ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 10.9: Patriot
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: Uzi, in our time together, we have seen some pretty crazy episodes of Smallville. But this one? This one is above and beyond.
David: I think you mean utterly awesome.
Chris: For certain definitions of "awesome," yes.
David: This episode? This is exactly what I wanted when i signed up to watch this show. It's cartoonishly over-the-top, filled with tons of pointless DC Universe Easter eggs, bolstered by hamfisted acting and ridiculously hot women in incredibly exploitative clothing, and topped off by Darkseid. I had a fantastic time watching this glorious piece of trash.
Chris: It's everything we've wanted this season to be. And so much more.
David: All right! So what we get here with this awesome episode is basically Civil War / the Keane Act from Watchmen. A.C., known colloquially as Aquaman, and the frankly super-hot Mera, his wife, kick off the episode apparently gallivanting around in swim gear and blowing up oil rigs and then making out in front of the explosion, which is pretty much the ultimate romance.
Chris: Given this show's history, I know I should've been expecting Smallville to drop Mera on us during Aquaman's return, but I'll admit to being completely blindsided by her. The fact that they just went ahead and dropped Aquaman's wife on us with absolutely no explanation was equal parts mystifying and great.
David: The opening sequence also introduced us to General Slade Wilson, who wants to bring down superheroes because he's seemingly an illogical dick for reasons that will actually be explained later. He's played by Colonel "Space Jim Lahey" Tigh, a.k.a. Michael Hogan.
David: You might be upset that he has two eyes, but I assure you that Smallville's Deathstroke Eye can join Morrison's Banana Peel and Chekhov's Gun in the canon of things that are obviously going to happen in fiction.
Chris: And when it does happen, it is the most hilarious thing we've seen since Redneck Cowboy Deadshot, but we'll get to that in a minute.
David: Deathstroke (I'm calling him this for the rest of this article, I don't care) is basically building these mysterious oil rigs that are ACTUALLY underground holding centers for those damn dirty vigilantes. Somehow, the US government has tasked him with this and doesn't notice him completely going off the reservation.
Chris: Well to be fair, they also don't know he's planning a coup, even though he's just hanging out talking about it with some dudes that clearly do not trust him at all.
David: In any case, Lois basically uses her army brat status to go give this guy hell, and finds out that Ollie Queen is going to register to find out what it's like. Then there's a press conference which is basically the end of Civil War #2, and then they take him off in a helicopter or plane or something to the holding cell. Clark goes to talk to Aquaman and Mera, and then they tell him what's up and he's like "Oh, wow, I was gonna yell at you for blowing up oil rigs but underground holding cells for superheroes IS a pretty s---ty idea." Even though his whole point is that superheroes should lead by, like, example, not just... being superheroes. As in, working off the grid like A.C. and Mera, who talks in extremely formal constructed speech like Dr. Sbaitso.
Chris: I'm open to the idea that it might just be coincidence and synchronicity, but I would be completely shocked if the writers behind this season didn't have a copy of the Civil War trade sitting on their desk. I mean, it is Civil War. It's just crazier, because instead of Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man in their respective roles, it's Aquaman, Superman (or at least The Blur) and Green Arrow -- who is actually sort of Batman. There are layers of insanity we are only just beginning to fathom.
David: And we haven't even gotten to the Darkseid connection, which made me rewatch a scene three times to make sure I saw it like I thought I did. In any case, after all of this utter insanity, they go to rescue Oliver, and also A.C., who gets captured at some point while underwater as far as I can tell off-camera.
Chris: The first of many extremely important things that happen off-camera in this episode, but at least this one was explained.
David: Or at least in a very quick cut, since nobody in my viewing party caught a moment where A.C. got captured - he just showed up when they brought Ollie to the waterboarding room, where, well, he got waterboarded by Deathstroke.
David: It was prime time network television, and it featured Deathstroke the Terminator waterboarding Green Arrow. I just want to point this out to our readers: This happened.
Chris: You say "waterboarded," and to be fair, both water and a board are involved, but it's not waterboarding at all. It's like dunking pilgrim ladies to see if they're witches. It's clearly Smallville trying to send a message about global politics, but instead they just slap together a scene that's a total super-villain deathtrap rather than the actual technique that's been in the news for like five years. It's they heard the word and just went with the first thing they thought it was. It's the hilarious ineptitude of the show that we've come to know and love.
