ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 10.13: Beacon
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: Ah, Valentine's Day. A time to be with the one you love. Or, if you're me, a time for being with David Uzumeri and this week's episode of Smallville, and if I wasn't already mad at this show for last week's abysmal mess, that realization would've done it.
David: I dunno, Chris. This is probably a lot like Valentine's Day for a lot of people -- a loveless reminder of a failed ten-year effort that you can't let go of purely due to momentum, even though you know you'd be better off without it.
Chris: So does that mean you're ready to take on "Beacon?"
David: We're never truly, truly ready for Smallville, Chris. That's like asking if the Maginot Line is ready. Those planes are always gonna fly over our head, and bombard us with unforeseen levels of insanity. Honestly, though, this was still an absolute quantum leap above "Collateral," which still makes it the worst show I've seen this week, and I watch an absolutely huge amount of television.
David: Before we move on with this week's recap, I think we need to take a second to appreciate the fact that the finale of this show is now a little bit better than it would have been. I don't know if you're aware of this, Chris, since you were away all weekend, but: Rosenbaum. Is. Coming. Back.
Chris: I saw that. I'm not exactly looking forward to it, since at this point it's impossible for me to look forward to anything related to Smallville, even next week's promise of Lois in a Showgirl outfit, but.... I guess I'm anticipating hating it less?
David: We kick off with Lois showing up at the Planet, since one of her pro-vigilante articles got chopped and screwed into a totally different thesis statement. She goes all fire and brimstone on Lutessa, who's all "what? I didn't do none of this!" Then Lutessa walks into her own office to find Lionel Luthor, who has, somehow, managed to, OFF CAMERA, reinstate himself as head of LuthorCorp, even though the other Lionel Luthor's body is I'm pretty sure a known quantity, and he's a Lionel Luthor from an alternate universe.
David: Lionel also says he wants to "provide for his family," including Lex, which basically makes no sense. We also get to see some pictures of Li'l Lex's rapid aging, including his transformation from an adorable little blond-haired boy into a dirty, disreputable ginger.
Chris: Okay, look: the last thing I want to do is start nitpicking the reality of Smallville, but seriously: A dude who has been dead for four years suddenly comes back and is immediately just handed the keys of all the stuff he used to own? Nobody thinks "hey, maybe we shouldn't let the guy who is talking loudly about how he faked his own death run the company?"
David: Look, I'm willing to waive that for the purposes of getting the best thing about the show back into it, namely: That. Hair.
Chris: Yeah, but really, it's the absolute laziness of this show that's getting to me. I'm all for boring parts happening off-camera, but when "Oh, I faked my death" is what you consider to be a believable cover story for what's actually going on, I'd like maybe a tiny explanation of how it went down.
David: Let's be fair here: Lex Luthor has used that as a legitimate excuse in the comics at least two or three times. But yes, at least a single scene of some BS law would have made me feel better, absolutely.
Chris: Can we at least agree that the writing in this episode is uniformly atrocious? Nothing anyone is going to say over the course of the next 45 minutes sounds even remotely like it wasn't written down and rehearsed. You were keeping a running tally of awful dialogue in this episode, right?
David: This show watches like fanfiction. And that's absolutely a criticism that, under most circumstances, I despise levying. It's a cheap criticism. But there's no other excuse for:
"I need to reach more people, but all of my JOURNALISTIC JUMPSHOTS end up blocked!"
"Clark, you were so focused on flying under the radar you forgot about the skyline!"
"None of us is born to hate -- we're taught to!"
"Mom, are you saying I should become that hero and step into the light?" "Clark, you ARE the light."
Chris: Don't forget:
"You've been taking a spin class -- and not at the gym!"
"What's with all the Woodward and Bernstein?"
"More like Perry and White!"
"That explains the smell of Old Spice and young ambition!"
David: The thing is, it reminds me a lot of a shifted version of Bryan Q. Miller's really overcute dialogue, just without that touch of verisimilitude. Whedon Gone Wild.
Chris: I have to wonder: Was the same person who approved the script the one that also okayed Tess's Inspector Gadget cosplay?
