SMALLVILLE - 10.7 - Ambush Review -

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Mania Grade: B-

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  • Title: Smallville
  • Episode: Ambush
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Cassidy Freeman, Michael Ironside, Peyton List, Ted Whittall
  • Written by: Holly Henderson, Don Whitehead
  • Directed by: Christopher Petry
  • Network: The CW Network
  • Series: Smallville

SMALLVILLE - 10.7 - Ambush Review

Can We See Some Action Already?

By Joe Oesterle     November 07, 2010
Source: Mania

Review: SMALLVILLE 8.19 - "Stiletto"
© Mania

Once again let me say how pleasant it is to watch the genuine chemistry between Tom Welling and Erica Durance when they are allowed to play honest emotions with believable dialogue instead of being force-fed a steady diet of unrealistic ham-handed “does-she-know/should-I-tell-him” banter. The authentic ease in which these two actors are now delivering their lines to each other only highlights how poorly the pair’s previous scenes were often written.

Like I’ve been saying all along, if you’re making a show about a super-powered space alien who believes it is his destiny to keep the entire planet safe from potential evildoers, the writer’s chief job is to make certain the rest of the world believable. I’m now happy to report that Clark and Lois’ interpersonal relationship is finally (7 episodes into the final season) on the right track. I wish I could say the same about the rest of the episode.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate “Ambush,” the latest episode in the pre-Superman saga, it’s just that I just don’t tune into this program to watch daddy issues for the better part of sixty minutes. This episode reminded me of why I never wanted to watch Smallville when it first came out. I have very little need to watch mediocre televised teen angst. I’m much less inclined now that there isn’t a single teen in the cast.

I prefer my Superman with action. I never picked up a Superman comic book to read about Clark’s love life. I never watched a single episode of Superfriends or Superman The Animated Series because I was curious if Lois and Clark’s relationship was still on solid ground. I realize a large part of the Smallville audience must eat that kind of stuff up, but personally I’d like to see a little bit of Darkseid.

I mentioned in last week’s comment boxes I thought it would be a good idea to keep Darkseid in everyone’s mind for at least a little bit, and in almost every episode. I still think that’s a good idea. I wager it’s fair to say some of you out there may have even forgot Darkseid ever made an appearance this season. Again, I think some sort of constant and often subtle reminder that the supreme monarch of planet Apokolips is out there, and will be causing havoc soon would be appropriate – otherwise, why even introduce the character so early in the season.

It’s also a sure bet most readers would agree they would have liked to see more Lil Lex this ep as well. We were treated to a couple of nice scenes with Ollie and Tess, but after last week’s Lil Lex and Tess B plot (the only thing that worked in that ep by the way) I was fairly certain we’d get to see a bit more of the tyrannical tyke. Instead this installment focused on the dysfunction that is the Lane family. I have no problem using that as a story thread, but given the option between watching General Lane making Clark do chores around his own home, (BTW, no one makes me do chores in my own home, and I have the dust bunnies and dishes in the sink to prove it – guess I’m braver than Superman) or watching Clark and Ollie battle the Suicide Squad I know which I’m choosing as my A plot.

While we’re on the subject of Ollie, why the hell is he still wearing his sunglasses at night, and more importantly why is he bothering to alter his voice? I have always hated both of those things, and while the argument can be made the Arrow-shades provide night vision, and other tactical advantages, that voice modulator just sounds stupid, and since he’s already announced Oliver Queen and Green Arrow are one in the same, it seems like he’s carrying around an unnecessary (not to mention annoying) tool. Also, glad too see Clark takes the time to slick back his hair before he challenges bad guys nowadays. Even arch villains value good grooming.

As far as the arch villains in this episode go, the Suicide Squad provided a legitimate threat, even if the premise of the Vigilante Ban was dangerously close to the X-men’s Mutant Registration Act. This show has never had any problem blatantly ripping off good ideas before – most recently the Tony Stark “I am Iron Man” revelation.” I have to say between the emergence of the Suicide Squad, the threat of Darkseid, and the inevitable return of Superman’s brightest and baldest bad guy all on the horizon, I’m starting to wonder if we’re not headed for a giant fustercluck of characters and not enough time to do any of them the proper justice.

