Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 18: "Truth"Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Veritas is the Roman goddess of truth, the daughter of Saturn. At least, that's what my research tells me. Pretty cool. I knew it was familiar. Five different Greek Mythology classes in college, and I can't even remember Veritas. I do remember Leto, however. That's kind of cool.
But that's a typo. I just realized that the project was Levitas. Veritas would have made more sense. Well, okay. Back to research.
Zing! Through magic, I'm back. Levitas means light in weight. Well, that doesn't make much sense at all.
So I guess I DID remember what Veritas was, because I associated it with the episode unconsciously. Funny the things you remember when you spend all day, every day on the word. But then, Levitas, I didn't have the slightest clue what that was beyond levity. Back to square one, and end prelude, begin review:
Well hello, Chloe. It's nice to see you again. And you're acting not only in character, but cool. We missed you. Missed you enough to even justify a pseudo freak of the week episode. I was going to open up this review by celebrating the fact that even though they have to use the old plot device of the K power, at least there was no homicidal teenager for little to no reason.
But then, well, no. Sigh. But it didn't ruin the episode! No it didn't. In fact, though I'll be crucified for saying this, I liked this episode more than last week's, because it at least explored new territory, everything (well, more things than usual) made logical coherent sense, and it involves the characters that make Smallville, the surrounding principals, instead of a Lana and Clark will he/won't she blowfest.
The show starts out with an okay premise. Chloe on a Lois Lane style espionage, swiping a, well, swiping card, and she breaks into a fertilizer plant to bust up Luthor's shell game of experiments covered by, well, crap.
Now I don't know about the plausibility of Lex Luthor hiding his experiments in a "crap factory" per the deleted scene of Episode 1, I mean, couldn't the cheap-o rent a cheap apartment? And I also don't know what the heck is with the dog and the gas from the ceiling. You'd think if they were testing Levitas, they might do so in a method that makes sense. The way it was in that episode, it almost seemed like if you hit a button on the wall, deadly gas would flood the room, contaminating everything instead of the experiment subject. Well no, actually, that IS what it was. And that doesn't make sense. But it's a plot device, so ignore it. Chloe pushed the red button, she got dosed with some Kryptonite derivative. That's the THIRD time that Chloe has become a freak of the week, but since I'm so bloody enamored of seeing her again, I'm not going to complain about it.
Well, except there, because I fell down the sarchasm years ago.
Okay, so she gets dosed with Kryptonite that can make people tell her the truth, or rather, make them VOLUNTEER the truth, because they talk whether they want to or not (making this the FOURTH persuasion related power in the show so far, stop repeating yourself, guys). Then she runs for the door, goons chasing her, and what happens?
Indiana Chloe! Too cool. But she needed a hat. Or a phone. Or something.
Chloe heard "supersonic" in relation to Clark, and she also heard about his biological father. She also saw the big burned symbol on Clark's barn. So she doesn't know the secret, but she knows of it. That's got to be addressed more. Here, there was no resolution of that. Why? Because the time they could have spent on that was spent on scaring us that Lana was going to Paris. Even though we already knew that last episode. Now Clark knows, anyway. I'll get there. But anyway, I wanted more resolution of what Chloe learned, and there was none, and knowing this Lana devoted show, I'm betting dollars that next week will be all about Lana again and forgetting the three key developments here, at least until the finale.
Clark told Chloe some things she shouldn't know.
Pete likes Chloe.
Lana doesn't trust her.
Will these be addressed? I am cynical. I believe not.
Lex is lying, acting like Lionel. This is a good thing. My big fear was what the previews last year indicated, that Lex would just go nuts and start being evil, but they're making it gradual, and laced in good things, like turning Lionel in. This gradual shift has been believable, and I'm glad they're doing it this way instead of all at once. But I say that tentatively, wait until ratings dip.
Well waddaya know? Last summer, with Clark going bonkers, is actually addressed again in the show beyond Lana's typical blanket guilt! Amazing! The deal with Jor-El is common fare, but Clark's actions and their motivations are hardly explored. He caused a death and then booked on drugs, and no one ever really came down on him for it.
