Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 14: "Revenge of the Alien - Part Two"Reviewed by: Scotty V
As I watched the montage of scenes from other episodes featuring the alien entity at the beginning of this episode, I'm reminded of how silly the effect is when Superboy is hit with the third rocket in part 1 of this episode. First, Superboy's hit and the first rocket doesn't affect him at all. Then, the second rocket knocks him from his flight but the third seemingly knocks him unconscious. But when the third rocket hits the van and explodes next to Superboy, the effects people have inserted an obvious dummy dressed in red and blue and it's really laughable.
We open the episode in Dr. Peterson's office, where he is once again examining Superboy. The Boy of Steel tells him he feels fine, but the Doc isn't so sure because Superboy did black out for a minute earlier that morning when the rocket exploded. Peterson reminds us of the meteor rock powered laser he used last episode so that we're not surprised when they bring it back during the climax and we also get a bit of foreshadowing when the Professor wonders aloud how extremely low temperatures will affect the hero. The Doctor wants to go to the lab to perform some extreme tests on Superboy, but Supes says he'll have to take a rain check and speeds away.
Thankfully we are once again treated to the Emmy award stylings of Dana Mark as Dean Lockhardt when she is introduced to Jonathan, who is acting out of character due to his possession by the alien. Every line reading from Mark is excruciating, but the conversation reveals the Dean has great expectations for Clark, even though alien-infested Jonathan says he "Doesn't give a damn" and wants "that bum to work the farm." When Clark enters the newsroom, Jonathan tells him that Superboy should hang up his cape because he allowed the officer to die in the explosion. Lana protests, saying that the policeman blew himself up while he was shooting at Superboy but Jonathan says it doesn't matter because Superboy needs to preserve life at all costs. Jonathan complains of a headache, saying Lana will take him home and Clark is left visibly upset, having been spurned by his father.
Detective Harris asks Clark to send Superboy his way when he next sees him and almost immediately, Clark changes to Superboy and catches up with the Detective on his way out of the press office. Harris asks Superboy if he has any idea why Sergeant Johnson would have tried to kill him. Harris further says he knew the officer and that he wasn't a head case. He says that after the break-in at the cryogenics lab, Johnson just seemed to change. Superboy is shocked to hear there was a burglary at the lab and goes to check on his freezer deposit, discovering his worst fear; the extinguisher containing the alien is gone. Meanwhile, Pa Kent and Lana are driving toward the dorms, when Pa tells Lana to turn right up ahead. Lana tells him if they turn right they're only heading back into the woods but Pa insists he has a surprise for Clark back there. When Lana is forced to pull off the road and make a break for it, Pa tackles her and drags her into the woods.
Clark heads back to the dorm to find T.J. - that's right, T.J.'s actually in this episode. If he were like Jason Alexander of Seinfeld (and not much else) fame, he'd have gone into Larry David's office at the first sign of not being included in an episode and demanded it never happen again or he'd want to be written out of the show. But then, at least Alexander is funny. Calvert has absolutely nothing going for him as T.J., which is why he's taken out of the cast in season two no doubt. Unfortunately we still have the next episode in sequence "Stand Up and Get Knocked Down," which is a bit of a T.J./Jim Calvert showcase and I really wish they'd have knocked that one down during the planning stage, but at least they realized their mistake with Calvert and T.J. in the second season.
T.J. and friends are watching the news, where Clark sees his father on a roof having taken Lana hostage waiting to see Superboy. Clark calls Dr. Peterson and as Superboy tells the Doctor he needs his help and then flies off to the standoff where the alien has strapped enough C4 to Pa's body to destroy the entire building, killing everyone but Superboy. Superboy promises the alien that if he'll release Lana and leave his father's body that he'll allow the alien to take hold of him instead. The alien is doubtful; claiming "I've tried to get into your body, I couldn't," but Superboy tells him he could let him in and gives his word that he will. The alien agrees, though he claims to be sickened by Superboy's nobility, removes the C4 vest, releases Lana and allows Superboy to fly him to Peterson's lab where Jonathan can get the medical attention he needs.
Once at the lab, the alien exits Pa Kent's body and Superboy, true to his word, lets the alien enter him. Unlike other hosts however, Superboy is able to fight against the alien's control once the being is inside him, and he tells Peterson to activate the laser, thereby weakening him. The alien regains control, attacking the Doctor and demanding he shut off the laser. When Peterson refuses, Superboy grapples with him, the alien growing angrier by the second. Once Peterson is knocked unconscious, Pa Kent takes over and pummels Superboy's body until Clark regains control. Clark tells his father to drag him into a nearby cryogenic freezer, where, once inside, Clark releases the alien who was begging to be released, only to see its gaseous form freeze solid and shatter to bits. The Professor pulls Superboy from the freezer and tells Jonathan the radiation poisoning seems to be subsiding.
