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen as Jimmy’s girlfriend, and she is the most hateful shrew in the history of comics.
David: Anyway, it turns out Rick Flag wants to ice Sam Lane because Lane is all anti-super-hero, and Rick Flag apparently wants superheroes to rule America, which is Sam Lane’s absolutely nuts worst-case scenario. Rick Flag, by the way, is not a superhero, but is, as Tess Mercer tells us, a superhero sympathizer since he’s worked with superpowered people for so long.
Chris: He has Stockholm Super-Syndrome.
David: So Rick Flag enacts this absolutely insane plan involving a tracer stick that he gives to Lucy, telling her that she has to give it to her father to trace him because they’re there to protect him from Clark Kent. In reality, he wants Sam far away from Clark so that he can shoot a missile at him that actually has the US flag on it.
Chris: I couldn’t decide if that part was stupid, brilliant, or somehow both.
David: In any case, Rick gives Lucy salacious photos of Clark chilling with Kara, which she gives to her dad saying they were lying around the farm, who uses these to recreate the interrogation scene from “Meet the Parents.” Now, to be fair, Ironside does his best with this crappy material, although I kept hoping he’d get possessed by Darkseid and revisit his voice acting role from the animated shows.
David: While this is all going on, there’s a plot with Tess and Oliver in the Watchtower and Oliver talking about how he’s gonna have to go rogue from the not-Justice-League to protect them from media blowback.
Chris: You know what I don’t get?
Chris: Everyone knows he’s Oliver Queen now, right?
Chris: Like, it’s been on the news. So why does —
David: Why is he still wearing the mask and voice modulator?
David: That is an excellent question.
Chris: It’s not even a mask, it’s sunglasses. That he wears underneath a hood. At night. And his entire deal is that he’s really good at shooting a bow and arrow, which you’d think would require one to be able to see. Although now that I think of it, we haven’t actually seen him use a bow this season, have we? Just the little crossbow he shot at Cat Grant.
David: By wearing sunglasses at night, he can see the light. Come on, man. Get with the program; that’s been science since at least the ’80s.
Chris: Oh, is that it? I thought it was so he could, so he could, keep track of the dreams inside his mind. The voice modulator, though, serves no purpose. It’s like he’s the world’s worst delocated cosplayer.
David: He should just start wearing that outfit all the time in everyday life.
Chris: I’d really like to see a scene where we just see Oliver Queen sitting around goofing off with it, going “oh man I sound so awesome with this.” Follow-up question: How awesome would it be if instead of the voice modulator, he was autotuned?
David: That’s how they should do Banshee in the next X-Men movie.
Chris: Clearly, it’s the part T-Pain was born to play.
David: In any case, Sam makes an ultimatum for Lois: She can choose him or Clark. She chooses her dad for like ten minutes, then gets angry and chooses Clark again, right before Sam goes out of the house and she gets shot with the Flag Rocket since Lucy left behind the tracker. Fortunately, Clark saves her from the Flag Rocket, and then he and Oliver Queen go and bust up Rick Flag, except Flag gets away and tries to start an anarchic super-hero nation-state. He’s basically Magog at this point.
Chris: All in all, it’s a pretty sloppy assassination attempt for a guy who has Deadshot on his payroll — who, if you’ll remember, can shoot a bullet from a handgun into a car’s tailpipe from three blocks away — but when you’re trying to kill somebody with an actual friggin’ missile, I guess that’s the risk you take.
David: Sam is all I’M PROUD OF YOU FOR STANDING UP TO ME and reveals his list of tasks was a test for Lois, not Clark, and then he wishes them well and says the Blur ain’t so bad and that’s basically the end. No Lex this episode, no Darkseid.
Chris: There actually is a little more at the end: The Vigilante Registration Act — or as Tom Welling calls it, the Vigi-lawn-tee Registration Act — gets passed and then the Suicide Squad does some more terrorism.
David: This is such a bizarre conception of the Squad right now. I don’t understand why they’re the Suicide Squad.
Chris: At this point, it’s limited to the fact that they use the Squad’s logo in their goofy little tattoos. In one episode, we’ve seen a sudden left turn for the Rick Flag character that makes absolutely no sense. If he likes super-heroes so much, why did he tie Green Arrow to a chair and beat the hell out of him in the first episode? Does he only like people with actual powers, as opposed to a guy with a crossbow and an Optimus Prime Voice-Changing Helmet?
David: I have no idea. I don’t understand his character whatsoever.
Chris: He makes no sense at all. But he does have a pretty awesome backlit American flag to stand under to issue his domestic terrorism orders. Also, the whole “vigilante registration act” thing is, let’s be honest here, ripped off pretty wholesale from Marvel’s Civil War.
David: Well, that or Watchmen, but probably more Civil War, yeah.
Chris: Yeah. And here’s the thing with that: vigilantes? Already illegal.
David: All it’s doing is legalizing them, really.
Chris: Yeah, except that we know Rick Flag works for the government, and he’s already got a team of super-humans working with him. So there are already “legal” and “illegal” vigilantes.
David: Hasn’t he gone totally rogue now?
Chris: Man, who knows anymore? Pretty much every time Tess punches up some files on the Watchtower’s HDTV, my eyes glaze over and I start looking around for my DS. I’ve got Pokemon to train.
David: Speaking of the Watchtower, what the hell kind of computer is that even supposed to be? It’s just a Matrix screensaver with big red text on it sometimes. Does Tess actually jack into the Matrix?
Chris: Honestly, this whole episode was equal parts filler and me going “wait, what?” Everything with Rick Flag made less sense than Lois getting possessed by Isis and trying to bring back her husband by cutting out Superman’s heart, and the stuff with General Lane and Lucy was, as we’ve said, totally the CW’s version of Meet The Parents, a movie that wasn’t that great to begin with.
