Sunday, May 15, 2011

TV: Smallville Finale Weds Its Past and Future (Review)

10.21 "FINALE"
Aired May 13, 2011 at 8PM on the CW Network

If there has been an underrated part of "Smallville" during its ten year run, for me it would have to be the actor voiceovers that lead into the previous episode recaps and into the actual episode. Hearing "Last time on Smallville" or "And now the season premiere of Smallville" has been taken for granted over the years.

And now with the final season it was only apropos for the season premiere recap - the first vo of the season - to be voiced by Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) and for the last vo - the finale lead-in, "And now the series finale of Smallville" to be voiced by Clark Kent (Tom Welling) as they are the two longest starring characters of the show that have been the "Smallville" standbys since the pilot in 2001.

Through its lifespan on first the WB for its first five seasons and then the last five seasons on CW after the WB and UPN channels merged, the show has been plagued with having it's air day shifted every few seasons further down the week (Seasons 1&2 on Tuesdays, 3&4 on Wednesdays, 5-8 on Thursdays and 9&10 on Fridays) and less than satisfactory advertisement and promotions for the show from the network. And the ratings have declined over the years as a result, but in the midst of the mess stayed a loyal group of fans that soon grew to love the show, its characters and its actors to even a higher degree than the intellectual property it was adapted from and previous incarnations of the Superman legend that had come before.

And in a sign of respect to a show that has been the network's flagship show for the last half of the decade as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and 7th Heaven shows ended, CW decided to present the series finale of "Smallville" as an epic two-hour television event on May 13th with a rerun following next week on Thursday, May 19. A perfect way to close the doors on the "Smallville" universe and its unforgettable television run.

Returns have been a big theme for "Smallville" during this final season and the finale kept it going, even behind the camera. Director Greg Beeman, who had directed the show's first four season finales, episode 100 and had returned to direct Season 9's finale, was welcomed back to direct the last hour of the finale.

Also back for the two-hour finale were several cast fan favorites, including Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) who has been a shining part of the final season with multiple appearances playing both the spirit of Clark's fallen father as well as the alternate universe version of Jonathan Kent. His presence in the finale went hand in hand with viewers needing to suspend their disbelief but it was well worth the entertainment value of seeing the Kent family reunited and Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole) and Jonathan sharing the screen for the first time since Season 5.

There was also the presence of Lionel Luthor (John Glover) who made his return during the final season and like Jonathan, had multiple appearances that really magnified how much the show had missed the character. Of course because the Lionel of the main "Smallville" universe had been killed by Lex in Season 7, this Lionel was from an alternate universe and as a result was a much darker take on the character. He was only a small part of the finale's second hour and will probably be more remembered this season for his return episode - Luthor - and the climax episode dealing with Lex's clone - Scion.

Because Jonathan Kent had made his first return to "Smallville" back in the Season 10 premiere and Lionel Luthor followed a few episodes later, the more anticipated return for the finale was that of the elusive Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) who had not been truly seen since the Season 7 finale, because Lex's brief injured appearance during Season 8 was played by another actor. To have the original Lex back brought the show full circle in that the series at its core had always been the story of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor and their intertwined destinies. That scene between Lex and Clark in the shattered ruins of the Luthor Mansion was full of the onscreen chemistry they had always had and it was like it was still three years ago and they had not been apart for three years.

The show promised surprises and the epilogue of the finale did indeed bring that when Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore) popped up beside Lois Lane (Erica Durance) being played by the same actor that played his older brother, who was widely considered by fans of the show as the "true" Jimmy Olsen that was unduly robbed of that honor. It was indeed a wow moment that was a welcome nod to the fans appreciation of the actor and his time on "Smallville".

Quick Hits:
  • Talking about the finale you can't leave out Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) who has had some incredibly powerful scenes during this final season as viewers learned of her true heritage as a Luthor. She did not escape her long rumored demise but she did unleash one more action scene when she broke free from her restraints and killed the alternate universe Lionel Luthor. And the onscreen chemistry with Lex was amazing despite the fact that the scene was their first and only together, and it left viewers wanting more between the half-siblings that cared for each other despite the inevitable toll the curse of the Luthor name had on them.
  • Despite the lack of her father and sister at the wedding, Lois Lane looked the part of blushing bride beautifully and stole the hearts of men everywhere during the first hour of the finale. And then true to her character, in the second half she found her way onto Air Force One and forced the government officials to listen to her pleas and still get her scoop with the president. A fitting end for this Lois Lane's story to end.
  • The biggest anomaly of "Smallville" when it came to fitting into the bigger picture of the Superman mythos was the original character, Chloe Sullivan, who was such a central and integral character of the show that the fan upswell supporting her grew as rumors of her possible demise came to light during the last few seasons. In the end though, the show gave the fans of the character and actress what they wanted, a future. She did not die and was shown with her son in the finale's epilogue telling the adventure-craving young boy the story of Superman.
  • The odd man out for this finale would have to be Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley), who honestly seemed to have been only as a supporting/fill-in role for the show in the last two seasons after flirting with the idea of him being a corporate mogul and interacting alongside Tess as the good side's instigator during Season 8. The final season teased the idea of doing something interesting and different with Oliver after he was marked by Darkseid, but that plot was wrapped up quickly during the first hour and then the problem of the Bow of Orion being destroyed was pretty much an afterthought as Oliver was able to dispose of Darkseid's three servants with ridiculous ease that did not make much sense outside of there not being anymore time left in the finale for a longer fight between the side characters.
  • In the end this story has always been about the journey of Clark Kent (Tom Welling), from charming farm boy to inspiring hero and "Smallville" did a fantastic job in staying true to that path. There were ups and downs along the way but the final season was very much the show's way of crossing the t's and dotting the i's that would get Clark to the ultimate goal that was the finale. The battle with Darkseid was anticlimactic given the limitations of a CW television show budget, but they made the best of it with having Clark finally achieve the ability of conscious flight and while most of Superman's presence in the finale was through CG, the last shot of the finale being Clark's transformation on the Daily Planet roof revealing the shield underneath his dress shirt was definitely the right choice to finish the series with such an iconic shot.

It has been an amazing ten years with "Smallville" a consistent companion on television but like all good things the end is a welcome sight before the original spirit of the show begins to disappear, like had been feared over the last few seasons. There will be a noticeable void felt especially by the geek audience when September comes around and no new "Smallville" episodes appear. This show surpassed everyone's expectations and in the end established itself as this generation's Superman story and is entitled to claim its own piece of the Superman mythos forever.

Goodbye, Smallville. Thank you for the memories.

This brings the end to Smallville week here on GeekPlate. If you missed it, there were four Top 10 lists posted on GeekPlate during this last week featuring Smallville's best episodes, best superpower moments, best Clark saves and best kisses. Hope you have enjoyed looking back at some of the show's memorable moments over its ten year run and that the finale lived up to your expectations.

No comments:

Post a Comment