Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 9 - Episode 10: "Disciple"



Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

Super short summary: Oliver's old bow master comes to town, shoots Lois after she turns down Clark's offer of some between the sheets time, wings Chloe, and kidnaps Speedy forcing Oliver to hunt him down in a maze only to be saved by Clark's arrow proof skin in the nick of time.

Welcome back to the second half of Season 9 of Smallville everyone! I hope everyone had a great and wonderful holiday season and is ready to see how this season of our favorite superhero show wraps up!

I am not sure if this was the best episode to have coming back from the break. It wasn't bad per se but it wasn't all that great either, so I am worried a bit by that. The coming two hour TV movie has created some buzz which I think showed in the ratings from this episode. I fear that by coming out of the gate with an Oliver centered story that was merely good, not great, could cause them to lose some of that buzz and hurt the ratings next week. I don't know. I guess with the delay for the telethon last week there really was not any way to help that. It is just something I felt worth noting.

As far as the episode goes I did enjoy it for what it was. There was nothing all that exciting or wow worthy but then that isn't a requirement for a good episode. I hesitate to call it filler since there was some movement on major plot lines, but strictly speaking it was filler.

I did like seeing Clark and Lois dating. Not sure how I feel about Clark inviting Lois back to the farm to "see the universe" but I did like how it allowed us to see her response. Lois is taking things with Clark slow and deliberate and she is serious about making it work. This isn't some hormone induced fling for her and that is good to see. The little running gag about how many PDA's (Public Displays of Affection) they are totaling was fun. I kind of hope they keep that tally going through the rest of the season (assuming they are smart enough not to break the two up for time).

One complaint here though. Clark sped off to help someone sure, but why exactly didn't he also hear Lois getting shot? Did she not cry out? Okay, maybe she didn't but also why did they wait until the next morning to call him about it? I did like how he just left Zod-Clone standing there with his mouth open when he found out though.

Speaking of Zod-Clone I was greatly impressed with the way Clark handled him. Clark knows what Zod-Clone is but he also knows that just because Zod-Clone is a jerk doesn't mean the rest of the Clones are. I was very happy to hear that Clark was trying to help the clones settle into life on Earth and isn't stupid enough to actually help them gain super powers. He will help them find a life, be nice to them, and even protect them but he won't give them god-like powers. That seems to me to be the most Superman like route to take.

Clark is not willing to just let Zod-Clone manipulate him either and I really liked that. Zod-Clone tried to send a subtle message to Clark by visiting Lois, and Clark didn't back down an inch. In fact he put his foot down splendidly in my favorite scene of the episode. "Touch her and I will destroy you!" Nice. Sure maybe not exactly Superman-like but then Superman is allowed to get a little pissed off when the bad guys mess with Lois.

It also sends a message to Zod-Clone that Clark knows he is up to something and I think that is very important too. Clark is watching him and Zod-Clone knows it.

The Dark Archer story was interesting. It gives us a little more info on how Oliver got his mad bow skills anyway. I am not exactly sure what the group was about though. Were they vigilantes or assassins? I don't think they made that very clear. I'm okay with Oliver joining a vigilante group but a group of assassins? That kind of makes me a bit uncomfortable. It was good though that Oliver left it by his own choice though.

It was also nice to see Speedy back even if she was pretty much used as the weekly damsel in distress. I hope they have her on the show more. I'd like to see her developing her bow skills too now that she knows Oliver is the Green Arrow.

Lastly I was also impressed that they had Clark sticking up for Oliver when Chloe theorized he might have gone off the deep end. Clark was believing in his friend and giving him the benefit of the doubt. It wasn't until Clark found possible evidence in Oliver's office that he actually gave the theory any weight and thankfully that didn't last long because they quickly discovered the truth about the Robin Hood wannabes.

One too hard to swallow note: Those HUGE arrow heads the Dark Archer used? Yeah. Those things.

They were like this *----------------------------------------* wide!

You're telling me they can go through Lois' shoulder and miss everything important? Riiiight. Okay then.

So anyway. Kind of middle of the road with a quasi filler plot as the main plot but enough movement on the Clark/Lois relationship and the Clark vs. Clones story line that make it an important episode.

I'm going to give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Next up the big 2 hour (booming announcer voice) MEGA MONSTER EVENT... with superheroes galore! I'm actually pretty gosh darn excited if I do say so myself.



Reviewed by: Neal Bailey


  • Ollie once had a mentor with really strange, incoherent revenge desires.
  • Mia learns that Ollie is the Green Arrow.
  • Zod starts mackin' on Clark's girl.


    Smallville needs a peppy sidekick character named Filler. Filler's duties, aside from stepping onscreen and making a reference to some pop culture obscurity as a way of illustrating a point (a requisite for any character on Smallville) would be to give a subtle cue as to when an episode will not really mean anything substantive to the larger mythos or run, or even the season arc in question.

    "Hey, Kids in America! We're gonna go all Jump the Shark on you this episode, when Ollie does a Robin Hood on his former mentor, who's gone Jack Torrence in The Shining! It'll be oh, snap and a bag of bugles!" (Filler throws his hands in the ay-er).

    Case in point, the only real thing established in this episode is that Clark is at odds with Zod. This would be neato drama if it weren't for the fact that Clark already knows Zod is a bad guy, what with the episode where he killed almost everyone on Earth and killed Clark to death by way of killing.

    So instead of actually moving forward on THAT idea, instead we move into a mysterious world where somehow Zod has a key to the Kent farm, and where Clark is willing to entertain notions of philosophy from a man he knows to be a future Hitler.

