ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 6.11: Justice
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: For the last installment of our grand tour of Smallville's Greatest Hits before the final season comes back, we asked our readers to recommend the actual best episode of the show. A lot of you told us to watch "Justice," which features the Smallville version of the Justice League, and since that one was on our list anyway, we went for it. And now, I have to ask: You guys do know what "best" means, right?
Chris: If by "money lines," you mean "complete and total groaners," I agree with you. This thing was a mess.
David: If you didn't giggle at "This relationship is all interruptus and not enough coitus!", terrible as it was, I don't know what's wrong with you. But yes, I totally agree, this was definitely not what I'd ever qualify as remotely objectively "good."
David: Not only that, but this episode also was the last nail in the coffin for me regarding Clark and Lex. In the Smallville universe, Clark absolutely created the monster that is Lex Luthor from his own pride and desperate desire to be like everyone else. Clark didn't keep his identity from Lex to protect him, he did it so he could continue to feel normal. Which is callous, cruel, a dick move, and selfishness absolutely worthy of derision. There is no good reason whatsoever for Clark to be totally buddy-buddy with Lionel, of all people, about his powers, yet continue to treat Lex like a child.
Chris: Well to be fair, Lex DID try to give him a car once. And that's straight up evil.
David: Smallville Clark is a scared, weak, willfully ignorant selfish s--t whose altruism is fueled entirely by wanting to sleep better at night and jerk himself off about what a hero he is, rather than to actually improve the lives of others. He doesn't want to be Superman to help people, he wants to be Superman because his parents tell him it's the right thing to do, so he reluctantly does it, like mandatory community service in high school. He should be wearing an orange vest.
Chris: Uzi, I'm starting to get the feeling that you liked this episode even less than I did.
David: That's the hilarious thing: I'm pretty sure I liked the episode more. It just left me with a white-hot, seething hatred for the character of Clark Kent.
Chris: Not really anything new there. Let's see if we can figure out where it all went wrong.
David: When two Kryptonians love each other very much... They mix their genetic material in the birth matrix to engineer a cloned offspring!
Chris: That's a little too far back. Our story opens with Chloe badgering some guy from Belle Reve Prison -- which comic book readers might recognize as the setting of Suicide Squad -- about something called "33.1," which they didn't explain and I don't care enough to go look up. He flips out and pulls a gun, and she's rescued -- IN A FLASH!
Chris: Amazingly, that pun was never made in the actual show.
David: Well, that'd require actually calling Bart Allen the Flash.
Chris: It turns out that Chloe's mysterious rescuer is one Bart Allen, alias Impulse, which... I just don't know anymore. Obviously they wanted to use the Flash, but they wanted him to be a teenager so that he could hang out with Clark, so they made him Impulse, who was the Flash's sidekick, but it's not like they went for Aqualad or Speedy or anything.
David: To be fair! Allow me to put on my SMALLVILLE LOGIC HAT: Within ten years, Bart has turned to a law-abiding life as a CSI scientist, and has started going by Barry. In any case, I remember I characterized Smallville Bart as a stoner in an earlier conversation about a later episode (we're travelling through time, people!), and this totally backs it up, including his constant, neverending suggestions that he and Clark go eat a bunch of Mexican food.
Chris: Also, it's worth noting that without ever seeing Bart/Impulse's previous appearance, the message I got from this was that he and Clark are totally ex-boyfriends. I mean, seriously, dude has more chemistry with Tom Welling than Erica Durance and Kristen Kreuk combined. It's pretty much like this for all the super-heroes, though. They shoot for "chummy cameraderie" and somehow land in "slash fiction, start your engines."
David: "I'll go... south of the border... with you ANY time, Clark."
Chris: There's a part where Bart starts hitting on Chloe and Clark just starts acting SUPER-jealous. All "SHE HAS A BOYFRIEND, AMIGO."
David: I got the feeling 33.1 was Lex Luthor's metahuman experiments group or whatever Dr. Mengele crap he was doing on the side. Seriously, how'd it get to the point where Lionel is all "hey, man, uh, heads up, hope this works out for you Clark" and Lex is just cutting up people off the street?
