Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 4: "Slumber"Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
I have mixed feelings on this episode. A lot of people wrote me this week about how harsh I was last week, that the episode deserved a little more love than I gave it, but really, I've decided that it's time to come down, and come down hard on freak of the weeks. My reasoning? After two years, and the overwhelming fan response to the obviously better episodes WITHOUT the freak of the week (Rosetta, etc), I think the producers and writers know what we want, and to put out constant villain storylines based in Kryptonite or someone just randomly becoming a freak or homicidal, is disrespectful and a marked slam to the fan base. Including me. So I'm gonna be a bit harsher now on stereotype episodes.
I know, I know, you're saying, and rightfully so, well if you're so smart Neal, why don't YOU write a story for Smallville? If it's so easy and all.
Well, Al, I've got an email address. I'll take that challenge. But that said, it's not really my responsibility. Still, I've got my ideas.
The point of all this is that this episode, while great on many levels, absolutely suffers for the freak of the week now, in ways that the show just didn't.
Onward to observations:
Crater Lake spurred a memory in me... is there a Crater Lake in comics continuity? I looked, and I couldn't find it where I remembered it (I thought as some kind of reference to Kenny Braverman, but no).
Okay, kids, we have kids (in character anyway) getting naked again, for your viewing pleasure... so they're 16, maybe 17 now, making our perversion slightly lessened, but not really to any LEGAL degree. And it's really embarrassing when you're a reviewer and you've gotta slow down the scene to see if there is anything shown (I mean, what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn't do that for you, huh, so I could triumphantly scream YOU SEE TOM'S PACKAGE! or NEUTROGENA'S NOT GONNA LIKE THIS!) to find nothing. Well, nothing except for Tom Welling "taped up". I really didn't need to see that. I think we might have had TWO freaks of the week this week. Add me.
Is this sexploitation? I say no. I think it was titillating and okay. Watching the preview, I thought, God, another Nicodemus. Nicodemus was okay, but it was just flat exploitation, and that pulled from the rest of the story. I mean, this was a dream sequence. But then, you know, you could take that places, like Clark flying, Clark killing people, and it could go too far also, but it didn't. All in all, it turned out all right.
Enter REM song one. Imitation of Life. The title makes sense, given the context, but the lyrics are out of place. It's past the point where REM tried to make sense with its lyrics and started relying on the Ezra Pound box, if you know what I mean. Probably don't, but anyway, pulling lines that seem to make sense out of nowhere and trying to snow us into thinking they are poetry.
That said, I have a great deal of respect for REM and have always been a fan, since their early days (they were one of my first background inspirations for writing, I HAVE to give them that) but of late their albums since UP have lacked a lot of distinction. This one was on the one AFTER Up, and it was an okay song, but the lyrics just don't fit the scene.
There was a kitchy, straight out of Lois & Clark moment in the water. There's nothing between us now, Clark... I could swear Lana had channeled the BAD aspects of Teri Hatcher's portrayal of Lois, the hopeless, badly written romantic that kept the non action oriented viewers of Lois & Clark on the edge of their seat while the comic fans barfed in their Keds.
Oh, no! Screams! Clark leaps from the water, runs to the source and...
Make the Bionic Man sound to yourself, kids. His hair's DRY!
Enter the first commercial. In my market, it featured a portrayal of a Gingerbread Man rolling through a Wal Mart TALKING to people and being generally freaky. I'm not a big fan of Wal Mart because of its business practices (Well, that and they won't go get any spare He-Man figures out of the back, cause they're mean), and I'm definitely freaked by a walking talking Gingerbread Man. I've got enough problems after hitting the Sporting Goods section every time I go taking pot shots at that Smiley face (don't be fooled kids, he's raising prices, my S-Mart produced shotgun went UP five bucks thanks to the little bugger) that I don't want to be worrying about old "Catch Me if You Can."
So I hired Ash. Don't worry. He's gonna go do the London Bridge is Falling Down, and the problem will be solved. This is fargin war!
That's right. I just declared war on the Gingerbread Man for interrupting my train of thought watching Smallville.
Hey, want to declare war on something else? It's gonna bite me in the butt, but how about this guy? (Watch out, kids, big kid language at this link.)
OOOh, this guy's asking for it.
This guy says, quoth Michael Deeley (so he can't sue me):
And let the following go on record: F#$k "Smallville". F*$k the show, f%$k the producers, f%$k Alfred Gough, f#%k Miles Millar, f@#k Tom Welling, f&%k Kristin (Lana Lang, why the hell is she Asian anyway?) Kreuk, f*%k Allison Mack, f$#k the WB, because they have nothing worth watching, (unless "Angel" turns out to be good), and f^%k all you readers who watch this show. You are traitors to the genre and the fan community. You are encouraging the destruction of all we hold dear, and aiding in the negation of our beliefs. If we were a church, your viewership would mean excommunication. However, given the tastes of most readers, both good and bad, I do not think there are many of you readers who watch this show.
