Thursday, 30 April 2009

Recapper roundup

Wow, it's been a huge month for TV. For those of you still seething over the Battlestar Galactica finale, our guest contributer RLB has given his detailed opinion in a scathing review. RLB rather amusingily stands for "Recapper's Little Brother" and yes, he was the source of the 18 missed phone calls mentioned in my previous post.

Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles finished its second season with a "Holy Continuity Batman" in a truly excellent season finale that hopefully convinces Fox to renew it for a season three. If not, at least it serves as a satisfactory series finale as well.

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse seems to have finally hit its stride and although the season is coming together in Joss' usual intelligent, thought-provoking and slightly-disturbing way, the show still fails to grip. While I enjoy watching the show, it's not "must see TV".

Smallville has bizarrely been renewed for a ninth season (and Firefly was cancelled!!!), an unusual decision after an uneven Season 8 that should rightly have been titled "Metropolis" instead. Still, Tom Welling's hot and that seems to be all fans need. Stay tuned for more Smallville weecaps after I manage to turn my snark from rabid to witty. Here's hoping.

The strangely-bright spark in my television viewing week has turned to to be Supernatural, which seems to have turned from turgid supernatural cliche to fascinating character piece. Jensen Ackles' acting is, when he's given the material, fantastic and this has helped the show no end. And any show that can make fun of its own Slasher fan fiction deserves a tune in.

Well, that's it for my attempt to distract you from the fact I haven't written any recaps lately. Hey, I am busy you know?

Keep complaining and I'll be back soon. More qualified (finally!) and with more free time.

Battlestar Galactica Finale: Um, it sucked

“You will know the truth” - bad writing can ruin even the best shows again and again and again.

Guest contribution by RLB
In 2003 the new re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica blasted onto the small screen with a 3 hour miniseries watched by over 4.5M people in the US, making it the third-most watched program in history on the Sci-Fi Channel

Often compared to shows like “Lost” and “X-Files”, where the viewers must maintain religious viewing to ensure they are “up to speed” on the current state of play in the universe, Battlestar pushed the boundaries by adding award-winning acting and dialogue into episodes that made the characters’ interactions amazingly realistic to the fantastic, confronting and complicated plot points. So realistic were the character developments, non-SciFi regular viewers found the ‘gritty’ “reality” of the show interesting to watch and the “set in space” background seemed (properly) secondary. This leverage helped build Battlestars’ reputation as a well written, well acted and well placed (post 9/11) television show, which ultimately took the story to a much wider audience that would usually tune into a SciFi show.

Six years later, after a delay because of the writer's strike, Battlestar Galactica came to an end on 22/03/2009 with a 2 hour finale, promising that the devoted viewers will finally “know the truth”.

This famous tagline (reminiscent of “The X-Files”) was in reference to the many open-ended plot points, twists, red herrings and amazing cliff hangers that punctuated the show during its 4 year run.

As the number of remaining episodes dwindled to single digits and massive plot points remained not only un-resolved but glaringly overlooked, the sense of impending elation for “the truth” punctuated every corner of the internet. Helped along by the SciFi channel's official website, which ran a series of webisodes and a “You will know the truth” webpage with clues, spoilers, hints and new information encouraging viewers to “share their theories” on the forum, the curiosity turned to wonder, the wonder to obsession, the obsession to rapid fandom. A brilliant commercial strategy that allowed the SciFi channel to double its usual audience for the three hour finale to 3M.

How was the finale?
The promise to reveal all, and the build up of excitement came to a head with... almost the worst possible ending to a television show in history.

Epic Fail.

In what I call a “slap in the face” to fans everywhere, any unexplained event from the past 4 years was given a Deus Ex Machina. God did it. It didn’t seem to matter if the character's interactions and motivations had been erroneous to that point on issues there was nothing to it: they were angels. God's motivation is mysterious, which is another way for Executive Producer Ronald D Moore to say “Don’t question me Eddie”.

It seemed that in the fourth season the writers/producers decided that there was no point in even attempting to wrap up any plot points and instead opted for one of the classically-lazy story approaches. (Others like “It was all a dream”, or “This is all in the head of a mental patient” are some others that thankfully they did not use but funnily enough would have made more sense.)

