Smallville

Season 8 Episode 3

Toxic

2
Aired Friday 8:00 PM Oct 02, 2008 on The CW
8.5
out of 10
User Rating
497 votes
19

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
When Oliver is poisoned, he starts having flashbacks to the period when he gained his archery skills... and met Tess. Meanwhile, Chloe has to make a decision which surprises Clark.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • I prefer Arrow

    6.5
    Now, I like Smallville more than Arrow overall, but when it comes down to Green Arrow's origin story, I honestly don't think it needed to be told in Smallville for one, and for two, leave that for its own show. Because giving him an origin story was simply put in there for no other reason than to show more of Tess Mercer, not of Green Arrow, and that's a shame. The best part about the movie actually had to do with Chloe's character development and Clark's knowledge about it.moreless
  • How An Arrow Was Forged

    6.0
    Toxic-When Oliver is poisoned, he starts having flashbacks to the period when he gained his archery skills... and met Tess. Meanwhile, Chloe has to make a decision which surprises Clark.



    When I saw the teaser trailer for this episode, I couldn't wait to see the episode as any episode centered around Oliver/Green Arrow have always been great episodes. Yet at the end of "Toxic", I was left very disappointed! Oliver's origin tale had a lot of potential and could have been the season's first great episode, but the writers simply waste that potential in a poorly concieved flasback storyline when Oliver is trapped on an island and meets Tess, of all people, who has been kidnapped by group of terrorists.



    What really what makes "Toxic" irritating is how convenient that Oliver would have known Tess and met her on desert island. While Cassidy Freeman does her best with the material, Tess's involvement seemed forced and her scenes with Oliver even less convincing. Oliver's origins should have been more dark, gritty, and with more depth put into it instead of a 5 minute segment with Oliver shooting poorly CGI arrows at a tree and suddenly...his Green Arrow. Also, Oliver's on an island for 2 years yet his hair remains nearly perfect and has no bread...yeah okay! Another thing that seemed forced was Lois' scenes with Oliver especially when his on his deathbed. The scenes never came off emotional abd her lines like, "Oliver Queen doesn't die tonight" were just awkward. But on the good side, Tess is starting to impress me. Cassidy Freeman is definately getting more comfortable in the role with each week and she really solid that last scene where she gets her revenge on the man that kidnapped her so long ago on that island. Davis was pretty good this week, Chloe's new storyline is getting more interesting as a piece of Brainiac has seemed to infect her, and Clark's new clothes continue to get better, lol. But I really loved the scene between Clark and Oliver at the bar, which both actors nailed. It makes there relationship that much more convincing and I can't wait to see how it plays out more this season. "Toxic" is a mixed bag of an ill concieved backstory and interesting developments. The next episode seems slightly corny with the arrival of Maxima. Well, we'll see how that turns out!moreless
  • The season keeps getting stronger

    8.0
    Those looking for each and every episode to focus on Clark may be disappointed with this installment. The majority of the run time is spent on Oliver Queen and his past association with Tess Mercer. This connects directly with his "Smallville"-style origin and intersects nicely with the existing series continuity.



    It was already known that Oliver's parents were killed by Lionel Luthor, as revealed during the "Veritas" arc, and I believe it was mentioned that he was presumed dead for a couple of years before his rise back into social prominence. Bringing Tess into that history helps to add some direct conflict to the current season, because it would be far too convenient to have Tess simply assume Lex's role as Clark's nemesis. She needs to exist as a character in her own right, and this episode helps that process along.



    I also like the parity between Tess and Oliver. Had Tess been the only one to learn a life-altering lesson on that island, then it might have been a sexist cliché. As it is, Tess all but admits that she has learned to be ruthless from the mistreatment she's received from men. But Oliver is really no different in the end. Oliver considers his ordeal on the island to have been his turning point, the moment he was truly tested and met that challenge.



    The difference is how Tess and Oliver chose to react to those trials and tribulations. Tess has taken the darkest path, carving her way through LuthorCorp and setting aside certain ethical considerations along the way. Tess has chosen not to be a victim again, but has no problem making a victim out of anyone else.



    On the other hand, while Oliver chose to use his new talents to help those in need and prevent others from being victimized, his methods are sometimes questionable. He does see the big picture relatively well, but he often overlooks the details and the consequences of his actions. In my mind, Oliver exists in the complicated center of the hero/villain dynamic, treading the fine line between humanitarian goals and vigilante justice. As mentioned in reviews for the sixth season, Oliver is very much what Lex might have been.



    All of which points to Clark, who has suffered from a self-centered view of the world since the beginning of the series. Oliver has been slowly but surely trying to expand Clark's view, which in the fifth season forced Clark to consider how Jonathan Kent's philosophies might apply to the big picture. That process was derailed by the seventh season, but now it's coming back in full force. Most importantly, Oliver presages the season arc to come by pointing out that Clark hasn't faced his moment of truth yet.



