Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 2 - Episode 23: "Exodus"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Main Points:

  • If your parents disapprove of you, make yourself into a crazy version of yourself and head for the big city.
  • Lex Luthor may be a dead man (his plane went tits up)
  • Lana and Clark are an item, so Chloe goes nuts on Clark and joins Lionel.
  • Helen is MIA, possibly dead.
  • The ship is gone, as is the baby, as is the cellar.


    Well, this was a great episode, to me anyway. There were some things which really dragged it down, but they are far outweighed, in my opinion, by the grand execution of things. An elaboration...

    All right, generally speaking, the big problems with this episode is how it promotes tension as opposed to the last one. Last year, Lionel could potentially have died. That is a big deal. A big deal. The big deal this episode is that Chloe has gone evil. Is Lex dead? No. We know this. The moment held no tension for me. Is Clark never coming back? No. We know this. The moment held no tension for me. What made those two items, though they mean nothing ultimately, cool to me, is the way they were shown. The plane crashing had as good, if not better effects than Castaway, by far my favorite plane crash scene, and it was believable. A good twist. Lionel might try to kill his own son. Heck, he paid for the trip. Maybe Helen was conspiring with them. She's gone, as is the crew. This was well done, even though there is no tension. And who didn't get goosebumps when Clark, on his motorcycle, rescinded into a great pan up to Metropolis with the Superman music in the background?

    So what am I saying? I chastise the writers for making silly cliffhangers, but I laud the direction and the cast for making them well executed, remarkably executed.

    A lot of things didn't make sense in this show. Let's put it plain. They didn't.

    Why does everything happen at noon? How does Clark know he's going to be controlled by Jor-El, and why would Jor-El want to bring him home if Krypton is being destroyed and this is why Clark was sent in the first place? Is this tying in to the Superman movie in development where somehow Krypton survives? Why would burning the House of El into his chest make him lose control of his self? And if Jor-El wanted to control him, and had the ability, why would he waste time, especially since he evidently doesn't care about Clark or Clark saying goodbye to his loved ones? Why would taking red kryptonite make Clark a better person? Why run from your errors? What is the logic behind feeling guilty for killing a fetus, then taking something that makes you beat the crud out of people and act irresponsibly (red K), and heading towards the place with the most people you know? With the ship destroyed, how will Kal ever learn of his past, aside from Dr. Swan, who knows as much if less than Clark? Why are the caves even there? Did Jor-El do this? Is it really Jor-El? Why is Lara not in on this? If the ship is trying to protect itself, and itself only, why did it even heal Martha in the first place?

    None of these questions will be answered, I believe. That is unfortunate. But frankly, I don't care. It is my job to show you these questions, but right now, I just loved this show. I didn't even notice these things until I looked critically. Why? Because there was character development, many things came to a head, and the writing and filming, for the most part, were great. Not the plot, perhaps, but the story. There is a difference.

    The ship effects were great. Anyone see the big cross? I did. There are a lot of Christian references in this show, and I don't mind it. It's a subtle play on the psyche of almost everyone within Christianity's sphere of influence, and it's masterfully done.

    The music is still reflecting the movies. If they do this, I don't care if there is a freak of the week every week. The music makes every scene better. I get chills.

    The farm is out of debt. Now we know this. I rescind my comment about the suits last week. They can afford them, and it makes sense.

    There are two great and subtle shifts in this episode. First, we see Lex and Helen torn apart, while Clark and Lana are happy and together. Later, Clark is annihilated, while Lex is toasting with Helen. This is actually a nice paradigm for the whole good vs. evil thing, and if intentional, it is one of the better writing tricks I've seen on this show. If unintentional, it only goes to show how writing is ordered chaos when examined.

    I don't understand why Lionel made a Kryptonite key. If it would work the same as the other disc, it should look like the other disc, right? And if the disc was designed to use the alien tech against itself, why didn't he say so? I guess it explains why he was mining Kryptonite, but it doesn't explain why he wanted so much.

    Also, in my cynicism, for that beautiful scene where Clark seems to be watching his last sunset on Earth, I pictured him saying, "Hey, dad, why does stuff like this always happen to me in the last few weeks of spring?"

