This commentary is by Brian Peterson (BP), Mairzee Almas (MA), and Cassidy Freeman (CF).
* * *
Opening scene where Clark saves Lois, continuing through the opening credits:
BP: And here we have a big moment that has kind of been many years in the making, Clark getting caught for the first time on camera in trying to embrace his new identity, which we obviously had to be very careful of earlier on in the series.
CF: It was interesting that this one was in real time, do you know what I mean? Like, most of the time when people figure out his identity, either their memory's erased, or something happens, or it's a flashback or a flash forward, and I thought this was interesting because it was in real time, and it was the first time that it was documented. This is also the coolest shot ever, where she is like, hung; how do you do that?
MA: So that's a visual effect, so it's all computer graphics on that, the debris from her purse, and then we put Erica up on a pedestal, a green screen pedestal, shoot the shot, and then take out the pedestal.
CF: [laughing] That's so Lois, to be like, "Yep! I did that!"
MA: Fantastic. Erica's so game for all of these athletic endeavors, especially in stiletto heels, and you know, she's always in the most restrictive wardrobe, but is able to pass, you know, do it.
BP: The best was when she came in to show her mask in Stiletto, and she had it on upside down, and we're all trying to figure out what was wrong, and she just looked at us and was like, "That was so Lois to do, wasn't it?" She like, embraces the character completely.
MA: Yeah, that's right. I looked at her and said, "Buddy, that's upside down." [laughing]
CF: [watching opening credits] Yeah, there's a red leather outfit.
MA: Oh, Aaron Ashmore, I love that guy.
BP: I know, we are going to miss him terribly.
CF: I actually got to hang out with him recently for the first time for more than five minutes, and he's just the coolest guy, he's such a nice guy.
MA: Fantastic, I was so happy on Identity to have him have such a large part in the show. He's a fantastic actor as well, he's very spontaneous, he's a fantastic listener. And he really, really plays well with whichever actor is in the scene with him. He's listening, he's paying attention.
CF: Yeah, which is why I'm upset that he and Tess have not met.
MA: That's bizarre.
BP: Have they not? I mean, I knew they didn't.
CF: [laughing] Do you work on the show Smallville?
BP: I know, I've seen it a couple times.
* * *
Scene where Jimmy shows Clark his photo of the Red Blue Blur:
MA: See now, here's Aaron's enthusiasm in this. It's fantastic that his character, Jimmy, is just so real, so alive.
CF: Yeah, so realistic.
BP: We embraced a whole new wardrobe for Clark this year, because he was starting at the Daily Planet, which was somewhat inspired by a Vogue layout that Tom did over the summer. And so our wardrobe department kind of got him going with his new look.
MA: And ran with that.
MA: Yeah, and Tom, of course, enjoys it as well. He just likes to get out of that jacket.
CF: Out of that red jacket. How many of those jackets do you guys have?
MA: You know what, we have to make those. They have to be specially made.
MA: I kid you not. And...
MA: ...yeah, I don't know how many we've gone through, that's a great question, we should ask Mel, and ask her how many we've actually had.
CF: 'Cause you have to distress them, right, every time that he, you know, saves someone from a burning bus, or he's like, thrown from something...
MA: Destroy them, all the time.
CF: [laughing] He's like, "Finally, after eight years, I get to wear a white-collared shirt!" What everybody else in the world hates to wear. [watches scene] It's funny, isn't it?
MA: I love, see Aaron?
BP: He's so good in this scene, Aaron's just great.
MA: So that was a spontaneous moment, where he is just responding to Tom.
CF: I love it when they talk about your character outside of when, like, when the scene's not shown? 'Cause then you have to like, you get to kind of, in your mind think about, well, what was that scene like, when Jimmy caught me in the elevator? And it couldn't be shown!
BP: See, I knew you'd met!
CF: [laughing] Yeah, exactly!
MA: There. Off camera.
CF: [watches Tom] It's so funny to me how no one really, I mean, it's just, if you think about it, if you don't know that he's Superman, I guess you wouldn't think it, you know?
MA: I don't know.
CF: Just some guy.
