Smallville Episode 9.01: ‘Savior’ Review

Posted on September 27, 2009

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Teaser

TVSummary: A powerful and promising start to a season that once again looks to rewrite the show.
Rating: 9/10


Review Trailer
The quick skinny on the episode.

Clark has decided to shed his “human” relationships to focus solely on his destiny to be the world’s greatest superhero. He’s begun training with Jor-El in the Fortress but both come to realize that there is one relationship that is holding him back: Lois. Out patrolling Metropolis, Clark saves an elevated train that’s fallen off its tracks and speeding toward the ground. He discovers that Lois is aboard, unbeknownst to him that she’s just returned from the future, of which she has no knowledge. She’s not alone, as a Kryptonian assassin has followed her back with sights on Clark. And perhaps Clark’s greatest challenge, Zod, arrives at Luthor mansion via the orb… and he’s not alone. All adds up to one of the best premiere’s in the show’s history and an outstanding episode that actually presents intriguing plot threads to be explored throughout the upcoming ninth season.

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

Feature-Length Review after the jump.


Feature-Length Review
The in-depth review.

‘Savior’ is perhaps the most accomplished season premiere in the history of the series. That’s saying much given that the series is known for its premieres and season finales. The writing is assured, lean and focused (with but one odd scene). The cinematography is astounding and moody in such a way that I hope they didn’t blow a big portion of the season’s budget on it for being so good. Louis Febre’s score is even more layered and his themes continue to mature and deepen. And the performances throughout were consistent and right on the money.

While the writers/producers decision to crib some notes off The Dark Knight for Clark’s new persona was met with some derision, it’s clear right off the bat (no pun intended) that this all speaks well to where Clark (Tom Welling) is in his journey. Many joke that his new outfit is too much like Neo’s from The Matrix trilogy and therefore too much of a cliche. For me, it’s as if Clark let the color run out of him. The t-shirt and the jeans are the same outfit he’s worn for years and what came to be known as the Red-Blue Blur’s togs, just black now. And the black trench coat is the perfect approximation to a cape without actually putting him in one.

The biggest – and best – thing about Clark in the premiere is that he’s continuing the streak of proactivity that began to manifest itself in the latter half of Season 8. Clark has a purpose and a direction and he makes solid choices based on that. His interactions with Jor-El in the Fortress for his training were of someone focused and decided. When he called Jor-El out on his inability to fly – despite knowing that this was the writers throwing a bone to the audience about the subject – he was firm and direct and the answer absolutely worked for me.

Clark and Chloe (Allison Mack) are left in an odd place. Obviously, by Clark denying Chloe’s request to save Jimmy that widens the schism between them made by Clark’s decision last season. That rift between the two best friends is real and feels honest rather than something just forced upon them, which astonishes me after the ridiculously breakneck choice of Clark to shed his humanity in ‘Doomsday’. I like that Chloe feels both proud that Clark is taking his stance and betrayed by her friend. She sums up their course in her speech to Clark on top of the Planet, telling him that they knew at some point they weren’t going to be a part of one another’s lives anymore. It helps to set-up Chloe’s likely exit from the series this season.

I’m excited to see more of Emil Hamilton (Alessandro Juliani) and I really dig the relationship they’re building between he and Chloe. I’m glad they’ve decided to make him even more geeky than he was last season, which should set up a wonderful dynamic for Juliani and Mack to play. And the set-up for the Watchtower is such more appealing than the closet at the Isis Foundation. Plus, he’s already created a Watchtower logo. (You can see it on the interacting table when Hamilton shows Chloe the pictures of the time anomalies before she zips it up onto the monitor wall.)

Probably the weakest parts of the episode were the scene with Oliver (Justin Hartley) in the underground fight club and some of the confrontation between Clark and Alia (Monique Ganderton) in the Kent barn. These existed mainly for exposition and felt like it. I did like how Ollie recognized the heat vision glow in Alia’s eyes and told everyone to get down. I also liked the actual fight in the barn. Sad that it was more impressive than the letdown of the “cataclysmic” battle between Clark and Doomsday. Clark was a lot more willing to engage in the combat and acquitted himself well. Though, I did find it creepy that they alluded to Clark burying her body on the farm. Something’s really off-putting about that. Also, what was with the blue contacts they used for Alia’s eyes?

My favorite parts of the premiere: Zod and Lois.

Callum Blue sold me as the most dangerous threat on the show since the Luthors left in his first few minutes on screen and definitely in the scene with Tess. He’s already more interesting than Davis Bloome was the entirety of Season 8. And Blue already raises the acting bar of the series. The scene where Zod wins all of the Kandorians back to his side was powerful, forceful and gives real creedence and weight to the character. The interactions between Zod and Tess are going to be juicy and I look forward to Blue and Cassidy Freeman really chewing scenery well together. Their cunning and playing close to their vests will recall the chess game between Lionel and Lex and give both characters a lot more depth and direction.

I am completely gaga over Lois and Erica Durance in the role. And she hits the ground running. It’s almost as if we were looking at Lois through Clark’s eyes through the episode. There was something very loving in the way they captured her in this episode (disregarding the one bad decision to have the flash zoom on her in the train). Having Durance to play off of let me enjoy Brian Austin Green’s performance as John Corben more as they added a little extra spark that the two needed. And the way she played her almost-giddy affinity for the Blur opposed to her soft, subtle affection for Clark was a joy, especially for the romantic at heart.

Romance really is a key part of this season and it was touched on in the right measure in ‘Savior’. That last interaction between the Blur and Lois on the phone, when he clearly decided that he wasn’t giving up on her was touching. Seeing her smile in the end as she was climbing into bed really helped seal the moment.

Special mention must be made of Febre’s score. As the series continues to grow into a dedicated superhero show, Febre appears to be having growing fun in creating a magical and atmospheric musical landscape. Sure, I could hear touches (or influences), intentional or not, of Zimmer and Newton Howard in some of the more ‘Batman’-like scenes, as well as vibes and flourishes of Williams informing the Fortress and Clark scenes.

However, his heroic Blur theme continues to evolve into an inspiring backdrop, stretched now into a sweeping underscore to Clark’s acts. The tweaks he’s added develop a strong motif that I look forward to hearing a full-fledged superhero theme come out of. The motif also gives soil for the Lois and Clark romance theme to spring from. We got to hear strains of it in ‘Doomsday’ last year and a bit more toward the end of this episode in the Blois (?) phone call and as Lois is putting herself to bed, smiling. With romance a budding plot this year, I’m anxious to hear how this theme matures. Same for the rest of Febre’s growing signature tunes in this new version of the series.

‘Savior’ ranks right up there near the top of my fave premieres and as one of the strongest episodes of the series. Plus, how could I not get excited by Clark finally have the ‘S’ on his chest and that fabulous scene of him swan-diving off of the crown of the Statue of Liberty? The fact that he’ll be continuing his training during the season rather than shutting it down after this episode and that clear threads are left to carry on through the season leave me hopeful for Season 9.

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