Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 4 - Episode 7: "Jinx"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Main Points:

  • Mikhail Mxyzptlk is a foreign exchange student with magical powers.
  • Magical powers are negated with stealth technology, hilarity ensues.
  • Jason loses his job, and Clark wins the championship. Lana whines.
  • Chloe exposes Mxys gambling ring and he goes to Lex jail.

    PRELUDE (A SATIRE ABOUT LANA, OF COURSE):

    Before the episode started, per usual, they show the preview for the show you're about to see, which I think is pretty redundant. But it made me realize something about the subliminal, and the way that when we, as human beings, are constantly bombarded by the television with what is and what isn't, the truth can become blurred, and we can lose objectivity. Notable historic examples are the non-existent connection between Saddam Hussein and 9-11, and on a more human level, it affects how we view a character when not watching with a critical eye. Look, for instance, into the subliminal of the following, and tell me if I'm wrong:

    Lana, in the preview before the show, is shown when they say the line, "Even the strongest mind.". And when she is shown on screen, she is always shown with good lighting, in beauty, and with a dialogue pacing, mise en scene, and blocking to indicate that she is a great person, a particular entity of value. Like, say, a leader.

    It is no wonder then, in a world where people watch television for all of their information, and learn to trust it, that more than half of us, a clear majority according to some polls I find on the web while looking into this whole "Lana" affair, would believe Lana to be a good person, and let her get away with all of the horrible things she gets away with, right?

    I mean, the prospect that something which looks innocuous and in fact beautiful, full of moral values, and looking out for people who look and act like you do, you know, maybe a little bumbling in the face of a boy or a critical issue, the prospect that such a thing could be in fact, wrong and very harmful for our character were we to adopt their ways, that's kind of a shocking, hard to accept prospect.

    And though Clark, you know, though he seems like an intelligent guy, in fact, the most moral person in the show, out to take care of us all, sometimes this can be overshadowed by a simplicity, a pretty face, and, well, what appears to be moral values. So we like Lana and we don't look to Clark for our leadership. It happens sometimes.

    So do I blame this country and its television viewers for being taken in by the flashing lights and the pretty camera work? No. I don't. But does it dishearten me? Does it make it hard to go on reviewing?

    Yes.

    We all know Lana to be a dope, so we'll let her get away with slapping another sovereign entity for a perceived slight with no consequence (last week, of course. I mean the show last week), and just let her be the way she is, generally, because she's lovable.

    The prelude to this show, if you will, made that very clear to me.

    Smallville, and thus Lana, may last for a long time. Maybe another four years.

    But by god, I will still be here to call every time Lana steps out and does something which, while seeming good in intent, is in fact crippling to the human spirit. And though the majority may be against me, I know in my heart what is right, and I will fight for it.

    If Lana can become a good leader for us, so be it. I will like her character again. But as things stand now, my heart is heavy, and I don't see how it can happen.

    And that is all you will hear about Lana in this review, from this reviewer, today.

    Well, maybe not. But I think you get my point.

    Now read up to here again once more. Just for me. See if you get it.

    REVIEW:

    Well, we were tricked again.

    We were shown one thing, and then given another.

    We were promised Mr. Mxyzptlk. And we were given a homicidal freak of the week who shares only one quality with Mr. Mxyzptlk. His name.

    This is like what happened with Lana, where instead of the character that we know from the comics, a lonely city girl with little perspective of the outside world who isn't much to anyone until Pete comes along and makes her Mrs. Vice-President, we have the Lana who is everything to everyone.

    And I know a lot of you hate it when I go off on a Lana bender, but the point is, this plot line reminded me more of what I consider the glaring flaw in the show, the big L, so I had to draw that analogy.

    There were also, to put it mildly, a ton of flaws. This is the kind of episode where the readers go, "wooo!" at the end because I get to go off a lot, but the kind I dread, because number one, I watched the show, and number two, I have to tear it to pieces, when it's a show I like.

    But I didn't make it, they did! So off we go!

    Clark is just back on the team. He just arbitrarily quits, and then is back on the team. I guess being the star quarterback forgives you a lot, but I would have liked a bridge.

    Mxyzptlk is said wrong. There are several schools of how to say it, but I have always read (and I believe) the pronouncement is Micks yez pittle ick, not Micks ill pittle ick. My source is a memory of reading it in Wizard, and also our very own site. I may be wrong, and it's a small beef, but when there's so much wrong with the character in this episode, every little thing bugs you. This isn't like amalgamating Bart and Barry to create a melded character, this is a total reversal of character, a bastardization for ratings. And please forgive my term I just used, I don't mean it in the cursing sense, I mean it like the dam on a river sense. It's the only verb I could think of that is entirely appropriate. It means to debase; corrupt. That's what has been done to Mxy in this episode.

    The only Mxy I have seen like this one is Joe Casey's homicidal Mxy Twins, which stand out in my mind as one of the top five worst Superman comics ever, and I've read a whole bunch that stink.

    I get the feeling that half of this show was written before Transference, and the other half after. For instance, in the beginning, Chloe says, with a smile, "I never bet against Clark Kent!", and later gives him trouble for the things he did when he was Lionel. And then, of course, it's instantly forgotten, but hey, what's consistency good for?

    Mr. Mxyzptlk's power in the comics is the ability to bend reality. He's an imp from the fifth dimension who comes every 90 days, traditionally, to cause trouble, but mostly to have fun, and help Supes through either a moral dilemma or to just lighten up, what with the constant danger and peril. Say his name backwards, and he disappears. He speaks in my head (and in Steve's head, we talked about it) in a Gilbert Goddfried kind of voice (like the animated show) and he's never out to hurt, just have a good time. See Rucka's Adventures for a good usage of the character.

    Mr. Mxyzptlk's power in Smallville is that he says something to a person, and it happens. So instead of simply walking into a bank and saying, "Money. Bag. Forget." He decides to come to a small town to make bets instead of, say, going some place that makes sense. Clark stops him from making money on a small town game, so he decides to murder Chloe. This Mxy is greedy, angry, sadistic, and wants fun, but only if that fun benefits him. And hey, say his name backwards and you can get a single site on a search engine, apparently, but not much else.

    Yeah, I'm a geek. On Google, Mxyzptlk gets 12,800 hits, Kltpzyxm gets 451. Just for humor's sake.