    Now I'll be the first to notice that there are some interesting moral quandaries with the Phantom Zone, or futurecrime, or Kandor, for that matter, because who is Clark to decide if someone should live or die before they've committed crimes. That didn't stop him from prejudging Lex Luthor, it doesn't stop him in this very episode from prejudging Green Arrow and Chloe, and just generally, the show doesn't present a consistent moral view thereby.

    Beyond that, it's utterly stupefying that he doesn't immediately grab Zod and put him in some kind of pokey. Ridiculous beyond words, actually.

    Heck, in this episode alone he can be incarcerated for breaking and entering, to say nothing of the theft of that apple. NOM NOM NOM.

    All right, maybe that's sarcastic.

    Lowlights of this episode include, beyond what I have already mentioned:

    1) Lois getting shot unconscious with an arrow. You shoot me in the back with an arrow, I'll start screaming and cursing and running. Instead, we get this:

    And this:

    2) The Dark Archer's motivation. First, it's to prevent his successor from having a successor, by affirming the desire to have a successor. Then, when his student refuses to make himself a successor, he tries to kill his successor to affirm his desire to have a successor. This sucks, and is in error. Say that fast.

    3) An arrow target range that has no backdrop in case the arrow goes wide, and a completely clean face indicating a complete lack of use for the targets.

    4) Kali sticks being used like baseball bats. I trained to use Kali sticks, and they're designed as multiple strike instruments. Yes, you hit hard, but the idea is rapid, multiple strikes in a short period of time, because even a light hit with a Kali stick will ruin you stupid. Trust me, I jacked up my jaw on those stupid things more than twice.

    5) Mia is too stupid to put together that Green Arrow is Green Arrow despite his extraordinary precision with arrows, and the fact that everything he owns is green and dedicated to archery.

    6) Chloe anything. I mean, anything. God, I love Allison Mack, but Chloe needs to just die. Fall off a cliff and land on another cliché in the line of thousands until it stabby stabs you. That's an ancient Irish curse, in the same sense that there are really Gaelic cults that insist you learn archery and kill your disciples.

    7) Clark Kent threatening to "destroy," IE kill, every one of Zod's followers and Zod himself for talking to his girlfriend, but at the same time showing no desire at all to incarcerate the man responsible for the dystopian future even as he works toward it.

    8) The red sun as a way for kryptonian powers? Again? Really?

    9) The Dark Archer flies Speedy to Coast City, on the west coast, to throw her in the maze and test his apprentice? Wouldn't it be easier to just shoot her in the face? Mental note: Create elaborate plan of revenge where I shoot two people non-lethally and cart an unconscious body across the United States, but whatever you do, don't rig anything up so you might actually succeed in your task or anything. I mean heck, your central thesis is that you're getting older and slower, so by no means should you take any precautions against your apprentice getting the upper hand, because, I mean, you want to beat him, but you also want to kill him. Actually, I think I already covered this crap, but it's worth mentioning again.

    So I guess, in summation, it's fair to say that the enjoyment of the episode was overshadowed by the large number of absurdities that occurred and prevented any kind of belief suspension at all. Characters acting out of character (Clark), characters acting in annoying ways (Chloe, Ollie, even Mia), and one character acting spot-on but in an utterly useless way, wasting the performance (Lois). Lois is actually the character I watch for now, which is kind of sad. Used to be Chloe. Now it's shifted. All of the borked Lois stuff of the past notwithstanding, when Lois is being Lois, this show is good again.

    I can only hope next week offers better, because this was a steaming pile of crap I can't even work up the energy to properly tear to pieces.

    1 of 5.


    G.V. Golwitzer wrote:


    This makes me happy, I've been missing it. It's a shame it had to come back as the last couple episodes have been amazing, but its not surprising. That's it, just wanted to say I'm happy the whip crack is back.

    Thanks. I enjoy using it, I just need the proper context. Can't overuse it, or it'll become like using a name hero on Smallville for ratings... tired.

    G.V. Golwitzer

    cameron cole wrote:

    you took the words right out of my mouth with your pandora review. i want to like smallville really bad but every week its a struggle. has anyone mentioned how stupid it is that jor-el used "blue laser beam kryptonite" on krypton to take away the kandorian's powers?

    You just did. And I agree.

    Fred wrote:

    Random points:

    1) Pretty sure they said that the Red Sun machine didn't change the actual sun, rather shifted the wavelength using Luthorcorp tech. Or some kind of comic book logic

    Sounds just as silly as if they were saying red suns give Kryptonians powers.

    2) Thought they had a throwaway about the clones that were modified by blue krypotonite were reversed kryptonians. Which, to be honest, was never FOUND on earth, rather only came from Krypton way back when Kara's mom or something showed up). If not they should have mentioned that maybe Blue K. "reversed the polarity: of their cells. Or something.

    A reversed Kryptonian? Then why aren't their stomachs on the outside? It does explain why the episodes suck, though. They're trying to make good shows, but heck, they're using reverse Kryptonians from opposite land! Everything they do that should rule sucks!

    3) Why on earth did ninja girl STILL have powers under the yellow sun when Zod had lost his already???? Biggest flaw in ep.

    Among many.

    Hey, this season is still better thna Magic Lana season.

    I dunno yet. It isn't even half over.

    Speaking of which- where the hell was Lana? Her Superman-level powers + her emissive K-rads= dead Kandorians???

