Godspeed, Kal-El

It’s been a long road…

Yes, that’s the opening to the theme from “Star Trek: Enterprise,” which, thanks to working on a few episodes of it, I’ve only recently come to realize was actually a pretty decent show that I wish I’d watched as regularly as I did “The Next Generation” or “Deep Space Nine,” as it may have survived another season or two.

But “Smallville” certainly did okay for itself. After all, it ran for ten years. Not all of them were great, not all of them managed to capture my rapt attention, but still, it was some of the best television of the last decade.

Much like other times, I was going to write a full review of the episode, but those are everywhere. Instead, I’ll just tell you what I loved (and didn’t love). As I said in a previous post, I thought they’d send it off with a bang. And they did. And, yes, there are spoilers ahead.

“Smallville” has always been about Clark Kent’s journey to becoming Superman. Yes, they took the previously established Superman mythos and had their way with them, bringing in enemies and situations Clark was never supposed to face until well after he donned that red-and-blue suit. But I never really followed the canon anyway. I’ve never been a comic-book reader, and my exposure to the bulk of Superman mythos was the Saturday-morning cartoon of the late ‘80s and “Lois and Clark,” which I loved. And, of course, I’d seen the movies. So their alterations meant precisely zilch to me.

I had hoped Chloe Sullivan would die. There, I said it. I loved her, I loves me some Allison Mack, but her character was a “Smallville” original, and characters from the future had never heard of her, so I’d assumed that she would be gone, since she’s not a known part of Superman’s history. But they left her alive, presumably living a quiet life with Oliver, raising their son. And more power to her. The girl deserved some peace and quiet. Some happiness.

Tess’s death, on the other hand, surprised me. She, too, was a “Smallville” creation, a seemingly-evil-eventually-turned-good replacement for Lex Luthor, who, in the end, was responsible for her death. I was thrilled to hear of Michael Rosenbaum’s return (wearing a believable bald cap rather than actually shaving his head for his few minute of screen time). That said, what the heck was that? Yes, I get that Lex Luthor isn’t allowed to know Superman’s identity. That would kinda ruin everything. But a neurotoxin to erase basically all his memories, yet still leave him the evil mastermind he clearly is? Yeah, I didn’t buy that. But I was still satistifed.

Lois and Clark didn’t get married. Disappointing? Slightly, but the reason for it was kinda awesome, so I’ll forgive it. An evil Oliver and a huge flying planet kinda trump the marriage. (Don’t worry — Clark fixed Oliver.)

But let’s get to the important stuff. Clark finally became Superman. It doesn’t get much better than that. He got his final lesson from his two dads, he put on the supersuit, and he freakin’ flew in to save the day. In fact, we got a lot more of the famous suit than I ever expected to see. “No flights, no tights” was the rule for the writing staff. Honestly, I never thought we’d see him in that suit at all. Granted, most of it was CGI, but it was well-done (especially compared to the trailers for “Green Lantern,” which just looks terrible to me).

Lois’s first glimpse of him as Superman gave me chills. As did the flash forward, in which we see Lois running around the Daily Planet, the real Jimmy Olsen (since the previous main cast member was actually his older brother, which they’d semi-established in an earlier season), Perry White yelling “Great Caesar’s ghost!” behind his office door, and Clark in all his faux clumsiness. We see him hear of an emergency, run up to the roof, and open his shirt in that very-clearly-Superman move, revealing the “S” as we cut to the producers’ credit.

Was it a perfect episode? No. Was it an incredibly fantastic sendoff? In my opinion, ohh yes. But, in all, I am quite pleased. And now I’m left a little sad, much like when “Buffy” or “Angel” ended, to a lesser extent. The number of shows I watch has decreased significantly in recent years. Few new shows manage to grab my attention for longer than a handful of episodes. To lose one of the good ones is rough. Especially one that, honestly, I think could go so much further now. Clark Kent’s journey had definitely reached its apex, but television could definitely use a weekly dose of “Superman.” Fans are referring to the potential series as “Metropolis.” And I, for one, would absolutely love to see that happen, even though, as far as I know, there’s not even the slightest chance of it, nor has the idea even been pitched.

I’ve always believed that Clark Kent isn’t Superman, but Superman is Clark Kent (give the song “Superman” by Five for Fighting a listen, and you’ll see what I mean). From what I can tell, though, most fans seem to believe that Clark Kent is just a cover for his real identity: the Man of Steel. While I still think that, ultimately, Clark Kent is supposed to be a normal guy who just happens to have these powers and a responsibility he can’t ignore, “Smallville” embraced the more established path. And they did it well. Without it, weekly TV is a little emptier.


Nathan
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