Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 9 - Episode 7: "Kandor"Reviews:
KandorReviewed by: Neal Bailey
Well, that was something. No question about it. No game of "Is this anything?" this week. I say that first intonation not with awe, but with recognition. Not like when you eat a good meal and pat your stomach and say, "Man, that was something!" More in the sense of, well, at least it registered on my radar as something that might be worth my time and effort of thought, for once.
It's also pretty much the first time that's happened this season. Even the best of the others you look at the way you'd look at something while doing your homework on the other monitor or trying to fold laundry.
There were some things here which were definitely odd, and required more than the requisite suspension of disbelief. They're the kinds of thing you are supposed to suspend for sci-fi, though, the things that are complicit to the medium. It's not a person being rendered unconscious by a stun gun, which is based in a real thing in a real world that really doesn't happen. It's the assumption that you can forgive another civilization for being able to instantly speak English, the assumption that a society advanced enough to create instant cloning won't be able to save itself from instant doom.
Sometimes that stretches a bit too far in this episode. The idea that Jor-El and Krypton would have access to Earth (here again reaffirmed) and would not suddenly start coming here in droves (particularly a warlike race as they're here depicted), that's a bit much.
However, I have to admit, many of the critiques I held for the whole Zod storyline have been wholly addressed. It took FAR too long, it should have been done very early in the season, but then they'd be short material, no doubt. Which would prompt me as a writer to craft more material, but that's not how it works on this show.
I will accept that they're clones of their younger self. I will accept that Zod believes he deserves power and that they need to rebuild Krypton, though it's a big jump from trusting Jor-El's word implicitly to suddenly hating his guts because he won't clone a dead kid after he went so far to defend Jor-El's logic in this regard.
They picked a guy who at least sounds like Terrence Stamp, which is good. There is, however, the issue of Jor-El's age twenty years ago. Why is he so old? I suppose they're trying to get away with the 1961 episode or whatever, but I mean, if you think about it, what they're asking us to accept is that in 1961 Jor-El looked exactly like Tom Welling when he was 16 (TV show age), and then, assuming Clark left and arrived in the same year (or heck, instantaneously), we're supposed to assume he went to looking like his current self by TV time age 41 (1987 arrival minus 1961 visit). That dude looks way older than 41. Of course, they could have mucked with time, but either way it's a long-winded and difficult suspension of disbelief.
And none of this explains, really, why Zod would unleash a Kryptonite hearted villain, zombies, etc, on and on. Or why he would hate a guy just for having powers. I mean, we just watched him turn down immortality for a principle, he's gonna suddenly become a power-hungry despot because his kid died?
On a viewing level, though, it was really awesome to see a show that stepped up to the plate in terms of mythology and effects. Though I'm not really fond of (nor do I get) a destroyed Kandor, the effect was well rendered, and it's always nice to get a shot of Krypton that works as opposed to looking like a bad set.
The jail rings, the council, all very nice to see. It's a show that tries to trade on the Superman mythology and actually USES it, for good or ill, and that wins big brownie points from me.
Most of this episode is focused on characterizing Zod and Jor-El, and it works very well for me. Quite enjoyable, for the most part. Zod has gone beyond his initial appearance (and even the subsequent ones) where he's rather chaotic and just a face to sneer at, and now he actually has a face and some history. Much better, much more rounded.
I don't like that Jor-El dies in his son's arms with no conversation or catharsis, really, especially after building up Clark's decision to delay. I also don't like that at no point Clark went to talk to the other Jor-El. I am also perplexed as to why Jor-El didn't turn on his own powers.
The Kryptonian nerve pinch rocked. Gotta say I dug that. Hilarious.
I wonder why Kara went to save Kandor when she'd have known it blew up twenty years ago. Whups. [Editor's note: I don't think Kandor blew up, I think Brainiac shrunk it and took it away].
I'm unsure why, but I actually liked the scenes with Tess and Zod. The tension was very palpable in a way that's usually forced with this show. It's odd that Zod would be leaping right back into the sack with a wife he apparently loves enough to have a beloved child with, and it's also odd that he didn't save his living wife Faora over his dead child when Jor-El refused.
