The episode that ‘Smallville’ fans have been waiting for all season has finally arrived. So, did the Justice League deliver? I think an important thing to note is that one of the best episodes of this season was missing one element. Lana was nowhere to be seen. I don’t think this was coincidence. ‘Justice’ delivered exactly what we’d want from a first glimpse into the Justice League, complete with Buffyesqe “hero walk.” Which does beg the question, why, in a show about a superhero, have there been so few “hero walks?” OK, let’s get to it.
With Project 33.1 in full swing, and Oliver’s obvious distaste for Lex, it is no surprise that he would use his resources to formulate a plan to take the project down. This episode brought to the forefront what’s been great about this season as it relates to Clark. What is happening is bigger than Kansas, and it’s something that Oliver has shown the Boy Scout. There is no longer any doubt what Clark will need to do, but there is that little Phantom Zone cleanup job. But we’ll deal with that as it happens in future episodes.
When Bart returns to Smallville, Clark is not entirely convinced he’s changed his thieving ways. This is understandable, the kid was a thief and he’s once again stealing from Luthor Corp. But it’s also a problem Clark has, and it’s been a driving force this season. His inability to reconcile what’s truly for the common good and the means to do it is a dilemma he seems to finally recognize. This “flaw” is actually one of Clark’s greatest attributes; he has yet to fine-tune his perceptions however. Clark’s view of the world, and ultimately Superman’s, will need to change. I think we’ve seen that start happening, now he’ll simply have to find his place.
After a visit with Lionel where the Luthor patriarch, who has so many allegiances and agendas you never know if legitimate info is being passed on, accuses Clark of breaking into a Luthor Corp. facility in Mexico, Clark is handed proof that someone who is “faster than a speeding bullet” is behind the espionage. With photographic evidence Clark is convinced Bart is back to his old ways. So, he confronts The Flash, who informs his friend that he has changed from the punk kid of two years ago. A fact Clark can’t seem to believe. Before he leaves, Bart tells Clark he’s sorry the truth of what he’s doing can’t be revealed. “I thought someone like you would understand,” Bart says and then jets out of the Kent house.
We then get to see The Flash’s handiwork as he breaks into Lex’s computer and steals some files. It’s not until we actually see him meet up with Green Arrow that we know what’s going on. With new information in hand, Oliver sends Bart to retrieve data from a facility that is highly likely to be Project 33.1. Unfortunately Lex is a smart man, and a trap is set. The facility is not real, and when Bart tries to access the computer he is fried and knocked out. With superhero in custody, Lex gets to use his first super villain toy.
Bart is placed in a glass cage, in a facility that is quintessential evil villain territory. The cage has sensors in the floor that will incinerate The Flash if he stays in one spot for a single moment. So what’s a super speed freak to do? He runs. A lot. It is this, the capture of a friend and fellow super hero, which finally brings Clark to Oliver for help.
Clark goes to his trusted “sidekick” (Oliver’s phrase) Chloe to dig up info on where Bart is being held. When she finds out and informs Clark, he follows usual protocol and goes off to save the day alone. Chloe is left to go to Oliver, reveal that she knows mostly everything, and offer to help.
Of course, Lex wouldn’t make it easy for Clark. At the facility there is a lead lined room, which is being used to refine kryptonite. It gets to be a bit tiresome, the whole kryptonite plotline, but it is a necessary device. Superman being truly invincible would not be interesting. Clark, in his infinite wisdom, enters the lead lined room and is immediately affected by the kryptonite and collapses.
Meanwhile, Chloe shows up at Oliver’s apartment to deliver the news that she knows where Bart is being held. As Oliver, Victor, and A.C. prepare to gear up, Chloe notices the lead lined room and what it means for Clark. Looks like Superman needs some saving himself during his first mission with the precursor to The Justice League.
Green Arrow and Cyborg arrive, disabling the guards and perimeter security. Thus allowing Aquaman to break in and do his thing. Once inside Cyborg is sent by Green Arrow to download all info on Project 33.1 he can.
At the end of the hall Clark is incapacitated as a guard stands over him, “You’re not supposed to be here.” In response he receives an arrow in the back. “Neither am I,” Arrow quips then picks up Clark and rescues “Boy Scout.” With Superman freed, the JLA is able to finish what they came there to do. Green Arrow tells Clark to go save Impulse, Oliver does love code names, while he finishes his job.
Clark breaks through the glass and snatches Bart, saving him. Not being a subtle way to get the job done, the alarms sound and alert Lex to the presence of intruders. As he’s walking the halls Lex, is confronted by the Green Arrow. Arrow tells the archvillain that he has ten minutes to evacuate his people before the building blows.
Clark, Arrow, Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg rendezvous and Clark is let in on the plan to blow up the building. This is an act that causes him some major reservations. When asked if the place should be left standing to allow more people to be experimented on, Clark realizes the truth of the situation. He asks Chloe to confirm that there is no one in the building. When she does, he looks at his friends and says, “OK. Let’s do it.” As the team walks away the building explodes and we’re treated to a shot of them walking from the ball of fire that Joss Whedon would be proud of.
Lex, convinced that Clark was behind (or at least involved) in the infiltration, is informed by Lionel that it couldn’t be true. Lionel tells his son, with a bold faced lie, that he dined with Clark during the events of the previous evening. It’s not completely clear why Lionel does this, but any hope of the act being a pure act of good is probably slim. Lionel may not be the evil mastermind his son ends up being, but neither is he an honest man.
This week’s episode also brought an end to the only interesting love story ‘Smallville’ has had. Lois is finally fed up with Oliver’s penchant for leaving just when the “good stuff” begins. So, to make it up to her, he proposes they go to Monte Carlo for a vacation. It’s definitely a better apology than us normal guys could come up with.
When the time comes to leave, Oliver is unable to go. He tells Lois that he has to go away on business. When she confronts him on this, he tells her, “There are more important things in this world than what I want. What I love.” This parting scene, as he tries to let her know he cares but simply can’t stay, is handled particularly well. The breakup was inevitable, obviously, but to have it be tied to this campaign of a greater good by The Justice League was a smart choice. Oliver doesn’t leave Lois to go and see if he can help another town out, he leaves the love of his life to join his friends in a worldwide war against evil. At the same time he is correct when he says, “This is the moment I’ll regret the rest of my life. Isn’t it?” He is giving up something great for himself to do great things for the world.
“Justice” has been hyped quite a bit, and it’s certainly possible that there are viewers who didn’t feel it delivered. Those people may have expected to see some Super Friends action; or maybe for our heroes to take on a major super villain. But the truth is, that’s not what ‘Smallville’ is about. This is an origin story, and as an episode of the JLA’s beginning it was done very well. Clark is now aware and ready to join the worldwide battle, but he first has to clean up his mess. The only problem is that without Green Arrow on the show, will the writers be able to deliver the same quality with the Phantom Zoners? We get our answer in one week.