After last week's Smallville (in which Clark explained how he could control his supersonic orgasms), this week's episode - "Checkmate" - was a nice palate cleanser. It wasn't revolutionary, but where else can you see Pam Grier versus Martian Manhunter?

First off, circa 1970-something, Pam Grier used to look like this.


Now that we've gotten that absolutely integral fact out of the way, on to the recap. This episode was big on action, Martian Manhunter, and fun nods to comic continuity. Grier plays a good Amanda Waller - she's savvy and refuses to be cowed by whatever self-righteous extraterrestrial barges into her office. My favorite ploy was when she captured John Jones in her tile floor inferno trap. She sashays around him until WOOSH. He's in a JAIL MADE OF FLAME. Of course, Waller loses points for going back to her office to do paperwork while John is still inside. You never leave an open flame unattended.

After trapping Manhunter in Satan's Cubicle™, Grier kidnaps Chloe in order to shake down Clark for the Justice League's secret identities. Chloe's kidnapping must have made Clark hungry because he starts chewing the scenery - he holds Tess over a building as a scare tactic. I'm sorry, is Superman torturing someone? Did Clark become Composite Superman over commercial break? I thought the threat of gravity was Batman's modus. Foxy Waller and I are on the same page - she opines, "I liked it better when your colors were more patriotic." Hey Pam, black leather prevents chafing when you're powerwalking at the speed of sound. Little known fact.


So Waller wants Clark to join Checkmate to take down Zod if/when he gets rowdy. It's a reasonable request, but she totally botches it by waving a gun in Chloe's face. C'mon Wall, it's not like anyone on Smallville tries very hard at hiding their secret identities. Ollie, for all his lucre, doesn't even buy a green Lone Ranger mask from the dollar store. There has to be some security footage of Clark of super-sauntering somewhere. It's amazing what you can achieve without death threats.


So what were the long-term ramifications of the episode? Tess goes underground for giving up Checkmate's Alice in Wonderland-themed chateau, Ollie reveals his secret identity to Tess, and a new player is at work in the Smallville universe. He/she/it leaves a red chess piece on one of the 500 chess boards in the Checkmate HQ. Hey, if you're going to go with a theme, go big or go home.

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