Post Game TV Recap: SMALLVILLE ABSOLUTE JUSTICE
SMALLVILLE Producer Reveals JSA Secrets
-- Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack)
"Absolute Justice" wastes little time getting the ball rolling as we find Chloe working the Metropolis city streets, her efforts to reach Clark Kent on her cell phone in vain. Apparently Clark has been unreachable for a while. Hearing her end of the conversation, it's clear that Clark's been occupied with the <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/tv/091111-Smallville-Post-Game-Recap.html">Kandorians on Earth</a>, but she's desperate to get a meeting with all the heroes together so they can work on their organization. The voice message she's left for Clark is abbreviated, however, when all power within her particular city block is cut all of the sudden. Looking around, Chloe is very much alone, save for a lone, mysterious figure wielding an illuminated staff looking down on her from a nearby fire escape. Assuming she's in trouble, Chloe makes a break for it, but is quickly confronted in an alley by the stranger who's descended upon her quickly and easily. We get a much better look at him, and he introduces himself as Sylvester Pemberton. While I immediately recognized that name as the Star Spangled Kid (especially with a nifty blue hoodie he's wearing covered with white stars), I was taken with the way the show presented him, looking more like a grizzled, older Jack Knight of <a href="http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/graphic_novels/?gn=10745"></a> fame. Naturally she's leery of him considering the way he first appears, but he assures her that he's a friend who recognized her as the Watchtower and that he'd only traced her back to her source as a would-be ally. Before he gets to elaborate on how other people looking to make contact with her are not so noble, they are interrupted by an abrupt chill in the air that suggests that danger is all too near. Pemberton quickly stows Chloe away in a dumpster to keep her safe while he confronts the looming threat. We get the impression of an epic battle taking place outside the dumpster, but from Chloe's vantage point inside. The fight only lasts a few chaotic seconds, when when the dust settles Chloe hops out to find Sylvester mortally wounded. He warns her about a threat that's surely got its eye on her and her colleagues, and with his last dying breath he says "Check..."
After the show's credits, we're at our weekly visit to Metropolis General Hospital (oh, get used to it, it plays in this episode) where Clark arrives to see Chloe. She's fine, merely frostbitten from the whole experience. Really her stay their has more to do with being the lone witness to Sylvester Pemberton's murder. Chloe needles Clark for being M.I.A. for days, but ultimately she understands that he's been very busy juggling his various responsibilities, most notably acting as a one-man CareerBuilder.com to the Kandorian refugees who are looking for a place to fit in. When Clark is briefed on what little Chloe knows about the stranger she met, and after she gleans the data on Pemberton's cell phone thanks to a handy scanner, their own conversation is sidetracked when they notice a young lady down the hall from them being briefed on Pemberton's unfortunate demise. While Chloe talks to a cop, Clark approaches the distraught girl hoping to provide comfort and a helping hand, but she quickly rebuffs him when she sees his press badge. According to her, the press has already done enough to Sylvester Pemberton over the last few years. After she leaves, Chloe lets Clark know that her data scanner showed that Pemberton's last call was a good half hour long with a "Wesley Dodds" and that he should pay him a visit.
Just then we're taken to the home of Mr, Dodds where it looks like the unspectacular apartment of a lonely man, and one thing that sticks out after a quick scan of the place is A LOT of coffee and the brewers and pots to keep a good amount of it warmed up. Shoot, the entire 11th floor of my own corporate office doesn't keep this much coffee in a given month. Clearly someone who prefers to stay awake. In the apartment, Dodds is actually in a lounge chair in front of a television with its cable out, judging by the snow on the screen. Getting a glimpse into his subconscious, he's consumed by an intense dream, and looking at it closely it's clearly a recreation of the fight between Sylvester Pemberton and his assailant, the action that took place leading up to his death. Awoken from his "dream," Dodds suits up in a fedora, trench coat and gas mask. Armed with an unconventional handgun as he checks himself out on the mirror, it's apparent that he's not alone as the same man who took on Pemberton is now in his home. Dodds barely gets the chance to make a move before he's completely consumed by extreme cold.
Later at the Watchtower, Oliver Queen makes an entrance, responding to Chloe's several calls to him. As she preaches the benefits of some structure among the team to better keep in contact, Oliver notices that her computers show just about everything he does online, including some suggestive chats with a certain Black Canary. Fortunately for Oliver, Chloe's not game for chit chat, and he's all too happy to get briefed on the assignment, investigating Pemberton's murder. The victim had an extensive criminal record including embezzlement and fraud. She's found out the identity of the girl who visited the hospital, a Blue Valley High School sophomore named Courtney Whitmore (Britt Irvin). Courtney's been absent from school for weeks and Chloe thinks she knows more, even if she wasn't necessarily the killer. Chloe gives Oliver the task of retrieving Sylvester's staff that's in police evidence lockup. About that time, Clark visits Wesley Dodds' home, but he's too late. It's become the second murder crime scene in as many days, Wesley riddled with icy wounds, and this time the killer left a calling card: the letters "J-S-A" smeared in blood on an upturned table.
At the hospital later, Chloe's returned to join Dr. Emil Hamilton who is examining the body of the second victim, and the doctor observes that the frosty bullet wounds have traces of human DNA, indicating that they were inflicted by a person rather that a weapon (verifying Chloe's "Wall of Weird" suggestion earlier). Having been told about Clark's "JSA" discovery, it doesn't ring a bell for either of them, but they agree to circle back around later with their findings. Elsewhere, the icy killer is in an eeirie looking room with a checkerboard floor by himself, playing a veritable game of solitaire with photos of his victims, along with some potential new ones. Going off his body language, Courtney Whitmore appears to be next on his hit list. Later, Chloe's joined Clark at the Daily Planet's archives department, going through records to see what may connect the likes of Sylvester Pemberton to Wesley Dodds. They find that they were tied to to several other known criminals and the suggestion that there was an attempt to "get the group back together." And from a box of files the two are looking at, Chloe pulls out an old film reel, and so begins a montage that, if they're anything like me, had to blow the minds of anyone who considers themselves fans of the Golden Age of superheroics. The film is a black and compilation of Sylvester and his old cohorts getting apprehended in a wide-covering sting operation that took in an odd, seemingly unrelated assortment of men (and woman) from all walks of life. It included physics professor Al Pratt, heavyweight boxing champion Ted Grant, research scientist Jay Garrick (an iconic helmet is in a police detective's possession as he's arrested for fraud and resisting arrest), and broadcasting CEO Alan Scott, wearing an especially striking ring on his finger. A conspiracy was afoot as the records show that they all stood together and thanks to their apparent loyalty got out of serving any serious jail time. Clark is clearly in awe of this band of eccentrics who stuck together through some trying times. Perhaps he saw what may have happened, or still if his alien nature was detected by the authorities. After watching the film and reviewing the profiles of the alleged conspirators, Chloe sends Clark on his next lead, the residence of one Carter Hall, another person who received multiple calls from Pemberton prior to his murder.
Clark visits a museum in Metropolis that is open, but clearly not doing any business as most of the furniture is covered in plastic and cloths. As Clark wanders around, the closure is confirmed by Carter Hall, the museum's caretaker. He's not very accommodating to Clark, and he barely flinches when told of the news about the deaths of his two supposed friends. A voice elsewhere in the room catches Clark's attention, a peculiar fellow in the adjoining room from them sitting in a chair, clutching a bowling ball bag and mumbling to himself. While he acknowledges himself as Kent Nelson (Brent Stait), it's clear this doctor has checked out mentally. Carter Hall is not forthcoming with information except that he hasn't spoken to either victim in years. When Clark takes a closer look a Nelson's bag with x-ray vision, he can detect an unusual helmet inside, but he doesn't expect it to have a life of its own and stare right back at him, which it does. Thrown off by this, Clark makes a hasty exit. Alone now, Carter assures Kent that they'll have to take care of themselves, just like always. Elsewhere, Oliver is walking the streets while on the phone with Chloe, letting her know that Pemberton's "glow stick" was missing from the police evidence locker. He cuts his call short when he runs into Courtney with with the rod, hastily trying to make off with it. When he confronts her about having it and how he's trying to find a lead tied to the now, Courtney turns the rod on Oliver telling him to back off. She gets an unanticipated assist from Kent Nelson in making her escape. He helps her turn it on Oliver to produce a powerful light, distracting enough to make their getaway.
