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first few minutes into a show are paramount in our assessment of the
overall experience. It is why people often give their opinions with
lines such as “It started slowly but then picked up some momentum,” or “It
was promising but unfortunately didn’t deliver.” That is because our
mind can never be cheated out of remembering what we felt at the
beginning. A few minutes into this episode of Smallville and I braced
myself for the worst.
begins with Lois explaining to a doubtful Clark why he should use a
disguise – wear glasses, don a trench coat, and be a mild-mannered
reporter – before being able to safely reveal the Blur to the world.
They are on the street and Clark seems already halfway there; he has
the glasses and the trench coat though he is not yet slouching enough,
she finds. Because of all the new details relevant to this story they have to cram in, this conversation seems to go on too quickly, while the viewer is wondering if we didn’t miss an
episode since “Kent.” Lois’s attention is suddenly drawn by a
fumbling, bungling teenager who seems to be exactly what she wants
Clark to look like. The clumsy kid decides to cross the road without
paying attention to a speeding SUV and that is when Booster Gold
appears and saves the day, drawing as much attention to himself as he
can in the process. At this point I believe my exact thought was, “Oh,
What follows is something you have probably seen already even if you are not a Smallville regular. The new hero in town wants to do as well as the Blur. Whatever sidekick Clark has with him for the episode painfully tries to point out to both the new hero and to Clark that the Metropolis area is the Blur’s territory. Clark is generally too busy with a potentially world-shattering issue to bother. While “heroing-around,” the Blur meets the misguided hero wannabe and drops one or two suggestions about, you know, hero motivations and that kind of thing. By the time Clark solves the hero-worthy issue, our newcomer has understood the errors of his ways, so after a short final lecture they have some hero bonding time and part ways. Give or take one or two details, the story pretty much always goes like this.
By the time the first scene with Booster Gold was over, I knew we would have a healthy dose of hero-worship and a half-baked plot, but there were few other details that really bothered me later on. Having one insufferable character wasn’t enough so they brought back the conservative blond female reporter just to make sure we would be definitely annoyed. It got worse as our own Lois at some point said, “Metropolis is the Blur’s jurisdiction.” Well, even with that she was still the only half-decent character in the episode. With Erica Durance, Smallville has created a Lois Lane who is able to stay true to the character even with the wrong material. Clark has had many friends and a few sidekicks over the years. They have all been unable to be around him – even when he made the wrong decisions, which he has done a lot – without looking and sounding inferior. Erica Durance has brought to life a very compelling female protagonist who was unfortunately not always wisely used. Now with the dark hair (I really did like the change), whether she is making a point energetically or staring at him with wide bright eyes and even begging him to do something, we can always feel her strength.
I should maybe add that her performance stands out in part because, let’s face it, good acting has never been Smallville‘s strongest suit, nor was it meant to be. It obviously doesn’t help when one has to deliver lines that would appeal only to a specific audience in a story that feels rushed through. What works in a comic book doesn’t necessarily work on TV in both theatrics and dialogues.
We are on the final stretch and an episode like this should have been moved further away from the season and series finale. Furthermore, it should not have been used to introduce the glasses-wearing, mild-mannered Clark Kent. I believe somewhere between season 4 and season 6 the Smallville writing team stopped worrying too much about continuity with the Superman storylines. Even so, a few things remained: Smallville had to somehow deliver a mild-mannered Clark Kent to the Daily Planet in Metropolis with little more than his glasses as disguise. This means the transformation was fundamental for Smallville‘s Clark Kent to become Superman‘s Clark Kent and I believe deserved a better story. In this episode, they have botched it…