Starring Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack, Annette O’Toole, John Schneider, John Glover, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman, Terence Stamp
Written by Al Septian, Turi Meyer, Brian Wayne Peterson and Kelly Souders
Directed by Kevin Fair and Greg Beeman
Jesus Christ. I don’t even know where to begin with this.
I guess logically I should look back at the beginning. I was into Smallville when it first started airing, and even remember watching the two hour premiere (with my mother, no less, who was as confused by the premise of Superman before he was Superman as you could expect), and watched religiously for the first 2 or 3 seasons. The show had a somewhat decent “Freak Of The Week” episode format that was, at the time, more hit than it was miss thanks to some fun plays on the Superman mythos, as well as great acting from Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum.
About midway through the third season, I stopped really giving a shit. Which was fortunate for me, because this was about the time they obviously just stopped giving a shit themselves. Any remote concern for the mythos it came from seemed to be thrown out the window, as they seemed to finally realize that they would never be considered truly canon. And once the creative team left prior to the show’s 8th season, things really went downhill.
With 10 seasons under it’s belt, Smallville has finally come to a close in finale that simply should have been called “cop out”. It opens with drama regarding Clark and Lois’ wedding, which I must say made for the absolute worst 45 minutes of television I have ever seen. No one really discusses anything; they stare vacantly at each other and exposit long monologues about what we, the viewer, are to believe they have learned over the course of 10 years but have clearly not learned, since they’re still having the same discussions we’ve had for several seasons
I should mention the final season’s big bad was Darkseid, who is going to destroy Earth by crashing the planet Apokolips into it. Holy crap, do I hate Darkseid. I’d be okay with it if he showed up once in a while to pose a serious threat, but this guy is probably the most overused wreck of a villain in comics, showing up anytime the wind is blowing and Superman needs something to hit hard. For Smallville, he’s bastardized into a gaseous mist that goes around making pacts in exchange for souls and hosts. He makes a big deal about how he’s going to kill Clark because Clark is the only one who can “bring the light to the darkness”, and proceeds to set about doing so; unfortunately, Clark settles into a 10 minute long entirely internal flashback sequence, before besting Darkseid with his newly earned powers of flight, which he seems to have gained by unlocking the achievement “Put up with humanity’s ineptness for 10 years”. You read that right, by the way. Darkseid is bested not by increased strength, not by heat visioned fists, not even by a puff of arctic breath to keep him place. Clark simply flies into Darkseid, who then turns into dust and is not seen again for the rest of the episode. I am dead serious.
The finale also sees the long awaited return of Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor, which I admit I was more excited about than anything, and was probably my main reason for tuning in aside from finally seeing Clark in the suit (don’t get me started on that yet, we’re getting there). Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to want to pay Rosenbaum for too much work, as his “resurrection” occurs in the final half of the show, and after that he’s only around for his obligatory 10 minute exposition scene with Clark, a quick retcon as to why he doesn’t know Clark is Superman, and a shameless fan pandering moment where we learn he’s elected President in 7 years. A waste of a character who showed up so prominently and could have factored greatly in to Clark stopping the threat of Apokolips. Fortunately for the writers, they instead settled for making the Apokolips threat pretty much a non-issue.
Yes, an entire PLANET is looming in the distance, ready to destroy the Earth. Clark, having just gained his magical power of flight, simply shoves it out of the way, which manages to solve all of Earth’s problems instantly, and then poses dramatically while it soars off into space. Holy shit, it’s a planet! He couldn’t at least attempt to struggle with it? Couldn’t the writers have done something interesting, like have him have to team up with his enemy Lex to save Earth from a crashing planet? No, why do that when the writer’s can cop out and have him shove a planet out of the way effortlessly, so we can get in some more exposition.
This brings me to the final point of contempt: the suit. I know, I know; Smallville was about Superman before he was Superman, and was never about seeing him throw on the suit and go flying around. However, this suit has been a major factor of hype this season, and the writer’s promised numerous times that yes, we will see Clark finally don the famous suit. And anyone who saw the series in the beginning was really looking forward to seeing it, and in a way that’s the bargain we made. We’ll buy that he’s just a normal guy for now, but the last episode’s gotta feature that suit. It should be a perfect, easily defined moment when he drops from the sky wearing blue and red, and dashes forward to save the day. Of course, that would distract from more important factors, I guess. When Clark gets the suit, it’s given to him in the final 15 minutes of the episode. From this point on, we only see Clark in an extreme close-up of his face, or wearing the suit from a distance where it’s details are entirely indistinguishable. Holy shit, what a fucking cop out. It has been 10 years of waiting for this moment, and it’s axed entirely.
The show jumps back to it’s seven years later framing device, where we see Chloe tucking her son into bed and wishing Lois luck at work. Yeah, I’m not sure where Chloe is either; by all accounts, she’s stayed in Smallville, but Lois is at work and it’s early in the morning, so I guess Chloe puts her son to bed around 7AM. The series ends with Clark running out of the Daily Planet as a slightly remixed version of the classic Superman theme plays, and he rips his shirt open as the camera zooms in to where we can only see the S shield. Holy shit, are we finally going to see the suit??
Nope, cut to credits.
Fuck this show. I’m glad it’s over with. What started as a fairly interesting first few seasons quickly and rapidly degraded into a bullshit tween series that focused more on halfway written romance subplots and attempts at shocking swerves. Characters were barely recognizable, and costumes were poorly designed and cheaply made. I don’t know what the CW hopes to replace this series with in the long run, but hopefully their next comic book venture will have more lasting value and entertainment than Smallville did.