Right up until the second, harder cliffhanger—the first cliffhanger ought to be a hard one, but ends up being soft, which actually might end up being better given the characters involved—but right up until the finale, it’s a really effective episode with solid acting throughout. And a good explanation for why bad guy Adam Rayner is so fixated on Smallville, even though his insidious, ominous headquarters is clearly in some office park. Not quite LexCorp Towers, or whatever.
Heck, they may even explain—or start to explain—why Rayner’s okay with it.
But there’s also solid character drama for everyone in the episode. Tyler Hoechlin is recovering from experimental synthetic Kryptonite gas, making him more susceptible to damage than usual. It turns out he passed the “infection” on to super-son Alex Garfin. Lousy timing since Garfin needs to play piano at Inde Navarrette’s school recital; he stepped up when Navarrette’s dad, Erik Valdez, flaked out on helping her (again). So when Garfin gets too sick, Elizabeth Tulloch decides it’s time to cut dad Dylan Walsh (who made the Kryptonite gas to kill her husband if need be) out of her life, which really upsets both of them. Caught in the middle is Jordan Elsass, who’s recovering from a wounded teenage boy ego hit already, and having family drama really isn’t helping things.
Neither is Rayner deciding it’s time to move on to the next phase in his plan and deal with Tulloch. She’s been frustrated at not getting the dirt on Rayner’s evil plans, so she goes and curses him out in the office park, leading Rayner to suspect Emmanuelle Chriqui has been snooping for her.
Lots and lots of drama, eventually lots of suspense, and some decent Super-action from director Eric Dean Seaton. There’s still the muscle suit shoulders issue (though Hoechlin does a buff shirtless scene, so you wonder why they have the pads unless maybe his chest’s CGI), but the actual action stuff is cool.
Though the suit is too grey. They need to brighten up the super-suit.
The acting’s strong across the board, with only Hoechlin and Tulloch slow-burning to get there. As usual, it’s not entirely their fault. Tulloch gets a bunch of exposition dumps before some id broadcasting. Then Hoechlin’s, you know, stuck acting opposite Angus Macfadyen’s voice, and Macfayden’s performance can always drag a scene down. But they both get to good places. Elsass, Navarrette, Garfin, Walsh, Chriqui, and Valdez all do consistently good work, in that order. It’s almost like when Valdez isn’t implying his MAGA hat without wearing it, he does a good job.
Also, guest star Leeah Wong. She’s really effective as one of Rayner’s test subjects.
Rayner… well, he’s wanting. Very wanting. Maybe he’ll turn it around as the season enters the grand finale. Probably not, but maybe.