Ah, here's why we all love Lana so much:
Clark, trying to be nice, "I was thinking you need some space."
Lana, being a %, "I was thinking the same thing, but you don't seem to be very good at that."
And he proceeds to stand there and go, "Duh!" Taking her crap.
Hey, Clark. Superman? You know, the guy who protects the entire world in about ten years? To do that, you need a pair. And I don't mean a pair of glasses.
Where has THAT part of the "journey" been?
Sensitive does NOT mean wuss. Promise you.
And hey, I wanted to play count the apologies last week. This week I came up with another thing to count. Count the times Lana makes a demure blocking pivot and walks away from Clark when he's trying to talk to her. Ah, mysterious! Ah, cryptic!
Ah, crap. Look the man in the eye, you yutz.
I declare now, as I declared with Chloe once before (before they fixed it) Lana as a character to me is empty and dead. It has gone from being angry at her actions to her being a joke as a fictional construct. It needs fixing, or this show will jump the shark. I mean that in all sincerity. It is KILLING this show.
This show seeks to confirm something that I have already known, because I trained to be one: Teachers are PSYCHOPATHS!
Okay now... everyone hates Chloe for rooting out a murdering teacher? Uh... why? I mean, I hear all of these human interest stories about folks who murder someone and then go hide and get a new name and then become family folk. Doesn't change the fact that they murdered someone, doesn't change the fact that they need incarceration and rehabilitation. Self-rehabilitation is what we call a slap on the wrist.
I stand on Clark's position, however, before the story she should have gone to the police. Still, it's an interesting plot idea, and I like it.
There were many really cool scenes in this episode. One of them was the revenge on the jocks and cheerleaders scene. Ah yes. The football player is in love with the other football player. Stereotypical, per ce, but still funny.
And more than likely, more commonly true than gay bashers would care to admit.
Go bloody tolerance! In one episode, in the height of this crackdown on what is considered "vulgar" by the crackpots farting dust amidst varying corners of this administration and its antithesis party, we have a football player confess that he is gay and an interracial kiss.
There was a time, even in our lifetime, you fellow young geeks, that interracial kisses and being gay were horrific atrocities. Somehow between now and then, we've grown in tolerance. I thank Smallville for pointing that out, and I thank everyone for coming to this as a society, albeit slowly.
I gotta complain about the kiss, but first I had to praise it. That comes in a minute.
Then we hit the commercials, and I see a nice one. Superstar USA. Let's take a bunch of people, make essentially American Idol, but then let's only keep the people who suck. That way we can not only laugh at them, we can make money and boost ratings.
God, I speak of the same society that has come so far in tolerance, and yet we get our kicks from watching people suffer and fail. You're fired. You're off the island. You're not the best. Or, you are the best, (a lie) so let's torture you. Or let's get as many golddigging women in the room as we can, or midgets, or let's put midgets against elephants (okay, I'm for midgets against elephants).
Point is, we're weird people. Weird, weird people for the things we like to watch on television. Except Smallville, of course.
Wile E. Coyote then holds up the sign that says, "ULP!" and falls down the sarchasm again.
Ah, William. Poor, poor, William, son of the homicidal teacher. You see? The cycle of violence perpetuates itself. When your mother goes to jail for murder, the logical thing to do to avoid disgrace is... well, murder someone! How many teen murderers ARE there in Smallville, anyway? We had two in Columbine and it locked up the media for a few years, not to mention our morals and hearts. But in Smallville, because the television public is hopelessly ignorant to the amount of violence they allow to make sense, it's commonplace. But not for me, dangit!
So Chloe goes to see Lana, and there's an epic confrontation on the scale that we haven't seen since Chloe confronted Lana (back then, in full what I would call "LANA" mode right now) about lying to her about Clark, whatever that was. Now she goes to Lana and asks her some important things, and Lana spills the beans, and makes two really weird statements. First, that she can't trust Chloe (and for why? What the heck has Chloe done that is deceptive to Lana?) and second, she thinks that people think she's determined and self-involved.
The deal behind that is this: her character study wants people to think that she's determined, so that's her residual self image, and in reality, she's self-involved, so the writers met her ID right in the middle.
