Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 2 - Episode 3: "Duplicity"Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Gear up, Superfans! We have Betty and Veronica here, and Archie is the strongest man in the universe next to He-Man. We even have a proverbial Jughead in the form of Pete, who now is a source of confiding as well as a silly little sidekick. But I say that in derisive fashion...fear not. I am pleased.
See, I've been hoping for a while that the Chloe and Lana thing would turn in this direction. There's no reason for it not to, particularly since the production has decided to take the decidedly Superboy turn of making every one of the main characters involved in almost every story. It's not a bad thing, it's not a good thing, but it's a thing that if you're going to gel with it, you have to bring people together, in my opinion.
We have the Orko/He-Man kick (Am I a He-Man geek, or what?) now, with Pete knowing the secret and not being able to tell anyone despite being impulsive and immature at times. Which somewhat begs the question, what does Neal think about Pete being the guy to learn the secret?
I don't like it, frankly. I don't think it was the right character. I don't care that it's Pete, per se, in the trusting sense. I mean, I felt like the Kents were being complete cranks when they questioned Pete and his ability to keep a secret when not 8 episodes back, they trusted the secret of Superman to a silly little boy who was, actions to recent notwithstanding, a CRIMINAL! I refer of course to Stray, where Clark got a brother. Then lost him. A bit. Whatever.
Pete Ross doesn't know in the comic books, and that is a good turn. He's the vice prez, for those of you who only watch Smallville, and he's married to...yes...Lana Lang. And that worked. And it has worked, well. I imagine my favorite part of the comic relationship Superman and Lana share is that she knows all that Superman is, and what he can be, and Pete remains ignorant, unassuming, and still trustworthy, but she still decides to stay with Pete, showing that even Superman can be flawed in love. It's a great character trait. And it's almost a given, I mean, always a given, that Superman's love interest figures out or is told the secret before the show Jumps the Shark.
For those of you who don't know what Jumping the Shark is, it's a reference to when a show loses its viability in favor of gimmicks to keep the ratings up. There's even a cool site I frequent about it at jumptheshark.com. That sounds like a sell-out, but I'm really just trying to explain the concept, because, for many, the reason Lois and Clark lost its viability was the loss of tension between Clark and Lois when at the end of the second season (I think?) the secret was exposed to the couple. I think it Jumped the Shark when Luthor was taken out of the picture for the final time, but that's just me. It happened with Lois and Clark, I believe (I didn't watch the show enough, sorry) that Superboy did it, and the comics did it, to what many consider to be the comic's detriment. I personally don't think it hurt the comic any, but again, that's just me.
I guess my point here is that Lana has to find out, and it would make it less of a gimmick and less of an impact on the series in general if Pete did not no, or even if less people know. At this point, it would be okay. But I see Chloe learning the secret right now before Lana, and that makes more sense than Pete. I thought that Chloe was gone for some reason last season (her internship?), but it turns out that she is a recurring character, and not of the ultimate Superman comic mythos, so it doesn't hurt anything if she learns. But, as I pointed out, telling Pete changes whole, important dynamics. Like Lex growing up with Clark. But I have faith. They've made Lex in Smallville fly for me, so I'll reserve judgment until I see forsaken consequence, but in very Solo style, I will currently brutally admonish that I have a very bad feeling about this.
The shaking sickness associated with Hamilton and the Earl character from Jitters is an interesting but unexplained factor of Kryptonite. Doesn't Kryptonite just slowly poison you with radiation until you get cancer and die, quickly if exposed to large quantities? I guess the Smallville standard that has been set up is oriented around a more meta form of death. Interesting, but unexplained.
There were loose ends in this episode that I didn't like:
We have a protracted film working with Hamilton getting Kryptonite dropped onto his forehead, and then, the next scene, he is gone. But then, the next scene, it is explained that he is dead. ?
Pete calls the cops to take the poor man hurt in the Hamiltonian game of Krypto-chicken away, but the cops don't notice the spaceship ten feet away? I mean, the poor man hurt in the Hamiltonian game of Krypto-chicken saw the danged thing, and he was upside down in a totaled truck? He had...telescopic vision...from...his exposure, uh...to the spaceship. Yeah. Maybe I missed a piece of expository dialogue. It just stands out as odd to me.
We see Nell and her boyfriend talking, and a scene takes place, and it was confusing. I feel like a stupid television viewer, because, believe it or not, I didn't know it was Nell until it was explained. I honestly had forgotten her face. That makes me feel pathetic, but I can't lie, and it stood out with me.
WE HAVE FLIGHT AGAIN! That burned me. Choose, one or the other. No flights, no tights, or flights, and tights. Wait for the shark, eh? Clark can leap tall buildings in a single bound now, eh, with a cheesy white boy grin and a basketball hoop in the foreground? Monkeys, was that played up for pure cheese. It was a moment, yes, but I couldn't help but cringe. Like Enterprise, if any of you watch that, when Archer talks about the future, like, "Some day, T'Pol, there may be some directive...and this directive, it might be prime." Gol. I'm probably talking out my rear, but I'm sure some of you out there know what I'm talking about. It's the laugh moment from the 80s cartoon. Heh heh heh heh heh heh he heh. Ah.
Pete's reaction, as well, struck me as odd. I mean, if my best bud Kevin told me that he had super-powers, I wouldn't say, "Oh God, ALIENS ROAM THE EARTH!" and then run around the room until I hit a bearing wall. Rather, I'd make him lift my house joists back onto the bearing wall, or take out my enemies, or something chumly and somewhat humorous. I wouldn't react in a crazed way, especially if I knew what it was like to be an estranged person. And, at risk of sounding political here, Pete Ross is a black man in a small town full of white people. Think he wouldn't know what it's like to feel strange and different? Or at least, cast off?
What was Pete's dad saying when he was off tinkering in the barn for several days? Just another thought.
But all in all, there were no Kryptonite teenage villains of the week (which makes two of three episodes this year, folks), there was significant forward motion in the plot, and the writing, as ever, continues to have inspired dialogue and fairly tight comic action for television.
For this and solid entertainment, I give this episode 4 of 5.
PS: Holy Monkeys, your astute and eagle eyed reviewer just now got the joke from Nicodemus, where Jonathan is singing along to the Dukes of Hazard right before he gets into a most egregious auto accident, having once been a member of the Dukes himself. Just a good ole boy...shows you how much attention I pay to ole south humor, but still, it's funny, in retrospect, and self-deprecation is always a plus... :) See you all next week!
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