TV Discussion

Smallville 5×15 – ‘Cyborg’ – TV Rewind

One of the most gratifying things about Smallville as it has continued into its later seasons has been its willingness to bring in other DC characters to interact with Clark as he himself has gotten older and closer to his inevitable destiny as Superman. There have been, of course, references and little Easter Eggs dotted here and there, itself a custom of so much superhero live action fiction by this stage; the Sam Raimi Spider-Man, the X-Men films, and even Batman Begins, weren’t above placing occasional hints about characters that existed or who were on the cusp of becoming their alter egos that could be paid off in future instalments.

Season four of Smallville might have been a mess at various points, but its introduction of Bart Allen to the series was one of its most fun episodes, and even season five brought in a hunky and very enjoyably charming and cocky iteration of Aquaman. As the season approaches its final third, there is something enjoyable about the series when it’s in the midst of stories and themes concerned with death, loss and change looking to bring in a new future friend and Justice League colleague to the series.

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The character of Cyborg is a wonderful one to bring into Smallville‘s world and manages to fit into the series’ storytelling vibes of being about younger characters facing physical and emotional change (puberty and growing up metaphors abound), but which also allows the series to get into the gutter with the ever changing and developing friendship and on-the-cusp antagonism between Clark and Lex.

© 2006 Warner Bros. Television.

You can sense Smallville changing so much here. Yes, the monster-of-the-week stories are still present and correct, but you can also tell that this is a series knowing that it’s sweeping itself into a part of the Clark Kent story that perhaps will be more influenced by its comic book source than it had been before; Clark and Lex at loggerheads, more meta humans showing up that are in fact iconic faces from the comics themselves, not to mention increasingly heightened stakes.

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Things are constantly changing for the characters. High school is well and truly over by this stage, and the innocence of the past is constantly in flux and it’s actually bringing out the best of the show nearly every week. Clark is still missing his father, his mother is moving on and maybe, most shocking of all, in the middle of everything it’s maybe Lionel Luthor that is becoming more trustworthy than his son, even if the viewer is still concerned about his own intentions.

It would be remiss of me to not mention the great Lee Thompson Young here who is wonderful as Victor Stone. Yes, the suit and mechanics here are maybe not quite up to par with what we’d see with later iterations of the character such as in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but it’s the heart and soul of the character that Young taps into so delicately and wonderfully. There is a tragic beating heart with Cyborg that makes the character work so well, even within the pages of his comic stories, and this is no exception. There is an equal sense of tragedy to be had in knowing that Young, who would later go on to be appear in popular crime procedural Rizzoli and Isles, sadly passed away at too young an age.

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