SMALLVILLE - 10.5 - Isis - Review -

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Mania Grade: C+

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  • Title: Smallville
  • Episode Title: Isis
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Cassidy Freeman, Justin Hartley, Ted Whittall, Rick Flag, Keri Lynn Pratt
  • Written by: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
  • Directed by: n/a
  • Network: The CW
  • Series: Smallville

SMALLVILLE - 10.5 - Isis - Review

Superman’s Greatest Nemesis? Inconsistent Episodes

By Joe Oesterle     October 24, 2010
Source: Mania

Looks like Tess is still carrying a tiny torch for Ollie. That fact came across plain as day when Mr. Queen retorted to Ms. Mercer’s condescending “groupie love” comment with the resounding zinger that Tess wouldn’t know real love if it were right under her nose. Ollie had no idea how wrong he was. While Tess may still have romantic desires towards the arrow-slinging playboy, the true object of Tess Mercer’s affection has is Lil Lex. This all played out nicely. There was a subtlety about the scene that Smallville doesn’t usually incorporate.

Conversely, Ollie’s advice to Clark during their conversation played out like something so ham-handed and corny they wouldn’t dare air it over at One Tree Hill. “Take it from me, living without love isn’t living. It’s existing.” My question is this; from which middle-school girl’s peachy notebook did the writer rip that line? As many of you know, while I’ve never been shy about expressing my disappointment in this show whenever it’s called for (and sadly, it’s called for quite often) I have always been impressed with how well Justin Hartley can make potentially bad dialogue work for him. Congratulations Smallville scribes. You just made the coolest character on the show sound like just another stupid douche.

Shortly after that we were once again forced to sit through another painful Clark and Lois moment that I am certain is supposed to come off as Willis and Shepard from Moonlighting, or Sam and Dianne from Cheers, but the advantage those famous fictional couples had was superior writing and excellent acting ability. Let’s face it, Welling and Durance can be serviceable actors at times, but Tracey and Hepburn they ain’t.

With that in mind I worried (and with good reason it turned out) when I realized most of the heavy lifting in this episode was going to be done by Erica Durance. Letting her prance around in short skirts and high heels will never get a reprimand from me, but when the powers that be expect Durance to carry the bulk of an episode on the basis of her thespian skills I just cringe. Playing light comedy is in this actress’s wheelhouse but making her a believable heavy is just too ridiculous to comprehend. My guess is Erica Durance was not the most gifted member of her junior high theater club. I’ll go one further and assume she still isn’t.

Was there anything I liked? Sure. There usually is, and that’s the reason I assume all you Smallville stalwarts continue to watch here in the tenth season. If the comment boxes below are any indication of the typical Smallville viewer on this website, it’s that you realize this show can be maddening at times, but they somehow have managed to bring just the bare minimum of entertainment through characters you’ve cared about for your entire life. I get that. I feel that way too, and that’s what infuriates me. I hate the fact that the bare minimum is good enough for this team. We deserve better, and the character of Superman and his extended family deserve better as well.

Here are a few examples of what I did enjoy in this program. For the first time since I’ve been reviewing, Lois Lane actually said something funny – and meant to. “You’re the sick to my stomach” line was truly the perfect rejoinder to Cat’s “You’re the Popeye to my Olive” statement. Bravo Ms. Durance. You are absolutely capable of performing inside your comfort zone.

I also enjoyed the Black Adam Easter egg we were shown at the sarcophagus of Isis’ long lost love. However, the best part of Friday’s episode was the Tess angle. It is a shame the secondary characters are better actors than the primaries, and once again, Cassidy Freeman was believable, but it helps that her character, unlike others on this show, is more than one-dimensional stereotype.

The strength of “Isis” was not the Isis part at all. The best part of the latest installment of this prolonged Superman-comes-of-age saga was Tess and her relationship with the aforementioned Lil Lex. Tess is clearly having maternal feelings, which I have to believe will get quickly convoluted the faster that adorable little red-headed boy genius turns into a certain bald-headed Michael Rosenbaum-looking evil genius.

It would appear that Tess is a bit conflicted with Ollie and Clark’s sudden faith in her by the end of this installment. Her emotional breakdown after leaving the Watchtower leads me to wonder if the tiny-soon-be-tyrant tyke she’s currently raising isn’t already calling the shots which he hopes will lead to the destruction of Clark Kent.

