Once Clark realized that Davis was Doomsday, the ultimate destroyer Jor-El had warned him about, he came up with a plan to keep the world safe from him. In fact, he came up with three successive plans, any one of which would have worked. The first and best plan was sabotaged by Chloe, his BFF, because she thought the fate Clark had planned for Davis was too harsh. The second was thwarted by Tess, who destroyed the Phantom Zone crystal in an attempt to force a confrontation between Clark and the beast. And when Clark enlisted the help of the Justice League to ensure the third time would be the charm, they turned on him and literally stabbed him in the back. As the old saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies?
Clark allowed Chloe to change his mind about Davis. He decided to ignore his instincts and revise his plan, to try to find a way for the human part of Doomsday to have a normal life. The results were disastrous. Clark was felled by his own allies, Chloe unleashed the beast, and the JL proved powerless to stop his resultant rampage. Doomsday couldn't be destroyed, but Clark did manage to contain him. Unfortunately, by that time Metropolis had already paid a terrible price. And as Clark battled the beast, the human part of Davis turned out to be a monster, too, who attacked Jimmy and then went after Chloe. In the end both Jimmy and Davis lay dead, a burden Clark will carry on his shoulders for all time, placed there by Chloe and Oliver's inability to have faith in the hero who stood before them.
The two people who did believe in Clark, Lois and Jimmy, were gone, and everyone else close to him had let him down. Seeing only his own hand in the tragedy of Jimmy's death, and battered by betrayal, Clark turned away from humanity altogether. Of course he was wrong to do so; of course Clark needs his human side. But I couldn't help but think he was right, too. I don't blame Clark for wanting to take a step back. And maybe that's just what he needs to gain some perspective and balance. I've never been more proud of Clark than I am this season, but the one thing he has yet to master is believing in himself. Perhaps by exploring his Kryptonian side without fear or shame, he can finally embrace every part of himself, human and alien both, and truly become the man he is meant to be.
There were a lot of things about this episode that bothered me, and most of them came down to the same problem we've seen all too often on this show: too much story to tell, and not enough time or money to tell it properly. Smallville is nothing if not ambitious in trying to give us as much as possible in every episode, especially when it comes to season premieres and finales. Sometimes this can lead to rushed scenes, unexplained details, and plot holes that don't make sense, where we're not quite sure what's going on, and we wonder if something critical didn't accidentally get left on the cutting room floor. And the ongoing budget cuts are killing this show.
Don't get me wrong, I applaud what Smallville is able to accomplish given their limited resources, and usually I hardly notice the cut corners. I love that little city block of Metropolis where everything happens, and I'm perfectly happy to see an intensely focused look to represent Clark's x-ray vision, or an offscreen whooshing sound effect to indicate his super speed. But if I see one more scene filmed next to those old train tracks under Vancouver's elevated SkyTrain, I think I might scream. And when they end up shortening or even leaving out scenes because the necessary effects are too expensive, that hurts the storytelling. Much worse is that most of the series regulars appear in only half of the episodes. Their absences are notable, and can make the story appear abrupt or choppy. I sometimes wonder if one can truly do justice to a superhero story on a CW budget.
In Doomsday, the things they left out were disappointing. We didn't get to see the orb explode out of Tess's safe, or exactly how the JL captured Davis, or what went down at the Geothermal Plant when Clark vanquished the beast. I would have liked to see the conversation where Lois found out that Chloe had run off with a serial killer, or the one where Oliver convinced Bart and Dinah to turn against Clark, or the scene where Clark searched for Lois. I suppose the biggest disappointment was the big fight between Clark and Doomsday, the one we waited all season to see, that turned out to be just a couple of minutes long. What we saw of it was awesome (beyond the actual fighting, I loved the car catch, and Clark with the little girl), but it was so short! We also saw an overhead shot of Metropolis that was recycled from Vessel, and the big explosion was obviously unused footage from Justice. Noticing that took me right out of the moment.
What redeemed the episode for me, however, was every moment that Clark was oncreen. Between bad news and bad friends, Clark took a lot of hits this week, but never gave in to anger or despair. Instead he was my hero, completely focused on just one thing: removing Doomsday as a threat to mankind. Only when that battle was over did he finally break down.
