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Monday, November 22, 2010

Smallville: "Patriot"

Season Ten, Episode Nine: Patriot
Written by:
John Chisholm
Directed by: Tom Welling
Original Air Date: November 19, 2010

After a two year absence, Aquaman returns to Smallville, and he's not alone!

There's been a whole mess o' changes with Smallville since I watched it last: Clark is now pretty much in Metropolis full-time, doing a sort of undercover superhero thing, complete with base of operations (called the Watchtower) and friends who are in on his secret, which even includes Lois Lane.

But before we can get to all that, we start off inside some dark, secret government office (aren't they all?) where the gruff, serious Col. Slade (Battlestar Galactica's Micheal Hogan) is talking about rounding up all the various "heroes" out there, claiming they are a threat to National Security. He's even got an old school whiteboard with all sorts of info on it:
(Before we move on, I can only assume the silhouette at the bottom right is Zatanna, the drawing above that is Black Canary, and of course that's Impulse/Flash at the left. I bet more devoted watchers of the show can determine who the others are.)

Anyway, miles away off the Florida coast, we're at what looks like an oil rig about to get a visit from two...somethings traveling at lightning-fast speed. They jump aboard, and we see that it's Arthur Curry and...
...Mera (Elena Satine)! Lo and behold, Aquaman's queen makes her live-action debut. Aqua-History is made.

After Arthur instructs Mera to make sure the platform is deserted, they set some explosives and take off, surfacing on a nearby beach. They take a moment as the rig goes kablooey:
"I'll be with you 'til the end of the world, baby."

After that kick-ass moment, we cut back to Metropolis where Clark and Oliver Queen have a confab. They debate the newly-created VRA (Vigilante Registration Act) and how Arthur's actions are only making this worse for them, in the eyes of the government.

Clark contemplates voluntarily registering to the VRA to show they have nothing to hide. Oliver decides to do it instead, since his superhero identity is still already known. That leaves it up to Clark to go find Arthur and talk to him.

After Oliver and Lois have a talk, we're go to Miami, where Arthur is using the Aquarium of the Atlantic as his homebase. Clark finds him talking to some pals:
Arthur refuses to talk to Clark, insulted that he isn't trusted. Clark makes a move to stop Arthur from walking away, when he is hit by a burst of hard water, knocking him into the pool. When he surfaces, he's introduced to Arthur's wife, Mera.

Lois has a meeting with Col. Slade (buttering him up with cigars and booze) in an attempt to snoop for info about the VRA. Meanwhile, Clark tries to talk some sense into Arthur and Mera, but he quickly learns Mera is no less shy about acting on her beliefs, getting right in his face:
They explain that the "rig" they took out wasn't drilling for oil, it was a high-tech prison for superhumans, and it wasn't the only one (glad to see BP is diversifying).

After the shortest press conference in history, where Col. Slade offers up Oliver Queen as the VRA's first official signee, Lois heads for Miami, where she meets Mera for the first time, and learns like Clark did that Mera isn't shy, though in a different way:
While Lois gets caught up to speed, Clark and Arthur sneak into another one of these prison facilities. Arthur gets a message from Mera that Oliver has been "taken off the grid." They decide to split up to try and find him.

Later, we see where he is: being examined by the government to see if he has superpowers, which he doesn't. Slade tries to convince Oliver that he should try and get his metahuman friends to sign up, too.

Oliver refuses, so Slade tries another approach: showing him they have Arthur in custody, dangling from chains! Before he can react, Slade knocks Oliver unconscious, and wakes up in the same prison cell, strapped to a board hovering over a tank of water.

Clark makes it back to Miami, where he and Mera learn Arthur has been taken, too. They locate them both in a remote facility in Alaska, where Arthur is being slowly roasted, keeping him weak. Col. Slade promises that they won't be alone for long, he has plans to round up all the metahumans.

He dunks Oliver into the water, but before it goes further, an intruder alarm goes off. Mera busts in, and uses her powers to both free Oliver and resuscitate her husband:
There's a great, slow pan-in on Arthur as he breaks free from his chains, back up to full strength. The music swells, and, muscles rippling, Aquaman looks ready to dole out some serious butt-whipping:
...ladies, enjoy!

Meanwhile, Clark runs into Slade, revealing himself when Slade's bullets bounce off Clark's chest. As a countdown begins for the facility to self-destruct, Clark gets trapped in a Kryptonite cage of Slade's devising. Clark tries to get Slade to see the light, telling him he'll die in the explosion. Slade seems indifferent, and let's the whole place go up.

