TV Discussion

Smallville 3×13 – ‘Velocity’ – TV Rewind

Regrettably, Pete Ross has become something of a forgotten character on Smallville. Despite discovering Clark’s secret at the beginning of season two, the possibilities of that plot twist opening up storytelling avenues for Sam Jones III has never materialised. By this stage of the series it feels as if he may as well not be there, given that the series has been on fire with other plots and characters and all but forgotten about him.

Despite ending on a great cliffhanger last week with Jonathan collapsing with what looked to be a heart attack, and with it the ramifications when it comes to Jonathan Kent dying in the Superman mythos, ‘Velocity’ does very little with it and instead throws us into an episode that uses The Fast and the Furious as inspiration, deciding that what Smallville needs at this stage is a little of that illegal street racing magic for an episode.

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Airing in 2004, it’s hard to believe but The Fast and the Furious franchise was only two movies old at this stage and only one of them had featured Vin Diesel, who had opted not to come back for its immediate sequel. The first film was obviously a big hit, big enough to spearhead a follow-up that did okay but was released the same summer as The Matrix Reloaded and X Men 2, so it wasn’t as if it was the pop culture juggernaut that we now think of it as.

Throwing Pete and Clark into a Fast and the Furious style plot doesn’t sound great on paper, and regrettably Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer’s script doesn’t do anything too interesting with the concept. There’s a moment when Clark admits to taking his friendship with Pete for granted, and you can sense the possibility of something interesting within the episode dealing with Clark and Pete not being in each other’s orbit as much as they used to be, but the episode never runs with it in the way that you want or expect it to.

Putting in references to nitrous and featuring sequences where you keeping expecting Vin Diesel and Paul Walker to appear cannot help but bring out groans of embarrassment from the audience. It’s a shame, because Smallville‘s third year is a great season from the series, but this just smacks of something that one might have expected it to do in season one when it was still trying to find its feet, not in the middle of a season where it’s been firing on all cylinders and has much in the way of great plot threads and story arcs going on.

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The whole episode feels as if the writers have had to capitulate to a network note of ‘Hey, you know what kids are into, The Fast and the Furious; get Clark into a street racing plot’  and this is the end result. Being a twenty-two episode run, network television series frequently have to rely on filler episodes, but sometimes that can end up giving the writers of a television show a great excuse to use their imaginations and do something fun and interesting; perhaps an opportunity to stretch the limits of the series a little bit and deliver something that really makes you want to recommend the series to other people.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those episodes and sadly sees the season make not only a misstep in terms of quality, but also fail to do something interesting with a character it really ought to have been doing better things with.

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