SMALLVILLE - 9.14 - "Conspiracy" Review -

TV Opinion

Mania Grade: B

27 Comments | Add


Rate & Share:


Related Links:



  • Title: Smallville
  • Episode Title: Conspiracy
  • Director: Turi Meyer
  • Writers: Turi Meyer, Al Septien
  • Cast: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Cassidy Freeman, Callum Blue, Justin Hartley
  • Network: The CW Network
  • Series: Smallville

SMALLVILLE - 9.14 - "Conspiracy" Review

A Step in the Right Direction.

By Joe Oesterle     February 28, 2010
Source: Mania

SMALLVILLE - 9.14 - "Conspiracy" Review
© Mania

To say this week’s Smallville was better than last week’s Smallville isn’t saying much, but I am happy to go on record and report it was head and shoulders better than that ridiculous embarrassment of nonsense fluff. That’s not to say this episode was perfect, because it wasn’t, but imagine how great this series could be if “Conspiracy” was considered just an alright episode.

That’s what this audience deserves, and that’s what the character of Clark Kent/Kal El deserves.

“Conspiracy” was tight, tense, it established a few threats worthy Clark’s attention, all the main characters had something to do, and thankfully there was no charisma-enhancing magic meteor dust.

Here’s What I Liked:

Number one; let’s give Callum Blue some credit for his multi-layered performance of the infamous General Zod. More importantly however, let’s give credit where it often receives my scorn – the writing. I’m so happy to see a character as big as Zod being written as if he were a living, breathing creature, with a past, dreams, anxieties.

Even in the 70’s classic Superman 2, Zod came off as little more than a cartoon villain, which after all isn’t such a sin because the movie itself was a little cartoony, and obviously the source material were actual cartoon drawings in a comic book. Smallville doesn’t always know what it wants to be. Is it “Kal El’s Creek” (I forget who called it that in the comment boxes last week, but I enjoyed that.

Is it last week’s “Persuasion?” A show I realize many of you enjoyed, but to me felt like a story that the comic book people over at “Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane” would have rejected in 1963 because it would have insulted the intelligence of the average seven year old.

What this show should be is this episode. Again, this wasn’t perfect, but this is the correct direction.

I liked seeing Tess as a bad girl again. Maybe it’s me, but Cassidy Freeman is not at all attractive when she’s frightened or even noble, but when suddenly she’s a villain on a mission, that girl gets hot. Similar to Zod, Tess Mercer is not a one note character, and thankfully this writing team is aware of that not unimportant fact.

The set design was of Dr. Chisholm’s secret lair was nice, although it was hard not to compare Chisholm’s torture chamber to Jigsaw’s. Still, it was effective, and the sawed off Kandorian leg set an appropriate creepy mood.

Lois is in cahoots with Amanda “The Wall” Waller. It’s a little early, but I like where this could be going.

I also enjoyed the final scene. Zod, faking Clark out - pretending to be hurt so as not to clue his nemesis in on his newfound powers. It was a good bit of writing to allow Zod to comprehend Clark’s genuine affection for Lois. There on the ledge of the Daily Planet, arms outstretched, Zod took a deep, confident breath and managed to figure out in hald a day what Clark Kent hasn’t sussed out in 9 seasons. He soared over the Metropolis skyline.

Here’s What I Didn’t Like:

I’m a stickler about having airtight logic in my fantasy entertainment. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief about unicorns, avatars, werewolves and bullet-proof visitors from another planet as long as you don’t skimp on the logic. Explain the rules, and if you stay within those rules, I’m happy to go on the ride.

Now establishing other worlds can be difficult, but what drives me crazy is how often Smallville has trouble establishing the everyday world. Here’s my point:

Clark Kent, the reporter is able to coerce the doctor into fessing up classified information by telling him if he doesn’t he’ll write the story anyway and just attribute the quote to said doctor, because “that’s what reporters do.” Now first of all, that’s not in Clark’s character to make that threat, but let’s assume it was just an idle threat Clark would never follow up on, that fact that the doctor crumbles and gives this obviously unethical journalist all the answers he wants just smells of poor logic. Sorry, but it’s almost like the cigar-chomping producers over at Smallville are watching the dailies and all at once they furiously erupt, spilling hot coffee all over each other and screaming, “Where’s the Illogic? Where are the gaping holes of credibility? We’ve been watching this program for over 35 minutes and so far it all makes too much sense. For God’s sake somebody fuck something up. Give us a doctor who doesn’t have the intelligence to throw Clark out on his ear.”

