Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 4 - Episode 3: "Facade"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Main Points:

  • Abigail changed her face with surgery. Now she wants blood!
  • Jason is now the football coach, and Clark's trying to play.
  • Lois is stuck in town because of her needed high school credits.
  • Martha is buying up the Talon because she just hates not working.
  • (Sucker! Good reverse psychology, Jonathan!)

    REVIEW:

    First off, let's get one thing straight and for the sake of humor, just so that we're all clear:

    Neal Bailey
    I'm Neal Bailey, and I approved this message:

    No more soft money for competing reviews that make me out to be a flip-flopper or a war hawk!

    On with the show.

    Back, ye shark, ye gods how you torment me!

    Lo how whenever you think you have a medium based upon instant gratification and super-speed plot change pegged, it goes and surprises you with something enjoyable after something that reeketh of the buttocks, and shines you on with a feeling of hope after the fear of the end of something you love.

    In other words, Smallville didn't suck this week, so I eat crow about the shark.

    I'd never seen a second episode of the season suck. It usually takes until about episode five. My criticism last week was premature. It doesn't mean they're off the hook if the episodes start stinking again, but boy, last week, suckola in ways.

    And don't be all like, Neal, your mood changes by the week! It must be the gravy you ate on your cereal. No, it's not, because this week bit and last week ruled. It's just that certain things work for me, others don't.

    There are things about this episode that didn't work at all, and I'll get to them, but the important difference from last week is that they weren't so horrible as to pull me entirely out of the show multiple times, as it was last week.

    But there were some things. And they bugged me. L'il bit (Robert Deniro voice with tweezer fingers).

    I learned a new term this week. McGuffin. Basically, it's a Hitchcock term for something that is inserted to seem like it means something into a script or show that they establish as important, but it's a distraction from the main point. Usually an object, sometimes a device, and usually used to forward an advanced and thought out plot. Sometimes, Smallville uses McGuffins that stink. Noteable examples of sucky McGuffins include the midichlorian, Joel Schumacher (inserted into Batman to make it better and ultimately doing nothing of note), Adam from last season, and Whitney.

    So while it was interesting to see the actor I watched again, I was not really hit with anything save a sense of "Ah, that's... interesting."

    It was good to go back to a few years ago, and it set up the plot really well. Despite the freaks, the flaws, and the Kryptonite, the actual pacing and execution was fairly brilliant on this show. Bookended with the scenes from the past and the future of happier times, a decent, flowing narrative, and no blocking and horrendous Lana scenes at 8:25 and 8:50, though she did get into that trouble at about 8:30, as I recall.

    Point being, it was a nice scene, but Whitney didn't have the likely effect that was intended.

    And there's a really cool part of the scene. DUNK LANA!

    Oh God, how you tease me! Oh Lord, what you thrust down upon your humble reviewing servant! Sweet Allah of blueberries and vengeance, why do you torment me with what might have been? Buddha of monkeys, where is my justice? Bodhisattva of dunking booths, oh WHEN DO I GET TO SEE THE SAILBOAT?

    No, she doesn't get dunked. But Clark does! Ah! Ah! Symbolic emasculation!

    So we enter in Scabby Abby. All at once I am horribly torn with feeling for this poor girl getting picked on, and wondering why the heck Clark doesn't help her (and he doesn't, he just stands there like an oaf. Even I would have stepped up and yelled at them, even in high school. I did, in fact.). Then, I am torn out of the scene by the absolutely horribly done makeup on the zits. It was "Craving" bad. Oh yeah. That's really a fat chick. Those are really pimples. And ladies... these are really my pecs. (Flex, flex).

    The other problem is that this character has already been done. Twice. Well, more than twice, but only two mimic this episode almost exactly. One, in Craving. Girl is persecuted for being ugly while pretty on the inside, gets powers to look better, goes on killing spree to protect her secret. Two in Drone. Girl is ugly and picked on but pretty on the inside, tries for popularity, fails, starts killing people with bees.

    There are other ways to make a plot, guys. I mean, I know it's harder to do, but there are elements here which, if extrapolated on, could be poignant without kryptonite. For instance, the salient points of this episode. Popularity is a facade, but it feels good to be a part of something and fit in. Imagine if the time that was spent on the utterly silly "Kryp/tuck" portion of the show were instead spent examining why we feel the need to be popular in order to be loved, and if Clark's enemy wasn't some chick with a super-kiss, but a bully that keeps tormenting everyone. Clark couldn't stop that. Clark could only use his mind, his intellect. Say the jock guy who gets kissed and hit by a car, say that he makes out with the girl, then ridicules her and calls her "easy". There's a whole couple of scenes right there, whether a woman expressing her sexuality is "easy" or if she's expressing herself, and what that means to humanity, or on a more simple level, what it means to the characters of Chloe, Clark, Lois, Lana, and the Kents. Maybe even Lex. With such character depth to draw from (Lana excluded), the episode would practically write itself. Pa Kent had issues with football and popularity. Lois is the son of a General. You have a face to maintain with that. Clark is a nerd though he could be a hero jock, Chloe is intelligent but somehow (I have no idea how) considered not a hottie by the school.

    Point being, why the heck do we need the obligatory villain, kryptonite, and fight scene. I know I'm a broken record here, but this episode, it was a 3 or 4, (still deciding) and it could have been Memoria with a few more tweaks and no contrived plot devices. Teen angst is an untapped well, and I don't mean untapped in the sense that there are millions of homicidal maniacs willing to jump from the well (though Lord knows tragedies like Columbine prove that's a potentiality) but rather a well of human thought as it forms, and why we're raised to be the sometimes ignorant people we are en masse today.

    And I'd have liked to have written that show, so when I see it done poorly, when I see wasted opportunity, not only am I upset as a viewer, but I am upset as an artist in the wings waiting for his shot.

    Look. We have a dilemma: I am unpopular because I'm ugly.

