TwitTV: Smallville, 10×01, "Lazarus" (10th/Final Season Premier)

I started a blog series called TwitTV to review television shows after “live” tweeting them. The only show I could keep up with was Smallville (and even then, only for a few episodes). This is the beginning of that ill-fated series. Note that the reviews get shorter after the first one. And now, without further ado, Smallville.


The Rest of the TwitTV Reviews of Smallville

TwitTV: Smallville, 10×02, “Shield”
TwitTV: Smallville, 10×03, “Supergirl”
TwitTV: Smallville, 10×04, “Homecoming”
TwitTV: Smallville, 10×05, “Isis”
TwitTV: Smallville, 10×06, “Harvest”

Sorry I had to stop. School kept me too busy to continue.


The First Smallville Review

NOTE: I’ve been a bad blogger of late, not because I haven’t been posting but because I haven’t delivered on something I committed to in August. That said, I humbly apologize for the lateness of my first official TwitTV entry. It’s most definitely going to be too little too late, but I hope that future endeavors will be more in line with expectations. That said, I want to end this note by letting you know that my freshman show, at least for the fall, will be No Ordinary Family. If you haven’t guessed by the title of this blog entry, my veteran show will be Smallville. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to blog about Smallville‘s final season. And with that…

We begin the 10th season of Smallville the same way we have every season before it – smack dab in the middle of chaos, with a “previously on Smallville” sequence to guide us. Except, this time, we know one more thing. We know this is the last season, so we somehow see and feel more in this “previously on” sequence; we see with new eyes. Memories refreshed, we immediately hear the words we’ve been dreading and yet anticipating for ten years: “And now, the final season of Smallville.” And it’s only fitting that Tom “Superman” Welling is the one to say them.

The title of this episode, “Lazarus,” becomes clear in the first frame of the episode, as Clark falls to his supposed death, a kryptonite dagger in his chest. I know he won’t die, but somehow, I am worried for him. When Lois comes barreling along, I know what to expect. She’s going to pull the dagger out, and Clark is going to come “back to life.” Lazarus indeed.

But Lois doesn’t pull the dagger out, not yet, anyway. She cries. She touches Clark, and she keeps crying.

Meanwhile, in dream land, Clark wakes up next to a grasshopper. This is a simple, beautiful shot, and although I know Clark is hallucinating or dreaming or something along those lines, I find that the grasshopper keeps me grounded in reality – and it’s an excellent directing decision. Clark is in the middle of the famous cornfield, the one where he was strung out as the freshman scarecrow in the series pilot. In fact, the wooden cross is there now, and perched on top are several crows. The sky is curtained in some kind of blue haze, which I can’t really judge or even understand because I’m having to watch a low-quality version on Megavideo. Anyway, add in Clark’s conversation with Jor-El, a Lex Luthor cameo, and a shot of Jonathan’s grave, and we already have a heavy dose of Smallville mythology, not even 5 minutes into the premier. “You were meant to be Earth’s greatest protector,” Jor-El says, and I can’t help but laugh. Didn’t Jor-El say, a long time ago, that he wanted Clark to rule over Earth? Not necessarily protect it? I wish he’d make up his mind.

Back in real-world Smallville, Lois keeps touching and crying over Clark until finally, when I’ve had just about enough, she notices the glowing blue dagger in Clark’s gut and pulls it out. She realizes it is hurting Clark more than any normal knife would and, so, throws it as hard as she can. And Clark starts to come to.

Erica Durance does some of her best work here, as Lois. Maybe part of my excitement comes from knowing that Lois just found out the truth in the season 9 finale, but nevertheless, I can’t shake the feeling of pure authenticity in this scene. Durance’s emotions are genuinely high, and when Clark doesn’t wake up right away, having just landed on the ground, I can feel her panic. Perhaps that is what makes the opening scenes so effective, what makes it seem so long before Lois finally pulls out the dagger.

Noticing that Clark is waking up, Lois runs and hides, and I am treated to the first truly iconic moment of the season. Clark stands up, the clouds part, and the yellow sun beams down onto his chest, healing his cut. Tom Welling is looking particularly buff here, breathing the sun in, breathing out the kryptonite-induced wound. This is one of those moments where I know, for sure, that Warner Bros. made the correct casting choice, based purely on looks and expression. Tom Welling is Clark Kent, and I can’t wait for him to become Superman.

That’s when the opening credits start up and I notice there are, as one reviewer pointed out, scenes that had been cut from the credits in previous seasons, only to be brought back now, for the final season. Clark as the scarecrow, for one. I won’t go into detail about the new opening credits, but I’ll say that, just like every new season, this one brings a refreshing energy that will propel us through to the finale. The series finale.

Okay, back to the show. Yay, it’s Chloe! And her…humongous computer. “The future is here. And it’s not an iPhone: it’s a big-ass table.” Bonus points if you know what I’m talking about. ;-)

So, someone has kidnapped Oliver. But who is this guy? The answer will come soon enough.

