There are two primary definitions for the word shield. One construes the term as a broad piece of metal or another suitable material used as protection against blows or missiles. Another defines the word as a person or thing providing protection. I think we can all agree that Smallville’s season 10, episode two, “shield,” was going for the latter.
Smallville is a decade-long original take on Superman’s origins telling of how Clark Kent became the famed Metropolis marvel. It ran for 217 episodes and the entire series would take nine consecutive days to binge. It’s currently available on Hulu.
Previously on Smallville
As I mentioned last week, Smallville is my all time favorite series. It had its flaws, but it introduced me to the world of DC Comics and inspired me to make the Daily Planet a reality. I am forever grateful. However, I’m trying to separate myself from this bias and report on these decade-old episodes as if I were a fan witnessing them for the first time.
With that being said, let’s review “Shield.”
Last episode we left a battle-worn Clark at the Kent Farm, Lois is distancing herself in Africa, Tess is raising a lil’ Lex and a lovelorn Oliver is attempting to locate Chloe.
As previously stated in the last episode review, this season of Smallville possesses the smallest casting pool in the series’ history. Only five stars appear in the opening credits and one only returns for six episodes in the 21 episode final season.
“Shield” starts with the illustrious Lois Lane in Africa. On assignment at an archaeological dig, Lois calls the future editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet, Perry White. She sets up some back story for her assignment and gives a few clever quips to her boss, something pulled right from the pages of the comics.
In the comics, Perry is like a father figure to many at the Planet. I really wish we would’ve seen more of him on this show. While Lane is on the phone, we learn that the archaeological dig is revolving around the newly unearthed tomb of the Egyptian goddess, Isis, who we learn more about later in the season. Anyway, once Lois ends the call she enters a large tent in search of the dig’s supervisor.
Enter Carter Hall, also known as the Justice Society of America’s Hawkman.
“They were star crossed lovers. I guess you never know what fate has planned for you.”Carter Hall
Destiny has played multiple roles in Smallville. How could it not? The show’s main character is predestined to be the world’s ultimate hero. It’s written in nearly 75 years (at the time) worth of comic canon. This is why Carter uttering those words to Lois was done in such a cinematic way. It was created in that way to express the level of importance this conversation held. In this episode Lois learns a lot about Clark. It’s important and will definitely be discussed more in this review.
Speaking of Clark, the Kansas farm boy is back in the picturesque City of Tomorrow, entering the famed Daily Planet basement bullpen. While trying to call Chloe, Clark finds a purse on Lois’ desk. Thinking it’s Lois back from Africa, Clark receives a major slap in the face when an overpowering pink colored box is dropped over Lois’s name plate.
“Nope. It’s Catherine. But my friends call me Cat. Cat Grant. With a ‘C.’ Want a cookie?”Cat Grant
A tale of two kitties
Catherine (Cat) Grant is a fan favorite from DC Comics. As Lois Lane’s main rival at the Daily Planet, Cat provides a worthy opponent for our reporter of steel, matching her talent with originality only characterized to Cat personally. In Smallville, Cat Grant was first introduced in season nine’s “Crossfire” episode as an entirely different character. Let’s call that version Catherine. Still familiar, Catherine moved to Metropolis pursuing PhD degrees in Sociology and Social Justice. She is also the host of Good Morning Metropolis.
Cat Grant of season 10 is a far more complex iteration. She appears in multiple episodes throughout this final season and meets the characteristics of her comic book counterpart more so than her Smallville doppelganger. She’s also a single mother to a son named Adam, something pulled directly from Superman titles.
With character introductions and a plot driven storyline, I give “shield” the below rating it justly deserves.
I have to admit, I was confused with the recasting of Cat. I feel like there was a better way to introduce the character again but what do I know? I’ve only read Superman comics my entire life.
When Clark meets Cat for the first time she’s an upbeat woman beaming with energy. She wants to impact the world in a similar way Lois has, just for the opposite side. She’s an antihero and published slandering pieces against vigilantes in her hometown paper.
Cat and Clark soon butt heads over their differences in viewpoints. A frustrated Clark tries to usher Cat out of Lois’ desk when “Hello Kitty” fights back by slamming Lois. Yikes.
“Lois Lane? She’s the one who got this whole thing started. Calling those costumed vigilantes heroes? Please, like it’s not totally obvious she’s in love with the Blur.”Cat Grant
Clark rethorts by throwing the cookie Cat gave him into the trash while pointing out that Lois Lane is the best reporter the Daily Planet has ever had.
While Clark is still trying to dismiss her, Cat tells him the stark new reality of his life at the Planet without Lois. She’s his new partner. Cue that intro music.
After Cat’s bombshell introduction we’re transported to Metropolis’s Watchtower. This is the city’s largest skyscraper and stands in the epicenter of the urban utopia. Fascinatingly, this Art Deco masterpiece only made its first appearance in the season eight finale episode. Before then, it’s never been seen.
Inside the hero hive, we find a frantic Oliver searching for Chloe using the advanced computer system. With no luck, Oliver summons Tess to the clubhouse to interrogate the merciless Mercer.
Oliver was hoping that Tess had something to do with Chloe’s disappearance in order to make sense of his girlfriend’s loss. I’m not a fan of Oliver and Chloe as a couple but I commend the emerald archer’s determination to find his long lost love.
After some back and forth, Tess points out that Chloe had a plan and Oliver should trust it and her. However, still worried, Oliver seeks to find out the entire truth.