Black Zero is a reference I don't catch, but I'm interested to see what it is. Perhaps Brainiac. [Editor's note: Black Zero in the comics was a radical off-shoot of the Kryptonian Clone Rights Movement].
All in all, my eyes opened and I sat up and paid attention this episode, and this is by far my favorite entry of this season. There was a coherent (if a bit outlandish) plot, some attempt at character, and a good dose of mythos. This is all you need to win me over, really. The only thing lacking was a special effect that really blew me away. Kandor was GOOD, but not great.
That still merits a 4.5 of 5 for me.
The only thing that was utterly abysmal that I saw, which still hacks me off, is Clark grabbing Tess by the neck and lifting her into the air for a man he hardly knows. Not what Superman would do, not by a long shot, and not what anyone of good moral character would do. You don't hit people to make them do things or because you disagree with what they're doing. I know that gets lost a lot in this country.
But it shouldn't.
I am still in South Carolina dealing with the death of my uncle Robert, so no letters. Next week, however, barring any airplane delays, I will have a bunch of letter responses for you.
He was a good man, my uncle. Flew all the way from New York to Washington State once with live lobsters just to scare me and my brother. A union man, a man of integrity, a hard worker, and he looked after other people. He's the man who I'm named after (middle name Robert) and he was far too young to die at the age of 51. One of those people you think, "Ah, there'll be time to get to know him!" and then they're gone, and you feel like a shmuck.
I'm not going to do the Smallville Reeve thing and dedicate this review to him at the last paragraph, because I don't think it does him justice. This review isn't good enough to represent the man. I would, however, ask that you all go and hug someone you love, please. For me. Right now. I mean, I've lost three relatives this year, and let me tell you, folks, you never realize until it's too late. Do it.
Do it now.
Yeah, even her. I know you're mad at her, but do it anyway. She's all right at least ten percent of the time. Maybe four.
I don't care. Go do it.
No. No buts.
See you all next week.
Don't forget to check out the updated KO Count.
KandorReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Super Short Run-on Sentence Summary: 20 years before the destruction of Krypton Jor-El and Zod were best buds but that all ended when Jor-El was forced to clone himself and the Zod Squad, then on Earth their clones face off in a final battle that ends with the Jor-El's clone dying in his DNA donor's son's arms.
I am not sure what to think of this episode. I didn't hate it per-se but I didn't exactly like it either.
There were a few outright bad parts and some ok parts but nothing stood out as amazing or awesome in my opinion.
There was a big reveal in the fact that the Kandorians are clones but then the only one surprised about that in my house was the cat. It's almost if Jango Fett himself was there when they came out of the orb. So yeah. That didn't do much for me. I was like "REALLY? You don't say?"
Begun this clone war has.
Maybe a bit of a shock to find out Zod and Jor-El were best mates before Jor-El refused to clone Zod's kid but then with the Jor-El clone killed off so quickly that little dynamic didn't last long. Sure it'll add some background motivation to Zod Clone's obsession with getting Kal-El but beyond that it's just a tidbit. Not something worthy of a whole episode. Zod Clone was going to be going after the Blur anyway.
Hopefully there will be more to that story. Sure Zod was understandably upset when Jor-El wouldn't clone his boy but turning to Genocide? Why did a celebrated hero of Krypton go that far? Was there something the Kryptonian's did that caused Kandor to be nuked? Would Zod Clone on Earth even know why his DNA donor blew up their planet? I don't know. That's what I want to know.
A couple of other things bugged me in this episode too. First of all Jor-El Clone said he used Blue Kryptonite in the orb to remove the clone's powers and that's cool because it explains why it took Clark's powers too to a point but how exactly did Jor-El Clone know it was called Kryptonite?
Let me be clear. I can totally believe that the greatest scientist on Krypton would be aware of the various affects of certain radiation wavelengths on Kryptonians when super charged by a yellow sun. I'll even buy the fact he used his time travel crystals to put the parts of the Fortress crystal on Earth in the past with rocks that emit a form of that radiation for protection from any Kryptonian who did have powers.... BUT.... How exactly did he know the name that Clark and the Kent's came up with for the meteor rocks?
Did I miss something there?
Minor nitpick I know but it did stand out to me.
