SMALLVILLE - 9.5 - "Roulette" Review - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Title: Smallville
  • Episode Title: Roulette
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Steph Song
  • Written by: Genevieve Sparling
  • Directed by: Kevin Fair
  • Network: The CW Network
  • Series: Smallville

SMALLVILLE - 9.5 - "Roulette" Review

Maybe This Show is Finding it’s Way

By Joe Oesterle     October 25, 2009
Source: Mania

At Least They Borrowed From Something Good.

Now this is more like it. It wasn’t perfect. If you want superhero perfection on TV these days you have to check out Superman’s pal Batman in Cartoon Network’s The Brave and the Bold, but this show is definitely taking steps in the right direction.

Hopefully it was just a coincidence that Roulette was the best installment of Smallville this season, and the character of Clark was reduced to the B plot, because Tom Welling does a great job when given good material. This week though, it was the Ollie Show, and Justin Hartley once again played conflicted good guy/anti-hero/ douchey poor little rich kid as well as anyone in the business.

I could start off by complaining that the entire plot of the episode borrowed heavily from the Michael Douglas/Sean Penn 1997 thriller, “The Game.” I could also complain that the scene where Ollie is trapped in a coffin with a flashlight was almost a lighter shot-for-shot rip-off of Quentin Tarantino’s 2005 CSI episode “Grave Danger,” as well as Tarantino’s the Bride’s own coffin adventures, in Kill Bill Vol. 2 - but why bother bringing that up?

 

 

Enter The Dragon Lady.

Our story opens with our favorite self-destructive former archer doing his best to drink and gamble his inner demons away, or at the very least, lessen the sting of their psychic stabbings. Enter the dangerously sexy woman in red with her very own “I’m not to be trusted” dragon tattoo emblazoned provocatively enough on her back.

She seduces Ollie but not without the warning of “”trust your instincts.” Perhaps he was that liquored up, perhaps he was feeling that horny, and more likely it was the combination of the two, but Ollie, who has been hell bent on his own destruction since his involvement in the “death” of Lex Luthor, (Come on, no one here really thinks ol’ Baldie Locks has really shuffled off his mortal coil do you?) chose to “play the game,” and once again, borrowing from The Matrix, which happily borrowed from Lewis Carrol’s, Alice, Mr. Queen pops a pill, and he’ll have to pay the piper.

 

 

Poor Pouty Lonelyhearted Lois

Meanwhile, Lois is once again feeling a little sorry for herself, and it’s up to Clark to lend a supporting ear, but apparently dispensing advice to the lovelorn is not what Jor-El has been teaching his young man of steel. By the way, for a smoking hot girl, Lois certainly mopes around a lot; and it mostly the moping of the lonely-hearted. Come on, I don’t care if it’s Smallville or Metropolis - wherever anyone who looks like Erica Durance is, she’s probably not spending too many weekends on the couch between trips to the laundry room.

Watching Clark twitch impatiently with one super ear to the shark movies and another to anyone in need of help was fun to watch. That is the exact kind of Lois/Clark dynamic that should be more of the norm. Lois takes Clark for granted, expecting him to want to watch movies with her, and hear all about her dramatic ex-boyfriend/beer pong troubles. Clark is too nice, and more importantly all too aware that if he gives Lois the newshound a reason to start sniffing around, she’s likely to start barking up his super tree. Nicely written. Light relationship anxiety when compared to genuine life and death anxiety.

 

 

How about Some New Writing Tricks?

As the game goes on for Oliver Queen, he finds himself interrogated for a crime he didn’t commit. I also like to point out; it was also a crime if anyone watching the episode actually thought Veronica/Roulette was actually dead. Again, maybe I’m nitpicking, but I would prefer some smarter writing tricks from these guys once and a while.

As luck would have it, Ollie is visited by a lawyer who is well aware of the scam being perpetrated against his client, and just when his “attorney” comforts Ollie with the fact that his fortune (which he apparently conveniently keeps in a single account) is still intact, he leaves, locking Ollie inside a gas chamber as he watches his billions (which as I mentioned before, he conveniently keeps in a single account) drain away before his very eyes.

