SUPERMAN! CHLOE SULLIVAN! LOIS LANE! (Absent) TESS MERCER! ZOD! (Nope) THE GREEN ARROW! Special DC Universe Guest Stars: THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER! AMANDA WALLER (Pam Grier is Amanda Waller) and CHECKMATE!
"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.
Originally posted by John Orquiolalast 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.
I liked this week's episode. It was more of what Smallville needs, I have to disagree with your assessment of last week's episode as "fun" however.
It was literally, in my opinion at least, the single worst episode of Smallville in the entire series. It was so full of nonsense, so completely outside of what makes the show good, and so completely beyond suspension of disbelief I could barely stomach it. I could deal with the whole Wall of Weird era of Smallville, but time traveling ghosts entering the world through a portal to punish men is... ugh. Add the unnecessary amounts of hooking up (Chloe and Oliver is a little awkward and creepy but Zod and Tess is a total wtfomgbbq) and you get the low point in the history of Smallville.
I thought this was one of their better episodes this season since it dealt with a real threat. They set Checkmate up as a bad ass organization as well as giving J'onn some much needed screen time. Besides Ollie/Chloe's relationship being stupid, I am getting tired of two things on the show. One is the constant Chloe/Clark fighting. It was bad enough last season with Doomsday, but this season its amped to a ridiculous level. Speaking of Doomsday, remember Jimmy? Yeah, neither do the writers. The second is how they keep hemming and hawing around the whole team. After the JSA episode, you would think they would work better, but no. Again, by working individually they somehow win. Either make them the JLA or don't bother with the DCU cameos which save this show's ass every year.
I saw a few fan boards have a problem with Clark roughing up Tess which was a totally Bruce moment. I can't stand Tess due to amount of side changing she does for no reason also I am so bored with female characters who kick ass, but getting roughed up a little by a man, its abuse. Utter reverse sexism bullshit. I also think Lex or Maxwell Lord is the one who put the red Queen on the table. A little disappointed its the Krypto-clones and not Darkseid as the threat for Checkmate, but we could be swerved at the end of the season. It was a good action episode which this show needs more of.
If we're going the realistic route and if the object is to tie together the series in a neat little bow, you'd have to go with Talia Al Ghul as the main villain. Plus, she's every bit the conflicted love interest that Catwoman is.