Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 4 - Episode 16: "Lucy"

Reviews:

Lucy

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Main Points:

  • Lucy Lane is another straight A kid to turn to crime.
  • German loan sharks are not to be trifled with. Nein!
  • Lana hides the stone, and finds out Jason is obsessed with finding it.
  • Lucy escapes in the end, stealing one of Lexs cars.

    REVIEW:

    My usual process is to sit right down after the show and write these reviews. I do it with a vigor, it's one of my favorite things. There's something to sitting down for about 6 hours and pounding and pounding and just screaming at the screen to obey. It's my only passion in life next to monkey jokes, Star Wars, and reading.

    I sat down to write this, my three hundredth article for the Superman Homepage, my eighty-second Smallville review, and it took forever. This week's Smallville made it hard. I tried to sit down three or four times, and I just couldn't. I got phone calls, I got called away a few times, but the real reason it's now one in the morning instead of ten at night just after the chat is a general apathy, a lack of care.

    Many of the emails that I receive reflect this as well. Long-term fans, people that two years ago would have told you that they were a Smallville fan for life, people who have been with me in this whole escapade, are dropping like flies. It's like sitting alone in a room where everyone is walking out, knowing that you have to stay, knowing you have to paint something beautiful, even if in the end only one person will see that.

    It's something like melancholy for hope.

    This show has run the butcher knife through a number of concepts that I hold dear, turning Jor-El into a man who will co-opt his son's life, nearly killing Jonathan. The "Smallville twist" is something that often works well. Perry worked, even as a boozehound, and the Flash was believable to me as a thief, even though a number of people disagree with me on that.

    But there's also the downside, and when the knife runs in the wrong direction, it cuts poorly. Mxyzptlk, for example, becoming a pseudo-rapist attempted murderer, and now Lucy Lane becoming a con artist James Bond style villain.

    I watched with my buddy Brock this week, and he hadn't seen an episode this season. He's fairly up on the Superman mythos, but he's not up on Smallville. He's one of those fans that, because of the deviations, dropped the show.

    I explained to him that Lois is now living at the Kent barn. He asked why. I told him that it seemed even the writers have no clue. He asked about Chloe, why she wasn't around. I explained that Lois has taken her place. He asked what the stones were all about, and who this whiney pretty boy was. I explained about Jor-El planting stones around, and how Lana became a witch every time she went near the stones, and that she's trying to get the stones.

    His reaction, I quote, "That's retarded."

    And it is. It really is. This season has taken a nose-dive for quality. This episode is an example of why.

    He's a big Trekkie. We mused at the irony of the fact that the first two years of Enterprise blew the big one, and now, they've started paying attention to the mythos, looked into what the viewers really want, and the show is entering its finest period. Season three? Eh. Season four... it's really getting better.

    We've been watching Smallville and Enterprise concurrently since both began, they're the only dramas I watch, and they are cyclical and opposites in quality.

    Enterprise just got cancelled. Smallville is chugging along, losing viewers. Strange, how people will flock to the show that is sinking and abandon others just as they get good.

    I hope that Smallville can turn around, just as I hope that Enterprise can raise enough funds to go on the air elsewhere. I don't want either to fail.

    But I can say with the words of a man who has his hand on the pulse of the people who know and love this show, though the numbers sink slowly (brand loyalty is hard to kill) if this show doesn't get in gear soon, it will suffer the Enterprise fate. Fool me once with a bad season, fine. The next season, they will switch to Lost. They are already.

    This episode in total is just insanely inconsistent, there are no great moments of character, and I get the feeling that everyone involved is just going through the motions. There's no passion, and they're not really trying any more. It makes me feel like doing the same thing, but I'll do my best to give this show fair shakes.

    We start out with a James Bond ski scene. It looked cool, but like an Azzarello comic, you realize quickly that looks aren't everything.

    There's a loan shark chasing her (we later learn), and he comes up behind her, she punches him, and skis away. He ends up crashing, doing the "Oh, DRAT!" fist pound, and you wonder if something can get more cliche.

    I don't know what metal stairs can do to skis, but I can't imagine it's good, and the stunt seemed thrown in, unnecessary. Why would she do that? Coherent framework, that's what these writers need to fix. I keep saying it, but they can't hear it, I guess.

    If you want a man to jump from one skyscraper to the next, there is a GREAT reason if the building is cordoned off. There is NOT a good reason to jump from an overpass to a truck if you can run at super-speed, catch up to the truck, and grab on.

    Suspension of disbelief, as I have mentioned, is predicated by a series of actions that make coherent sense.

    Like, for instance, you're a loan shark? Do you chase a person you want to collect money from down a mountain, or do you shoot her or extort her?

    And further, if you watch the rest of the show (I did), and you're actually in collusion with the girl in question in order to make money off Luthor, then why do you chase her, trying to beat her up? Doesn't make much sense, now, does it? They assume that because you are in the moment, you will forget what has come before, and I'll bet that many did. But anyone with half an eye on attention to detail would not have missed that whole scene at the beginning, especially given that it stuck out like a sore thumb.

    Lois' ring tone was apt. It made me laugh.

    Lois sits up when her sister calls, looks at her phone, and groans. She wonders aloud why someone would call her at three in the morning.

    I then wonder (given my albeit limited knowledge of cell phones) why she has her cell phone unplugged from the charger and the ringer on instead of the vibrator, at three in the morning. I think my question has a little more perplexing of an answer.

    SHELBY! We see the dog! Holy crumb! Shelby exists! She is given one light pan, but that counts! She's off the MIA until next week. Though I wish Clark would play with the dog instead of hanging around with Lois so much. Dogs are at least logical.

    But then, when it comes down to it, after the beginning portion of this show, I'm beginning to wonder if I should root for Clark any more. I know I've gotten about 25 emails (no kidding) showing me the Superman is a @$#% website, and I didn't know Smallville was going to take it literally.