Chloe joins Oliver shortly after and they go to an impound lot that has Sylvester's car in storage. They quickly find his "Star-Rocket Racer," a vintage car that looks as if it was doubling as his home for a while, it looks so lived in. In the Racer's glove compartment, Oliver finds a book that has bios on the two of them, along with profile pages for Clark, Aquaman and Black Canary. Pemberton knows plenty about them, including their identities. It's about that time that Courtney's back at the museum with Nelson, but Carter's none to happy that the sidekick (no, that's ) of Sylvester has been dragged into their situation. The two sane people in the trio there go back and forth on how to handle the killer on the loose, especially since the signs point to an old foe. Carter proclaims that he won't be guilted into action, never mind that Nelson's now a street vagrant who looks for the secrets of the universe in trashcans, though Courtney clearly hits a nerve when she invokes the name "Shayera" into the conversation.
-- Carter Hall (Michael Shanks)
Later, Chloe convenes with Clark and she shares the file of one Joar Mahkent, a cryokinetic hitman known back in the day as "The Icicle." Only problem is, he's still incapacitated from injuries years earlier and held in the psych ward of Metropolis General. Back at the museum, Carter is clearly inspired, and he convinces Kent to don the helmet he's been keeping close to him. Apparently Kent's fried in the head as he can barely recall life prior to becoming Dr. Fate. When he dons the helmet it's a spectacular transportation into an assured, mystical being. Carter responds in kind by suiting up himself. Clutching a familiar friend, his mace, Hawkman is back, just in time for hunting season. When Clark and Chloe go to the hospital to follow their lead, they find that Mahkent's been vegetative for years, but just as they're ready to move on, an unusual light from the patient's room attracts their attention. In there, they find Dr. Fate working some magic over the catatonic Mahkent. Clark grabs Fate to get his attention, and the good doctor gets a vision that is, well, truly "super." Recognizing Clark's fate for being as bright as it promises to be, he makes off with the young reporter, but not before telling Chloe that his fate and hers are all too similar. Interesting...
Chloe makes it back to the Watchtower and contacts Oliver (now in full Green Arrow gear) to let him know that Clark's missing. Arrow replies that he's working on a lead on the missing staff and his lock on the target has led him to Courtney, now suited up herself in red, white & blue. Walking some dark Suicide Slum streets by herself, Green Arrow confronts her on why she's alone. She's actually not very happy to see him, as it would appear it's ruining a plan she had. The two argue back and forth about their agendas, but it's interrupted by an attack by the all-new Icicle (Wesley Macinnes). Oliver is knocked out by an ice blast, and just when it looks like she's outmatched "Stargirl" makes the rod materialize in her hand and she goes toe to toe with the icy fiend. Ice versus stars, and it's some good comic book-style combat like we don't normally see on this show. But a blast that blows the two apart separates Stargirl from her staff and Icicle fires off a round of icy kill shots. Green Arrow gets off a shot of his own that deflects the blast, protecting Courtney, but she's none too happy when Icicle makes an escape. She says that she was promised first crack at Sylvester's killer, and just when Arrow asks who said that, he's plucked off of the ground like a hawk snatching a field mouse. Just then at the Watchtower, Chloe loses contact with Oliver, but she gets her answer when he's tossed through the tower's stained glass window by none other than Hawkman. Apparently this is him asking nicely to stay out of his team's business.
