ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 10.11: Icarus
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: Here it is, folks: Icarus, the last Smallville of 2010, and except for one massive, glaring, amazingly terrible exception, I really think we're ending the year on a high note.
David: Oh, God, this episode was great in a completely ridiculous way. It just brought all the dumb crap from this year together under one gigantic dumb crap umbrella.
Chris: Is that... Did you mean that as a compliment?
David: I mean dumb crap in the most loving way.
Chris: I don't think anything else we've said quite sums up our relationship with Smallville better than that.
David: Smallville: It Knows What It Is, And It Loves It. This episode is by Genevieve Sparling, who did the Isis episode, and it's completely over-the-top and borderline nonsensical, but it throws it all at you so fast that it's got its own unmistakable charm.
Chris: It really does.
David: Here's the plot, and by "plot," we mean that is the closest euphemism to what this story calls its narrative structure.
Chris: This episode has quite a few big moments in it, but I think the most important is the one that we get in the cold open before the credits: Clark proposes to Lois, in what is -- and I mean this genuinely -- the best version of that proposal that we've ever seen in any medium.
David: The fact that he plans it all out, and she goes so far to screw it up, and his response basically being "man, yeah, this is annoying, but I'd be lying if I didn't say this was why I loved her." It was pretty true to the characters. Because, I mean, the fact that she ruins everyone's plans and expectations IS exactly why Clark is so totally in love with her. That and because he saw she was ride or die in the future.
Chris: It would have a little more impact if Smallville Clark didn't ONLY speak in speeches, but yes, that's it exactly. This is the one time Clark gets to use his super-powers for his own gain, and he decides to literally shower Lois in rose petals and tell her he loves her. It's a great moment. And also the least insane thing we're about to see.
David: It is also, literally, the first time in this whole show we've seen him think on his feet.
Chris: When I was watching this Friday night, I thought it was crazy that they'd do the proposal at the top of the show, because that's a pretty big moment. Then I realized that they were just clearing the way for things to get completely nuts. First we get the engagement party, which features Stargirl, Hawkman and Clark asking Green Arrow to be his best man, which is something that would only happen on Smallville.
David: You mean, something that would only happen in a world where they have a corporate mandate not to use Bruce Wayne.
Chris: Exactly. Hey, who was Clark's best man when they got married in the comics? Pete Ross?
Chris: That you know of.
David: God knows he would have been way more interesting if he did.
Chris: Oh wait, it was Jimmy Olsen.
David: Okay, Jimmy makes sense, and would make sense here if he hadn't been killed by Doomsday.
Chris: Smallville, everybody! Anyway, the engagement party gives everyone a nice excuse to be in one place at the same time, which is handy, because the Vigilante Registration Act has gone into effect, and General Slade (last seen getting his hilarious metal eyepatch in Episode 10.9: Patriot) has basically sent the Gestapo to round everybody up and interrogate them.
Chris: Seriously, these guys could not be more obvious references to the Nazis.
David: Darkseid's minions in the original comics could not be more obvious references to the Nazis.
Chris: The only thing that makes it better is when Hawkman tells Clark that Darkseid was responsible for creating the ACTUAL Nazis. Which is totally a comic book I want to read.
David: Oh my God! I totally forgot about that part, and the Spanish Inquisition! What was the light of hope that beat the Nazis back, anyway, theoretically? Was it the Justice Society, in this world? Or was it just America?
Chris: Considering that the Justice Society was around in, like, the 80s (according to last season's "Absolute Justice"), I think it's pretty much the U.S. of A. Which makes me think of Franklin Roosevelt in a Kirby-styled Astro-Harness wheelchair, which, again, is a comic I would read the hell out of. Make a note, DC.
David: No, man. In this universe... Kirby himself fought in an Astro-Harness.
Chris: The fact that we don't actually get to see that on the show is a testament to the fact that we're not living in the best of all possible worlds.
David: In all seriousness, is there a more interesting comic creator in history than that dude? I mean, joking aside, for a quick sideline, the dude drew Captain America punching Hitler in the face, felt unfulfilled doing it artistically, drew all his comics for his war service in advance, and then went off to go kill a bunch of Nazis. I'm sure this is no new opinion, but Jack Kirby is totally awesome.
Chris: Yes. Yes he was.
David: And somehow, somewhere, I'd like to think that he's smiling that his work has lived on to the point of even inspiring network dramas in 2010.
Chris: Ollie stops a mugging, but everyone thinks that he's just beating up a random guy, and anti-vigilante sentiment comes to a head when a group of Metropolitans surround him, Stargirl and Hawkman and literally try to stone them, in what is unquestionably the least subtle symbolism we're going to see in this episode. And that's saying something.
David: At this rate, I expect Libra to be reciting from the Crime Bible within five episodes while a bunch of people worship a bleeding rock.