MA: The thing about Tom Welling, though, he has such fantastic charisma in person, and when you're standing beside 6'5" of him, you look at him, and it's just, "Oh, for heaven's sake!"
BP: Well, the first time I met Tom, he came down to edit, and I was a newbie writer, and I dumped my protein shake down my front.
MA: Yeah, that impressed him, I'm sure.
BP: I was embarrassed, and starstruck...
MA: I know.
BP: ...and he, you know, he's just the greatest guy. He really is professional.
MA: He's totally a fantastic guy, but he is very remarkable looking, he does stop traffic...
MA: ...and it's not because people know him, he just stops traffic.
CF: He does.
* * *
Scene between Lois and Sebastian at the Daily Planet:
BP: Mairzee, how did you decide on those flashbacks for this episode? That's kind of one of the bigger technical things we did on the episode.
MA: Right. You know, just had an idea, really. I was just looking at a way to try and tell the story that there was an energy flowing from her into him, so the flashback would be started by, see what he's about to, we had to see Erica's moment before, her on the phone talking, and then go to when they touched, to take the energy from Erica, and throw it at him. I wanted it to make sense, or have some sort of storytelling element to it.
CF: I like how in each of the flashbacks you have, you show like, the moment before, and then he touches, so that the audience knows that they're going back to the past.
MA: Yeah, to understand that he was in fact stealing a memory. It's kind of a bizarre concept, and not easy to tell an audience.
* * *
Scene between Tess and Sebastian at the Luthor mansion:
CF: There's my house!
MA: There's your house! You know what's really funny? I was working as an assistant director on Poltergeist the Legacy, and I went out and shot, at Royal Roads University, all of those establishing shots that were later bought by Smallville to be the Luthor house. They were the Legacy house for Poltergeist.
BP: That's so funny.
MA: And I was actually the one who was the AD over on Vancouver Island, shooting those.
BP: Wow. [watches scene] Did you have any idea what you were crying about, Cassidy?
CF: Of course I did! I knew exactly what I was crying about.
MA: But we wanted to keep it enigmatic, and not tell people, let them...
CF: [laughs] Exactly, let them know. That's the actor's ability, right?
MA: Yeah. It was just another facet of Tess, that she bears the burden of her power.
CF: Yeah, she bears a lot of burdens. It's hard, though, it's hard to come in as a day player as well, and hard to come in as a series regular. You know you have something ahead of you, but at the same time, everyone is friends, you know, and it's like...
BP: How many episodes did it take for you to feel really comfortable, like you were part of it?
CF: Oh, it took like, five days. [laughs] Everyone was so cool. I really felt super welcome.
MA: I like this scene, Brian, in that it gives an opportunity to also see a little bit of texture with Sebastian's character as well. And then we had a little backstory in it, just this bit of dialogue that they have, that he was a predator, and that that was before he could control his ability, all of that stuff. I thought it was a really effective scene in giving us some depth into a character that just got thrown into the episode, again.
BP: Well, one of the things we've tried to carry over from Al and Miles is the idea that all villains come from somewhere, and really getting into their heads, and getting into what created the villain, just like what created Clark to be Superman. So we're trying to keep that idea alive in the show.
MA: Yeah, I thought that was fantastic in this.
CF: I think that's just an interesting question, what makes a villain, you know? What, why, and I've had to think about that a lot because I have people ask me all the time, "Is Tess Mercer a villain?" I don't know! That's something that John Glover did a lot for me when I went back and watched. He was fabulous at that.
MA: He is fantastic. Yeah, he always believed that he was doing the right thing.
BP: Yeah, and he sold it, every single time. He did.
* * *
Scene at Isis, where Clark tells Chloe about Jimmy's photo:
BP: We were so glad to have Allison back on the show this year, there was a brief hiccup at the end of last year when we were terrified we were going to lose her. We're so glad to have her back this year.
CF: She's probably one of the reasons why it only took me five days. She's just so welcoming, and like, open arms to the world.
MA: Yeah, she's very sweet.
