Smallville Episode 10.16 ‘Scion’ Review

Posted on March 4, 2011


Smallville, Ep. 10.16 'Scion'

Smallville Titles

Summary: A well-done episode that roots itself in the past of the series to highlight how Clark has grown and proves the strength of the Luthor storyline this season.
Rating: 9/10

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

Review Trailer
The quick skinny on the episode.

Tess introduces Clark to Conner, the next step in the clone Alexander’s evolution, as it’s revealed he was born of the spliced DNA of both Lex Luthor and Clark himself. Conner is coming into his powers and Clark takes it upon himself to mentor the boy. Meanwhile, Tess and Lionel fight over the boy and LuthorCorp.

Feature-Length Review
The in-depth review.

What a lovely mini-finale for the spring hiatus. Chalk yet another rousing success in Season 10 up to the Kent and Luthor dynamic that began this whole series. With ‘Luthor’, ‘Beacon’, and the Tess and Alexander parts of ‘Harvest’, everything related to the Luthors has been nothing short of phenomenal and ‘Scion’ builds even further upon that solid base.

I have to heap praise on the script by Al Septien & Turi Meyer. The care for the series, its history and its fanbase is extremely evident and I couldn’t help but be giddy with all of the little shoutouts to the series’ past throughout it. The callback to Season 2’s ‘Heat’, when Clark first developed his heat vision in a metaphor for puberty, as Conner caught a glimpse of the rather tasty looking Lois. Tying Conner’s Kent origins to Helen Bryce and the blood she took from Clark back in Season 2, as well. Conner’s mini-‘Exile’-like attempts to woo Lois when he saved her from Lionel. As much as last week’s ‘Fortune’ was a rather weak Smallville episode, this one is one of the strongest.

The script was helped even further by surehanded direction by Al Septien, his first (and only) appearance in the canvas-backed chair for the show. While I thought there were a few points when the dark in the show was real dark, I thought Septien (with DP Glen Winter) framed terrific scenes and kept a solid meter of tone and pace throughout. I’m not sure if this was his first director gig ever, but he handled it like a pro and kept the focus on the story rather than tricks or gimmicks. For my money, it was one of the best episodes directed by a member of the writing/producing staff.

In the name of full disclosure, I hate Conner Kent. I hate Superboy, both the Conner and Clark Kent versions. (I’m not even going to get into Superboy-Prime and all that mess.) I have never been a fan of the concept. A teen swathed in the traditional red and blue flying over Smallville, Kansas, who then reappears as a “super” man in Metropolis, all at the same time Clark Kent is around. A boy band clone version attempted to be sold to the public as the genuine article following Superman’s “death” at the hands of Doomsday. The retcon that made the clone, as Lois puts it in the episode, the “lovechild of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor”. I could do without any of them and the fact that they are around continues to make me roll my eyes.

That said, I haven’t been too terribly bothered by Conner’s appearance on the animated Young Justice series, even though he’s a bit too whiny. More importantly, I really wasn’t bothered by the transition of Alexander to Conner on this show. The bit of exposition where Tess explains that the clone is transforming was the right amount of explanation for this change from distinctively all-Luthor to this more Kent-like side. I thought Lucas Grabeel handled both sides wonderfully and he felt like an organic part of the series. I’m also keen on the fact that this Conner looks like a boy. So often in the comics, they have him built like a man yet hanging around with all of these teens. The difference in size, stature and look between Welling and Grabeel gave visual weight to this story of Clark being a father and a mentor.

In addition, quite in contrast with Justice‘s Superman – who has been anything but accomodating to the arrival of Conner in that series – it was a joy to see Smallville‘s Clark Kent step up and be so fatherly. Having Clark explain to Lois and Conner what his parents gave to him was touching and gave heart and depth to this little storyline that sold it on me. Plus, it’s so nice to see Clark reference his parents with such fondness and lack of depressive weight.

