After this week's new episode, "Dominion", Smallville officially enters the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest running Science Fiction series for Television (in North America). Slightly more prestigious than their other record; most amount times a main character has been knocked unconscious in a TV series. That honour goes to Erica Durance's Lois Lane, being KO'd in 51 episodes during the 141 episodes she has been in so far. Who doesn't love useless trivia?
While moving into their new Metropolis apartment Lois and Clark are interrupted by Tess informing them that General Slade has mysteriously been released from the phantom zone and is back on Earth. Clark and Tess figure out a way to allow Clark to enter the phantom zone so he can stop anymore inmates from escaping. Oliver returns to Metropolis to help out Clark, who obviously wants to go it alone, forcing Oliver to sneak his way into the galactic klink by hitching a ride without Clark's consent. Inside Jor-El's super prison Clark and Oliver come face to face with the most notorious inmate there, General Zod.
"Dominion" was Justin Hartley's directorial debut and for the most part he did a really good job. The most obvious thing to point out when criticizing a first time director, or an experienced director for that matter, is their pacing. If episode moves to slow or jumps forward to quick the whole flow of the episode is thrown off. But fortunately pacing is never a problem for Hartley, even as he has to deal with a somewhat fluctuating time-line, as "Dominion" moves at a near perfect speed. The only real criticism I had for Hartley would be his fight sequence with Tom Welling near the end of the episode. The difficulties directing himself aside, in an action scene no less, Hartley seemed to over use the slo-mo effect during the fight sequences. Normally I love a good slo-mo or two but Clark and Oliver's fight scene started play like an overly dramatized music video after a while.
There were some minor continuity issues in the episode that probably wouldn't stand out for the causal watcher, but gave me an itch. The first thing that seemed odd to me was what Clark said to Oliver about the three Darkside minions having been taken care; like they are no longer a threat. Unless I missed something or the writers are insinuating Clark believes Darkside's minions are out of the picture I'm pretty sure those villains are still in play. Another thing that didn't quite make any sense was if Zod was able remove the 'House of El' crystal in the phantom zone why didn't just leave? Zod said he was able to remove it because he had Clark's blood in him still after he saved him last season so he basically could have just walked out the front door of the phantom zone. If it had a front door I guess. Lastly was when Tess was said that General Slade was released from the phantom zone and he is never actually shown in the episode. Just a bit confusing why Clark doesn't even go see him for himself or more importantly try to send him back.
Last season, being probably the worst of Samllville's ten, I had a hard time buying into the whole Zod/kryptonian story-line. For some reason I didn't seen Callum Blue as a worthy villain, either intellectually or physically. But surprising Blue makes this episode work partly because his Zod from last season and the phantom Zod from season five had merged. Blue steps up his game and took notes from Michael Rosenbaum's past performance, while still showing how ridiculous bad guys on screen can be.
In classic super villain arrogance Zod spends most of his time monologuing about the revenge he is going to take, instead of actually doing anything about it. It's a setup anyone can see from and mile away: the villain vows their revenge, reveals dastardly plan, exposes their weakness, toys with hero(es) allowing a fighting chance, and then is somehow shocked that his (or hers) genius strategy has been foiled yet again. I enjoyed this classic technic for "Dominion" because no matter how predictable the episode was I always love watching a villain, who is so obviously destined to lose, fail while on their huge ego trip. To top it all off the writers even gave Blue's character one of those 'I'll get you next time' type of lines to say to Clark after Zod's defeat. This Saturday morning cartoon style of an ending was just too funny to hate.
Next week seems to be jam packed full of story for every character as Supergirl (Laura Vandervoot) makes probably her final appearance returning to Smallville. Maybe she can get Clark to take off his training wheels and start to fly.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.