Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 8 - Episode 16: "Turbulence"Reviews:
TurbulenceReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Super short run on sentence summary.
Doomsday confesses to a priest about his over zealous crime fighting before heading off to the hospital in order to frame Jimmy as a crazy drug addict, Chloe ruins her marriage by choosing to hug it out with a mass murdering psychotic who's been stalking her, and Clark goes out drinking and chute-less sky diving with Lady Lex.
That's about it on this one.
For a whole episode there wasn't really a lot there. Most of the time was spend with Davis and his "issues". Not bad but if you came in there looking for a lot of Clark Kent you'll be disappointed. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a terrible episode. It was just a little light on the Superman and more focused on Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen.
Nice to see Jimmy back.
I did really like the way it started out. Doomsday in a confessional booth is a bold way to go and it was interesting to see Davis trying to justify his killing urge by focusing it on criminals. I can't help but notice he neglected to tell the priest that he pulverizes these criminals into a fine wet paste. Correct me if I am wrong but that might be a particularly relevant detail to confess to if you want that whole process to work right. Not that I think Davis really has a soul anyway but lying to the All Mighty is not going to gain him any points.
In all seriousness, I don't think it's generating the sympathy for the character that they are intending. It's just too hard to feel sorry for something you know is evil to the core. Besides he's killed more than once without transforming and not to mention what he's done to Chloe and Jimmy's life. Still, it is interesting to see Davis's progression. Sort of a psychotic killer transforming into a full blown monster. I imagine it's like many other serial killers where they try to justify their killing as something they couldn't control. Certainly does not let them off the hook in my book but it is an interesting way to approach the character. Plus that whole creepy stalking of Chloe thing just is way to ewww in my book to cut the guy any slack.
Besides he has red eyes. Everyone knows red eyes are evil. That's like duh.
What the heck is up with Chloe? I mean really honestly?
She is certainly a character that has taken a major turn for the worse in this story. I am not saying that is a bad thing. It is building drama into the story so I can't knock it too far. Nobody wants the status quo all the time. That would grow dull but man has she really dropped fast in my book.
First of all she has been the one pushing Clark on the dual identity thing the past few episodes and now that he's out doing it she is flipping out and telling him to stop? Why? Because he let himself get caught on a few traffic cams? Because he's trying to let people know someone is out there to help them? Big deal. I thought that was awesome.
That was a switch but you know when I really sit here and think about it; it's not that bad of a switch even if I have to admit it was maybe not the best story flow from one episode to the next.
Why? Because I like the fact that Clark is making his own choices on how to do his thing.
I do not mind her giving him some ideas about his developing the Superman identity but it was becoming a bit too much. Clark is taking more ownership of the Red-Blue Blur's M.O. He's the one choosing to slow down so he's showing up on traffic cams. He's the one choosing to be something more than just a thing that saves people. He wants to set an example. Give people hope. To give them proof he's out there looking out for them.
Good for him. That's our Superman.
That is why I am glad to see this change in Chloe even if it is somewhat out of the blue.
The other thing about Chloe that bothered me in this episode was what she was doing to Jimmy.
I mean I get it that she believed Davis' story about Jimmy taking too many drugs and I can't blame her for that. It made sense. I am also not saying a wife shouldn't stop her husband from doing something bad in such a situation or that a wife can't turn to their male friends. She was still wrong and I will try and explain why.
The part that really bothered me was after Jimmy first accused Davis of murder and he wanted Chloe to stay away from him. Not only did Chloe take Davis' side, she was out and hugging him in the hall afterwards. No way. That crossed a line in my book. Her husband told her someone was dangerous. Whacked out or not she should not have followed that very same man out of the room and she damn well shouldn't have been out there crying on his shoulder and hugging it out with him. Davis might be her "friend" but her husband should be priority one in that situation.
Maybe he was drugged out and seeing things. Maybe he was right. Either way what she should have done was tell Davis to bugger off and then stayed with Jimmy until the drugs wore off. Then she could re-open the conversation. Husband first. Creepy stalker who kissed you before your wedding last. At the very least wait until you can have a rational conversation with the husband BEFORE having more contact with the creepy stalker guy. It was a poor choice by Chloe and I cannot blame Jimmy for flipping out over it.
