Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 6 - Episode 22: "Phantom"

Reviews:

Phantom

Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

I am not a writer or professional critic so I don't focus on the technical aspects of making a show like the story structure or production values unless it is something that really stuck out to me and altered my feelings on the particular episode. Usually I write my reviews with my first impression and email them off within an hour or two of actually watching an episode. I refuse to get onto any fan sites until my review is done to keep my opinions un-influenced. I do this because I am just a fan and like to present my reviews as just a fan's idea on the show. The reason I say this is because one thing about this episode was the fact I had no clue what to think of it. I actually had to "sleep on it" and watch it again the next morning because right after watching it I could not say if I liked it or not. Which should say something about this episode. It's not that I thought it sucked but something was bugging me about it and I just could not put my finger on it.

So after watching it again and thinking about it some I came up with the following reason for my uncertainty. It was just way too rushed. Yeah, I know. Big surprise. I do not know why I could not see that from the get go. If there is one re-occurring complaint of mine for this series it is there tendency to cram too many major plot elements into one episode so it should not have surprised me that they did it again.

Watching the episode it kind of felt like someone figured out what cliffhanger's they wanted and then wrote backwards for the previous 40 minutes to try and figure out how to get the characters there. To make matters worse it was almost like they were in a hurry to get to there. The episode ended and I had to double check my DVR to make sure I actually watched the whole thing. I know time flies when you're having fun and all that but I am not sure that is completely a good thing here. Not that that was bad but ya know...It's just... Well to be honest, I cannot help but think if they spent a little less time in Jimmy's Film Noir dream world they would have had more time to deal with major issues in the final. Things like the Martian Manhunter, Lionel's plans, Bizzaro's creation, or even something like Chloe's super-power which may or may not have caused her death which is no small thing in my book. Jimmy's dream was fun but we were given almost a full episode of that. I would think that the Martian Manhunter would deserve at least as much. There are other "filler" episodes I would have gladly traded for more of the story lines in this episode.

I will be a bit irritated by Chloe's "death" if that truly is her final moments. My spidey sense tells me this is not the end of Chloe Sullivan so I am not going to get all worked up about it now. I will wait and see for sure before shaking my fist at the TV. I really doubt they would give her a super power that was a one use thing. Besides, having a super healer around is a great idea. Can you imagine the benefit she would be to the Justice League? Especially when you remember that Oliver got himself hooked on a narcotic in an attempt to deal with the injuries that come from fighting crime. A super power healer would be exactly what the doctor ordered for a superhero team.

Still if that was Allison Mack's final scene for the series, acting wise, l think she hit it out of the park and went out on a high note. Her sadness was so intense that I was crying and I could actually believe that it would kick her unknown super-power into overdrive. I have some questions, story wise, about what happened there but I do have to be fair and give them a chance to explain it next season. Did Chloe actually die? If so did she choose to give her life for Lois or did her grief take over and kick off an ability to transfer her life force into Lois? Is her "essence" inside Lois now? Is Lois going to be some kind of hybrid character now? A combination of Lois Lane and Chloe Sullivan? I cannot say I am too keen on that idea. I know long before Lois came on the show there was some discussion that Chloe could end up changing her name to Lois Lane and would actually be "the Lois Lane" we knew but this is something a bit more... well for lack of better word... Bizarre. I think I would have liked the name change thing more. I will have to see how it plays out but while I enjoyed Allison Mack's fantastic performance in this scene I am equally distressed by the story implications.

Continuing on with possible character endings... I get the feeling that this might be the last time we see Annette O'Toole on the show outside of maybe a guest staring cameo some time. I was glad to see they came up with a positive way to move her out of Clark's life without some kind of premature death or estranged relationship. Her absence will make absolute sense and completely fits with the story we have seen thus far.

Lana? Well let me make this "bet" with you all right now. If she is really dead then I will print off a copy of this review and Neal's and eat them both. Of course she faked her death. It would not have been any less obvious if they had her turn to Lionel and say "Stay back, I am going to fake my death now." I suppose it makes sense. Faking her death would be the only way she could escape the Luthors. She would have had to pay off some people for sure. The lack of human remains would be the biggest obstacle but one payment to a local official could take care of that I suppose. One has to assume as Lex's wife she had access to at least some of the Luthor funds. Lionel might have even helped her with it. She fulfilled what he needed her for so it would make sense that he would help her get out of Lex's sights. It fits but they already went down this road with Chloe and I cannot help but feel a bit disappointed that they are doing it again. Maybe she really is dead and I will literally be eating my words but I did not feel shocked or sad when her car blew up. I just groaned. I just did not believe it was real. Real death or not, I doubt that is the audience reaction they were going for there.

I was so glad to see we FINALLY know without a doubt what side Lionel is on. If anyone is still in doubt I suggest you read up a bit on our little green friend who shows up in this episode. J'onn can read minds. So if Lionel had less than noble intentions then J'onn would know it and there is no way he would be working with him. Sure Lionel has a bit of a problem with his ends justifying the means approach to things but he did have a "good" reason for everything he did.

Speaking of the Manhunter: This is one of the things I find myself uncertain about. I like that he was there and I think his presence is important for the fact that he is proof of Lionel's "innocence" but then I cannot help but be disappointed that is all he was there for. We have one scene of him trying to stop the Phantom before Lex can get it but it is brief and then a quick scene of him with Lionel and Clark. Sure it was cool to hear he worked for Jor-El and was some kind of intergalactic bounty hunter for the Kryptonians before the planet blew up. The problem is that leads to a lot of questions about Krypton's destruction that I do not think the writers of this episode considered. This is where I do notice story structure problems. If J'onn could freely travel two and from Krypton why were there only 4-5 survivors by my last count? Raya, Clark, and the two disciples of Zod. (Zod too if you count being a phantom as surviving.)

If space travel was so common on that world then there has to be more Kryptonians out there. This is not a deal breaker. Superman still works as a character even if he isn't completely the "Last" Kryptonian. There certainly are other things that could have happened beyond just the planet blowing up to cause almost all Kryptonians to be gone. They could have been hunted down, some kind of civil war, a major virus outbreak, or even giant killer fuzzy bunnies. So many options but that is the can of worms this back story opens. More importantly it brings up the questions as to why did Jor-el only send his son to Earth if they had easy access to space travel? If something kept him there then why not Lara? Why not other children? Sure Kara Zor-El might still be on her way I suppose but you would think her father or uncle would have notified J'onn about her as well as Clark. These are serious question that are more important to a series about Clark Kent than who the Martian Manhunter worked for before coming to Earth. Giving the Manhunter some background in Clark's life is neat but that raises a bunch of other questions that I am not certain will be answered. So I am happy yet bugged by it. Kind of Bizarre huh? Wink wink. Oh well, let us just roll with it and see if they get around to clearing some of that up next season.

I loved the idea of Bizzaro here. Making him a combination of Lex's super solder experiments and a Kryptonian wraith experiment is a fantastic idea. It gives the character a bit more depth than the simple degraded insane clone of Superman. Not so sure on the makeup effect at the end but I suppose they had to make some change to his appearance so that people would not identify Bizzaro as Clark. I loved how the Green Kryptonite just made him happy. That amused me to no end. I suppose since he is Bizzaro that Green K will affect him like Red K does Clark and visa-versa.

The fight between Clark and Bizzaro was pretty cool too. Knocking each other throughout the dam was great. The effects were fantastic and while there was some obvious CGI it was still pretty good. It will never get old to see super powered throw downs that involves Heroes and Villains knocking each other through 3 foot thick cement reinforced walls. I also like how Bizzaro could fly right away. It makes sense sine he would have no inhabitations to embracing his powers fully. When you get down to it, that is what is holding Clark back from accessing his full power range.

So all in all I have to give this episode a B- which is rather fitting for the introduction of Bizzaro. (Call it a 3.5 out of 5 Shattering super S crystals.) It was good but there were just some things that bugged me. Mostly involving pacing and unanswered questions. To be fair, many of my issues will probably be cleared up in next season's premier but I have to grade this one on its own merits and for pacing alone I need to knock it down a bit. They really need to spread this stuff out a bit more instead of cramming it all into one episode.

I wasn't sure about the Justice and Doom comic this week. For one they show us Chloe after we're meant to believe she died. I know it was set during last week's episode but it could have been placed better in this one. Also they implied that Lionel was working with Dr. Swann for at least a time. Was this before he was turned good or after? It was neat to see reference to them hiding the crystals that raised the Fortress but it does not explain why they were hid hundreds of years before Krypton was destroyed. I'll have to give that a C+ this week. As a whole though I liked the comic commercial idea. I kind of hope they do something like that again next season. It helps add a bit more depth to the story without breaking the budget bank I think.

Let me end this review with a few comments on the season as a whole. All in all I think the show has turned a corner and has evolved from its teen drama roots. I see it more as a sci-fi action show now than a teen drama. Sure there is still some of that mixed in but the focus this season has been on super heroes and villains unlike past seasons that focused more on relationships between Clark and the people around him. I like that and I think it improved the series as a whole and I hope that continues next season. There were some mis-steps. The villains always dying is one thing or even worse Clark actually killing them. Someone in the Smallville Development HQ needs to read a few Superman comics and point this out to their boss. Maybe some fans can rent a billboard outside of the producer's office that says SUPERMAN DOES NOT KILL or something. By my count there was only one outright kill by Clark and that was the Plant Lady but there were a few other questionable deaths and I am a bit disappointed by that. I understand that Clark cannot save everyone. I get that. I just think there are too many times where the villain ends up dead instead of in some of those neat handcuffs for super-villains. But all in all this was a good season with some fantastic episodes. I loved the Green Arrow and I hope to see more of him and the other heroes Clark has met. Heck give the Green Arrow his own series and I promise I'll watch it. Go as far as to make an actual Justice League series and I'll even make sure to buy a Toyota on my next car purchase.

Needless to say I cannot wait to get the DVD and dive right into them again.

Wow... That was long. Maybe my longest yet. Sorry. I even cut some out. Oh well, it is Bizzaro time.

I am looking forward to next season for sure. So until then I hope you all have a good summer (or winter for you south of the equator folks) See you then... and Stay Super.

Doug



Phantom

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • Lana blows up, Lois dies, Lois comes back, Chloe takes her place.
  • Chloe has super-tears.
  • Lex smacks Lana, Clark smacks himself.
  • Martha Kent has gone to Washington.
  • BIZARRO.

    REVIEW:

    Behold, he am not the man!

    Hah.

    Well, that was crazy. You go from sitting there, scribbling in a little notebook grumbling, to a moment not unlike the finales for seasons past, where you actually break out in gooseflesh, and I did. That cracked face sent me blowing back in my seat like the Memorex ad. What? Too old for you guys? COME ON. I'm twenty-seven.

    On the surface, and yes, in most general respects, this finale is a bit of an expected failure. Nothing from the past season has built up into anything that has a culmination that would have knocked me on my butt here, and they resort to the same old clichés without going anywhere with them. Actually, it's not just on the surface, it's deep into the heart of the thing.

    The Bizarro, however, justifies quite a bit. It's just plain out rad. I may not know HOW I got to that scene, but I did enjoy it.

    However, and this is the sad part, I'm gonna be able to pick this thing into about eight hundred pieces, mostly because of the typical ignorance of about fifty other plot points this show has come to be known for. Characters out of character, irrational conclusions, scenes that make little sense, the usual suspects.

    Seperated from the show by an hour and a half, I now begin to doubt that a two which was a three because of a wonderful, spine-tingling moment, is not instead just a two with one redeeming feature that doesn't justify a bump. Walk with me. I've been doing this for six years, and I still can't peg it in the first five minutes? Someone get me a valium.

    They open with a rather long summary. It doesn't actually add anything to the plot at hand, it's just a basic summation of what happened this season, which is okay, I guess. Problem is, it's not really a plot based setup (how could it be?), but rather a parade of some of the cooler special effects shown in order in order to play on your psyche. Still, it worked for me, even if it went a bit late.

    VIVA LES FRENCHIES! Hoh hoh hoh! (Said in a nasal tone). We swoop down from the clouds to QUEBEC, a small cabin in the middle of nowhere with little plumbing and people who are quaint, religious, and lack running water, it would seem. Bienvenue!

    Linda Blair got old, and Linda Blair got Fugly, so there's only one thing to do...call the Martian Manhunter. He pops in wearing his signature blue jacket, and tries to exorcise the demon!

    Does he use his ability to turn intangible? How about Martian vision? Maybe his super-strength? Could it be his Martian breath? How about his telepathic powers of command? His ability to bend people's will?

    Well, no. Basically he stands there, gets his guts pulled out, then gets smacked through a roof.

    To a degree, I get what they're doing here. They're saying, oh, man, look, this guy took out Martian Manhunter that fast, what chance does Clark have? The problem being, we've only seen Manhunter twice, he has none of his traditional powers or abilities beyond flight and, uh, fire hands, so even if I know that in the comics he's a big deal, here I'm less convinced, and wondering why Manhunter runs.

    I mean, seriously, the guy pulls out some of his guts (and I don't know if I'm correct here, but doesn't Martian Manhunter have regenerative capabilities and a mutable body form?), and punches Manhunter, so what does he do?

    He runs like a little bich. Oooh, girly man! Little Manhunter gets punched and runs away! Oh, he came in all red-eyes and ready to throw down, but he got slapped like a punk by a French-speaking old fart and goes crying back to his momma. Oh, wait, he don't have no momma! Snaps!

    What a puss.

    He ABANDONS these poor people to be killed! What a lame-o.

    But in all seriousness, the flight is cool, the situation is somewhat creepy, and it's a half-promising start, even if the setup doesn't make much sense.

    Lex rushes in, and I'm wondering how the heck they plan to take the Phantom down, and for that matter, how they got the kid later. I mean, did they sedate him, or what? And why didn't the Phantom just tear everyone in that room to pieces one by one? He's afraid of a sedative or something?

    When Manhunter comes in, he's got those red eyes, I wonder why. I know, it sets the scene, but if you're coming to save someone you're about to abandon, why scare the bejesus out of them? Oh yeah, I forgot. That's how Martians knock. I hope they don't say goodbye like the aliens in Scary Movie 3.

    The entrails of the French old dude on the ground was pretty brutal. I dug it.

    From here, most everything is soap opera for the rest of the show, with a few rare exceptions. It's a yawn-fest, for the most part, and most of the conversations are irrationally derived or repetitious from seasons past.

    Lex confronts Lionel with going behind his back. He brings up (I couldn't stop cracking up) Lana's attack on his briefcase being on tape. Ninja Lana fails again! Snortle.

    He says, "DAD! I WANT YOU OUT OF MY LIFE! WE'RE EVEN! IT'S WAR! NYAH!"