SciFi fans are notorious for wanting everything ‘explained’ in a finale however it is not simply an occasion where ‘some’ plot points were left to the viewers' imagination, but most of them. Some unresolved plots were so critical to the story throughout the whole show (not just the final season) that leaving these out of the wrap seems condescending and unfortunately too much like “We had no idea”.

Making the “head” six that Baltar has been seeing from season 1 an Angel made absolutely no sense whatsoever. The so called “Angel’s” responses to stimulus throughout the show were not that of an all-knowing being, in fact the complete opposite. This does not make sense.

Starbucks “I’m an Angel, or a Ghost and puff! I’m off to who knows where" was the worst. When explaining to your friends the day after you disappear from a party, club or event you can now say “I pulled a Starbuck last night”. Hey if Ronald D Moore can get away with it they why not you?

The “flashbacks” to life on Caprica before the fall seemed contrived, out of character and didn’t serve any perceivable purpose whatsoever. We knew that Tigh and Ellen were drunks, we knew Adama was a career man (we certainly didn’t need to see him spewing on himself to get it!).

Seeing Kara and Apollo almost go for it on their first meeting (in front of Zach), only served to cheapen the relationship that had BUILT up, yes that’s right Ron, built up over the four seasons. Now all it looks like is that Starbuck is a whore and Apollo is a jerk! (or perhaps the other way around?...Mnem)

One of the most interesting character developments over the show' four-year run was the internal struggle felt by the character Baltar. His self-denial, underlying self-loathing, superiority complex, and his journey to salvation served as a measure for the scale of the post-apocalyptic world. The back story in the finale, which outlined his ‘love’ for the Cylon model as the reason for his betrayal, undermined the development of his salvation by basically saying “he was a good guy all along and just in the wrong place at the wrong time”. Come on!

Worst of the worst was how they tied up the 12 cyclons, er sorry 13 but one doesn’t count. After a full year of WHO is the final Cylon, it turns out to be Ellen Tigh who, after “Her escape was just the beginning”, comes back to do…. Absolutely frakking nothing! She knows nothing, does nothing, explains nothing (Anders takes care of that for her), she proceeds to get drunk and freak out that her husband has had sex with a model “6” , “their children in her eyes”, yet never blinks that she frakked a number 1 heaps of times on New Caprica! What the…!?

Apparently also after having your minds wiped you can spontaneously add your hand to a goo bath and spawn off the secret to resurrection technology. Lame!

Tyrol’s rage and subsequent execution (neck snapping) of Tory seemed massively out of place, particularly after the show had set up that a) she was his wife in another life, b) the woman she killed was a filthy cheater who Tyrol even ranted to Adama about how much he hated her, and c) Tyrol was now free to get with his one time love Boomer. Definitely sounds like the crazy bitch should die, or get a medal! Completely ridiculous.

The biggest, massive, most amazing error is one that is not a plot inconsistency (amazingly enough as almost all of the final 3 hours was), but a missed opportunity. If in fact the writers were sitting around with no idea on how to finish the show (which RDM admits to in one of the finale interviews), why would they not have used Daniel?

In one of the final episodes of season 4, Ellen makes reference to a long lost 7th Cylon, Daniel, who being a sensitive artist had been killed by number ‘1’. Then it is revealed that Starbuck was taught the secret Cylon song (All along the watch tower) when she was a kid by her father that mysteriously disappeared. It never occurred to the writers to make the 7th Cylon Starbuck's dad?

When Starbuck went back to Caprica she even played Helo a piece of music her father had played (Philip Glass’ song, “Metamorphosis”), and the producers used this song again for the background music on board the Cylon base ship in season 3. Hello platter…! Why not make him the force behind the scenes, working them all to help his daughter, the first hybrid, into a peace with the cylons and finding earth (which is where he fled to).

From season 1 you knew that Starbuck's father was an artist who up and left without warning.

Why was it bad?Rubbish writing + The potential of greatness lost.

