ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 10.18: Booster
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 week, Smallville brings us what was probably the most anticipated episode of the season, up to and including the finale: "Booster," which not only features an appearance by fan-favorite character Booster Gold, but also involves the most startling sentence in Smallvillains history: "Written by Geoff Johns and directed by Tom Welling."David: I honestly started sympathetically winking along with the writers and actors after about ten minutes because they just couldn't stop the referencing. This episode introduces Booster Gold, and Jaime Reyes, and Ted Kord, and also in passing Dan Garrett and Goldstar, and has a Legion ring, and time travel, and a phone booth, and...
David: Oh God, yeah. I love how they just now had to cast Ron Troupe for this episode, too - it really shows just how little time they actually spend at the Daily Planet. Have we seen Perry White all season? Let's just get into it.
Chris: Remember that really good episode of Justice League Unlimited about Booster Gold? This is basically the opposite of that.
David: At least this is an episode where Clark Kent actually inspires someone else for once. We kick off with Lois and Clark walking down the street, while Clark is a terminally whiny bitch about the fact that he has to start slouching and not acting like he's awesome all the time. I really don't ever remember Clark being this reticent about the switch in any other incarnation; it almost makes him like Thor, instead of his dad telling him to be humble, it's his smoking hot wife.
Chris: Didn't that plot resolve itself about a month ago, when Clark decided that's what he was going to do? This show spends more time going backwards than the cool guy at the skating rink.
David: To be fair, they kept screwing around with the broadcast order. I know the production number for this episode is earlier than last week's. Which, you know, if you can screw around with the broadcast order in the last few episodes of a show running for ten years, you have a serious problem with the concept of momentum.
Chris: I think we've established that this is one of the core elements of the Smallville universe.
David: Like, these guys should really never try playing Portal. I don't think they'd be very good at it.
Chris: I'd argue that they also shouldn't try making a TV show about Superman, but we're getting off track.
David: Alright, so during this sequence a kid (who we later find out is Jaime Reyes) is about to get hit by a car when Booster Gold flies in and saves the day before Clark can. He predictably mugs for the cameras and speaks to Skeets, his trusty historical record... Bluetooth headset.
David: Budget, everybody! If nothing else, they could have milked that for a joke where Booster claims that he uses Goldtooth, not Bluetooth. Actually, Booster should get a dog and name it Goldtooth. Dan Jurgens, you can have that one for free.
Chris: I actually watched this with friends, and shouted "BLUETOOTH SKEETS!" at the same time in a mixture of awe and horror. Incidentally, Bluetooth Skeets is the name of my grindcore thrash band.
David: It sounds like a series of porn movies featuring stock traders on the streets.
Chris: Oh, you've heard our first album!
David: So yeah, Booster's mugging for the cameras and explaining that he's Totally Awesome, and as you could predict he prevented the crash just by hearing about it from Skeets's historical records. He then proceeds to walk up to Clark, say "nice glasses," and walk off, because antagonizing Superman is totally an awesome way to stay under the radar when you're a disgraced football star trying to become a celebrity 500 years ago.
David: Also, by saving Jaime from the car crash, he sets off a chain of events that leads to Jaime becoming the Blue Beetle, which completely screws up his historical records, because Booster is a complete idiot.
Chris: It's also worth noting that unlike the excitable and nerdy but still pretty cool, pop-culturally aware Jaime Reyes that we know from the comics and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, in which he has a personality, the Jaime Reyes of the Smallville universe is the mopey dork in every John Hughes movie ever.
David: I knew it was kind of a disaster the second I realized that he was dressed like an idiot. I dunno why, but that shaggy hair has always been really emblematic of the character to me, and as soon as it was close-cropped I knew we were gonna get a vastly different "take." And we did, and what we got wasn't really Jaime Reyes at all. Most notably, he's not smart. Like, one of the things that was true about Jaime from his very, very early beginnings in the comics -- even in Infinite Crisis -- was that he was always inquisitive, asking questions, trying to figure things out, and more than anything, fairly practical.
Chris: Yeah, the one here has absolutely no personality or development. he's just a name stuck on a plot device, which ist he absolute worst kind of reference, and one that this show specializes in.
David: At least with Booster Gold here, he's recognizable as a version of Booster Gold. If you named him something else, I'd be thinking, "huh, that's a Booster Gold ripoff." If Jaime were, I dunno, Felipe Perez, and the armor looked like a scorpion, I'd never think "that's a rebranded Blue Beetle!"
Chris: Can I admit something to you?
David: Hit it.
