Smallville: Beacon Review (

By:Joe Oesterle
Review Date: Sunday, February 13, 2011


The good news after following a show like last week’s crapfest was Smallville could only get better this week. The better news is this episode, Beacon, improved by leaps and bounds over the previous offending episode, Collateral.
   Now before we start handing out medals here, let me point out that being “leaps and bounds” better than absolutely sucking, does not automatically qualify anyone for an Emmy award, and this installment still had a few trademark Smallville gaps in logic and a fair amount of their trademark cringe-worthy dialogue I’m fairly convinced they think passes for clever. For the first time in a long time after viewing this long drawn-out coming-of age boy-to-man-to-Superman saga I was not angry enough to kick my television in. By the way, note to self, remember to invoice Mania for the 3 dozen tv sets that do have my boot hole through the screen. I’m going both broke and crazy reviewing this damned show.
   Ok, first things first, it was great to see John Glover resume the mantle of Lionel Luthor once again. Right off the bat we are treated to a healthy dose the aforementioned tortured spoken word the scribes of this show love to saddle upon their actors. In the course of the opening 5 minutes we can clearly see the superiority of John Glover’s thespian abilities over those of Erica Durance. Again, Durance can play a convincing enough romantic interest at times, but Glover proves his chops here by taking uninspired drivel and making it seem as if he thought, believed it and convincingly relayed it verbally. As opposed to Durance’s acting method – which seems to be, learn her lines and then practice in front of a mirror which pout or smile to use that makes her feel the prettiest.
   Meanwhile, another veteran actor, Annette O’Toole, is leading an anti-VRA rally as Martha Kent. This naturally and obviously leads to an assassination attempt, but instead of the gunman being from the opposite side of the political fence as we were led to believe, or even a pawn in the way too forgotten Darkseid subplot they should be focusing on, it came as a genuine surprise to find out that adorable tyrant tyke, Lil Lex is still growing in both height and hate.
   Clark discovers the bullet that only wounded his mother (thanks to her bullet proof vest) was made out of Kryptonite, and therefore turns to dust on impact… I was not aware of that little factoid, but fair enough. He also deduces, from the graffiti left behind at the site of the shooting, the would-be killer is Lil Lex himself. Clark is joined by Tess and Ollie before zooming off to a trip to the Fortress of Solitude. A trip he never completes, because on his way there, he realizes Tess is planning on utilizing the Phantom Zone crystal to send Lil Lex and big Lionel to the Kryptonian holding cell.
   Here’s where the logic got blurry, but let’s give them credit for making us wait a full half hour into the show, before I received my first bout of mental whiplash caused by the writer’s faulty common sense. Here it is; why, if Clark readily admits he threw Slade into the Phantom Zone, only until he figures out what to do with him, can’t he have the same rationalization when it comes to other genuine threats to truth, justice and the American way? Threats like the Luthors.
   I suppose you, dear reader, might be able to justify this by saying, yeah, Clark did it once, but he never intends to do it again. But I’d shoot back, why not? If the Phantom Zone is just a holding station, and proves no other physical threat to its captives, why not chuck Lil Lex and Lionel in there as well? At least until he can, like he’s doing in the case of Slade, figure out what to do with them.
   If only he had the Lionel Mansion would still be standing, and better yet, we would have been spared Smallville ripping off another piece of another classic sci-fi/adventure movie – Star Wars. Why these writers feel compelled to ham-handedly steal from much greater material is no mystery, I would just prefer it was done with a little more subtlety or not done at all. Lionel’s urging to Lil Lex to allow his son to let him teach him how to harness the power of hatred into a strength couldn’t have been any more forced if Glover wore a black helmet and was wielding a light saber.
   As it was, Lil Lex decided to set fire to an entire 20-room edifice with three bottles of what I’ll assume is different colored brandy. I’m not saying you couldn’t take out a large building with that tiny amount of alcohol, but I would bet either Lionel or Martha would have gained consciousness before the whole giant home as utterly ablaze. I do admit I enjoyed the way Clark tossed Lionel after rescuing him.
   Back at the farm, Lois, having been inspired by that old rebellious hippie, Perry White, decided to take it to the streets 2011 style and convinced Chloe to start their own video Blur Blogsite in support of the heroes. I would have loved it if the big brains over at Smallville had actually used fans of the show to make their own video. This would have been at least an entertaining use of the medium, and would have rewarded the fans who managed to stick with this program for its ten less-than-stellar seasons.
   This episode ended, as many do with the final 5 minutes being much better than the previous 55. Cassidy Freeman remains a standout along with Justin Hartley among the younger cast members, and I believed she was conflicted on how to handle the clone of her blood brother/pseudo son. I was surprised to find Lil Lex was sincerely in the midst of a mental crisis, and more surprised when Tess (I still laugh at the thought of her given name being, Lutessa) attempted to stab the depressed teenager. I was less shocked and much more chagrinned at the lack of logic the writers decided to display at the very end of the episode. I get that this clone of Lex, who shares all of the original’s memories, is also invulnerable. This would lead one to believe that perhaps there has been a mixture of Kryptonian blood, most likely Clark’s in the mix. What bothers me is the fact that Tess slammed down hard enough on the back of Lil Lex’s neck to bend a medical needle at a 90 degree angle. I understand this wouldn’t hurt him, but I don’t comprehend, given Lil Lex’s reaction shot, why he didn’t turn around and wonder why something tried to pierce his skin.
   If we buy into Kryptonian invulnerability and the fact that Clark can feel if Lois taps him on the shoulder when he’s not looking, but still be sensitive enough to know that he’s being touched, it would make sense Lil Lex would have felt a hard human-powered stabbing attempt. And so even with a decent episode like this Smallville still manages to disappoint. Ahhh Smallville, the one thing I can always say about you - you never disappoint in the disappointment department.
Discuss the latest episode with fellow fans at our Smallville TV DiscussionFollow Joe Oesterle’s book, “Weird Hollywood” on FaceBook. Lots of deleted and unedited stories from the book, but also plenty of genre discussions and some like-minded people. Daily updates.

Mania Grade: B-
TV Series: Smallville
Episode: Beacon
Starring: Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Allison Mack, John Glover, Lucas Grabeel
Written By: Don Whitehead, Holly Henderson
Directed By: Mike Rohl
Network: The CW
Series: Smallville