Episode Title: "Masquerade"
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Director: Tim Scanlan
Previously on "Smallville":
When Clark Kent (Tom Welling) sent the Kandorians to New Krypton, it left an opening for Darkseid to descend upon the Earth. Although Darkseid has yet to appear in human form, he has acted through his agents — like Desaad (Steve Byers) — who attempt to infect people with the darkness of their master. Once infected, the humans bear the Omega symbol on their skulls, which is only visible through x-ray.
More recently, Clark’s mother, Senator Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole) was instrumental in helping to overturn the Vigilante Registration Act which had made Clark, Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) and their superhero friends into fugitives. They also dealt with the return of the Lionel Luthor (John Glover) from the alternate Earth and Lex Luthor’s unstable clone, Alexander (Lucas Grabeel). And when Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) tried to kill Alexander during a moment of weakness, she learned that he has Clark’s invulnerable skin as well.
At the Daily Planet, Lois Lane (Erica Durance) calls Clark to talk to him about their upcoming wedding and also to chide him about being in London, where an online webcast has nearly captured his entire face. When he returns to Metropolis a few seconds later, she tells him to be more careful with his secret identity now that the Blur is becoming more public. Elsewhere, Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) and Oliver have a clandestine evening together and they pretend to be "Mr. and Mrs. Jones" in order to get seated at a restaurant. But they soon get a call from the real Mrs. Jones (Kristen Ross) who tries to relay a message to her husband before she is killed horribly.
Chloe and Oliver race out of the restaurant to find Mrs. Jones, but they end up being held at gunpoint in a limo, by people who know that they aren’t the Joneses. Elsewhere, Clark visits a crime scene unknowingly linked to the Jones case and he is unnerved by how many people recognize him by face. One of the photographers there even mentions how much Clark looks like the Blur. Later, Clark visits the coroner’s office and encounters a man named Blayne who claims that there’s noting to link the victims despite Clark noticing a similar mark on their hands.
Back in the limo, Chloe and Oliver are led into a safehouse where they proceed to take out the men who turn out to be FBI agents looking for Desaad. The x-rays there also show several people branded with the Omega symbol and Chloe theorizes that the people who can’t be infected are being killed. The following day, Oliver and Chloe follow a lead to a sex club owned by Desaad, but Chloe ends up being caught by the real Mr. Jones (William C. Vaughan), who in turn is casually murdered by Desaad. Back at the Planet, Lois shows Clark evidence that "Blayne" lied to him about the mark on the victims’ hands, which is really a stamp from Desaad’s club.
Inside the club, Desaad mentally tortures Chloe and tries to infect her by getting her to submit to one of the seven deadly sins. After narrowly withstanding the assault, Clark arrives in a flash and spirits Chloe outside. Desaad tells Clark that he serves Darkseid and uses dark energy to restrain him while he leaves. Outside, Oliver nearly beats Desaad to death after he claims that he killed Chloe. Clark breaks free of his own trap just in time to stop Oliver from going too far.
Later, Clark admits to Lois that she was right that he needs to come up with more ways to separate the Blur and himself. She gives him a pair of glasses and he starts to adopt a more nerdy persona outside of his costume. In Watchtower, Chloe and Oliver also have a nice moment where they recommit to their relationship, unaware that Oliver has now received the Omega symbol mark on his skull for giving in to his anger.
Now that the VRA storyline is over, it’s like the producers of "Smallville" said "Oh right, we’ve got Darkseid coming this year," after far too many episodes dealing with bullsh** side stories.
I didn’t really care for the Oliver and Chloe dating escapades and frankly, they’re kind of boring together. The ending also wasn’t much of a surprise. Nor is Oliver’s eventual fate. We know that he’s going to survive and get free of Darkseid. If the writer really wanted to surprise us, it should have been Chloe who came away with the mark (from her pride, no less). And the reason is simple: Chloe is the wildcard in "Smallville." She doesn’t exist in the original comics (and was only recently shoehorned into the DCU) and that means her fate in the series is completely up in the air. Anything can happen to her, so if she had given into the darkness than there would be a real chance that she couldn’t be saved.
Oliver was just too safe of a choice for the "corrupted hero" role. Having said that, the mind games between Chloe and Desaad was pretty entertaining and made up for some of the lackluster moments earlier in the episode.
There was an amusing subplot with Clark getting annoyed that people kept recognizing him and his similarities to the Blur. Do you know when Clark should have taken steps to protect his identity?
9 seasons ago, shortly after what should have been his first flight.
It was also funny to see Clark’s Blur costume set up with a hoodie and shades like Green Arrow’s horrible "Smallville" costume. But there were a couple of moments that threw me out of the story. First, when Clark says that he identifies more with himself as The Blur than as Clark made me want to puke. And it was mostly due to his use of "The Blur," which is a concept that needs to go away quickly. Just thank God they’re not calling him "The Red-Blue Blur" anymore, which was even more asinine.
But the other moment that really bothered me was when Clark put on the glasses and suddenly allowed Jeff, the office twerp to walk all over him. Jeff! Seriously? Clark Kent can be a nerd all he likes, but he should never be anyone’s doormat. That was just a screamingly awful scene.
Given the recent news that Michael Rosenbaum is coming back to the series for the finale, I’m not sure that "Smallville" will be able to wrap up all of its plotlines before the end. Instead of dealing with Darkseid next week, we get the Superman version of "The Hangover." I’m sorry, was this season so short on plotlines that it needed another standalone episode?!
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.