    I would note that Mxy basically sexually assaults Chloe, but does Chloe slap him? No. Good thing this show is consistent about that kind of thing. And hey, what's more creepy and worthy of a slap, a man trying in earnest to kiss a woman, or mind controlling her into a kiss, which is essentially rape?

    Further, his power, that of persuasion, has already been used multiple times before, and already twice this season. The re-use of ideas is getting ridiculous. I know, at times, it is hard to come up with entirely new plots (heck, my own plot a few weeks back re-used the poling idea, but since someone pointed that out to me (and it didn't take long), I could easily revise it and make it original), but that's what they pay the big bucks to Smallville writers to do.

    This, plain and simple, is the exploitation of a character name for money. And I'm noticing it's a gimmick they're using a lot of this season. Lois, for example, along with Crosby, Flash, and now Mxy. It used to be that Perry came along once a season, and that was cool, or maybe Reeve, and we liked that, but they're kind of doing it every episode now, and like freaks or Kryptonite as a device, the novelty wears off if you use it too much. Or you use it badly.

    I'm the first to praise when it works, so I should be the first to slam when it fails, and Mxy fails quite palpably.

    Ask yourself, what makes this Mxy, other than the name? Seriously. That he uses magic? Well, okay. I guess. But it's like saying that Spider-Man is Superman, for instance, because both of them are involved somehow with flying through the air.

    Clark injures a player. That's good, it helps him realize that he has to be careful, and of all the things in this show, this plotline, and the way it was resolved with Pa Kent, saves this episode from a one. I haven 't decided on 1 or 2 yet, but it's a low rating, I'm telling you already. That subplot helps a lot.

    Several key aspects of it are bungled, however, so it's hard to accept. First, Clark breaks a guy's collarbone in two places, and it's just like, WHUPS! He doesn't go apologize to the guy. I don't know much about collarbone injuries, but my guess is that it hurts a lot, costs a lot, and it wouldn't have happened had Clark lacked super powers, so that makes him responsible directly, and speaking from Clark's character POV, I would have paid for the setting and recovery somehow, or at least felt responsible beyond just looking at him in the squeaky shoes place. What? What do I mean by that?

    Well, I figure, instead of making a KO Count about times we've seen that stinking medical center (and it has been suggested) I'd just make an ongoing silent protest joke. If you've seen Kung Pow, a hilarious movie, the kung-fu master says, of the squeaky shoed guy, "Again with the squeaky shoes!" And "Always with the squeaky shoes!"

    So whenever we see the medical center, instead of writing all of this, I will simply say, "AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES!" Call it my Carol Burnett ear wag for you all...

    And rent Kung Pow. PRODUCT PLACEMENT!

    Make sense now?

    They bumble further when they bring up the drug test. Jason lets Clark go because he's afraid Clark will tell someone, but then, he believes in Clark. So which is it? Is it that he trusts Clark, or he's afraid? I think that's two writers writing one character. It gets A to B, but as a viewer, it's confusing.

    And finally, seeing a man throw 60 yards and break collarbones, I would demand to SEE that drug test if I were the coach.

    When did the Torch become the Daily Planet? I mean, I know Chloe's gone after some big stories before, but there just AREN'T gambling rings of any note in a small town, any more than there are huge drag racing circuits. This is one that would normally go to suspension of disbelief, but when the show bumbles as much as this one did, every little thing agitates.

    Chloe TAKES the money from the gambling. Enough for college, though it's very scantly mentioned. Yet somehow, she's going to write about a gambling ring that she herself participated in and profits from? This is out of character. I didn't like that she took the money. And, as Stephen G notes in chat, it's also Canadian money. My buddy Will is Canadian, but I doubt his gambling money's any good in Kansas. Maybe Kancouver, huh?

    Now, despite having won games before and still being the black sheep of the team, Clark is instantly popular with all of the jocks. That makes no sense. It adds fuel to my fire that this show was written before/out of sequence with all of the others, where Clark is a dork on the football team that they don't really like. Sure, he won a game, and they kind of covered it in the episode Devoted, but it wasn't enough to make him the hero of heroes.

    FINALLY we see the coach. I got a ton of emails asking if Teague was the coach, because he sure acts like it. That goes in the pro column of this episode, though hey, it's about time!

    Here's one of the scenes that ticked me off the most. Clark actually picks up a piece of Kryptonite, holds it in his hand, and does a strenuous physical activity, throwing a ball.

    Look, I know you've gotta devalue Kryptonite sometimes. Like when they strapped it to Clark's chest for a half hour ride, or like the time when he still had super-strength despite being under K influence, or god forbid, when he can INGEST this thing which makes his blood boil (at least in tubes) and be just mildly nauseated. But having him HOLD IT and WALK AROUND?

    MY GOD!

    I mean, this is KRYPTONITE!

    This is the rock that, when Superman is near it, he falls to the ground and cannot move, and begins to quickly DIE.

    Now Clark's apparently got a tolerance for it and is walking around playing FOOTBALL while under its influence. Badly, but CRIPES, he's still throwing better than I do!

    Why not just make him all the more feminized while invincible, and make him wear Lana's old necklace, somehow green again (don't worry, you can get away with avoiding previous plot points if they bug you on this show), just so that he can be more prepared next time the green rock shows up?

    In fact, why even give a character a weakness at all, save emasculation?

    This is one of the key ways this show deviates from the real Superman, and it's one of the worst. Kryptonite is not just all over the ground, it doesn't have magical properties, and Clark Kent CANNOT DO ANYTHING when near it.

    Yes folks, it used to be "KRYPTONITE, THE ONE THING THAT CAN CRIPPLE SUPERMAN!"

    Now it's: "kryptonite. Eh, kind of annoying." Small k on purpose.

    Then another crazy scene. Martha's just been full of them lately. Deferring to a 17 year old on matters of a relationship that started before Lana was born, and now, glad that Clark can be like "everyone else", when everyone else is the highly elitist group of the 40-50 jocks that make up the average school's automaton population.

    Jocks are a minority that are far different from us all, in irony. They make themselves out to be the most secure of us all, and they get more girls, sure, but they're more insecure, generally, they have the need to be better than "everyone else", and they generally get unfair advantages "everyone else" lack, at least, until they miss that scholarship and end up pumping the gas of the literate. No offense, semi-literate jocks. But hey, you gotta admit, you're in the minority of that class, even if you're Shakespeare.