David: That makes a disturbing amount of sense, especially since Chloe is pretty much Penny plus fifteen years. So basically, after this gigantic conversation we've had about how bad this is and the awful conversation Lutessa and Lionel have, we cut to Ollie, Chloe and the world's ugliest laptop computer.
David: She's trying to prevent him from going out so he doesn't get arrested by the SHIELD capebusters, but he keeps wanting to superhero because he's basically addicted to it, like Robert Palmer to love.
Chris: I really like the idea that as soon as he gets back together with Chloe and listens to her talk for five minutes, he immediately decides he needs to go out and put himself in front of a mugger's knife.
David: Nobody in the world would begrudge him sitting things out until they settled, but he just can't stop fighting crime. It's almost like another superhero in the DC Universe we know and adore with starry eyes.
Chris: Also, in what might be my favorite part of the episode, he tells Chloe that nobody recognized him because he wore a green hoodie. David, real quick, refresh my memory here: What does Smallville Green Arrow's actual costume consist of?
David: Look, it's a SUPER-RESILIENT, kevlar hoodie, OK? With no sleeves!
Chris: True, but still. If people are looking for you in a green hoodie, maybe wear, I don't know, a blue Luchador mask. We've all got one of those laying around, right? I know I do.
Chris: Once again, we have figured out a way to effortlessly improve this pile of nonsense.
David: Meanwhile, after they bitch at each other for a bit with stilted dialogue that no human being would ever say unless being paid CW Network money to do so, Chloe can't stop looking at her computer, which is absolutely the single ugliest computer I've ever seen in my life.
Chris: You totally hit the computer already. Granted, it is hideous..
David: No, it's more for emphasis, I'm not sleepy at all. I seriously can't get over it. Either way, that segues into the next scene, which is... Honestly, watching it, I kind of questioned the taste of airing this episode after what happened in Arizona last month. Basically, Senator Martha Kent (not Representative - she moved up REAL quick) gets shot at a pro-hero rally.
Chris: You know, I honestly didn't make that connection while I was watching it, but once you mentioned it... Yeah.
David: It's kind of creepy. I mean, this episode must have been written before then, so I'm willing to assume it's just an unfortunate coincidence, but in a show made closer to the airdate I'd be more skeptical.
Chris: I think one of the reasons I didn't make the connection was that I was too busy watching a show about Superman where Clark Kent stands there watching his mom get shot on TV. The Blur, everybody: Noticeably Slower Than a Speeding Bullet™.
David: What's amazing about that is that even Lex Luthor assumes Clark doesn't suck that much. I'm jumping ahead a bit, but I just want to touch on this: I think Lex Luthor's overall plan here is actually kind of clever. It's a good idea. Shooting someone Clark loves with Kryptonite bullets so that when he throws himself in front of them he gets messed up, that's a solid Superman-busting plan. I dig that.
Chris: Except that Alexander, having never watched Smallville before, doesn't realize that this would require Clark to actually, you know, DO SOMETHING, thus dooming his plan to failure before it even starts.
David: I'm still not sure how to think of Alexander, honestly. Is he supposed to be more like the Earth-3 Alexander Luthor, or will he actually turn into the character Rosenbaum will play in the last episode? In any case, Martha's fine, since she was wearing a bulletproof vest (!!!!!), and was only grazed in the shoulder, which provides her a chance to give Lois her blessing to be Clark's first wife since he's going to live forever. It'll also lead to Infinite Crisis, and nobody wants that.
Chris: At this point, I don't care if we ever get to the point where Lex Luthor acts like Lex Luthor ; I just want Superman to act like Superman. I mean, broken record time, but in this episode, Ollie's busting up bank robberies in disguise, Lois is out going door-to-door to drum up support for repealing the VRA, and even Martha Kent -- MA FRIGGIN' KENT! -- is giving speeches! Clark is doing NOTHING.
David: Man, Clark doing nothing only gets more amazing later on. Let's not forget about Martha Kent inspiring Lois Lane to "go guerilla" via the example of Perry White, where she gets Chloe to basically redirect the DNS requests of every major news outlet (sidenote: They are total dicks for doing this) for what we'll later see is the single lamest video sharing implementation in the history of time.