Chris: Yes, although instead of calling them "metahumans" or even "powers," they refer to the experiments as being on "people with abilities." Which makes it sound like they're going after, you know, EVERYBODY. "That dude is awesome at piano! Dissect him immediately."
David: Maybe Lex Luthor should be going after Clark without even knowing he's the Blur, since he has the supernatural ability to be a total whiny dick.
Chris: It turns out Bart's in town working with Green Arrow in order to bring down Lex Luthor, which raises so many points about just exactly how wrong this show gets Superman. It's somehow beautiful in its purity.
David: Well, Ollie and Bart wouldn't even have to take down Lex Luthor if Luthor weren't performing experiments on metahumans presumably because he distrusted their existence due to the fact that the metahuman in his own hometown is friends with everybody but him because he's a selfish prick.
Chris: Seriously. Not to get ahead of myself here, but this is a show ABOUT SUPERMAN where Green Arrow puts together the Justice League to take down Lex Luthor and doesn't even bother to tell Clark Kent because he knows he's too ineffectual to help them accomplish anything. It's like they did a show about Robin Hood, but Little John was the one who was really good at archery and took down the Sheriff of Nottingham, and also he used to bang Maid Marian.
David: Which brings us to Ollie and Lois, of course. LOLlie.
Chris: Yeah, and again: Ollie's focused on fighting crime and bringing down Lex, so his relationship with Lois ends in this episode because she can't deal with him keeping secrets from her and dedicating himself so much to something else at the expense of their relationship. AND THEN SHE DECIDES TO DATE CLARK.
David: To be fair, there weren't any secrets when they actually started dating.
Chris: We have honestly done our best to be fair to this show, and it's clear that what they're going for is that Ollie never fully opens up to Lois, but seriously? Neither does Clark, until well after she knows. So really, the only major difference is that Clark is enough of a mope that she can just push him around.
David: Yeah, just about, and Clark can't take her to private islands, just the Arctic.
Chris: The relationship map on this show is all over the place.
David: You're telling me, man.
Chris: Anyway, Bart starts raiding LuthorCorp facilities, but because he's moving so fast that he appears to be a blur, Lex pretty much assumes that it's Clark doing all the blurring and sets a trap for him. And really, it makes sense that he wouldn't be able to tell, since all of the Justice Leaguers wear color-coordinated hoodies and sunglasses so that they look like a United Colors of Benneton ad starring the Unabomber.
David: The entire hoodie-and-sunglasses look is pretty terrible, if you ask me. Especially with Green Arrow's absolutely ridiculous vocoder.
Chris: I think that's a holdover from when they had originally cast T-Pain.
David: Oh man, I'd KILL for an episode where Green Arrow just gets autotuned.
Chris: But seriously, whoever told them that silver leather sleevless hoodies were somehow less dumb than super-hero costumes? That dude lied.
David: That's pretty much this show's entire MO, though. "Let's do something more realistic and grounded to interpret this superhero convention in a way that isn't ridiculous!". And then the result is way more ridiculous than the original superhero convention.
Chris: Although if you take away the sunglasses, Ollie's actually is pretty reminiscent of the Mike Grell era costume, if it had a baby with The Matrix.
David: Well, Ollie has a really good reason to wear a hood. I mean, that's his thing.
Chris: How would Bart's even stay on when he was running? I mean, I'm not trying to apply real-world logic to super-heroics here, but really, if you're going to go with hoodies...
David: Super-velcro? Hell, I dunno. That's the thing about this, the more realistic you try to make superheroes, the less realistic they seem.
Chris: Exactly. At this point, Clark goes to talk to Lionel, as he and his magnificent hair are now apparently working for the side of good, and again: Their conversation is like something out of the first paragraph of erotic fan-fiction.
"Clark. I was, ah... just thinking about you."
"You've got a funny way of showing it. I've left you half a dozen messages."
"I'm sorry, I've been preoccupied."
Chris: Later, Lionel tells him "if you continue playing games like this, you need to be more careful." Watch out, Clark! You don't mess around with a Silver Fox!
David: Seriously, what the hell happened to Lionel? He seems like a completely solid dude now.
Chris: I'm trying to read up on the Wiki, and things just make less sense: "Lionel was also the Kryptonian vessel for Jor-El (Clark Kent's biological father) whom would inhabit Lionel if his son needed him. "
David: What the hell, man.
