Smallville Episode 9.22 ‘Salvation’ Review

Posted on May 14, 2010

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Teaser

TVSummary: A stunning finale that offered plenty of goosebump moments and ushered in excitement for the coming landmark Season 10.
Rating: 9/10


Review Trailer
The quick skinny on the episode.

Zod and the Kandorians begin their attack on Earth. As the Justice League and Justice Society of America suss out their plan of defense, Clark must make a choice whether to use the Book of Rao to banish all Kryptonians from Earth to New Krypton, which would include himself. Zod, meanwhile, uses Lois against Clark as a means to find the Book of Rao.

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

Feature-Length Review after the jump.


Feature-Length Review
The in-depth review.

Greg Beeman, you are a rock god! You know exactly how to bring the right attitude, energy and poise to make an episode – and a season finale in particular – exceptionally epic and fulfilling on many levels. Kudos to Al Septien and Turi Meyer for writing a phenomenal installment, finely weaving the threads from the season into a satisfying whole. I dare say this is the best finale of the series since ‘Commencement’ in Season 4.

Oh, and of course, Beeman directed that episode too.

The pacing of this episode was dead-on. There was hardly a moment that really lingered in a bad way. Clark was resolute in every one of his actions and rarely got preachy. From the opening bit – a tasty morsel served up just for the fans that have stuck with the series year in and year out – to Clark’s command of the superfriends to his masterful maneuvering turning the Kandorians against Zod to his absolute asskickery in the fight against Zod, Clark was Superman in ‘Salvation’. Tom Welling had the entire package down, from his presence and poise to his total commitment to every moment he was on screen.

I loved how they kept Clark out of the Blur outfit until the end of the episode when he was standing with the other Kryptonians, brothers and sisters in black leather. It let Zod have his moments as the fake Blur with Lois and it also set up a sacrifice of the dreary costume, symbolic as the end of this dark period in Clark’s life. Yes, the imagery of Clark falling from the building in full-on crucifixion pose was perhaps a bit heavy-handed, especially with the distinctly Jesus-like stabbed-near-the-rib wound. But it really felt like a tonal shift in the series, the death of dark and the rise of hope… and color.

How utterly awesome is it that Martha, that devilish Red Queen, is once again the one who gives Clark his Superman outfit? It’s hard to say if it is the full-on suit or some variation that’s a step in-between but to see the glow of it on Clark and his acceptance as the beacon of light was inspiring and hair-raising.

The entire opening scene was a thank you card from Brian, Kelly, Al, Turi and the gang. I like the fact that it’s only 3 years down the line that Superman appears on the scene in the Smallville-verse. And who knows exactly how long he’s been public? It’s obviously not the first time he’s made a save. I loved how everyone ran out of the building just to watch him and, though it’s a bit of a cheat, they finally gave us what we’ve wanted for years – Clark flying. Sure, they don’t show Tom but that was the one true Clark. And just how beautiful and grown-up was Lois in the future glimpse? From the subtle change in clothes to the pulled-back hair to the glasses – not to mention the way Erica carried herself just a bit different, Lois was a sight to behold. And that smile when she looked up into the sky…. Made my heart skip.

I’m glad Lois had a bigger part in this finale than she had in last year’s ‘Doomsday’. Lois’ instincts were spot-on throughout the episode, sensing that Zod really didn’t “feel” like the Blur. Even when she listened to Zod and looked into what Clark was researching on Zod and the Kandorians, there was a piece of her that wanted to trust Clark. Yes, Clark broke her heart when he wouldn’t come clean in the barn – once again, despite the mythos, I found myself snapping to Clark to just tell her – but there was still that part of her, that overwhelming love in her heart, that kept her loyalty to Clark. In its own way, it proved her instincts right and revealed that Zod was not the Blur. It was a great choice to have Lois not hand over the Book of Rao. They easily could’ve had her give it to Zod and then have him reveal he wasn’t the Blur. They chose a more proactive route with Lois, one very much in character, and it paid off in spades for her. And for us.

Not only do we get that great punch by Clark that sent Zod into orbit – I had to laugh out loud at that because of the sheer ballsiness and taking charge on Clark’s part – but we get probably the best Clois kiss of the series. And she knew. Just like we thought she would, she knew it was Clark. She couldn’t kiss him without realizing that it was the love of her life. Thankfully, it wasn’t the Superman II kiss of forgetting like some had predicted. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with this come next season.

