Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 7 - Episode 19: "Quest"Reviews:
QuestReviewed by: Neal Bailey
This is an episode that tried to be a mythology episode, the only problem being, all the smoke and mirrors in the world can't obscure the fact that this entire episode comes down to one scene: Lex finds the Fortress of Solitude.
Which is cool, don't get me wrong. It's a neat scene. But it's a holding pattern stutter-step maneuver. Instead of finding a map to the Fortress at the end of the last episode, instead, he finds a compass that leads to the map, and thereby, this episode gives us a reason to visit with Edward Teague, who turns out to be a mostly incomprehensible addition to the mythology. Swann's evil, monkish buddy? If he's a monk, why does he have a family? If he's for the traveler, why does he...
Well, all of these questions are what sank the episode, honestly. It was inconsistent, filled with irrational conclusions, and focused on trying to make the quest for Lex to control the traveler much more than it really is. It's a subplot that's dragged on quite a while now, and now that we've learned Rosenbaum won't return, it's fairly obvious it will bear little fruit. I mean, what, can he control Clark for one episode? What's the big threat here? Where's the drama?
We start with an interesting scene, Lex gazing into the symbolic fire. I thought for a second, oh, rad, they're going to actually go somewhere with Lex's descent into darkness!
And wouldn't that have been cool. Instead, we're going after MUCH SEEMING IMPORT but LITTLE REAL RELEVANCE in the form of a clock. The focus is a CLOCK when we're in the next-to-last Luthor episode.
Horrible mansion security strikes again when Lex is attacked and stabbed, cut into, etcetera. The cuts lack significant bleeding, which is hard to buy, and Lex is rendered unconscious and thusly not screaming his head off conveniently. Realism goes out the window...
That's a pretty hairy scar to have across your chest. I wonder if it'll be there next week. Damnably, we'll never get to mock that lack of continuity in the future, as Michael is leaving.
AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES!
Apparently, the bank manager has come all the way to Smallville to murder Lex, even though he could have killed anyone who came into his bank, one would suppose, and tried to get the plot device. Convolutedly odd.
A lot of the dialogue goes contretempts to motive and common sense in this episode. A good example is when Lex exclaims that the bank manager was trying to kill him. Now THAT would have been sensible, given that "VERITAS!" is trying to stop the great destroyer, but very clearly, the guy was much more interested in crayola-ing a symbol into Lex that leads him to where they don't want him to go as opposed to slitting his throat, which he could have very easily done, so no, he obviously wasn't trying to kill him.
Suddenly, Chloe is living in the Talon again. Or maybe she always was. I thought Lois moved to Metropolis with her, didn't she? Regardless, it's ridiculous, given that she'd have to use a tank of gas to get to work and back every day, which, by my semi-economical car's calculations means she'd be spending about 55 dollars a day, or 1,100 dollars, to get to work. Aside from, of course, the times she has Clark tell her to come all the way from Metropolis to look at irrelevant books he could just bring to her.
For that matter, last episode, she made a big point of how hard it was to drive to him. Doesn't she live in Smallville, then?
There's just so much obvious care put in here, you see.
So, Lex has his guys cover up his wounds, trying to secure the SECRET OF VERITAS, but Jimmy goes and gets the story through his chest wound, and thereby gets his first paid work? Lex goes for this? That's just... odd.
AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES!
Clark, very out of character, pointedly indicates that he is mad to be drawn out of bed by the fact that Lex has been stabbed, and stabbed with Kryptonian symbols. What a hero, huh?
Nice establishing shot of Metropolis in the rain, actually, out of nowhere.
Clark and Chloe apparently drove to Isis to do a basic photoshop application, looking at a photo. Why? Well, because they have the set, one would guess. Lame.
After Chloe badgers Clark into looking into this, she suddenly 180s for arbitrary tension in the Isis scene. She whirls on Clark: "Lex got himself into this!"
In other words, she tries to poo poo helping Lex despite initially suggesting it and the obvious utility in finding out what Lex is doing with the Kryptonian symbols.
Chloe pauses the narrative to give Clark Kent a SPRINT PHONE with detailed mapquest junk on it. She says, in dialogue, quote, "Everything you need at your fingertips!"
This disappoints me more than the commercialization of the only American myth, because it's just flatout dishonest in character and intent. Show me a commercial, don't use cool factor to try and intimidate me into buying things through my favorite characters, you sell out shill @%$#s.
And of course, when Clark arrives, he pulls it out and shows it again.
