SMALLVILLE Recap: 10.18: “Booster”: On their way to work at the Daily Planet, Lois gives Clark lessons on how to improve his new, mild-mannered, glasses-sporting, slumped-shouldered, clumsy persona. If the Blur is going to go public and show his face, then people can’t be noticing that he looks and acts just like Clark Kent.
Just then, a teenager falls in front of an SUV bearing the logo “Kord Industries,” but before the Blur can speed to the rescue, the save is made by a preening toothpaste-ad of a superhero plastered with endorsement patches on his blue and gold costume. Posing for the cameras, he announces himself as Booster Gold (played perfectly by soap opera actor Eric Martsolf), the greatest hero you’ve never heard of.
Well, the general public, maybe, but comic book fanboys know exactly who Booster Gold is, as well as the teenager he saved, especially after a mechanical blue beetle crawls out of the car wreckage and into his backpack. We’re about to meet two more members of the Justice League, adding to the seemingly endless roster of superheroes that beat Superman to the punch in the world of Smallville.
Back at the Planet, Clark and Lois discover Booster posing for photos and giving autographs while waiting for the “hero maker,” Lois Lane. Lois dismissively rebuffs the offer of an exclusive interview, showing support for her fiancé, but really poor journalistic skills (not interested in an interview with a new superhero? Really?).
Cat Grant (oof, she’s back), however, thinks Booster is the real deal, primarily because, aside from a pair of gold sunglasses, his face is uncovered. Cat also reveals that she’s competing with Lois for a promotion (presumably to the city desk), and may the best reporter win.
Out on the street, Lois spies the rescued teenager, Jaime (Jaren Brandt Bartlett), being tortured with shaken up soda cans and “Kick Me” back signs by some mean kids apparently transported from 1955 to present-day Metropolis. Lois tries to tell the kid he needs to stand up for himself against the bullies of the world, but Jaime lacks the fortitude… at least until the beetle crawls out of his backpack and latches itself onto the back of Jaime’s neck…
At Watchtower, Clark is obsessively following Booster Gold’s activities, and notices that he seems to show up at every crime and accident just as it’s about to occur. But rather than preventing the incident, this shiny new guy makes a splashy save after it’s occurred. Lois wonders if maybe Clark is jealous, but Clark says that if Booster is being a hero merely for his own personal gain of fame and fortune, then the public may again lose trust in superheroes.
In other news, Ted Kord, the head of Kord Industries (“the Blackwater of the Midwest”), is reporting the disappearance of a major piece of hardware after the car accident in Metropolis. Clark notes that one of Kord Industries’ lesser-known services is disarming recovered super-weapons, and that he has to find the missing tech.
Cat heads to a Booster Gold autograph signing to try to get the interview, but Shiny’s not interested, he only wants Lois. “Her interview made you-know-who the hero of Metropolis… not if I get there first this time around. I should’ve come back here a long time ago.” Lois shows up, but again, just to tell this gold-plated glory hound to hit the bricks, that Metropolis is the Blur’s territory, but Booster is adamant that he’s not there to share the town; He wants to take the Blur’s place.
Clark tracks down Ted Kord to ask about the missing tech, but is rebuffed. Luckily, his super-hearing picks up Kord on the phone with hero-for-hire Booster Gold, who demands Kord arrange for him to get the key to the city in exchange for recovering the weapon. “Whatever it takes to get the scarab back,” Kord agrees as Clark whooshes and grabs the spec sheet on the missing item.
Meanwhile, a desperate Jaime tracks down Booster Gold at a rehearsal for his key acceptance rally (okay), and is told he’ll be penciled into the busy hero’s schedule. Booster’s too busy trying to decide which of his cheerleading Booster boosters will be the one to actually hand him the key to the city. A semi-disguised, bewigged Cat in a push-up bra volunteers and is chosen.
And outside, a high-tech blue armor suddenly expands out of the scarab and envelops Jaime’s body.
Clark may not know where the scarab is, but thanks to the pilfered papers, he knows what it is: an alien technology that parasitically bonded with scientist Dan Garrett, turning him into an out-of-control living weapon. Garrett died when the tech was removed. Just then, Booster calls and reveals that he knows Clark is the Blur. Clark, rather nonplussed, says they need to talk.
