In an effort to reduce the amount of time and editing that it takes to write these TwitTV reviews for Smallville, I’m going to limit them somehow, starting with the second episode, “Shield.” I don’t know what to exclude, and maybe it will vary from episode to episode, but I expect it may just be a matter of not describing every little thing from opening shot to closing shot. ;-) For this one, I’m going to focus on certain areas like structure, particular characters/concepts, etc., rather than describing the episode in detail (because we’ve all seen it).
First of all, I really admire the structure of “Shield.” It’s very unSmallvilley, and I like that; it’s refreshing, for a change. By this, I mean that it is not necessarily one of the freak-of-the-week episodes we are accustomed to, in which Clark catches the bad guy by the fifty-minute mark and we are treated to five or ten minutes of denouement for the final act. In this episode, Clark does catch the bad guy (Deadshot, who is awesome, but more on that soon) very close to the fifty-minute mark, maybe a little past it, but it turns out that said bad guy is a member of the Suicide Squad, which comes to break him out of jail (or Belle Reeve or whatever that was). In short, they will be back.
Another thing about the structure that I really like is how the opening scene mirrors the closing scene. First, Clark is shopping online for a plane ticket to Egypt, so he can see Lois. Then, after catching Deadshot and realizing a thing or two for himself, he stands alone on the top of the Planet, wearing an awesome red jacket, and drops the ticket to the ground. Behind him, the U.S. flag waves, and it looks like very much like a cape. For a second, I actually think he is going to fly, that he is going to figure out how to use his flight power to go to Africa to see Lois. And then it dawns on me that Clark has realized he can’t go see her – that’s why he let go of the ticket – and just has to wait for her to come back to him. Maybe that’s the intention of the scene, and if so, it works perfectly. If not, well, it still works to that effect. What adds to this scene, though, is the text message Carter gets earlier in the episode, when he is with Lois in Africa: Clark has instructed Carter to watch out for Lois. And of course he has! That’s such a Clark thing to do. Always looking out for the ones he loves when he can’t be there.
Next, there are a lot of really great closeups in this episode, especially the ones with Oliver and Tess when they’re reading Chloe’s letter. I enjoyed Tess’s line “the only one who could erase Chloe is Chloe” – and then later, when she says, “Our kitten reporter is on the move,” referring to Cat Grant (more on her soon). Anyway, Oliver is piecing together what happened to Chloe, bit by bit, and it seems Tess knows more than she is letting on. She helped Chloe disappear. There are some great performances for these two in this scene, and I look forward to more interactions in future episodes. Oliver and Tess don’t get a lot of screen time together, but when they do, there’s always an interesting chemistry on set. And speaking of Chloe…hot picture! Sometimes, I don’t think I take her relationship with Oliver seriously because it came out of the blue, and don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, but she wasn’t very serious about it in the beginning. That’s why it’s so weird to think that she and Oliver are actually in love now. I can’t wait for her to come back to him now, especially knowing now that she faked her death for a few reasons: to free Green Arrow, to get some distance from the Green Arrow life, and, ironically, heartbreakingly, to save her beloved Oliver.
Now, as for Cat Grant, I’m so glad they got Keri Lynn Pratt to play her. The first time I ever saw her, it was as Martin’s aunt on 7th Heaven. The character was incredibly ridiculous, and I think that – coupled with the fact that most of the actors on 7th Heaven are pretty bad or just have bad material to work with – just made me think Pratt was a bad actor as well. But then I saw what she could do on Jack & Bobby and Veronica Mars, and I fell in love with her. As Cat Grant, she brings some of that ditzy blonde attitude that I know she can do, that I’ve seen in each of her characters (maybe that’s Pratt’s “thing”), but also manages to add a kind of dramatic quality that I haven’t seen in her until now. Her black wig is both hilarious and practical. I can tell she is scared of Deadshot, as well as the superheroes, and it’s interesting to see the Smallville Cat as a crusader against heroes because I know how much the Lois & Clark version admires Superman. What really sells me on Pratt as Cat Grant is the scene between her and Clark where Cat is talking about herself and Clark throws a curveball by saying, “Kind of like the vigilantes.” Pratt’s facial expression here is fantastic, as she has Cat come to terms with the fact that she is indeed very much like the vigilantes she despises. I do have a problem with Cat, though: she’s not actually Cat Grant! Yet again, the Smallville team provides us with a character from the Superman universe but chooses to make that person a phony. This time, we get Mary Louise Schroeder assuming the name Cat Grant, whereas before, Jimmy Olsen was the fake. This practice is sad, and I hope it’s the last time we see it. If I were to rate episodes in my reviews, I would certainly take points off for this.
Okay, back to Deadshot. I didn’t know who Deadshot was before this episode, but I love the way they introduce him. The gunslinger shot is absolutely beautiful, with the low angles and deep colors, and then there’s the shot itself and, later, Clark’s save (of Cat). That said, there are some wonderful effects in this episode, and I loved seeing Clark perform a classic Superman save. The skull effect on his shoulder is rather interesting, and since it comes so late in the episode, it makes me wonder how they can fit all this in before the end of the hour. I decide there’s no way they can, and I am right: this episode is merely setting up for something that will happen later. Considering it’s only the second episode of the season, I’m impressed. Usually, we get filler at this point, so I already love the structure that producers Souders and Peterson have set up for the season.
On that note, the scenes with Lois and Carter are filled with mythology and setup. He explains his romantic curse to Lois, gives her some advice about Clark, and sets up for the Isis episode all at the same time! Clark as Ra is a great metaphor, and I love that Lois is so enthusiastic about it. I also enjoy the part where Carter describes the “über mensch” and Lois gets to translate: “a super man.” As far as I know, Lana is the only one to say “super man/Superman” before this episode, when she asks Clark, “What are you, man or super man?” I’m not sure which episode this was; I wish I knew. But in any case, as Lois is uttering the iconic word/phrase, Clark is standing on top of the Planet, dropping his ticket, a “cape” waving behind him. I love this ending. And even though there are a few weak points in the episode (the Cat Grant fakery, the lack of screentime for Deadshot, e.g.), I quite enjoy it. Besides, I know both Cat and Deadshot will be back, even if Cat isn’t really Cat Grant.
You can find a list of the other TwitTV Smallville reviews here: www.rogermarket.com/twittv-smallville-10×01-lazarus-10thfinal-season-premier.