Smallville: The Final Season

Smallville: The Final Season
Considering how apple-pie wholesome Smallville has come off, even during its nastier moments tackling Lex's insecurities or Chloe Sullivan's (Allison Mack) dalliance with vindictive behaviour, the more complex themes and unseemly assertions of this tenth and final season come as a bit of a surprise. The assumption is that since this was a planned final season, the writers stopped worrying about cutesy resolutions or reassuring after-school messages in favour of a little more sharp polemics and criticisms of human behaviour. Still, the overlying story is maturation and necessary social assimilation, as Clark/Superman (Tom Welling) proposes marriage to Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and assumes his fully realized identity as bespectacled reporter by day and secret caped superhero otherwise. His conscious personality contrivance comes from experiences in the first half of the season, dealing with a Spanish Inquisition-esque registration act developed by the American military to force superheroes, or vigilantes, to ostensibly "out" themselves and acquiesce to experimentation and manipulation. Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) winds up as a guinea pig for the project, creating a distinct divide between hero and government, leading to acts of terrorism on the part of Aquaman and his new wife, Mera. The veiled implication is that the general population is a bunch of undiscerning muppets regurgitating whatever blasé headline proves the most ubiquitous, which is what leads Clark to his eventual secret destiny, knowing how erratic and simple-minded people really are as a group. The season's secondary plotline involves Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) dealing with issues of nature vs, nurture now that she's teamed up with the good guys as Chloe's Watchtower replacement. Knowing she comes from a dark place – reinforcing the seasonal villain concept of "darkness" – she struggles with the occasionally contrary perception of her guarded self while vacillating maternally in her role as caregiver to the young clone of Lex Luthor. Since Freeman is easily the most competent actor in the cast, this storyline holds the most emotional heft, tackling the nature of poise in the face of inner-turmoil in a pseudo-Faith the Vampire Slayer kind of way. While there are a couple of throwaway episodes about a Hangover-inspired bachelor party and a Lois incarnation of ISIS, this season is actually one of the smartest and most compelling of the series. It's unfortunate that they felt it necessary to spell out their themes through exposition rather than storytelling and character development, but it's still leaps and bounds beyond the last couple seasons. Included with the Blu-Ray set are a couple of commentary tracks, along with supplements on the 200th episode and the nature of father/son relationships, since Lionel Luthor and Jonathan Kent show up to complete their story arcs from beyond the grave. (Warner)