Chris: No kidding. So Slade's literal jackbooted thugs round up Lois, Tess and Emil Hamilton and start trying to get them to betray the super-heroes, which only sort of makes sense. I mean, the woman in charge of the interrogations gives some lame excuse about public opinion, but Slade knows Clark is the Blur, so why doesn't he just go on TV and expose his identity? If he's got public support, it's not like they're going to question a military hero when he calls out some liberal journalist for being a super-terrorist, right?
David: No, totally, and the thing is that the public is whipped into such a frenzy at this juncture that they'll accept anything, so why don't they just publicize it? If mob rule is mob rule...
Chris: The only way it really makes sense is if Darkseid just wants to get Clark's closest allies to turn on him, which, to be fair, is totally in keeping with how Darkseid rolls.
David: But that's assuming Darkseid is consciously controlling Deathstroke, as opposed to just influencing him towards fear. How subtle is Darkseid's control here? We still haven't seen that.
Chris: Uzi, he's got an Omega symbol carved into his skull. I think "subtle" went out the window at least three weeks ago.
David: Okay, by subtle, I mean does he just make Deathstroke think he's making his own decisions, or does he just control him like a puppet-master, or does he just hammer him with an emotion
Chris: Well, as we'll see later, he's given Deathstroke a healing factor, katana skills and the worst dialogue we've seen on the show so far, so I think he's pretty much in full-on servant of Darkseid mode.
David: I might have totally missed the healing factor.
Chris: It happens in a scene that's really poorly lit, so I don't blame you.
David: Honestly, Michael Hogan isn't anywhere near drunk enough on this show. I was really hoping for Drunkstroke.
Chris: Clark, Ollie and Hawkman all end up breaking into the same government office to get information, which is actually a pretty great use of comedy in the episode, and Lois escapes her interrogation and basically berates Cat Grant into aiding and abetting, which sets up her encounter with Slade, in which he threatens to shoot her and she's rescued by...
David: My favorite part of the episode comes with Slade and Hawkman, actually, when Slade is like "Look, when I named this project Icarus, I never expected an actual dude with flaming wings falling from the sky. This is totally awesome. I love life."
Chris: Yeah, that's something I was really disappointed with. There's this completely insane fight with Hawkman, in which Slade tries to shoot him, only to have Hawkman block his bullets with bracelets because hell, if Green Arrow can be Batman, why can't Hawkman be Wonder Woman? Then, he pulls out a katana OUT OF NOWHERE.
David: You mean, he pulls out a katana because Deathstroke in comics uses swords. Honestly, since when did four-star generals rock swords?
Chris: Since Friday night. Slade ends up stabbing Hawkman with his sword, but then for some reason the entire room explodes, and the explosion knocks Lois out the window. Now, if you're like me, you're thinking this is where Superman will come in and save her, because saving Lois from falling out of buildings is basically Superman's entire deal. Instead, she gets saved by Hawkman, who is on fire. Which is actually pretty metal.
Chris: Meanwhile, Clark just shows up on the ground and looks up like a yokel.
David: Well, this at least solves the problem of Hawkman seeming fifty times cooler than Superman since he can actually fly. Honestly, at this point, Superman should have just taken the Nth metal. I mean, at least then he could ACTUALLY FLY, YOU KNOW, LIKE SUPERMAN.
Chris: Yep. And all this leads up to Hawkman dying. And we know he's dead, because the glowing red light in his chest logo goes out, which is absolutely friggin' hilarious.
David: Oh man! I totally forgot about that, but yeah, that is totally hilarious -- like he's a Thanagarian robot. Did they ever introduce the Thanagarian angle in this? I never watched Absolute Justice.
Chris: Not that I recall. I do really like that Hawkman's like "Yeah, I've died before. It's not really a big deal, I'll be back." It's almost like he reads DC Comics.
David: I wonder if he comes back immediately or not. I kept expecting this episode to end in a birth.
Chris: Instead, we get Hawkman's funeral, which I guess happens in Egypt? They have a big procession with everyone in uniform, including Clark, Ollie, Black Canary and some extras pretending to be Aquaman and the Flash, and they put him in a sarcophagus net to Hawkgirl, which we can tell because I guess they took her helmet out of the case they had it in during Absolute Justice and put it here so we'd know. And again, it's hilarious: You've got Clark and Ollie in their goofy-ass leather jackets, and then there's Black Canary in fishnets and her goofy football facepaint and Stargirl looking like she just walked out of the comics.
Chris: And then an obelisk comes out of the ground and everyone gets knocked out. The End.
Chris: It's seriously like the aftermath of the Daily Planet's key party.