BP: And she's one of those actresses that you know when you're writing a scene, you don't have to throw in a parenthetical, you don't have to throw in anything, because she's going to completely get in that scene and give it the moments it needs.
MA: She sometimes is the one that just handles that beautiful expositional stuff that's necessary to move the story along, but is a mouthful, and is sometimes treacherous to understand. She gets it all.
CF: She does.
MA: She's fantastic.
CF: I'm always impressed with her lines, and then her delivery of them.
* * *
Scene between Clark and Tess at the Daily Planet:
MA: And this is good, Cassidy, I think that you're a good match with Tom, I think, that the energy, the strength, you hold your own, which is fantastic, which is important. And compelling, I think you're very, very compelling.
CF: Thank you.
MA: In these scenes, especially.
BP: Absolutely. So compelled that I have nothing to say, 'cause I'm just watching.
CF: Tom and I get along very well, and that helps. The funny thing is, as much as we're like, at each other's throats in scenes, we're usually laughing when the camera's not rolling. Which, it's hard sometimes, too, to be like, "You're Superman, you're super!" That's sometimes what's going on in your head, you know? [laughs]
MA: Tom has a difficult character at times to really have to play, because he is so earnest and real, and there's very little subterfuge for him, for his character. He doesn't have a lot of layers to hide underneath.
BP: You know, we actually tried in a couple of the episodes at the end of the season, we tried to add that to his character, like he was learning from the different people, Tess and Oliver, and Tom pushed back a little on it, and he's like, "My character would not do this." And it makes sense, because that's not who Superman is, Superman is the one person who is never going to lie except for his identity.
MA: Uncorruptible [sic], and innocence that can't be bruised, and so he defends that. And we all, you know, you guys do as well. It is very interesting, though, when you're doing the scenes, and, you know, subtext is very compelling, and you want to find the hidden ebbs and flows of what's really happening in the scene, and often his character really is saying what he really means.
CF: And he can do that, Tom can do that so well.
* * *
Scene between Lois and Clark in the Talon:
BP: [watching Clark zip up Lois's dress] And this right here is what he does really well! [laughter] He is just, he's like a junior high kid, and you know, he gets this light in his eyes, he's so funny.
CF: How can you not be just so enthralled by the Lois and Clark love story? Like, I knew about it, and I knew about Superman, but these two make it so funny, and so, you just can't stop watching it.
MA: No, I know.
CF: And you always root for them.
MA: Tom was saying, "You know, I don't think that Clark is attracted to Lois just yet," and that was in my last episode, in Hex.
BP: But I think it's true, like, for that character, for us to really root for him, he's not just going to move on from Lana. Lana was the love of his life, and if he just moved on, I think that would not be true to his character.
MA: Exactly. No, I agree, I couldn't agree more.
* * *
Scene between Clark and Jimmy at the Kent farm:
CF: Now I can see, going back to the love thing... [watches Clark sorting through his clothes] This is also hilarious to see him...
MA: I love this. Jimmy, again Aaron, sorry to interrupt here, Cassidy, Aaron Ashmore does such a fantastic job in this scene, of allowing that penny to drop? And to make the realization of what's happening. [laughs] He is so good.
CF: Yeah. But just to see Tom in like, gray and white? It's just a little off. [laughs]
MA: But how handsome he is.
BP: Something's just not quite right.
MA: He's just, again, so handsome.
CF: Awww. He's also quite humble, which is [pauses] awesome.
BP: And that's what gave him, I think, especially starting the show, you know, when you had to believe he's this awkward, geeky high schooler, with looks like that, he totally sold it, and you believed it.
CF: You talked about this penny dropping, and now I'm like, waiting, I want the penny to drop. I'm like, "Penny! Penny!" [they all watch the scene] The picture.
MA: There. He sees it. There's his confirmation.
CF: I'm so impressed. I'm just always impressed at how you can make this idea keep going. "It's fragile." [laughter]
BP: People don't bode well after they learn the secret usually.
CF: I know!
BP: Allison stuck in there.
CF: She did. [watches Jimmy compare his photo to Clark's family photo] Ohh! [cringing] Now I think the entire change purse dropped.