    I wonder...

    The House of El, post-crisis, is preserved in this show. S. The symbol on his chest was an S. Very well done.

    I don't like that Clark has been lying a lot lately, and with bad reasons. He lies to his dad about the voice of Jor-El, and there's no reason why his father wouldn't be understanding. He's being KIDNAPPED! Of course Jonathan would understand Clark wanting to destroy the ship. Maybe in a more controlled situation, but why would he be against it? I think Jonathan should be MORE than mad at Clark. Mythos aside, if my son's misbehaving caused me to lose a baby I'd been trying for for nearly two decades, he'd be tasting the back of me hand, invincible or not. Yar.

    Why did he not destroy the ship way BEFORE the wedding? This too would have made him less of a bad man to Lex, who deserved his company. Who's the villain here?

    Hey, folks, check it out. Two massive explosions on the Kent farm in several days, one of which causes a massive EMP pulse the likes of which no one has ever seen on Earth, and the only person who comes to explore is Lana, even though said pulse flips a truck (which undoubtedly caused an ambulance to come, the most oblivious ambulance on Earth OR Krypton) and causes the death of a young fetus. Strange...I am beginning to think that Smallville is totally blind to anything.

    Clark SEARCHES for the red K ring. Why? The man can see through every desk in the room.

    I thought that Clark's motorcycle was part of the things that were taken back that he bought while out of his head. Isn't it a bit spendy for a poor farm family? Guess it's just cool to see Clark on a bike, sure, but that doesn't mean it makes sense.

    And I already said it, but extremely cool effect leaving for Metropolis, even if it didn't make total sense.

    All in all, a pretty darned good episode despite glaring flaws.

    5 of 5.


    Okay, folks, here's my favorite part of the whole year, summation. There were 23 episodes this year. They are, as follows, in my original review...

    Vortex: 5 of 5
    Heat: 5 of 5
    Duplicity: 4 of 5
    Red: 5 of 5
    Nocturne: 3 of 5
    Redux: 2 of 5
    Lineage: 5 of 5
    Ryan: 4 of 5
    Dichotic: 2 of 5
    Skinwalkers: 2 of 5
    Visage: 4 of 5
    Insurgence: 5 of 5
    Suspect: 3.5 of 5
    Rush: 2 of 5
    Prodigal: 5 of 5
    Fever: 2 of 5
    Rosetta: 5 of 5
    Visitor: 4 of 5
    Precipice: 5 of 5
    Witness: 2 of 5
    Accelerate: 2 of 5
    Calling: 5 of 5, 6 of 5 with ferrets
    Exodus: 5 of 5

    This makes Smallville's raw score this year a straight 3.760869565

    This further makes Smallville's raw score this year a straight 3.804347826 with ferrets.

    Basically, that makes the season's raw score 4 of 5, the same as last year.

    There were:
    0 1 of 5s,
    7 2 of 5s,
    1 3 of 5s,
    1 3.5 of 5
    4 4 of 5s,
    10 5 of 5s.
    1 6 of 5, if you count ferrets.

    How does this relate to last year? Last year, there were:

    6 5 of 5s,
    9 4 of 5s,
    1 3.5 of 5
    3 3 of 5s,
    2 2 of 5s

    So I look at it like this...this year, there were many episodes that were either really great, or really lousy, compared to episode previous, whereas last year, there was a consistent goodness, with some quality dropping because of excessive freak of the weeks. The show is settling into the traditional pattern of event, filler, event, filler. Does that mean the show is lousy? No. But it does mean, to me, anyway, that it is not as good as it used to be in ways. But then, the events almost make up for it. Interesting.

    Now, for reevaluation, with the episode's overall significance known...

    Vortex: 5 of 5

    I still agree with this review, largely. Lots of action, a creepy reporter meeting his end at Lex's hand, and a priceless flight through a tornado to save Lana. Good stuff.

    Heat: 5 of 5

    Hey, who doesn't love a hot chick who makes the future Superman have Octurnal emissions?

