Monday, October 18, 2010

Smallville: Hostage (s9 ep20)

A strange but interesting episode this week (well, last week now) that strangely paused the Zod & his Kryptonian storyline - I can only assume they felt they needed a holiday after destroying the Checkmate mountain fortress last week. Instead, everyone was looking for the "Book" of Rao and we found out who the Red Queen was. Until last week, I don't remember the Book of Rao being mentioned before, but maybe I'm just forgetting. Seems like a convenient macguffin to me - "Ooh, we've got a bunch of Kryptonians on the planet and here's something that can handily get rid of them all".

Whilst Clark is trying to find this "book" (which isn't a book at all - it's one of those brushed steel octagonal disks), Lois is left feeling unwanted, her career seemingly in ruins. Then along comes the welcome return of Martha Kent, who has hooked up with Perry White. Soon it becomes apparent that both Lois and Perry are hounding the same story about aliens hidden in Metropolis, demolished secret government facilities and a familiar-looking octagonal artefact. So, except for Zod (who must be having a well-deserved rest somewhere), everyone's looking for this Book of Rao, it seems.

Even Martha!

Who, as it turns out (spoiler warning folks), is actually the Red Queen. She's got Maxwell Lord to telepathically interrogate Tess to try and discover the whereabouts of the Book. Tess soon twigs that it's all mind games and breaks out. Stupidly though, she immediately goes to the place where she's kept the Book hidden and, of course, the Red Queen follows her.

Meanwhile, Perry and Lois have been chasing the story, gone to uncover the Red Queen's identity but instead end up in a spot of bother whilst climbing up the side of a building(!). Lois saves Perry, realises something or other and then Perry puts in a good word for her and Clark at the Daily Planet and then get their jobs back.

It was great to see Martha again and good that, as the Red Queen, she remained ruthlessly effective to the end, retrieving the Book of Rao, kicking Tess' ass, and so on. It makes sense that she'd use her political power and resources to help protect Clark, even if she had hidden her agenda from Clark as well as kryptonited him to keep him off her tail. Weirdly, this week, Clark seems to do very little other than figure out who the Red Queen is by using leaps of logic that could bound over tall buildings.

Overall a good episode, even if - pace-wise - it seemed an odd placement in the season, coming just before the finale next week (well, tomorrow actually).

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