Speaking of answers, Lois finally has hers, and as she points out, sitting on her computer at the Planet, she’s “the last one to know” about Clark. And then he strolls in. I love this scene, and it’s all to do with the way Durance portrays Lois. Well, not all, but close. That cute little knowing smile as she knocks the pen under the table and climbs down after it is fabulous. I know what she’s doing because I see Clark do it in almost every episode, and here, she turns it on its heels: she’s using a perfectly reasonable gesture/action to misdirect Clark’s attention from the fact that she knows his secret. She’s doing the equivalent of turning her head so he can do his superspeed thing and get that file. Any other season, Clark would have to misdirect her instead. The final pretty bow on this wonderful scene is the way Lois describes her kiss with The Blur, the way she smiles and he smiles, back turned. This blocking is great, even if it is a no-brainer.

After a brief scene with Oliver and his kidnapper, in which he is still cracking jokes even while he’s being tortured, I watch Tess wake up and get my first introduction to Cadmus Labs. Or have I heard of it before? I really can’t recall. After 10 years of watching, I still can’t keep track of all the secret labs and projects, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. It keeps me on my toes, and for the most part, if I don’t remember one of them, that means it’s not all that important. As for Cadmus Labs, it definitely is important for this season because it’s where we meet Alexander and the rest of the Lex clones.

When Tess peels the hideous blob off her face, I can’t help but feel like the Smallville crew is saving money by making her injuries temporary. It’s a miracle cure! Oh well. It actually works here, because it’s so organic to the story of Lex’s DNA research. Speaking of that, the little boy who plays Alexander does a great job; he and Cassidy Freeman (Tess) work well together. “What is this place, Alexander? Who are they?” Tess is referring to the deformed clones. “They’re my brothers,” he replies, and then Tess realizes what that means. “You’re him…” Yep. He’s Lex. I find the line “we were made to heal the creator” very interesting because of the terminology. Lex as the “creator.” Lex as God, essentially. This is so very Lex Luthor! I get chills. Later, as Tess accidentally frees the “bad” clone, Alexander screams at her and hides, terrified. This is a perfect tone setter because, in the next moment, a hand claws its way out of the room and grabs Tess. For all intents and purposes, (an) evil Lex is back. Although it isn’t Michael Rosenbaum playing him, Lex is finally back in the story, and I’m so glad. He has been gone for too long, and if they have to use another actor for now, that’s fine. It actually works really well for the clone story, and this guy does a fantastic job as “Lex.”

After using Dr. Fate’s helmet to find out where Oliver is, Chloe wakes up in a lab with Dr. Hamilton and Clark. She has, of course, had a vision of the future, having used the helmet, and what she says is one of my favorite lines in the episode: “Clark, I saw you too. You were the world’s hero, and you weren’t in black.” She tells him that she thinks Cadmus Labs is on fire, and then, as Clark rushes off to save it, she says her goodbye. Of course, he doesn’t hear it because he’s too fast. Or because she doesn’t really want/mean to say it to him. At this point, I know Chloe is probably up to something, and she thinks it’s going to end badly. This has me a little worried because I love Chloe. However, I know that Allison Mack will be leaving the show for a few episodes, so I know something has to be done. She’ll be back soon enough!

Clark arrives at Cadmus in time to free Tess from her clone-made shackles, finding that everyone else is dead, including the deformed clones. “Lex” has killed them all, and now Clark has to find him.

The next iconic Superman moment comes when Lois is waiting for Clark in the barn and finds the suit. Smiling, she delivers a line that is purely Lois Lane: “So much better in Technicolor.” Well, I’ll agree with that. Clark had better put on that suit before the end of the season!

The next thing I know, Lois has been kidnapped by “Lex” and put on the cross with an S on her chest. What a great throwback to the pilot! Even better is the Scarlet Letter reference from Lex. It’s so perfect, and it has me praising the Smallville writers for getting the character right. They certainly have not forgotten how to write Lex Luthor. One thing, though, that I’m not sure I like is his mention of The Blur. If this clone was in Cadmus Labs all this time – and locked up, at that – how does he know about The Blur? Is this a goof? Did I actually find a goof? As much as I love TV, I often find that I am incapable of catching goofs in the shows I watch, but maybe that’s because I watch too much TV. Of all the shows I watched at some point in the 2009-2010 TV season, no less than 10 of them were cancelled. No joke.

Anyway, Lex’s deviousness comes to fruition when he comes face-to-face with Clark and states the rules of his game. There is a bomb on the Daily Planet’s sign/rooftop statue – yeah, that thing, whatever it is – and then there’s poor, defenseless, love-of-Clark’s-life Lois, tied to a cross in the middle of a burning field. Where Lex first saved Clark that night in the pilot episode. “Even you aren’t fast enough to save both,” Lex boasts. “Today, the world will finally lose faith in its heretic hero…and it will destroy you.” All I’m thinking is Lex clearly underestimates Clark’s speed/powers! Of course he can save both.

