SMALLVILLE - 9.10 - "Disciple" Review -

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  • Title: Smallville
  • Episode Title: Disciple
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Callum Blue, Justin Hartley, Steve Bacic, Elise Gatien
  • Written by: Jordan Hawley
  • Directed by: Mairzee Almas
  • Network: The CW Network
  • Series: Smallville

SMALLVILLE - 9.10 - "Disciple" Review

I didn’t even grade this one on a curve

By Joe Oesterle     January 31, 2010
Source: Mania

SMALLVILLE - 9.10 - "Disciple" Review
© Mania

Now that’s what Smallville should be every week. Unfortunately it can’t be. I’m not sure why it can’t be, but they haven’t managed put out this level of episode in a consistent manner in 9 years, so I don’t expect them to start doing it now, but that’s how Smallville should be every week.

As many readers of this column are aware, I always grade Smallville on the “Smallville Curve.” The truth is, if I didn’t grade Smallville on a curve, I’d be handing out far too many C minuses and D plusses to enjoy reviewing this show. Well dammit, this time, for the first time since I stepped into this role, I am not using my Smallville Curve and I’m still giving the episode an A minus. Why not just a straight A some of you may wonder? Come on, I’ve given B’s to plenty of show that deserve C’s here just because like many of you, I willfully overlooked some all too common gaps in logic that this show tends to drop in our laps like a hot steaming pile of Krypto crap, and asks us not to notice. This time I graded Smallville like I would any other show. I treated it like a big boy. A big boy with superpowers even, and it held up. A minus is a great grade, and it may have been an “A” except Chloe has finally gotten on my last nerve.

I know many of you have been fed up with or even hated Chloe for a while, but I’m fairly new to the Smallville party, so she hadn’t completely bugged me yet. Last night I just couldn’t take her. Maybe it was just the weakness of her character when juxtaposed to the brilliance of Zod, but something snapped in me last night and I now completely understand the anti-Chloe bias I read so much about.

Plus what happened to her looks? Chloe at least used to be kind of sexy/cute but in this episode at least she looked kind of like the late 1990’s Florence Henderson. Which is to say not bad for an old lady, and still doable, but Allison Mack is only in her late 20’s. She shouldn’t be giving me the “used to be a kinda hot mom” vibe.

Anyway, great story, nice cinematography, enjoyable light moments, legitimately tense moments. Why can’t it be like this every week? How about this? Why not just have Smallville air every 3 weeks? Because maybe these guys need that much time in between scripts to give us the kind of television superhero adventure we expect when your male lead is freaking Superman. Whatever the reason, damn “Disciple” was a great show.

Here’s what I think it came down to – the villains. It’s the rogues who usually figure in to whether an episode of this particular program fails or succeeds, and last night we had two excellent baddies to help pull the plow.

First of all Callum Blue’s Zod was more menacing than Zod has ever been anywhere; TV, movies, cartoons, comic books - this was a creepy, menacing, and seriously single-mindedly evil Zod – and yet, still not much more physically powerful than your average human.

Somehow a very human-powered Zod managed to give the very super-powered Clark some very Michael Emerson-styled willies. Blue’s performance last night may have been the finest performance in the history of this program. Granted, this show isn’t likely to churn out very many Oscar winners, but Blue blew me away. There was something a little different, a little unhinged about Zod in this episode. Let’s face it, there are only a handful of surviving members of Krypton, and again, they can’t leap tall buildings, bend steel in their bare hands or turn the course of mighty rivers, they’re just a group of pissed off soldiers, but they are led by a psychotic megalomaniac. And just as Christopher Reeve made us believe a man could fly all those many years ago, Callum Blue made me believe Zod is a deadly adversary for a man who can fly.

And let’s not forget this episode’s other featured nasty man – Steve Bacic as Ollie’s unsavory mentor, the Dark Archer. It’s nice to know even though Ollie may not respect his former master’s ways, he still is obviously enough inspired by his facial hair to one day copy it for his own chin whiskers.

And am I the only one who flashed to the evil goatee sporting John Robinson from the sixties classic sci-fi show, “Lost in Space” when I saw the Dark Archer? Please, if any of you had the same thought let me know. Now I want to go on Hulu to watch that episode.

I’d also like to extend kudos to the way Ollie and Mia’s relationship is coming along. We’ve all known for some time that the only reason Green Arrow is even in this show is because DC wouldn’t give them Batman, and that makes sense. Batman is too important a property to be constantly lent out for someone else’s show. It also makes sense that Smallville turned Green Arrow (who after all started out in the comics as the poor man’s Batman) into Batman.

