ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 10.2: Shield
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: I knew this show was going to go completely off off the rails, but I didn't think it would happen so soon or so enjoyably. This thing is basically great, no lie.
David: It's kind of campy, but it's basically the live-action DC Universe Show. It moves fast, nobody's really annoying, and it throws basically as many references as it can into each 44 minutes. Like, you really get the feeling that everyone involved was like "to hell with it, we've got one season left, let's go absolutely insane with it."
Chris: And brother, did they ever.
David: At the rate this is going, I would not be at all surprised if Dean Cain guest-starred in an Earth-2 episode.
Chris: This week's episode, "Shield," was all kinds of DC Universe, with three or four plots going on at the same time, all of which did a pretty good job of advancing the arc of the season. In Clark's story, he had to deal with a new coworker, Cat Grant, an anti-vigilante crusader who had been targeted for assassination. Except that she wasn't really Cat Grant, didn't act anything like the Cat Grant of the comics, and a completely unrelated Cat Grant was on the show last season.
David: I guess this mirrors the thing with Jimmy Olsen - are you aware of this? That Jimmy used to be on the show, and they killed him off?
Chris: I'd heard that.
David: And then they cut to his little cousin Jimmy Olsen a few states away?
Chris: Okay, that part I was not aware of.
David: Yeah. That Happened.
Chris: "Smallville": Ten Years of Having Our Cake and Eating It Too.
David: Smallville's Cat Grant is basically Mandy Moore from "Saved." Or maybe Reese Witherspoon in "Election." I mean, she doesn't really act like Cat Grant at all. She's supposed to be vamping it up, you know? Even when she was younger. This Cat Grant is just... like, kind of annoying. I mean, I believe she listens to Glorious Godfrey on the radio, because she seems like the kind of person who'd be into Glenn Beck.
Chris: Yeah, unlike the vampy Cat Grant of the comics, who's always trying to seduce Clark Kent, "Smallville's" Cat 2.0 seems extremely straight-laced and judgmental. All buttoned-up cardigans and homemade cookies.
David: Well, to be fair, the DCU Cat is certainly judgmental too, just not straight-laced. I also love how they really twist in the gay metaphor when Cat starts going on about "alternative lifestyles." I mean, this isn't the X-Men.
Chris: I actually really liked that bit, but it's weird that they would call her Cat Grant, especially as they've already used that name and it turns out that it's not even her real name anyway. It's purely done as a wink to the audience, but I thought it was pretty enjoyable to see the character needling at Clark.
David: Do you think her real name will end up being more specific?
Chris: Yeah, maybe she'd be Stephenie Lombard.
David: Like, it'll turn out she's ACTUALLY the Smallville version of, like, Lori Lemaris.
Chris: Ha! And the father of her child is Black Manta.
David: Enter: Bobb'e J. Thompson (From "Role Models") as Jackson Lake, Aqualad. Okay, now I really want to see this.
Chris: So anyway, Cat seemingly gets targeted for assassination, which everyone attributes to the fact that she's writing editorials about how much vigilantes suck. And the assassination attempts are carried out by Smallville Deadshot.
Chris: I am honesty not even sure how I feel about this guy.
David: He wouldn't be so bad without that godawful southern accent.
Chris: On the one hand, this is quite possibly the stupidest way they could've done a live-action Deadshot, as a crazy steampunk cowboy with a Cable scar over his eye and magic bullets that turn into little missiles when he fires them. But on the other hand, it's so ridiculously over the top that I can't help but kinda love it. This is what Deadshot would've been if he'd shown up in last summer's terrible "Jonah Hex" Movie.
David: That first scene, where he fires a bullet into Cat Grant's tailpipe? That was kind of awesome in how dumb it was.
Chris: Before you "Smallville" fans start leaving us angry comments about how horrible we are for referring to the actresses in such awful terms, I want to point out that "firing a bullet into Cat Grant's tailpipe" is not a metaphor. That is actually what happens.
David: Hahaha, yeah, I just thought that too. The bullet then gets compressed to ARNT, which allows them to make us think that it was meant for cAt gRaNT, when it was actually meant for clARk keNT.