During the first season, much of the story lines focused around the human struggle to comprehend the devastation of their lost worlds but was punctuated with a mythic story of hope. This was a smart move on behalf of the writers as it allowed the characters to expose themselves to the realisation that they had lost everything and what that meant, but it allowed them to still have a ray of “hope” in terms of the future. This hope is critical especially from the audiences’ perspective as they also need a reason to continue to watch week after week. The storyline consisted of 2 concurrent plots (one set on Caprica – the world destroyed) from the perspective of a soldier left behind, whilst the other was set on the Battlestar Galactica and showed the daily struggle of being on the run, hunted by the Cylons.

Concurrent storylines are not a new idea but what made this one particularly effective was the mythic background “bubbling along” story arc of Kobol and the Tomb of Athena. This 3rd plot point allowed the 2 concurrent main stories to travel to the same point overall, with the viewer waiting and watching each week to see them come together. Not only “hope” for the characters, but ratings for the SciFi channel.

The second season carried the now joined storylines together and moved them forward as a one using the knowledge and plot points (which the audience already knew from seeing both sides in season 1) towards the conclusion of the Kobol and Tomb of Athena story arcs. It then began setting up for a new set of plot points for season three. What is most interesting here is that the outcome from the first plot points was directly related (in terms of being critical information required) to the next set of plot points making the viewer feel as though what they had invested in the show so far was critical to the journey.

The third season focused on this new set of plot points that were extremely well developed in the first 10 episodes again using the successful concurrent storyline formula from season 1 and 2: the first from the perspective of a human on board a Cylon baseship; the other again from the perspective of the humans and their struggles whilst on the run. Where the writers went wrong with this season, and indeed where the show went off the tracks completely, was they did not allow the story lines to reconverge, take stock and move forward together. Once the storylines were merged, the “next steps” were not a rational extension of the new knowledge gathered meaning that the audience was not sure exactly why or what “we” were now doing. One of the main drivers for the fan “backlash” over the third season was due to the heightened expectations fans had after the brilliant work that had come before it.

Is it art?
Art must be conceived in advance if it has any hope of delivering a message or impact as derived by its creator. The now truncated, transitory nature of television development and production is such that the use of the word “Art" can no longer apply.

Writing a story as you go along with no real concept (and let's face it even if you did have a concept, the commercial propensity for re-direction often negates this), is not art. Notable Exception Babylon 5 – JMS you’re an artist. (Don't forget the Joss; the first three seasons of Buffy were definitely Art... Mnem)

Certain ‘protections’ we provide to works of art, such as defined clarity, scope, presentation and purpose do not apply. As such Ronald D Moore is a great producer, not an artist.

Ethereal phrases like “You can think what you want”, “Starbuck is whatever you want her to be” or “That was a rabbit hole”, are self-serving, self-promoting, self-delusional and a complete cop out. Come on RDM are you that much of a megalomaniac?

When bad writers or executive producers pull a “God did it” or other suitably lame offering, they often run for the cover of “It was Art”. This type of attitude is true for “Art”, however backed with so much commercial interest and funding (and admitted directionless writing and development) Battlestar Galactica (like any mainstream television show) can not realistically throw this trump card into the pile at the last minute and still expect it to carry any real weight with people who are not the ignorant, uneducated, ‘kool-aid’ drinkers of the SciFi community. (Oh when will we find a world when long haired, fat, socially inept self-important ignoramuses are accepted as one of us? – hopefully never) (well, I'm not self-important, at least...Mnem)

Online polls estimate that 50% of fans loved it and the other 50% hated it. The abysmal failure of the finale not only served to disappoint fans, but impacts the shows’ long term commercial survival. Many of the watchable reasons that could have made this show ageless have been stripped away. Knowing that it goes nowhere, it is not possible to re-watch the show with any of the same senses or experiences from the first time round. In the end this may be the biggest mistake (commercially) that the Executive producers could ever have made.

Ronald D Moore should be avoided like the plague and if you are currently in the middle of watching Battlestar Galactica for the first time, “pull your team out Gorman!“

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Smallville Weecap: S08E18 Eternal

Too. Many. Retcons. Can’t. Cope.