    Duplicity: 4 of 5

    Pete finds out Clark's secret...a good thing, and a bad thing. It limits the story slightly, because of the secrecy tension being taken away, but it also adds the element of Clark not being alone any more with his secret. I stand by this number.

    Red: 5 of 5

    This one stands, though I wonder if the bad Clark will become the signifier for ratings needed on this show. I mean, they've used it three times now, and twice where it wasn't entirely appropriate.

    Nocturne: 3 of 5

    Looking back, I was far too kind to this episode. Byron was a horrible, horrible creation, and I don't think I'd watch this again unless I had to. The only cool element was the intrigue of Lionel, and even that hasn't panned out too well this season. I take it to a 2.

    Redux: 2 of 5

    In retrospect, this episode was really lousy. I was kind, in giving it a two. It introduced a character unnecessarily, one we may never see again, the principal. And since this principal seems so much more important to Lex and Clark than the last one, but suddenly disappears, and since this was made for last year but shown this year, and since the continuity tear is horrible (Clark's mother is not even still employed by Lionel. How hard would it have been to film one little reference?), I take this one down to a retrospective 1.

    Lineage: 5 of 5

    In retrospect, there were some things about this episode which stink. It brought about Henry Small, a plotline I now feel thrown in and foolish, and I think I would rather it had never come about. It forwards Lana's feeling of being alone in the world, but it brings in someone who doesn't make much sense and is often skipped over unless convenient for Lana characterization. We don't need another close but foreign character. This one goes down to three.

    Ryan: 4 of 5

    This one actually sticks with me more, given the fact that it created a good character, then had the strength to kill him, which made sense, given the plot, and it wasn't implausible in a lot of ways. I take this one up to 5 again.

    Dichotic: 2 of 5

    JTT. I was far too kind. 1.

    Skinwalkers: 2 of 5

    I was too harsh on this episode. I think this is my worst review of the season, simply because I had no idea that the caves would ever by used again. I raise this one to a four, minus one for the cheesy romance, plus two for the relevance.

    Visage: 4 of 5

    Whitney meets his end. That alone makes this worthy of a five, but the way they did it was cheesy. 4. I stand by my review.

    Insurgence: 5 of 5

    Maggie Sawyer, a leap from the Daily Planet, and probably the third best Smallville episode ever (1, Rosetta, 2, Hourglass, 3, Insurgence, 4, Zero. Easy) I stand by this.

    Suspect: 3.5 of 5

    I think that this was well done, in retrospect, even though I despise the fact that the villain was Ethan. I change this to a four.

    Rush: 2 of 5

    Ah yes, because fans demanded it, but not common sense, let's bring back bad Clark and make Bad Chloe and Bad Pete. Suuuuure. This deserves a one, but there were some cool things, like Chloe and Clark making out, the catching of the car, and etc. I stand by this one.

    Prodigal: 5 of 5

    Okay, so Lex has a brother, and it pans out well. We haven't seen him, since. I figured this to be an interesting plot development, but since it has become a non-plot development, I take this down to 4.

    Fever: 2 of 5

    The Mary Jane soliloquy, from Spider-Man, as read by a distraught Chloe to Clark. Add in a military sequence that is plain mentally challenged, I was generous. 1.

    Rosetta: 5 of 5

    Hands down the best episode yet. Christopher Reeve, the Superman theme, Kal-El, Kryptonite, need I say more?

    Visitor: 4 of 5

    I think this episode SHOULD be more significant than it will be. But though it has not recurred, which I thought it would, I stand by my review because it was a well done show, despite the fact that Clark condones Lex's B and E.

    Precipice: 5 of 5

    When I reviewed this, there were ulterior thoughts and writings to my review. For reasoning, see my website, but the large and small of it is that this was really a 2, but I gave it a five for the way it effected me. Now I take it back to a 2.

    Witness: 2 of 5

    Goons with Kryptonite inhalers defy physics and we see Welling's butt. I stand by this review. I was kind. I am still being kind.

    Accelerate: 2 of 5 This episode brought back level 3, its only saving grace. I stand by this one. Little girl goes nuts and gets superpowers? It's so done now, and the river scene made little sense.