    First, Lois tries to make the Kents breakfast, and instead of thanking her for being nice, Clark is immediately suspect, and he slams on her food! I mean, I understand expecting that Lois would be nice only so that she could get something, but it was still a nice gesture, one that CLARK KENT would probably be duped by, and even if he wasn't, he wouldn't just say, "Crummy food, lady", even if Lois had been cruel to him all week. He's the patsy nice guy, remember?

    Then Lucy arrives, and Clark suggests that Lois has to sleep in the barn.

    Then Lois rattles off Lucy's achievements, and Clark spouts, "What happened to Lois?" pointing out in a very cruel way that Lois has flunked out and made a general fool of herself.

    The point of this is not that it isn't true... it is. It's more, "Would Clark do something like that?" No. Clark is NICE. Friendly. He believes in redemption to the point of being foolish. He's that guy in Spaceballs who, when Dark Helmet offers the hand, he'll offer it, and then Dark Helmet gets the Schwarz. He doesn't slam on people.

    Then he asks Lucy to tell him all of her horrible stories about Lois.

    Later on, when Lois is forced into work because of her poverty (something that Clark should at very least relate to), he pokes fun at her and says, looking at her, "It's kind of like a free floor show, isn't it?"

    WHAT?

    WHAAAAAAT?

    Have the writers lost their minds?

    But oh, it gets better. It gets so much better.

    Because not only do they manage to make CLARK, the heart of the show, contemptible, they manage to AGAIN show that physical violence from women is a great way to deal with a guy doing something you don't like.

    Clark is slamming on Lois, which is rude, and she returns the favor by punching him in the chest, hard.

    Again I refer to the kindergarten teacher rule. We don't hit, and we set an example as adults by not hitting in front of children. Stupid? No. Because I've been hit for saying something people don't like. It's not fun. It's not right.

    And it's okay when a girl does it, but it's not okay when a guy does. So not only is it not right, it's sexist.

    Imagine the scene reversed. Lois is her usual self, slamming on Clark. Better yet... imagine how that scene would have gone if, after Lois insults his fashion sense, he rears back and punches her in the shoulder, hard. Not Superman hard, but as hard as she hit him.

    I know some calloused guys who would say, "Good." But my stance is that hitting in response to disagreement is wrong. I take it very seriously. Like guns. I'm a gun enthusiast, but when I have a weapon in my hand, even if the barrel is empty, the carriage is disassembled, heck, if the trigger is removed, I don't believe it appropriate to point a gun at another in jest. There are reasons we don't, because it leads to larger ramifications. You point a real, loaded gun at someone in jest, and you beat someone to a pulp because they disagree with your political viewpoint.

    I may be over sensitive, having gone to a public school where the appropriate response to a perceived insult was a beating, but I think there are better ways to show her anger. Especially given the disturbing trend this season (three times now) of women hitting a man for doing something they didn't like.

    To say nothing of the fact that such a punch into Clark would hurt or break Lois' fist, both times she does it, at the beginning of the show, and at the end, to bookend. I think the one at the end was okay (though I discourage it), because it was a friendly, pal one, not a "You just said this and I don't like it so I'm going to hit you" punch.

    Then, we have Jason and Lana.

    Stop moaning... I know.

    If you can stop gagging at the fact that despite all that happened last week, they're laughing and joking at each other going up the stairs, you then have to confront the next nagging horror they present to this show: their own logical inadequacy.

    Logical framework really comes into play with this portion of the story. They come to Lana's apartment, and it's ransacked. They look around for the stone, and it's missing. Gone. Caput.

    Naturally, they assume, it must be Lex or Lionel!

    Lana: "Maybe Lex or Lionel figured it out!"

    How? Telepathy? Even a man as dumb as Jason seems wouldn't be THAT stupid.

    And why? Well, they really have no reason. Lex doesn't know that the stone was even found, much less anything that happened regarding it, and neither does Lionel. The only people who knew were Clark, Jason, and Lana. Ergo the only suspects can be Clark, Jason, and Lana. They trust each other, and they don't even mention Clark.

    The whole scene, the whole badly executed subplot was a way to show Lana's little way of figuring out who to trust.

    The thing is, even if you forgive all the nonsense it takes to get there, you suddenly say to yourself, "Hey, didn't the girl who is constantly b@$%hing about trust and lies and secrets just perpetuate a fraud with the man she berates for not being trustworthy?"

    And you realize, yes, yes she has.

    And as Stephen G points out, read this:

    She even made a report to the authorities about a crime that didn't happen. She committed a CRIMINAL act of secrecy.

    Lana's dialogue after the robbery gets crazier. "I don't care who did this! I don't care who took the stones! I just wish they never existed!"

    Actual dialogue. Actual dialogue the week after the reason she took Jason back was because he helped her find the stones she was so desperate to get to, to find out who took the other ones. The week after she believed the stones were the keys to figuring out (ugh) her magical tattoo and why she turns into a Latin speaking French English speaking Kryptonian utilizing kung fu witch.

    Read that. Read that, and ask yourself why anyone would watch that with enjoyment. The writers HAVE to know how stupid it sounds. I don't believe they can't.

    Lana: "Our relationship has become more about chasing artifacts than it is about you and me! That isn't a relationship!"

    Who turned into a witch? Who is destined to kill Jason's line? Who got the tattoo?

    And for that matter, WHAT relationship? They have simply been together since the start of the show, and there is no real reason they should like each other or that they work together other than "Jason's cute" and "Lana's hot".

    The things they do to keep this show Lana focal make me SICK. SICK.

    And if you want to get technical, it is a relationship, Lana. Just a bad, cliche one. But to have you say what you mean instead of where we want reader attention focused would be a miracle on a par with a Latin speaking French English speaking Kryptonian utilizing kung fu witch.

    Cela est impossible!

    You tell em, Monkeybella. I'd make her tell you in Kryptonian, too, but I won't fall victim to the same writing disease.

    Lex Luthor just suddenly knows Lois and Lucy. Strange. I know he's talked to Sam Lane, but why would he have known Lois and Lucy?

