Smallville is getting away with (almost) murder this season, turning its tenth season into not just a further exploration of the origins of Superman, but also making some prickly political commentary. This week’s episode, “Patriot,” continued last week’s theme of the Vigilante Registration Act, as well as bringing back the brute who would be Aquaman, Arthur Curry (Alan Ritchson).

The night’s antagonist was blustering Col. Slade (Michael Hogan, Battlestar Galatica‘s Col. Saul Tigh), who compared super-heroes to evil-doers as extreme as “Hitler and Saddam Hussein.” Slade sought to lock up “heroes” in prisons, using the excuse that their refusal to sign the VRA constituted unpatriotic sedition. Strong stuff, as was Lois Lane’s analysis of Slade’s ideas: ” a steaming pile of Spanish Inquisition.”

Early on, before Slade’s full-on villainy was exposed, Clark and Oliver Queen debated the niceties of the VRA, with Ollie volunteering to sign on the dotted line, if it would improve the image of super-heroes. (Clark, ever the idealistic lad, was ready to jump aboard as well. These are the moments when Smallville has always needed a version of Batman to say something like, “Really, Clark? Really? Wake up and smell the dark side.”)

Slade’s first targets were Arthur Curry and his new, unblushing bride, Mera (Elena Satine), who strutted around in a combo bathing suit outfit that moved like bustier. (The naughty little secret of Smallville is that it’s one of the kinkiest shows on at 8 p.m., what with — tonight alone — AC in bondage, Lois’ black spike heels, and Mera’s Wonderbra-lessness. Why, it was enough to make Frederic Wertham rise from the grave and blush!) Brava, by the way, to Erica Durance for the scene in which Lois threatened Dr. Emil Hamilton with a scalpel to get information — that girl can sell any scenario, and I’m talking about both Lois and Durance. She deserves her perch in the Watchtower.

AC and Mera had been busy doing their environmental safety-check such as blowing up oceanic oil rigs — see what I mean about Smallville‘s radical politics? Soon enough, Slade, working from a facility in Alaska (hello, Sarah Palin!) had chained up AC and had Ollie bound to a plank and was systematically dunking him in water. We’d call it water-boarding; Smallville sneaked it in as a “tank board.” Same diff… Oh, and Clark was trapped in a prison whose bars were made from green Kryptonite. No wonder Oliver Queen referred to the place as “your glacial Gitmo.”

The episode was directed by star Tom Welling, and he kept the pace moving so swiftly, the hour zoomed past florid dialogue such as AC gushing about Mera being “smart, passionate, fiery!” As actor and director, Welling’s biggest challenge was trying to maintain the energy during the episode’s final moments. This was when Clark had to deliver long chunks of information about the coming darkness; there was also the revelation that Slade had been marked with an omega sign that suggested he was under the control of Darkseid. Commenters are already rapping me on the knuckles for not mentioning that Slade is Deathstroke. (That name wasn’t used tonight; but then, neither was “Aquaman,” as I can recall.) But I stand by what I originally wrote as well: My belief in the wit of Smallville‘s producers that they intended as well to give Battlestar Galactica fans a treat by having Slade reappear with a metal patch over one eye — a visual quotation from his Col. Tigh character.

Well, time and Tigh wait for no man: It’s on to Luthor next time around… which unfortunately won’t be until Dec. 3.

What did you think of this week’s Smallville?

Twitter: @kentucker


It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the action and heartbreak of Clark Kent — before he was all things Super

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