ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 10.19: Dominion
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: Welcome back to Smallvillains, where... I don't even know what we're watching anymore.
David: I do: someone watched Mad Max recently and decided to do a Smallville homage episode, starring Zod on an actual throne of skulls.Chris: That's pretty much what we're dealing with in "Dominion." It's the first one about two months to make an attempt at advancing the season's Darkseid plot, but... I mean, I seriously have no idea what's going on here.
David: It's pretty obvious: Darkseid somehow went to the Phantom Zone and made a deal with Zod, so Zod stole a crystal that was the gate to the Phantom Zone and used it to send Deathstroke back to Earth for the purpose of luring Clark to the Phantom Zone, where he cages him and Ollie and forces them to fight in gladiatorial combat while he watches on a throne of skulls. How could that possibly be hard to understand?!
Chris: Right, right. How silly of me.
Chris: Our story this week picks up pretty much directly from where we were at the end of the episode two weeks ago due to the wonky scheduling of "Booster." Clark and Lois are moving into their new apartment, and we get a limp attempt at banter when Clark reveals that Lois has a pillow she made out of a Whitesnake t-shirt. Lois likes something weird! That's kind of like characterization, right?
David: You know, it's taken a lot of episodes for me to finally realize this, but you know what really slaughters a lot of this show? What absolutely ruins it? The music. Any moment where the actors may actually be capable of characterization or subtlety is constantly undercut by the kind of waaah-waaaaaaaaah soundtrack you expect to find on the Dick Van Dyke Show. It's a small miracle they don't have the punch drum roll after every sentence.
Chris: Yeah, I was really hoping that the Whitesnake revelation would lead to Erica Durance in a diaphanous white dress crawling across the hood of a car, but honestly? Forget John Williams, If that wasn't a setup for Clark to suit up while blaring "Here I Go Again" in the finale, then they've missed an amazing opportunity to make the whole show worth it.
David: Yeah, that's not gonna happen, buddy.
Chris: A guy can dream, can't he? Instead of Lois doing a Tawny Kitaen impression, though, we just get Clark saying "I can decipher your scrawl," which I think is meant to be cutesy and back and forth, but because of Tom Welling's deadpan sociopath delivery, it seems genuinely insulting. Maybe do a second take sometimes, guys.
David: I'd just like to go on record that I'd pay like $400 for a video of Erica Durance dancing on the hood of the Supermobile to Whitesnake.
Chris: Sounds like we need to set up a Kickstarter.
David: But only if it's the Bronze Age Supermobile with the two gigantic fists. Insert your own innuendo.
Chris: The scene is then interrupted when Tess Lutessa Mercer Luthor skypes in from Watchtower to let them know that Slade Wilson, based on the comics' Deathstroke the Terminator, was found comatose on the street despite the fact that Clark had dumped him in the Phantom Zone, which I had completely forgotten about.
David: And also makes no sense. Why not just turn him in to the American government? Like, Zod kind of has a point in this episode, it's not like Deathstroke is this terrible beast that can't be held by Earthly prisons. He's a dude with one eye and I can only assume an alcohol problem but that's only because he's played by Michael Hogan.
Chris: But he's possessed by Darkseid, and we've seen how dangerous that can -- wait. No, we haven't seen that at all. I mean, we once saw Green Arrow get mad and punch a guy a lot, but I'm pretty sure that's a reasonable reaction to having one's girlfriend kidnapped.
David: No, man, he's giving in to his DARK SIDE! I swear to God, these writers wouldn't know subtlety if it hit them with a hammer.
Chris: To be fair, Jack Kirby's original concept of Darkseid in the comics isn't exactly subtle to begin with. It's just, you know, good.
David: Very true, but still, the Omega symbols haven't really had much of an effect, something that this episode only reinforces. But it's clear that that's all just a justification to bring Callum Blue back as Zod, and I guess reprise him, which makes more sense to me at least than, I dunno, Earth-2.
Chris: Yes, since Slade somehow managed to escape the Phantom Zone, Clark decides it'd be a good idea to go in there and investigate. He attempts to do it alone, but Ollie shows up to lend a hand beacuse he has more experience at fighting without powers -- and at fighting in general, since Clark never actually does anything -- but Clark says that this is something he must do on his own. Tess and Ollie clearly realize that this means it'll never get done, and so Ollie tackles Clark through the Phantom Zone gate. Because a dude without powers can just physically shove Superman around, I guess.
David: Clark's an idiot here, though, no question - why in God's name would he ever want to go in alone? He knows he's not going to have his powers, so why not back himself up with dudes who are really good at fighting without powers? Like, this would have been easy if Clark had gone in with a posse. Hell, all they needed was a gun.
Chris: But Oliver doesn't even take his bow. They just walk in in their dumb jackets.