    My point? Why is it that Clark's mother and father, when they know who their son is, a loner who is good at journalism and keeps close friends with the less popular kids, are happy when he starts being the complete opposite of what he truly is? Is it because Pa played football?

    See, I was just like Clark in a lot of ways. I played football to please my dad in many ways, then quit, realizing it wasn't me. I can see that pressure, how it comes into play. But I still don't buy that the mother figure would be all, "Ah, you're like everyone else now!" It'd be more like, "Good for you, getting popular finally." Because it makes life easier.

    But even so, I don't see Ma Kent as the kind of person who would enjoy shallow victories like popularity.

    The whole Clark as football player, it makes sense in the mythos, but given three seasons where Clark was an essential geek like you or I, it doesn't make sense that he's suddenly the jock king in a land where everyone loves him. It just doesn't sit well. Like I've said, some of the scenes, some of the rationales, like controlling his powers, are well played, but as a character, it seems out of sorts for Clark, at least THIS Clark from Smallville, as portrayed in season one, two, and three.

    Lex and Clark are talking, and Lex scratches. Funny. Four years, he still sucks at pool, poor guy. I think next time he should be fencing, because that's a much better blocking device. More exciting. And Lex is better at it.

    It doesn't help that it's the first Lex scene I haven't liked in a LONG time. And why? Because it continues the ongoing fetishizing of Lana Lang.

    Lex, LEX LUTHOR, categorical genius and the most brilliant criminal mind of our time (in about ten years) starts berating Clark about what he doesn't do right with Lana, this RIGHT AFTER HE STARTS TELLING CLARK THAT LANA STILL WANTS HIM, AND THAT ALL HE HAS TO DO IS TAKE HER. So she's the fainting debutante he can just sweep away, and the liberated woman he can never do right by, all in one stream of dialogue. Ah, feminism, how confused you have made our male writers, how afraid to offend certain sensibilities!

    And Clark responds, taking Lana's defensive to the debutante defense, "Well, she's never been this serious about ANYONE!"

    Really?

    Wow, what a short memory, Clark. She's been with Jason (assuming they met the first day of Summer) for about 5 months. She spent 2 years off and on with Clark, a year and a quarter with Whitney, and about three months (if you count the season break) with Adam.

    But she's VIRGINAL, don't you see? Even if she's been with multiple men, she has to be pure, never having been serious with anyone before the present relationship.

    Lana! The writers fetishize her even with LEX.

    Speaking of which, we cut to her and Jason, talking about the drug test, after this scene. Apparently, Jason, being a brilliant adult figure, thinks just lying about the drug test will help him get away with it. Like lying about being with Lana. And hey, that's a great attitude to promote. Lying is okay. And then, you see, at the end of the episode, when they are found out (as lies always are, generally), they're not only surprised, but ANGRY.

    Well, hey, that's because the bad guys are the ones who strive for the truth, right?

    Never mind the Clark secret is bad, Lana secret is AOK phenomenon, and never mind that Clark's secret has never hurt Lana directly save by not giving her power over him, while Lana's secret has torn his heart apart.

    No hypocrisy here, huh!?

    So now we know this about Jason's character, after 6 episodes.

    He likes Lana.

    He has no job.

    He likes Lana.

    He's a liar.

    He likes Lana.

    He likes football.

    His daddy's rich.

    He likes Lana.

    He lies about being a liar.

    So that about sums it up. I know, it's a lot to get through in seven episodes, but hey, try and take it all in, okay? And remember, you're getting so much more from this Lana loving white guy who's just like "everyone else" than you could have possibly have gotten from having Pete, a black guy with a personality, in the show to make it a little more diverse, right?

    But I guess that'll make me a reverse racist, right? Well, whatever. I like Lana! That makes it okay now, doesn't it?

    Okay, I'm back to not liking Lana.

    By the way, the preceding is explained away entirely by Kryptonite. I just put some in my shoes or something, and now I'm back to normal.

    Mxy turns to me: Reeeeeeview!

    Away I go.

    On to the dialogue from that scene. Lana says, "Nobody took me away from Clark. I left."

    Note this. Lana has by this dialogue broken up with Clark, and yet previously she said she left town to find herself. The reason before that was that "Clark left her" (making the breakup Clark's fault). But notice, when it comes to something that defines her personally as weak and not striving for total independence (perhaps, loving someone), it becomes "she left Clark", making her blameless because she's finding herself, even though at the time they were not together.

    As a writer, this stuff is very plain to me, what they're doing, I'm trying to show you a little of it, so you can see through these subliminal dialogue chunks. Even if they do this unconsciously, they still do it, and are ergo responsible.

    I submit that not only does it harm society by emasculating men, it harms WOMEN, and feminism, by making it impossible to comprehend what a woman is as an entity and how to regard them. Men, it's clear in the media: Ignorant buffoons who are a source of comedy unless totally weak willed.

    So Lex makes a bet with Mxy, to the tune of a million dollars, on a high school football team. And Lex accepts WHY? He knows nothing of Mxy's powers, he knows nothing except that Mxy is a punk bookie who is bugging his best friend.

    So, without a defined bet on his own side (like, what he would get if Smallville wins), Lex takes the bet, completely screwing Clark. So what will Lex tell Clark? Uh, I just decided to let the bookie stay even though he's messing your school up, simply because I wanted to make a bet. Sorry!

    I don't buy it.

    So we cut to the miraculous leap of logic scene, with Chloe and Clark, where, get this, because there is a curse on Mxy's family and the only way he can be chased away is with a cloud of locusts, they determine that if they can make an "aura sound" like locusts, it will stop his MAGIC BASED powers.

    And how is that locust aura sound made? Why, with a stealth communications jammer, of course, which Sam Lane can just LOAN OUT. Guess he just went into a Stealth and pulled it out with pliers after flying over to it in the helicopter he can co-opt for family missions, huh?

    I can only imagine that conversation.

    "Uncle Sam?"

    "Yes, Chloe poo?"

    "I need a stealth jammer."

    "What for?"

    "Science project."

    "Oh! Really? What kind of project?"

    "Uhm, it's a scientific examination of a plot hole."