    She's off somewhere being amazing, and I hope she stays there. I hope she gets hadukenned in the Street Fighter movie and dies of radiation poisoning. I hope someone spikes her Tab with Drano. May she die a thousand deaths.

    Stephen Murray wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    I'm a long-time reader of your reviews. I love them because they're honest, humorous, and have valid criticisms.

    This criticism is valid. The previous criticism was invalid. I JUST BLEW YOUR MIND! But thanks.

    I just read your review on "Pandora" and all your criticisms were correct. I've stopped looking at Smallville critically because I wouldn't be able to enjoy the show if I really thought about all of the continuity errors they make.

    Good on you. You're probably having more fun than me. Critic's burden.

    I was really bothered by two things in this episode. The first thing being that Zod and every other Kandorian had powers under a red sun except Clark. I still don't understand their explanation for that. The second thing being that Lois still hasn't figured out that Clark is the blur even while Clark, Ollie, and Chloe are openly talking about it in front of her and none of them will even tell her. That scene seemed wrong to me especially considering that Emil made it so Lois can't remember anything about her time in the future, so what's the harm? I did think that it was very cool when Zod commanded the Kandorians to "Kneel before Kal-El" at the end of the episode. What did you think of that scene?

    It's a silly attempt to reverse the momentum of the villain after already revealing him to be unredeemable, so they can make it to the finale. Cheap writing trick.

    Even though I have been enjoying this season so far, I really hope that by the end of it Clark develops a prototype of the classic suit because its time. This series should have been at this point four years ago. Also, I can't wait for the JSA episode and your review on it, Neal.

    Me either, actually. I'm far more eager to see a JSA episode than a Legion one.

    Anyway, Thank you and Steve Younis and all of the people who make the Superman Homepage such a great place for Superman fans to visit.

    Thanks for visiting and enjoying, and for the kind words!

    Best Regards,


    Joseph wrote:

    Hey Neal! I have been reading your reviews since season 3, and have written a few times before. Thanks for continuing your reviews; even though I miss the full on breakdowns you did before I completely understand why you went in a different direction, and still look forward to reading you every week.

    Hopefully I can make it up to you with a few great novels soon. They're written, I just have to get them published, which is looking better and better.

    My love for the show has steadily deteriorated beginning with season 4, to the point where I was literally only watching seasons 6 through 8 because I wanted to have a reference point when I read your reviews. After reading your reasons for no longer investing as much time/effort into the show this year, I came to the same conclusion and now, while I tape the show every week, I read your review first and anything that doesn't at least get a (3) I delete without watching.

    That's another purpose the review can serve, I hope. I appreciate the vote of confidence.

    I found the introduction to your most recent review (Pandora) especially funny, thanks for the laugh. That's another episode I will be deleting, I guess. I wonder if Smallville even has a "show bible"; if it does I imagine it's about a page long and just consists of things like: "No costume. No flying. Kryptonite is green". For me, the issue isn't just that they have episodes where they let a chunk of kryptonite lay on Clark's chest for hours without killing him. It's that, as you have noted many times before, they will do that but then have the same scenario where he picks the chunk off and throws it, then he will be incapacitated if a smaller chunk falls within 100 yards of him, etc etc. Whatever they need to fit that week's plot. I was really hoping that with the departure of Mssrs Gough and Millar someone would step up and right the ship but I suppose that time has passed.

    I wish I could tell you with any authority. Twice I was scheduled to visit the writing room, and twice publicity blew me off. Otherwise, I might be more sympathetic and willing to explain some of the difficulties and limitations that go into episodes. Otherwise, I have to shoot in the dark and make educated guesses. I have no idea if they have an episode bible.

    Anyway, thanks again for continuing to write!



    PS - what did you think of the animated "Public Enemies"? I found myself strangely unsatisfied by it, despite enjoying the original story in comic form and loving the voice work.

    I liked the focus on Power Girl, and I like the animation style. I think it's very geared toward surface-level viewing, and they need to go more into character, but with animation that's virtually impossible, particularly given the target demo. I still see stuff like Ghost in the Shell and yearn for more.

    Will Sabel Courtney wrote:

    Hey Neal! Long time no speak...

    Will! Yeah, man! Good to hear from you, though.

    Anyway, sorry to drop you a line this way rather than the usual email but it's late and, eh, I'm lazy.

    I was just going through your review of "Pandora," and I happened upon your comment that if the sun turned red, it would liquefy humanity because of the increase in gravity.

    That's not quite right. If the sun simply turned into a red star but remained its same size, its gravity would remain unchanged. However, since red stars produce less energy than yellow-white stars like Sol, Earth would rapidly freeze into an iceball. Our climate would probably look a lot more like Mars's does today. (Which would certainly be a compelling story.)

    Hah! You are correct in terms of real-world science. I'm using comic book logic, which may be totally out there. I can't remember the exact issue, but there's a comic where Lois goes to Krypton with Superman and immediately is heavier than hell and can't breathe, because of the density argument that now holds less water with the creators, as I'm seeing in the comics.

    Even if the sun grew into a red giant, there still wouldn't be much change in the gravitational pull it holds on Earth. Changes in gravity are caused by changed in mass; when a star balloons up into a red giant, it's simply expanding - the mass remains the same. It gets cooler as well; however, since the surface would be so much closer to Earth than it is today, we'd cook quite quickly. (Another great post-apocalyptic scenario!)

    So turning the sun red wouldn't liquefy humanity.

