Friday, May 18, 2007

“I’m you, only more bizarre” – Smallville

















Okay, so as I’ve said before, Smallville series finales are never not awesome. Sure they cheat – every character was in some kind of mortal danger by the end of ‘Phantom’, but all of them will probably turn out to be fine – yet I love these episodes because they break free of all the show’s conventions and just spin completely out of control. One of the advantages of Smallville’s ludicrous internal logic is that it can get away with this without making any major changes to the show, and yet still retain viewers! Increasingly frustrated viewers, sure, but viewers nonetheless.

‘Phantom’ heralded several big events. First there was the return of The Martian Manhunter (guest star Phil Morris) who exuded awesome but was sadly wasted, disappearing halfway through the episode. At least his character was explained, albeit nonsensically; apparently he was asked by Jor-El to look after Clark, and had been “watching from a distance” for five seasons before choosing to make an appearance. More knowledgeable Smallville fans than I could probably think of a hundred situations where a little help would’ve been very welcome to Clark, but that’s Smallville for you. Phil Morris clearly relishes the role so lets hope he’ll make more appearances next season.

Second, there was Lana finally leaving Lex. Their short-lived marriage has to rank among the most fucked up in TV history, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Almost every episode they were each keeping some new secret or plotting new evils against one another; its been ridiculous, yes, but also surprisingly entertaining (in a twisted way). It came to a suitable end here with Lex reacting to her intent to leave him by hitting her. That’s one way to deal with it. Lana subsequently appeared to die when her car erupted into a ball of flame, although a conveniently placed ice cream truck meant we didn’t actually see her get into the car. Hmm. See you next season, Miss Kreuk.

That was fake death number one. Number two was Lois, whose attempt at investigative journalism ended with a knife in her chest. She was saved, however, by Chloe, whose power turned out to be healing. Kinda like Malcolm McDowell in Heroes. All that healing seemed to take it out of her though – when Lois woke up, Chloe appeared to be dead. Again, it’s clear that she’s not (no way they’d kill off a character without showing the actual death onscreen), so that makes three fake deaths and counting!

Actually leaving the show, it seems, is Annette O’Toole. Martha Kent got a job as a senator and had an emotional farewell with Clark early in the episode, so while I doubt that’s the last we’ll see of her, apparently O’Toole will not be a regular next season. Since Martha has had virtually nothing to do all season the whole thing reeks of getting a dead weight character out of the way. Which I can get on board with.

The dam setting of the episode’s big finale was a shameless rip-off of X2. Also, has it become an unwritten law of storytelling that whenever a dam is involved, it will always crack and start spurting out water at the worst possible moment? Nonetheless, the suitably insane final scenes had me on the edge of my seat, from the creepy child/phantom killing machine murdering Lex’s goons, to Lex getting arrested for Lana’s murder, to that completely ‘WTF?’ moment where the killer child turned into a Bizarro version of Clark. It made little sense, but darn me if it wasn’t entertaining.

The next season of Smallville should have more going on than usual, based on this finale, the rumoured (and in my book very welcome) addition of Aaron Ashmore to the principal cast and the season end departure of Michael Rosenbaum. Despite all its flaws, whenver one season of Smallville comes to an end I’m still excited for the next. Anyone else share my pleasure/pain?

6 comments:

Carrie said...

I don't want to watch a Smallville without Michael Rosenbaum, but Aaron Ashmore would be a welcome addition.

I totally hated this episode. I think this has more to do with my overall apathy towards Smallville in general this season. And I know -- I KNOW -- that three episodes into next year we will be back to the freak of the week stories and Clark saving/pining for Lana, and nothing will have changed. It is really very difficult to watch a show where years and years go by with no character growth. If I wanted to do that, I would watch a procedural. The only thing I am potentially interested in for next season is Chloe's Krypto-healing power. If she survives, that is, which I am assuming she will because they never kill anyone off.

Of course, I will still watch next year because I have put so many years into the show that I can't quit now! So I will watch and torture myself every week. Heh.

Joey said...

You're completely right, but I've pretty much resigned myself to that aspect of the show. Lately I'm liking it because they're actually doing some stuff right - namely, giving Chloe a bigger role, bringing Lex's evil side to the forefront, adding Aaron Ashmore to the main cast and getting rid of Annette O'Toole (all the scenes between her and Clark this season have been dull and she's become pointless).

Filipe said...

Joey your usual reaction to the show pretty much mirros my own. And if they are bringing Ashmore to the main cast and dropping O'Toole to occasional appearances around sweeps, they are going in the right direction. Now, if the producers just get that the show is at its worse when the emphasis is on Lana...

Anonymous said...

This season was...the show of lana an lex..unfortunately I was expecting more...I hope next season will be better...

Deb said...

I had never seen Smallville, but June this year I decided to watch all 6 seasons to catch up and this is probably the most frustrating show I've ever watched (it even overtook Lost because I EXPECT to be frustrated for that).

The whole Clark and Lana and Lex triangle is just like Dawson's Creek, but with less dialogue and I've had to stop myself from banging my head on a wall when I'm watching.

Luckily, I thrive on frustration and I can't WAIT for season 7!

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