Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 10 - Episode 15: "Fortune"Reviews:
FortuneReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Super Short Summary: The gang goes on an epic bender which involves people getting married, an armored car heist, waking up in closets/on railroad tracks, Elvis, and a lucky Lemur.
Wow! What an episode.
Let me just be clear, if you are very strict about some things you might find this episode a bit aggravating. There are things that happen that may push the boundaries involving our heroes, but I can say, in my opinion, it was done in all fun with nothing too far that violates the integrity of the characters.
Sure Clark woke up with Chloe and a monkey in his closet, but who hasn't gone out for a night on the town and woke up with a girl other than his wife and a monkey in their closet? It could happen to everyone. Okay, I couldn't even type that without a fit of laughter... That is how just freaking funny that was.
That little Lemur has my vote for the most valuable guest star all season. Maybe he shouldn't win but he dang sure should be nominated.
Why? Because his presence totally sets the tone of the episode. There are some serious repercussions that could have come out of Zatanna's little prank but by having this cute little guy showing up at the beginning we as viewers know without a doubt that "serious" is not in the cards. It allowed me to view the entire episode in a proper light and as a result I had a hilariously good time with it. Maybe we will see the little guy again. Last we saw him Clark left him in his room so it's possible the Lucky Lemur will be back. Maybe they can name him Titano?
The only negative thing I thought went too far was Emil and Lady Luthor getting sexual. It wouldn't have bothered me if they were a couple already and just drunkenly recorded themselves but as far as I know they were not an "item". This means they got physical under the influence and while I know those things happen in real life that is the one part of this episode where they had the characters do something that "crossed the line" in my opinion.
Otherwise the rest was a blast. Chloe and Clark waking up and finding the monkey and thinking they got married (made ok by the fact that we learn it didn't happen). Finding the LuthorCorp sign in his living room and a piano in his kitchen. I was laughing my backside off.
Lois getting her shoes stolen and waking up on railroad tracks? That was funny too, especially the way her and Oliver took it in stride like they had been there before. Lois didn't really freak until she realized her ring was missing. Even wearing some homeless person's shoes didn't seem to faze her all that much and who knows how clean those shoes were. It was so in contrast to the reactions of Chloe and Clark who have less experience in those situations. Very nicely done.
Emil and Lady Luthor's stage show was fantastic. They are surprisingly good singers and that was actually a pretty good Elvis impersonation.
Oliver and Lois' "disguise" to break out of the gangster's casino was priceless. The wife and I had a discussion during that scene if Oliver in a sequin bra counted as one of Justin Hartley's shirtless scenes but thankfully they answered the question by having him losing his top anyway. It might have caused some serious contractual issues otherwise. Lois re-enacting a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom during the gun fight was also very amusing.
It was a great fight. Chloe and Oliver kicking serious backside side by side? Sweet. Thankfully Chloe only did the cover fire thing and no more lethal force that I noticed. She is getting the dual wielding gun play thing down cold. I am not sure how to take Clark not coming back during the gun fight though. At first I was already to call that my WTF moment but then I thought about it a bit more. He was going to save Emil who was having his head squished (IE in immediate danger) so there is at least that. It's possible that by focusing on his part he may have been showing trust in Chloe and Oliver's ability to handle the situation. Still it does leave you with a question. With his speed couldn't he have saved Emil and still made it back to help Oliver and Chloe during their fight? I think maybe they could have cut that differently to improve the timing of the situation to show Clark had to focus on Emil.
I loved the final scene with Chloe and Oliver. Finding out that it was those two that actually got married was fantastic. I am still not buying Chloe's reasons for leaving but at least they are making it a bit more believable this time by having Oliver go with her. Will the marriage last? I doubt it since I don't think they would go as far as completely ignoring the Black Canary's place in Oliver's life but this is okay for now. At least it explains why Oliver leaves Metropolis and moves to his normal city of operations from the comics.
The WTF moment of the week goes to the writers: Look it's cool to name drop and all that but you bring up serious questions when you have Chloe toss out the idea that's she's been hobnobbing with Bruce Wayne and Princess Diana from Themyscira. IF and that is a big IF, Bruce is active as Batman right now then that is something that should have come up before. Especially during the vigilante registration act. Batman would have certainly been public enemy number one or two during that whole thing. If Bruce is still developing Batman then the only way I could see this happening is if Bruce contacted Watchtower for help in setting up his Batcave computers. I could see Bruce having intel from the government and using that to track Chloe down. That works for me but if that is the case though he would have done it anonymously and there is no way in heck Chloe would know it was a "Billionaire" who had all those toys. Diana is a bit more believable because we've seen that Themyscira is known to the Smallville universe already so having their Princess come to town is reasonable. Chloe contacting her is not too far of a stretch but the Batman reference? Seriously What the Fudge?