    The loan shark enters the Talon, and the serious music lets you know he MEANS BUSINESS. (The score has gotten VERY obvious, too. I don't note that as much, but it is.). Lucy stares, and we have that moment where just in case you don't realize it from the way he chased her down a hill and tried to bash her brains in, THIS is the villain. Why he doesn't just walk over and bash her brains in when he went through all the trouble getting the skis to chase after her earlier... I don't know. Could be the invisible plot shield she's wearing. Yeah. Must be.

    We cut to Lionel with a monocle. It's a jewel viewer, I know, but it looks like a monocle. Made me laugh.

    Jason, the passive, very weak man (generally as he is characterized) is suddenly BEATING on Lionel for taking the stone when there's no reason to believe he has it. He turns violent on a dime. How? We don't know. He just does. Maybe because anyone would be violent for a stone Lana no longer cares about, right? Riiiiight.

    Lana catches him beating on Lionel, and it's supposed to be an OOOOH moment. Oooh! She's onto his LIES!

    But then, she's going to see Lionel without telling Jason, isn't she? And what could it possibly be about? Monocle fashion? Nah. Likely the stones. That makes her a liar and a secret keeper, doesn't it? So if she's mad at Jason for doing something to try and please her, you think he'll throw it back in her face that her actions are pure deception? Nah!

    They'll be holding hands and running together next episode, because this is the land of la la make believe where you don't need coherence!

    Lionel doesn't call the police for the assault. Why would he, I mean, Jason stormed into his house and assaulted him! That's forgivable!

    Then Lucy breaks into the Talon in about three seconds. I want to learn how to pick a lock from her, because I read that even professionals need ten to fifteen seconds.

    She then goes to the register and does the same thing with the key. She starts pulling out money.

    Stop here, and think for a minute.

    Any of you out there ever worked in a restaurant, or any kind of business? What do they do with all of the money after they close? They put it in a bag, and the bag goes into the safe. Or they take it off the premises. Why? Because leaving money lying around in a quiet store leads to robbery.

    Think a little farther. Think about being fifty thousand dollars in debt. What do you do to get money as fast as you can? That's right! Rob a coffee house, a coffee house that makes, MAYBE, a thousand dollars a day. When there's a bank right down the street. And when you can open a lock in three seconds.

    Think a little farther still. Clark catches Lucy, and they have a conversation, a loud conversation, while Lana is sleeping, what, twenty feet away?

    Think even farther than farther. A business as hopping as the Talon has NO ALARM at all?

    Clark's response made me laugh out loud. "I knew you had talents, but I never thought burglary was one of them!"

    This from the man who breaks into some place almost every episode, and even DOES LATER IN THE EPISODE IN QUESTION!

    How would the loan shark know Lucy was in Smallville? Well, you can say, they're in it together. We know that now, because the story is over. But why wouldn't the people around Lucy ask how the loan shark knew where she was? She didn't leave a forwarding address, did she? Most don't on the run; especially people smart enough to be highly in demand at Ivy League schools.

    My next note is very prophetic, prognostication at its best: "Do you think the loan shark, despite being German, will speak perfect English?"

    Ja. Ja, I think he will.

    This is the point at which I realize the critical flaw in Lucy's character and this episode. We are supposed to sympathize and identify with Lucy Lane because she tried to fit in, couldn't, and resorted to credit card debt and robbery in order to fit in.

    Aw, cry me a river.

    So I'm supposed to say, "Gee, I'm sorry you're so vapid and conformist. I know you're a good person at heart despite seeming like someone I'd like to disappear off the face of the Earth. Let's root for your safety for the rest of the show!"

    Yeah. Right.

    I cannot identify with a spoiled brat rich General's daughter who has a free ride in Ivy League schools and blows it because she's so incredibly vapid that she can figure out advanced mathematics and get good grades and yet does not posses enough knowledge to realize that your intrinsic value is not based in how you look but how you live.

    That, and it's just a plain silly premise. Lucy is Lois' kid sister. She's not this complex. Keep it simple, stupid.

    Lex Luthor and Lucy Lane then play a duet together. This despite the fact that, as I have mentioned in business previous, Lex Luthor had no formal training in the piano and then could magically play this season.

    Lucy reveals that the loan shark, Becker, has contacted her and he wants a meeting in an abandoned warehouse, of course. Where do all of these bad guys GET so many abandoned warehouses? I mean, I KNOW the real estate market, and if you have a warehouse, right now you're selling it or someone's in it.

    So though we know WHY Lucy sets up such a meeting to dupe Lex, what we don't understand, like the loan shark knowing what town she's in, is why Lex, Clark, and Lois would just be okay with her meeting the guy in an abandoned warehouse. And they're SO okay with it that despite the prohibition that she be alone, both Lois and Lex tag along, without any protection or weaponry, and just assume everything will be okay.

    Say you buy that. Okay. Then things get really interesting.

    Despite the fact that Lucy doesn't tell Becker that she's bringing along Lois and Lex, and despite the fact that Becker has no real way of knowing what car they're taking, what route, or whatever (assuming that Lucy doesn't slip off to call him and fill him in, which I AM assuming, because why would they let that happen?), there is no way at all that he could find and stop the Lexmobile and take them both hostage.

    To say nothing of how a low-grade loan shark could get a police car in the middle of a foreign country. Or the uniform. Or the gun, for that matter.

    And hey! He speaks English!

    Boffo!

    But it's okay, because it's with a bad accent. Ja.

    He clips Lex to the head, and Lex goes out. That's right, Lex, you ASSERT your dominance in the KO Count!

    And Lois, though within chopping distance, doesn't use her mad kung fu skills to take the gun, this despite the fact that Lucy could raise one fist and stop the guy when they were skiing, if you could get past the fact that they shouldn't be fighting in the first place, working together.

    Clark super-speeds to the warehouse, breaks and enters, only to find a flower shop. After he breaks in and a good twenty people see him despite knowing likely that the door was locked with a deadbolt, they don't call the police, they don't panic, they just stare.

    I'm also amazed that a town as small as Smallville can support a flower warehouse. Must be all the dead people.

    There's also the fact that the super-speed's effect quality is diminished. Both times Clark used it, it's less distinct, less well-done, more simply blurred. Has the budget diminished? Why are the effects going down the tubes?

    Clark appears out of nowhere with no car as Lex wakes up, and Lex has no questions as to how or why he got there? And beyond that, how does Clark know where their car is? The loan shark couldn't have known, and Clark couldn't have known. PLOT HOLE. Horrible, gaping plot hole. This show was full of them. It was literally like the Tiny Toons movie, if you've ever seen it, where they just literally fall into a plot hole so that they can get from one part of the movie to the next. It felt like that.

    Pop quiz. You're a loan shark. You want to make money. Do you kidnap two girls who are the kids of a General, or Lex Luthor, who's worth a few billion?

    Take your time with that one.

    And don't give me this "It was Lucy's plan" schtick. Remember, the loan shark betrayed her, and if the loan shark knew he was going to betray her, why not kidnap Luthor?

    Pencils down. Time's up. Response?

    That's right. There is none.

    Lex gets a call, meet me behind the pipe with a million billion dollars or else I whack the girlies!

    No! Anything but that! I won't call the police, even though I know how this always ends up! Get the black SUVs and bring no weapons! To the interstate!

    Of course, while he agrees to do this, Clark super speeds right in front of him. You'd think with all the times this happened, Lex might notice, but nah.

    I almost didn't myself. I was marveling at how a blow strong enough to turn a man's head around and knock him out doesn't even require butterfly bandages, much less stitches.

    And then, shake your heads with me, this dude, this loan shark dude, he suddenly has a SEMI. He just gets a semi. And why? Well, because he doesn't want to drive the car in the back or something? Yeah, that's right. Not only does he have a semi, he has another car he could have used but chose not to.

    Cost of a semi versus fifty thousand dollars. You do the math.

    I found one used with six hundred and fifty thousand miles on it for twenty-seven thousand dollars. Five years old, of course, whereas the one in this show looked new.

    A thought then occurs to me. Why the heck is Lois even living with the Kents? Why can't she live with Sam Lane? Maybe this was covered, but that just occurred to me. Or for that matter, why couldn't she live with Lucy wherever she is?

    So Clark super-speeds with a dulled special effect onto an overpass, looking for the truck, presumably. Only when he stops, you can see an entire mountain range in the background, which really puts a damper on that whole KANSAS feel and pulls you out of the story completely.

    Then, for no real reason at all, he decides to leap onto the truck. And when he does, he does with the exact same facial expression he used leaping from the Planet building, inclining me to wonder if they just copped out on effects per the Terminator ending of Scare. What is up with the effects?

    It didn't look very realistic, either. I mean, I decried the effects when they were cool but used for no reason, but at very least they were cool looking before. This is badly done and extraneous.

    I expected an agent to drop down onto the top of the semi and start kicking Clark stupid. It didn't happen. Pity, that might have made the episode better.

    There was one shining moment, when Clark pulled the Indiana Jones, punching out the guy driving. Only he didn't go underneath the truck, which undermined an otherwise worthy homage. And they also didn't take into account how hard it is to drive a semi if you've never done it before.

    And I also liked the effect of Clark catching the bullets with his chest. I have to admit, that was well done, and pretty. One of the best parts of the dismal hole that this episode was.

    But then, he punched through glass to knock the guy out, when the guy was looking right at him. That means loan shark dude now knows Clark has some kind of power. Which is sloppy when you could just pull a Terminator, throw open the door, and force him out. Of course, that might hurt the guy, but we know Clark isn't afraid to throw people two stories, so why not?

    NOW Lex has the butterfly Band-Aids, and the wound is worse looking. I guess the continuity department took a powder.

    So Lucy Lane, one of the supporting cast of Superman, is now a fugitive running from the law on charges of extortion, kidnapping, and potentially hiring out for attempted murder, because the guy who hit Lex that hard could have killed him.

    Assuming she's caught tomorrow, she might be back in time for Kingdom Come.

    There's making the Flash a thief who gets redeemed, and there's turning Lucy Lane into a criminal. Which is okay? Pick one. I think you know which I'd go with.

    To add to my experience, when the 8:50 rolled around, some tech fell asleep at the wheel and my screen remained black for thirty seconds and cut back in the middle of Lex and Clark's conversation. And I just KNOW, I KNOW that in those thirty seconds, everything from the plot was explained to my satisfaction. Alas!

    Lex about Lucy and Lois: "Just because you have the same blood running through your veins doesn't make you family."

    Read that again.

    Now read it again.

    And then tell me why, if this is Lex's belief, he has the man who tried to kill him, the man who tried to take his body, the man who killed his grandparents and the man who has made his life a living hell for four years is living in the guest room, given that Lex can make this distinction.

    Clark, looking somber, says to Lex, "Do you ever miss not having a sibling?"

    Lex gives some cliche response about sometimes, and Clark being his brother now, but you know what? I couldn't get into it, because I was so pulled out of the story by the fact that LEX INDEED HAS A BROTHER THAT IS ALIVE.

    Remember Lucas? The Indiana Jones opening? The double cross with Lionel, where we find out he isn't blind? I have no memory at all, and I remember that.

    Argue all you want for the glory of that speech and how it makes Lex and Lionel buddy buddy despite Lex being "headed for the dark side". Make up your minds. He's either becoming evil, or Lex is where he was the first episode, which is where he is now.

    Then Lex finds Lionel on his computer digging around, and he STILL LETS THE MAN STAY IN HIS HOUSE AFTER MAKING A SPEECH ABOUT HOW JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE IS YOUR FAMILY YOU SHOULDN'T FEEL RESPONSIBLE FOR THEM.

    And then we cut to Lana, pulling the stone out of a pipe.

    Firstly, look at that pipe. Anyone who knows anything about plumbing can see a cleanout drain. You put that artifact in that pipe, clunk clunk clunk, it's at the bottom of that pipe. There's no way it could have stuck like it did.

    Secondly, what is this that Lana is doing? Keeping a SECRET?

    A SECRET?

