Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Smallville finale: whether you're a Chlarker, Chloiser or Cloiser you're still going to be pissed off

Smallville fandom is an unusual bunch. I defy anyone to find another show with such a polarised fan base; most of which live in complex fantasy worlds of their own devising.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a criticism. Smallville is incredibly literal, has inconsistent characterisation, and no sense of continuity. It’s no surprise then that many fans see the main story as happening in a weird and wonderful place called “Offscreenville” where all the inconsistencies are explained by …well …basically making stuff up in their own heads. Thus we have Chlarkers, Cloisers and Chloisers (among many many others), all interpreting every minute detail of the show in a way that fits their own personal fantasy.

With such a diverse base of fans, all with wildly-divergent opinions on the plot and characters, it’s truly astonishing that in the final episode of Season 8, the writers have managed to do something unprecedented.

They’ve managed to piss them all off.

In one fell swoop, the writers retconned a retcon they had already retconned this season, assassinated Davis’ character, stomped on Chloe once again, made Clark out to be an even bigger jerk than previously, wedged in a ludicrous plot device to get rid of Lois in the first 20 minutes, killed Jimmy Olsen then retconned a “real” Jimmy to replace him, and managed to reduce Clark’s battle with an unstoppable alien killing machine to 3 minutes plus an explosion that killed aforementioned indestructible alien killing machine but not for some reason Clark. Oh, and Tess released Zod. Again. Because that’s original.

Viewers of the show have had to put up with a lot this season. For a start, the action moved mostly to Metropolis, with the tenuous link to Smallville maintained through improbable trips to the small town and its mysteriously-empty coffee shop. The producers also made the questionable decision of casting a whole heap of new characters, calling them “stars” but only giving them 13 episodes each. This made the narrative disjointed and resulted in some truly bizarre behaviour. Lois staying by Jimmy’s bedside in Edge City after the wedding, while his wife stayed in Metropolis (apparently having forgotten his entire existence) was one. Lois being strangely absent when her cousin had just run off with an alien serial killer was another.

While the Davis/Doomsday plot was seriously underdeveloped and required some massive and clumsy retconning to work, it was nonetheless interesting and the show had done quite a good job of building people up to the big battle between Clark and his nemesis. The only problem was it never happened.

Perhaps the great battle between Clark and the apparently unstoppable Doomsday fell into one of the great yawning plot holes that littered the mess that was this episode.

I suspect a lot of the show’s dedicated viewers went the same way.

No comments: