So after taking a reprieve for several weeks, Smallville is finally back on track with its Darkseid story arc. And hell, they actually took a huge step forward this past episode by actually dropping his name (having only seen him in print, I’d actually always thought his name was pronounced “Dark-Seed” instead of the appropriate “Dark-Side”). But even though this was a highly enjoyable episode with a great appearance from the detestable Granny Goodness, to me the hour was highlighted by the two emotional parent-child moments.
The first featured a fun guest stint from Teri Hatcher. Most of you know her from her gig on Desperate Housewives, but she truly came into prominence playing Lois Lane on the short-lived Lois & Clark. I have to say, the fact that Hatcher appeared on this little old CW series speaks volumes about the respect it has garnered over the past decade. Sure, she’s not Julia Roberts-level famous, but I truly believe she may be one of the biggest names that has ever appeared on this show, while still being regularly active in the entertainment industry (as in, currently starring on a highly rated drama on a top network). And while her appearance was brief, it was rather powerful. It also set the tone of how parents try to protect their children from seeing them when they’re vulnerable and weak, which ultimately creates a rift that the child must overcome. Granny Goodness believes that children should forget this heartache. Lois, Clark, and even Tess decide to confront it. And by overcoming this emotional obstacle, they each found a degree of strength and comfort.
Truthfully, Lois’ mother/daughter scene probably wasn’t my favorite of the three, but it did a fantastic job of setting the tone and framing the episode as a whole. And Teri Hatcher’s performance was pretty heart wrenching – I actually got a little teary eyed. The way she talked about how big, bad, tough Sam Lane was in denial and the realization that she wouldn’t be there for her girls during all of their significant life moments. It was quite touching. And, unsurprisingly, Erica Durance nailed her subdued part out of the park. And, as I already said, it shaped the rest of the episode with the message that our parents aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. The important thing, though, is that we accept them for their flaws and we don’t allow their insecurities to dictate who we become. Once we are able to do that, we can find peace with ourselves and our departed guardians.
The highlight for me, as one might expect, was Clark’s brief scene with Jor-El and Lara. The past few years I’ve noted how much more I enjoy Jor-El as the supportive father, opposed to his early portrayal as a borderline abusive and evil overseer. There was no real reason for Jor-El to be viewed in such a villainous manner, and I just thought the show worked so much better when he was seen in a more positive light. I remember smiling when he told Martha Kent that he made the right choice in leaving Clark with her and her husband. And I was happy when, at the beginning of last season, Jor-El reminded Clark that he didn’t need to deprive himself from his humanity in order to complete his training. And how could you forget about Clark’s touching scene with Jor-El’s clone? This is why I was so disappointed when he seemingly reverted back to his mean spirited ways at the beginning of this season. And so it was nice seeing a young Jor-El confess to his wife, with such candor, that so many of his own mistakes were based on his insecurities and ego, and that he knows Clark has the potential to be so much better than he is. While Jor-El’s actions may have contributed to the end of one civilization, Clark can grow up to save another one. It certainly brings new light to Jor-El’s current harsh behavior. And I truly do hope that this marks the end of any sort of hostility we see between Clark and his birth father.
It was also great seeing Helen Slater reprise her role as Clark’s Kryptonian mother, although her apparent ignorance of earth was confusing. Didn’t she visit the planet a few times during her lifetime? I seem to recall her and Kara visiting earth at the same time.
The final example of some repressed parenting issues revolves around the revelation that Tess is actually part of the Luthor family. When Granny Goodness revealed that Tess came from a very powerful family, you had to know this was going to happen. During the flashback scene, I actually thought we’d get a surprise guest appearance from the ultra talented John Glover, who portrayed Lionel Luthor. Although, this sheds an extremely creepy light on Tess’ infatuation, which was most certainly based on an intense sexual interest, with Lex.
I’m not going to completely overlook Granny Goodness, because she was great. There’s something so incredibly unsettling about an evil old lady. The way they deliver their lines with such composure, while acting all prim and proper, is just so incredibly devilsh – and Granny Goodness was no exception. And I loved the way she completely “no sold” (to use a wrestling term) the other two parts of Darkseid’s unholy trio (while they completely sung her, and each other’s, praises). More than anything, this episode made me really, really want to see Darkseid in the flesh. And I remain hopeful that they won’t take the Davis Bloom “Let’s make him some ordinary human before showing you brief glimpses of him as Doomsday” route. Nor do I really want them to take the “Let’s wait as long as humanly possible for Clark to fly” approach. I kinda wanna see Darkseid throughout the rest of the season. This is the end, folks, so there’s no need to hold back.