I mentioned this last episode and it bears repeating; the one area this show seems to never make a mistake is in the final five minutes. We were all fairly sick of the “will they, won’t they share their secrets” game, but finally that long overdue admission finally came. The celebratory kiss was a highlight in this series, and it once again lead me to wonder why we can only expect the best from this show right before it signs off for the week.

In closing, another week has passed, and it’s another week Clark didn’t don the blue tights or even fly. I hope he felt a little emasculated when he saw Lois take flight. They’ve been holding that Super carrot out in front of us for such a long time it now wouldn’t surprise me if the first time we get to see Tom Welling in the supersuit will also be the last image we see of this show. I hope I’m wrong.

By the way, how did Lois even come in possession of Isis’ necklace? Did I miss it from this episode or did I forget her swiping it from Carter Hall? AND if that’s the case, why would Lois steal it to begin with? Could someone who was watching this a little closer please give me an explanation?



Joe Oesterle’s latest book, “Weird Hollywood” has hit the stores and the reviews have been outstanding. Take a look at some free and unedited stories and photos on his website, and contact Joe for an autographed copy.



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GreatOne 10/24/2010 4:37:17 PM

Spot on review, particularly about the writing for Hartley/GA.  At times I wonder why Hartley hasn't been attempting to branch out into movies or other shows (he was passable in the Aquaman pilot), while at other times he looks inept.  I'm with you that it's the writing.  Also, while I'm not that familiar with the comic book Cat Grant, she can't possibly be as annoying as she is on the show, can she?  And that's really the best actress they could find?

One huge nit that I'm sure that's been crabbed about before: the usage of the word "secret".  Why not "ability" or "powers"?  Much better fit.  "Secret" sounds like some high school lovesick retard.  But I digress.

wessmith1966 10/24/2010 5:19:37 PM

I liked the Green Arrow and Tess in this episode and of course the ending. Those were the main thrusts of the show. The whole Isis storyline was just an excuse to get Erica in a sexy outfit (thank you producers!). That part of the episode was a throwaway, but the characters showed emotion and depth and that's why I liked it. I was expecting Clark's reveal to Lois to be drawn out a couple of more episodes so I was pleased when it happened.

karas1 10/24/2010 7:31:46 PM

As I understand it, the necklace was on Carter Hall's desk and it "accidentally" fell into Lois' purse.  Why didn't it get noticed by SOMEONE when she went through customs in the airport?  Why wasn't she arrested in Egypt for smuggling antiquities?  Um, cause it's a magic necklace?

I've found that Smallville is either really cute or really dull with not much inbetween.  This ep was one of the dull ones.  Being a hetero female, watching Lois prance around in a short skirt doesn't have a lot of appeal for me.  While I enjoyed a certain nostalgic rush from my childhood with the Isis costume, it would have been better if she had spun in place to morph into it.


Duckbeaver 10/24/2010 9:24:48 PM

Nice review as usual, Joe.

Really enjoyed Tess this week.  I liked how Oliver was against her involvement and then finally warmed up to her in the end.  Ever since she arrived on the show, I've been wanting Tess to take on reasonable motivation.  I never really understood what she was trying to achieve in season 8 and last season her loyalty was all over the place that I got confused about her motivations for switching sides all the time.  Now it looks like this season, we'll get a pretty consistent struggle from her: who does she side with, the heroes she has wanted to help for years or the little evil genius she has a chance to redeem?  I wonder how Clark and Oliver will feel when they find out she's raising the reincarnation of their greatest enemy...

Loves me some toga on Lois, but yeah, it was just your typical "Smallville"-style possession this week, nothing special.  The glowing yellow rope holding Clark down was cool (immediately thought Wonder Woman) as was the Black Adam prop reference.  I will say this: despite inconsistencies, the writers do have an ability to leave some "Easter eggs" for hardcore fans (Black Adam, the Gleek phone last season, Oliver mentioning a "boxing glove" arrow in season 6, etc.).  It was pretty cool to see the heroes actually work as a team.  More often than not, Clark and Oliver have confrontations and go off to solve problems on their own.  It was a nice change of pace to see them put their heads together with Tess (due to a lack of Chloe) and confront the enemy with a somewhat coordinated effort (shooting the necklace off Lois and into Clark's hand to reverse the transformation with his heat vision).  Very cool visual.

