SMALLVILLE - 9.7 - "Kandor" Review -

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  • Title: Smallville
  • Episode Title: Kandor
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Cassidy Freeman, Callum Blue, Justin Hartley, Julian Sands
  • Written by: Turi Meyer and Al Septien
  • Directed by: Jeannot Szwarc
  • Network: The CW
  • Series: Smallville

SMALLVILLE - 9.7 - "Kandor" Review

So why can’t they do this every week?

By Joe Oesterle     November 08, 2009
Source: Mania

SMALLVILLE - 9.7 - "Kandor" Review
© Mania

Now That We’ve Tasted Steak, We Don’t Want No More Baloney.

Now was that so hard? All I’ve been asking for since the beginning of the season was a well-written, well-thought out script, and by golly, this week they delivered. Mind you, I’m well aware that one strong episode this week does not assure anything of the kind next week, but ever the optimist (as we all must be to continue to watch this show) I hold out hope.


Multi-dimensional Zod.

We open up on a battlefield on the Kandorian border 20 years before the explosion of Krypton. Kudos to the special effects and cinematography teams this week for giving us a rich and inventive glimpse of the doomed planet. More importantly however, we also get a glimpse from a different angle into this season’s villain, that treacherously brilliant tactician - Major Zod. Zod, it turns out is a well-respected war hero, and in an unexpected reveal, he is also a devoted husband and a loving father.

Callum Blue as Zod in SMALLVILLE, on The CW Network. Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

This is the kind of character development we need from this show. We all know Zod is a “bad” guy, because we’ve seen the movies, watched the cartoons and read the comic books that told us he is, but by and large, we have just accepted he’s an evil guy who does things for his own glory. For the most part, his backstory remained a mystery to many of us who even follow his history in the printed page. Showing Zod as a bitterly disillusioned patriot, who believes he and his people have been wronged by a man they trusted (Jor –El) gives this bad guy more than one dimension, and that has often been a major problem with this show. We now have another layer to a character who deserves to be depicted as complex.

By the way, I know I complained about last week’s “homage” to the Superman Returns eyeball bullet scene, but you’ll hear no complaints form me this week. This time the crew really pulled off an homage, and they pulled it from a film that is worthy of respect. Jor – El standing helplessly inside the silver hula-hoops, the big blue Wizard of Oz heads dispassionately deciding his fate. Hard to top the irony of that scene, unless Zod comes in and asks the high court for leniency for his good friend. What? Yes! Excellent! Give us more of this. We expect it, and the source material demands it.


Am I Really Going to Complain About Something?

Allison Mack as Chloe, Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen and Tom Welling as Clark Kent in SMALLVILLE, on The CW Network. Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

All this excellence begs a couple questions; Question One, how can they put out a tight and sharp show like, “Kandor,” one week, but stick us with such a weak effort like “Crossfire” last week? Question Two; Why does it seem easier to consistently write better material for most everyone but Clark? Seems to me, if any of the characters that have been developed in the 9 seasons this show has been in existence, the character of Clark Kent should be the easiest to understand. I simply can’t grasp at why the writers can’t grasp Clark, but at least for this episode, it wasn’t a glaring problem. Awwww look at me. I’m complaining about not have anything to complain about, and I guess that’s a good thing, because as readers of this column, you all know I don’t like to complain. ;)

Once again Clark was relegated to the backseat as the Jor-El/Zod story took command of the steering wheel, and the Tess/Zod story rode shotgun. It certainly worked for this episode, but it does leave a tiny bit of concern as to why Clark can’t get a starring role on his own show.


Clever Chloe

Allison Mack’s Chloe grabbed some screen time this week, and for a record three weeks in a row did not seem overly whiney or judgmental. Not only that, but she delivered a clever piece of dialogue when Clark admitted he had kissed her cousin, Lois.

The line, “I’m not surprised Clark, you’ve had feelings for her since like the 30’s,” not only allowed the audience to laugh at how long we had to finally wait for last week’s big kissing scene, but it was also a clever nod to the actual “birth” of the comic book characters of Clark Kent and Lois Lane in 1938. See how much more fun it is when these writers are on the ball?