Chris: Guys, I love YouTube as much as anyone else who wants to be able to see the video for King Kobra's "Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)" and episodes of My Little Pony whenever the hell he wants, but if it had the power it displays in this episode, Snakes On A Plane would've been the highest grossing movie of all time.
David: But this doesn't happen before Lionel goes looking for Alexander, finds him, gets him fitted for a tux, and swears he won't give up on him for Clark like he did before. And then Oliver shows up and finds them and -- Look, okay, I can kind of buy that people would accept that Lionel faked his death. But how does Lionel explain "Hey, yo, my son is back, he's just younger and has hair"?
Chris: I think a recurring theme for Smallvillains has been that we love the hell out of John Glover and his hair. That's a fair assessment, right?
David: I dunno, man. I mean -- I -- wait, what? I'm sorry, I was looking at John Glover's hair. Where are we? Who are you?
Chris: Right. If nothing else -- with the exception of the Lois Lane Fetish Closet -- that is something that I want to see more of on this show. But I have literally no idea what the hell Lionel is doing or what his plan is.
David: I love how when Lionel goes to find Lex, he seems genuinely shocked that Lex shot Martha. I mean, I assume this is due to the well-established fact that Lionel thinks Martha Kent is hot as hell.
Chris: Alexander asks Lionel to help him kill Clark Kent and Lionel's all about that, but... why? Wouldn't Lionel try to use Clark for his own ends, since that's exactly what he did back in his world? What does he get out of any of this, aside from pissing off a guy that can shoot you in the face with an arrow from half a mile away and a dude who can shoot fireballs out of his eyes? THIS IS A BAD PLAN.
David: Look, he chose Clark over Lex on TWO worlds! Now he has a new chance to bet on the losing team! Like, why is this alternate-universe Lionel suddenly all weepy about another Lionel's family? It makes no sense. I mean, as you said, his plan is utterly inscrutable. Unless Lionel knows about the last-second twist regarding Lex.
Chris: Lionel would have to be brilliant to see something that dumb coming.
David: Maybe Lionel used the mirror box to go to other worlds, and has read Superman comics, and knows how this is going to end up, so he gave Lex powers to prepare him for his lifelong enmity, and once again we're being better than the show.
Chris: Also, where did Alexander get his Kryptonite bullets? This is Smallville, so we can assume he just went outside and looked around until he spotted a chunk of -- sigh -- "meteor rock," but how did he actually make them? Was Rosenbaum's Lex really awesome at improvised metallurgy? Was there an episode called "FORGE" that we missed along the way?
David: In any case, after agreeing to aid Lex in killing the hell out of Clark for totally nonsensical reasons, Lionel preens in front of Ollie and gets into a fight with Martha and Li'l Lex back at the Luthor Fake Castle (over Clark, of course), leading to Lex smashing liquor bottles everywhere and setting the place on fire, because he's a little bitch.
Chris: And again, Li'l Lex's motivations here make no sense, but at least he has the excuse of being a complete headcase.
David: Lex then goes after Clark and Tess, and says he wasn't taught to hate, which contradicts everything else in this episode about how hate is taught, as well as basically every other season of the show, where Lex was given a graduate level seminar in reasons to hate a dude b how awfully Clark treated him.
Chris: Oh man, you skipped the part where Clark tells everybody not to do anything about the interdimensional murderer and the guy who shot his mom while he runs up to the North Pole to ask Jor-El what he should do. Which he doesn't even accomplish, because he has to come back to stop Tess from zapping them into the Phantom Zone for absolutely no reason. It's like someone in the special effects department used their signal watch to tell Clark they didn't have the budget for a Phantom Zone sequence this week.
David: How would that have even gone over?! "NOTABLE BUSINESSMAN RETURNS FROM FAKE DEATH WITH MYSTERIOUSLY DE-AGED SON; MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEARS AGAIN INTO EXTRADIMENSIONAL PRISON!"
