The Season Finale and A Look Back at Season Nine
Just saw the season Finale of the CW Network’s SMALLVILLE, ‘SALVATION’. Quite a dramatic ender for this year, with multiple cliffhangers.
To protect readers who haven’t seen it, I’ll start with the official description of the episode–which has some spoilers itself.
“Zod (Callum Blue) unleashes his army upon the world, forcing Chloe (Allison Mack) to call in reinforcements from old friends. Zod tells Lois (Erica Durance) he is The Blur and asks her to steal the Book of Rao from Clark (Tom Welling). Torn between Clark and The Blur, Lois asks Clark to come clean with her about everything but he refuses. Chloe (Allison Mack) and Oliver (Justin Hartley) attempt to reconnect Watchtower’s satellite system in order to fight the Kandorians but to Chloe’s horror, Oliver gets caught on site and disappears. Tess attempts to stop Zod but he leaves her clinging to life. Clark and Zod battle for control of Earth.”
Let’s see: The old friends? Justice League members John Jones (The Martian Manhunter, played by Phil Morris, Black Canary (Alaina Huffman of STARGATE UNIVERSE) and Lee Thompson Young as Cyborg make cameo appearances on Watchtower’s computer screens. The series’ version of the Justice Society, Hawkman (STARGATE’s Michael Shanks) and Britt Irvin as Stargirl are also on hand. Only Shanks gets a chance to make any real dramatic contribution to the proceedings, but I have to admit the scene ranked high on my comic book fan geek quotient.
However, the real Superman mythos pandering (and don’t get me wrong, I love this kind of stroking) was the opening minutes, which had Clark apparently having a vision of his own future (circa 2013) with many iconic comic book elements. And when he woke from this revelation, he discovered a package from his earth mother—which, judging from the reflection in his eyes, contained the classic Superman uniform.
The dilemma that faces Clark throughout the episode is that he can send Zod and the Kandorians to a world of their own—but all the Kryptonians on Earth, including Clark will be gone forever. Or as long as forever lasts in a comic book universe.
He has to struggle with that choice before being willing to make that sacrifice, but being who he is you know he will do so. No surprise there. But there are some twists along the way.
Oliver Queen (The Green Arrow), who has been having a “friends with benefits” affair with Chloe Sullivan (the only remaining character from the first year, save Clark) manages to exchange ‘I love you’s’ with her before getting whisked away by unseen super-strong foes who he says are NOT Kandorians.
Sitting vigil outside the horribly burned Tess Mercer’s hospital room has been a hooded woman, knitting away, waiting for her to die. Once she does, the grandmotherly figure shows a dark side as she enters the room, bag in hand, with what certainly seemed sinister intent.
Does this have anything to do with the “coming Apocalypse” mentioned several times over the season? Am I being blatant enough?
Lois not trusting Clark for keeping secrets? It’s very strongly implied that she knows the biggest one of all, after he saves her from the wrath of Zod.
And how does Clark manage not to get sent to wherever the Kandorians ascend to in a blaze of golden light?
Simple, he lets Zod stab him with a blade of Blue Kryptonite, which in the context of the show makes Kryptonians human. Thus Zod loses his own protection from being transported, and Kal-El falls off the building, speared in the side, his legs straight, his arms stretched out, in a classic crucifixion pose.
That last bit points out one of the strengths and weaknesses of the ninth season. Superman has always had a sort of Judeo-Christian echo in it. The angelic being, the only begotten son, sent to save us all. There’s Moses and his life-saving trip down the Nile, and the obvious Christ parallels. It’s a given, but it should stay as subtext and not become so heavy-handed, as it did in SUPERMAN RETURNS, and this season of SMALLVILLE.
It’s been so much in the forefront, that if I was a devout person, I would probably find it offensive. As it is, it’s been a bit of a drag, with characters going into fanatical monologues about as subtle and welcome as a tap on the shoulder with a sledge-hammer.
However, overall it’s been a good year. The first episode of the year was SAVIOR, showing Clark Kent returning from his 40 days in the desert, though he initially returned rejecting his mortal life, until realizing he needed to re-connect with it, due to his feelings for Lois Lane.
We met Zod, and John Corben (Metallo, played by TERMINATOR’s Brian Austin Green), and even had a the nod to the SUPERFRIEND’s Wonder Twins. Comic book fans got a two-hour “movie event” with the Justice Society script by comic book writer Geoff Johns.
Checkmate’s Amanda Waller (Pam Grier), and future JLA benefactor/menace Maxwell Lord (Gill Bellows) showed up, Martha Kent and Perry White (Annette O’Toole and Michael McKean) appeared in a great nod to years past, and we had the pleasant sight of the curvaceous Erica Durance dressed up as an “Amazon Princess” for a comic convention.
Series star Tom Welling became an Executive Producer this year, and working with show-runners Kelly Souders and Brian Wayne Peterson, I think facilitated a freshening of his and the show’s energy.
Season Eight, the first year without Michael Rosenbaum’s compelling Lex Luthor, had seemed a bit tentative and cash-strapped. While the budget didn’t increase notably this season, it seemed that producers and crew figured out ways to stretch the (Canadaian) bucks this year, giving it a smoother feel and filmic look, despite being shot on High-Definition video.
So messianic reservations aside, this aging fanboy is looking forward to another year of SMALLVILLE.
Directed by Greg Beeman
Written by Turi Meyer & Al Septien
Warner Brothers Television, The CW Network.