Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 10 - Episode 7: "Ambush"Reviews:
AmbushReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Super Short Summary: General Sam "Ironside" Lane invades the Kent farm at breakfast just in time to stop his daughter and the Man of Steel from getting their eggs scrambled. Turns out the General is pretty anti Super's which doesn't sit very well with the Suicide Squad. Viewpoints clash, sisters fight, the Talon goes boom, and in a shocking twist Clark actually wears his new costume for a bit.
Let me start by saying how genius I think the casting of General Lane has been. Bringing in Michael Ironside to play a tough as nails, hard ass father who would literally invade another country to protect his daughters is perfect. You can just take one look at the guy and his presence and believe he would send choppers and green berets out to search for his kids and not have a single second thought. You can also take one look at him and see that yes... This guy could very well have raised a daughter who would grow up to be like a pit bull on a pant leg (to borrow a line from an earlier episode). That is very important because Lois is such a strong personality that they needed someone that could project command and respect and show Lois' strong side for when she finally stands up to him. It's hard to believe they could have found a better actor to pull it off. Smallville never ceases to amaze me when it comes to casting characters in this world. They have very rarely miss-stepped in this regards.
I liked the whole dynamic that went on in this episode. The uncomfortable tension between Clark and the General was well played and never over done to make it a joke. Lois' feelings and desires in relation to her father were all realistic and added an extra level of depth to her character that I enjoyed seeing.
I absolutely loved the little twist that the General's "list" was more of a test for Lois than it was for the boyfriend. That cracked me up.
I also really liked the subtle hint that General Lane figured out Clark is the Blur. They didn't outright say it and it will probably never come up again but there were hints there at the end. The knowing look, the double meaning comments, the change in attitude towards the Blur. All that adds up in my book as he knows and that is good. I like that Clark and Lois couldn't pull one over on her father. Plus it makes the General's comment about having a super watching over Lois have more meaning. Basically he's telling Clark, "All right. I will let it be but you better be watching out for my girl." Nice bit of subtext there.
Not sure how I feel about the Suicide Squad yet. I am not really sure why they are opposed to the registration act being pushed. They don't seem like the type to follow the laws to a T anyway so why would they care? I know they are pushing their leader as being patriotic and all that but it's just not clicking for me yet. Hope they clear that up soon.
Lucy kissing Clark? Meh. It's a common problem in all of TV/movies in those situations. It is really, really EASY to stop someone from kissing you if you don't want it unless they are physically forcing you. A slight turn of the head, stepping back, or even a gentle push all work just fine. The whole "They surprised me" is used too often in Hollywood. Smallville is not the only show guilty of that. It's used to create relationship drama. I get that. I just don't like it. So don't do it again.
Loved seeing Green Arrow and the Blur together in costume. Don't know why they used the clamps to stop the truck when Clark could have just one handed it but oh well. Still cool.
It was good that Oliver stepped up and was nice to Lady Lex. I am not saying he was wrong to not trust her but they didn't need him to continue on being a jerk about it either. I think they found a good middle ground that works well for the character.
I agree with Oliver's choices to ban himself from Watchtower. I said something about that to my wife before that happened, about what would happen if someone saw him going in there. I also pointed out it could be trouble if a lot of people see him and Clark together often, but that is pretty much unavoidable.
I feel I need to re-state my belief that Justin Hartley is paid based on shirtless scenes. I mean the dude is ripped and all that, I am totally fine for them throwing in eye candy for both sides equally but I am starting to think that maybe... just maybe... they could have one episode where he keeps his shirt on? You know, just to switch things up a bit?
Lois standing up to her father for Clark? Awesome. Clark not backing down on principle about the Super's, also awesome. Thought he might have been a bit too harsh on Lois for not speaking up with him at first but that all fit with the story so I was ok with it.
They bombed the Talon! That was so awesome. What a way to wrap up a location so used and over used throughout the years. KABOOOM... and goodbye. Loved that.
The WTF moment of the week goes to Oliver Queen. Mr. Green Arrow... You have outed yourself to the world in a way that would make Tony Stark proud. People know who and what you are. They know what you do and how you do it. So tell me sir. Why is it you still feel the need to still use that silly voice changer when you go out in costume to confront someone? And while we are on that subject why is it you are still wearing the glasses and hood? Even when your identity was a secret you never kept your "mask" on for more than a minute or two anyway. Seriously dude. What the Fudge? Seems like over kill at this point.
So anyway, I rather enjoyed this one. Some fantastic family dynamics with just one groan worthy scene with Lucy smacking Clark's lips. Interesting developments in the government's response to the Supers and even some resolution between Oliver and Lady Lex.
I have to go with a 4.5 out of 5.
See you all next week.