Chris: When Jaime first showed up, before they actually did a close up on him, I totally thought for a second that they'd managed to get a guest appearance by Drake.
David: That's why he got hit by the car! It was gonna homage his time on Degrassi!
Chris: Last name Beetle! First name Blue!
David: Anyway, it turns out the car that was gonna hit Jaime had the Blue Beetle scarab in it, and it jumps into Jaime's backpack, and then it's time to drunkenly sing along to the theme song, I mean, wait, what?
Chris: To its credit, the show manages to cram an awful lot of setup into those five minuets. None of it's any good or leads to anything that's worth watching or advances the final season's plot in any meaningful way at all, but it's definitely not boring.
David: That's pretty much the credo for this episode, and for the best this show can offer in general, sadly enough.
Chris: Also, there's one more important thing before the credits: Booster straight up flies off in the middle of the daytime in front of a crowd of people.
Chris: So once again, what's probably Superman's most defining power has been done by, what, six other people? Not counting Clark himself in the Matrix. You will believe some other dude can fly.
David: Oh man, yeah! It was kind of a hilarious, smug "f--- you" to Clark, though, since Booster presumably knew Clark couldn't fly yet.
Chris: But it's still another example of how this show has made it so that nobody in their right mind should give a crap about the Blur. What does he do that Green Arrow and Supergirl -- WHO IS NAMED SUPERGIRL -- and Hawkman and the rest of the guest stars don't do better? They set up Booster as an antagonist, but what exactly is he doing that's so bad? Saving people, but in a way that Clark doesn't approve of? We only know he's a villain because Clark tells us he is, and we just sort of have to go with it because that's how Smallville works.
David: I guess he was the first one, theoretically? I mean, did any of these other superheroes operate before Clark showed up? I don't think that's the case, they were all supposedly "inspired" by him. Which is kind of hilarious.
Chris: Except that nobody knows who he is or what he's doing or what his powers are. They just know he's some really fast dude. But anyway.
David: Clark and Lois arrive at the Planet to find that Booster's giving out autographs inside while waiting for Lois, who he wants to give an exclusive interview to, since he knows that that's going to happen with Superman. She tells him to to screw himself, but the insanely annoying Catherine Grant the Second is all 'bout it, and insists that she's going to beat Lois to a big promotion by getting the big Booster Gold story. The two of them deserve each other, really.
Chris: Another example of sloppy plotting and/or scheduling: We haven't seen Cat Grant II for like three months, have we?
Chris: Also, Cat says that Booster Gold is "this city's answer to inspiration, and my answer to that promotion!" I'm not sure if she's just being written to have a poor grasp of the English language, but "the answer" to something usually means a response that fixes a problem, not something that leads to it. Then again, saying Booster's the answer to inspiration is pretty accurate.
David: Well, Booster's pretty inspired, man. He's inspired to make cash. Apparently, Jaime was on his way to a Daily Planet field trip when he got the Scarab, as we now get to see him ruthlessly mocked by his classmates who ... make him drink soda-pop that explodes in his face! THE ETERNAL CRUELTY OF CHILDREN!
Chris: Let this be a lesson to you, kids: You never know when that guy you're bullying is going to accidentally become bonded to murderous alien power armor.
David: And yet, at no point in the episode does Jaime actually accidentally get revenge on his classmates.
Chris: If this was Season 1, that's exactly what would've happened. Meteor Freak "Jamie" Reyes goes ape-stuff at Smallville High.
David: Lois tries to get Jaime to go yell quotes from Network at his classmates to make them all feel bad for making him feel bad, like that would actually work, and other than the amusing idea that Lois was inspired to become a journalist by Network, I'm not quite sure what she thinks this is going to accomplish. Also, Jaime wusses out of it.
Chris: I'll be honest. I really, really like the idea that Lois's answer for everything, be it journalism, romance, winning friends, or whatever, is to act like Howard Beale.
David: Oh, and I forgot about the "Kick Me" sign the kids gave him too. I was about to say it sounds like Geoff Johns hasn't been to high school since the John Hughes era, but then I realized, Geoff Johns went to high school in the John Hughes era.
Chris: Well, let's be fair, Uzi: Would you rather see an episode where they were leaving poorly spelled insults on his Facebook page? How has a character named "Cyber-Bully" not shown up in Teen Titans yet?
David: Tony Bedard's Birds of Prey even gave us the Matchmaker, who made billions setting up pedophiles with children over the Internet on the dating sites he ran! Clark's at the Watchtower trying to figure out what's going on with Booster, and Lois thinks he's jealous, except Clark is just super-worried that it looked like Booster knew who he was. Also, he's probably jealous. The TV then reports Ted Kord talking about the stolen scarab, and then refers to Kord Industries as, and this cracked me up, "The Blackwater of the Midwest."