The inclusion of Mia and her role in Ollie’s life as the lighthearted sidekick who is there to keep Oliver Queen from succumbing to his inner darkness mirrors exactly what the comic books did to the Caped Crusader back in the early 40’s when they introduced a certain brightly colored, wisecracking 8 year old crime fighting partner into the Batman’s world. I really enjoyed the maroon hoodie with the yellow lining that Mia was sporting at the end of the program. Very Boy Wonder-esque.

If I have one complaint about Green Arrow it’s the Raybans. Sure Corey Hart used to wear his sunglasses at night, but he wasn’t fighting crime with a bow and arrow.

Seriously, aside from the fact that the sunglasses look lame and I’d much rather see the traditional domino mask, it’s got to be a bitch aiming at a target 50 yards away at midnight on a rooftop with sunglasses on. Give G.A. a domino, huh?

Now I’ll close by saying I’m completely geeked up for next Friday’s “Absolute Justice.” I won’t lie to you guys though. As much as I want to love it, there’s a huge piece of me that fears there can’t be two great Smallville’s in a row. That said, if there ever was a chance where I didn’t have to use the “Smallville Curve” two weeks in a row, I’d say we’re potentially in that zone.

I’m looking forward to it.



Joe Oesterle is an award-winning writer and illustrator, but what he often fails to mention is that many of those awards were won on a New Jersey boardwalk. Check out some of Joe’s other writing, illustrations, animations, and photography. If he can’t get a blister doing it, Joe does it.


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Moz72 1/31/2010 11:42:29 AM

Totally agree with Joe.I love it when the producers roll out a really good episode. Sometimes most of the episodes are just filler, but every now and than there the "epic" episode that focuses on the mythology of Superman. Wish there were more of those, but you have to agree that this season 'is' focusing more on the DC Univerese whic is a Plus for this series.

About Chloe. She's done a lot of growing up considering everything that has happened to her. So in a way you have to understand that she has become somewhat weathered but also hardened. She is now on a mission, willing to 'pull the trigger' whereas Clark will not. Good scene by the way.

Also gotta give props to the scene where Clark confronts Zod regarding his hospital visit to Lois. Clark threatening Zod to 'Destroy the Kandorians' if Zod tries to hurt his friends was the moment where my jaw dropped. Imagine, Clark threatening to destroy his own people!  Looks like he's finally growing Balls of Steel!

Like Callum Blue as Zod. You have to be a good actor to be a convincing passive/aggresive megomanical sociopath who does what he does because he is still mourning the death of his son while carrying his hatred of Jor-El for what he feels is a betrayel for not saving his son, and at the same time trying to make himself a god amongst humans in order to solidify his supremecy among his own people, because standing before the super-powered Clark Kent makes him feel inferior, and his poor ego cannot take it.

That's alot of baggage to be carrying.

Can't wait Absolute Justice. Hope that the writers/producers will put out a two-hour Justice League movie!!


JoeArtistWriter 1/31/2010 12:17:59 PM

Moz72, I think you hit it right on the head regarding Zod. He definitely isn't feelings of inferiority, and Callum Blue has honed in on that aspect. It's almost like he's getting to play a wholly different character, but it's the same Zod, just one who is not used to being such an underdog. It's not sitting well with him, but he still manages to bring some legitimate menace to the role.

I aslo like you pointing out Clarks newly hardened testicles. That was a very interesting scene. Every now and then these guys hit one out of the park, and this episode was a deep shot. That of course is also the most frustrating thing about watching Smallville, because Friday's installment shows you what the show should and could be every week, but too often it's so much less. I still have hope, and really looking forward to meeting the JSA.

cheekymonkey 1/31/2010 12:24:00 PM

I don't get the anti Chloe stuff...until last episode she was the only hero with a set of balls.

Zod has been much better this time around than when he took over Lex. 

I am looking forward to next week too, but I also remember looking forward to the big Doomsday battle that never really happened.  Much like 24, I've been watching more out or loyality than anything else.  I hope it doesn't disappoint.

redhairs99 1/31/2010 2:22:56 PM

Joe, you point out that it's hard for this show to put out excellent episodes two weeks in a row.  I will say that can be true, but look at it this way...Disciple was supposed to air last week with Warrior airing this past Friday.  Due to the Help for Haiti specials they bumped Warrior til after Absolute Justice, so technically your statement holds true, but now we get these two solid weeks of Smallville back-to-back.

