This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the episode “Lara” in the seventh season of “Smallville.”
Every year “Smallville” gives us a little more of the Superman mythos. Although the early seasons were limited in what they could include due to the staggering development of what eventually became “Superman Returns,” there was enough of the pre-existing mythology to keep the series closely tied to the comic book stories.
Then for the beginning of season 4, the show took a bold step forward with the introduction of Lois Lane (Erica Durance) who turned out only to be the beginning.
The most recent addition is of course Kara of Krypton (Laura Vandervoort), otherwise known as Supergirl, who might have an ulterior motive for being on Earth (even if she doesnt know it).
She might claim to be protecting Kal-El, but in truth her father Zor-El may have sent her away in the hopes of ensuring Kryptonian survival on Earth in much the same vein as General Zod only a few years earlier.
As Kara flies through the skies of Washington hell bent on relocating her lost crystal, Clark is forced to accept that she is now his responsibility and sets out to bring her home. But when Supergirl-to-be ends up the prisoner of the governments alien-watcher branch, Kara is relives a part of her forgotten history — past and present collide as Supergirl comes face to face with : erm, Supergirl. Or is it Supermom?
Part of what makes Smallville such a fun series to watch is how it can take fleeting references to the comic lore and turn them into winks, hints, nods, nudges and jokes for the existing fans of the story. Helen Slaters appearance on the series is another nod to the fans but also carries with it the promise of more in the future. Giving Clark the opportunity to see his mother Lara was an interesting move given the absence of Martha Kent (Annette OToole) this season.
Similarly, Kara and Laras explorations of the Kent farm back in the pre-meteor shower days was slightly more otherworldly than expected, but it was great to see Kara filled with so much concern for baby Kal-El.
Given the conflicting relationship she now has with Clark (which does bring a touch of real life to the super powered family) it was a nice touch to show where she started off before her life-altering journey to the third planet of Sol.
Her departure from Krypton may looked like the same Fortress of Solitude set weve seen since season 5 with some new lighting, but its fantastic to finally see some scenes from an event that is so momentous to the mythology that for some unknown reason has never been fully explored on-screen.
With glimpses of Zor-El and his dark hopes for Lara and the Earth, Smallville fully embraces the Kryptonian stories unlike ever before. Zor-El can be every bit as evil as Zod and if his crystalline technology falls into the wrong hands, both Clark and Kara may get to see that for themselves.
The scenes in Washington were far more adult than what the series generally offers which only goes to show that the series is trying to grow up along with its characters. Even the meteor stories (aside from the anomalous Fierce of course) are becoming more and more sophisticated. With Chloes face at the front of the mutant mayhem and Lanas secret plans becoming more intriguing, the writers are finally making good use of what has been Smallvilles greatest weakness.
What Didnt Work
Starhawk may seem like a quasi-cool name for a secret department of the government, but there is really no need to try and give them a history in Smallville that clearly didnt exist last week. Lionels I did everything I could to divert their attention away from you line may have added to the convenience of Laras adventure but it showed how clumsy Smallvilles story telling can be.
Also, with so much of Lara set outside of Kansas, why isnt Senator Kent making a few appearances? Surely reports of a blue and red clad figure flying high above the capital would make her slightly curious as to what is going on above her : especially with Clarks Kryptonian mother getting some screen time.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Lara was written by Don Whitehead and Holly Henderson, and the episode was directed by James Conway. Smallville stars Tom Welling, Kristen Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack, Erica Durance and Laura Vandervoort.
Smallville airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
Alan Stanley Blair is the assistant news editor for Airlock Alpha, contributing from his home country of Scotland. He can be reached at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.