It's tragic she had to lie to Jimmy about Clark and that is certainly something that added to this situation but it was her choices this time that caused Jimmy to say enough is enough.
Being mad at Chloe may be the reaction the writers are going for here. I don't know. Am I to feel sorry for Chloe? I don't. I feel sorry for Jimmy. I think Chloe totally deserved Jimmy leaving her in the end. I know tazering Jimmy saved his life but she doesn't know that. The fact she's willing to tazer her husband to protect some creepy stalker guy who's been hitting on her is not something that makes me sympathetic to the character. Especially if you consider the fact that if she would have just stayed with Jimmy until the drugs wore off she would not have had to tazer him. Jimmy went after Davis because he felt he had to because no one would believe him. Chloe should have been the one there to support him and keep him from feeling that desperate.
Even though it made me mad I am going to hold final judgment on the matter though until I see the whole story simply because I don't know if I am suppose to be sympathetic to Chloe or not yet. Is Chloe still being drawn to Doomsday because of the Brain-I.A.C thing or is this something she's doing on her own? Good stories can make you mad sometimes. That could be the writer's plan. We shall see.
I should also point out that despite my anger at the developments with Chloe, Allison Mack did a fantastic Job acting it out. She almost made me change my mind about Chloe at the end. She did such a fantastic job projecting Chloe's sadness that I couldn't help but get a little choked up. Jimmy's part was all anger and rightly so. Aaron Ashmore did a fine job with that too but Allison Mack really sold the scene.
I also found it interesting that Chloe could talk Davis down. He's already past the point of desperation and way over fixated on her. This is only going to make that worse.
Clark's developing his speed changing was awesome and my favorite part of the episode. It was funny how he messed up the tie at first and I do really like how he's using the red jacket as his "costume". He's even hiding it in a back pack which was pretty cool. The fact Lady Lex almost found it in there might help him come up with the idea he needs something he can hide under his regular clothes.
Lady Lex also had an interesting part in this week's story. It's obvious she knows about Clark or she wouldn't have risked her life to "out" him like that. You got to admit that took a lot of something for her to do that. I found it amusing that Clark was giving her drinks to try and get her to admit what she knew. Smooth move farm boy. You don't think she saw through that?
It was also nice that they had a perfectly reasonable explanation as to her absence the past few episodes. She was healing from surgery after getting the spy hardware out of her. Makes sense.
I wonder if the story about her dad was true? On the surface it makes you sympathetic to her but then there is a side of me that just think's she was full of it too.
I wonder about her plan. As I said it was brave but I wonder if she thought he could fly. It's obvious she knows something about Clark but what? Lex knew about Kryptonians in general and one can assume he knew they could fly since Zod could fly when he was in Lex's body. Does she know he's from Krypton or does she just know he has powers like a Krypto freak? A question I am sure will be answered.
Not sure how that landing went though. I wish they could have shown it. I was hoping for a bit more eye candy from that scene. I kind of figured he wouldn't fly but they could have at least used the moment to show him trying to fly. Maybe slowing the fall enough so that she didn't just bust in half over his arms when they hit. A missed opportunity at the very least anyway. Probably not in the budget. Oh well. I still thought it was cool.
The super speed change in the phone booth was sweet. This Superman is getting all the pieces in place.
Lastly as a Superman fan how cool was it to see Jimmy Olsen take down Doomsday with a baseball bat? Sure Davis was about to Hulk out and squish Jimmy into something that looked like canned dog food before Chloe tazered him but it was somewhat satisfying to see Turtle Boy take down Doomsday in a fight. Even if I am stretching the definition of a fight to the extreme here.
So anyway a little light on the Clark this week but some interesting character development even if some of it was a little out of the blue from past episodes. Certainly worth watching but not one anyone should be too torn up about if they missed.
I give 3 out of 5.