I loved the scene between Clark and Rokk at the top of the episode, with both of them so serious, where Clark refused to regret his decision to save Chloe from Brainiac, and Rokk smiled because he expected nothing less from his hero, Kal-El. Clark took the sobering news that his own end could be near with courage and determination, prepared to die for the people of Metropolis if that's what it took to keep them safe. But first he sought to leave them a message, of hope and inspiration:
To the Citizens of Metropolis:
You have welcomed me into your city and allowed me to make it my home. I will always be grateful for that. Which is why I cannot leave without saying goodbye. This newspaper has made me into what you think I am - an example, a symbol, a "hero." But the truth is, I'm simply one of you. The only difference is that my days in the shadows and my nights on the streets have allowed me to see what you've lost sight of - the good in each of you.
I've seen regular people do extraordinary things. I've seen you help each other up after you've been knocked down. I've seen you stand together when times are tough. And I've seen the smallest act make the biggest change. If I've done anything right, I hope it's help you realize one person can make a difference in the lives of others - that Metropolis doesn't need a hero. Have faith in yourself, and you will find hope in each other.
Remember, it's not the mask that makes the hero. It's the choices we make and the desire to do what's right. I've seen that desire in all of you. It inspired me to promise I would do everything in my power to protect this city - but I can't promise that I'll be around forever. One day, there may be a fight I cannot win.
But if that day comes, please, keep fighting without me to make the world a better place. Be the heroes I know you are.
-- The Red-Blue Blur
*sniffles* I love Clark so much. ♥ ♥ ♥
Clark's RBB phone conversation with Lois was a beautiful moment that brought both of them hope. Clark was reeling, trying to come to terms with what his fate might hold, and Lois was frantic with worry over Chloe. He promised to find her cousin, and she showed him just how complete her faith in him truly was. These two need each other! I have no doubt that Lois will play a critical role in bringing Clark back from the edge, once she gets back from the future, that is. I think losing Lois was the final blow for Clark, the one he could not withstand.
The scene where Jimmy learned Clark's secret was wonderful. And heartbreaking. As soon as we saw Clark's cut heal right before Jimmy's eyes, we could read the handwriting on the wall. So even as my heart swelled to see Jimmy's absolute joy and Clark's quiet happiness as they shared this moment (complete with Supes music), my eyes filled with tears, because I knew just how short-lived that joy would be. It wasn't Jimmy's death scene that made me cry, but this one, where we saw the incredible potential of this character, but realized, sadly, that we were about to lose him. Still, I loved this scene, and have watched it again and again.
My favorite scene of the episode was Clark's last, with Chloe. Coming from Jimmy's funeral to the place where he died, his blood still staining the floor, Clark was devastated. He was in mourning for his friend, but also for so much more: the loss of faith, and trust, and hope. He looked so sad, and so alone. But along with the bleakness in his eyes, there was something more: a steely resolve. When Clark said, "Clark Kent is dead," I heard the promise of something hard and ruthless inside him being given free reign, and a desperate inner struggle to come. I can only hope that a superhero will be forged in the fire of that conflict. As Clark said goodbye and walked away, only to disappear, my heart went out to him. I hope next season brings us light as well as dark, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Tom Welling brings to his performance as Clark without his humanity.
I was intrigued by the showdown between Lois and Tess. Lois's fierce loyalty to her family is one of the things I like best about her, and I loved that she didn't apologize for breaking into Tess's office, or even seem embarrassed that she was caught. Was it her snooping for information about Chloe that made Tess suspect her of stealing the orb? Or was Tess remembering Faora and her talk of Kal-El? When Tess meets Zod, will she remember that Faora mentioned him as well? Things could get very interesting between these two next season! In any case, their banter was fun, as was their catfight atop the desks of the Daily Planet. I know Lois has bigger problems right now, being zapped into the distant future and all, but I'm guessing she'll be out of a job when she gets back.