David: The subplot during all of this is Lois being angry at being cut out of the action, since she wants to help, so she ends up flying to Miami to get bitched at by Mera for basically being a starf---er.
Chris: Yes. I wasn't aware of this going in, but apparently Smallville Lois is the Justice League's doorknob: everyone gets a turn.
David: Mera apologizes at the end of the episode, while we're on this plot thread, since Lois treats Clark as an equal and not as a superior being like the Justice League bicycle would do, even though, yes, she has been linked romantically with both Aquaman and Green Arrow.
Chris: Mera seems completely shocked that Lois wants Clark to treat her as an equal. Seriously, she's a pretty terrible feminist, even for a mermaid.
David: In any case, they all go to save them at the last big prison compound in Alaska, where Deathstroke is crucifying Aquaman and faux-waterboarding Green Arrow. Clark shows up, and is all EAT A D--- DEATHSTROKE, and he's like NAW SON I GOT A KRYPTONITE CAGE, and Superman is like OW KRYPTONITE, and then he X-Ray Visions Deathstroke and discovers an Omega sign burned into his forehead. Like, on his skull.
Chris: Amazingly, Clark is able to interpret this immediately as being the mark of Darkseid, as though he's spent the past few years reading DC Comics.
David: Yeah! He goes to FINALLY brief the rest of the Justice League that this is kind of, you know, a Thing That Is Going On That Might Be Kind Of Important, and it basically shows that the entire anti-vigilante thing is all Anti-Life.
Chris: And he actually refers to it as being "Dark Side."
David: Well, he says it explores our dark side, or something. And Godfrey/Desaad/Granny said Darkseid last episode. I have to admit, as much as the show failed to explain it, I was excited to see the omega, because it means that before this season is done this show might go full on crazy and introduce all of the Kirbyisms. I also like how Ollie talks about all these intergalactic dudes they fought, and they're basically all things that fell to Earth because of Jor-El.
Chris: Yeah, again: I was completely blindsided by this. I knew going in we were going to get Deathstroke, but then we got Mera, and then we find out that Deathstroke is actually just a pawn of Darkseid. They are just throwing whatever they can in front of the camera at this point, and it's kind of gloriously, hilariously amazing.
David: It's not like they've fought Mongul or anything, you know?
Chris: Haven't they? I assumed they had, and he was just another Foreign Exchange student. "I come from a village in Siberia called Warworld..."
David: Ha! In any case, that's basically the end of the show, other than the closing scene where Deathstroke is revealed to still be alive... WITH ONE EYE And the one eye is this big metal steampunk patch, since we apparently live in some kind of dumba-- steampunk Elseworlds here.
Chris: Are you sure he lost his eye, or was he just cosplaying as Dennis Hopper from Waterworld?
David: Now you have me thinking about a Dennis Hopper Deathstroke, and that's the best thing I've ever heard.
Chris: Seriously, that thing is ridiculous. Not only is he both Deathstroke and a minion of Darkseid, he also apparently rules Bartertown with Master Blaster.
David: I love this show right now, I'm sorry. I want like 14 more episodes of this ridiculous stuff.
Chris: This episode beats "Isis" hands down for pure craziness.
Chris: I'm not going to pretend I didn't enjoy seeing Mera. Not because I care one way or the other about the charactrer, but because she was a very attractive girl whose function in the plot seemed entirely built around walking around in skimpy clothes and flashing Lois.
David: This episode gets a Male Gaze Approval Rating of 10.
Chris: Also, I love that Deathstroke's plot to torture Aquaman and Green Arrow is basically lifted wholesale from Batman '66. I mean, look at this thing.
Chris: You would think at the very least that he would keep Aquaman, who gets his powers from being in the water, in a separate room from his giant water tank. Dude was asking for trouble.
David: And those, like, space heaters that made Mera's skin crack and crumble!
Chris: How about you?
David: Dude, almost everything. I was thoroughly entertained this episode. Did it succeed at any literary or thematic level? No. Did it succeed at giving me a gigantic grin for forty-four minutes? Oh, hell, yes it did.
Chris: I am not as enamored with it as you are, but I'll take this kind of insanity over the last few episodes any day of the week.
David: I don't know why I loved it so much, honestly. I mean, maybe it's just my mood, I dunno -- but it's just ... so nuts. So insane. So over the top. And it's exactly what I wanted.
Chris: I think a lot of it has to do with them just throwing stuff in regardless of whether it makes sense. Like, you're not even done laughing at the fact that Deathstroke has an Omega symbol literally carved into his skull before they're doing something equally hilarious.
