Find Me At Screen Rant

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Smallville 10x4 - "Homecoming"


Special DC Universe Guest Star:
plus a reference to:
SUPERGIRL! (A magazine cover with a photo taken of Kara from last week)
and a random mention of:
THE FLASH! (Lois, in reference to her relationship with Oliver Queen said, "It was quick. Like a Flash.")

"Homecoming" is Smallville's 200th episode. For my money, it is also, thus far, the best episode of Smallville ever. There's "Absolute Justice", there's the Legion of Superheroes episode, there's the season 2 episode when Christopher Reeve appeared, but I say "Homecoming" trumps them all. This episode made me incredibly happy.

We saw him. We saw Superman. In an amazing and unexpected payoff to the opening scene of last season's finale that takes place in the future - 2017, according to the date on the Daily Planet (and hey, a major metropolitan newspaper is still in business seven years from now according to Smallville) - Clark time travels and meets Lois and more importantly, himself. Big laugh when Clark looks over his future self wearing a suit and glasses: "When did I get so uptight and nerdy?" And then our Clark gets to gaze out the window and watch as a familiar red cape streaks by and uses Superspeed flight to quell a nuclear explosion(!) in the horizon.

THEN they directly reference Superman: The Movie by having Lois in a helicopter accident atop the Daily Planet, which our Clark prevents (complete with Lois knocking out the pilot so he doesn't see it's Clark and protecting his identity). That's not all, "Homecoming" even directly references Superman Returns at the very end when Lois and Clark are slow dancing and she places her feet onto his, just like Kate Bosworth did Brandon Routh.

The gimmick of Brainiac 5 coming back from the 31st century to shake Clark loose of his malaise via time travel worked really well. This was preceded by an amusing throw away of the insane Smallville High counselor preparing to attack Clark in the same vein as all the super villains from the early seasons, only for Brainiac to lobotomize her and prevent it. Later, one of Clark's earliest season one enemies, the bug boy, tells Lois as Clark looks on non-corporeally that Clark's saving him way back when was the big difference-maker in his life, and the same with many others. No time for Freak of the Week. This is a new Smallville. There's bigger fish to fry.

The main theme of this episode is letting go. For Clark, it's to finally stop blaming himself for all the terrible things that have happened since Jonathan Kent died. And for Smallville the series itself, it's to radically re-conceptualize who Clark is. Literally meeting himself seven years from now and letting him actually see who he will be is an interesting creative gambit. The series had dug Clark in such a deep hole where it was often so hard to believe he could ever be Superman that they've actually had the character not believe it himself for a couple of years. But now Clark has literally met Superman and wants to be that guy. Clark was really impressed by himself.

Then there's flying. Clark's malaise, self-doubt, and 'the darkness' within him, were all but spelled out as the reason he can't fly. As we were told a few too many times in this episode, letting go of all of that angst is what will get Clark to be Superman. (Superman is not about angst, Mr. Singer.) Slow dancing with Lois and both of them finally exchanging "I love yous", plus Clark focusing on what he has in the moment instead of regrets of the past and fear of tomorrow finally let him... well, float. Hover. But it's a start.

Even before the full-on Superman goodness of 2017, "Homecoming" was a tremendous mix of nostalgia and comedy. Lois' insistence on going to the Smallville High 5 year reunion because she was an alumni (for 23 days, a fact both Clark and I forgot) lead to a very funny runner where Lois knew everyone's name but no one knew who she was. The way she leaps effortlessly from comedy to neurosis to sweetness, I think Erica Durance is the MVP of this series at this point. She is simply the best Lois Lane ever.

A couple of heartwarming flashbacks where we saw Lana and Chloe from season one were surprisingly effective. (No Pete Ross or Lex Luthor mentioned at all.) Also a nice touch was Clark and Lois meeting the two kids who now run the Smallville High Torch in its current digital format, their hero worship of Chloe, and Chloe texting them her approval "from beyond the grave".

Plus Clark finally gave Oliver the tacit approval Oliver has always craved as Oliver gives his first one on one interview post "I am Green Arrow!" announcement.

By Smallville acknowledging their past and putting it where it belongs, behind them, what "Homecoming" announced was that the game is afoot, and that game is Turn Clark Kent Into Superman. Clark wants to be the man he saw as the hero of Metropolis in 2017. He wants to be the Man of Tomorrow.

For the first time in ten years of watching Smallville, I now really believe he's going to be Superman.

Best. Smallville. Ever. (So far.)