Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 2 - Episode 10: "Skinwalkers"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Well, folks, I have decided to add a new whammy into the knockout equation here at the old Smallville reviews... for those of you who were unconscious last week or have lapsed into some sort of tryptophan induced stupor, we are keeping track of who is the most brain damaged in Smallville by how many times they have been knocked out. I sympathize with you who have become turkeyed up fools somewhere in limbo. I know I am, but nonetheless, my body sans mind sits to write this for you, so here you are, we must discuss the matters of retardation at hand:

We know that the score stands even this week in terms of knockouts, with Lex and Chloe each having one, but now we add in the new factor: people that the main characters know really well, who die in a small town without anybody noticing or really being impacted for more than about three seconds in the show's denouement. This, with Ryan, and the young lady from this episode, brings the tally to 2. They have moved ahead of the unconscious to take whatever position that gives them in this unholy competition of stupor. Game, however, is still very on, with fifteen some-odd episodes to go in the season.

And one piece of business, before I start what will obviously become a bit of a rant. I have received numerous emails congratulating me on bringing about a smiting of all of the horrible aspects of JTT from last episode, from the nipples to the freak of the week, and I have to say, all of the emails I got said that I did well, but there needed to be MORE! More trashing of that horrible, weasel little freak of the week. And so, I further reiterate that bringing in A: A freak of the week and B: JTT as said freak of the week was a horrible, horrible idea, and I would rather vomit razor blades than sit through that mess again, nine irons aside, simply for the puns, and the lack of explanation as to how he can split into several boys, keep an A average, and still become a murderer.

And one more piece of business... Mark Rutkowski, an alert reader, pointed out a possible explanation in physics for the fact that Chloe was able to survive the fall in the last episode, and it goes along these lines (his words, with permission):

There are 2 reasons that Clark may have passed her on the way down. The first is that she was falling horizontally and had more air resistance, Clark made himself go straight down vertically thus reducing air resistance. Plus he may have pushed off straight down too.

As far as catching her, and not being dead, that has to do with Clark having super fast reflexes. For example if you drop an egg from 10 feet and you catch it in your hands doing nothing it will break and you have egg goo all over, even from 2 ft. But at 10-15 ft, if you catch the egg and move your hands down with it fast enough, it does not break, this is the same thing here, Clark probably did that at super speed and broke her fall the same principle.

Makes sense to me. Credit the man, he not only came up with a great explanation, he also brought Chloe back to life! SHE LIVES! Praise be to Gough and Millar, we have LIFE!

Now on with your regularly scheduled and quite long review:

Boy, for a couple of guys with poor dads, Clark and Pete can sure afford some pretty cool motorbikes. Oh, my friend informs me. They must have rented them. How hard would it have been to insert said information into the show in the form of one line of dialogue though, eh?

Another point of contention...Lex had the only redeeming quality of the last episode, a nine iron sporting rampage that ending in an unlikely but somewhat curious romance. Is this just somehow put on hiatus of the week? Oh yes, I understand. It's Thanksgiving. She's off with her family. Or maybe she smelled the Great Hippie Invasion of Smallville and decided to take the train out of town for a while.

That's right folks, this rich, white, upper middle class town has gone liberal crazy for the week. It's the feel good episode of the year, where everyone learns a little something about the Native Americans before they quietly recede back into the American landscape and become the injuns again. Hate to put it in such an obviously inflammatory way, but that's the exact feeling I got out of this show. A half-shod attempt to pretend to understand the Native American culture through stereotypes, foolish corollary, and a love story. And the best and worst part? I don't think half of the audience is going to see it.

Now pause. I'm sure you're breathing heavily, sweating, looking at this screen and either being angry with me or perhaps identifying. But it's important that we keep this civil and real, so bear with me, and try to keep an open mind.

We have a created Indian myth, told by great grandfather Indian and passed down through daughter, who cares so much about the ways that she takes up the aspect of a warrior animal and starts murdering the people of the town. Whoa, there, nelly, and think about that. This is either portraying the American native as a murderer, or as someone so passionate about the land that they're willing to do almost anything to protect the culture and the heritage. Problem is, in this show, there's no real line of distinction drawn, and it tears the credibility away from the seemingly noble cause.

