Friday's episode of Smallville "Dominion" saw Clark revisit the Phantom Zone with Oliver in tow, and an extremely miffed Zod made the manly duo engage in a leather-clad deathmatch. Is this what Zack Snyder's Man of Steel will look like?
Spoilers from here on in...
"Dominion" was neither awful nor great. Like the last two episodes the show's served up, "Dominion" was just sort of unnecessary. Potentially important events and character developments were eclipsed by Superman and the Green Arrow engaging in some hunky He-Man fighting (something Clark isn't entirely unfamiliar with).
The episode opens with General Slade Wilson materializing back into reality after Clark exiled him into the Phantom Zone. We don't see Michael Hogan's Slade Wilson (he's just mentioned in passing, boo). This means someone of Clark's bloodline has been tampering with the Zone's security, so Clark goes to investigate. Oliver Queen disobeys Clark's wishes and hitches a ride with him too.
Upon entering the Phantom Zone, Clark and Oliver notice someone's decorated the place with Darkseid skulls. Ruff-row! Our macho protagonists are immediately overwhelmed by Zoners, who are under the command of last season's villain Major Zod (Callum Blue).
Long story short, Zod ended up in the Zone after the Kandorians exiled him from Season 9's Kryptonian Party Dimension. Zod gained control of the Zone's controls after he absorbed some of Clark's blood last season.
To make matters worse, Darkseid's been doing his omniscient space god thing and gifted leadership of the Zone to Zod. This is about the smartest thing Darkseid's done all season, as his previous lackeys were an orphanage matron (Granny Goodness), John McCain (Slade Wilson), a sex club owner (Desaad), and a shock jock (Glorious Godfrey). Recruiting some Kryptonian muscle (and laying a trap for Clark) was the most proactive thing he's done all season.
How do Zod and company wile away an eternity in the Phantom Zone? With gladiator matches, of course. I can't tell if this is the influence of Darkseid or if they're simply bored and uncreative. Anyway, Clark and Oliver get roped into the Zoners' game of death. Clark plays Leonidas with a nice red cape, and he duels Oliver in a scene seemingly penned by Peter Graves in Airplane. "Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?"
"Dominion" echoed 300 right down to the extreme camera washes and slow-motion blood-letting. It could've been a mildly entertaining diversion, but this silly jaunt into the Phantom Zone wasted most of the episode. All of the more interesting events — such as Oliver's discovery of the Bow of Orion, a (hopefully Kirbyesque looking) weapon that can defeat Darkseid — were crammed in the last 10 minutes.
Oliver's discovery that he was possessed by Darkseid could've easily fleshed out "Dominion." And with Clark now taking a hard line against all those possessed by the Darkness, this could've led to some interesting, fractious character moments.
Justin Hartley directed "Dominion." If I were in his shoes, I would have cut all the Spartacus claptrap and expanded Green Arrow's story fivefold, rather than give Zod an unnecessary final appearance. I would however keep this throwback scene of the Phantom Zone flying away with zero exposition (just because this sequence made me giggle).