Smallville Episode 10.4 ‘Homecoming’ Review

Posted on October 16, 2010

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Teaser

TVSummary: This milestone 200th episode is a winning romance that finally frees Clark of the chokehold of his past and allows him to embrace the best parts of himself.
Rating: 9/10 (Adjusted Score 10/17/10; Original Score 8.5/10)


Review Trailer
The quick skinny on the episode.

Clark is still in doubt over his role as a hero and whether he is what Earth needs. Lois decides to cheer him up by taking him to the Smallville High 5-year reunion, where Lois gets not only the shock of not being recognized but also a gut check about her relationship with Clark from one of the other alumni. Clark, meanwhile, is taken on a tour of the past, present and future by Brainiac-5 in an attempt to show Clark that his darkness is rooted in his holding on to the past and not allowing for the future.

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

Feature-Length Review after the jump.


Feature-Length Review
The in-depth review.

Man, did ‘Homecoming’ start kind of rough. In fact, I had to wonder if it had been built up so much and what I was watching was kind of collapsing under the weight of that expectation. The one thing I will say for its attempt at capturing that feel of a return to high school: It did remind me why I didn’t attend my 5-year reunion. (Or 10-year, for that matter. Though, why anyone does a 5-year reunion is beyond me.)

The teaser was really broad – having Clark pondering his doubt aloud made for some kind of clunky dialogue and delivery; as much as I love Lois knowing, her little “inspirational” speech in the barn about the Blur is pushing the keeping a secret thing a bit too much; and I’m tempted to dock a full point for the creepy Clark doll, let alone the gross overacting of the guidance counselor – and James Marsters as Brainiac couldn’t have arrived quick enough.

In fact, even the first act was kind of punchy as they were really trying to sell the joke about no one remembering Lois and set an ominous tone for Greg “Bug Boy” Arkin’s return. (RAKNID license plate, really?) I did like the uses of the Lana Nietzsche clip and the Chloe Wall of Weird clip, even if they really were kind of superfluous in the end. The one real saving grace of the first act was Lois already defending Clark when trying to steer the new Torch kids away from the idea of the Blur being from Smallville and bringing to light how much of a role model he is to people. Lois is his champion and they do make it a natural reflex for her when speaking to other people about him.

Thankfully, Brainiac-5 returns at the end of the first act to kick start our little Dickensian story and the episode gets significantly better from here on out. There are times when I have doubts about what Marsters brings to the table. Sometimes the way he delivers lines becomes kind of one-note and a bit ho-hum and I find myself settling in for a kind of trite experience. But then, it’s almost like he expects that and sets people up for the reaction because he’ll flip the script and suddenly draw you in with great fluctuations and a complete commitment to the emotional through-current of a scene or episode.

I liked that they gave Brainiac-5 some of that edge we’ve seen from the past but also a decided level of care as seen through his actions more than words or tone. You could buy that this was a reprogrammed version of the same character we’d come to know and love rather than just the same actor playing another part related to his first. And Brian and Kelly were right; he was the perfect choice to take Clark on this journey. I also liked the fact that they didn’t explain why he was there. They just let him do his thing and the events of the episode are better because of it.

And what was this episode about really? Yes. Clois.

There are so many that complain about what it is that Lois Lane brings to Superman. They fail to see the point of having a partner in this grand journey called life and the Last Son of Krypton needs one as much as the rest of us. Lois lightens his load and feeds his heart, concerned more about – to steal from Star Trek – the needs of the one versus the needs of the many. Yes, she understands his role in the world. More importantly, she knows this man, this Clark Kent, and knows that we are all more than what we provide to the outside world. No matter what goes on during his day, he has that one person to come home to and share his life and know that he’ll have support. Yes, she needs his love, too, but she’s the one person who won’t demand anything from him and appreciate all he does. I take that back, to a small degree: she does want him to be the best of all he is because he inspires her in every aspect of her life and she knows how he inspires others.

This is something that they absolutely nailed in ‘Homecoming’ and Erica Durance playing Future!Lois was free to open up the reins on her and let her fly. I am so impressed with how much growth Erica has had as an actress on the show. I won’t say that she’s turning in the best performances on television, but she has found a way to layer in subtle truths of the character that make something like a jump 7 years into the future – with all of the “history” that entails – believable and real. Yes, the script fed her all the lines of a Lois in-the-know but Erica filled in the blanks so well that you could picture their life together beyond what was happening on-screen. I look forward to the opportunities this presents Erica as she continues her career and I hope she takes advantage of some tremendous chances (no more Lifetime movies) that spur that growth onward.

