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February 25, 2012

The Top 10 Something-est Moments in Smallville

You know, writing about The Walking Dead the other day got me thinking.  Not about zombies, because I’m starting to hate those; since its finale months ago, I haven’t given that much thought to Smallville.  Until now.  Just thinking about it reminds me of all the good times I had.  As I said before, the series had its problems, but I’d argue it had an overall net gain.  It certainly helped that it wasn’t another crime drama, reality TV show, or singing competition, but I digress.  The important thing is that we got to see Clark Kent’s journey from curiously attractive fledgling teen to freakin’ Superman.

But man…that was a long, strange journey.  A lot can happen in ten years, and rest assured they did.  Some of them, naturally, were awesome.  Others…others just left me -- a fan even in the darkest of times -- tilting my head as if I’d just watched a seal pop a wheelie on a motorcycle while eating some chicken pot pie.  Or the same way you are after reading that sentence.

The point is, I say it’s high time for Cross-Up’s first countdown.  These are The Top Ten Something-est Moments in Smallville.

10) Clark discovers heat-vision via tightening briefs

For the first few seasons, several of Smallville’s episodes made stories out of Clark finding a new superpower.  In one instance, temporary blindness helped him hone his hearing to superhuman levels.  In another, a bad cold led him to find super-breath.  And then there was the episode “Heat,” where Clark starts burning things uncontrollably because of his hot new teacher and/or secret crush Lana Lang.  Yup.  Because if there’s one thing teenage superheroes stumbling into their powers are famous for, it’s the fact that getting antsy in the trousers is key to unlocking their full potential.

It worked for Spider-Man, at least.

To be fair, the hot new teacher (just one of many kryptonite-addled persons, aka “meteor freaks”) was using pheromones to seduce men, and Clark manages to put his heat vision to good use to save the day. But for as long as I live, I will forever attribute heat vision to that one particular moment -- rising to the occasion, if you will.  Further, it just begs the question: is this how the canon Superman discovered heat vision?  And considering that Clark thinking of Lana helped him activate his heat vision at will, does that mean that he…er, has to do the same when he needs to blast something?


...I don’t want to think about this anymore.  Let’s move on.

9) Clark tries to re-enact WrestleMania

WWE SmackDown! jumped channels a lot.  At one point, it was on the now-defunct UPN (R.I.P.).  Then it was on the WB/CW.  Then it was on…some basic cable channel where I live.  And now it’s on SyFy for some reason.  The point being, when it was on the CW it meant that -- in my eyes -- the wrestlers were on call.  So if an executive said, “Rey Mysterio!  We need you to guest star on One Tree Hill!” I imagine that the luchador would go flipping through the town.

Even if that wasn’t the case, there was one moment that stuck out -- Clark Kent versus seven-foot-ish wrestler (and Phantom Zone escapee) Titan, played by Kane.  My first thought was “Holy crap, really?”  My second thought was “Clark actually gets to punch someone for half an hour?!”  My third thought was “Seriously…really?”  Wild as it may have been, I looked forward to the season six episode “Combat” -- and while Clark didn’t get a chance to show off his Tiger Driver, he managed to put up a good fight against Titan.  At least the fight didn’t last five seconds, like it did against so many other troublemakers.

And with good reason.

Just watch the video.  Anyone living that moment at 0:26 would have launched enough excrement out of their bodies to propel themselves to Jupiter.  I know I certainly did.  That’s why I’m making this post from Europa.

8) Supergirl wants people to know she’s pretty

When I first heard that Supergirl would show up on Smallville in an online report (yes, I had so much faith in the show that I looked up info online), I was excited.  “Oh jam!” I practically shouted.  “Now there are two Kryptonians on the show?  Evil doesn’t stand a chance!” 

Pictured: divine justice.

It wasn’t a long-lived sentiment.  Supergirl -- aka Kara Zor-El -- ended up leaving the show after one or two seasons, and her tenure in Smallville was spent rather poorly (amnesia?  Sure, why not?  She’s not doing anything important!).  But what I find the most hilarious is the fact that in the third episode of her debut season, she’s entering a beauty pageant.  Why?  Maybe she wants to get better acquainted with Earth practices.  Maybe she’s lonely, and looking for friends -- or, alternatively, some recognition since she can’t just use her powers all loosey-goosey.  Maybe it’s to spite the perpetually stiff and responsible Clark.

Or maybe it’s just an excuse to put actress Laura Vandervoort into a bikini…nah, that COULDN’T be it!

Minor nitpick: isn't she cheating by being a superior alien life-form?

7) Clark asks Bizarro if he’s ever played Street Fighter

Normally, Clark is on top of things in his fights.  People punch him, they break their hands.  People shoot at him, he shrugs it off.  He punches you, you stay down.  But then comes Bizarro, and over the course of a season finale and a season premiere, he takes his time in doing what he does best: wrecking Clark’s shit. 

"I just asked if you wanted some lotion!"