    We also have confirmation that Chloe's recent mental prowess is the result of Brainiac's intervention. It's coming in very handy now, but the implication of this episode is that the side effects may be a problem in the future. And it's good to see that Lois' issues with having a superhero boyfriend haven't disappeared. It makes up for the ridiculousness of Clark and Chloe arguing about her ability with Lois sitting in the next room.



    In the end, while this is an episode that seems to focus on Oliver and Tess to a fault, it's really a means to differentiate Clark and his current lack of experience from those with too much. This illuminates the path that Clark still must take to become the future Superman. In other words, we have another winner for this surprising eighth season.moreless
  • Had some potential but disappointing.

    5.5
    There was plenty of potential for "Toxic" to be a really eye-opening look into Oliver Queen's past and his evolution into the Green Arrow. Unfortunately, the Smallville team used a great origin story as an excuse to link Tess Mercer's past with Oliver's and to fill the episode with pointless melodrama that led nowhere. It's a narrow vision of a classic story in the DC Universe and, worst of all, it's boring.

    "Toxic" simply misses the point and what could have been an exciting look at Green Arrow's origin story is instead turned into an excuse to look at how he and Tess Mercer first met. The events to save Ollie in the present are simply not compelling and feel like moments of filler between the flashbacks.moreless
  • Oliver's development into the Green Arrow takes place after he's marooned on a tropical island; Tess saves him from sure death. Clark, Chloe, and Lois must save him from sure death in the present.moreless

    7.5
    The overview for "Toxic" sounds like a plot created solely to show that Oliver and Tess Mercer have a history, in order to move along the integration of Tess into the Smallville cast. Defining the goal of a storyline first, rather than just imagining a good plot, does not bode well for compelling drama. And the screenwriter for this episode is responsible for two of the three lowest-rated episodes in the entire series. She also wrote some very highly-rated episodes, so it's a mixed track record, but it makes me skeptical at the outset - prove that this is a good story.



    One that begins in the glam-celeb Ace of Clubs night spot is also cause for concern. When the opener shows Oliver collapsing at his own party, you wonder about the purpose of the club scene - he could have taken a dive anywhere in town. Maybe it was just to show that Clark can wear a tie, but why is Chloe there, too? Apparently just to get Clark to yield to Oliver's wishes to avoid any medical attention - why she is so adamant about this is not clear. And any question about why Oliver won't accept life-saving help is never answered - there's no logic to this at all. Are we to think that he wanted to force Clark into a bold rescue?



    Tess-as-editor finds out about Oliver's collapse, assuming it's just drunkenness, and tasks Lois to get the story, but first gets in a jab, "Lois Lane, haven't I fired you yet?" You might think she would, after discovering Lois breaking into the Luthor mansion in the season premiere. Expecting that Lois might have an "emotional meltdown" while getting close to Oliver, Tess looks forward to digging dirt on Oliver, but Lois defends him, insists they no longer have a romance, and takes the assignment.



    Chloe calls in a favor and gets Davis to stop in for a quick paramedical look at Oliver - it's so superficial he could not know anything, despite his instant analysis that Oliver is stable, but he leaves a heart monitor anyway. Clark tries to track down Oliver's escort, Adrianna, finding that she's being loaded into an ambulance, so we are led to believe that both have been poisoned.



    In his delirium, Oliver relives an event - he's washed ashore on a small tropical island, so this story has the "Castaway" theme. In a beautiful and etheral scene, he looks up with glowing clouds and sunset in the background, a nice shot, until you notice his shadow on the beach has nothing to do with the location of the sunlight, and in the next clip, there's no shadows at all. So he's isolated for who knows how long, and his attempts to find food are futile - so he decides to create bows and arrows - voila! - the origins of the Green Arrow's archery skills. Given the size of the island, maybe a quarter of a square mile, sourcing fresh water would be a far greater problem, but this is just one of many holes which weaken this plot.



    To find Oliver, Lois first comes to the ISIS offices - why? Phone calls to Oliver's friends - and her cousin Chloe - would make more sense. And Chloe didn't think to call her, either, so the acting staff is made to appear a bit dim. Lois reluctantly agrees to comply with Oliver's wishes for no medical help.