Chris: "Lionel also helped found the secret society of Veritas, along with the Queens, Teagues, and Virgil Swann. The job of this group was to find the Traveler and help him fulfill his destiny as the Savior to mankind. " The Traveler is, of course, Clark.
David: Everyone thinks Swann was Vandal Savage, too. Also, he was played by Christopher Reeve.
Chris: Yeah, let's just go with "Lionel got nice." Oh also apparently he hooked up with Martha Kent.
David: Well, that's understandable, man. THAT HAIR.
Chris: Hang on. Martha Kent's a redhead, right? And before the meteor shower, Lex had a full head of bright red hair?
David: Oh, SNAP! There's an obvious joke to be made after this about the fact that, after this supposed child out of wedlock, she was unable to get pregnant to the point of making wishes on two year old children for fertilization, but I'll leave that to the readers.
Chris: At this point, I would not at all be surprised if Smallville Lex turned out to be Clark's secret brother.
David: ADOPTED brother, though! That way they can still have hot slash fiction sex. Not that that stops the writers of slash fiction.
Chris: It's... it's probably best if we just move on.
David: Yeah, I'll go for that.
Chris: Clark yells at Bart for keeping secrets from him, and then Bart runs off and gets captured by Lex while Clark goes to creep on Lois while she tries on lingerie for her ill-fated vacation with Ollie.
David: First off, I'd like to say that I did kind of enjoy that Lex threw Bart in the same trap he throws Barry in in The Dark Knight Strikes Again, perhaps one of the greatest Batman stories of all time, and unquestionably a modern masterpiece by a modern master.
Chris: You... I don't even... We will discuss this later, Uzumeri.
David: Secondly, I guess this is also the beginning of Chloe as the center of the superhero nervous system or whatever.
Chris: Despite the fact that Bart is the least convincing hardass of all time -- Seriously? "Mister Kiss My Butt?" That's what you're going with? -- I actually really liked Lex's crazy deathtrap a lot. Out of everyone on this show at this point, he's the only one acting like the character he's meant to be.
David: Well, that's because Rosenbaum is still unquestionably the best actor on this show. I'd really love to see him do Lex with actual material one day, but I can't imagine they'd recast him in the movie. Maybe he can play Lex on the Wonder Woman TV show.
Chris: Clark finds out that Bart's been kidnapped while working for Ollie, so he goes to Ollie to harass him about the dangers of actual doing something instead of just moping around a farm all day, only to find that -- in what is quite possibly the finest example of Smallville's evolution into The Green Arrow Show -- Ollie has put together the friggin' Justice League. Again, this is a show that is about Superman, and yet it's Green Arrow who puts together a team that has nothing to do with Superman until he accidentally finds out they exist. They're seriously about to walk out the door on a rescue mission, and basically just let Clark come along so he won't whine about it.
David: It's not scrubs, either. It's Green Arrow, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. That's a Justice League. If that were the JLA in a comic, I'd believe it a hell of a lot more than wha they're currently publishing in the book with that title.
Chris: You say that, but I would LOVE to see Smallville's version of Congorilla.
David: I don't even dislike Robinson's JLA, it's just totally the Adult Titans. But live-action Congorilla would be hilarious, if totally improbable. Unless it was just straight up a dude in a gorilla suit. I kind of wish they'd just do a live-action superhero TV show with cheap effects and good writing, like old Doctor Who.
Chris: Well, you get half of that in Smallville.
David: HA! So, the JLA goes to bust up the compound, with Clark Kent CODENAME: "Boy Scout" in tow behind them...
Chris: Which makes no sense, as Smallville Clark is neither honest nor prepared.
David: No, but he could take tips from them about fashion sense.
Chris: Clark's blue t-shirt and red Members Only jacket combination... I mean, we went through this already, but I actually kinda prefer it to both the stupid black-and-silver airbrushed t-shirt look and the doofy red leather Thriller jacket.
David: Oh, yeah, it's actually believable casual wear, while the other two look just as ridiculous as a superhero costume, without the added bonus of also looking cool as hell. And being a time-tested design that's pretty much burned into the subconscious of everyone in America and a lot of the rest of the world.
