Six episodes of Smallville have passed since my last recap (I’d apologise, but I doubt anyone cares) and a lot has happened. One new character was brutally killed off, two old faces showed up for one-off episodes, and past plotlines (dating as far back as the pilot) are being revisited. More than anything though, these episodes displayed a shocking lack continuity in story and characterisation, even by Smallville's standards. A quick runthrough follows…
Lets start with Grant Gabriel (Michael Cassidy). His character held a dominant story thread in the first half of the season, yet was brutally killed off a few episodes ago for no reason other than to show Lex’s evil side. (A shocking reveal, for sure.) Since then, he has barely been mentioned, and his former girlfriend Lois has never once been shown grieving for him. I know Smallville has never been good about plot continuity, but its never been THIS bad!
Then there’s Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow (Justin Hartley). Returning for a single episode, Oliver managed to find time to moan at Clark about greater responsibility, hook up with Siren (who was lame, lame, lame), mess Lois around a bit, and then shoot off in time for tea. And the point of all that was…?
I have no words for ‘Fracture,’ but to give you an idea, the teaser ended with Lex getting shot in the head. (No worries, he’s fine now.) The episode involved Clark journeying into Lex’s mind to save his life, and coming across Lex’s good side, represented by a cute little kid. Even for Smallville, the whole concept beggared belief.
A slight upturn came with ‘Hero,’ the triumphant return of Pete Ross (Sam Jones III, who originally departed the series at the end of the third season). Pete was always a dull, pointless character, and was thankfully dismissed once the writers realised they hadn’t given him anything to do for two seasons. Still, his character was effectively used here to open Clark and Chloe’s eyes to the senselessness in trusting Lionel and continually bowing to Lex. Pete himself remains a waste of space, as illustrated by his storyline in ‘Hero,’ which was precisely identical to his arc back in season three. (Apparently four years wasn’t long enough for the writers to conjure up a new direction.)
The impact of Pete’s sentiments has been clear to see in the latest two episodes, ‘Traveler’ and ‘Veritas,’ which form one (still continuing) story arc. No, I’m not using the phrase ‘story arc’ ironically – this is the real deal. After six and a half seasons worth of messy plotting, abandoned ideas and outrageously forgetful characters, Smallville has suddenly set to work establishing a proper mythology. ‘Traveler’ informed us of Veritas, a secret organisation which foresaw the coming of Clark Kent, or as they then termed him, the Traveler. Its members included the Teagues (privileged parents of season four’s late Jason Teague), Virgil Swann (the late Christopher Reeve) and Lionel Luther. Lionel is the only surviving member, and its been heavily implied that he murdered the others. On top of that, everyone believes Lionel ordered the death of Patricia Swann, Virgil’s daughter.
In ‘Veritas,’ however, Lionel protests his innocence, insisting to Clark, Lana and anyone who will listen that he is a reformed man. No-one’s having any of it though, not even the eternal optimist Clark, who has finally concluded that the Luthors are a lost cause. John Glover is acting the hell out of this material, selling Lionel’s various freak-outs with glorious pizzazz. Of course, dramatic irony soon rears its predictable head – Lionel is telling the truth, and the real culprit behind Patricia’s murder is revealed to be Lex. Based on the spoilers I’m reading, Lionel’s prospects aren’t looking too good. ‘Veritas’ also involved the return of a powered-up Braniac (James Marsters, enjoying himself), who took control of Lana for reasons as yet unexplained.
All of this is fairly exciting, and ‘Veritas’ definitely counts as the best episode of the season so far. The essential problem, however, is that it should have happened a long time ago. The next episode, ‘Descent,’ is apparently the official ‘Lex goes evil’ episode that viewers and non-viewers alike have expected for years. While I’m glad its finally arrived, for most viewers (including myself) it’s three or four years too late.