ComicsAlliance Recaps The ‘Smallville’ Series Finale
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.
Chris: This is it, everybody. After ten years — well, for us it’s only been nine months, but it felt like ten years — Smallville has come to an end.
David: And with Wonder Woman canceled, it signals the end of the DC Universe on live-action television for the foreseeable future.
Chris: Not only that, but it really is the end of an era. Smallville was the longest-running comic book-based TV show of all time. Which is mind-boggling, especially given that this is how they decided to end it.David: Well, they wrapped everything up, it’s just that they wrapped everything up terribly.
Chris: Some of you may have joined us last Friday when we provided live commentary on the finale, and you’ll already know that I have so many questions about what happened in this thing. This is the one time I actually want to know more about this show, and now I’ll never get it. Typical.
David: First off, let’s discuss the Smallville representation of Fourth World mythology, which, in typical Smallville fashion, used the names and appearances of things we recognize and then told a story with them that basically had nothing to do with those original stories.
Chris: And not in an interesting “preserve the themes with a fresh take” way, either. More in an “Oh crap do we start shooting tomorrow?!” sort of way.
David: So many things were just thrown in — for instance, the physical planet of Apokolips, which came basically out of nowhere. Like, for some reason, Apokolips is rushing towards Earth, like, in space. And to their credit, it’s Apokolips, firepits and all.
Chris: Which again, is one of the craziest things about this show: They make everything look exactly like it does in the comics, except Superman. Apokolips! Dr. Fate! Hawkman! Doomsday! But they will not put Tom Welling in the costume. Until… well, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we move on, though, I just noticed that ComicsAlliance has gotten a sudden spike in traffic on the April Fool’s Day post I wrote about Smallville being renewed for an 11th season, complete with a surge of comments clamoring for more. Guys. It was a joke. The pain is over now.
David: Well, let’s be fair here: as you said, this is the first time I’ve actually WANTED to see what happens next.
Chris: Only because they crammed everything Smallville is into two hours, and none of it was what we actually wanted to see.
Chris: After a “Previously on Smallville” recap that does its level best to recap the entire series into 60 seconds — and unfortunately manages to omit any instances of Lana’s witchery or Clark’s heat vision eye-boners — we get an opening scene that takes place SEVEN YEARS IN THE FUTURE. Because at this point, why not just go ahead and admit that even after a decade of this show, nothing important’s going to happen for another seven years.
David: This opening sequence makes absolutely no sense, like NO sense, and I’ll tell you why. THERE IS A PUBLISHED COMIC BOOK ABOUT CLARK KENT GROWING UP IN SMALLVILLE AND BECOMING SUPERMAN?! WHAT THE F*** KIND OF SECRET IDENTITY IS THAT?! Also, Gary Frank gets a new actor to creepily draw a young Superman resembling. Also, we get to see Pete Ross, in Gary Frank drawn form.
Chris: We could spend an entire article talking about this scene, but my favorite thing about it is the gigantic “Hold The Line at $2.99!” price sticker on the cover. As my pal Chad pointed out, DC comics better still be $2.99 in 2018, or else they just lied to us all.
Chris: Plus, there’s a lingering zoom on the cover and the price tag, so that Smallville fans who want this piece of the story can head on into comic book stores to pick it up, and find out that this thing does not actually exist. The least effective product placement of all time, everybody. Maybe they’re planning to release a Smallville retrospective special for $2.99 as part of their 2018 line?
David: At least it’s already drawn! I’m surprised they didn’t at least release this as a digital thing on the previous Wednesday, to catch people up. Oh wait, that would have made sense. Also, it does confirm Chloe ended up with Ollie, because for some reason their son has bows and arrows in his room. He should have had a My First Heroin Kit.
Chris: Just be glad you didn’t have to see the Zelda cave that kid had to go through to get that bow. After this bit of inexplicable nonsense, the scene cuts back to the present day, and we see the planet Apokolips cruising on into the Solar System. The entire planet.
David: The explanation for Apokolips arriving is also truly bizarre. If I understood the show correctly, then the Omega symbols on everyone’s foreheads somehow created a gravitational pull that brought Apokolips to Earth. Also, those Omega symbols actually were “the anti-life equation,” even though they were not against life, nor an equation.
