This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the episode “Wrath” in the seventh season of “Smallville.”
Six years ago, Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk) was just the girl next door: beautiful, simple and the leader of the Smallville Crows cheerleading squad (not to mention the love of corn fed Clark Kents life).
Fast-forward countless meteor freak attacks, numerous psychotic boyfriends, possession by a French witch, marriage into the Luthor family and of course a close encounter of the Kryptonian kind and youll see that Miss Lang is no longer the young naÃ¯ve schoolgirl.
Now she is every bit as much of a villain as Lionel Luthor (John Glover) was in “Smallvilles” early years.
And in Wrath, Clark (Tom Welling) gets to see a little of that himself when a lightning strike (and a conveniently placed piece of kryptonite) doubles his abilities onto Lana. Initially the episode appears to be a shameless re-hash of an older story and as Chloe herself says, been there, done that.
While not the most original concept Smallville has ever come up with, the adventure provides a bit of character fun and manages to align the series into the perfect position for the rest of the season.
Overall however, it shows how power can corrupt anyone — and this season Lana has hardly been the angel she was in the beginning. As a potential baddie, she demands more attention and becomes all the more mesmerizing. It is a fascinating twist that Lionel himself is far more interesting as the questionable savior than he was as the ambiguous threat lurking in Metropolis.
Since its debut in 2001, Smallville has wrestled with its own immaturities and has grown up every bit as much as the characters themselves. The stories have grown darker (but to the credit of the writers have also somehow maintained the light-hearted fun) and in the last few episodes have included a few gorier and more adult themed moments – first the torture and mangling of Lionels hand during his captivity and then the seduction of a Government agent by Kara.
Wrath continues the recent trend when Lana immediately wants to get a lot closer to her super powered boyfriend and actively attempts to woo the man of steel over. The subsequent gal-pal conversations between Lana and Chloe were also that little bit more adult than the shows previous track record and included a lot of fun at Clarks expense.
The horse riding was a nice touch and brings the series back full circle that little bit, and the twisted transformation of Lana allowed for some much needed development between Clark and Lex (Michael Rosenbaum). The duo were one of the shows strongest attributes and their debates over morality and inner humanity have been missed between the action and comic book escapades.
And even though Milton Fine wasnt actually in the episode, the mere prospect is enough to excite. James Marsters was a fantastic villain (it seems to be his calling in life) and it will be a genuine thrill to have him back in Kansas.
What Didnt Work
With too many half-finished sentences (an old trademark of the series) and not enough direction, Wrath is a bit of a let down in what could have otherwise been a thrilling and stylishly original story that would resonate through the rest of the season.
Clarks discovery of Isis was hardly the shocker it could have been and Lois was only included to have her face slammed into a wall without a fight. The episode also offers the same question that has been asked time and time again — will people in Smallville actually look at each other when they are speaking?
Aside from re-using previous plot devices (bad ones at that), the whole using lightning to transfer powers seems far too random to be used with any degree of success. As a result, the final fight scenes lacked the excitement Smallville usually provides. The main problem is however after a few wonderfully structured episodes, the bar has been set unusually high and Wrath just falls that little bit short.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Wrath was written by Brian Peterson and Kelly Sounders, and the episode was directed by Charles Beeson. 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 is currently studying for his post-graduate diploma in Freelance Journalism and Feature Writing as a distance student at the London School of Journalism. He can be reached at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.