Smallville is definitely feeling different this season than in the past due to a few factors, one of them being the ever more blatant absence of Chloe as well as an extremely downplayed presence of Luthor Corp, at least up until now. That said, this week once again delivered an episode that is somewhat expected in tone and content, in line with much of the show’s history, and we even get an appearance from an old friend in the form of Kara, aka Supergirl, Clark’s only known Kryptonian relative that’s still alive. While this episode didn’t do much to set anything ablaze, it’s nice to see some recurring characters when we’ve been devoid of so many, and the episode tackles head-on one of the biggest themes of superhero lore: revealing identity. Spoilers will be discussed, so watch out if you haven’t seen the episode yet.
A radio talk show host gets possessed by an ominous ‘darkness,’ which seems to resemble an old computerized lifeform from a while back, causing an uproar in Metropolis. He’s done some research and has discovered the Green Arrow’s identity and is preparing to reveal it, which Lois is determined to stop. Essentially, it serves as an excuse for the show to explore more intentionally the big debate that always comes up when superheroes are taken seriously: should they let their identities be known? I appreciated that the series has been balancing back and forth, not making it clear which path it wants us to believe in. Strong cases are presented for both, leaving us to wonder in earnest just what Clark Kent will ultimately decide to do about his dual identity. Kara shows up quite unexpectedly during an anti-vigilante speech to ironically save the very people rallying against street heroes from an accident. She claims that she’s drawing attention to herself to lure the ‘darkness’ that’s showed up toward her as Clark ‘isn’t ready,’ something that is made perfectly clear when Clark throws a temper tantrum about how he can take on everyone and doesn’t care what his Krytopnian daddy thinks. In the end it all amounts to a somewhat trite concept of “don’t let the darkness overcome you,” which is something that Clark apparently is struggling with these days. In a way this idea is taking away from what makes Superman so symbolic, but I’m sure it’s all just to explore his rise to glory, overcoming his demons, and all that jazz. I suppose it’s a plot device that just isn’t capturing my attention very well, but there’s still time yet.
Oliver Queen has a somewhat touching moment in which he’s talking to his dead parents and reflecting on his lack of success. He’s rather nonchalant about the idea of his identity being revealed, which seems to baffle and irritate Lois, who has decided that hiding one’s identity as a hero is best and safest. Oliver eventually decides at the end of the episode that he’s going to come clean and clear the name of the Green Arrow. There’s no doubt in my mind that this will lead to some bad things for Mr. Queen, but it may lead to good, as well – it’s hard to say. And honestly, it genuinely leaves me pondering which approach Superman will ultimately take when he learns to take flight. Speaking of which, his dear cousin attempts to help him try this out, but he of course fails. While expected, it was somewhat amusing, and at the very least made it clear that Kara is, at this point, the more mature of the two. By the episode’s end she’s saved Clark’s hide from being consumed by what I presume to be some iteration of our old friend Braniac and is undercover to fulfill a mission Jor-El tasked her with – keeping an eye on the world because, apparently, her uncle has ‘given up’ on Clark’s abilities. Whether this is true or if Kara tells Clark this as some part of her mission is unclear. I’m still mixed on this element of Jor-El bash talking Clark but at the same time I can’t deny that Clark’s reactions to it only prove it to be correct.
Lois is back from Africa, of course, and I’ve saved her for last since she’s a pretty big part of this episode. Her romantic status with Clark still seems to be a bit up in the air, and she’s playing the ignorant game with him concerning his double identity. I can see it getting old after a while but for now it’s still kind of cute and endearing. She does that unexplainable Lois-ism where she gets undercover somehow and plays some sucker – in this case, the ‘darkness’ that has possessed the anti-vigilante speaker – into her trap, only to find out she’s in deeper than expected. Lois is really the kind of girl who could probably get away with being the wife of a superhero whose identity is known, and this episode encourages that notion. While she ends up in the hands of danger, she expresses that she knows ‘the Blur’ will always be looking out for her so she doesn’t have anything to worry about. The whole situation has this layer of ‘aw, how cute’ painted over top, but it does help us realize just how much Lois and Clark have evolved as a pair of characters over time.
The third episode of Season 10 didn’t do much to shock me or leave me specifically excited for more – though I’m definitely curious to see how the Green Arrow’s publicity plays out – and even Kara’s appearance didn’t really do much to grab me, but it wasn’t a disappointment of an episode, either. It’s a pretty standard example of what Smallville has been lately, which could be good or bad depending on your opinion. The writing is admittedly a bit flat and stereotypical lately but at least it’s diving into ideas that are important in a superhero mythos. A passable episode with some worthwhile concepts explored, but here’s hoping they get developed further as we go along, as things came off a little too stereotypical for my tastes here.