The lack of common sense doesn’t stop there though, because this doctor proceeds to explain how Dr. Chisholm was craaaaazy because he thought aliens revived him from the dead and did experimental brain surgery on him. Look, I’m assuming there’s lot’s of doctors at that hospital, and hopefully they’re not all as stupid as the physician Clark interviewed.

Isn’t it much more likely that a doctor like Chisholm would show all the other doctors who thought he was making up the alien thing his fucking skull trauma? He could not have possibly done that to himself, and any trained doctor would look at the scars and wonder about the technology and training of whomever it was who cracked Chisholm open and stitched him back up. Alien or not, the guy deserves to be looked after. He’s a freaking doctor, in a freaking hospital with a lot of freaking scars on his freaking bald skull. He should not be labeled an automatic looney.

Probably my biggest disappointment was how are villain met his untimely death. Ok, we get it, Clark doesn’t kill, but Clark is the protagonist in these stories, and it’s really more than a little anticlimactic when the protagonist is constantly showing up to save the day, but before he actually accomplishes that mission, the antagonist slips on an banana peel and dies. It happens way too often for my taste. Clark knocked that dude pretty far. My guess is he wouldn’t be getting up any time soon anyway, but leaving him unconscious for the police, of handcuffed, or throw him in one some of the bondage equipment until the authorities arrive. That makes Clark the hero. Having him electrocute himself is ham-handed, and more important, unnecessary.

Let’s hope as this series winds down we get more “Conspiracy” and less “Persuasion.” Again, not a perfect hour of television, but considering the illogic-loving, cigar-chomping producers of this program maybe this is the best we could ever hope for. Still, I dare to dream of a show that is worthy of the characters Smallville brings us on a weekly basis.



Joe Oesterle is a seven time published author. Please check out some of his never before published stories for his 2007 book, “Weird Las Vegas.”


Showing items 1 - 10 of 27
1 2 3 >  >>  
gopherblaster 2/28/2010 1:30:12 PM

I think it is safe to say that Chloe may be the most powerful person on this show, and that is annoying. 



Kraken89 2/28/2010 2:21:22 PM

The doctor's death was soo stupid, I could even hear a Monty-Python-esque sound effect in the backround, or pie in the face.

I chalk the Clark interview to the fact that the "Doctor" was really just a stupid Coroner's intern.

I have another question about the logic in this episode too as far as Clark's blood: Is it capable of healing anyone or just Kryptonians? If just Kryptonians, then  why not heal his dying cloned father?

jedi4sshield 2/28/2010 4:04:09 PM

Ah, it feels good for others to notice these mistakes and not have to rant! I think you guys covered it all.

Bryzarro 2/28/2010 5:19:00 PM

Looking for complete logic in a TV show loosely based on a comic series!?!  Come on guys don't strain your brains too much.  After 8 seasons of this what exactly are you looking for.  Mistakes in continuity and the stories happen in the comics I pick up every Wednesday so why bitch about a show you continue to watch so much?

Even Lost has these factors and no i'm not going to compare the two.  Main reason why: 1) Lost is an ABC show received Big Network cash for writers, actors,etc, and 2) This is what Smallville has been from the start.  There is no payoff because the show could go on forever.

cheekymonkey 2/28/2010 6:04:00 PM

The Doc is not dead...I thought that was pretty obvious

Maybe last week set th bar really low, but I liked this epsiode.  Not great, but it's something to occupy the weekend until Lost

Did anyone else not think it was extremely obvious that Zod got his mojo on before he flew off?  Chloe was right again, Clark's moral compass gets in the way.

JoeArtistWriter 2/28/2010 6:16:14 PM

gopherblaster, I'll tell you what's more annoying is on a smartly written show they'd develop Chloe to slowly become Clark's enemy. A powerful one-time ally whom Clark would have a hard time accepting they were no longer on the same team - which would give Chloe a distinct advantage during her first strike. They'll never do that, and if they do, they'll f@ck it up somehow.

Kraken, I forgot to mention the blood... yeah, that was stupid too. Clark had no idea that would work. Makes you wonder why he'd even try it. What would he have done if the blood didn't do the trick? Fart on him? Seriously, what's the difference?  Clark admitted he had no idea if it would work... that's a really amazing guess. I would have rather he farted on him.

jedi4shield, I rage against this machine so you don't have to.

Bryzarro, what I'm asking for is not too hard. How could a hospital full of doctors see DR. CHISHOLM'S horribly scarred skull, and not wonder who or what did that to one of their own colleagues? Seems to me they just chalked him up as a lunatic, but he was in all probability, a competent, reasonable man until he died and was brought back to life.