 

 

Goth Dude in a Black Superman Tee Shirt to the Rescue

Cue heroic music, Dah, da daaahhh, and it’s Super-whatever-he’s-calling-himself right now to the rescue.

Now it’s off to Chloe’s, who wasn’t nearly as whiny as she’s been lately, and Clark let’s her know that Lois is aware Ollie has been having suicidal thoughts. Chloe however points Clark to a whole other, more pressing than a best-friend-thinking-of-killing-off-himself agenda. The dead, time-traveling Kandorian assassins are among us, and that can’t be good news.

Lois it seems has two distinct personality traits on this show. One is to sit around on Saturday night, feel sorry for her beautiful self and stuff her face with ice cream. The other Lois however, goes out on her own - safety be damned, and faces things head on. It was the latter Lois who gets herself caught up in a sexy girl-on-girl fight and eventually becomes a captive in red dress bondage. Yay for proactive Lois, and double yay for red dress bondage!

 

 

What, Me Complain?

Am I going to nitpick again? You bet Lois’s red dress bondage sweet ass I am. Now I know Oliver Queen is a bow and arrow expert, but I’ve seen this guy in the comics too, and a marksman is a marksman. Am I expected to believe that Ollie with a gun, no farther then 15 feet away, wouldn’t be able to shoot Roulette right between the eyes, or wherever else this world class aimer wants to hit her….. FROM THAT DISTANCE? Come on… keep the situation real. The Oliver Queen I’ve come to know would have been able to rescue Lois and incapacitate Roulette with a paper clip if conditions called for it. Maybe that doesn’t sound “real” but that kind of ability is in the Oliver Queen playbook. Did I want to see something that far fetched? No chance, but my point is, Ollie could have easily taken the bad girl out, and saved the innocent girl with one gunshot.

 

 

Hey, Look at That… Some New Writing Tricks!

Roulette of course has been playing Ollie all along, and she has been taunting him with clues as to who set him up in this entire risky diversion. We the audience, or at least me, were/was set up to believe it was Lex Luthor all along. After all, we were thrown what turned out to be a credible red herring with Lex’s coffin next to Ollie’s. The answer to the question that alluded Ollie throughout the broadcast of who wanted to see him suffer more than anyone else was facing him right in the mirror.

Now perhaps I could cheap out and say the only reason I didn’t figure out it was Chloe pulling the strings the whole time is that Smallville has never really been a show that challenges it’s viewers. Perhaps if Smallville was more of a thinking person’s show, like LOST, perhaps then I would have had my Spidey senses up and I’d have been looking for a twist. Perhaps I should have, but you know what? I didn’t - and they got me.

This is exactly what I need more of – what this show needs more of. The plot may have been a tad familiar, but the writing was sharp. This was the best episode this season, and now I have the hope believe things will get better as the season progresses. (I will still retain my right to maintain a prove-me-wrong stance on this matter.)

I will confess that the renewed friendship of Clark and Oliver might make things a little too harmonious for the show’s own good. After all, conflict makes for compelling drama. I do however get the sense if these Kandorians start causing trouble soon, we may have an entire super-powered team with all kinds of super powered drama to get us through the season. I’m looking forward to more Justice Leaguers joining in the fray.

 

 

Signing Off

And so fair citizens of Smallville, until next week, once again this is Joe Oesterle, your mild-mannered blogging, reviewer guy saying, “There's a strong streak of good in you, Superman. But then nobody's perfect... almost nobody.”

 


 

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 latest humorous animated video, entitled, “The Balloon Boy Song.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrYRquNyZxU

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 13
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LooneyBinJIm 10/25/2009 3:30:03 PM

This was actually a good episode. Too bad it only seems to be good when the focus is on someone other than Clark though. Given this and the "origin" story for Ollie last season, I wonder if CW is testing the waters for a Green Arrow spinoff?