Next week a familiar Magician comes to town. It looks like it could be really really good.
TurbulenceReviewed by: Neal Bailey
There seems to be a raw pattern here that's pretty self-evident. "Let's massage the geeks," or "Let's massage the shippers."
The problem is, when they massage the geeks, they do it in a way that's at best inflammatory, at worst in ways that destroy the mythos. When they massage the shippers, they do it with odd, out of character rants and actions that make you absolutely hate those party to it.
They've tried to massage the geeks in multiple ways, and it's worked for some, and totally failed in others. For instance, they are, this season more heavily than ever, inferring that this guy might one day become Superman. Problem is, they're doing it in ridiculous ways. An entire episode to suggest that a dual-identity might be smart when it's self-evident. An entire episode to show that Lana and Clark can never be together ultimately. Self-evident from the second season. The Toyman as a mad bomber without toys (THAT'S SO TOYMAN!). Maxima as, well, not Maxima, for the most part. Or at least irrational Maxima. Zod's wife, but it's not Ursa.
The best they've come up with is when they slightly hint at the dichotomy between Lois and Clark, and that's a very slight thing in the middle of many other things so far. By far tertiary to Davis Bloome's "characterization."
Then there's massaging the shippers, or more pertinently, massaging the demographic. Will they/won't they? Lois and Clark. Tess and Clark. Chloe and Davis. Chloe and Jimmy. Lana and Clark. Lex and Tess, to a degree. Ollie and Lois. I'm sure I'm forgetting eight or so. Bottom line, all of you idiots get together in a room, have sex, and shut up, or don't, but knock it the #%$# off when it comes to "Will they/won't they?" because by year eight, they would have or wouldn't have by now, okay? Nobody gives a crap except lonely people with their heads up their sphincters by now. Face it. You've crafted a show where there is no romantic tension any more, and you can't fix that by falsely injecting it through dialogue.
This was, of course, a shipper episode. Clark and Tess. Chloe/Davis/Jimmy triangle. It was also the return of Davis and Jimmy. The central problem was not willingness to give this line a chance, the central problem was the line was one of bull#%@#. All of the conflicts were utterly false.
Conflict one: Clark gets on a plane with Tess incoherently, and the plane explodes in mid-air as an excuse to put her closer to his secret. Way, way too convenient, and implausible.
Conflict two: Jimmy's chronic pain has made him into a drug addict. Despite the fact that he's running around, fighting, doing physical activities, and shows no sign of injury. The writers of House, I would imagine, are looking at this attempt at characterization and crapping themselves with laughter all the way to the bank.
Conflict three: Davis is killing people, and Jimmy sees it, but he's accused of hallucinating, so it's utterly discounted. By people who research the most loose, dangling edges of ideas to further the plot. With dead bodies that would have to be explained.
Conflict four: Chloe wants Clark to stop being the red-blue blur because it's exposing him. Read that again, having watched this show. It would seem that everyone who knows Clark's secret vacillates between wanting him to help people and not wanting him to based on its convenience to the plot. Want to know an easy way to fix that? Consistent character. One character wants him to be like Superman, another doesn't. They advocate their cause with logic. Sigh.
In the course of forcing these four conflicts, they utterly annihilate the respect for four characters. Jimmy, because he's now so weak that a single blow has turned him to a snarling drug addict. Chloe, because she has no faith in any of her friends save the homicidal one, rendering her judgment (or lack thereof) her defining feature. Tess, because instead of being a strong woman who goes out and finds information on Clark on her own, she resorts to feminine wiles, pseudo seducing him into an exploding plane (which is much easier than hiring a goon to shoot him in the face, natch). And finally Davis, who has completely removed any sympathy for his character by turning to murder instead of suicide to deal with Doomsday.
Someone fire that priest he saw, too. Sheesh.
There's always a minute in each show that seems like the future Superman. Last episode it was when he was parading around with all of the people in the streets as a hero. This episode it was when he changed in a phone booth to go be Superman without the name.