David: They really passed up the chance for some serious cosmic destruction, not to mention that it apparently flies past Saturn and goes right to Earth, because in the Smallville universe there is no asteroid belt, or Mars, even though we have already met a character from Mars.
Chris: Also, not to spoil anything for anyone, but this also sets up the worst climactic action I’ve ever seen. There is never any consequence whatsoever to Apokolips showing up and hovering about three miles away from the Earth, and it really makes me wonder why they didn’t just have Darkseid’s armies show up. If only those comics they were using as source material had some built-in mechanism to get those characters from Apokolips to Earth!
David: Yeah, but then Clark wouldn’t get to PUSH A PLANET. Seriously, he goes from post-Crisis to Silver Age power levels in five seconds.
Chris: No, Uzi. He goes from NOT BEING ABLE TO FLY to Silver Age power levels in five seconds. But that’s not for another two hours. We haven’t even hit the opening credits yet.
David: But the whole first half of the episode is boring! I keep forgetting everything that happened! Okay, fine.
Chris: Well, after Remy Zero pleads for someone to save them for the final embarrassing time, we get another long scene of Clark and Lois trying to decide if they’re going to get married! How could you possibly be bored by something you’ve been seeing for the entire season?!
David: The entire first half is just crap we’ve been seeing for the entire season, as we get a traditional nuptials interruptus scene. All it needed was someone objecting.
Chris: Aquaman all pounding on the windows, trying to get Lois back.
David: Ollie playing guitar outside in the cornfields.
Chris: Tess straight up diving into a cake in the rain.
David: That’s more dignified than any other scene with a Luthor in the actual finale. We should just review this episode as if the entire first half was actually just the “November Rain” video.
Chris: But really, you’re glossing over Clark’s mom bitching at him for trying to move out of his parents’ house and grow up.
David: See? These are the kinds of things I forgot! My God, that scene was utterly terrible. I have no idea what the writers were thinking, since they framed it as a mature decision Clark made episodes ago.
Chris: Well they needed an excuse to have Bo Duke walking around so that they could never, ever address the fact that Clark is an indestructible being who can fly, move planets and shoot fire from his eyes who is also dangerously insane and hallucinates ghosts that talk to him. What If H.P. Lovecraft Created Superman?
David: That’s another thing: they didn’t use the New Gods at all. Honestly, the way they handled this was so wrong, and it would have been so easy to do a low-budget version of the New Gods and Darkseid. Morrison set it up in Seven Soldiers. That’s the frustrating thing about Smallville; it would have been so easy to do it right. I honestly kept secretly hoping they decided to say to Hell with it with the actual Superman mythos in the final episode and ended it with, I dunno, Lex Luthor saving humanity and Clark doing a porn tape with Big Barda.
Chris: Speaking of sex tapes, no Pete Ross in the finale.
David: Hey, Pete Ross was drawn by Gary Frank in the comic! There was no Lana Lang, either. Like, she barely even got mentioned.
Chris: Yeah. As much as this show has moved on from Lana, it seems weird that they didn’t get Kristin Kreuk to make an appearance in some capacity. Did they blow their entire guest star budget on Rosenbaum?
David: Well, I’m sure Kreuk had more important proj — aaaaahahahaahah, no, I can’t finish that sentence.
David: Actually, I take that back, apparently she’s in an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy. That’s not a bad project. That’s acceptably more important than Smallville. Good luck, Kristin! Congratulations on escaping the Titanic, even though you were the goddamn iceberg.
Chris: Suffice to say, she’s not here. But in the interest of not being here all night, some stuff happens, Clark and Lois aren’t going to get married, then Chloe talks them into it and they read their vows to each other through ac losed door. And I have to say, Lois writing out her vows and then marking them up with red-pen edits is a pretty fantastic bit of character for her. It’s one of those flashes of brilliance that makes the rest of the show so frustrating.
David: I agree 100%, that was a fantastic little bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miller came up with it, but that’s probably a case of me projecting too much on that one guy just because he writes a comic I like.
Chris: So finally, after the entire season of buildup, including a bachelor party that happened three months ago, Clark and Lois have a wedding.
David: And what a wedding it is, because Ollie’s going to screw over Clark with his GOLD KRYPTONITE RING! Honestly, I liked this detail.
Chris: Right, because Ollie was taken over by Darkseid’s crew, except that he never acts like it except for right now, but Chloe notices that the ring is wrong, and then they have a big fight in a church that ends with Ollie crying tears of darkness. I am not kidding.