Meanwhile, back in Africa, Lois and Carter are discussing the Egyptian trinkets unearthed at the expedition. Carter gives Lois a history lesson and apparently welcomes the reporter to unload all of her concerns regarding her relationship with Clark unto him. Must be Carter’s warm personality.
Sometimes talking to a complete stranger that already knows everything about you is just the sort of therapeutic conversation you need.
Holy crap! It’s Deadshot. As Clark and Cat are about to go on assignment, Floyd Lawton (Deadshot) takes aim at Metropolis’s finest blowing up Cat’s car.
Clark saves her, but her obnoxiously pink car is a total loss. As Clark questions Cat after she ends a mysterious phone call, Cat brings up the conversation of anti vigilantism once again. This topic will be a major theme for this season but seeing Cat so anti hero was difficult to watch.
I was disappointed with this interpretation of Cat. She was so… I just have no words. She wasn’t the progressive forward thinker we all know and love. I blame Darkseid’s influence.
Afraid for her safety, Clark convinces Cat to hide out at the Talon Apartment in Smallville where she comes face to face with Green Arrow. The encounter was all exposition for Chloe’s whereabouts. All to further the future plot so I won’t go into too much depth in this review.
As Clark investigates the explosion he learns that Cat actually changed her name in an effort to keep her son safe from his presumably abusive father, further humanizing Cat.
“The world may never see me as some big hero, but maybe someday my son will.”Cat Grant
I loved that line. Her motives are made clear in that simple statement. All she hopes for is a better world for her son to grow up into. What parent doesn’t?
Back across the Atlantic, in Africa, Lois and Carter continue to have a heart to heart about super heroics and relationships.
Lois Lane: “It feels like somehow I was destined to be with Clark but his destiny is so much bigger. And the last thing I would ever want is to be the one thing that holds him back or stands in the way.”
Carter Hall: “And what if you’re exactly the thing that might help him be the person you know he can be? What if you’re the one that makes his burden easier to bare”
I enjoyed watching this conversation. Hawkman, who’s lived countless lifetimes, reassuring a wavering Lois was perfection.
It also allowed Lois the time to reacclimate after discovering her boyfriend is basically at god status.
Lois’s heart to heart advance’s to enabling Carter the emotional support for opening up about his numerous past lives, where he talks about his legendary love.
Cursed by one of their enemies, Carter and Shayera Hall were doomed to fall in love over and over again, only to die. When Carter tells Lois of this story she responds by saying “that’s a terrible story.”
She’s right, in a sense. Falling in love only to die is tragic. And knowing you’re close to death by envisioning your love is haunting. It takes true courageous and strong hearts to fall in love. To do so while knowing you’ll die again and again is the ultimate love story.
Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, Cat decides to run and ends up at the Metropolis Bus Depot. Surprise surprise, she turns up in Deadshot’s crosshairs as he corners her.
Facing death, Cat braves her coming doom with acceptance as she closes her eyes preparing for her fate. Then Divine intervention steps in and Clark rescues her. Thinking her bullet proof vest did the saving, Cat thanks Clark for coming to her aid but urges him to get a vest of his own.
Clark, who took the brunt of the bullet, paused to appreciate Cat’s honesty as Deadshot’s motives were finally revealed. It was all to place a measly subdermal tracker on the future Superman.
Commissioned by Smallville’s version of the Suicide Squad, Deadshot’s true red and blue target was in fact Clark Kent. Other targets marked with similar subdermal trackers include Oliver and Carter, each marked respectively by other members of the Squad.
I have many thoughts on this version of the Suicide Squad but we’ll explore that later on this season as well.
As the episode progress onward we also learned a little about Chloe’s fate. Throughout “Shield” Oliver tracked down his tormentor from last episode, Rick Flag, and learns that Flag exchanged Oliver for Chloe. Flag then mentions Chloe took a cyanide pill just to protect her friends.
Truly heroic on Chloe’s part. Chloe has slowly fallen from grace for me since season nine, but this act was truly noble and something totally in character.
While thoroughly investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend, Oliver discovered a cyanide antidote, exposing that Chloe faked her own death and seems to be progressing on a mission of her own
As the episode closed, we see an apologetic Carter Hall confront Lois about the kiss.
Having Lois as a love interest to superhero after superhero over the course of her career has always fascinated me. It truly shows how magnanimous she is. She’s beautiful, sure. But I believe characters like Aquaman, Green Arrow and Batman have all gravitated to her because she’s so trustworthy, grounded, witty, loving and treats them all as equals, while demanding that they do the same. Lois is my all time favorite character.
After telling Carter he has nothing to be sorry for, the two discuss her relationship with Clark once again. They also bring up the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche was first mentioned by Lana in season one.
In his 1883 book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” Nietzsche has his character Zarathustra posit the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself.
Carter: To him, the true hero was the person who embraced the life that he or she was given and made it better. He called that person ‘Ubermensch.
Lois: A Superman
Carter: Neitzche believed that all of us could be one. In our own way.
I LOVE that Lois got to say Superman before anyone else this season. In fact, besides Lana in season one’s “Pilot,” she’s the only one to say it thus far (until the finale). At least to the best of my extensive knowledge.
Lois is also the person who names the hero in numerous incarnations of the Superman mythos and seeing the seed for the name being planted felt like a truly historic occasion. I applaud how they did this.
Lois saying Superman also was a great introductory piece for Clark’s new Blur suit, which he modeled proud and patriotically on my favorite rooftop.
So much happened in this episode without it feeling too heavy and crowded. I enjoyed it and did not want it to end. Come back next week as we review Smallville’s season 10, episode three, “Supergirl.”