    And while I too have no idea why the Kandorians would have powers under a yellow sun, from everything I've read online, it sounds like Zod's "solar tower" is somehow connected to the Kandorians, feeding raw solar energy into them while blotting out the yellow light for everyone else. I don't know. That's just the closest thing to logic I can come up with.

    THAT would make some sense as an idea. The bigger problem there is that the show has gone to great lengths to indicate that Kryptonians can be given powers, as can humans, relatively at will. Of course, with some it has consequencse (Pa) and with others (Lana) it's just shrugged off. Eh. I look at it more like if you want to destroy the Earth, do you launch a nuke or enlarge the sun? If you want Kryptonian powers, what do you need the red sun for? I mean, assume Clark decides to resist hundreds of Kryptonians with his power. Well, try stopping a lynch mob being one sheriff in town. Good luck, even if you have right on your side.

    The logic goes like this. I have 100 people who want me dead. They can either arm themselves to the teeth and then tie me up, or just shoot me from afar. Or, in Clark's case, put a ROCK right next to him and laugh while he dies. It's established that Kryptonians knew about Kryptonite, somehow. Anyway, it's all screwy.

    I could go into a whole spiel about my fictional hypothesis of how Kryptonian powers arise from photons from a yellow sun causing a photosynthetic-like process that opens quantum tunnels in their cells/molecules directly to the star they're receiving light from, allowing them to tap into its power directly, but a) if Zod's people could do that, they'd be pretty resistant to Kryptonite, and b) I doubt the producers thought it out nearly that well.

    Heck, you're thinking it out more than me.

    Anyway, happy Thanksgiving, and keep in touch!

    Thanks, and will do.



    Daniel Spady wrote:


    I read your review and was curious if you saw the same thing i did...

    At the moment Lois Lane is using the Legionaire Ring, I am pretty sure The female Kandorian is running at Super-Speed when clearly the Yellow Sun still in the sky, and has taken away her powers...

    Didn't see that, alas. That would require paying more attention, and Smallville hasn't earned that back yet.

    lol at Ollie fighting horderes of Kandorians flying at him...

    It reminded me of the final scene of ZombieLand.

    Haven't seen it. Any good?

    soon as i saw Chloe running in the open...

    I was like, wow she is going to die

    Okay here is the thing...

    Don't we have like building inspectors or goverments that check buildings?

    I doubt Zod could build a HUGE tower like that in the middle of a city, and nobody inspected to see what kinda energy would be flowing out.

    Maybe they have "V" sleeper agents that have been placed in the goverment and we don't even know it...I hate that show so much...

    Oh do NOT get me started on building inspectors. Good googly moogly, when I am king, they will all be hung upside down naked and beaten with bamboo poles. Then I will walk up, inspect their bleeding carcasses, and say, "Nah. You're not there yet." And then I'll give them a phone to call the ambulance, but the ambulance will NEVER EVER return their urgent calls.

    Maybe that's too many levels.

    That show Visitors is SOOOOO a rip off of BattleStar Galactica...except not good.

    Here is a word problem for ya question...

    If Yellow Sun + Blue kryptonite + Kandorian = no Powers

    And Red Sun + Blue Kryptonite + Kandorian = Powers

    And Red Sun + Blue Kryptonie + Green Kryptonite = Powers, but weakened

    What does Yellow Sun + Blue Kryptonite + Kandorian + Green Kryptonite = ?

    Beppo. OOOK!

    Meaning what would happen if Zod was exposed to Green Kyptonite while not having powers from the Red sun. just curiouis...

    He'd probably get weak if the story demanded it, or be fine if the story demanded it, because consistency is a laughing matter on Smallville.

    I thought Clark would be wearing glasses...guess not


    One final note...

    The Resistance snuck up on a whole KANDORIAN TRAINED ARMY with super powers, MAINLY super hearing and X-Ray vision!!!!!

    Apparently red suns give humans super stealth. Yeah! That's the ticket!

    Shouldn't they have guards constanlly X-Raying the area and flying over it in patrols?

    I could of stomached all of the crap except that part of the episode...

    because everyone one of these Kandorins has the powers of SUPERMAN...except trained to fight like a soldier, and a rich boy and a computer hacker sneak into their building with ropes and kryptonite...

    I mean you saw all of those kandorians fly at Ollie...

    lets say a 1/8th of them are guarding Zod...

    Im not even going to get into it...

    Know what the first thing i would do when i get super powers...?

    find my weakness and destroy it...

    I would fart and destroy the O.C.

    That is pathetic to say the least...

    Really? I kind of like the idea. I kid.


    Love your reviews keep em coming


    Thank you.

    Daniel Spady wrote:

    Continued from my previous email...

    you know what i am going to get into it.


    Not only did they sneak and break into a facility that hosted a Army of Super Powered Kandorians Succesfully with no casulaties...They broke in with MASKS!!!!


    Like they can't X-ray and see you

    Good catch! I missed that one!

    This is exactly how it woulda went down if i had super powers...