David: Well, he’d be a pretty crappy sleeper agent if he acted noticeably differently.
Chris: Fair point.
David: But yeah, they free Ollie, and then I believe we entered into the Luthor section of the episode, which was absolutely freaking mental. Also, with Pa Kent straight up attending the wedding, they should have renamed this show My Two Ghost Dads.
Chris: Yeah, and I’m not going to lie. The stuff with John Glover and Michael Rosenbaum was hands down the best stuff in the finale, and you can probably extend that to the entire show. It’s just a shame that they didn’t get a scene together in the finale.
David: Yeah, they were easily the best scenes, because they were easily the best actors. Lex wasn’t all that essential to the plot, though; that’s probably due to the fact that they must have had to structure the drafts of the episode around the possibility of Rosenbaum not coming back. Basically, as Apokolips approaches, we discover the existence of a Lex Frankenstein clone made from parts of the other Lex clones, except he needs a heart. I find the lack of Tin Man references here baffling.
Chris: So Lionel kidnaps Tess and straps her to a table in one last tribute to this show’s unceasing titillation, but even a bondaged Lutessa can’t compete with John Glover’s Final Form Hair and Beard.
David: He has a magnificent beard here, it absolutely matches the glory of his hair. It’s really nice to see that they didn’t welch on the glory of his mane for his final appearance.
Chris: It’s… I mean, I don’t even know how to describe it. “Majestic” and “Dominating” seem inadequate. Our words are too small for such a thing.
David: John Glover’s follicles are the true New Gods in the Smallville Universe. Everything they touch turns to myth.
Chris: Exactly. The plan is to cut out Tess’s heart and implant it into Lex, which, for those of you keeping track, is basically the plot of Crank 2: High Voltage. And in true fashion, Tess Jason Stathams the sh** out of Lionel’s surgeons and then shoots Lionel, whose beard allows his earthly form to die so that it may ascend to its true godhood.
Chris: There’s also a really, really nice line delivery from Glover right before this where Tess asks him if Lex is worth killing over, and he tells her “Lex is worth anything,” as though he’s trying to tell her why people drink water or breathe air. It’s a really amazing piece of acting, especially from a guy who just had to spout off a paragraph of exposition so sloppy that it actually started witht he words “As you know, Tess.” And unfortunately, it’s almost completely wiped out of memory when Darkseid shows up and starts talking.
David: Who voice acted Darkseid? Did they credit them? I wonder if it was just Ironside again.
Chris: It was definitely not. See, you can tell because Ironside’s Darkseid didn’t have a voice that was laughably awful.
David: It sounded like something out of a videogame, totally, which, again, is a perfectly act descriptor for most parts of Smallville. However, he does strike a bargain with Lionel by going metal as all hell and RIPPING OUT HIS HEART AND THEN POSSESSING HIS BODY.
Chris: Can I nitpick for a second? I ask because, of course, everything else we talk about is an extremely legitimate concern.
David: Is it going to be about how Lionel’s heart should be reversed and not work in clone Lex?
Chris: Yes. I mean, this is stupid science and it’s a stupid thing to nitpick on this stupid show because really, where do you even start drawing the line on what makes sense, but if they’re going to use the Reverse Fingerprints as a major plot point…
David: I was about to bring that up. They even already established this with the reverse fingerprints they used to catch Earth-2 Lionel! It’s baffling. Maybe the heart is reversed but still has the necessary aortic valves?
Chris: Or maybe, just maybe, nobody on the writing staff thought about this stuff for more than five seconds. And like, that’s even before we get into the fact that Lex is now running around with the heart of a 60 year-old man.
David: A heart of EVIL!
Chris: I guess you could write it all off as Darkseid magic doing the transplant rather than the actual human doctors they had hanging around before Tess kicked them all, which would also explain why Lex is just straight up walking around exchanging menacing dialogue five seconds after his heart transplant/resurrection, too.
David: I’m never clear on just how advanced the superscience in the Smallville universe is, anyway. They never actually show it on camera, or incorporate it into daily life, but at this point the world of Smallville is pretty far along in the superhuman narrative. STAR Labs is around, they’re cloning people, they’re using meteor rocks, and none of this is hidden from the public.