David: At least Lucy was true to the comics by being a hateful shrew. But in general, there wasn’t a lot I liked about this episode.
Chris: Plus, we had the added painfulness of Lois and Lucy calling each other “Lo” and “Lu.”
David: All of the serious family moments were dreadful.
Chris: Yeah. Uzi… I’m starting to think Erica Durance might not be that great an actress.
David: Pretty much nobody on this show is, except for poor Michael Ironside.
Chris: It’s weird, though, because in the more “fun” scenes, she’s great, but the second she has to convey some deep emotion that doesn’t involve screwing on the Kents’ porch, it all falls apart. I mean, admittedly, as much as I’ve taken a shine to her over the past two months, she’s not a miracle worker, and they are not giving her a whole hell of a lot to work with.
David: I guess … at least Ironside wasn’t terrible? Other than that, I honestly have no clue.
Chris: Yeah, agreed on that. And as much as it’s a complete Angry Girlfriend’s Dad cliche, giving a man a list of chores to do AT HIS OWN HOUSE is a pretty awesome dick move.
Chris: Also, I think this is the first time we’ve seen Clark in his costume — not the Superman costume, but the Thriller Jacket and Jeans he wears when he’s out Blurring it up — do anything but stand around. He actually puts it on and does Superman stuff.
Chris: Even if he’s doing it at what appears to be a lazy jog.
David: Yeah, that jacket seems thoroughly pointless at this point. Other than that, though, almost everything else was terrible. This wasn’t as bad as Harvest, but that’s really all that can be said for it. Rick Flag was terrible, Lucy was ridiculous and the dialogue was godawful.
Chris: I know it’s going to be hard to pick just one.
David: Any time Lois said something serious about family, I wanted to vomit.
Chris: That might be less about Smallville and more about flu season.
David: If I had to hear one more schmaltzy speech about spending time with your family or the ties that bind or any of that crap, I was gonna explode. There was a lot of really badly written human drama in this episode.
Chris: No kidding. To everyone who told us “Oh, Smallville hasn’t really been a CW teen drama for years,” you are all a bunch of liars.
David: Oh, and we also totally forgot to mention that it implied Clark was gonna ask Sam if he can marry Lois. Clark’s surety that he’s going to be with Lois forever is really kind of creepy if you don’t know it’s because he traveled into the future.
Chris: Which, again, is completely insane. We’re going to have a Clark Kent who’s married to Lois before we get Superman.
David: Probably at the same time, I’d guess.
Chris: Odds on this season ending with a wedding?
David: Insanely likely, I’d say. Last episode will have flying, the costume and a wedding all at once.
Chris: And it’ll be crashed by a Darkseid-possessed Lex Luthor.
David: Naw, I think the wedding will just be after the climax of the actual battle with Darkseid. But you could be onto something.
Chris: My low point: All the Rick Flag stuff. Did you ever watch G.I. Joe when you were a kid, Uzi?
David: No, actually. I know, I led a deprived existence.
Chris: There’s an episode called “Cobra’s Candidate” where Cobra is interfering in a mayoral election. Because, you know, local government is the prime target for international terrorist groups.
Chris: It turns out that the candidate being attacked and harassed by Cobra is actually the candidate who’s secretly in Cobra’s pocket, and all the attacks are meant to drum up sympathy and make him look like he’s a strong candidate for law and order for refusing to back down when he’s faced with Dreadnoks and Televipers.
Chris: What I’m getting at here is that this plot is dumber than a children’s cartoon from twenty years ago. That’s how stupid the Suicide Squad stuff is. Rick Flag’s plan to stop the Vigilante Registration Act is less sophisticated than something COBRA COMMANDER did.
David: Rick Flag is the most cartoonish character on the show, for real. Who ACTUALLY WANTS a superhero-run anarchy? Why would actual superheroes even want that?!?
Chris: I know that if I’d sworn to protect and defend America, I’d be comfortable putting in the hands of Steampunk Cowboy Deadshot.
David: Like, he’s just blatantly insane.
Chris: And again, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the comics, Rick Flag was featured in Suicide Squad, which is probably the best DC Universe comic of the ’80s. He’s an incredibly conflicted character who’s constantly torn between his duty to his country and his hatred of having been put into a situation where he’s serving with a bunch of amoral crooks. And on Smallville, he’s a cackling madman who chews enough scenery to get at least 1000% of his recommended daily fiber intake.
David: Well, these past few episodes have been really bad. I’m hoping the return of Granny Goodness next week picks things up, but …. I’m skeptical at this point, it’s been a pretty tough streak. This better shape up, man. Quit with all of this interpersonal crap; you suck at writing it, just give me more Darkseid. And hopefully next episode will deliver.
Chris: Not only do we get Granny Goodness next week — which also probably means we’ll get the Female Furies — we also get Teri Hatcher as Lois’s mom, apparently returning from… beyond the grave!
David: I think I read somewhere she’s appearing in a series of videotapes or something like that.
Chris: Maybe it’ll just be Lois watching Desperate Housewives and going “Hey, that lady looks like my mom.”
David: It’s reaching the point where I’d rather be watching Desperate Housewives, and that’s saying something.
Chris: I know what you mean. After these last couple of episodes, I’m almost dreading seeing the Furies. They’re some of my favorite villains, and while I could at least get some laughs out of Deadshot, things have not been going well lately. Do you think they’ll have Barda as part of the Furies?
Chris: I mean, knowing Smallville, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barda had already defected, come to Earth, married Mr. Miracle, and joined the Justice League.
David: I guess it’s possible, but I doubt it, especially since they only seem to be going for the Evil Gods here. I mean, nary a mention of Orion.
Chris: Still holding out for Kanto, though.