BP: Is it the chorus in the background? [laughter]
MA: The angels' chorus.
CF: It's beautiful. [watches] "I gotta fix the tractor." [laughing]
BP: I love Clark's excuses. [laughing]
CF: In the dark. [laughing]
BP: They're always so bad, and we come up with them, but they're supposed to be bad.
CF: Yeah, no, of course.
BP: It's funny.
CF: You're supposed to be like, "Really?" That's an Oliver line. I think Oliver Queen in every single episode goes, "Really?" [laughter]
MA: He does.
CF: He does, doesn't he? I was so happy to have him on the show, having worked with him before, at least knowing someone's face. He's also just such a cool guy. And funny.
MA: He is, yeah.
CF: Sometimes you gotta be like, "I have to focus!" [laughs]
* * *
Scene between Clark, Chloe, and Jimmy at Isis:
MA: Allie plays such an intelligent Chloe, which is fantastic.
BP: Yeah, we put her through the wringer this year, with all of the Brainiac, and the Doomsday. I hopefully gave her, you know, something more to sink her teeth into than just playing the sidekick. I think she had a lot of fun, she did a great job with it.
CF: No, she did, she had some awesome storylines this season. And she got to do her directorial debut.
BP: Yeah, which was great.
CF: So exciting!
MA: So in this scene, I had it all planned out, I had it all blocked, and figured out how I was going to shoot it and everything. This is one of those scenes where all of the planning just flew out the window. You stand the actors on the set, and start working out, and realize that there's something else here that they're bringing, and try to adapt it and incorporate it, and so it ended up being sort of a pig in the middle? Jimmy stuck in the middle between the two of them? And then where Allison, or Chloe, makes a decision, and goes and stands beside Clark. [watches] Here. And so there's sort of a physicalization of what was actually happening for her.
BP: And so you hadn't planned that beforehand?
MA: Not in this way, no, it was different.
BP: It worked really well.
MA: It worked really, really well, and that's what was happening, as a director you stand there and think, "Oh, my goodness, I've got all this planned out, but I've got to throw it away because this is actually more compelling." What the actors have brought in.
CF: I gotta say one thing, especially about the women in this show, is they're very pure in their convictions. You don't get that a lot on a lot of shows in television. They're just really, they're quite independent and strong.
* * *
Scene between Clark and Oliver on Oliver's jet:
BP: This was kind of fun, because we keep trying to have Oliver be a playboy, because that's what he is in the comics, and that's kind of what we say his backstory is, but it never really fits into the storylines very well, so it was kind of fun to do this scene and see this side of him. You can totally see him at a frat party!
CF: [laughing] Yeah, I know, he's so funny!
MA: He's very at home in the middle of a gaggle of women. And he's another one of those actors, both Tom and Justin, they really like women. They like being around women, they like talking to women, they are friends of women. You can really tell.
MA: [watches] He's not afraid to enjoy himself, and it often seems that Clark...
BP: And well, he's the perfect counterpart for Clark, because he's about the only person who really stands up to Clark, and throws Clark's beliefs, and Clark's lifestyle, back in his face.
CF: And that's what I love about the end of this season, actually, was the whole idea of like, what is a hero? You know? When you get this deep into it, you kind of have to start defining stuff like that. And these two are very good polar opposites of, you know...
MA: They are, they're absolutely polar opposites, because Green Arrow has, Oliver Queen has no special endowment, other than his skill and willfulness, to gather up his strength, and do the right thing.
CF: Yeah, destiny versus choice, right? I guess Oliver knows he is driven by himself, and therefore he'll do things that maybe other people don't see as completely good, because they're out of himself, it makes him more passionate, and less, sort of, puppetly.
MA: I mean, he does have the extra resources of being a billionaire. Of course, that's a great resource to have. But he exploits it, and he does his best with it. But he's also very, very joyful. That character is very joyful, he enjoys his life, whereas Clark is often wracked with guilt, and there's often a lot of, the weight and responsibility is very heavy on him.
CF: If you believe in the law of attraction, then the two of them are working different sides of that. [laughing]
MA: They are, yeah, it's fascinating.
