“Flights and Tights Too Long Delayed”

The finale of Smallville has been bugging me for a while.  Ten years is a remarkable run for any show, especially these days when many don’t make it past their first season.  However, like many shows (X-Files says what?), Smallville stayed around a few seasons too long.

The whole premise of Smallville was to tell the tale of of young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) growing up as a Midwestern boy, dealing with life and problems in high school while struggling with coming to terms with the fact that he was more than human.  The guiding philosophy of the show was “no flights, no tights” meaning that during the show, he would neither don his trademark costume nor take to the skies.  Which meant it was a multi-season long tease for him becoming Superman, which the viewers were on board.  But we run into problems after a while.  High school is a four year show.  Even giving himself a year or two after that we could see.  But ten years is a long time to “come to terms” and more importantly, tease your audience.  Ten years means that you have to do a lot of writing gymnastics in order for him to NOT put on tights and fly.  Ten years means you strain a lot of credulity and audience loyalty to keep the show moving forward without going anywhere.

The show was uneven, inconsistent, sometimes illogical, if not insultingly stupid at times.  Thing is, as a fan of Smallville you got used to it.  Their “monster of the week” formula from the early seasons, the ups and down of the Clark and Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) relationship (which as a viewer you could never get invested in because you know Clark is destined to be with Lois Lane (Erica Durance), so it seems pointless to drag it out), the weird mythology the show kept building (The Traveler?).

“I am the villain of this story.” –Lex

Probably the best part about the series was the idea that Lex Luther (Michael Rosenbaum) and Clark started as friends.  And that a lot of the show was a vying for the soul of Lex.  Theirs was a great dynamic, everything that Clark and Lana wasn’t.  Because, again, while we know they can’t possibly end up as friends, watching their gradual animosity unfold each week was a great tension.  So the show probably should have just wrapped up the season when Lex left the cast, but it opted to muddle forward, leading to the much anticipated return of Lex in the finale.

“Every villain is only as great as their hero.” –Lex

Smallville’s greatest villain apparently was their budget, it’s the only think I can think of to explain their consistently anti-climactic season ending fight sequences.  The bulk of the barely two minute fight scene between Clark and Doomsday happened off screen the season before.  You’d think “once bitten”, yet here we are having to deal with:

-Oliver taking out Granny Goodness, Godfrey, and Desaad in one shot (not even with the Bow of Orion and despite the three having super powers).

-Clark taking out Darkseid by flying through him.  Seriously.  He flew through “cloud of smoke Darkseid” and that was it.

-Superman pushing Apokolips away which not only avoided a collision but also solved the darkness problem.

“We have a destiny together, Clark.  Only on different sides.” –Lex

But budgetary issues don’t explain how the Luthors were handled.  They just kept killing each other in an almost Shakespearean fashion, which is rather fitting.  So that part was fine.  What wasn’t fine was the machinations which brought Lex back and then the all-too-convenient “re-setting” of Lex which defies logic and leaves the viewer wondering “what did that even mean?”

Lex: What did you want?

Tess: Something I’ll never have.

Lex: Clark?

Tess: Redemption.

All in all, the last season of Smallville was more concerned with getting Clark into his tights and rushing to pay tribute to the iconic movies Superman I & II.  So we can be disappointed in the lack of slugfest style endings because Smallville was never that type of show.  We want to give it a pass because, well, it’s Superman.  So we say that it was more about the journey (Lost apologists say what?), the messianic expectation of the long prophesied, long destined Superman.  But every journey has to have a payoff.  And the finale failed to live up to that destiny.