PAGE 10/25/2009 4:04:23 PM

I agree. This was a really good episode. And even though they borrowed some plot devices, I was impressed for once with the writing. I never got the feeling at all during the entire epsiode, that Chloe was the one behind the whole game. For once, she wasn't whinny or judgmental. For one episode they gave her character a real purpose. It would be nice if they could do that each episode. And I do have to agree with LooneyBinJim about what he said. Most of the really good episodes are when Clark isn't the main focus. That just tells me that the writers sometimes struggle with good material for Clark for whatever reason. It's really not that hard. This season however has started off very strong. 5 episodes in now and not one bad episode (in my opinion) yet. I for one, love reading spoilers as they do not spoil what's to come for me. Reading about it is one thing but actually seeing it is completely different. With that said, the spoilers I've read for the next 6 episodes are pretty damn good and I can't wait to see how it plays out on screen.

As usual Joe, great review!

ponyboy76 10/25/2009 6:35:30 PM

This was a good episode and for once I was surprised at who the "villain" was. The Lois/Clark back and forth again was good even when she was yelling at him for keeping Ollie's secret suicide attempt.

If this is Smallville's last season the CW really needs to think long and hard about giving Justin Hartley his own Green Arrow spinoff. His character, to me is the closest to a Batman show that we are ikely to get and the Green Arrow, is a very good character to base a show around. Hartley can definitely lead a show by himself and maybe have Chloe and the Doctor run the Watchtower. They could end Smallville with Clark having to leave Earth for awhile.

The one annoying part of this episode was when Roulette gets shot and the whole reason for Ollie being arrested. Now , he's a multi-millionare mogul and the cops don't know who he is? Also, they arrest him because he is with her when she's shot and assume he did it but with what? They obviously didn't find a gun on him. That is just bad writing.

hannibalking 10/25/2009 8:12:57 PM

"For once, she wasn't whinny or judgmental"

Isn't that awfully suspicious though? Especially how fast she pulled up the info on Roulette.

CaptAmerica04 10/25/2009 8:36:45 PM

This episode honked.  One good overblown practical joke and suddenly Oliver is ALL BETTER, ready to get over his guilt that he's dragged around the show for the last dozen episodes like a battleship anchor around his neck and start fighting the good fight.

What really kills me is that Allison Mack and Justin Hartley are probably the most talented actors in the show.  They have the range and depth to really make us buy into the relationship and tension that they share.  But we're left with such atrocious writing, that everything gets rushed so that we can get back to Clark brooding like he's Bruce Wayne having a teenage temper-tantrum. 

Erica Durance is hot, but talentless.  And her fight scenes are SO bad, so poorly choreographed and filmed, there is NO suspension of disbelief about them.  I cannot watch her "fight" and believe that Lois Lane is anything but a woman who watched a couple Tai Bo videos.

We need flight.  We need a costume.  We need the Justice League back (I NEVER thought I'd long to see the return of Smallville's version of Arthur Curry).  We need Clark to stop brooding.  We need Lois to stop acting like she's Jackie Chan with a great rack.  And we need the writers to stop acting like they're still on strike.

The show DOES have it's shining moments.  Unfortunately, they're SO rare, and mixed in with SUCH crap, that it only makes it more painful when we have to return to the 98% of the show that is NOT a shining moment of great potential.

CaptAmerica04 10/25/2009 8:41:14 PM

Oh... and since when the F**K does Roulette do anything other than organize Meta-Brawl?!

PAGE 10/25/2009 10:08:14 PM

@ponyboy76

"The one annoying part of this episode was when Roulette gets shot and the whole reason for Ollie being arrested. Now , he's a multi-millionare mogul and the cops don't know who he is? Also, they arrest him because he is with her when she's shot and assume he did it but with what? They obviously didn't find a gun on him. That is just bad writing."