So a very funny episode with the best use of a Lemur on TV since Momo on the Last Air Bender cartoon. They may have taken a few things a bit too far for some people's taste but nothing I found overly offensive.
I'd call it a 4 but I have to give bonus points for the Lemur.
So 4.5 out of 5.
FortuneReviewed by: Julian Finn
I have a confession to make.
By the time the opening credits rolled on "Fortune", I was ready to turn off my TV. Actually I was ready to pick up my TV, stick it in my car, drive to Vancouver and commit righteous acts of revenge upon Anne Cofell Saunders with it.
I didn't though, and there are a few reasons why.
1. Violence doesn't solve anything (so I've been told, though in this case it would mean that the recipient of the violence wouldn't be able to write anymore so I'm not entirely sure how accurate that belief system is) not even delightful cartoon violence like that would have been.
2. I'm delicate and wouldn't survive long in jail.
3. Genevieve Sparling deserves it more.
4. I like my TV. Also it's a Samsung and I suspect that Ms. Saunders would do more damage to it than it would do to her.
5. Vancouver is a really long drive.
All of those reasons aside though, there's an even better one that I wouldn't have discovered had I turned the TV off; out of context "Fortune" is actually one of the most insane, wildly entertaining and flat out fun episodes Smallville has ever produced.
Out of context.
Wildly, madly out of context.
I actually asked myself at one point if the writers for each episode are actually forbidden from talking to one another. I don't know why they would be, but it seems like one of the only logical explanations for how thoroughly in-series continuity is abandoned by most Smallville writers. (Another one is that, given how forgiving Smallville fans have proven themselves to be on issues of writing, the writers simply don't care, but that's too horrifying a prospect to consider seriously.) Never has there been a more painfully obvious example of this than "Fortune". Not only does Saunders completely ignore the fact that there are larger things at play this season than the Lois and Clark wedding, it actually seems like she was so desperate to wedge Smallville into the plot of The Hangover that she decided to treat the characters as though they weren't in any way on a show about Superman.
The short version of my review is that I did not like "Fortune". It was insulting, derivative and wildly out of tune with the plotlines of the season as a whole. I'm pretty sure it was also meant to be Smallville's entry into the entertainment cycle surrounding Alcohol Awareness Week. If so, I'm going to suggest that the point was not so much missed as completely misunderstood and trampled upon.
But, since I'm never content to just give a blanket statement and leave it at that and, since "Fortune" was such a whacked out entry into the history of Smallville, you're actually going to get two reviews this week; an in-context review and an out of context review.
Here we go.
Fortune: Out of Context
Every single actor on this show earned their paycheck this week. It's a little sad actually that Tucker Max Drunk is a character motivation that the entire cast can get behind and emote perfectly, but still. From the moment when Welling staggered to consciousness and started careening around Kent Farm in a hungover stupor until the final shot of Oliver and Chloe strolling off into the sunset, absolutely everyone was just about pitch perfect on the acting front. Sure there were a couple of moments when the dialogue was so atrocious that no one would have been able to deliver them with anything resembling poise but this is Smallville; people constantly speak like they're auditioning for commercials on this show.
The comedic moments were really at the forefront this week and were pulled off quite well. Clark drunkenly super-speeding into a wall was so well paced that I actually choked, I was laughing so hard. The musical number featuring Emil as Elvis in a duet with Tess was shockingly well done and I will never ever get the image of Oliver in drag out of my head. That whole fight scene in fact was the most over the top piece of choreography I've seen in just about any medium and reminded me quite a bit of the lounge scene at the opening of Temple of Doom; high praise, as I pretty much lived on Indiana Jones as a kid.
Also, in a rare moment of weakness, I found Tess not entirely loathsome. And the lemur was cute.
On the surface "Fortune" felt like filler done fairly close to right. It was fast paced, had a couple of nods to major continuity by way of Chloe's decision to move to Star City and her conversation with Clark explaining that decision. We had the introduction of another DC villain, (though done very badly) and got to see a...ahem, lighter side of all of our characters.