Still gushing about Lois, how soft and vulnerable was that scene in the barn. Everything Lois could ever want and she admits out loud that she would give it all up for Clark. That damn barn is like Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth for Lois. This is the second time Lois has completely opened herself up in that place and told Clark exactly the depth of her love for him, how much it encompasses her. It was raw and romantic. Then to see Clark shoot right through her heart, no matter his intentions and his own heartache, it was touching and wrenching. Erica impressed me with so many little moments throughout ‘Salvation’. I truly hope she’s elevated to second lead next season. She deserves it.

I must admit I was both a little disappointed but ultimately satisfied despite myself with the superhero guest star scene. It felt like a bit of a let-down to have the heroes just be a bunch of talking heads while trying to sort out what they want to do. It was nice to see Cyborg again and I liked his butting heads with J’onn. Stargirl is still a waste but we got some good moments between the others. Of course, this scene was capped off with Clark’s speech, one of his best when addressing heroes. I loved how they all deferred to him and Clark stepped up.

Chloe and Ollie were a bit superfluous in the episode but their scenes played well. I still have a tough time buying into their relationship and the “I love yous” when Ollie was being captured rang horrendously false. If they do manage to get Allison back next season, I hope they find a way to peter this relationship off quickly. This was touted as a gamechanger for their affair and they sure did force it to be. It was nice to have the softer Chloe again in this episode. I still have the bitter aftertaste of Chloe not atoning for her actions but I’m happy the shrill wasn’t around the last couple of episodes.

So yeah… Ollie goes missing, swarmed by a bunch of hostiles who were not the Kandorians. And hickory smoked Tess, the promised death in this episode, was taken into the care of Granny Goodness. I have to tell you, I was really [i]really[/i] hoping they would not get into the whole Fourth World/New Gods storyline but it appears that’s what they want to take on next season. I cringe at the thought of what they are going to do with Darkseid. But I do also see it as an opportunity to push Clark towards his final choice. I wonder if we’ll be seeing Mr. Miracle, Lightray, Big Barda and Orion as well.

This brings us to the final sequence. It felt much like watching one of those animal documentaries where a pack surrounds a lonely, wounded prey when the Kandorians swooped in and surround Clark on the building perch. You could tell Clark was overwhelmed but he played it cool and to see him manipulate Zod into whispering his confession about killing Faora and his son was a delight. Maybe it was a bit anticlimactic that the Kandorians suddenly dropped everything just when it was gonna turn into the most brutal gang jump-in ever filmed but it worked and was a decent way to get to the showdown we’ve waited all season for.

It seemed pretty obvious when the spoiler pic about the Blue Kryptonite knife came out that somehow stripping their powers would cause the Book of Rao to look at them as human rather than Kryptonian and not send them into the new dimension. A bit convenient but it led to one of the better fights Clark’s had on the series. I loved when Clark shed his coat and used it to wrap up Zod’s arm to keep him from slashing with the blade. Every choice Clark made during the fight was calculated and jarring. Tom proved he could actually be a capable action hero with the physique, stature and strength. Even when Zod kicked him through the glass, Clark was still in control and still willing to scrap, something that the Boy Scout has often shied away from in his past.

Stabbing himself with the Blue-K blade was the only real choice Clark had to send Zod away but he still did it with conviction. To say I was proud of Clark during ‘Salvation’ would be underselling it. He was a man of action from beginning to end and he faced up to each situation he needed to, even with the minor lapse regarding Lois. It was so refreshing to have an episode so Clark-focused and Clark-driven and only hope they use this as an example going forward next season.

This also leaves an intriguing predicament. The clone Zod didn’t die. So, essentially, they are still two Zods out there. I’m not saying he’ll ever appear on the series again but I kind of like that Clark’s made enemies of both. I almost imagine at some point the Phantom Zod inhabiting the clone Zod and really causing havoc.

‘Salvation’ was the perfect bookend to the season with ‘Savior’ having been such a powerful and well-done premiere. My hat off to everyone involved. It’s a welcome return for Greg Beeman, the best episode Al Septien and Turi Meyer have written, a well-acted piece and harbinger of good things to come. (Or at least a promise of better things.) Louis Febre’s score was epic and engrossing. I’ll admit that I was hoping to hear some of John Williams’ themes incorporated into this episode but Louis’ themes played just as strongly. It was a beautiful sonic landscape that helped build to the great crescendo.

Hard to believe another season is down. But if every episode could be as compelling as ‘Salvation’ was, I’d be happy to see season finales all the time.

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