Smallville Review – “Identity”

I’m almost caught up from my vacation backlog. (I hate getting behind, but this photo alone makes it completely worth it.) Still coming today: an event comic review and this week’s digital disc picks.

Cast

Tom Welling as Clark Kent
Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan
Erica Durance as Lois Lane
Aaron Ashmore as Jimmy Olsen
Cassidy Freeman as Tess Mercer
Sam Witwer as Davis Bloome
Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen / Green Arrow

Written by Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer
Directed by Mairzee Almas

Original Airdate

Identity originally aired on Thursday, October 30, 2008.

Synopsis

Jimmy Olsen takes a picture of a red and blue blur saving Lois, and digs deep into research on the secret samaritan, linking him directly back to Clark and Chloe’s graduating class.

High Point

Jimmy gets more credit for his investigative skills in one season of “Smallville” than he’s had in 70 years of comic books.

Low Point

Spoiler guarded: Didn’t the previous exposure to memory thieves establish that Clark’s memory doesn’t work the same way? End spoiler.

The Review

This had original elements in a few places. There was also a decent collection of stuff we’ve seen before, with the memory thief and secret identity issues (the latter of which was directly referenced here.) The Jimmy angle was new, as were Chloe’s ultimate role and Clark’s revelation, but the mechanisms they used to get there were very familiar. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were generally nicely done, particularly in the opening superspeed sequence. Our samaritan’s cape looked awful, though. I understand the desire to use a CGI cape rather than the physical, since a physical cape doesn’t move the way they are drawn in the comics, but that also means any cape that moves like a comic cape on screen looks blatantly non-physical. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story was well written, with the necessary elements in place, and one seeming piece of random luck explained in a non-lucky fashion. It pulls together several elements from earlier in the season, and gives Clark a nice, big push down the path to becoming the Big Blue Boy Scout. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting was well done, particularly by guest star Kyle Schmidt and regular Aaron Ashmore. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was great. This takes a few HUGE steps that I’ve been waiting eight years for the show to take. They even wrote a tight script this time, with no seriously questionable problems or logical issues. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production was solid. This is clearly an episode they’ve had in mind and have been prepping for all season, and it shows in the level of detail that’s been applying from start to finish. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this was a solid turnout. Season eight is starting out so strongly, I’m starting to look forward to season nine. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Identity receives 34 out of 42.

6 replies on “Smallville Review – “Identity””

  1. hans says:

    Excellent
    I thought the same thing about the lowpoint but it did serve to bring about the creepy Chloe scene at the end, which I can only assume is some dire foreshadowing of some sort.

    But most of all, I am thrilled to see the show moving toward Clark having to deal with issues like identity, etc. that come along with choosing to be superman. I admit to a certain amount of morbid curiousity—wondering how in the world the writers are going to get themselves out of the corner they painted.

    OTOH a suit and glasses was never much of a disguise to begin with, so belief has to be suspended quite a bit to start with.

    • Fez says:

      Re: Excellent

      I thought the same thing about the lowpoint but it did serve to bring about the creepy Chloe scene at the end, which I can only assume is some dire foreshadowing of some sort.

      But most of all, I am thrilled to see the show moving toward Clark having to deal with issues like identity, etc. that come along with choosing to be superman. I admit to a certain amount of morbid curiousity—wondering how in the world the writers are going to get themselves out of the corner they painted.

      OTOH a suit and glasses was never much of a disguise to begin with, so belief has to be suspended quite a bit to start with.

      I’m really interested in this as well. I’ve heard some pretty bizarre defenses of the "glasses" disguise, including a latent psychic ability that makes it difficult for people to "see" it’s really him.

      Then again, they might skirt that issue even more by ending the series before it becomes a real question. :)

      • fiziko says:

        Re: Excellent

        I’m really interested in this as well. I’ve heard some pretty bizarre defenses of the "glasses" disguise, including a latent psychic ability that makes it difficult for people to "see" it’s really him.

