This past Friday’s episode of Smallville, “Patriot”, might just be my favorite episode in the series to date replacing flashier episodes like last season’s two-parter “Ultimate Justice.”
While Oliver attempts to discover the true purpose of the Vigilante Registration Act by signing up, and Clark checks in on Arthur to see if he’s gone rogue, Lois is forced to fight her way up stream to come to the aid of Clark and the League all the while being hindered by Clark’s continued secrecy, and she must question how open and equal their relationship really is.
The entire VRA set-up is reminiscent of Marvel Comics Superhero Registration Act, and civil war in almost every conceivable way; from the creation of a hidden high tech prison to neutralize heroes who don’t play ball to the arguments about civic duty and responsibility this has all been done before.
And yet, It comes off a lot more believable in this setting, these are not high profile heroes in bright colors who’ve had the public trust for decades suddenly being turned on by the public. There is no squabble between to key heroes with the others duking it out in the streets. The VRA is headed up by General Slade Wilson, a name DC comics fans will recognize as belonging to Deathstroke the Terminator, someone who has completely succumb to Darkseid’s will (as evidenced by the symbol Omega on his forehead, could this be the Omega Effect? Or the Anti-Life Equation?) and has fully given into the fear and paranoia in his heart, he simply believes the heroes are too powerful and civilians can’t be held accountable for their actions if they are more powerful then the system. This is a much more human, and less pretentious story of hero registration.
Even still if that was the true focus of the episode it would have gotten monotonous really fast, but the true story here is Lois and her attempt to come to Clark’s aid being hampered by the protective shell of secrecy Clark has placed her in.
I admit I did not like Erica Durance when she first took the role of Lois in season 4, I felt she didn’t look, sound, or act the part of Lois but overtime she’s developed into an instantly recognizable version of the character. And the last three seasons that have saw the development of her relationship with Clark have been a treat to watch. But it is this episode, when past all the hurtles they’ve overcome they face that last big one that keeps them from a real equal relationship. As Lois say’s, “we practically share a desk, but I’m still not the real work wife.”
First she discovers the location of the only operational superhero prison on her own, and then together with Tess witnesses Oliver’s abduction, the entire time the two of them using the same excuses for Clark’s absence to keep each other in the dark. If Lois had known Tess was part of the team at this point they could have stopped Arthur from falling into Slade’s trap.
Then Lois discusses her relationship with Arthur’s wife Mera, who does not understand why men like Clark would pick her, an inferior, as their partner and Mera shows Lois that she’s been protected and excluded from this aspect of Clark’s life. Though she proves just how inferior she is by furnishing the plans and location of the superhero prison.
And finally the episode ends with her telling Clark that not only she but all the members of the team are equal partners in this venture, and they all need full disclosure her about the team itself and the rest of the team about Darksied, something Clark was keeping a secret because his vulnerability, when he considered himself untouchable previously, frightens him.
When she is brought to Watchtower and told this is the official headquarters of the Home team, Tess comments, “Which [Lois] is obviously on now… Finally.”
I give this episode a 4.5 out of 5, and while it is technically a bechdel failure the interaction between the three women is great and and overall I find this episode to be incredibly positive as Smallville often, but not always, is.