Smallville 8.22: "Doomsday"

Over the past few seasons, I’ve been wary of "Smallville" season finales. Too often, the writers try to repair all the damage done to a season arc by their lack of focus and organization in the final hour, and it doesn't work too often. I think it's safe to say that the writers managed to avoid most of those problems this time around, but they introduced a few others that are, to say the least, a bit perplexing.

They dug themselves in a major hole from the beginning of the season, because a massive showdown with Doomsday was in the cards from the moment he was introduced. Unfortunately, this show doesn't have the kind of budget to make the showdown satisfying. The battle between Clark and Doomsday was literally a few minutes long, and ended with the kind of indistinct whimper that serves little purpose at all.

The writers also committed a rather silly continuity faux pas when it comes to Jimmy's death. Not in terms of the overall DC continuity; I would actually love it if "Smallville" abandoned that entirely and stopped pretending that it leads to anything beyond the most general future. The idea that Jimmy is not the "Jimmy" we know later is an unnecessary twist.

But Jimmy's death didn't even need to happen. As soon as Jimmy was mortally wounded, I expected Chloe to give her life to save Jimmy using her apparently long-forgotten ability. Considering how often she used it in the past, why wouldn't she use it this time, for the love of her life? They haven't definitively shown that the ability is gone, after all. (My guess is that she would have, if the series hadn't been renewed.) As tired as I am of the writers using Chloe's potential death as a tease, knowing the audience is expecting it, it's going to be anti-climactic if it ever does actually happen.

What did work, in a completely unexpected way, was the fallout of the Doomsday confrontation. The effect of Jimmy's death on Clark, and his realization that his moral decision to save Davis and ignore all the warning signs from earlier in the season led to that outcome, was a lot more substantial than I had anticipated. One would think that Lex would have provided Clark with enough understanding of the complexities of human psychology, but anything that pushes Clark towards progress in his development is a great idea.

Letting the world think that Clark is dead should allow him to operate as a detached hero for a while, and should also allow him to re-establish his Clark persona later down the road in a more convincing manner. There needs to be a separation for those who don't know his secret. The League will likely know it's him out there, continuing the fight, but others will think Clark's dead. And if he comes back with a new look (say, with glasses), it would explain the mental disconnect between proto-Superman and Clark.

More to the point, it's Clark and his slow but steady personal journey that has always been the draw for me. His interactions with Oliver have been at the heart of that journey of late, and that's why I found it so gratifying that, for once, Clark was dead wrong. His entire holier-than-thou moral code was stabbed in the heart, and it will force him to reconsider his role in the world. While I do have fairly low expectations for how that will be handled (it's all too likely to be covered in the season premiere and then discarded), at least it's being explored.

A couple things point to the other aspects of the ninth season arc. The apparent return of Zod has its inherent possibilities, but it will have to be more impressive that when he possessed Lex in "Zod". Lois' jaunt into the future could explain why she doesn't remember Clark, if the Legion thinks it necessary to wipe her memory of whatever she sees. (They could see it as a favor to Clark, actually.) There's still the small matter of Tess and everything that she knows, but that would be easy to remedy. If nothing else, the seeds have been planted for a pot



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May 16, 2009 5:47PM EDT

The episode just confused me, because after Jimmy's death it seemed like a completely different episode to the beginning... there was no sense of continuity in it. After we found out that Jimmy's first name was really Henry and when Chloe gave Jimmy's little brother the camera I started to think that maybe the brother's name is Jimmy.... but then again the age difference wouldn't make sense..... Maybe Jimmy will come back to life with no memory of Clark being the Red Blue Blur

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May 26, 2009 2:41AM EDT

the age difference does make sense... in Superman "Jimmy" is a teenager early twenties maybe, while Clark and Lois area good number of years older... so the younger brother could easily be the "jimmy" of the future... the whole name thing is kind of weird thoo... yeah maybe his younger brother does follow in jimmy's footsteps and then just takes on his name as a nickname...

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