Monday, October 08, 2007

"That's what happens when you touch my stuff": Smallville

A pretty excellent Smallville this week, thankfully. After the uneven and disappointing season opener, I wasn’t left feeling too hopefully about season seven as a whole, but ‘Kara’ reassured me somewhat of the direction we’re going in. That said, I’m not proclaiming it the beginning of an upturn or anything, especially as next week’s episode is based around (shudder) a beauty contest. It was just a good example of the things I like about Smallville.

The big event was the first proper appearance of Kara, aka Supergirl. This was actually the least interesting plotline, as most of it consisted of Kara being told about Krypton’s destruction and all the other stuff she’s missed. She’d been in suspended animation, you see, for eighteen years, because she had been following Clark’s trajectory but went into a river and…eh, don’t worry about it. Her scenes with Clark were kind of a downer, but I guess they were a necessary evil, as Kara had to get used to the idea of hanging around Smallville. She also provides a reason for Clark (who still thinks Lana is dead, and was planning to leave Smallville) to stick around as well: according to the booming voice of Terrence Stamp, she may be “dangerous”. Gasp! I very much doubt they’ll go in the direction of antagonist with Kara, although I’m very willing to be surprised. Laura Vandervoort seems pretty good so far as well.

Now, on to the more interesting stuff. Lois has gets herself a storyline this week – or rather a love interest, in the form of Grant Gabriel, new editor of the Daily Planet. He’s portrayed by the ever charming Michael Cassidy, basically playing the same character as he did on Hidden Palms – but boy does he play it well. Grant is the most unlikely newspaper editor I’ve ever seen: he’s too young (not addressed, bizarrely), he frequently wanders around the basement of his offices, and he’s very interested in stories about spaceships and aliens. Or maybe it was all a ploy to get into Lana’s good books, but somehow I doubt it, as by the end of the episode he has offered Lois a job at the Planet. Implausible it may be, but Cassidy is appealing in his screen-hogging.

Then there’s the newly reformed Lex, who last week turned himself in after Lana’s murder. Things move surprisingly fast: Lex is a free man by his first scene (thank god – Lex’s adventures in jail would have been cringeworthy) and knows Lana is alive by his second. Initially I was disappointed to see how quickly her return was coming, but I have to say, that scene where Lex finds her was riveting. Expecting some form of revenge, she pulls a gun on Lex and genuinely considers killing him. She is disarmed, however, by his heartfelt apology. It seems that at least for now, Lex’s conscience really is in charge – after asking forgiveness, he tries to convince Lana into killing him, assuring her that “the world would be a better place”. I don’t know how long good Lex will last, but Rosenbaum is doing impressive things with the side of his character we’re currently seeing.

Pleasantly surprising, too, is the continued focus on characters over big action. ‘Kara’ was one of the most character-driven Smallville stories I’d ever seen. There was no baddie for Clark and Kara to fight; instead they spent most of their time talking. Lex’s story took the focus off Lana’s big return, framing her survival more as a chance to explore his character in deep, surprising ways. Some scenes with no plot purpose even wormed their way in: Chloe looking over the files of Belle Reve patients concernedly, and Lex playing the tape of his last conversation with Lana over and over as he flies towards her location. I know Smallville will never change in a big way, but if it could continue to creep these nice character moments in with the usual stuff, the overall quality will improve quite a bit.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

I mostly enjoyed this episode. I love the addition of Michael Cassidy, he is always a lot of fun and should provide an interesting dynamic for "creatively stifled" Chloe and Lois.

Michael Rosenbaum can do no wrong. When he has something interesting to do, he really knocks it out of the park. Here's hoping he gets a better storyline this year than last. One thing -- that Lana/clone reveal was painfully boring. The rest of the scene was good, though.

I'm still on the fence regarding Supergirl. I think it's mostly because of her ridiculous outfit.