This was a really good episode! I feel like I should type that a few more times since I was expecting the premiere to be a fluke. Not only does "Shield" swagger with a sense of cool and style, there's also some fantastic character development on offer, with some really great material coming from the unusual pairing of Lois and Carter Hall (Michael Shanks). While Cat Grant may infuriate many viewers, that was pretty much the point of her character, but she also plays a pivotal role in developing this seeding distrust within Metropolis regarding costumed heroes, or serial killers as Cat would think of them (there's an hilarious scene when she thinks Green Arrow shows up to kill her). Clark learns quite a few lessons from Cat's bigoted perspective resulting in some spiffy new threads! Clark finally drops the Neo look -- yay!
It was so refreshing to see a few decent looking sets on the show again. Smallville has had its budget hacked and slashed over the years, so I enjoyed Lois' little trip to Africa, and Deadshot (played by Bradley Stryker) hounding down Cat through a bus-station was a riveting piece of television by Smallville's standards. Even that same street -- you know, the one they use for every.single.outdoor shot on the show -- is tackled with more style, and that bullet-time FX sequence was pretty darn nifty!
I think I would have lapped this episode up regardless of the main plot. Lois' conversation with Carter was just crowd-pleasingly geeky. I'm over the moon that Michael Shanks agreed to come back to the show, as he delivers great pathos to his character when discussing his love for Shayera (!!) and of their doomed love. It's also fantastic because there's no beating around the bush. Lois doesn't let on that she knows Clark's secret, trying to throw all sorts of hypothetical superhero-y questions Carter's way, to which he responds: ''Maybe you should ask Clark.'' There's no amnesia, people! No reset button! Lois has all of her memories intact. The writers are finally giving us what we want and it's about bloody time!
The Suicide Squad is back in full swing but it's not made clear who exactly is pulling the strings. I'm guessing it's Checkmate, but is Amanda Waller still alive or is that organisation caput? Plastique, last seen in Season 8, makes a brief cameo, which is a nice touch, and the idea that they're branding superheroes can't mean anything good for our future Justice League. I'm really diggin' this whole humans Vs meta-humans subplot brewing and it's good to see the writers follow through from the destruction caused by Zod and his army last season. It makes sense, now more than ever, that the government would want to recruit super-powered individuals of their own to put a stop to the up-rise in vigilantism. I'm really curious to see where this is all going, especially in a season involving Darkseid. I just hope it doesn't become another case of villain overload like last year.
Now, I guess I have to acknowledge it at some stage... Sigh.
It's the first official episode without Allison Mack in the credits. It's good that she's being kept on the scene (via flashback, sure, but I'll take anything!), and it's a solid and logical arc for Oliver to find her by any means necessary. It's also only natural for Oliver to presume Tess had something to do with her disappearance since she was practically behind every single evil scheme last season, but the scene where she reads out Chloe's goodbye message to Oliver is an absolute cracker! Cassidy Freeman does a stunning job at relaying Chloe's message to Oliver, while trying her best to keep her own emotions at bay, as Chloe's words echo exactly how she feels for him too. Terrific stuff from Freeman!
There's so much here that the viewers know but the characters do not: Clark has no idea Lois knows his secret; Lois has no idea Chloe is missing; Oliver has no idea that Chloe offered up her own life to save his; Clark, Carter and Oliver have no idea that they've been branded. And even though Clark saved the girl, he doesn't know that Deadshot has been released, which will surely come back to bite him in the ass. There's plenty of story elements just waiting to explode over the coming weeks.
Again, I feel like I should type this over and over: I'm excited to see where Smallville takes us this year!