This review may contain spoilers.
In its ten years on air, “Smallville” has resisted exploring the idea that Clark may one day reveal his secret to someone he loves.
Sure, he told Lana Lang in season five, but that was quickly erased thanks to some time travel (and Jonathan Kent paid the price). But when you look back at all of the people in Clark’s life he refused to tell anyone and instead they had to discover his secret on their own. Lois (Erica Durance) is no exception and last season she pieced together his dual identity and has been gagging to tell him ever since.
Recent weeks however have hammered in the obvious fact: these two are meant to be together and sooner or later they will both be totally honest with each other. The only question is, will Lois spill the beans or will Clark?
The main focus of “Isis” is that very question, with our two protagonists dancing around each other in a ballet of awkwardness as they each try to find the words to express themselves to the other. The irony of two journalists struggling to find the right words isn’t lost and adds to the fun factor, and the score is perfectly in sync with the tone of the episode.
For the first time in its lifetime, “Smallville” has embraced adult relationships and is encroaching on real issues that people face every day. More than that, its core characters are finally receiving emotionally driven stories that do not rely on an alien or mystical force.
Being honest with the one you love is at the forefront, but Oliver Queen and his new status as a celebrity hero also contributes greatly to the episode. Green Arrow has always been a dark character, but Oliver regularly flirts with light hearted stories and “Isis” gives him a chance to be more than a nudge on Clark’s road to Superman. “Coming out” as a hero was a tremendous step for the emerald archer and it has taken a toll on the character … and thankfully that is being explored as something more substantial than a one-episode marvel. It is almost like a new Oliver on the series and Justin Hartley again shows he has more to offer than the ability to run around playing Robin Hood.
As a nice follow-up, Tess also gets some quality screen time with her new found maternal situation becoming a turning point in her own emotional journey. The fact that her “son” is a clone of the deceased Lex Luthor will certainly come back in the future, but for now it is enough to see that Tess is made of more than ice.
“Isis” is a story of substance, and turns out to be every bit as crucial to the development of the characters we have come to love. The final scene in particular will have you on the edge of your seat shouting “do it!”
Lois in front of the mirror was a good start to the episode, practicing how she would tell Clark – the man she loves – that she knows he is The Blur and that it is ok to be a hero. Her practice run through helps reaffirm that the revelation could very well make or break the couple, and that it should be treated with the same care and reverence as a marriage proposal.
There is a lot of humor to the scene, with lines like “Hey, Clark … you were bluriffic” and also an amusing soliloquy as Lois takes on the identity of Clark Kent to hash out an entire conversation with herself.
Although the parallels are undeniable, referring to Oliver’s new status as an unmasked hero as “coming out” can be slightly off-putting (but twistedly funny), especially as he urges the Man-of-Steel to “come out” as well. The instinctual mental image is of a new Superman suit with a pink cape. Humor aside, it allows for a more personal look into Oliver as a character on a deeper level where his ever decision isn’t explained by some dark trauma from his childhood or the loss of his parents. Thankfully, the episode refrains from taking the analogy too seriously and instead has a lot of fun with the new Oliver … “sweetest thing” gift baskets were never something fans would have expected to see when Green Arrow made his entry into the series four years ago.
But the fact remains, Oliver is now a changed man since he came out of the shadows. The Bromance between Clark and Oliver has always been an asset working in “Smallville’s” favor, and “Isis” has an abundant supply of their topsy turvy relationship.
There is also tremendous humor in the fact that Clark misses all the signs that Lois is not herself and it takes flying off into the sky in a burst of gold light to clue him in that something isn’t quite right.
And with an episode so firmly steeped in light hearted humor it is only right that Cat Grant (Keri Lynn Pratt) makes a return. Unlike other blonde reporters that have made appearances in the series, Pratt is fun to watch try and score the big scoop and never fails to entertain. More than that, thanks to the more adult nature of storytelling that has already taken place this season, we’re already well aware of her history and she very easily glides into the existing relationships at work in The Daily Planet.
In addition to the humor, “Isis” is filled with deep and personal character moments, so much so that the episode is almost unidentifiable as a “Smallville” episode. Genevieve Sparling really outdid herself with the scripting of the adventure, filling it with rich dialogue of plenty of intimate glimpses into who these characters are and why they do what they do.
Although Clark, Lois and Oliver are the central figures, the most emotional scene comes at the end when the heroes welcome Tess Mercer onto the team. The dialogue is sparse, but Freeman plays the part perfectly and director James Marshall does a fantastic job of showing the vulnerability that her initiation has revealed in the character. It is almost a perfect scene because this is what these heroes do – they inspire hope and they save people anyway they can … even if it is from themselves or their own loneliness.
That moment dovetails right into scenes in the Luthor mansion, with Tess and Alexander (Jakob Davies) become the closest thing to a family that either has ever had. It is tender and has been carefully crafted with genuine heart … something that is unusual for both characters.
What Didn’t Work
Given the Egyptian theme of the episode, it was disappointing that Carter Hall didn’t put in a cameo appearance. Michael Shanks would be right at home with discussions on sarcophagi and the resurrection of Osiris.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
“Smallville stars Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman and Allison Mack. Homecoming was written by Genevieve Sparling and directed by James Marshall.
Smallville airs Fridays at 8pm E.T. on The CW.