David: Bahahahah! The obelisk was completely nonsensical, and I assume was the Absorbascon, which will give them all a trippy psychedelic journey in January. Or so I pray. I'm hoping for a live-action episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, or Batman #673. I will probably not get what I want.
David: Lois supportively grabbing Clark his Thriller Jacket, like it's an actual Superman costume. That thing is so damn dumb.
David: I mean, it was FUNNY, but not I guess a real dramatic high point. But I enjoyed it.
Chris: Ha, I noticed that too! They're clearly going for that sort of iconic Super-Hero Wife type image where she hands him his costume, but because it's Smallville, it has to be that jacket. Hilarious.
David: As I previously mentioned, I adored Deathstroke's line about how literal the Project Icarus name became -- that was a great gag, and it was good to see him being that self-aware, esp since that was his only decent line in the series.
Chris: Like I said, Clark's proposal to Lois was really fantastic. Very memorable, very cool, very much in keeping with both what's likable about them on Smallville and what's likeable about them as a couple across other media. Also, the scene where Clark's snooping around in the government office, only to have Hawkman break in, only to have Ollie just cold enter through the door and start rattling off punchlines like a handsome, super-hero Kramer.
Chris: The show's at its best when it acknowledges how goofy it is and goes one step further, and that's a great example of it.
David: Yeah, agreed completely on all of those points.
David: Most of the engagement party was horribly scripted, and painful to get through.
Chris: As I've mentioned before, this episode had what might be the worst thing we have ever seen on the show. I thought Tess carving the lyrics to the theme song into her dresser was bad, but Deathstroke's dialogue...
David: Like, every OTHER line from Deathstroke.
Chris: Clark asks him how he's still alive, and he says "Let's just say that the Grim Reaper can swing his sickle... but I'm beyond DEATH'S STROKE now."
Chris: That is f---ing terrible.
David: The thing is, the way they've presented him, I can't imagine a way for him to wear the outfit. Or to take the name, you know? A former general? Like, the mercenary in a costumed world thing, that makes sense. So they had to have some corny line of dialogue, but ... that was really terrible.
Chris: I was resigned to hearing the word "Deathstroke." That was a foregone conclusion from the moment they introduced the character. But that line... I mean, it had to be the worst possible way to shoehorn it in there. Couldn't they have just said that Project Icarus was going to be the deathstroke for the vigilantes? I mean really.
David: Shoehorn being the active word, there -- like -- yeah, exactly! Or even "Are you afraid I'll deliver the DEATH STROKE" or something like that.
Chris: The only thing that could've saved is if Clark had stopped in mid punch and gone "Wait, what did you just say?" and Slade used the confusion to escape.
David: Hahahaaha! In the Smallville Universe, Deathstroke's greatest weapon is WTF statements.
Chris: That giant hunk of metal on his eye is there to confuse the enemy.
Chris: I am seriously amazed at the lengths this show goes to to make characters actually sillier than their comic book counterparts.
David: I hadn't even thought of it, but that's totally accurate. The metal thing IS more ridiculous than Comic-Slade's outfit.
Chris: Yeah. It's even goofier than Slade when he was on the Teen Titans cartoon!
David: I love how in the prime-time network television and kids' versions, they can't call him Deathstroke for totally different ridiculous reasons.
Chris: But again, I can forgive goofiness. Heck, I love goofiness. But outright horrible dialogue? That damn near wrecked the whole show for me, and I actually liked this episode.
David: Well, we can blame Ms. Sparling for that, who drove me nuts with Isis too. The thing is, this episode is my kind of crazy to the point where I can forgive it.
Chris: And it's good to end the year on a high note, too, because this is the last new episode we're getting until January 28.
David: But that was really it for me, honestly. I enjoyed it. Dialogue aside, it was the kind of dumb fun I want from this show. NOWHERE near as good as last week, and I wish Lionel had shown up this ep, but here we are. Let's bring on the second half, with more Bryan Q. Miller and the upcoming Geoff Johns Booster & Beetle episode.
Chris: Deathstroke Dialogue aside, I actually preferred it to last week's. As good as that one was, it only had one character chewing scenery, this one had everybody doing it.
David: Well, it just plain had more characters. Including another Low Point, the totally personalityless Black Canary.
Chris: Yeah! I can't believe this, but I'm actually looking forward to it. And in the meantime, you and I are going to be going back to check out episodes from previous seasons to see just how we got to this lowly state. So if you, our readers, have any suggestions, now's the time to let us have 'em!
David: Please do! We have no idea what we're doing next at this point. Maybe something like the pilot, or the previous Johns episodes, or the Flash, or other DCU all-stars. Let us know! (I keep pushing for the pilot, Chris really doesn't care)
Chris: Fine, fine. We'll do the pilot. But if I flip out and start breaking things as soon as Lana asks if he's "man or superman," that's on you, buddy.
David: This is gonna be awesome.