    "Interesting, dear. What's your hypothesis?"

    "That the stealth jammer will stop a plot hole."

    "Well, if it's important. Just let me go out to the black ops warehouse with a wrench. Be right back, pooey."

    "You're the best, Uncle Sam!"

    "Rico! You wanna live forever????"

    "What? You're scaring me, Unca Sam!"

    "Oh, sorry, baby. One of those 'Nam flashbacks."

    For the record, Ironsides rules, and would NEVER loan a teenager military equipment. But apparently, he already has twice on this show, an electro gun and a stealth jammer.

    So here's the logic.

    Mxy has a magic based power.

    Mxy's family was pushed away from a village they were harming by a plague of locusts.

    Locust have an aura.

    That aura, though magical, can be imitated by a stealth technology that jams PLANE communications.

    Sigh.

    Well, I guess it makes sense. Because, after all, if the election kids are falling prey to bees, it must mean that the candidate that's not being affected can somehow control bees, right?

    Remember that episode? Even in my GENEROUS rating first season, it got a 2.

    This one will not fare so well.

    Now, onto another peeve. I used to be an old school punk rawk kid. Note the look of joy on my face with the Mohawk above. In my older and more formative years (I'm 24), I have come to realize that categories destroy things, so I'm loathe to say what I'm about to say, but I'm gonna anyway.

    Green Day is one of the key influences of my artistic life. Argue that they've sold out, whatever. The point is, the art they put out is geared to the outsider, and it's designed to help the people like me, who were drawing and writing in corners, come to terms with "everyone else". So it was with incredulity and some anger that they introduced Clark heading to a football scene with the song "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", from American Idiot.

    It angered me on multiple levels. Usually, the songs in the show are just teeny bop bands, and I'm like, okay. Whatever. I take rare exception, like when it takes me out of the show, like when I had that debate about Rancid and the Transplants with the episode with the healing kid from second season, I think it was.

    Here, it took me out, made me mad, distracted me. Here's why.

    I've written a script for American Idiot, and submitted it to the band. I'm passionate about the album. I've got a huge musical lineup that inspires everything I write, and I can clearly state that of my 500 albums that I hold near and dear to my heart, I think American Idiot is the most vital, best piece of musical satire and characterization I have ever seen. It's been pivotal as an artistic influence to me in the last few months, and it's helped me come to terms with some things I've had extraordinary problems with, like the death of my dog, deaths to the near and dear, financial problems.

    When I set out to write my script I sat down and listened to the album about 25 times over the course of three days, and I came up with very clear pictures of each of the songs on the album and wrote scenes for them, crafting a whole feature film around the characters contained.

    The point of all this? I feel authoritative in saying that I have an inkling as to the intent and point of the song "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", when taken in context of the larger work and even as a single.

    And guess what? It's not about football players about to go out and be stars. It's about lonely artists who are spurned for what they do because the intelligent in our society are stigmatized while the football jocks and the beautiful are called "everyone else."

    Read the lyrics (excerpted):

    I walk a lonely road
    The only one I that have ever known
    Don't know were it goes
    But it's home to me and I walk alone
    I walk this empty street
    On the boulevard of broken dreams
    Where the city sleeps
    And I'm the only one and I walk alone
    I walk alone and I walk alone
    I walk alone and I walk alone.

    And that sure sounds like the plights of a jock about to go out and star in the biggest game of his career, right? It might be okay if it were Clark, all alone, friendless and crapped on, but it makes no sense here.

    A man on the boulevard of broken dreams is not a man about to play the BIGGEST GAME OF HIS LIFE.

    I am a man on the boulevard of broken dreams, writing 17 pages a day and forsaking a social life that I might find a little success in a public that is hostile to the artist and promoting to the jock, forgiving to the ignorant and ferociously violent to the dissenting and the school of critical inquiry.

    So to put it mildly, nice try to make Clark look like a loner while living his dreams, guys, but like the rest of the episode for the most part, I don't feel the squeeze of relief right now, I feel like wiping.

    And I've had my face rubbed in the fact that the art I tend to strive for (like Green Day's opus) is just fodder for the popularity contest that is a television world. And you know what? THAT is a broken dream for you, you...bastardizers.

    Good going.

    Cut straight to the advertisement. This just in!

    Old Spice Red Zone, PRODUCT PLACEMENT. Right on the banner, as Clark and team come out. And what do I see in a commercial later on? OLD SPICE, RED ZONE. This is what I'm talking about, how they get their subliminal hooks in you and don't let go. You just take it for granted, you never see it. I'm the guy who points that stuff out on the boulevard of broken dreams for no profit and scorn. Get it?

    That's a pretty big sponsor for a Smallville team, especially considering that Lex Luthor is supplying the team. Funny. I paid my way through a private school for high school to avoid the inner city schools I'd been attending all my life, and even PRIVATE schools have a rare sponsor for their football teams. The biggest I can remember was Coke, which had a strangle hold on all of the schools in my districts (They give the schools millions of dollars for logo placement and to put machines in the hallways. Some schools are even paid to let kids drink coke in class. No kidding). But Old Spice? Nope. It's not common, and it took me out of the show. I realized, hey, I'm watching something that's trying to manipulate me! Not the preferable, "I'm lost in the story!"

    Not only can Chloe get a stealth technology sound board, she can also operate it. And just with a video out and a power source. Man! If I'd known it were THAT simple, I would be a defense contractor instead of a writer. They're making more money right now anyway!

    And it not only stops Mxy, it takes away his powers.

    Oh, you could ask why he doesn't just say, "Off.", and you can ask why he doesn't just plug his ears, or if he can locate the sound, why he doesn't go take care of it before the fourth quarter, but to do that, you'd have to be paying attention, and lord knows we're not doing that, huh?

    If we were paying attention, we'd see that one minute Mikhail was bleeding from his ears, a sure sign of blunt cranial trauma, and the next he's just fine.

    And then, just to be exciting, Mxy threatens to kill Chloe with a knife, because that makes him cooler than the mischievous Mxy, right? Uh... okay, Joe Casey.

    So Clark super-speeds in the middle of a play fast enough to free Chloe, toss Mxy's knife to the floor, shove him across the room, and then go back to the middle of the play to get tackled.