Clark finds a fountain with Kryptonian letters on it. Okay. This I can dig, kinda. He reads that there is a symbol underneath the fountain, and instead of using his x-ray vision to see what it is, he lifts it high above his head without checking to see if anyone is around. And of course, this is followed by a dude sneaking up on someone with superhearing.
Edward Teague. Ooooohkay. So the "dead" husband of Genevieve was actually a good guy, and apparently, he thinks that all that Genevieve and Jason did was to "help" Clark. As I recall, that was just a big mess of crap about getting stones for power, and yet, these stones, when combined, simply made Clark's Fortress, which only he could create, a Fortress that was dead but is now suddenly alive somehow, and is the key to controlling him despite an AI that recognizes who Clark and others are and would obviously not give people control over Clark. I mean, if it could, why wouldn't Brainiac do it, or Zod?
This story borrows visually and stylistically from the DaVinci Code, which does not enamor it to me. I liked that story the first time I read it, when it wasn't badly written and had content, known as "Foucault's Pendulum." Look it up, you won't regret it.
Teague appears, and kneels at Clark's feet, explaining that he's been waiting for this moment all his life... but for some reason decided not to drop in and call when his wife was trying to kill the traveler or whatever.
He explains several odd things, the first one being that Swann, for some reason, scattered clues as to who the traveler was or where to help the traveler avoid detection. That's like pouring gas on a car and lighting a match so the gas tank won't blow up. Or more aptly, it's like trying to avoid detection by being THE RIDDLER.
The doctor misperceives Clark's desire to handle his problem with Lex himself as Clark being wholly irredeemable despite knowing him for about two minutes, and suddenly the man who waited a lifetime just to meet Clark is killing him. The same guy who could have killed Lex to avoid him taking over Clark half an episode ago. Ridiculous.
And yes, I know it's the doctor, and yes, I'm a big Voyager nerd from thewayback, but no, I don't think there's any real relation here. In fact, I'm sad to see a cool actor put into such a crappy bit role that was botched so badly in the writing.
Chloe and Jimmy, by some REALLY henky ex machina, realize that Clark is about to be sacrificed because "the leading website" says that one of the cave pictures means that Clark is to be sacrificed. So they make the logical leap that this means here, now, and immediately. That's such crap. I mean, really. That's just horrible.
Swann apparently recruited Teague as his disciple. Despite Margot Kidder, despite Patricia. Apparently he has a bunch of apprentices who are crazy or dead. At any rate, way to capitalize on a dead iconic actor to make your crappy story seem legitimate. You've already run this road two times. Enough with the secret disciples of Swann.
Here's a big example of how this "preparing for Clark"/predestination crap fails big time. Teague puts Clark on an altar and promises to kill him in an ancient Kryptonian ritual.
An ancient Kryptonian ritual that involves KRYPTONITE.
Can someone call the writers and inform them that Kryptonite is remnants of the dead planet? The planet that exploded in 1989, long after any ritual Kryptonian killings would be dust in the wind?
I can see the letters now, "Neal, can't you imagine that Teague just interpreted it on his own?"
Yeah. But I can more easily imagine a writer who didn't pay enough attention to craft on this show.
Clark is knocked out by being cut, just like Lex, and with very little blood as well. Realism even further out the window.
Lex twists the clock, and we get a kind of haunting, creepy "You take the low road/I'll take the high road." Apparently, it's another song, but I found good symbolism in the children's song, actually, because it's Lex and Clark. But at any rate, creepy, cool, and even if it doesn't make sense in context, it was still a pretty scene.
Why the clockmaker would know the Superman symbol is a bit odd. Wasn't it hundreds of years ago? Or do I even care at this point?
Chloe flies all the way to save Clark without calling Clark. Sounds reasonable, Clark can't be bothered, he's strapped to a table, right? Except presumably arranging a flight would take hours. So if Clark was on the table for hours, he's dead (Kryptonite), or Chloe didn't call (retarded). SHE GAVE HIM A PHONE.
Why does Clark destroy the clock? It's as much a clue for him as it is for Lex. It just seemed odd, Clark destroying a magnificent piece of art when he can just whisk it away.
Teague, a guy who nearly murders Clark, is left alive, unincarcerated, and in Lex's hands after he tries to kill him. This is odder still.
Clark slaps Lex's weapon out of his hand at Superspeed. No injury to Lex, apparently.
The weapon decimates the clock, but the backdrop for the clock is just fine.