The problem with this week is that you see Clark... change into Clark. And that's the fundamental flaw in the show. No progression despite hints at it. For eight years. The main reason I was giving this season a chance is because it actually STARTED progression. But here we are, fifteen episodes later, and he's still the red-blue blur, which is the only progression he made. But he's regressed with Lois, Tess, Chloe, Olliver, and Lex.
Blow by blow:
The opening is very reminiscent of Taxi Driver and Bringing Out the Dead, two of my favorite films, except in that the characters in those films are very deep. Here we have the Incredible Hulk (only homicidal) trying to justify himself by killing petty thugs.
I just wrote a book about guys who have the urge to kill and choose to kill bad people instead of themselves, so I feel somewhat hypocritical saying "Davis should just kill himself." But he really should.
The dilemma is used in Dexter, of late, and Boondock Saints. I didn't know how prominent an idea it was until I'd written my novel, but there is one thing that those two pieces and my book have that Smallville lacks. Suitable development. Davis turns into an unstoppable killing machine, as another wrinkle, whereas the above mentioned characters are just men.
IE, the argument for the other pieces of media are, "I'm a bad person. I do bad things. How do I direct this energy?"
The argument for Davis is, "I turn into a mindless homicidal killing machine that cannot be stopped. I do many, many bad things. How do I direct this energy?"
There is only one moral response. Stop the monster, or kill yourself. He tries to direct it toward junkies and alkies. Very eye for an eye of him. Also very convenient to have a constant stream of unredeemable people at close hand when the urge takes him.
In my book I fought that issue by spreading murders way out. It's one of the big problems I had with the show Dexter. Boondocks, the guys don't even play at being redeemable, they just kill people like themselves pretty wholesale.
What irks me is that rational or not, I and Dexter and Boondock put time, effort, and energy into crafting characters in this vein. Smallville just says, "Well, he's killing bad guys, and he's trying!" by way of a two minute intro with a priest who encourages him.
So no, it's not as cathartic as Bringing Out the Dead, nor as justifying as Boondock Saints. You just sit there saying, "Why isn't this idiot killing himself?" I mean, last we saw him, he was THROWING HIS ANTI-PSYCHOTICS IN THE TRASH. Talk about inconsistency.
Or hey, if they wanted to be like the comic, burying himself in the ground.
More clunky Chloe dialogue with Clark. This continues with Tess. Extended Whedon-metaphor dialogue. I should compile all of them for three episodes and play them in a string and watch people cringe. But I don't care that much. Any of you want to?
Chloe lectures Clark for hero behavior. Already covered that, it's still galling. Over a loose tie? Oh! Your tie was loose! Someone is gonna assume you can run at the speed of sound! Chloesmack!
AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY METROPOLIS SHOES! (X1)
Jimmy has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. From being hit once. Wow. Way to respect people who fight and nearly die and come back here a wreck, and compare that experience to being hit once and thrown some distance. By that logic, everyone Clark has dispatched in eight years has PTSD.
And his injuries! Lordy! It's so bad, he can run at full speed and has no real indications of pain other than a raw looking wince!
I know what his injury is. Brain damage. Because he stands there without screaming for help as Davis murders a man in the elevator. He also does not attempt to intervene. You go, hero Jimmy!
I had a moment of utter hilarity this episode. It goes later in the blow-by-blow, but I have to bring it up now, thinking about how to address Jimmy letting that guy get killed. You see, the hospital, whenever something bad is happening, has all of the lights off, and people sleep through everything. It's quite literally impossible to get caught doing anything, and there are no security people anywhere.
Yet later, Jimmy is getting ticked at Chloe for not believing in him or whatever shippy crap it was intimated to be, and he slightly raises his voice in anger, and some security guard comes up and says, "Sir, you're going to have to leave!" Like, we can't have any raised voices around here, this is a respectable hospital!
I was guffawing. Not giggling. Not tittering. Guffawing. I had to pause the show, wheel my little chair back, and go, "Why am I watching this? I'm on my seventh novel, my seventh literary endeavor, and I'm watching soap opera crap for the female 18-25."
