ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 10.16: Scion
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: Welcome back to Smallvillains, guys. This episode is titled “Scion,” and we’ve been … anticipating it for a few weeks. It features the introduction into the Smallville universe of Conner Kent, Superboy, and despite all their feints to the contrary, it looks like he’s here to stay. Well, for the next four episodes or whatever, I guess.
Chris: I tried, guys. I honestly tried to come at this show with an open mind and enjoy it for what it is. But it has gotten to the point where I just spend an hour every Friday night glaring at the TV and groaning whenever something dumb happens. And brother, this episode was one long groan.
David: Alright, this is gonna be great then, because I’m about to blow your mind: This was my favorite episode in forever.Chris: Explain what you mean by “favorite.”
David: I enjoyed this episode. It certainly had problems, but I enjoyed it.
Chris: …Explain what you mean by “enjoyed.”
David: The act of watching it released chemical receptors in my brain that initiated some degree of pleasure, or at least, inured me against boredom. I had fun.
Chris: As this week’s episode begins, Tess — no doubt feeling an increase of confidence from the success of her number one rockabilly single “How Do You Do” with EMIL last week — decides that it’s finally time to advance one of the plot threads that everyone seems to have forgotten about over the past two weeks: The Clone Formerly Known As Alexander Luthor and his brand new set of super-powers.
David: Now, do you think they totally changed directions midseason? Because they seem to have totally dropped the entire “he’s growing up into a new Lex” plotline.
Chris: If I had to guess, I’d say there was probably a plan that involved The Clone becoming a vessel for Darkseid, thus explaining why we could have a Lex Luthor who didn’t look like Michael Rosenbaum, and that what we’re seeing now is Plan B. But then again, this is Smallville. It’s seriously at a point where it’s impossible to tell if what ends up on the screen is actually what they meant to do.
David: What’s great is that, if true, that means we’re getting a storytelling plan B because they actually got what they didn’t think they would (Rosenbaum).
Chris: But again, I honestly have no idea, and as much as it pains me to not take the shot, it’s not fair to criticize them for stuff we don’t actually know. Not when there’s so, so much to deal with already.
David: I’m also slowly coming to the conclusion that one writer does all the dialogue for Lois Lane, because at this point “atrocious dialogue” has become a really specific character trait.
Everything she says sounds like an out of context bit of a dirty limerick.
Chris: Do you think it’s the same guy who does Chloe’s? Because I like to imagine two middle-aged dudes loosening their ties and rolling up their sleeves, sitting at desks across from each other, going back and forth to see who can be the most grating.
David: If it isn’t, then they must have a Lois Lane Dialogue Style Guide:
- Use alliteration as much as possible
- Belittle and infantilize the opposition
Chris: In that respect, it’s a lot like the Smallvillains style guide. But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here.
David: Another way we’re like Lois Lane, but continue with the recap.
Chris: Tess finally decides to come clean and tell Clark that TCFKA Alexander has super-powers, but instead of just telling him, she drags it out until he starts picking up tractors, presumably so that we can fill the requisite amount of time for the cold open.
David: I just can’t take Tess seriously as a caregiver for this kid, considering she TRIED TO MURDER HIM.
Chris: Twice! Also, remember how he was aging super-fast? Good, because nobody on the writing staff does.
David: They explained that! The whole reason they gave him Clark’s DNA in the first place was to stop the fast aging. It’s being held in check by his superpowers. So he can never grow old, presumably, something that bugged Conner for quite a while, at least during Kesel’s run on Superboy and in Peter David’s Young Justice up until “Sins of Youth,” I believe.
Chris: But… But they gave him Clark’s DNA when they first made him, right? So it was because they knew it from all the other clones? And none of this was documented in any of the papers Tess has from the Project Cadmus records? So all of those episodes about the Clone’s accelerated aging were completely pointless? And that formula they made to fix him that Tess threw away was completely unnecessary?
David: Again, a reason why I imagine they must have changed courses midstream.
Chris: What I’m getting at here, and I know this is going to come as a shock, is that there’s a whole lot in this episode that doesn’t make any sense. They might as well have had Tom Welling look at the camera, shrug and say “just go with it, we’ve only got three more months.”
David: But if that gives us episodes where superpowered beings actually fight each other, Clark Kent isn’t a douchebag, John Glover’s hair whips around, and a CGI Darkseid shows up, I’m willing to make that sacrifice. Well — Clark does some douchey things, including one thing that’s hilariously dumb, but we’ll get to that later, and in the end he actually manages to make a remotely kind choice.
Chris: At this point, Tess has basically dropped a kid off at the Kent farm, gone “it’s yours,” and left him in Clark’s care. Two quick things about this scene: One, he actually talks about having super-hearing, which will be important later for pointing out how amazingly dumb Clark is. Two, we find out his name is Conner because he’s a “Cognitional Neuroplastic Replicant,” or CNR.