    "Okay we are going to sneak into the Lex Mansion and rescue Clark and Lois" ~ Chloe

    "Okay gotcha, i have all our kryptonite weapons wrapped in Lead so they can't sense us coming" ~ Ollie

    I super speed into the Lair cause i can hear them all talking with my super hearing and i steal all their kryptonite weapons and throw them in a ditch and super-speed back

    "What was that?" ~ Chloe

    "I dunno" ~ Ollie

    "It was me, I could hear you guys planning this mission 500 miles away" ~ Me

    "WHAT?!" ~ Chloe and Olle

    they reach for their kryptonite weapons

    "Oh those are gone...Sorry im not really into underestimating my enemy" ~ Me

    "You heard everything?" Ollie

    "Yeah I did...You know how their used to be Sattellites in the sky monitoring cell phone calls. I dedicated 6 henchman to listen to everyone in the world speak in shifts, it's tiresome but gets the job done. Learning the different languages was troublesome, but in the end worth it. Specially for moments like these" ~ me

    "Wow, talk about you Super Patriot Act" Chloe

    "Chloe I've had enough of you cliche' remarks and comments" ~ me

    "Whoa, talk about you over-bearing Father figures..." Chloe

    "..." ~ Me

    "Stop it Chloe, we are about to die...(I could sure go for a drink)" ~ Ollie

    "Any Last words?" ~ Me

    "Nope, not unless your up for a highly pathetic apology?" ~ Chloe

    "I will miss your sarcasm the most when your dead chloe" ~ Me

    "Really?" ~ Chloe


    Heat Vision, Chloe dies

    I am about to Fly off

    "What about me?" ~ Ollie

    "Oh thats" ~ me

    I hand Ollie a bottle of Vodka

    "That should do the trick" ~ me

    I fly off

    And thats what happens when you have super powers and people wanna revolt.

    Now...if maybe some Kandorians led the revolt agains Zod, because they took pity on the humans...but thats too much thinkinh for the writers apparently...oh well

    Love your reviews keep em coming

    Thanks. You know what I would do in a world filled with evil Kryptonian despots? Erica Durance. (Badum ching!)

    Tom Roberts wrote:

    Two things about "Rabid." First, Clark is so fast he could protect Lois without being seen by tripping up the zombies, superspeed pushing them into each other, etc.

    Yes, noted, if I recall right.

    Second, Dr. Emil is guilty of malpractice for leaving Clark alone with a kryptonite syringe-thingy. I hope he is haunted by the ghost of L frim "Death Note" and the ghost of that one-legged Geda on Battlestar Galactica--look it up on

    Also noted, I believe.

    As for the Wonder Twins, notice that Simon Camden--er, Zan left his fingerprints on the limo after it crashed. For that matter, how many bloody fingerprints did Chloe leave on trash bags filled with Bloomsday's victims?

    There are so many indictable crimes on Smallville... cray-zee.

    Antonio a.k.a. Dark.Shingo wrote:

    Hi Neal, how are things going? I hope fine. To be honest, i didn't watch the last episode (gonna save it for reading the review first). Althought i checked the "publish" box, i left the decision to you.

    I was somehow taken aback by your answer. Not in a bad way, but you made me think about what you said, even to the point of asking other people their opinions.

    Note, readers, it was in reference to my atheism.

    First of all, i don't think that you're wrong in your beliefs. Not that you made any statement i should address, but because probably i would say one or two things about my beliefs and i don't want you to think i'm trying to convince you or be preachy. I really dislike people who uses endless arguments and cheap new age philosophy to convince other people.

    I just have this idea that, after our deaths, our soul goes beyond. Call it heaven, call it reincarnation, i just simply preffer to call it another dimension, another level, where we can continue our enlightening. That's what i meant with "a better place", not the usual allegory people tend to use. Heaven or hell, that's just pretentious. I mean, you get to go to one or another based on what you did on this universe? Who choses what is worthy enough? God. Right.

    Well, right for you, maybe, but that's the biggest problem with religious arguments toward atheism in my experience, it's based on getting frustrated for other people not experiencing your personal experience, which can in no way be quantified. Heaven or Hell is very real to others, it's not to me (or maybe you), and that's fine. The problem comes when people want to cut my head off for not believing in their God or getting frustrated when I don't believe in something they can neither quantify, prove, or properly explain.

    That's another point entirely. I believe there's a greater force in play. Call it God. Call it Universal Entity of Energy or whatever. There's something out there that manifests itself in those little things we take for granted: out family, our friends, that dog that moved its tail when you had a bad day and put a smile on your face, that little sign on the road that made you think about calling your mom; all those things we're so used to call "coincidences". Maybe it's just me, the little man who needs to believe against all odds. Maybe, in fact, there's something out there who wants to remind us life is beautiful, despite the news.

    Maybe there's a purple monkey that farts clouds that look like numerals, and if you decode them, you find the meaning of life. Maybe anything, really. And this is not to slight your beliefs, this is just to point out that it seems everyone's God is personal, there are no universal properties, and that inclines me to believe that, like morality or subjective truth, there is neither proof to it nor a valid and sound challenging counterexample to the notion that any other belief system is better or worse beyond a secular pragmatism.

    To put that in proper English, I have no problem with your God, but there's no way you can share it with me, so I find talking about it futile, generally. When he or she or it has real and discernable properties, I will examine it, like I examine this tea in front of me.

    Mmmm! Tasty.

    What really made me think was not the fact you're an atheist, but that you don't believe in an afterlife. I guess i don't really understand what atheism is all about or i never cared before to learn about it. And i sincerely apologize for assuming that everyone believes there's something else after dying.

    You don't need to apologize for anything, really. It's fine to share your beliefs with someone who asks for opinions, and that'd be me. By the same token, however, my opinions should no more inspire incredulity than yours would unless I try to force them on you.

    Atheism, like Christianity or the belief in a deity or the afterlife, is wholly individual. I can't speak for any other atheist. The difference between my belief system and that of someone who believes in a personal God is that I'm not making any affirmative statements of belief, I'm simply stating a lack of belief. I don't believe that there is an invisible man on my shoulder, nor can I on faith believe in anything undemonstrable, like Smallville not sucking, to bring it back home.