Night time at the formerly Lair of Lex, now apparently the Lair of Tess. Because running a global diversified multi-national from Smallville makes sense: almost as much sense as CEO of aforementioned diversified multi-national spending most of her time editing a daily newspaper in Kansas.

Tess is curled up by the fire, obviously riveted by a large book with the Veritas symbol on the front entitled “Everything you ever wanted to know about Clark Kent, alien from Krypton, but were afraid to ask!”

It turns out that in his desire to keep Clark Kent’s secret and to protect him from Lex, Lionel Luthor decided it was wise to write a detailed journal, complete with annotated drawings, and to leave it lying around Luthorcorp for Lex to find. I can just imagine the entries:

March 8: spent all day in caves trying to unlock the mystery that is Clark Kent, even though I already know that he’s the Traveller. I feel that alienating him will be the most effective strategy in my eventual plan to control him.

September 20: had long conversation with a Dr Virgil Swan about the caves where, even though we were completely alone, we pretended not to know each other or to have ever been involved in a secret organisation called Veritas. Got to be careful. His couch was looking a bit shifty and you never know when an armoire will sell you out.

December 9: Lex met Jason Teague today but for some reason seems unaware that they played together for months at a time as children. This strange memory loss also applies to Oliver Queen, whom Lex frequently refers to as “that bully from school” rather than “that child I spent hours playing hide and seek with over several years when we were young”.

As Tess lovingly strokes a drawing of the ship falling to Earth in the Smallville meteor shower (captioned: ship that Clark Kent, alien from Krypton and saviour of us all arrived in. Shhhh don’t tell anybody) we go to a FLASHBACK. Wow. A long flashback. A first episode of Smallville flashback.

The ship crashes, meteors hit Smallville, Jonathon and Martha Kent’s car flips over, Lionel finds Lex in a field sans hair but doesn’t notice he’s mysteriously morphed into a different actor, and adorable baby Kal-el strategically hides his boy bits with clever lighting and camera angles. The camera pans over the “spaceship that eventually went Boom!” to reveal an egg. The egg cracks open and oozes genetic matter that becomes the boy we know as Davis Bloom, Doomsday in waiting. He’s also driven by a strange instinctual desire to hide his boy bits.

Back in the Lair of Tess, she says, “Lionel was too blind to see the truth; there was another”. So, the guide to “Everything you ever wanted to know about Clark Kent, alien from Krypton, but were afraid to ask!” mentions the egg and the ooze and the second boy but somehow Lionel didn’t notice that... wha’? What’s going on? No time to question however as we are on to the...

CREDITS: A list of people who probably won’t appear in this episode. Smallville’s definition of “starring” is not my definition of starring but that’s ok because the credits are over and we are at the...

Daily Planet. Tess, CEO of the multi-national Luthorcorp, now affiliated to Queen Industries and thus possibly one of the largest corporations in the world, is busy at her full-time job of editing a newspaper. Oh hang on, I made that gripe already.

So, Clark Kent, the world’s least-qualified reporter after Lois Lane, pitches a story to the CEO of Luthorcorp (oops, there I go again) about a whole heap of missing people he believes were all attacked by the same criminal. Tess, who has obviously followed up Jimmy’s tip and knows that they’re actually Doom’s handiwork, shoots him down by declaring the work unprintable and makes an appropriately-snide comment about the Red Blue Blur not doing his job. It’s obvious she knows he’s the Blur...after Turbulence, why is Clark still working there?

Clark accuses her of “sweeping it under the rug” and why is Tom Welling playing this scene as if they’ve been arguing for three hours already and he’s lost his temper over it all? The guy looks as if he’s about to go into hysterics. In fact, Tess and Clark are acting as if they’re in two completely different scenes, one where she is smoothly trying to divert attention from her pet investigation and one where CK has just discovered that Luthorcorp is still running illegal medical experiments on meteor freaks and Tess is trying to cover it up.

Meanwhile back in Smallville at the coffee shop that the writers forgot, Chloe is fixing Davis’ phone and Davis is fixing her dinner to thank her, which is not at all a transparent excuse to move in on her now that he got rid of hubby by drugging him and convincing everyone he was a deranged addict.