    Did she LIE to Jason?

    Is she KEEPING THINGS FROM HIM and letting it DESTROY THEIR RELATIONSHIP?

    Someone get me a fan, because I'm just getting started. HOO WAH. And don't shrug, you imbecile, I'm blind.

    Lois dialogue: "As far as my family chain of command is concerned, I am the weakest link."

    You are the weakest link?

    GOODBYE.

    It's time for you to leave, Miss Lane, and leave room for Chloe. In fact, remove Lana, remove Lois, bring Chloe and the Kents to the fray, and make the show about Lionel and Clark sparring with Lex on the fence. We need no teenage villains. We need mythos. We need no stones, we need characters we can identify with and plausible situations.

    We need a lifeline from Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, not a cliched monologue from The Weakest Link.

    And this season has certainly given us the fifty fifty, no? Audience poll?

    And then, I swear I was hallucinating, but I could swear that Clark looked through a small telescope and saw Jupiter like you would through the Hubble, and two meteorites impacting together, and more colors than you even see on the Hubble telescope.

    And that's our leaving note for a month?

    Good GOD!

    That's it?

    That's what we get?

    I know why Bridgett Crosby is missing from this show. And it ain't a loan shark. It's a shark of another kind. I think I may have missed its tank performance ten episodes ago with Jinx.

    1 of 5.

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    Lies, lies, lies, cries Lana, while lying! Lucy Lane is no longer an airline stewardess, but rather a James Bond style criminal! If you're a German loan shark, you can get weapons, cars, guns, and no common sense in the United States. Skiing looks cool. So cool, you don't really care whether it makes sense. Welcome to the room of malaise. Hey. HEY! Where are you going! Get back in here! I won't go through this alone! 1 of 5.

    BUSINESS:

    Hey, all!

    It's been an anxious week. I can't give details yet, but I'll just say I hate to be leaving you all for a month on the cusp of what could be great things. It's not that book from last year (though I may hear about that within this month, likely), it has to do with a certain original comic I've written and the ten pages I've already had penciled by my friend Alessandro Gianna. More on this as it develops.

    There's also the ongoing Dark Idol contest, which I mention because it'll give you an idea of the things going through my head when I write this column (to bias) and also because I need to implore you all to head over to it and enjoy. I had a steady lead last week, but it's dwindled, and if you're so inclined, I would really appreciate it if you gave it a regard. The links are: Voting page, and Stories. You can vote once a day, and if you like my reviews and want to see a book of mine (and there are many rearing to go), now's the time to let your voice be heard. Or if you just want to be a pal.

    I plowed headlong into the mail this week, and got enough for a business. My problem is that I have to go through long emails to get to a lot of meat, and sometimes that takes a LONG time. All of the letters, I get them, enjoy them, and read them, but responding takes a ton of time, so I thank you all for your patience with my replies. This break will give me a good chance to catch up, but I'm still 130 behind.

    I cannot express in these words how much your letters mean to me, and I thank you for them all. I really guilt myself that it takes so long to respond. Please understand that I do my human best. That I am even read is a gift to me, that people care enough to respond still blows my mind.

    I have a very serious question for you all that I was hoping you would answer frankly. I realized, looking at the Caption Contest, and listening to emails, that there are people who really like this review, enough to remember stuff that I've even forgotten writing, which amazes me. It occurred to me that perhaps, as a way to help sustain myself as a writer (I don't work, I just write... following the dream, and it takes a bite) I might be able to take these reviews, bind them, edit them for dated content, and publish it in a book form through a vanity press. The retail would be about $15 (I have a few poetry books out in vanity press, and that's about typical) and it would include all of the reviews through the end of this season.

    The question I have is: Would any of you buy it? If yes, please email me and let me know... I'll take a consensus. There's also another option... yes, you would buy it, but only after the series ends and it is a complete work. Or no, you wouldn't buy it. But either way, I'm asking... can you all tell me? And please, be honest, you won't hurt my feelings. Steve asked a ton of people if they would buy shirts, and a lot of people with good intentions said yes when the answer was no, and he got shrifted. Thanks in advance!

    We lead off with an apology to Michael Cooke, my online buddy. He meant Psycho, not Vertigo in the camerawork in Scare, and I knew that, my brain just stalled. Sorry!

    Mr. Chow, who wrote in two weeks ago about the preview with great, accurate information, writes again to let me know that kung fu teachers are called sifu, whereas it is karate that has sensei. My mistake. Usually I don't accept corrections, just speculation, but that was neat, so I make exception.

    John Clifford, long time bud, writes in and points out that he saw a "Clark's too dumb to live" Saundra moment, when he super-speeds past the witch then stops to look at her and gawk, setting himself up for a sucker punch.

    He further contemplates (to me spilling my drink on my keyboard laughing, curse him!) that "I'd suggest that it was the monkeys who were writing this, but I would never offend a monkey. Particularly not the Masters of the Flung-Pu."

    Well put, John, as ever.

    Bibbo writes in with a great thought. Lex loses his hand from exposure to Kryptonite radiation for just a few years. Lana had Kryptonite around her neck for ten years. It's just a matter of time... patience... and time.

    Michael Herrick, of "I affirm you BUT..." notices a new trend in the lexicon of Smallville. "If there's one thing I've learned, it's... insert bromide here."

    His examples:

    Lex to pseudo-Mxy: If there's one thing I've learned, it's that if you've lost something, you can get it back. (I'm almost sure Lex has used the formula on at least two other occasions but I can't recall. Probably something about all the lessons he learned from having a psychopath for a father.)

    Lana: If there's one thing I learned from my relationship with Clark it's how to tell when someone isn't being honest with me.

    Lois: I've learned that if people keep secrets it's for a reason. (OK, slight variation there)

    Jason: I've seen what keeping secrets did to my parents (not the exact verbal formula, but you can still hear Yoda saying, "great wisdom with experience comes")

    And he also has another great one:

    Suspicious person: How do I know I can trust you?

    Lex: You don't.

    Which has happened twice now.