        They’ve also had the suggestion that he vibrates rapidly as Superman, preventing anyone from taking a clear photo, but that’s inconsistent with the "Death and Return of Superman" arc. In my opinion, it’s Ben Edlund’s theory that makes the most sense: most of his co-workers at the Planet have, in fact, figured it out. They just go along with it out of a combination of respect for his work and fear of how he’d react if he knew his secret was out. (He is, after all, extremely powerful.)

        • Timeshredder says:

          I haven’t been watching the show, however….

          In my opinion, it’s Ben Edlund’s theory that makes the most sense: most of his co-workers at the Planet have, in fact, figured it out. They just go along with it out of a combination of respect for his work and fear of how he’d react if he knew his secret was out. (He is, after all, extremely powerful.)

          1.Crime Bible hinted at a variation of this theory with reference to a lesser-known hero. (See "High Points" in that link).

          2.

          Jimmy gets more credit for his investigative skills in one season of "Smallville" than he’s had in 70 years of comic books.

          Is that including the early-70s/Jack Kirby Olsen, who had serious investigative chops? (that line is much funnier if you say it in the stereotypical "nerd voice").

          3. Hmmm….

    • Erf says:

      Re: Excellent

      OTOH a suit and glasses was never much of a disguise to begin with, so belief has to be suspended quite a bit to start with.

      First of all, requiring the audience to suspend disbelief for one thing doesn’t mean they should be expected to happily suspend all other disbelief as well.

      But I’ve always thought Christopher Reeve demonstrated how the Clark Kent disguise could actually work. It wasn’t entirely easy to determine they were the same actor, IMO. Sure, somebody could probably prove it by comparing Superman and Clark photos closely, but you’d need some sort of additional suspicion before even bothering. (Unless some supervillain runs face matching software on every citizen of Metropolis, of course.)

      In that case, of course, the suspension of disbelief comes from the people around Clark not noticing that he’s always disappearing when giant space aliens start ripping buildings apart. And not tying that to the fact that Clark (in the comics, at least, IIRC) makes it widely known that he’s a "close friend" of Superman and passes messages. But those would be problems with or without a proper disguise.

      This takes some conscious effort from Clark from the start, though, to set up the disguise. (The old "Lois & Clark" show had Clark acting as Superman in civvies, for example.)

      I haven’t followed the comics so I don’t know what he’s like lately there… Comments from anyone who is?

      • quantaman says:

        Re: Excellent

        OTOH a suit and glasses was never much of a disguise to begin with, so belief has to be suspended quite a bit to start with.

        First of all, requiring the audience to suspend disbelief for one thing doesn’t mean they should be expected to happily suspend all other disbelief as well.

        But I’ve always thought Christopher Reeve demonstrated how the Clark Kent disguise could actually work. It wasn’t entirely easy to determine they were the same actor, IMO. Sure, somebody could probably prove it by comparing Superman and Clark photos closely, but you’d need some sort of additional suspicion before even bothering. (Unless some supervillain runs face matching software on every citizen of Metropolis, of course.)

        In that case, of course, the suspension of disbelief comes from the people around Clark not noticing that he’s always disappearing when giant space aliens start ripping buildings apart. And not tying that to the fact that Clark (in the comics, at least, IIRC) makes it widely known that he’s a "close friend" of Superman and passes messages. But those would be problems with or without a proper disguise.

        This takes some conscious effort from Clark from the start, though, to set up the disguise. (The old "Lois & Clark" show had Clark acting as Superman in civvies, for example.)

        I haven’t followed the comics so I don’t know what he’s like lately there… Comments from anyone who is?

        Yeah, I’m not great with faces (and it’s a lot easier to not be able to recognize someone on TV then in RL) but I did think the glasses combined with a complete personality change was plausible.

        Of course the problem with Smallville is that everyone knows what Clark Kent without glasses looks like.

        I’ve always believed part of the allure of Superman is as a symbol. Basically he’s the ultimate protector. Other heroes have to protect their identity, fight in secret and run away afterwards. But Superman’s invulnerable, not only can he handle any opponent but he isn’t afraid to stand in front of the world and show his face. The people don’t worry about whether he’ll show up to save them, he flies in for all to see, they see his face and they know they’re safe.

        To be truly Superman he has to show his face to the world and become a symbol and I don’t see how they can manage that.

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