He’s meaner, colder, and worst of all, kryptonite actually makes him stronger.  But that comes at a caveat.  The sun reduces his power (not weakens him, because it would be silly to have a villain beaten by a clear spring day) -- and conversely, makes Clark stronger.  So what does Clark do?  Simple: he puts some fighting game mechanicsto good use.  Let’s rattle them off:

--taunts Bizarro, making him want to come over and score a quick hit

--holds his position rather than chasing Bizarro, allowing him to charge up on sunlight (and apply basic positioning/spacing principles)

--uses a Focus Attack to absorb the hit with no damage

--dash cancels and goes for a reversal…via SHORYUKEN!


The man knows his games, obviously.  Silly Bizarro.  You should have gone home and been a family man; you know you can’t defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.  As easy to understand as a flowchart. 

Fight money.

6) Clark forgets everything he learned to don a trench coat

I once said that the Smallville season finales are some of the best things in the show.  The spectacle is at its max, as is the tension; plot threads are sewn into the tapestry, while new threads unravel via massive reveals.  Clark -- someone who we think can never lose -- often finds himself in a dangerous position, and you have to wait three to five months to find out how he made it out alive/back to the farm in Smallville.

Season eight?  Season eight… did not have that.  For a while, I was going to name this part of the list “Clark used Tackle!  It’s super effective!” as a reference to the incredibly-hyped, yet phenomenally underwhelming fight against the season’s biggest enemy, Doomsday.  But as I thought about it, there was something more annoying right after.  Clark decides that he’s going to leave town forever so he can become a real hero, because apparently his human emotions have caused him nothing but trouble.

Hi, question?  Since when?

"I have to go now.  My planet needs me."

No, seriously.  When have your emotions ever been a problem?  It’s your emotions that make you a hero, sweetheart dude.  How many times have you rushed to your friends’ aid because you love them?  How many times have you shown that controlling your emotions is a non-issue -- that when it comes down to it, you do what’s right before anything else?  How many times have emotions actually given you strength?  Need I remind you that you found one of your powers because you suddenly rose to the occasion?  You know, in the trouser region?  Ringin’ a bell?

It just seemed like an effort to push Clark out of the status quo because it was the season finale.  It was a flimsy reason to put Clark -- you know, Superman -- into a getup that wouldn’t look out of place in The Matrix.


5) Bow Wow reveals his talent at vaporization

So at one time in Smallville --

Superman in a black trench coat.  What is this, the nineties? 

So at one time in Smallville, the town was being raided by escapees from the Phantom Zone (Titan, the character played by Kane, was one of them).  But rather than take on grotesque physical forms, some were content with possessing humans.  It raised the stakes from the typical meteor freaks of the show; whereas the freaks were people who let their powers land them in situations well over their heads, the escapees’ victims were forced to do as their masters wished -- masters who were dedicated to hunting Clark.  One such escapee took over the body of a guy playing basketball.

"I'll kill you as soon as I learn how to hold my feet straight."

What ensued was one of the most hilarious moments in the history of television (the video's not the televised version, but you get the point):  

I burst out laughing when I saw this scene.  It is just pure comedic gold.  Bow Wow scowls a lot, his buddy talks in hilariously bad slang, Bow Wow vaporizes a guy, cocks his head like a confused pupy, says some bad slang -- in spite of being possessed by an alien convict -- and walks off.  And he leaves the smoking shoes of his friend behind.  The smoking shoes were GENIUS.  It’s like the perfect touch, the one way to make sure everybody remembers Smallville as the greatest comedy ever…wait, it’s not a comedy?  Oh.  Well, uh, it’s still a funny scene.  And after seeing that, there’s nothing that could lower my spiri--

Superman in a black trench coat.  It just pisses me off, is all.

4) We are reminded that Lois has “heavier armaments” than Chloe

Another DC Comics regular appears in this episode: the backwards-talking sorceress (often without pants) Zatanna.  So what does she do?  She tries to resurrect her father -- but first, how about a Freaky Friday plot between Clark’s tech-savvy sidekick Chloe Sullivan and Lois Lane?

"I think I'll put on the glass slippers next..."

Admittedly, I see what the writers were going for here.  Chloe had been through several rough patches in the show and the series overall -- from losing Clark to actually dying.  It’s only natural that she views Lois (the canon lover of Supes) as someone who’s always got greener grass.   And to the show’s credit, Chloe just takes on Lois’ appearance, while the real Lois is away on business.  But still, was it really necessary to have this plot?  Apparently not, because in the same episode, Zatanna’s magic convinces Clark that he’s just a regular guy.  Couple that with the whole father resurrection, and you get a story made obsolete moments after it’s introduced. 

But on the plus side, at least they aren’t witches again.

Nope, nothing sexual about this.

3) An entire episode is used to set up a single reference

Hey, if Marvel Comics can have Marvel Zombies, then surely one little episode of Smallville isn’t going to hurt anything, right?

So canon it hurts.

Whatever the case, what’s done is done.  Cast members are turned into zombies.  Cast members fight off zombies.  Green Arrow makes an off-hand reference to Resident Evil, and I pray to God he’s talking about the games and not the movies.  Clark’s blood is the key to curing the outbreak.  Rain…makes everything better…somehow.  The reset button is hit, and all is well.