When "Absolute Justice" returns, Chloe's tending to Oliver's bumps and bruises. She's convinced that they're facing a "secret society of retired super-villains," (<a href="http://www.comics.org/issue/35703/cover/4/?style=default">nice</a>) and that perhaps her efforts to reassemble their heroic ranks are all in vain. Oliver suggests otherwise, and in fact recommends some reinforcements. Paging Detective John Jones! Meanwhile, Clark wakes up alone at the museum, and with time to himself now goes on a little tour of the place, uncovering trophy cases that start to uncover who the mysterious conspirators from the film and files really were. From a "Fair Play" belt, to an hourglass, to the cracked helmet of "Hawkgirl," Clark discovers the world of the Justice Society of America. When he uncovers a giant painting of an assembled group of over a dozen costumed mystery men and women (we really need a follow-up story on Black Canary!), in his head he starts to piece together the identities of the men and women whose files he reviewed earlier. Our Clark Kent is truly in awe, but his impromptu history lesson is cut short by the just returned Hawkman, channeling his inner Christian Bale as the Dark Knight. Hawkman doubts Dr. Fates assurance that Clark is on the righteous path, though Courtney is far more agreeable. According to her, Sylvester wanted to assemble a new team of some old guard and new. Hawkman thinks little of the new kids, but Green Arrow joins the discussion, announcing his presence with a well-placed arrow in the chest of Hawkman' likeness in the team portrait, and the two butt heads pretty quickly. Their tussle is stopped short with another guest, Det. Jones, who tries to assure the JSA that they come in peace. After a quick break, the two sides discuss their situation, and ultimately "Team Clark" determines that they are going to stay involved in this case whether the JSA likes it or not.
Back at the Daily Planet, Lois Lane makes her first appearance, rapidly giving Clark the rundown on how chaotic her morning's been so far (with an missed interview with a Michael Holt thrown in there, keeping with the JSA spirit of the episode). Only thing is, she's so busy chatting away, she doesn't even bother to notice that the guy whose back has been turned to her the whole time isn't even Clark, though he is thankful for the coffee he's just been given. Just then, a checkered package is dropped off for her, and it contains copies of the files Clark and Chloe were looking at earlier with a note that reads "The truth will set you free." Before she gets much of a chance to look at them, Tess Mercer makes her first appearance as well, mocking Lois for being covered in mud after her morning from hell. They go back and forth with <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/tv/050916-Smallville-Doomsday.html">overt contempt for each other</a>, and it's clear that Tess wants to know what Lois got sent to her, claiming she was expecting a delivery herself. Getting nowhere, Tess leaves, but you know not for long. Cut to the hospital again, where Icicle is visiting his comatose father, promising more of his own version of justice. Back at the JSA museum, Carter gives Clark, John and Oliver the scoop on what got them in trouble with the authorities. Apparently the government wanted the Society to work for them, and when they refused the fix was in to get them all put away. They agree to a temporary alliance to fight the current threat, and Chloe arrives to offer her assistance. She's got a couple leads on where they might track down Icicle. In a funny moment, when she asks for computer access and Courtney shows what they have there... Well let's just say that the JSA's next mission needs to be visiting the local CDW for a few new updates for the museum.
Later at the Planet, Tess goes by her office after hours and finds her computer acting weird and a white chess piece left on her desk. Whatever the message it is being sent, it appears to be received. Around that time at the Watchtower, Chloe's there with Courtney, and the new guest is clearly impressed with the layout, but she says that it lacks the homey touches that made the JSA brownstone a place that was more for a family. The Watchtower, it seems, is all work and no play. Chloe asks how Courtney got into the game, and she explains how her stepfather was Star Spangled Kid's sidekick, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Soldiers_of_Victory">Stripesy</a>. Don't worry, they think it's the worst code name too. She tried Sylvester's gear for herself initially for a laugh, but she got hooked from the start. Despite the fact that she was connected to the JSA in no way by blood relation, they were still a family to her. You can tell that Chloe gets some good ideas from the young lady. Chloe then gets a call from Green Arrow who's been paired with Hawkman to stake out the hospital for a possible return of Icicle. They banter like superhero version of <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086960/">Rosewood & Taggart</a> ("Beverly Hills Cop"), and it's a match made in hell. At the museum, Dr. Fate consults Clark about his destiny, and it's rife with revelations and possibilities. For one thing, a huge bombshell is dropped when Fate suggests that Lex Luthor is a threat he'll confront years form now. He also tells Clark that he will be responsible for ushering in a "Silver Age" of heroism. The details are cut short when a knock comes at the front door and it's Lois. She's there following a lead from her special delivery, and Clark bolts before she sees him and Fate greets her with a hint of her pivotal role in the coming of "the savior." Of course Dr. Fate's prophecies makes no sense to her, and her visit is a short one.
