Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 7 - Episode 17: "Sleeper"Reviews:
SleeperReviewed by: Neal Bailey
I didn't hate this one. It was rife with inconsistencies, and certainly, there were a ton of WTF moments, but for some reason they didn't inspire hostility. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because it's coming after a great weekend in Calgary (the reason this is almost a week late), maybe it's because I finally sold my house, maybe it's because it's sunny for the first time in a while. I just don't feel too grizzled. We'll see if that changes as I examine this episode.
For what it was, it was obvious filler. A Jimmy characterization episode that ultimately fails because it's reliant on two things, how awesome and how utterly sucky Jimmy and Chloe's relationship is, and it can't decide between the two. It attempts to reconcile this through a Mr. and Mrs. Smith style ripoff, but the thing is, with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which I wasn't fond of to begin with, the whole plot relies on your lack of history with these people. Maybe they trained to do all this weird crap. Jimmy and Chloe, on the other hand, are not secret agent, debonair types.
Beyond that, it pays far too much bowing and scraping to the altar of the love for Jimmy and Chloe love, which I never really saw or got. Jimmy and Chloe are on-again/off-again arbitrarily, and focal on that element of the show I never really enjoyed, the romantic, dramatic, SECRET AND LIE side, where relationships are doomed despite being FOREVER in the midst of a chaotic, unmanageable series of situations. That CAN be drama, but usually, it's just ridiculous. Dramatic tension in love is derived from one person who desires the other, whereby the other does not, or cannot, or if they both like each other but there is something between them. Jimmy and Chloe have no reason not to love each other, and thereby there's no tension, no drama, it just isn't fun. Here, they try to create drama, but it's obvious drama no one would fall for, so there's no empathy for Jimmy OR Chloe.
We start on a bar, later revealed to be the Ace of Clubs. It's FAR too peppy, but I guess they were going for atmosphere. Typical to Smallville form, however, instead of a surly place where a common guy would like to drink run by an ex-boxer, the Ace of Clubs is a yuppie bar. I might as well finish the rest of the work for the writing team:
Coast City is in India.
Zatanna is a DUDE in tights.
The Legion of Superheroes is a hallucinating midget who projects people from the future into hard-light emissions.
Batman can fly, because he ate a bat.
Martha becomes president.
Okay. That's all the edgy, weird ways to change continuity in a desperate attempt to make things interesting I could come up with. Why the Ace of Clubs, like so many other things, had to be so drastically changed when a surly Bibbo visit would have been so much better is, as yet, still unexplained.
There are more man-sized ducts in that club then there are yuppies, which is also funny. It's like the special effect supervisor was like. "No. No. Needs more ducts. Come on. DUCTS! I've got a fever, and the only solution is MORE DUCTS!"
In my lair, when I get rich from, I dunno, being a gigolo, I will have many cool things. I have it all planned out. They have these little handgun safes that you enter a code into, and POP! Out a drawer pops for a handgun. Only in my house, it'll be random things. A rubber chicken. Hot soup. A loaded handgun. A cat, or a monkey. Or pie! There are also plans for a roof that retracts, a Batman style escape hatch, slides into the bathroom in the television room, and a swingset over wrought iron spikes. These last are not jokes, alas, and have been in a little notebook for five years. I mention all this because I just took out the notes and added: "No man-sized ducts. Easy access can be had. Instead, midget-sized ducts with a paid angry midget." He has to have a cigar. Gotta write that down, one sec.
My future house is so much cooler than this episode of Smallville.
Anyway, Jimmy's reveal is startling, and pretty cool. Unfortunately, the shock value of that doesn't offset the later explanation's impracticality. Still, like most of this episode, it was well filmed. The cinematography impressed me quite a bit.
Jimmy's breakfast in particular was shot well. It was... well, you don't just throw characters back together and then open the next episode with this gigantic romantic scene, like they've been together for years. It's just... it doesn't play. They're relying on the "Jimmy is cute!" factor, and I've never found the Jimmy in this universe cute. Heck, in this episode, the dude knows how to TANGO. Jimmy's a NERD. He can't tango! He can't even ask a girl out! Look at this bloody episode, where he's flubbing the breakfast. It's the only time Jimmy is NOT on top of every situation in some way.
Chloe is now running Isis. I thought Isis was Lana's front for watching Lex. It's real now? Why are they keeping Isis, when Chloe's already a super hacker? Because they built the set, no doubt.
Why is the crazy lady using binoculars on Jimmy? If she already... oh, don't ask.
Line from Clark, in an episode where Lex is gaining the power to "control him.": "The only thing important right now is LANA!"
SHE'S NOT ON THE SHOW ANY MORE! (You hear that cheering? I do.)
But anyway, even when she's gone, she manages to hog the scene. Lama. Get it? Dumb as Clark award for Clark this week.
