Thursday, January 15, 2009

Legion on Smallville: so what did you think?

SPOILERS for the Smallville episode "Legion":

If only they hadn't said that the only way to stop Chloe was to kill her, it would have been a great episode. I loved the little touches - the sulfur pits of Tharr, the Levitz museum, the flight rings, the bio-electro-magnetic blast, even the "costumes".

She looked the part, but Alexz Johnson's portrayal of Saturn Girl was just totally flat.

I was really surprised that the Persuader was out so fast. And in a nod to the Post-52 Post-Crisis Lightning Saga Legion, he was a member of the xenophobic group (at least in spirit) that Earth Man and the rest of his group were. Another Johns callback - giving Clark the time-travel Legion flight ring, also last seen in L3W.

But for all the squee-age of the episode, the only part that didn't ring true was that the Legionnaires said that they only way to stop Brainiac was to kill it's host, Chloe. I know that that was purely for dramatic tension in the story, and I would have accepted it from anyone else, but it didn't work for me. And given that Brainiac was taken to the future at the end, and not seen in the intervening 1000 years, how did they know that they had to kill the host?

Newsarama explained the "Brainiac 5" comment at the end of the episode - Chloe was the 4th person to have been possessed by Brainiac on the show.

I did get goosebumps at the "Long Live the Legion" scene at the end.

Unfortunately I didn't find this Newsarama article until too late:

NRAMA: Counting the people who have been possessed by Brainiac on the show, wouldn’t that make Chloe the fourth one? Is she Brainiac 4? And what does that mean for the future?

GJ: That's an interesting question. I guess we'll find out.

...NRAMA: The episode also has the Persuader in it. Was that your idea, and why pick him as the Legion villain in this episode?

GJ: There was a villain from the future coming back, and I thought, more than almost anyone, he would look great on film. I love the Persuader, and I wanted to see him swinging around that Atomic Axe. I did a list of villains that could come back, but at the end of the day, Persuader was the best one.

...NRAMA: What's it like for Clark to hear about what's coming in his future?

GJ: They do tell him about the future, but they temper it because of their Legion Code and the rules of time travel. But Clark probably hears a little more than Cosmic Boy would want him to know. And that's a lot of fun. There's a couple things that the Legion mention specifically that will resonate with comics readers and fanboys -- because Legion members are essentially fanboys and fangirls themselves, coming back in time to meet their greatest idol. So they know a lot about him, but there are certain things they see now that don't necessarily match what they've come to know in the future. What they believe is probably more in line with what we know about Superman. So, on one hand, they’re fanboys looking at Smallville and going...”Uh, why aren’t you flying yet?”

NRAMA: While Smallville is clearly a different universe from the comic book DCU, we've seen in previews for this episode that there are a lot of nods toward the comic Legion just in the way they're dressed, with their rings, obviously, but even a few little touches on their costumes. Was that important for these characters?

GJ: That's something everybody on the show was really into, making sure that, while they weren't going to wear spandex, they still needed to be Legionnaires. So I said, well they've got to have the colors and they've got to have their symbols. You know, Cosmic Boy has to be black and purple, and the only symbol of sorts he has are the metal discs. But they work.

Here's what they're saying:



T. Troy McNemar said...

Yeah, they tried to make the importance of the Legionnaires learning their code from Superman a plot point, but it didn't really work out the way they wanted to. It might have been entirely different if they'd caught Chloe and then decided it was the best option, but they instead announced from the beginning that they were going to kill Chloe and spent the rest of the episode playing the Legion of Super-Assassins. Rang flat, particularly since Cos should be as strong a moral compass as Clark.

I disagree with you about the acting on Imra. I think there was some deliberate numbness in the portrayal.

Meerkatdon said...

I dunno, I really liked it. I squealed with joy when the Persuader's axe went flying across the room, and out reached a hand adorned with a Legion flight ring. Then I kept squealing throughout the episode. "Garth, you're such a Sub." BWAH-ha-ha!

The "we have to kill the host" thing threw me at first, but then I rationalized it this way: I suspect that this was very early in the history of the Legion.

These three relatively-inexperienced heroes came back in time to catch the Persuader, then found themselves out of their depth. And the legendary hero they counted on, Superman, wasn't who they thought he was.

They thought they knew that Brainiac had to be killed -- that's probably what the legends of the past said. And since Superman wasn't going to do it, they figured that there was nothing they could do except kill Brainiac themselves.

Still, their better natures fought against the act. Garth couldn't do it, and the only way Rokk could manage it was through his fear and disappointment.

...Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it.

Personally, I rather liked the portrayal of Imra. It makes sense for a telepath to be reserved and quiet.

My husband had an interesting observation about the costumes. He says it was as if the Legionnaires said to themselves, "Okay, we're going back into the 21st century, we need to blend in, so let's make versions of our costumes that will fit in back then."

jab said...

yeah the killing thing shouldnt be a problem once its resolved by clark's showing them there is another way to do things- i mean theyre founded on sauperman's principles right? of course if it was one of his principles already they should know that cause theyre from the future, but its not like they were murdering people up to that point or something.

