Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Episode 12: "Leech"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

It has been brought to this reviewer's attention that there is a distinct possibility that the reason so many kids can disappear/die/go to jail after an encounter with Clark Kent and not stir up attention is simply because of the fact that in a small town, when strange things happen, it is ignored, forgotten, or dealt with and not touched again. I can relate to this. I have a good friend with a certain non-small town "malady"... his orientation, if you follow me. He has been told directly, on several occasions, that if this item comes into public light, he will be nobody. Gone. Lost. Ignored. It can happen. I agree. I see this, and I can relate. Also, a parallel has been drawn to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both have a relatively high level of unnoticed freak occurrences. In my opinion, though, having seen Buffy once and run away in disgust, and being a regular viewer of Smallville, the reason Smallville is such a promising show is that sure, it has the teenage hooks: cheesy love songs with strictly interchangeable lyrics, for the most part (with rare exceptions like Save Me, Movies, and other such lot), a love interest based mostly in sexual attraction, and a one-hit wonder villain that disappears and never recurs. But what makes Smallville better is the Lex factor... the recurring ideals that circle around Clark. Lana. Chloe. Pete. This is interesting stuff, put into context of their continual threatened existence, but if it is the same threat again. and again and again, one tends to lose focus with the general idea of the series.

Couple this monotony with an un-buyable plot device, like lightning transferring Kryptonian DNA to one humanoid, and human DNA to another (lightning would, in fact, merely burn the DNA to a frazzled crisp, by my reckoning, Kryptonian or otherwise), and you end up with the things that make people stop watching. Seriously. Bullets bruise Clark. Lightning would do more than knock him on his rear.

That said, I will say that this show wasn't so horrible after all. The moments where Clark is human, playing basketball and being happy to fail, feeling the pain of chores and hard work... those almost outweigh the damage to our viewing egos the poorly constructed device provide. The moments with his humanity in affirmation are priceless. Some of the best in the series so far. It reminds me of the moments in the comic when he eats Kryptonite, or reads Lex his Mirandas, or when he trades in his powers for love in Superman II.

It takes what would have been a terrible episode and makes it work. The writing is the salvation of this series, and also its worst enemy. Take this writer and give him some more fanboy friendly things to work with. Let him know that lightning just doesn't work for the ole switcheroo, or tell him that it's been done too much. Then reassure him that Superman, or the boy who will be, showing his essential humanity instead of invulnerability, has not been done enough. Find something better.

My immediate suggestion?

Same plot, except the poor kid-turned-homicidal-maniac gets the powers because his Kryptonite inspired power is to assume the DNA or some functions of whatever he touches and consciously assumes. That way Clark could have lost his powers, then when the villain's temporary assumption of the Kryptonian DNA wears off, Clark could set right what his powers run amuck have wronged. Easy, see? Or even better...

Take an adult who is evil who somehow, gee, I don't know how, maybe by opening his eyes, realizes that Clark has super powers, and siphons them for his own nefarious deeds. Then we don't have to worry about why the graduating Smallville High class of 2006 will consist of only Clark, Chloe, Lana, Pete, and maybe Whitney.

The Lex resolution was great. I knew the whole time that he would come out on top. He's Lex Luthor. Nobody messes with Lex Luthor. Period. I just liked the way that they used Cadmus to turn the screw. They didn't have to, and that worked out well. And Lex got some. Heh heh heh. Eeeeeeeeeevil.

For these reasons, I give this episode 3.5 of 5.

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