Of course, Warrior could be good too with the return of Zatanna and Lois dressed up as Wonder Woman!

And I agree, Callum Blue was awesome in every scene he had this week.  The hospital visit was very well played on both counts.  Although, does Lois really think that Clark has some "secret" long-time pal she's never meet?  Lois has known Clark for 6 season now.

SuperMatt 1/31/2010 9:31:57 PM

Seems like I remember a show in GA's first season that the shades had night vision...and also targeting they're functional as well as stylish!

redslayer 2/1/2010 12:04:24 AM

I can't believe I read the whole article and I don't think that I got whatever your point was!

Man!!  Maybe my english is worst than I thought

SgtTechCom 2/1/2010 5:35:33 AM

I love this show, this episode was awesome, and Callum as Zod is amazing. The voice, ala terrance stamp, and the whole creepy attitude and feel of power just sends chills.

Smallville keep it up cant wait for Justice !

heath0920 2/1/2010 6:55:05 AM

I felt quite differently for this episode - I thought it tried to shoehorn a plot involving Green Arrow by introdicing some "deus ex machina" society that apparently was SO important to the creation of his character we never heard about them before. I also grew frustrated that after spending all this time on  this character arc designed to get Ollie out of his funk by taking him deep into darkness and depression, they spent an hour putting him back into it.

Some might complain these eps foccus too much on side characters and not enough on Clark, but I like the Green Arrow part (I think they're using it as a replacement because they were never able to get the rights for Batman). But in this case, it's one step forward, two steps back and that's getting annoying.

As for the Cloe complaint, I think you're seeing the real danger for a show that's been on as long a this one. Nine years is a long time to play the same part. To keep her fresh, they have to move her in different directions, and sometimes, that might not be ways the fans appreciate.

For those of you who are afraid about Justice, I take comfort that it was written by Geoff Johns, DC's best writer currently. And the JSA is one of his strongest teams, one he cares a great deal about.

gopherblaster 2/1/2010 7:50:51 AM

I get the anti Chloe talk, but I am hoping they do something with it.  Seems like her and Clark's relationship is tested every week.  And the producers made it a point to revisit the scene that shows Clark's displeasure with the cameras Chloe had installed on the Kent farm, during the "Last time on Smallville...".  Lets hope they do something with this.  Chloe is taking charge, and as annoying as she is, she is taking a lot of initiative we wish Clark would sometimes. 

Kudos for the writers doing something with Mia as the damsel in distress.  How many times have we seen Lois take on that role.

JoeArtistWriter 2/1/2010 9:23:36 AM

cheekymonkey, I didn't used to understand the anti-Chloe thing, and I'm not exactly sure why I snapped at her in this episode, but I'm just sick of her character. It seems to me they've been building for a final showdown for a while, then Clark and Chloe kind of kiss and make up, then they gear uo for another confrontation, but never pay it off. She's be a great misguided villain at this point, but I don't think the creators have the balls to turn her against Clark. It's probably the best move for the character though.

readhairs, I have to admit I thought Lois was on to Zod in the hospital, but when she spoke to Clark she didn't seem suspicious of Zod at all. That did annoy me a little. First of all Lois should be smarter than that, and secondly, it did seem like she figured something was up with him at some point.

SuperMatt, yeah, I really only started watching regularly this season, and I did figured those glasses had to have built in tech. My real problem is it makes the whole GA suit look more like an incomplete Halloween costume. Like, "OH f@ck, I forgot the mask, I'll just have to use sunglasses." Just my take, but I hate the shades.

redslayer, not sure if you've read my stuff before, but particularly in tv and movie reviews I take a fairly informal conversational tone, and then join in here in the comment boxes. I just re-read the article, and I thought it made sense.... a little scattershot, but the gist was: Best episode this season, loved Callum Blue's acting, Chloe now bugs me, Green Arrow and Mia equals Batman and Robin, and I wish these writers could turn out efforts like this more often.

SgtTech, yep. Zod ruled this episode, and I loved Blue's portrayal. Very layered and nuanced.

heath0920, I see your point, but it didn't bother me at all. I feel sometimes things drag in this show. The GA B plot may have felt short shrifted to you, but I felt the two stories combined for an entertaining hour of television.

gopherblaster, again, I say let Chloe go up against Clark. She would make for a formidable opponent, and the audience can relate to her frustrations, and her fall from grace. It would be breath some new life into a stale character.

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