    Calling: 5 of 5, 6 of 5 with ferrets

    Everything comes together...why didn't they do this eight episodes ago?

    Exodus: 5 of 5

    More of the same. Well done. I stand by this one.

    So we have changes...minus one, minus one, minus two, plus one, minus one, plus 2, plus .5, minus one, minus one, minus three, making the raw score with a minus 6.5 in retrospect, 3.478260870. Or, in other words, if I look at things in perspective, this season, with my bias of favoritism for Superman aside (I love Superman to death), averages down to 3.


    To me, this does not mean that this is a bad show, no more than I think a C student is an idiot. I think that what happens is as a reviewer, I don't get to do what you guys do and just go along for the ride, so I try to compensate for that by being a little generous, realizing that if I were critical, this show would just be average. But a show is what you take from it, folks. So analytically, this year is a 3. Really, this year, for a fan, is a four. But the fact that I care about it so much, to me, makes it a 5, even if I hate certain aspects of certain shows. I mean, it's SUPERMAN! I hope this is enough.

    And now, for the moment everyone's been waiting for! The FINAL KNOCKOUT COUNT!

    We have one for Martha, one for Jonathan, and I'm going out on a limb and saying that Clark and Lex each get one, for the plane crash and the EMP explosion. We may also have the departure of Helen, but I'm not marking that down, yet. I also consider the fact that the Kent farm suffered two explosions and is not covered with federal agents a miracle, so that goes in the miracle category.

    Meaning, we have:


    Lex: 11

    Lana: 7

    Jonathan: 6

    Chloe: 4

    Pete: 4

    Clark: 4

    Martha: 3

    Lionel: 2

    Whammy (dead but mostly forgotten though important to the mains): 26.

    People who know Clark's secret (for sure, not potentially): 10 living, 5 dead.

    Miracles: 2 (Pete's arm and the Kent explosions that go unnoticed)

    Number of episodes since Luthor found his new brother after never knowing him at all it takes for them to make contact again onscreen: 8 and one season break.

    Is it a surprise that the future mental deviant has the most KOs? Not to me! Jonathan is surprising. Lana, the female in this Superman escapade, can only be expected to make the victim role a little often.

    I will not be ultimately cruel and designate the unborn baby as a whammy, so don't email me and ask. That's a debate I don't even want to touch, so it 's heretofore off limits, save in the most cursory manner. Sorry, even I have my limits. Few, but they're there.

    And as a final note, the fun, the joy, the elite evil of Lex Luthor, as presented by two contributors, Scott Judd and JL. All hail the Lexstravaganza, the best quotes of Lex Luthor!:

    "You call sleeping with me business? I hate to think what that makes you." (from Leech)

    "Do you know what my father gave me for my tenth birthday? A copy of The Will to Power. "Behold the Superman - man is something to be overcome." Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, they were the voices that nurtured me after my mother died. My father made every question a quiz, every choice a test. Second best was for losers, compassion for the weak, trust no one. Those were the lessons I grew up with." (from Reaper)

    "Trust me; when I make things disappear, they stay buried." (from X-Ray)

    "A high school boyfriend isn't a husband, he's an obstacle." (from Cool)

    "Life's a journey, Clark; I don't wanna go through it following a roadmap." (from Hourglass)

    "You see, I don't want to do good things, I want to do great things." (from Hourglass)

    "I don't care about the past, I believe in the power to reinvent yourself." (from Craving)

    "Funny how one day can change your whole life." (from Craving)

    Clark: "I didn't know you were such a history buff." Lex: "I'm not; I'm just interested in people who ruled the world before they were thirty." (from Rouge)

    "You can learn a lot from someone you hate." (from Hug)

    "Failing isn't something I do." (from Hug)

    "Trust me, Clark. Our friendship is going to be the stuff of legend." (from Hug)

    "Just remember boys - you keep my secret, and I'll keep yours. [pause] And If you don't, you'll find out you're not the only ones who can reach through walls." (from Kinetic)

    "I don't believe in obligations." (from Zero)

    Heretofore unplaced episode quotes:

    "Don't worry about the police. It's covered. I know this kind of party can make or break a reputation and I wanted to make sure yours was a hit."

