Monday, May 4, 2009

Smallville 8.20 "Beast" review

If this was an episode of Friends, it would've been entitled "The One Where Chloe Makes Every Bad Decision Possible." Of course I adore Alison Mack. From Day One she has made Smallville the watchable show that it is, even in the low points of seasons which, to be fair can haggle the best of network programming that endure for years. But "Beast" was almost like the drinking game that would have you forgetting how you got home in that Chloe, for all her infinite wisdom over the years, was almost like a whole new character that infiltrated this particular episode. It was stupefying at times, and fortunately I have my Best Shots colleague Lan Pitts to help shoulder this week's noticeable burden. Don't be surprised if we're loaded by the time it's all done.

THE Rev. O.J. Flow: "Beast" opens with Chloe preparing to turn in for the night. Washing a lot of human blood off one's hands can make them tired, I can see that. But she is interrupted by a call, and it's Davis Bloome, holed up in her Talon basement so as to behave himself and not mangle and dismember the guilty (in his favor, Davis HAS been selective with his Doomsday person in killing people; save for ruining a wedding, he picks his battles well). She goes downstairs only to find the steps covered with rose petals. Davis is channeling his inner John Cusack and seemingly romances Chloe, getting exceptional results. Signs of another Doomsday day bloodbath (and the most ghoulish imagery from the show's first-ever episode) snap Chloe out of a dream and cut to the "Save Me" credits...

Lan Pitts: Okay, for some reason, this scene reminded me a lot of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Maybe it was the rose petals, or Chloe's gold dress, or the passionate kiss they both share and the obvious allegory of monster and maiden. Well, that was until Chloe followed a trail of blood and discovered probably the most gory thing they've ever shown on the show. Thank God it was a dream sequence. Nobody is that dumb to follow a trail of blood. That game never ends well.

OJ: Clark, prompted by some headlines spurred by Daily Planet head honcho Tess Mercer's crusade, approaches Chloe about the front page news that there is still a serial killer out there despite their recent efforts. He knows how things worked out recently, but his suspicions of Davis' likely revival are shot down by a seemingly (uncharacteristically) skeptical Chloe. With a ceiling of 10, the BS detector necessary for this episode with Chloe's actions for the first time hits 9. Not quite how you want to start a fresh episode.

Lan: Clark is not dumb, maybe a bit naive at times, but not dumb. Since this whole Davis thing, Chloe has just become obsessed and has become a whole new girl. Why does she honestly protect Davis like she is? I am not amused.

OJ: At Luthorcorp offices, Oliver Queen (now running that company) is hosting a meeting and going green is on the agenda. He gets some almost uncharacteristic positive feedback from his corporate suits on the move. If they only knew how "green" he is. His meeting is interrupted by a strung out and unemployed Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy's looking for an infusion of cash claiming that it's to fix his car, but all signs point to him looking for a whole other kind of fix. Oliver sees through Jimmy's convoluted story and turns him down. He wants to help the lad while not playing enabler.

Lan: It's weird to see Jimmy like this. Sort of zombie-fied and actually grew a pair. Asking Ollie for $600 is a pretty big deal, but he's Ollie Queen. Doesn't he blow his nose with $100 bills? Too bad Ollie doesn't give Jimmy the benefit of a doubt, but we can see why he would be so hesitant.

OJ: Elsewhere Chloe's arranged a clandestine meeting in the city with one of Queen's scientists. She's trying to figure out a way to undo Davis' condition, and even though the doc he could get more conclusive results with the subject in person, he's hardly interested in getting anywhere near Davis. Afterward Chloe is approached by Davis who's snuck out of the Talon basement. Again he insists that he can tame his inner beast in her presence. His proposal for the two of them to run away from it all is met with little resistance. Take another shot for the latest bad decision by Chloe.

Lan: Chloe trying to find a cure is pretty interesting since, again, it adds to the new characterization of Doomsday. At this point though, the scenes are changing pretty fast. Maybe 2-3 minutes if that. It just seems like some hasty editing with some of these subplots. So, Davis finds Chloe and they travel back to the basement...then Chloe is willing to leave it all for him? Her level of devotion to him is almost sad at this point. One would think Chloe of all the people would have more common sense.

OJ: Clark visits Ollie at this office to tell him that if he buried the presumed-dead Davis where he said he did, it ain't there now. Clark's hunch is on the money, and Ollie does all he can to convince him that the "ultimate destroyer" is probably worthy of the ultimate end resolution. To no one's surprise, Clark can't be talked into killing his most resilient foe.

Lan: So Oliver and Clark discussing the Davis creature, and Ollie finally says Clark just needs to kill the thing. Yet Clark refuses. It's weird for him not to see the big picture.

OJ: At the Watchtower, Chloe's communicating with the doctor again who confirms that the extreme feeling Davis has for Chloe are the only thing suppressing his Doomsday persona. Not exactly the feedback she was hoping for, but the conversation's cut short by another visit by Clark. When he shares with her his master plan to use his Fortress crystals to banish Davis to the Phantom Zone, she sends him on a wild goose chase to Alaska to get him out of the way long enough to make a break for it with Chloe. Geez, Chloe, who is the good guy and the bad guy in all of this??

Lan: So what Dr. Emile is saying is that Davis' obsession with Chloe is what's keeping him under control. Ugh. Really? So Clark swooshes in and almost catches Chloe chatting with Emile, but apparently Chloe has become a better liar. This is where Clark's naivety shows. He could have used his super-hearing to detect her heartbeat to see if she was lying, but no. He just accepts her words as the truth and THEN she sets him a wild goose chase. That's what friends are for.