    Paraphrased, but anyway, it's the same damned speech he's been giving Lionel since season two, when he first decided to go on his own. He took over the company, then let Lionel back irrationally. That's happened three or four times now, the FINAL DECLARATION OF WAR BETWEEN LIONEL AND LEX!

    It rings farty true. Which is false with a bad smell.

    Forty to fifty producers scroll by again. I wish I'd never noticed it, because now it distracts me during that first scene.

    Martha and Clark speak of her leaving and why he's staying. I wanted to feel emotion here, I did, but honestly, it's just another cast member leaving with little to no reason and short notice. It felt a lot like when Pete goes. It's also just odd. When Steve and I first found out, we actually said the line of dialogue that Martha spurts. I can't remember if he said it or I said it, but it was, "I can't believe Martha Kent is leaving the Kent farm before Clark Kent does." Another case of one of the many times the dialogue on the show underscores one of its critical failings, tragically. If only this were one of the many finale pump-fakes we always seem to get, where they pretend something is really going to change and then nothing does.

    My love...my love is gone! And so it goes.

    Then another irrational scene. Lois, while cradling Wes as he died, apparently memorized and wrote down the stereotypical gibberish he was speaking, and GET THIS, it's latitude and longitude! So he can get himself sane enough to spout a message, but he doesn't say, "REEVES DAM!" he gives her co-ordinates. How...plot convenient.

    Then, to ratchet up the arbitrary drama, Chloe, the person who's been going after evildoers and specifically the Luthors for half a decade now, tells Lois that it's not worth it to try and go after them, and tries to persuade her not to. Totally out of character, off-putting, and a waste of critical time.

    Say it with me: SOAP OPERA BULL#%$&.

    I have just control-c'ed that statement, because I know, I flat-out KNOW it's gonna come up at least five times in this review.

    There's also Lois' dialogue, rife with stereotypes. "You don't charge straight into enemy fire!"

    Oy.

    Cut to Lana staring wistfully into the waning daylight of the barn. Check your watch, ten minutes in, it's Clana time.

    She turns to Clark, and lets him know that she's decided she can't stay with Lex. She's LEAVING!

    Oh no! Lana can't leave! We love Lana! I wonder if she's leaving forever and ever and not coming back, because that plot has NEVER been done before! Cough PARIS cough.

    But stop, because we have to go back here. What have the last five episodes established. Yeah, it's that Lana is staying with Lex only to protect Clark, because that's what she HAS TO DO to protect Clark. I have been screaming at the top of my lungs that this makes no sense for months, but then, here the show again highlights its own failures through a "dramatic" twist that undermines its own stated motivations.

    Lana is supposed to be heroic for staying with Lex (actually villainous), so here, she violates her own "heroic" motivations entirely to selfishly get away from Lex, and leaves Clark to the wind (actually villainous by her own motivations, though does Clark say anything?)

    So she's about to leave, and Clark SUPERSPEEDS in front of her and starts telling her about his secret. She knows he can superspeed. He then tells her he's an alien from another planet, and that he rocketed off as his planet exploded at the last second, and that he was sent to be saved from his planet's fate.

    Correct me if I'm wrong (and I may be, it's so damned rare we see Smallville mythology), but doesn't Clark lack any knowledge of how or why Krypton was destroyed beyond a scant Brainiac musing that Jor-El was responsible? And how does he know he was sent here to be saved? I thought it was "RULE OVER THEM WISELY. KEEP THE PIMP HAND STRONG." Right?

    Man, I just had the sudden urge to have a plaque made up with Zod's face on it, with one of those golden letterings below it: Keep the pimp hand strong.

    I do believe I'll do that first thing tomorrow morning.

    You think I'm kidding. Wait and see.

    So Clark tells Lana stuff his character doesn't know, and neglects to tell her that he can shoot flames from his eyes, tell her the color of her underwear, breath himself a cold shower, and leap tall buildings.

    And this guy's gonna be a descriptive writer? Holy hell.

    Lana learning the secret is one-note, it falls flat, and it's incredibly disappointing after six years of its tension being strung out. The reason for this, though this has been said by many beyond me many thousands of times, is because they played the Clana too hard, for too long, and removed any compelling drama it might have had with the fact that a clinically retarded blind mute would have seen through Clark by now.

    Lana then intimates that she's leaving...to protect Clark. Kid you not. Check the tape.

    Sigh.

    Say it with me: SOAP OPERA BULL#%$&.

    She brings up the fact that HE HAS A WEAKNESS, and that SOMEONE COULD KILL HIM WITH IT. This is to make us sympathetic with her motivations, which have one-eightied, even though her motivations are that because Kryptonite exists and Clark might come near it, she should abandon him to fend for himself because she's causing him to be attacked, which has happened exactly zero times.

    Clark and Lana continue the conversation, walking five feet. Clark falls to the ground. "Kryptonite!" Lana picks it up and tosses it away. Clark gets up. "Phew! That was close!" They continue walking. Clark falls to the ground. "Kryptonite!"

    Obliquely, this is me pointing out that Kryptonite is in the water in Smallville, and Clark has encountered it ten thousand times to no ill effect. Does he mention this to Lana? Does he say, "Oh, no sweat. I can survive for three hours under its exposure, and shoot FIRE FROM MY FRICKIN' EYES!"

    Nah.

    Clark then asks Lana to tell him EVERYTHING SHE KNOWS. Why? Because such information will help Clark avoid his fate, and save her, and make life good again. Lana's leaving town, after all, FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER AND EVER, and thereby will have no need to hide information from Clark, because she won't be around to endanger him anymore...I think. Right?

    Anyway, she makes it pulling teeth and then tells him Lionel forced her into marrying Lex. He blazes off to be edgy.

    Say it with me: SOAP OPERA BULL#%$&.

    Clark meets Lionel in the hallways of Luthorcorp and beats the bejesus out of him on an assumption. Ah, young Superman, you're so mischevious! What a poor example you set for L'il Lobo!

    I don't even have to tell you why this disappoints me, if you're still reading. It's a patently ridiculous attempt to make the stakes seem higher and Clark to seem EDGY. Instead, it makes him look like a brutal sadist $#%hole who uses force to get his way, which isn't even the level to which Batman sinks unless he HAS to. On unverified information from a fifty-time liar. It's supposed to seem like he's a justified bad@#$ here, which is why it plays so horribly to me. Hands-down, one of the most disappointing scenes of this show.

    Seriously, folks. He beats an old man to the point of bleeding out the mouth after throwing him ten feet over something he SAID. Is that heroic?

    Martian Manhunter stops him. He doesn't say, "Uh, dude, you're Superman!" He says, "Stop! This is the Emissary of Jor-El!"

    Ah-wha? So Clark learns that Lionel was possessed a year ago and knew Zod was coming. Exactly HOW does that relate to helping Clark in any way? Step back and think about this scene. Clark is about to KILL Lionel for blackmailing Lana. Martian Manhunter stops him, the subject changes to who Martian Manhunter is and what he's doing, Lionel is never resolved, and somehow that murderous, bad@##, "justified" rage just becomes a scene out of context written by hacks that undermines who Superman is.

    Goody.

    Say it with me: SOAP OPERA BULL#%$&.

    Martian Manhunter explains that he used to work with Jor-El stopping Phantom Zoners. Uh, except that's a bit off in terms of plausibility, given that Manhunter is the last of his kind and came to Earth as Mars and its people died. Otherwise, why the heck would the Martians have stayed on Mars if they had extra-dimensional/space travel?

    So we have two Martian Manhunters. One is J'onn J'onzz, the green, high browed red-eyes guy who can fly and has most of Superman's powers plus some telepathic powers, with a rich and diverse history.

    Then we have John Jones, a guy in a blue suit who flies, has flaming hands, has red eyes, and worked for Jor-El before Krypton exploded.

    Here's an analogy for you: Brainiac :: Brainiac as Martian Manhunter :: Martian Manhunter.

    The cool factor of his appearance is completely undermined by this. Why bring the Manhunter on at all if you're not going to use any of what makes him who he is?

    Lex and Lana square off in the mansion. Instead of faking loving each other, they're suddenly snappy at each other and hate each other's guts, like much of season five's beginnings.

    Lana makes the accusation that Lex made her pregnant, something she only assumes and had no proof of, thanks to Lex's murder. Nonetheless, she knows it from nowhere. You can HEAR the plot snapping at this point under the weight of building up so much only to not use it.

    She accuses Lex of, yes, folks, LIES on top of LIES!

    SECRETS!

    LIES!

    Remember the lines last week? "No more secrets?" "No more secrets."

    Actual lines.

    "You aren't capable of love, Lex! You never were!" (Lana to Lex, season six)

    "You never really loved me at all, did you?" (Lana to Clark, season five)

    "If you loved me, you'd tell me your secret!" (etcetera, derivative)

    Lana has decided to leave Lex to "protect" Clark. So what does she do? She goes to his house, purposefully goads him to the point of beating her, and then actually offers him the idea of killing her. I kid you not.

    "Clark means more to me than you ever will!"

    SMACK!

    "That's the last time you'll EVER touch me!"

    (Followed, not kidding, by her trying to leave and Lex grabbing her by the arm less than three seconds later, TOUCHING her. Har.)

    "What are you going to do, Lex, KILL ME?" (Emphasis mine).

    So they undermine half the season of setup that Lana's a martyr protecting Clark by giving her a new rationale...bugging. And then they undermine that entirely for an arbitrarily dramatic confrontation.

    Now, those of you who got mad at me and thought me incorrect when I suggested that Lana was wrong for slapping Lex and Clark over a disagreement (which is really what trying to kiss someone and failing is, when malice is not present), I hope you'll gladly write me now explaining how justified you think it is that Lex belts Lana because she goads him.

    Of course, we in sane-land will realize that it was wrong. But beyond that, it was out of character for Lex, who honestly loves Lana, it would seem, even if he uses her (much like his father), and played the "girl getting beaten" card for the gut feel that has with the public instead of giving it a play-up and justification that justifies it. Even the Dibny rape, to me, better served the plot, and I found it somewhat cheap ultimately.

    Bringing it back a few weeks, this dumb broad is one ditzy dame. She even fails to use her Lana-Fu self-defense against HER OWN SENSEI!

    Say it with me: SOAP OPERA BULL#%$&.

    The new establishing Luthorcorp at night shot actually worked well, a big improvement over last week.

    Clark and Chloe research the Phantom, and Clark makes the miraculous leap of logic that because a boy is missing and was loaded into a helicopter, Lex is obviously kidnapping him to get the Phantom out of him, when Clark doesn't even know that Lex is hunting for Phantoms for power. CRITICAL gap here.

    Snoopy old Lois goes to Reeves Dam, the location of the co-ordinates. She encounters Lex's one ept guard (the rest are inept). He pulls a gun, and she manages to stop it by knocking it aside, but somehow a KNIFE is too much. Go figure. Lois doesn't claim the gun, she just gets co-stabbed.

    Being a military brat, she knows quite rightly that the best way to treat a catastrophic puncture wound is not to remove the object in question. So she yanks it out so she can bleed all over the place and die. The guard apparently never recovers in the time it takes Chloe to drive out there from his headbutt. That's good for the plot.

    She pulls out her cell phone, desperate, and says, "CHLOE!"

    That's it. Then she dies. Chloe somehow finds her from this, though I'm at a loss as to how when they made a very big point of Lois NOT telling Chloe where she was going and tearing up the numbers to indicate they mean nothing.

    Say it with me: SOAP OPERA BULL#%$&.

    Now this next scene is just flat embarrassing. Lana is going to her vehicle to ESCAPE from...well, everybody. She doesn't trust ANYONE anymore, for anything, forever and ever. Well, they just established a few scenes back how much she trusted Clark, leading into a somewhat beautiful kiss scene despite the absurdity of what led into it. But no one else! Except Lionel, who she's working with. Except in this scene, when she doesn't trust him.

    Watch the scene. She JOGS while holding the phone, the JOG OF TERROR. Lionel is literally pacing less than fifteen feet back. He's talking to her. He could literally shut his phone off and keep talking to her. She pretends she doesn't see him. AND, seriously, watch it again and check this out. When Lionel gets out of his limo, even though they can see her right there, he looks around like, "Oh, where's Lana! Where did she go!?"

    She's a magician, too. Maybe she has the Manhunter's invisibility we never see.

    She gets into her SUV, and Lex does the Dr. Evil henchman about to be rolled over by the steamroller.

    "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

    Even though he has no reason to really be worried, I mean, she's just getting in her car.

    BOOOOOOOOOOM!

    Oh...my...god! They killed Lana!

    Yeah right. It falls about as dead as Lois' death. Sure. They're gonna kill her. Right. Yeah. I'd buy that for a dollar, but do I get a brick filled with cheese?

    Again, if you watch this, it uses the same premise as Chloe's "death" in the season three finale, which rocked. She goes in, immediate explosion at the sound of the ignition, no possibly chance of escape.

    Instead, they show an ice cream truck going by. The pacing indicates that there's no possible way at all Lana could have gotten to it, but you watch, that'll be the way she faked her own death to get away from Lex and Lionel, only to come back the next episode and have everyone be hunky dory with her again, because face it, she's amazing. I'd even bet money on this. Not that anyone would take that bet.

    Lionel tells Clark, and he nearly cries, the emotion in the scene is very powerful. Welling did a good job, good enough to make you forget what led into this scene. Glover as well. A very powerful, good scene.

    Allison, too, delivers quite a powerful reaction to Lois' death, even if you know it's a pump-fake. She's honestly devastated, and it hurt.

    Then, we learn the devastating secret:

    CHLOE IS CHUCK NORRIS.

    My logic is infallible. I will prove it. Among the legion number of unassailable truths about Chuck Norris, among my favorites is:

    "Chuck Norris' tears have healing properties. Too bad he has never cried. Ever."

    Joking aside, the scene had potential, then revoked it. Chloe's power, that of healing tears, is quite interesting. She cries onto Lois, then seemingly takes her place. The problem is, they make a big show of Chloe ABSORBING into Lois, and then wait a few seconds with strategic camerawork to make us believe she's become part of Lois, torturing the people who actually wanted Chloe to be Lois as opposed to Lois being this attention-starved semi-plasticine pain in the butt.

    Instead, they have her somehow teleport three feet and be dead, a cheap trick, and one that isn't coherent.

    Chloe sacrificing herself to save Lois is a noble thing, but I have very little faith that it's any kind of real change. I used to believe they'd kill Chloe for dramatic effect at some point. Same with Lionel. That takes, however, story courage, and the only reason anyone ever leaves the show is if it's predestined, like Jonathan and Ollie, or if they get fired or leave, like Pete and Martha. The status quo NEVER changed, never has, and never will, beyond Lex being lightswitch evil. And that's sad.

