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‘Smallville’ – Ambush

With a family reunion, ‘Ambush’ is almost like a lost episode from another season

This review may contain spoilers.

So … Lois (Erica Durance) and Clark (Tom Welling) are a real couple now and everything is all out in the open.

After five years of keeping each other at arms length (even when they were an item) it is great to finally see these two characters blossoming into their page-bound counterparts. But, before you can be swept away with the bigger meaning of their reveal to one another (something that has to be considered epic in nature when it comes to the destinies of both characters), “Smallville” delivers an episode steeped in as much humor and frolicking as it does arced development.

That last two years have really embracing the comic book mythos in a serious way, and “Smallville” has been better for it. The shows attitude has been of a more serious nature, the stories have been more sinister and the stakes just that little bit higher. But, in dealing with such dark and shadowy storylines the series lost something that made it special … it lost the fun. Superman is not the same as Batman.

From the very beginning, “Ambush” has a tone that is reminiscent of the fourth season, when the show was still relatively fresh and Clark had a more optimistic view of the world. Back then, Lois was still a new character on the series and her history was only beginning to be explored. From the opening teaser we are treated to a very different side of the intrepid reporter – not to mention a different side to the Man-of-Steel as well – which shows just how much has been left unseen over the last few seasons.

This is the fun and witty Lois from the fourth season, when all she had to worry about was keeping out of the General’s radar. It helps that Michael Ironside once again reprises his role as the hard lining head of the Lane household, bringing with him Lucy Lane (reprised by Peyton List, who may now be more familiar thanks to “FlashForward”). The new dynamic with the Lane’s spending some time at the Kent farm also sends Clark back to his teenage self before all of the end-of-the-world shenanigans transformed the series into a show of more serious subject matter.

Having the central couple revert to their teenage selves offers some genuine fun and subtle humor, particularly when Clark starts using Gen. Lane’s to-do list as his excuses for disappearing. At the same time, there are some real cringe moments, like Lois giving one excuse for Clark’s disappearance and then Clark giving another only seconds later. You would think that with super hearing he would at least stick to the same story.

The episode also brings something else into the relationship … politics.

The extended Kent/Lane families all have very different political views when it comes to the vigilantes saving the day around the world and the episode perfectly dovetails into a theme that will be crucial in the days ahead now that heroes are being “outed” around the world.

And, to its credit, “Ambush” refrains from delving too deeply into the political landscape of superheroes and instead remains firmly fixed on Lois and her relationship with her family. Light, fun and almost carefree, this is episode will surely only help heighten the drama that is about to unfold.

What Worked

For followers of the series, the episode is a perfect follow-up to “Lucy,” which is the last time we saw the Lane family. The nuances of the Lanes is perfectly played by the trio (again) and is apt for the final season of the series. Last year we had a chance to catch up with Martha Kent so it is only fair that we get the same opportunity for the Lane family.

However, for casual viewers (or even viewers that have jumped onboard the “Smallville” bandwagon since the fourth season), this episode could be something of a mystery with the ins and outs of the complex relationship between the Lanes escaping their grasp.

The title “Ambush” can be applied in so many ways. Among them, the General’s arrival at the Kent farm, Lucy laying the smack down on Clark, and the reappearance of the Suicide Squad (which thankfully remained in the background as an ominous and impending threat).

And, just as the previous episodes have done, “Ambush” brings a lot of reality to the series. Top of the list are discussions of vigilantes and their status as heroes. This of course led perfectly into a few nice touches hinting at how much Martha Kent has been doing behind the scenes to save Clark and to save other heroes. In the old days, she would save her son by being in the right place at the right time, or covering for him when someone asked the wrong questions. Now she’s in a position to further his agenda and ensure his secret is never exposed.

What Didn’t Work

The Talon is gone. Lana Lang would be devastated.

Well, Lana is as gone as the Talon, but the revival theater/coffee shop deserved more than a second-rate CGI explosion. In the early days the Talon was as much a character on the series as the actors and so it was a missed opportunity to see it go out with such a whimper : especially since the characters that it meant most to are no longer involved with the series.

The hostility between Oliver (Justin Hartley) and Tess (Cassidy Freeman) felt a little out of place given their bonding (albeit somewhat reluctantly) in “Isis” when Tess was initiated into Watchtower : or what will one day be known as the Justice League.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“Smallville stars Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman and Allison Mack. Homecoming was written by Holly Henderson and Don Whitehead , and was directed by Christopher Petry.

Smallville airs Fridays at 8pm E.T. on The CW.

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