Racing to the alley behind the building where the key ceremony is to take place, Clark tries to convince Booster to team with him to find the scarab, despite his distaste for the flaxen megalomaniac’s style. When Booster brags about being able to do it himself, Clark notices a Legion flight ring on Booster’s hand, revealing that he’s come from the future. Yes, Booster “borrowed” the flight ring from the Legion, and yes, he knows where to be and when thanks to a “historical data droid” named Skeets that feeds him information. Clark points out that Booster’s mere presence is messing with history, a theory Skeets confirms by having no information on the whereabouts of the Kord tech.
Booster thinks it’s all about ego, and that Clark’s just jealous. He brags that once he accepts the key to the city, history will show that Booster is Metropolis’ Man of Steel…er, Gold. Booster taunts Clark to “put on the suit” and show him up, but Clark, despite planning to do so in the near future, says that suit doesn’t make the hero. He challenges Booster to put aside his ego and greed and actually be a hero, but the plea falls on deaf ears.
Booster returns to key acceptance rehearsal, which one may think is premature since it hinges on him actually recovering the scarab. No matter, the scarab finds Booster. The being known (to comics fans anyway) as Blue Beetle enters the hall and starts firing high-tech blasts, all against the will of the teenager trapped inside the armor. Jaime screams for his parasite to stop, to no avail. When Cat sees Booster take simply cover, she realizes that maybe he’s not exactly the hero he claims to be.
Outside, seeing the melee, Clark ducks into a phone booth (look it up, kids) and swiftly changes into the… ugly red jacket… of, uh, not quite Superman yet. The Blur races in just in time to save Cat from one of the Beetle’s blasts, giving Booster Gold the opportunity to finally act and hit him with a repulsor ray of his own.
Booster and the Beetle square off, the golden boy on the ropes, when (for some unexplained reason), Beetle’s helmet opens up revealing Jaime, who explains that the suit is acting on its own. Booster repeats Clark’s line about the suit not making the man, and encourages the teen to fight the suit for control. Jaime’s will power wins, and the suit retracts back into the scarab.
The battle won, Booster confesses to Clark that he’s actually a disgraced football star from the future who bet against his team and then threw the games. He stole the ring from the Legion to come to the past for another stab at glory. Clark encourages him to stay and try to make things right by helping Jaime control the Beetle armor. Booster agrees, and gives Clark some advice.
“The Blur… it sounds like a roller coaster… You need something simple, something that actually starts with that ‘S’ you wear…. Something…. Super.”
Clark says he’ll do some brainstorming, but he’s still trepidatious about how the new, bumbling image of his alter ego is going to reflect upon his fiancée (who just got the promotion, incidentally). Why would the strong, smart and sexy Lois Lane want to marry a meek geek? So superficial of Superman! Lois, on the other hand, has no such concerns.
This episode (written by comics scribe Geoff Johns and directed by star Tom Welling) is loaded with fanboy-friendly inside references to Steve Lombard, the Daily Star, Ron Troupe, and all three comic book incarnations of the Blue Beetle (from the golden age of comics through today). The phone booth gag was a nice, if anachronistic nod to the legend, and Clark even rips open his shirt and tie at the end (even if there’s only a white tee underneath).
Still, I’d have been happier without the introduction this late in the game of even more characters from the DC Comics universe. Believe me, I understand the reasons that the producers of this show have had to bring in other superheroes while keeping Clark out of the costume over the past seasons. And I realize that this isn’t the comic books or the movies or any other adaptation of Superman. Every translation is different, that’s fine, I get it.
But as much as I like Smallville (and I DO like it), it’s undeniable that the stature of the character has been watered down by being so late to the game. If Smallville is going to go out with the bang that it’s been teasing (and it’s possible), then it’s going to have to do more to convince us that “the Blur” has been an inspiration to the heroes who’ve traipsed across this landscape already.
On a positive note, I’m thrilled that Smallville is free to again use music from John Williams’ iconic Superman score (in the promos and no doubt the finale), now that Bryan Singer’s stab at continuing the Richard Donner / Christopher Reeve legacy is a part of the past. Smallville may be small screen, but it’s become an undeniably big part of the vast mythology of this venerable character.
NEXT: Clark (and Oliver!) head to the Phantom Zone and do their best to NOT kneel before Zod in “Dominion!”