Smallville: Beacon Review - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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  • TV Series: Smallville
  • Episode: Beacon
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Allison Mack, John Glover, Lucas Grabeel
  • Written By: Don Whitehead, Holly Henderson
  • Directed By: Mike Rohl
  • Network: The CW
  • Series: Smallville

Smallville: Beacon Review

Improved by leaps and bounds over the previous offending episode.

By Joe Oesterle     February 13, 2011

 

The good news after following a show like last week’s crapfest was Smallville could only get better this week. The better news is this episode, Beacon, improved by leaps and bounds over the previous offending episode, Collateral.
 
   Now before we start handing out medals here, let me point out that being “leaps and bounds” better than absolutely sucking, does not automatically qualify anyone for an Emmy award, and this installment still had a few trademark Smallville gaps in logic and a fair amount of their trademark cringe-worthy dialogue I’m fairly convinced they think passes for clever. For the first time in a long time after viewing this long drawn-out coming-of age boy-to-man-to-Superman saga I was not angry enough to kick my television in. By the way, note to self, remember to invoice Mania for the 3 dozen tv sets that do have my boot hole through the screen. I’m going both broke and crazy reviewing this damned show.
 
   Ok, first things first, it was great to see John Glover resume the mantle of Lionel Luthor once again. Right off the bat we are treated to a healthy dose the aforementioned tortured spoken word the scribes of this show love to saddle upon their actors. In the course of the opening 5 minutes we can clearly see the superiority of John Glover’s thespian abilities over those of Erica Durance. Again, Durance can play a convincing enough romantic interest at times, but Glover proves his chops here by taking uninspired drivel and making it seem as if he thought, believed it and convincingly relayed it verbally. As opposed to Durance’s acting method – which seems to be, learn her lines and then practice in front of a mirror which pout or smile to use that makes her feel the prettiest.
   Meanwhile, another veteran actor, Annette O’Toole, is leading an anti-VRA rally as Martha Kent. This naturally and obviously leads to an assassination attempt, but instead of the gunman being from the opposite side of the political fence as we were led to believe, or even a pawn in the way too forgotten Darkseid subplot they should be focusing on, it came as a genuine surprise to find out that adorable tyrant tyke, Lil Lex is still growing in both height and hate.
 
   Clark discovers the bullet that only wounded his mother (thanks to her bullet proof vest) was made out of Kryptonite, and therefore turns to dust on impact… I was not aware of that little factoid, but fair enough. He also deduces, from the graffiti left behind at the site of the shooting, the would-be killer is Lil Lex himself. Clark is joined by Tess and Ollie before zooming off to a trip to the Fortress of Solitude. A trip he never completes, because on his way there, he realizes Tess is planning on utilizing the Phantom Zone crystal to send Lil Lex and big Lionel to the Kryptonian holding cell.
 
   Here’s where the logic got blurry, but let’s give them credit for making us wait a full half hour into the show, before I received my first bout of mental whiplash caused by the writer’s faulty common sense. Here it is; why, if Clark readily admits he threw Slade into the Phantom Zone, only until he figures out what to do with him, can’t he have the same rationalization when it comes to other genuine threats to truth, justice and the American way? Threats like the Luthors.
 
   I suppose you, dear reader, might be able to justify this by saying, yeah, Clark did it once, but he never intends to do it again. But I’d shoot back, why not? If the Phantom Zone is just a holding station, and proves no other physical threat to its captives, why not chuck Lil Lex and Lionel in there as well? At least until he can, like he’s doing in the case of Slade, figure out what to do with them.
 
   If only he had the Lionel Mansion would still be standing, and better yet, we would have been spared Smallville ripping off another piece of another classic sci-fi/adventure movie – Star Wars. Why these writers feel compelled to ham-handedly steal from much greater material is no mystery, I would just prefer it was done with a little more subtlety or not done at all. Lionel’s urging to Lil Lex to allow his son to let him teach him how to harness the power of hatred into a strength couldn’t have been any more forced if Glover wore a black helmet and was wielding a light saber.
 
   As it was, Lil Lex decided to set fire to an entire 20-room edifice with three bottles of what I’ll assume is different colored brandy. I’m not saying you couldn’t take out a large building with that tiny amount of alcohol, but I would bet either Lionel or Martha would have gained consciousness before the whole giant home as utterly ablaze. I do admit I enjoyed the way Clark tossed Lionel after rescuing him.
 
   Back at the farm, Lois, having been inspired by that old rebellious hippie, Perry White, decided to take it to the streets 2011 style and convinced Chloe to start their own video Blur Blogsite in support of the heroes. I would have loved it if the big brains over at Smallville had actually used fans of the show to make their own video. This would have been at least an entertaining use of the medium, and would have rewarded the fans who managed to stick with this program for its ten less-than-stellar seasons.
 