Remember though, that was part of "the game", so those weren't real cops and they very well knew who he was and that Roulette wasn't dead. What I didn't understand though, was that Ollie would be stupid enough to use someone else's computer when he was in the fake interrogation room. I knew from the start that it was a ploy to get his user name and password.

@hannibalking

I thought that was suspicious as well. She was definitely out of character this week. Makes me wonder if it will come up again later in the season. She went to extreme measures to get Ollie to snap out of it. She inadvertly put Lois in danger, but showed no remorse over it, and she's been keeping tabs on the Legion. Invading their privacy. I understand from her perspective that they need to get back to being "heroes" but seems to me she's abusing the power she has.

@CaptAmerica04

I thought it was a good story to get Ollie to snap out of his funk. He's been having all sorts of issues since he "killed" Lex, and I for one am glad they wrapped it up. Could it have been better? Absolutely. But this is Smallville and like Joe said, he's grading this show on a Smallville curve so it was definitely one of the season's best episodes thus far. I do however disagree that Allison Mack and Justin Hartley are the most talented on the show. Tom Welling and Erica Durance are also great actors but it's up to the writers to give them the best writing material to show their range. They both have shown range in episodes from previous seasons. When Clark is on Red K, Tom knocked those episodes out the park!  The shining moments are rare though, I agree with that. Hopefully we get more as this season goes on.

ponyboy76 10/26/2009 7:03:37 AM

I don't see the Justie League coming back anytime soon, only because Alaina Huffman is now on SGU and the dude that played Cyborg is on FlashForward. I guess they can still have Impulse and Aquaman though.

JoeArtistWriter 10/26/2009 10:57:29 AM

LooneyBinJim, there's no doubt CW has given thought to a GA show. I'd be interested, but I would like to see his costume revised. It looks a little too plastic or something. Every time I see him in that outfit, it just looks to me like a guy who spent more money that he should have for a Halloween party.

PAGE, as always thanks for the support. Personally I stay away from spoilers of all types. I like every thing to be completely fresh, and I do worry I may find out something that would ruin the story. Normally that doesn't hold so much for Smallville, because they don't usually surprise me, but this week was a nice switcheroo, and if I'd read about it, or even felt it was hinted at, it would have ruined it for me. I get that you say that's not the case, but I'll still steer clear. Just my preference. Thanks again for the kind words.

ponyboy76, I think PAGE points out what I was going to say in response. The whole thinng was "The Game," so Chloe had the "cops" in on it. It wasn't stated, but that would be my guess. (I understand your confusion, because Smallvillle doesn't usually make calls that assume the audience is filling in the blanks. If anything, too often they spell out things that obviously don't need spelling. I'll give them the benfit of the doubt on this one.)

hannibalking, Chloe's pretty quick. She obviously has all of Metropolis wired on her computer. It's a little far-fetched, but I'm buying in.

CaptAmerica04, you can't expect too much real world thinking when it comes to this show. As PAGE points out, I'm grading on a "Smallville curve," so I have to factor in the lack of critical thinking these characters often display. It is a shame that we all have to expect less to enjoy this show more, but that said, I enjoyed this episode. 

I do agree with the Lois fight scene. It reminded me of the 70's classic Charlie's Angels donnybrooks. Hot girls kicking, not even coming close to connecting, bad edits. You're not wrong for being annoyed. It frustrates me week in and week out that thiis is the the best they can do with the material they have at their disposal, but 9 seasons in, I don't expect them to suddenly become brilliant. I just hope for entertaininng. Again, flaws and all, I liked thiis one.

 

JoeArtistWriter 10/26/2009 11:07:18 AM

BTW, did anyone here see the latest Batman: The Brave and the Bold? Seriously an amazing show, and this particular episode is well worth finding online if you didn't TiVo it. I didn't realize it was going to be a half hour superhero musical.....and that sounds like it has trouble written alll over it, but I loved it.

Please check out my review here on this site. I'd love to hear your comments.

http://www.mania.com/brave-bold-music-meister-review_article_118434.html

Joe

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