Smallville Episode 8.22: ‘Doomsday’ Review

Posted on May 15, 2009

2


Teaser

TVSummary: Disappointing finale to an otherwise strong season that devolves into a head-scratching mess in the end.
Rating: 6/10


Review Trailer
The quick skinny on the episode.

After all the buildup the confrontation between Clark Kent and Doomsday is here. Clark’s plan is to use the Black Kryptonite to separate the “human” Davis from the Kryptonian beast and to seal the beast in a cavern miles below the surface of the Earth. Oliver and other members of the Justice League don’t see eye-to-eye with Clark, preferring instead to kill Davis to prevent the beast from ever attacking another person. Chloe and Jimmy get into the middle of these two opposing sides with disastrous consequences. Meanwhile, the purple orb has disappeared from Tess’ vault, leading to a confrontation with Lois and the return of a character who figures to play a large part in Season 9. Overall, an episode with far too much to accomplish in the limited time they’ve given it causing the whole affair to be shortchanged.

** Note: Review contains spoilers if you have not seen the episode.**

Feature-Length Review after the jump.


Feature-Length Review
The in-depth review.

Smallville has always made its bread and butter on its season finales and season premieres. One thing that could always be a guarantee in a season, even if the season wasn’t particularly strong, was that the finale was gonna pack a wallop. Even ‘Tempest’, the finale for Season 1, somewhat fits the paradigm before the paradigm was truly established in the Season 2 finale ‘Exodus’ and perfected in, what I consider to be, the best of all of the season finales, Season 3’s ‘Covenant’.

Last year’s finale ‘Arctic’ was the first to be a fair letdown. Looking back, it’s not really that surprising. Season 7 is generally considered to be the most disappointing of the series, hindered by bad writing, poor execution and hobbled further with the writers’ strike. ‘Arctic’ was the culmination of events that were lazy and mildly interesting, to say the least. It would appear, though, that it has also begun a trend of lackluster finales.

I’ve watched ‘Doomsday’ twice now to really take it all in. I plan to probably watch it again to really get a grasp of it. As an episode of Smallville it’s average; it ain’t horrible but it ain’t smelling very good either. I don’t know if the faults lie in the writing or in the editing or perhaps both. James Marshall, the director, came to play. Aside from a few obvious recycled shots, I thought the episode looked terrific and featured a couple of gorgeous aerial views of Metropolis we rarely ever get to see on the show. No, I’d say the blame falls on writing and/or editing.

I can’t help but feel the episode needed to be two hours long or spread over two hour-long episodes. It felt like they began the story well enough with a strong teaser and a fairly well put-together first act. After that, it felt like I was getting a CliffsNotes version of the story they were trying to tell. In fact, in the fifth act, you practically break your neck trying to figure out just what the hell happened to bring about its events. It literally feels as if whole chunks of the episode are missing. Some would argue that this is to build up the mysteries to spin off into Season 9. I could see the argument but it’s not a very strong one because these missing bits leave you more baffled than wanting more.

I’d have to say that my two favorite parts of the episode were the Lois-Clark/Lois-Red-Blue Blur scenes at the Daily Planet in Act One and the Jimmy-Chloe reconciliation scene at the loft he purchased for them as a wedding present. Clark resigning himself to the fact that he would most likely die facing the Doomsday beast and writing a letter to the citizens of Metropolis was touching and meaningful. It set up a terrific sense of dread for what could occur as the episode went along. The discussion between Clark as the RBB and Lois was a nice, intimate touch that truly echoed the ages-old “calm before the storm” sentiment. It set the stage for what should have been the fight of Clark’s life and the emotional maelstrom that Lois would’ve gone through.

Instead, that goodwill and emotion is wasted in short order by a random catfight between Lois and Tess that felt more like they had to give them something to do than anything else. Conveniently, Lois clubs Tess in the head with the jewelry box Clark put his new Legion ring into. (Side note: how is that both Lex and Clark always managed to find these unique boxes lying around that work perfectly to scurry away the fabulous trinkets, jewels, stones, etc., that they come across?) In a telling effort that this isn’t anything like the “Death of Superman” adaptation that they’d worked hard to get us on-board with, Lois is blinked out of our time to not even be a witness on the sidelines to the epic fight.

