The last episode of Smallville dealt with a parallel Earth. In the process, they confirmed that a Multiverse existed within the Smallville universe. Within this episode, we witness mankind indulged in behaviour you’d expect from a DC level ‘crisis’ crossover. Throwing in the emergence of an alternate Lionel Luthor to Earth-1, and I get the impression that Smallville is gearing up for a ‘First Crisis’ to shake up the status quo.
Which works for me, even if it’ll set off the ‘NO RETCONS’ brigade. It’s a staple of comic-books that, every now and then, you twist reality a tad. And the general panic on the streets does seem similar to the Apocalyptic and nightmarish images prevalent in ‘Final Crisis’ (fantastic, it somewhat incomprehensible, Grant Morrison comic-book.)
It’s helping shape things up nicely, causing doubt as to how this season will end. While we know (and sorry, but we do: it’s canon in TWO future sequences) that Clark ends up as the traditional Superman, they’re not letting us see how he passes the final hurdle. So there’s unpredictability remaining in the last steps. I appreciate that: it means the next ten episodes will actually have drama, instead of being an exercise in futility.
The drama, of course, comes from characters like Carter Hall (aka Hawkman.) He’s a wild card in the Smallville verse, a character who is reincarnated after he dies as the result of a curse. So he will never truly die. It allows him to die in his current form and add legitimacy to Slade’s threat, and at the same time keeps the danger level up for Clark because – as we all know – Clark’s weakness is not really Kryptonite, it’s seeing humanity suffering. Especially his friends. Clark watching Carter die was poignant, putting across the death (however temporary in the Smallville verse) still has ramifications for all involved. It’s never easy.
Credit, again, must go to Michael Shanks. He’s taking on the role of Carter Hall with a mix of gruffness and regret. The character is a difficult one to bring to life, having to show humanity while being a stone-cold warrior. He pulls it off nicely. It helps that the writing has him embrace both sides of his personality, exemplified in saving Lois’s life and keeping her safe even at the expense of his own life. The scene works on a couple of layers in this read.
- Carter is being a hero. Pays off his arc that began in Absolute Justice by transforming him from blinded by rage to truly selfless.
- Carter fulfills his destiny to die, and will be resurrected alongside his true-love Shayera.
- Carter doesn’t die as the result of a death-wish, rather to save Lois’s life.
- Carter’s fall from the Heavens, with his wings ablaze, is a reference to the story of Icarus: and corresponds to the title of the episode. However, Carter falls to save someone else. He twists the meaning of Slade to put across that people can choose to make the right call at the right time.
The episode also goes a good job of balancing the darkness of civilians attacking superheroes with the proposal (a nicely romantic scene) and Chloe contacting the team. In a flashback to 10×01, we get to see Chloe and Lois reacting just after she’s discovered Clark’s secret. The scene reminds us of what a warm and empathetic character Chloe is, and also that she had seen a good future through Doctor Fate’s helmet. While there is a real darkness to Smallville currently, it’s the storm before the calm – the night before the dawn, you could say.
When combined with a cracking fight between Slade and Hawkman, this creates the idea that this was another sterling episode of Smallville. Unfortunately, I do have a few complaints.
The first would be Star Girl, save for saving Oliver’s life, ultimately doesn’t factor into the episode. It’s not that seeing her again is bad, it’s just that she has no real arc. It’s disappointing after how well-written she was in Absolute Justice. The other thing that grates a tad is the matter of fact way they deal with Slade. While I do like Michael Hogan in the role, ultimately it doesn’t seem to have amounted to much beyond a guest villain to provide basic conflict for a few episodes. I was hoping for more from Deathstroke, if I’m being honest.
With that said, overall I dug the episode. It doesn’t demand a lot of discussion or thematic breakdowns, but it does bring Team Justice together. And that’s an encouraging sign for the arc. To defeat Darkseid and the darkness, the team and the light must unite. Clark’s logic of ‘we need to split up’ was wrong: together, they’re unbeatable. Hopefully when Smallville returns, we’ll see the team kicking butt as they did back in Justice.