Chris: That's right, everybody: We are literally dealing with a plot involving "a bullet with your name on it." This, I think, was a huge misstep by the makers of Smallville, as it's going to inevitably get compared to the Tom Selleck/Gene Simmons classic "Runaway," and that's no contest. "Runaway" had robot spiders.
David: I never got this whole signature kill thing. Wouldn't Deadshot's life be easier if he didn't make it blatantly obvious every time he committed a murder? "I wonder if this was Deadshot?" "Well, the bullet has the deceased's name on it and it had to travel through a helicopter to get here, so yes, I am pretty sure it is Deadshot."
Chris: In the second, plot, which was far more in tune with what you'd expect from a TV show about super-heroes, Green Arrow tried to track down Chloe after their prisoner exchange from the last episode. I know I've mentioned this before, but it still seems crazy to me that a show about Superman that won't let Clark Kent wear his costume and fly devotes like a third of its time to Green Arrow, in costume, doing Green Arrow stuff. Like, he even has a hood.
David: Here's another thing about Smallville's Green Arrow: Why is he just Batman? You could replace him with Batman and he would be exactly. The. Same. Probably even MORE appropriate.
Chris: I noticed that this episode. He is clearly Just Batman, and the writers are actually writing him as Batman. Which is probably why there are entire episodes about him instead of Clark, because he gets to be a super-hero.
David: Like, that whole breaking into Cat Grant's place? Total Batman move. And he doesn't spout over the top leftist ideology, like a Smallville Green Arrow should. I mean, Ollie Queen that age today would totally be like "yeah, man, back when I was crimefighting on the road with Rage a few years ago, me and Tom Morello..." Incense holder and jam bands in the Arrowmobile.
Chris: I thought the scene where he met Cat Grant was pretty great. She pulls out a pepper spray and he arrows it. She tries to taser him and he blocks it with a conveniently located tray on the table. Then she pulls out an airhorn and he shoots it. Replace arrows with Batarangs and yeah, totally Batmanning it up. I will say, though: Kind of a dick move in that he totally made exactly zero effort to assure Cat that he was not there to murder her.
David: Which would make sense -- wait for it -- IF HE WERE BATMAN. He fulfills the exact same role in the story, too: the human vigilante who operates in the shadows and reminds Clark to man up and be an inspiration.
Chris: So basically, what you're saying is that I liked the Green Arrow plot this week so much because it was actually a Batman plot in a green hood and sunglasses.
David: That is exactly what I am saying.
Chris: Makes sense.
David: The thing is, the way Smallville is going, they could totally have Oliver Queen change his name to Bruce Wayne and become Batman by the end of season ten. And then introduce another Oliver Queen.
Chris: So anyway, we find out that the guy who interrogated Green Arrow last week wasn't Desaad, as we had originally suspected, but actually Rick Flag, which becomes abundantly clear when we see that he even has a red stripe down the side of his pants.
Chris: This makes way more sense, and I'm actually a little embarrassed that we didn't pick up on it before.
David: Yeah, agreed. With the birth of the Suicide Squad, Checkmate everywhere and Glorious Godfrey railing against heroes on the radio, I think it's safe to say at this point that this season is basically the 1987 DC Universe crossover "LEGENDS."
Chris: Yeah, all the elements are there: Darkseid turning the public against the heroes in order to eliminate them so he can take over the world, using G. Gordon Godfrey as his point man. Also, it was just announced that they were going to do a Wonder Woman TV show, and the post-Crisis Wonder Woman comic was launched out of "Legends." So the odds of "Wonder Woman" being a "Smallville" spin-off? Not out of the question.
David: I look forward to it retroactively leading to the 1990s Flash TV show. Also, the '60s Batman.
Chris: Which will actually be about Oliver Queen.
David: Actually, they should just introduce Batman and Robin as faded-out washups from the '60s. Just straight up Adam West and Burt Ward wearing the old outfits. Talking to Clark about back in the day. Now I'm just writing fanfiction, but I WANT TO SEE IT
Chris: We also find out what happened to Chloe, sort of. She traded herself for Green Arrow, then when they started interrogating her, she apparently took a cyanide pill, but she had also taken a cyanide antidote beforehand so she's not dead. And I am pretty sure that is not how antidotes work, but since that's the least ridiculous plot point of this episode, it gets a pass.