Flirt, flirt, banter, banter. Davis asks Chloe if she’s heard (about him being a murderer and a manipulative drugger) from Jimmy lately and Chloe notes that her every overture has been viciously spurned with an excess of expletives but doesn’t note that last week she declared her determination to move on only two seconds after he left her and is now finding really transparent reasons to spend lots of time with another man. Why did those two get married again?

She actually delivers the bizarre line, “I thought we were best friends but obviously there was some stuff brewing beneath the surface for a while”. Not “I thought we were in love but...” or “I thought our relationship had a solid foundation of trust but...” so it’s obvious we’re supposed to notice that she could be talking about Clark.

Oh and then we follow that clunk with a CLUNK because Davis “cuts himself” but of course there’s no injury and she gives him a worried “been through all this before with a certain BDA” look and Jesus show, we get it. There are obvious parallels regarding her deteriorating relationship with Clark and the fact that the person she knows as Davis is a lie but dear God. Can you get any clunkier? It’s stuff like this that makes me throw things at the television.

Clark walks in and asks Chloe to help him on the missing persons’ story. He’s obviously not happy that Davis is there but, and please don’t send me hate mail for saying, he is not showing jealousy. His concerned reaction is actually a very natural one considering he used to think Davis was a murderer and Chloe just got brutally dumped by her husband after a whole 10 seconds of marriage.

Davis excuses himself and walks down into the always-inexplicably-deserted coffee shop and starts to Doom out so we cut to a field where he’s just presumably buried his latest victim. As he handles the rosary beads he stole from his first victim and prays for forgiveness, Tess appears and blows up his car for no reason that I can see considering that if he’s just a human serial killer she’s now a murderer and if he’s Kryptonian this won’t kill him. Is she trying to prove he’s Kryptonian? I thought to do that you had to take ludicrously-convoluted trips by plane where you pay the pilot to abandon ship and then pretend there are no parachutes so...sorry, still trying to deal emotionally with that mess of an episode.

Back at Chloe’s place, she’s doing her computer thing to confirm that an awful lot of people have gone missing in the past month. She calls Clark on his pensiveness and he says she’s moving on kind of fast and that he doesn’t trust Davis. She notes that she needed a shoulder to cry on, which is a reference to last week’s episode “Adventures of the Pod!People” that I still maintain never actually happened.

Clark brings up all the weird stuff about Davis that doesn’t add up and Chloe basically accuses him of being jealous and dear God, I’m back in Season 2. You figure that by now Chloe would have noticed that whenever Clark “has a bad feeling about someone” he’s always right? This is like telekinetic Seth Cohen and double-trouble Jonathon Taylor Thomas all over again.

Chloe discovers that Davis’ car has been found abandoned and they drive out to the cornfield where Clark’s ship went down and Clark uses his x-ray to discover the field is full of bodies.

Meanwhile at the Lair of Tess, the writers introduce the “lame and obvious biblical references for people who never bothered actually reading the bible” part of tonight’s episode by having Tess ask a bandaged Davis if he was expecting a “chorus of angels”, because all genetically-engineered killing machines can expect to go to heaven.

Tess admits that she was trying to kill him by blowing up his car and oh yeah, now it all makes sense. The kind of sense that’s not.

Tess tells Davis about the Ludicrous Lionel plot contrivance that is the diary and here we have my main problem not just with this episode but also with the whole post-Requiem development of Tess’ character. It’s all based around the dumbest plot device since the "stones of power" of Season 4...or the Caves in Season 2...or the inexplicable quantities of kryptonite strewn throughout the planet that means Clark is constantly made impotent...or...oh hang on.

So, my main problem is that the entire episode is based around one of the top 10 of Smallville's dumbest plot devices, namely that Lionel Luthor kept a diary that documented in detail Veritas and Clark and the second child and didn’t arrange for Clark to receive it in some way after his death but instead left it lying around for Tess to conveniently steal later on.

So we once again flash back to the crash where Jonathon and Martha are carrying a now-swaddled Bubber Kent and Doomsy is hiding from them. This is actually a very very clever way for the show to retcon this whole thing because they do manage to edit the pilot episode to make the existence of a second child believable. Just so long as you don’t spend too much time thinking about it of course.

