Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 2 - Episode 19: "Precipice"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Main Points:

  • Clark can have a nasty temper when Lana is involved.
  • Jocks with bad attitudes turn to assault when Lana is businesslike.
  • Lana turns to assault and takes said jocks out.
  • Crazy men abound in the past of Helen, Lex's newly betrothed.


    All right folks, a few corrections, a few notations, I'm still getting back into the swing of things here, what with the long break between episodes, so I hope some of you will forgive me my trespasses.

    A reader named Ken Nicoletti pointed out, long ago, just after the Christopher Reeve episode, that I should not only have credited the costume designers for the excellent red, blue, and yellow attire Clark wears, but rather credit them with doing it every single episode. If you look, they do. I felt really inattentive. Good eye...

    Another reader, Caleb, notes that in reference to the details missing in the last episode, when trying to figure out whether Cyrus was really an alien or not, we all missed that perhaps, when he was in the hospital, blood tests were performed? Time will tell, but let the speculation commence!

    A man named Tim, emailing me, points out a geeky reference even I, Superman Geek with a capital G, missed. A line from the movie... " that with a C, or a K?" Very succinct.

    And Danny Ant steps in along with a reader named Tom to help update the knockout/whatever count. I apparently missed a few things. Tom adds:

    InHothead, Mr Arnold gets the old whammy (self immolation, one for whammy).

    In Cool, the Freak of the Week dies, his girlfriend is dead, and Clark was frozen (two whammys and a knockout for Clark).

    In Jitters, Earl, a Freak of the Week, dies, as far as we know (one whammy).

    In Rogue, the Cop knows Clark's secret, and dies (one whammy, one who knows, dead) (thanks for Danny as well on this one).

    In Leech, Eric, who steals Clark's powers, learns his secret AND disappears from view, though apparently known by the mains (one who knows, living, another whammy)

    In drone, the Freak of the week knocks people out, and is knocked out, but is too minor for note, save in being close to the mains and then disappearing, after learning Clark's secret (one who knows, living, one whammy).

    In Vortex, Roger Nixon learns the secret, and Lex kills him (one whammy, one who knows, dead).

    In Heat, Lex and Jonathan are conked (one for each).

    In Nocturne, we have a special note...Pete's arm is broken, but miraculously heals. New category...miracles.

    In Redux, the Freak of the Week disintegrates...close enough for (one whammy).

    In Insurgence, we have two dead goons and two knocked out, but they're not close to the mains, so I'll let it slide...

    Also, in this weeks episode, another miracle! See the review for elaboration.

    So, thanks to Danny for death help, and Tom for most of the update...with this information, the list is updated as such:


    Jonathan: 4

    Lex: 9

    Lana: 6

    Chloe: 4

    Pete: 4

    Clark: 3

    Martha: 2

    Lionel: 1

    Whammy (dead but mostly forgotten though important to the mains): 25.

    People who know Clark's secret (for sure, not potentially): 5 living, 4 dead.

    Miracles: 2 (Pete's arm, Helen's face)

    Number of weeks since Luthor found his new brother after never knowing him at all it takes for them to make contact again: 4.

    Please note that I have paired down the list accordingly with those still in competition (I will note of any returning knockouts, like Dominic Satori, if they recur, but chances are unlikely). Also note that there is a plus or minus one Neal margin of error on this chart, so if you have any corrections, please send them my way. With this new information, I feel confident in standing by my former assumptions. Lex is brain damaged, bordering evil, and anyone who knows Clark or his secret and is not Lana, Pete, Lex, Chloe, or his immediate family, might as well find a good cliff.

    One final note...I have received several emails asking me when my reviews will be has changed. Because I work 24 hour shifts with the elderly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, for now, I take notes at work and submit my review Thursday night, so expect, with luck, new reviews the Friday after the show. Thank you for caring, those who wrote, it means the world to me.


    I took a number of notes for this review, which makes me groan, because I know a flaying is in order. It wasn't the quality of the episode, per ce, which was on par normal. We have a cool new character (albeit one everyone immediately wants shot) in the form of the sheriff, and we are one step closer to Lana learning the secret. Further, someone is FINALLY noticing that Clark is always around at the scenes of crimes.

    My main problems with this episode revolve around none of this...the villain was plausible, the execution of his demise wonderful (Lex with gun=fun). I also admire no FOTW, no Kryptonite, really, and no whiney love talk.

    I don't really like the message of this episode, and its flawed execution. Allow me to elaborate.

