The biggest problem with Smallville as a series, dating all the way back to its origins, is that always likes to make Clark the problem, not the solution. He’s often wrong, made to look foolish and sheepish and spends more time feeling sorry for himself than actually being proactive and heroic. The last two seasons have actually gone a long way in getting rid of that kind of Clark, or at least coming up with good reasons for why he would act that way, but thus far in season 10, the series has reverted back to the middle years where Clark is full of doubt and self-pity.
So it makes sense that Kara would reappear, because there is no character that plays directly into Clark’s character assassination more. Kara is the worst main character the series has ever had (including Pete), as she’s basically only been used to make Clark look awful. And although I think she is actually used here in “Supergirl” fairly well, the purpose of her appearance is just the same.
Let me say this: I understand what the writers are actually trying to do now with this season, and it wasn’t clear after the first two episodes. After “Supergirl,” I see that Clark’s issues now tie directly into the purpose of the season’s villain, Darkseid. The writers want Clark to be plagued by doubt and personal demons so that just as a villain who preys on those emotions shows up, he’s a prime candidate for infiltration. While I think it is very, very disappointing that Clark is having these feelings, at least there’s a purpose for it. I guess.
Kara comes back because she’s been given a directive from that dick Jor-El and as usual, she’s indifferent, self-involved and full of herself. She doesn’t think Clark can handle the coming darkness because…he can’t fly. Again, while I appreciate the writers’ effort to tackle the stupidity that is Clark’s inability to fly, making fun of your lead character for not being able to accomplish his most defining characteristic is unfortunate, particularly in a final season when he’s supposed to be really taking control of his life.
I’m generally confused about how and why Jor-El and Kara think Clark can’t handle Darkseid (apart from the writers want to create the thematic connection between CK and the villain). Jor-El’s actions in “Lazarus” didn’t make any sense and Kara’s don’t make much sense here either. It is completely ridiculous that these two Kryptonian jackaloons think Clark can’t stop a big threat just because he can’t fly. I guess protecting the world from Brainaic three times, Zod twice, Bizarro and Doomsday without flying abilities doesn’t count for anything? What the hell has Kara done in her life?
Despite that, I think Clark handled himself alright in response to Kara’s nonsense. He didn’t sit there and take her criticism quietly, but instead argued for his own stability and skills. He is more confident than this episode suggests, and even if Kara saves him in the end right before Clark gets taken over by Darkseid’s essence, her posturing and smugness actually makes him look better in the end. She’s ultimately wrong about coming out to the public, especially a public full of doubt and fear and I personally think Clark’s wavering about how to handle his dual identities is more complicated than she (and this episode) makes it out to be. If we go back to “Infamous,” he remembers what happens to heroes when they come out of the proverbial closet. And in the current Metropolis landscape, it would be even worse to come out.
That uneasy feeling is really the only thing the season has gotten completely and consistently right. The citizens of Metropolis are slowly getting tired of being saved by masked heroes and when anything goes wrong, it’s easy to point fingers. And now, with Darkseid coming in to control those people who can sway the public opinion, things are going to get very, very bad for Clark, Oliver and company. Oliver is going to face the brunt of it up front since he pulled a Tony Stark (seriously Smallville, just straight up theft of other scenes?) and revealed his Green Arrow identity, but I see Clark being tripped up on a few saves as well because distressed citizens get in the way.
This story arc is wholly unoriginal because we always expect the people to turn on the heroes at some point so then the heroes can make a, well, heroic return to the public’s good graces, but it absolutely works. This is especially true for this final season of Smallville because the whole series has been leading up to this arc in a way. The world has slowly been growing more aware and accustomed to these powerful heroes and now, they’re ready to turn on them just as Darkseid shows up to expedite the process. Meanwhile, Clark will be dealing with his own issues of identity and how to balance his human emotions with his alien powers. And just as the darkness starts to really seep in to the culture, Clark will figure it out and become the beacon of light that humanity needs.
I’m excited for all that in the long-term, but the concern is how we actually get there and how well things come together in the short-term. Gordon Godfrey is a fun and well-executed character and introduction into how Darkseid is going to operate this season, so there’s hope there. But until the season lightens up on Clark and gives him more moments like the end of “Shield,” it’s not going to work in the way it should.