In particular, the scene on the roof of the Daily Planet – which suddenly has a helipad on the same strip of real estate that we’ve come accustomed to in the last couple of seasons – after Clark saves Lois in the helicopter. There was a confidence and a companionship and age to her interactions with Clark that were dynamically different than the present Lois she plays. And wow, how they used that to bring a flipping smile out of Clark. Honestly, how often do we see Tom smile like that as Clark on the show? Anyone who dares try to tell me Tom Welling and Erica Durance don’t have chemistry needs to bust out the John Madden telestrator and show me in that scene. They glowed together – yay, daytime scene, as well! – and I think so much of that is owed to what Erica brought to the scene.

Tom responded to that and responded well. He made a clear shift in Clark from that point forward in the episode and, even with the challenges that will still present themselves in these last episodes before Clark dons the suit, if Clark can maintain that lightness about himself, I will be happy. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be quite the pivotal episode they’d be billing it as, and also if it would play too much like a lightswitch moment amidst this “darkness” campaign they’d been waging with Clark at the beginning of the season. While, to a certain degree, it is somewhat lightswitch, you do have to think of such moments in your own life. I have had moments of epiphany and they were just as lightswitch and just as meaningful. This had to happen for this Clark Kent, in this story, to move forward. And while some might complain about it having to do with Lois, I cheer the notion.

I do have to applaud Tom Welling in the episode. That switch help set apart the first 2/3 of the episode, where Clark did feel like he was listless, and the last third where he felt focused. I have to wonder sometimes if Tom makes those choices or if they just happen that way. In either case, Tom wore that shift well and it actually seemed to help with his acting in the last part of the episode. The scene at his father’s grave was touching and I really did like that they played it with him in the new Blur outfit. (Which, by the way, you could clearly see the ‘S’ on without any trouble.) It was also a nice choice to give him the watch to bury as a visual. The whole moment was nearly 5 years in the making and an essential scene for the series to move forward to its conclusion. Tom understood the magnitude of the scene but also didn’t play it bigger than it needed to be.

I don’t think Tom was quite as successful in presenting Future!Clark, though there was some fun to be had. It was a great visual gag and gave present Clark a chance for a couple of good throw-away lines. I had a hard time believing the persona Clark adopted, though, and I hope they spend some time honing it if they do intend to revisit this Clark again as has been rumored.

More successful was Clark’s lack of amusement at being named king of the reunion. That cut to Tom’s stony face sitting on the throne was priceless.

The scene at Jonathan’s grave was but one of a few scenes I did find my eyes welling up in, no pun intended. The wonderfully played scene where Greg asks Lois to pass along his thanks to Clark was another and gave me goosebumps. I wasn’t sure how they were going to play his appearance at the reunion but I have to be honest that what they did was unexpected for me. I honestly couldn’t help but swell with pride for our Boy Blue and I’m impressed with Brian and Kelly’s inclusion of that scene. The scene with Oliver in the interview feeling strong when Clark showed up. There was a moment there when it was getting a bit too politically preachy but they pulled it right back. I was equally thrilled with the whole subtext in the scene of repairing and building that connection between our top two heroes. Well done with presenting that dynamic of Clark and Ollie’s relationship that I think gets overlooked far too often because they often like to play both sides of “hero” issues between the two.

Of course, the big scene was the capper at the end. Clark so often runs from his natural soft tendencies that you forget how much of a romantic he can be. I loved how he didn’t waiver for a single moment in his want and desire in the dance scene in the barn. Usually, something will throw him off course, even for just the tiniest fraction of an instance, and it kind of wrecks his flow for the rest of a scene. Not this time. He wanted that dance with Lois and he wanted to tell her he loved her and nothing – especially Ms. Jabber Jaw Lane – was going to stand in his way. I nearly died with the look he gave her to tell her to zip it. And his delivery of “I love you”, even though it had been spoiled in the preview, was one of the most sincere moments for the character in all of the series. The way Lois’ little girl’s heart giggled and melted when he said that was precious. Someone had guessed that the final moment was going to be the two of them floating together and, while the surprise wasn’t there, the impact was still felt. Lois helps Clark to free his heart and mind. Clark loves Lois Lane. And so do I.

Normally, I’d touch on the technical aspects of the show as well. While everyone did top-notch work and I appreciate all their effort, I’m not going to do that this time. Instead, I’m just going to bask in the romantic glow of the episode. Yeah, it may have started rough, but it more than made up for itself and became as pivotal of an episode as a milestone like a 200th episode should be. Kudos, Smallville gang, on reaching this achievement and on delivering on the promise of a season of change, growth and forward movement.

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