David: They're just the worst. Like, I honestly don't have anything clever to say, there's just nothing to do other than go "wow, that makes no sense." Clark Kent is the freaking Linus van Pelt of dumb jackets.
Chris: So Clark and Ollie wander around the Phantom Zone until they're ambushed and have the crap kicked out of them because they're dumber than a sack of hammers, and then they get dragged to General Zod. And seriously, you're never going to guess what he says.
David: To be fair, he DOESN'T say "before Zod!" That shows SOME restraint!
Chris: He does later, though. But yes, he tells them to KNEEL, because that's what he said in that movie from 30 years ago! You remember that, right? And if you remember it, that makes it good! That's why he's going to say it four or five more times over the course of the episode!
David: This is totally made up for by his actual throne of freaking skulls. Seriously, you have no idea how happy I was that they went the extra mile with that.
Chris: And also literally wrapped in snakes. I like that this is what we've come to: "It wasn't good, but at least it was crazy." Anyway, Zod gets Clark alone so that he can talk to him in his hilarious Michael Caine-in-Batman-Begins accent, and I finally get to know what it's like when people overhear me and my friends talking about comics, because this is just hilarious nonsense.
Chris: There's some stuff in there about how Zod has been possessed by "the original Zod," so now he's DOUBLE-ZOD, with twice the hate for Clark! Sort of like this column, actually.
David: That stuff made no sense to me - I guess this show had two actors playing Zod at different points, with the second one being younger or something? I have no idea.
Chris: Of course, Two-Zod also says that he and Clark are both "decisive and headstrong," which makes me think that he might have him confused with someone else.
David: Two Zods, One Crystal.
Chris: 2od makes some weird analogies about Cain and Abel, and then has Clark dragged to this arena where people are watching two guys dressed as gladiators fight each other with swords, and Oliver yells out "He wants you to fight! To the death!"
Chris: Thanks for the update there, Katie Couric.
David: Let's not forget that Ollie's actually hanging out squatted in a cage that's too low to let him stand - like, that's how committed to this cliche they are. There's also apprently nothing else to the Phantom Zone other than this area the size of, like, a park. This place SUCKS.
Chris: It's also shot with the same blue-gray filter on everything that they used for Earth-2. Earth-2-Zod. Oliver also gives him helpful tips like "use the shield!"
David: Way to backseat gladiate, dick.
Chris: It's great, because I was really hoping they'd take his character in a more "Navi From Ocarina of Time" direction. Hey! Listen! Meanwhile, back in the present, Lois busts in on Tess while she's monitoring the Phantom Zone and gets all upset beacuse her idiot fiancee went in there with no powers, no plan, and no way of coming back if he lost this tiny crystal. She also tells Tess "you've never been to the Phantom Zone, and I have," which I think makes her the first Phantom Zone Hipster.
David: Meanwhile, Tess tries to hide the fact that she's about to blow the only exit and prevent Clark from ever coming out, on Clark's orders. And she's doing a pretty awful job of lying.
Like, c'mon, you're a Luthor. Shouldn't you be good at this?
Chris: And then we find out that while Clark is too dumb to think to bring any sort of weapons to a world where he has no powers, Lois is apparently packing a Colt .45 at all times, since she suddenly, inexplicably whips one out from under a desk and threatens to shoot Tess in the face unless she stops the countdown to destroy the crystal.
David: I kind of figured she took it from Tess or something, which I guess makes even less sense to have a gat hanging around in Watchtower. I have absolutely no idea what's going on here, and more importantly, if it is Lois's, why she picked a freaking Colt .45.
Chris: Because she learned from Billy Dee Williams that it works every time.
Chris: I think the fact that Lois has to hold someone at gunpoint to keep her from carrying out Clark's failsafe plan because she realizes -- and even says -- how terrible it is and has absolutely no faith in his ability to find a way to win says an awful lot about why we don't like this show.
David: Yeah, that's absolutely true, and it leads to that fantastic/awful line about how Clark can fail, but as a hero's wife, she has to never give up. Like, it's pretty clear who the writers' room thinks is the better character/hero/person at this point.
Chris: Back in the Phantom Zone, Zod and Oliver have a conversation about how Ollie's been marked by Darkseid and how Zod totally wants to bro down with him and rule this extremely tiny area full of sweaty murderers in loincloths. It might not sound that appealing, but then you remember that the alternative is going back to Star City and listening to Chloe try out her alliterative puns every single day for the rest of his life.
David: He pulls off a few here - "playing pattycake with the phantoms"? What does that even mean? Do they just have one writer on staff who comes up with these absolutely abominable jokes and they put in everything they come up with? Because the vast majority of them aren't at all cute, they're just utterly terrible. Is this actually what the audinece wants?