    Every show has to have an episode where the chick goes nuts, taps into the unfathomable infinite well of "GIRL POWER!" and kicks the crud out of any oppressor (typically male) that gets in her way. Well, good in ways, bad in ways, I don't want to get into that debate (Last time I did publicly through writing, I got death threats. Seriously.). The point is, the episode came, and the episode went, and I pulled a negative attitude out of this rather than a positive one. And before I get emails saying, "It's just because you're threatened by Lana, a formerly submissive woman, standing up for herself.", I'll assuage that by saying no, it's not that. I love seeing anyone, male, female, androgynous mutant of Pluto, rising up to smite anything evil that may confront them, with rare exceptions (Cough cough Ira...I'd rather not get into that). But put it into a reversal of roles. A (SEX) is attacked by a group of (SEX), and implication is, there's sexual assault involved. This person is not helped by the police, so when the main instigator returns, the way this person is dealt with is by the original person, victimized by violence, beating the holy crap out of the initiator. The moral to this story folks? Violence solves everything.

    I take this into the sexless realm, folks, because the sexuality of Lana doesn't even enter into the flaw in the moral here. The attackers used violence to intimidate, so Clark used violence to intimidate, and all through the show, the stalker boyfriend Helen once dated uses violence to intimidate her, so what do we take from this, generally? Violence is...say it together kids, BAD. Especially when used to intimidate into getting what you want.

    So what does Lana do? Ah, what the heck. Forget what we're learning here. Just because it's cool to see someone who's mean have the crud kicked out of them, let's beat them into never, ever coming around again! That way, we don't have to worry about law suits, the law, the legal system, our equitable system of compromise that holds society together! Ha! Who needs them.

    Clark Kent, from the start, was wrong of indecisiveness. When the bullies first shoved Lana into the rack, Clark had the ability and should have non-violently detained them. It would have stopped injury and never opened this whole ball of wax, and this is what Superman would do. I live my life by the Superman credo. Maybe we should all take a page from that, and perhaps both Lana and Clark, wholly out of character in this respect, should have as well.

    Lex can put a gun to a man's head and I will cheer. Why? Because he's an evil man, and he will get his comeuppance by slowly destroying himself with bitterness. We know this, as humans. Evil is not only punished, but it punishes itself, eventually receding into its own devices. Only by becoming a part of it do we sacrifice ourselves, as did Clark and Lana.

    When Clark threw the men into the car, the sheriff pulled a gun on him. A man with no weapon. Again, characteristic of our new society. A cop does not pull a gun on someone who has entered into a physical altercation unless said suspect is progressing in a threatening way towards an officer. Clark was not.

    The sheriff, on her own authority, without a judge, also assigns fines and penalties. Interesting! No jury, no trial, it's just community service or the pokey, Clark! Well, it's good thing the lady seemed trustworthy and not shady or abusive with her power, right?

    Clark, as well, should have gone to jail for physical assault. He did not. What he did was perhaps morally correct, but by law, he should have sat in jail.

    Perhaps this is a simple issue of girl empowerment, and I've missed the point, but I have to thank this episode for making me think about these things.

    Flaws. Lex asks Helen about Paul, but Lex should already know all about Paul. He did a background check, remember?

    Lana stated to Clark that the case against the Jocks wouldn't hold up in court, on her end. Bologna. She was injured, assaulted, sexually threatened. Last I checked, one could be locked up and charged for that. And hopefully locked away for a good period of time until rehabilitated or dead.

    Lex had some GREAT lines. "I'm just a frighteningly good judge of character." "I'd hate for your life to get...complicated." He's starting to turn, and it's so slight and succinct it's beautiful.

    Sorry, Helen, sorry, Paul, hospitals don't close. Even medical centers. That is, if they admit patients for days at a time, which Smallville does (Ma, Chloe, Lana, among others over the last two years).

    Clark and Lana want to know how to prove the jocks are faking their injury, but they think the only way is to use Lana. Well, hey, what about Pete, Chloe, or other people the jocks don't even know? Or heaven forbid, the POLICE? Or a camera, say, from more than 500 feet away? Sigh.

    Lex again breaks and enters into a private residence and Clark doesn't even so much as flinch. Because hey, he's on a quest for vengeance, and Clark Kent, future Superman, understands this, right? Maybe Batman. Superman, no.

    I'm sure Lex, greatest criminal mastermind of our time, even blinded by love, has more sense than to board a passenger train with a loaded gun after the events of 9-11. Besides, where was the increased security I see every time I try to even board a BUS?

    And the miracle. Helen is beaten to the point of medical attention, but soon after, her cut face is miraculously healed and she is sucking brandy with Lex. Hmmmm...

    I liked, however, the nice, acoustic Don't Fear the Reaper at the end of the episode. It was eerie, it made me consider the state of the world. But hey, life's all about choices, folks. Lex chose to ignore the rampant potentials for evil in his use and abuse of power, and Clark chose to masterfully consider the justice potential and its applicability to help humanity rise above its nature.

    And who is on the marquee? Who do we respect? Simple corollary, though in logic, this may be a death knell.

    Speaking of coronary, I almost had one when I saw the preview for next week. Bare rear Tom Welling. I did NOT need that. No disrespect, Tom, it's just we saw enough of your chest in the premier.

    And on that note, I leave you, giving this episode a firm

    5 of 5.

    And lo, what a precipice it may yet be if characters the world around continue to choose violence over potential legal justice.

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