AmbushReviewed by: Julian Finn
When I was a kid I probably heard the phrase, "If you're going to do something, do it well" at least a thousand times. This week's Smallville taught me, beyond all doubt, that the inverse of that statement is true as well. If you can't do something well, don't do it.
"Ambush" was quite possibly the most insultingly stupid episode of Smallville I've seen in years. Whereas last week's outing, "Harvest", was dumb but ultimately entertaining for what it was, "Ambush" asked you to carve out your brain, mail it to someone who would put it to better use, and replace it with 42 minutes of television that had about ninety seconds worth of content that wasn't bug nuts insane.
Before we even get to what this pile of drek was, let's pause for a moment to realize what it wasn't. Up until three weeks ago we were given some solid forward momentum, a hazy yet clearly present villain in the form of Darkseid, some weird Chloe subplot that we keep getting hints in reference to and some good build and resolution to the Lois and Clark relationship. For the last three weeks though, we've seen a drought in anything resembling the meta plot and all the focus has been on the trials and tribulations of young love.
Last season I railed a lot about the fact that, especially in the latter episodes, something momentous would happen (like Zod declaring war on Clark and everything he held dear) and then there would be no follow through for a couple of weeks. It seems we're trapped in that cycle again, and let me tell you, I've lost all patience for it. Real life simply doesn't happen this way. When you set a chain of events into motion that are going to have dire consequences you can't just put those consequences on hold while your principal characters do some navel gazing and plot the most effective way to get arrested for indecent exposure.
The job of any good story, whether it's based on a comic book, set in the Middle Earth or deals with the world of high stakes poker, is to make you believe that what you're seeing makes sense on some level. You don't have to strive for realism, but there should be a consistent internal logic. I don't even know what story they were trying to tell here.
What was the point of "Ambush"?
Well...it could be the back story with Sam Lane and the Vigilante Registration Act...no that's obviously been happening behind the scenes for the last couple of months and, even though it's purportedly important to the fabric of the show in some way, it's obviously not important enough to dedicate any real attention to.
Alright, well, maybe it was supposed to give us some deeper insight into Rick Flag and the Suicide Squad. Well, no that's not right either, because everything associated with those portions of the episode made less than no sense.
Ok, then it must have been to retell, "Meet the Parents" but with more awkward moments.
Actually, that I could believe.
I felt really bad for Michael Ironside in this episode. You could tell he was trying, but he just wasn't given anything to work with that didn't come from some absinthe induced cartoon hallucination.
The only purpose this story served, as far as I can tell, was to give Lois an absolutely unimpeachable reason for having to move in with Clark so we can be treated to more sexy hijinks for the next 15 episodes.
Everything in this episode exists solely for the purpose of blowing up the Talon. With a missile. Just in case you thought there was a possibility that Lois still has an apartment.
Don't believe me? Let's take a couple of plot threads and see where they lead.
The Suicide Squad:
The episode opens with Rick Flag in one of those super sweet mobile military units that looks like what an ice cream truck would look like if its purpose was to eat children rather than to feed them. What's Rick doing? He's watching a monitor that clearly shows a tracking symbol moving into position near the Kent farm. This will become important later.
We find out, through some advanced whining on the part of Ollie, that those skulls the Squad marked Clark and Co. with back in "Shield" are actually sub-dermal tattoos that allow the Squad to track their targets. We also find out, through some nifty expository dialogue on Tess' part, that Flag has been working with Meta humans for most of his career and has decided to take up their cause (which is never really articulated) as his own. Also, Clark's sub-dermal tattoo thingy was put there using Blue K. So Clark has Blue K in his body. Which makes no sense considering he's had use of his powers for the last 6 episodes. Wheee!
Rick Flag really lucks out and manages to intercept Lucy Lane outside of town (which is putting an awful lot of hope on a very slim chance that the exact person you need in order to facilitate your horribly thought out plan will be made available to you for no good reason) and tells her that Clark is a danger to her father and his mission to get a bill passed in congress. He also lucks out that Lucy is dumb as nails and doesn't see through the mind numbing stupidity of the "just tell him you found this evidence that will perfectly justify his paranoid suspicions about Clark Kent randomly lying around the Kent Farm. And also if you could be a dear and plant this tracking device on him, that would be swell."
Wait, why would they need Lucy to plant a tracking device on Lane? They quite clearly were watching a tracking device that was already on him when they traced him to Smallville. Also, wouldn't they have just tagged him with a sub-dermal tattoo thingy months ago? Why a pen that he can remove and put on a counter, thus confounding someone's brilliantly diabolical plan?
So Lucy hands the hilariously time and date stamped photos of Clark with Kara (I knew that Supergirl posing for photo ops would turn out to be a bad idea!) to Sam who freaks out and confronts Clark in one of the most misguided family drama moments I've seen in any show not featuring the Olson twins.
