Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 2 - Episode 5: "Nocturne"Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Ah, Lord Byron, what a pun. What an intentional, well, ha.
Several things to get out of the way before I begin this review...
I have had a number of readers write in with interesting theories/speculation that gave me a good deal to think about, adding depth to how I look at the characters, and I just wanted to spend a minute and point them out, that you might benefit as well. This is a purely speculative area, and if you want to get to the meat of the review, I'd scroll a bit to where I make the break.
Ian Murphy writes in with a correction that I concede readily. In Pre-Crisis Superman, Pete Ross did indeed know that Clark Kent was Superman, as is evidenced in a scene much like this excerpt plagiarized straight from Ian himself (with permission...joke):
Clark (thinking): Oh, no - that crashing jet is about to demolish the school, but I can't get away.
Pete (thinking): Oh, no - Clark can't make an excuse to get away.
Pete: Oh, no! A bee flew up my nose! Everybody look at me!
Clark: Whew! (whoosh!)
Special thanks to Ian for pointing this out. This shows that Pete knowing the secret can and has worked in the past, and if I think back fairly hard, I think I can remember scenes like this. Whether this will work for this particular series is yet to be seen, but I have more confidence, given that the scene above. Of course, in the Pre-Crisis, Pete pretended he didn't know, but...
Also, an alert reader named Nadia pointed out that there is an interesting level of speculation to be had with regard to Papa Luthor. I pointed out last review that there was a stock ticker in the room Lionel rearranged, and, if you are alert in watching the episodes, you'll see that Lionel looks around like a blind man as if he cannot see, but his character walks like an unafraid man. Now this could be character, or this could be, dare we say it, a man who can see? I know the blind can get around well after a time without help and with confidence, but this is a little too soon, is it not? Nadia suggests and I agree that perhaps the man is faking. If not, I can poke fun at him. Not like he's going to read this review anyway...oh ho ho! Great, now I'm gonna have the institution for the blind writing me nasty letters.
And one more thing, before I forget...
Waaaaaay back in episode two, where Clark gets heat vision, I noted but forgot to point out that the book he is reading when Lana comes to visit had a good deal of hilarity to it, showing a great degree of attention on the part of the mise en scene. He's reading Fahrenheit 451. Fireman! Good show. Now on to the review. Thanks for indulging.
Okay, I am going to be very critical here. In my day to day life I read a lot of Superman comics. I know Clark Kent like a good friend. I even talk to him sometimes in my head to get character motivation. Kind of a heretical WWKD? type of situation (What Would Kent Do?). I watch Star Wars like a nut, and I know every backwards character to ever wander down the drive yards of Kuat or the Spice Mines of Kessel. I know who Peter Porker, the Spider-Ham is, I've seen the movie Batman and Robin (there's desperation), and I've even read novel versions of comics that I've read multiple times. I'm a serious geek, and I knows my geekdom.
However, there is one thing that I know better. Poetry. When I wake up in the morning, there is poetry in my head. When I go to sleep, I'm thinking about what I'll write the next day. I write about women who never know I'm looking at them, I slink around thinking romance and wonderment, and I put it to paper in as poetic a fashion as I can manage without losing my honesty. I've done my reading, I've learned my craft, and over the last decade, I've produced three poetry books from 1,050 poems, two of which are currently for sale, three novels, two movie-length screenplays, a magazine, all inspired by the muse and the poetic form. (Serious. Check it out: http://bailey_neal.tripod.com) Arrogant though it is to say, I am a poet, and I know what poetry is. Maybe not in the sense of Frost, but definitely in the sense of Bukowski. That said, I will assert with utter firmness, that to the detriment of the writing staff this week:
Byron was no poet. We are whiny, we are broody, and sometimes we live in our parent's basement (ha ho! Not me, thank goodness...), but for the most part, save the most pathetic and melodramatic of the masses of scribes, minstrels, etc, we do not adhere to the scattered remains of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries using obscure forms and oddball colloquialisms in order to woo the ladies. (Lo! The reviewer art masterful in his smiting!). Really, to be honest, I've seen two types of people who do this. 1, guys who want to woo a girl (and it sometimes works) by reading some obscure author, sometimes one that the girl knows, and then elaborating, imitating, inserting the girl's name, and all. Then there's 2, the people who read but do not write. They tend to be overly critical of the modern, oddly enough, and yet love the older poetry that lacks a certain amount of modern or technical allure in the contemporary sense. Read, Tyger, Tyger, Road Less Traveled, and to a smaller extent, We Real Cool. You either know what I mean, or you don't. And, to be honest, you probably didn't hyper text transfer protocol to hear a contemporary and somewhat non-aesthetic to the modern consensus criticism of ancient poetry (but that won't stop me from making my exception...I love the Odyssey). The larger point of what has become a ramble here is that Byron was made out to be a romantic, stricken poet fool, and to you, that might have worked, but I live the life, and to be frank, I could poop a little pansy like Byron out of my semiotic Froot Loop hole. He didn't convince me, in short. And besides that, he was a freak of the week.