It's frustrating, because I want this show to be good.
Tess explains she's launching Mercer Media. Why? Well, because apparently controlling the largest corporation in the world wasn't good enough exposure. Er, yeah. But wait! Ollie owns Luthorcorp now! So she can use the jet. To go do something that directly competes with Queen. Uh, yeah.
"Clark! I need you!"
"Because you're... uh, you're on the way up, and not because I want to explore your secret in any way!'
The idea that we are supposed to accept that she would blow up a plane in order to test Clark's secret is just bonkers. And not in that good gum from the eighties kind of way. In that bonkers kind of way where you wake up running through the forest with a frozen kangaroo phallus in your hand screaming, "It's not my fault! It's not my fault!"
"Ah, but Neal, it's a conceit for a cool effect, man! They blew up a plane! Isn't that neat?"
Actually, it was pretty stock in its execution, and was underwhelming by virtue of the fact that the plane explodes for no real reason, and we don't get to see Clark land, which is the really curious thing. And what a prime opportunity to hint at being able to start to control the flight. But no.
So I remain unimpressed.
AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY METROPOLIS SHOES (X2)
Jimmy and Davis stare holes in each other, Chloe looks on. Love triangle crap. No real meaning here.
Chloe has an irrational pity party, "Why, if Jimmy had never met me, he'd never have been attacked by Doomsday!"
"Why, if I hadn't farted, the whole room wouldn't have cleared!"
"But, Neal, forsooth! Tis better to let it out and bear the shame, then hold it in and bear the pain!"
Just makes me want to go, "If I had never started watching Smallville!" It's a ridiculous argument form, the could have, would have. It does nag at a person. My grandmother died this week (in all seriousness), and I've been playing this game myself. If I had been there to protect her, if I had seen her one last time.
As I hear it in my head, I know it to be irrational. It still occurs. But I keep it to myself, because it's useless self-pity. She wouldn't have wanted that. I don't want that. And yet here it is put forth as a cogent human dilemma over a giant grey monster as a pseudo metaphor as I actually experience it, so it goes beyond boredom to near insulting. I want to say, "Grow the hell up, you privileged bich, no one you know is dead."
But that's just because someone I love IS dead. But she does have a point at that moment as to whether it would have been better had her character not been birthed. Drama is supposed to be a way for people to relieve their pain, and this brings me only antagonism of late.
Chloe goes into the hall, and HUGS DAVIS! ZOMG! OOOOH! SHIP SHIP SHIP SHIP! And Jimmy... Jimmy SEES THROUGH THE BLINDS! ZOMG! HE SEES! What a dilemma! What a life-altering conflict! A hug!
AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY QUEEN PLANE!
Tess talks about how her alcoholic father broke her eardrum. I should relate to this intimately. I dealt with an alcoholic parent, and abuse. The thing is, it's people whining about abuse in A PRIVATE PLANE. I have this issue with the deaths of famous people too. I just wrote a Caroline Kennedy biography, and one of the hardest part was writing about all the famous deaths and keeping my damned fool mouth shut about the commentary. When I was a kid, I remember people in tears, actual TEARS, over the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. People who didn't know him at all. My friend and I had a routine we'd go into. I'd say, "Oh! That's tragic! It's horrible!" And they'd sense my sarcasm, and they'd ask why, and I would respond, "Because I don't want you to feel any pity for me when I die at the forefront of a massive legacy, flying to my VACATION COMPOUND in my PRIVATE PLANE with my SUPERMODEL WIFE. I want you to cry for me when I die in an unmarked grave, unlamented, having strived my entire life to do something beautiful and failing."
THAT is lamentable. John F. Kennedy Jr. is an example of the best way to die. In your prime and happy. In contrast, to bring about Tess' tragedy of impoverished abuse as she uses an exploding plane to illustrate a point in a move of aristocratic abuse, is unmoving.
It makes me want to pop her eardrum myself, speaking as a guy who broke the cycle of abuse but is still poor.
