Post Game: Smallville 8.3: "Toxic"
Where to begin, where to begin??Gov. Palin, surprisingly, held her own. I don't know how the Cubs can dig themselves out of a 2-0 hole in a best-of-5… Oh, Smallville! Right! Why you're here! Sorry, there was a lot to take in this historic night. In an evening that was clearly dedicated to the 2008 election (new episodes of just about anything were tough to come by, and there is something to be said for this show being on a network lacking a real news presence other than locally) and playoff baseball, Smallville delivered a particularly entertaining episode. If nothing else, Green Arrow fans had to be particularly keen on this episode since it, to the best of my knowledge, mapped out the Emerald Archer's origins for the first time in a medium other than the comic books. How this all came about was a bit unexpected, but it brought out some compelling performances from the show's principal players. The show kicked off in urgent fashion with socialite/philanthropist Oliver Queen making the kind of entrance at a Metropolis fundraiser that would normally be TMZ fodder. Most assumed that Oliver hit the red carpet literally and figuratively under the influence, but fortunately he had friends in Clark and Chloe in attendance who recognized that it was far more than a case of too much pre-partying with his date. Oliver was in fact poisoned and he knew that he could not be checked into a hospital to be detoxed. While being tended to at Chloe's Isis Foundation headquarters, Oliver deliriously recalled what made him, arguably, the greatest archer in the world. Familiar to GA enthusiasts everywhere is the fact that Oliver fine-tuned his skills as an archer because he was stranded on a deserted island and forced to take up the bow and arrow to survive. Seeing as this origin was detailed in Smallville, it stands to reason that they would play up angles connected to the series' mythology. The immediate question that presented itself is why Oliver would get poisoned and knowingly decline a visit to the hospital. Turns out he'd been down that road before as what ailed him originated from the island that he was holed up in for at least a couple of years. When outsiders found themselves on the island after being alone for so long, he inconveniently came into contact with a toxic plant that almost killed him. And who should find him at death's door but Tess Mercer, the new season's proxy Luthor, apparently a decent person at one time. The immediate assumption was that this episode would be all about Green Arrow's back story, but it's just as illuminating in regards to Tess. I do think showing that she used to be a marine biologist with a heart of gold might have played better a few more episodes into the season (more opportunity to hate her before you feel sorry for her, right?), but "Toxic" was always more about Green Arrow, and evidently the show's creators felt Oliver Queen's status as a series regular required that his characterization be high on the agenda. Anyway, the toxin that almost did in Oliver turns out that it doesn't respond well to conventional treatment, in fact adrenaline speeds up the lethal process. In one of the more wince-inducing scenes in the show's history, one of the flashbacks shows that good old fashioned leeches are more effective than anything. Back to Metropolis, Clark and Chloe, with the help of paramedic Davis Bloome, try to figure out the best way to save Oliver. This investigation, if nothing else, showcases Chloe's new ability to process data at lightning speed, and any doubt that her Season 7-ending experiences with Brainiac being the source of this ability can officially be put aside. At least Clark acknowledged as much, and it was kind of refreshing that Chloe could at least own up to the fact that it was obvious where her new talents originated from but that she may as well exploit them for good as long as she could. And I can't believe I'm writing this, but one of the more compelling angles of "Toxic" was provided by Erica Durance as Lois Lane. She did deliver the line of the night, questioning whether or not Oliver's debilitated state was due to hanging out with Mötley Crüe (read The Dirt, kids). I do have to say that Justin Hartley's character brings out the best in Lois/Erica. Her most heartfelt performances have come when working with him, and her occasionally hardened exterior tends to soften when interacting with him (not to mention Clark more and more). Not playing so nice, regrettably, are Clark and Oliver by episode's end since, convoluted means of finding the antidote aside, the latter discovered that the former knew that Lionel Luthor was responsible for the death of his parents many years ago. Not exactly information you want to keep from a friend and ally, and Clark finds that out the hard way. This episode certainly channeled its inner "Lost," but it was entertaining, and they're displaying solid direction considering all the major changes to this season from last. In terms of making Tess Mercer a more interesting antagonist, mission accomplished. There's no replacing Lex, that's for sure, but they've found a savvy, ruthless proxy. Any doubt of her deviousness was cast aside by the end of the episode when the source of the poisoning fell victim to his own devices. T'would appear that payback is in fact a bitch. Jimmy Olsen again was nowhere to be found, even though he's often a 600-pound gorilla in the room for all things Chloe. The writers keeping nudging Clark, in subtle and obvious ways, down the path to superheroics. Rarely does it work to have Clark be a bit player his own story, but here we find the exception. Where it succeeded the most is that everyone involved had good material with which to work. Those who figured the show for dead may have jumped the gun just a bit. How did "Toxic" work for you? Related: Post Game: Smallville 8.1 & 8.2 Reviews
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