Chris: I don’t want to say that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard because we’re only 7 minutes into the episode, but it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
David: That was admittedly insanely dumb. You couldn’t have come up with ANYTHING else? Because I’m pretty sure none of those are words that mean anything when put together in that order. Like, how is he neuroplastic? In that he forgot all of his memories and turned from a psychopath into a well-meaning kid?
Chris: Faced with such a revelation, Clark’s instinct is to go with the ol’ standby: lying. Also farmwork.
David: It builds character, OK?!
Chris: Seriously, Clark makes the Clone do a bunch of farmwork while pretending he’s having difficulty lifting bales of hay, all the while standing there listening to the Clone talk about how much it sucks that he feels so alone in the world. Clark has no plans whatsoever to reveal his own powers until the Clone finally tries to get away from him, because even a Kryptonian can be bored to death.
David: Look, Clark Kent is a huge Empire fan. This is him doing his homage to Yoda, all just being a crotchety asshole to… build character! Look, Sims, who are you to judge how Superman raises his clones?
Chris: Well, it’s true that I’ve never had to raise a clone, but to be fair, I don’t go around leaving my genetic material all over the place.
David: Mope or mope not, there is no do.
Chris: Meanwhile, Tess decides for absolutely no reason to go poke around Cadmus with a flashlight, where she finds Lionel, who at least kind of has a reason to be inspecting his new holdings. She becomes the only person to do something clever in this episode, and tells Lionel that the clone died, showing him a tube full of powder and bones that actually belong to the rest of the clones that burned to death way back at the start of the season.
David: That tube was AMAZING, because it’s in this freaking Ninja Turtles Mutagen tube with a Helvetica “Lx” logo. Did LuthorCorp fall on hard times and have to cut back on vowel purchases?
Chris: Sadly, before Lionel can pull a reverse Keith Richards and snort his interdimensional clone son’s ashes to gain his power, the scene ends, and we’re back on the farm watching Conner deal with the first urges of manhood.
David: Man, this was predictable.
Chris: Yes, Lois walks into the barn, and we learn that sexual attraction to Erica Durance is an inherent part of Kryptonian genetics. Which I think means that I may have been rocketed to Earth from a dying planet 28 years ago.
David: I’ll co-sign that one.
Chris: Regardless, Conner gets so aroused that he starts shooting fireballs out of his eyes, which is actually a sentence I just typed.
David: Yeah, his heat vision goes off, which is… kind of funny, if, as I said, a bit predictable, since I believe someone commented that the same thing has happened to Clark when he was Conner’s age in one of the season two episodes. I love how neither Lois nor Clark is even remotely creeped out by this, though.
Chris: Lois ends up referring to Conner as Clark and Lex’s “love child,” which makes two episodes in a row with scenes written just for Tumblr and LiveJournal. What follows is an incredibly boring talky sequence where Clark offers an explanation for how Conner exists and then gets all whiny about how he feels like a freak and an outsider, because, you know, that’s what Superman’s all about.
David: Sorry, I got caught up trying to come up with good alliteration. I keep picturing Lois’s journalism as ’60s Stan Lee, the way she talks. Someone should get Tom Welling to play Cyclops in the next X-Men movie if he wants to continue down that road of whining, by the way.
Chris: It’s at this point of the episode that Clark vanishes from the plot, leaving everyone else to actually do things. First up, a conversation where Tess tries to get Lois to talk Clark into murdering Lionel Luthor, because they need to draw a line, and the line must be drawn HERE!
David: I didn’t think that was what Tess meant, to be honest. Maybe something with the Phantom Zone, or the Mirror Box, or maybe just using his powers to expose him to the police. But Clark, for some completely inexplicable reason, seems to think that Lionel is going to change because Earth-1 Lionel did. Except that in the episode that brought Lionel back, all Clark talked about was how Lionel is pure poison that ruins everyone around him.
Chris: Anyway, Lois and Tess decide that the best way to take Lionel down isn’t through a fight that would require expensive special effects or anything remotely interesting, but by examining his paperwork!
THRILL as Lois Lane calls the county records office!
CHILL as Tess Mercer waits for a Freedom of Information Act request to come through!
You Will Believe a man can make an error on his 1099!
David: How do you even explain “alternate universe” to the police? As a matter of fact, have there been any cops on this show?
Chris: If there are, one assumes that they’ve been dealing with Meteor Freaks and blue Kryptonite in the water supply for 26 years, so one imagines they’re pretty open-minded.
David: Not to mention all the publicly operating superheroes, like Supergirl.