Honestly, I haven't seen anything so anti-comic book since "Unbreakable".
End quote. And like the Canadian ambassador in South Park, I hereby raise my middle digit and exclaim, "F*#K YOU TOO, BUDDY!" Now taste the wrath of all the rest of the excommunicated from your church of nonsense. Give 'im hell, boys! And girls. Girls can fight in my wars. I'm equal opportunity.
Back to the review. Sorry. The Gingerbread Man started me declaring war, and I had to finish. Maybe that should have gone into business, but man, it tied through a degree of separation.
First time I saw the 50,000 dollar truck, I just about turned off the TV. While this may be a hint of what may eventually come, at the time, I realized that Clark having a rich kid's toy would not only undermine his sense of right (it's based deeply in his impoverished, Salt-of-the-Earth roots) but take the show in a direction we don't need. Remember the contempt he showed the jocks? Why? Because of their trucks and attitude. It made sense to want the gift Lex gave, but to know and seek the life is just out of character and silly.
I like how in the dream, Lana instantly forgives and forgets the whole Kal thing. And look... when he wakes up, it's still forgotten. I should make a big deal about that. I really should, but I won't, because frankly, it's never going to make any difference, and we all know. We all know. It sucks.
Sara Conroy is not the freak of the week. She's actually a semi-pretty and cool character, and I hope we see her again. That says something, because most of these goons they show briefly I could care less for.
Did you notice that Clark flunked the class after all? I mean, he fell asleep studying for it, and it's two days later when he wakes up. Do you know a SINGLE high school student who studies for a test on any day but the day before the test? Okay, this IS Clark Kent, so maybe he was studying a week ahead of time, but Vegas odds say the chances are 80/20. Not taking bets.
I knew Lex was going to hit him with the sword when I saw him take it down, just like I knew early on (thank you, bad camera filter) that the dream sequence was a dream sequence, but never in a million years did I expect the cool neck crack. Go Rosenbaum!
My thought at just that second: If this ISN'T a dream, this is the coolest episode ever. I mean, how much cajones would it take to make Lex learn the secret, tick off the fanboys, take the show in a whole new bold direction NOT based in the freak of the week, and have Lex become evil. I know a lot of you (myself included) think if Lex starts going completely evil, the show will fall apart, but really, that's just because it's not going to be done in such a bold way. It'll be done for ratings, if anything.
REM song two. Everybody hurts. Good song. Best quote in a video for a while: "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy." I believe, Biblically paraphrased. But it was out of place in a simple conversation at a locker between Lana and Clark.
At the Torch, Losing My Religion is ironic, given the aesthetic nature of the news. I'll give it credit for that. And Chloe IS tearing down the Wall of Weird, which makes it apt.
But why tear down the Wall of Weird? What's Chloe's character occupation now, just being busy? Sigh. Maybe we're headed for Darth Chloe again.
Aha! The Traveller! Wasn't finished with Wesley Crusher, was he? Not satisfied as a Galaxy traveling omni-whatever. Just HAD to show up in Smallville to throw down. Well, you get selfish like a punk, you get arrested and thrown in Smallville jail like a punk. Nuff said.
Man, when I was young and stayed up for like 30 hours, then went to sleep and slept for a day and a half, missing tests, my Mom and Dad certainly weren't by my bedside waiting for me to wake up, they weren't happy to see me awake, and the first thing they wanted to know was why I was such a dipstick.
Clark's parents are right at their bedside, happy to see him wake up, and consoling.
And get this... watch the show. He slept for a DAY and a HALF. His hair is perfectly groomed. It's self drying, AND it never sticks up. AMAZING.
Jonathan tells him to stay away from the neighbors, even though they may be psychic attacking young Clark, and Clark has super-powers. Way to go, Bo.
Another war, only this time a petition. Sara's car crashed on the LOEB bridge! Clark got hit on the Loeb bridge, creating the beginnings of LEX LUTHOR, worst criminal mastermind ever, and it put a poor young girl in a coma. I petition to tear down the Loeb bridge. I mean, I love the work of Jeph Loeb, I do, but the bridge... it's just too dangerous.
Here's something I don't get. If money is the motive for the guy, meaning, as long as Sara is incapacitated, he gets rich, the freak, why not just kill her? I mean, he tries to kill Lana for fun, so why not just kill Sara?
This episode had some cool, crazy, frightening Halloween symbolism going on. It was like Nightmare on Elm Street meets The Frighteners, which rocks the house. Nice. A ripoff, but nice.
