Home > Reviews > Belated review: SMALLVILLE finale (SPOILERS)

Belated review: SMALLVILLE finale (SPOILERS)

Spoilers ahead for the 2-hour finale of Smallville:

Well, that was kind of a mess, pretty disjointed, but it had its moments. Jonathan’s ghost being inexplicably around was weird, but there were some nice sentimental bits, especially Jonathan handing Clark the costume. The whole bit about Clark being wrongly convinced he had to give up his ties to the past was a rehash of where he was two season finales ago and didn’t make much sense. Apokolips showing up was kind of wild and totally nonsensical from an astronomical standpoint and a simple logic standpoint — a flaming planet larger than Saturn was closer than the Moon, and nobody even looked up and saw it? Not to mention the devastating gravitational effects. And why, after the wedding was scuttled, wait seven years to try it again? And how come DC in this universe is publishing a comic that gives away the whole backstory of Superman? And…

Oh, there’s so much else I could complain about, and I will later, but I think I’d rather focus on the good stuff for a while. The scene with Clark and Lois exchanging vows on opposite sides of the closed door was a very nice scene, sweetly written and creatively directed, with the camera circling around them despite there being a door and wall between them. The Clark/Lex reunion scene was pretty cool, even if it was awkwardly tacked into a story that had nothing to do with it. Michael Rosenbaum was terrific, bringing back that somber, sympathetic Lex who was as much Clark’s brother as his archrival, even if just for a few minutes. It was a bit silly that all Clark needed to master flight at last was a montage of stock footage of his past feats, but I was leaning forward in my seat when Clark finally caught himself in midair, hovered, and turned against Lionel/Darkseid.

But the final reveal of Superman was one that I’m sure many fans are going to feel very frustrated and let down by. We never got to see Welling full-on in the costume — just extreme closeups of his face interspersed with shots of the cape and long-distance shots of Superman in action, and one final shot of him pulling his shirt open to reveal the S shield. Not to mention the way he saved the world. After all this buildup about Clark being the light who’d inspire people to cast off the darkness, I thought we’d see him appearing before the public and making a heroic speech that would fill them with hope. I mean, that’s the whole thing the season arc has been building toward, the moment where he steps into the light and shows his face as a superhero. But we never got that moment. Instead, he just… pushed… Apokolips… away. In about 20 seconds. A whole ginormous planet, and he pushed it away as easily as if it were a runaway train. And nobody sees his face when he does it, any more than they saw the Blur’s face. And people thought the Doomsday fight two years ago was anticlimactic. This was anticlimactic as much on an emotional level as an action level.

Not to mention the ease with which Clark and Oliver defeated Darkseid and his minions. One hit and they disintegrate in puffs of smoke? And they both straight-up killed the human hosts. There wasn’t even any attempt to rationalize it by saying that the hosts were already dead. They just callously disintegrated their enemies.

Speaking of killing, I’m upset that Tess was killed, but I guess it was necessary to give Lex some villain cred. And it was rather touching the way he explained that he did it to save her from becoming like him, even though the whole “Luthor blood dooms you to evil” business is idiotic. It was a good capper to the arc of Lex Luthor as a nuanced, sympathetic villain. Unfortunately, with Tess wiping his memory so all his knowledge of Clark’s powers will be gone, that pretty much means the Lex we knew is also gone. Not that it really makes a difference at this point, but still, it makes that earlier scene between Clark and Lex seem kind of pointless.

By the way, Tess’s escape from the operating table was one of the best moments in the episode. Really impressive action scene there, great choreography with the legs.

(Oh, and I like the convoluted and perhaps-unintended inside joke that the younger Jimmy Olsen, James Bartholemew, grows up to look exactly like his older brother Henry James Olsen, given that Aaron Ashmore is an identical twin in real life.)

I guess that’s enough to say. Smallville is over now, and it ended as it lived, wildly unevenly. The first few seasons were pretty good for what they were, then it went increasingly downhill for a few seasons more, then it resurged in seasons 8 and 9, but this season has been an inconsistent, unfocused jumble, hampered by a microscopic budget. What I feel now, as much as anything, is relief that it’s finally over. At least its final two hours offered a few glimpses of the quality the show used to have when Michael Rosenbaum, John Schneider, Annette O’Toole, Allison Mack, and John Glover were still in its cast. It was nice that they all got one last hurrah. And on reflection, it’s probably a relief that we didn’t have to watch Tom Welling try to act like Superman, something that to this day I’m still not convinced he could pull off even if he wanted to.

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  1. May 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    The majority of the episode was just Smallville-as-usual (you’d think if Clark was going to have ONE episode where he didn’t mope about his destiny, it would be this one), but the last five minutes (basically from the moment he gets the power of flight) were pure joy. The flashback, destruction of Darkseid, getting the outfit, the flight, pushing the planet away, the tag at the end with the John Williams theme- all of it was magic and perfect and I don’t fault them at all, it was just what I wanted from the series finale.

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