Speaking of proper justice, I was surprised at Lois’ reaction to her slutty sister’s play for Clark. I completely bought into Lois not blaming Clark, though I’m betting at least half the guys reading this have caught a whole lot more grief from their girlfriend/wife for spending alone time with “the sister” and not getting anywhere near first base in the process. If that sisterly dynamic was a bit surprising, then the idea of Lucy Lane, an adult woman who grew up fully aware of military procedures, dropping a tracer in her own father’s pocket was just outright dumb. Come the eff on! If your father worked as a K-Mart greeter you would know better than to bug him because some guy in army fatigues at a gas station asked you to. Stupid writing.

By the end of the episode, General Lane’s opinion of costumed vigilantes has changed, and he even has figured out in under sixty minutes what took his newshound daughter years to finally determine. It was not stated, but Sam Lane now knows Clark’s secret.

The secret the show left for us however, was what was the question Clark wanted to ask the General. Permission to marry would seem like the obvious choice, and that’s where I’m going for now. If that’s the case howwever, we can add one more major development to the big pieces that need to be played out in the next 15 episodes. That’s a lot of balls in the air for a show that too often doesn’t play with its balls very well.



Do you like paintball? Do you like naked girls? If so have I got a story for you! Check out this story that was left out of Joe Oesterle’s 2007 book, “Weird Las Vegas.”


Showing items 1 - 10 of 71
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Jakester 11/7/2010 10:04:04 AM

I tried not to hate this episode (and I didn't), and even gave it some leeway since I'm unfamiliar with Lois' sister, but....

How the HELL could she be that stupid to take the documents and pen and NOT think it was shady?  The military can't involve themselves in an official operation?  WTF?  Not even Raymond Babbitt would buy that.

And Lois forgives her for nearly geting her killed and blowing up her apartment building?  Not.Bloody.Likely.

That said, I didn't really have a big problem with Lois' Daddy issues.  There are fathers and sons and daughters who have that somewhat messed up dynamic.  Plus, Michael Ironside!

Also, Durance and Welling got to show some good chemistry.  The porch swing makes me wonder if Lois'd get drunk and give Clark a lap dance at a football game...

The ridiculously horrible character actions simply to drive the plot forward would force me to give the episode a "C" at best.

JoeArtistWriter 11/7/2010 10:21:35 AM

Jakester, I'm not arguing your grade at all. I have long ago decided to grade Smallville on the Smallvillle curve, because if I didn't I would have given way too many F's and D's along the way. This ep could easily have been judged a D because I felt Lucy's actions regarding her father were so embarrassingly unrealistic. Even if the rest of the episode was an A (and it wasn't) that bit of stupid writing could drop it two full grades. 

I liked Michael Ironside, but he didn't blow me away here. He wwas fine, but didn't stand out, and knowing what a great actor he is, I'll chalk that up to not having a script to highlight his abilities.

Jakester 11/7/2010 10:34:23 AM

Roger that, Joe. 

Also, I suppose it's nice to see Tess working on redemption, but given some of Freeman's comments, I'm expecting a complete 180 that will come out of nowhere. 

Oh well.  We get some good television tonight w/ Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead.

karas1 11/7/2010 10:38:22 AM

It's a good thing that Lois is the only one who lives in that apt building otherwise Clark would have had to rescue them too.  Or fail to rescue them and have them get blown up.  Maybe they were all visiting relatives for Thanksgiving?

Kraken89 11/7/2010 11:05:51 AM

I agree too that I didn't hate the episode. That's mostly due to Michael Ironside's acting which I loved, especially the opening dialogue of Sam describing why he distrusts The Blurr and the vigilantes, because we all know the John Dalberg-Acton quote "Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely" and have Shakespear's Julius Caesar before. I'd find it close to Lex's veiw of Superman from Luthor  but Sam actually has the experience to justify his position.

Oh and although I don't object to seeing Erica Durance with sex-hair and just a shirt, let's keep the sex in the erotic fan fiction, I don't mind the subtlety but most teens and adults understand that when they wake up in the same bed that it means they've been having sex. No need to chew up air time with Clark and Lois playing Cowboy and wild horse in the back yard. Although if they want to make Vivid video on their own time, I wouldn't object.

The Tess and Ollie scene wasn't needed, as it felt they were just chewing up air time with a meaningless conversation. "Look how far we've come, from the middle of the ocean to the top of a skyscraper", now it would of been really fun for Tess to of mentioned Lil' Lex and watched Ollie's reaction especially since he killed the original. But it just came down to checking out Ollie's new Suicide Squad track-too (I hate myself for just saying that) and Ollie implying that he might leave Metropolis because people know who he is and it will endanger his friends who have powers and huge weapon cache's.