    "Friendship is a fairy tale, Clark. Respect and fear are the best you can hope for."

    "A man is measured by the quality of his friends."

    "The truth is, I'd do anything to protect my friends."

    "I believe we make our own destiny."

    "Funny how one day can change your whole life."

    "I don't care about the past. I believe in the power to reinvent yourself."

    "It's not about the ending, it's about the journey."

    "Clark, you can't save the world. All you'll end up with is a Messiah complex and a lot of enemies."

    "Just remember, the man of tomorrow is forged by his battles today."

    "When my father dies, kings will come to his funeral, but when yours dies, his friends will come."

    "Napoleon's mother couldn't make it to his coronation. But when he commissioned it, Napoleon told Daveed to paint it as if she were there, right in the center. Even though she couldn't be there physically, he brought her into his life by sheer force of will, there to share in his greatness."

    "You know, in ancient Persia, kings would kill a messenger who brought them news they didn't like. In modern times, a sword in the chest might seem a little extreme. Something more subtle would be in order. Enjoying your drink?"

    "The Luthors wrote the book on uncomfortable silences."

    "You have no idea what I'm capable of."

    "That's what you get for trusting family."

    "Dad, games are all we've got."

    "I try and deny it, but I am still my father's son. Tread carefully."

    "I'm sorry you got thrown through that window. I promise, I'm not a criminal mastermind."

    "Our critics are our friends; they show us our faults."

    "If this town ever had connections, they wouldn't have named it Smallville."

    "The hardest thing in the world is telling the girl you love that you like her."

    "You're talking to someone who set the bar for adolescent rebellion."

    "Not all relationships are about love, Clark. Sometimes they're about mutual goals. Not every girl is Lana Lang."

    "In my experience, there is no such thing as too much information."

    "I believe the term is 'Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!' "

    "That, my friend, is the key to leadership. Not only knowing you're right but convincing everyone else. If you can do that... the world is your oyster."

    "Strange visitor from another planet, protects the weak... when I was young he was my idol, not to mention the fact that he's bald. I have the whole collection."

    "We have a complicated relationship, Clark. My father wants me to believe it's built on trust, but it's not. It's built on lies and deceit. Any relationship with that foundation is destined to fail."

    "You look at the stars, Clark. Some of them have been extinguished for thousands of years, but their light is only reaching us now. The past is always influencing the present. I can't change that. All I can do is try and understand it."

    "I began to see [baldness] as my gift. The thing that defined me, that gave me strength."

    "Being reviled is the lesser of two evils."

    From JL:

    "If I find out you have any agenda that could harm the Kents, this amiable father-son time will come to an abrupt end."

    My personal favorite:

    "Anyone who doesn't understand poetry, doesn't know that it's all about seduction."

    Why? Because I am a poet. And because, at times, in fact, quite often, I fear that I may end up more a Lex Luthor than a Clark Kent, especially for love of a woman, which is, in effect, the essential crux of the Lex and Clark fight. What? You thought it was power that drove Lex? No, my friends. A woman broke his heart. Here's my thoughts on it (Warning: Not PG). Of course, you may find this pessimistic, but then, there is the hope, the love of life, the nobility of doing what is right, what Superman represents to me, and to us all (also not PG, sorry, kids). We admire Lex Luthor, not for what he does, but how well he does it. Smallville is merely a stage for his madness, and what it takes to create something to counter someone who seems so justifiably evil. I leave you with this, another season, and I want to thank all of you who took the time to write, who took the time to listen to me, and who took the time to take part in this phenomena, whether you love it or hate it. I have received, this year, 451 pieces of correspondence with regards to my Smallville reviews, and reading and responding to every single email has been an honor, and a privilege. Writing is my life, and up until I started writing about this show, which is actually more fun that work, I had never even received so much as a snuff for what I do or how I do it with poetry or television, and I truly appreciate all of the help, the words, and the love sent my way. So thank you again. Thank you again and again. And I hope to see you all next year for the next season, provided my luck holds out and Steve deems me worthy.

    Down with re-runs, and up with poetry!


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