    I don't believe in the afterlife for the same reason I have no belief in God. I have no demonstrable evidence that it exists that isn't readily explained away. However, that's not to say I'm what they call a hard atheist, using terms designed to make the person espousing said belief look mean (when's the last time you heard of a "hard Christian") in the same way they equivocate atheism with a lack of morals. I am more than willing, provided real evidence, to reassess my belief system. That's the scientific method. The problem is, unlike changing lead to gold in a repeatable process (which people would scoff at if someone tried to prove it through allegory) it's often perfectly acceptable to someone promoting theism to revert to metaphor, analogy, and unpalpable entities. Then, when the person on the receiving end says that it proves nothing, they get angry.

    You appear to be a counter-example, though, because most people when confronted with other belief systems get outwardly hostile. You've been cool, so please, don't take my words too harshly. I admire ye, bucko.

    I think in the end i'm not much better than those who think everyone should believe the same things than themselves and if not, the people is wrong and must be corrected. And no, i'm not punishing myself, it's just i never took the time to ponder these ideas and believed myself as an open minded person. Seems i should be more cautious in the future.

    Well, I would caution your caution, because if you weren't open minded already, you'd never have continued the dialogue. I think you're doing fine by engaging without rancor.

    Thanks for giving me the chance to learn something new.

    And likewise.

    Andrew Maitland wrote:

    RE: Smallville Season 8 Premiere:

    "To be frank, I've waited for that for four years"

    That's what you said about the first episode of "Smallville: Season 8".

    I just watched it last night, and I have to agree with you on that point, with one minor exception.

    I've been waiting for an episode like the season 8 premiere since the pilot episode finished.

    1. Clark is finally in Metropolis, a MAJOR part of the Superman story. Not to say that this is a knock on the show, because it isn't, but when you start a show off by stating it's the beginning of the Superman story, and then put the hero into his city within the first 20 episodes (see season 1 episode: "Rouge"), then you've got to, in my opinion, eventually put the hero back to his hometown at some point. That hero being Superman (albeit way before), the city must be Metropolis.

    2. Clark is working at the Daily Planet...for now. I put that caveat in because I know through experience with this show as a viewer, that disappointment MAY soon follow. Hoping for minor disappointments if any this season, but nothing is perfect.

    3. Lois and Clark are working together against evil. Need I say more?

    You might not like the series "Lois & Clark" too much (implied through the end of your review):

    "Clark taking the job at the Daily Planet is implausible. No experience, no college, no real reason to be given it, and yet he's BANG, right where Lois is. It's an excuse to start the Lois and Clark show over again. THAT. SUCKS.";

    But I would argue that Lois Lane and Clark Kent are one of the greatest teams to ever grace the Earth when compared to all duos both real and fictional of all time. High praise? Yes. A little bit of bias? Definitely. However when you consider the longevity of that duo, and how famous it is known around the world, no matter how good or bad it is, I've got to put that duo in an argument like that say against Abbott and Costello, Batman & Robin, or Bonnie and Clyde, to name only three duos in history.

    Oh, I'm with you. I just wish they'd paid lip service to the fact that you don't just magically decide to be a writer and then become one. The shoes I wore for a year and a half until there were no tread and my bankruptcy last year attest to that.

    As for the fact that Clark has no experience or education, he at least did take one semester of college. I've known, and heard of people who haven't even gone that far in school and still had jobs. So I respectfully rebut that argument.

    Well, they're the exception that proves the rule, if anything. I've got five years of college, applied for journalism jobs, and they turned me down despite my massive experience because I lack my degree.

    Another thought on that. In the show itself, Lois asked Clark if he would start in the basement (a la like Chloe did) when he came to work on Monday morning, and Clark cheerfully mocked the question (knowing who it was coming from).

    Then Lois saw the nameplate. And from where I sit at my computer, I am assuming that you are not so much upset that Clark is working at the Daily Planet now, but that he has such a high position already.

    Actually, any position at a paper with zero college experience outside of intern greatly bugs me in its implausibility.

    To which I say check out his application.

    Lois Lane gave him the application, which he was clear to point out to her when she questioned how he got so high up on the totem pole all of a sudden.

    Having filled out job applications in the recent past, I know that many ask for references.

    Right, but you can't get a job as an electrician with no formal training. I hate the idea that seemingly everyone has that writing is something that anyone can do, and can immediately do without any training or practice. Check fan fiction sites for a counterexample to that argument.

    If Clark Kent had put "Lois Lane" down on his application as a reference say 2 seasons ago, no one would bat an eye.

    However, having Lois Lane as a reference NOW, after she has presumably had some major stories with the Daily Planet and is now presumably highly regarded as an investigative journalist, that had to have gone a long way for Clark Kent.

    I do not deny that having an in helps, but you still need the skills. Who you know can't carry you half as far as what you know in life.

    All in all, this should be fun.

    I do have one minor to major problem with the Season 8 premiere though that I hope gets cleared up in the near future with upcoming episodes of the season.

    I was sitting at my laptop reading your review, and looked over to see my DVD collection.

    The picture on the Smallville: Season 7 DVD box set is Clark Kent standing in his Fortress of Solitude next to his cousin Kara.

    I just remembered this about an hour ago.

    At the end of Season 7, amidst all the turmoil that was going on, Kara Zor-El floated away in a prism in space, trapped within the Phantom Zone.