    Cool effect, I don't dispute that. Really cool, like when he stopped that bomb at super-speed a while back (despite its Kryptonite content, whups!), but it doesn't take away the implausibility of the situation.

    The sonic boom would blow the kids around the field and total the entire play.

    To say nothing of the fact that after Clark wins, he just assumes that Chloe is okay instead of rushing to see.

    And further, you're about to be co-stabbed, and suddenly your handcuffs are broken, your assailant is flying through the air, and the knife is gone.

    Now, it's unexplainable. But assume that Clark is constantly around when things like that are happening, and you're an intrepid reporter.

    To say nothing of the fact that Mxy's demise in no way involved "kltpzyxm", which is CRIMINAL.

    Here's a suggestion. Why all this weird locust crap instead of just saying "kltpzyxm" makes him lose his powers? See, that might be true to the character.

    It is then revealed that Mxy is arrested. But then, in the next scene, somehow he's paying his debt to Luthor. Look, money can get you a lot of places, but it won't get you out of attempted murder, organized gambling, and destruction of property (for instance, a stealth jamming technology majiggy.).

    You can't buy your way out of jail, or Lionel would be free. It's one of the great parts of our increasingly rich controlled society, though money can get you most anything on an interpersonal level, it doesn't make you above prisons. Maybe the cynical would say it can get you control of the government (and lord knows, I'm not cynical, no), but you are still jailed if you do something and can't pay people who see things off.

    And Chloe is a notoriously good witness.

    I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! Mikhail offered Chloe money, so she dropped the charges! And she used it to pay off all those expensive cars she and her friends have!

    How could I not see that?

    So apparently the stealth thing took away Mxy's powers. Why? Who knows. I thought they were magically based, but whatever. I'm beyond caring by this point of the episode.

    And there is a flashing room that Mxy sees, going to work for Lex. Many speculations abound, but the rumor has it that it's Lex's disco room. Lex wants Mxy to bring back disco.

    Oooooh, that's evil.

    Or I was also thinking, he's got flashing lights, he's trying to make the epileptic geek seizure that fans like me are having at seeing Mxy so perverted more severe, so the relief is all the more better when Mxy fixes it, and further, he's brought Mxy to make it right again next episode by saying, "S AND M!"

    Which, of course, is what the preview reveals. More half naked bad girl action.

    Oh, I cannot wait to see how that affects the characters and the mythology.

    Some people write me and say they're leaving the show because it's started ploying for ratings with nudity and too many liberties with the mythos and guest stars and stunts, but I really don't see it. Can someone tell me where they're getting this?

    I mean, yeah, who WOULDN'T want to get held down by those three ladies half naked? Conceded. But then, like I've said, there are ways I can get media such as that. When I'm watching Smallville, I'm doing it to relive a modern myth, not to get my rocks off. There are tons of places that take far less time to get such exploitive media should one require it. I am disgusted that the Smallville staff aren't holding this once-epic show to higher standards.

    I'm all for smut, but in its proper place. Smallville is a teen show. It's like Sesame Street where Grover says #@$%^&* because ratings are dropping. Would it get people watching? *#$&% yes it would. But where does your integrity draw the line?

    (SPOILER ALERT, YEE HA)

    And with up-coming stories revealing the potentiality of Clark and Lana losing their virginity, whether in their own head or not, I have to wonder if this is the death knell for the show.

    I'm telling you now, if Clark loses his virginity on this show, it will jump the shark for me. Not because I am against virginity being lost before marriage (which I won't tell you either way unless you ask me privately), but because it's just not relevant to the myth, in fact, it's so irrelevant it would permanently derail the enjoyment I would have for the show, sinking so far into the sex sells category.

    That said, I will give it its fair shake, like Kara, like Perry, like other stunts, but unlike any other thing thus far, I am worried by this potentiality.

    (END SPOILERS, YEE HA)

    I did like one line toward the end. "Why did you bet against me?" (Mxy), "I didn't. I bet on Clark Kent."

    Good reiteration, and it would be excellent, had the first time with Chloe made plausible continuity sense, with her still being mad at Clark.

    And then we have the scene that is supposed to be fraught with tension and revelation but is not, because we saw it a mile away.

    Someone FINDS OUT about Lana and Jason, oooh, and Jason is fired.

    I seriously, dudes, seriously did not see that coming. I was like, totally surprised.

    So get this. LEX tells, but Lana gets mad at Clark. Because, see, Clark trusted his closest friend with a secret, and his friend betrayed him. So instead of getting mad at Lex, Lana blows up at Clark, of course, not considering if her relationship was appropriate, or even considering the fact that appropriate or not, Clark stood by it, but who can ask Lana to be rational or normal or logical, huh?

    So Clark goes to Lex, and Lex puts it plainly (paraphrasing), "You told me of an improper affair between a faculty member and a student, and I felt morally obligated to tell". With a touch of, "Go get 'er, Clark!"

    So while Lex is not wholly good in his intentions, he's right. It's inappropriate (I've said that from the start), and if my friend told me that he knew someone who was of college age on the faculty was dating someone who was still a student in the same school, I would do the same thing, whether it would benefit my friend or not. And I'm a nice guy, not Lex Luthor. It's the same thing you do if you see a parent beating a child severely. Even though it's not your family and not your place, you know that even if THEY don't know it's harmful to the kid, if the kid loves the parent enough to not care that he or she is getting the crud kicked out of them, you inform authorities, because you're obligated to.

    A person's business is their own business unless they don't know they're harming themselves, like an alcoholic. Then an intervention is required, and a 17-18 year old dating an immediate superior is unhealthy and needs to be stopped, fictional or real. It's bad enough they glorified it as "cool" and "sexy", if you will, for 7 episodes before it came into question.

    So Clark attacks Lex verbally, though Lex is right, and I come to affirm what letters are pointing out to me.

    Lana is almost always a passive aggressive and angry irrational tart with Clark, and in turn, Clark is almost always a passive aggressive and angry irrational tart with Lex. And Lex, Lex is just generally a nice, logical guy with his head on straight.

    And it says something when in a show the "good guys" are the illogical buffoons always making mistakes, and the "bad guy" is the one with the moral values, the good sense, and the proper actions.

    It makes me wonder how exactly they're going to turn this around and make Lex the bad guy and Clark the good guy, to say nothing of how Lana is going to remain a stand-by in Superman's life when she's so cruel and horrible to him right now.

