SMALLVILLE Recap: 10.19: “Dominion”: Lois and Clark are moving into their new Metropolis apartment, where issues of super speed and Lois’ Whitesnake t-shirt pillow are superceded by bad news from Tess. Slade Wilson has been released from the Phantom Zone (where he was unceremoniously sent by the Blur in episode 10.11, “Icarus”). The question is, How?, as only someone from the House of El can use the crystals that confine or release evildoers to Jor-El’s otherworldly prison.
The League convenes at Watchtower, where Oliver hitches a ride with Clark into the Phantom Zone to help him solve the mystery. As Kryptonians are powerless in the Zone, Ollie figures Clark can use the help.
On his first foray into the Phantom Zone, Green Arrow is greeted with a garden of spiked skulls, many emblazoned with Darkseid’s Omega sign of corruption (remember, we know that Ollie has one on his own pate). Clark and Ollie find the zone portal, but the crystal is gone, leaving them stranded and at the mercy of the worst criminals in the galaxy. They’re captured and taken to the leader of the Zone…. General Zod. Who makes them kneel. Of course.
Zod has Oliver taken away while he delivers blows and recriminations to Kal-El. Clark warns that he has defeated Zod in the past (twice!) and will do so again, powers or no powers. Zod reveals that he sent Slade back from the zone in order to lure Kal-El, and that he now possesses the crystal, able to make use of it thanks to a blood transfusion from Clark in season 9.
Clark is taken to a makeshift arena where he is forced to fight another “gladiator” to the death (while a caged Ollie watches) in a sword-and-sorcery setting replete with leather-bikini-clad slave chicks. Clark defeats his opponent, but naturally refuses to take his life, so Zod does it for him, gleefully. “When are you going to learn it’s kill or be killed?” Zod asks.
At Watchtower, Tess tells Lois that Clark instructed her to destroy the crystal on Earth and permanently seal the Zone portal if they failed to return within three hours. Lois, however, doesn’t like the idea of losing her fiancé a month before the wedding, so she forces Tess (at gunpoint? Really?) to belay that order.
Back in the Zone, Oliver is brought before Zod (for some more kneeling, etc.), who reveals that upon his banishment to the Zone, Zod was approached by Darkseid, who promised him lordship over the dominion in exchange for one thing: luring Earth’s greatest protector into the Zone so Kal-El couldn’t interfere with his plans for conquest.
Zod says that he also knows Oliver is one of the millions on Earth with enough anger inside of him to make him one of Darkseid’s minions. Zod predicts that if Clark knew about Oliver’s omega mark, he would lose full faith in his ally, and eventually Green Arrow would be cast away. But in the Phantom Zone, Oliver could rule side-by-side with General Zod (giving him a nominal Queen, anyway. Get it? Oliver QUEEN? Funny, right? Oh, never mind).
Seemingly swayed, Oliver enters the arena to battle—you guessed it—Clark. In yet another painful Smallville “homage” to a movie, the ensuing battle is shot ala Zack Snyder’s “300” (maybe a nod to the director of the next Superman movie?) slow-motion, hyper-saturated shots enhancing the medieval-costumed rippling muscles and spraying blood and flashing metal-on-metal sparks. The battle rages until a lunging Clark is impaled by Oliver’s sword. Oooch! Game over! But before Ollie can deliver the final kill stroke, Zod intervenes, claiming that the honor of killing Kal-El.
Although in retrospect, Zod should’ve first taken off the portal-opening crystal that he’s been wearing as a necklace. As Zod raises his sword for the kill, Oliver grabs his arm, giving Clark the chance to snatch the crystal. Zod falls as Clark’s wound heals and he promises, “No more second chances.” Clark crushes the crystal just as he and Oliver are returned to world from the Phantom Zone, which spirals off into the universe ala Superman: the Movie.
Back home, Oliver (whose wounds didn’t disappear) gets treated by Tess, who says that Emil should make sure he’s not seriously hurt. Clark says that he knew that no matter what Zod tempted Oliver with, he knew he could count on Green Arrow to help him win the battle. Oh, uh, yeah, that’s what happened, says Ollie, but what if one of the superheroes got infected with the darkness, what then? “We’d have to lock them up!” returns Clark. Whoops.
Clark goes home to Lois and finds their new apartment completely set up. Turns out that while Clark and Oliver were only in the Zone for a few hours, back on Earth, three weeks have passed. Lois makes Clark promise that in the future he won’t hide the extent of the danger of his missions from her, that he’ll treat her as his full partner. Clark agrees, then realizes that their wedding is in two days. Now THAT’S a dangerous mission!
Meanwhile… a very concerned Oliver plans to retrieve a weapon called the Bow of Orion from the Celtic Coast. Ollie tells Tess that Hawkman said that “this guy Orion” used it to kick Darkseid’s butt the last time he threatened Earth (in the comics, Orion is Darkseid’s forsaken son, a member of the “New Gods” who stand against the despotic ruler of Apokolips). Tess wants to help, but Oliver says no, he’s gotta do this alone.
And then Ollie goes to a church to light a candle and a statue of an angel weeps blood. Yeesh.
Smallville’s version of the Phantom Zone is a weird mixture of Cimmeria and Chess King, whereas in the comics, the name is literal; it’s a non-corporeal state of being for its prisoners, who are free to roam the universe and observe, but cannot physically interact. This episode makes a valiant effort to tie up some strings regarding both the Zone and Zod (merging the younger cloned Zod from season 9 with the original, older General whose consciousness was hosted by Lex Luthor in season 5… yeah, it’s confusing).
There’s a lot of lazy logic in this episode. How was Clark’s three-week absence explained at work? Lois tells Clark that the rest of the Justice League thought it “wasn’t safe” to send more heroes into the Zone after them. Hah? Since when does the Justice League avoid a mission because it’s “unsafe?” ESPECIALLY if two of their teammates are in danger? Lois threatening Tess with a gun is a totally unnecessary gag seemingly done just for a dramatic scene cap. And I again have to point out that Superman is NOT Wolverine… injuries he sustains while powerless do not just vanish when he regains his powers… he also can’t rebuild the Great Wall of China with his super-vision. Oh, wait, that’s “Superman IV.” I get confused sometimes.
Only one more episode until the finale! Green Arrow and Supergirl team up to find the Bow of Orion while Lois gets a taste of what it’s like to have super powers in “Prophecy!”