    The writers covered the following loopholes:

    Problem 1: Chloe was arrested.

    Resolution: Under the disguise of working for the DDS, Chloe unwittingly helped Lex Luthor track down the Justice League.

    Problem 2: (sort of) Jimmy asked Chloe to marry him. (I put this as a problem, because it happened right before Chloe was arrested. And from what I've heard, marriage is a pretty big decision for anyone to make no matter where they are in life).

    Resolution: Chloe says "Yes!" to Jimmy

    Problem 3: Brainiac had taken over Chloe and Lana.

    Resolution: Clark destroyed Brainiac at the end of the season, and freed them. Which led to

    Problem 4: Lana broke up with Clark.

    Resolution: Upon Clark's death and resurrection, he realized that he has to let go of his past completely in order to move on with his future.

    Problem 5: Lex Luthor found out all of Clark's secrets, and then took control of Clark, causing the Fortress of Solitude to crumble on top of Clark and Lex.

    Resolution: Clark lost his powers, but Lex had no control over Clark like he had thought he would have had. Clark survived without his powers, and thus assumes that Lex survived also, which is a major problem given the knowledge that Lex Luthor now posesses. (Unless a chunk of the Fortress came down on Lex's head at the right spot when it crumbled, and gave Lex amnesia :) KIDDING! :D )

    6. Kara Zor-El (a.k.a. "Supergirl") became trapped within the Phantom Zone.



    Like I said, I had forgotten about it until I looked at the cover to my Season 7 box set. But that is a big hole that the writers left open. I do not mean for this to be nasty, but did they run out of time with the writers' strike before they were able to create a possible resolution to that problem, and then forget to go back to it once the strike ended?

    Only future episodes of Season 8 will be able to help answer that question.

    -Andy :)

    Scotty V wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    I'm way behind on the show but just read your review for "Zatanna." Mostly I agree andm though I haven't read the reviews to the end of the season, my wife, sister an I have just had a marathon where we finally caught up to the finale. Still have that one to watch but I have to say, wow were these a terrible bunch of episodes. Just a mish mash of mayhem, with characters either never introduced or introduced poorly.

    These characters, like Livewire or Dr. Emil, to my memory have never been mentioned before and yet are thrown before us as if we're supposed to know them or have some sort of connection to them. Also the stories don't even seem to follow a reasonable narrative. Like the Dark Knight to me, which just seemed like mayhem and chaos over and over again, with a few scenes of "look Batman's so cool he can do...THIS!" thrown in. To me though, this type of thing does not a good show or movie make.

    I've been told the next season is better but I've heard that before.

    Yeah, everyone who hates me seems to think the current season is the best season. Personally, they've all been rather dismal since five, and even five was no cakewalk. Four was probably the worst.

    On the personal side, I really hope things are looking better for you. Don't know if I've offered condolences or even knew that you lost both your brother and grandmother, but I feel for you my friend. And I do consider you a friend. I know I've said this recently and even if you got it, it still bares repeating. I do so hope that one day soon, and perhaps the stars will align in such a way that it can happen even more often in the future, we can all be together again. My family and I were so happy to have met you in person and you were so great with Chloe that she just fell in love with you. It was a great time in Supermanland and you were a big part of that. I feel like, even though we don't talk much that we've made a really good friend in you.

    Oh, I have no doubt we'll meet again in Metropolis. I'm working my way back up from bankruptcy, and as soon as I get a new paying gig (my big goal this year) to replace my old ones that died when the Smallville mag went down, I'm going back to Super-Mecca. It remains one of the happiest experiences of my life.

    As for your detractors and the negatives trolls or what have you. It feels like we've been over this ground before and that you've often said you'll start ignoring these types and not let them bother you over and over. Yet, and I can only imagine how tasking it is, it still seems to affect you and bring you grief. I feel bad for this because clearly these types of people don't matter and shouldn't even register so much as a tiny blip on your radar. Idiots all who make no real attempt to understand but rather just attack and try to push their opinions on everyone else. Somehow I'm reminded of Kirk Cameron here.

    I've actually managed to excise the trolls and my connection to what people think or care on the internet in the last year. It took a long time, but now I just delete anything negative, and feel no desire to engage. It took a while, I think it started when I realized that I have come into my own as a writer and don't need approval. It's not that I did before, but before I had the strong belief that if people assumed wrong or made up wrong things about my work, I needed to correct that. My new policy, Caveat Emptor, has served me quite well. I only have time for what pleases me or forwards the work now.

    By the way, how dare you say you liked the new Indy movie! It made me so sad that I felt they'd taken a piece of my childhood and a personal favorite all time movie hero of mine and ruined the franchise. That you should say you liked it makes me want to...

    But I digress and you know for sure I'm not serious.

    Absolutely. But then, I looked at the new Indy the same way I looked at the new Star Wars movies. With the eyes of a kid. My adult eyes can find the flaws, but hey, how did Indy survive that ride on top of that sub in Raiders?

    You're a great guy Neal, clearly talented and my family and I have had our lives enhanced just for knowing you.

    And likewise, man. We'll make it.



    Tia wrote:

    I haven't watched Smallville in ages but I just heard it could be coming back for a 10th season. Thus it sparked me to look up your reviews that I enjoyed when I was an avid watcher of the show to see if this 10th season was well deserved. After looking at a few reviews it seems like all the reasons I stopped watching are firmly in place. A coherent plot and character development is not too much to ask for after all these years. At times when I felt the only voice of reason about how the show was going downhill (but its now a fiery mess that may be getting another season) your reviews were refreshing to read. I applaud your dedication to keep writing your reviews as the Smallville writer's rape Superman mythos to death.