Chris: Maybe they just ran Lex under Emil Hamilton’s Magic Science Laser they always use. Point being, he’s back, and after Michael Rosenbaum polishes a turd with some great delivery of some stupid, stupid lines, things start to pick up with Lois Lane braining a reporter at the Daily Planet who looks just like her, and Ollie straight up murdering three people.
David: Yeah, I was wondering. Sorry. Well, look, do Granny Goodness, Desaad and Glorious Godfrey really count as “people” at this point rather than aspects of Darkseid? I really can’t blame Ollie for this. I was hoping that this episode would feature the surprise introduction of the Atom, though, and we’d get a recreation of the awesome ending of Rock of Ages. Well, the Darkseid killing scene. I guess it wasn’t the ending. But that’s hoping for way too much.
Chris: I’ll give you Granny and Desaad, but if you’ll remember, Godfrey’s just a dude who was possessed, just like Oliver was. But rather than trying to redeem him or help him out, Ollie cold shoots him in the chest with an arrow that makes him explode.
Chris: And then, not five minutes later, Clark tells Darkseid that he believes there’s still good in even the darkest soul.
David: But yeah, instead, Ollie just shoots all three of these guys and they explode into dust. I’m sorry, but when you explode into dust, you’re no longer in the “murder” category. I assumed Godfrey himself died when he got possessed. Ollie never got straight up possessed, just branded and controlled. I assume Desaad and Granny were people once, too.
Chris: If Granny’s been posessed, it’s been going on for at least 20 years, though. Godfrey was just some dude who didn’t think the Blur was a good hero. So basically, what I’m saying here is that if Ollie can justify shooting him, who’s to say WE’RE not next? I mean, I hate the friggin’ Blur.
David: We’re not going to explode into dust. I’m sorry, I’m with Ollie on this one.
Chris: You don’t know that. You don’t know how this show has changd us. But anyway, Lois sneaks onto Air Force One because security just flat-out sucks in the Smallville Universe, and she finds out that the government is attempting to nuke Apokolips, which will somehow kill two billion people on Earth.
David: Was it something about blowback? Because that doesn’t make any sense. If we nuked, like, the moon, I — I mean, I guess there’d be fallout in … in space? How would nuking the planet change anything, anyway? It’s not like that’d be enough to turn it around. It’s not like the Earth flew into the sun when we developed the first nuclear bomb.
Chris: I buy that nuking Apokolips would create problems, but not because of radioactive fallout. If they have a missile that’s powerful enough to literally blow up an entire planet that’s roughly the size of Saturn, which is also just sitting there in high orbit, fallout is going to be the least of your worries.
David: Were they planning on blowing it up, or just causing an explosion to make it turn in the other direction? I mean, if they blow it up, it’s not like the rock that made it up is going to disappear.
Chris: Who knows? And at this point, who cares? There is no conceivable scenario in which this is not a dumb plan. Which is actually good, because it’s the only possible way that taking Lois’s advice and waiting on the Blur to help out seems like a good idea.
David: Meanwhile, Clark’s busy fighting a Darkseid-possessed Lionel Luthor, getting punched, and then having a really interminable like four-minute video montage of the entire series projected by those dumb crystals.
Chris: Score one for me for predicting Darkseid posessing Lionel. Minus one point for me not predicting that Lionel would be a shambling zombie (who still has amazing hair) at the time.
David: With his heart ripped out! And Lex just gives Clark a speech about how he really wishes he could have been Superman instead and that Clark is a total wuss, thus allowing us to see Lex Luthor be completely, utterly correct about Clark one final time.
Chris: Lex eventually goes to the office where Tess shows up to talk to him, and he stabs her. Goodnight, Lutessa Lena Luthor. You died as you lived: in a dumb Inspector Gadget coat.
David: But not before she gives him an amnesia agent that will make him lose all of his memory, thus conveniently explaining why Lex doesn’t expose Clark as Superman as an adult in the way more interesting episodes to come that we’ll never get to see because the show was canceled. And by “canceled” I mean “came to its natural conclusion years later than it should have.”
Chris: Even crazier, she said that he won’t remember anything. So every piece of character development they ever did with Lex on this show? Gone. Worthless. No sir, officer. Never seen it before in my life.
David: The UTHOR even falls off of the company logo, and there’s a big X behind it, so it looks like LEXCORP conveniently.
