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Season ten up, up, but not quite away
on 13 May 2012
For Smallville fans it goes without saying that this final season is a must, just so you can see how it all turns out. But, having said that, this final season is really quite disappointing. I've watched the show since the first season, and stuck with it through the ups and downs. This season repeats many of the mistakes of previous seasons and also doesn't generate any sense that this is the epic last season; there is no sense of momentum or build up towards a climactic ending. Considering this was the final season I was quite shocked by how weak many of the episodes were, as it just felt like little thought had been given to developing a driven, powerful and emotive story arc. Instead we get a season that feels like a collection of standalone episodes. Sure, it ticks the boxes in terms of Clark getting the glasses and a few nods to the Superman movies, but it all feels contrived and poorly integrated into the whole. At a time when the show should be focused on the end goal the season insists on taking the focus from Clark and putting it onto other superheroes, parallel universes and distracting plotlines. How can the reveal of Superman be something unique to the world when we have so many other superheroes running around the place? Seriously, the first 'red and blue' flying save comes not from Superman but from Supergirl...awful! In addition we have the terrible Hawkman and his buddies(too many to mention) and we get yet another flying hero in the form of Booster Gold. Whilst the Booster Gold episode was actually good, I don't think the show should have any other flying superheroes! It just doesn't fit and only detracts from Clark's journey and his uniqueness. And that essentially sums up season ten: It's a watchable season and the episodes are entertaining enough for the most part but many of them don't sit comfortably in a show that is about Clark becoming Superman.
Having 'watchable' episodes is not the same as having a satisfying season. In season ten Smallville continues to make the same mistakes that it has in previous seasons : too many other heroes, too sci-fi with parallel universes as a vehicle to bring back long dead characters, awful filler episodes, too many kryptonians running around, main characters developing superpowers, standalone episodes, memory wipes, poor fight sequences, mind control, undeveloped plotlines, overuse of the same sets, time travel, possession storylines, rushing good storylines, etc.
For me Smallville was at its brilliant best in season two. Wow! I was addicted. A real driven season! But it was clear that at the pace things were moving in season two the producers would have to slow things down if the show were to continue long term. And that is what happened, they put the brakes on and started getting sci-fi. And once that happens you have a show with no rules, where anything can happen and any event can be undone or rewritten. We can jump into the future, change the past, memory wipe, etc. In essence you back the show into a corner, and the end result is a show where nothing of any consequence can now happen, and it therefore feels like little is ever at stake. When Smallville grounds itself a little the show is a total winner.
I don't doubt how difficult it is to keep a show going for ten years, especially when the producers rarely know far enough in advance if they are going to get picked up for another season. This must make it very challenging for the writers when they are geared up for the end game only to then get renewed for another year at the last minute and on a smaller budget. But I still don't think that's an excuse for not getting the basics right in a final season. Don't get me wrong I have loved Smallville, there have been some incredible episodes and seasons, I just feel the whole series could've been epic had there been tighter control over plotlines.
Here is my take on the episodes in season ten:
Lazarus: Awesome. Heading in the right direction. Loved it.
Shield: mixed. Terrible Hawkwman stuff and just messy.
Supergirl: awful. The first red and blue save is from a flying Supergirl. Who wrote this?
Homecoming: great. But it should've been a two parter and much later in the season.
Isis: awful. Smallville at is worst and we've seen it so many times before.
Harvest: v.good episode but filler.
Ambush:brilliant. Smallville gets its heart back.
Abandoned: average. The granny goodness stuff really sux.
Patriot: brilliant. Good ol action episode.
Luthor: Watchable but just has no place in a show like Smallville.Parallel universes and the return of Lionel? Really? There isn't time for this stuff in a final season.
Icarus: awful. Looks cheap, and no impact.
Collaterall: very good episode despite being matrix inspired. But again, pretty much filler.
Beacon:very good episode.
Masquerade:rubbish. Feels so out of place.
Fortune: total filler episode but watchable.
Scion: very good episode but Conner seems to be character they don't know how to handle at all. The lex clone should've been much more of a plotline Instead of being used ad-hoc.
Kent: pretty good episode but there isn't time for parallel universe stuff in a final season it just detracts. Filler.
Booster: very good episode but another flying superhero in Smallville is just a big no-no if you want Superman to have any impact at all for Metropolis and the world.
Dominion: again a watchable episode but it delivers nothing of any value and is totally wrong for the show. All of a sudden it seems we are allowed to see Clark throw a few punches for once but sadly it is mainly whilst beating Oliver up! Why don't we get so see Clark/superman throw punches elsewhere against real foes?
Prophecy: dreadful. The penultimate episode and we see lois with Clark's powers.deary me.
Finale: Good. Some awesome moments mixed with some rubbish (Darkseid stuff, Apokolips, Lex being a clone, Lionel channeling Darkseid, Oliver being evil are all rubbish moments). It could and should have been better. Not quite the send off I'd hoped for but I'm just glad it had some powerful and memorable moments in there. We may only get strange CGI suited Clark In th end, but at least we do get superman.
Extras: couple of good documentaries but not having the series retrospective on here is mean, and an insult to the loyal fans who have stuck with the show. If you want to see it you have to shell out for the series box set.
So, overall I still love Smallville and this season is worth a watch it just could've been so much more.
Season rating from best to weakest: