Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 2: "Mortal"



Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

Week two of season five and we're really rolling now.

First off let me start with the Lana/Clark relationship we saw portrayed throughout this episode. I was very pleased to see the relationship in some kind of happy zone. This relationship was filled with just too much angst in past seasons and it was so refreshing to see happy times for the couple. We all know it's not a happy ever after love for those two but that does not mean the relationship should be devoid of any happy times to think back on. I thought everything about the Lana/Clark Relationship was well done with one minor exception.

Now I know there is some debate on if Superman should have a physical relationship out of wed lock. I understand and agree that perhaps it is a subject best avoided but it has been done before in comics and in two of the Superman movies so Smallville isn't covering any new territory with that subject. Personally my main concern was the status of their relationship when Clark and Lana crossed that bridge and I was pleased to see that for the most part it was handled well. They were both obviously committed in a loving relationship. Plus I was also glad to see the producers chose to keep the showing of said activities mostly off screen and without any gratuitous showing of skin.

Their honesty with each other was the main thing I was concerned about. I do feel strongly that Clark should have told her he is an alien before advancing the relationship to that level. It also would not hurt for Lana to admit she stabbed someone to death with a murder weapon she passed off to Clark. I am slightly disappointed in Smallville that they didn't have him tell her but they did take steps to lessen my disappointment on this front. I felt the scene with Clark and Lana on the hilltop helped with this. They both admitted to each other that there were things they had yet to tell each other and they both agreed to forget about those things and move forward. Clark believes he is fully human now and being an alien was something from his past so this worked in that context. I am sure we, along with Clark, will learn he is mistaken about that so we'll have to see how he reacts and if he'll tell Lana then.

Now enough of that wishy washy stuff and on to the comic book goodies.

The bad guys in this episode were fantastic. On the surface they seemed like any old freak of the week material but there were some things I caught that set them apart in my mind. First and foremost the main baddie tells Clark they did not get their powers from Meteor Rocks. The Meteor Rocks just helped enhance abilities they already had. This is very interesting to me on several fronts. For one it is yet another instance of Clark coming in contact with Meta Humans (Super powered people) from outside Smallville. For another it shows that Lex is continuing the Level 3 experiments but this time he is using people who already have special powers and is using the Kryptonite to enhance those abilities. Lionel made some freaks, but Lex is making more powerful freaks. I thought this provided good continuity back to the episode with Mxyzptlk where Lex took him off to some secret lab at the end of that episode. Maybe not the same lab but we see here yet more proof Lex Luthor is up to no good, using people with special abilities for some nefarious purpose.

Another thing I liked a lot about these bad guys is they provide Clark with both a reason to adopt a secret identity in the future and an excuse to cover up his past actions. Clark is going to learn at some point that he has to protect his identity when he's doing his hero work or things like this will continue to happen. However since he was able to defeat these villains with his head and without using powers they will go back to the hospital with a story that will debunk at least some of the Clark rumors floating around the place. His fist fight with Lex at the end will also help on this front. For Lex to not recognize Clark as Superman in the future something has to happen for him to completely and totally write Clark Kent off in his mind. Something that Lex will carry in the future to make it impossible in his mind that Clark could in any way possibly be Superman. This fist fight isn't quite that but it is a building block, or a small step in that direction.

I also liked the specialized Meta Human cuffs on the bad guys. They reminded me of things the Metropolis SCU would use in the comics. Plus the wonder twins homage made me smile.

Chloe having a trunk that would make Bruce Wayne proud was very amusing even if it was a bit unrealistic. Still, the show has a guy from another planet who can fly and bench press ocean liners so I think I can forgive a spunky unemployed reporter with a go go gadget trunk. Plus I have to admit there is something that just feels right (in a comic book world sense) about the fact that our Lois Lane gives out flash grenades as birthday presents.

The Sheriff was amusing as always and I loved her reaction to the force field protecting the Kent Farm. I also really liked her comments to Clark after he played hero. I wonder if Smallville will actually go as far as to have Clark work as a sheriff deputy for a time before moving on with his life. It is certainly something I could see the character giving a try.

Clark's solution to the threat was also very well done. Clark and Chloe tried one option but invisible lasers caused that plan to fail. Instead of giving up, Clark used his head and tried something else. Yes something a bit more desperate and dangerous but it was nice to see another instance of our future Superman using brains instead of powers.

Lastly I was honestly surprised Clark remained powerless throughout the episode. I kept thinking as I was watching the episode that he and Chloe would find something in the lab that would give his powers back to him and was very surprised when nothing of the sort happened. I found myself pleased by this. It is an interesting story line to explore and it is nice to see the show giving a bit more time to it.

So anyway on to the rating. A very good entertaining episode with good continuity with past episodes and a few nice nods to the future. I really could not find a flaw in this one but I'll nock off a partial grade for Clark not telling Lana he's an alien before they advanced the relationship into a physical one.

So I give it an A- (or 4.5 giant glowing balls of hydrogen fusing into helium.)



Reviewed by: Neal Bailey


  • The freaks of the week have turned into villains. In this episode, there are three.
  • Clark lacks powers, but still saves the day. Chloe wants him to try to get them back.
  • Lex Luthor and Clark have a bit of a fistfight. Lex wins. Clark hits more.
  • The barn is being rebuilt. Level three still exists. Lionel is in Belle Reve.
  • Lana and Clark found the bearskin rug, the Barry White, and man nipples.
  • Apparently, Clark delivered Lana a pizza she didn't order. (What's that music?)


    Ah, sweet irony!

    If you look at the title of this episode, your immediate response is to say, "Well, hey, they're playing off the fact that Clark has no powers any more."

    Good for you. You're correct.

    Where does irony enter the situation?

    Irony: Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.

    Instead, in this episode, we get mortal in an entirely other sense. A mortal SIN.

    Stay with me. I'm not going to go religious on you. But what happened in this episode is something that I've really been worried about and against for the whole run of the series.

    Clark and Lex becoming enemies over one incident? Well, maybe, but that's not really what got to me. In fact, most of this episode is top notch.

    A mortal sin is a sin of the most grievous nature that you commit in full cognizance of it being against your system of belief, a flaunting of what you know to be right in the eyes of God or whatever your hold yourself accountable. It's a concept that goes beyond religion (as I can affirm, not being religious). For me, a mortal sin would be selling my voice on a commercial to say, "Aw, shucks. Gap clothes are the best thing in the world. I love them, they fit me well, and they're so within my budget! Buy Gap!"

    That is MY character. I'm a bit of a strange wad. But Clark Kent? Let's take a look at him, huh?

    He doesn't take a position on religion, never has, never will, but it's safe to assume that Clark Kent is a religious man. Middle Western values, whether you agree with them or not, are typically associated with a very humble, very religious state of mind. And Catholic religious life (again, whether you agree with it or not), tells you that it is a mortal sin to engage in sex out of wedlock. I know this because I've written a book about religion, it's the focus of many of my studies and engagements, and heck, I went to a Catholic high school growing up. The idea was that I would escape the guns of the public schools. I learned quickly that money is often more dangerous than a gun in your hand, as Lex Luthor could tell you in an instant. And I also learned the moral responsibilities and guilt associated with what it takes to become a moral person in the religious sense.

    There are a few things which are, in almost ALL religions, BIG no-nos. Things which a common, typical, mid-western family archetype like the Kents would stress.

    No drinkin'.

    No smokin'.

    None of the pre-marital sexin'.

    No murderin'.

    No thievin'.

    Is that too big of an assumption? I don't think so. I also don't think it's too big of an assumption to say that Superman and Clark Kent are likely Christians. The typical line has always been truth, justice, and the American Way (though that is quickly becoming outdated due to the fact that Superman stands for worldwide freedom). Superman IS an American. The original American immigrant. He lives, loves, and breathes United States. Not in the militant, Captain American sense, but in the melting pot, unity sense.

    One thing almost every group of people who have come together to form the United States have in common is their religion, some form of Christianity.

    Yes, there are Jewish people, a large Islamic community, communists, atheists, Kwanza folk, and etcetera, and I count myself among one of those (guess, or maybe you already know, if you're still with me after all this time). They too are as American as America gets, falling in with the freedom of expression, freedom of religion. I am not, let me stress, saying that someone is more American if they're Christian.

    BUT, the probability that someone with mid-western values who embodies the spirit of America would not be Christian, and would not know and believe sex before marriage to be wrong, is low. Maybe he wouldn't call it a mortal sin. That's just a petty irony I took from the title. But it is, in fact, something that most mid-western people would consider wrong.

    We do it anyway.

    That's humanity.

    But Superman is supposed to be the epoch and best of what humanity means to us all. He's supposed to be the guy who never makes a mistake save in the most extreme of circumstances, which is why he doesn't kill his enemies, he sets them down quietly in the penitentiary and believes they will become good again.

    Clark having sex with Lana in this episode is probably the single worst character move they've ever made with any of the characters involved. And I don't even think what they did was wrong. I have done it myself. I think, however, that Superman, in a million years, never would. Just thinking of what Ma would say alone, to say nothing to the way he would think of himself.

    But even THAT is not the point here.

    The point here is that this question has never been asked for a reason.

    The same reason that no one asks if Superman IS a Jewish guy, a Muslim, or a Christian.

    The same reason no one ever asks if he's Democrat or Republican or Independent or Anarchist.

    The same reason we never ask if he's a vegetarian or a meat eater (until Waid, anyway, and most agree that was a dumb move).

    The reason we don't ask if he would stand up for Russia if someone was attacking them.

    Because it's estranging from the character, unnecessary, and it estranges.

    For instance, yeah, okay. I get to see Clark like me in regards to sexual matters. I had pre-marital sex LONG ago and far away, and I feel no guilt for it.

    But then, look at the average Joe or Jane out there who believes that sex before marriage is wrong. Now Superman is anathema to their morality.

    Imagine Superman declared himself to be a Republican. Same deal. Democrats would feel shafted.

    The reason that this is so hard to cover, and so wrong to cover, is that Superman, essentially, is a Jesus figure. A Christ. He is the embodiment of what it is to America to be infallible, totally moral, and sacrificing all for everyone else. If he bangs his girlfriend before he's married, that opens up ALL kinds of nasty issues for all involved.

    Many would argue that it's Clark being human.

    But Clark isn't. He's the future Superman. He's what's right in all of us. Bruce Wayne might do this. He's a tortured individual with multi-faceted character flaws.

    Clark Kent would not. Or heck. Maybe he would. But you know what? It doesn't need to be shown, because it's estranging. It's not black and white, cut and dried. Does this mean that I don't think he should ever touch anything that isn't black and white? NO. A hundred times now. In fact, the best stories come from questioning what Superman is and how he would handle certain situations. See Adventures and Ruin. See Infinite Crisis and a justified homicide in the context of moral arbiters.

    But there are several places it should never go.

    Politics. (As Rucka said, if Superman gets a picture with the Democratic candidate, he also makes a point to with the Republican, even if he disagrees with one or the other).

    Religion. (It's such a personal issue that Superman would never declare one superior to the other, or confront issues such as abortion, sex before or after marriage, right to life, execution, etcetera.)

    Government. (Not politics, but actual governance. He would never, outside of Azzarello BS, take over a country and declare it illegal, installing a new ruler. Superman's kind of paranoid about that kind of thing for a good reason.)

    And others...

    Is this bad? I don't know. There might be one heck of a story in Lois getting pregnant and having to deal with a partial-birth abortion, but the consequences of telling such a story would be really patently offensive to many people, titillating for the sake of being titillating, and generally bad for the characters.

    Like making Clark declare an affinity for sex before marriage just to titillate people with a sex scene or to shake things up, or whatever the heck they were thinking when they did this.

    Making Lex Luthor meet Clark early, that's a character choice that may upset some, may make them not want to watch, but it doesn't destroy the essential tenets of the character. Having Lex find God destroys an essential tenet of his character, his avowed atheism and dedication to logic to the point of being cold and heartless.

    In the same sense, having Clark have pre-marital sex completely changes his dynamic as a purveyor of mid-western values. Even though I condone what he did personally.

    It's a bad choice. I think it's a very, very bad character choice. The worst so far. Even worse than making Lana into a total she-beast. Even worse that having him get married so that they can flash skin.

    Even worse than having Lois Lane pole dance, having Clark Kent drink Kryptonite, even worse than turning Pete Ross into a car jockey.

    Or even if you think it's all coolsville, how about being role models, huh? Did they deal with STDs? Condoms? The potential of what would happen if Lana gets knockered up and has to push out a little Clarky, lose her figure, and give up on her career in nine months?

    I'm very upset with it, to put it midly, four pages later.

    I had to get that off my chest. Now I'll review the show, which, as such, was pretty darned good, actually, and in most senses marks a real return to what makes the show good, a turning point to move forward in both character and plot, and also, a realization of my worst fears...the insta-evil Lex. But it almost happens in a way that makes some sense, and really, I think I may enjoy evil Lex so much that I'll forgive how it happened, much as, going into the Clark and Lana all lovey stage, I forgive the fact that it makes no coherent sense because of the fact that I don't have to hear Lana shrew and nag and do things that are absolutely ridiculous.

    In other words, nothing follows from last season, but a reboot to exactly what we want is almost enough to make that forgivable. After this show, I'm pretty close to saying the show has jumped back. I say that because the sex thing didn't seem like a ratings ploy, just a bad choice, and everything else is very much in line for forward motion, good drama, heck, even an end to the freaks.

    That's right, I said an end to the freaks.

    The wha you say?

    Well, if you'll note, the characters in this episode were not high school students who got ripped and suddenly started murdering. They were criminals in a prison for the insane that Lex Luthor released to test Clark Kent. They need a drug fix, so they try and get him to get their drug for him. That's much more plausible, fun, and within the framework of rationality than a kid getting mad because school is ending, constructing a high school in a warehouse, and keeping them to watch, even if they are throwaway characters. They're VILLAINS now, full blown baddies, instead of annoying, petulant, whining people who deserve to be shot just for the snot that leaks from their nose.

    As far as I'm concerned, though these guys count as freaks on the KO Count, if this is what we can continue to expect, and if the motivations are as sound (or at least seem thought out a bit) as this, I won 't be complaining about the villains any more.

    That meant a lot to me.

    Now, the blow-by-blow...

    Long time no Belle Reve, which made it nice to see again. I missed it, a lot. Season three, it became a focal point of a lot of emotion, emotion I hoped to see build, and yeah, it took a year and a half to get started, but here it is, picking up right where we left off. That's a good feeling.

    Starting with the intriguing duality of Lex confronting his father in a straightjacket was great. A bit to be expected, of course, but still, very cool reversal. No Johnny Cash though. They learned that lesson. Respectable! Nothing against Johnny Cash, I love him, but using the music of the original poor boy rebel to represent the ultimate rich snob's demise from fooling around where he shouldn't have in snotty rebellion seemed a bit anathema to me.

    The twins and the villains were actually interesting as a team, they really grooved with me. The twins had that freaky albino thing going for them, and while completing each other's sentences was a bit odd, it was also very comic book, very much to the spirit of a comic without becoming too much like a bad comedy. They didn't play it for laughs, it was treated as a serious part of their character disorder, which changed it from cheese to creepy in a lot of ways.

    Lightning man seemed a bit like a rip-off of Bobby Drake and Pyro in terms of how his powers work, but at least to my mind it's never been done before on this show. It's not like Sentry, which I read the other day, where I was like, "This is essentially exactly Superman's character. S on his body, flies as people look up to him, controls the power of the sun, etcetera. At least Majestic admitted to being an emulation. I could be wrong, there have been ninety episodes, but I don't remember a lightning villain. But anyway, his powers were clear, his powers were defined, and they did NOT involve meteor rocks.