    And the tragic solution. Not making them say to themselves (and prove that) "I have character!" (which is what we should train people to grow and build instead of their image. By the way, I rule.), but rather, plastic surgery makes you look hot, so all your problems are solved. And instead of showing the flaw in that, they show the power it can give you and the way Clark will kick your butt if you do.

    The message is somewhat lost in the jumble.

    And there's also Clark in this episode, working counter to the message of the show. Said message seems to be, "If you want to be popular and beautiful just to feel normal, you are shallow and evil. Or tragically flawed." At least, that's my take. So what is Clark in this episode? Two sides of the coin. First, he's feeling unpopular, so he wants to be the quarterback. His dad finally supports him, and he gets to start living his dream.

    Aha, you say! Well that's undermining the point, isn't it? And that's what I thought at first. And then I said to myself, well, Clark doesn't really seem to be doing it for shallow popularity. He's doing it because he wants to be recognized for something he can do with his character. Lead a sports team, or perhaps take himself from the outsider status.

    I can identify with this. I played football in high school my freshman year, and man, did I take the razzing of my life. I didn't have any talent, I hated the game, I just wanted to prove something to myself. That I could, if I wanted to, take my head out of the books and play like everyone else. Not for popularity, more just so that I could say I gave what the popular have its fair shake and found it what it seemed on the surface, a shallow ploy for attention and glory.

    And football is. Sorry, jocks. Cheerleaders. My guess is that you're not reading this anyway. Wednesday nights you're probably out getting drunk or getting facial surgery or something.

    So I did my term, as Clark moves to do his, and I learned some things. One, on an offensive play, as a receiver, do NOT run backwards like a cornerback or you will be made fun of eternally. Two, for some reason, a guy who you poke fun at on the football team, if he makes it through the season, somehow earns the right to be called "Rudy", even if said guy never had any ambitions for Notre Dame or a dad who wanted him to play football. And three. Despite the argument for Clark running counter to the point of the episode, on a personal level I think that as a character he may be doing it for the right reasons. Time may prove me wrong, but I had to wax there for a bit.

    One key difference. They tied me down naked and threw tennis balls at me, then cut my hair short in front (their version of a scarecrow), and I wasn't able to melt the flesh from their skulls with heat vision. Clark might have the advantage on the metaphor there.

    I am completely aghast at how horribly wrong Lois' rationale to stay is, and at the same time I am torn because it is incredibly creative. First, she flunked her last semester of high school, sure. She needs five credits in order to graduate high school. Okay. But remember, Chloe called Lois in college THREE YEARS AGO? I mean, that means she's been in college for three years consistently dropping out, or that the writers just forgot. That's my guess. But even assume, just ASSUME that she started this year, right? I'll go for it. Sure. First off, the college would not accept a student then withdraw the acceptance for college credits. Lois is right. They can't do that, so far as I know. Acceptance is acceptance. But even if they could, and then they found out she needed a few high school credits...well, she wouldn't be placed back in high school with kids younger than she is. She'd get a GED, a remedial course at a community college, or more than likely, an advisor would give her equivalency courses to take at the school to make up for it. Like, I knew guys that toasted English in high school who took a course called Remedial English in college, or something to that nature, and then got in provisionally.

    And get this. I know your parents don't want you to know this, but you can flunk out of your last semester, and so long as you're accepted into a college already, the chances of them going back and checking are ZERO. I knew guys who just stopped going to school in high school after they got into wherever they were going, disappeared, and then went to college. It happens. Nobody cares.

    I was always a B/C student, because my impudence balanced out with my capabilities of study (meaning I would blow off assignments but ace heck out of tests), so when I got into college, I decided that I would stop being a good boy and purposefully flunk a class, because I always wanted to flunk and had never gotten below a C (kind of like my insane desire to someday be arrested for something, like stealing a monkey or defacating on a BMW). So I flunked chemistry purposefully, answering questions like, "What is a Buckminsterfullerine buckyball?" while knowing the right answer with questions like, "That's what the Bucky pitcher throws to the bucky batter until the bucky batter gets a bucky line drive, which he then scores in carbon until it goes around the diamond and he gets to go home, where I'd like to be instead of taking this stupid test."

    And then I'd start ooking and almost get attention. Point being, I flunked, no one cared. The teacher cared, but he was a graduate student on his practicum, and he flirted with the seventeen year olds, so I didn't like him anyway.

    And plus, five credits in high school, that's a whole year, if I recall correctly. Isn't there 20 total for a degree? Never mind. She could have easily taken community college courses.

    What's cool about this episode is that it makes you think about the high school aspect, the growing up part of the show, the part that I missed. This episode reminded me of first season in a lot of ways. Yeah, the cynicism was absent, but just LOOK at the memories it's dredged up for me. That says something.

    And at very least, the idea to get her to stay is CREATIVE. Not just, oh, hey, my dad's at the base nearby and I just wanted to say hi and, OH GOD! A TEENAGER WITH POWERS! I'll help you, Clark! Like the plausibility or not, at least they get an E for effort. And yes, I'll still let them into my college with that kind of final grade.

    Clark laughs when he finds out she flunked. CLASSIC. Very well acted.

    We continue the policy of every student having a very shiny new car. Lois' has the most character of all of them thusfar, however, so I will leave off with just that barb.

    And then they totally make up for the "back to high school" angle by making Lois a reporter, giving it an origin point. Very nice.

    However, if Lois has a good reason to be in Smallville and back to normal, Chloe, however, does not. Odd, isn't it?

    Chloe goes into witness protection, and she's SO afraid for her life that she blows up a house and goes into hiding. And even in hiding she is pursued and almost killed by, well, Robert Patrick, the T-1000. She survives. So what would you do? Hate to bring up the old multiple choice, but if Smallville can go back on devices, then SO CAN I!

    A) Stay on the run and pray to Ben and Jerry that they have ice cream at whatever spider-hole you find.

    B) Get weapons from your mother Sara Conner's casket and find that bunker so the world can end.

    C) Hire someone to kill Lionel Luthor (because it's justified, since you know he tried to kill you and would again, self defense). THEN go back to living.

    D) Just go back to living and assume everything will be all right, even though you DOUBLY forsoothed the man who sent you running for the hills by condemning him to Federal PMITA prison (and you know what that means if you watched Office Space).

    Cut to Lana back in school somehow (I guess you can just transfer in after leaving a course of study in France and go back to your normal schedule even though schools have strict deadlines for admission). This at least is more plausible than Lois back in high school. It reminds me of Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School.

    And Lana's new look has morphed yet again... from the dress to the EIGHTIES. Yes, friends, it apparently is hip in France to wear the sweater down over your shoulder like my mother still shudders in embarrassment for having done.

    Add into that the fact that she's a student who's fraternizing (read, sucking face) with a teacher, and oh, what can Lana NOT get away with? The sucking face with a teacher, that's okay. But memories of WHAM? Not cool. Hey Lana? CHOOSE DEATH.

    Now let's look at this with a critical eye. It's my job to facilitate this. Jason is a teacher. To be a teacher/coach (at least, hired in a public school, and in this state, which is as far as I know), you must complete a course of study and get a BA in education, because coaches are essentially teachers who volunteer to do extracurricular mentoring for some extra fat cash (and a little petty fiefdom). To do this, you must go to college. Assume best case it took Jason three years, because he stacked credits and challenged classes. Or assume worst case. It took me five years (and that's working like a MUG) to get into a teacher's education course, and I would have been finished at the beginning of my sixth year. So at best case, if he was a prodigy and left for college at 17 (ironically missing those last five credits, eat THAT, Lois!), he'd be 21 when he got the job at Smallville if he was a GENIUS, and more likely, he's 22, 23, maybe even 24. I'd say older, because newbies get the third assistant coach position, generally, not just plain assistant coach. (Bear in mind all of this is to my knowledge). So that means that since Lana's birthday is early in the fall (which we know from season one), that likely a 23 year-old man was dating a 17 year-old girl.

    Now, I'm NO prude. But that's just... well, wrong. My sister is almost 17, and if some dude my age was hitting on her, I'd, well, I'd become a krypto-freak for a bit.

    Not only that, but they're doing it in a SCHOOL. Which is to say, they're setting the school up for massive lawsuits, endless trouble, and lots and lots of gah. By gah, I mean, I could keep listing it, but why bother. It's just creepy.

    But hey, he likes Lana, so it's okay!

    That means that the major character points we've been shown for Jason are:

    Admiration of Lana.

    Pedophilia.

    Admiration of Lana.

    Breaking into the drama department's dress storage.

    Admiration of Lana.

    A dad who's a lawyer.

    And just for variety,

    Admiration of Lana.

    Well, what's not to like about him? Oh yeah! He's a JOCK!

    Way to go. I love this guy already. Like I love a festering boil on a baby puppy.

    To say nothing of the fact that though Lana gets on her high horse about lying, she and Jason lied twice in this show to Clark directly, and they're lying to all of their friends about a relationship they shouldn't be having in the first place, with her being 17 (or just 18) and still in high school, and him 23 or older and on the faculty at her school.

    Ma and Pa talking about Ma Kent getting out of the house was well done, and surprisingly acknowledging of the traditional female role in the household, with Jonathan pointing out that he's working so hard so that she could stay home and be the nurturing figure to Clark. I offer no commentary as to whether traditional female roles are bad or good, but to have them acknowledged instead of cowering away from them is a bold move on the part of the show, and I respect it, because so few are able to talk about such subjects without abject fear or pre-viewing criticism. Ah, what the internet brings!

    Now Clark and Jason have a conversation which makes me think they're going to open up and start characterizing Jason. We learn one thing. Jason's dad was oppressive to him, and he failed to go pro. Well, that's original for a jock. I'm unimpressed.

    Reading the spoilers (or being spoiled by you folks who write in), I learned that Clark would play football, and I was worried with the prospect. But as is typical most of the time to my fickle fanboy sensibilities, the Gough/Millar execution proves me wrong. I thought, there are some problems here. First, Byrne's Clark playing football was okay because he didn't have his powers yet. At least, not consciously. So he had time as a kid to be human, and so he has respect for his Clark persona.

    Also, there's no way at all Clark can't cheat. Jonathan is right. Even in a position where he doesn't push through people much, or doesn't get tackled much (and the best for that is QB or punter), he's still going to have to get caught sometimes, and he can't fake that. It's impossible to control. So he either lies and sacks out whenever people tackle him, or he uses his powers for unfair advantage.

    BUT, then I got to thinking. Clark learned to focus his heat vision by practice. Why not his physical interaction with normal humans through football? It makes sense. I can buy that.

    So then we have the Brett Jock and Abby, and Brett's like,

    Dear Abby:

    You were ugly and thus stupid but now you're pretty and thus brilliant.

    -Jock in High school-

    And Abby's like:

    Jock: You have a problem with hormones. But I don't care. Let's suck face. Seize the moment!

    So they're doing just that, and then, who walks by, out of all the kids in the high school, but Lana. And the camera focuses on her, she sees them, and then walks on. Now this is a big set-up for later, but it's horribly implausible and took me out of the show. It was filmed badly too. Like, the focus was those two, and then all of a sudden it's a slow shot of Lana walking down the hall, then back to the action.

    And oh boy, are we seeing some action. People wrote me complaining that the nudity was gratuitious, and I poo poohed it. I mean, sex sells, they're going to use it, even if the kids are supposed to be 14-18. Not that those age kids aren't active, it's just that promoting it is questionable even to people who are overly liberal about such issues, like me.

