SMALLVILLE - 9.10 - "Disciple" Review (

By:Joe Oesterle
Review Date: Sunday, January 31, 2010
Source: Mania

Now that’s what Smallville should be every week. Unfortunately it can’t be. I’m not sure why it can’t be, but they haven’t managed put out this level of episode in a consistent manner in 9 years, so I don’t expect them to start doing it now, but that’s how Smallville should be every week.

As many readers of this column are aware, I always grade Smallville on the “Smallville Curve.” The truth is, if I didn’t grade Smallville on a curve, I’d be handing out far too many C minuses and D plusses to enjoy reviewing this show. Well dammit, this time, for the first time since I stepped into this role, I am not using my Smallville Curve and I’m still giving the episode an A minus. Why not just a straight A some of you may wonder? Come on, I’ve given B’s to plenty of show that deserve C’s here just because like many of you, I willfully overlooked some all too common gaps in logic that this show tends to drop in our laps like a hot steaming pile of Krypto crap, and asks us not to notice. This time I graded Smallville like I would any other show. I treated it like a big boy. A big boy with superpowers even, and it held up. A minus is a great grade, and it may have been an “A” except Chloe has finally gotten on my last nerve.

I know many of you have been fed up with or even hated Chloe for a while, but I’m fairly new to the Smallville party, so she hadn’t completely bugged me yet. Last night I just couldn’t take her. Maybe it was just the weakness of her character when juxtaposed to the brilliance of Zod, but something snapped in me last night and I now completely understand the anti-Chloe bias I read so much about.

Plus what happened to her looks? Chloe at least used to be kind of sexy/cute but in this episode at least she looked kind of like the late 1990’s Florence Henderson. Which is to say not bad for an old lady, and still doable, but Allison Mack is only in her late 20’s. She shouldn’t be giving me the “used to be a kinda hot mom” vibe.

Anyway, great story, nice cinematography, enjoyable light moments, legitimately tense moments. Why can’t it be like this every week? How about this? Why not just have Smallville air every 3 weeks? Because maybe these guys need that much time in between scripts to give us the kind of television superhero adventure we expect when your male lead is freaking Superman. Whatever the reason, damn “Disciple” was a great show.

Here’s what I think it came down to – the villains. It’s the rogues who usually figure in to whether an episode of this particular program fails or succeeds, and last night we had two excellent baddies to help pull the plow.

First of all Callum Blue’s Zod was more menacing than Zod has ever been anywhere; TV, movies, cartoons, comic books - this was a creepy, menacing, and seriously single-mindedly evil Zod – and yet, still not much more physically powerful than your average human.

Somehow a very human-powered Zod managed to give the very super-powered Clark some very Michael Emerson-styled willies. Blue’s performance last night may have been the finest performance in the history of this program. Granted, this show isn’t likely to churn out very many Oscar winners, but Blue blew me away. There was something a little different, a little unhinged about Zod in this episode. Let’s face it, there are only a handful of surviving members of Krypton, and again, they can’t leap tall buildings, bend steel in their bare hands or turn the course of mighty rivers, they’re just a group of pissed off soldiers, but they are led by a psychotic megalomaniac. And just as Christopher Reeve made us believe a man could fly all those many years ago, Callum Blue made me believe Zod is a deadly adversary for a man who can fly.

And let’s not forget this episode’s other featured nasty man – Steve Bacic as Ollie’s unsavory mentor, the Dark Archer. It’s nice to know even though Ollie may not respect his former master’s ways, he still is obviously enough inspired by his facial hair to one day copy it for his own chin whiskers.

And am I the only one who flashed to the evil goatee sporting John Robinson from the sixties classic sci-fi show, “Lost in Space” when I saw the Dark Archer? Please, if any of you had the same thought let me know. Now I want to go on Hulu to watch that episode.

I’d also like to extend kudos to the way Ollie and Mia’s relationship is coming along. We’ve all known for some time that the only reason Green Arrow is even in this show is because DC wouldn’t give them Batman, and that makes sense. Batman is too important a property to be constantly lent out for someone else’s show. It also makes sense that Smallville turned Green Arrow (who after all started out in the comics as the poor man’s Batman) into Batman.

The inclusion of Mia and her role in Ollie’s life as the lighthearted sidekick who is there to keep Oliver Queen from succumbing to his inner darkness mirrors exactly what the comic books did to the Caped Crusader back in the early 40’s when they introduced a certain brightly colored, wisecracking 8 year old crime fighting partner into the Batman’s world. I really enjoyed the maroon hoodie with the yellow lining that Mia was sporting at the end of the program. Very Boy Wonder-esque.

If I have one complaint about Green Arrow it’s the Raybans. Sure Corey Hart used to wear his sunglasses at night, but he wasn’t fighting crime with a bow and arrow.

Seriously, aside from the fact that the sunglasses look lame and I’d much rather see the traditional domino mask, it’s got to be a bitch aiming at a target 50 yards away at midnight on a rooftop with sunglasses on. Give G.A. a domino, huh?

Now I’ll close by saying I’m completely geeked up for next Friday’s “Absolute Justice.” I won’t lie to you guys though. As much as I want to love it, there’s a huge piece of me that fears there can’t be two great Smallville’s in a row. That said, if there ever was a chance where I didn’t have to use the “Smallville Curve” two weeks in a row, I’d say we’re potentially in that zone.

I’m looking forward to it.



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. Check out some of Joe’s other writing, illustrations, animations, and photography. If he can’t get a blister doing it, Joe does it.

Mania Grade: A-
Title: Smallville
Episode Title: Disciple
Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Callum Blue, Justin Hartley, Steve Bacic, Elise Gatien
Written by: Jordan Hawley
Directed by: Mairzee Almas
Network: The CW Network
Series: Smallville