Chris: So the Justice League goes to bust into the LuthorCorp facility, and while Aquaman and Cyborg kick the living hell out of all the guards, Clark is almost immediately taken out by some Kryptonite that they have laying around. Seriously.
David: Well, Lex DID think that the intrusions were the Blur, so he probably prepared in advance.
That kind of made sense. Still, Clark sucks.
Chris: Totally sucks. He just lays down on the floor, and then right before a guard is about to kill him, OLLIE SHOOTS THE GUARD IN THE NECK WITH A CROSSBOW HOLY CRAP.
David: I'm sure it was a tranq bolt!
Chris: They added some "elctricity" effects to it to make it seem like he was just tazing him, but seriously. Shoots a dude in the spine with a friggin' arrow.
David: Ollie is precise, man. I wish the script gave Hartley more material to work with, because I'm pretty sure he could handle it. I'd also like to see Hartley with a goatee.
Chris: Yeah, he's actually really enjoyable, but a lot of that I have to imagine comes from the fact that he's Not Clark.
David: Just straight-up Errol Flynn the hell out of that guy.
Chris: Anyway, Ollie's got a Special Secret Mission that they don't even tell Clark about because they're basically making him sit at the Kids' Table of Super-Heroics. Ollie faces off with Lex for a bit, and then the Justice League blows up the LuthorCorp facility so that they can all walk away in slow motion.
David: That shot was ridiculous. I mean, when I think "Justice League," I really don't at all think of "walking away from explosions in slow motion."
Chris: I hope that dude that Ollie shot in the spine with a crossbow was able to drag his way out with the rest of the evacuees.
David: What you DIDN'T see was Bart evacuating everybody before they blew it up. Voila!
Chris: You mean Bart who was super-tired from being in the deathtrap? Right. Anyway, Ollie breaks up with Lois, and for the sake of meeting our Male Gaze quotient, I'd like to mention that she looks amazing in a white v-neck sweater...
Chris: ...and then Lionel lies to his son about where Clark was while the holding facility was being blown up and then literally tells his son that there are dozens of people in the world that are out to get him. PARENTING!
David: AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY LEX IS AN ASSHOLE. SERIOUSLY.
Chris: Isn't there something we read about how Ollie used to bully him at school, too?
David: Yeah, and he was really bullying and dismissive towards Lex in this episode as well for basically no reason. He's had an absolutely terrible life, and superheroes have constantly been picking on him basically for no reason.
Chris: In the end, the Justice League offers to let Clark join the team and of course, Clark declines, because Clark sucks and never does anything. The End.
David: Once again, I'm at a loss, man. I mean, I guess there were a few amusing lines and I wasn't bored to death or anything, but this just wasn't especially good.
Chris: Michael Rosenbaum as Lex was pretty great.
Chris: Not just that he was believably sinister and actually had a pretty cool deathtrap, but that he was believably frustrated with everyone around him, especially Clark and Lionel. Like, at this point, all he wants to do is prove that Clark is the Blur, and then he'd totally be happy.
David: And he's understandably annoyed with the fact that his "best friend" and dad continually lie to his face. I can completely understand why this kind of treatment would grow an inferiority complex.
Chris: If you turn this show just slightly to the side, you've got the story a brilliant young businessman who was raised by a manipulative, lying psychopath who is using his resources to bring down the secret cabal that his father is colluding with in order to rule the world. I'm not even exaggerating.
David: The secret cabal protecting an alien god hiding out as a human that you KNOW to be a bald-faced lying snake! If I were Lex, Clark would scare the crap out of me.
Chris: Only until you saw him try and do something after three hours of deliberating and then immediately trip over one of the eight hundred thousand radioactive meteor rocks scattered around his farm.
David: Our fans. You guys seriously let us down. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Chris: We asked for an episode of Smallville that was actually good, and you gave us one that makes us hate the show more than anything else we've seen. I dont' know if that's on you or on Smallville itself, but somebody owes us an apology.
Chris: Fortunately, we'll have a whole new outlet for our hate next week, when Season 10 returns with "Collateral," in which Clark and Company finally wake up from their month-long nap in Hawkman's tomb and apparently fight Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise.
David: I totally forgot about that cliffhanger. I'm actually honestly excited to see another new episode of this, God help me.
Chris: It can't be worse than what we've already seen, right?