We then get to see where Icicle is, back at his place. He's approached by an "Agent Waller" who accuses him of taking his mission too personally. Her organization, Checkmate, is making the moves in all of this. She's not very impressed by his threatening tone in wanting to finish his job (and enduring Chicago winters myself for the last decade, I can appreciate why), and her dismissive exit from the brief meeting leaves things open to interpretation. I don't think Pam Grier would've been cast for this pivotal role if we weren't going to see much more of her on . I'll take it, thanks!
After commercial, we're back at the Planet and Tess is going through Lois' desk, looking through her JSA files. She's busted by Clark who stands up to her quite nicely and she dismisses herself, but not before warning Clark that Lois is in way over her pretty head. Lois shows up later and Clark asks about the story she's working on. While they're each handling their work solo (you're a looooong way from Woodward & Bernstein, Mr. Kent) the one thing that does come from her investigation is that Icicle's not the only old school bad guy who was secretly released from prison. There are others like him out there, perhaps collected for something in the works. And the other thing that Lois reveals is that she was quite impressed with Dr. Fates cape. Take note of that, Clark.
Meanwhile, John Jones and Dr. Fate follow the other lead of a nitrogen facility where Icicle may appear at to fuel up. Worth noting that the way Phil Morris as Jones is attired in gun holster and green shirt under his jacket, it's by far the most he's looked like Martian Manhunter to date. But just wait until Dr. Fate puts a spell on him in a minute! They share some information about themselves and their abilities, though they have to get back to the task at hand when they run into a couple of dead employees who have run into Icicle. In a surprise move, Dr. Fate blasts Jones and the imagery gives us a look at the J'onn J'onzz we know and love. Jones now knocked out, Fate is snuck up on and fatally impaled by Icicle. On a personal note, I was a bit disappointed that this rotten whippersnapper of a junior villain was able to murder Star Spangled Kid, Sandman AND Dr. Fate. I didn't realize there was going to be such a death toll, but then again this was written by "Blackest Night" scribe Geoff Johns. But fate, you could say, plays into Icicle's hands when he gets his hands on the now host-less helmet of Nabu. And NOW he seems to have the firepower he needs to dispatch multiple heroes.
Courtney and Clark make it to the hospital later where Kent Nelson's presumably joined Dodds and Pemberton in the morgue, and Dr. Hamilton informs them the John is in a stable but incubated state. Since a third JSAer is now gone, Courtney wonders aloud if it's a good idea maybe to let Hawkman take care of Icicle once and for all, the way he does best. Naturally Clark's averse to this and says so, and Courtney knows better, even suggesting that Sylvester felt that way too. Clark tells her that should she get to re-form a team with a new generation of heroes, that they have the opportunity to go about things the right way. Meanwhile Lois is back at the Planet in the archives department, looking through similar case files as earlier. She's approached by Agent Waller who says that they're classified, but intended for Lois as she's recognized for being skilled at uncovering and embracing the truth. Waller hands her a cell phone emblazoned with a chess design, telling her that they'll be in contact again. Back at the JSA house, Hawkman and Green Arrow return so that Carter can load up with more weapons. Oliver tries to get him to wait for reinforcements, but Hawkman ain't havin' it. It's here that we get particularly good insight on Carter's background, the oft-reincarnated prince of an ancient kingdom, and that he and his now deceased wife are destined to rejoin each other once he's passed on. Oliver admits that he's never had a romantic connection even resembling what Carter's had, and in what I thought was the funniest moment of the whole 2-hour episode, well, I'll let Mr. Hall have the floor: Beautifully put, Hawkman. Oliver convinces him to shelf his death wish (I assume suicide was never an option), and they agree to work together and meet the others at the Watchtower.