Chris: Oh man. "The Blackwater of the Midwest." That makes it sound like from Ohio to the Dakotas is just some Post-Apocalyptic War Zone with roving gangs of mercenaries, which... well, it's not entirely accurate, anyway.
David: Clark recognizes them as also specializing in disarming recovered superweapons, so he freaks out to try to save the day in his own incompetent way. Cat goes to Booster to get the interview, but he won't have it; Lois also shows up for the sole reason of wanting to yell at Booster Gold and say that Metropolis is Clark's territory. This is basically amazing, because this show has turned Lois into Superman's hypeman.
Chris: Another amazing part of this scene: They're actually using the "Booster Gold Fan Club" shirts that have been on sale in comic book stores for the past couple years, but because they couldn't be bothered to dye the actor's hair blonde, it looks like some goofball at the t-shirt factory just totally screwed up his drawing for the shirt.
David: Honestly, Booster looked pretty dirty blonde to me.
Chris: I'll give you "pretty," and he's backlit by yellow lights all the time, but that dude's hair is brown, homey. Can we at least agree that Booster getting his dancers to dress up in super-sexy versions of the costume his sister wears in the comics is a little weird?
David: I want to say he did that in 52 at some point or something, but I'm not sure. Comics really haven't been focusing on his showboat side ever since then - they talk about it still happening, but we never see it, we just see him being an actual time-travelling hero. Anyway, Booster declares that he's not just there to be a hero, he actually wants to replace Superman in history, which is the defining point that turns Smallville Booster Gold from the somewhat lovable and kind of selfish but ultimately good-hearted and heroic Booster of the comics to a complete asshole.
Chris: Yeah, there's really nothing heroic about him at all in this. Admittedly, there's an attempt to recast him as being inspired by Clark and his dumb jacket by the end of the episode, but it rings false.
David: Man, Clark's Dumb Jackets: Even CLARK is complaining about his jacket in the opening scene. I forgot to mention that.
Chris: There's so much jacket later in this episode. But first, Clark talks to Ted Kord.
David: Kord basically plays dumb about the scarab, but then Clark just goes and hides in a corner to listen in with his super-hearing, and discovers that Kord's hired Booster Gold to find it. Upon finding this out, he whooshes through and grabs the specifications for it, which look a lot like it was something they designed although that turns out not to be the case later.
Chris: We also get to see Tom Welling acting like Bumbling Reporter Clark Kent, and he's actually really, really good at it!
David: I'd like to think that Welling's been practicing that for like seven seasons, just hoping that maybe, one day, he might actually get to be in something resembling an actual Superman story. While on the phone with Booster, Booster agrees to find the scarab only if Kord pulls some strings and gets Booster the key to the city instead of the Blur. Which... is pretty ridiculous, and I'm pretty sure that's not how these things work, but it's Smallville so why not - and this is hardly the most ridiculous thing about the entire key to the city ceremony, as we'll see later.
Chris: Oh man. The Key to the City thing is just inexplicable.
David: And by "later" I mean "the next scene," as Jaime goes to ask Booster Gold for help with the fact that he was infected by an alien scarab two scenes ago right outside the same set they used for the back of Club Desaad.
Chris: And Booster all but actually says "Cool story, bro," which is entirely appropriate.
David: Booster tells him to buzz off, and then continues casting for exactly which Goldette is going to give him the key to the city. Note: it's an undercover Cat Grant dressed like Dolly Parton!
Chris: I'm not really sure how Cat got that coveted position, unless gigantic teased hair and white satin jackets come back into style in the 25th Century. Is the future actually 1985?
David: That actually makes a great deal of sense, considering that's the time period Booster went back to. After the great computer wars of 2480, all that remained were copies of Dirty Dancing, Scarface and Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. In any case, Jaime goes outside and gets overtaken by a combination of the Blue Beetle scarab and astonishingly bad CGI that looks like it was rendered by a Voodoo5.
Chris: It looks like RoboCop cosplaying as Iron Man Stealth Armor. And RoboCop is not very good at cosplay. Seriously, it looks so ridiculously awful. Like, that "test footage" they did last year looked ten times better than this.
David: Meanwhile, Clark fills Lois in on what's up with the scarab: it's alien technology that was recovered by Kord. They tested it on a dude named Dan Garrett, who died after killing a bunch of people since he couldn't control it. So in one episode, they managed to turn Jaime Reyes into a complete wuss, Ted Kord into Dick Cheney, and Dan Garrett into a random soldier who ended up going rabid. And Booster Gold into a gloryhound who actually wants to take away from other peoples' success. Well done, Geoff Johns.