    Unusual Gent has provided me with a first. A TOTAL reversal of position. I said that Lana was right for being mad when Alicia walked in with Clark, because after all, Alicia tried to kill Lana. But as Gent points out, verbatim:

    First, Lana has no right to react to Clark the way she did. Did I hear her right? Did she actually say, "How dare he come in here with her!"? I was watching that scene, praying that Clark would just snap and say:

    "Yeah, she tried to kill Lana... but Lana, how bout when you robbed the Talon and stole Lex's car to run away with a FOTW? Oh and Chloe... how about when you got powers and tried to ruin everyone's life? Oh Jason... aka.. Lana's neutered man servant... Need I remind you that you beat the crap out of me, and through me off a loft? You tried to kill me! I didn't hold a grudge. This is Smallville, people go crazy one week, and are fine the next all the time! Hell I've even been a criminal mastermind a time or two. So back the heck up off my woman!"

    A fair point. I concede. And also, on the Chloe issue, he points out that while she knows he has powers, she has no idea he's an alien or behind the ships and the meteor freaks. Everyone has powers... so she has no idea the depths of the rabbit hole. Yet...

    Bruce Kanin writes a great review of the show which I love seeing in my inbox each week, and in Sacred, he points out that he's glad Clark was able to find a pair of cutting pliers lying around a Chinese torture cell, otherwise he might have to use his powers in front of Lex and Jason. It was just under the dress, right?

    Jehu Johnson points out that when Gertrude says that they are Gertrude's ancestors, that means they somehow went back in time before Gertrude existed and are her descendents. Either that, or the writers made a mistake. Which do you think it is?

    And finally, quite possibly the coolest piece of business I've ever had the pleasure of receiving. Jeff Schwarz wrote me, telling me he had created a table that shows, based on writer, my probable rating of the show. Here's his system, which I will leave you with before I cut to the letter of the week. He says he may be able to make a review rating generator for me, and if he can, I may be out of a job next week! But regardless, here it is! Bear in mind, because I am behind, he speculates on Sacred... but dig how accurately! And when you're done checking it out, be sure to review the KO Count, because it's hopping!

    Neal

    Smallville Episode Score Predictor This table presents the average scores for each writer of Smallville. In cases where two people habitually write together, such as Gough and Millar, I lump them together. In the case of one-off team-ups (like Loeb and DeKnight) I gave the same points to both. (In other words, if you add up all the numbers in the "number of episodes" column, you won't get the number of episode aired to date.)

    I did make a section for these one-off team-ups, just in case Loeb and DeKnight ever do another script together. If they do, I'll be ready for them.

    All the averages have been rounded to the nearest tenth. This table is current as of "Krypto."

    A note about confidence. It's important to note how many episodes a writer has written. It's tempting to conclude that Bennett & Gottesfeld's next episode (OK, they haven't written anything since "Jitters" in the first season, but they could write another one) will be a 5. Since they've only written one, you can make that prediction but it's a very tentative one.

    Conversely, you can predict Peterson & Souders more concretely, with their eleven scripts. For this reason, I predict that the next episode of Smallville, "Sacred," will be rated by Neal as a 3. Maybe a 2 of they do too much Lana-fetishizing, maybe a 4 if they include ferrets.

    Writers and Established Writing Teams
    Writer/Team Number of Episodes Total Points Average Score
    Bennett & Gottesfeld 1 5 5
    Biller 4 17.5 4.4
    Carpenter 1 5 5
    DeKnight 3 7 2.3
    Egan 2 8 4
    Friend 1 2 2
    Gough & Millar 12 56.5 4.7
    Green 6 22 3.7
    Greenberg 3 12 4
    Harold 4 12.5 3.1
    Horton 1 4 4
    Levens 8 29.5 3.7
    Litvack 1 2 2
    Loeb 4 15.5 3.9
    Okumura 1 2 2
    Peterson & Souders 11 33.5 3
    Schelhaas 3 7 2.3
    Schlattmann 1 3.5 3.5
    Slavkin & Swimmer 9 28.5 3.2
    Verheiden 10 39 3.9
    Walker 2 8 4
    Warshaw 1 1 1
     
    One-off Team-ups
    Team Number of Episodes Total Points Average Score
    DeKnight & Loeb 1 2 2
    Levens & Gough & Millar 1 4 4
    Levens & Green 1 2 2
    Loeb & Biller 1 5 5
    Verheiden & Green 1 4 4
    Verheiden & Greenberg 1 4.5 4.5
    Verheiden & Levens 1 3.5 3.5
    Verheiden & Walker & Green 1 4 4

    LETTER OF THE WEEK

    Andrew McBride writes in with truly sharp criticism, which I put before you now. Truth be told, this is from two letters, but it was so harsh and well put, I put it together:

      I've been trying to find medical documentation that would prove my point but haven't found too many articles on the topic. So the bad guy chloroforms Alicia and then hangs her up in her barn and she dies. What? This totally didn't sit right with me. Basically since Alicia could have simply teleported out of the noose if she was awake at all then she must have been completely passed out. I found that a small amount of Chloroform can kill you (50 mg) if ingested. But she inhales it, which can cause:

      -Sore throat, coughing.
      -Giddiness.
      -Nausea and vomiting. -Headache.
      -Unconsciousness.
      -Cardiac arrhythmias.
      -Diarrhea -Liver and kidney damage.

      Unconsciousness: Now to me that means that she passed out but if (for instance) she was suddenly lifted 4 ft off the ground and had air withheld from her, I think that she would wake up. Maybe there's a doctor that reads your reviews that can comment. It would take time for him to first: decide what to do; second: find a rope to hang her; set it up; lift her off the ground; then wait while she chokes to death. During all this time she didn't wake up from her exposure to chloroform? I don't see it. You know that she chokes to death, because most victims of hanging actually die due to having their neck broken when they fall off of the scaffold. That doesn't happen here because he must have lifted her into the noose if she wasn't moving (Making him exceptionally stronger then dust powers would give you - When did it get so any powers includes strength?). Basically I just don't buy that she could have been killed. - Brings up a point from Unsafe too, if she was smart why didn't she just teleport Clark out of the way instead of letting the bullet hit her? She definitely had time, and it would have kept his secret too.

