Episode Review: Smallville:"Charade" (Season 9, Episode 18)

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Tonight, we get to meet another DC Universe character, a bit more Checkmate, a bit more Zod, mix well and we have a Super-Daquiri.

Or do we?

Recap

We open on a party for an obviously crooked politician at a 'bunny' themed club; Lois is hiding inside a cake. Some character is trying to collect a reward for something from the politician, when Lois pops out of said cake. She sees Clark and slugs him, hard.

The Editor of the Daily Planet (it's not Perry White) is not amused about his reporters becoming the story, and fires them.

Yesterday--- Lois and Clark are going to have a date to put an end to secrets and maybe toss the 'L' word back and forth. Chloe's not thrilled about it, though.

They meet the new editor of the Planet- Franklin Stern. He's a temp, but he wants to be permanent. He issues an ultimatum to Lois and Clark- to battle in the reporter's version of Thunderdome (two enter, one leaves).

Chloe and Tess have a tet a tete to establish that we know what they know and that they have no secrets from each other, even though they pretend to.

Lois tries to get the story from the crooked D.A., and rather stupidly nearly gets herself killed. The Blur (Clark) rescues her, but unknown to him, his photo is taken. Clark discovers that Lois thinks she's been talking to the Blur for months; Clark is alarmed, because she's not talking to him. He quick changes, and tries to find out who Lois is really calling (he has his suspicions), but she makes it a matter of trust vs. security… Clark folds.

Chloe and Clark figure out what is going on with regards to the photo, and Clark and Lois head to Maxwell's (the bunny club mentioned earlier) We see the sequence from the teaser again, with Lois destroying the cell phone with the Blur photo…
… and then L&C are cleaning out their desks. Lois is convinced that Clark wants to expose the Blur, and is very upset over this. Clark can't talk reason to her, so they go their own ways. Naturally this gets Lois kidnapped and put into some machine with the Blur photographer

We meet Maxwell Lord, Black King of Checkmate. He was the one behind the release of the politician. He is using his mental powers to assemble a composite model of the Blur, to eliminate him. He is a rival of Waller's and seeks the destruction of metahumans (Waller wants to use them, Lord, kill them). Clark bursts in, finds the crooked politician and then Lord. He wrecks the composite hologram creating gizmo and rescues Lois. Lois, on the verge of discovering who he is, asks him to leave. She understands that for her own protection, she can never know who he is.

To protect her from impersonators and from those who would use her to get to him, The Blur breaks all ties with her.

In a dinner on the roof, the two unemployed reporters try to reconnect. She is shattered not so much by the loss of the Blur, but the sense of purpose he gives her. Clark understands, but can't say why or how. The show ends on the question "Is Clark Kent alone enough for Lois?"

Observations

Franklin Stern is a character invented waaaay back in the 80's-- he was played by James Earl Jones on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman; here he's played by Blu Mankuma.

This is the first appearance of Maxwell Lord in non-comics media, and I was not impressed. Lord was the businessman who reassembled the Justice League in the 80's, and much later was revealed to have mild persuasion powers. His powers grew, and eventually he joined Checkmate as the Black King. As head of Checkmate, Max murdered Blue Beetle and was in turn executed by Wonder Woman. His character arc was interesting, and here… none. Maybe they'll work more into the show next season, but for now… meh. It wasn't Gil Bellow's fault, the character here did not have enough room to breathe. I would've preferred that Max was played by someone who looked a bit like Sam Neill in Omen III: The Final Conflict. (C'mon guys! The character was modeled on Sam Neill, and it's not like Neill doesn't do TV… he's over on ABC, doing "Happy Town")

Aside from that minor annoyance, this was a very good and surprisingly well acted episode. Lois understands the 'secret identity' idea much better than any of the previous versions of Lois. It was clear that if Clark came clean with Lois that she would be furious with him-- not because of the lack of trust, the secrets or the lying-- because he would put his effectiveness in jeopardy.

It's this understanding that elevates this episode. Lois gets it. She knows why she can't … why anybody can't know the identities of superheroes. The fact that heroes care about people makes them vulnerable to dangers posed to their loved ones. She understands this even more than Clark does, and that's what makes the relationship even more interesting. She will protect the Blur, even from herself.. and by doing so, she convinces Clark to cut all ties with her as the Blur. That was clever and well done.

Next week, looks like some serious Chloe vs. Tess action!

In order to protect you from those who would hurt me, I will continue to maintain my secret identity of Republibot 2.0…. sound off below!

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