Chris: When you put it that way... it still sounds less stupid than what actually happens.
David: But yeah, I had totally forgotten about the Phantom Zone plot. Which says a lot about why it existed, which was to fill time and answer "why doesn't Clark just send these crazy people to the Phantom Zone?" Clark tries to convince Lex he doesn't have to turn out to be a dick since he has Tess to keep him company, but then he tells Clark to blow himself and that he set Clark's mom and his own dad on fire because, well, he's Lex Luthor.
David: He's just a total sociopath at this point; he in no way resembles the character we used to watch in those early seasons. He isn't even the Lex of the comics, who deludes himself into thinking that he's mankind's true savior and Clark's in his way. He just really hates Superman for no reason.
Chris: I will say this for Smallville: It's probably the most true to the character thing that even after Alexander pistolwhips Martha Kent...
Chris: ...Clark still tells him that he doesn't have to be a bad guy. And it's pretty true to Smallville as well, since this happens while Tom Welling is stretched out on the floor because everybody and their interdimensional de-aged superclone has a handful of green K.
Chris: Yes! And even then, he just totally drags Lionel out of the mansion at super-speed and chucks skips him across the ground like a pebble. I'm not saying dude doesn't deserve it, but from Superman? Dick move.
David: It'd be fair if he'd rushed in and grabbed him at the same time. Like it'd be funny if he went in and got them both at once, and gently put down his mom, and then just threw Lionel down the stairs because Lionel's an asshole. I mean, that'd be a fair Superman move, it's not like the guy is without desire to see douchebags pay for being douchebags.
Chris: Exactly. But we haven't even gotten to the worst Superman mischaracterization of the episode. Do go on.
David: After all this, Clark's still worried about the VRA passing, at which point it's revealed that the favor Lois asked of Chloe was to I guess redirect every major news site to a place where people can post their webcam videos giving Superman mystifying praise, including complimenting "his character," something I can't imagine people even know about since Clark is such a terrible superhero.
Chris: And they are hilariously awful. I thought my favorite was going to be the guy who said that he always knows the Blur is out there watching out for him whenever he sees that S -- because in Smallville, the S stands for "Blur" -- but then there was the one where the soldier talked about Clark was the real hero.
Chris: Congratulations, Smallville: You have hit a new low.
David: Almost as awful was the one with the black dude talking about how if the Blur can turn his differences into strengths, maybe he can. What the hell? How does he even know that the Blur is a dude who feels different? How do people know the Blur isn't, like, a robot that goes around? Or, I dunno, five or six dudes who like the S-symbol? Clark's putting up the urban myth better than Batman ever did, simply by being a complete wuss.
Chris: It's like they came up with the idea of Superman needing to watch YouTube videos about himself in order to feel like he should go be a hero, and then had a meeting where they brainstormed to figure out how to make that idea EVEN WORSE.
David: I would have loved this show forever if Asher Roth had just come on and gone "SWEET MATRIX COAT, BRO!" Like, what about the entries that were just five stoners in a dorm room going "dude, you are like, SO cool -- yo, don't bogart that, pass the joint!" It should have been like actual YouTube.
Chris: But again, I still didn't think that was the worst characterization of Superman in the episode. When Alexander's holding them at gunpoint and Clark is trying to talk him down -- which, knowing what we know about Smallville Clark, feels in retrospect like he's just trying to save his own ass from being shot -- he tells Alexander that he doesn't have to be as bad as Lex was because he has something Lex doesn't: Tess. Family who loves him. Someone that can show him how to do the right thing, just like the Kents did with him. So please, David Uzumeri, tell the people how this piece of crap ends.
David: After the VRA is repealed due to the power of viral Internet video, Tess tries to kill Lex (who's apparently also getting amnesia, which will allow him to conveniently forget Clark is Superman later to provide the standard Superman status quo) with...
David: Okay, who in the hell injects someone with cyanide??? I mean, aren't there other, way more elegant ways of administering that? Wouldn't you maybe, I dunno, spike Lex's tea? You could give him a pill and tell him it's for his aging and it's cyanide? Like, anything other than randomly stabbing him literally in the back with a syringe.