Bubber Doomsy watches the Kent’s leave before being captured by some military guys on the payroll of one Lionel Luthor. They take the boy away but leave the big honking spaceship there for the Kents to retrieve later on. Because that makes sense.

Sometime later, but we’re not sure when, Lex and Doomsy play in the mansion while the Magnificent Bastard is apparently “at some farm”, presumably the Kent’s. Is this supposed to be right after the crash? Because Doomsy looks like he’s about 12 and speaks perfect English.

In the present day, Tess and Davis are in some bizarre “sick child being read a bedtime story” tableau where she explains about Veritas and the Traveller and how Lionel captured him that day because he thought he was the Messiah.

Later, Davis recovers completely and makes a break for it but remembers playing with Lex in the mansion. We have a really nice reference to the lead box that Lex gave Clark for Lana’s necklace (what happened to that box, by the way? Anyone?) and lots of references to the way in which Lex’s upbringing of hero stories and Warrior Angel comics were already feeding into his delusion that heroic ends justify unheroic means. In Lex’s head, he was already the hero of the story.

Davis remembers that, on that day, kryptonite made him ill and he says, “there’s a way,” as he realises that kryptonite is the one thing that may kill him.

Tess confronts him and explains that she’s been trying to figure out what to do about him. She asks what you do when you “find Judas in your midst” and, huh? How is he Judas? He’s not a follower of Clark, he’s not Clark’s friend. Nothing he’s done has been a betrayal of Clark. Unless he’s society’s Judas; betraying our trust in him as a member of society? Then she goes on some bizarre tangent about how Jesus would only have been remembered as a prophet if not for Judas’ betrayal. I know she’s buying into this whole “Clark as Messiah” thing but Doomsy’s role in that still doesn’t make sense.

Doomsy agrees with me and colours himself confused. She says that without Judas’ betrayal, Jesus would never have come back and “faced his greatest challenge”. Which was? Ascending bodily into heaven and leaving everyone to squabble over every aspect of his life, as written by a bunch of people who never even met him, for the next 2000 years?

Oh, “saving humankind”. How was that a challenge? All he had to do was die. And pity the millions of people born in the 60,000 years before Christ’s birth then. Guess they’re in hell. Serves them right for being born. Evil bastards.

“There is a Messiah among us,” says Tess, “and you are here to betray him” and for the final time, how can Davis betray Clark when they have never really liked each other and are not friends? I’ve thought for a very long time that the final straw that will push Clark into the role of Superman will be Chloe’s death. That’s the only thing I can think of that Davis could do that would involve a betrayal that is in any way related to Clark. Sorry Chlarkers, she’s toast.

So Tess decides that Davis has to be allowed to challenge Clark because only in overcoming him will he embrace his destiny as our world’s saviour and she doesn’t for even a second consider the consequences that would ensue should Doomsy defeat Clark instead so I can only assume that she is just as batshit insane as Lex was in the end. This explains her irrational actions in Turbulence, actually. Like Lex, she’s so goal-focussed that she doesn’t think of the consequences of her actions on the people around her. Not that she can do anything about it now, but she could have warned Clark that she knew who Doomsday was the minute she worked it out. The point becomes moot as Davis morphs into Doomsy and belts her across the room.

Having driven three hours to the Daily Planet for no sane reason that I can fathom, Clark is re-iterating the “things that were always suspicious about Davis Bloom” and Chloe says she chalked his blackouts up to low-blood sugar. This is such a dumb thing to say I can only assume it’s a defence mechanism. Both she and Davis were suspicious about his behaviour at the beginning of the season but she was pretty convinced he’d been proven innocent. It’s not surprising then that she’s been rationalising his behaviour.

And she is very suddenly being confronted with a lot of unhappy truths about her life: Jimmy was telling the truth and it’s pretty obvious that Davis drugged him to shut him up; she’s been lusting after a vicious serial killer; bloody Clark was bloody well bloody right again.

