Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season (2008) Review
(More customer reviews)**I'm going to SPOILER tag this review for anyone who hasn't seen this season yet. Some of the problems that I have with this season, I'll need to reference specific details**
The 7th Season of Smallville, unfortunately, has two fewer episodes due to the writer's strike. Some of the problems in this season could be a direct result of this. Another issue is that the CW renewed the show for an 8th season, but most of the contracts for the cast had ended, except for Tom Welling. In some ways, it seemed that the writers were struggling to come up with a good way to transition into Season 8 while finding a way to make plausible exits for those cast members who will not be returning to the show. Unfortunately, this hurt Season 7 of Smallville to a degree. The show loses some of its cohesiveness that they've enjoyed, especially in comparison to Seasons 5 & 6, which in my opinion, are the show's best seasons.
Of course, most people don't realize how difficult it is to be a show running for 7 years and maintain that high level of quality that Smallville has been. Most shows tend to lose something the longer they are on the air. Stories change, cast members come and go, and it can be very difficult to maintain the show's quality with so many changes.
Okay Smallville fans, we're finally treated to what many people had been waiting for: Lana finding out Clark's secret, AND Clark finding out that Lana knows. Many people, myself included, were expecting something big for this occasion, since, for some people, they had been waiting for this moment for 7 years. The emotional climax is dry. One is almost forced to ask, "Is that it? Is this as excited as they can get? Clark FINALLY gets what he wants, and yet, he doesn't seem as excited as he should be." Okay, we all know that Clark will eventually end up with Lois. But in that moment with Lana, I felt that there needed to be more than what they showed. I would think that Clark would be ecstatic! I would think that Lana would have a ton of questions to ask him, especially given their history.
Exit Martha Kent from the show, enter cousin Kara (aka, Supergirl). At first, I was extremely apprehensive about this addition. And yet, newcomer, Laura Vandervroot does a credible job with the limited amount of time that she is on the show. It's difficult to do a proper character development on a character who is only in a handful of episodes. Purists may find a distaste that Supergirl demonstrates more powers than Clark, at this point, as he is still unable AND unwilling to learn to fly.
Kristin Kreuk is also in the show for a limited time, and she even drops down to third billing in the opening credits behind Tom and Michael. She's barely in the last five episodes as Kristin was in Thailand shooting a movie. While it's not her fault, the final moment between Clark and Lana, via videotape is stale and leaves the viewer feeling cheated. Many fans who already seem to despise the character of Lana were given further ammunition when Lana breaks up with Clark via videotape.
James Marsters returns as Brainiac, and he's still as good as ever. I was glad to see them bring the character back.
Chloe is still Clark's faithful sidekick but now she's a "meteor freak;" a type of person that she has spent much of her time trying to expose. Now she's faced with her own dilema of whether or not to tell boyfriend, Jimmy Olson that she now possesses the power to heal. While interesting, one still can't help but wonder how and when Chloe suddenly came upon this power. We are given no explanation or even possible theories.
Lois is as headstrong as ever, but toward the end of the season, her character begins to soften a bit, especially toward Clark. You can't help but think that the writers are laying some groundwork for the future couple. I still think Erica is the best Lois to play the part, and Lois has some great moments with Clark at the end of the season.
Michael Rosenbaum is always fantastic, even though Lex still can't seem to avoid getting shot. The only problem is that Lex doesn't seem to be around as much. There are stretches where you miss him. I certainly did, considering he's one of the strongest actors of the cast. There is a classic moment when Lex finally rids himself of the last trace of good that is left. The scene after he has killed Lionel, and he throws "Alexander" on the fire shouting, "You make me weak!" is classic, vintage Lex, and Michael Rosenbaum has the character nailed cold.
Tom Welling is excellent as Clark. If he has one "weakness" it's his difficulty in showing real, genuine emotion. There are scenes were he appears to be trying too hard, and it loses some punch because it doesn't appear natural enough. His range as an actor has only grown with each season, but I'd love to see him lose his fear of expanding his emotional range to include complete sadness and the sense of loss. He showed real glimpses of this during the time when Jonathan Kent died. He's also still a fantastic director as shown in "Apocalypse" where Clark is given a chance to see how things would be if he never came to Earth. It's sort of a Smallville version of "It's a Wonderful Life."
This season still has some great and memorable episodes. Lana briefly possesses Clark's powers (though at no loss of his own) in "Wrath." It's a great episode, and you really understand why no one but Clark can handle that much power; not just physically but psychologically.
"Descent" may be the season's best episode as Lex and Lionel have their final confrontation that leads to tragic results for Lionel. The final scene with Lex and Clark standing on either side of Lionel's coffin is a classic and powerful Smallville moment that is not to be missed.
As good as many episodes were, the season finale, "Arctic" is bit of a let down, especially when you compare it to past finales that always had dazzling cliffhangers that made you dread the 5 months until you find out what happens! The problem with "Arctic" as well as with the main storyline leading to it, is that it feels rushed. It was as if the writers were trying to quickly get through it as fast as possible (especially with 2 fewer episodes to work with) in order to get things set-up for the next season. Unfortunately, the finale and main storyline suffer as a consequence.
Things might have improved greatly if they had done what other shows have done in the past: shoot a 90 minute finale. This gives them more time for better plot development, and it would not have felt rushed. You have the final confrontation with Brainiac. You have Clark and Lana dealing with their final moments. You have Clark trying to get to Lex to prevent him from using a device that will somehow control Clark (a fairly weak idea on the writer's part. It still seems unlikely from a character standpoint that Jor-El would actually create some device to control Clark that could be used by humans even if they had to find the clues to acquire it. Here Smallville went a little "Da Vinci Code" on us. Besides, I didn't see any concern on Jor-El's part when Clark was on red kryptonite and wreaking havoc in Metropolis).
Because past seasons of Smallville have all been great or beyond great, I couldn't help but feel that something was missing from this season. It felt rushed. It lacked the emotional depth that Smallville has utilized in the past, and the storyline turned out to be only satisfactory when compared to past seasons.
I still love this show and have since the first season. Since the show has been picked up for another season, I'm really hoping that with a full 22-episode season, Smallville can bounce back and end the series with the efficient capability that the writers have shown in the past. After all, Smallville is about Clark becoming Superman, and I for one, want them to go out in a blaze of glory as Clark finally accepts his destiny and becomes the iconic hero that we all know and love.
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