Smallville: Mania TV Review (

By:Joe Oesterle
Review Date: Saturday, February 05, 2011

It’s been a long layoff in between episodes of Smallville, and after watching Friday’s newest installment I couldn’t help but ask myself, why? Not why was the show gone so long, or the even why did it bother to come back. The answer to both questions have to do with network revenue. The “why” in this case is directed specifically at all of the unforgivable writing gaffes that have plagued this show from its inception, but seem so much more galling a full decade later. You’d think with that with so many years under their belt, and a healthy vacation behind them, the creative team could come back with an episode that didn’t insult the intelligence of the average viewer. Sadly it seems the average Smallville audience member has either accepted a healthy dose of insults as part of the viewing experience, or worse yet, doesn’t realize they are being affronted.

And so this review will focus on the “whys” of “Collateral,” this week’s Smallville. Let’s go through this in the chronological order of each offense.
#1) After Chloe appears to morph herself through a brick wall in Ollie’s asylum, why does Ollie point out to Chloe he’s in a straight jacket and can’t get out? Leaving out the 1989 special effects and simply concentrating on the logic of the situation, if a girl I knew appeared to me through a solid wall – mind you, this is a girl who has never walked through a solid wall in my presence before – I’d assume she could also get me out of the looney bin as easily as she got in. Particularly when she’s not sweating the fact I’m in a straightjacket. But you know what… that one is almost forgivable when we consider the rest of the grievances.
#2) I understand all the heroes were in an unconscious state, thanks to evil government forces, but it was never explained how they all were able to share the same collective comatose experience. I may have suspended my disbelief if they ever took half a minute to explain this highly unlikely scenario, but they made no attempt whatsoever, and just assumed we’d all buy into the fact every hero can interact with each other in their private dreams.
#3) On the rooftop, Chloe has already convinced Ollie he was caught in a construct of his own mind, and is now trying to do the same for Clark. I realize there are virtual enemies running up the stairs to stop everyone from escaping, so why doesn’t Chloe quickly just show Clark a cool trick to help convince him? Making herself multiple Chloes would have been a good trick. At least reproducing herself in that way would have served a purpose. (More on that later.)
#4) Here’s a big one. Chloe convinces Ollie and he makes the “leap of faith” with her off the roof, leaving a powerless Clark to fend for himself on the rooftop. How does Clark manage to escape? The only way down from that roof now is the very door two very angry virtual security guards are trying to bust down. Seriously. How did Clark get by them?
#5) How is it that Black Canary is still able to fight? It was pointed out the bad guys took away Ollie’s equilibrium, thus making him unsure of his aim, and therefore his fighting ability. They also took away Clark’s superpowers, a much harder procedure I would guess than messing with an ordinary man’s balance, so how come Black Canary still possesses the martial arts abilities to hold her own in a fight with Morpheus/Chloe? Better yet, Canary still has her aim, as depicted when Morphyloe makes the dagger stop inches from her face. Yes they took her sonic voice boom thing, but that’s like just taking Clark’s strength but leaving his speed, heat vision, invulnerability etc.
#6) Why send in a covert operative disguised as Chloe when that plan gets thwarted exactly one minute after hatching the plan. (One minute, I’m not kidding.) From a writing stand point it makes no sense. The only reason you send in a bogus Chloe (or a Bhlogoe) is to fool the protagonists for a reasonable amount of time. One minute is not reasonable. It invalidates the writing choice mere seconds after it’s been established.
#7) How come, after just telling Clark he knows Chloe better than anyone, it’s Lois who spots the Bhlogoe?
#8) Why is Ollie still using that annoying fake voice generator thing? He came out publicly as the Green Arrow a long time ago. Why would he still feel the need to alter his voice – especially since he’s no longer wearing his sunglasses at night?
#9) Why, as Lois and Clark reach the rooftop, does the Bhlogoe decide to multiply into 7 more versions of Chloe. If anything that move could have only reinforced Clark’s decision to jump off the roof, since clearly eight Chloe’s would not be a possibility in the “real world.” (Unless that world was the Seventh Ring of Hell.)
#10) Why didn’t the writers do anything with these multiple Chloes? Was that whole scene an attempt to scream at the dumber fans who may have missed the obvious attempt at homage to The Matrix, “Hey in case you missed it, we’re ripping off The Matrix this episode! See, this is the Agent Smith scene! Get it!?!?”
#11) Why would a writer who clearly doesn’t understand the meaning of the movie, The Matrix, think he has a right to pay respect to that film? The Matrix was more than a cool special effects movie, and Smallville couldn’t even get the effects done right.
#12) Why do they bother teasing us with fake flying scenes? Granted, this homage to Christopher and Margo actually worked on an emotional level, but how many times will they play this game with us?
#13) Where was Aquaman? He was in that mind trap too. This one is easy. They didn’t want to pay for the actor to show up to utter one or two lines. Still, that should have been thought of before he was written into the plot to begin with.
There were a couple of other bright spots in this completely insipid program, though not enough to warrant watching this show to begin with. As I just mentioned, I did enjoy the tip of the cap to the flying scene from the 1978 film, and I also was happy to see a Joe Kubert-inspired Hawkman pencil sketch in Carter’s journal, and that’s where the highlights end for me.
I’m willing to put up with overly sappy romantic dialogue that sounds as if it were written by an overly dramatic and not very talented freshmen girl, and I’m happy to believe the Black Canary can summersault through a hailstorm of machine gun fire and never get nicked, but what I can’t tolerate is the sloppy, stupid, lazy, ponderous and careless scripts.
Welcome back Smallville. It’s like you never left.

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Mania Grade: C-
TV Series: Smallville
Episode: Collateral
Starring: Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Allison Mack, and Alaina Huffman
Written by: Jordan Hawley
Directed by: Morgan Beggs
Network: The CW
Series: Smallville