    In other words, this show has deviated in many crucial character ways from the core of the Superman ethics and mythos, and if it doesn't start turning around soon, it will jump. By a sexual escapade, by stunt casting, by events, or just by the character core crumbling right from under them, episodes and plotlines like this make me pessimistic.

    And I believe I have shown fair and good reason.

    1 of 5.

    Clark keeps a secret, he's an a-hole to Lana. He tells a secret, he's an a-hole to Lana. There's something wrong with that on a very basic level, and it's hard to reconcile just by saying, "Hey, Lana's hot!"

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    A man calling himself Mxyzptlk, pronounced wrong, comes on the show, sexually harasses Chloe and attempts to kill her, and has his magical powers refuted with a technological leap of logic. Lana is found out (NO! I never thought it could happen!) and handles it in usual bichy fashion. Lex is a good guy, Clark is a bad guy, and the loner who I identified with is now a popular football player to the tune of a song geared to loners I identify with. To put it mildly, I am angered and confused. And not just by the subliminal devices by which we elect our proverbial Lanas. 1 of 5.

    CAPTION CONTEST:

    WOW! You guys keep amazing me...and you're even getting better about avoiding the naughty words (said in a Shiela Brovlofsky accent).

    But a word of note, sending ME captions doesn't count, because I want all to see them in the comments so they can tell me I'm full of beans if they don't like my pick. So don't send them to me...use the COMMENT function. It's not too hard to figure out. Heck, I did it, so it's impossible to screw up.

    Last week's contest.

    This week's contest.

    This week's winner:

    stevenproctor
    Pete: The first rule of Fight Club is - you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is - you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.

    Runner ups:

    neal bailey
    I said I'd have the car by tuesday, lady! Wait, what? Blood? Good god, I've been changing the transmission on a HUMAN BEING!!!!!

    (I decided I could nominate myself if I made myself laugh hard, and I still laugh at this one every time I see it.)

    Hatman
    "If you think I look bad, you should see the other girl. Guy. Other guy. I totally meant to say guy."

    stevenproctor
    Pete: Verry funny Clark. There is no "magic wind" that will carry me back up and inside window of the barn. Clark: You should have seen the guy at the Empire State building fall for that one...

    (PS, STEVEN, that's MY bar joke! Neal)

    Kwikdraw
    Okay, you figured it out... I killed Sue Dibny.

    Cubs
    "And to make a long story short, turns out she was a dude."

    stevenproctor
    Pete: I see how it is. You'll fly around the world, and reverse time to save Lois from an earthquake. But I, your best friend, gets beaten up by the Central City High School Chess team, suddenly the fabric of reality becomes precious.

    jackofnotrades
    Dude...freakin' Dilophosaurus! Out of nowhere! Last time I take Hammond up on his free weekend.

    (That one's so obscure, I have to give props just because I got it. Heh.)

    cyberv
    Pete: Owww... Remind me NEVER to get between Lana and a knife wielding Smallville reviewer again...

    (Think flattery will get you nowhere? THINK AGAIN!)

    cyberv
    Pete: I pretended to be Lana for one minute... And Bailey went psycho on me. Dude needs SERIOUS help. Clark: If you were pretending to be Lana, I'm not so sure Bailey's the one in the wrong.

    (Bailey will sort out who's right and wrong in the message board. It's not my fault Pete tried to kiss me. I had to hit him. What!!!??? I gave him THE LOOK!)

    cyberv
    Pete: Man, I don't know why I even TRY to win this contest. I mean, Bailey runs it, and if his OWN jokes can't even make runner up, what chance do I have? Clark: Shhh... You're over your one line a week allowance!

    (Bailey is now officially cyberv's sycophant (and speaking of himself in Dole third person). But hey, he's got a good idea there, about making my own jokes a runner up. Good thing I thought of it first...uh...yeah. And by the way, you can win a hundred times, as far as I'm concerned. If you give me a good belly laugh, you're a runner up. Period.)

    RedSuperman
    Pete: Man its all good, i get to be a jedi ghost in season 4! Clark: Not if the WB casts someone else for your role...

    SupermanFan13
    Pete: You know that saying.. when your driving in a chevy, and you feel something heavy?

    SupermanFan13
    Pete: Ok. It took a while, but Lana's in the trunk. That will be $180.00

    E L
    I can tell you one thing, Clark. Lana won't be giving you that "Can you at least keep this a secret? It seems to be the one thing you were good at" BS anymore.

    Gislef
    And then John Travolta dropped pig blood on me, and the lights exploded, and the wires fell, and it was horrible!

    (King jokes always work with me. Course, that is, unless your entry for this week is: "Plug it up! Plug it up!", because that's pushing it.)

    Gislef
    Come see the violence inherent in the series. Help, help, I'm being repressed.!

    Gislef
    You know what they say about Batman? They say he can't be killed. They say he drinks blood...

    cyberv
    Pete: Clark? Next time you want me to babysit Streaky for you, you'd better darn well give me a meteor rock and some catnip first!

    Skylark80
    Tom: The easter bunny did this? Pete: All I said was the easter bunny at the menlo park mall was more convincing, and he just jumped the railing and knocked me down.

    (SO close to a tie for winner, this entry. But alas, just a BIT obscure. Still, hilarious.)

    Stizzy
    I've killed a lot of people to get to this point...and there's only one left...the one I'm gonna drive to right now...and when I get there...I'm gonna kill Bill.

    Hatman
    "Clark, the next time somebody asks you if you're a god, you say YES!!"

    Hatman
    (Clark): "Geez, Pete, not again! Man, does Smallville Medical Center give away Air Miles, or what?" (Pete): "One more stamp on my card, and I get a free colostomy bag!"

    (An important note to you all, with regards to naughty language. S*%t is naughty. Colostomy, funny! Get it! Excreting yourself, hilarious. S^$*^ing in a hat, not so much...at least to mothers who want me dead. You're starting to get it!)

    And that's it! GREAT week! Check out this week's new caption contest, and come back next week for some more!

    LETTER OF THE WEEK:

    Believe it or not (and likely not, knowing how hard it would be to believe), I am citing this as the letter of the week because of all the letters I got this last week, this one made me laugh, made me cry, it's just manic hilarious, and well written, although slightly, well, frighteningly homicidal in its anger. I can relate.