    But we've had no less than three extended naked shower scenes in the first three episodes. What next? Pa and Ma Kent in the shower? Welcome to what I can only assume is making The OC and other teen dramas popular, because it's been randomly inserted like Kryptonite into the show.

    And then, straight to the comedy. The dude who got kissed, he looks in the mirror, then runs off half naked screaming, "NO! MY FAAAAAAAAAAAACE!"

    That's funny.

    And I'm like, great. What's her Krypto power. She makes you look ugly in a mirror. That means her power is projecting her own negative self image. Have you ever heard such an emasculated plot concept in your life?

    Kryptonite. It's a gasoline and a maxillofacial ugliness retardant. What CAN'T it do? It's a floor wax, a desert topping, and it justifies homicide!

    Lois is talking in her cell phone and BLAM, she smashes into the jock. Now, the jock had it coming, being an idiot and all, but Lois could have avoided him if she weren't on her cell phone. Let this be a lesson to you. If your face starts melting when you're making it with someone, when you run around screaming, do it in a pillow factory, not in a road, because morons on cell phones will solve you.

    Lois goes into the boy's bathroom, and she's 19 at least, and they're all underage, there's more of that kooky older person being sexual with younger kids. Pedophilia seems to be the theme of this episode. Though with Lois, it's someone more playful, at least, and I've never heard an underage guy complain for attentions from an older woman.

    Clark plays the master detective again this week. Last week, it was, "A CIGAR at Lex's house! Lois' dad must know something about Chloe!" Dead logic if I've ever heard it.

    This week, it's Clark, stooping down, "Hmm! A football jersey, and a NECKLACE! Whoever has this necklace must have caused Brent to run around naked!"

    Actually, I thought a more logical conclusion is that Abby must know where Chloe is, but that's just because I like precedent.

    Lana lies again, to Lex, about the book. What's so strange about saying, "Hey, I got a funky tattoo somehow. I can't explain it. I'm researching it." This is the city where people get killed and get super powers all week every week. A tattoo, you say? The only threat she has from people is them asking her to see it.

    Passive crap. I can't stand it.

    And I can't help but notice that Lana and Lex are together all the time, and have been for about ten episodes. Normally I'd harp on this, and I have, but I came to a realization. Lex and Lana are perfect together. Why? Because Lex's failing later in life is love. He falls for women who treat him like garbage and he either kills them or leaves them. It makes much more sense for Lana to be with Lex than Clark, ultimately. Especially if Lana and Clark's relationship per the comics has already been dealt with and brought up, which it has (and thank goodness it appears to be over for now).

    Clark screams at his father, "I want my own life!"

    This is a pivotal moment that could slip by unnoticed. But look. Clark will have to have a reason to become Clark Kent later when he could be only Superman, and here's a key scene toward motive. Really well done.

    Here's the part where I rip on the advertising from last week for this episode. A few people have said I shouldn't, but I do anyway, mostly because it does effect the show. People see the ad, and they decide to watch or not watch. Honestly, if I had seen last week's ad, I might not have watched. I watched this episode, and it's NOTHING like that episode. Yeah, it's a plot element, but mainly it's about Clark and the football team and how it feels to not fit in. But that's not sexy, it doesn't sell, so they show a scene with Lana kissing another girl, a scene with Lana pulling up her shirt (which, incidentally, is just a scene where it fell down and she pulls it up, not some big sexual thing like it looks like in the preview) and the naked in plastic sports bra Lois scene.

    How much lower can the lowest common denominator get? I mean, I'm sexual, well and truly, but why do people see this kind of thing and think, "Oh, that would be GREAT programming!" If I want that kind of programming, the shortest distance between two points is my file sharing program and ten thousand web pages that cater to the base instinct. If I want a good show, maybe (rarely), but maybe, I'll turn on the TV and look for a mythos unraveling, like Superman. NOT LANA'S BARE SHOULDER.

    Or even Lois, though Durance IS smoking hot. These things, they do not a show make. Promise. At least, not with a critical eye. It's fun to see, well, you know, but as a piece of art, as something to be regarded, as seen with my reviewer eyes, it's just pandering crap, and that's all it ever will be, and it undermines a show that is in ways great, but getting more pandering.

    Then another ridiculous scene. Lana goes to get her tattoo removed, and the doctor comes up to her, starts touching her face, and says, quote:

    "This gets you anything you want."

    Well, tell us something we don't know, Dr. Demento-ette.

    So the daughter comes in, and Lana immediately says, "How's Brett?"

    I don't know about you, but if I walk in a door and someone says, "Hi Neal. How's your dog?" or "Hi Neal. How's your mom?", that's kind of weird. It played weird here, too. It's just like Lana walking through the scene, a badly executed arbitrary insert to take care of elements of the plot. I didn't like them.

    Then naturally, because Lana asks one question about how the guy she was sucking face with was doing, the mother decides that she needs to be killed.

    Because lord knows, you go to the police and tell them that you saw a girl making out with a guy who got naked and went nuts running out into the street, the first thing the detective is going to say is, "We have to check out this girl's mother's cosmetic surgery clinic!"

    Or not.

    And so she tells her daughter to murder for her or she'll make her ugly, and the girl just says okay.

    I don't even have to begin to say how stupid that is, do I? I mean, I've had guys threaten to rearrange my face for me if I don't take back what I just said, and the natural response is "Eat cow, brummagem, and taste the back of me hand!". But that's if you're me. If you're anyone else and someone threatens you, you run. You hide. You avoid. You don't aim to please. There are abusive relationships where evil commands can be played out, but this is too arbitrary to fit into that category.

    I call Jason Teague to the stand.

    JASON: Yes, your honor?

    NEAL: Why were you snooping around in a room full of dresses, and why are you dating an underage girl under your tutelage. Do you have no decency, sir?

    JASON: I'm not the one with a curtain on his shoulders at the top of the review.

    NEAL: Ahhhht! Answer the question!

    JASON: Lana's hot.

    NEAL: That will get you nowhere in this court. Don't make me go Judge Mathis on you! Explain yourself, McGuffin!

    JASON: I like football. My daddy's a lawyer.

    NEAL: (audible sigh). Bailiff. Shoot this man.

    (Bailiff walks over, raises gun.)

    JASON: Okay! Okay! It's because the backlash of feminism in the seventies has led to an overfetishization of what used to be the vapid blonde bombshell becoming everything to everyone, the eternal woman, to be placed on a pedestal and lauded not as a human being but as an object of desire that can do no wrong! INSANITY! INSANITY! I plead INSANITY!

    NEAL: Did I stutter, bailiff?

    BLAM!

    FWUMP.

    NEAL: That's just great. The bailiff has managed to shoot the court monkey. Court is dismissed until we can reconvene with a new monkey. Dismissed, Jason. You can be in a few more episodes until they find a way to kill you.

    JASON: I was in France, once!

    NEAL: GET OUT OF HERE!

    When Lana pulls Jason into the dress place, she says, "What do you expect to get out of this?"

    He says, "Oh, nothing."

    Makes sense to me. I hang out with people and laud them for nothing in return all the time. Or at least I used to, before I quit going to the job I hated. But never in a relationship.

    What I wonder is what Jason was going to get. An engagement ring? A flamethrower?

    My honest guess? I think he was about to come out with a dress on, and that girl from the clinic spoiled everything. LAME!

    Lana is made ugly by the kiss, and knocked out by a mirror, okay. That's cool. Even if it is because of an exploitive lesbian kiss that is just really forced.

    Then the hospital again. It's like in Kung Pow. Always with the squeaking shoes, and always with this hospital. I swear, they know all of the mains by their first names by now. They should have credit at the cafeteria by now.

    Lana's first words, "Don't let him see me!" Because Lord knows, there's no way Jason would ever understand if she were to become ugly, considering he worships the ground she walks on so falsely it's intense.

    Lois misspelled! First time we've seen that. This episode was all around cool for Lois and her character, even though she wasn't in it much, it made sense. I have to give them that.

    Chloe and Clark are talking soon thereafter, and they figure out that somehow because Brett ran around naked, Abby had something to do with it? How? Now that makes sense when they get the report about serotonin a few minutes later, but not very well otherwise. One minute Clark and Chloe figure out who's behind the hallucinations by deduction, the next a piece of paper helps them out. A little repetitious.

    Lois goes to her assignment to figure out the story on the plastic surgery.

    She walks in, sits down, and you know we didn't see this happen, but I know what would have happened in the real world.

    Lois sits. "Hi. I'm Lois. Lois Lane."

    The woman holds out her hand. "I'm villain, no name villain."

    Then the evil old woman takes one look at Lois and says, "What could you POSSIBLY want from me?"

    But Lois instead gets caught with a tape recorder, so she fails to use her mad kung-fu and gets needled out. I was going to start a "times LOIS fails to use her mad kung-fu", but then, it was a sucker shot from the old woman, and later she does totally expedite the lady, so I'm letting it go.

    So we have Kryptonite again arbitrarily inserted to slow Clark down, and Lois sees this, is not slowed down herself, and thinks nothing of it.

    They stand, walk out, and then...

    Well, there's a scene with naughty language. And off to the movies I have gone, where I learned everything that I know, and South Park tells me that graphic and horrible violence is okay, but certain words are naughty, so in my journalistic capacity of explaining the following scene, I will substitute a common colloquial curse with "bich", which as you may know, is Latin for generosity.

    Lois rears up in her half naked pleather suit of plastic surgery-ness, lifts her leg, knocks the freak out, and walks out, quietly muttering, "Bich." Nothing like a plastic sports bra on hoo hahs. You go, Barbarella Durance.

    This is probably one of the best moments in the show so far. I laughed so amazingly hard. It's just incredible. There are so many people I want to do that to in my life. And really, I don't like violence, but picturing that, it's funny. This show gave me a gut-buster laugh, and I respect that. Why? Because THAT, my friends, is plausible girl kung-fu, and fun.

    Okay, it's safe to be a kid again.

    There's also the fact that Clark, when he could have opened the door at super-speed, simply plows through it, so Abby's mom knows he's invulnerable (at least to glass) because he's not all cut up.

    And then the scene of Lana's catharsis... not really an 8:50, but close. She says to Jason, to guilt him for worshipping the ground she walks on: "I keep thinking of all the times you've told me I'm beautiful, and I can't help but wonder how much of me you really see."

    You know, I wonder the same thing. Constantly. And Lana acknowledging the fact that it happens makes her character NO less vapid.

    Clark and Pa play football! Great scene! Especially at the end, when Clark dunks the football. I wonder if that was an improv that made it in. It was funny, though. Really funny.

    Abby is let off free. Her mother goes to jail. Did her mother attempt murder? No. Is it a crime to tell someone you should kill another person? Sadly, no. For instance, I can say "People should go out there and kick jocks in the butt". And then, if a jock gets his butt kicked, who's to blame? Me, or the pathetic sheep that took my advice?

    So Abby is just fine, even though she's clinically insane and homicidal, just like her mother. Well, that's just great. That ball was dropped.

    This episode has that first season feel and closure. I loved the ending, no matter how sappy and artificially gleeful it seemed. And all in all, playful complaints aside, this episode was a blast. The character and the jokes and the set-up more than makes up for the implausibility which, though there, didn't tear me out of the plot like last week.

    The ending has no Lana catharsis. The Clana in this episode is a "Park". A Pa Kent Clark bonding. I love that.

    And to that end, I have been thinking. If Clark and Lana meeting to be cathartic is a Clana, but it's mostly Lana doing the bad stuff, such a name only gives Lana's more attention. So it occurred to me, wouldn't it be funnier if we called the Clana what it is and gave more attention to Clark? A Lark? It'd be like the way feminism sometimes seeks to take the female aspect away from the male aspect by writing women wymyn. We can take back our Clark!

    This episode also handled a very feminist and overdone topic, inner beauty and popularity vs. content and substance, without managing to come off too preachy or false, like the episode where Lana got kung-fu.

    Further, this episode just has moments. Moments all over. Clark dunking a football, Lois kicking the freak, teenage catharsis (and not in the cliche way). And my favorite...

    Lois picks up the paper she wrote, and says, quote:

    "I didn't even expect anyone to read this, much less have a...' Life changing experience?'".

    Which is the way I feel when people write me in and compliment me on the reviews. Incredulous. Like an ugly little man in with perhaps an inkling of content of character that finally shows through when people look beyond my gruff exterior and love who I am, what I do, as we all do, as this issue explores with the mains we've come to know.

    For this, this episode gets a solid 4 of 5.

    And next week, it looks like Nicodemus 2, only instead of a plant, it's drugged water, and instead of Lana getting nekkid (or at least her double), it's Chloe.

    And don't forget to hit the Smallville chat hour on Wednesday nights! It's at 9pm Pacific Time Zone, and you can sway my review, if you wish, call me a bum, whatever. It's fun. We're always talking about monkeys and explosions.

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    Beauty is only skin deep, that is, unless you've got a Kryptonite plastic surgery machine. Jason is still a vapid lap dog, Lana gets a taste of how the other side lives, and for some reason, a tacit affair with a man who obsesses with dresses is okay. Clark's playing football all over the place, Chloe's back at the Torch, and Abby got away with attempted murder. But all in all, the fall of our youths are emulated, and here there be children with simple moral truths. And a dead monkey at the mercy of the court. 4 of 5.

    BUSINESS:

    Two preludes before we caption:

    One:

    Last week, I made a few graphics for the Chloe explosion that mistakenly did not get uploaded for a bit by accident (the photographic evidence of Chloe being blowed up). If you're interested, it's up now at last week's review. Go about two thirds of the way down the page to the "exhibits". I wouldn't mention them, it's just I worked a long time on them (pathetic as I am with the photo technology) and I wanted to shove them at you.

    Two:

    I'm on the West Coast (W symbol with my right hand, saying, "West siyyyyyde!" before I am shot for being insolent by a roving gang of rich white fat cat corporate types with dew rags on for using a trademarked "rap" phrase without giving them a nickel). This means that when people IM me and say, "Are you watching the show yet?" at 6, it means, "No." And even if I were, I wouldn't be at the computer. But it's funny, and sometimes I get great ones.

    I have a buddy who wants to be known as Captain Outstanding, he knows how I joke about how I won't be there when the show is on, it's like someone asking a dead person if they'll be waking up any time soon. He sends me the following tonight, as the show's progressing on the East Coast:

    "Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. says: Well, Pete's back.

    "Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. says: But he DIES.

    The son of rage and love says: You're putting me on!

    "Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. says: I am.

    The son of rage and love says: That'd be a great show, though.

    The son of rage and love says: He'd come racing into town on a blue streak in a race car, smash into the Talon, and take out both Lana and Jason. THAT, my friend, is going in business.

    And so it has.

    CAPTION CONTEST:

    We start business with the caption contest, which had many notables this week. You guys are just jumping all over this. It's a blast!

    Click here to see the picture.

    This week, as you may already know from the front page, the winner is:

    thebrakeman with

    "Morgan (with pompous accent): Pardon me! Do you have any Grey Kryptonite?"

    But here are some notable runner-ups:

    Oscar Asherman - I'm looking for this milk carton, have you seen it?
    Spacebooger - I see you are the class president. be warned. we believe you to have weapons of mass destruction.
    clevelandmos - "Hey...check this out...it seems there is 5000 threads on the message boards of people wanting you to play Superman..."
    phaze - Morgan: Your IMs and Blog said you were leagal kid. I'm not going to jail for anyone.
    MOTA - Clark: "I'm not the droid you're looking for, move along..." Edge: "You're not the droid I'm looking for..."
    Terminal - Morgan: I'm an extremely powerful and intelligent mob boss... have you seen this boy? Clark: Nope... can't say I have.
    humanagony - Clark: Yeah, I know him.. he's an alien who always shows off his powers, but no one seems to notice because it seems everyone in Smallville is on crazy pills.
    Andie - Clark: "always nice to meet a fan". Morgan: "I am actually here to meet your mom"

    Here is a space reserved for one that was really funny, but inappropriate. I believe you know who you are...

    matthinson - MORGAN: Hey, you kinda look like this guy! Clark: Is that a rabbit over there? (Morgan glances and Clark runs away in super speed)

    It's really going well, the contest is a blast! Remember, don't be vulgar. Kids may be watching. And hey, you know, it's usually less than a sentence. Please, spell check. Proof yourself. You will find, if you do not, that I will leave your errors and not correct them, and then when it makes the finals, it'll make you look less educated than you could. Promise.

    And now begin pointing out my typos and calling me a hypocrite, I know. But I'm just saying, it's one line. This review is 18 pages. Five typos in 18 pages is pretty godo. That last word was a joke.

    On to responses!

    A number of people were writing me about Jumping the Shark. Oddly enough, however, a lot of them were less "It is!" or "It isn't!", but were more, "Why are you using the phrase "Jump the Shark"? It's so CLICHE!"

    Well, excuse me for living! It's an internet term that's been around for what, three, four years? I will maintain my cool factor, however, by pointing out that I am the first to note that in the court of public opinion, the term "Jumping the shark" has now "Jumped the shark". I tried to think of a new term, but all I could come up with was "Sevened." (From Married with Children). But that stinks. So I'm staying with the Fonz, like it or not.

    Bill Albanito says that the translation of the statue is "This is the first crystal of knowledge" rather than "Krypton". He could be right. We had a grainy photo to work with.

    Kevin Heacock wrote in telling me about the symbol on Lana's back on the cave wall before the second episode, seeing it thusly before Lana saw it on a photo, which takes an eagle eye.

    He also saw an impression of a body in the casket, which could explain Clark's reaction.

    He also postulates that part of Lana's new look that I missed is redder hair...

    Scotty V was the first to suggest that the plane may have not been able to land after Clark depressurized it in mid-flight. I can't believe I missed that one, but it's there.

    He also noted that when Pa and Ma Kent kiss when Pa comes out of the coma, we see bodacious Annette butt-crack (not his words, mine). I mean, if we're gonna exploit on this show, let's take it all the way! I can't believe I didn't see it. Stupid me, I was looking at the characters...

    Finally, he sees that the piece of art Lana is rubbing also has a necklace like her old one...I missed that.

    Many wrote to tell me how contrived and horrible they thought Black K was, and thought it should have defined qualities. I agree, but still, there have been much worse devices, and this one at very least, shows ingenuity and adds to the mythos. That's more than can be said for the Kryp/tuck machine.

    Mike Cooke wants to know how Lois got Chloe's email after she died...it was sent to Clark, right?

    Further, he points out that it was glossed over completely exactly where Clark was for three months, and why he came back at just that certain time. Was it the Phantom Zone? That horrible dress room at the school? Cheaper By the Dozen 2 (The Baker's Dozen)?

    Mike also provides (again!) the music for the show, from when Lionel was stabbed. "Dome Epais Le Jasmin", AKA The Flower Duet from Lakme, by Leo Delibes. I uh, bought it, and I'm listening to it, and it rules.

    And Mike wrote, verbatim:

    You requested in-jokes, references and the like that us the fans noticed in you last review. I have two possibles for you. Remember the end of "Exodus" when Clark is riding away on the motorcycle? We hear Jor-El's voice over saying "You will obey me, Kal-El." When I heard that, my mind immediately went to that scene at Zod's trial in the first Superman film where he says, "You will bow down before me, Jor-El....yada yada." The inflection (if not the volume) was almost identical. And from tonight's episode, a fully lucid Clark uses his powers to help out Lois by crashing a helicopter. Where did Superman make his first Metropolis appearance in the movies? Saving Lois from a helicopter.

    Interesting...

    Stephen G wants to know when someone will ask if Gabe, Chloe's dad, is okay.

    Steve Crow has a bunch this week.

    First, Ra appears to be an in-joke with Rao, seeing as Clark gets his power from the sun and the names sound similar.

    Second, Gabe didn't even rate flowers. That's cold, Lois!

    Third, Lana's shower apparently shoots out instantly hot water. Check the scene. It's actually steaming before she even starts the water.

    Fourth, he asks if Allison not appearing in the credits meets SAG qualifications. They fined George Lucas for not putting credits at the beginning of Star Wars long ago, and I don't know what the rules are now, so I can't speak to it, but it is a good question.

    George corrects the KO Count. The door that opens on its own is in Nicodemus, (115), not episode 114.

    Our own Felix Vasquez had the following to say:

    "That was such a rip. We have the two Supermans about to fight and it ends so quickly, and then Clark says "Well, it wasn't me who flew, it was Kal El." I almost expected him to put his arms at his waist and look at the camera with a wink and cheesy smile."

    Mark also wonders about why they forgot poor Gabe. No "Sorry about your uncle!"

    Here's the Letter of the Week:

    Rich wrote:

      Hey Neal,

      I love the reviews of Smallville... I've been waiting all summer just to read another one. But I wanted to point out a couple small things...

      First, in your count of people who know Clark's secret, you need to add Bridgett Crosby, played by Margot Kidder... also, note that in the dialog with Bridgett and Martha, Martha acts shocked that Bridgett knows Clark's secret and said that Dr. Swann promised Clark that he would not tell anyone, and Bridgett corrects her by saying that Dr. Swann said that he would keep Clark\'s secret safe and that it has not left the "company(?)".. I'm not sure the exact wording there... I'll have to check, but you know what I mean .. his secret would not leave that place... indicating to me a group of people, possibly scientists and other assistants he has working on the deciphering of certain things... like an octagon shaped key?... so just something for you to add to that section.

      Second, in your Kryptonian Wannabes Section.. you need to add Kara/Lindsay Harrison... she is clearly a wannabe... all the way down to the flight. But as we learned, she is not truly Kryptonian... just a wannabe ;-)

      Hey, great review... keep up the good work... and remember, the ability to just write and not work at the moment is a privilege, not something to take advantage of... so don't slack ;-)

      Luv, Peace, and Chicken Grease,
      ~Rich

      PS...just came to a realization.. Not "company".. "institute"... that's why it suggested to me that there are more people involved than just Bridgett and Virgil... take that where you please.. but for me, that opens up a lot of doors for other people knowing, and possibly more advances with the key, and such. Also, another sudden realization.. they have black kryptonite... what other kinds of kryptonite do they have, and I think it would be obvious that they have an abundance of Black K, because if you only have a small amount of a rock from another planet... especially a "rare" kind would you really just give it away? Not from a scientific stand point you wouldn't... you'd shave a sliver off and hand it to Martha and say "hey.. good luck with that... sorry it's small, but it's all we have." **cue evil laughter** So, I hope the expound on Dr. Swann's "institute" a little more and possibly show some research... alrighty then... that's all for now... Peace Out Girl Scout!!!

    Truer words have never been spoken. I have to admit I'm anxious about keeping up the writing and not working. Recent events in my life jeopardize my ability to keep writing without working, but I'm trying to find a solution. We'll see. Life is life.

    As to the points, yes, Kara is definitely a Kryptonian wannabe, and Swann's entourage adds definite oddness to the KO Count. I'll add Bridgett, and others as we SEE them knowing, as seeing is my litmus of proof. But a definite consideration.