Best piece of Lana characterization all season. At least it's on.
Gotta love that Lex Luthor gangsta love squeeze on both of Chloe's shoulders. "You can trust me, Chloe. I'm bald! Besides, I play the Flash in another show. I'm a good guy!"
And then we have the weirdness. Lex offers Chloe the chance to take down Lionel, and Chloe says, "Heck no!" and storms away.
Oh yeah. Take that teacher out, the one that's a real menace to society shoving "To Kill A Mockingbird" down our throat, but go after the man that's trying to kill you? What? Are you kidding?
I still think the teacher needs jailing, but the whole rejection of Lionel's truth test is silly, though it happens anyway.
The Lex scene is just amazing. Admitting that he needs the love of his father. Michael Rosenbaum, you're the man. Any time you're in Tacoma, anything is on me. Best Lex Luthor ever, hands down. No objecting!
Now let me see. The kiss, ah yes!
Last episode, Clark and Lana kissed for no apparent reason, much to my chagrin. This episode, Pete kisses Chloe to prevent himself from telling Clark's secret, and then blurts out that he's had a crush on Chloe.
Now okay, this is possible, I'll concede. But you'd think he'd talk to Clark about it, since Clark hasn't been with Chloe or even considered it onscreen for what, a year?
But assume that he didn't, and that's an okay assumption given how juvenile everyone in Smallville is with regards to relegating their own emotions. His final excuse is just... horrible. "I didn't think I had a chance next to Clark Kent."
Okay, Pete. Explain this one to me, buddy. It's good to see you in the episode again, but explain it to me. Clark is a romantic tard who can't even bag a passive aggressive moron who nearly abuses him, and yet you, Pete, and I emphasize this, Pete
Ross, the man with the rich family, the expensive cars, and the women surrounding him all the time (because you know, he's a pimp, according to the show? Why? Maybe vague shadows of racist black stereotyping, but that's another essay), and the impeccable ability to make people smile. Clark is, well, a failure at love. He won't go to second base when a chick teleports into his bedroom. But Pete, the mack,
Ross doesn't believe he has a chance with Chloe?
Well, I didn't buy it.
The revelation that Lionel did kill his parents, and Chloe getting it on tape, was great. Really cool. Really well done. There was a definite Christopher Reeve, "Luthor, you poisonous snake!" action in the way Lionel acted his way around Chloe and scared the bejesus out of her. One of the many moments that make this episode great.
See, Legacy had really good moments like this, and all the other moments were lousy. This one, the great moments are great, and the non-great are passable, or entertaining. And less than 50% of the show. And not involving Lana too much.
Lionel still has wounds from the Jonathan fight. GO CONTINUITY! Actually, go makeup people.
The garage with the guy who tested Levitas looks like the same garage from the premiere with everything moved around. Am I crazy? And the guy just kept the antidote in his garage fridge why? Well, I'll go with it. What a horse needle!
The Clark and Lex scenes in this episode rocked. Clark doesn't trust Lex, and it shows. It's becoming quite adversarial.
Just a good ole boy... er, girl.
Chloe's given up her bug, apparently. Either that, or the show just wanted to have some fun, because yet another teenager in a small town has a nice new car, only this one is... well, the General Lee.
And yee-haw, Chloe takes it right off the Loeb bridge, chased by the kid turned homicidal. Worst part of the episode, reverting back to the old and tired FOTW formula. It's like they can't escape it without throwing a little homage into each episode. Eh, here's the tension kid, go with it. It's cheap writing, at least to me.
And then we cut to a commercial.
So back to the drama, now that the commercials have ended. The truck, a rather big vehicle, somehow fails to shove a car half off a bridge off the bridge, because Chloe's hitting the brakes. Uh, no.
And then he backs up to slam her again, Clark arrives, stops the truck, and the guy hits his head on the steering wheel and knocks himself out.
I reiterate that there is no bloody way a very simple head trauma will knock a person out. I got hit in the head with a baseball bat twice. I assure you. It's HARD to knock someone out. But nonetheless, Chloe AND the goon get it, leading me to another KO for Chloe. That puts her almost neck and neck with Clark, in the KO Count.