Chris: Meanwhile, Lionel has decided to take Tess up on her offer to examine “Alexander’s” remains, and he is informed that they come from one of the other clones. Now, you might think this is stupid because they are clones and would have the same DNA, but to be fair, Alexander/Conner would also have Clark’s. No, what makes it stupid is the fact that the scientist has hilarious Halloween costume bloodstains on his jacket, despite the fact that he has been examining what is quite literally a handful of ashes.
Chris: “It’s one of the other clones, Mr. Luthor. And hey, I got an extra Beef ‘n’ Cheddar if you want one, but watch out: That Arby’s sauce goes everywhere.”
David: Weren’t all the clones imperfect, though? Like, stated on screen? Because the Luthor in the first episode didn’t look ANYthing like Rosenbaum, and they tried to explain that away.
David: Maybe they can identify them that way! Man, I have no idea why I’m defending this episode so much. I think it’s really all residual just from Clark somehow not acting like a douchebag in the end. But I digress.
Chris: What’s that? Clark acting like a douchebag? Funny you should bring that up!
David: I said in the end! But yeah, this is bringing us to maybe the single dumbest, most dickish thing Smallville Clark has ever done, and thank God he at least actually learns from it this episode.
Chris: Tess comes over to try to get Clark to tell Conner the truth about his DNA, but c’mon. Smallville Clark? The truth? Keep dreaming, lady. The problem is that they’re discussing this in complete sentences like “I don’t think we should tell Conner the truth about how half of his DNA comes from Lex Luthor,” which of course Conner overhears, because he has super-hearing.
Chris: This means that not only did Clark forget that Conner talked about having super-hearing ten minutes ago, but that since Conner has all of Clark’s powers, CLARK FORGOT THAT HE HIMSELF HAS SUPER-HEARING.
David: Nobody calls him out on this the entire episode, either!
Chris: Remember earlier when I said that “CNR” was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard? Smallville managed to top itself twice in less than 20 minutes
David: If nothing else, Geoff Johns must be insanely happy that his quest to redefine the character of Superboy has made it to national television.
Chris: Also, can I just point out that Clark saying “We can never let him know that he’s a Luthor” because that will immediately make him evil to LUTESSA LUTHOR is a supreme dick move?
David: I don’t think that’s as dumb as the assumption the characters make with the red kryptonite, but we’ll have to get there. I mean, I said I enjoyed this episode, but Clark is still kind of a dick.
Chris: Really though, how much of an asshole do you have to be to go “Oh, he has some of Lex’s DNA, that will surely make him evil. Fortunately he also has mine, which will definitely make him good.”
David: Genetic morality, baby! Nature, not nurture! People are either inherently good or evil, it’s not even their fault. Is Clark Calvinist or something?
Chris: I think he’s just a jerk. Anyway, to make a dumb story short — too late! — Lois gets captured by Lionel because Clark won’t clean up his own messes, and then Conner goes to the old burned-down Luthor mansion, where Lionel finds him and gives him a ring made of Red Kryptonite.
Chris: Sadly, this does not give him a lion head or make him have to walk on his hands for 48 hours, it just turns him into a horny douchebag.
David: Wasn’t this the point of BLACK Kryptonite, though? Or does that also split you in two? I’m going to be super disappointed if Red Kryptonite in the comics now does this instead of transform you. The High School Musical kid with a goat’s tail and a platypus bill would have been amazing.
Chris: Co-signed. Lionel then takes Conner to watch him shoot Lois in the face, but Conner rescues her, and then tries to woo her by stealing her a fur coat, some jewelry and a fast car (all of which happen to be on the one same street set they use for Metropolis), which is actually pretty accurate to how a teenager with powers would try to impress a girl.
David: Yeah, although your standard teenager would probably know not to shoot above his station like this, at least without the Red Kryptonite. Lois also makes a point of mentioning how Clark was never like this when HE was on red kryptonite, which is kind of a really crappy thing to do when your ultimate intention is to raise this kid.
Chris: Maybe he figured she’d want a younger model who could also sing and dance?
David: Please, please, please tell me that the car Conner ganks was a Scion. Now all I can think of is Killface in Frisky Dingo on Regis & Kelly. “Can you can you can you bench a SCION?!”
Chris: You’re thinking a little too clever for Smallville, buddy. Conner takes Lois to the burnt-out mansion — chicks love mansions, bro — lays out some candles, puts on a little Marvin, but she STILL won’t let him get to second base. So of course he throws her across the room and tries to kill Clark when he moseys in to help.
David: This is, like, the umpteenth time a superpowered being has thrown Lois across the room. How the Hell is she still alive?!
Chris: Eventually Clark gets the Red K off of Conner, and then Lionel shows up the mansion, because he knew they were there, because… you know. Just because. He has a gigantic chunk of Kryptonite that he uses to put Tom Welling on the floor, but instead of just beating him to death with it, he sort of sets it down next to him and goes to leave with Conner.