    Justice and Doom ended well. I hope they make an interactive cartoon a regular feature. It's pretty neat, and I liked it quite a bit.

    Lex tells his doctors, "Hope isn't a word in my vocabulary!" while he says the word. Har. And yes, I know, I'm joking. Either way, it's a cheesy line, and it's a bad way to characterize, like when Lana's independent for pruning her own flowers.

    If Lex SAYS he doesn't believe in hope, he's obviously DARK!

    Nah. He's dark if he busts a cap in a five-year-old for beating him at Chutes and Ladders. And unlike Clark, that makes him edgy and bas@$%, because he's SUPPOSED to act like that.

    Lex running while his men die is awesome in a sea of not awesome. Here the show starts to really heat up and get awesome.

    Lionel goes to the dam to stop Clark from killing Lex, and Clark follows. That's great. I thought Clark would just suddenly be there without reason. Surprising attention to plot.

    Clark confronts Lex, and Lex honestly doesn't know Lana is "dead." Rosenbaum plays it well, and it plays quite painfully. Again, grief is the best part of this show, these guys are great actors when they're not relying on a script, but rather their talents.

    Clark fights the Phantom, who rushes at him, and then splits him in two. For a split second, we see the Superman symbol. Why?

    In chat, people suggested it was his essence splitting, but I don't buy that.

    Okay, I just went downstairs and watched it again, in super slow-mo. Clark uses the crystal to try and contain the Phantom, but instead the crystal shatters and sends him flying.

    So either all the Phantoms he spent all season catching are free or dead.

    The kid overplayed it, but it was so creepy it worked somehow.

    A pause to note that Lionel and Manhunter's point in the plot was to inform Clark that this character can easily PWN him. What does Clark do? Walks right up and gets pwned. Bright.

    The cops come and arrest Lex for the murder of Lana Lang. All fine well and good, until you realize there's no evidence beyond suspicion, and our government can't hold people without evidence indefinitely on a whim.

    Er, wait. Never mind.

    Lionel rushes in to stop the villain, hits him with the green K, and it ENERGIZES him. WOOT. This is Bizarro. Now we know. I thought they were gonna go all cheap knockoff, just another Clark, but BAM! He kicks Clark about, then bursts to FULL FLIGHT, his face cracks, BAM! Goosebumps.

    I didn't get gooseflesh with subsequent viewings, mostly because it's a one-trick WOW, unlike, say, the season three finale, but still, quite rad, and even if it's not goosebump inspiring in repeat viewings, it's still awesome.

    "I'm you, only a little more bizarre!"

    Pretty much one of the worst lines ever. I completely absolve and forgive whoever wrote it, because the payoff thirty seconds later made up for it.

    The run at each other schooled me, and just generally, it was a GREAT ending. So great, you wonder where the heck it came from with all the nonsense that preceded it.

    I was ready to tear Bizarro apart. Al Gough personally told me in an interview in 2002 that they weren't going to do Bizarro, because that's what Red K Clark was. I bought into that, and agreed. I take it back. This rocks, and I hope they go somewhere with it.

    How does this rate next to other finales?

    Season 1) A twister. Oooh. Kicks the crap out of that one in context of time. Then again, so does what comes after bran and coffee. Doesn't take much.

    Season 2) Clark leaves town. Epic at the time, not as rad now.

    Season 3) Will never be beaten, period.

    Season 4) God, I don't even remember what happened. Genevieve died? Lana left. What else? Oh yeah, a meteor hit the Kent joint. Man, that one stank.

    Season 5) Zod, baby. Odd, but better than this.

    So okay, in context, it has a much cooler end dilemma. ALSO in context, the subplots and payoffs all sucked much more than usual.

    Here I am, six years later. I've gone through every salient point in this episode, and unfortunately, very few of them have any payoff beyond forced emotional beats and dilemmas that will be easily and pointlessly resolved. No major character progression for the entire season beyond Lex, and at that, lightswitch style. New comic characters, but they weren't present in this finale beyond Manhunter, who isn't really Manhunter, and Bizarro, who is half a second.

    Here's the honest truth. Looking what I wrote above, this episode would be a 1 in the rest of the season, maybe a 2 with the Bizarro cool ending. Nothing really stood out, the dilemmas didn't grab me. I sighed through much of this episode.

    The finale makes me want to say 3-4, just out of habit.

    I can't. I've gotta be honest. I've gotta go my gut. I'm going to say 1 for the content beyond the finish, and I'll take it up (very kindly) to a 2.5 with the Bizarro ending. Disappointing for a finale. Incredibly disappointing.

    Now, prepare to be rocked all to hell, as I present the last super short review of the year: SMALLVILLE 322: AN ARTISTIC RE-ENACTMENT!

    Those are my rejection letters, by the way, and yes, that does say "Garth."

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    RE-REVIEW:

    Traditionally, I've looked back on a season to crunch some numbers and just to make sure that I'm being fair. So continues that tradition:

    Here are the ratings for this season:

    Zod: 4.5 of 5
    Sneeze: 1 of 5
    Wither: 1 of 5
    Arrow: 3 of 5
    Reunion: 4.5 of 5
    Fallout: 1 of 5
    Rage: 1 of 5
    Static: 1 of 5
    Subterranean: 1 of 5
    Hydro: 1 of 5
    Justice: 4.5 of 5
    Labyrinth: 2 of 5
    Crimson: 1 of 5
    Trespass: 1 of 5
    Freak: 1 of 5
    Promise: 5 of 5
    Combat: 1.5 of 5
    Progeny: 3 of 5
    Nemesis: 2.5
    Noir: 3 of 5
    Prototype: 1 of 5
    Phantom: 2.5 of 5

    So that's:

    1 x 5 of 5s
    3 x 4.5 of 5s
    3 x 4 of 5s
    2 x 2.5 of 5s
    1 x 2 of 5
    1 x 1.5 of 5
    11 x 1 of 5s

    Pretty abysmal, when it comes down to it. If you look back, there were more episodes with a one rating than in the ENTIRE RUN OF THE SHOW. If season four stank, it was only in contrast to the brilliance of the three seasons that preceded it. Now, compared to this season, that season looks like glory on wheels.

    There was only one five for the whole year. ONE. One episode that met and exceeded expectations of the regular standard established over six years.

    More than half of the season fell below average and only roughly a third of the episodes even passed muster.

    Frankly, that disgusts me. This show has such potential.

    Statistical average rating for a show this season? 2.272. An average episode is now a 2.

    Compare that to the last few years:

    Season five:

    2 x 4.5 of 5s
    5 x 4 of 5s
    1 x 3.5 of 5
    1 x 3 of 5
    4 x 2.5 of 5s
    4 x 2 of 5s
    2 x 1.5 of 5s
    3 x 1 of 5s

    Season four:

    5 x 1 of 5s
    2 x 1.5 of 5s
    4 x 2 of 5s
    1 x 2.5 of 5
    3 x 3 of 5s
    1 x 3.5 of 5
    3 x 4 of 5s
    3 x 5 of 5s

    (2.63 average)

    Season three:

    2 x 1 of 5s
    2 x 2 of 5s
    1 x 2.5 of 5
    2 x 3 of 5s
    3 x 3.5 of 5s
    3 x 4 of 5s
    3 x 4.5 of 5s
    6 x 5 of 5s

    (3.66 average)

    Season two:

    0 x 1 of 5s,
    7 x 2 of 5s,
    1 x 3 of 5s,
    1 x 3.5 of 5
    4 x 4 of 5s,
    10 x 5 of 5s.
    1 x 6 of 5, if you count ferrets.

    (3.76 average, 3.80 if you count ferrets)

    Season one:

    6 x 5 of 5s,
    9 x 4 of 5s,
    1 x 3.5 of 5
    3 x 3 of 5s,
    2 x 2 of 5s

    (3.92 average)

    Now, to give it a fair shot, here's the re-review.

    Episode 1: "Zod"
    Clark and Lex throw down, Clark makes his way out of the Phantom Zone and establishes the premise of baddies from Krypton, a little mythos, a lot of good action. I'm gonna bump this one, because I remember it quite fondly.
    5 of 5.

    Episode 2: "Sneeze"
    Clark gets a new power, the ability to use his super-breath. Unfortunately, he hardly ever used it again, the setup was rife with problems and cliché, and in the end, it was just a gimmick that fell awfully flat. I'm sticking with my one.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 3: "Wither"
    A lamentably forgettable hot chick with ill-defined powers pops up, and Clark kills her. The first of many murders this season. Go, Clark! Yeah, I'm good with my original rating.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 4: "Arrow"
    This episode was full of inconsistencies and a lot of failing character motivations and inconsistency, but it also provided us with a debut for the Green Arrow, and a somewhat interesting one. Famous for the arrow meets bullet that's bloody impossible, at least it had some mythos. Unfortunately, it launched half a season where Clark plays second fiddle to a guest star. Still, I like the rating. The good evened out the bad.
    3 of 5.

    Episode 5: "Reunion"
    I'm looking over the summary and wondering why I rated this one so high. It's a story of Lex as a kid, and of Oliver growing up with him. Okay. Reading it, I realize that there was a rather poignant character dilemma, in that Lex and Oliver both share a failing over a kid they could have helped. Still, the fact that I had to look that up to remember it about six months later shows that it lacks a necessary staying quality to be epic as I rated it. I'm taking it down.
    3 of 5.

    Episode 6: "Fallout"
    AKA, let's make a show around L'il Bow Wow. Not changing this one. Not on your life.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 7: "Rage"
    Your typical "character takes drugs/whatever" and goes out of character. Not enthralling, and taking focus away from Clark onto Green Arrow. Also, more women beating men and getting away with it, cheap story devices like on-again, off-again relationships. Not a strong moment. Same rating.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 8: "Static"
    Batista-o-rama, a Martian Manhunter who uses flame hands, and more Lex/Lana drama. Goody. Or not.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 9: "Subterranean"
    Take a bunch of ethnic stereotypes, give Clark a firm stance on a hotbutton issue, make another archetypical freak of the week, and totally waste a bad@$% Lex Luthor moment in a forgettable episode. Rating stands.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 10: "Hydro"
    Crap tastes like Tori Spelling.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 11: "Justice"
    Though rife with plot inconsistencies, a plain fun episode, start to finish. Disjointing to the mythos, but largely forgiveable thanks to the teaming of multiple guest stars from seasons past, all from pretty great episodes. A mythology step, and a great one. I'm bumping it up.
    5 of 5.

    Episode 12: "Labyrinth"
    The Martian Manhunter mind parasite. Already done plot, but in the end we get Jor-El is Soap, one of my all-time favorite phrases. Unfortunately, it's not enough to make this episode memorable, and I'm gonna chop it down as such.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 13: "Crimson"
    Basically a re-imagining of Red and Hypnotic that's supposed to be groovy because Clark's out of character and he kisses Lois. All bad things in this episode are immediately forgotten. F-
    1 of 5.

    Episode 14: "Trespass"
    Lana's got a stalker. Good gravy, if by gravy you mean vomit, and good you mean projectile.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 15: "Freak"
    Chloe finds a guy who finds freaks, and learns that she's a freak. It's a freak of the week story with a novel concept, Chloe learning that she's a freak. Still, the beat is mismanaged, and ultimately, it's still freak of the week.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 16: "Promise"
    The wedding episode. As promised, given the fact that none of the major potential this episode showed in its premise was brought to any kind of passable dramatic fruition, I'm knocking it down.
    3 of 5.

    Episode 17: "Combat"
    Lois in hotpants, more wrestlers, Clark kills yet again, what more could a dude want? This one drops a notch.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 18: "Progeny"
    Chloe finds her mother, and her mother is another homicidal freak of the week. Still, Carter puts in a great performance for what it is, and there are some great scenes. Enjoyable, at least. Average. I stick by the rating.
    3 of 5.

    Episode 19: "Nemesis"
    Clark and Lex fight underground, in an inconsistent kryptonite but viewer-pleasingly strong show. Unfortunately, it regresses Lex back to good guy for the most part, and plays retarded off the Lana and Lex drama. Still, not horrible, ultimately. Just not great. A little below average. I'll stick with my rating.
    2.5 of 5.

    Episode 20: "Noir"
    Technically beautiful, but plot deficient. The rating still sticks as pretty fair in my mind two weeks removed.
    3 of 5.

    Episode 21: "Prototype"
    Another freak of the week filler, made worse because it's an opportunity to characterize Lois that fails and falls into schlock. Also, Clark kills again, oh boy.
    1 of 5.

    Episode 22: "Phantom"
    Bizarro is cool, as is some of the acting from the mains, but ultimately the show falls into dramatic cliché, little is resolved, and the major dilemmas are all stock and mostly have been done before. Also, Martha leaves. Suck.
    2.5 of 5.

    The re-review doesn't help, and actually drags the season down to a 1.95.

    The lesson to be learned from all this?
    Is there one?
    I mean, you ever heard the story about the snake? "Bich, you knew I was a snake."
    This is television. You can't expect it not to break your heart. If you expect greatness, pretty generally, you will be thwarted, just like in other mediums.
    What is rare, however, is a show to start so well and devolve to this level on so many facets of its creation and execution.
    Step back, Smallville. Step back, and examine character. Examine your formulaic nature. Examine what would bring the fans who have left back.
    It is NOT:
    Clark killing.
    Lana scenes.
    Lex Luthor pussified.
    Clark killing even more.
    WWE guest stars.
    Paris Hilton-style heiress guest stars.
    Eighteen producers but no palpable money in the effects.
    Another character upstaging Clark for half the season.
    Throwing in guest heroes when they won't be guest heroes.
    Blowing a new power.
    The same plots.
    FREAKS (I say again.)

    It IS:
    Mythology based plots in actual concepts from the comics.
    Characters who are true to their origin and follow a logical progression.
    Action scenes that (while not necessarily frequent) rock like all hell.
    Any kind of subtle acknowledgement of a way that this show could fulfill it's intended premise after six long years. (Glasses, flight, journalistic leanings, leaving home, training, a suit/costume).
    Less chimes.

    It's really quite obvious that there is a cog loose somewhere in the works. Take a second. Knock it back in line. You won't regret it. Hell, you'll profit from it.
    Please, guys, for me. For us. For six years of fandom, NO MORE SEASONS LIKE THIS ONE.

    LETTERS:

    Caleb Garcia sent:

    (NOTE, beware of minor swear in the following, it can't be %(#$^ed. You've been warned! Neal)

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Entourage

    Nice! Thanks, Caleb!

