May 16, 2008By Joe Diliberto Posted: May 16, 2008
SMALLVILLE wrapped up its seventh season last night by tying off the ongoing Brainiac storyline. Unfortunately, that meant the end of the line for James Marsters (ex-Spike, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER). The reveal that Brainiac was posing as Clark's cousin, Kara, was supposed to be a surprise, but I knew something was up when "Kara" callously killed three people. Also, it was a season finale, and dramatic finale appearances are sort of Marsters' thing — he also showed up in the heart-wrenching finale of TORCHWOOD. SMALLVILLE executive producers Al Gough and Miles Milllar are leaving the series, so they did their best to tie off plot threads and position the characters for next season. (Gough in particular will be missed, because he was always happy to talk to me about the series. Millar was a good interview, too, but I worked with Gough more often.) Lex Luthor finally learned Clark's secret: He is "The Traveller." Lex called Clark a "mild-mannered farm boy" who is secretly "a strange visitor from another planet." LOL! Lex also located the Fortress of Solitude in the arctic and destroyed it to "protect" mankind. Clark and Lex were buried in the rubble of the collapsing fortress in one cliff-hanger, while Chloe was arrested by the Department of Domestic Security (courtesy of a tip from Lex) for another. Poor Jimmy had just proposed, and Chloe didn't even have time to respond. (Allison Mack has signed a new contract, so Chloe will be back next season.) More subtle seeds for the future were also planted: Lois started looking at Clark in that way, and encouraged him to apply for an internship at The Daily Planet. Lana left town, begging Clark not to follow her. She did this via DVD. (And you thought the Fortress of Solitude was cold!) Well, at least she cried when she broke it off — and the man of steel got weepy, too.
Michael Rosenbaum and Kristin Kreuk have let their contracts expire, so Lex and Lana will be seen only sporadically next season, if at all. Which is a shame. I never got to meet Kreuk, but I did run talk to Rosenbaum several times. He is a genuinely nice guy and a great hockey fan (Go, Rangers!).
I must say, the special effects were a real letdown in this episode. They were obviosuly rushed. The simple flying effects at the beginning were poorly lit, and the large-scale destruction of the the fortress looked looked teribly cheap and rushed. In fact, the overall scale of the episode may have seemed big enough for a finale, but it just didn't come across onscreen. I couldn't help remembering the mulitple-tornado ending of season one, or the damn bursting last season for...um, splashier finales.
SUPERNATURAL also had an epic finish in mind, but the execution was also a little slow. Odd, considering that the story dealt with Dean (DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ former Eric, Jensen Ackles) being condemned to hell (and finally going there). The story gave Ackles and onscreen brother Sam, played by (ex-Dean, GILMORE GIRLS), some solid opportunities for sibling bonding. Dean has always been the happy-go-lucky lady-killer, and seeing him act all vulnerable and weepy was a big change. Sam was always the more-sensitive little brother, but Padalecki never makes Sam seem wimpy, even when he’s sobbing. In last season’s finale, Dean cut a deal with a demon who agreed to save the wounded Sam’s life in exchange for Dean’s soul in exactly one year’s time. I was glad to see Sam express how guilty the bargain made him feel — really, who wants a debt like that on his conscience? But obviously Dean was serious when he promised he would do "anything" for his brother.
Another fine performance came from Katie Cassidy, who got some really meaty stuff to play as the demonic Ruby. Cassidy usually plays up Ruby’s attractiveness in a subtle, pantherish manner, but when the more powerful demon Lillith took over Ruby’s body, Cassidy rolled her head, held her limbs stiffly and walked with an awkward gait that made Ruby seem like a marionette. But there was a corresponding fire in Cassidy’s eyes that warned Lillith was still deadly dangerous. I hope Ruby will be back next season. (How funny was it when Dean mentioned that he could see Ruby’s true demon face, and it was mighty ugly!)
On the negative side, there was an underlying sense of dread that the clock was ticking (the deadline was midnight, natch), but not a lot of building tension because the time element was not front and center. In fact, when the clock started tolling 12, I thought, "That’s it? Midnight already?" Also, the story of what Lillith was doing while waiting to collect Dean’s soul — possessing the body of a little girl and using it to terrify and murder her family while demanding indulgences like birthday cake every day (Lilith’s idea of R&R) — smacked too much of the classic THE TWILIGHT ZONE episode "It’s a Good Life." In fact, the similarity was so distracting it took me out of Dean’s story.
Nevertheless, the story did deliver the thrills at the end. One of the great things about SUPERNATURAL is that is tends to take chances with stories. On most other shows Dean would have been rescued (most likely thanks to the last-second intervention of his father, John), but not this one. This is SUPERNATURAL, so Dean could not bust the deal, and thus was torn apart by a hellhound and his soul spirited to a very Clive Barker-ish hell of hooks and chains. His final, plaintive cries of "Sam, help me!" were pathetic and chilling. Good thing SUPERNATURAL will be back for a fourth season this fall.
The Oceanic 6 came home last night, in the first installment of the three-part LOST finale (parts two and three air back-to-back on May 29). This episode began with Jack, Kate, Hugo, Sun, Sayid and Aaron on a Coast Guard plane being delivered to Hawaii. They got their story straight between them and then attended a press conference. The Oceanic PR person, Karen, was played by Michelle Forbes, who tends to land the best gigs. She was Admiral Cain on BATTTLESTAR GALACTICA, and has had key roles on other cool shows like 24, PRISON BREAK, ALIAS, THE INSIDE, HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. Oh, yeah — she also played Dr. Sonni Wells on a show called GUIDING LIGHT. There was something chilling about hearing Sayid declare, "No, absolutely not," when asked if it was possible that anyone else survived the crash of Flight 815. Karen claimed the uncharted island the Oceanic 6 were stranded on was called Membata, off Indonesia. I looked it up, and found the word is apparently Indonesian for "uncertainty." Hmmm...
B What was unique about this flash-forward was that it did not stick with any single character. We got to follow Jack, Sun, Sayid, Kate and Hugo in turn. Very interesting... Also, Jack finally learned that Claire is/was his half-sister.
Back on the island, we learned that a new station, The Orchid, is the key to moving the island. Ben knows how to do this, and implies that moving the island has been accomplished before (perhaps this is why it is difficult to find), but the act is "dangerous and unpredictable," and only to be used as "a last resort." I also liked Sun and Jin’s reaction to seeing Michael on the boat (And bravo to future Sun for buying a controlling interest in her father’s business!). Too bad the freighter turned out to be rigged with C4 explosives. Looks like it won’t be smooth sailing after all...
With that, I will sail into the sunset until the next Night Shift...