Chris: The Luthor family has no follow-through, Uzi.
David: I also love how Conner’s face turn has him heat vision the kryptonite until it explodes. Uh, what? How does that work?
Chris: There is not a scene in this episode where you can’t ask that question.
David: That … is true.
Chris: Once he’s saved Clark, Conner tries to go after Lionel after he runs out, and Clark tells him “Don’t worry about him. He’s got no place to hide.” Which… Really? Because you guys have super-speed, he’s less than a block away, and had at least one massive chunk of Kryptonite that you didn’t know about.
David: Clark isn’t exactly known for his lightning fast decision-making, and when he finally does make a decision, it’s usually the wrong one. Especially when it turns out that, predictably, guess what? Lionel does have somewhere to hide. But we’ll get to that.
Chris: Fortunately, someone actually did something about Lionel, although in typical fashion, what they did was dumb: Thanks to their research, Lois and Tess have discovered that Earth-2 Lionel’s fingerprints are the reverse of Earth-1 Lionel’s, which they know because they were able to pull prints off of a twenty-year-old piece of paper.
David: Is the implication that that was actually the antimatter universe, straight up? Like, if Clark learned how to fly, he could go long enough in one direction and get to Qward? Smallville should just say to Hell with it and throw that in.
Chris: I think saying “the hell with it” is exactly how we got this episode. Thus, Lionel is ousted from LuthorCorp, but for some reason that once again is entirely unexplained, he is not arrested for fraud. Instead, he gets to just wander out to Lex’s grave.
David: Maybe he’s under armed guard for his entire tete-a-tete with Darkseid.
Chris: That’s right, everybody: Darkseid.
Chris: In all his smoke monster glory.
David: Ready to make a Faustian pact with Lionel Luthor.
Chris: Because this is how we’re going to get Lex back. Which means that we might actually get to see the CW 8 PM time-slot version of the Omega Effect.
David: You’ve skipped over the final scene with Conner, which dovetails nicely into High Points, because I hate to say it but seeing Clark actually act like an open-minded, non-judgmental solid guy for once was really, really, really nice.
David: I kind of like the kid who plays Conner, too. I want to see his show at this point, to Hell with this one.
Chris: Conner is my high point as well, but only because I saw someone refer to him as “Superboy Prime Time,” which is pretty much genius.
David: Ha! This entire episode was basically a highly modified version of the “Insiders” story arc from Geoff Johns’s Teen Titans, which for me was definitely one of the big highlights of the run, and the kid pulled the role off, although I am sad I didn’t get to see him shave his head and then use the razor to cut an L over the S on his t-shirt.
Chris: I have to admit that what you saw as Clark being a solid dude, I totally saw as him gonig “Oh, you want to join the team? Great, we’ll let Ollie and the fish guy deal with you. I have a Sudoku book to finish.”
David: I figured he meant the Super-team, like with Supergirl. But we’ve never had an actual Superman Family adventure.
Chris: Oh man, what if Supergirl does end up taking him in, and he learns to fly before Clark?
David: That would be basically the most hilarious thing.
Chris: That would be so awful that it would almost make me like this show again, just ot of spite.
Chris: The unforgivable stupidity of every single plot point in this episode. Connor is short for Made Up Sciencey Words! The DNA tests on bone fragments were done in a meat locker! Lionel left fingerprints on a piece of paper 20 years ago, because that’s definitely how fingerprints work!
David: All of Lois’s dialogue, as usual, as well as just how much this seems like a last-second plot turn. I mean, honestly, I still enjoyed it more than the last few episodes, I think largely because I didn’t have to deal with Chloe and Oliver, who, despite being two of the best actors, were put in the absolute dumbest situations.
Chris: I will say this, it wasn’t a rip-off of a movie, but all that means is that the writers of Smallville had to come up with their own plot, which is not their strong point. Nor is dialogue, pacing, character, or writing.
David: Alliterative puns, though? They must have an entire think tank dedicated to those.
Chris: Well, it looks like we’ve made it through another week.
David: I didn’t think it was quite as bone-crushingly awful as you did, but it still was hardly amazing. So what’s up next week?
Chris: Next week is “Kent,” which, according to the preview, is going to involve a funeral. Place your bets, Uzi: Who bites the dust?
David: Adios, Martha!
Chris: I’m putting my money on Conner. I think we’re not only going to have Superboy exist before Superman, but he’s going to both live and die, most likely sacrificing his own life to save Clark and inspiring him to take up his S-Shield logo as his own. That is the kind of ass-backwards this show is.
David: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I really hope you’re wrong. Why would Conner even have a funeral, anyway? Nobody even knows he exists!
Chris: Uzi, you’re asking why something dumb would happen on Smallville. I think we’re past that.