Tom Welling shone in this episode and, though I know there are many who toss about comments like this often, I couldn’t help but be impressed with how much like Superman Welling carried himself throughout. His confidence in dealing with Conner as well as his unwavering belief in the good side of the boy. His trust and intimacy with Lois that he’s able to just openly share of his feelings of being an outsider without resorting to pleas of pity. The hilarious but spot on ways he would just pop up unfazed when Conner was chucking him through walls. Everything Welling did in this episode just clicked for me.

The humor in ‘Scion’ was also of the right vintage, which was such a relief and joy after the grotesque quality of the attempts in ‘Fortune’. The aforementioned moment where Conner popped his heat vision upon seeing the curvaceous Lois was executed wonderfully by Welling and Grabeel. From the turns to shoot the beam the other direction, to the spins back and reactions in response to Lois, their timing was superb. Clark attempting to train Conner in using his heat vision was also a treat, and I enjoyed it much more than the watermelon gag with Kara from Season 7.

Lois Lane was everything in this episode that people had complained she’d lost this season: an investigative reporter, intelligent, caring, headstrong, and independent. That it was Lois who came up with the plan to prove Lionel a fraud was in-character and great reaffirmation of the woman. Erica Durance not only looked stunning this episode – particularly in the silhouette she was cutting in the barn when she appeared – but she did feel more in her own skin, as well, which gave her some fine moments on her own as well as her scenes with Tom. I’m really enjoying the fact that Clark and Lois are a happy and functional couple. To see them support one another and positively look to their future without dread brings smiles to my face.

I could gush for ages about the work of John Glover and Cassidy Freeman opposite one another. I like that there is a lightness to Tess but she still retains so much of the sternness of the character when facing Lionel. Lionel is absolutely right; she is still a Luthor. And I like the fact that they aren’t going to ignore that dichotomy but hope that they don’t spend the rest of the series having Tess flip flop every episode. It was nice to see how cooly – and simply – Tess dealt with removing Lionel from power. Glover as Lionel was the perfect amount of reptilian slick this episode you almost just take it for granted. I look forward to what kind of deal or interaction Lionel has with Darkseid. It would appear that the Dark Lord is going to reanimate the corpse of the deceased Lex and that is how we’re going to get Rosenbaum back. (I still would rather prefer that the Lex that died was a clone and not the real one.)

A few things to note: It’s interesting that they decided to model the look of the dark side of Conner on the recent Superman: Earth One style that charted in the mainstream media a few months back. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Earth One and it seemed like that Clark had a little bit of a dark lining to him in an effort to be “relatable” to today’s youth. This fit with the Alexander side of Conner.

Just when we thought the Luthor mansion was no more, they managed to sneak it back in there. I actually rather enjoyed using the scorched out innards of the den as the setting for Clark’s and Dark Conner’s showdown. I wonder if it will show up again.

I also enjoyed the peace with which everything occured in this episode. By that, I mean that everything felt absolutely right within the world of Smallville. It didn’t feel like they were trying to foist something upon us just because it was a sci-fi/fantasy series and we should accept anything within that realm. (Kind of like charmed champagne.) Tying back into the past of the series, I think, went a long way toward fostering that peace and identity.

And they squeezed in Red-K in for one final appearance in the series. I dare say, it was even the perfect way to do it. I had worried that they were going to try to milk Red-K Clark once more before they closed up shop. I felt that they had really played out everything about the trope, but it was great stroke of creativity to have Lionel use it to pull out that Luthor side of Conner’s duality. It gave credence to why he would suddenly be acting out in evil, selfish fashion and it was a nice visual way to show kinship with Clark but also the distinct difference of the boy. I tip my hat to them for a note-perfect use of the gimmick.

‘Scion’ was a strong episode to send the series into this extended break. Kind of hard to believe that when they come back it will be the home stretch. If they can keep up with the quality that they presented this week, we’re in for a finish the likes of which we could only imagine.