When General Slade is discovered having been thrown out of the Phantom Zone, Clark and Oliver journey to the prison dimension for answers, only to find that General Zod has united the Zoners to form his own empire. Meanwhile, Lois and Tess struggle over whether or not to destroy the Phantom Zone Gate, trapping their friends, or risk more Zoners coming through.
SE 10: Episode 19 “Dominion”
Like the previous few, this episode superficially feels like a wasted one. With so much ground left to cover in only a couple of episodes, why waste time on a Gladiator rip-off? However, once you get into the meat of the story, you see that they really are addressing quite a few important points, not just to the season-arc, but to the overall mythology as well.
First up is placing General Zod where he needs to be, mythology-wise, which is trapped in the Phantom Zone, forever shaking his fist in rage at Kal-El. Thankfully, they finally addressed the issue of the two Zods, the phantom of the Original in the Zone, and the young Clone from Kandor. Back in season 9, I thought a really elegant solution to the issue of powerless Zod would be to have him become possessed by Original Zod, creating a Zod with the mind and powers of the original and the health and youth of the clone. It seems they took my suggestion, but sadly it’s more of an afterthought than the epic “Oh $#@%!” moment I’d envisioned.
Despite being about the return of Zod, this episode was pretty heavy with Darkseid references, and moves that storyline along nicely too. Just the idea that Darkseid can move freely between our world and the Zone makes him seem much more powerful and capable than anything we’ve seen so far. I’m getting kind of worried though about how much of Darkseid we’ll really see. Even with Lex’s return, Clark is going to need a big monster to punch or a big disaster to avert in the final episode, and I’m afraid that’s all Darkseid will be reduced to.
Oliver dealing with the fact that he’s been marked with the Omega symbol, and is now vulnerable to Darkseid at any time adds an extra layer to his character, and gives him a unique storyline for the final few episodes. However, Oliver has never really been a rage-driven hero, and I can’t help thinking how much more appropriate this story would be for someone like Batman, who is usually all about the rage and the darkness. Also, when did Oliver find out he was marked? Was it when Zod told him, because he didn’t look too surprised.
The references to Orion where pretty cool. In the comics, Orion is Darkseid’s son and eternal enemy. It appears they’ve merged that character with the hunter of legend for whom the constellation is named. It’s a different take, but it works for this street-level version of the Fourth World. I’m just glad we got some mention of the good New Gods. The image of Hawkman and Orion battling Darkseid way back when is pretty sweet, and gives a little more weight to Carter’s comments about fighting the Darkness before. But still, why is Darkseid here now? What draws him? A little more info would be appreciated.
Once again, Clark and Lois are in top form. I LOVE commanding and confident Clark. His whole attitude towards Zod, “I’ve beaten you before, I can do it again,” is so Superman. The fact that he does so without his powers and with his brains is even more remarkable, given that this is Smallville’s Clark, who almost never takes control and is just along for the ride. Lois proves just how far she is willing to go for Clark, both with a gun in her hand and by sitting up all night waiting for his return.
It’s good that they were able to draw so much emotion from Lois there at the end, because otherwise this would have just been a rehash of the episode Kent, where Clark is trapped somewhere and Lois and “fill in the blank” do some techno-magic to get him home. The fact that not only Tess, but the entire JLA defer to Lois in this situation shows just how much power she really has, and that’s exactly how I’d expect that scenario to play out in the comics.
All-in-all this was a superb episode. We not only got Zod, complete with minions in a flying window pane ala Superman II, but we got some movement on the Darkseid story. Clark and Lois kicked all kinds of ass, and Oliver is all set for a dramatic storyline of his own. Killer episode.