Another pause, just to show you I'm being fair here. I'm not one to cry racism. Really. I think racism can largely be a product of one's own self imposed self-criticism. I grew up white in a majority black schoolroom, and I was ridiculed, I was teased. Woe be it for me to possibly say that I have knowledge of what it's like to be black or Native American, but I state this to authenticate the fact that while I am not of a minority, I see and have experienced what makes one become angry at the larger culture, willing enough to strike out in anger. Further, for the most part, I am a largely anti-social man. I think a lot of what society does is tragic, and though I can pose no solutions to this problem, I cannot stand the way that we as humans treat one another. Still, I think racism can be combated, and I have been in enough classrooms where racism is cried when it is not actually present that I know we as a public can be overly sensitive and not sensitive enough at the same time. For instance, I was called racist for suggesting once in a Native American studies class that I could write a moving and relatable poem about the Battle at Wounded Knee without being Native American. And I have also seen people badgering and beating a man for being a color not his own, and the people around them considered this commonplace and did nothing about it. My point being, I feel I have a fairly balanced sense, through a multitude of experiences, of what is people overreacting and what is one person attacking another for no particular reason other than an uncontrollable difference. So end pause, I am not saying that this show was racist.

I am saying that it was based slightly in ignorance and assumption, however, which can be worse. Which can lead to racism, eventually.

We have the stereotypical elements of your average television Native American character. Wise old grandfather. Upstart young Native American who hasn't learned her place in society or the tribe. A land being taken away, and the Native Americans taking issue, and bringing the white people (well, there's Pete, to be fair, but) over to their side, and eventually the land is preserved. All is well in the land of white-people television show make believe.

Real life? The caves are a toxic waste dump (because the government intervened, for the most part), the white populace learns or cares nothing, and Grandfather becomes further disillusioned.

All right. It's a television show, I concede, but think about this a minute. Was the representation accurate? Perhaps, for some. In writing this, I felt a sense of anger, but also a sense of questioning, so here I will stop. I ask you to examine this show and the stereotypes that it has presented, come to your own conclusions, and email me. I'll give the general consensus next week, but I don't think it's entirely fair for me to judge this aspect of the show until I've had a chance to think about it further.

How many shows have you seen where the wise old Indian man gives the newly learned white guy a trinket of some philosophical meaning. I've seen many.

How many shows have you seen where the Native American ends up happy and contented and rewarded with the resolution, and everyone is happy with them.

This is television. We tune in in order to tune out. I concede. But there are pots you stick your hand in and pull out more than honey sometimes, and the land of racial and cultural stereotypes is one of them. So let's think about it.

Enough of that, but it had to be said.

This show suffered from a kind of cheapened freak of the week, one that we've seen several times this season in an effort to probably counter the argument that every week there's a freak of the week with kryptonite inspired powers. Create a villain that is either not inspired by kryptonite, and is somehow just magical in nature, or make the kryptonite involvement so cursory in its mention that we might miss it.

Didn't work guys. The girl was still a freak of the week, and she still moved character in the series nil. Clark has had a romance. Okay. Well, what will we see about that next week? Probably nothing. Like Lex's female friend from last week, aforementioned.

Add in a stirring subplot, however, and we have motion. See, while the caves, and the relationships of Native Americans in this show might (might, needs more examination) have been a bit off-kilter, the idea that Jor-El, or some other Kryptonian might have visited in the past and perhaps related the prophecy of the House of El (A comic reference, forgive me) is rather intriguing to me. If it works out to be something they come back to, I'll love this part of the show. If not, it's an unresolved subplot. We'll leave that for later discourse, and I won't factor it into the rating, as it's a plot for another episode, by nature, but still, it is worthy of a mention as interesting and put in such a manner that it carried my favor.

Still, this regardless, none of the characters of Smallville really made any sort of character development in this episode, save their understanding of the Native American culture (questionable at best), and we have a freak of the week as well as ignored ramifications from last week to pollute the waters.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the mid-season lull, and thus:

2 of 5.

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