    Mat wrote:
    In your Birthright article you neglect the "sliding timescale" as used in most comic book plots. Regardless of what year the story appeared to take place in, the actual time period relative to the current year in the comic is indiscriminately placed in the past at some indeterminate point. Say 5 or 6 years ago. It doesn't matter. Timelines in comics have never made sense, take for instance that Franklin was born to Reed and Sue Richards way back in 1968, but in 2007 he's still ten years old.

    I disagree. It does matter. At least, it did, back when Superman was following a linear progression, something I prefer. I didn't neglect the sliding timescale. I was simply operating under the assumption DC put in our heads, that Superman was a linear entity with a set beginning, progressing in a continuous fashion. Continuity. Don't worry, they've completely disregarded that now.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:

    "Smallville" is about to conclude its sixth year, with perhaps two more to go. This is a review, similar to the ones I do on a weekly basis.

    OVERALL

  • B-. "Smallville" deserves a lower grade. However, its first two years were solid, and, despite lots of crappiness since then, I'm still there watching it. There must be a reason why (duh - yeah, because it's the only live action Superman show on TV), and so, it gets a higher grade than it should.

    THE CAST
    The Good

  • Tom Welling has been about as good a young Clark Kent as one could ask. He's displayed the mix of emotions one might imagine with a teen discovering his incredible powers and responsibilities, while still wanting to be a "normal teen".
  • Michael Rosenberg was perfectly cast. In the early years, he did a great job of portraying someone who longed for a life liked Clark's but could not help be lulled by the Dark Side offered and instilled by his father.
  • Allison Mack is terrific as one of the two main non-Superman Mythology characters (the other being Lionel). She's a wonderful actress, too. And when they decided to have her learn Clark's secret, it all but saved the show: giving Clark a confidante, besides his parents, who would spout Superman expressions we know and usually love (e.g., "faster than a speeding bullet"; "man of steel"; "x-ray vision"), has made a huge difference.
  • Annette O'Toole and Jon Schneider as Martha and Jon Kent was perfect casting, too. They truly seemed like a couple, and, ideal parents for Clark. Pa Kent's combination of toughness and compassion is still missed.
  • John Glover, as the other non-Superman Mythology character, is, too, perfectly cast. More on him below.

    The bad

  • Kristin Kreuk is by no means a bad actress, in my book. I just have grown to dislike her as Lana Lang. It's not just her lack of red hair, either. In the early years, she was ok, but it seemed that the writers ran out of things for her to do. As such, she got involved in all sorts of subplots that brought out her worst. It's another one of those "we have a large cast and have to give everyone something to do" that so many long-running TV shows run into (e.g., the Star Trek series that followed the original, which didn't have that problem in that it was primarily a Kirk-Spock-McCoy show).

    The rest

  • Erica Durance has gone from terrible to tolerable to, if not terrific, pretty decent. I still have a problem, though, with Lois Lane being on the show. Like "Spider-Man 3", "Smallville" has one character too many, and she's one of them.
  • Sam Jones III as Pete Ross was fine, but they ran out of things for him to do. They tried to get him more involved by having him learn Clark's secret, but that didn't work out the way it did with Chloe for some reason. Perhaps that had to do with Chloe's not-so-secret love of Clark making their relationship more interesting.

    THE STORIES
    The Good

  • The early years featured many wonderful stories that I can watch again, e.g., when Clark super-speeds to the other side of the U.S. to find a doctor to save the kid who's dying; the few Christopher Reeve episodes, especially the first one that featured Clark's being enlightened about Krypton - with the Superman movie music going on in the background; Clark's discovery of his powers; and more. Even in more recent years, the Professor Fine subplots brought something fresh to the show, a sense of something nasty about to occur.

    The Bad

  • The cave, the ship, Red K, witches, the tattoo, the crystals, going to China...need I go on? The Freak of the Week qualifies, but see "The Rest".
  • The handling of Jor-El and Zod have been absolutely awful beyond belief. They defy explanation. If they made Jor-El turn out to really be Zod, this entry would be under "The Good". They teased us by having the movie Zod, Terrence Stamp, be the "voice of Jor-El" - shame on them!

    The Rest

  • The Freak of the Week is really annoying but barely acceptable - and I barely mean "barely" - in the same manner as the Silver Age Marvel comics (and othes) used radiation to explain The Hulk, Fantastic Four and a host of other characters. This is even akin to the Silver Age Superman stories in that The Freaks are essentially humans affected by a green-colored red Kryptonite, if you know what I mean. Still, "Smallville" has strip-mined the Freak concept.

    SUPERMAN STUFF (besides Clark)
    The Rest

  • This, too, is a mixed bag. The Fortress has been done nicely - it's effectively the movie version, right down to the green crystal that created it. The Daily Planet, which doesn't belong on this show, is kind of disjointed: having Jimmy there now is much too soon. They did a nice job on the globe, though J. The Phantom Zone is a hopeless, confusing mess, and they use Kryptonite too often (like the aforementioned Freaks), as much as the Silver Age did, and annoyingly so.
  • The so-called Justice League characters have been a mixed bag, too. The actors playing them are fine; I just wish the JLA characters had not been introduced at all, since they don't belong in Smallville this soon. Better that the Legion of Super-Heroes had shown up.

    THREADS - CLARK MARCH TOWARDS BEING SUPERMAN
    The Rest

  • This is a mixed bag. They're doing a good job with his powers and his learning about how to be a Superman but they're failing when it comes to Superman's morals. I'm specifically referring to Clark killing people - whether deliberately or accidentally - or even just standing by while people die. There are too many instances to list here. It would have been acceptable for this to happen once, and have Clark learn from it, i.e., "with great power comes great responsibility", but "Smallville" allows it to happen over and over again. I'll give them credit for having Clark show intense remorse over killing that huge Phantom Zone guy, recently.

    THREADS - LEX'S MARCH TOWARDS BEING EVILMAN
    The Rest

  • Like the transformation of Anakin Skywalker in the most recent "Star Wars" movies, Lex Luthor's transition to the Dark Side seemed forced and not believable. There's an interesting parallel here in that we watched both Anakin and Lex be pulled towards evil, knowing that that's where they must end up. It's possible that the writers, knowing that we know this, didn't spend enough time making the transition more believable (in both cases), i.e., "it's supposed to happen, so it's OK". It's not that they did a bad job, in both cases - just not convincing enough. What's bad is that both events - Anakin's and Lex's fate - are cornerstones and needed to be done all but perfectly.

    THREADS - CLARK & LEX
    The Rest

  • In the early years, the Clark-Lex relationship was fun to watch. Clark seemed to be in awe of Lex and wanted him as a pal; Lex, in turn, wanted to be more like Clark and have parents who loved him. But their relationship slid unrealistically down the slippery slope, and now they're enemies. As well, as I've said before, it's not Clark and Lex who are supposed to be this way, but Superman and Lex.

    THREADS - CLARK & LANA
    The Rest

  • In the early years, it was a good thing to have Clark long for the unavailable Lana. But their relationship jumped the shark when they did get together and, like his powerless Reeve counterpart in the second Superman movie did with Lois Lane, did the "dirty" deed. Their predictable whining, especially Lana's, about keeping secrets, particularly to close out an episode, wore me down quickly.

    THREADS - LEX & LIONEL
    The Good

  • It's hard to imagine an uninteresting scene between these two, over the years. The writers seemed to save the best dialogue for this oft-estranged father-and-son. Rosenbaum and Glover were, and still are, at their best, in conveying the "who can top the other" diatribes. Whereas I can drift off during other parts of an episode, my focus is on these two when they're on the screen together.

    COMING PREDICTIONS
    Things I'm fairly sure of

  • Chloe will "die" at the end of Season Six but due to her Freak powers, will come back in Season Seven.
  • Season Seven will offer more of the same mixed bag as did Season Six.
  • Martha Kent will Go To Washington but not be called "Martha Washington" (sorry).
  • Lex and Lana will no longer be a couple.
  • Season Eight, assuming there is one (it's supposed to be the last one), won't feature Michael Rosenbaum, according to him. Perhaps he'll make guest appearances, but that would mean that Michael would have to shave his head for the few episodes he'd be on, or, wear a bald cap, which would look bad. Then again, with CGI, anything is possible.
  • In Season Eight, I would think they'd have to put glasses on Clark and find a way to get folks to forget that, sans glasses, he looks like his future super alter-ego. Maybe the Martian Manhunter will help by altering people's memories. Yikes - shades of the relatively recent DC "Identity Crisis".
  • Clark will probably become more reporter-like in Season Eight. Perhaps Lois will end up at the Daily Planet, along with Perry White, as the series inches towards what it will never become, because of the Brandon Routh films - a show called "Metropolis".

    Things I'm not sure of

  • The Martha-Lionel relationship. I'm thinking that she will ultimately reject him for what he is, perhaps because something evil about him floats back to the surface. However, their odd relationship is keeping a subplot going, so who knows.
  • The Clark-Lana relationship. With Lex-Lana kaput, will Lana go "back" to Clark? Maybe, but where can that lead, especially since Clark's supposed to end up with Lois one day? Not clear.
  • When Luthorcorp will become Lexcorp. It may never happen on this series, and isn't terribly important, but it would signify Lex's complete takeover of the Luthor world and Lionel's complete decline - and perhaps his passing.
  • If Chloe and/or Lionel will live to the end of the series. Non-Superman Mythology characters are ultimately like classic "Star Trek" red-shirts, though their shelf life is longer than those poor souls on the Enterprise. In the end, though, they're expendable. You can't kill off Clark, Lois and Lex; you could kill off Lana, but, as much as many fans would love that, it's against Superman Mythology. You could kill off Martha, but the only time she's died in Superman Mythology is back in the Silver Age - since then she's been kept alive via John Byrne and the Superman movies. Even in "Adventures of Superman", you see her alive when George Reeves heads off to Metropolis at the Smallville bus station. Both Ma & Pa are very much alive in "Lois & Clark", too. As such, the only ones left - Chloe and/or Lionel - could meet their makers (er, one above and one below) before the series ends.
  • Yes, tights. Will we, in the very last scene of the very last show, see Martha knit Clark a uniform, and see a shadow of him fly out of the Kent Farm window, presumably with the super-suit on him, on his way to save the day? If that happens, we won't see him clearly, because it would conflict both with the Routh film(s) and the "no flights, no tights" edict. But it would be a "fitting" way to go. And given that it would be appropriate - these dumb "Smallville" writers won't do it!

    Cheers,

    Bruce

    Thanks for that thorough retrospective, Bruce! You're kinder than I've been, but then, I actually was with the show through season three, digging it hardcore. You highlight the critical failure to reach the show's premise, my biggest disappointment, and echo most of my sentiments fairly precisely, with better elaboration. Awesome, man!

    Nathan wrote:
    Hey Neal. Im a long time reader, first time e-mailer. Been loving your reviews since season one, theyre hilarious (and always right!)

    Thankee sai.

    Im e-mailing now because I, like apparantly many other Smallville viewers, am fed up. As youve said more than once, it is nearly impossible for this Clark Kent to become any resemblance of Superman, unless we're gunna have a very big seventh season. I am referring in particular to Prototype, when Clark KILLS Wes. Not like other times in Smallville, when they sort of kinda maybe pull it off by saying he wasnt ABLE to save someone, and had to let the giant rock fall on them. In Prototype Clark used a high beam heat vision, (according to the episode, it had to be the equivilant of a small nuke to take Wes out). He couldve super speed out of the way. Easily. Wes wasnt half way through the air when Cla4rk blasted him. SUPERMAN NEVER KILLS PEOPLE!!! Its is a CRUCIAL part of the Superman mythology! And like you said, he made no attempt to save his life after. He didnt take him to a hospital, no CPR, nothing (not that CPR would save his life after a small nuke, but he did NOTHING!) Now im not saying Smallville is dead to me, Im not giving it up with one season left, but PLEASE let Clark have some sort of epifony in season 7! Thats my rant over, thanks for allowing me my two cents.

    Keep up the great reveiws!

    Thanks! I agree, his killing was poorly handled. It's not the first blatant one, though, it happened once before, just couched in a better season, as I recall, where he hadn't done it like five times.

    Nathan wrote:
    Me again. Sorry, but I just saw the preview for the season finale. Clark goes to 'silence Lionel once and for all'??? Accomponied by images of Clark with Lionel in a stranglehold. I take it back; Smallville is dead to me.

    But he's so edgy! Isn't that hip? ;)

    RMF wrote:
    I think you got this episode and this season dead on. I watched most of "Prototype" thinking that it was a flawed but okay episode, then hit the ceiling when *again* they put Clark in a situation where he was responsible for someone's death. And why did they do it? They did it because they wanted to lightswitch Lois into the kind of crusader she should have been all along, and they wanted Wes to die as the catalyst. Since they also needed to resolve the episode and give the audience the token climactic battle, they just threw these elements together and made Wes die as a result of the fight, with *no* regard to what that would do to Clark's integrity as a character. What makes it even worse is that Wes wasn't some mindless alien killing machine, he was an innocent victim of Lex's experiments, who was being forced to murder against his will. Showing us his human side in his scene with Lois served the Lois character, because it gave her the motivation to go after the Luthors, but it was disastrous for Clark, because it looked like he threw the full force of his heat vision against a man who might have been saved.

    And not only that, he just watched the dude die without trying to save him in any way.

    And that, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with this season. Not one single creative decision has been made with the Clark character's best interest at heart. His credibility is continually sacrificed to serve other characters and pet plotlines. His supposed big storyline, the hunt for the Zoners, turned out to be a perfunctory exercise, barely distinguishable from the standard FOTWs that preceded them, in which all sense of urgency disappeared in between Zoner sightings. The interesting philosophical conflict between Clark and Oliver in "Arrow" devolved into complete capitulation by Clark in "Justice", which also put him solidly and embarrassingly behind the superhero curve. They have repeatedly made him responsible for deaths, allowing him only routine regret if any, and haven't bothered to explain why Clark wouldn't go to the FoS for help in putting the Zoners back where they belonged without killing them. Clexana sucks the air out of the room and makes him look like a nut.

    Agreed.

    A Ksite poster who stated after "Prototype" that he was getting tired of the series commented that they need to put Clark back at the center of things and kick Lana out of where she doesn't belong. He's right. I watched the repeat of "Mercy" this weekend, and even though it's kind of a sucky episode overall, there is some intriguing character work at the end in all the tension between Clark, Lex, and Lionel. It reminded me of how well this series worked when Clark was the bright shiny penny everyone wanted, and this season shows how miserably it doesn't when they try to force Lana into that position. Clark has the charisma, the mysterious powers, the destiny, and even an authentic emotional hold on the villains because of his kindness and morality, and Lana has...well, she's pretty, or something.

    Definitely or something.