      This is in response to your "Sacred" review. That's just so you can keep a timeline because I totally understand how you can be bogged down with an email backlog. Got your response from one of my emails a few weeks ago and saw the nod in Business. Thanks. Anyway this episode was a milestone for me personally. It was the first episode that I wanted to change the channel and stop watching. Upsetting, I know, but too many things just took me out. I stuck with it mainly because, like you, I have faith that they might return it to the golden days of the early seasons and also so that I know what went on when I read your reviews and can comment appropriately.

      Okay so on Sacred I won't go into everything because it would parrot you a little, and would be too confusing to type everything out anyway. I'll simply start by saying that Lana is what is wrong with Smallville. She is the epitome of everything that the show has turned into, and why it sucks.

      Let's start with the easy stuff: Your comments on the Chinese stereotyping, completely agree. I've been lucky enough to actually go to China and see much of Shanghai. It looks almost nothing like that. Those scenes are just what people think China looks like. Very bad in my opinion. Though I didn't think that the stereotyping of the Chinese characters was as bad in my opinion because they weren't necessarily stereotyping Chinese but rather police/soldiers. This leads me to two small points:

      a) Clark and Lana never asked their Chinese guide her name. They just assumed that because she knew theirs that she was it. I kept expecting her to lead them into a trap. Especially when she said to show the map to no one. Very dumb on their parts and just shows a lack of thought by both them and the writers. Especially considering that Lex's Chinese associates just turned on him.

      b) The second point is on why they turned on Lex. "There are people with more money." If you think through it even further through it really makes no sense. Let's say that Lex has a million dollars total, and mystery benefactor has 2 millions (Just for the sake of argument). Lex offers guards 50,000. Benefactor to betray offers 100,000. Now don't you think that Lex would conceivably offer all his money to keep from being tortured/killed? Wouldn't the guards want to accept a counter offer for even more money? Basically the more money approach only works if the benefactor is willing to match and EXCEED Lex's entire fortune. No one gives away billions to make sure someone gets betrayed and beat up. Idiot writers.

      You might have missed it but they did show Lana grabbing a robe as she walked out of the torture area. So she in fact didn't mysteriously change clothes they did show it.

    (Neal here. My response to this was the same for all of the people who pointed it out. Yeah. You're right. There was a very fancy robe sitting in a Chinese torture chamber that fit Lana Lang exactly. I guess that's... better? :) I know that my torture chamber will be just filled with dresses. That'll psyche 'em out!)

      Also don't you find it weird that they had this nice dank warehouse-like torture room right inside the temple in the mountains (mountains from when Lana unearths the triforce). That totally looks like something every Chinese Temple has. Idiot writers.

      Side note: They tortured Lana to get Lex or Jason to talk, not Lana. That whole maybe someone you love in pain will get you to talk. This leads to a whole slew of questions, which I'll just lay out here. How did the guards know Lana knew Jason and Lex? As you say: "Genevieve wants to find out where the stones are. Why torture her son? Why torture Lex? Why torture Lana? They know as much as she does. She knows that. And why not go to China herself?" But with that are: How did the guards know Lana and the guide where in the temple? If they wanted to torture Lana why did they come in shooting? What would have happened it they killed Lana instead of the guide? Idiot Writers. Too many questions. Not to mention the ones that you posed about the jet.

      The next few comments are a little more involved and cross-topic. I'm of course referring to the map, the triforce, and their existence on Earth. This is that speculative part that I mentioned earlier. First off I wanted to check on the origin of the map so I read a transcript for "Run" the episode where it first appears. Now rereading that episode, the interactions between Clark and Bart are excellent and what make the show but the other scenes really stuck a nerve and I'll quote you what I mean.

      First Lex says that the new page he has is the last remaining page from a 14th century manuscript. (So the map for China was around then) I was going to wait till later to mention this but I'll go ahead. First so the map isn't a map but actually a picture of a tree. Fine, but this tree hasn't grown of changed at all since the 14th century? WTF? Also the map wasn't just on the page but on this tunic on a statue. The tunic was around in the 14th century it hasn't faded at all in 600 years? Yeah, right. I won't even get into the kryptonite issue, but maybe Jor-el wasn't the one that put it there. Maybe there is a secret society that wants to prevent Clark from getting the stones. Of course then they would have to A) know his secret B) know his weakness C) know where the stones are and finally D) be stupid enough to only lazily leave the stones where he can find them instead of hiding them themselves. I'm of course talking about the Secret Society of Idiot Smallville Writers and all of their dastardly deeds.

      Moving on: Back to "Run" Bart steals Pa Kent's wallet and starts charging things on his card. So Pa is going to call the credit card company and report it stolen. Clark's response: "Hey, Dad, wait. This kid, he was as fast as I am. I should find out who he is. Just let me talk to Chloe. Maybe she can track down where he's been using your card. [Jonathan looks hesitant.] Come on, Dad, if I don't find anything by the end of the day, then make the call." Stupid Clark - if you don't call to report it stolen then you actually do have to pay for those charges! Pretty poor financial planning. Way to go Clark!

      There's other stuff from "Run" but the only other thing I'll mention is this scene which I quote (Honestly it really went like this!): Jason: I don't care about the tattoo, okay? But what bothers me is the fact that, for some weird reason, you felt like you had to hide it from me. [Lana lowers her eyes.] I've seen what keeping secrets has done to my parents. I'm not gonna end up like that. Lana: Jason, the last thing I ever want to do is hurt you, but there are some things that I am just-- I'm not comfortable sharing with you yet. I'm sorry.

      Wow do the writers even watch the episodes or is it like after you write one you forget it ever happened? Or maybe Lana=God and she can do whatever she wants including how upset she gets at everyone else for lying but still lies herself. Awesome. Idiot writers.