Lama is a good expression. It's for when a neurotic chick manages to leave a palpable air even after she's left. It's lame AND it's Lana. Lama.
Or this. But I digress:
Man, I loved that as a kid. Lama is redeemed.
Chloe suggests to Clark that he go and look at Swann's journal, because he recorded all of the transmissions that Jor-El made. I don't remember this happening, and I don't know how Clark would get to it, but oooookay. I guess they really needed a reason for Clark to be in the Fortress beyond trying to figure out Lana's Kryptonian-based illness, huh? (He said sarcastically).
The actress who played the evil Department of Domestic Security (DDS, snort) lady was pretty frickin' lame. Every line clunked that she put out there, and I took her about as serious as a stiff fart in a wet hurricane. I thought for sure that she would turn out to be a fraud working for Lex, or a joke. Unpleasantly surprised. I swear, if I see one more hot chick who can whip-kick on this show, I'm gonna barf blood. It's one thing on Alias, where the subject of the show is a spy, but on Smallville, there are so many fight trained normal people it's just. nyeh.
I love how the investigative DDS chooses the most direct route to her quarry. I want to investigate CHLOE! I have evidence she hacked our database, and she lives in an easily breached apartment. Let's covertly recruit her boyfriend and make him do things out of his expertise! Why? Because her security is impenetrable! You must use a credit card on a door and WIGGLE THE MOUSE! So let's just give Jimmy a suitcase full of crazy spy crap and assume all goes to plan! And Jimmy doesn't question it at all. It's a battle of wits for the ages.
I do like, however, that they keep pointing out that a group of guys who go around blowing up buildings seemingly randomly would be perceived (rightly) as terrorists.
Lionel gives Lex a passport to the bank, after dying trying to stop him from going there? HUH?
Lex has been redflagged by the DDS, and yet later in the episode he can fly there unmolested? Where's the A to B there? Huh?
I love how Jimmy's credit card thing for the lock is super-sleek, but essentially a credit card. It's like, hey, we gave him a suitcase, he chose the card. Waddayagonnado?
I find that nothing Jimmy does the agent could not have, particularly the ridiculous INSTALLING SPYWARE scene. They've done it a few times in the last few episodes. Character X visits a computer, hits three keys, and does something impossible. It's even done twice in this episode, when Chloe instantly gets an IP trace to a location. Oy.
Chloe's computer doesn't have a password. Dude, seriously. Come on.
They did another "Clark staring at the key" scenes. Why does he always stare at the thing. My theory is that Jor-El etched his entire porn collection into the thing in microscopic etching, and only Clark can see it.
Jimmy says it takes a half a tank of gas to get to Clark's farm. That's... by my calculations... using my car as a basis... 113 miles. A two hour drive.
Clark goes to the Fortress to talk to Jor-El, and we realize that the interface is still no more user friendly. "Hey! HEY, Fortress! Can you do something? Y/N!?"
Silence means "abort, retry, fail?" and Jor-El responding means, "Yeah-bob."
Line from the spy lady: "Chloe has a plan, and it is going down tonight!"
Note I have used discretion in responding to that line with a joke. Thank me at the "Mothers against vulgarity" award convention in 1960s America.
Regardless, what did she have going down? I'm not sure I caught that. Stealing a picture from a satellite? ALERT THE INTERNETS!
They do a tango, which is played for laughs/appeal, but plays as just, I dunno, kind of sad. I don't get any chemistry between the two, and neither are the type I take for being able to pull off a HOT DANCE at a moment's notice. It was just cringe-y.
Beyond that, he reaches for his data device, and there's Sprint gum. CRIPES. Even at the Rosenbaum panel at Calgary people were like, "Dude, what's with the gum?" Enough, already!
There's also a larger issue that disturbs me. Granted, this episode vilifies people who take innocents captive and torture them for information. I DIG that, because I'm intensely against our lack of due process in Guantanamo. But still, at the same time, it exaggerates it, oversimplifies it, and makes it seem ridiculous. In the process, it makes Americans dumber about what constitutes what we're doing to "protect" ourselves, and beyond that, the agent has a semi-sympathetic viewpoint. Regardless, don't just toy with concepts. It'd be like having an episode where all Japanese people in Smallville were put into a concentration camp by a super-villain who hams it up. Sure, it addresses our putting people into concentration camps in WW2, but it also belittles it with the one-episode treatment of such a large issue, particularly with a hammy villain.
The fight between Jimmy and the lady is bad. Just bad. She's whip kicking in heels, which is bad enough, but that Jimmy beats a trained martial artist with a haymaker is just sorry. I mean, I'm a brown belt in karate right now, and if you hit me with a haymaker, I will ruin your day real quick-like, particularly if I can do kicks like that lady did in heels.