There they meet the rest of the active "team," and quickly the fight comes to them as the newly empowered Icicle materializes there. In what I can imagine is one of the more debatable topics about this episode, the fight sequence of Clark, Arrow, Hawkman and Stargirl against Icicle was oddly choreographed with much of it in slow motion or still shots for different angles. Seeing as this is a CW show with an annual budget that already likely breaks the fledgling network's bank, I was inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. The good guys get an added boost when John Jones returns with all his Martian abilities restored. That was Dr. Fate's last gesture before himself getting killed. The added firepower allows Hawkman to get in one good smack with his trusty mace that knocks the helmet right off Icicle's head, allowing him to finally be subdued. Game, set and match for the good guys.
After the dust has settled and the threat has been alleviated and presumably put under a warming station (like at restaurants!) for safe keeping, Clark has a solid talk with Carter at the JSA HQ while he puts away his Hawkman gear. Though they have a ways to go in comparison with the Society, Carter concedes that Clark's cohorts are good and that they can be even better if he trusts them. Dr. Fate determined that Clark was destined to reach heights as a hero and as an example the whole world could look up to, and Carter insists that it'll happen if Clark shakes off the limits he keeps placing on himself. Carter likens Clark's potential to his own when he first was able to fly all those centuries ago, but he saw that his people came first even when he was high above them. And now that he's seen that Chloe is a whole lot more than team secretary, he and Courtney are getting Ms. Sullivan's help in tracking down the JSA survivors as well as potential legacies to fill some available slots in the roster. J-S-A! J-S-A! J-S-A! And Chloe's back at the Watchtower when John Jones pays her a visit. He brings up how Fate restored his powers and that the helmet apparently finds its own new host eventually, someone worthy. There's even a subtle hint that Chloe, who tends to burn the candle at both ends, would be a prime candidate. Just as John brings up the idea that he's got his comrades to serve as his family (having mentioned his lost wife and daughter on Mars earlier to Dr. Fate), Oliver pops in, and he's not there on business, actually. He's come by to see who wants to grab a bite to eat (and John hopes <a href="http://www.comics.org/issue/64002/cover/4/?style=default">cookies are involved</a>), and when they happily accept you can tell they took the JSA's example of family unity to heart. I definitely hope this is a concept that sticks, and I'd love to see another DC Universe hero or two become a more regular part of this group (you know, Zatanna is making a return...).
Lois and Clark (by the we way, I noticed that they addressed their blossoming romance little to none at all, which didn't surprise me because of the nature of this 2-hour movie presentation as an almost standalone concept), convene at the Planet, and she shows off her front page headline, a positive exposé of the Justice Society of America, so the world can finally know about the superhero team who watched over them all those years ago. God willing, this team, the new generation perhaps, can make a return if Season 10 becomes a reality. Fingers crossed! Lois plays cute about the "fortune" Dr. Fate gave her, and she divulges that a certain savior is involved. It is what you make of it...
"Absolute Justice" concludes with one last glimpse of Icicle. In a heated Checkmate cell, like I anticipated, he's visited by Waller and pleads for one last shot at the JSA, never mind that the Fate helmet did a number on his head. Waller expresses her gratitude, though, Icicle doing exactly what she wanted: bringing the JSA collective out of retirement. She hints at the need for a lot of heroes to fight an impending apocalypse. Now, is she hinting at the Kandorian threat led by Major Zod, or perhaps a -- dare I say it? An APOKOLIPS?? Oh, the possibilities! And if we hadn't been fed a trough of DC History in "Absolute Justice" already, Agent Waller bids Icicle adieu with a bullet to the head, but not before telling him that his services were as part of the Suicide Squad! When Waller leaves the room she meets with a Checkmate agent, you may know her already. It's Tess Mercer, and the two have much catching up to do.
Whew! No wonder they needed two episodes worth to contain all this. I was astounded, really, at how much ground was covered in terms of the JSA, the return of Martian Manhunter, Checkmate, the Suicide Squad, and the mere hint (depending on if we're reading too much into it) of the future emergence of New Gods on this program. What did you think, viewers? Did the show do "justice" with the Golden Age characters they introduced in some way, shape or form? Do you like the seeds being planted for the eventual formation of the real deal Justice LEAGUE of America? Was Icicle just a curly mustache and a top hat away from being a caricature of a super-villain? Is there more to this Abigail Hunkel than we've been led to believe?