Allison Mack as Chloe in SMALLVILLE, on The CW Network. Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

The disclosure of Jor-El to Chloe that he had not only been to Earth before, but he had actually been to the Kent farmhouse was an interesting bit of information. The fact that Chloe later discovered Jor-El grabbing some sort of Kryptonian key from within the walls of the Kent home will obviously prove central to the Zod/Jor-El dynamic.


Shrewd Tess

I’d like to give big ups to Tess Mercer this week too. Too often Tess comes off as the poor man’s Lex, or as little more than a girl who fights much better than you expect, but this week, Cassidy Freeman got to play calculating, powerful, flirtatious, and dare I say it, down right turned on when Clark, not so demurely, demonstrated his powers on her. This is a Tess who can hold her own against both Zod and Clark, and if I’m reading the signals correctly, she also likes the rough stuff in the bedroom.

Tess got a multi-dimensional treatment this week as well. I’m semi-convinced that Tess’ concerns for The Blur, Zod and the rest of the survivors of Krypton are partly for the benefit of mankind, and only partly to satisfy her own thirst for power.

Who amongst us weren’t kind of expecting some Earthling/Kryptonian hanky panky as a randy drunken Zod shows up at Tess’ office quoting Shakespeare, helps himself to her wine, and then proceeds to help himself even more to her personal space? AND who then was surprised to learn that while Zod thought he was seducing and conning our favorite CEO, the aggressive redhead was already two steps ahead of the battle-tested warrior? Tess Mercer is proving herself to be a formidable opponent. Great writing, and I’m not even using my “Smallville curve.”

Julian Sands as Jor-El in SMALLVILLE, on The CW Network. Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

So Zod captures Jor-El, just as Ms. Mercer, planned, and after deducing Jor-El is obviously protecting a member of the House of El, (Okay, that was a stretch, but everything up to that point was so good, I’ll buy into it.) he lets Jor-El go, knowing he would lead him to his heir. (Again, I could quibble that Jor-El would be too smart to return to the Kent farm, but I’m not going to let that interfere with my enjoyment.)


Day Late, Dollar Short Clark

And so Clark watches, powerless as his bio dad dies in his arms. I will complain here a little because I would have liked to see the two bond a little before Jor-El dies, if only to make the loss that more painful for our hero. I suppose however, the argument can be made the frustration of never really getting to know Jor-El will eat away at Clark enough to give his character a new wrinkle.

Overall, I was very impressed with this episode, and while I wish I could say I have high hopes for next week, but you know the old saying, “Once bitten, twice shy, a dozen times a jittering basket case.”


Signing Off.

And so fair citizens of Smallville, until next week, once again this is Joe Oesterle, your mild-mannered blogging, reviewer guy saying, “The vote must be unanimous, Jor-El. It has therefore now become your decision. You alone will condemn us if you wish, and you alone will be held responsible by me.”



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. And be sure to check out a photo shoot he did with his good friend “Count Smokula.”


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soylentcola 11/8/2009 2:04:55 PM

I really like this episode. It explains how certain characters exist on Earth when they are suposed to ne dead.

samson 11/8/2009 2:15:05 PM

My only issues with this episode was how quickly Chloe accepted that Jor-El was who he said he was. I thought she should have been a lot more guarded and cautious in that situation.


Secondly, how did Clark not hear Zod come so close to him in the woods where he buried his father? Add to this, at this point, Zod is only human. There is no way he could have scampered off that quickly. Clark should have not only heard him, but using his X-ray vision, seen him .

Lastly, I wish Jor-El would have been part of a two or three part story arc. Have Clark look for him the whole time only to find Jor-El in much the same way he did here; in time to die in his arms. I would have also had them narrowly miss meeting one another once more in that story arc to drive home the frustration of Clark knowing his father is so near, but just out of touch.

Overall, I think it was a good episode. But, it missed an oppurtuntiy to give Jor-El's passing the kind of weight and impact on Clark it really deserved. I give it a B .