   This episode ended, as many do with the final 5 minutes being much better than the previous 55. Cassidy Freeman remains a standout along with Justin Hartley among the younger cast members, and I believed she was conflicted on how to handle the clone of her blood brother/pseudo son. I was surprised to find Lil Lex was sincerely in the midst of a mental crisis, and more surprised when Tess (I still laugh at the thought of her given name being, Lutessa) attempted to stab the depressed teenager. I was less shocked and much more chagrinned at the lack of logic the writers decided to display at the very end of the episode. I get that this clone of Lex, who shares all of the original’s memories, is also invulnerable. This would lead one to believe that perhaps there has been a mixture of Kryptonian blood, most likely Clark’s in the mix. What bothers me is the fact that Tess slammed down hard enough on the back of Lil Lex’s neck to bend a medical needle at a 90 degree angle. I understand this wouldn’t hurt him, but I don’t comprehend, given Lil Lex’s reaction shot, why he didn’t turn around and wonder why something tried to pierce his skin.
 
   If we buy into Kryptonian invulnerability and the fact that Clark can feel if Lois taps him on the shoulder when he’s not looking, but still be sensitive enough to know that he’s being touched, it would make sense Lil Lex would have felt a hard human-powered stabbing attempt. And so even with a decent episode like this Smallville still manages to disappoint. Ahhh Smallville, the one thing I can always say about you - you never disappoint in the disappointment department.
 
Discuss the latest episode with fellow fans at our Smallville TV DiscussionFollow Joe Oesterle’s book, “Weird Hollywood” on FaceBook. Lots of deleted and unedited stories from the book, but also plenty of genre discussions and some like-minded people. Daily updates.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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PAGE 2/13/2011 10:21:44 PM

Nice review Joe. And fair grade all things considered. The Lex clone episodes have been the bright spots this season to me. Anything dealing with the Lex clone or clones have been exceptionally well for the most part. Anything dealing with the darkness, with the exception of the intro to Granny Goodness have been sub par at best. Then the VRA episodes, which I am glad to have seen finally ended this week, only a couple in my opinion have been good. To me, and again this is my opinion, this season HAS NOT been as good as season 9 and its pretty sad considering this is the final season. I really hope these last episodes really take the series off on as highest of a note as possible. I mean there have been some good episodes this season, but overall just not as good as last season. Maybe its because last season was the best overall season in my opinion, and for once my expectations were just too high for this season. Especially for it being the last season. The writing this season just hasn't been as good but then again, I guess that's because my expectations are too high. In any case, I am looking forward to the remaining episodes especially since Michael Rosenbaum has finally agreed, for the fans, to come back for at least the final episode. And I just read today that Greg Beeman, who directed some of the best episodes in the history of Smallville and last season's finale, will be directing the series finale. Speaking of the finale, why most people so happy about getting a two hour finale when its just the last two episodes put together? If we got an extra hour I would be happy but combining them like they did with the JSA episodes last season and saying Smallville gets a 2 hour finale is a ripoff.

millean 2/13/2011 10:26:16 PM

Yep, definitely better than last week.  I actually kind of liked the Darth Luthor scene/dialog.  That is actually a somewhat rather appropriate parallel to be drawing from in this case.

And while I absolutely love Anette O'toole, she wins my infamous Most Cringe-worthy Smallville Moment of the Week award.  Her over the top reaction to the voting results literally made me bust out laughing.  That moment may have paid off better if they had done a better job leading up to it, but as it was it just seemed very out of place to me.

Great googley moogley, I had absolutely forgotten that this year's villian is supposed to be Darkseid.  No joke.

Oh, and I'll let the Phantom Zone banishment excuse slide.  Maybe Clark doesn't think a human can survive amongst all of the Kryptonian exiles.

Looking forward to seeing Clark in his nerd goggles next week.  Still don't know how they are going to be able to pull of the alter ego thing.  Would be a great excuse to bring back Zatanna if you ask me.

karas1 2/14/2011 3:57:56 AM

I actually liked last week's episode better.  It was a Matrix rip off but it kept my attention.  This week's put me to sleep.  Everybody kept talking instead of doing anything and even when something that was supposed to be exciting happened (like burning down the mansion)  I was bored.

Perhaps Lex wasn't supprised that Tessa tried to stab him and so didn't react.

My favorite LOL moment was that Lex walked into the room with a gun full of kriptonite bullets in his belt and Clark didn't notice until Lex pointed the gun at him and he could see the green bullets.  Then he falls on the floor.  Wouldn't the weakening presence of the kriptonite have affected him when Lex walked into the room?