And he does – leaving a rapidly decaying “Lex” to die.

And in doing so, he treats us to an excellent running sequence. What a fantastic special effect! And even the fire has something to offer, as it is most definitely in the form of the S shield, isn’t it? I love that Clark uses his speed in a different way than he has in the past: running in circles to create a wind that will blow out the fire. He then rushes off to save the passersby outside the Daily Planet. Is this a jump or a flight? It’s too difficult to tell, at this point, but every time we get one of these, the producers explain it as a really big jump, and they’ll likely do that again. Or will they?

Next comes an excellent monologue, and Welling does a great job with it, putting the right pauses in all the right places. “I defeated Lex. I refused to let him win, and I pushed myself harder than I ever have before. For a second, [he smiles] I thought I was flying. But I saved everyone; I don’t know how, but I saved them all. I’ve finally become the hero you sent me here to be.” Of course, Jor-El is ill-pleased, as usual, and ultimately informs Clark that “the evil is you, Kal-El…Once this darkness consumes you, you will be Earth’s greatest enemy.” Darkseid is coming! I think, anyway. I honestly don’t know anything about Darkseid. I wish I’d read all the Superman comics. Oh well; I’ll learn about him/her/it this season on Smallville.

Clark is quick to point out that Jor-El may not see him as a hero, but “the rest of the world does. And I decide my fate!” Jor-El has the last laugh: “I regret, as a father, my faith in you blinded me to the truth: you will never be Earth’s savior.” And then the fortress goes dark. Is Jor-El gone? Forever?

The next scene is so adorable, with Tess bringing a glass of milk into her study, where Alexander sits on the floor, playing. Obviously, she took him home with her when she escaped Cadmus. What’s going to come of this? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!

As part of Smallville custom, the episode’s final scenes feature some beautiful singing (and I still need to look up the name of that song/band because I need to buy it), played over a montage of clips. The lyrics “I’d give anything for one more day with you” are perfect for the moment where Oliver walks, head in a sack to keep him from seeing anything, from one car to another and Chloe does the same in the other direction. Her hood comes off, and she looks at Oliver one last time and gets in the vehicle. She has made a trade with the kidnappers: her for Oliver. Next comes “I was wrong / I was wrong / Now I’ll never see your face anymore” as Lois looks at a picture of Clark, from a desert in Africa. She took Perry White’s offer from last season, knowing/thinking that she is only going to get in the way of Clark’s heroic duties. “I’d give anything for one more day with you” is the final lyric before the scene we’ve all been waiting for.

Clark, standing by the fence at the Kent farm, sees Jonathan, hard at work, and walks up to him. He can’t believe his eyes.

“Chores, Clark. Work keeps a man honest. You gotta protect the things you worked hard to build.” That’s so Jonathan Kent! Once again, the writers manage to bring to life a character they haven’t written for years. When Jonathan tells Clark he is always watching out for him, Clark is visibly frustrated. “Then you must be disappointed. I haven’t grown into the man you raised me to be.” But Jonathan surprises him: “No you haven’t. You are so much more than that, and I am so proud of you, Clark.” We’ve got a perfect father-son moment, and then Clark gets all bent out of shape again. “That’s one dad.” To which Jonathan replies, “Since when did you start listening to Jor-El?” What a great line – and so true! Clark rarely listens to Jor-El and is only doing so now because he feels guilty for having almost killed the Lex clone out of anger. Don’t worry, Clarkie; he died all on his own. It wasn’t your fault at all.

Anyway, there are so many Jonathan Kent aphorisms (and Clark Kent responses) here, I think I’ll just list them:

“We’re all confronted with trials, son. But the true measure of a man is how he chooses to react in the fact of those trials.”

“We can’t make excuses for the dark stains on our hearts, son.”

“We all make sacrifices, son, and every time we do, we lose a little something in the process.”

“I feel like everytime I do something right I do something wrong!” (Clark)

“You got that second chance, son. You could be the greatest hero the world has ever known.”

“Jor-El was right about one thing: something dark is coming. You’re gonna be tested. It’s not gonna be easy, son, but I have faith in you.”

Clark looks away. He stares off into the distance and asks Jonathan what dark force is coming for him now. But Jonathan, his dad, is gone again.

There is a musical shift – loud and tumultuous – and we cut away. Here comes Darkseid! The soundtrack then becomes heroic for the final shot of the final season premier ever of Smallville: the Superman suit, encased in glass/ice in the fortress. What an excellent closing shot! It promises a lot to the viewers. This is definitely the season where Clark becomes Superman, and I say that with much confidence after watching this episode. There are so many throwbacks not only to the pilot and to the first season but also to the Superman mythology in general. Smallville isn’t perfect, and I won’t pretend it is, but when it gets something right, it really gets it right. That said, the crew has done a phenomenal job setting up for the end of the show, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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