* * *
Scene between Lois and Sebastian at the Ace of Clubs:
CF: I love Ace of Clubs. I've never done a scene in there, but we did part of our photo shoot in there, when we did that, and it's such a cool set.
BP: It's fun, it used to be Oliver Queen's penthouse, and we destroyed that, not knowing Oliver Queen was coming back, and turned it into a bar, and here comes Oliver Queen back in the show, so you might see him a lot in the jet! [laughter] Shockingly, he's in the jet a lot.
MA: Except now we have his office.
BP: But they're replaceable.
CF: Jets. How many jets does Oliver have?
BP: Oliver has a lot of jets. [laughter] Only he actually now has a brand new office, too.
BP: And going into S9, we have this brand new set that we reveal in the finale, the Watchtower set, which you only get a little glimpse of in the finale, but S9 we're really excited, it'll be the new kind of hub for Justin, and for Allison.
CF: God, Erica's such a good Lois Lane. I can't say enough great things about that girl.
MA: She is fantastic, she's just...
BP: Yeah, this year especially, just the banter between Lois and Clark from the very first episode, we knew that that was going to be kind of the crux of the show, was the Lois and Clark...
[watching Lois remember Clark zipping up her dress]
CF: Look at her! Look at her.
BP: And look at how well that shot, too, everything, I was like...
MA: I know.
CF: Oh, it's beautiful.
CF: [watches Lois, chuckles] No, Clark's not ready for that, c'mon. He's a boy. [laughs]
BP: Yeah, he can't handle that just yet.
CF: But that's also, that's quite indicative of a different kind of love, you know? The one that isn't so, I don't know, explosive. The kind that grows, like a plant.
BP: That isn't completely dysfunctional.
CF: Yeah. [laughs]
* * *
Scene on the street between Clark and Jimmy, after Oliver's rescue as the Red Blue Blur:
BP: I think this is one of our most chilling, uplifting moments of this season, when Clark sees this all play out.
MA: Yeah, this was a moment that I really enjoyed, was Tom's, or Clark's looking around at the people, and allowing that to resonate with his character, that maybe, maybe the world needs him, maybe hope is really all he needs to give people to make the world better.
* * *
Scene between Clark, Jimmy, and Lois in the Daily Planet:
BP: The one thing that, moving forward, is going to be a real interesting challenge for us, is the character of Clark Kent that we've created, having the idea to put on tights. And we've got decades of comic books that say he does, but it's going to be an interesting challenge, because he's so grounded. "Hmmm, I might put on tights." So we're going to have to work that one through a little.
MA: You'll have to figure it out.
CF: Well, you gotta be able to wear something that can go underneath pants, right?
MA: And again, even in this scene, I really like that the writers had set up this opportunity for Tom, for Clark, again, to see how affected the people are by the notion of hope, especially when we realize earlier in the episode that Metropolis was descending into a hell of crime. And there's some salvation, some hope, some way out.
BP: [watching Lois and Clark] Dead on, they're just so good.
CF: Yeah. And that's the big question, right? Someone who his entire life has been told that he's not allowed to share this for the fear of hurting other people, that maybe that actually will help people, I mean, think of that kind of shift in your own mind. Especially, what, in your mid twenties? Speaking from experience, that's a pretty big time, nonetheless.
MA: And I love that Jimmy is looking for validation from Lois, that he... and that she's supportive.
CF: Yeah. "Super dude!" [watches Jimmy] Ohhh, you just want to squeeze his cheeks.
BP: And here we set up kind of what the through line is until the very end of the finale, that Lois's mission is to uncover the identity of super dude.
CF: You know, super dude! Also, I love all those times when they talk on the phone, and stuff.
BP: Yeah, those are really dangerous, because when people talk on phones, you're always afraid that the tension's not going to be there, and they, the way they both play them, is so good.
MA: This is an ad lib, when she says, "Watch me!"
BP: Oh, is it?
MA: Yeah, it is, yeah.
BP: It's good!
MA: I did a couple of versions, I did one without it as well. And she's, "Oh, please, can I just do this, watch me!" Absolutely! It's fantastic.