David: Let's just pretend they said vaccine.
Chris: Also, the fact that Allison Mack wasn't in this episode meant that Cat Grant had to be the one to say the wink-wink nudge-nudge line "We all think we're made of steel." Seriously, "Smallville." Stop that.
David: Dude, that's only gonna get worse. "You're a true man of tomorrow, Clark!" "You've got a real eye for ACTION!" And I mean, just imagine how the Geoff Johns Blue & Gold episode is gonna be.
Chris: In the third plot, Lois Lane goes to Egypt and hangs out with archaeologist Carter Hall, alias Hawkman, with Michael Shanks reprising his role from "Absolute Justice." And I've gotta say, I was extremely disappointed that he didn't do his insanely over-the-top Christian Bale-lite Batman growl for the entire episode.
David: Yo, straight up: Hawkman is a Goddamn creep. In every continuity. He's just really, really creepy. He's like Hank Pym.
Chris: Yeah, Clark ends up having Lois sent to one of Hawkman's archaeological digs so that he can keep an eye on her, and Hawkman totally hits on her and tries make out with her. So ironically, Hawkman is a terrible wingman.
David: He also tells her his entire creepy origin story where he's cursed to an eternity of stalking, which I can't imagine any woman in the world would find even remotely hot.
Chris: Also, he's like "man, f--- secret identities. You know Clark's Superman, right?" But at the same time, we got some really good Lois stuff out of it. I'm surprised at how much I'm liking her as we watch this show.
David: Continuing two thumbs up for Durance, I hope she's on something else cool after this show. She's really the most interesting character. I'd be perfectly happy if Clark died next episode and the rest of the season was globetrotting Lois in the DCU.
Chris: I'm a little torn on her admitting that she doesn't think she could keep Clark's secret, but I also like the idea of her being such a good reporter that not telling the best story of her career would be a huge sacrifice for her. That's an element of her character that's occasionally been played with in the comics ever since the wedding, probably the highlight of the Loeb/Kelly era, and it gives her relationship with Clark a little depth that doesn't just come from "I like him because he saves me from falling out of helicopters."
David: I think the Loeb/Kelly era was a lot of my favorite Lois stuff. For all the guff I give Jeph Loeb, he really did write a hell of a Lois Lane. And there's a lot of that in this interpretation of the character, probably no mistake since Loeb used to write for the show.
Chris: All three plots eventually come back together when you find out that Deadshot and Rick Flag have magic bullets that make nanomite Suicide Squad logos, which also come from some water given to Hawkman by his serving wench, who is also Plastique.
Chris: I may have mentioned that this episode was completely insane.
David: NANOMITES! Those CGI sequences where they were burned in were completely ridiculous. In a good way.
Chris: Oh, totally. And I mean, I know we've pretty much known the Suicide Squad was coming since Amanda Waller showed up last year, but actually seeing them talk about Plastique and Deadshot -- even crazy southern accent cowboy Deadshot -- and Rick Flag and the words "Suicide Squad" on TV, Friday nights at 8? Crazy. It really is the live-action "Brave and the Bold" show at this point. And considering how much I've been enjoying it, maybe that's what it should've been all along. But then again, I doubt it would've lasted this long if it was.
David: It really changed with the times, I guess. When the show first debuted, teen dramas were all the rage, but with the popularity of "Battlestar" and "Lost" and "Heroes" suddenly big, dumb sci-fi spectacle became an acceptable thing on TV. "Smallville" was in the unique position of being able to adapt. I mean, the OC wasn't going to turn into a Fincherian reality-bending psychodrama for season six.
Chris: Man, what if it had, though? "The OC: Your Mind is the Scene of the Crime."
David: I wish TV shows had, like, creative team switches, and that dudes were okay writing existing shows. Imagine Aaron Sorkin's "Gossip Girl." I kid, though. The thing is, I can see Smallville being a blueprint for a show that IS launched as big dumb superhero spectacle on TV, you know? Something with a known name showrunner. That isn't, like, Tim Kring. I hope.
Chris: Right. Oh, and by the way, this happened:
David: Everything with Lois as usual, everything with "Batman," the timeliness of the Godfrey-as-radio-jock idea again in the Glenn Beck era. The Suicide Squad was pretty convincing.