Clark says he thinks Davis must have been taken by somebody because he wouldn’t abandon his car otherwise. Chloe thinks it was Tess and suggests a trip to the “widow of Luthorcorp”.

So the three hours back to Smallville after driving to the Daily Planet to have a one-minute conversation, which makes it a...six-hour round trip. Dear God show, make some fucking sense.

Clark visits Tess in the hospital where she tells him about the journal and how Lionel was only in Smallville the day of the meteor shower to find the Traveller. She reminds everyone of the Kiwatche Indians’ story about Naman and his nemesis and then she tells us that all those episodes we watched about how Lex was Sageeth were even more of a complete waste of time than we thought because the second head of the two-headed cave drawing was actually Davis Bloom who came to Earth with Clark.

And at no point in the last 7 effing years has Clark said, “but if my life has been painted on these walls for hundreds of years than why didn’t those ancient Kryptonians just stop the apocalypse from happening”.

So, Clark, instead of going, “OMG, Davis is Doomsday and I have to stop him before he destroys the whole world” or even, “OMG, Davis is Doomsday and so Chloe’s in trouble” plays the dopey farmboy routine and goes, “Planets? There are other planets?”

Tess fills him in on the extensive rewritten exposition that has been the bulk of this episode and says that Lionel held Davis “for five days” before dumping him into the street when his test results came back normal and he “got a phonecall from Martha Kent” and, hang on, just ignoring what the hell that phonecall would have entailed, does that mean that Lionel knew Clark was the Traveller right from the beginning? I’m sorry but none of his actions in the first four seasons make any sense in this context.

"The Kents are raising an alien child sent to Earth to be our saviour and I belong to a secret organisation that wants to control him...but instead of ingratiating myself with them and ensuring I can be around to keep an eye on him I will instead blackmail Jonathon Kent into helping me buy the Ross' cream corn factory...because nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important to me than creamed corn."

Lionel would have gone and stolen Clark in a heartbeat and locked him away for testing. This is crap; retconned senseless crap. Then Tess plays on Clark’s guilt card by saying that he “was the reason Davis was abandoned in the first place”, which I’d take issue with but I’ve ranted too much and this is supposed to be a weecap so we are moving on.

So Chloe, back in her apartment above the Talon about eight or nine hours later but still wearing the same clothes because it is somehow mysteriously the same night, is working when Davis comes in and tries to justify his actions by saying that he only killed bad people. He tells her that he loves her and asks her to help him kill himself.

Clark gets back to...oh, was Chloe actually at Isis and not her apartment? I have no idea. Anyway, Clark follows Chloe to Dr Grohl’s Prometheus lab, which apparently has a meteorite containment facility, where Chloe is trying to get the courage to pull the lever that will douse Davis in liquid kryptonite and Davis is begging her to let him die.

Clark comes in and stops her and tells Davis he’s trying to be a martyr and this Clark is honestly acting as though he doesn’t know Davis is Doomsday.

He says that everything that has happened to Davis is “because of him”, which is true, since he was created in opposition to Clark and is programmed to be a killer and has tried everyway he knows how to stop himself transforming, even those ways that are morally questionable But then Clark goes on some bizarre tangent about how they should have been brothers and it’s just Davis’ bad upbringing that is the problem. WTF?

He and Davis have what would have been a truly excellent scene if Clark didn't know Davis was Doomsday where Clark pulls up all his deeply-entrenched long-held fears about the monster he could have become if he’d been bought up by people who wanted to control him or exploit him. What would his life have been like if the Luthors had found him?

The retcon means it was a near miss, a chance accident, a matter of seconds between his life with the Kents and the abusive childhood of Lex Luthor. And it’s his great belief in people that leads him at the moment to believe the evidence of his heart, that Davis can overcome his basic biology through sheer force of will, rather than the evidence of his intellect, which tells him that Doomsday is programmed evil, a destroyer who has no free will.

Davis declares that ultimately we will always return to our true natures. “It isn’t always about where your heart is,” he says, referring to his feelings for Chloe, “it’s about what you’ve done and what you’re going to do”. And I love that Davis has been so well-drawn that he further exemplifies Smallville's definition of evil: a belief that the ends justify the means. Davis is saying that it's our actions and not our motivations or intentions that define us, which is what made Lex so evil in the end.