I’d talk about the Clark-Doomsday fight but…. there really wasn’t one. Something us fans of the show gripe about and feared would come to pass did just that: the “fight” was a few measly punches – mostly Clark getting the crap kicked out of him – Clark being thrown a great distance and then Clark suddenly pulling out a “finishing move” that ends it all. The CW released one of their Director’s Cut videos earlier in the week that showed events from the fight. Sadly, it turns out they showed the whole fight in the DC (sans effects) and it lasted less than 2 minutes. This is the big thing built up all season by even introducing the character of Doomsday into the show and it’s spent in less than 2 minutes. I’m not surprised but that doesn’t temper my disappointment.

Post fight, Clark makes a decision that seems to be brought on from nowhere except the arbitrary need to shake up the status quo. Jimmy’s death (more on that in a bit) as the motivation for Clark giving up his “humanity” rings hollow and is just another, well, stupid example of the writers’ MO to have Clark blame everything on himself to create drama. His disillusionment with humanity’s darkness and frailties would’ve played better if they’d showed that side of it during his arguments with Oliver about killing. This would’ve helped the audience invest in the betrayal Clark feels over the “human” Davis killing Jimmy. Instead, Clark’s arguments with Oliver always played as two sides of a hero’s moral code. This makes Clark look like a whiny brat who didn’t have things go his way rather than someone shaken to his very core.

Jimmy’s death… I have to admit that I had not seen it coming. There were a number of people online – outside of those clamoring for Chloe’s or Lois’ deaths – that had actually suggested that Jimmy would be the one to die. I pointedly remarked to these people that that was strictly ludicrous and Jimmy couldn’t die because he was part and parcel of the whole Superman thing. Not to mention that the producers had come out in interviews of late and remarked how they were making a concerted effort to align everything now with the traditional Superman mythos. Oh boy, how were they.

The intention behind what was done makes sense. I can’t tell you how infuriated I am as to how it was done. When Lois Lane arrived in Smallville during season 4 it was to much uproar from the Superfans wondering just what the hell the show was up to. It made no sense to bring the character in, but despite a very vocal minority who can’t stand the character, she’s become a wonderful part of the series. The same thing happened with Jimmy Olsen. Not only was he on the show way before he should’ve been introduced to Clark, Lois, et al., but he was also the same age as everyone. And while many people never got behind Jimmy, I was a fan.

Now it turns out I wasn’t a fan of THE Jimmy Olsen but of his older brother Henry James Olsen. Jimmy is revealed to have a younger brother who fits in age-wise with the traditional Superman mythos, who wears a bowtie to the funeral, and to whom Chloe gives one of Jimmy’s cameras and a big anvil-dropping speech about stepping into his brother’s shoes someday. This has to be one of the outright dumbest and, honestly, offensive decisions on the writers’/producers’ parts in a series long known to have sketchy writing. I would’ve said the way they wrote Lana Lang off of the series was the worst exit of a character (and yes I use that term character in the loosest sense in regard to Lana), but what they did with Jimmy takes the cake. Shock your fans, sure, but don’t lead them to think they were stupid for being duped. You’ll lose people that way.

And lose people it looks like this finale will. After having such a creative resurgence this season, the show stood to gain viewers back who had peeled off after last year. It’s struggled to do that but it definitely rewarded those who stuck with the show, the Lana “Debacle” aside. To see the season end in such a way is head-scratching and counter-productive. I can’t help but feel if they’d had an extra hour/extra episode to split the events between this would’ve allowed things to breath easier and a more cohesive and coherent story to be told. Nothing can excuse what they did to Jimmy, but that would’ve at least helped the overall experience.


Where Does This Leave Us

  • Henry James Olsen is dead and his little brother will grow up to one day be the Jimmy Olsen we’ve known from 60-odd years of comics history.
  • Chloe has lost everyone in her life, but also isn’t held accountable for any of her actions throughout this season.
  • Chloe will be converting the Olsen Love Nest into the Watchtower for the League for next season.
  • Speaking of, the Justice League has inexplicably scattered to the winds.
  • Clark really stepped into douche territory with his nonsense decision to chuck his “humanity” and become a cold, methodical alien superhero.
  • Clark will most likely be brooding at the Fortress throughout the entire hiatus until next season.
  • Lois is out floating in the future, partying down with the Legion of Superheroes. Maybe Lois will be the one to put everything right when she returns.
  • Zod has returned and has either taken over his dead “son”‘s body or miraculously been given flesh by the TRiCC (purple orb) that seems to now do whatever is convenient to the story… like every other Kryptonian crystal.
  • Sam Witwer and Cassidy Freeman appear to have survived the cast purging this season, which means Aaron Ashmore is the only one to get dicked over.
  • One can only hope that Season 9 is definitely the last of the show and that all of this talk of going to Season 10 was merely for contract negotiations and nothing more.
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