Days later, back in Smallville, Arthur and Clark talk in the Kent Family's barn, and they make strides in seeing things from each other's perspective. Arthur says he trusts Clark and agrees to try and "lead by example" instead of the way he's been doing it:
As Arthur tries to give advice to Clark about letting Lois in a little more emotionally, Lois is inside packing. But before she can leave, Mera is there to also offer advice, and to show that she still shops in the kids' department for clothes:
Mera advises Lois that it took her a while to get Arthur--whom she calls Orin--to open up, and Clark needs that time, too. After all saying goodbye inside, Arthur and Mera depart.

After a scene with Clark and Lois where they discuss their relationship (which goes on approximately eighty-five minutes), we rejoin them, Oliver, and Tess Mercer at the Watchtower. Clark explains to them all what he thinks they're up against: a malevolent being of some sort of that preys upon people's weakness, turning them into vessels of hate.

The episode ends with some bandages being removed, and after the camera pans around we see Col. Slade is not, in fact, dead:
...Colonel Tigh! Er, Deathstroke! To be continued!

Well, of course this episode is probably my favorite of all the Aquaman Smallvilles, because we get our first live-action Mera, played by the comely Elena Satine.
Given this show's general tone, she was pretty much what I expected, though I did enjoy the touches of humor wrought from Mera's indifference to social niceties. She also gets to use her powers to A)knock Clark around, and B)save both her husband and Oliver Queen, which was awesome.

Alan Ritchson as Aquaman never seems to get much to do in these guest shots, crammed as these episodes are with the ongoing Smallville season-long storylines. They hint at the sheer power he has (like in the opening scene, when he yanks a metal door off it hinges with nary an effort), and of course it'd be great to see a whole episode of just Aquaman doing his thing (of course, they already sort of tried that).

In an interview, Ritchson said he didn't know whether this would be his last Smallville or not. That seems kind of hard to believe--you'd think the rest of this final season's episodes would have to be at least written by now--so possibly Arthur is returning and Ritchson just doesn't want to spoil the surprise. A 2-hour final Smallville episode featuring all the various DC heroes the show would seem to make a lot of sense, if even just for little cameos. Now that we've gotten our first flesh-and-blood Mera, I want more!


Wings1295 said...

Sounds awesome! Of course, I missed it, so I am going to have to wait for it to either rerun or appear online. Cool stuff, love your recap Rob, thanks!

Earth 2 Chris said...

I like that Mera wasn't just used for cheesecake (although she filled THAT role well too), but to help further the Clark/Lois relationship.

Also glad that AC dropped his "Aqua-Bro" speech pattern. Clark even hints that Mera has been beefing up his vocabulary.

A fun episode, but I kept hopping Aquaman would call up a whale or something. When in Alaska...


Brent said...

My favorite part was Lois and Mera's snippy interactions. "Squid Lips" was pretty funny.

However, the water/fish puns were ENDLESS and unfortunately the actors playing Aquaman and Mera are pretty weak and flat in comparison to the regular cast.

But I think Alan Ritchson LOOKS more like Aquaman than Justin Hartley (like a Superman of the sea, beefy, square-jawed, and a little squinty).

Aaron said...

Yeah! It was a fun ep and like I said I loved how getting hit with water after drying out was almost like a Banner-into-Hulk thing. I mean, it's nice that Smallville creators realize he's a tough hero.

BTW I didn't catch that Zee silhouette while watching, that's funny. I hope she appears again.

Joe Slab said...

I loved the episode totally Aqua-puns included.

Showing off Aquaman's super-strength and generally badassery was a long time overdue...

Mera's water powers blew me away!!!

Rumor is they will be reappearing later in the season as a part of the ongoing "Darkness" storyline. Let's hope so :)

David J. Cutler said...

Anyone else notice the re-used shot of Arthur stopping on a dime underwater, or can confirm that's what I actually saw? He leaves his base in Florida wearing his costume and having very short hair, and then he arrives in Alaska (in one shot anyway) in a tank top and his hair is much longer. I thought it was flashing back to when AC and Clark first met.

I don't think Ritchson is a bad actor, although I wasn't as impressed with Mera. They both looked the part, though, and there were cool moments to be had. Hope they're back.

aquaman said...

I have to say the acting, writing and directing of this ep was awful. As much as I love this show, and LOVE Aquaman, it was one of the worst I have seen in a while. The story was so weak! And it all get concluded way too fast. Tom's directing was so "film school". I'm sorry, but Alan. R's acting and the gal that played Mera, was so wooden it was hard to not laugh at this. It just shows the strength of people like Erica, Cassidy, Tom and such. Alan can not act. It's painful to hear him try to deliver lines. If they had used any more double meanings, I mean c'mon! It was so poorly written. I loved when Alison Mack used all those funny lines, but in this ep it seemed they all had double meaning infection! I was so looking forward to this, but sadly it was a 1 star for me. There was a reason the producers didn't give Aquaman many lines in previous eps. Sad.

David J. Cutler said...

I think Ray may be the Bizarro Me.