Chris: Except without an E, because they couldn’t figure out how to make their bad idea really work, but went with it anyway. Smallville in a nutshell, folks. Seriously, though: Lex doesn’t even have any reason to not like Clark now. The only thing that made him a bad person was Lionel and Clark being to dick to him for his whole life. But now he has NO MEMORY OF ANYTHING. He should be a decent guy!
David: Or a drooling invalid.
Chris: They’ve seriously taken away any reason he had to be evil, and just end up making him evil anyway. Like, it would actually be better if we got a scene where he finds a letter to himself that’s just a picture of Clark that says “THIS GUY SUCKS” to explain it.
David: The thing is, if the show were to continue, I’m sure it’d claim that the drug didn’t take away… primal feelings or some crap like that. But this show went to pretty huge lengths to set everything up for the classic Superman status quo, except for Lois knowing who Superman is, which is something I’ll come back to later because it leads to an incredibly dumb plot point in the end.
Chris: And we have so many more dumb plots to get through first. For now, though, Air Force One is going down for unknown reasons with Lois aboard, so finally, FINALLY, Clark puts on his Superman costume, and his very first act as Superman is rescuing Lois Lane aboard the President’s jet. Which is a great idea, except for something that I’ll get to in a second.
David: Well, let’s not forget that Clark gets his Superman costume from his ghost dad for some reason.
Chris: From his ghost dad AND his techno-ghost dad.
David: Bo Duke, I mean, not Jorelectric.
Chris: So then, remember how I said this was the dumbest climactic action I’ve ever seen? Well, Superman goes out into space. And then Apokolips goes away. The End.
David: Presumably he pushed it? It would have been nice to, I dunno, SEE that. Also, how is he sure it isn’t going to just, I dunno, knock out Mars on the way out? And why do they continue to ignore the existence of the asteroid belt?
Chris: I assume he pushed it, yeah, but we don’t see anything. And even if he just gives it a shove, that’s a weakass resolution to this world-threatening problem. Even the simplest Silver Age story would’ve had more than that.
David: And then, for some reason, pushing it away breaks all the Omega brands, which were somehow acting as an anti-life equation to gravitationally pull Apokolips to Earth. Why don’t they just … keep pulling?
Chris: Then it cuts back to the exciting future-world of 2018, where Chloe finishes reading her son his copy of Smallville: The Comic, and then back to the Daily Planet, where — despite having a comic out that shows his childhood home and exactly what he looks like — Clark is maintaining his secret identity. And when I say maintaining his secret identity, I mean that he’s referring to his girlfriend, who he has been dating for ten years at this point, as “Miss Lane.” Which she totally gets off on.
David: And they are just now getting married. Why did they not just run back to the chapel?
Chris: Also! Lex Luthor has just been elected president (even though 2018 is not an election year), and JIMMY OLSEN IS AT THE DAILY PLANET, PLAYED BY THE GUY WHO PLAYED THE JIMMY OLSEN WHO DIED.
David: So all is as it theoretically should be, including Clark having a six-year career as Superman before finally going to marry Lois again, for absolutely no discernable reason.
Chris: I don’t… I can’t… I… Why… NOTHING ABOUT THIS MAKES SENSE.
David: “We’ve been waiting seven years to get married.” Why? WHY?!
Chris: Why does he call her “Miss Lane” around people? Everyone knows they’re dating! They had a wedding! Anyway. Someone rushes in with news of a crisis, and the John Williams score picks up as Clark runs up onto the roof of the Daily Planet, rips open his shirt to reveal his Superman logo, and we cut to credits. Smallville… is over.
David: Pandering and nonsensical to the very end.
Chris: The music got pretty good there at the finish.
David: Rosenbaum. Glover.
Chris: Definitely. Those guys both get some miserable dialogue and just elevate it so much. Glover’s scenery chewing is great, and so is Rosenbaum’s genuinely sinister attitude. They’re about the only thing that’s watchable in this mess.
David: Ripping out Lionel’s heart was pretty gnarly, and probably the best part of the episode.
Chris: The idea of Superman saving the plane was a nice nod to other stuff that wasn’t just a ridiculously pandering cliche, though in practice it wasn’t pulled off well.
David: You can tell they blew a lot of budget on the closing sequences where Superman actually flies. I wonder what the ratings were like.