Terence Chua said...

Sadly, won't get to see it until I download it after I get home from work today. Oh, the suspense. Will probably blog about it after.

HeroFan said...

These were obviously very young legionnaires. While I had my doubts when they started talking about killing Chloe, I didn't mind it as much once Clark made his speech. Sure, in a perfect episode they wouldn't have needed that lesson, but the way it was handled was more than acceptable.

It was just so FREKING SWEER to see a live action Legion!

And yes, I admit it. I wore my ring and a Legion t-shirt just to watch!

RAB said...

Perhaps the only thing that bothered me as a fan which would not have bothered me if I'd never seen the Legion before was Rokk taking the role of Garth -- solemn duty-bound leader, protective and solicitous of Imra -- while Garth becomes a goofball. That said, Calum Worthy was by a very wide margin the best actor in the episode, and one could hardly blame them if the roles were swapped around to give him the persona he was best suited to play.

On the other hand, my objection to the potentially homicidal Legion would probably still bother me even if I knew nothing about the Legion. It didn't feel supported by the facts available to the characters...and it undermines the desired sense that they come from a positive or hopeful future. The uninformed viewer is told that "we are travellers from the future, and we're inspired by your shining example to do good" and that this is a good thing. But if we're then told their code is "Do whatever it takes" then of what value has Clark been as a role model, and why should we as viewers think his legacy is a good one? They should be setting impossibly high standards for themselves because they think he's perfect.

There was a better possible plot direction hidden in Garth's reaction to Clark -- the whole "this is the guy we've been emulating?" thing. If the episode had hinged more on these time travellers seeing that Clark isn't entirely what they expected and their trust in him wavering a little (and therefore their trust in themselves) to the point where they thought "Oh no, what if we have to do something really terrible here? Clark isn't saving the day like he's supposed to!" then we'd have a stronger story. They really should have been backed into a corner with no other choice but to consider killing as a last desperate resort, not the easy way out.

And also, saving the day could have involved Clark doing something himself other than just saying "You guys can do it if you just try." Like maybe: only his super strength could restrain Chloe while his super-senses detected the Brainiac particles, and Imra telepathically sends an image of what Clark sees to Rokk so he can extract the metallic stuff. (Or does he not have vision powers yet either? Then maybe he has to do something at super-speed. The point is, out of dramatic necessity it needed to be something only all four of them together could do, and it wasn't.)

Overall, though, this was better than I had hoped.

SherylR said...

Well, you notice that the only one who actually was going to KILL Chloe was Rokk. Garth couldn't do it. They didn't even give the knife to Imra. My husband, who isn't even a Legion fan, much less a member of the Cosmic Boy Death League was saying "Give the knife to Rokk, he'll DO it." Sure enough! It's a great day for the Death League.

I thought the whole purpose of the episode was to show how Clark influenced the Legion. I got the message. Frankly, this is Smallville...if we don't have high drama and lots of emoting, it's not a good episode.

I thought I would fall off the couch with the Subs joke.

My only problem with the actress playing Imra is that her voice was flat. That being said, I think we should all write the Smallville producers and demand a return appearance:)

Asteroid Al said...

This, at last, was the Superboy/man I grew up with. He wouldn't kill Chloe because "There's always another way!". I've grown so sick of grim 'n gritty characters; it was refreshing to see a Garth who couldn't kill, a Kal who wouldn't, and an Imra who wasn't even asked. (Can a telepath kill?)

It was wonderful seeing the Legion. The in-jokes were wonderful, the rings were wonderful, and the "Long Live the Legion" made my heart sing.

[I was hoping, though, that at the end Chloe would mention to Imra that she was leaving to see her husband Jimmy Olsen, with Imra replying "You're C.S. Olsen? Grife, Rokk almost caused the Collapse!".

Michael X. McArthur said...

The Legion episode was well done on its own, and as a seamless part of the overall storyline. Please remember, this is not the Legion of the comic books or the cartoons. This is the Legion created by Johns and the producers of Smallville. The most important thing I took from the episode is that some part of Clark was taken back to what may be a colder, less humane future. Not killing in the name of justice or self-preservation may be a complete foreign concept in the 31st Century. My regret is that I haven't seen many episodes before.

Adam said...

I think the killing aspect of the show can be reconciled with the fact that it was said early on that the Persuader was part of a band of xenophobes. If this Legion does comes from a future where people from other worlds are targeted for not being human, then it is reasonable to assume that sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to protect the greater good. And the only way to change that way of thinking was to see Clark find a better way.

In any case, I loved the show. Smallville has had its ups and downs, but this season has clearly been a huge high point and it's cool to know that the Legion had a part in it.

Anonymous said...

My immediate reaction to it is here. The one thing I'll reiterate from that post is if someone wanted to use this as a "back-door pilot" for a Legion show, I'd be very, very happy.

jonathan miller.

RAB said...

Asteroid Al: your "C.S. Olsen" line would have been excellent!

Terence Chua said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terence Chua said...

My reaction is here, which echoes a lot of what others have said already.

Hisham said...

I'd be a happy camper if Clark spent a whole season in the 31st century next year.