Then, there's the REALLY antagonizing part of this episode. Played for humor. Jimmy KNOCKS A WOMAN OUT, and then steps back, smiling, and says, "That man enough for you?"
I don't even have to say why that is ten kinds of extraordinarily #$@%ed up.
Chloe is beaten stupid and bleeding about the mouth, then for some reason is all healed the VERY NEXT SCENE.
The scene where Jimmy and Chloe are about to "break up" ham-handedly acknowledges their awfully inconsistent relationship thusfar. "This is where the sad song comes on and we break up!"
I love Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. When Luthor opened the box, spun the compass around, and made the letter, that perplexed look on his face made me think, "A zee?" You either get that, or you don't. I was thinking, "They killed Lionel for a Spirograph?"
If you are not old enough to remember Spirograph, you suck. Unless you don't.
The dude in the bank trying to kill Lex was a bit over the top. You'd think they'd just put on a genetic lock, but no, it's a dude with a garrot. Come to think of it (pulls out dream house notebook) ...man with garrot AND electrified security box.
Lex clearing Jimmy and Chloe is rather... odd. Not that I don't believe he has the power, more that it's obvious Chloe is behind all of his plants being blown up if she's the prime terror suspect, and he'd want her liquidated.
A return to Krypton sounds pretty good, but I'll have to see...
All in all, I'm still pretty jolly, but the inconsistencies added up, and this episode was pretty lame, ultimately. No real moments, mythos, or character. I'm gonna give it the casual, typical 1 of 5, and hope next week is better.
No letters this week because of the con I just did (see the report shortly), but I'll do them all next week. Check out the updated KO Count. Thanks for your patience!
SleeperReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
I was surprise by this one. Usually this time of the season is when Smallville pulls its fast one on me and slips a total filler episode into the mix just when you're getting ready for the slide into the big final. This one might have had somewhat of a filler feel to it but there was so much movement on the main plot I can't really call it filler at all. Even the Jimmy super spy part of the story which was kind of filler was pretty good, so all is well.
There were a few problems though, so don't expect this one to be perfect. First of all I get the feeling that they cut a couple of scenes in the wrong order. I am not talking about the teaser where we see the "future". I am talking about Jimmy's deal with Lex. He tells Chloe he'd clear up the federal warrant and THEN goes to ask Lex to do it? Sorry... But that just doesn't work right. Minor issue sure but one worth noting nonetheless.
There was also a "huh?" moment between Clark and Chloe. Chloe sends Clark back to Smallville to check in Swann's journal for some information. Clark finds something and instead of returning to Chloe (which he could have done in seconds) he calls her and makes her drive the 1-3 hour drive back to Smallville. I know the distance between Metropolis and Smallville is a question but even if she was in the same city it makes no sense for Clark to have her come to her. I know they were using her being called away to advance Jimmy's plot but it just did not work this time.
Speaking of Jimmy's plot though I really enjoyed it. Sure it was a bit over the top but it really reminded me of some of the comics where Jimmy would find himself in situations like this. I also really liked how Jimmy was able to work it all out on his own. As I said last week Lois and Jimmy need Clark around to keep them alive but it is still fun to see them handle things on their own once in a while. I was laughing at the gadget case. Throwing knives? Yea.. Cases with throwing knives and super gadgets are always cool.
Plus Jimmy and Chloe's dance? I know it was flash back time to Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis but dang if that was not just awesome. The look on Chloe's face after the dance was priceless. You know only one word was going through her mind: "Whoa".
We see Lex is carrying on with his life and he found the vault with Swann's letter. Turns out it was just a compass showing a set of grid coordinates... huh.. Go figure... I'll leave it up to you dear reader to guess where that's going since I think it's pretty obvious but I don't want to spoil anything. (Not that we didn't already see it in the previews but hey.. I'm still enjoying the ride.)
Clark was actually not in this one much but that's okay. We see he's pretty desperate to find Brainiac which is completely understandable. Plus we learn he has been spending a lot of time at Lana's bed side which is also understandable. Other than that though there isn't much to say about Clark's part in this. I was glad to see he was willing to put aside his worry about seeing Jor-El and went to see him. Like he said... he had to try everything.
It was also kind of about time that Chloe's actions caught the eye of the Justice Department. Not only her's but the Justice League as well since the agent lady did mention her group of "terrorist friends". I did find it kind of funny that Chloe and the League just moved into Lana's control center.
So really a good episode with a few issues. Worth your time for sure and fans following the series will not want to miss it. It's fun even with some serious stuff going on. I like that.
So I am going to give it a B+. Call it 4 out of 5.
I'm not saying anything about next week. Let's just say in the preview I saw something so freaking cool that I squealed and leave it at that. See you next week.
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