But since this is a fictional character, I must also point out the broader implication, that it's possible to come out of a situation like that and suddenly be totally in control, hot, and own a private plane you can dispose of. T'ain't that easy, kids. Dysfunction follows you.
She has apparently read Lex's journal. So she either knows, or doesn't know Clark secret. If she does, she could have tested Clark with Kryptonite and a gun. If she doesn't know, she doesn't have a clue, so why the blown up plane? More illogical crap.
AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY METROPOLIS SHOES (X3)
(We wrote him bad... as a joke)
Jimmy hallucinates a Chloe splort. That was... rather odd. But at least we get to see more of the costume. I really do dig that costume. It's very well done. Almost every aspect of Doomsday hulking out is handled brilliantly.
They do a patently obvious riff on "Requiem For A Dream" music here. It comes across as really cheap, however, when they use twenty minutes of oddness that is in no way systematic abuse or pain to get Jimmy's "rock bottom" out of seeing a gray man splort his gal.
There was a plethora of unconsciousness in this episode. The reason I established the KO Count way back in the day, aside from statistical fun, is because the more KOs a show has, the more sucky it generally is. This show has four. One every ten minutes of show.
I love people who talk in an open, depressurized plane.
I also love how Tess starts taking the oxygen, and derives no conclusion from the fact that Clark does not, and is just fine. Or from the fact that their plane explodes and they survive with no recovered parachute.
To say nothing of the physics of Clark landing all right, but Tess falling to pieces without an ability to slow down.
The rest of my review has multiple OOC moments. OOC is what you type for "out of character" in a text based role playing game. It's good shorthand.
Chloe trusts Davis over Jimmy unconditionally, which is out of character.
Chloe encourages Clark to hang up the red-blue blur irrationally, which is out of character.
Chloe lies about everything being fine with Jimmy for no apparent reason, which is out of character.
The culmination where Jimmy "captures" Davis in the act, and Chloe knocks Jimmy out, and then Chloe soothes the beast, is just restating the obvious the whole episode has spent establishing. We know Davis likes Chloe. We know Jimmy suspects Davis. We know Chloe motivates Doomsday to do bad things. Okay.
NOW DO SOMETHING WITH IT. Doomsday has been in a holding pattern since his appearance in 10. It's now 16. DO SOMETHING. I hate this wait for the finale for anything to happen. It's stupid. If you can't do anything with Doomsday until the last two episodes, introduce him four before the season ends unless there's a grand arc planned.
And arc, just to be clear, is not a repetitive series of the same actions over and over again until it's time for a finale.
AND AGAIN WITH THE METROPOLIS SQUEAKY SHOES (X4)
The fight with Chloe crying and Jimmy saying, "I thought I could trust you! Our relationship is based on lies! Why were we ever in love!" has been done so many times that I introduce a new phrase for the reviews:
AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY CHLOE AND JIMMY BREAKUP SCENE!
I do believe if you added up the number of Lana and Clark breakup scenes in the loft and compared them to Chloe and Jimmy, it'd be close. But see, there's never been any palpable point or truth to the Chloe and Jimmy relationship. They watched old movies together once. I think that's it. Other than that, can you recall any properties of their relationship that are palpable?
With Lana and Clark (a poorly executed love plot) at very least you have the fact that Clark has a secret he can't morally tell, and Lana consistently harasses him for what he cannot help, but that they're attracted to each other by proximity to danger.
Chloe and Jimmy are hardly together outside of breakup scenes or the scenes that inspire them.
Jimmy quits the Daily Planet. Why? Who knows. Maybe so we can see Jimmy, our role model, driving under the influence.
THAT'S SO JIMMY!
More Chloe crying, and some emo Davis in the rain. Epic fail. Any more Chloe crying, and we'll have squeaky crying, too.
1 of 5.
No letters this week! Might be a blessing in disguise.
Here's the deal... to preserve my sanity, I'm gonna have to cut back on some stuff. One of these things, barring major objection, is the letter column.
If this bothers you, shoot me a line. Otherwise, I'll consider next week the last letter column.
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