Mrnervous 2/14/2011 4:19:04 AM

 Thank you karas1, for a man with x-ray vision and super hearing, he seems to forget he has them at all times

LocoLobo73 2/14/2011 7:25:30 AM

hey Joe im glad you got off easy this week with a decent episode , but a few tid bits to cover with your review, first the Phantom Zone does pose a physical threat to those who are there , if your remember back to the begining of last season when Clark was trapped in the Phantom zone and was attacked only to be saved by Kara, so him sending Slade ther was because Slade was able to handle himself and appears to be immortal to some extent.

The Other thing was this the blogs was from actual fans of the show , they asked fans of the show to send video blogs and that would be used in this episode about what the bur meant to them .  So yeah that was pretty darn cool .

I also thought a great moment of the show was Clark and Ma Kent in the Kitchen talking about Clark's future and You could see , where the angst comes from wearing the suit and becoming someone else and not being Clark Kent anymore, or not being proud of who he is and who is true parents are, the Kents. Its like one of those moments when you know you should do A but it takes someone else telling you to do it , for it to right in your mind.

Back to the dizziness though , yeah I had a problem with the fire, also, more on the lines that the room they were in was set ablaze and the mansion is in full flames but they  are still alive , I also agree with you on the whole needle thing as well, but its a show about an alien from space who developes super power from our yellow sun , and becomes our greatest hero, so yeah im good with that lol.

steakguy 2/14/2011 8:41:32 AM

Did you consider the fact that Lil Lex didn't react because he didn't care and actually wanted to be put out of his misery?

bat2811 2/14/2011 12:25:04 PM

 Ok someone else hap put out the theory of Lil Lex actually being Connor Kent AKA Superboy. Just redheaded. Kryptonian dna plus Lex's in the DCU logic equals Superboy. That could explain all that. Plus with the memory loss they could mae him into connor without all the lex memories coming back to make him evil....or could they?

TC777 2/14/2011 1:36:51 PM

Steakguy... Joe will tell you that you shouldn't have to explain the logic of major plot points and unfortunately the one's he brought up this week I have to agree with...

bat2811 they just put up a spoiler on K-site that Connor Kent is exactly who Lil Lex is supposed to be...

Joe, one error with your review, good as it was, as LocoLobo says they did use real fans for the pro-blur videos, they had a contest and had people send them in... those were the winners... no actors in the bunch... I don't think...

I also didn't see Lionel's hate speech as a Darth rip-off... I mean they're the Luthors... of course they think that way...

And be nice to Erica... the fact that she doesn't act as well as John Glover... I mean hey, almost no one does...

Duckbeaver 2/14/2011 2:19:59 PM

I enjoyed this week a lot.  The dialogue was still sometimes ridiculous, but not too bad compared to other episodes.  Characters seemed to be talking more directly about things.  I agree with Joe that having actors on the show, like Glover and O'Toole, who can turn the most absurd dialogue into a moment is a big plus.  Yeah, the Star Wars reference was pretty weak, but at least it didn't last for more than 5 seconds.

The kid who played Teen Lex was really good, too.  I bought that Rosenbaum's character could be behind those eyes, but that he was also burdened with the first Lex's memories.  This made buying into his surrender and brief reconciliation with Clark and Tess all the more plausible (I say "brief" because now that Rosenbaum's returning, we know it won't last).  I agree with karas1 about the Kryptonite bullets: logic again thrown out the door for the sake of "dramatic" reveal.  Reminded me of Tess' K-brass knuckles that she used on Zod in last season's finale.

Finally, I really did like the talk between Clark and Martha at the end.  It was the only time this season that I've actually seen Clark genuinely relaxed, not full of angst and looking like he's enjoying his life for once.  That's what's always bugged me about Smallville's Clark: he seems just WAY to somber and depressing to be the embodiment of eternal optimism.

Sure, he was concerned about his identity, but it seemed to be a legitimate question as opposed to just whining about never being able reveal his "true self" to the world like he usually does.  It sounded like he was asking his mother about real solutions to balancing his dual identities.  The line about "making Clark Kent the disguise" seemed important because up until this point, Clark has always been just himself whether doing the hero thing or being a civilian.  Hopefully, next week he develops those answers a little more with the coming of...the GLASSES!

I hope next week will be more of an improvement, what with Desaad & (hopefully) Darkseid at the forefront and Clark exploring ways to be more "mild-mannered," but it looks like the episode is going to be very Chloe-heavy.  GOD, I hope not...

Duckbeaver 2/14/2011 2:40:05 PM

 TC777: I just saw the pic they had of "Connor Kent" on K-site.  I'm mildly interested/a little disappointed with that idea.  It could just be an homage to the REAL Superboy-clone character who shows up years later, but I wouldn't put it past this creative team to have him be the real deal.  They DID bring in Green Arrow, Supergirl, Doomsday and the JLA all before Clark becomes Superman.  WHY NOT have freaking SUPERBOY on the show?

Sorry...I suppose I'm a little more disappointed than interested...:) 

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