Clark and the rest of the gang resurface after being mysteriously knocked out at Carter's (aka Hawkman) funeral only find themselves trapped in a Wachowski film. It becomes a race against time to swallow the red pill, escape their virtual prisons and return to the real world. In this week's episode its Smallville meets The Matrix in Allison Mack's long overdue return to Metropolis.
Sneaking her way back into the opening credits, for the first time since this season's first episode, Mack's Chloe Sullivan returns to Smallville to help rescue Clark, Lois and the rest team from the clutches of the VRA. At first Clark, Oliver, and Dinah (aka Black Canary) believe that both Chloe and the VRA somehow stole their abilities and then set them free. However an unexpected visit from a virtual Chloe, dressed James Bond's tux from Tunderball, to help convince each team member that their minds are all plugged into a computer program. With the actual VRA closing in on their location Chloe, with a little help from Rick Flag and his Suicide Squad, have to make Clark and the others trust her again so they can free themselves from their virtual prisons in time.
Other than some minor screw ups/goofs "Collateral" was a pretty solid episode to welcome Smallville back from their Christmas break.
It was said before this tenth and final season started that Allison Mack wasn't going to be a series regular for all it's episodes, only a handful. Granted that past episodes in previous seasons could of used a 'Chloe break' in some of their stories as Mack was written into every episode since the Pilot whether it made sense to or not. But "Collateral" was a perfect example of you don't know you have something good until its gone. Mack's return adds some life to the show with Chloe`s constant energy and presence. Although with this episode`s Matrix theme Mack got to be more of an action version of Chloe which was pretty funny to watch as it is way out side of her regular character. They even pulled the Agent Smith card when in the virtual world with a multiple Chloe that kept popping up.
One of the highlights for me was that out of Mack`s absence it seemed like the writers had tried to make up for lost time with Chloe as they give her about ten times her normal amount of quick witted puns and banter for most of her lines. Chloe was always good for the occasional pop culture reference but "Collateral" had her busting some new greatest hits. Some great lines like: 'what happens in cyberspace stays in cyberspace', 'Clark and I were just updating our non-existent facebook pages in person', 'get out of that Pixar postcard', and my personal favourite 'Oh Canary you are caught in a virtual cage but I can help you fly the coop' .
Now I did mention that there were some minor screw ups in this week's episode. The first thing is more of just an annoying oversight than a screw up as they never fully explain what exactly that white triangular object was that came out of the sand and knocked everyone out at Carter's funeral. Since it was the main component for the cliff hanger ending in the last episode ("Icarus") I was expecting some kind of answer to what kind of weapon could incapacitate the whole team and especially Clark. The unknown object flashed white light, not green, ruled out kryptonite. So it seems the VRA were able to get their hands on some kind of magic rock to capture the League, because outside of kryptonite magic is the only thing that can affect the man of steel.
I was able look pass that first indiscretion, but the next one was a little more puzzling to me as there seemed to be a continuity issue between "Icarus" and "Collateral". Just to recap at Carter's funeral there was: Clark, Lois, Oliver, Dinah, and Courtney (aka Stargirl) present for the actual actors playing those characters. As for the other characters in the background [whose faces are never shown but the audience is supposed to assume that they are each being played by their original actors] was: A.C. (aka Aquaman), Victor (aka Cyborg), Bart (aka Impulse), and both an unknown man and a woman. The fact is when it is revealed that all those who were at that funeral had been captured and hooked up to Smallville's own version of The Matrix it seems like the only ones who were taken were Clark, Lois, Oliver, and Dinah. If that wasn't enough when Chloe finally gets Oliver back into the real world she says: 'ok 1 down 5 to go'; making it seem like other than Clark, Lois, and Dinah that there were 2 more heroes (1 supposedly being A.C. according a later discussion between Chloe and Dinah) from the team who were still hooked into the virtual world that are never saved by Chloe by the end of the episode. Their rescue never happens. Aquaman and the other known character(s) are never mentioned again or even shown to help clear up this oversight.
If these story errors weren't done by mistake my theory is the 2 missing characters were in a larger version of the script but had to be edited down due to time constrains. Thus explaining the one week delay by the CW network in airing this episode, but that still doesn't fully explain why Supernatural was delayed as well. After you watch "Collateral", if you haven't already, comment on this review at the bottom of the page for your thoughts on the oversights and/or the episode delay. I'd love to hear your own conspiracy theories on this episode.
One last thing to note is that Welling and Durance got to rein act an iconic scene from the 1978 Superman film where the late Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder flew over the night's sky of Metropolis. Since both Clark and Lois were still in that virtual world Clark was able to fly; an ability he has yet to learn on his road to Superman. The scene was short, but a great tease for audiences as it won't be the last time Clark and Lois sail past the Daily Planet's globe in the moon light.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.