Drewseifu 11/8/2009 2:58:06 PM

Yes! I loved the episode and wish that this was more of a standard for the show but with next week's episode featuring The Wonder Twins, I highly doubt it. I also was confused by Clark not noticing Zod at the end but you could always argue that he was too emotional at the time. I was however pretty impressed with Julian Sands as Jor-El. I was convinced that I was going to be dissappointed since it wasn't Terrance Stamp. How cool would it have been to have Mr. Stamp in the Krypton scenes, in the rings again but this time not as Zod. That would have been sweet. Looking ahead Im kind of worried that the only other good episode this year is going to be the Justice Society 2 parter. Well I've kept with the show thus far, might as well keep watching.

Chadghostal 11/8/2009 3:12:26 PM

Joe, I think the reason as to why everyone but Clark seems to have interesting characterization is because of Tom Welling. Out of all the actors on the show, he really is the most wooden actor. Everyone around him has anima and enthusiasm, but Welling lacks that charisma comparitively. The writers may not be writing a very meaty role for him currently just possibly because the other characters are more interesting to watch for that reason.

Bryzarro 11/8/2009 3:44:14 PM

Samson: He didn't see or hear Zod is because he wasn't looking for anyone.  He was burying his father and I beleive some time had passed (mind you maybe mins or so) from his father passing to burying him.  He doesn't always have the superhearing going and he doesn't view everything in x-ray vision.

Joe:  I think everyone has bigger lines and development than Clark is because we all know who he is and if you have watched the show this long you know who he is and what he will become.  So until the Blue Suit goes on there is no big or major change in mannerisms needed.  Mind you he has changed how was was from High school to working at the Planet.  But characters like Chole, Oliver, and on a minor level Lois do need to grow to become better people to surround Clark (Tom) with.

jedi4sshield 11/8/2009 4:33:11 PM

Spoilers dont read if you havent seen the Episode!!! ******************************

Come on man, this is weak! the Depiction of Krypton is weak, man. I mean they had like regular weapons and military uniforms WTF. Kryptonian civilization is crap and they try to compare themselves better to Humans on Earth. The only thing that stands them apart is the scientists and the Crystal Fortresses thats it. These people have knowledge of the Galaxies and yet they still are using metallic pistol weaponry and missiles. Okay okay its given that they would have Nuclear Weapons but come oonnnn. I expected laser weapons I expected Kryptonian Crystal based weaponry, Kryptonian Ships, Robots? I didnt see any Kryptonian robots or ships. Come ooooonnn no Freakin ships / fighters WTF kind of advanced race is this!

These guys came out with regular military clothing, no armor or shields (or both) of any kind? There whole society is based alot on the crystal structures and tech so seeing their version of a war was a just a pure absolute let down. Dog Tags WTF is this? Come on have the directors, writers and concept artists have any sense of imagination? they based them too close to human military on earth!!! Pure and utter crap. I would have easily given them like lets say instead of dog tags a bracelet with their Kryptonian symbol. If someone fell in battle and you knew they were dead, instead of taking the dog tags you can transfer their symbol onto your bracelet by laser via Kryptonian Crystal. That way as long as you live you are the record keeper of the deased. If you die well the process can continue as long as they find you.

I mean, if you get blown up anyway with a bunch of dog tags well chances are those dog tags are toast anyway. Bracelet is different, and cooler in my opinion. Also Earth baced military uniforms suck ass. I was expecting a design sort of from the Superman the animated series. Remember Jor-El in Black and white with the high neck collars. Awesome, Awesome uniforms. This military fatigues Bulls%#t is nonsense with no originality. It also would have been awseome to see what role Brainiac had during the War but they dont think about such things! Kal-El flew in a ship, Brainiac had a ship am I going on limb here?

Kryptonians are suppose to have AI technology and they limit all their knowledge to just the scientist's. What role did Brainiac have with Zod? many cool question that would have made the episode awesome. If they had used some of that creativity to show what a Real War on Krypton would look like it would have been a much better Episode. I was atleast glad to see Jor-EL wearing the White Science Uniform that atleast wasn't dissapointing.

Also as ALWAYS the writers have this itching devotion to wanting to kill all Good Kryptonians in the same Episode hence the death of Jor-EL. The exception to the rule being Kara, and I'm still surprised at that. They could have broken this Episode easily into a three part story arc, instead they assed it the first chance they got. I may not be a Professional writer but I would have made this damn entertaining! Story wise I give this episode a solid D as for visually depicting Kryptonian Civilization / War I totally give this a flat Bold F- for failure with a side order of crap.