I've said before that I'm not opposed to the idea of filler, it's just usually poorly timed on this series and "Fortune" was no exception. There are now only six episodes left in which to tie off all of the dangling threads and there will be no eleventh season to carry forward to.
That being said, since the wedding is one of those threads, it's not really a terrible thing to dedicate an episode to the thoughts and feelings of everyone involved in the pending nuptials and people do have stag and doe parties so...
Do Superheroes have parties when the world is under attack by alien gods? Or when clones of criminal masterminds are wandering around town with superpow...
No one knows about that yet.
Which brings us to:
Fortune: In Context
Right from the start "Fortune" requires you to accept two glaring character issues, overlook them entirely and immediately force your brain to shy away from the very memory of them. If you can do this, you'll be alright. I mean, you'll be a solid candidate for reconstructive brain surgery, but as far as enjoying the episode goes you'll be just fine.
1. Zatanna is a criminally insane person ripped from the pages of a Christopher Pike novel. Or she's the real Mxyzptlk. That is a retcon that I would find acceptable. Either way, since Clark is locking people away in the Phantom Zone lately, he should probably send Zatanna an invite post haste. This is now the second time she's magically roofied Clark. If the roles were reversed and Ollie was running around dosing women, I would guess that we'd see some outrage. And what was the point? She knew everyone else would get hammered and she wanted Clark to lighten up? She was pissed off that she didn't get an invite and decided to exact revenge through the power of wacky hijinks? This was just very badly thought out.
2. Clark has now graduated from being possibly less than astute to having full blown anterograde amnesia. (That's the Memento one.) The government is actively trying to experiment on/kill/cage him and he just drinks a bottle of champagne without checking the card first? And it's not like this is just one of those cases where we didn't see them checking the bottle before drinking from it; it isn't until the next morning when Chloe checks the basket that she and Clark discover that it's from Zatanna. I think perhaps Darkseid is operating under the same delusion of competency that clone Lex is when formulating his strategies against Earth's defenders. Clearly all that's needed to completely overthrow the world is gift baskets. Not even good ones with walnuts and plush bunnies.
So why are we given these two ludicrous starting points and asked to swallow them whole hog? Because without them we don't get to watch The Hangover with superpowers.
If this were the first time in the course of Smallville's history that it dipped into the pool of possibly sorta kinda borrowing/thieving outright another writer's material to create an inferior product I might be inclined to give it a pass. Heck, even if it were the first time this season. All things being equal, it turns out that The Hangover is pretty funny when you throw super speed and invulnerability into the mix.
At this point I'm going to call a spade a spade. This is no longer a case of a few isolated homages to movies the writers really really liked; this has become wholesale plagiarism. And isn't it ironic that it's happening on a show ostensibly about a character who's supposed to be a moral pillar. I think I know why it's happening though. With the series winding down and nobody rushing out to hire the stable of pure laze that the CW has built over a decade, everyone is probably very interested in banging out spec scripts by the dozens right now. There are two ways that a show acquits itself in its final season; a) they can deliver at the absolute top of their game and give the fans a payoff that is worthy of the time that everyone has invested in keeping their product on the air or b) they can write scripts that start with pitches like:
"Hey, so this week Lionel needs to do something really rotten so we can show the audience how we're upping the stakes by having him back. Let's have him go on a date with Martha Kent and then NOT CALL HER THE NEXT DAY!!!! And we can do the whole episode as a condensed version of He's Just Not That Into You."
I jest, of course, but I'd be shocked if the truth were all that far from that scenario. At this rate the finale is going to be a low budget version of Superman: The Movie, with Rosenbaum inexplicably trying to steal land and Emil Hamilton filling in for Otis. With a wedding.
And, I've said this before, but I think this week it bears repeating. The show's producers don't like us, have any respect for us or even care if they're turning out a quality product. You want proof? Here's a list of things that are currently going on in the background of this show that were flat out ignored so we could watch live action versions of our favorite superheroes cavorting around like frat boys:
The Darkness is spreading: Just last week we saw that Oliver is now marked with an Omega symbol. Judging by how others similarly marked have altered in behaviour, why do we see absolutely no sign of this anywhere in the episode? Unless the writers were making a very rightwing statement by implying that the cross dressing incident was actually evil, we were given nothing here. Yeah, there was that brief scene on the recording where Oliver tears into Emil and orders him out of the bathroom, but we know from past examples that Oliver is a mean drunk so...I'm not seeing it. Not to mention the fact that Darkseid now has a mole in the Justice League and did nothing to take advantage of the fact that they were all incapacitated for twelve hours.