Chris: Hey, at least it had the names you recognize from stuff you like!
David: Hey, I totally forgot to mention after the Kord thing: On his way home, he passes by a billboard to discover that Lois has somehow acquired the resources necessary to buy out all of Booster's billboards in Metropolis and replace them with Superman billboards, promoting "the real Man of Steel." First off, isn't that a LOT of money?
Chris: Well, Lois IS up for a promotion, and we know how much cash the newspaper industry has to throw around.
David: Now, Booster calls up Lois to ask for her to be there at the key ceremony again, but Clark intercepts and runs there to confront him, where for no reason he has his gloves off so that Clark can yell at him about the Legion ring he obviously stole. He reveals his master plan, to use historical data to save people and soak up the glory and become rich and famous. When Clark points out that the historical data will become more and more worthless the more he changes history to save people, and that Skeets having no record of Kord's scarab is proof of that, but Booster pretty much blows him off and points out that whoever gets the key to the city here becomes Metropolis's hero.
Chris: Booster's not smart, but even he has to realize that the Key to the City is jut a plaque and not an actual object that leads you to your destiny, right? It's not that the Blur got the key and became a hero, it's that he got the key because he was already heroic stuff. The entire plot of this dumb episode is that Booster Gold thinks he traveled back in time to a licensed fantasy novel.
David: Absolutely, this entire episode depends on the fact that Booster has never seen an episode of Star Trek in his life.
Chris: He also tells Clark that if he wants the award, he should just go in there and take it, a gamble that shows that his actual historical records have shown him that Clark is indecisive and shy. In other words, DVDs of the first 9 seaosons of Smallville survived to the 25th century.
David: Of course, Clark ends up not doing it, so Booster goes in for the key ceremony. Now, let's just get .... let's process what's going on here: Booster Gold is receiving the Key to the City. Now, usually this comes from the City, except there does not appear to be a mayor anywhere in sight, nor any representative of the City. Indeed, one of his own dancers is presenting it to him.
Chris: There actually is a mayor, but he just stands behind Booster and doesn't say anything, waving at the voters that are spread out on the metal bleachers that you'd think would be packed with people who came out to see Metropolis's New Hero.
David: There are, at most, six people in the audience, all of whom look like extras from Degrassi Junior High. Predictably, Blue Beetle shows up to wreck the before it can begin, and then Clark goes to change in a nearby phone booth. Metropolis, the City of Tomorrow, last place on the planet with phone booths.
Chris: This is also when they complete the step they first took with Booster's Solid Gold Dancers and rip off the Iron Man movies a second time with the in-helmet shots of Jaime Reyes looking doofy and shouting about not being in control of his new RoboCop body.
Chris: So if you were wondering, yes, Tom Welling has seen Iron Man, and he seems to have liked it quite a bit.
David: Jaime goes in on Booster and starts choking him and stuff to threaten him, and Booster starts trying to tell the kid that he can be a hero for some reason, even though right now what he doesn't need is heroism, it's to figure out how to turn off the damn suit. But apparently, the suit is powered by heroism. I do love how Booster just repeated the last inspirational thing he heard, non sequitur, and it happened to work.
Chris: There's also absolutely no reason given why the Blue Beetle armor wants to kill Booster Gold. Like, was it listening when Jaime gave him the brush-off and just wants to get back at him? Were those dudes that Dan Garrett killed just total jerks?
David: Why not the kids at school, why not random passersby on the street... yeah, that makes absolutely no sense. Also, where are Jaime's parents? He just seems to be randomly wandering around Metropolis stumbling for no reason all day.
Chris: He also has a button on his backpack for the El Paso Insect Club(?!), so is he from Texas? Was his class just on a field trip up to Kansas? Why?
David: It's Smallville, man. He's from El Paso, KANSAS.
Chris: Well, if Kansas can have a Las Vegas, I guess it can have an El Paso, too.
David: So yeah, Jaime turns the suit off with HEROISM, Booster fesses up to Clark about his entire past, including that he stole everything, and Clark tells him to stick around and be a mentor to Jaime, because - and I'm being completely serious here - Jaime actually needs someone selfish to teach him how to stop being so spineless. How this relates to his theoretical parents in El Paso, I have no idea. Clark also tells Booster to be Jaime's mentor before Jaime makes the decision to keep the scarab, which makes no sense. Why people let him keep it, I don't understand.