Intermission joke: What do you call a poet without a girlfriend?
On to part two, where the dollar values will double and the prizes will go up in value. REDEMPTION!
Yes, there is a redemption here. While Byron sucked so hard I was almost pulled into my television screaming, Luthor made up for all of it by hitting the mark dead on.
"People don't understand that poetry is all about seduction."
Lex Luthor cut right through the film and got down to the heart of the matter. He didn't write anything, he wasn't a poet himself, but he certainly pointed out that Byron largely had sex on his mind. Thus we have the two examples I mention. Byron, the guy who reads poetry and then writes it to seduce the lady, and Lana, the person who reads poetry but doesn't understand the contemporary. From the outside, as a poet, it is hard to watch this, but to see Lex Luthor cut through this and analyze it in his best of form, I have taken more. It doesn't make up for the freak of the week, to be sure, but it is assuredly something that made me smile, and stirred my heart.
All in all, this whole thing felt like one big episode of Buffy. Byron even looked like a vampire. There are all kinds of inconsistencies. How could he have survived and looked so, well, handsome, without the essential exposure to sunlight such a complexion requires? How exactly did Luthor mess with him? Did it involve Kryptonite, or what? Why didn't the parents try to get help elsewhere. It just didn't make sense in a lot of ways.
Martha going to work for Luthor didn't work for me, either. Sure, she'd know about business, but the stock market? Hell, if she knew more about the stock market and how it is manipulated, why would the Kent farm be in trouble? Further, in episodes to come, I hear that she's going to beg for money to get the farm out of trouble. How financially knowledgeable IS she, really? My guess, and what would redeem this bad turn in the plotline, is that Luthor CAN see and has the hots for Martha, and he wants to use that as he is using everything else in his life...to manipulate Lex into the villain he will eventually become.
And for crying out loud, we had the sledgehammer last week, but this week took the cake. Okay, for the sake of argument, give me the proportionate strength required to lift or pull down a helicopter. Okay. I have extreme strength, thanks to adrenaline/magic/kryptonite/whatever, as Byron did. I grab a helicopter taking off. WHEEEE! I'm flying through the air, all Snowman like, because THE ABILITY TO PULL AN AIRCRAFT OUT OF THE AIR IS A PROPORTIONATE BALANCING OF DENSITY AND STRENGTH, NOT STRENGTH ALONE! For instance, tie a rope into the ground with a good deal of strength and then pull the rope with great strength, and the helicopter would come down. Grab it with your bare hands, weighing even three hundred pounds, and yank with all your might with super-strength, you'll still be pulled into the air. Gravity is only so strong. I know basic physics and I can still hypothesize that. I beg a scientist to write me and tell me I'm wrong.
I see Pete has injured himself. Will it be present next week? If not, woe be the writers to my wrath!
If Lionel can see, Clark's secret is known. Interesting factor.
But nonetheless, we have a freak of the week, we do not have a Kryptonite inspired villain, we had no real long-term ramifications (but they kept Lana mad...that was nice). All in all, this seemed more like a mid-season episode than the fifth one in. In my anger about the portrayal of poetry as a sodden middle age parody of itself in some lurid attempt at intercourse, I am attempted to drop the old 2 on this one, but given my bias, for this I give the episode a 3 of 5. PS: Thanks to everybody who reads this for checking this out so late after the episode. It has been a long, hard week for me.
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