Another Smallville has come and gone, and I still can’t tell what to expect from this season. This week’s installment, “Echo,” was as I have come to expect, flawed; but the genuine chemistry the cast members managed to save another potentially average-to-poor episode to the ranks of watchable-to-enjoyable.
Again, I realize there are devoted fans of this show who feel all I do is nitpick the shortcomings and imperfections of each week’s script, but that’s not the case. If I were nitpicking, I would have to be looking for insignificant details, and all too often Smallville’s mistakes are glaring enough that I don’t need to rely on microscopic vision. Last night’s offering however was better than expected. It certainly was head and shoulders above last week’s zombie catastrophe, but not nearly as compelling as story as the Metallo installment. I guess I just have to reconcile myself to the fact that the writers and producers of Smallville are happy to put out flawed product, because they realize much of their audience are such hardcore fans, they’re willing, or even unable to see the show’s all too many weekly blunders.
This week though, I have to confess, the good was better than the bad was horrible, and that is directly attributed to the personal guy/girl tension of Clark and Lois, as well as the guy/guy tension between Clark and Ollie.
Poor little billionaire Oliver Queen is doing all the self loathing, and self destruction, one former masked hero can do, and if the different currencies in his wallet are any indication, Ollie hasn’t found a dangerous enough drinking establishment in America or Europe so he’s, traveled south of the border to some badass bandito bar for his ultimate fatal beat down.
This place looked dangerous enough if only because it was reminiscent of the Titty Twister in “From Dusk till Dawn” I was half expecting to see a vampiric Salma Hayek pour wine down her leg directly into Quentin Tarantino’s awkwardly eager mouth. Unfortunately if Ollie was looking to die his glorious death at this specific watering hole, he was saved by the guns-a-blazin’ Tess Mercer, and unfortunately for me, Salma Hayek wasn’t on duty this particular night.
Clark Kent however was getting plenty of come hither stares by the usually Blur-obsessed Lois Lane. Seems Clark was granted another power (if only temporarily) by his alien dad, Jor-El.
Let me make this perfectly clear, I don’t care if cousin Chloe thought it was wrong for Clark to use his new found powers for nookie instead of battling super powered threats, women have all the advantages in the beginning stages of a relationship, and if any guy out there reading this thinks it’s morally wrong to press that one advantage, especially if the object of your heart’s desire is the drop dead gorgeous Erica Durance, then you’re a villain in my book. But if we’re talking morals here, and since this is a Superman story, we are, why does Clark bitch slap the guy in the mask with the bomb attached to him? Superman is a good guy, and meta-driven good guys don’t backhand a mere human with a potential neck breaking blow, sending him ten feet into the air, and halfway across a large room. Seriously. That smack could have killed or crippled the guy. At the very least, I’m betting that dude woke up in Metropolis hospital with a few broken bones. That’s not the Superman way, Clark.
Clark does a lot of preaching at guys like Ollie, and then he does stuff like cracking innocents (this week) and carelessly causing thousands of dollars of private damage (last week) to be standing on any soapbox sermonizing on how to be a hero.
I suppose this could be a case of Clark still learning to control his powers and his rage, but I’m more likely to chalk it up, once again to a writer who should know the character of Clark/Kal/Superboy/man better than he apparently does. Superman does not get all agro with his super pimp hand, especially when dealing with a defenseless, unconscious (and as it turns out innocent) suspect. Nine seasons and you think an experienced writer would understand the rules that govern the main character.
The other thing I didn’t like was here you have Superman, granted, he’s not quite Superman yet, but he’s got all the tools - and there are plenty of tools – he just hasn’t learned to use all of them quite yet. Do we need to give him more abilities? I’ll type this until my fingertips turn to bloody stumps, but the trick to writing an effective, believable Superman story is to find out what could potentially overwhelm a seemingly undefeatable champion. Not invent new powers. There had to be a better, more effective way to have Jor-El teach Kal-El that “perception can be the difference between life and death.”
Ok, those two things are the only things that stuck out at me as annoying, and I promise not to crap on anything else in this episode… unless I remember something else that bugged me.
What I did like was the flirtatious banter between Clark and Lois. Their lighthearted playful interactions are clearly the beginnings of a romance for the ages, and that has always been a huge part of the Superman mythos. I also enjoyed every minute Justin Hartley was on the screen. Normally I’m immune to the charms of the small screen cocky antihero. I don’t know if it’s TV actors, or the medium, or whatever it is, but Hartley makes a credible charismatic good guy douche – a feat which is hard to pull off. And I always enjoy his scenes with Tom Welling.
Speaking of nice acting performances, I also enjoyed the hammy yet amusing Chris Gauthier’s turn as the Toyman. Gauthier’s maniacal laugh is 25% Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, and 75% Wayne Knight’s Newman, and it worked for me.
What worked for the Toyman though, was after being greeted with a bullet to his kneecap, he is treated to toying around in the discomfort of a solitary jail cell with Metallo’s Kryptonite heart. This guy is really into his toys – and I thought I was obsessed with EA Fight Night Round 4.
So when all is said and done, this was a nice episode. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. It was better than expected, and far from perfect but that’s about all anyone can ask of the show this season. If they expect to get a 10th season I think they’re going to have more “Metallo’s” than “Rabid’s” but “Echo” was a move in the right direction.
And so fair citizens of Smallville, until next week, once again this is Joe Oesterle, your mild-mannered blogging, reviewer guy saying, “It all fits somehow - his coming here to Metropolis. And at this particular time. There's a kind of cruel justice about it. I mean, to commit the crime of the century, a man naturally wants to face the challenge of the century.”
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. Pick up his latest books "Weird California" and "Weird Las Vegas" in any Barnes and Noble near you, and look for his next book, "Weird Hollywood," due out soon. www.JoeArtistWriter.com And be sure to check out his weekly animated rants, stories, illustrations and photos: www.joeartistwriter.wordpress.com/