SMALLVILLE - 9.5 - "Roulette" Review (

By:Joe Oesterle
Review Date: Sunday, October 25, 2009
Source: Mania

At Least They Borrowed From Something Good.

Now this is more like it. It wasn’t perfect. If you want superhero perfection on TV these days you have to check out Superman’s pal Batman in Cartoon Network’s The Brave and the Bold, but this show is definitely taking steps in the right direction.

Hopefully it was just a coincidence that Roulette was the best installment of Smallville this season, and the character of Clark was reduced to the B plot, because Tom Welling does a great job when given good material. This week though, it was the Ollie Show, and Justin Hartley once again played conflicted good guy/anti-hero/ douchey poor little rich kid as well as anyone in the business.

I could start off by complaining that the entire plot of the episode borrowed heavily from the Michael Douglas/Sean Penn 1997 thriller, “The Game.” I could also complain that the scene where Ollie is trapped in a coffin with a flashlight was almost a lighter shot-for-shot rip-off of Quentin Tarantino’s 2005 CSI episode “Grave Danger,” as well as Tarantino’s the Bride’s own coffin adventures, in Kill Bill Vol. 2 - but why bother bringing that up?



Enter The Dragon Lady.

Our story opens with our favorite self-destructive former archer doing his best to drink and gamble his inner demons away, or at the very least, lessen the sting of their psychic stabbings. Enter the dangerously sexy woman in red with her very own “I’m not to be trusted” dragon tattoo emblazoned provocatively enough on her back.

She seduces Ollie but not without the warning of “”trust your instincts.” Perhaps he was that liquored up, perhaps he was feeling that horny, and more likely it was the combination of the two, but Ollie, who has been hell bent on his own destruction since his involvement in the “death” of Lex Luthor, (Come on, no one here really thinks ol’ Baldie Locks has really shuffled off his mortal coil do you?) chose to “play the game,” and once again, borrowing from The Matrix, which happily borrowed from Lewis Carrol’s, Alice, Mr. Queen pops a pill, and he’ll have to pay the piper.



Poor Pouty Lonelyhearted Lois

Meanwhile, Lois is once again feeling a little sorry for herself, and it’s up to Clark to lend a supporting ear, but apparently dispensing advice to the lovelorn is not what Jor-El has been teaching his young man of steel. By the way, for a smoking hot girl, Lois certainly mopes around a lot; and it mostly the moping of the lonely-hearted. Come on, I don’t care if it’s Smallville or Metropolis - wherever anyone who looks like Erica Durance is, she’s probably not spending too many weekends on the couch between trips to the laundry room.

Watching Clark twitch impatiently with one super ear to the shark movies and another to anyone in need of help was fun to watch. That is the exact kind of Lois/Clark dynamic that should be more of the norm. Lois takes Clark for granted, expecting him to want to watch movies with her, and hear all about her dramatic ex-boyfriend/beer pong troubles. Clark is too nice, and more importantly all too aware that if he gives Lois the newshound a reason to start sniffing around, she’s likely to start barking up his super tree. Nicely written. Light relationship anxiety when compared to genuine life and death anxiety.



How about Some New Writing Tricks?

As the game goes on for Oliver Queen, he finds himself interrogated for a crime he didn’t commit. I also like to point out; it was also a crime if anyone watching the episode actually thought Veronica/Roulette was actually dead. Again, maybe I’m nitpicking, but I would prefer some smarter writing tricks from these guys once and a while.

As luck would have it, Ollie is visited by a lawyer who is well aware of the scam being perpetrated against his client, and just when his “attorney” comforts Ollie with the fact that his fortune (which he apparently conveniently keeps in a single account) is still intact, he leaves, locking Ollie inside a gas chamber as he watches his billions (which as I mentioned before, he conveniently keeps in a single account) drain away before his very eyes.