    I realize that the writers don't want Clark to be too much like Superman already, but throwing his development into reverse isn't the answer either. If they don't want to develop him on the superhero front, there's always his journalism career. They already made the cardinal mistake of pulling Lois' career out of nowhere, so it's a mistake they really shouldn't repeat with Clark. So just for fun, give him the world's worst internship at the Daily Planet. Have him get coffee for the classified department. Have him get coffee for Chloe. Send him to cover the local MUFON symposium in the company of a staff reporter with a drinking problem. Have him start wearing the glasses at work to keep the female senior editors from hitting on him. They could even, oh, I don't know, use it to start sending him out into Metropolis to connect with the poor and downtrodden to add some depth just in case he some day has to put his butt on the line to save the city from a big bad.

    But what about Lana?

    Speaking of pulling Lois' career out of nowhere, where did that stuff about the Cayman account come from? At the beginning of the season, Lois said that the research department of the Inquisitor consisted of a phone book and a highlighter. Two episodes ago, she couldn't even find a story in all of Metropolis. Now she pops out with "Senator Burke has $5 million in his Cayman account"? Wow. I guess you don't need to go to school, you don't need to hone your craft, you can just rely on mad journalism skillz to show up when you need them. I suppose her vow to bring the Luthors down would have been impressive if we hadn't just seen Chloe say the same thing -- to Lex's face -- just a few episodes ago. But it raises a disturbing prospect: are they about to rip Chloe's Level 33.1 expose out of her hands and give it to Lois even though Chloe has been the voice of journalism for six years? Maybe under the dubious notion that despite Chloe's hard work, resourcefulness, bravery, and tenacity, she just doesn't have what it takes? Now there's an idea that makes me want to run far away from this series.

    Actually, I think the logic is that Lois is hot, so she can do anything. Otherwise known as misplaced feminism.

    And as for dumb ideas, I really didn't need a repeat this week of the idiotic speech from Chloe about how Clark should understand that people keep secrets to protect others. For heaven's sake, in this episode, because of all the hints Chloe dropped, Clark walks all unwitting straight into the office of the man who threatened his life, and says that if Lionel messed with Lana, he's gonna get him. Okay, how does not knowing about the threat keep him safe here? Lana and Chloe are just criminally stupid.

    Most of the characters in the show are, pretty constantly, for "drama."

    I also don't understand why Lex seems more worried about meteor freaks than aliens. They had the perfect trigger to send Lex off the deep end in the Zod possession, but he doesn't seem to have given it another thought. Even after finding a dead alien in a fight club. Weird.

    Lex's motivations are, sadly, becoming out of character and unpredictable, much like Lionel's.

    Finally, they seem to be getting rid of Martha by sending her off to Washington. She's already a US Senator, and she's never been democratically elected. Didn't Jonathan Kent's ghost warn Clark to protect Martha from Lionel? Whatever happened to that? She seems up to her neck in Luthorian patronage, and now it's a good thing. I also can't help but think she's taking shameless advantage of Clark. She objected when he dropped out of college to help with the farm, but now she's stiffing him with the whole thing while she skips out for a life of adventure. What about his future? We've known since Season 1 that he didn't want to end up a farmer. Why aren't they ditching Martha by sending Clark to Metropolis to college? Are those Kent farm sets so dear to them? Is it that fascinating to watch Clark sharpen a tool for the 567th time?

    To quote An Officer and A Gentleman, "HE AIN'T GOT NO WHERE ELSE TO GO!"

    Regards,

    RMF

    Mike D wrote:

    Hi, it's Mike D.

    I just finished reading All Star Batman #5 (I love Jim Lee's art, thats the reason I have the "launched out of continuity" For Tomorrow), and just thought it would be absolutely hilarious if you wrote a review for it. I don't know if you have read the book at all, but the way Superman is treated in it, as well as everyone else is ridiculous, it's just funny! On the note of Smallville, I'm writing this on the eve of the finale, and just wanted to say that even though its been an overall bad season (save Zod and Justice for me, so why did Prototype suck? DeKnight wrote all three...) it's nice to know I'm not the only person who cares for the show (I've been watching since midway through Season One, and having been reading your reviews and sending these e-mails ever since).

    Cool, Mike! Thanks. Here's a quick review for All-Star Batman 5: I love the hell out of Jim Lee AND Frank Miller, but it's absolutely criminal for DC to allow meaningless, out of character exposition to ramble for 22 pages on an already late book and call it "professional." Wonder Woman doesn't want to chop Superman's $##@ off, and Superman isn't a god embodied. Miller gets Batman, he should stick to Batman.

    Also I wanted to congratulate you one getting the job working on the Smallville magazine, and just want you to know you have a fan waiting for it to drop, I know it will be sweet!

    Thanks! I'm pleased with it, that's for sure.

    On another note, talking about "Countdown" why does Jimmy Olsen know who Jason Todd and Dick Grayson are? Should we assume that Jimmy knows all of the secret identities? How does the Joker (who was previously messed up real bad in the crappy prose Morrison issue a few months ago) know about the multiverse (he knew that Duella was a doppleganger). I don't want to judge the book early, and Dini is awesome at everything he writes, his Batman is better than even the aforementioned Morrison's, but it seems that they are drawing previously established continuity where there is no previously established continuity!

    It's bad writing, that's my guess. Just writing something because it sounds cool, like Jimmy waxing about their identities. I didn't read that prose story, because I got a few paragraphs in and it bored me, and I was hacked that I didn't get the comic I paid for. I was going to return it and ask for my money back, but forgot.

    Justice League of America #9, very cool, but did you catch the note about: "The Middle Crisis". Where's Lex, maybe he'll pop out of Earth 7 (aka the Smallville Universe) and spout: "There will be a Reckoning, there will be ANOTHER CRISIS." I know your in as long as he's in a green and purple suit and watching Kung Pow, but without any squeaky shoes ;) !!!

    Well, there's also the fact that if there were another continuity-altering crisis, how the heck would the future know about it?

    Thanks!

    Mike D.
    Apple Sales Professional


    Mark "Kent" (superman@temple.edu) wrote:
    Neal,
    I have been reading your reviews since the first season of Smallville way back in 2001. I don't always agree with you, but I can see that you are a true and thorough fan of the character. Your enthusiasm and passion is apparent through your writing.

    THANK YOU. You rock.

    Superman has been a big part of my life since I used Roger Stern's novelization of the Death of Superman for an 8th grade book report. This enabled me to connect with the true sentiments and motivations of the character, and I have since become an avid fan of most incarnations of the Man of Steel. I have read all of the major post-crisis (the first one) to modern-age story arcs in the comics, and consider myself a scholar of the character. I consider you one as well, and I would like to share with you both my points of contention, as well as agreement with your opinions on Smallville.

    Coolness! I'm with you, actually. I got back into Supes at about 7th grade. I got a copy of the first part of the "Death of" as a secret Santa gift. And if I knew whoever gave it to me, I'd present them with a bill for all these comics cluttering my house up. AND my delusions of grandeur.

    I have a lot to say, but I will try to narrow this down to the major points. I don't think anyone in their right mind is satisfied with what the producers have done to the character of Lana Lang. She was supposed to be Clark's seemless highscool sweetheart and eventual confidant, nothing more. Not Super-Bich. Not teen drama queen. Not tragic emo girl. Definitely not Mrs. Luthor. Pete's absence is also a huge flaw in terms of continuity, because we know he will play a big role later on in Clark's life. Do you know why they did away with his character btw?

    My understanding of the rumor mill is that Sam wanted to quit and was a trouble on set. But I've just heard that from readers, so it might be total BS. All I care about is that he's gone, and that sucks, both for the overall story (no guy friends for Clark? COME ON.) and for continuity. Agreed on Lana.

    I have mixed feelings about Johnathan's death. I know that the show does not always enable cross-medium-continuity with the comics, but this is a major issue. As you know, he remians alive and well in the modern version of the comics, and continues to provide guidance well into Clark's adult life. Both Superman Returns (which i loved)and Smallville favor the idea that Johnathan's death is essentially what drives Clark to don the cape and tights. That take on it almost reminds me of Silver Age and pre-crisis canon. What do you think? Which direction do you favor?

    I think it can work both ways. I think it can even work with Martha dead or gone. The issue is not who lives and who dies, but how that death is written and if it has a purpose. To me, Jonathan's death had provided three or four mini flashbacks and guilt pangs, but Clark never clearly points back and says, "Hey, dad taught me that!" so his death means nothing to me. I mean, heck, even on the Sopranos they reference back to minor character points to show that each episode is not its own stinky island. Which is probably why I'm more excited about that show right now, even though I hate most of the main characters with an avid passion. They're still well written.

    Basically, I see Smallville as a chronicle of the evolution of these iconic characters. I love the Lex and Clark dynamic. While they really blew the Lana character, Lex has a good chance of ending up where he should.

    I hope so.

    I tend to think you are too hard on Clark sometimes. I completely agree with you on the "Clark shall not kill" rule, but I think in many of the cases, it can be seen as something other than murder. In last week's episode, for example, you don't have to read the situation as Clark's heat vision being the cause of the super-soldier's death. To me it is very plausible that the heat vision broke down his defenses, and the system malfunctioned as a result.

    Actually, that's something I can agree with. My issue lies with where Clark stood by, watching as he died instead of trying to do something. People yelled at me, asking me what I thought he could do, but that's not the point. Clark would try. And beyond that, he expressed little to no guilt about it, and hasn't. If he accidentally kills someone on a regular basis, OKAY, but it would tear at him. That's not shown.

    It is also likely that Lex programmed the soldier's technology to self-destruct in the face of defeat. I saw the killing of Titan in a siliar way. Even though Clark was angry, and may have said he wanetd to kill Titan, the events that transpired looked like an accident to me. I agree that Clark could have done more to try to revive or save these beings once he realized what happened, but I refuse to see Clark as being responsible for their death. Maybe these shades of grey are what leads Clark to adopt his "preserve life at all costs" policy as Superman. Well that, and his remorse over the Phantom Zone criminals. And who knows if that stuff even happened now, what with New Earth continuity and all that.

    I can tell you empirically that it hasn't any more. At least now.

    But I think you get what I'm trying to say. Smallville's Clark does have a good heart, he does save lives, he does try to do the right thing, but he is not Superman yet. He also makes mistakes, and he is also confused about his place in the world, and to me that's okay. And now, he is on the brink of resolving his identity issues and fully comitting to his role as the greatest hero of all time. These mistakes would not be forgiven if he were already the man we know he will become. But he's not quite there yet. This holds true to all the characters.

    I dunno. I have a hard time believing Clark is more morally wishy washy and indecisive than I am, and I knew where I was and who I was going to be by the age of 18. Heck, 14 if you want to get technical about it.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is as long as we get Lois, Clark, Lana (I know, its a lost cause), Martha, and Lex to that familiar place we all love, things will be okay in my book. That challenge will have to be tackled by the writers. While I am apprehensive, I still have a certain amount of faith. I definitely agree that there are too many chefs in the kitchen right now, and they need to get togteher and act as one cohesive unit. I agree with most of your blow-by-blow criticisms for a given episode, but to me, the general trend of the season and the milestones in Clark's life are way more important than the confounding details.

    Actually, that's why I still watch. Those finales, premieres, and mythos episodes where they actually come close to pulling it off.

    I do think you are absolutely right to expect and demand more from the writers and producres. I do not blame you for being disappointed and for becoming jaded. I have these thoughts too, but there is enough good in the show to keep me excited and to keep me hopeful. I love Welling as Clark, Annette as Martha, Michael as Lex, John Schneider as Pa. Glover and Mack do a great job with their roles and I am curious to see where their characters are headed. I really think things can end up in a good place. I know you are rooting for that too, despite your disillusionment.

    I think it will end well, I do, even if the lead up struggles.

    I know a lot of the plot holes and inconsistencies hit you harder, being that you are a writer yourself. I tend to try to ignore these annoyances in favor of looking at the big picture.

    And truth be told, I'd be much less critical if I weren't reviewing. But that's a review for you, you're actually supposed to look deeper like that. For instance, I watch Scrubs and Lost and never really go beyond deeper context with myself, except for saying that I hope Claire drowns. And I do, I really do. What an annoying character she is. Wishy washy, nagging more than my own mother, and towing an anchor. Die, already!

    Congrats on the new writing gig by the way. Thank you for all the effort you have put into reviewing the show.

    Thank you, and thank you for reading.

    All I ask is that you don't let your disappointments ruin the good, exciting, and epic moments the show has to offer. Sometimes I feel like your long-term (and justified) fustrations cloud your judgement. I know its hard, but try to stay positive! I do really admire your dedication and wealth of knowledge, thou. Good luck with everything, and lets all keep our fingers crossed.
    - Mark "Kent"

    I'm certainly doing my best. :) It's like I pointed out, until this episode, most of my reviews have been positive. Now it's equal, giving Smallville a square chance to prove itself again.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:

    OVERALL
    A. Whatever flaws it had, it was non-stop excitement, start-to-finish.

    THE GOOD
    This episode had a number of good-to-awesome one-on-one scenes, most of them emotional:
    o Lex & Lionel: as usual, they one-up each other, but Lionel gets the last word. Always a pleasure.
    o Lex & Lana: Lana was strong as ever, but Lex was scary as all blank!
    o Clark & Martha, with her farewell.
    o Clark & Lionel: Clark wanting to beat the crap out of Lionel (later wanting to do the same to Lex), before being held back by the so-called Martian Manhunter.
    o Clark & Lana: a milestone, series-turning, super-climactic scene in which Lana tells Clark what he didn't know - that she knows he's SuperGuy - and he reveals the rest of what she didn't know - that he's from Krypton. And then she grimly tells him she knows his weakness.
    - Lois & Chloe: perhaps another milestone, etc. scene, because Lois, seemingly dead, is rescued by Chloe's freak power that is finally revealed to us - her teardrop (kind of reminded me of the Dolman of Elaas with her love potion tears ("Star Trek", of course)) - seemingly at the expense of her life. I believe Chloe will live, though, only because an interview with "Smallville" co-creator Al Gough indicated that they will be exploring her freak power more in the next season. As such...
    ...it looks like Lana is the goner that was mentioned earlier this season (everyone expected Chloe). But, then, speaking of Chloe, she lived through a house explosion in a cliffhanger a few seasons ago, so why can't Lana live through a car bomb? In fact...
    ...my theory now is that the character that they rumored would die is actually Lois, who does die but then is revived by Chloe. Chloe will live for the aforementioned reason. And Lana will turn up alive, having faked her death so as to throw Lex off her tail or trail, whichever suits you best. After all, Lex seemed genuinely surprised that Lana was dead. So there.
    And so we have the second live action television appearance of Bizarro. The first one, of course, was on "The Adventures of Superboy". The "Smallville" version was created rather interestingly, from an incredibly nasty Kryptonian creature that escaped from the Zone. We barely get to see the Bizarro face at the very end. Me wonder if he'll start to talk funny in Season Seven. Hello!
    Good scene where Clark tells Chloe that he revealed everything to Lana (well, not everything - he did that a long while back when he was powerless) in that Chloe gives off her bittersweet look, since she still holds a Torch (humor partially intended) for Clark. Hope no Planet employees were eavesdropping on their conversation, though!
    I'm moving to Hidden Palms.

