Smallville finally seems to have hit its stride, with another solid episode in a row – this time even bringing back an old face from the murmurings of the Justice League. It’s not arbitrary, either, as the series has been ramping up the main theme of this final season: the clash of law and ‘vigilantes,’ a theme that is always a logical step to take in a more realistic look at how we as a society would react. Spoiler discussion ahead after the break.
That touted legal action that the army has been pushing for in recent episodes has finally come into effect, and Clark considers being the first hero to stand up, reveal himself, and show that these ‘vigilantes’ mean the world well. Oliver Queen stops him, though, deciding that he ought to go instead since his identity has already been revealed. This was expected, but fitting, especially since the series has already pretty strongly implied that in this interpretation of Superman, no one knows the identity of the man in red and blue.
It’s quite disheartening to Clark’s ideals when he discovers that an old aquatic acquaintance has been causing trouble for the government by destroying an oil drilling facility. As Clark looks into the matter, Lois does some investigative work of her own, and we see some of that sly, sneaky charm that defines the character at work. The show effectively forces the feeling of shock that Lois no-doubt has been dealing with when she walks in on her own boss at work, Tess, informing Clark about some analysis she’s been having done for him. Once again, this episode brings to attention the notion that Lois can and probably should be helping Clark in the ways that she can, and she’s certainly not pleased to be left in the dark while others have been assisting him. This marks the episode where characters like Oliver and Tess come to realize that Lois is now ‘in’ on his secret.
Seeing Aqua Man show up to defy the government’s stand against super-powered people was a nice touch, and the tension between his wife and Lois further brings Lois’ role in this story to focus. Unfortunately for our protagonists, the government has decided to take matters into its own hands, using the ruse of cooperation as a means to lure in powered beings and imprison them. When we realize that the suppose oil rig that Aquaman destroy was in fact one of these facilities, we recognize that he hasn’t defected to the point of harming people (the facility was not operation and no one was around during its destruction, apparently). At the same time, it’s hard to deny that there comes a point where self defense needs to be exercised.
By the episode’s end, we come to find out that ‘The Darkness,’ as Clark has been calling it, that escaped from where Zod was banished to has been casting its cloud across the minds of people to enforce doubt and fear into their hearts, thus resulting in the rapid rise against ‘vigilantism.’ It’s this plot device that feels a bit overbearing and contrived to me, but it does fall in line with what would be expected from a stereotypical superhero story. The fact that ‘The Darkness’ has to be physically manifested and can’t simply be figurative irks me, but perhaps there is a worthwhile payout waiting for us in the end. Speaking of which, there’s a baldy and a blond whom I hope will also fill in redeeming roles by the time the curtain falls. For now, though, I’m happy with this string of more serious, overarcing episodes that have been developing a stronger overall theme than earlier episodes this season featured.