The presence of Lois Lane has been a great boost for Smallville; not that it really needed it, given that this is a season of television following on from one of its best run of episodes in season three. However, one cannot help but get the sense that the writers are trying to find their way back to something approaching season one, an attempt to harken back to the series’ roots as if they are seemingly correcting the mistakes of the previous season.
While Smallville has morphed and changed so much in the span of three seasons, it has done so for the better, and yet ‘Facade’ feels like a season one script that has been updated to incorporate season four characters, such as the recently arrived Lois, and Lana’s new boyfriend, Jason. This could be a deliberate choice here, as the episode begins with a flashback to events around season one and sees a return to Jason’s predecessor, Whitney (Eric Johnson in a lovely callback cameo).
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The use of plastic surgery enhanced by meteor rocks feels like a none more season one concoction, and the intermingling of teen issues with science fiction/horror material is a prime slice of Smallville‘s storytelling, but it’s hard to escape the feeling the series has moved beyond this. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if ‘Facade’ was really doing something new with the material, but it’s really not. It’s a weirdly lacklustre tale that comes as something of a strange disappointment at this stage, given how far the series has come in three years.
Even the inclusion of a plotline involving Clark trying out for football once again has its basis in season one. Yes, this is a high school series, and maybe trying to get back to something approaching basics for the series’ final high school year (we’re off to college next season after all) might be a massive factor in the writers wanting to enjoy this type of thing while they still can, but four seasons into the series, this sort of approach only works if the story has a legitimate reason for existing, or something new can be done with it, and it’s disappointing to note that Holly Harold’s script doesn’t quite do anything new or different.
The central idea of the plot involves a guest character never seen before but who all the regular characters already appear to know. Abigal Fine (Brianna Lynn Brown) has become attractive thanks to plastic surgery, after having been given an undeserved reputation because of her looks. She is now capable of turning heads, but ends up on a killing spree as a result of newfound abilities. It’s an idea that has been used before. The central tick of the powers here is different, in this case kissing that can lead to deadly hallucinations, but it’s very much a case of Smallville by numbers, even if does manage to have a lot of fun in having Lois Lane involved and having the true villain of the piece be the plastic surgeons herself, but it’s not enough to change up the rhythms of the episode.
One of the best things about the episode is its final scene, a lovely flirtatious moment that hints at future developments, but one that we are sadly going to have to wait a long time for until the series does something with it.