Goth Dude in a Black Superman Tee Shirt to the Rescue

Cue heroic music, Dah, da daaahhh, and it’s Super-whatever-he’s-calling-himself right now to the rescue.

Now it’s off to Chloe’s, who wasn’t nearly as whiny as she’s been lately, and Clark let’s her know that Lois is aware Ollie has been having suicidal thoughts. Chloe however points Clark to a whole other, more pressing than a best-friend-thinking-of-killing-off-himself agenda. The dead, time-traveling Kandorian assassins are among us, and that can’t be good news.

Lois it seems has two distinct personality traits on this show. One is to sit around on Saturday night, feel sorry for her beautiful self and stuff her face with ice cream. The other Lois however, goes out on her own - safety be damned, and faces things head on. It was the latter Lois who gets herself caught up in a sexy girl-on-girl fight and eventually becomes a captive in red dress bondage. Yay for proactive Lois, and double yay for red dress bondage!



What, Me Complain?

Am I going to nitpick again? You bet Lois’s red dress bondage sweet ass I am. Now I know Oliver Queen is a bow and arrow expert, but I’ve seen this guy in the comics too, and a marksman is a marksman. Am I expected to believe that Ollie with a gun, no farther then 15 feet away, wouldn’t be able to shoot Roulette right between the eyes, or wherever else this world class aimer wants to hit her….. FROM THAT DISTANCE? Come on… keep the situation real. The Oliver Queen I’ve come to know would have been able to rescue Lois and incapacitate Roulette with a paper clip if conditions called for it. Maybe that doesn’t sound “real” but that kind of ability is in the Oliver Queen playbook. Did I want to see something that far fetched? No chance, but my point is, Ollie could have easily taken the bad girl out, and saved the innocent girl with one gunshot.



Hey, Look at That… Some New Writing Tricks!

Roulette of course has been playing Ollie all along, and she has been taunting him with clues as to who set him up in this entire risky diversion. We the audience, or at least me, were/was set up to believe it was Lex Luthor all along. After all, we were thrown what turned out to be a credible red herring with Lex’s coffin next to Ollie’s. The answer to the question that alluded Ollie throughout the broadcast of who wanted to see him suffer more than anyone else was facing him right in the mirror.

Now perhaps I could cheap out and say the only reason I didn’t figure out it was Chloe pulling the strings the whole time is that Smallville has never really been a show that challenges it’s viewers. Perhaps if Smallville was more of a thinking person’s show, like LOST, perhaps then I would have had my Spidey senses up and I’d have been looking for a twist. Perhaps I should have, but you know what? I didn’t - and they got me.

This is exactly what I need more of – what this show needs more of. The plot may have been a tad familiar, but the writing was sharp. This was the best episode this season, and now I have the hope believe things will get better as the season progresses. (I will still retain my right to maintain a prove-me-wrong stance on this matter.)

I will confess that the renewed friendship of Clark and Oliver might make things a little too harmonious for the show’s own good. After all, conflict makes for compelling drama. I do however get the sense if these Kandorians start causing trouble soon, we may have an entire super-powered team with all kinds of super powered drama to get us through the season. I’m looking forward to more Justice Leaguers joining in the fray.



Signing Off

And so fair citizens of Smallville, until next week, once again this is Joe Oesterle, your mild-mannered blogging, reviewer guy saying, “There's a strong streak of good in you, Superman. But then nobody's perfect... almost nobody.”



Joe Oesterle is an award-winning writer and illustrator, but what he often fails to mention is that many of those awards were won on a New Jersey boardwalk. Pick up his latest books "Weird California" and "Weird Las Vegas" in any Barnes and Noble near you, and look for his next book, "Weird Hollywood," due out soon. And be sure to check out his latest humorous animated video, entitled, “The Balloon Boy Song.”

Mania Grade: B
Title: Smallville
Episode Title: Roulette
Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Steph Song
Written by: Genevieve Sparling
Directed by: Kevin Fair
Network: The CW Network
Series: Smallville