Our final scene has Pa Kent walking with Lana, apologizing for his behavior but Lana assures him that everyone knows it wasn't Jonathan who was acting that way. Furthermore, Lana knows that Mr. Kent could never do anything that wasn't decent or up front and the two hug good-bye. Pa then shakes the hand of T.J., who remarks they need to stop having such long conversations, and then boards Clark's university minivan for the ride to the airport. Clark tells his father that Superboy was able to explain things to Detective Harris, clearing both Pa's and Sergeant Johnson's names. Jonathan remarks that Peterson grew on him and that both he and Harris are nice "fellas," and Clark thanks his father for being there when he needed him.
Rating - 4 (out of 5): So far, I've discovered that Steve won't really allow me to do half ratings. Once before I wanted to score an episode some number, plus a half but Steve-o rounded me up to the nearest whole number. In this case then, we can all thank him for the loss of .5 this time round. I would have scored this episode four and a half, but since it's not worth a five, I have to take it down to the even four. There are a few reasons why I can't in good conscience give this episode a perfect score, though it comes pretty darned close.
This episode is really fun to watch from beginning to end and it doesn't really fall prey to the detriment that most episodes have succumbed to thus far. Since there aren't any guest stars, other than Dana Mark as Dean Lockhardt and she's part of the reason we can't get a full five out of this one, we don't have to worry about the horrible casting they've done with guest stars. Oftentimes, the actors they brought in for this show to full the parts of various cops and villains have really been the downfall of the episodes and since we don't have any here, we don't suffer them. Next, and this isn't unlike another young Clark Kent show and it's female co-star, we have Jim Calvert's thankful absence as T.J. for most of this episode and because of it, the show is better. Maybe this was where they started to realize they might do well to can the character all-together, who knows? The two scenes T.J. does appear in though, with the very few lines he has, actually add to the plot in this case and Calvert actually comes off as genuine and real, as opposed to his usual annoying fakeness.
Though I usually find Stuart Whitman's Jonathan Kent to be a bit of a bore and not much at all like the uplifting, inspirational figure I expect, in this episode Whitman's characterization much improves. In fact, in the very episode before this, which was the first part to this arc, I sill thought he came off as a bit of a jerk and I was glad to see that turn around. He's also very good as the villain when the alien has control of him. Whitman comes off as very menacing and a little creepy, especially when he's in the car with Lana telling her how terrible it would be for Clark if something were to happen to her. Part of him pulling off the creep might be because he often comes off a bit of a standoffish guy so maybe he was miscast here as the father of the greatest hero and nicest guy ever. But we'll leave it where I started, Whitman much improved as of this episode and that's a good thing.
There are a few negatives regarding Clark's decisions in this episode that must detract from the possible perfect score it might have otherwise received. First, when Clark sees Jonathan on T.V. holding Lana hostage and surrounded by police who are trying to talk him down Clark picks up the phone to call...Professor Peterson? Okay, I understand that the idea was to set up the climax and that yes, Clark needed Peterson to do that. But I fully expected Clark to say, "Ma, I just wanted to let you know that you might see Pa on T.V. and well, he's not really himself." It's possible for us to figure maybe Clark just didn't have the time, but then, he did call Peterson. And then, when he gets to the lab where Peterson is supposed to be prepared, why does Peterson just stand there waiting for Superboy to lose control completely, rather than turn on the laser, as we must figure that's why Clark called him in advance? It's almost as if the writers wanted to hammer home the point that's what had happened multiple times when in fact, one or the other would have been fine. Actually, I think it would have worked better had Clark called Martha and then surprised us with Peterson but only if they had Peterson do his part on his own. Superboy could have thanked him when he came out of the freezer: "Good job Professor, that was exactly what we needed to do."
Finally, once again we have a case in Superman related media where Superma...uhh boy has killed a sentient being. Unfortunately this is never okay. Smallville does it constantly and this is one of a few times where the Superboy series did it as well. The only reason I didn't deduct another full point here is because of the other values they made sure to keep in place. Superboy did promise to let the alien inside him and he does deliver on that promise. The alien isn't happy about it but Superboy never promised he'd like it, only that he would let him in. I also like when we get to see Clark using his intelligence to trick the villain or solve problems and it works very well here so we've offset the killing just a bit. Furthermore, it's possible that Superboy knows the alien will survive as pieces of itself inside the freezer, but then that brings up the whole irresponsibility of how the alien got loose in the first place. Since Clark originally put him in deep freeze and the alien was able to survive and go on a killing rampage, Clark would know the cold might not kill the alien but then he'd also know that leaving it in the freezer could be incredibly dangerous should it escape again.
So, with a few loose ends, a few mischaracterizations and just one too many appearances by Dean Lockhardt, "Revenge of the Alien - Part Two" falls just short of the perfect score. If it makes you feel better, you can call this one a 4.5, or you can call it a 3.5 depending on how deeply offended you are that Superboy may have killed or that you had to watch Dana Mark act. If you fall on the side of leniency for the possible killing and irresponsibility with a potentially lethal villain and if you decide to forgive the casting people for Lockhardt, don't be concerned. For you'll most certainly have the chance to dock plenty-o-points next time when we "Stand Up..." for another episode in the Adventures of Superboy only to "Get Knocked Down."
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