TV Discussion

Smallville 2×20 – ‘Witness’ – TV Rewind

It feels like it’s been a while since we had Clark incapacitated in some manner by kryptonite, so like clockwork ‘Witness’ gives us an episode that includes meteor rocks and a weakened Clark. While it might be easy to moan in criticism, amazingly ‘Witness’ opts to try and do something a little different with those plot threads.

It’s an indication of just far Smallville has come this season that it has so far managed to reject resorting to any of its formulas from the first season, so the possibility of it doing so this late into the second season makes one feel a sense of dread that we might be in for something of a lesser episode. But miraculously ‘Witness’ works pretty well.

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There’s a genuine sense of threat and suspense in the air as Mark Verheidan’s script gives Clark a considerable disadvantage, and instead of simply having the meteor rocks be the mode of threat against our future intrepid Daily Planet reporter, instead opts to use them to create villains with considerable strength. It gives the episode a genuine sense of jeopardy that is actually very welcome, and once again shows just how much Smallville has moved on from its reliance on monster-of-the-week stories and kryptonite fuelling the narrative in the obvious ways that it did last season.

It has always been part and parcel of so many complaints at the Superman character that he is all strong and nothing can defeat him, but credit where credit is due to Smallville, it has frequently found ways to give the character some insurmountable odds to go up against; odds which we know he’ll beat because he’s the lead character of the series, but the fun is in ‘how’ and there is a lot of that going on here.

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The episode opens up with something of a standard Smallville opening; there’s a robbery in process and Clark is going to stop it, but instead ends up having to face antagonists that are every bit as strong as he is. It’s a great opening and one that hooks you in instantly, and thankfully the episode that follows doesn’t disappoint. The inclusions of the rocks might elicit an eye-rolling reaction, but the script is a continuation of Smallville finding ways to do new things with the toys it has at its disposal and as such this is, for the most part, a suspenseful and fun episode.

Away from the main part of the plot, the character interactions have a lot of sway this week, with some enjoyably soapy angst to go with the more superpowered plot, and while it might also easy to roll the eyes at what feels like filler material, the potential break down of Clark and Chloe’s friendship and the suggestion in the final moments that she might be turning more towards Lionel Luthor is a great hint at future chaos to come, but which also promises more screentime for John Glover’s performance, which has frequently remained one of the very best things about the series.

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