Even if he weren't, that trauma is too jarring to ignore... especially in a hospital full of trained medical professionals. Come on. You don't need to be Hemmingway to write this show, but the CW seems to only hire writers who also suffer from serious head trauma. Damn CW, hire me... I'll smack myself in the head with a hammer a few times before I begin putting words on paper. I could use the scratch.

JoeArtistWriter 2/28/2010 6:20:44 PM

cheekymonkey, I didn't catch the doc wasn't dead, but my banana peel analogy still works. Let the hero beat the bad guy. Don't let the bad guy defeat himself. It's a pretty basic good guy vs. bad guy story telling rule of thumb. Not to say that rule can't be broken, but this happpens all too often. The "Warrior " episdoe was similar. Why build it up as if these two super powered titans are going to clash, and then not pay that off? Disappointing.

JoeArtistWriter 2/28/2010 6:39:45 PM

cheekymonkey, I didn't catch the doc wasn't dead, but my banana peel analogy still works. Let the hero beat the bad guy. Don't let the bad guy defeat himself. It's a pretty basic good guy vs. bad guy story telling rule of thumb. Not to say that rule can't be broken, but this happpens all too often. The "Warrior " episdoe was similar. Why build it up as if these two super powered titans are going to clash, and then not pay that off? Disappointing.

samson 2/28/2010 8:11:22 PM

I love the direction they're taking Chloe. She's becoming more of the Batman-esque character (at least in attitude) that Green Arrow was suppossed to be (assuming the rumors I read about them wanting to bring Bruce Wayne in but having to settle for Oliver Queen). With what she knows and her "by all means necessary attitude, she could stop all of the Justice League Beta. If they don't muck it up, this could be very cool. Wouldn't be great if she were the big villan in season 10? that would be sweet if they made it seem like someone else was the Big Bad only to reveal it is actually Chloe in the final few episodes. 

My biggest issue with this episode was the blood. They could have easily explained it as something Clark learned from Jor-El on one of his trips to the Fortress. Or better yet, have Clark spirit Zod off to the Fortress and put him onto some sort of healing bed and have Fortess, not knowing it's not Clark, restore Zod to full Kryptonian strength. All that could have been done using the same amount of time. Using the same amount of FX. Little things like this is what prevents this show from reaching it's full potential.


PAGE 2/28/2010 8:23:55 PM

Yea, I agree. This epsiode was "ok" for me. The overall story was good and the plot and subplots advanced nicely, but there was some things that annoyed me.

I agree with everyone, that the way the "villain of the week" stopped/killed himself was really stupid. He was smart enough to kidnap Kandorians and one up Lois Lane but was stupid enough to go all Texas Chainsaw and electrocute himself? Dumb.

I didn't think they'd setup Chloe as being the one responsible for embezzling funds. And Oliver accepted her reason that she was "just borrowing" the money? How the hell was she planning on paying him back?? And she comes out an openly says she doesn't trust Clark? That better be some foreshadowing for a confrontation down the line. And to me Clark hasn't been himself all season. When you think about it, other than taking out bad guys they haven't shown him really interacting with "humans" as has in the past seasons. Earlier this season we saw him take out a guy sitting in a chair he thought was the bomber and it turned out to be a hostage. No remorse. He's been damaging property and doing things like blowing up buildings without making sure there was no one inside or that anyone on the sidewalk next to the building wouldn't be hurt without getting hit by falling debris. It has been this way all season starting from last season's finale when Clark turned away from his human side.  That's why they have him looking like Neo from The Matrix. Hopefully by seasons end, he's back in his primary colors since there's a faceoff coming between him and his fellow Kryptonians/Kandorians, who coincidentally like to dress in black with a touch of military green.

Which brings me to Zod. Am I the only one that knew when Clark let his blood drip onto Zod's wound that he would not only heal, but would also gain the powers he had been seeking all season? And what I also founnd annoying was Clark's trust. How could he all of a sudden trust what Zod said on the rooftop after not trusting him for so long? He wasn't even skeptical! Then, he stands on the edge, leans off and halfway down begins flying? WTF?? Why the hell can't Clark fly??? That MF'r better be flying by season's end! Enough with the damn no tights, no flights rule. That was Gough & Miller's doing. They've been gone for 4 seasons now. I'm ok with no tights, but bring the colors back into play and damn let the dude find his happy thought ala Peter in "Hook" and let the dude fly already!

1 2 3 >  >>  


You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.