Saturday, May 14, 2011

Leaving Smallville

It's probably not a good idea to sit down to write out my thoughts on the Smallville series finale just yet. I'm still geeking out over the whole thing. A lot, actually.

Here's the thing... I had to work last night. So I missed seeing it during it's first run showing on the CW. The only positive to all of that is I missed the commercials. I know how I get when I'm watching something I'm excited about seeing. I gasp when the commercials begin, even though I know they're coming. And then I grow incredibly impatient for the ads to be over, just so I can see what happens next.

In the past, when I've had to work and have been forced to miss a new episode of Smallville, I would typically jump on the Playstation Network and purchase the latest episode so I could still see it on my awesome HD television. But, in case you weren't aware, the Playstation Network is down. Like, way down. Been down for about a month. So in the last few weeks I've had to wait until the CW decided to upload the newest episodes online to watch for free.

But I hate waiting. And I hate getting five minutes into a show only to have it freeze because it has to buffer. What the heck does that mean, anyway? Buffering? Anyway, I didn't want to do that. So I decided to compromise. I couldn't buy it from the Playstation to watch on the big screen and I didn't want to wait until Wednesday to watch it on the internet, so I went to iTunes and bought it that way. I still downloaded it in high definition, but it was for a smaller screen. But the quality was not diminished.

That sure seems like a lot of back story to simply share how awesome I thought this series finale was. But after 10 years of waiting for Clark Kent to put on that red cape and take off into the sky, that need for a lot of back story kind of describes Smallville in a nutshell.

The show has had a lot of ups and downs. And I've been on that particular roller coaster since its beginning a decade ago. At its start, Smallville just seemed like another "freak of the week" kind of show, riding the coattails of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer only using the Superman mythos as its backdrop. As the years progressed, the show gained more of an undercurrent. It wasn't just about what bad guy would pop up each week and how Clark Kent would eventually take them down, despite being exposed to kryptonite at least twice per episode. As Clark Kent grew up, so did the series, and we saw more and more how this character was being shaped into the super-hero he was destined to become.

Now, I'll admit, around season 7 or 8, I began to have my doubts. A lot of them. How would this guy not be recognized as Superman once he finally put on the tights? Clark Kent has never worn glasses. His face would be easily recognized, especially by his worst enemy, Lex Luthor, who used to be one of his closest friends. And how was it that, even though he was well into his 20s by this point, he still hadn't learned to fly? His cousin showed up in the seventh year and could fly in her first appearance. The balance seemed a little off. But I stuck with it. And the payoff came in last night's finale.

Everything from this season and the last 10 years was wrapped up in a pretty decent little package. The big bad this year was a comic book character known as Darkseid. He was treated a little differently here, as most of the other comic book translations have been. Instead of being a physical being, Darkseid was portrayed as more of a spiritual darkness that had infected humanity. How do you stop that sort of enemy? By inspiring the people of the world with unshakable hope. Which is exactly what Superman is meant to be, a symbol of hope.

In this final episode, Clark Kent learned to embrace his destiny. He learned to embrace his past, not only as a farm boy from Kansas, but as the Last Son of Krypton as well. For years he's thought that he needed to walk away from his past in order to become the hero that the world needed, but he finally realized that both sides of his heritage are important to the man that would be Superman.

The next paragraph will have the spoilers. But really, it shouldn't be a spoiler because if you've ever liked Smallville for even a little while, you should have been expecting all of the things that made up this ending.

I mentioned that the finale was an incredible payoff. Clark Kent and Lois Lane end up together, as it should be. Lex Luthor returned from death, after supposedly being killed off in season 8. Clark Kent/Kal-El received the blessing to be Superman from both his biological father, Jor-El, and the man that raised him in Smallville, Jonathan Kent. Clark finally learned how to fly. And he finally put on the suit. He saved Air Force One... again... He saved the world... again...

Oh, and that whole thing where Lex would easily recognize that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same? They fixed that. I mean, it was a little far-fetched, sure, but at least they saw the need to write their way out of it. When Lex killed one of Clark's allies (who also happened to be Lex's half-sister), she infected him with some kind of neuro-toxin that basically erased his memories. Now that I think about it, it's kind of a pity. I think it might be interesting to have a story where Lex Luthor knows that Superman is Clark Kent, but keeps that information to himself. I don't think Luthor would want to advertise that kind of knowledge. If more people know about a secret, it cheapens it for the few that already know it.

So watching the Smallville finale was incredibly bittersweet. Part of me is glad that it's finally over after all these years. That's the part of me that applauded at the end of the show when Clark ran out on the roof of the Daily Planet building and tore his shirt open to reveal the classic S shield. The other part of me would kind of like to see it go on and on. I do think it would have been interesting to see what kind of Superman Tom Welling would have played. But I accept that it's over. They told the story that they set out to tell. The creators' mission was to spin the tale of Clark Kent's journey to becoming a hero and Lex Luthor's journey to becoming a villain. After 10 years, they succeeded very well.

No comments:

Post a Comment