And here’s the real problem with this episode: it’s too late in the season. This should have happened before Doomsday kidnapped Chloe/Brainiac and went into stasis in the fortress. What emerged from that stasis pod should have been completely 100% Doomsday and it should have been the episode before the two-part season finale. Coming as it does now in the season, and with everything Chloe has been through at the hands of Brainiac/Doomsday, this episode not only makes no sense but it just makes Clark look...well...really really fucking stupid.

Davis Dooms out and when Chloe sees that he threatens Clark, she pulls the lever and sprays Davis in kryptonite. Both he and Clark go down because of the presence of that much kryptonite and this time the obvious parallels between the two are subtle and powerful, rather than clunky and contrived. As we zoom in on Davis’ face, we flash back to him being dumped in the street by a Luthorcorp employee. As he dies in the present, we see him turn into Doomsday in the past and kill the guy who dumped him, long before he suffered the impact of a bad upbringing.

Back in the present, while Chloe looks on, Davis is dying slowly covered with gloopy, fake, green goo. That scene was bloody powerful and they ruined it with silly fake slime from the local gag shop. Clark looks on sadly, not knowing what to do about Chloe’s pain. Jesus, how many kicks can this woman withstand before she cracks?

Back at the Talon and it’s daylight again; Clark walks into Chloe’s apartment, where she’s cocooning and about bloody time. If I was her, I’d be demanding to be allowed to stay there for a month, Watchtower or no Watchtower.

Clark asks how she is and she non-answers with the euphemistic, “I’ve had better days”. They talk about Chloe killing Davis and he says that there’s always another way if they try to find it. Chloe says quite bluntly that she’s not going to risk the safety of the world because of his code of ethics and because he refuses to stop the things that threaten him. Clark notes that ultimate destroyer didn’t put up much of a fight and then burns the photo of the two-headed retcon.

Back on the farm, Clark is doing chores when Tess comes in to harangue him about being a very naughty farm-chore boy rather than the Messiah he’s supposed to be because she’s a believer and he’s her idol. Then she re-iterates that he needs his Judas to betray him to drive him to greatness because he’ll never achieve his great destiny without a great challenge. Batshit. Insane.

Clark says that she knows nothing about his life and she says that if that’s the way he lied to Lex then she can understand how it pushed him over the edge. Clark notes that Lex was well on the way before he met him and...ok...but we should note that after Turbulence it’s been pretty well-established that she is now Lex so I’m still going with the fact that Tess is batshit insane.

She says that betrayal is always harder the more you love someone and she’s talking about the fact that the person who betrays Clark has to be someone he truly loves for it to “work”. From her perspective, he faced Doomsday and won and it didn’t drive him to heroing so she has to facilitate a betrayal by someone he truly loves and...yep Chlarkers, Chloe is toast. Oh and Tess? Batshit. Insane.

Once he’s out of hearshot (is that even possible with Clark) she refers to him as Kal-El and then returns to the mansion where it’s suddenly night again for some reason and she pulls out an artefact that’s whispering to her. Have we seen this before? Am I supposed to know what this is?

At the Talon, Chloe walks in with groceries but investigates a sound in the basement we’ve never ever seen before. It’s Davis who now realises he’s immortal. He tells her that only she can stop him from Dooming out and killing Clark and so she locks herself in the basement with him.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

It's a tie: Dark Angel and Torchwood worst shows ever

After a month of intensive voting and input by a whole SEVEN people, the Recapper announces the definitive "worst scifi/fantasy show" as voted by "some people who could actually be bothered but are in no way representative of anything". And it is....a TIE. Dark Angel and Torchwood have two votes each and take out the award jointly. Personally, I'd have gone more for Tru Calling or Crusade but as the redhead says it's "votes that count" and the "people have spoken".

As sample surveys go, it's not what I'd call definitive but hell, it's no less accurate than any other internet survey. I do know there's at least one dedicated reader who's currently confused as to how anyone could dislike a show with Jensen Ackles in it. You know who you are.