So I had off of work Wednesday due to weather, so I had the opportunity to watch “Absolute Justice,” the two-hour Smallville event. And my wording there was deliberate. I don’t know if it was the extended episode, or the fun new/classic characters, or what seemed like improved production values, but the two parter truly did feel like an “event.” It felt genuinely special and unlike anything else we’ve seen on this show. It really was epic. And possibly even flawless.
And I don’t think I’m exaggerating there. The pacing was great, the right characters were used (and for the right amount of the time, for that matter), they brought up many of the observations I had noted in my prior columns, and best of all, the episode didn’t seem obligatory: it really felt like it set the characters and stories in motion for the rest of the season.
Sure, the episode seemed a little Watchmen-esque, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really know enough about the Justice Society OR the Watchmen to determine who’s lifting from whom. But I enjoyed the episode, so in the end isn’t that what matters?
Honestly, I’m not even sure where to start. Okay, how about with the glaring differences between the Justice Society and the future Justice League – and this is one observation that I hadn’t consciously taken note of. Basically, the Justice Society is a family. And this goes beyond their emotional ties, this includes the mundane things like eating dinner together. Truthfully, I hadn’t even realized how much Clark and Chloe, and to a lesser extent Clark and Oliver, had degraded on an emotional level. If you watch earlier seasons of Smallville, you’ll see that Clark and Chloe had a legitimate friendship, where they shared feelings and gave advice, and it just so happened that every now and then they’d fight crime. Now, the only time any of these characters interact – excluding Lois and Clark – it’s centered on whatever threat they’re currently facing. It’s really rather jarring if you think about it. And because of that, I legitimately smiled when Oliver came by simply to go out for a meal together. It seemed real. And, again, it made the episode feel like it’s about something more than merely whipping out some cool new costumes.
And, make no mistake, the costumes kicked ass. Hawkman’s outfit was particularly awesome. Like, high budget movie level awesome. And the actor who portrayed him did a wonderful job, hitting the right combination of attitude, compassion, wisdom, and general bad assery. Dr. Fate, who I’m not all that familiar with, looked pretty damn cool. And how incredibly awesome was it seeing, ever so briefly, Martian Manhunter in his alien form? And Green Arrow actually decided to wear his hood and shades for a scene or two!!! Although, I must say, his decision to not wear it was a mistake in that rooftop scene with Hawkman.
I recently voiced my concern that Chloe’s morally questionable behavior wasn’t necessarily going anywhere. This episode soothed those fears quite well. Clark and Oliver had voiced their concerns over the past few episodes, but it was nice seeing peripheral characters like Martian Manhunter and Star Girl take note of her behavior as well. It was actually very refreshing seeing these characters bring up the lack of humanity in her work, instead of marveling at her amazing (and borderline preposterous, all things considered) technological gadgets. I do hope that this episode is a turning point for her character, because I noted in a recent review, between her quips and techno-babble, she barely even sounds human anymore.
And finally, I really appreciated the fact that this episode offered a new perspective on Clark Kent and his specialness. In the past, it was always assumed that he took the leadership position because of the simple fact that he’s the most powerful – by a rather significant margin. But Absolute Justice showed us what makes Clark truly special, and what actually sets him apart from the rest, is his motivation for doing what he does. While everybody else is out there for vengeance or exhilaration – or both, in Oliver’s case – Clark’s out there saving people because he truly, genuinely wants to help those in need. And because of that, he really is a cut above the rest.
Oh, and I didn’t forget about the introduction of the Suicide Squad or Amanda Waller. I’m actually pretty eager to see how this plays out, and, again, I don’t really know much about the Squad to begin with. Although I loved the revelation that Tess is an agent with them. That was pretty neat. As was the sly little allusion to Lex being alive. So….can you tell that I liked the episode?
Matt Basilo has been writing for Inside Pulse since April 2005, providing his insight into popular television shows such as Lost, 24, Heroes, and Smallville. Be sure to visit his blog at [a case of the blog] and follow him on Twitter.