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Friday, April 9, 2010

Smallville 9x17 - "Checkmate"


Special DC Universe Guest Stars:
AMANDA WALLER (Pam Grier is Amanda Waller)

"Checkmate" follows up big time on the major story threads laid down in Absolute Justice, but before I get to all that, last week's Smallville was a fun little romantic comedy romp. Smallville pretty much went all out to prove they have the best looking cast on television and sex was foremost on the agenda: Chloe and Oliver have been getting it on, Tess and Zod got it on, and Lois and Clark... didn't quite. But we did find out Clark could if he wanted to; the major revelation was that all of his training with Jor-El at the Fortress has taught Clark full control of all of his abilities. In other words, Clark can bang humans without killing them. Zod apparently needed no such training, jumping right in the sack with Tess, although Zod probably didn't care as much if he killed Tess in the process. Plus the Silver Banshee was the villain!  It was a sexy spoonful of sugar before the hardcore DC Universe geekouts resumed with the main storyline setting up the conclusion of season nine. 

This week saw heaping amounts of homage to Watchmen, specifically the liberal use of Zack Snyder's slow-motion style of shooting action. There was also an amusing reference to Tess not having the clearance to look "under the hood".  If that wasn't enough, Tess discovers Oliver is the Green Arrow in a shameless swipe from how Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle discovered each others' secret identities in Batman Returns. Loved it.

Tess Mercer is in actuality Agent Mercer of Checkmate, having been recruited by Amanda Waller (The White Queen... er, curious choice of color) as a mole in Luthorcorp when word leaked that Lex Luthor was harboring alien technology.  Waller wants "Watchtower" and set up a whole scheme to capture Green Arrow (very easily, I might add) and "recruit" him into Checkmate, although Green Arrow's escape from Checkmate's clutches was pretty cool.

But Green Arrow was just the bait; the person Checkmate really wants is Chloe, and more specifically, Chloe's Watchtower database on the Justice League. Waller wants the superpowers of the League working for Checkmate (name dropping Black Canary, Aquaman, Impulse, and Cyborg) in order to combat the Kryptonian alien invasion she fears is happening.  (If Waller knew Zod is already zipping around the skies at full power, she'd probably lose her shit.)

Clark was placed in a position by Waller to betray the League in order to save Chloe's life but Oliver was able to use Watchtower to shut down the power grid in the Checkmate Castle (wherever the hell there's a medieval castle on a lake in America) so that Clark could save Chloe in Super Slow Motion Action Poses.

As Chloe and Oliver are solidified as a couple, Tess is seemingly SOL. Tess betrayed Checkmate to Clark (who pulled Batman's old "hang 'em from the top of a building, watch 'em freak out, and interrogate 'em" trick) and is forced to go underground.  Poor Tess. A week ago, she was rolling between the sheets with Zod, feeling pretty powerful because she could control him with Kryptonite, and now she's on the run and hunted by Checkmate for going AWOL. 

The episode really belonged to the Martian Manhunter.  This was the best presentation of J'onn J'onzz on Smallville yet and Phil Morris was great.  We got to see J'onn's flight, his mind reading and mindwiping powers (to protect Chloe, Clark, and Oliver's identities because Waller learned who they were), his shapeshifting, invisibility, Martian Vision.  We got it all.  J'onn is working for someone, a different player not Checkmate and not with the Justice League Watchtower, represented by an ominous red chess piece.  I presume J'onn is working for Maxwell Lord. My Justice League International geekout is all set to explode when Max sets foot in Smallville's Metropolis.