Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Episode 17: "Reaper"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

There comes a point, when you watch a show regularly, where you're not willing to put disbelief on the backburner in order to enjoy the show, and at that point, you usually stop watching the show. I am not to this point with Smallville in the slightest, but I am getting a little discouraged that they're using the same plot over and over again, and this week, they used the same villain. We've already seen someone who can disintegrate people with fire.

Now, I'll probably get angry emails pointing out the differences between the coach, episode three or so, and the villain this week, a young man who can cause spontaneous combustion, but they're essentially the same plot entities. Person from the small town gets an agenda in his or her head, suddenly gains powers, and then suddenly loses all sense of morality and runs amuck.

Frankly, I'm getting tired of that.

Further, there is a problem inherent in this show that other shows have not directly touched... the awareness episode. If you read a lot of comics, and I do, they'll throw you an awareness issue every now and again. Since we're talking Superman, I'll use a Superman example. Bloodsport. Bloodsport was a rather deplorable character who hated all minorities, or non-aryans, or whatever classification you wanted to put on it, and he killed them. Superman had to confront him, and thus this issue, at the same time, and it was very easy to sit on the side of Superman's fence. I mean, other than some extremely sick individuals on a pathological level, who can hate for the color of skin or political belief? Or kill, for that matter. Insert political commentary I will not even jump into: here.

This is usually a positive experience, but in this episode, it proves detrimental, as the idea of easing one into suicide is a not widely accepted, nor thought out issue. There is no obvious winner or loser. Some might suggest that this makes it the ideal target for an awareness episode for thus, but for me, personally, it distracted me from what I watch TV for, in the rare instances I do: to escape the kind of thinking and processing I've done all day. For instance, writing books, writing poetry, writing reviews, reading books, reading comic books, watching films...anything involving thinking. Not that watching Smallville is an entirely empty thoughtful exercise...not at all. I just suggest that if we're going to get political, let's do it in something except a series based in the most stereotypical "American" ideals one can present. Take that as you might. The whole death with dignity aspect just seemed a little thrown in without proper addressing.

As for Lex and his machinations, this was a great aspect of the episode. A reader by the name of Cliff suggested with regards to my last review that Lex getting beat up, rather than being a bad thing, because Lex Luthor NEVER gets the shaft, is a good thing, simply because it shows that when he's older he will learn from his youth. The fanboy in me is inclined to shout, "NO! THIS IS LUTHOR! LUTHOR!" But my common sense tells me that Cliff is right, so I'll concede the point. And besides, most of the time, we see the side of Lex that we see in this episode. See, all criticism of the show's plot aside, I'd watch this show even if the formula was displayed on the screen as the show started, so long as they keep up the Lex they've been keeping up. He's really, well and truly, knocked Hackman off the map for me. And here, for the first time, we see that Lex is willing to kill or harm in order to make his way in the world. This is an excellent build-up.

I really hated the way the villain killed himself. Like that wouldn't have happened already. Maybe he could control it. I don't know. Just some other kid who loses all his morals the minute he gets any power and then has to be somehow removed from Smallville.

Lex was great. No doubt about that. But this show was too much of a showboat, and it REALLY pointed out, almost on purpose, the formulaic nature of the beast.

Thus, given the fact that I probably liked this episode the LEAST of all the episodes thusfar, I give this one a 2 of 5.

And for the record, I remain neutral on the idea of death with dignity. It had no sway on my review.

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