      Okay almost finished, honest: The triforce. First you can see from images of the different pieces, as well as the shot of the vault in the caves where they are supposed to be held that they will eventually fit together to make one solid piece. Each piece of course has jagged edges that will eventually match together. But all of the pieces are made of different material and only of that material (i.e. no fragments). So we're supposed to believe that these three stones were broken apart with such jagged edges and yet are made up of different things? Weird. How odd.

      Andrew McBride



    Lucy

    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    First let me say thank you to Steve for giving me this chance to put my reviews on his great site. It was a very pleasant surprise to get the offer and I hope I can do a job that is worthy of the trust given to me here. And Thanks to Neal too who is allowing my review to share space with his. He is the real reason folks come to the Superman Homepage looking for reviews.

    Now on with Lucy.

    A few weeks ago someone on the message boards started a thread about how to make Smallville better. Now while I disagreed with the premise that something was wrong with the show that needed to be fixed I did have one suggestion that I thought could make the show a better show (in my opinion). That was Clark needed to start being more Superman-like and have more Superman-like action.

    So I have one thing to say about that in relation to this episode. Now that's what I'm talking about!

    We had a great story here. Not too much on the overall Season Four object hunt but the little they did show was good and well played. Lana's playing Jason now. I liked that. Seems like she's giving him a test to see where his loyalties really are and he failed it big time. I thought this was a neat twist. It was great to see her finally taking matters into her own hands and not relying on boy toys anymore. Lionel for his part was great as always. Still can't peg it if he's good or bad yet and I can't wait to find out the truth. I like how he did admit that he wouldn't have minded getting his hands on the stone if he could. Was that him being good by admitting to himself and Lex a desire that he would have normally hid or was that him being evil plotting out loud, hoping his son will let him in on the action? The "Is Lionel good or bad?" thing is just fantastic and I love how they are playing it out. Teasing one way or the other. Never letting a fan make up his/her mind. Great stuff.

    Then the main plot of this episode... Lucy Lane comes to town.

    Really what wasn't there to like? Sure the Lois "fish out of water" scene in the talon was very similar to Lana and the beanery from Season One but that is really the only down side of this story. Lucy was well played and they did a good job of making me believe she was the victim in the story until the tomato spoiled the fun. Lois was played real well too. I loved how they had her trying to make breakfast for the Kent's only because she was trying to soften the blow of Lucy coming to town. That was very Lois-like. The looks between Clark and Pa as she served the food were great. The interaction between her and Clark is fantastic and is fast becoming one of my favorite parts of this series. The like/hate banter is very amusing and just makes me smile. I absolutely loved how Martha gave Clark the old "tisk tisk" when Clark was badgering Lois. Little things like that really add a level of heart to a show like this. The end scene between Clark and Lois in the loft was wonderful. Just wonderful. A Clark/Girl Loft scene without angst and without lies that just made me smile wide. This scene had the one thing all the Clark/Lana scenes were missing. A simple hope for the future.

    Lex was used very well here to. It was great how he was willing to help but only because he could profit from it in other ways. The line to Clark in the hall about his reasons for helping were the best usage of Lex Luthor since the start of this series. This was made even better by the fact that we are reminded later that Lex is not quite there yet. He is still growing into our Lex. We see this very well when Lionel let Lex know Jason had the artifact. Lex was so blindsided he was speechless. I think this shows us that while he's growing into the Lex we know; he's still got a bit more to learn before becoming the greatest criminal mastermind of our time. We also see him and Clark bonding again in a very good scene. I could still feel tension there in that scene but it was nice that they are both still willing to call each other friends despite that bit of tension. It makes the line about being brothers more believable and in some ways mirrors the sister to sister relationship Lois and Lucy have. I thought that was a nice touch.

    Now lets talk about Action. Action is something I thought this series needed more of and this episode delivered it in speeding trucks. Yeah I am a sucker for really cool fanboy drool scenes and this was one of those for sure. Clark leaping off that bridge was so surprising, so spectacular, and so exciting that I literally Jump off the couch and cheered like I was watching a football game and my team just scored a 50 yard touchdown. He leaps, then he slides across the roof of the truck, then bullets are bouncing off his chest, and he knocks out the driver BEFORE the guy sees who he is! FANTASTIC! Then he takes off before the LuthorCorps Commandos show up. Even better. A very very well done action scene. One of the best of the whole series yet. That my friends was 100% Superman. This is one that I'll remember 10 years from now when thinking of this series. This will go up there with the Leap off the Daily Planet roof, the final race with Flash, and Kal's take off and flight in the season opener as one of the top cool scenes of this series (so far anyway).

    Overall Clark Kent was just fantastic in this episode. Not only did we see the Superman-like action I talked about above but we also see him doing little things that give us a glimpse of the hero he's to become. Believing in and trying to help Lucy at first; then like a good investigative reporter figures it out when he learns they had been played; and then the best part still; trying to see the best in Lucy afterwards and to give Lois hope for her sister. Who else but Clark Kent would do that?

    Some folks have complained about the lack of items that relate back to previous episodes. Well I think they went a long way in fixing that this week. We see Shelby was there doing his dog thing (my dog lays on the kitchen floor just like that). We also hear Clark mentioning how lonely it's been around the Kent farm lately and how having the Lanes there helped keep his mind off of it. It was a nice touch to remind us that Clark had just come out of a really tough time in his life and things were not all rosy for him.

    Really I tried to find a fault or something to list in this review of this episode and the only thing I could find was the Lois in the Talon scene and perhaps a slight lack of Chloe. Just with a Lane centered episode I expected more Chloe but that's ok. This episode was still more than good. And Chloe's coy comments to Clark in the halls near the end were more than enough to make up for her absence last week and her semi absence this week.

    So how to grade this one? Well I can't give this one any thing less than a solid A. Good work Smallville cast and crew!

    Next week a repeat of the body switch episode. When they insert a specific episode like this into the schedule you just know they want to remind fans of certain things. If I had to guess I'd say the Lionel reform and the third object are the two things they most want to get fresh in your mind for up coming new episodes. (I don't read spoilers anymore so it is simply a guess).

    See you next time.

    Doug



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