Chris: And then Ted Kord tells Jaime that he can try to take the scarab off him -- you know, the thing that just turned him into a laser-blasting murder cyborg that almost killed all six people at the Key to the City ceremony -- and Jaime goes "NO I NEED THIS POWER!" Heroism, everybody! I AM A BULLIED TEENAGER THAT HAS JUST GOTTEN ACCESS TO SUPER MURDER LASERS. HOW COULD YOU NOT THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO LET ME KEEP THEM?
David: Anyway, after Blur saved Cat while Jaime went crazy, Cat's changed her mind and made Lois some Blur cookies as a congrulations for Lois getting the promotion since she probably was doing actual journalism rather than going to Dollywood, Kansas.
Chris: And then Clark sits down to talk to Lois about how he doesn't want to act like a dork because it makes her look bad, and rips his shirt open for... I have no idea why he does this. I've watched this scene a dozen times and cannot comprehend why Clark suddenly lets Hulkamania run wild in the living room.
David: It's almost like the scene would make sense if he were wearing a Superman shirt underneath, and that's clearly how Johns wrote it. But Tom Welling did not pick up on that, and instead declared that he did not want to be ... Hanes?
Chris: Also, I love that Clark thinks nobody would be able to understand why Lois would be interested in a big, strapping, handsome, shy guy who was completely nonaggressive and agreed with everything she said.
David: And thanks Booster's ability to hide his insecurities with giving him the power to ... hide his securities? I have no idea. And that's the end of the episode, and, presumably, of Geoff Johns's contributions to Smallville.
Chris: Tom Welling's Clark Kent was actually really great, and the Booster Gold infomercial that they ran part of in the preview last week was seriously the high point of the show. It's perfect.
David: I loved all of the commercial scenes, but that's not because the show tried really hard to get the vibe of a Booster Gold informercial and reached an aspired-to level of cheesiness, it's because the show is naturally at the level of craft and subtletly of a Booster Gold infomercial.
David: That's really about it for me, those infomercials were great but Eric Martsolf totally flubbed all the lines where he wasn't showboating.
Chris: "You want people to look DOWN on Clark Kent so they can look UP to the Blur!" Of all the Geoff Johnses in this world, you're the Geoff Johnsiest.
David: Everything about the Blue Beetle. All three of them.
Chris: Hey, remember how this season was going to be about Darkseid at some point? Remember how it's been three episodes since anyone mentioned him at all?
David: Honestly, I don't know if this is just symptomatic of network TV and its pacing or what. I mean, a lot of TV shows are like this, just dropping the main plot for stretches of episodes at a time. It's frustrating, but I don't know if that's a criticism that can be strictly put at Smallville.
Chris: Yeah, but this whole thing has felt crazy disjointed. We've had the VRA, Ultraman, Lionel Luthor coming back, Alexander Luthor/Conner Kent, and then a bunch of just ridiculous DCU guest stars and movie "homages." They're all SORT OF related, but not in any meaningful way that feels like they're building to something, and considering we only have two episodes left until the end of the series, I think it's a legitimate beef.
David: Yeah, that's a very good point, the blame really lands at the feet of the writers. Even when subplots are dropped, in other shows they all come together in the end for the most part. I have to wonder how much of a cluster the finale will be with everyone showing up at the same time. I could see us getting the entire Justice League, Blue and Gold, the Legion...
Chris: Lois in every single one of her various fetish costumes...
David: What a mess.
Chris: I didn't think it was possible, but this one was really disappointing for me. I think Geoff Johns's run on Booster Gold with co-writer Jeff Katz was one of the best comics he's written, and I really hoped that would translate into something fun here.
David: I was really hoping for something half Superman: Secret Origin and half of that run, and I got ... a bad Smallville episode instead.
Chris: I mean, I liked his original run on JSA, but last year's Absolute Justice is a mess, too. I should've known better.
David: Yeah, this was really just a disastrous episode, in ways I didn't anticipate even in the worst-case scenarios. Lois with the billboards? Really?
Chris: Well, I'm sure it'll get good again next week in "Dominion," when... uh... Clark and Green Arrow have a gladiator fight in the Phantom Zone and General Zod sits on a throne with his legs spread open and tells them to kneel before him.
David: That sounds better than this, to be honest. I mean, at least that sounds entertainingly dumb. And I can kind of guess that Zod's a character who's been in this show a lot, so revisting him makes more sense than this mess, or last week's alternate universe redux experiment.
Chris: And hey, we'll have all that subtext to talk about! Three More Weeks, everybody!