    Back on dream island, Oliver discovers interlopers, but instead of rushing to his rescuers, he holds back, first grasping a very poisonous plant, which causes an instant near-fatal collapse. He awakens in a tent, covered with leeches, an antidote applied by none other than Tess Mercer, pre-Luthorcorp, a captive of a group of speedboat-riding kidnappers, who had to stop for boat repairs. Tess claims to be a marine biologist. Sadistic kidnapper #1 recognizes Oliver and his potential as a hostage, so he summarily shoots the female friend of Tess, one of the more brutal and pointless slayings in the series history. Two years on the island, Oliver says, but his hair is unchanged, he has little facial hair, and hasn't lost any weight. Plus he goes shirtless most of the time, for the benefit of the young teens.



    Clark tracks down Adrianna at the Metropolis-General ER, and Davis is there, too. A paramedic like Davis has no business calling Codes and ordering around the ER staff, but that's what our screenwriter has him doing when Adrianna codes and expires.



    Chloe researches the poison - as her mental prowess expands, she absorbs vast amounts of data at superhuman speed on the ISIS computers - finding the flower that poisoned Oliver. And who has the antidote? Why, Luthorcorp, of course, so Clark approaches Tess about the poison. Tess claims ignorance of a lab - she's still researching projects Lionel named after constellations...which? The only one that's even close is "Ares," but the constellation is spelled "Aries." This and numerous moonset gaffes means Smallville's writers still need to consult an astronomer. Tess recognizes the plant, recalling that the lab has been moved to Brazil, a plot device for Clark to use superspeed, but that is only imagined, not seen.



    Davis returns and declares that Oliver is dying, but Lois won't accept that. When Oliver flat-lines, Lois foolishly attempts to use CPR while he's in a sitting position. Medical advisor needed for the Smallville screenwriters. But Clark is back from his Brazil run with the antidote, and Davis dutifully jabs the entire syringe into Oliver's chest. Any more episodes with Davis inserted as someone's medical saviour is going to look awfully contrived, but how else can Witwer be developed? His only relationship with any cast member is with Chloe, and even that's a bit offensive - show a little respect for her engagement! Both Chloe and Jimmy have been portrayed as ultra-sensitive to love-competition, Jimmy over Chloe-Clark, and Chloe over Jimmy-Kara, and here Chloe shows no sensitivity at all to private encounters with Davis.



    Oliver recovers rapidly, telling Clark he needs to find "Mercy" or Tess, who is also in danger. Outside the DP, Tess, alone on a dark street, is accosted by kidnapper #1 who escaped the island, and is really peeved about being left to die. He talks too much, and Tess tries a few kicks on him. Clark arrives for another save, but to preserve his own identity, causes extensive collateral damage to a power transformer platform, knocking out the kidnapper, and possibly power to numerous adjacent buildings. Isn't it time for Clark to be a bit more "green" on his rescues? Tess missed that action, of course. In the dream again, Tess mourns her friend, and Oliver helps her take a bracelet as a memorial. It's time to leave the island, but Oliver sees his life in a new light - he nails one kidnapper, and flings a short poisoned arrow at the other, who is downed instantly. This is meant to portray the first heroic save for the Green Arrow, but this is pretty thin background for a major superhero. More backstory on Oliver would be welcome.



    In the present, Oliver, recovered, sees Tess at the mansion and accuses her of being ruthless in her climb to the helm of Luthorcorp. Although she seems resentful that Oliver never said goodbye years earlier, it's not clear how their relationship moved from companions on the island to adversaries. Of course he intended to become a secret crimefighter, and secret identities in Smallville mean no chance for a love life, ref. Clark and Lana. Perhaps this question will be covered in an upcoming episode. But she offers him a dossier on Lionel.



    Clark, wearing a suit in the DP (this is news!), has the epilog with Lois - she dropped any story about Oliver, and still agonizes about her decision to end her relationship with Oliver. Clark understands, admitting that he's played Lana's goodbye video numerous times. So they're both still letting go of their past, a necessary progression if these two are ever to blossom into serious togetherness.



    At ISIS, Chloe discovers Davis already there, scoping out her mass of research documents, making him an annoying presence in this episode. He sees all this as evidence of her genius, and guesses that she hasn't told Jimmy about about her new-found intellect. We already went through this hide-your-powers scenario last season, when Chloe finally told Jimmy she was a meteor freak. Now it sounds like a repeat - she's hiding her abilities from him again - maybe they'll re-use those scripts.



    Clark questions Oliver about why he didn't reveal he knew Tess before - "Stick to your milkshakes," Ollie says sarcastically while quaffing more liquor. The files from Tess he shows to Clark - they're flight records for his parent's fatal trip - Luthorcorp employees sabotaged the aircraft, so he now blames Lionel for their deaths. He sees that Clark knew about this, and never told him - Clark explaining that he thought Oliver might harm Lionel. Is this a problem? Firm evidence should have led to a criminal indictment of Lionel. Oliver accuses Clark of failing to trust his friends, and of avoiding use of his powers to help others. The ordeal on the island changed Oliver - putting him on his quest for justice. Oliver continues to challenge Clark about facing his destiny - laying out the best line of the episode, "Maybe your island's still out there, Clark." But it's not entirely true that Clark is lagging in his mission - his presence at the DP has already been identified as a means for him to be in on any crisis - he's not waiting to react solely to threats to his friends and family.



