Final Season: Smallville & the Seven Deadly Sins

In many ways it feels strange to be creeping toward the end of a series that has changed my life in so many ways. I grew up with these characters and while part of me is delighting in the fact that this season of Smallville has been perhaps the strongest stint in the series’ history, I’m also a little sad that we are speeding toward the end. And yet… Clark is finally becoming Superman. It’s actually happening. And I had no idea how much that would fill me with joy.

The Plot: Since the repealed act that would prevent super heroes from interfering wherever they can to save people, The Blur has been helping people all over the world — in China, in London, and wherever he is needed. And now that photographs and web cams of him are turning up on the internet, the employees of the Daily Planet are becoming suspicious since a certain Clark Kent looks an awful lot like him. It makes them nicer to him at work — but that isn’t a good thing, because Lois is afraid he’s going to blow his cover. She wants him to adopt a disguise but Clark isn’t keen on the idea. In the meantime, Oliver Queen is living the after-effects of going public as a super hero by meeting Chloe for an in-disguise date. Their evening turns ugly when they are caught up in a criminal investigation that has ties to Darkseid. Chloe must face down her deepest desires to avoid being infected but Oliver is not so fortunate…

Spiritual Symbolism:

Just when I thought this show could not get any more blatant in this regard… not that I mind. As a believer, I love it whenever any mainstream movie or television show delves into spiritual matters. I was a bit shocked at the obvious symbolism here, but given what this season has shown us so far, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. (I’m starting to think there is either a Christian on the writing team or that God has a hand in what is translating to film — since He can use any medium, even and maybe particularly secular ones.) I LOVED the result. In many ways, this was so much more profound and subtle than when Supernatural tackled the same topic several seasons ago — confronting someone with the Seven Deadly Sins. (In their version, each sin was represented through a demon that the boys had to defeat.)

Throughout this season, our opinion of Chloe has wavered because of her inconsistencies and resistance toward Oliver. She disappeared for months with no explanation and left Clark and Oliver wondering what had happened. Here, she is bound in a basement (with gorgeous, religious stained glass motifs in the background) and Darkseid (Satan) tempts her with the things most likely to cause her to stumble. He appears first as Clark to express his sadness that they never had a chance to find out how good they would be together — Clark asks her for just one kiss, which would mean both of them cheating on the people they love — lust. When she resists, Darkseid appears as Oliver, asking her to run away with him and hide, to allow the rest of the world to deal with the darkness — Sloth. Then Lois comes to her, mocking her with the true love she has for Clark, in an attempt to make Chloe experience Envy. Desaad tempts her to defend herself and kill him, in an attempt to get her on Wrath.

None of these temptations succeed… and then comes Pride. Pride because she has not been truly tempted. Pride because she needs no one. Pride because she has so much power. Pride is what stands between her and happiness, because as Dark!Chloe reminds her, it renders love unimportant. Interesting they would go that route, because the implication here is that Chloe choosing to love is what prevents her soul from being taken, that Love is the most powerful thing, even more powerful than sin. Chloe has resisted admitting her true feelings for Oliver because to her it is an indication of weakness, of admitting that she needs someone in her life, that she cannot always save herself — admitting that she needs love is humility, which is the opposite of pride. True, Clark super-speeds in and takes her away, but Chloe still had to make a choice — and in the end, she chose Love. (I won’t insult your intelligence in saying why the concept of love is so important this season. “For God so loved…”)

I really liked how the temptations were presented. Too many times films make the mistake of presenting evil as blatant and frightening when in reality, the enemy’s greatest weapon is his cunning, his ability to tap into human nature and whisper sweet lies into our ear. Little things like… would it really be so bad to kiss Clark just once? Would it be all right to seek your own happiness rather than a higher calling or cause? Is it really wrong to resent that someone else has something you don’t? Yet what he usually nails us on is pride, as — and as C.S. Lewis often said — it is the most deadly of the seven sins, because it is often what leads to the rest. Chloe appearing in white is symbolic of her own pride in what she has accomplished, in being able to save other people. Darkseid knew she would be a tough sell but gave it his best shot… Oliver was much easier to infect. All it took was one lie, not because Chloe is a better person than Olivier, but because he has always had a much more profoundly obvious weakness. Evil doesn’t care who you are or how it gets you; it knows your weaknesses.

Clark struggling between what he must do, what he was born to do, and protecting his identity is also quite touching — in the end, he decides to be who he was meant to be and live in the real world in disguise. He dedicates himself to a higher purpose and undertakes humiliation in the world through the guise of a geeky, glasses-wearing reporter because it is the right thing to do. Ah, Clark, buddy, you have come a long way. Love you.

Immaterial Thoughts:

I really liked this episode — a lot. It was dark and sinister but also light and fun. It was terrific to see Clark actually acting like a grown-up reporter, prowling around crime scenes and asking questions, visiting the morgue. I enjoyed seeing Lois planning the seating arrangement for their wedding and warning him to be careful now that he’s gone “global.” The entire interaction between Chloe and Oliver, particularly over dinner and later in the trunk of the car, was classic sensual comedy in which they managed to hit all the right notes. The look on her face when she remembered it was their anniversary, the banter about being shut up in a limo trunk, their entire flirty exchange at the bar. Brilliant stuff, kudos to the writers — and I loved their little homage to Mr. & Mrs. Smith when, after the thrill of beating up an entire team of FBI agents, they are so wound up all they can do is kiss one another passionately.

Loved the little red dress, too, now that I think about it. It suited her really well and was quite cute. This is the Chloe I know and adore, and I think her entire confession about not knowing who she was anymore and wanting to become who she was in the past, rather than a “no one,” was very poignant. Chloe has been many things over the course of the series, but the bottom line has always come down to her passionate dedication to the truth and in protecting her friends. I think that so often we try to become something we are not, repressing who we are inside, and it never ends well — it only separates us from the possibility of love and brings us deep unhappiness. It is evident that Oliver and Chloe need one another and are good for one another, in the same way that Lois brings out the best in Clark. He is different with her than he was with anyone else — she has helped him mature without asking him to change who he is (just asking him to be a little more careful — and consider a hood!).

The last ten minutes of this episode were great.  Clark putting on the glasses and shoving them awkwardly up his nose like Christopher Reeve used to do gave me a shiver of delight. And of course, the ominous ending that reminds us that Olivier is not who he pretends to be. I saw it coming, but now the question remains… will Love save him?

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