Glad to see the secret is out in the open with Lois and Clark.  I just wish that such an important event had taken place with an equally important story.  Last week's 200th episode milestone would have been a better fit for it, especially after Clark came back from the future.  Future Lois said that the day he revealed who he was was the most romantic day for her.  The slow dance in the barn after his trip to the future felt a hell of a lot more romantic than the last scene this week, but who knows?  Maybe they'll pick up right where they left off next episode and the day isn't over yet.

But based off of the promo for the next episode, it looks to be a bit of a downer and horror-like story (just in time for Halloween).  Did I see Scarecrow in the trailer?

PAGE 10/24/2010 10:43:34 PM

Review was great as usual Joe and definitely agree with the grade. The last 5 minutes of this episode definitely saved the whole thing because without it, being a long time fan of the series I would have considered it one of the worse. I mean it was great seeing Erica Durance in the toga outfit for the majority of the episode, but the focus of the episode should have been on Clark revealing his secret to Lois and Tess being a mother to Lil' Lex.  The Isis storyline should have and could have been eliminated. And Cat Grant was cute at first but she's becoming annoying. Hopefully she'll be gone for a while.

Speaking of Wonder Woman, do any of you maniacs think that since Wonder Woman is going to be developed as a TV show now that TPTB will allow Wonder Woman to make an appearance on Smallville? Would be nice! It is the last season after all.

And Duckbeaver, I also thought the character in the trailer looked like Scarecrow. Would be kind of cool if it were but I don't think it is.

And I'm not big on Captain Marvel or Black Adam so could someone explain what the easter egg for Black Adam was in this episode?

Duckbeaver 10/25/2010 12:38:53 AM

Oh, yeah.  I was just wondering: was the museum curator/event organizer (that lady with the really hoarse voice, sounded like she needed a cough drop!) talking to Oliver in the beginning the reincarnated Sheyara/Hawkgirl?  I remember that Hawkman had a vision of her in the 2nd episode of the season and the curator this week looked familiar, but I couldn't recall if it was the same actress.  Anyone know if it was Sheyara or just a random character?

Duckbeaver 10/25/2010 12:50:29 AM

PAGE, Lois/Isis was about to sacrifice Clark with a dagger labeled as belonging to "Teth-Adam" which was Black Adam's original name in Egypt.

PAGE 10/25/2010 12:58:41 AM

Thanks Duckbeaver. I do vaguely remember Teth Adam referring to Black Adam, but I somehow missed the label on the dagger. Even after watching the episode a 2nd time.

heath0920 10/25/2010 4:19:21 AM

I completely agree with the inconsistency of story, but then again, it was another Possession episode. Who on this show HASN'T been possessed now, I guess? But I really felt like the last scene sold this episode for me. Welling and Durrance were acting the hell out of that scene, and it felt right. When they first brought Lois in, it seemed like they were forcing a connection between Clark and Lois that wasn't there. I remember one ep where she told him "I hate that you know me that well" and I just wanted to scream because nowhere in the show had we seen that. They just wanted to write it, but that didn't make it so.

Now it feels like these two connect. And Welling and Durance have chemistry on screen, 'so much more than he ever had with Lana. Watching him share screen time with Kristin Kreuk for six years while not feeling any romantic empathy was painful, they werejust two attractive people  but that didn't make them a couple.  Although it would have been nice to see this moment years ago, I give the writers credit for the way they handled it.

redhairs99 10/25/2010 5:47:00 AM

duckbeaver, the curator/event oranizer was played by the beautiful Erica Cerra who plays Jo on Eureka.

Thanks for the note about the dagger.  I noticed the label on it and knew I had to be missing something with that close-up.  I've never really been into Black Adam and Shazam so that one flew right passed me.

When I looked at the time on my dvr as I fast-forwarded right after Lois was "de-possessed,"  I noticed there seemed to be an awful lot of time left in the show, so I was hoping for something big and not only did we get that great little scene with Tess and lil Lex, but we are finally done with the "will they, won't they"!!!

I have a feeling that Tess is not going to be to happy when lil Lex become big Lex.  She's always been in love with him, but now she's his mother figure.  I could be wrong, but I don't see Lex wanting a relationship with his new mommy.  Let's hope so at least...eck!

Joe, good review as per usual.  Also, they showed the necklace getting knocked off a table and falling into Lois bag in Egypt in the "previously on Smallville" segment even though that footage was never shown before.  And I am kind the same as Kara, wouldn't that have come up at customs and wouldn't she have been arrested for smuggling?  Maybe not since other implausible things seemed to be happening in Egypt like Lois and Hawkman's amazing cell phone coverage in the middle of the desert.

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