Clark rips off the seatbelt like it's nothing. Cool effect, but what the heck does Chloe say when she sees that? What do the authorities say?
Another time Clark uses his powers in front of people.
So he stabs her in the chest, and she comes back to life, Pulp Fiction style.
Maybe some of you out there know better than me, but as I recall, after you get stabbed in the heart by a horse needle, you're pretty messed up, right? Not walking up to your buddy Clark's loft and thanking him with...
Whups! No mark on your chest where the needle was just the day before?
I make no bones about it, I was staring at her chest. See the replay. There was no hole.
And then Chloe walks up to see Clark, and we have a Chlark. I'm thinking, oh god, can I be spared? Will there be no Clana tonight? Will I be able to give this episode a five?
Clark: "Why didn't you tell me sooner?" (That she's making secret arrangements to go to Paris).
Lana: "I didn't want anyone to talk me out of it."
Ah, yes. So let's just do what makes us feel good instead of what we know our friends will advise us against doing because it's foolhardy.
Why? Well, number one, because avoiding problems doesn't solve them, and number two,
HEY GRASSHOPPER! YOU OWN A FRICKING BUSINESS! You keep your fake Kung Fu butt behind the espresso machine or you go under!
I need time to figure out who I am. Crap! Axe it!
At least this 8:50 was short. Doesn't mean it had to be there.
Good ending. Notice her code for the voice mail? 1-2-3-4. That's the same combination I have on my luggage!
Lionel killed her messages, which just goes to prove rich guys can do whatever they want. Well, maybe not EVERYTHING. (See business)
An all round GREAT episode in most respects.
Except the tried and failed Lana plot element and the FOTW that is arbitrary. Axe it, or lose a point!
4 of 5. Yes, it was better than Legacy. Sometimes simple is better. Overly simple? Or stupid? Axe it.
Next week looks really cool, with Lex's childhood (despite seeing Lana tugging him off the edge of the castle, whatever she has to do with it).
Any by the way, folks, remember that we have a chat right after the West Coast showing of the show, at 9pm Pacific, in the chat room. There are a number of regulars, but it'd be cool to get some new folk in there. Come defend Lana, or come shoot the shinola.
Fall into that sarchasm with me. Why not?
SUPER SHORT REVIEW: Chloe took the wrong kind of shower, so you expect freak of the week material, but instead you're treated to a whole bunch of character study, and not bad character study at that, some humor with gay football players, and a shot of cleavage that no one will ever forget. There are a few flaws, to be sure, but overall, it's surprising that this episode turned out to be better than Legacy. 4 of 5.
Work on the novel continues, albeit slowly. Thank you to all of you who wrote in. The book is finished, I merely need to throw drafts at it. In order to do that, I need to spend inordinate amounts of time on it. To give you an idea, I've been working for about six days, and I'm about 30 pages in. Now, after one draft, that goes faster, but the point being, all of you who were kind enough to offer to read, I will have it to you as soon as I can in the best format I can. I'm a very anal editor when it's a novel I'm pounding on.
I did not get to all of the email. I got to 35 of 50, I think it was. I apologize for the lateness and the incomplete nature of my correspondence. I get to all mail, but this week, and the next few, I may be slower than usual because of this book.
From what I DID get through, we have some really cool stuff!
First off, we have a great rebuke to the glasses argument last week. The theory surrounding whether Clark should or should not be wearing glasses or not is really cool to me. Jerry Newingham, the creator of the Superman Homepage World's Finest Serial and a good friend of mine, offered up this: Sure, Clark wouldn't know that he's going to be Superman in the future, and thus wouldn' t concern himself with a secret identity. BUT, Clark WOULD, in fact, want people to not notice him, to think him a quiet nerd type, because he's out bending steel and shooting fire from his eyes. He needs to keep a low profile. Glasses make one unassuming to most people (thus Clark Kent as a secret identity later). Jerry suggests at least a ski mask. I see both sides of the argument. I tend to lean towards having the glasses, no matter how much less hot that makes Tom. Or at least more discretion.