Why is Lex in Smallville when his business is in Metropolis. Does he actually make the 3 hour commute? I'm told that's what it is, 3 hours or so. And hey, I know he does it at 200 miles an hour and arrives in ten minutes, but isn't that a bit far?
I just died when they built up the sword as some ancient Samurai tradition and then made it a Throne of Blood Kurasowa prop. Nice! It's like the time my English teacher made us write sentences for words in tenth grade and I, being the punk I am, wrote the sentence for "incantation":
The Incan Shaman pronounced the incantation blappitty blappity hoo wah (continue incantation for three written pages) booga booga rappity bungwidth Pooh Bear, but nothing happened.
Such humor is my brand.
Now we have PROOF of the telescopic vision theory. Clark indeed does have telescoping vision. He uses it. It's either a BIG screw up, or it's intentional. My money's on intentional. He looks THROUGH the woods and to the truck, close-up.
Clark B and Es again. I swear, I KNEW I should have made a category out of that. Granted, he does it for a good reason, but it's still stealing! And from a cabinet that magically lights up, no less. My cabinets don't light up. But then, I'm not being filmed.
When the truck flips, did anyone else notice the lack of a license plate? And boy, now they're gonna have to get that new truck, huh?
Is Clark knocked out in the truck crash? I'm gonna say no. But it appeared to everyone else to be. I can say that much.
I was perplexed by the solution to the problem of the drugs. Use your faith, Sara! Sorry. Someone hits you with the old drugs, you can't really control its interaction with your system. She's out like a light. But a good symbolic gesture.
Lana gets KOed! Go Lana! She's solidifying her second place position, and moving to take Lex... Three and a half to go, girl!
Anyone say what I said when they saw that totally rocking cloud cover move in on The Traveller? "There goes the special effects budget!" It was that cool. I'm impressed.
Now, did anyone see the way Traveller punk threw Clark twice? I was going to get all mad when Clark threw Mr. Conroy carelessly into a tree, but really, Conroy punk threw him twice, it was fair. Clark only punk threw him once.
And hey... a villain with a villain name! How cool is that?
Look at the gas. Gas is yellow. They have magically Smallville clear gas. Well, heck, he's the traveler. His water is explosive, cause he says so. HA!
Mr Conroy doesn't know Clark's secret. Clark covered it well enough. But Sara knows. She's trustworthy, that's something that's generally missing, but hey, it's another person for the list.
I barfed into my Pumas this time when we had the Thundercats moment at the end of the show. You know the one...
You are so silly, Snarf, and that certainly was a STICKY situation!
Oh, Lion-O...SNARF SNARF!
Then Panthro, Cheetarah, Wily-Kat, Wily-Kit, Lion-O and Snarf all burst into laughter. Cue the public service announcement.
I don't know if we should go skinny dipping Lana.
Skinny dipping, Clark? Maybe in your DREAMS!
Then Clark and Lana laugh.
Cue the public service announcement.
It's good, symbolic Halloween fun, but it had some freaks in it. I'd say 3.5 of 5.
Don't ask though. I WON'T be rating Tom's package.
Well, believe it or not, folks, I got SO MUCH mail this week, I' m actually desperate for time... this doesn't mean to stop sending email, au contraire, send away. I'm just flabbergasted and utterly flattered at the overwhelming response. The point? I just wrote my review, but it's taking a while to get all the business in order, so it'll take me a little longer to get BUSINESS out this week. Expect it soon. And don't miss it, because if you think I caught some cool stuff in the review, wait until you see what the readers caught! More to come!
Well, folks, you go down three lines, I go down 115 miles, from Bellingham to Tacoma Washington. I'm signing for my second house. It's all a part of my massive plan to be able to make money and write without working, and the good news is, it's going well. And there's a lot of business, so let's get started...
First, I want to apologize to Bill Albanito and Matt S, because I promised them both that I would put them in last week, and thanks to transfers in computers (I'm working on a website for my non-Superman writing with multi-media and other fun stuff) I didn't get the chance to put them in. Something about the old email program marking them read when they weren't. GET BILL GATES IN HEAH!
Bill pointed out a great Lex quote that I missed... in reference to the way Clark's father and his differ:
"My father wants to rule the world, but yours will inherit the earth."
A great example of the Christian symbolism ongoing debate in the series... it's obviously got the elements of the allegory, but the attachment to Lex Luthor is even more debate provoking...
Matt pointed out that Clark makes a point about how Chloe has behaved for her entire life, when he's only known her for a relatively short time, and he comes up with perhaps the best fix I've heard for the freak of the week problem. Introduce them weeks earlier. Have a Tina Greer interact to help catch one of the freaks, then accompany the mains for a while, then in three episodes make them hit with a truck full of Kryptonite and go psycho against trucks. It makes sense, and it could do well for the series. We've NEVER seen a freak before they became a freak, really.
