Clark meets the Persuader"Hey, Kal! Where's your cape?" -- Lightning Lad (actor), "Legion"
Seems like ages ago that we last got an episode of Smallville. Back then, the global economy was in the toilet, America was at war in at least two distinctive battlegrounds, Israelis and Palestenians were immersed in conflict, and Rod Bladjovecich was still the governor of my beloved state...
Wait. So all that stuff still holds true? Oops. Well, it has indeed been a while since we caught up with with the kids in Smallvile/Metropolis, eight weeks to be exact. And the show, as I brought up in 2008, is as strong as it's ever been, creative and engaging despite losing multiple key regulars from seasons past, and awesome at embracing its DC Universe legacies. Which brings us to tonight's "Legion." Two things: honestly, part of me is astounded by the fact that we are halfway through an EIGHTH season, and even more so that it's taken this long for Clark Kent (Tom Welling), our future Superman, to meet anyone affiliated with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Knowing that the 31st century's ultimate superteam originated in Superboy stories 50 years ago (if you can believe it's been that kind of time now) it always struck me as a natural fit to have them pay Clark a visit to his hometown. Regardless of this episode's quality, I always thought it would've been cool, personally, to see some representatives of the Legion come to our time in maybe Season 3 and encounter a far more inexperienced Clark, lacking in confidence and full control of his amazing powers. I'd guess that DC Comics writer Geoff Johns thought so too, so even though he didn't get the opportunity to do a more accurate live-action adaptation of his recent work, he seemed like a natural fit to tackle Smallville's first meeting with Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad.
How did it go? Well, "Legion" picks up not long after the last episode, "Bride," where Doomsday crashed Chloe (Alison Mack) and Jimmy's wedding, leaving the groom in a coma after near-fatal lacerations and the bride fully taken over by Brainiac and in control of the Fortress of Solitude. Clark convenes with Lana (Kristin Kreuk) at the Kent farm that's in shambles after Doomsday's attack. They figure out their options in finding the missing Chloe, Lana (gone 7 months, clarifying that for me) preferring to utilize her Isis Foundation resources and Clark using his more natural-born techniques. Moments after Lana leaves, Clark receives another unwelcome visitor, a man in an iron mask who uses the bitchinest axe to open a trunk of Clark's possessions (a key wouldn't have worked?). When Clark tries to stop him, said axe lands in his side, and the Persuader is about to unleash hell on the last son of Krypton before three more mysterious visitors waltz in and quickly whisk the masked intruder away, displaying some amazing abilities of their own in the process. Ultimately this appearance by the Persuader is little more than a cameo, he's not at all in the rest of the episode. Definite bummer.
Was I the only one who viewed the trio of Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad as a sort of superhero version of Harry Potter, Ron and Hermoine? Certainly reminded me of them. Anyway, they introduce themselves to Clark as time-travelers and explain the Persuader was there in a likely assassination attempt because Clark becomes the universe's greatest hero with influence far and wide. The time-traveling Legion themselves do not intend to stay any longer than they have to because they don't want to do anything to upset the past, as was the Persuader's intention on this historical "Brainiac Day." Only problem is, Persuader actually damaged the Phantom Zone crystal hidden in Clark's trunk, and that was the only thing Clark could use to get rid of Brainiac and save Chloe in the process. Turns out their work wasn't done after all.
Meanwhile, back at the Fortress, Davis wakes up back in his more human self. He finds Chloe in the now darkened Fortress because it's now under full control of Brainiac. When he's Davis, he's hardly lost to the proverbial dark side, he thinks he can help Chloe, but she is most certainly NOT herself. He professes his love to her, only problem being that Brainiac says it's not so much affection as it is a basic programming that brought them together and provided the Brain Interactive Construct a human host to continue his work wiping out the human population to make Earth his own. Davis is terrified, especially at the prospect that being immersed in a Fortress chrysalis for 12 days would make him full on Doomsday for life. Too bad for Davis he has no say in the matter.