CF: You know, it's funny, is when Tom was directing, I loved this, because we would do stuff, and Tom had a lot of day players in his episode, Injustice, at the end of the season, and he would have all these ideas, and everyone's in a little bit of awe of him, because he is Tom Welling, you know, as well as the director, and so, he would do all these takes and takes, and then he would say at the end, "Okay, this one's for you guys," just like, "It's for you, do what you want," and it was so cool, and I swear, he's going to use every single one of those, because they were just so alive. And I think there's, it's easy to get kind of bogged down in the, like, move here, do this, say this, but we forget that this is really about finding a moment between two people.
BP: Yeah, Tom's really come into his own as a director. I have to say, like on every level, performance, and his technical skills...
MA: No, he's fantastic, and I just finished ADing his last, I'm first AD as well on Smallville, and have been since the end of, I guess, S2, but yeah, he just finished his episode, Injustice, episode 21, I guess, and he just, as always, does a fantastic job. I mean, of course he understands his character, very, very well.
* * *
Scene between Clark and Oliver in Oliver's jet:
MA: Look at how handsome these guys are.
CF: I know, I was watching earlier...
MA: You just laugh when they're both together, and you just think, "Oh, my goodness." I mean, yes, of course you guys are actors, of course you are. Good lord.
CF: I was looking before, and Aaron had on the blue shirt, and his blue eyes were popping, and Clark's in this thing, like, it's just...
MA: They're so beautiful.
CF: I know. It's too bad we choose such unattractive people to be on the show. [laughter]
MA: Yeah. Uh huh. [laughter] Right.
* * *
Scene between Chloe and Sebastian in the hospital.
MA: This is a really fun scene as well.
CF: This was a huge moment for Chloe's character, right?
MA: Well, yeah.
BP: Well, and the episode in general was a relatively light, fun episode, and this just brought us right back to what reminds everybody that we're still Smallville. You know, that we still have a really dark underside, under the fun that we started to have this year.
MA: Yeah, and I wanted in this scene to make sure that it was, that we would leave the question of whether this was Chloe, or was it Brainiac, or was it this new hybrid creature that had become the Chloe/Brainiac, because once you have some knowledge, you can't really, once you've lost your innocence, you can't go back. And, that's what happens here with Chloe, when she's been inside Brainiac, or Brainiac's been inside Chloe.
CF: It's just such a thing for her, you know, especially as the runner of Isis and stuff, to make this decision, you know, you learn that nothing will trump Clark in Chloe's mind. I think Allison had a lot of fun this year, too, getting to play a little bit different. [watches] Whoa. And he's out.
* * *
Screen caps courtesy of Home of the Nutty, with my thanks!
So there you have it. Identity is my favorite episode from S8, and this commentary is a wonderful addition to it, with lots of love for Tom and everyone else in the episode, some fascinating glimpses behind the scenes, and a couple of surprising reveals. I think what I like best about it is falling even more in love with Cassidy Freeman. It's obvious that she has watched every episode of Smallville now, and has become a fan along the way. Her commentary is enthusiastic, insightful, and charming. She's altogether awesome.
The commentary for Legion is also good, but different. It's very focused on how the story and script for that particular episode were developed, and there is a lot of discussion about the similarities and differences between Smallville and the DC Universe. It's probably a fanboy's dream come true, but it didn't captivate me like this one did. Still, Geoff Johns has some great things to say, especially about Chloe and Allison, and I'll share the one comment they had about Tom:
Geoff Johns: I was really impressed with Tom on the set, too. He thinks everything through, and he came with a lot of ideas, and a lot of different ways to approach the material.
Darren Swimmer: And he's a real active member of the sort of creative team.
Geoff Johns: He is. And he's extremely friendly to everybody, I mean, you could tell it's like a family up there.
Darren Swimmer: It really is. And a lot of that comes from Tom, he's a pro, and he kind of sets the tone.
I didn't love it enough to transcribe it, but the Legion commentary is definitely worth a listen, especially if you know your comic books, and are a fan of Geoff Johns.