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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Smallville 10x14 - "Masquerade"


SUPERMAN! LOIS LANE! TESS MERCER! (Absent this week) THE GREEN ARROW! CHLOE SULLIVAN! (Who Has No Name and No Identity)
Special DC Universe Guest Star:
With several mentions of:

Set against the backdrop of DeSaad, the master torturer of the evil New God Darkseid in classic DC comic books, re-imagined Smallville-style as a serial killer stamping Omega symbols on the skulls of the people of Metropolis, "Masquerade" is primarily concerned with the question of identity.  Clark deals directly with the dueling identities of how to present "Clark Kent" and "The Blur" to the public, after blurry images of his face make worldwide news when he was hanging out on the Big Ben clock tower in London for some reason.  For Chloe, the question of who she is now is even more confounding for her.

Continuing their tradition of haunting the aisles of their local Blockbuster for episode plot ideas, this week, Smallville decided to do a riff on the recent Steve Carell and Tina Fey movie Date Night. Oliver and Chloe, both out incognito, as it were, engage in some sexy romantic role playing at the Ace of Clubs. They pretend to be "Mr. and Mrs. Jones" so they can glom a dinner reservation (I was hoping a certain Martian Manhunter would show up), and wouldn't you know it, a desperate phone call and a kidnapping later, they're in deep, deep trouble.  Turns out their kidnappers are FBI agents tracking a serial killer, who's been leaving a trail of bodies around Metropolis.  Chloe and Oliver beat up the feds then blunder around a bit trying to figure out what's going on, and when Oliver goes all Spider-Man on Chloe and leaves her in an alley while he parkours up a building, Chloe is captured by DeSaad.

Meanwhile, Clark is tracking DeSaad as an investigative reporter and we find out that Clark Kent carries a lot of weight in this town.  Police officers practically genuflect at the sight of Clark's Daily Planet press pass and he even has a sycophantic Jonah Hill in Forgetting Sarah Marshall-like photographer following him around. Clark even nearly blows his cover, showing off his Super strength by saving his life. At the morgue, Clark runs right into DeSaad without realizing it. Clark's more interested in his new found power of "Micro Vision".  (Doesn't he mean "Microscopic Vision"? Even Lois thinks "Micro Vision" doesn't sound quite right. Clark: "It's my power, I can call it what I want!") Prior to all this, Lois takes a break from planning their wedding to chide Clark about his handsome headshot appearing under his bylines in his news articles; hardly the low-key approach for someone who wants to run around without a mask as the Blur.

Captured by DeSaad, the Date Night references stop entirely and Smallville shifts to riffing on the 1995 Brad Pitt-Morgan Freeman serial killer classic Se7en. Chloe is tempted by specters of Clark (coming onto her), Oliver (asking her to run away with him), Lois (accusing her of jealousy), and herself (here's a Marcellus Wallace Pulp Fiction reference - "That's pride fuckin' wit' ya. Fuck pride!"), and DeSaad preying on Chloe's vulnerabilities Seven Deadly Sins-style. This is DeSaad's M.O.; you either succumb and get Darkseid's Omega symbol in your skull, or DeSaad just kills you and moves on. (It seems like a pretty inefficient method, one guy doing all this recruiting/killing solo, but no one thinks to ask DeSaad about the logistics of his evil mission.)  

Clark saves Chloe and Blurs her away, then confronts DeSaad. We learn that whatever darkness that was in Clark earlier this season is gone. Clark is now "incorruptible".  So DeSaad traps him in a swirling mass of black whatever-that-was, and nonchalantly strolls to his luxury vehicle for his getaway, only to find a green arrow in the tire and Oliver Queen waiting to pound the crap out of him.  Clark escapes from the black swirlies and stops Oliver from beating DeSaad to death, which I guess is what DeSaad wanted?  I'm not sure.  It gets even more confusing when Clark tells Lois later on he "buried DeSaad under Blackgate Prison". Say what? 

The important thing is Chloe's okay, and to Smallville's credit, as Chloe looks through her Smallville High yearbook, the show directly addresses how unrecognizable the Chloe character has become since she was "Chloe 1.0" a decade ago. Chloe's had almost as many jobs as Homer Simpson - she's been a long-suffering sidekick, intrepid reporter, Watchtower, leader of the Suicide Squad, and now she has no identity.  In defining her character yet again, Chloe decides to start by calling herself Oliver's girlfriend. Little does she know, she's the girlfriend to a Disciple of Darkseid as we see the Omega symbol glowing on Oliver Queen's forehead! 

As for Clark, he makes a pivotal decision and decides that from now on, Clark Kent can no longer be seen as a swaggering, handsome, macho ex-football star-turned-reporter.  Since he doesn't want to wear a mask as the Blur and accepts that people should see the Blur's face, "Clark Kent" has to be the mask.  And thus, Tom Welling dons the famous glasses, and does his best (poorly) to be the bumbling buffoon version Clark Kent Christopher Reeve mastered when he was Superman.  We must now accept unfailingly that Everyone In Metropolis Who Has Seen Clark Kent Over The Past Decade Is Now Fooled Instantly By The Glasses And Won't Recognize Him As The Blur.  See?  It's just that easy. Just do it.

Hey, whatever happened to Tess and Alexander? No mention at all of them, no follow through on the whole, "nothing less than a bursting shell can penetrate his skin" moment.  Is Tess still shacked up in the Kent Barn?  I guess we'll find out next week during the Kent-Lane engagement party.