    I had to censor it a little bit, but still, here we go:

    Cat wrote:

      I just wanted to let you know that you rule. I wanted to let you know that for a long time but was just too lazy to press that feedback button. But reading this review, especially considering I wanted to put my fist thru the screen at about the same moments you did, made me actually do it.

      Now here's the shocker: I was once a huge Lana fan.

      "Was" being the operant word here. I admit that being a blonde pink-loving Cosmo-subscribing fashion student/resident of the San Fernando Valley makes me the ideal candidate for the average Lana fan (the other being boys who want to hump KK or mindless teenybopper girls who have probably never been on a date in their life; trust me, in my experience on Clana shipper boards, I've seen it all). But this character has been mauled, belittled, fetishized, and just plain destroyed to the point where even I cannot defend her anymore, and I actually had to quit a certain Clana-shipper board b/c idiotic Lana groupies make me want to die. Lana is by far the worst female character ever to defile my TV screen. Don't get me wrong, I hate Chloe, too... but the difference between Chloe and Lana is that Chloe can a selfish backstabbing bich (Neal's note, MY edit. ), but at least the narrative is blunt about it. The fact that Lana can supposedly do no wrong, and despite all her self-righteous, self-important, ungrounded crap she is still put up on this pedestal and sold to us as the perfect fairy princess makes me want to dry heave repeatedly. I probably have lost seven pounds from this alone since the start of S4.

      Why did I like the Lana of the past? Despite the fact that the continuous fetishization of her made me ill at many points, I saw qualities in the character that were redeeming. She was sweet, loyal, compassionate, brave, and smart, and had really good fashion sense (shut up; so I wear a lot of pink sweaters and tight jeans. So sue me.) Did I idealize? Probably. Blame it on the fantastic casting job of TW and KK, who just light up the screen simply by looking at each other (which would also explain why I despise Chlark with the fire of 1000 red suns, the fact that they have all the heat of an electric toothbrush aside). And I loved and adored Clana; still do, but only the Clana of the past. It was cute, it was sweet, and it appealed to the Buffy/Angel-worshipping romantic in me. Let me explain when that started to change.

      In S3, Lana was systematically destroyed bit by bit all for the sake of those fabulous love triangles we love so much. Remember Whitney? Ahh, we just couldn't get enough of ol' Whitney. But alas, Whitless kicked the bucket a year ago, so enter Adam, who I will refer to simply as That Waste of the Magically Delicious Ian Somerhalder Who Was Only There to Give Lana Something to do So We Can Pretend She Is Not an Utter Waste of Sceentime. Somewhere between "Slumber" and umm... the episode after "Slumber" Lana became reduced to MJ of Spider-man 2--wimpy, whiney, male-dependent, and utterly useless, and makes you wonder why the hero would want her other than she's preetttyyyy. I got so sick of her self-righteous crap I just wanted to slap the MONKEYS (Neal edit again, but quite a good use of an anagram of "hits" here) out of her in every one of her scenes. I still believed that the old Lana was hiding under there somewhere, so I doggedly defended her to a-holes like you (no offense) insisting that the payoff for 3 years of this crap was coming.

    (Neal note: No offense taken. I am, in fact, generally an a-hole. At least, in my writing. In real life, I'm a pushover who can't spank the cat when it pees on the couch in front of me.)

      What a joke.

      When the season 4 spoilers began leaking put and the Clana board I used to post at went ape-(anagram of "hits" again, Neal), after railing and ranting for a while I gradually began to get numb to it, and slowly started to realize what I suppose I'd always known but did not want to admit. Lana is not a character. She is a prop. She is, as Al (I think it was Al; it might've been Mussolini 'cause I mix them up sometimes) put it, "an object of desire." She and MJ (who, shocker, was destroyed by AlMiles' utter lack of creativity and vision as well) are only there to be pretty wall dressing for the hero and male fans to lust after and to make smart female fans want to tear their hair out and then watch "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" for comfort. I realized that S3 Lana had become an insufferable waste but I guess the stubborn Lana fan in me was waiting for something good to happen, something to redeem the character that I realized I only loved for the potential, not for what she was. That I loved in spite of what she was, really. But the addition of Jason "I need a shlong desperately" Teague killed that faster than one of Pete's lines on the show. Suffice to say I was so disgusted I swore I would no longer watch.

      But I did. I watched Lana destroyed before my eyes, railed and ranted, biched (my edit, Neal) and moaned, until I realized the truth. You were all right. Pat yourselves on the back. As I said on said Clana board before getting a barrage of replies along the lines of "U SUCK F U LANA HATERZ" (by F U, she means "find the ubiquitous elsewhere", where the "t" and "e" are implied....Neal) Lana's become nothing more than a guest star in a leading role, and the addition of Lois Lane (I could rail about how much I loathe that, too, despite the fact that I actually enjoy the character of Lois as Erica portrays her) has made her even more pointless. With every one of her scenes, I ask myself, "why is she here again?" I call her the Episode Destroyer now. Because I loved Transference, with the exception of every Lana scene. So have the half-dozen or so intelligent former Lana fans, who, like me, have flown the coop. And I agree 200% with everything that you said in your review, not just about Lana but about the whole episode. The Jason/Lana relationship, and the fact that AlMiles actually seem to romanticize and encourage it, disturbs me for all the reasons you mentioned, particularly in light of the Clionel/Chloe and Clionel/Martha scenes. Besides the fact that watching Jason utter cheesy ass lines and proceed to suck Lana's face off moves the plot and contributes to Clark's story how? Tell me again; I seem to have missed that part.

      And for God's sake could they at LEAST choose an actor who doesn't make me want to either laugh or vomit every time his wooden acting defiles my TV screen? Despite the fact that Jensen Ackles is about as believable opposite Tom as, well... Superman up against Ace of the Ambiguously Gay Duo, that he and Kristin have all the chemistry of a biohazard bag of used syringes doesn't help any.

      Ok well, I am done now, promise. Sorry, I tend to rant, and I had no intention of writing this Manifesto of a Disillusioned Former Lana Fan. But I wanted you to know that I love your reviews, and they are so dead-on about everything, and reading your "Transference" review helped to crystallize these thoughts that were building in me for a long time. The fact that a former huge Lana fan and Clana shipper who has a hard time letting go agrees with you, I think, should say a lot.