Chris: The plan is for Oliver to kill Clark in their gladatorial match, which... I mean, we have seen some dumb things in this show, but this is amazing. First off, they both switch out their jackets for gladiator costumes, and CLARK HAS A RED CAPE.
David: Both gladiator costumes are absolutely awful, they seriously look like they fell off the set of a that knockoff Thor movie.
Chris: This whole episode does feel like a SyFy original produced by The Asylum, that's for sure. Probably because when the fight actually starts, it's done in this hilarious faux-Zack Snyder SLOWWWWW MOOOOOTIONNNNN thenfastmotion style.
David: Maybe they actually brought Zack Snyder on, as a tryout for the movie.
Chris: I doubt it, since there weren't any bad covers of Bob Dylan songs playing in the background. Oliver ends up cold STABBING CLARK IN THE CHEST WITH A SWORD, seriously just ramming it right through and out the other side.
David: With an astonishingly small amount of blood, but I guess you have to go for that prime time demographic. Although I'd think if you were gonna do that, you'd avoid an episode about violent gladiatorial combat.
Chris: Ollie is about to chop Clark's head off when Zod stops him and comes over to take the killing blow himself, and honestly, the whole subtext of Zod being mad that Clark "betrayed" him after they became "blood brothers" but now he's stoked to find someone worthy of "ruling beside him" is so obvious that I don't even think we need to talk about it. The important thing is that just when Zod's about to finish Clark off, Ollie rips off the Phantom Zone key that he's wearing as a necklace and gives it to clark, because THIS WAS THEIR PLAN THE WHOLE TIME.
David: There are so many variables in that plan, and assumptions of other people's character. Basically, I'd only believe this plan if Batman came up with it. And as much as Smallville's been trying to convince me otherwise, Oliver Queen is no Bruce Wayne.
Chris: Their actual plan is for Oliver to stab Clark in the chest and hope it's not fatal. And of course, because it's Smallville, this plan works, and Clark seals off the Phantom Zone forever.
David: Except for the part where Clark shows up at home three weeks later.
Chris: But we're actually just now getting to the craziest part of this episode.
David: Are you referring to the scene with Ollie and Tess? Because that was insane.
Chris: Yes. After coming back from the Phantom Zone, Ollie talks to Tess and they talk about how Hawkman saw Orion "kick Darkseid's ass across the universe." So apparently, Orion has fought Darkseid before in the Smallville Universe. And Hawkman was there.
David: This is stated completely nonchalantly, and is apparently something Ollie figured out by looking at some confusing symbols in a book. I'm honestly mystified by all of this. (I know, what a surprise.)
Chris: Seriously. No idea what this is supposed to mean, or if it's indicating that we're going to get Orion vs. Darkseid in the finale, or why Hawkman was involved with the New Gods in the past, and why this was never, ever mentioned before now. Oh, and then Ollie goes to a church and thinks about how he has an Omega on his head stll, and then a statue of an angel cries a tear of blood. What.
David: I'm at a loss, dude. None of the ending made any sense and was just a bunch of oh-snap moments strung together nonsensically.
Chris: By "the ending," do you mean "Season 10?"
David: No, because this season had more than its share of utterly pointless episodes don't move the story forward. Say what you will about this ridiculous ending, but at least it's more exciting than another Hangover ripoff. Excuse me, homage.
David: I didn't get bored! That's a pretty decent achievement for this show at this point.
Chris: Cockney Zod was actually pretty good. The actor, I mean. Not the character that made no sense.
David: Actually, yeah, Callum Blue was the best actor this show's had in a while, he could actually enunciate the ridiculous dialogue and make it sound remotely dramatic. Apparently, he's back for the finale, too.
Chris: That's... that's pretty much it for what was good, isn't it?
David: Pretty much.
David: Just the concept and execution and most of the acting, I guess.
Chris: Was there a single thing about this that made any sense at all? I mean, I kinda like the idea of Clark having to battle Green Arrow in a gladiator battle in the Phantom Zone because I can totally see that happening on a Silver Age cover, but everything about this was just so dumb.
David: I can't think of a single redeeming quality, no, other than Callum Blue - but overall, the plot made absolutely no sense.
Chris: Yeah. I'd give up, but a) I would've given up three weeks ago, and b) this is my actual job.
David: Two. More. Weeks.
Chris: Remember back when we started? How young we were? How we could still feel joy and hope?
David: Yeah, when we thought this might be a fun little project and not a tour through hell. God, what a dumb show.
Chris: Well, we only have two weeks left, and it looks like we're in for a treat next week in "Prophecy," which is actually going to to involve The Legion of Doom.
David: Wait, what?
Chris: Also, Lois gets Clark's powers.
David: Oh. My. God.
Chris: My thoughs exactly, old chum.
David: "Marionette Ventures?"
Chris: Because they're the puppets of Darkseid, one assumes.
Chris: Again: My thoughts exactly.