Except these two zombies.  They stumbled into a farm and got hit by a combine harvester.

All things considered, I liked this episode.  Zombie attacks might be played out, but there were some good moments in this episode (like plenty of Smallville episodes, my joking aside).  Clark confronts Green Arrow and tells him as gently as he can to get his shit together, because he couldn’t do something as simple as protect Lois.  There’s a cold open that tells you it’s going to be a thriller night.  Less time is spent faffing about and more time is spent taking action, or trying to solve the mystery.  All told, I enjoyed it.

But there is one thing I’m curious about.  This is from the Smallville Wiki:

“Meanwhile, Chloe has isolated a suspect enzyme from Tess's blood and Dr. Hamilton says the DCA think the virus was deliberately released by someone. He also states that the virus induces sleep, during which it germinates and takes over the infected person.”

Go to sleep, become a zombie.  Science?


I have a confession to make.  I missed the first few episodes of Smallville. 

I didn’t even know it was on, really.  I heard the name of the show, but I didn’t register “This is a show about Superman, watch it you idiot” until weeks after its start.  I just saw that it was on the WB, and therefore had to be a drama about a bunch of attractive white people getting into arguments.

You can tell she's a bad apple because she's overweight.

And then one day after finishing my homework, I turned on the TV.  Smallville was on.  I didn’t know what to make of it, but I watched anyway.  And then I see this guy trying to put the moves on this girl.  I say to the guy, “Dude, this is just like a horror movie.  Get out of there.  Oh wait, you’re in a horror movie, and therefore an idiot.  Fine, stick around.”  And then the girl comes around.  And then she eats him.

But first, a deer.

I was only thirteen at the time, but I think my response was something along the lines of “(insert incessant shrieking and paranoia here)”.

Luckily, Clark managed to save the day before things got too out of hand (i.e. before I blasted off to Triton with the force of my exploding colon).  It was a moment that stuck with me; shocking as it was,  I wanted to see what brought about that nightmarish form.  So I watched the encore that Sunday.  And then I watched the episode after it, to see what Clark was up against.  And then I saw the episode after, and the one after that.

It was a good move.  But I’m surprised that it was the sight of a girl eating a deer that made me pledge my loyalty.

And the number one, most something-est moment in Smallville is…

1) The finale

If I started talking about how badass Jonathan Kent was, I'd never stop.

…Nah, just kidding.  The final episode of Smallville is great, and I don’t need to comment on it at all -- or rather, I won’t, because it encapsulates the show’s entire purpose in a primetime block.  What I CAN comment on, however, is…

1)  The (former) only black guy in Smallville gets superpowers via product placement

Pete Ross was one of my favorite characters in Smallville.  He offered a bit of a contrast to Clark; whereas the latter could be stiff and awkward, Pete injected a much-needed bit of levity and fun to the series.  Partnered as they were with Chloe Sullivan, they managed to form a team that endured plenty of attacks on their home turf.  However, Pete ended up leaving town because -- after learning Clark’s secret -- he ended up taking a beating for it by malcontents, and realized that the pressure would be too much to bear for either Clark or Pete.  He bowed out as a gesture of friendship; it was a means to help Clark become the hero he was meant to be.

Together forever, no matter how long...now until the end of time...

And then in season seven, Pete returned as a roadie for a band.  Rejoice! 

And then he ate some Stride gum infused with kryptonite, and gained stretching powers.  Re…joice?

And then he arses up being a superhero and has to be saved by Clark.  Huh.

Side effects may include becoming a total bitch.

You could argue that this was a nod to the whole Superman/Jimmy Olsen relationship in the comics.  Setting aside the fact that Jimmy was already a cast member by that time, Comics Jimmy would occasionally gain superpowers (like stretching, if I recall), faff about until he arsed it all up, and had to get Superman to bail him out of trouble.  Transplanting that relationship here…well, it’s…something.

I'll let you put your own caption here.

I’d say I was mad, but I’m not.  I’d say I’m confused, but again, I’m not.  I’d say it was a waste of a character’s triumphant return, but I’m not.  Pete’s comeback was temporary.  There was no place for him left in Smallville; the town had moved on, and Clark had moved on -- notably, in the fact that he entrusted the secret about his powers and heritage to lots of other people, not just one confidant like he had with Pete.  Pete calls him out on it, and he does some rash things, but amidst it all you know that their friendship has endured.  They say their parting words, and both have learned a lesson at episode’s end about what it means to be a hero.  There’s nothing to hate about that.

It’s strange, sure, but name me one thing in Smallville -- in comics in general -- that isn’t.  Need I remind you about Animal-Mineral-Vegetable Man?  It is what it is.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s thoughtful, sometimes random, sometimes funny, hammy, unexpected, predictable, a waste of time, a hell of a time, and more.  But in the end, Smallville is Smallville

...Okay, one for the road.


Just got back from killing Darkseid.

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