Chris: What about the show as a whole? I know we’ve only really watched the last season, but we’ve done a pretty broad sampling. Have we seen anything that it does well? Is there anything to actually really like about it?
David: Smallville is a story you can find many other places, better executed, and without the excess fat. Smallville‘s like walking to work when you usually drive. Except it doesn’t get you exercise, and the music sucks. By this season, the show’s primary appeal was an opportunity to see these specific actors do scenes we’ve seen better in myriad other media.
Chris: So that’s a “no,” then.
David: On top of that, it’s an interpretation of Superman where the central character is so appallingly charmless and whiny that throughout the entire story, the antagonist constantly points out the hero’s character flaws in ways that are undeniably true. Up to the very end, almost everything Lex said in this show was right, certainly more so than the petulant whining or trite platitudes that vomited out of Tom Welling’s face.
Chris: Uh… We’re still on “high points,” Uzi.
David: It’s a story with the names of the characters, and some of the major scenes, but the underlying narrative simply isn’t the story of Superman. It’s about a guy with an asshole father who got stuck in a podunk town and casually betrayed by every friend he made, including a superhuman who professed to be his best friend but constantly doubted him behind his back and lied to him to his face. When the show embraced that and stopped pretending it was about Superman, that was when the show was it its best. The themes it trades in aren’t the themes of the Superman myth. It’s about secrets and betrayals and f*** you dad. When the show lost its protagonist, Lex, then it became an empty shell that traded on rote pandering towards fans of scenes and characters we all recognize from other media.
Chris: I’d agree with all that, but if I was hard pressed to find something actually good about the show, I’d have to say that it does a decent job with Lois. Not the best job, and not even the best on TV — she’s not as smart, sassy or well-acted as Dana DeLaney on Superman: The Animated Series, but that’s like comparing the Mona Lisa to fingerpaints.
Chris: But she is prominent and capable, and if nothing else, the show makes her a necessary ingredient for Superman. It’s her presence that more or less forces him to (Super)man up and be a hero, and while there are a whole lot of missteps along the way, she’s still recognizable as Lois Lane in a way that “The Blur” isn’t recognizable at all as Superman. Aside from John Glover’s hair, I’ve enjoyed watching Lois on this show more than anything else. For reasons other than Erica Durance being really, really attractive, I mean.
David: I can buy that. I think she probably replaced Lex’s role in the show as the viewer identification character. When the focus shifted from Lex to Lois, it went from a tragedy to a romance.
Chris: Okay, you pretty much got your grievances in above, but there was one thing about this episode — and by extension, the entire show — that actually really bothered me.
David: Hit me.
Chris: Tom Welling never wears the suit.
Chris: We see close ups of his face, we see long shots of a ridiculous CGI body and a cape, and we see him open up his shirt at the end. But we never. Once. See a shot of Tom Welling in the suit.
David: No tights, no flights! Unless they’re CGI.
Chris: Look. I don’t like this show. I don’t like Tom Welling as Clark Kent, although I accept that it’s not entirely his fault. But the guy has played Clark Kent for TEN YEARS, for more hours than any other person, ever. He deserves that shot, you know?
David: I’d like to think he wore it during the entire wrap party.
Chris: On one level, it’s entirely appropriate that after ten years of blueballing viewers with that costume, we never actually see it on him, though. Which leads me to my Series Low Point, unless you want to go first.
David: No, go for it. I think I got a lot of it out earlier.
Chris: This is supposed to be Superman’s origin story, but it’s not. I’m sure that’s what they meant it to be at one time, but as the show dragged on, it changed along the way. It became a show about Superman, but because the very conceit of the show was that it was Superman’s origin story, they could never actually pull the trigger on anything. So it hits a point where absolutely nothing about it make sense. Clark Kent forms the Justice League, he fights Doomsday, he works at the Daily Planet, he marries Lois Lane, but he never becomes Superman, so the show has to go through these crazy acrobatics to explain how all this is happening. And then it becomes a matter of how much Superman stuff they can cram in, because they realize that’s what everyone wants to see, but the one thing that would make it all make some semblance of sense, they can’t, or don’t do.
David: And every time he meets any of these people, they always have to end it in a way where it can happen again a few years later with Clark wearing a costume. Like, Doomsday’s buried underground, and he can kill Clark later.
