Here’s my review of Smallville 10.10 “Luthor”.
Two things standout from this episode that I enjoyed for many reasons. One is the introduction of Earth-Two, a parallel universe that is the home of Ultraman, Clarks evil double who has allowed his power to corrupt him. The next was the return of John Glover as Lionel Luthor, Lex and Tess’ father, not the “soft” Lionel but the ruthless version of him from the earlier seasons.
The episode begins with Tess receiving a Kryptonian device that Clark activates, causing him to switch places with his doppelganger in the parallel universe. There, he comes face to face with Lionel Luthor who reached Clark first and raised him as his own son. The city is a mess, people fear the Ultraman persona, while Lois and Oliver are united in their hatred towards Clark Luthor.
There is a touch of Greek tragedy that involves Lionel being disappointed that Clark hadn’t killed him to take power, Clark had killed Lex in Earth-Two previously. The final touch is that Clark is in a relationship with his adoptive sister, Tess. Some pretty heavy stuff in this episode, not even mentioning the damage Ultraman inflicted when he arrived in Earth-One where he destroyed Watchtower and nearly killed the rest of the team. When the two switch back the device is destroyed and we’re left hoping the trap setup by Earth-Two Oliver had setup for Ultraman will stop the madman.
I have to say this is one of the best episodes in the series to date. Tom Welling seems to have so much fun when he portrays Clark as evil that if he were to take some villainous roles after the show he can have a decent film career, but the two that steal this episode are John Glover and Cassidy Freeman.
To say Glover had set the bar for villainous portrayal on the show is an understatement. He was the big bad for the first three seasons, stealing any scene he was in. His return after his season 7 death was one I personally looked forward to because by the end of his run Lionel had gone from bad guy to looking out for Clark. He was the character with the most evolved arc, yet there was still the feeling of ulterior motive in play. With this episode, he returned to the Shakespeare quoting tactical business man and (SPOILER ALERT!) when he tagged along as Clark returned from Earth-Two to Earth-One going undetected, we’re left wondering what’s in store for future episodes.
Cassidy Freeman continues to get better and better, her portrayal of Tess has elevated the character from a Lex replacement to someone I find myself caring about. In both incarnations of Tess she brought humanity to the character when she confirmed she is Lionel’s daughter to Clark. Tess, despite all that she knows about Lionel is sad she was rejected by him. It’s only in Clarks words she finds comfort that she was better off not being around him. Earth-Two Tess was something else. I could see she had fun playing her as she lusted after Clark and took joy in defying Lionel.
This episode is on par as the best. I have to say the use of color was interesting for first time director, Kelly Souders. Her use of muted color for Earth-Two to convey the despair and fear Ultraman casted was a great contrast to the bright colors used for Earth-One. Another favorite bit of mine was the use of the Ultraman symbol from the comics, I enjoy those little nods the creators throw in there for the fans and how they use them.