This review may contain spoilers.
After the previous episode saw the return of General Lane and the introduction of the Vigilante Registration Act into this seasons already-loaded storyline, Abandoned represents a detour from the established plotlines that have made this final season so riveting.
At least thats how it seems at first.
As the episode begins, Lois (Erica Durance) is on the verge of officially moving into the Kent Farm when she comes across a videotape left for her by her mother (Teri Hatcher). Meanwhile, Tess (Cassidy Freeman) receives an unwelcome blast from the past, one that threatens to unravel long-held secrets of her past.
By introducing an entirely new, seemingly unrelated element into the story – in the case, an orphanage filled with trained warriors – the season looks like its taking a turn for the worse, finally breaking a string of solid episodes and losing the momentum its managed to build up thus far.
However, like Harvest from earlier this season, the episode uses a common theme to unify its disparate stories and truly does push the story forward in the end.
In this case, Abandoned is about unresolved parental issues. Lois mourns the hole in her heart left by her mothers death, Clark (Tom Welling) remains at odds with Jor-El (played here by Julian Sands) and Tess discovers the repressed memory of her true parentage. Its a brilliant move on the part of the writers, that they are able to transform a filler episode – once again – into a winner. Even the new subplots introduced here tie back into the emergence of Darkseid and the increasing prominence of the house of Luthor.
Oh, and its an interesting and unexpected development that Clark is already planning to propose to Lois. If this episode is any indication, the rest of the season should be epic.
Two words: Teri. Hatcher. The former Lois and Clark star elevates her single scene into one of the most poignant moments between a parent and child that Smallville has ever produced. And considering the warmth that the relationship that John Schneider brought to his scenes as Jonathan Kent in the first half of the series, that is quite an accomplishment indeed.
For long time Superman fans, its also simply a treat to see the two Lois Lanes sharing a scene together, even if theyre not physically in the same location. Hatcher has said that she did the cameo for the fans, and it provides the series with another iconic moment. Not quite up to par with Christopher Reeves Virgil Swann explaining to Clark everything he knows about Krypton, but that one is hard to top.
Also, the final scene in which viewers learn a truly shocking truth about Tesss connection to another longstanding Smallville presence truly provides the rest of the season with an extra oomph. Freeman once again delivers a great performance here and has succeeded in making Tess a character we care about, despite the fact that shes been a sporadic villain since we first met her in the season 8 premiere.
What Didnt Work
Creepy old ladies have become a bit of a clichÃ©, but guest star Christine Willes makes Granny Goodness come off as truly menacing. She clearly does the very best she can with the character, but she does seem like an unnecessary addition to an ever-increasing slate of villains that Clark and the Justice League will likely have to face by seasons end.
In addition, her girls were bland characters, and each was more unoriginal than the next. Its a good thing that these women had limited screen time because they were nothing more than blatant imitations of other pop cultural icons. Seriously, what was up with the one girl and her Freddy Krueger glove? Its the perfect example of how derivative Smallville has been in the past and a nice reminder of just how strong this season is in comparison.
If Granny Goodness and her army of girls had been the entire focus of this episode, it would have marked the seasons first disaster. As is, the single weak link in the episode is strengthened by everything else going on, keeping the series on track. It may have slipped slightly here, but thanks to developments with Lois and her mother, Clarks visit to the Fortress and newly-planted seeds with the Darkseid and Luthor plotlines, Smallville has stayed on course once again.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
“Smallville stars Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman and Allison Mack. Abandoned was written by Andrew Landis and Julia Swift and directed by Kevin Fair.
Smallville airs Fridays at 8pm E.T. on The CW.