(Sigh.) I hate goodbyes.
“This looks like a job for Superman.” Quick cuts: Glasses off; ‘S’ curl falls into place; Shirt rips open to reveal the ‘S’ logo and, as the familiar opening strains of John Williams’ iconic (nay, NECESSARY) theme kicks in, our hero takes to the sky for the first time. Cut to first person view of flying through clouds. Allow the camera to hang back, and slowly pan slightly above and behind our Man of Steel for a profile view of his maiden flight, before circling him as he gradually begins to fly ever-faster, breaking the sound barrier as he does, and smiling an ever-widening smile that could only come with the joy of learning you can fucking fly! Finally, settle in behind again as he suddenly arcs straight up, camera in hot pursuit. Cut to a static shot, calling back to the end of Superman: The Movie, high above Earth as he floats into frame, slowly turns his gaze directly on the camera, smiles knowingly and begins to change his flight-path away from us before, once again, taking off fast enough that, if there was sound in space, he would be followed by a sonic boom. Instead, all we get is a red/blue/yellow blur, just as the theme kicks into the main coda, and the blur fades into the familiar zooming-with-tracers credits of the first film.
THAT’S how you end, Smallville. Break your “No Tights, No Flights” rule in one, fell, nostalgia-soaked swoop. Up, up and away…
Instead, and indicative of you as a whole, I kinda got what I wanted, amidst a bunch of compromises and half-measures.
Like the final seconds of your finale, for example. Take my paragraph above, keep the ’shirt’, ‘theme’ and ‘credits’, cut the rest for budget/time/etc reasons, and… scene. Admittedly it was a cool scene, that you’ve been building to for literally the entire series, but still… that’s it? That’s it. Deal with it. I did. I was even somewhat satisfied with it, only because you’ve set the bar a little on the low side. Just a hop and a skip to clear it in a single bound. Fuck jump!
OR how about when you gave us a Darkseid (and a Doomsday before him, for that matter) that looked way better than we thought you capable of, only to have their fights with Clark end in three seconds and off camera (Doomsday) or via Lost-Smoke-Monster/Lionel Zombie (Darkseid).
OR, looking even further back, a Lana Lang that was cute for a few seasons. And then? Full moons, puberty, wicca, shitty writing and (you guessed it) Kryptonite turned her into THE most annoying, angsty were-cat-kung fu-witch-bitch of all time for the next six*, while she dreamed of leaving the show that gave her her start for bigger and better things. Things like box office smash ‘Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li.’ Oh, did I say “box office smash?” I meant “straight to DVD trash.” My mistake. “There’s better staged and more enjoyable brawls between Peter and the Chicken on Family Guy” would’ve been a blurb on the poster, had this movie deserved a poster. Tell you what. Take a shit. Wipe your ass. Hang that on the wall. Boom! Accurate ‘Legend of Chun Li‘ poster. Uh, so basically, Lana sucks cave-dicks for loose change. A sincere thanks for not having her back on your finale. I mean, really, who wants to see a cat-bitch suck a cave-dick? You shoulda brought Pete Ross back though. For shame, Smallville. For shame…
(*At least Chloe’s character, upon learning Clark’s secret, traveled in the opposite direction on ‘Annoying Avenue’ at roughly the same time. Tits for tats, biotch!)
OR when I wanted Batman and you gave me, first, Not-Batman, and then Green Arrow. (Who was actually pretty rad once I got to know him. But, despite basically being Batman, he’s no Batman. Well, considering how Bruce Wayne opened the door for you, Smallville, maybe now that you’re closed for business you can put in a good word for him.)
BUT I don’t want to speak ill of the departed. You tried, and I for one appreciate it. E for effort. A for attitude. The point above was that you knew how to wield a double-edged sword, (must’ve been because of all of the time Lex and Lionel spent fencing mu’fuckers in the early seasons) so I’ll take the medicine with the sugar, I suppose. The REAL point, however, is that I’ve spent a decade with you Smallville. Ten years. A third of my life. I still lived in my own Smallville when Clark first began his journey (Victoria, British Columbia, aka the Satanist hippy capital of the world). Unlike Clark I didn’t find reasons to procrastinate moving to my Metropolis (Vancouver, aka the purse-dog capital of the world), though I forgive him that. Wouldn’t have been ten seasons if he became the man he was destined to be in Season Two. Fair enough. Plus, I just made the move and then procrastinated. And here we are: you, a rollercoaster of quality, just now allowing a 30 (?) year old Superboy to become a Superman; me, talkin’ about your ass instead of doing what I’m destined to do. (Ian’s mom.) Touché. Same shit, different sequence.
The real point is: it’s time to say goodbye.