Back in Smallville, Clark suits up and surprises the Legion with his mode of transportation, running, not to mention an amusing recognition of "no flights, no tights." They expected a man who could fly, but he clearly hasn't developed that skill yet. My take on the Legionnaires? The telepathic Imra, Saturn Girl, was nice to look at, but seemed off at times, a tad distant and removed when communicating telepathically. Rokk, Cosmic Boy, displayed intelligence and good leadership skills at times on top of his power over magnetism. I just thought at least with the hair that he looked like a 1991 throwback, like someone you'd see at a Gin Blossoms show, or the movie Singles. Garth, Lightning Lad, definitely brought energy to the trio, not surprising considering his electrical powers. Way more geeky than I'd even envisioned LL, but still fun to follow. His fascination in Superman mementos, like Clark's letterman jacket (found at the "Levitz Museum," natch), was endearing. When the Legion discusses strategy to handle Brainiac with Clark, a major revelation comes out. 31st century records show nothing for anyone in Clark's life named Chloe Sullivan. Uh oh.
The Legion draws the conclusion that Chloe must have been the collateral damage that came from defeating Brainiac and his quest for global domination. They are prepared to kill Chloe if that's what it takes, but Clark's determination to save his best friend's life imparts an important lesson that the Legion takes back to the year 3009. But first Clark tries to take on Brainiac at the Fortress and it goes poorly, surprising to no one. Chloe, powered by Brainiac (and oddly sexy in her demeanor, maybe that was just me), handles Clark with little effort, and elsewhere in the Fortress Davis is on ice, apparently going on Day 1 of the process to fully becoming Doomsday. When Brainiac takes out Clark, she steals away to Metropolis to complete her work.
Elsewhere, Lana is plugging away at the Isis Foundation and is approached by Imra. In the first of two interesting conversations they have, Lana's is recruited to help the trio in killing Chloe, the only way they deem will take care of Brainiac. Lana won't have it, and clearly her 7 months away have done the trick, because she displays uncharacteristic composure throughout the crisis and gives Clark solid advice on more than one occasion. When the Legion first make it into Metropolis, I found it funny that they had issues with our stinky air. Here's hoping they were right that the 31st century goes green, because I'd have predicted that a trip to the future would be toxic for ME. The team also starts to wonder if their Kal-El is as super as they've read about, "more legend than Legion." The overall encounter is interesting in that it seems like they don't actually KNOW Kal-El so much as they know OF him. Did they not have any history with Kal-El yet as a member of their own team, like in blue tights and a cape?
The Legion though determines that, despite Clark's objections, they have to kill Chloe to defeat Brainiac and protect the planet. Their quest is made all the easier when Brainiac goes to the Daily Planet to use their internet to broadcast a virus of sorts that will take over every man, woman and child. The three make relatively quick work of Brainiac and the Planet quickly becomes a temple of sacrifice that they can plunge a dagger into Chloe's heart. Clark swoops in just in time and convinces them that his way can work, and they take their subject back to the Kent farm in once last attempt to draw Brainiac out of Chloe's body. The teamwork and Clark's faith in not resorting to killing prove to be more than Brainiac can handle, and they bunch him up in a little black ball of nanites to take back with them to the 31st century. And in one of many winks and nods to fans of Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes found throughout this episode, Brainiac 5 is born.
Before leaving (and passing along a Legion flight ring to Clark in the process, something that can get Clark to the 31st century if he's ever inclined), Imra sneaks in the second one-on-one conversation with Lana, and hints but no clues are made suggesting that Lana's story is far from over on this show, and that she's bound for greatness. Anyone here thinking Insect Girl? And the lesson I suggested earlier is taken to heart by Rokk and the rest of the Legion that their number one team code is now basically "Thou shalt not kill." Someone else likely does not get that memo, as we find that a few more days have passed and back up at the Fortress Davis has come out of his icy cocoon and looks a lot more ready to rumble.
So how did the live-action debut of the Legion of Superheroes work for you? An instant classic? A promising jump into a world with an almost endless array of heroes and villains to draw from? A bold step for Clark on his journey to become the Man of Steel? And was I the only one who noticed that "Wall of Weird" was misspelled?
I say long live the Legion.