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TV Review: Smallville – “Booster”

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The CW’s Smallville is drawing to a close. The most recent episode, “Booster,” furthers the Superman mythology, bringing Clark Kent (Tom Welling) closer to his destiny. In it, Lois (Erica Durance) helps Clark further build his geeky demeanor so that he can come out publically as a hero. Cat (Keri Lynn Pratt) is still not a supporter of The Blur, but she is taken in by a new hero in town: Booster Gold (Eric Martsolf), claiming his “openness” as the source of her attraction. Booster arrives to try to take The Blur’s place in Metropolis, but unlike Clark, he uses flashy commercials and events to get attention. Meanwhile, Booster’s presence has unexpected consequences when, during a rescue, an alien scarab is released, and it latches onto nerdy Jaime Reyes (Jaren Brandt Bartlett), turning him into the Blue Beetle.

Advertisements for this episode make it seem like a goofy side adventure, a weird way to go with only a few hours left in the series. Thankfully, that is not the case, as not only are both Booster Gold and Blue Beetle foils for Clark in different ways, but Clark gets even closer to becoming Superman. He changes in a phone booth for the first time (who even knew any still exist?), and refines the geeky demeanor he will use as his secret identity. Booster recommends Clark choose a cooler name that incorporates his “S” symbol, preferably something “super.” These important touches make this episode better than the average one, and show it is worthy to be included this close to the end.

A major development that may be a tad unexpected: Clark’s biggest worry about assuming his new persona is not about himself, but how it will reflect on Lois, who still plans on marrying him. He argues this will seems out of place, since she is now so successful, and he is… well, not. He basically gives her a pass, which she chooses not to use, because she doesn’t care how it looks. She loves him. Score another point for the gumption of Lois Lane, a character trait found in virtually all versions of the character.

In other Superman incarnations, Lois falls for the nerdy Clark before she realizes that he has super powers, though she also often has a thing for Superman. While Smallville did toy with a Lois / Clark / The Blur love triangle, before Clark even becomes Superman, this Lois alone knows all of his secrets. She knows the real him, not the made up persona. Because of this, this Superman is being shaped and grown with Lois’s help. It gives her even more influence and praise for her role in him as a the superhero than before. She helps make him who he is. If anything, that makes this particular Lois among the greatest.

Now, the question is, how soon until bumbling Clark can make it upstairs in the Daily Planet with Lois? She earns a promotion, but he stays in the basement. The Lois and Clark famous duo share many an important byline. Perhaps it makes sense that Clark’s time to shine as a newsman will have to wait. His new faux personality lends itself to a slow climb rather than a quick blast off, unlike Lois. This also works better with the traditional tale, where Lois has already established herself an an anchor of the paper before Clark joins her.

Clark has a very different encounter with Booster Gold than he has with other superheroes. Up until now, Clark has defeated many an enemy, but typically, the other superheroes he has encountered have been more put together than he is. Even as serveral begin to form a League, he stays on the sidelines for quite awhile longer, waiting to join them until after they’ve been established for awhile. Clark’s evolution to Superman is a slow one, and at first, he doesn’t want to get involved.

But with Booster, Clark is able to serve as a mentor and inspiration. Admittedly, Booster already knows who Clark is ahead of time, so future Clark likely means as much to him as the present day one. Booster draws strength from knowing the effects Superman has had on his world. While he initially thinks he can replace him, as soon as he meets Clark, and stops to think about who he is by comparison, he begins to clean up his act. This is the first encounter a mature Clark has with someone in that regard, but those familiar with the Superman tale know it will not be the last.

By extension, Booster decides to help Jaime become a good, just Blue Beetle. Knowing he cannot save everyone, as Clark will soon be doing, Booster focuses his efforts on one person he can positively influence. As Clark used to keep his activities small scale, so now does Booster, who is really just starting out. If his path to greatness is anything like Clark’s, he will become much better than he is over time, with lots of hard work. As such, Booster Gold is able to put foolishness behind him and have a lasting positive affect on the world.

Sadly, Tess (Cassidy Freeman) and Oliver (Justin Hartley) sit this episode out, as they have frequently done this season. Surely, they will be back before the finale, though it does look like the final episodes will be mostly about Clark. Which is appropriate enough, considering he is the main character and the only original full-time cast member left. Side characters have been invaluable on the series, but only Clark can become Superman.

Smallville airs Friday nights at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com