There were multiple renderings of what the end of the last episode meant. I have from Kevin Heacock the idea that Dr. Swann duped Lionel by giving him teleporting equipment that took the key from him when he inserted it.
Kevin also notes that people don't notice that Clark was able to speak with Swann in New York and get back to Smallville in a quick burst and no one noticed.
Trevor, of a neat little site called Kryptonian.com wrote in with a neat point. He suggests that the warp we saw was Dr. Swann opening the Phantom Zone, and using it to transfer the key through space and time back to New York. I expound on that, suggesting that he did it so Lionel would think the key gone, not worry about it, and Swann could protect Clark, and THAT is why he made the deal with Lionel.
The cave is, after all, sealed again.
Ben Bowman, a nice guy with a rock band wrote me in with an interesting, hilarious theory about the introduction of super breath. He speculates that per typical fashion, Clark will inhale some Kryptonite, then get a cold, then sneeze something into a block of ice. So it is prophesized, so it shall come to pass!
Doug Meacham also speculated that the gate that opened was in fact a teleporter somehow leading to Swann, and he also pointed out the phrase Jonathan uses, "Duking it out." might very well be yet another Dukes of Hazzard reference in Smallville. Look, guys, just give the man the General Lee and let him get rid of that truck. The truck keeps getting wrecked, the General Lee is impervious to all harm. It's like the Bluesmobile. It has magical powers.
Out with Lana, in with the General Lee.
Jim Nechleba points out an error in logic. I said that perhaps Lionel could just buy a liver, but his terminal disease is just that, a disease, and will be there no matter how many livers he gets. My mistake. Just trying to stick it to the man, you know how it is.
Tim writes in with an interesting idea. Is Dr. Swann Jor-El? Could be... it makes sense. He looks like an older Superman, does he not? The family resemblance... but then, Jor-El is supposed to be dead. Who knows. Maybe Jonathan is supposed to become Jor-El, somehow. Who knows?
Tim also noticed that while Lex is a great historian, Lionel perverts history. Galileo was not sentenced to death for his ideas, as Lionel claims. He was put under house arrest. Interesting story behind that. In high school, I went to a school called Bellarmine. A private school, I paid all of my own tuition because I wanted to get out of the inner city. Anyway, I was supposed to do a report on Bellarmine, and so I did, pointing out that the Patron Saint of our school (named so because he supposedly gave away all his belongings to the poor) died very rich, in fact, with multiple slaves, a mansion, and a full staff. He did give to the poor, but he didn't give enough to impoverish himself. Point being? In the middle of all that hypocrisy, who do you think was one of the principal inquisitive condemners of Galileo? Yes, Bellarmine.
I got a C for being insolent. And maybe I deserved it. Then again, maybe not.
Keith Price notes that if you look carefully after the great "search" in Legacy for the key, they go to the garage, which is cleaned up, then head back into the house, which is still a mess. Continuity error? Either that or Jonathan cleaned his garage really fast. What I want to know is why Clark didn't just clean up really fast. He must really hate his mom! We saw him clean up after that party!
Felix Vazquez contributes two fine notes today. First, he suggests that the key was really just sucked into the wall, and the key that Swann has is a SECOND key, like the different numbered crystals from the movies.
Further, he complains (as do I, now that I think about it) that the flight jokes are getting a bit too obvious, like with Jonathan last episode. "Jeeze, dad, what were you trying to do, fly?"
Joe K ALSO postulates that Swann is Jor-El, and offers the rationale that he is testing Clark to see if he is doing a good job and is worthy of his duty in life. He told Clark to conquer the Earth as a test. Interesting...
David Cox tells me to draw a differentiation between Lana as a character and Kristen as an actor, and it's a situation I realize I really haven't touched on too closely yet, and it's a good note to end on.
Do I think that Kristen Kreuk is a good actress? I have no reason not to. She makes me believe that she is Lana. There is the contradiction between a character that is acting like a control freak being played as demure, but do I have anything against Kreuk? No. When I see her face, do I want to spit? Sure. But does that mean I hate Kristen? No, it means she's playing her character very believably. Do I like that character? That, my friends, is another matter.
See you next week, with Small Smallville, and don't forget to check the KO Count!
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