    THE BAD
    The Smallville-Justice cartoon...so what's its purpose? Is it supposed to provide background information that they couldn't cram into the live action episode? Maybe that's a decent, new concept, but the snippet they showed was rushed and too confusing. I would have been happy with an extra line or two of confusing dialogue in the mainstream non-cartoon "Smallville". The teaser that summed up the season was less confusing.
    J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. What to make of him? He made a few somewhat confusing appearances in this episode and this season. He said he was Jor-El's helper back on Krypton. That is SO unlike to his comic book version that it makes me think he's not JJ/MM. In fact, the only evidence was the Reese's Pieces in an earlier episode and the fact that the Smallville Kryptonsite keeps referring to him as MM. He certainly didn't seem invulnerable like MM (he's got red blood, too), and once again, his fiery flights make no sense, since fire is MM's weakness. Plus this MM said he needed to leave the planet to heal himself - huh? I guess it's Smallville's very own version of MM. Overall, he's been a huge disappointment - an enigma for no apparent reason. Wonder if he'll be back next season. Perhaps he'll come back as a lawyer to represent Lex - you know, he'll come back as Jackie Chiles...

    THE REST
    So Lionel has been semi-possessed by Jor-El all this time. And he's a good guy, after all. But wasn't it a bit contrived that he nastily coerced Lana to marry Lex, just to have Lana be close to his son? I'm undecided.
    Did you notice the Superman "S" that appeared for a nano-second when the Kryptonian Zone Beast released itself like a giant blackish brownish fart from the little kid and it charged towards Clark? Not sure what the purpose of it was. I need to watch that in slo-mo on my DVR.

    COMING PREDICTIONS
    Martha's fate is unpredictable, but presumably she's off the show except for guest appearances.
    Clark and Bizarro battle it out, but we know that Clark will be victorious. Bizarro will go into limbo until February 2008 sweeps, I guess.
    Lex is arrested but will ultimately "get off", especially when Lana turns up alive. However, he'll be nastier than ever, given that Lana dissed him.
    Lionel, Lois and Chloe will survive the dam flood/explosion, of course.
    Shelby/Krypto will make a few more appearances, helping out on the Kent farm and encountering X-kryptonite, which will give her super-powers like the Silver Age Supergirl's Streaky the Cat.
    And "Smallville" will go on and on, the very mixed up bag it is...

    Good one. I liked Justice and Doom, but I'm totally with you on the Martian Manhunter. I mean, how hard is it to make him like his comics counterpart? You don't even need the effects, all you need is the motivation and history to please us.
    Bruce Kanin
    John wrote:
    Hey Neal, its me again. Wassup!

    Workin' on a novel. The usual.

    Well, well, well. Phantom, tonight's episode, totally rocked, although it was a bit anticlimatic. (I kept waiting for more...) I think the emotions should have been more more heavily expressed. It kinda felt like Clark didn't really let his emotions through.
    I really liked how the writers set up Lex's cold streak, how he sacrificed the doctor to save himself. Still, he should have bought a stronger window...that was weak and stupid on Lex's part. The real Lex Luthor would never have given the phantom a way out as simple as a thin sheet of glass. - mocks Lex - "UH-UH-UH! I'm an iiidiot!" (hits hand against chest while wearing a stupefied expression on face).

    Word.

    Besides that, though, the writers did an excellent job of tying together all the characters. I still don't buy that Lionel doesn't have an ulterior motive, though.

    Likewise. He's so inconsistent.

    Who killed Lana?

    I think Lana faked killing Lana.

    If Chloe is dead, I'm going to scream for the endless list of producers to hang themselves.
    Still, I give a 5 out of 5.
    - "What the hell was that?" (my words at the end of the episode)
    - "Yaaaayyy! She's finally dead for the eleventh time!" (my reaction when Lana was bombed).

    Heh. Yeah. And Chloe isn't dead. I mean, come on, this is Smallville. Status quo!

    (takes deep breath)

    As for last week's episode, Prototype, although it definitely could have been better, it set the stage very well for the finale, and I would have given it a 2 rather than a 1 anyway. Hopefully you will reconsider that in your re-review of the season.

    Alas and alack...sorry.

    Okay, now Im going to see if I agree with the rest of your ratings, per se:

    Noir: you - 3
    me - 2. It was just a lame filler, even if the concept was cool.

    Nemesis: you - 2.5
    me - 3.5. Even the kryptonite inconsistencies and Lana scenes aren't enough to take away from the interaction between Clark and Lex. Also introduces Wes, which begins the lead into the finale.

    Progeny: you - 3
    me - 3. I agree, It was good, but some stuff was just out of whack.

    Combat: you - 1.5
    me - 1.5 Lame filler episode, even with the fight.

    Promise: you - 5
    me - 5. Originally, I thought a 4, now I'm going bak up to a 5. This was a great episode from start to finish. The Clanas worked well, the secret powers are revealed.

    Freak: you - 1
    me - 2. Again, definitely better than Trespass, and the casual use of superpowers was cool.

    Trespass: you - 1
    me - 1. I wish could go lower than a 1 on this one. Lana-centric? No thanks. One of the all time worst episodes of the entire series.

    Crimson: you - 1
    me - 2. Yes, it sucked. But the idea was still cool. Plus a super jump and crashing the party.

    Labyrinth: you - 2
    me - 3. Come on. Jor-El is Soap! Also, the world was very eerie and cool. Return of the Manhunter.

    Justice: you - 4.5
    me - 5. Excellent episode. Still wish Aquaman could have gotten some more, but all in all a great episode with the team of the future.

    Hydro: you - 1
    me - 1. Horrible. Also up there with Trespass, but not quite. The Clark as Green Arrow scene saved it somewhat.

    Subterranean: you - 1
    me - 1. Just a lame filler.

    Static: you - 1
    me - 1. Crappy episode. Lame stuff, Lana is weak and stupid. 'nuff said.

    Rage: you - 1
    me - 1. Better than some, but still not well written.

    Fallout: you - 1
    me - 2. Return of Raya, but inconsistencies plague it.

    Reunion: you - 5
    me - 5. Definitely a great episode. Awesome stuff.

    Arrow: you - 3
    me - 4. I thought it was above average. The end scence with the torture of Lois was bad, but the rescue was good. Hey, where'd the motorcycle tricks go?

    Wither: you - 1
    me - 1. Lame filler with a crappy alien freak. Busted by sprinklers and a wire? Bleargh.

    Sneeze: you - 1
    me - 1.5. Yes, the new power was good, but aside from that, a lame episode.

    Zod: you - 4.5
    me - 5. I still think this deserved the full rating, even if it wasn't a perfect opener. Zoooooooooood!!!

    Averagerating for this season: 2.568. That being said, I think that this season was even less consistent than last season, but some good shows made up for it. Better character development than last season, especially for Lex and Clark's use of powers.

    Cool! So we're still pretty close though, that's awesome. It's still a 2.5 average though...gah!

    I know I want to write some more stuff, as the lack of Smallville and your reviews for the summer is making me cry myself to sleep...(sobs)...
    But I think I've given you plenty to mull over. This is the longest I've written for this site. Hope you enjoy it.

    Well, if you suffer withdrawls, I always have my novels for sale, a good bit of material on the livejournal for adults, there's my blog, and of course, my comic reviews here...

    May season seven give us a great series end, if that is the case.

    Cheers, Neal, and hope you have an awesome summer!

    Thanks! Likewise!

    Bethany wrote:
    Hey Neil,

    I was I have to day disappointed last night watching the season finale. I have always loved Smallville even when I hated it, but yesterday I just felt kinda let down it was not that the espisode was bad in and of itself. It is just that after seeing Lana die, repeatedly over the years, I felt absolutely nothing when she got blown up. Just a disbelief that she was dead. The Ice cream truck or whatever it was that passed by undoubtedly grabbed her or she planned it herself to get away. I don't know and truly I don't care. I think that is what bothers me the most.

    Yeah. There's literally no suspense to it anymore, because they always follow the same formula. Dramatic danger, no one really dies.

    The rest of the episode should work and for anyone who has not really followed all of smallville I'm sure it was moving. But it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt like everytime they referenced her death after that, all the emotion that should have come from such a tragic situation was tainted by the fact that I don't think any of the emotion was warranted she's not dead and will come back at some point to spread her ill will again.

    Word. Good call.

    Chris wrote:
    Random thoughts on Phantom:

    I can't believe that the storyline that built to Justice (which was not really epic, but more epic than anything else we've had so far) ended up spending the last half of the season running back to an intimate cold dead love triangle.

    This paragraph is probably the best encapsulation of my last year I could have asked for.

    Level 33.1 is apparently dropped in favor of Project Ares. I guess Clark's okay with all of the mutants being held against their will and experimented on by Lex. Whatever, at least he had Lana for about 12 minutes.

    WORD.

    Apparently Phantoms are corporeal beings with DNA that can smash holes in roofs. Okay.

    And snatch out guts.

    I can count at least two instances of characters showing up randomly without a purpose just because the plot demand they be there for some exposition.

    Ding! You get it. That's why I'm mad.

    I was disappointed that Bizarro Clark didn't have a goatee. How was I supposed to know which one was evil?

    Well, he was wearing darker clothes. Don't you watch westerns?

    Lana: I've always loved you. even when I was living with and sleeping with Lex Luthor, your archenemy. It was only because I love you so much.

    WORD WORD WORD.

    The Alien revelation was complete cheese. And haphazard.
    Lana: I'm leaving
    Clark: I'm an alien.
    Lana: I love you, let's kiss.
    Clark: Sorry about your parents
    Lana: What?
    Clark: Oh nothing, I said I've got to fix the back fence.
    I mean come on. Parental death issues aside, this is Lana who's seen what Kryptonians were capable of. And she's not the least bit afraid of knowing that Clark is one of them?

    It was pooh-poohed, and lamely done. That was one of my biggest contentions about the episode.

    But hey, at least we got another bloody Clark and Lana barn loft scene with plenty of whispering, angst filled looks, and emotional crap music blaring in the background trying to smack us in the face telling us that this is SO amazingly beautiful and special. This is not entertaining.

    I agree.

    I'm really glad a convicted evil sociopathic murderer like Lionel is around to remind Clark that Superman shouldn't kill. Twice in this episode alone.

    I agree.

    So Chloe is dead or mostly dead. Great. The show's tanking in the ratings, so let's make sure we get rid of our two best actresses (Annette O'Toole being the other). And her great power is a healing tear. Really? Why? No really? Why?

    Yeah, yeah, I know. It's in the script.

    I still agree, and I'm not stopping.

    After setting her up for five years as a genius hacker with absurd computer skills, I could have gotten techno-pathy like that kid in Heroes, but healing tears that kill her? That's just bloody stupid.

    It's also counter to the show's modus, whereby your power is related to your own critical failing or obsessions. She's not a big crier OR healer.

    Martian Manhunter seemed unnecessary. I hope if they bother bringing him back they actually spend some time hashing out a rationale for his being there and showing off some of his Swiss army knife abilities. But I guess if he could phase, we wouldn't have a chance to see a phantom rip a chunk out of his stomach.

    Noted.

    Bizarro. I don't know. Seemed rushed, pointless and stupid. It would have been better if Lex had cloned an imperfect copy of Clark. The Phantom didn't work for me. But I was pleased to see that Phantoms also apparently have the unique power to create clothes from Kryptonian DNA.

    I'm happy to see Bizarro no matter how they get there, but then, I want to know how he becomes Bizarro just by stealing Clark's DNA.

    Oh well, I think I'm done with this show. If this season has shown me nothing, it's that the writers and showrunners won't let Clark move on or forward toward anything bigger than a melodramatic love triangle from hell that dominates much more interesting and dynamic possibilities.

    I've read a lot of letters like this, actually, over the years. It's starting to get lonely in here.

    GORE-ILLA wrote:
    Well that finale was somewhat suprising. I wasn't exactly impressed, though. Lana got blown up but the exact same thing happened to Chloe several seasons ago and look at her now. I think Lex is innocent, especially since he was arrested, and am hoping that Lionel is really pulling the strings. The moral ambiguity of these Luthors gives me a headache, I just want it to be established which is good or which is evil (unless both are).

    After 6 years, we should know.

    Yeah, so Lana blowing up was sudden but not exactly touching. Since everyone on Smallville seems to have short term memory, it looks like Clark forgot to tell lana that he caused the meteor shower that killed her parents (whichs seemed to be the main reason he didn't tell her in the first place). Lana didn't seem to get the epiphany I was expecting, but she did at one point acknoledge that her and Lex's relationship was nothing but a pile of lies upon lies. Hopefully with Lana gone (and Martha as well), Clark will be more independent in the next season with only Chloe to worry about.

    One would hope.

    Yeah, that Bizarro came out of nowhere as well. When they mentioned it was an artifical creature made in a Kryptonian Labs, I thought Doomsday. Luckily that wasn't the case. I'd expect Luthor to have more security in his lab aside from that old scientist. Wasn't he making a superhuman army? Shouldn't any of his experiments have been developed enough to serve as a decent bodyguard? Once again we alos have a cheesey comic reference- "I'm just like you, only a little more... bizarre". Except this guy seems more like just an evil guy with Clark's powers rather then the real Bizarro.

    That line is pretty crazy. I'm using it everywhere. "Where are you going?" "To pee...only a little more bizarre!" People hate me.

    Ultimately I don't think this season finale was as interesting as the previous. The superhuman army and Justice League subplots that were built up in the previous episodes were mostly ignored so that Lana could talk to people for half the episode and get blown up, Chloe could show some weird healing powers, and Bizarro could spontenously appear in one short fight scene at the end. It feels more like a transition to the next season rather then a resolution of the season's plot. And Martian Manhunter basically did nothing as well, and Lois's subplot just wound up being a plot device so Chloe could reveal her powers. Yeah I think I'm done now.

    Dang.

    Ami wrote:
    Hi Neal! :D

    Heya!

    I hope I'm not too late to make your mailbag! :(

    Nope! Thanks to my pyrotechnics, we're running late.

    I might be... I was too tired last night to write nething to you... :(

    But.. if I dun make it... does that mean I wun show up until next season!? :OOO

    ;-;

    If there is a next season :(

    There is.