Clark wanders around in public minus any disguise for the whole episode: Just last week he finally embraced the need for a secret identity and then, apparently, he, we and the writers all just forgot that he wears glasses and slouches in public now.
Lionel Luthor is out there, hell bent on world domination: There's nothing to say here; he's just out there, plotting, and Clark and Company are letting him. So they can have a party.
Clex or Conner Kent or whatever he's going to be called is still out there, hell bent on killing Clark and he has the power to do it: And here's an interesting point; there's been much ado made of Tess being reformed and desperate for everyone's trust and approval and, judging by Chloe's reaction when Tess takes point in Watchtower, she's got it. So why, two weeks later, is she hanging out with everyone, having a grand old time, making porn videos with Emil and not, you know, filling them in on the fact that Clex has Clark's powers? Which we were helpfully reminded of in the trailer for next week's episode.
We're not allowed to think about any of these things and they can't be referenced in any way because all those things and more would take away from the thrilling drama of what exactly Lois meant when she sent the "I just need more time," text to Clark. Or getting to the bottom of the mystery of the missing engagement ring (which, if I woke up having just been shoe robbed by a homeless woman, I would just assume was stolen by the same party, Hardy Boys exit stage left.)
Smallville also abused its shameless dependence on coincidence this week when the vital clue that Clark and Chloe need to find Emil and Tess walks right in front of them in the form of trendy Asian children wearing Emil-vis T-shirts and giggling over a YouTube video of his performance, which is still ongoing. Even though he apparently wasn't drinking last night. And the internet doesn't work that fast. And magical trendy T-Shirt stores are usually closed during the hours that bachelor parties happen.
Chloe channeled her inner John Woo fan this week and opened dual gunfire in a room packed with innocent bystanders. Which is not just flat out bad but also totally unnecessary when Clark could have used superspeed to rescue Emil, get Lois' ring back and clear all of his friends out of the Casino in less than the time it took Chloe to fly across the room, guns blazing.
Why is this okay?
Because it looks cool and looking cool is the guiding star of Smallville. Even if it makes less than no sense.
All of that would have been bad enough but what really killed "Fortune" for me was the insertion of the two laziest pieces of fan service this show has ever produced.
Seriously, what were they thinking? For those of you not in the know, Amos Fortune is an old school, JLA attacking supervillain. He's actually incredibly intelligent and discovers one of the DCU's less well thought out science fiction elements; luck glands. He is NOT a casino owner. A minor quibble? Maybe. But Amos Fortune is notable for one other thing; he was the founder and leader of the Royal Flush Gang. Which means, if we extrapolate, those dumb goon henchmen that Fortune has robbing his own armored cars for the insurance money? Those are the Royal Flush Gang. Smallville has just drowned my childhood in infected bile.
You can't just throw out a name and expect the fans to be happy. The whole point of fan service is to throw the fans references that make sense; easter eggs, not poisoned turds. What was the point of even using the character's name? He's fairly obscure as far as comic book villains go; I'd be willing to bet nine out ten viewers had no idea that any kind of reference was being made. To me it just felt like a giant flipped bird to those of us that care that these characters come from comic books. Seriously, Professor Fortune as a low rent thug with a fetish for women's jewelry and muscular showgirls? I just don't get it.
The second piece of fan service was maybe a bit more crowd pleasing but just as pointless. When Chloe references that she's met Batman and Wonder Woman in her travels it's supposed to be a ZING! moment, but it kind of fell flat to me.
"A billionaire with high tech toys..." Um...we already have one of those. You're dating him.
I suppose "Fortune" could have been worse, and it definitely had its funny moments, but there was just something not right about seeing these characters in this situation. Clark running around stealing stop signs and defacing private property while engaging in a frat boy binge is surface funny, but it completely misses the point of who he is and devalues the reason we all watch.
There's a reason that, even though deconstructionism is all the vogue in comics and movies lately (The Boys was outselling Superman titles for a good long while there and Kick Ass is already on the money train to a sequel) nobody is updating these characters in those ways in their primary mediums. At core, the journey of Clark Kent becoming Superman has to mean something; there is a deep tradition and iconography associated with this character, and seeing him one step away from cow tipping...that's just not entertaining to me.
1 out of 5 and my vote so far for the most misguided episode in the show's history.
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