Episode Title: "Beacon"
Writers: Don Whitehead & Holly Henderson
Director: Mike Rohl
Previously on "Smallville":
After disappearing months ago, Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) arrived just in time to save Clark Kent (Tom Welling), Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Justin Hartley), Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and their fellow superheroes from a military supercomputer program that was designed to hold them prisoner in a virtual world and remove their powers. However, Clark inexplicably developed a distrust of Chloe for keeping secrets despite the fact that he’s been withholding the truth from his friends and family for years. Eventually, Lois snapped him out of it and they escaped from the virtual world.
But there were still other threats out there, including Lionel Luthor (John Glover) who followed Clark from an alternate Earth. Additionally, Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) tried to save Alexander, a young clone of Lex Luthor from becoming a monster like the original. But he soon developed Lex’s memories and vowed to destroy Clark. Before Tess could stop him for good, he escaped her custody for parts unknown.
At the Daily Planet, Lois confronts Tess over editing her articles to give them a pro-Vigilante Registration Act viewpoint. Tess denies that she had anything to do with the edits and she soon receives another surprise: her father, Lionel Luthor waiting for her in her office. She quickly figures out that he’s the Lionel from the alternate Earth that Clark visited, but Lionel says that as far as the courts know, he’s the same Lionel from this Earth who faked his death (what?!) and quietly reclaimed his empire. He also demands to know what happened to the clone of Lex, Alexander (Lucas Grabeel), but she claims not to know.
At the Kent farm, Clark and Lois watch his mother, Senator Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole) give an anti-VRA speech on the eve of an election to overturn it. They also see Martha get struck down by an assassin’s bullet, but her life was saved due to her bulletproof vest. While investigating the crime scene later, Clark and Oliver discover that the bullet was made of Kryptonite, which means that Clark was the real target.
Lionel soon tracks down Alexander and discovers that he’s the shooter behind the attempt on Martha’s life. He threatens to kill Lionel, but Lionel wins him over by promising a father/son alliance against Clark. At the same time, Clark discovers Alexander’s sniper point and recognizes the crossed out "S" symbol that was scratched out by Alexander on his cell wall. At Luthorcorp, Oliver discovers that Lionel and Alexander are now working together and that they have forced him out of the company. Oliver promises the tide will turn on them following the repeal of the VRA. But Lionel insists that the ordinary people will turn on the heroes again.
Martha Kent goes directly to the Luthor mansion to confront the two Luthors. Lionel is obviously very attracted to her, but she warns him to stay away from her son. She reveals that she knows that he’s from a world in which Clark killed Lex, which enrages Alexander, who turns on both of them. Alexander leaves them to die in a fire while he goes to confront Clark with a Kryptonite laced gun. Although he has the upper hand, Tess is able to talk Alexander into surrendering his weapon. Free of the Kryptonite, Clark manages to save both Martha and Lionel, but the mansion is lost to the flames.
Later, Lois shows Clark a website she founded where people can post their testimonials about the heroes and how they’ve inspired people. The next day, the VRA is repealed. To celebrate, Clark, Lois and Chloe reactivate Watchtower. Elsewhere, Tess fills a syringe with cyanide and hides it from Alexander, who says that he is starting to forget things; including what he did the previous day. Tess holds him tightly and tries to inject him with the syringe… but it bends on impact with his skin. Alexander isn’t human. In fact… he isn’t who we thought at all…
I have to admit that most of my positive reactions towards this episode stem from last Friday’s announcement that Michael Rosenbaum is coming back to the series as Lex Luthor for the series finale. That actually gives me a lot of hope that we’ll see a real conclusion for "Smallville." When Rosenbaum left the series back at the end of the seventh season, I advocated ending the series as well. And "Smallville" went through a long down period before it started to get good again. Even this season has had some wildly uneven or outright horrible episodes (like last week’s Matrix/Inception ripoff).
But this episode had enough by itself to be entertaining, despite some incredibly cheesy moments (which I’ll get crackers for momentarily). First and foremost, John Glover brought his A-game as the unrepentantly evil, Lionel Luthor. He’s just such a great, natural villain that it’s always a pleasure watching him ham up a scene. Yes, he’s an over-the-top antagonist who would probably be tying girls to railroad tracks 100 years ago, but he’s one of the few who can get away with being such a cartoonish character.
Annette O’Toole came off a lot better this time than she did in her last "Smallville" appearance in which she was revealed as "The Red Queen," spymaster bulls***. That ranks up there with the most ludicrous plot twist in the history of the series. And her speech in this episode… let’s just say she’s no Obama. In fact, I have to say this about "Smallville" now… What the F*** is up with that world? Bills that pass the senate and the house can be overturned in a general election just a few months later? Public opinion can shift overnight thanks to a single web page? And all 50 states reported their results by 5PM Kansas (EST) Time? What, did the California polls close early just so people back east could go to bed happy?
It’s just not believable. They can push their world to have aliens and superheroes, but the government system they seem to have doesn’t even resemble reality at all. It’s like the world was formed though the lens of the Adam West "Batman" series. The entire VRA plotline has been pretty ridiculous to begin with. And even it’s resolution here fails to make any meaningful impact.
I did enjoy Lucas Grabeel’s turn as an unhinged Alexander. And I think that it might have been a mistake for him to give up and try to reform so easily. But the news about his real identity is intriguing. If you don’t want to know who Alexander really is than, consider this your SPOILER WARNING!
So, word today is that Alexander is Connor Kent, aka the modern day Superboy. I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming. And I appreciate a good surprise. Hopefully he’ll be hanging around long enough to meet Lex in the final episode. I’m also looking forward to seeing Tess Mercer finally have a scene opposite Lex, since he was supposed to have known her before he put her in charge of his company.
"Smallville" is sometimes hit or miss, but I honestly hope it’s all home runs from now until the end.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.