Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 2 - Episode 12: "Insurgence"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Okay, initial note...thank you to everyone who wrote me last week to correct me about Pete getting knocked out and my not noticing it. It was funny the first time, guys, but by email 734,218, I got mad and hit myself with a board. You don't want me to hit myself with a board every week, right? Just kidding. I'm glad to know enough people are paying attention to what I'm writing here to care enough to notice a mistake I make and write in to correct it. It means the world to me, and thank you. I'd list the people, but there really are a good number, and I didn't have time to get permission from everyone. Seriously, there were about 15 emails.

But I get the last laugh! No one noticed that Tina, a person close to the main characters who dies and will never be heard from again, was left out of my list.

So a correction to the knockout/whammy count:

Lex: 1

Lana: 1

Chloe: 1

Pete: 1

Whammy (dead or forgotten though apparently important to the mains: 4.

By the way, people wrote me and said I was wrong about Whitney, that he'd be mentioned again. So there's another category. Episodes since his death where Whitney is not even mentioned: 1.

They didn't even give him a FUNERAL, people!

The whammy's winning BIG time, people. Which brings us to the update with statistics from this episode...

No change. Written by Jeph Loeb and destined for greatness, this episode is by far the best since Hourglass, and bounds ahead of Red (no leaps...we'll get to that in a minute), and Red was a great episode save the flagrant disregard for the consequences of Clark's action.

One thing and one thing alone assured this episode a 5 of 5, jaded my review, and put me into blissville, geekgasm, nerd-on, spaz-erroneous. And that thing was Lex Luthor grabbing the cop by the shoulder, turning her around, and saying,

"Excuse me Lieutenant Sawyer...can I please get an update on the situation?"

For those of you who don't know, Maggie Sawyer is one of the important characters in the Superman comics, and one of the only open lesbians in funnybooks. I've always admired her when she shows up in the books, and she's underused, but Loeb putting her in there, that's a tip of the hat to the fans, something to let us know that while Millar and Gough have the dramatic, tv aspect tip covered, he'll be there for the fanboys, and I've gotta respect that.

And though it's just a story element, I broke out in goosebumbs twice this episode.

1) When they pan up and completely without warning give us a shot of the Daily Planet. And not only that, but Clark's gonna leap from it. As in, leap a tall building.

2) When the leap is in progress. The music, the camerawork, the special effects...I have a confession to make:

Though I will always take Millar and Gough to task for putting flight into the show when they promised not to, I have to say that I wanted more. I'm begging for more. I'm itching for more.

Let's see. What makes this episode second only to Hourglass, and in ways, superior?

No krypto-villain (Hourglass even had that)

Real consequences.

Characters moving forward.


Great action.

Comic cameo.

No knockouts/easy deaths (villains don't count. They're expendable. No one knew the goon).

Good dialogue. Connections to family ties and the Kent/Luthor rivalry.

How about that Daily Planet, people? Honestly, I thought it was far superior to the Lois and Clark version, and even better than the one in the movies. I'm so impressed by that effect, I had to watch it twice while confirming it was really Sawyer.

And now on to the potential badness brought on by this episode, and the only piece: Luthor "turns".

Now, first I'll attack the advertising and the misleading plot synopsis. This wasn't Lex's turn, by any means. That will happen when he either kills his father, loses his idealism, or aligns against Clark. This has not happened. It might next episode, from the previews, and it's certainly been in the running for a while, but I just feel like it's either too early or too much of a tease. Meaning, I think it's not really going to be his turn, I think they're just doing that to get us watching in sweeps month. And if he does turn, and it's because of sweeps month, it's just too early. I have faith in Loeb in being able to do it right, it just seems a bit too early. I'm dubious, and this is the kind of thing that can lead to a show jumping the shark.

That said, this episode was a great example of what could turn a realistic idealist evil. It's part of what makes life hard on everyone. A bad family, the loss of privacy and security (Hello, Maslow, any problems wiping off the table?), the burden of guilt for good intentions, all of these are great things that establish what is essentially an anti-villain. I know this well, I'd like to think, because the main characters of my novels are what I like to call pro-antagonists. Meaning they're Lex figures. They're inherently evil out of a need to be hedonistic while attempting to do good. Lex shares this, and he has motivations not unlike my own main characters. One has money thrown on him and doesn't know how to deal with it, another is dealing with an alcoholic mother, and another wants to love but has a detaching hate of women. These aren't exactly Lex, but I can relate them, and it adds a depth of his character to me, and when I see Loeb do it spot-on, I have to applaud him and his co-writer Kenneth Biller. Who knows, maybe Biller wrote the darned thing and put Loeb's name on it, but I know enough of Loeb to see his hand in this, and I give both men respect, but given Loeb's position, I see his part in this easier. No mean to offend.

The only thing that could have made this episode better for me was to have Lex go into a rage about his father at the end of the episode and beat the living crud out of another parking Nazi. Serious. That's the only thing that could have made it better.

5 of 5.

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