The other scene I liked a lot was Jimmy's encounter with Lois in Tess's office. Cute, funny, and awesome. That is the Jimmy I've always loved, not Chloe's insecure, jealous boyfriend. Why do they wait until the episode in which they're going to kill him off to tease us with the Jimmy who might have been? Oh, we've seen him before, just not very often. Taking sneaky photos while meeting with Lex in Fallout. Having a heart-to-heart with Clark in Sleeper. Working at the DP in Apocalypse. Vowing to track down Metropolis's mystery hero in Prey. Every moment of Identity. I never liked the Chimmy, but Jimmy as sidekick, comic relief, and DP photographer completely won me over, as did Aaron Ashmore. I'm sorry to see Jimmy go, even sorrier that they killed him, and sorriest of all that they stripped him of his iconic identity as well. It just seems like a slap in the face to everything AA has contributed to this show, and the great character he brought to life. I know the official story is that DC had a problem with the age discrepancy between Smallville's Jimmy and the one in the comic books, but when you already have Super!Lana and U.S. Senator Martha Kent on the show, and you've supposedly killed off Lex Luthor, that seems kind of nitpicky. And don't even get me started on Jimmy's last scene, with Chloe. Ugh.
So let's talk about Chloe. I am so angry with her right now! All season long I've been making excuses for her in my head, calling her behavior OOC as she questioned Clark's actions and told him what to do, time and time again. But when she lied to Clark and betrayed him so that she could run off with Davis, I finally had to accept that Chloe no longer has the same loyalty to Clark she once did. She said she did it all for Clark, but I don't buy it. Everything about the way she interacted with Davis said there was more to it than that. She herself told Davis she once thought she loved him. Was that before or after she "never left" Jimmy? And using the black kryptonite on Davis was all about helping him, and nothing to do with Clark. I'm also outraged that she never apologized to Clark for any of it. Her plan to control the beast didn't work. She screwed up. And yet, right up until he walked out on her, she was still telling Clark how he was doing it wrong, and making it all about her. I haven't been this mad at Chloe since she made her dirty deal with Lionel at the end of S2. I loved her more than ever in S3, and I hope I will love her again in S9. But right now? Not so much. Whatever she's suffering, she brought upon herself.
Oliver was awful in this episode, and even worse, he corrupted the JL as well. I couldn't believe that Black Canary would lure Clark to an ambush! Or that Oliver would shoot him in the back!! And then they just left him there on the ground, writhing in pain, at the mercy of whomever came along. And these are the good guys?! Was Ollie's single manly tear at Jimmy's funeral supposed to signify his return from the dark side, instantly cured by remorse after seeing the consequences of his actions? I hope it's not that easy. I wonder if they're going for a complete role reversal next year. Will we see the same man who helped strip Clark of his faith in humanity try to restore it? Or will Oliver's darkness continue?
Random thoughts: Edge City looks a lot like Metropolis looks a lot like Smallville. *rolls eyes* Tess and Lois are furiously fighting, and Lois finally gets the upper hand when she knocks Tess out with a ring box? The JL have captured the most powerful creature in the universe, and they restrain him with plastic zip ties. Then they stand around and wait for him to wake up. And when he breaks free, how is it that they're all just left unconscious, instead of ripped to shreds and dead? How in the world could Jimmy afford that place he gave to Chloe? Even as a fixer upper, it had to cost millions. And awww, Jimmy almost gave Clark his hero name. He's some kind of super... guy!
Because of all the spoilers and hype, and the comic book canon about Doomsday, a lot of fans came to this episode with expectations. Most were surprised by what they found. Clark didn't die. Neither did Chloe or Lois. Jimmy did. Except Jimmy wasn't Jimmy, he was Henry. Jimmy Olsen was a young boy we met for the first time at his brother's funeral, not the sweet, funny guy we've known for the past three years. Rather than a tragic figure who struggled to conquer his inner demons and failed, Davis was simply a monster. The fight between Clark and Doomsday was over almost before it began. The Daily Planet was not destroyed. Clark still didn't fly. And instead of recreating the iconic Death of Superman image with Clark and Lois, the show gave it to us with Jimmy and Chloe:
In true Smallville fashion, everything had a little bit of a twist. And in the end, Clark Kent simply walked away. Most Smallville finales have left me on the edge of my seat, saying I can't wait to find out what happens next. And while I'm certainly looking forward to the next step on Clark's journey, and wondering how the show will resolve the crisis he is now facing, mostly Doomsday just left me feeling sad. For better or worse, S8 is a wrap. And I, for one, am ready for a break.
Cross-posted at Starkville House of El Podcast.
Clark was beautiful in this episode, but tragically so. Beware, the pretty will break your heart this time. My top ten caps from Doomsday:
Screen caps courtesy of writrgurl, with my thanks!