Episode Title: "Booster"
Writer: Geoff Johns
Director: Tom Welling
Previously on "Smallville":
Clark Kent (Tom Welling) was exiled back into an alternate reality by his evil double, Clark Luthor (hereafter referred to as CL). While Clark reunited with the alternate version of his father, Jonathan Kent (John Schneider); Lois Lane (Erica Durance) quickly figured out that CL wasn't her husband to be… especially when CL started putting moves on Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman). CL also tried to force Tess to help him kill Lionel Luthor (John Glover).
Although Tess was tempted, she choose not to side with CL, allowing Clark just enough time to escape the alternate world. However, instead of fighting himself, Clark offered CL a chance at redemption in the alternate world which he appeared to take.
In Metropolis, Clark fidgets with his new glasses and he is upset about the new klutzy persona Lois wants him to take on so he can emerge as the Blur in public without a mask. They spot an awkward teen named Jaime Reyes (Jaren Brandt Bartlett) nearby and Lois suggests that Clark emulate him. After Jaime's "friends" mercilessly tease him, he is nearly struck by a car, only to be saved by the smiling Booster Gold (Eric Martsolf). Booster takes in the adoration of the crowd and he even seems to taunt Clark about his secret identity, while a blue scarab climbs out of the crash and slips into Jamie's backpack.
At the Daily Planet, Clark and Lois are stunned to find Booster Gold waiting for them. Booster offers up an exclusive interview to Lois which she turns down flat. On the other hand, Cat Grant (Keri Lynn Pratt) is more than happy to jump on the Booster Gold band wagon, but he insists that the interview be done by Lois. Elsewhere, Jamie's friends taunt him again. Lois spots him and she tries to instill some confidence in Jamie, but it doesn't take. When he's out of sight, the scarab emerges and attaches itself to Jamie's neck. As Booster bombards the media with his PR campaign, Clark learns that the crashed vehicle from Kord industries contained an alien weapon that is now missing.
Clark approaches Ted Kord (Sebastian Spence) under the pretense of trying to get the story. He also overhears Kord hiring Booster over the phone to find the scarab. Elsewhere, Cat approaches Booster again for an interview, but he once again insists upon Lois. Booster even admits to Lois that he's there to replace the Blur. However, Booster's automated assistant program Skeets warns him against trying to usurp Clark's place in history. Later, Jamie approaches Booster for help, but Booster brushes him off. As Booster preps his "Booster Gold Dancing girls" (including Cat Grant), Jamie stumbles backstage and transforms into the armored Blue Beetle that is set to destroy everything around him.
As Lois and Clark realize just how dangerous the scarab is, Booster calls Clark directly. Moments later they are face-to-face, and Clark notices that Booster is wearing a stolen flight ring from the Legion of Superheroes. Under examination, Booster admits that he came from the future and used his records of our era to be in the right place at the right time. He challenges Clark to fight for his place in history, but Clark tells him that a hero is someone who inspires others. Booster shrugs him off and goes back inside to get the key to the city.
Inside, Blue Beetle attacks Booster as Jamie struggles to stop it. Clark saves Cat from Blue Beetle's energy blast and she realizes that it was the Blur that saved her. Beetle roundly defeats Booster, who then repeats Clark's words about who a hero truly is. Jamie is inspired enough to gain control over the suit and end the emergency. Afterwards, Booster admits to Clark that he's been a fraud and a failure, but Clark suggests that he can redeem himself by watching over Jamie. As Jamie tells Ted Kord that he wants to use the scarab to help people, Booster presents Jamie as the real hero of the hour.
After watching Booster deal with his own insecurities, Clark later tells Lois that he's ready to be a klutz in public, but he's worried about making her look bad by association. She tells him that they'll make it work as she starts tearing off his shirt.
This was an improvement over last week's episode, but it didn't live up to my expectations for this episode. I'm an admirer of Geoff Johns' comic work and I fully believed that this episode would blow me away.
Instead, I'm kind of whelmed.
Eric Martsolf is pretty good as the cocky and arrogant, Booster Gold. And the scenes in which he's promoting himself to the media are easily the most fun that this episode has. However, Martsolf was a lot less convincing after Booster's sudden change of heart. For one thing, it's so abrupt that it's just not that believable. And Martsolf's delivery seemed insincere when it really needed to win us over with his earnestness.
I was also a little weirded out by the fact that Booster looks so much older than Clark. I'm usually against just casting younger actors in the iconic DC roles for this show, like the pretty boy Desaad this season. But maybe someone younger could have seemed more appropriate for "Smallville."
In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to shoehorn Blue Beetle into this story. Jaren Brandt Bartlett was disappointing as Jamie and his scenes felt tacked on to the rest of the episode. While Bartlett's performance wasn't all that enticing, some of the problems may have stemmed from the writing as well. The sequences between Jamie and his friends seemed so cliché that could have come out of any other low rent CW teen drama.
This was also one of the first attempts to bring Clark closer to his comic book klutz persona. Weirdly, Tom Welling wasn't very good at bringing that across. I'm not sure if that's because he can't pull it off convincingly or if that was a scripted touch that Johns added. Personally, I don't see the need for the goofy Clark persona. I've always found it irritating and I believe that a strong Clark Kent and an iconic Superman aren't mutually exclusive. I kind of blame the Richard Donner movies for keeping that alive in the minds of the general public.
There a lot of parts in the episode that I enjoyed, like Ron Troupe's cameo appearance and the several nods to DC history scattered throughout the episode. When the story just focused on Booster trying to out hero Clark, it was a lot more fun. But without a strong conclusion to it, the episode falls down to a slightly above average ranking. If it had come earlier in the season, it probably would have played better. Here it just feels like the series is marking time until the finale.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.