Sunday, May 15, 2011

Smallville Finale

Smallville. Often maligned. Apologized for. Guilty pleasure. Simple pleasure. It all applies to the overall opinion of the show or even to one person's views on the show. I think if you boiled it down, you'd be left with about 5 seasons worth of good episodes out of the 10. But, in the end, even the not so good episodes, in context, would have to be called fun. The finale falls somewhere in there as a good representation of the whole series.

There was a lot to like about the finale. The tension was there from the start, as you wonder if the whole series would end up being a comic book Chloe was reading to her son. Or will enough characters get killed to essentially reboot the series back to the Superman continuity we know? Thankfully, it wasn't all comic book, although it was teased a couple of times that it might be. But coming back to the comic book in the end did leave me with one big issue. If Clark is Superman and his identity is a secret, how is there a comic book out that tells his story? Sure, Chloe never refers to him as Clark when reading the comic to her son, but come on. That's a bit much, even for a character that relies on fooling everyone with a pair of glasses.

The best part of the finale was the best part of the 10 seasons of the show. Michael Rosenbaum as Lex, and his conversation with Clark was spot on. It was exactly the right way to wrap up the Lex and Clark relationship that began with episode 1. Lex's hatred of Clark is complex. It's built on jealousy, but not a pure jealousy. Lex also feels betrayed, and really, he's not wrong. At the end of the day, Lex wants to be the best human alive. He wants to be the hero and if in order to be that, he needs to instead be the villain, then so be it. It's easy to trace all this to Lex's relationship with his father, which makes him the perfect foil for Clark. Removing Lex's memories, however, was handled a little clumsily and out of left field. And, ultimately, I'm not sure it would have been necessary. I don't think Lex, as the character evolved on the show, would have gained anything by exposing Clark's secret, and instead would have gone out of his way to keep it to himself. Of course, he would have also made Clark's life a living hell on a level we hadn't seen before in the series. Flashing forward to show President Lex, and knowing the comics, we know he does this anyway.

And that flash forward at the end. . .We cut back to it at a good point, and for a second I thought they were going with the series was a comic thing. Chloe's last scene before this, she did a bit of a Dorothy goodbye with Clark and Oliver and said "see you in the funny books" with a Chloe smirk. She wasn't seen again, with no explanation. It was obviously done this way to make us think what I thought, but instead of being clever it just stands out as bad and totally unnecessary since it doesn't pay off. Also at the end, Clark bumps into Lois and calls her Miss Lane, nervously, which they then play off. But it also doesn't make sense. It's one thing for them to role play the Miss Lane thing, but surely everyone knows they were and are to be married.

The very last scene was a nice a touch, with the running Clark to Superman change on the roof. It could have been shot a little better, since what we got seemed a little bit stiff to me, but the idea was good. Ultimately, what I realized from this finale is that this series and most, if not all, hero stories are really about becoming a man. Much was made about how to move forward without letting go of the past. Much was made about fathers and sons and influences. And they resolved the issue I had with him selling the farm (which I wrote about here). All of it, leading to him accepting his past and future to become Superman. It would have been nice to see this version of Superman continue into comics or a movie, with the same focus on Clark rather than Superman. But with the flash forward putting us in a pretty close approximation of regular continuity, there is no longer much point to that. Still, it was fun. And no Lana, which would have been a downer since that was, to me, the weakest part of the series over the years.

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