Goodbye to a show that gave me a dose of my favourite Superhero for ten years. It all begins with Clark Kent. Tom Welling looked the part and grew into an alright actor with some presence, which worked well, as his character was slowly growing into his boots simultaneously. And he was tall as shit, so there’s that. Anyway, It’s time to let you go Clark. Spread your wings and getthefuckouttahere!
Goodbye to a show that slid us the best Lois Lane yet. Seriously, Erica Durance was pitch perfect. Sexy. Scattered. Strong. And, most important, sassy, but not in a forced Michelle Rodriguez (man, I hate her) “woman-roar/cunt-beast” way. She had all of the chemistry with Welling that Kreuk’s Lana Lang lost later in the series, and upon Lex’s exit, her added screen time gave Smallville the spark it needed to survive the absence of one of it’s two most important characters, and give this guy (pointing to self with both thumbs) a heat vision boner!
Goodbye to a show that extended the intertwined destinies of our hero and villain to their fathers. First up: the soul and beating bleeding heart of the show, one of the original Good Ol’ Boys, Jonathan “Pa” Kent. Martha was also outstanding, but it was all about Pa. He provided the lessons and link to humanity and wisdom that, more than his powers did, cemented the sound foundation that one day made Clark Superman. And, for all of it’s stunts and quickly reversed sweeps week deaths, the one that stuck and ended up being both the most moving and most important, was Jonathan’s.
Still, I’m glad you didn’t let a little thing like him being dead stop him from providing Clark one last lesson and (in a move that breaks from the comics and makes little sense but feels just right) his suit. For someone who was so pivotal in the beginning and whose spectre hung so thick over everything long after he left, it felt perfect to have him involved in the end. Stay classy Smallville, and sayonara Jonathan.
And to the flip side of that coin, adieu. Lex’s father, as portrayed by John Glover, the always awesome Lionel Luthor. And his epic hair. Hair that, on top of being majestic, was central to one of my favourite season finale montage-to-music endings, something the show did extremely well when not using Evanescence Goth-Angst Douchery.
And, like Jonathan to Clark, Lionel’s death was a pivotal point in his son’s journey, and ironically, Lex pushing Lionel out that window is what pushed Lex over that edge to stand firmly on the dark side…
Goodbye to a show that introduced me to Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt in another one of those perfect, early season, end-of-episode doozies. This one came after Lex finally learned the truth about Clark’s powers after Clark was forced to catch a car in mid-air with his bare hands before it crushed Lex and driving ol’ cueball mad.
Goodbye to a show that gave me the goosebump-inducing Christopher Reeve passing of the torch episode and pretty much everything to do with the Kryptonian aspects of the mythology, from Jor-El (voiced by the original Zod, Terence Stamp) to the Fortress of Solitude. And (once you got over the “Freak-of-the-Week” syndrome) a whole fuck-ton of DC heroes and villains to try to make up for the lack of Batman. (Scan the tags below the post for the names.) I know you were supposed to be equal parts 90210 and comic book, but you were at your best when dishing out healthy helpings of the latter. Fuck a Peach Pit!
And, as it began with Clark, there’s really only one place it could end: Lex. Fucking. Luthor. The best thing about this show, hands down, and the best portrayal of the character yet. Michael Rosenbaum absolutely killed it every time he stepped in frame. See, what drove the show from the first frame was the dynamic between Clark and Lex. Their doomed friendship, their fathers, their destiny and their chemistry. Watching an arch-enemy-ship (?) develop as a slow burn was intense and riveting, and watching Lex fall from grace was, well, graceful. From the meteor shower linked to both of their origins, to Clark and Lex’s first meeting on that bridge, through Lex’s pivotal plunge into villainy via the murder of Lionel, all the way to his return in the finale for his first confrontation with Clark in years, and his last on the series. Despite some missteps in a later scene explaining why Lex wouldn’t recognize Clark as Superman later in life, this first scene positively crackled with energy and was a microcosm of my favourite aspects of the show, showing us just what we’ve been missing since he left: Equal parts cunning, calculating and cool.
I love this scene. From Lex’s first line to Clark’s last. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, Lex.” Chills, motherfucker, chills! Like clockwork, from day one, Rosenbaum has brought out the best in Welling. If I could, I’d have taken a cue from Lex’s bald-ass head and streamlined the show to be just about the Kents and Luthors. (OK, Lois can stick around too.) Anyway, it is what it is. He was “just” the villain of the story on screen. But to me? He was the story.
Well, taking about as long-winded a path as you did to reach my conclusion, here we are. I won’t miss Captain Arthritis‘ painful falsetto rendition of your opening theme song (performed EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE.) but I will miss you. Goodbye, Smallville. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. (Superspeed, and I’m out! Cue familiar zooming-with-tracers credits…)