OJ: Back at the Talon, Ollie's on the case and walks in on Jimmy rummaging through Chloe's things looking for that elusive cash. Ollie calls Jimmy out on the depths that he's plunged due to his drug addiction. Their confrontation is rudely interrupted by Davis who knocks out Ollie before making a move toward Jimmy that leads to a commercial break.

Lan: This scene is a perfect example of the not-so-perfect editing. It couldn't have been longer than 24 seconds. It did show that Jimmy was THAT desperate to steal from his ex-wife, but got busted by Ollie then they BOTH got jumped by Davis. Such a good little guard dog.

OJ: We find that Davis has taken them down to his makeshift lair, the Talon basement. It's almost surprising that Davis didn't just take them out out right there and then, but he knows better that he'd lose Chloe as a result. It's a compelling battle of wills and wits between the three. Davis does have a jonseing to inflict some sort of damage on one of them before getting a call from Chloe who is on her way. Jimmy taunts Davis to kill him since he took everything else dear in his life. Davis almost takes him up on his offer before he realizes that Chloe would never forgive him. He knocks out Jimmy instead and sets his sights on Ollie, but Clark shows up in time get steals away Davis to go to the Fortress.

Lan: So, Jimmy and Ollie are tied up and are about to get beat down. Both realize that he is the beast. Why he couldn't fathom that before, we'll never know. Chloe is on the phone with Davis and realizes he is about to mess them up, so she tries to hurry to stop him from changing. The thing is, Ollie calms Davis down and Davis just knocks out Jimmy since he is important to Chloe. So...that means it's not JUST Chloe keeping him under control. Sounds like something that will be useful later.

OJ: As Clark is en route to the Fortress with Davis, Chloe gets to the Talon just in time to miss them while Ollie's team cleans up the scene and gives Jimmy some necessary medical attention. Jimmy's definitely not happy with Chloe, and Ollie represents every frustrated viewer who wonders when she's going to come to her senses. In his epic browbeating, it is revealed that Clark is likely doing what she should have done ages ago, fixing the Davis Bloome crisis.

Lan: I don't really think Chloe is sorry. She doesn't seem to be in the right frame of mind. Ollie's taking control of the situation finally.

OJ: I am beside myself over how wrong Chloe is. Like almost an entire series worth of sanity just disappeared. Clark gets Davis to the Fortress and before they can tussle, he explains to his "brother" that where they're at is the last remnants of Krypton thanks to Jor-El. Clark offers to send Davis to a place where he can Hulk out to his heart's content, the Phantom Zone. Other than an unceremonious (and likely ineffective) execution, it strikes me as a solid option for Davis. He, not surprisingly, declines when he realizes that it means a life without Chloe. They fight over this and Clark's so close to success, but Chloe inconveniently shows up with a Kryptonian keystone that weakens Davis. The guilt trip she sends Clark on is dizzying, if not appalling. She makes Clark think that he'd never forgive himself if he "gave up of Davis." After sufficiently stupefying Clark (you're not alone, Kal, but she's allegedly doing it all for you), she uses the Kryptonian piece to somehow disappear with Davis.

Lan: Clark explains the Phantom Zone and, meh, another confrontation at the Fortress of "solitude." Seems like everybody gets to go there nowadays. Even...Chloe...? How the hell did she get there? This just beyond annoying now.

OJ: Later, at Oliver's office, Jimmy is given that $600 he wanted before, and he initially refuses on the assumption that it's a handout. Queen says it's actually an advance for the job he's offering to him. Ollie appreciated how Jimmy handled the Doomsday situation, finding out well before anyone that there was more to Davis than met the eye. Speaking of eyes, Oliver's recognition of a kid with a drug problem reminded me of the classic storyline from the 1970s where Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy wrestled with heroin addiction. I was half surprised that they didn't insert a sly reference to that.

Lan: Ollie wanting Jimmy to go to rehab shows he really does care for the kid. He even gives him the money he wanted earlier and gives him a job. Jimmy was reluctant at first, and a nice plug for was thrown in there, but it's nice to see Ollie give Jimmy props.

OJ: "Beast" concludes with Clark at the Watchtower looking for any sort of clue as to what could've happened to Chloe and Davis. Ollie pops in and gives a "hard decisions" talk to Clark about how the situation should be handled going forward. A lot of people, Clark included, think that Chloe must be under some sort of adverse influence to make all of these inane choices, but Oliver astutely points out that she's likely just changed. Not for the better, clearly, and her phone call to Clark from the road right after does little to change my thinking. Clark's frustration is palpable, as evidenced by the file drawer he smashes, and I'm dying to see how this reconciles itself with two episodes remaining.

Lan: The confrontation between Clark and Ollie is a bit tense. Clark notices the things about Chloe, namely her irrationality concerning Davis. Ollie agrees that Clark could have killed Davis and rightfully should have. Chloe tries to put things in perspective, but I'm slowly losing respect for the character as Davis and her just move on like that.

Where to begin, viewers? Did the proverbial drinking game get you wasted off all the bad decisions Chloe made? Will she OR Davis be around for Season 9 next fall? Has Oliver made a solid move bringing Jimmy into the fold? Is Clark ready to make the move needed to eliminate the ultimate destroyer. Can Chloe possibly be redeemed after this?

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