JoeArtistWriter 11/8/2009 6:49:52 PM

soylentcola, I have to admit, I was a little confused by the explanation at first, but I'm onboard now.

samson, I thought the same thing about Zod at the gravesite, but decided not to mention it, because it's one of the challlenges writers of the Superman character could always be blamed for ignoring.

Drewseifu, that's potentially horrifying. I try not to look ahead to next week, but I'm not expecting much from a Wonder Twins episode. I don't have a ton of confidence this show can handle light characters like Zan and Jayna without making them look overly goofy.

Chadghostal, I'm not sure I agree that Welling himself is the problem, because I've loved his chemistry with Erica Durance, and I actually think the guy has plenty of charisma. I do have to agree all things point to Welling. I just think it's more an indictment of the creators not understanding where his character is going, and how fast should he progress. You could be right, but I don't find him overly wooden, plus if being wooden was a problem playing Superman, then I have no problem calling out the late Christopher Reeve for that particular crime.

Bryzarro, you make a solid point, but still, they are definitely hurting the character of Clark because of the fact that they keep prolonging the obligatory tights and cape.

jedi4ssheild, hey man I feel your pain, but come one, this is a tv show.... on the CW. If you've ever watched this show before, and you're still expecting what you're expecting, you're just setting yourself for more pain and heartache in the coming weeks.

I agree the animated series was superior, but this was a great episode for Smalllville.

ponyboy76 11/8/2009 6:50:54 PM

 The only thing I agree with Jedi4sshield about is his last point. The writers do seem to have this "only one good Kryptonian stays alive rule" Every decent Kryptonian we have met in these 9 seasons, with the exception of Kara dies at the end of the episode. Its a little ridiculous. They are an almost extinct species and yet the writers have them drop like flies.
  That being said, this episode was great. One of the best if not the best this season. The way everything was explained so well and actually made sense. I thought I was watching a different show. The whole cloning explanation was great. I wondered how they would explain how he was Major Zod and not General and how Jor-El could be alive. They did it all and then had Jor-El with just a few lines about what the actual Zod did to Krypton to solidfy the story.
   I see the writers were Turi Meyer and Al Septien. They aren't always the same writers but if they can come up with stories like this, maybe they should be. A episode.
   I actually liked the fact that Kryptonians used those types of primitive weapons. Kryptonians aren't that different from humans, except for a few things. Its only the effects of the yellow sun that make them "superhuman"


Duggernaut 11/8/2009 6:55:36 PM

I agree with jedishield as I don't think the rating should be an an A. I'm not as harsh as him as i would have given it a B.  I thought there was some creativeness to how the characters are there but again it waas rush. It should have been a 2 parter.  I have to say I am pleasantly surprised as I'm finding most of the epsiodes this season decent. I am even look forward to th wonder twins next week.  I wonder if Gleek will be a clone?????

PAGE 11/8/2009 9:41:10 PM

WOW!! This episode was one of the best of the entire series! IMHO of course. :O)

@ Joe Re:  "The disclosure of Jor-El to Chloe that he had not only been to Earth before, but he had actually been to the Kent farmhouse was an interesting bit of information."

Joe back in Season 3 of Smallville, in episode 6 which was called "Relic", Tom Welling played a young Jor-El in this episode. It was a fantastic episode. What I liked about this reveal in this new episode was te fact it touched on something I just mentioned last week that the writers seemed to have a lack of - Continuity. When Jor-El mentioned the fact that he was there before, I immediately thought about the "Relic" episode, and I looked at my Fiance' and I said it's about time! This was defintely the best written episode to come along in a long time. They even mentioned why Lois wasn't in the episode, which was brief, it worked. A detail so small but yet so needed and it's a shame we can't get that every week. I am definitely looking forward to next weeks episode, and while I'm sure I'll enjoy it, I just hope everyone else does. Especially you Joe!

Oh, and the homage to the old school Superman movie was spectacular! Sorry Jedi4sshield, but this episode deserved an A!

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