Chris: Exactly! So there’s this entire sense of futility and dishonesty to everything about it.
David: It’s all just an overture. It’s all going to happen over again, in a cooler way, that we won’t get to see. I mean, theoretically, we already saw it in a comic.
Chris: If “Smallville” would’ve ended five years ago and then picked up in the fall as “Superman,” they could’ve actually done some interesting stuff. Not necessarily good, but at least they wouldn’t have to tiptoe around every single thing, and they could actually have a Superman who acted like Superman. Because here’s the thing: By its very nature, this show forces a version of Superman that HAS to be passive. He can never be Superman, so he always has to act with something shackling him and holding him back from heroics. So he hems and haws and mopes and wears his dumb jackets, and we never see Clark evolve, while EVERY OTHER PERSON ON THE SHOW is allowed to pass him.
David: It’s also a very… shut-in Superman, in the sense that he didn’t go through the travelling the world journey at all. Like, has he ever even left Kansas?
Chris: This is a Superman show where Green Arrow is more of a character, because Superman himself is forced to be static. And it’s obvious that everyone involved has realized this. That’s why they’ve introduced Green Arrow, and the JSA, and all those other guys, because the only alternative is a show about Clark Kent not being Superman, and who in the hell wants to watch that? And that leads to another problem I have with this episode in particular, albeit a minor one: I really hate the idea that Superman only becomes Superman when he has to. Superman shouldn’t become Superman because some grand cosmic evil forces him to. He should become Superman because it’s the right thing to do with his powers. When that grand evil comes, he should already be there ready to stand up for it, not forced to do so. That’s not what he’s about. Or at least, that’s my take on how he works, but I think it’s more of a valid one than Clark Kent standing around waiting for something to happen.
David: He was also kept grounded by Jor-El, forcibly it seemed, which makes no sense. Why does Jor-El have control over Clark’s powers? How come he didn’t have crystal ghost dad recaps when he got POWERED UP!! with heat vision or x-ray vision or whatever?
Chris: It’s almost literal deus ex machina designed to prevent the show from evolving. Jor-Ex Machina But it’s like you said: In the end, we get through all of this, and the show flat-out tells us that SEVEN YEARS WORTH OF COOL STUFF happened that made the previous 10 irrelevant. F*** you for watching, Smallville fans!
David: At least Wonder Woman would have given us someone in a Wonder Woman costume going around hitting people.
Chris: One of the things I genuinely liked about that Wonder Woman script when I read it was that it skipped over the origin stuff entirely. Meanwhile, Smallville‘s been an origin story for ten years.
Chris: It’s over. But at what cost?
David: Would I watch it again? No. Would I do this again, knowing how bad it was going to get? Well… probably, yeah.
Chris: You realize that for thousands, maybe millions of people, this is Superman. Thoughts on that?
David: I honestly don’t think it is, even for those people. I don’t think anyone actually considers this a real Superman origin story.
Chris: More people watch this show and saw Superman Returns than have read any Superman comic since 1994, buddy.
David: Still less than the number of people who saw the Christopher Reeve movies, dude. Or grew up with the animated series. I don’t think Smallville‘s gonna do any real damage. It’s just dumb.
Chris: Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s going to hurt the idea of Superman or anything. If nothing else, Nick Spencer’s use of Chloe Sullivan in the Jimmy Olsen comic has shown that you can do like Outkast said and make a fat diamond out of dusty coal.. But I do think it’s weird that for a decade, this is what’s been sold to the public at large as the World’s Greatest Super-Hero.
David: Honestly, I just don’t think the public at large even remembers the show’s on. That’s the response I’ve gotten from most people.
Chris: The public at large also doesn’t know they still print comic books.
Chris: And with that, we bring Smallvillains to a close.
David: Much like Lex Luthor, although we called ourselves villains, I think it’s clear we’re the real heroes.
Chris: I chose that name because I figured we’d be both petty and oppositional, and that’s certainly turned out to be the case. I wish I could say it’s been a pleasure, but we both know I’d be lying.
David: I’d say see you in the fall for Wonder Woman, but that seems to be dead. So next week… well… we’ll let you know when we’ve figured it out. Or maybe we’ll just surprise you.
Chris: Goodnight, Tom. Goodnight, Erica. Goodnight, John Glover’s amazing hair.