Their fight results in a ridiculous confrontation between Clark and Lois that Sam parlays into having Lois leaving the farm with him and Lucy. Which would never happen and is a terrible character moment for Lois, but we'll touch that again later. It has to happen so that Lois can get to the Talon. The whole Snidely Whiplash quality of this plot is compounded when you see Flag staring at one of his Dr. Claw monitors and the pen tracking light moves across the blue skull signifying Clark. Headdesk.
"The Blur may be faster than a speeding bullet, but I bet he can't outrun this." I just about died. Who taught these people physics? Was it the Believers from the creepy Halloween village? Also, very subtle with the stars and bars all over that missile, but who exactly is supposed to see them once, you know, the missile blows up? And finally, don't you have a guy on your payroll who can shoot bullets around corners from three blocks away with perfect accuracy? Couldn't this whole plot have been taken care of offscreen, without worrying about Clark interfering and not in the context of an episode, but rather within the logical context created for these characters? You know, so we didn't have to hear Lois tell Clark that he doesn't understand her daddy issues because his daddy is dead, so there.
Lois suddenly does an about face, which is necessary to drive Lucy and Sam out of the Talon, whilst leaving the pen tracker behind (Headdesk) and, amidst a very bizarre recitation of The Star Spangled Banner, Flag launches the missile, from a moving van that doesn't immediately roll across the highway from the sudden, powerful thrust. Yay Village physics!
And the Talon blows up.
Meet the Lanes:
Everything here is totally arbitrary. How does the General know that Lois is staying at the farm? Wouldn't he have checked the Talon first, you know, since that's where she lives? She obviously wasn't expecting them, so it couldn't have been by invite. The cheese runs thick through Clark and Sam's mini confrontation about the vigilantes and the nature of heroism; neither actor is given a whole lot to work with because none of this is anything more than place holder storytelling designed to manoeuvre a grumpy Clark into the barn where Lucy can (because she's just that much of a cow for no apparent reason) make a move on him and thus be banished from the farm for her very important rendezvous with Rick Flag.
Likewise the whole scene where Clark runs off to put out the fire and returns for some miserable cover up acting by Durance and Welling can only have been included to point a giant screaming neon sign at Clark that spells, "Suspicious!!!!" Random plot machinations are practically dripping during every scene on the farm and the heaviest lifting any of the characters does is Sam Lane repeatedly moving his luggage around.
The one moment in all of this that rings true is General Lane's condemnation of the Blur for tagging his accomplishments. This has bothered me for awhile and it's far, far worse after the rescue from the Talon because there Clark tags the wall before putting out the fire. In fact, as Sam is saying, "The Blur saved you?" you can see the fire raging in the background behind him. This is burning down twin towers bad. Grandstanding while property damage is occurring is not a trait I associate with Superman.
All of the painful, painful farm shenanigans culminate with the final confrontation between Sam, Lois and Clark. And this scene only makes sense from a character perspective when you understand that it needs to happen in order to get all of the relevant parties off the farm and in range of Flag's missile. Lois siding with her father for even ten minutes and actually leaving Clark to go off obediently flies in the face of everything we know about this character. At no point on this show or in any other iteration of the Superman mythos does Lois get depicted as having this kind of subservient relationship with her father. In fact, most of what makes Lois the character she is is the fact that she refuses to define herself by anyone else's terms, least of all Sam Lane. If this were any other character on any other show I would buy this as being a plausible, if relationship killing moment (cause really, if I were Clark, that would be the end for me) but this is Lois Lane. She has the mental and emotional strength to be the perfect match for a man who can lift planets but chooses to protect those weaker than himself; I just...it was gross to watch.
And again, it only happened to service the ridiculous assassination plot.
I don't even know what to say, really.
Everything in this episode was almost painfully stupid. Ollie and Tess had some nice bonding moments but, again, that made up about 90 seconds of the episode. And ye gods, the questions we were left with.
I'm not going to touch my real concerns with the Vigilante Registration Act yet, mostly because I'm hoping that the direction they take it in will be different than what I'm afraid of, but also because they've completely banished it to the background while telling stories about Egyptian, star crossed, incestuous lovers, crazy human sacrifice cults and the most nonsensical adaptation of the Suicide Squad you could possibly write. I just don't get it.
This wasn't the worst episode the series has ever produced, but it definitely made me angrier than anything I've watched in the last three seasons. I expect better with the story leeway available for a final season.
Final thought, Welling's pronunciation of vigilante as vigi-lawn-tee makes me giggle. Yes please, let's have this guy play Superman in a big screen adaptation. Snort.
1 out of 5.
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