This review may contain spoilers.
Hallelujah! It seems that after a decade of soul-searching and grappling with his destiny, Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is starting to get the picture.
Though last week's episode established that the Luthors are officially back in town, "Masquerade" takes a break from that storyline to shed a little more light on the ominous "darkness."
While Lois (Erica Durance) and Clark prepare for their impending nuptials and develop a way to balance both Clark's identity, Oliver (Justin Hartley) and Chloe (Allison Mack) stumble into a botched investigation of Darkseid's rising wave of terror.
Caught up in this latest mess, the pair finally hash out the nature of their relationship, which has loomed somewhere between casual fling to full-on romance since the storyline was introduced last season. It also gives both characters the opportunity to reflect on just how much their lives have changed since their respective introductions on the show.
This entire final season quite fittingly has been about growing up, accepting your place in the world and clarifying where you stand with the people in your life. All four of the series' leads are in the midst of some tremendous life decisions, and the episode's title truly cuts to the heart of the illusions they clung to for years.
In other words, "Masquerade" marks a stripping-away of the character's masks and a turning point that will allow them (and "Smallville" fans) to move forward, as the series reaches its epic conclusion and Clark finally dons the big "S."
Points of Interest
1. Clark finally realizes decides that his earthly identity is the mask he can wear.
2. How great was Chloe's reflective moment with the yearbook picture of her season one counterpart?
3. So is Oliver officially taken over by Darkseid or is he just marked for later in the season?
One of the most memorable sequences was definitely Desaad's (Steve Byers) tempting of Chloe, wherein he ran through the seven deadly sins in an attempt to find her weakness. It really touched on a lot of Chloe's long-standing inner turmoil relating to everything from the power she wielded as Watchtower to her crush on Clark in the show's first few seasons.
As the only actor other than Welling to appear in every season of "Smallville," Mack has been a constant presence on the show and among its most reliable performers, and her character finally seems to have a renewed sense of purpose. There was a point a couple seasons ago when the writers appeared to have run out of storylines for her and instead attempted to reinvent her over and over. It's nice to finally see Chloe achieve some stability, even if the series itself is almost over.
Clark's international rescues as The Blur brings him one step closer to becoming Earth's greatest protector, and it was quite the rush to see his Kryptonian family crest plastered all over the news.
Add that with Clark's long-overdue decision that his "Clark Kent" identity should be the mask he uses to protect his hero work, and this makes one monumental turning point of an episode for the character.
What Didn't Work
"Masquerade" continues this season's trend of memorable moments and major character development at the expense of compelling villains.
Although the Darkseid subplot has been simmering all season, none of the characters the show has brought on to personify this lingering menace can match the dramatic force that the Luthors held during the first seven seasons of "Smallville." Even Davis Bloome/Doomsday was a better antagonist.
The character of Desaad does serve his purpose, however, and reinvigorates the season's focus on what is supposed to be its Big Bad.
In addition, Chloe and Oliver's kidnapping -- though it serves as a catalyst to their soul-searching -- can't help but feel like a tired retread of a plot device "Smallville" has used one too many times. Can't help but smile at Oliver's off-the-cuff remark about how this is only his most recent kidnapping.
On the whole, "Masquerade" keeps the show on track for what should be an especially satisfying finale.
With Darkseid looming in the shadows, the Luthors back in town and Clark merely a flight and a cape away from becoming "super," "Smallville" has succeeded in pulling it all together with this final season. Let the countdown to May 13 -- and Michael Rosenbaum's much-anticipated return as Lex -- begin!
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Masquerade" was written by Bryan Q. Miller and was directed by Tim Scanlan.
"Smallville" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
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