Bill also, along with Adeylan Dyos, and Tim O'Brian point out that I was wrong about the sheriff noticing the bloody shirt... it was a "barbed wire" accident. Strange, though, given that the otherwise suspicious sheriff didn't ask to see Clark's wound.
Adeel Farooque points out that while I noted the fact that the ATMS have cameras, even provided the fact that they might have been disabled, when you break into an ATM by force, a dye apparently shoots onto the money, rendering it easily identified. Not to mention it's difficult to pawn off a bag of cash at a Ferrari dealer... but Clark wasn't being insane... just eccentric. Adeel further notes that while Clark is fast, it would be hard to make the lead breast plate AND get to Van in the time he had last episode.
Bill Albanito, and Ian Murphy point out that I labeled the Smallville Torch as the Smallville Ledger. Clerical error. Basically, I did it because www.smallvilleledger.com is the site I check to see if the next week's episode has a preview, or the like. I also like the feature where you can print a life sized Lex. I haven't got a color printer, but I've really wanted to print that out for a while. One of these days... it's a cool site. Check it out.
Adeylan Dyos, an oft-writer with good business, offers notice of the fact that the Kents have corn in their garden, which is ridiculous, as it is a crop. And at that, it would be long harvested by October. More Kansas musings... they abbreviated it KA, and they messed up the license plates. Also, just to clarify, she told me that Van technically wasn't a freak, but then, just to point out my rule change for the new KO Count, anyone who goes homicidal, with meteors or not, is a freak by my definitions. She is also the only one who confirmed Sean Kelvin as the name I was searching for last week. Good ones!
Two people, Azor and Ian Murphy, knew that BLACK EYE! and feather in my cap! Were references to what I consider the most technically masterful piece of writing ever (despite its many crummy but purposeful adverbs), Catch-22. It's been my favorite book tied with Women by Charles Bukowsi, and no one really reads it unless they have to or if they're insane readers, like me. In these times of war, I would recommend reading it. It's hilarious if you take your time. And really. Spend a month on it. I know there's a lot to read, but it's really great. DON'T READ THE SEQUEL. I MEAN IT. He gets away. He gets away.
Keith postulates in humor that the reasoning Clark could have used for being in Metropolis at just the right time was doing wind sprints for the team he's not allowed to play for... I like that one.
Michael Cooke chimes in with the name of the Opera in the last episode, which, if you download it, not that I advocate or condone such actions, nor would I if I could (ahem), do, whatever, is amazing. He says, quote: 'The name of the aria you asked about is "Salut! demeure chaste et pure" from Charles Gonoud's "Faust." By the way, that melody can be heard on a new CD called "Duetto" featuring Marcelo Alvarez and Salvatore Licitra. They sing an Italian pop version of it called "Son Gli Occhi Tuoi" (It's Your Eyes).'
The gentleman who pointed out the warf of Hobbs Bay in the middle of the Kansas Prarie was a man called James. I didn't get his name in time last week... sorry.
Mary Lovee Klipp of St. Louis points out that though it is cold in October here in Washington, in October, it can be very warm in Kansas, so Van losing his shirt might make sense.
Steve Sanders wants to know how legal it is to put together a database of personal information for freaks (outside of fiction), and the legalities of a police scanner, as in, with Van. Anyone got any insight? How far DOES the Patriot act go with mutants and Krypto freaks!?
Tim O'Brian pointed out something I thought about but didn't mention. Since others noticed, I'm pointing it out. When the bullets hit the led, the Kryptonite was still exposed. At much greater distances, Clark's been decimated. Shouldn't the radiation have taken him apart?
When the Torch is destroyed, the BEAM is cracked... if it wasn't the asthma goons who did it (it's never revealed) how did Lionel do it, and who fixed it so fast? This from Ian Murphy.
William knew the name of the movie the breast plate ripped off... I couldn't remember, though I've seen it multiple times. It was For A Few Dollars More. And he also finds it funny, as do I, that when it's convenient, Kryptonite is crystalline, and when it's not, it's bars, or a metal... hmmm.
Last week I credited Richie Gaona, but it was actually Alex Gaona. My apologies. But he points out this week, along with Adeylan, that the pool was actually opened for late swims, according to the Smallville Torch web site... pretty sweet. Indicative of the whole nature of new media... look at the Matrix... video games, web sites, extra movies... it's the future, and Smallville's with it. I love it.
NOW PUT THE STINKING SHOW IN WIDESCREEN! I know they film it in widescreen, because the DVDs are in widescreen. SO put them on TV in widescreen!
So... that's a big one, but there it is. If I missed anyone, please let me know... I think I got everyone, and please, keep writing! This is some great stuff, and I couldn't do half of this without you guys... take care!
And don't forget the updated KO COUNT!
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