This review may contain spoilers.
You have to hand it to the creative team behind Smallville. Considering the fact that it has been on the air for nearly a decade, the sharpness of the series this season and the promise its showing as it draws nearer to its super conclusion are surprising, to say the least.
While last weeks premiere served essentially as a setup for Clark Kents (Tom Welling) final year before finally donning his iconic super-suit, Shield truly perpetuates the thematic arc that each character will undergo. It also managed to deliver an exciting stand-alone story that marks the return of the Suicide Squad, the team of super-powered villains that represents the antithesis of Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) and the Justice League.
Clark is surprised to discover that the Daily Planet has already hired a replacement for Lois (Erica Durance) in the ultra conservative Cat Grant (Keri Lynn Pratt). This being Smallville, of course, its not long before the new partners are nearly killed in a car explosion caused by a deadly assassin named Deadshot (Bradley Stryker). Meanwhile, Lois has a heart-to-heart with Hawkman (Michael Shanks) as she grapples with the discovery of Clarks secret, and Tess (Cassidy Freeman) and Oliver try to unravel the mystery of Chloes (Allison Mack) sudden disappearance.
These subplots may make the show seem as if its overstuffing itself, as it did last season with the convoluted and ultimately inconsequential Zod storyline, but this truly isnt the case. Though the series has been dragging its feet since losing Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor after season seven, now that the final season is at hand, Smallville has finally found its footing and direction.
Loiss conversation with Hawkman wasnt exactly action packed, but it made for some of the best moments of the episode, including Loiss utterance of Clarks red and blue alter ego. Extra points for using a Nietzsche reference to make it happen and a cool reference to the pilot episode, wherein Lana (Kristin Kreuk) commented on Clarks choice of reading material, asking if he was a superman. How far the show has come and how refreshing that Clark is finally nearing his destiny at last. Hawkmans story nicely parallels Lois and Clarks love story too.
The show has always made it a priority to introduce as many classic DC Comics characters as possible, especially since the introduction of the Justice League in season six, and Shield saw the introduction of two more. Pratt makes a fine Cat Grant and contributes an entirely new dynamic to the current cast, nicely juxtaposing her skepticism of vigilantes like the Blur to Loiss promotion of their heroic efforts.
Clark is beginning to realize that, in order to truly become Earths savior, he must expose his face to the public, thus becoming the symbol of good he aspires to be. This aspect of his destiny comes up numerous times in this episode, making the build-up to his new red leather outfit in the final moments that much sweeter. Wont be long now till he tries on the iconic suit awaiting him in the Fortress of Solitude:
What Didnt Work
Chloes faking of her own death isnt a particularly interesting addition to the seasons storyline. If anything, it might be one subplot too many, but the idea that Tess is now poised to potentially assume her role as Watchtower may make for some interesting developments. Hopefully, Chloes absence will make sense with the rest of the seasons arc and not become an obvious last-minute change to accommodate Macks limited screen time. Only time will tell:
No more details on the possible reappearance of Lex Luthor this week, nor the arrival of Darkseid. It will be interesting to see how he is brought onto the series, and judging by the return of Supergirl (Laura Vandervoort) in the next episode, it appears that fans will get a bit more development on this very soon.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Shield was written by Jordan Hawley and was directed by Glen Winter. Smallville stars Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman and Allison Mack.
Smallville airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.