    Thanks. Yeah, it hasn't changed. If you stopped watching for the reasons I cited four years ago, you can probably safely stay away now. If that doesn't bother you, watching will probably be fun.

    SW wrote:

    I was just rereading the reviews from the "Pilot" episode and I quote you: "I'm just waiting to see the X-Ray vision and flight. With my breath held."

    I hope you're okay.


    Rob Miller wrote:

    I liked your site.

    I liked your email.

    Mark wrote:

    I was looking through your last review again, and I just wanted to mention that I think the reason the Kryptonians were supposed to have powers when there was a red sun was because the tower absorbed some of the energy from the sunlight, transferred it into their bodies. This reduced the energy of the sunlight, turning it red. In essence, I think the tower was supposed to be doing what they're bodies do--absorb all the energy above "red" and turn it in to super-powers. This wasn't something that I had to sit down, think about, and try to justify. When I watched it, I just automatically assumed that's what they were going for.

    You have more intuition than I on your character sheet.

    Bruce Kanin wrote (RE: Disciple)

    Season 9.2 begins with a recap of Season 9.1 and as usual...boy, is it confusing! Thankfully they ended the opening recap on a neat note, showing us again Clark, revealing his "secret" to Lois, by putting on glasses (his "secret" being that he's near-sighted -- at least that's what Clark wants Lois to believe). But wait -- right after that scene, the pre-credits teaser shows us Lois & Clark leaving the theater and Clark w/o glasses. In fact, those Clark Kent glasses are nowhere to be seen in the rest of the episode nor the coming attractions. What a disappointment - and what nonsense - why did they bother introducing the glasses if they're not going to be used yet?

    To keep us who consider leaving watching.

    Moving right along... the Lois & Clark relationship continues to be enjoyable. It's at least as good as Reeve-Kidder and Cain-Hatcher. In fact, it may be better. Seems like there's a real spark between the two. And it's not nausea-inducing like Clark & Lana. Lois's line to Clark "you're the one I want to get it 'right' with" is a good one, suggesting, Heck, at the rate they're going, they could be married before Clark decides to become Superman, and that would be all right with me. Wouldn't be the worst thing this series has done to trample on the Superman mythos - not by a long shot.

    I think Lois and Clark on this show are doing just fine for the most part. If they were more than two to three minutes a show, and less shippy, it'd be near perfection.

    So the episode basically had two subplots, tactical (it lasted only for this episode) and one strategic (it's a running thread). The tactical one concerned the Dark Archer guy. This thread was ludicrous, because I know I felt nothing towards the Dark Archer guy. His past, his thinking, his vendetta, etc. was explained all too quickly and as such he was a plastic bad guy who made me feel neither compassion or fear. His motivation for stalking Oliver's lover/friend/trainee was plastic and unoriginal. Better that they should have thought ahead and planted some Dark Archer seeds during Season 9.1 to make him more interesting.

    The other thread involved Zod and Clark, and to an extent, Lois. That is a more interesting one, but once again, "Smallville" has turned it into something rather contrived. They did the same thing with the Lex-Clark relationship - contrived things to force them apart. The worst thing they've done with Zod is make him seem human. He wears ordinary clothes. Brings flowers to an injured girl (Lois) in the hospital. Speaks with a British Isle accent (Scottish? Irish? Welsh?). This Zod should be hanging out in a bar with his army, getting drunk each night. Do he and his army have jobs? What do they do when they're not brooding and complaining about not having powers? I'm picturing some of them working at McDonalds, actually ("here's your bloody, where are my powers?").

    So now that Clark won't help Zod & co. attain their powers, Zod not-so-subtly threatens Clark via Lois. Fair enough - not a bad way to up the ante, although at the end of Season 9.1, Zod and his pals were kneeling before Kal-El. They're very fickle. BTW, wonder how many people noticed the fake evening cityscape behind Zod when Clark came calling to warn him to leave Lois alone. There wasn't a single twinkling, moving Vancouver city light - clearly a fake. Some other things:

    1- A plug for the upcoming Green Lantern movie! Yes... Chloe mentions Coast City. Woo-hoo!

    Agreed. I dig that concept art.

    2- At the beginning, when Lois & Clark exit the theater and start smooching, Clark's five o'clock shadow is a bit too easy to see. Guess he hasn't perfected the Clark Kent shaving technique introduced by John Byrne's Superman reboot with the heat vision bouncing off the mirror.

    3- Isn't the Kent farmhouse (Clark's home) locked? Zod has no superpowers. How did he get in? Guess Clark's using Lex's security system.

    The password, lamentably, is "OPEN SAYSAZOD!"

    4- For awhile, Mia wore a red top like Speedy from the comics.

    5- Nice scene when Clark is "faster than a speeding arrow" and intercepts the arrows meant for Mia. But wait - last we saw of Clark, he was hanging out with Chloe in his regular clothes. You mean he stopped along the way for his Black Superguy uniform? Isn't that like when Elaine stopped for Jujy fruit before seeing her friend in the hospital?

    This episode really did nothing for me and deserves a *D+*.

    Coming attractions: it's the big one, Elizabeth! "Smallville" couldn't get the JLA right, so now they have their sights set on screwing up the JSA. If you ask me, Hawkman looks a little short, but let's wait and see. I have very low expectations...

    I think we may be surprised...

    Don't forget to check out the updated KO Count.


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