    NEWAYS, I saw the season finale! :O Our silly Canadian channel decided to pre-empt it for the Day After Tomorrow D: But luckily, we just got a free digital cable trial, so I was able to watch it on your silly American channel! xD Your commercials frighten and confound me... XDDD

    Wow...The Day After Tomorrow, or Smallville. I find it utterly disconcerting that I find them of comparable entertainment value. Well, the finale is better.

    NEWAYS

    I found the opening funny b/c it makes Canada look like this backwater, backwards old European place XD Like, OMG, no medicine! No hospitals! It's weird ppl speaking weird languages who believe in exorcism!

    You Canadianese, you make me laugh! Drinking your beer, building your thatch huts.

    Why does Martian Manhunter fly away after being hurt? He just left 2 ppl there to be killed :O And of course Lex Luthor has to enter with his troops XDDDD That amused me so. That's like if after the US army invaded Baghdad, President Bush himself follows them in XDDD

    No comment! But yeah.

    It seems like they just set themselves up to have the ability to write 4 characters out of the show if they wanted to. :o (Lionel, Lana, Chloe, Martha)

    Or if they dared, which they don't.

    Which would leave them with Lex, Lois, Clark and maybe Jimmy... hey it's actual Superman now! :O Do you think they maybe did this so if they dun get renewed, then they can just say "this is how Lionel and Chloe went away?"

    When Lionel revealed himself to be Jor-El's emmisary all I could think about was the Simpson's episode where Homer thinks he's seen an alien!! XD

    Like when the alien steps out and says he's bringing peace and love and Groundskeeper Willy says "Kill it! Kill it!" and then Lisa steps out and says "no it's just Mr. Burns!" and then Willy says "awww, it's just Mr. Burns. KILL IT! KILL IT!!!!"

    XDDD

    Nice.

    Cuz like.. so it's not Lionel in it for himself, he's just working for Jor-El... is that.. better.. or worse? XD It's not like Jor-El has been a wonderful person on this show.

    This constant portrayal of Lionel as a good guy is hilarious. XDD

    I agree.

    How come every Kryptonian on the show can fly the second they appear on Earth except for Clark? What's wrong with Clark? XD And how come Martian Manhunter never says "hey, what's wrong with you? How come you can't fly?" o_O;;

    I started wondering that the first time Clark knew Kryptonians could fly, in season 3.

    J'onn worked for Jor-El!? :O That.. makes... no sense ... So why is J'onn okay with Krypton blowing up? Clearly he has a ship or something he could have used to take Jor-El to safety XD

    Yep.

    CHLOE TURNED INTO LOIS!!! (kinda) SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    I AM SO SMART!!!! SMRT :D

    But... poor Chloe!

    SRSLY!

    They're just playing off people who wanted Chloe to become Lois.

    She constantly gives and gives and gives. She keeps sekrits, she helps Lana and Clark with their issues even tho neither rly seem to care much about her feelings, and even tho helping them gets them together when she's rly in love with Clark. She's SO good to Clark and he looks RIGHT over her. Lois spends all her time stealing her stories and flaunting her super buff men around. And her boyfriend left her for assignment recently, and now Clark just told her that he and Lana were gonna live happily evar after!

    So of course Chloe has to give her life to save Lois so Lois can have HER job in the future and marry HER true love.

    .;;

    Of course. I mean, she's hot!

    I hope SOME part of Chloe is still inside Lois :( But as we've all been saying, that WOULD explain a lot XDDD

    But the writers' treatment of Chloe has been horrible! She's not a character to them, she's a tool, to be used and then thrown away :( She's certainly not to be treated like the other women on the show b/c she's not "hot" (apparently). *sigh*

    I think Chloe gets good time, but I don't think she should die as a meaningless beat.

    If Lana is so scared that Lex is going to kill her, why did she confront him in his most private place where he can lock the door?

    Noted.

    Having Lex hit her is certainly a good way to make him dislikable tho :O But... I think lots of us have wanted to hit Lana :( Still.....

    Every hour of every day. I want to choke children sometimes. But the truth is, we don't do these things because it's wrong. I think Lex was a bit mischaracterized, hitting her out of the blue.

    But we know she's not dead in the explosion :( And Lex didn't do it (b/c making him totally bad would be against the logic of this show). And he'll prolly be shown to be under the influence of an alien when he hit her XD

    If Bizarro took Clark's DNA, why did the Kryptonite heal him? Wouldn't his DNA be Kryptonian? o_O;;;

    The theory behind Bizarro is that he's exactly opposite of Clark. He should talk backwards, ergo, but maybe that'll start with the premiere.

    So Bizarro is now running around! :O That's kinda cool :D Maybe he'll replace Clark and actually be heroic :O Esp if he's OPPOSITE right? XD The weird effect at the end was weird tho... just cuz... given how much they hate special effects on this show, do they rly want a character around that they have to constantly fix up with special effects to make him look like Tom Welling but.. Bizarroish? :o

    Heh. I'm guessing it'll go to makeup.

    OH! Lois is stupid :|

    Duh!

    She has nobody to blame for getting killed but herself :o The second the guy gave her a chance to leave, she should have and just come back later or did some more planning, or used her military connections to find an answer or SOMETHING. And as everybody knows, if you're stabbed, taking the knife out is WORSE. She should KNOW that as a military girl b/c at least the knife plugs up the wound and you dun BLEED TO DEATH!!!!!

    Noted.

    Clark was Bizarro was cool tho :D So was Chloe giving her life to save Lois :O It was sad tho :( But a testament to how great a character Chloe is :)

    How come whenever villains have Clark in a chokehold they dun keep choking until he dies? :O

    DRAMA! Heh.

    At any rate. :D

    I think I liked this episode for the most part, but getting rid of Chloe (maybe?) is sad :( And like.. I totally dun get what's going on with Lionel nemore : I think they just like keeping Glover on the show XD

    Mind you, given that Lionel can survive being thrown by LexZod into a car, he prolly survived this xD

    If there IS a next season I hope they actually start moving Lex and Clark towards being their proper roles!

    There will be a next season, and don't you worry about Chloe.

    Oh!

    One more thing... this is not about Smallville actually :( It's about Countdown :O

    I read your review :D I like all your reviews! :3

    THANKS!

    But I just wanted to say that Countdown #2 (or #50 :o the numbering is so confusing!) confuses me. Like... so Superman KNOWS where Jason Todd is, he sees him, he KNOWS Jason is a multiple murderer (and a thief) and he just let's Jimmy go there and he watches (or something?) Jason could have killed those ninjas, and if Superman was doing nothing but watching... and besides that Jason's a criminal! Superman's okay with this? B/c.. what.. he wears a mask?!?

    I pounded on that a bit in the comments. I don't get it either. There are critical character errors in that series thusfar.

    That's not something Superman would do :(

    Agreed.

    I just wanted to know what you thought of it. :o But I agree with your review that Countdown is a bit of a dissapointment so far :(

    Kk..

    Sorry about the super long letter! :(

    I hope I made it in time.. but maybe not :(

    *hugs*

    See you next season (if there is one)? :D

    -Teh Ami

    No worries! I look forward to hearing from you.

    Jeff Bergeron wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    First, congrats for you job at the Smallville magazine. You really deserve it.

    Thanks!

    Now, I'd like to comment a little bit on the "Quebec" part of Smallville. I currently live in Quebec City, but I've passed by Baie-Saint-Paul regularly visiting my family living in the east of the province.

    Okay. But you have to do it in French!

    First, its a terrible cliche to have the Quebec part shot in a wooden house in the forest. We haven't lived like this for at least 100 years. Some people still have one to go on vacation, but certainly not in May. Would it have been so hard to shoot it in Montreal suburbs or something?

    I balked at it myself. I mean, I haven't been to Canada more than a handful of times, but it seems like America, only cleaner and with more polite people. And more of a certain green mind-altering substance. Canadianite.

    Glad to see they hired a real Quebecer with an actual Quebec accent. English-speakers wouldn't notice, but Quebecers in general, proud of our roots as we are, would have been insulted to see an English-speaking person trying to speak French, or a French actress.

    It was accurate? Holy monkeys!

    Since the Quiet Revolution, in which the Catholic religion lost most of its power, reputation and influence in Quebec (after dominating both the government and the people for many decades), a priest, exorcist or not, is pretty much the last person you would like to see next to your dying father if you're an average Quebecer. Once again, it's a terrible cliche, as if Quebec still lived in the 18's. When I first saw the scene, I wondered if it was set in the past, until I saw Lex and his goons appeared.

    Odd.

    Hope your enjoyed my little insight, and hope you still enjoyed the episode even if Lana is probably still alive (could they have been more obvious? Honestly?). I personnally did, even if it wasn't as good as I thought it would be.

    I did enjoy the end bits...and thank you!

    Bye!

    - Jeff

    Sebastian wrote:
    Hello Neal, I'm Sebastian, the dude that complained at the begining of the season about the geographical mistakes the writers/producers/whatever made with Patagonia, I don't know if you remember.

    I do, and thankee.

    Anyway, about this finale, I don't know if it is just me, but this season finale lacked, how can I say it?, "the WOW factor", last season had Zod being released, Clark ending in the Phantom Zone, the season finale from the fourth season had the 2nd Meteorite Crash with the disciples of Zod, etc.

    It seemed like a regular episode with the awesome finale bits tacked onto the last ten minutes. And a very passive aggressive/arbitrary drama laced regular episode, at that.

    What do we have in this finale?, Lana not dying (D*MN, D*MN, D*MN), a bizarro Clark that we have (kind of) seen before with the Red K, not so good FXs, etc.; it was underwhelming.

    Yes. Especially for a finale.

    Last season's cliffhanger with Clark in the Phantom Zone and the US in chaos because of Zod made me want to speed up time in order to watch the 6th Season; this time, however, I could care less whether the 7th Season begins this year, or the next century. The only thing I'm interested to know so far is more about Chloe's power.

    I want to see Bizarro, but the other dilemmas are nothing to me.

    Well, I better stop rambling, I apologize for any gramathical/spelling mistake, it's 3 AM down here and english is not my main language. Looking forward to read your review. =)

    Thanks!

    RMF wrote:
    They gave us a heart-attack of a finale, perhaps in an effort to make up for long stretches of Clexana boredom and plot and character stagnation, but it came off as both rushed and incoherent, not something that makes me want to come back next year. It's kind of like walking out on my boyfriend and having him chase me down the street with flowers and chocolates, saying, "Baby, baby, wait! It'll be different! I promise!" Only instead of flowers and chocolates, they've got a fistful of weak special effects and a head-scratching take on an old comic-book antagonist (Phantom plus human boy plus pinch o' Clark equals Bizarro? Okay).

    I get that feeling, actually.

    But we're still stuck with Clark apparently setting out to kill either or both of the Luthors before circumstance, not character, stops him. We still have Clark fawning all over Lana despite her being married and having left Lex to die a couple of weeks ago. I swear, the woman could level a city, and he'd forget about it by the next week. They've also raised the icky prospect of Lionel Luthor, of all people, acting as a mentor to Clark next season, now that Jonathan and Martha have been disposed of. Lex is still stuck on stupid when it comes to Lana. And there's no chance the woman is actually dead. We just can't be that lucky.

    Yep.

    There were a few good moments, such as the reverse X-Files opening, with the alien on the inside of the house, and the humans with the bright lights on the outside waiting to abduct him. I liked Lex abandoning the evil scientist to the Phantom to escape, yet pausing to warn Clark before fleeing. I liked the idea of Clark's life, rather than a trip to the FoS, being his training ground, although it doesn't save Jor-el from being a sadistic nutcase. But this is all I have on my list.

    Hadn't thought of that X-Files angle. Good call.

    Some big showcase moments, such as Clark finally telling Lana his secret, were surprisingly bland. "Clark, I'm leaving." "Lana, I'm an alien." "You're still my Clark." Yawn. Six years of buildup and dark hints about how badly she might take it should have had a payoff. Even the most loving and supportive girlfriend would still say, "You're WHAT?!", and in Lana's case, not only are there the tragic deaths of her parents to contend with, but at the beginning of the season, an alien took over her boyfriend's body, stabbed her in the hand, and tried to destroy the world. Lana's lack of questions doesn't make her look loving, it turns her into a pod person.

    She already was, but yeah, I see what you mean.

    A real problem, though, is their failure to protect the integrity of the character they themselves created. Chloe Sullivan has been the avatar of journalism for six years now. We've followed her journey, admired her guts, enjoyed her curiosity, been inspired by her dedication, and cheered her goals. But the writers wrote themselves into a corner by doing a truly awful job of developing their Lois Lane. She's got the brassiness all right, but instead of clearly conveying her intellectual powers and vision, they've given us someone who flunked high school, got into college on a favor and got kicked out, freeloaded off the Kents for both housing and employment, and had so little integrity that she signed on to work at the Inquisitor. Even her entry into journalism this season was a bolt from the blue and treated as a joke rather than the iconic moment the audience had the right to expect. To try to make up for her deficiencies, they've periodically given her miracle powers, such as the ability to run a successful political campaign without any experience, or the ability to find out what's in someone's Cayman account when she couldn't even find a story two weeks before.

    Much like another female character people find hot, Lana.

    They evidently made the decision anyway to transform Lois into a crusader in the last two episodes of the season, and they appear to feel that they needed to come up with a reason why she could exceed Chloe as a journalist. However, given the way they've developed Lois, there isn't one. So they decided to manufacture one. In the finale, Chloe finds Lois feverishly researching the meaning of some numbers Wes Keenan repeated before dying. In a fit of defeatism that comes out of absolutely nowhere, Chloe tells her that she should take if from her, fighting the Luthors is too dangerous and proof will always elude her. *What?* Last we saw, Chloe had the first draft of her Level 33.1 expose on her computer screen, she defied Lex Luthor to his face, and she and Clark had vowed to bring Lex down once Lana was out of the way. Now she delivers this weak and fatalistic line, and nothing has happened between "Progeny" and the finale to explain the change of heart. It's fiercely inconsistent with a woman who has faced down a herd of killer meteor freaks, two assassination attempts by Lionel Luthor, and a gun-wielding conspirator in "Justice" and kept going. Yet they seem to want a big moment of showing that Lois presses on where Chloe gives up, and they don't care that the net result is damage to yet another character.

    Ding!