Chris: WHILE HUGGING HIM AND TELLING HIM EVERYTHING'S GOING TO BE OKAY.
David: If nothing else, Tess could take lessons from Lionel on how to kill someone with a remote degree of subtlety.
Chris: Clark Kent, everybody. The absolute worst judge of character in the entire world. "You don't need to be evil, Alexander! Now go live with this woman who wants to murder you with poison." I want to see Clark travel through time using this strategy throughout history: "Don't worry, Anne Frank! I'm sure those soldiers are here to help!"
David: How would Tess even plan on explaining this to the crew?
Chris: We'll never find out, because THE NEEDLE BENDS.
David: That's right, guys, Lex survives because he apparently has Clark's powers. Either that, or he was experimented on by someone in a prison, and now has unbreakable skin and wants his money back from Doctor Doom.
Chris: I literally groaned out loud when this twist was revealed, because it means they're not done with this awful, awful plot yet.
David: The entire Clone Lex thing? I mean, obviously he's not gone, since he has to turn out to be Rosenbaum in the final episode, something we now thankfully know will actually happen. It'd be a shame for Smallville to die without basically the best thing about it.
Chris: Yeah, but remember how this was supposed to be a season about Darkseid?
David: I almost wonder if they're prepping Glover to be Darkseid's final host.
David: I have to give another shoutout to Lex's plan. That was legitimately clever.
Chris: His plan to shoot people until "The Blur" showed up to stop him? C'mon, he could've been there all night.
David: For actual Superman, it would have worked. A young one especially, who'd focus on the immediacy of the bullet threat, and not take the possibility of an ulterior motive to get him into account. But that's giving Clark too much credit, and I really love that out of everyone in the show, Lex is the only person who thinks Clark might not be a braindead moron. Including Clark. Martha and Chloe still talk about him like he's five.
Chris: So let me get this straight. Your high point is a plot the writers came up with that would've been good, if they had been writing a completely different and better version of Superman for the past ten years? That's pretty depressing, Uzi
David: It's less depressing than yet another installment of "HIGH POINTS: Nothing."
Chris: Unsurprisingly, I thought Glover did a good job, especially considering what he was given. He actually seems to be enjoying himself about half the time, though there are scenes where the Mane is visibly wilting from having to say this stuff.
David: The entire mirror box plotline was great as a one-off, but referring to it now just doesn't work. What's up with Martha knowing so much about it?
David: The story. None of the actors did a really terrible job, but everything about this script was just atrocious, much like last week's. The dialogue was once again filled with unnecessary allieration and all too cute to pass for actual human interaction. This show must be really difficult to translate and localize to different areas of the world, since it must take actual effort not to improve the quality of the dialogue in the process.
Chris: I hated pretty much everything about this one, but even worse than Clark telling Li'l Lex to go off with a woman who decided two months ago that she wants to kill him was the idea that he can only get pumped up to do good by watching super-flattering YouTube videos about himself. What happens when he reads the comments? Is that going to be the Smallville origin of Ultraman? "Metropolis was devastated today when 'DaBlurSuxxx2009' prompted our former hero to go into a rampage that destroyed midtown..."
David: Hey, of regular-universe Ultraman! We already got the Earth-3 version of him this season!
Chris: If you dropped that "Um, actually" on the Blur, you'd have a smoking crater where your head used to be, Uzumeri.
David: It'd be better than having to continue to be a character in Smallville.
David: Thank god for more goofy Desaad action next week. I just hope the scriptwriting goes up to tolerable levels. It's Bryan Q. Miller, so hopefully it won't be too bad, even considering the filter of having to be a Smallville episode.
Chris: The bloom is off the rose for me, man. As much as I've enjoyed bits of what we've watched, the return of Season 10 has uncorked a hidden reserve of hate I didn't even know I had. In fact, I found myself plotting revenge on you for suggesting we do this article in the first place.
David: I'm cool with that. As we discovered in this episode, you learn to hate. And I'm glad I was able to teach you.