However else I may feel about an episode of Smallville, I think the show is always better when a guest star is someone who’s actually gone on to have a career. “X-Ray,” for example, was helped a lot by casting future star Lizzie Caplan as that episode’s meteor freak. And while it’s impossible for the show’s casting directors to have known who would go on to real success in Hollywood, I still find myself more excited about an episode with a familiar face.
Such was the case with “Hourglass,” which had the natural charisma of Eric Christian Olsen working to the benefit of meteor freak Harry Volk. As a result, this ended up as a charismatic, fun episode of Smallville, one that gave us a fun villain as well as interesting, if short-lived, ally for Clark.
I think of Volk as the clear highlight of the episode, and I’m glad to see the show give so much time over to the character. Given how slow the ongoing plotlines move in this show, each individual episode needs to work that much harder to deliver an entertaining hour of television that stands on its own. “Hourglass” does that by letting us really get to know Volk and the insane motivations that drive him. He’s a bad guy, obviously, but the episode lets us get into his head enough to understand why. And again, Olsen’s performance goes a long way here, selling the character’s old-school personality and charisma well.
This left the rest of the supporting cast in the backseat this week – Chloe, Pete, and Lana may as well have not even appeared – but it let us focus more on the Clark and Lex material we did get. Their storylines intersected through aged psychic Cassandra Carver, the first benevolent meteor freak Clark has encountered. She doesn’t make it through the hour, but she does give us glimpses of the men Clark and Lex will become: Clark the hero, and Lex the destroyer. Nothing to revelatory for anyone at all familiar with the source material, but necessary steps for setting up these story arcs.
Still, this is Smallville, and there were definitely some clunky elements to this episode. Once again, the skepticism of the characters on this show has me eye-rolling; is a psychic really that unbelievable given what Clark and the meteor freaks have been capable of so far? At the very least, no one should be completely dismissing of the possibility of these powers at this point.
Also, while I liked the Clark and Lex material for the most part, man, this episode was filled to the brim with teenage angst. From Clark freaking out over what his destiny might be to Lex’s annoyance at Cassandra, everyone felt extra whiny this week. Even Lana, brief though her appearances were, managed to add to the generally annoying tone the episode had at times. Still, this episode was a good one, and possibly the best “of the week” installment yet.
– While the vision Cassandra had of Lex’s future was obviously an abstract one, I have no doubt Lex would wear that ridiculous all-white outfit as president.
– It was more a struggle than an outright action scene, but I liked that the fight between Volk and Martha took place in the filling silo.
– On a negative note, the effect of Volk’s knife breaking against Clark’s skin was overproduced to an insane degree.
Final Score: 8 out of 10