    To make things worse, they've saddled Chloe with a meteor power that expresses itself through *crying*. That's right, instead of sensibly calling 911 the way we know she would when she finds Lois at death's door, she blubbers all over her, and this is what saves the day. What a weak, wimpy, dopey power to stiff her with. The whole meteor-power storyline is a lousy fit for Chloe, because as perhaps their best developed character, she's never needed a gimmick to keep up with the superpowered or the rich and shameless. She's smart, dedicated, and resourceful, and that is what makes her interesting. If they diminish her role as a journalist in favor of an ill-fitting plotline like this, then they deprive her of the quintessential expression of those qualities, and they rob the audience of what they most enjoy about her.

    It's also irrelative to her skills and desires, a key component of meteor rock infection...

    Regards,

    RMF

    Dan Fenton wrote:
    Neil,

    So another Smallville season has come and gone and the finale has left us breathless in anticipation for Season Seven....I guess.

    Sad caveat.

    Soooo....what do we have????

    Lana is blowed up.....gonna be hard to get out of that one....at least in one piece...of course, unless it wasn't Lana at all but an incredibly lifelike double.

    Or an ice cream truck.

    Chloe is dead...or at least unconscious or asleep...the result of unwittingly saving Lois' life...or did Lois die and become Chloe, meaning that she'll be the intrepid Daily Planet reporter with the hots for Clark.

    I doubt it, but stranger stuff has occurred.

    Lex is one major blowout from ending up in a sanitarium, where he'd no doubt end up running into Chloe's mother, Lynda Carter.

    Heh.

    Clark has split into two and, because Bizarro Clark isn't Regular Every Day Clark, the "no flights" rule doesn't apply...any technicality they can throw in works, I guess.

    Lionel is trapped and the water is rising....looks like curtains for him for sure.

    Pa Kent is still dead.

    And Annette O'Toole is leaving Smallville.

    Annette IS leaving. The others...well, okay, Pa is dead.

    First off, I suppose it's conceivable that, despite hints that the only casting change is Jimmy Olsen taking Ma Kent's spot...that either Lana or Chloe might actually be dead. Given the circumstances, I think people are supposed to believe that both have passed on...Lana's seems like a sure thing, and it would just be like them to give Chloe a power that causes her to die. Poetic or something fo that nature.

    But we've been faked out before and we'll be faked out again...

    Yes.

    This we do know...Clark will survive, Lois will survive, Lex will survive, Jimmy will survive...so if we add Perry White and Cat Grant, bring back Ma Kent and dig up Pa, we've got the makings of Lois & Clark, season one all over again.

    In any case, I would say an interesting finale and last few episodes, nothing Earth shattering or totally unexpected (in that we expect everyone to be in danger for their lives as the season raps up), but the Season Seven premier looks promising...I hope they bring back the Martian Manhunter...why does it seem they build up his character and then we see him for ten minutes...besides I think he factors into the story somehow.

    I hope so.

    As for Annette leaving, it is a shame, but her character had grown stale and had no more room to move. Unfortunately, it's a case of addition by subtraction.

    Have a good summer and let's look ahead to September.

    Cheers,

    Dan Fenton
    Burlington, Ontario
    Canada

    Thanks, Dan!

    Loren wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    Thanks for printing my letter last week. Hopefully I'm lucky enough to squeeze in some last-minute thoughts on Season 6.

    You are, and no worries! Thanks for writing.

    - Since I previously tore apart the "Noir" bookends, did you notice that we never got a resolution to the "Who had Lana shot?" mystery? It doesn't make much sense for it to have been Lex or Lionel. But it's awfully anti-climactic if it was the now-dead Senator Burke. So who's left? Could they possibly be holding off the resolution to that mystery for next season, on top of explaining the car explosion?

    The world may never no. Actually, strike that. The world WILL never know.

    - Speaking of the car explosion, the ONLY thing that makes me think Lana might actually be dead is the absurdity of the police arresting Lex without a charred corpse in the car. But which is more likely: the writers killing off the perfect Lana Lang in a way that leaves her as a charred corpse, or the writers failing to take two seconds to consider the soundness of their script?

    Another good point. How could Lex be arrested with no body?

    - How did Lana survive? The incredibly convenient ice cream truck is obvious. A little TOO obvious. I'm betting on an Underground Railroad tunnel underneath the parking lot.

    That would be sensible. It's an ice cream truck.

    - In memoriam of the assuredly-not-dead Lana Lang, let's reflect on all the character subplots that the writers have used in six seasons in an attempt to make her interesting apart from her relationship with Clark, only to abandon those subplots and (almost) never mention them again. Aunt Nell, Whitney Fordman, cheerleading, Henry Small, owning and operating the Talon (while a full-time high school student), kung-fu, being possessed, Jason Teague, studying art, moving to Paris, studying astronomy, attending Metropolis University, being pregnant, marrying Lex. (OK, the last two haven't had time to not be mentioned again, but the former was established as having never happened in the first place, and the latter was a HUGE move that was then undone a mere six episodes later.)

    And none really that intriguing, save Whitney.

    - It didn't have to happen in the finale, but now that Clark's revealed his alien origin to Lana, we will eventually need a payoff to the fact that his arrival coincided with the Langs' deaths. That is, unless the writers have forgotten that Lana was actually born of man and woman, and didn't spring, fully-formed, from the head of Zeus.

    I doubt it'll be mentioned.

    - Was it ever mentioned this season that Lana is, in fact, the THIRD Mrs. Lex Luthor? After Desiree Atkins and Helen Bryce?

    Nope.

    - I'd comment on Chloe's lacri-magical powers, but I'm sure you've already thoroughly covered that territory.

    Yep.

    - The "Justice & Doom" segment touched on the Stones being left in secret places around Earth, but still did nothing to explain how they were left there hundreds of years ago. Come to think of it, when was the last time the Kawatche prophecies were mentioned?

    Jake Black did a good job of it in the Smallville Mag.

    - The KO Count needs an entry for mystical Maguffins. The octogon, the Kawatche dagger, the Kryptonian dagger, the tri-stones, the black box, the power crystal. All those quasi-magical Krypto-artifacts that seem to exist just for characters to find them, lose them, steal them, and eventually destroy them.

    We don't have enough bandwidth. :)

    - The idea of a Martian working with a Kryptonian raises its own questions, but it also illustrates one of the tricky problems in Superman's origin. If Jor-El was in the business of locking up interstellar criminals, then Krypton must have had some kind of access to interstellar travel. In which case, why didn't a LOT more Kryptonians survive? If Jor-El was employing Martians, punishing aliens, and taking field trips to Earth himself, then why did he have to resort to a baby-sized spaceship rather than saving more of the planet?

    Noted, and yep.

    - Maybe it's because we've had six seasons now, but the finale had a very been-there, done-that feel to it to me. Multiple characters on the brink of death or departure? It was done better at the ends of Season 1 and Season 3. And although I wasn't crazy about last season's finale, Clark locked up in the Phantom Zone was a great cliffhanger. Clark fighting a phantom-clone of himself, as they throw each other into stuff? Eh, it might as well be a repeat of the fight with Zod.

    Pretty much, so far.

    - Season 7 brings with it a 21-year-old Clark, living on the farm in Smallville, without either of his parents around. Not in college, not traveling the world, not studying or practicing journalism (come to think of it, Clark hasn't touched journalism since Season 3 or so). One would be led to believe that the writers remember that Clark has to grow up to be Superman (albeit, a Superman who killed a man two episodes ago, and who threatened to kill two men this week), but have completely forgotten that he needs to grow up to be plain-old adult Clark Kent too.

    Noted and derided.

    Even if I'm unsure how much there will be to enjoy in Season 7 (or the depressing thought of a Lex-less Season 8), at least I know I'll continue to get a laugh out of your column.

    Thanks,
    Loren

    Thank you, Loren.

    gary wrote:
    Countdown review: hospital policy.

    Not to split hairs, but to let you have a little
    more faith in hospitals. If you are trying to
    electively enter ahospital, say for a surgery, you
    will have to pay something up front/prove you have
    insurance coverage, etc.

    However, in an emergency situation, like your
    throat closing, a hospital cannot ask for any
    payment at all up front.

    I agree with your overall impression of Countdown 51, it
    sucked.
    If you have access to Walter Simon's 25 issues of Orion, you
    will definitely enjoy his writing of Darkseid, other New
    Gods, heroes and villians.

    best,gary

    It's true, they can't up front, but apparently it had been months, months where she'd been doing "Mental health" stuff, right?

    Colleen wrote:
    I have no idea what you are going to say about the Phanton Episode, because I'm still not so sure about it myself. Actually Douglas came up with some really good criticisms this week. I don't always agree with him but it's good his reviews are paired with yours. Even though I usually agree with your oft-repeated complaints, his enthusiasm for some parts I later thought were kind of bogus reminded me why I thought they were cool when I orinally saw them.

    I like Doug's positive attitude. I'm very analytical by nature, and I know a lot of the tricks, so I'm easily dissuaded.

    And really, this season has been a total tease. They could have seen through the implications of Zod a whole lot better. More Clark actively trying to catch freed evil alien beings from all across the galaxy wreaking havoc on unsuspecting Earthlings instead of moping over Lana. Instead of Clark being a proactive hero against the Phantoms and repairing all the damage across the globe from the wreckage of Black Wednesday (I forget the name they called it), we get him meeting Zoners by chance and then murdering them and a mention of him tidying up the road between Smallville and Metropolis by Mama Kent. The episodes are all Lana drama--Lana kissing Zod-Lex, getting pregnant by Lex, marrying Lex, divorcing Lex, faking her death and pinning it on Lex.

    Pretty much.

    We also got Clark discovering the power of his lungs this season, but that episode was kind of lame and we haven't really seen him use that much since (like hey, instead of the same old scenario when Clark throws some unidentified goon 30 feet against a stack of boxes and potentially reveal his secret identity, he could be huffing and puffing those people into a wall knocking them out from a safe distane). Or any other power except for chucking people across the room.

    It's been used, what, twice?

    We also got to see the Green Arrow and a taste of the Justice League--but I also don't think we saw Clark in a good light against the rest of the Justice League. He always comes off as a self-serving loner. And I would have liked more. They could have used the Justice League this season as a replacement for Pete Ross. Instead of Clark moping in the barn, he could have been talking about his lame problems with Flash or Cyborg. Or something..

    Or doing anything pro-active.

    We also got lots of really bad Lois plot lines. I find it kind of sad that the writers have taken Lois down the whiny, annoying "strong" female road, when they could have made her cool. Why can't they do a good cinematic portrayal of Lois? Margot Kidder got on my nerves and Kate Bosworth's Lana botherered me due to her possible anorexia and hostile bichiness. Just because they say Lois is so great and loveable and apparently now a great reporter, doesn't make her one no matter what forced lines the other characters say--because we see that Lois is whiny, annoying, and kind of dumb. Like the Lana Chloe knows--no matter how many times Chloe and Martha get a blank look on their faces and spout out Lana propaganda, we know all know Lana and Lois very well now.

    I find Lois stronger than Lana, but it's mostly like a dude who puffs out his chest. All show, little go.

    Chloe and Mama Kent are the only good strong female characters on the show. I willingly suspend my disbelief on how Martha is climbing up the ranks of power so fast and yet at the farm so much and Chloe's miraculous daily commute. But it seems we haven't seen these characters used that much this season either. We could have had Martha using all of her foreign diplomacy contacts to help locate bad Zoners and Chloe honing her healing powers instead of possibly killing her off trying to save that undeserving idiot Lois. Instead two of the strongest characters have been used mainly to parrot the party line about Lois and Lana. And I would like to know how many times Jonathan Kent has been mentioned this season--three times maybe? So much for three characters that bring a lot of heart to this show.

    It's like a hole in Clark's heart, I know. :) Yeah, Chloe is far more compelling. And now Martha go bye-bye.

    Martian Manhunter and the Lionel alliance? Would have liked to know more about that. Even Lana's creepy unfortunate pregnancy--stop teasing us over almost a dozen episodes about THAT whole thing. Is Lex innocent? He seemed a LITTLE surprised by Lana's comments, but maybe he was acting. Reminds me of the stupid witch thing with the tattoo magically appearing on Lana's back. All of that could have been easily cut out and I don't think I'd miss it. But if you're going to go down the creepy pregnancy story line, at least see it through all the way. I guess next season will tell us what really happened (and I don't think whatever the outcome, I'm going to care a whole lot).

    I doubt we'll hear anything more about it.

    The whole Lex Luthor silver short shorts battalion? I'm going to guess that they will be used next season in someway taking Bizarro down and Lex will be partially-redeemed. But like the whole pregnancy thing, I'm not wild with excitement about all of this either. We also get Lana's obviously faked death to deal with all next season too it appears.

    I think it'll be resolved by the third ep. That's my guess.

    The Phantom Episode was the culmination of all the above elements. Parts of it were great but so rushed, that you couldn't enjoy them fully. They constantly reminded me of all the lost opportunities over the season. And there were lots of really unnecessary dragging scenes. I looked at my watch at one point and couldn't believe there was only 10 minutes left because nothing was resolved whatsoever. I had no idea how they could wrap the whole thing up in the remaing time. And really they wrapped nothing up at all except green K is a good thing for Bizarro and now maybe they'll kill Lionel off too.

    Hah! Fat chance. The MB stays. It would require boldness to kill a character.

    This is a pretty long letter to gripe about redundancy and boring filler junk in Smallville. Feel free to cut any of my ramblings. Next season depends on how well they wrap up all these story lines and whether Clark starts stepping onto the plate and helping out the JL--and keeping Lana deep in hiding would also be a plus. I'm not feeling too optimistic though...

    No worries, and thank you. You reflect many of the concerns of viewers.

    Shabab wrote:
    I hate Lana as much as you do, and I really hope she's dead this time.
    But I'm pretty sure she's not. What do you think? I think we all know this show would be a lot better without her. They could give Lois a bigger part which is what I'm hoping for.

    I think she's just fine, but I agree, the show would be better without her...

    Colleen

    Christine wrote:
    Neal,
    I'm having withdrawl here waiting for your review. Each episode I always think of you and think; "Ooooo, can't wait to hear what Neal has to say about this one!!!! Especially after Lana....died!!!?" I know I write and don't have too much to add as far as the episodes go but just wanted to you to know I wait for your reviews....as does my sister. I said to her; "maybe the bonus is another awesome youtube video!!" Thanks for all your heartfelt, hard work Neal.
    A Fan,
    Christine

    Hey, Christine! As you may know, the bonus was indeed a new Smallville video. I wanted to wait for the week because I hired a pyrotechnician, my buddy George Howard, and thus the wait. I'm flattered as hell that you and your sister wait for the review. Tell her (as I say to you) thanks, and I hope it was worth the wait.

    As for all the rest of you, THANK YOU for yet another great year of reading, companionship, fun, anger, yelling, running around, video making, general malarkey...and I hope to catch you in September with my Smallville Magazine work.

    BEST!

    Neal



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