One of the most exciting moments of this whole season for Smallville happened only a couple of hours before this week's episode even aired. The news confirming that Michael Rosenbaum will be returning for Smallville's two hour series finale at the end of the year. That's right folks, Lex is coming back. This surprise news may have overshadowed the return of 2 major special-guest stars in "Beacon". Smallville gets the parental treatment this week with the homecoming of Martha Kent (O'Toole) and the resurfacing the darker Lionel Luthor (Glover) from that Other Earth.
As much as I would love to talk about the eventual return of Rosenbaum to Smallville, having both Annette O'Toole and John Glover back is far from a compromise. "Beacon" starts with the other Lionel Luthor revealing himself to Tess, then later to everyone else, that he has been secretly reacquiring his Luthor Corp Empire. Meanwhile, the first ever 'pro-hero' rally was held to publicly oppose the VRA before there is a national vote on the matter. This new movement is driven by none other than Senator Martha Kent, even after an assassination attempt at the rally. During after Clark's search for his mother's shooter he soon finds out that it had been Alexander (the last of Lex's clones), and to make matters worse that he has surrounded himself with the other Lionel.
Ok since "Beacon" has some much to talk about I'm just going to break it down for each this episode's guest star. First there is John Glover: the man, the myth, the legend. Alright, that might be a little over dramatic, but my love for this actor aside, Glover does nothing but deliver a great performance in every one of his scenes. Glover has that so called 'presence' whenever he enters a scene and actually makes everyone else around him better. Because the combination "Beacon's" normal episode time constrains and the other guest star in O'Toole, Glover was only able to have scenes with three of the five main cast members. Each of which were outstanding but I selfishly wanted Tom Welling and Glover to have more screen time together as they both symbolise best examples of good & evil for the show. That notwithstanding, when it came to the scene between Lionel and Martha at the Luthor Mansion it was worthy substitute.
That brings us to our second guest star in "Beacon" as O'Toole comes back to Smallville to help protect her son, again. When we first see Martha Kent return at the pro-hero rally when she gives a very influential speech to secretly help her son's destiny. The show's score really helps her deliver that powerful message; along with a very nice touch by the writers as they incorporated a past line she told Clark back in the very early episodes by saying: "life only asks of you what you can handle". That being just another nod to Smallville's early years to help the series come full circle. O'Toole ended up having scenes with each of the other two main cast members Glover never had the chance to, but again the face time with Welling was a little of the short side. I think since both O'Toole and Glover will eventually reprising their roles again before this series is all said and done the writers decided to give these talented actors at least one last scene together for old times sake. In the aftermath of Jonathan Kent's passing in season 5 both O'Toole and Glover lobbied the show's producers and writers to write them more scenes together as they both enjoyed working together so much. So just like here in "Beacon" every episode since then both actors made it a real treat for the long-time fans of the show to watch, never disappointing.
There was a third guest star that snuck in under the radar, and that was Lucas Grabeel reprising yet another role this episode as a younger Lex Luthor (aka Alexander). With the exception of a little bit of overacting in one scene [flipping out at the mansion] Grabeel's return to Smallville is perfect. His angrier version of Lex works and he plays it smart by not trying to imitate Rosenbaum's past performances. With the little hint at the end of the episode it also means Grabeel might be sticking around for another episode. That is if his cloned Lex character doesn't rapidly age again.
My only complaints with this episode would have to be the some poor quality in some of the special effects and the YouTube type videos near the end. Unfortunately in "Beacon" Smallville decides to say goodbye to its iconic Luthor Mansion set, as it is burnt to the ground. I understand that with the series ending and all studios had to start getting rid of their larger sets as they make way for new series coming next fall, but way it was seen burning down we a little too fake for me because of the mediocre CGI. Another downside to the mansion set being destroyed is when Rosenbaum returns he won't be able to walk on to his primary set which he helped make a Smallville trademark. As for the blur inspired YouTube-ish videos I thought they were a little on the amateur side until I found out they were for a reason. The CW had put together a contest for the fans to have a chance for their videos to be incorporated into an actual episode. I liked the idea but thought they used too many videos, almost seeming more like filler for the episode as it could of been running a little short on the 42 minute mark.
Even though we will still have to wait a couple of months for Rosenbaum's Smallville reunion, next week's episode still promises to introduce something fans have been waiting for. It seems like when Clark tells his mother about his recent trip to the future he will finally start embracing the idea of dual identities by showcasing one of them soon. It sounds like it won't be the one with the big "S" and the cape but rather the classic bad haircut and glasses look.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.