'Smallville' Recap: "Masquerade"
SMALLVILLE Recap: 10.14: “Masquerade”: At the Daily Planet, Lois is on the phone with Clark, discussing the complications surrounding their impending nuptials. She’s concerned that, with the VRA repealed and the league out in the open, someone might recognize that the groom’s side is filled with superheroes. Perhaps, then, she shouldn’t be using cardboard figures of Green Arrow, Aquaman, Impulse, et al in their costumes as she plans the church seating (?) in a public place? Further complicating matters is the fact that the Blur’s new non-blurring public persona is showing up on the internet and people are starting to notice that he looks a lot like Clark Kent. Lois suggests that Clark needs a new disguise.
Her solution is to add a hood and sunglasses to the Blur’s leather jacket. It’s a nod (or perhaps a knock?) to DC Comics’ alternate world reboot of Superman, “Earth-One,” which tried to retool the character for the TWILIGHT crowd. Clark quickly and decidedly rejects it as impractical and, well, stupid.
Chloe meets a disguised Oliver (why doesn’t he grow a goatee?) at a super swanky restaurant and, unable to get a table, they snake the reservation of a couple called the Joneses. All is peachy until “Mr. Jones” gets a frantic phone call from his wife, who tells him she doesn’t have much time, that their cover has been blown, and that she “found them.” But before Oliver can get any details from Mrs. Jones, she is killed by Desaad, one of the three minions of the threatening darkness. Oliver and Chloe hop into Mr. Jones’ waiting limo and find themselves face-to-face with two large men with guns.
Clark is investigating a large group of dead bodies discovered in an abandoned tunnel when he’s set upon by a sycophantic young officer who remarks how much Clark looks and acts like the videos online of the Blur. Clark dismisses the notion, and continues his investigation at the forensics lab, where Blaine, the medical examiner says the victims all died of massive system-wide hemorrhages. When Clark notices tiny drops of ink on one victim’s hand (using another final season new power, micro-vision!), the M.E. says it was from his exploding pen.
Locked in the trunk of the limo, Ollie and Chloe have a tedious argument about the exact nature of their relationship, thankfully truncated when they reach their destination. The gunmen, who know Chloe and Oliver aren’t the Joneses, bring them to a room and demand some answers. But our lovebird heroes aren’t giving names, they’re kicking ass, and soon their abductors are all passed out on the floor. But, whoops, Chloe discovers that they just beat up a bunch of FBI agents (none of whom recognized Green Arrow, who until last episode was a wanted federal fugitive? Man, what lousy agents!). They realize that the Joneses weren’t actually a married couple, but FBI agents working on, essentially, the Darkseid case. An x-ray in another room reveals that the missing Mr. Jones has been skull-branded with the omega symbol of Darkseid’s corruption.
Chloe and Oliver go to Desaad’s sex club (last seen in this season’s third episode, “Supergirl”) since all of the FBi reports show that the branded victims had spent time there. Metropolis is one kinky town, apparently. Ollie climbs into a back window leaving Chloe in the alley to be captured by Desaad.
Clark returns to the Planet saying the forensics lab turned up no connection between the dead bodies. But Lois shows Clark crime scene photos that prove otherwise; every victim had the same ink stamp on their hands in the same spot Clark noted the drops of ink on the body in the lab. Obviously Blaine was lying.
At Watchtower, Clark and Oliver confer, coming to the conclusion that the murder victims, none of whom bore the omega brand, were people that the darkness was unable to corrupt. Which means that Chloe is either about to become one of the darkness’ tools…. or about to die.
Desaad has Chloe hanging from a meat hook in an abandoned church, where he tests her strength by tempting her using the seven deadly sins…. A vision of Clark tries to kiss her, an imaginary Oliver begs her to give up her battle and run away, a fake Lois taunts Chloe that she’s jealous. Chloe fights the visions and finds herself face to face with Desaad, who hands her a knife and says if she doesn’t kill him, all her friends will die, and then Chloe’s white-suited Matrix counterpart from last episode appears as a manifestation of her hubris. But Chloe rises above it all, just as she’s saved by the Blur.
Clark confronts Desaad, who explains that he is a servant to Darkseid (finally Clark and the rest of us can start using his real name!), and that, while Clark has gotten stronger and is incorruptible, there are some surprises in store for him. With that, Desaad traps Clark in a whoosh of mysterious blackness (a truly lazy deus ex machina) that enables him to escape, only to be accosted by Oliver outside. Desaad lies and says that Chloe’s dead, sending Ollie into a blind rage, beating Desaad until Clark escapes and intercedes.
Later, Clark and Lois get back to discussing his disguise. Clark says that he does need a mask, but the disguise will be Clark, not Supe… uh, the Blur. With that, Clark pulls out his glasses. Of course, the glasses alone don’t make the disguise, as Lois and Clark realize. And so, the insecure, slouching, bumbling Clark Kent is born, marking another iconic turn in this final season.
Back at Watchtower, Chloe is reminiscing about her Smallville High years, lamenting that she hasn’t truly felt like herself since her days on the Torch posting on the Wall of Weird. I have to agree with her, this attempt to portray Chloe as a head-turning, ass-kicking Bond bombshell just doesn’t work. At all. But the only conclusion reached is that Chloe now feels comfortable calling herself Oliver’s girlfriend. Too bad Oliver, as we discover in the final moment of the episode, bears the omega mark of Darkseid.
“Masquerade” is yet another transitional episode, with a little bit of meat on its bones, but a lot of holes in the marrow. If Tom Welling can channel even a portion of Christopher Reeve’s pitch-perfect interpretation of the nerdy Clark Kent, it’ll help in setting up the necessary deception. But again, after ten years, Smallville’s biggest suspension of disbelief isn’t about any of Kal-El’s super powers, it’s buyinig that nobody will know that Clark is Superman. We’ll see if they can pull it off.
NEXT! Zatanna returns and messes up the bachelor/ette party in “Fortune”