Television Review: Smallville, "Justice"
by R.J. Carter
Published: January 19, 2007
Well into its sixth season, this reimagining of the formative years of a pre-Superman Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is still going strong. If anything, it's even stronger. Through the years, Clark has teamed up with or faced down such heroes and villains as Arthur Curry (Aquaman), Bart Allen (Impulse), Milton Fine (Brainiac), and -- in almost every episode -- Lex Luthor, played with ineffable verve by Michael Rosenbaum, who ironically provided the voice for the Flash in the animated Justice League series.
The January 18th episode, "Justice", is perhaps one of the most highly anticipated stories among fans. In this season, Clark and Chloe (Allison Mack) -- a romantic item, finally, by the way (Oops. No, they're not. The kiss at the end of season 5 notwithstanding, and Clark's somewhat defensive statement about Chloe having a boyfriend does not tie them together; Chloe's boyfriend is Daily Planet photog, Jimmy Olsen! Thanks to our sharp-eyed reader, Shannon, for emailing us with this correction. -- ye editors) -- have made the acquaintance of rich young upstart Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley), and have sussed out his secret double life as the emerald archer, Green Arrow. Queen has appeared in a string of episodes as a foil for Lex, but this is the episode where he pulls out all the stops. You see, LuthorCorp has a secret project going on (which isn't all that secret, since most of the people on the show know it) called 33.1. The project (mentioned in the Smallville webisode series, The Vengeance Chronicles, collected on the Smallville - The Complete Fifth Season DVD box set.) is about gathering up super-powered people, studying them, and using that knowledge to build Lex his own super-powered army. But Ollie has a super-powered army of his own.
The episode opens with Chloe, now working out of the Daily Planet, confronting one of the doctors in Lex's employ who's been signing out patients -- ones with special abilities -- out of Belle Reve hospital. Chloe suspects they're being relocated to Lex's project, and when she mentions it the doctor pulls a gun on her. One crimson streak later, and Chloe is safe -- but it's not her boyfriend Clark who came to her aid, but the super-quick Bart Allen (Kyle Gallner), back in town. The last time Clark saw Bart, he was a sneak thief -- but Bart is claiming to have reformed his ways.
However, Clark isn't too sure. Particularly when Lex's dad, Lionel Luthor (John Glover), shows Clark a shot taken from a security camera at one of the LexCorp facilities that suffered a recent attack of sabotage. Lionel is fully aware of Clark's abilities, and cautions Clark to be more careful when he's playing these super games.
After some confrontations and some sleuthing, Clark and Chloe discover Bart has been making a lot of cell phone calls to Artemis Global Consortium, a subsidiary of J.L. International (and true fans know what the "J.L." stands for), which in turn is owned by Queen Industries. Clark believes that Oliver has hired Bart to step up his vendetta against Lex. And he's right, but only partly so. Because Ollie has given jobs to a couple of other folks as well -- Arthur Curry (Alan Ritchson), now calling himself Aquaman, and Victor Stone (Lee Thompson Young), aka Cyborg.
Yes, folks, this is it. The formation of the Justice League, even if they're still not using the title at the end of the episode. The meat of this episode is a rescue mission -- Bart gets himself captured by Lex on his last raid, and he's been imprisoned in a cell that has pressure plates on the floor. If he stops in one place for a microsecond, he gets electrocuted. Bart's non-stop cell circling is one of the more dramatic effects in this episode. Clark goes off solo to try and save him, but it turns out the LuthorCorp facility has quite a few projects going on -- and one of them is the full-scale refinement of a certain green meteor rock! Now Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Cyborg have two friends who need rescuing!
Teen Titans: Impulse, Green Arrow,
Clark Kent, Aquaman, and Cyborg
form a fledgling Justice League in
this long-awaited episode of the hit
(L-R: Kyle Gallner, Justin Hartley,
Tom Welling, Alan Ritchson, Lee
If you're hoping the new JLI is going to stick around, continuing operations out of Oliver's watchtower, you'll be disappointed. Although they do save Bart and destroy the 33.1 facility, they've also uncovered data that Lex has diversified the 33.1 project world-wide. Oliver is taking the team to Corto Maltese (another nod to the comics for the astute readers.)
Which breaks off the Oliver / Lois Lane (Erica Durance) romance that has been ongoing for the last several episodes. It's been a frustrating relationship for Lois anyway, as Oliver is always getting called away "on business" just as things start heating up. "Is it just me, or is this relationship all interruptus and no coitus?" It's a situation she'd better get used to, if the story follows tradition.
Best line of the show? When Bart awakens in his cell and assumes he's in an ordinary prison. "I want a lawyer," he says, to which Lex retorts, "And I want a ponytail. Disappointments abound."
The episode also features an advertisement for "The Oliver Queen Chronicles", an animated sequence of adventures that can be viewed on your Sprint phone by texting GREEN to 7000.
The costumes weren't as bad as I'd heard they'd be. Yes, Impulse is wearing the equivalent of a red hoodie with a yellow lightning bolt on the back, and Cyborg is wearing a silver tunic rather than exposing any real metallic parts of his interior. But the tight orange-and-green looks good on Aquaman, and Green Arrow is almost Batman-like in his green leather cowl.
Overall, "Justice" was a nice episode that carried this season's plot threads forward a tiny bit while also serving as a decent standalone show, a potential jumping-on point for new viewers. Episode writer Steven S. DeKnight deserves a nice round of applause for this one.