    As for the K, I agree. If they have that much black K lying around, it must not be too valuable...

    Aaron Keel points out that if Jonathan were in a coma for three months, he'd have lost 20 pounds and atrophied. True. But hey, if a rock can heal brain damage, it can certainly flex muscles, right?

    Keel also shows that when Clark goes to the hospital, no one knowing him is implausible.

    Tim O'Brien puts his finger on what I was trying to say about Margot as opposed to Annette, in terms of age as it has impacted their beauty. He simply says, "That's what cigarettes will do to you!"

    And it's true, kids. Don't smoke. If you do, you'll turn into Lana instantly. Promise. Nah, not really. But other bad things will happen. Like when you need to run from my troops when I'm king of the world. Any incline will just stop you in your tracks. Besides, your face starts to look like Scabby Abby's in no time.

    Mark postulates that instead of the black K causing Clark to split being like Superman III doesn't seem right, because in Superman III, the K turns him bad, and Clark Kent actually splits them and fights for his mind back. This is true.

    Sam writes in and points out Bridgett should know about the secret in the KO Count (true, already covered, but he gets credit nonetheless) and he goes on to explain Bridgett's exact place in the Superman mythos from the Ultimate Guide to Superman:

    "Kitty Faulkner frequently shares research with fellow bio-radiological expert Professor Bridgette Crosby, a member of the S.T.A.R. Labs team that worked feverishly to save Superman from kryptonite poisoning. While all Earthly kryptonite has since been eliminated, Dr. Crosby now focuses her studies on developing an anti-serum for the lethal green-growing element."

    Wow! It's good all the K is gone, because otherwise people might start hocking up their cars and faces and... ah, never mind.

    Alex Kreitner writes in to corroborate. Yes, brain dead is brain dead. There is no coming back when you're brain dead.

    Robin Sharma points out that it's a little implausible that Clark could lift and move Lois without batting an eye without Lois thinking that odd or abnormal.

    Gailyn notes that in most incarnations, Clark meets Lois by rescuing her. In this continuity, Lois rescues Clark!

    Leif Andersen also points out the crystal of "knowledge" and not Krypton quote.

    Rob Adams and I spoke of how it stinks that we missed the trial of Lionel Luthor. It could have been really cool! But no!

    Bruce Kanin has a really cool theory. (Where did all the theories go, all of a sudden?) First, that Zod is actually behind the crystals, and that they need Clark to gather them all so he can be released from the Phantom Zone, and he's using the Eradicator to get at Clark. Also, that perhaps because Terrence Stamp is Zod, he notes that it would be cool if perhaps the Superman universe characters somehow made the trip to the Smallville universe, and in the process Superman was unfortunately disabled, but they work to help this universe's Clark be ready for the battle with Zod. I thought it sounded cool, anyway.

    Curtis Line points out that in dichotic, Clark leaps AFTER Chloe falls, and must have willed himself to the ground faster than she did in order to catch her in time. That could count as a flight. So I count it.

    Lara explains why Chloe was in the foundry. Chloe was left hanging while Trent went back to extort Lionel, and then she returned to kill Chloe just in time to find her escaping (If you don't think he was at the safehouse with the screen door, and that was Lex).

    Amelie helps me with my French (See! I knew you guys would come up with the translation!):

      Hi Neal,

      I just wanted to send you the correct translation to "Why are you here?" in French : it's "Pourquoi es-tu ici?" You actually wrote something like "Because is you here?" ("sommes" goes with "nous")... Nice effort, though! And for the translation of "Why the heck are you here?", if you're from France, you would probably say "Bordel, pourquoi es-tu ici?" and if, like me, you're from Quebec (a province in Canada where everybody speaks French, in case you wouldn't know where it is...), you'd say "Pourquoi es-tu ici, btard?". Of course, there are worse ways to say it! If you ever need help to translate something in French again, I'd be happy to help!

    Canada? What is this Canada that you speak of? Why do you say this to me when you know I shall only kill you for it! Kneel before...uh, NEAL! Nah, Zod jokes aside, I do know of Canada, many a fan and friend come from Canada, and I lived not 50 miles from Canada for five years, so I know how slow you guys are on our freeways, eh? But you're all much more polite than we are, so it's forgivable. Ah, to speak in stereotype. I still like Canada. Thank you, Amelie.

    Bryan joked about how much of a waste Jason is, noting that the only thing that would save him was if his name ended up Bruce Wayne. Ha! Let's start the rumor, why not! JASON IS BRUCE! Put that on some message boards, and we've got another Chloe is Lois brewing!

    Oh, no, wait. Adam was Bruce, and Adam died. No Batman in this continuity.

    Bill Albanito wrote in with proof that he suggested the Lexana waaaay back in June, and I gave nyah rights to JB. Bill is correct, so bragging rights are henceforth shared! Nyah!

    Adam wanted me to comment on nudity and sex in Smallville, and what I think of it.

    Here it is, in brief. I have no problem with nudity. I love nudity. I love the nude. Really. Especially females. If we all went around not wearing pants, the world would laugh a lot more.

    In Smallville, we are watching a show geared toward 14-35 year old men and women, I'm guessing (I'm no demo pro), and we see kids, literally kids 14-18 in character, if not reality, buck naked and near having sex every week. Naturally, that disturbs me. As a grown man, do I enjoy seeing flesh? Yes. Does it belong in this atmosphere? I'm not one to condemn or censor, so I can't say yes or no to that. But I would say if I were writing it, it would be adults only.

    That's all.

    Take care, everyone! And remember, I'm asking for your vote. (Texas wink). Neal Bailey for the new Superman! (If you all can say Caveziel, I can nominate myself!) Don't forget the KO Count!



    Back to the "Smallville: Episode Reviews" Contents page.

    Back to the main TELEVISION page.