Lucy Lane was handled a little hyprocitical because on one hand she's manipulative enough to seduce Clark and yet dumb enough not to of seen past Rick Flag's bull.

The best scenes were obviously where Green Arrow and The Blurr ripping the door off Rick Flag's utility van, and introducing the new freak, Elijah Wood meets Kim Coates Nightcrawler? I'm sure his identity will be revealed to be somebody important and when I find a character of his description in the DCU databank I'll post it. Oh, and why would we care if the Elijah Coates Nightcrawler blew up the anti-vigilante protest center when it was clearly after dark, no lights were on and there was no visible sign of people in the building? Clark took down a freaking skyscraper and barely shed a tear and yet I'm supposed to be outraged over Happy Harry's million dollar property damage?

Atleast we know we'll eventually see Granny Goodness, Mad Harriet (possibly others like Lashina), Aquaman and Mera, some more Deadshot and Deathstroke, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, Desaad and Darkseid and eventually probably at the finale Lex Luthor (all grow'd up of course).  That's the only thing that keeps me watching the episodes, DCU characters being under-utilized.



JoeArtistWriter 11/7/2010 11:13:06 AM

Jakester, as a former Jersey boy who visited the Atlantic City boarwalk every summer back in the early-mid 70's as a young kid, I really looked forward to Boardwalk Empire. I've liked it, but it took a while to find it's groove. The Walking Dead however, was brilliant last week in it's premiere, and I'm expecting to love this week's as well.

Also "East Bound and Down" is surprisingly funny. Didn't think I'd like it, but it's great.

kara, excellent point. Sometimes I'm reeling from the sheer volume of poor choices made on this show I let an obvious flaw like that go by. In Smallville's defense though, simply judging from the amount of foot trafffic in any scene that takes place in Metropolis it's possible Lois is the only resident in that 5 block radius.

PAGE 11/7/2010 11:14:47 AM

This episode was ok. A better improvement over the last couple of weeks for sure, but just another filler. I did like the appearance of The Suicide Squad though. And Joe, I agree with you that if Darkseid is the major villain this year and as big of a threat they were making him out to be, even last season they talked about it, but he hasn't been mentioned once in 4 episodes. It would have been better to have him as the threat in Harvest as everyone discussed and I think you mentioned last week rather than the blue K thread. And they did it with Zod last season as far as showing him off almost every episode and it worked out great I think, so why go away from that with Darkseid? Next weeks episode looks to be a little bit better, especially since we get to see Granny Goodness. And from what I could also see from the trailer (and spoilers), we'll find out what Tess IS.

PAGE 11/7/2010 11:16:16 AM

Oh and Joe, thanks for mentioning The Walking Dead in the Harvest review. I remember seeing an ad for it but actually thought it was a movie that was coming out and didn't look into it much. I downloaded the first episode last week and it was pure awesomeness!! Can't wait for tonight's episode!

Kraken89 11/7/2010 11:34:11 AM

Just found a potential candidate for the un-name freak that helped Rick Flag: Bolt.

Apparently Bolt can "teleport instantaneously" and uses an "energy blaster"

And if this "Bolt" character can teleport, why not just grab a frag then teleport into Clarks home and drop it in Sam's pocket? And if the Suicide Squad had been tracking Clark and knew of his powers, why in the hell would they try anything in the first place?  I could understand if the plot was "Deathstroke tries to asassinate Samuel Lane and the Suicide Squad show up to try and kill Deathstroke". But I know trying to find logic in a Smallville episode is like trying to find condoms in the Vatican.

heath0920 11/7/2010 12:45:41 PM

It was a nice step up from the last two weeks but I agree that they spoiled Darkseid too early for a villain who hasn't beed mentioned much in the past 5 eps. What I did like was the scriptwork with Ironside. His only appearence, he pretty much complimented Martha's coffee, kissed Lois on the head, and took off. This time, he actually had some work to do and I thought he came across strong, morally convicted, and determined. But he also had a some actually NOT cringe inducing dialogue. His conversations with Clark and Lois didn;t ned to feel forced and it was nice to see. Way too often, those lines just scream ridiculous. I think a solid B as well. 

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