David: Exactly! It just piled on the crazy fast and hard. I mean, it's the craziest thing I've seen today, and I'm watching Thursday night's Daily Show right now, which features an analysis of Glenn Beck's theory that George Soros backed Obama to turn it into a Communist nation so he could overthrow it.
David: I'm still not very interested in Lutessa's subplot. I mean, I know next episode is called "Luthor," and I hope it piles on the crazy to ridiculous levels, especially since we still have Li'l Clone Luthor hanging around.
Chris: As much as you loved this episode, you have to admit that it was flawed to all hell, and I honestly don't know where to begin. Should I start with the dialogue, which was littered with so many constant, needless pop culture references that it's like someone had a very specific Joss Whedon version of Tourette's?
Ollie: It's not the first time he's gone Che Guevara just to protect the Big Blue, and let's face it: now that the VRA's got all of us looking over our shoulders, team communication's gone from full bars to no signal.
David: Oh, totally! I don't understand why Mera spoke like she did just because she was a fish gill mermaid thing, I don't know why everyone -- yeah, you put it perfectly. I wouldn't call this exceedingly well-crafted. But as long as it brings on the totally ridiculous with this rapid-fire pace, I'll be a Hungry Hungry Hippo.
Chris: So bad. And then there was the just blatant product placement for Lois's sweet new Windows phone:
Chris: The worst part, though, was that this issue has a massive plot hole that they don't even make the SMALLEST attempt to explain.
David: This episode was apparently directed by Tom Welling.
Chris: When Clark is in Deathstroke's oil rig prison, Deathstroke drops a cage made of Green Kryptonite on him. Then they talk for a while while the self destruct countdown is going on, and during this, Tom Welling just straight up decides to stop acting like the Kryptonite, which I believe would be killing him, is bothering him at all. Then the entire place blows up, and the next time we see Clark -- who, again, was in a GREEN KRYPTONITE CAGE IN THE CENTER OF AN EXPLOSION -- is baling hay in the Kent barn. It is never explained how he got out.
David: I was totally mystified by that sequence! It just ... cut. I thought I'd accidentally fast forwarded, but they just covered it with Aquaman going "good job brah" and Superman was like "yeah for real."
Chris: Yeah, I rewound it twice just to make sure I wasn't missing anything, and it is never addressed. That's a hole big enough to fly a zeppelin through.
David: Much like Aquaman's capture. I assume the script had those sequences and they were cut.
Chris: I get the feeling that's the case, but really, producer/director/star Tom Welling should've thrown in something. I'm honestly not asking for much, just a shred of internal consistency.
David: Yeah, it's mystifying. And nobody did a good job on the acting. I mean, Michael Hogan was Michael Hogan, he played the same grizzled a--hole he plays in everything.
Chris: The dialogue was pretty rough this time out. Lois was a high point as usual, though, especially in that scene where she threatened to slit a dude's throat if he didn't tell her where Superman was.
Chris: I actually liked that a lot, but man. It was the least nonsensical exchange any two characters had in this one.
David: I mean, everyone got a crap croissant on the script front, which certainly didn't help.
David: More of this, PLEASE. This is entirely too entertaining. I just want rapid-fire continuity references thrown at my face at 100 miles an hour.
Chris: Seriously, as fun as this was, it was almost completely ruined for me by errors a high school play wouldn't make. But again, I'll take a crazy script with massive plot-holes over just plain boring any day of the week. Assuming that day is Friday at 8 PM on the CW. On other days, I at least like to pretend I've got standards.
David: As someone who gets it from iTunes later, it's always an interesting part of my Saturday, and this time I didn't feel like my time was stolen from me.
Chris: The highest praise we can offer, I think.
David: Yeah. If you like dumb stuff being thrown at the wall to see what sticks, try this episode out. Next week's episode is titled "Luthor."
Chris: And according to the IMDB, we're going to be seeing Lionel Luthor, if not Lex.
David: I'm sure we'll see Li'l Lex some more.
Chris: I get the feeling this is going to focus more on Tess, so I'm taking bets starting now on which character she's going to be combined with next. Will we see her as a doomed biologist in Louisiana? Will she become possessed and have to speak in rhyme?
David: I think you mean Lutessa. I think we're done with that, but at this point a Demon or Swamp Thing episode doesn't seem ridiculous.
Chris: Doesn't seem more ridiculous than usual, you mean.