The Future Is Here
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Smallville gives us Saul Tigh as Deathstroke (and erotic waterboarding)

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Friday's Smallville — "Patriot" — was a heaping platter of hammy political metaphors, illegally tortured beefcake, and Atlantean cheesecake. Also, Michael Hogan dons the eyepatch again as General Slade Wilson, and Aquaman blew up an oil rig a superhuman prison.

"Patriot" was very much par for the course for Season 10 of Smallville — we had the barely veiled allusions to today's political climate (superhuman prisons are hidden in oil rigs, Darkseid controls unscrupulous military officials), the obligatory, totally random appearance of Kryptonite to slow down Clark (a Kryptonite cage!), the "Smallvillization" of new DC characters (Deathstroke and Mera), and hunky men in bondage — is William Marston literally ghost-writing episodes? The episode's main focus was General Wilson going rogue in the wake of the Vigilante Registration Act's passing (he has a superprison in Alaska) and Lois and Clark's relationship squabbling (he's too mysterious, she's too nosy).


Hogan played Wilson as a no-nonsense military man who views superheroes as demagogues who threaten democracy with their idealist agendas (he refers to them as would-be Hitlers and Saddams). Wilson uses his military clout to "waterboard" Green Arrow in a dunk tank. Later in the episode, we discover that Slade's under the thrall of Darkseid — Clark uses his X-Ray vision to discover an omega symbol etched onto his skull — and the explosion of his super-bondage prison gives him his signature Deathstroke eyepatch.


As for the relationship subplot, "Patriot" also added Mera and Arthur Curry's aqua-hippie relationship as an aspirational counterpoint to Clois (or is it Lark?) but the Atlantean dyad was annoyingly self-righteous and semi-useless — Mera accused Lois of being a superhero groupie and both Mera and AC were vexed by General Slade's evil heat lamps. On the plus side, this episode did have a scene that will spawn a thousand slash fictions:

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So yeah, this wasn't a bad episode — the action was fast-paced and the milieu was sexy. The presence of Hogan playing Tigh redux was welcome, and it kept up the BDSM that has inflected almost every episode this season. We've seen the Vigilante Registration Act before, but it keeps bringing classic DC characters to the small screen. A solid B episode. Play us out, sex dungeon Aquaman.