    Outside police HQ, kidnapper #1 is inexplicably free, entering a cab, when his hand is scratched by an unseen person. It's Tess, who bailed him out - now she has poisoned him with the fatal flower. As ugly thug collapses, she tells the taxi driver to take him to a hospital. This is a good plot twist, giving us more insight on how sinister Tess can be, while raising questions about why she took her revenge this way. Perhaps because she controls the only known antidote? She tosses the poisonous flower to the ground. and drives off in a Porsche cabriolet, license "NOMERCY," a play on her Mercer name, and just what Oliver called her.



    I'll admit being a little harder on this story's weak points due to negative expectations about the screenwriter. The writing isn't so bad, and the Tess character is certainly showing some staying power and is given lots of screen time to develop - in fact, we learn more about Tess than about Oliver. Clark, Lois and Chloe are pretty much background characters, and Lois is especially subdued so far this year, with much less of her usual sauciness. That makes it a "filler" episode, or maybe "character development." It's just an average story, and maybe better ones are coming. Re-run rating C.moreless
Allison Mack

Allison Mack

Chloe Sullivan

Erica Durance

Erica Durance

Lois Lane

Cassidy Freeman

Cassidy Freeman

Tess Mercer

Sam Witwer

Sam Witwer

Davis Bloome/Doomsday

Justin Hartley

Justin Hartley

Oliver Queen/Green Arrow

Tom Welling

Tom Welling

Clark Kent/Kal-El of Krypton

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Trivia: Toward the end of the episode, when Oliver shows Tess the newspaper, the section he shows her is "Daily Dish with Joanne Totten." Linda Lake from the episode "Hydro" was the journalist of the "Daily Dish" at the time.

    • Oliver tells Clark that when he was stuck on the island for two years he was eaten alive by mosquitoes. However every scene we see of Oliver on the island he doesn't have a bite on him.

    • Although Oliver was poisoned, Clark decided it was better to let him walk and help him to Chloe's apartment than carrying him all the way using his strength.

    • Chloe and Clark engage in an argument regarding her new powers, all while Lois is sitting a few feet away, in the next room. Given that it's otherwise perfectly quiet in the apartment, and that the door between them is wide open, it's pretty remarkable that Lois didn't overhear their conversation and its sensitive subject matter.

    • Even though Oliver had been on the island for two years his hair, sideburns, and face are all perfectly trimmed and shaved. Even if he did create himself a shaving blade he would never be able to achieve beauty salon results especially in the back of his head where he can't see.

    • Trivia: Tess Mercer's license plate is "NOMERCY." Tess Mercer's license plate is "NOMERCY." "No Mercy," as seen in the season 5 episode "Mercy," is the motto that Lionel Luthor's employees referred to him by.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Marcos: Oh. You don't think I know who you are? Oliver Queen?
      Oliver: No idea what you're talking about.
      Marcos: You're famous! Everyone knows you're that rich brat who took off with his friends on a yacht and partied his way into a shipwreck. And lucky for us, not all of you was shark bait.

    • Clark: There must be something you can do. Lex never abandons a project.
      Tess: He doesn't, does he? I'm still catching up from the ones he's named after constellations.

    • Tess: Lois Lane, I haven't fired you yet?
      Lois: I guess you're too busy printing my stories.

    • Oliver: (capturing a millipede) All right, here's the deal. Normally I don't eat anything with more than 99 legs on it, but I haven't eaten in days. Kind of a bummer for both of us, right?

    • Lois: It's so not what you thinking. I may have played nurse to Oliver but it never progressed to Doctor.

    • Clark: Oliver, with all that poison in your system, are you sure adding more is the best idea right now?
      Oliver: Yeah, Clark, why don't you stick to your milkshakes, huh?

    • Oliver: You may be invincible, but you are not fearless, are you? You're afraid to trust your friends, and you're afraid to face who you're really meant to be. You're afraid of everything. Maybe you haven't been put to the test yet. Maybe your island's still out there, Clark.

  • NOTES (2)

    • International Airdates:
      Norway: Saturday, January 17, 2009 on TVNorge
      Sweden: Friday, June 5, 2009 on TV6
      Czech Republic: March 17, 2010 on TV Nova
      Turkey: March 21, 2010 on CNBC-e
      Slovakia: May 17, 2012 on Markiza

    • Aaron Ashmore is credited but does not appear.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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