      And I shall cap that with "F U LANA GROUPIEZ, U SUCK!!!!"

      Cat

    Which, I must assume, only means "Fecal Unit", for some unexplainable reason. It's the only possible other explanation for that acronym.

    Cat, cat, cat, remind me NEVER to get on your bad side. Never have I been outranted in my own review, at least, before today, and while Cat and I disagree on some things (few), I have to say, compelling letter at very least.

    Now, you want to go our for a drink, Cat?

    (If I'm an a-hole, might as well play it up, huh? MWU ha ha.)

    PS: I play football, and I think I could take Lana in a fair fight. I know the five point exploding plot technique, which beats her mall weasel bich style kung fu. We could take her out together over some nice Schlitz and a monkey sunrise.

    Ah, who am I kidding. I'm no drinker. But I do know the exploding plot technique. Serious. Here's an example: Clark walks into a bar. In walks Johnny Walker, who starts hitting Clark with a golf club. BAM! Instant tension!

    BUSINESS:

    There's much less of a business this week because, being a civic minded individual, I spent most of what is usually my letter day, Tuesday, sitting in front of the television pulling my hair out, until about five in the morning. Then, hours later, it finished. Isn't life like that?

    I was, of course, pulling out my hair for Nader, who I was SURE was going to win this time... kidding. I won't tell you who I voted for, but it WASN'T Nader and it wasn't Lana. Guess.

    EL writes in this week asking if Abby, the girl from the Kryp/Tuck (shudder) episode should be an MIA, because technically, she's still attending the school and would likely interact regularly. That was a toughie for me, and a judgment call. Why don't you all write in and let me know what you think, and I'll let you know next week?

    No absentees.

    Graywolf has two new KO Count additions:

    Times Clark should have been killed by Kryptonite but wasn't, and People Clark meets later in the comics continuity that he's already met. Check out the KO Count for the lists!

    Bruce Kanin was curious why Lionel would even hang out at the Kent farm for a single minute after learning what he could do? Why not go nutty trying to take over the world or at very least rob some banks?

    Will SABEL Courtney was incorrectly listed as a Sable last week, my typo. I apologize. I know how annoying it is to be Neil instead of Neal. One has a root meaning great physical champion, one means book learned scholar, and though I am not a great physical champion, that was the name I was given by a dad who probably wanted a football player instead of an author. AND SO I WRITE! BWU HA! Anyway, he's the guy who came up with the Lana face miracle, where her face was cut one week then fine the next. Sorry about that. I regret all errors that reflect poorly on me.

    Tim had an addition to the Greek myths I missed. Lex talks to Lionel about Alexander the Great in the last episode of the first season... good catch.

    And alas, the MaNu mentioned last business was not a gal, but a guy. All of the French people I've known have been female with the exception of my teacher in high school, so I made a tragic mistake. This is no reflection on MaNu's masculinity, and quite possibly a great reflection on post-modern post-feminist anachronistic thought. Or a typo. You decide...

    Scott Masters notes that lifting a tractor by its bumper like Lionel did would probably cause a lot of problems, like it collapsing on Pa Kent. But hey, it looked cool!

    Andrew McBride finds that Lex Luthor, when he's talking to people, turns his back to them a lot in their blocking. If you're looking for it, you see it. Like today, with Mikhail. Keep watching for it, I'll find it, and call it "The McBride"!

    "A SV fan" writes in pointing out that technically Lana and Jason are not statutory, and that relationships like theirs happen all the time.

    I agree. I've never disputed that. I reiterate that I am not mad that they're breaking the law or that it's pedophilia (I said that in jest, but apparently, people took it seriously). Or Ephedophilia, or Lanaphilia, or whatever. Point is, I object on a level that though it does happen, I don't think it should be glorified on TV. For instance, 13 year olds get pregnant all the time. Does that mean we should make a 13 year old pregnant and shouting, "I'm an adult! I'm not hurting anyone!" on TV? Granted, that's more extreme than what's happening with Lana, but it's still an inappropriate relationship. Faculty student liason is forbidden for many good reasons. If Jason quit and then dated Lana, I would be much less angry. As it is, he's already a bad guy by me now for his conduct thusfar, and can't really redeem himself, so if Lana starts dating another 22 year old (entirely a possibility given that she goes through more boys than, well, a fetishized woman), I'll look at it then, but Jason, a grown man, should know better, even if Lana does not. So I condemn their relationship even though ones like it happen all the time, and I don't think it should be shown on TV as cool. But it's not pedophilia, and technically the relationship is legal (though keeping it secret from his employer is grounds for a pretty significant suit, from Lana to the school and the school to Jason, concurrently).

    James Pemberton writes in with some theories about the "body switch" artifact:

      I was reading your review of "Transference". One thing struck me as I was reading it. Dr. Swann now has the artifact that enables people to switch bodies. Now we don't know if the process worked on humans only because we never saw it in the show but we can be led to believe it. Lionel was in fact trying to use the device on Lex. I could see this sub-plot going one of several different ways in the future.

      1. Dr. Swann uses the device to switch bodies with a more able bodied person. With the tragic death of Christopher Reeve this would enable the character of Dr. Swann to continue on. To continue on with the Team they could use Dean Cain as a Dr. Swann replacement.

      2. Dr. Swann uses the device to switch bodies with Clark. Now this is a less likely turn of events because they wouldn't use the same exact plot twice in the same season. Yet, it would be kind of cool as a show premise to know the mind of Christopher Reeve was inhabiting the body of the current Clark Kent.

      3. As you stated, Dr. Swann could use it as a bargaining chip against Clark for some as yet unknown reason.

    Perhaps unlikely, but nonetheless interesting theory...

    AND I'm spent!

    Next week I don't forsee any let-up in the suck, I could be wrong, but I can't imagine, with that preview, anything good coming of it. But then, Kryp/Tuck wasn't nearly so bad as the preview, but I'm getting a total "Girl Power for the sake of Girl Power" episode coming on. We'll see.

    Don't forget the Smallville chat hour at 9pm Pacific Wednesdays, and feel free to private message me if you want a quicker response. I'm still a little behind in email, but I'm working on it. New novel in the works, so we'll see how that goes!

    And don't forget the KO Count, for sure!



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