Tom Welling and Callum Blue in SMALLVILLE - Season 10 - "Dominion" | ©2011 The CW/Jack Rowand

Tom Welling and Callum Blue in SMALLVILLE - Season 10 - "Dominion" | ©2011 The CW/Jack Rowand

Starring: Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman
Writer: John Chisholm
Director: Justin Hartley
Network
: The CW, airs Friday nights

Original Telecast: April 29, 2011

Sadly, SMALLVILLE’s recent winning streak of episodes as it heads to its series finale was disrupted by “Dominion.”

What should have been a powerful episode, instead turns out lukewarm treading on territory we’ve seen countless times before in films like 300 and GLADIATOR.

The idea is a cool one though as Clark (Tom Welling) and Oliver (Justin Hartley) travel to the Phantom Zone to find out why one of the Zoners had managed to escape. There, Clark faces Zod (Callum Blue) who he banished there and who now runs the Zone with an iron fist.

Zod has taken over the Phantom Zone and turned it into his own private Thunderdome. The Zoners battle it out gladiator style and he plans on pitting Clark and Oliver against each other.

The coolest part is seeing Zod transformed from when we last saw him on SMALLVILLE. He now more resembles the Terrence Stamp incarnation seen in the original SUPERMAN – THE MOVIE and SUPERMAN II, plus we get part of the signature line, “Kneel.”

Meanwhile, back at home, Lois (Erica Durance) is worried sick about Clark, especially since he didn’t confide enough in her with that he may never be coming back. They just moved in together, you’d think he could trust her enough to tell her the truth.

Not surprising, Clark and Oliver escape, though, there’s the chance that Oliver may be marked by Darkseid (not sure how that will play out, given there’s only two more episodes left).

This late in the season, I’m enjoying the domestic stuff between Clark and Lois much more than I would have expected. There’s warmth and believability between Welling and Durance and it comes off in their scenes.  In particular, the scene where Clark returns home, in the Phantom Zone time, it was a few hours, in Earth time it was almost a month. The conversation they have together is really well written and it again starts to open up a lot of questions of whether or not Clark and Lois will actually get hitched (I’m still thinking mind wipe – to protect her of course).

Callum Blue in SMALLVILLE - Season 10 - "Dominion" | ©2011 The CW/Jack Rowand

Callum Blue in SMALLVILLE - Season 10 - "Dominion" | ©2011 The CW/Jack Rowand

As for his directorial debut director, Hartley’s strength comes with his handling of the actors. When he turns to the action, there’s a familiarity to it that detracts from any originality that Hartley is striving for. In fact, he’s hamstrung by the decision to create the desaturated feel of 300 (there are even slo-mo shots that look like they were directly lifted from that flick).

Additionally, the gladiator style of the Phantom Zone is a little too hokey (and yes, Thunderdome) for my own tastes. And the look of the Zone feels very cheap and skimpy, which doesn’t help matters much. It may have seemed like a good job in theory, but on screen, sorry, it doesn’t work.

Even seeing Zod once again, just feels like a missed opportunity. The pay-off does not pack the kind of punch you would expect.

“Dominion” is a disappointment, because it had the potential to be one of the best SMALLVILLE episodes of the season and instead, misses the mark. When the personal drama holds up better than the superhero stuff, there’s definitely something out of whack.

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