Review: Smallville 6.1

Clark and Zod

In the US: The CW, Thursdays, 8/7c

In the UK: Coming soon to E4

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: 2

Major new characters: 1

Format change percentage: 10%

Storylines rest back to zero: Many

The first episode of every season of Smallville is like a treasure hunt. Typically, many, many things happen in the previous season’s finale: people die, are trapped in inescapable prisons, learn Clark’s secret, declare their undying love for someone, etc. But somehow, by the end of the season premiere, everything will be back to normal again.

The trick for the viewer is to find the magic reset button. Will it be under a rock? Behind a tree? Disguised as a mantelpiece ornament?

This season, clue-hunters, the magic reset button will be disguised as a badge. A badge. A badge.

Tis a very powerful magic reset button, too. Last season, Lex had been turned into Zod (aka ZOD!!!) and had infected everything electronic in the world with a super-duper Kryptonian computer virus, the only way to stop ZOD!!! being to kill him with a special dagger; Chloe and Lionel were being beset by rampaging hordes of villagers, after Chloe had managed to give Clark a quick smooch; Martha and Lois were on a plane to the middle of nowhere that was about to crash; and Clark was trapped in the Phantom Zone, the infamous prison for alien criminals that his daddy built.

For one promising moment, the Phantom Zone looks fabulous: an Escher-esque geometric CGI distortion that prepares to warp our mind. Then, oops, we’re in a Blakes 7 sandpit somewhere near Dorking. Oh well.

With all these plots leading to their inevitable conclusions, how can the writers possibly restore everything back to normal from something like that? With a spectacular, breathtaking set of McGuffins that make the sonic screwdriver in Doctor Who seem like something out the Argos catalogue, that’s how. At the very least, you have to admire them for their ability to write themselves into messes then extract themselves with just the most basic plot device at a writer’s command, time after time, and yet still retain viewers. And for being being able to sneak in the classic line “Kneel before Zod.” Well done guys.

So Lex is dead MAGIC RESET BUTTON PUSHED perfectly all right with only complete memory loss for the entire time he was ZOD!!! How many times can one man get memory loss without wondering if he’s got some form of brain damage from his youthful clubbing days? Maybe another name for kryptonite is Special K?

Lois and Martha are killed horribly in a plane crash MAGIC RESET BUTTON PUSHED survive the plane wreck which coincidentally crashes right by the Fortress of Solitude.

And so on.

Only two major ‘characters’ die but I suspect they’ll be back before too long, so regular viewers shouldn’t be too concerned. We also get a major new character: Jimmy Olsen, played by Aaron Ashmore, brother of Shawn (X-Men 1-3, Legend of Earthsea). Since the Lana thing is pretty much out the window, the new triangle of love this season looks likely to be Clark-Chloe-Jimmy, since Clark seems finally to have seen some sense in the Chloe department. But since the magic reset button has been pushed, Chloe, who’s been pining after Clark for five seasons, suddenly decides, “Maybe not. Clark’s not for me after all”. Not at all atypical. No.

Regular viewers will have become used to this, but I suspect there are only so many impossible things they can believe before breakfast and decide to move along. Still, for both new viewers and old there are at least a few things being promised that might be worth holding out for.

Nevertheless, that magic reset button is starting to get annoying. Surely there should be some plot progression at some point? Please?