Chris: Getting to hear some Glorious Godfrey was great. I really love how they're building up the Darkseid stuff, and even the way they've managed to adapt "Legends" to a world that doesn't actually have super-heroes. Cat Grant was, despite the crazy unnecessary use of the name, a pretty enjoyable character.
David: Well, they also had the kid thing. I look forward to him being killed by Smallville Toyman.
Chris: And yes, Lois was fantastic. Having her respond to Hawkman telling her his origin with "That's a terrible story" was my favorite bit of the episode by far. Honestly, there was an awful lot to like about this episode. Even the villain stuff that fell so flat for me in the first episode, despite the actual guy playing Luthormort being pretty fun, was good here. Deadshot was so damn stupid it was enjoyable.
David: We had to get to it eventually: Right now, in Metropolis, every day is "Thriller" Night. Let's get that jacket up on the big screen, Chris.
David: Pardon my Kryptonese, but: what in the f--- is this s---?
Chris: If this show would've opened with Clark wearing that jacket and telling Lois "I'm not like other guys," I would declare it the greatest use of television ever. Especially if Tom Welling made sure to say that he was not promoting a belief in the occult.
David: It may still happen!
Chris: The thing is, at this pont? That's pretty much the Smallville version of a super-hero costume, isn't it? I mean, Michael Shanks might wear an actual Hawkman outfit, but Green Arrow and the Legion just wear those goofy leather jackets.
David: Yeah, honestly, I dunno what separates this from him straight up puttin' on the red and blues.
Chris: Whether or not they're stupid (they are), it's probably a big deal for fans of Smallville that he's wearing a dumb looking red jacket with a Superman logo on it. I'm not saying I understand one bit of the logic behind it, but to be fair, it's a step up from Super-Neo.
Chris: For me, the big gripes of the episode were these: The increasing complexity of the Chloe/Green Arrow/Checkmate/Suicide Squad plot makes it seem less like a natural progression and more like something they had to do because Allison Mack couldn't make it to the set in time to film her scenes that week or something. Also, the sexy picture that Green Arrow finds while he's rifling through his own stuff looking for clues? That was both hilarious and strange.
Chris: Don't get me wrong, if the producers of Smallville think showing sexy GlamourShots™ of Allison Mack is the best way to further their kidnapping plot, then right on, I guess? Maybe it's got some significance in the show that I'm not aware of. The worst bit, though, was when they actually dropped the word "Superman" in this episode. I mean, I understand that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were at least on some level reacting to the whole "ubermensch" idea when they named their character Superman, but to straight up have Hawkman say "You know who had some good ideas? Nietzsche. Clark should do that stuff" was probably a bad idea.
David: Yeah, the usage of Nietzsche was utterly baffling, since who drops Nietzsche as advice on love? Other than a complete dick like Hawkman.
David: Looking forward to Supergirl next week, honestly, and more Godfrey. And more Lois. And "Batman." This is certainly way better than "Heroes."
Chris: Once again, we get an episode where Clark just doesn't do much, but the rest of it is so ludicrous and fun that it hardly matters. The rules of the show seem to apply only to Clark, and so we get a ton of scenes where characters basically shout "JUST BECOME SUPERMAN ALREADY," which, as someone who does the same thing at home, makes it oddly gratifying for me.
David: I'm perfectly fine with that, I really am. Clark's parts are the most boring parts of the show.
Chris: Yeah, but I'd say that's probably a pretty big problem in a show that's meant to be about Clark.
Chris: Overall, though, it's fun stuff. I'm enjoying it WAY more than I thought I would.
David: Yeah, it's way better than most other network TV, to be honest. I've mostly moved to cable for everything, but this knows what it is and just goes for it full-bore, with no more monsters of the week or even that much time spent on handwringing over romance.
Chris: The crazier it gets, the more I enjoy it. And I have a hard time believing this isn't going to keep getting crazier. Next week: Supergirl returns and Glorious Godfrey "is possessed by the dark force"! The Fourth World stuff is ramping up, and I predict complete lunacy.
David: I can't wait for Kanto. God, I hope we get Kanto. And will we just get Darkseid, or the entire New Gods too? And oh man, I can't wait to see a Motherbox.