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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Smallville 10x8 - "Abandoned"


Special DC Universe Guest Stars:
Extra Special Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Guest Star:

With a combination of forward story movement, revelatory flashbacks, and copious amounts of DC Universe guest stars, "Abandoned" righted the Smallville ship after "Ambush" last week. I didn't like "Ambush". As much as I enjoy the visual delights of Lois and Lucy Lane reunited, "Ambush" was nonsensical; it was structured and felt like a season three or four episode, back when I didn't like Smallville (but still watched every week). On the plus side, Rick Flagg blew up the Talon set (with a missile, no less), ridding Smallville of that tie to its early seasons. AND Clark asked General Lane for permission to marry Lois! Will we see Lois in a wedding dress before Clark wears the red and blue suit?

This week, Smallville touted Teri Hatcher's guest appearance as Lois Lane's mother, who has been dead of cancer for years but recorded a series of videos for her daughter (not terribly unlike what Jor-El did for Kal-El). Teri Hatcher's scene was really, really good. Not just well-written, but her performance was moving and poignant. Just the way she started the video by saying, "Lois...", passing the Lois Lane torch to Erica Durance was... wow. Durance, for the entire episode as usual but specifically in this scene, brought her A game, with Lois reacting to her mother's advice with pitch perfect facial reactions.

Lois resolved her lingering abandonment issues with her mother and decided to help Clark do the same with Jor-El. Even Shelby the dog was skeptical (it's always fun to see Clark's one-time Superdog), or maybe Shelby just thought it was as much fun as I did to see Lois pouring over Clark's Kryptonian journals and maps of the old Indian caves from the early seasons. The jig really is up: All of this stuff was kept secret from Lois for years but now she's all in. She finds the key Clark poorly hid behind a bookcase and marched right into the Fortress of Solitude (in a black winter ensemble from The Lois Lane Collection) and read Jor-El the riot act, name dropping "Kal-El".

Jor-El had enough of this human woman yelling at him and held Lois in stasis until Clark showed up, but maybe Jor-El really just did that so Lois wouldn't freeze to death. Once Lois and Clark are together, the Fortress showed a hologram re-enactment of Jor-El and Lara's words to baby Kal-El in his starship as Krypton was about to explode. (With the un-hyped re-appearances of Julian Sands as Jor-El and the original Supergirl Helen Slater as Lara!) Clark found out his Kryptonian parents really did love him, and I guess the ice between him and Jor-El has been melted. And Lois being all up in his Kryptonian area further convinced Clark that Lois is The One for him. He's even got the ring now to prove it. Not a Legion flight ring. Not a Green Lantern Power Ring. But a diamond engagement ring! (Did Clark crush a piece of coal to create that huge diamond himself? I like to think yes! A perk of being Superman means never having to overpay at Tiffany's.)

Meanwhile, Tess is having nightmares of herself as a little girl being tortured and abused in a terrifying orphanage. They feel like more than dreams but Tess has no memories of being in that orphanage, or of her parents, or of anything before she was five years old. Using Watchtower, she gets on the trail of "the Mother Theresa of abandoned children", a silver haired old fox (not really) named Granny Goodness! Clark offers to help her investigate. After all, Tess is part of his team now. I must say Cassidy Freeman is favorably competing with Erica Durance in the acting department; without saying a word Freeman communicates myriad emotions via facial expressions. And I think Tess is a much tougher character to play and make believable.

Tess and Clark arrive at Granny Goodness' orphanage and Clark immediately hears a cry for help, excusing himself with the lamest reason he could think of ("I left my notebook in the car.") Clark finds a little girl being tortured in the basement and frees her, then locks her in a room for safety before he's attacked by The Female Furies! (And WE NEVER CHECK IN WITH THAT LITTLE GIRL AGAIN! IS SHE STILL IN THE CLOSET? CLARK FORGOT ALL ABOUT HER!)

The Female Furies have some sort of Kryptonite fire pit, which weakens Clark so they can have their way with him. Of course, they waste no time rendering Clark shirtless and tied up. For a bunch of women raised by an insane (alien?) grandmother since they were little girls and turned into superpowered assassins, they're pretty kinky. The main two Furies are Mad Harrett, with Freddy Krueger Kryptonite claws, and Lashina, who whips it good.

Tess is reunited with Granny Goodness, who reveals Tess was under her care as a little girl, dropped off by her birth parents ("who were powerful"), but then taken away from the orphanage when her birth parents found her a foster home. While she was there, Tess was subject to Granny's methods but Granny also said Tess was her favorite charge. Granny's girls all have gone on to great things, and so did Tess, what with now having Luthorcorp, The Daily Planet and Watchtower (shh!) under her control.
Granny was also the one, as suspected, who brought Tess to Cadmus and healed all the injuries she got in last season's finale. Granny reveals all of this to Tess while chasing her around the orphanage and locking her in her old room. (Tess broke out the same way she did when she was a girl.) Biggest in joke of the episode was that little Tess scrawled "SOMEBODY SAVE ME!" on the wall. I guess Granny wouldn't allow her to listen to Remy Zero either.

Now, was Tess supposed to be a Female Fury? She beat up Mad Harriett all by her lonesome, but was almost hanged by Lashina. Luckily, Clark used his Super Breath to seal the Kryptonite fire pit, free himself, and save Tess. Clark also took out Lashina before he and Tess booked it from the world's worst orphanage. Did Superman hit a woman? We don't know. We don't know what he did because he did it in Superspeed. One second Lashina was just standing there, the next, she was out cold.

That's not all, though: Tess' repressed childhood memories came flooding back in the form of more flashbacks: She remembers getting dropped off at the orphanage by her daddy, a man in a limousine, and the license plate reads: LUTHOR! And she found her birth certificate with her real name: LUTESSA LENA LUTHOR! (I laughed.)

As a Dead Like Me fan (seasons one and two only please, the reunion movie was terrible), I loved the casting of Christine Willes (Delores Herbig) as Granny Goodness. Willes is a prolific Canadian character actor who has appeared in just about every television series ever shot in Vancouver; it took ten years but she finally got cast in Smallville. In a major role too. As far as I recall, the Granny Goodness in the comics was just a physically powerful old battleaxe with a Mega-Rod. Smallville's Granny has telekinesis and the ability to erase memories. We were also treated to an Apokolips reunion when DeSaad shows up expectedly. Also unexpected is Smallville's DeSaad depicted as a swarthy blonde Euro-trash nightclub owner. And Gordon Godfrey showed up too! Godfrey no longer seems to be possessed by the spirit of Darkseid, which begs the question where Darkseid is now. Granny, DeSaad, and Godfrey all agree - "HE'S COMING!" All Hail Lord Darkseid! (I'm just preparing for the inevitable.)