Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Episode 4: "X-Ray"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Smallville continues to amaze me with its great writing, despite its stigmatic label as a Dawson's Creek type show. I'm finding that this show, while having the requisite amount of teenage problems necessary to label it such, is nothing of the kind. My evidence? I hate Dawson's Creek. I watched one episode, barfed, calmed down, barfed again, and haven't watched since. This show appeals to me. Even the teenage aspects, because the show is not focusing on rich kids and their rich kid problems. When Clark is ignored by Lana, as well, it doesn't drive him to the brink of melodrama. The character, as written, realizes the reality of life and the situation, and copes, as adolescents do, despite parental intimations to the contrary. The kids know the world. This show isn't afraid to expose that.

Lana is a character that ordinarily would be hard to empathize with, for me. She's a cheerleader, she gets the preppy guy over the nice guy, and she acts, typically, like a flake that might develop substance, but we all know we won't be holding our breath for that. She's the kind of girl that from a guy's perspective, you fall in lust with. I figured that the show would continue to create this perspective, but here we see that such flaws of character are revealed and can be exploited. First of all, it's making her the obvious target for the bad guy, Lois Lane syndrome and all (HELP! HELP!), and it's also being shown as something she recognizes to be shallow. There is, Zeus help me, a bit of character development in a teen drama for the sex-pot here. This is what made the story real for me. Teen perfection promotes clones, and this clone just happened to be evil. Here's the crux of the story, not the meta-human with aspirations, but how the evil brings truth and redemption into Lana's life.

That's what made the story real for me. What made it great, as can be expected, was Lex Luthor. Finally, we see the Luthor of the comics starting to come out. I was going to complain that this guy was just too, too nice, and then here, the writers expect such, and show him working behind the scenes for himself. Drinking. Carrying on in a manner consistent with a politician. Or an angry villain. Or a... dare I say it... SUPER villain. He now controls the Metropolis press on one side, and he's close to finding out Clark's secret.

The villain... eh. I haven't been amazingly impressed with the villains. We have a bug, a lightning guy, a fire guy, a morphing girl, and next week, a cold guy. Me and my buddies are arguing about when rock man will show up, and when we'll see a water guy. Invisibility can be safely assumed to be in a future episode. But as I've stated before, I like the episodes for the character far more than the villains of late. The action is plentiful, and surprisingly well done for a drama, but it is not central.

It is problematic that things keep getting destroyed and then just fixed. Like the Kent farm and other not-cheap expendables, like windshields and cars.

X-Ray vision. That was a hoot. What young man hasn't imagined what he can do with X-Ray vision? I can't speak for the ladies, but I'm sure they relate as well. It's nice to see the plot developing.

Connections to the previous episodes were less prominent in this episode. I missed them. The car Lex saved, however, almost made up for it.

I am worried about the continuous plot problem of Clark saving everyone and no one noticing. It's one thing to wear glasses and be Clark, not wear glasses and be Superman (hell, everyone knows how well that's worked, and for how long), but it's completely another to assume that word will not get around, and get around fast, in a small town. I've heard tell of a young man in a small community near where I live getting a traffic ticket five minutes from home, then having his mother know before he arrived. People better start noticing things, and there better be ramifications, or I might start noticing, eh? Not that I am now... no no no.

Also... the villain survived, and went to jail. She's not going to say anything about the boy who knocked around the graveyard and knocked her out? No one's asking about how or why Clark found the dead body with no reason to be breaking, entering, and finding in the first place? These little inconsistencies, despite the fun and the character of the story, hurt the credibility. Thus I give this episode: 4 of 5.

Back to the "Smallville: Episode Reviews" Contents page.

Back to the main TELEVISION page.