More continuity issues: Lex, as he's walking around the castle, uses the piano to spur his memory. This highlights two critical continuity flaws. Firstly, that a brick-by-brick mansion moved over from Scotland still has things hidden in reassembled bricks that were somehow not discovered, and secondly, the fact that Lex made a big stink about not being able to play the piano earlier in the series, and now suddenly has been able to since childhood again.
Chloe points out to Clark, who is hesitant about being controlled, that some day he's going to have to play God. And why? This is knowing the future without catalyst, and bad writing.
The effect for the Fortress was great, as was the idea of Lex finding it, but almost too little, too late. For the next to last Lex episode, this is really a slap in the face. How, here, is Lex's character even remotely resolved? Are you telling me that we'll have closure in 42 minutes? (or 38, of late, fer crying out loud).
Overall, disappointing. 1 of 5.
Due to the lateness (thanks to the Emerald City Comic Con) I will do letters next week. THANK YOU ALL for bearing with me as I tour. You rock!
Check out the updated KO Count.
QuestReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Huh... So that's where this was all going? Surprise. (Yeah right).
It might just be because last week's was so good but this week kind of felt like a let down to me.
There was nothing I can put my finger on as being terrible or bad in anyway but it did kind of come off as flat and maybe even a bit uninspired. I do not know. I am searching for the right words to use here but I cannot quite come up with the right one.
The story of Clark being viewed as a god is nothing new and it is certainly something I think brings a certain dramatic element to the story of Superman. Smallville covering this ground brings many great story options but sadly they fail to capitalize on any of them. They especially drop the ball on the most important aspect of the Superman as a god story lines. The fact is Clark does not want to be seen as a god. He is not a god and does not want people treating him that way. Sure, Tom Welling does a good job of bringing Clark's discomfort of the idea out in the character when the subject is brought up but what is missing is Clark's steel will declaration that it is not so. Just once I wanted him to deny with absolutely Superman-like conviction that he is not and will not be treated like a god. That is perhaps the biggest thing missing from this episode.
Some other minor issues were found as well. Mr. Teague's arrival was somewhat out of the blue and who was the hired thug carving stuff into Lex? That was never covered and I doubt they will go back to it and Mr. Teague's decision to go from kneeling before Clark to killing Clark was just too fast to be believable. I can see where someone with obsession can go from worship to murder but not that fast. Even if the guy did have a point about Clark not doing enough to stop Lex. (No I don't think Clark should kill Lex but I do think Clark could have done more to stop Lex from finding the clues that are leading him to the Veritas secret, which really isn't much of a secret to us since it's been obvious for sometime where the clues were leading Lex).
I do find it kind of fun that Dr. Swann got his security protocols from a Resident Evil game. (If you've played the first couple, you know what I am talking about). The Cryptograph attaching to the clock was a neat little trick and I love how they tied in Lionel moving an entire castle from Scotland brick by brick to Smallville. That oddity makes total sense now. The only question left there is if Lionel knew that item was in the fireplace or not but that I suppose is one that will not be answered. The item Lex found in the fireplace was cool. I wonder if it does anything else besides give a map to, umm, "something" in the arctic? Is that the device that will control Clark or is it just a key to unlock some protocols in the... Umm... thing that might be in the arctic. Okay. Seriously.... If the fact it is leading Lex to the Fortress of Solitude is a spoiler to you... then you haven't been paying attention and you deserve to get spoiled. So there... I said it... Anyway so does the Kryptonian Softball plug into the Fortress or is that the item that will control Clark?
Clark was a bit wishy washy this week. I mean at first he was all square chained up and ready to use his super barging power to go get answers from Lex in the hospital but after that he seemed to go back into unsure mode. I suppose it doesn't help that he spent most of the episode on a table being carved up but I guess I am just still mad that he did not tell Teague off for kneeling in front of him. I wonder if Teague will feel different about him now that Clark saved him?
One neat thing about the whole confrontation though. Teague met the Traveler but still doesn't know it was "Clark Kent". When Superman comes on the scene in the future Teague will recognize him as the man who he met and nothing more. Nice touch.
So this week was kind of just a bridge. No filler but pretty much only there to get you from last week to next week. The story this week contained all the not as cool stuff needed for the story. Hopefully that is just because they are saving all the cool stuff for next week.
So I am just going to have to give this one a C. Call it 2.5 out of 5. Okau but nothing spectacular.
Next week is the season final! Do I need to say more? See you there!
Back to the "Smallville: Episode Reviews" Contents page.