Was anyone else bothered by the fact Clark busted in and started man handling Lady Lex? I am not trying to come off as sexist. Tess proved to me last week without a doubt she is anything but a helpless victim and I am sure her response to Clark was an act but I still didn't like it. I think I have been pretty clear that when in an even fist fight I am ok with guys and gals duking it out with each other. Doesn't matter if it's a street brawl or a super powered ninja fight so long as it's done as an even playing field between the two combatants. Having an obviously stronger man put a choke hold on woman who just cowers before him just didn't sit right with me. I know she is not helpless and all that but the scene made me feel uncomfortable so I didn't like it.
Also I was bothered by the lack of Lois. Last week the ending was rather a shocker and a pretty big cliffhanger to me. I know they made an effort to explain why Lois wasn't around but I still think it was a poor choice from a viewers stand point. Someone watching last week might tune in this week to find out what happens after the lip lock only to find out that story has been put on hold. Good job at least explaining why but I found it a poor job following up on the cliffhanger.
I did think they did well tying the episode into some stuff from earlier seasons. Even though Jor-El Clone was unaware of Kal-El being on Earth he still referenced his visit to the Kent farm in the past, meeting Jonathan's father and mother. I am glad they didn't ignore that and used that as a valid reason for him showing up on the Kent farm. Plus it seemed in Chloe's recordings he was also looking for the cave key which may have actually been tracked by him.
I just have a question about that. Was that key Clark's key from his ship or one Jor-El left there when he was there in the past? Because you know that house had been like smashed and re-built in that time. I suppose, Lara's picture survived the meteor strike so maybe Jor-El's hidden key did as well. I'd still like to know. That is something that they may cover later so I'll let it be for now.
Chloe got busted for her camera's on Clark. Funny. I wonder what will happen when Oliver finds out she was the one with the camera on his belt? I did actually like how they handled it though. Clark was properly horrified and Chloe was right that they didn't have time to get into that right now.
I did really enjoy the Clark and Oliver interactions in this one. Oliver coming to help Clark track down the Kryptonian symbols was a nice offer on his part. We know Oliver is rather squishy when it comes to Clark's alien side but he was still there for his friend and was even rather sincere when talking to Clark after Jor-El Clone died. I am pretty sure Clark must have carried Oliver into the desert once the plane landed since they were just out there walking around. That makes sense so I am not knocking it for that but I would have liked to see Oliver's reaction to being super-speeded off across the desert. Dr. Hamilton's reaction to it was very amusing and I can imagine Oliver's would be even more so. Missed opportunity there I guess.
So Zod Clone let's Jor-El Clone go and then has someone shoot him hoping to catch the Blur. Kind of an odd plan but it worked I guess. I don't know why it worked though. Call me crazy but don't you think a guy with super vision and super hearing would be on the lookout for someone spying on him when he secretly buries a body in the woods? I'm ok with people sneaking up on Clark when he's just hanging out. They have made it clear he needs to focus on using his powers to turn them on. They are not turned on all the time like some other versions of the character. So if he's hanging out in the barn or at his desk I am ok with him not scanning the airwaves with his super hearing or vision all the time... but when digging a secret grave for a body in the woods? Are you kidding me? If there was ever a time to have your hearing turned on that would be it. I found it totally absurd that Zod Clone could be there watching Clark burn the head stone.
Let's not even get into the fact that our Superman seems to be getting a lot of practice burying/hiding bodies that died of non natural causes in the woods. Besides wouldn't the Fortress make for a better burial place for Jor-El Clone? Arg. I so did not like.
I do have to say though I thought Julian Sands did a fantastic job playing Jor-El and Jor-El Clone. He looked, acted, and spoke in a way that fit Jor-El perfectly. He also made me believe it could be his voice that has been coming from the Fortress all along. Now we just need to find out why the Jor-El AI was so harsh early on and soften later since now we know Jor-El and Jor-El Clone were both very nice guys. Not the kind of guys that would try to freeze their kid in a block of ice for 30 years anyway.
Not terrible but way too many things that just didn't sit right with me. A few plot points toward the season story so it's at least worth a watch for that. Think of it like Attack of the Clones without the space cow surfing.
I give it a 2 out of 5.
Next week: Wonder Twin Powers Activate! I'm actually really looking forward to see what they have come up with for the twins. At least it's not Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Mutt. God I hated those two.
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