Right off the bat, I'll confess I was pretty stoked about this episode.
Who wouldn't be? It had all the makings of a full-on superhero epic. A young hero, a group of over-the-hill heroes, and a shadowy government organization, who wouldn't be hooked?
How did it all go wrong? * * *SPOILERS AHEAD * * *
To be fair, it wasn't all bad.
Amanda Waller was portrayed very well. Kudos to Pam Grier for hitting all the right notes with the character without seeming like a carbon copy of CCH Pounder's performance on the animated series.
I loved how Geoff Johns decided to portray Dr Fate as a somewhat broken character by showing what wearing the helmet of Nabu has done to Kent Nelson.
In fact, even the opening implied battle sequence between the Star-Spangled Kid and Icicle Jr. was a great lead into the story.
However, things started to fall apart with Courtney Whitmore. The acting honestly felt a bit over the top. I almost felt no sympathy for her character and really hoped that Oliver kicked her butt when he caught her stealing her SSK's "glow stick".
Add to that the seeming inconsistency of the JSA's timeline. If we follow the implied era of the Daily Planet's "archive footage" then, the JSA was active around the 1960s. However, if that's the case, why did the JSA members shown in the episode seem to have aged very little. In fact, in Hawkman's case, he seemed almost the same age as he was in the archive footage. Couldn't they have spared some make-up to age them up a bit more?
Furthermore, Michael Shenk's portrayal of Carter Hall while so-so, was at least not half as bad as the "gruffy" voice he tried to use when he was Hawkman. It reminded me so much of what Christian Bale did in Dark Knight. Why did he even need to change his voice at all?
Then there was the somewhat weak way in which Lois and Tess were woven into the narrative. Honestly, it felt like they were forced in there simply to tie-in the episode with the main story arc of the season.
Oh, and don't even get me started on the crappy use of stock footage to reveal Clark's destiny. Reusing old footage by simply showing it in reverse is not a stroke of brilliance, it's actually quite irritating.
Couldn't they have shot some quick scene with "Superman" saving some citizens or something? They could've left his face out and dove-tailed around him instead.
Then there's the almost horoscope-like lines that Fate said to Lois when he told her of her future with Superman. Honestly, it was completely unnecessary for the story.
Finally, while I realize that Waller was simply using Icicle to "rattle" the JSA's cage enough to make them come out of retirement, he might have gone about killing his victims in a more subtle way. Simply power-housing through them, especially if he was going after someone as potentially powerful as Dr. Fate is simply suicidal.
I would've loved to see a bit more cleverness on his part.
As a result, there seemed very little reason for the JSA and Clark's "team" to work together. Truth be told, Clark could've gone after Icicle on his own and taken him out without breaking a sweat.
What it ended up feeling like was the JSA were used as a plot device to introduce Checkmate and Amanda Waller, and the only reason they worked with Clark and co, was because it was written that way.
So while the episode does have a lot of Easter eggs and eye candy to dazzle the audience, the story leaves much to be desired.
Rather disappointing since they had a full two hours instead of the usual one hour.