SMALLVILLE - 9.17 - "Upgrade" Review (

By:Joe Oesterle
Review Date: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Source: Mania

Seems to me they were a week late with the title of this episode. “Upgrade” would have been a perfectly suitable title for last week’s show. Everything about “Checkmate” was an upgrade to everything Smallville had been all season long. Better writing, better directing, better acting, better characters, better special effects. Friday’s effort was not so much of a downgrade, but more of a same old thing – and frankly when they proved they could be so much more it was disappointing (although sadly not surprising) to realize last week’s endeavor was a fluke, and not the new direction.

How many times do we need to see some other variant on the old reliable Green Kryptonite? To be honest, using Kryptonite has always felt like a cop out to me anyway, but over the course of 9 years, I realize it deserves to play a part in the story now and then. Watching Clark go all bad boy under the influence of Red K has been done here in Smallville, and by now I think it’s safe to say, it’s been done to death.

Granted, if you’re going to feature a character (Metallo) whose very lifeblood is dependant upon pieces of Clark’s native planet to survive, then by all means, let’s see some Green K, but the only reason the Red K was even introduced into the plot was so that Clark would share some of his Kryptonian heritage secrets with Zod, and frankly it would have been so much more interesting if Zod had duped Clark into sharing those secrets with him, rather than copping out and having Clark do naughty things while under the influence.

Zod’s biggest, and deadliest advantage over Clark has always been his ruthlessness. It would have been much more effective, and ultimately much more devastating to our hero if Zod had somehow fooled Clark into believing that they were both working towards the same goal.

Clearly Zod senses Clark’s trusting nature, and as a brilliant strategist who would stop at nothing to accomplish his goals, Zod would think nothing of manipulating Clark into believing he wanted to help his Kryptonian brother assist mankind. Soon Clark and Zod would be acting like brothers, even to the dismay of Chloe and Ollie. Little by little, Clark would bring Zod into his world, and share Jor El’s secrets with his newfound friend. And all the while of course, the devious major would be plotting how and when to eventually betray the Big Boy Scout. An episode of Red K does nothing but establish a quick and cheap connection between Clark and Zod, while a 6-week covert plan ending in deceit would cripple Clark both physically and emotionally.

Ok, so they didn’t go that way, and unfortunately for fans who would prefer better thought out writing, they’re not heading that way any time soon. But what they did lay out seemed a little puzzling to me as well.

Why did Clark and Zod head to Seattle to cause a -64 degree snowstorm? Was that solely done to create a Fortress of Solitude, and if so, why did Clark pick Seattle? Seems kind of arbitrary to me. Was it, as I suspect, simply because someone with authority thought it would be a real cool visual to have a circling helicopter shot of the two super-powered aliens standing on top of the Space Needle? Why not do the North Pole thing? What would it have taken those two guys to get there? Another 4 minutes? Was this just Clark doing impish Red K things, because that’s what happens when he snorts Red K now? Again, it seemed random and unexplained.

I did enjoy Brian Austin Green again in his reprisal as Metallo. The guy can act, and that can’t be said for every guest these guys introduce. I enjoyed the romantic tension between the John Corben character and Lois, but again, I’m starting to think less Lois would be a great way to go. Lately I’ve been annoyed with her character. The writers obviously don’t take her seriously, which is fine now and then, but we’re also supposed to believe she is a respected journalist, but we are never shown any proof of that. We do know she likes donuts and she really gets in to dress up during her sexy time. Other than that, she’s an awkward fighter, and is knocked out almost every episode.

By my count Lois Lane has received more concussions than your average NFL quarterback, and those guys are getting tossed to the turf on an average of 5-6 times a game. Maybe all that head trauma explains why she hasn’t figured out Clark is the Blur yet.

And while we weren’t treated to the “bad guy slips on a banana peel” ending, we were treated to another annoying Smallville ploy. This one is called, “do something kind of epic in the final two minutes of the show,” but fail to pay it off with any real drama next week.

Again, I’m fully expecting to face the wrath of a certain percentage the loyal and bitey Smallville faithful, but I don’t and never will understand their reactionary fury. All I’ve been preaching is for episodes like we had last week. Tight, action-packed, well-written, current visual effects. They’ve proven they can deliver the goods once; so why is it so unfair to expect that type of show on a weekly basis?

I love this character. I wish more of this creative crew cared for him as much.



If you’re a fan of animation, check out “Joe’s Weekly Ani-Rants.” They’re not weekly, but they are animated, ranty, and funny. Feel free to search YouTube for all other animation by Joe Oesterle.

Mania Grade: C
Maniac Grade: B+
Title: Smallville
Episode Title: Upgrade
Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Cassidy Freeman, Callum Blue, Justin Hartley, Brian Austin Green
Written by: Andrew Landis and Julia Swift
Directed by: Mike Rohl
Network: The CW Network, LLC
Series: Smallville