    I don't even know if he qualifies as someone who just GOES homicidal. He was a hardened criminal, so I don't think he would count by the old standards as a freak of the week. I'm going to put him in anyway, just for record's sake, but the point being, this is something we've been NEEDING for all four seasons. Sensible villains with good motivations. When they popped up, I always loved them, over the years. Jitters, with a similar situation, etcetera.

    The whole "Can I light up a room" line immediately struck me as horrible dialogue, but the actor played it well, made it believable. That takes some skill.

    Why do handcuffs stop the powers on these guys? Especially the twins.couldn't they put their hands together?

    When Lex bumps into the dude, the cuffs come off, leading us to believe that Lex was behind it, or at very least leaving it ambiguous, which to me is one of the good points and bad points at the same time for this episode, because knowing for certain would inform the later dilemma. Either way, Clark would never have known either way, and I'll get to that, but I wish I had known for certain. Not knowing makes me potentially sympathetic to Lex and his actions. Is that purposeful on the part of the creators? I believe it is. They've always wanted to make Lex both the good and the bad guy. I applaud it, and I want to put my foot through the TV at the same time, which, given my usual decisiveness, shows that they're doing something interesting, at very least, an interest that was lacking last year on almost all fronts.

    PS, sorry to keep referring back to season four, but it's like someone extracted a pushpin they'd put all the way up one of my fingernails. Yeah, it's gone, but it's gonna hurt for a WHILE, and all I'll be able to do is talk about it. It's a kind of confusion, because compared to season four, ALF is dramatic wonderment, so I'm kind of in a state where I'm unsure if I' m all gaga because the show is back to at least passable, or if my show has come back full steam to renew my faith. Apologies. But I'm sure you feel pretty much the same, otherwise I wouldn't write that.

    Smallville has some MEAN cops. I mean, first, aliens land. Instead of saying "Hi!", they whip out their guns and start blasting. And in the mental institution, where they know that these people have problems that may potentially be out of their control, instead of cordoning off the area and negotiating, they start to shoot at the poor wonder twins on sight. That CAN'T be protocol.

    I like the twins effect. Kind of neat. On the cheap, perhaps, but still a pretty cool concept. It makes me wonder why they were dumb enough to keep them near each other at all, though. I'd just solve the problem easy-like by keeping them on opposite sides of the prison. But everyone knows comic prisons are administrated by the dumbest people in any universe outside of Clark Kent last year.

    They fixed the credits. That's good. Last week, Steve showed me, they had Kristin's first name spelled wrong. I know I've done that more than eight hundred thousand times, so I can't blame them.

    Kristen Kreuk

    This is why I'm against weird spellings of names. My name is Neil, or Neal. Both are contemporary spellings, but everyone knows Neil more. But Neeeal? Neal with an A is bad enough.

    My kid's name will be Fart. Fartholemew is what I'll call him if he's good and does his chores. Why make it Farte? Or Fert pronounced fart? That just constricts the bowels and impedes normal functionality. It's also something to whine about when the lawn should be getting mowed about.

    "But daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!"

    "Get back to work before I throw more rocks at you!"

    "I'm only three!"

    "You wanna see four?"

    Cut to a scene that we've really, really needed for a while. Everyone being civil and cool with each other, no arbitrary tension. Chloe ribs Clark about his responsibility for being a super-hero, but it's a civil, human, normal conversation. It was so out of place that I was trying to find fault with it until I realized that what was strange is that it's what I've been begging for.

    Then Clark, tired, goes to Lana and she hands him some water, claps him on the back and says hi, whereas the Lana of last season would have said, "You've got two hands, get water yourself!"

    And TURN!

    And FROWN!

    And POUT!

    And WALK!

    You know the aerobics.

    Lana DONATING TIME? Lana ENJOYING helping people? Where has this been. I'm glad it's back...we might actually have what happened to Chloe occurring here. It took a lot longer, but instead of the character being lost, Lana may actually be turning around.

    Am I...Am I still alive?

    I'm not EVEN going to TOUCH Lex and the bribing FEMA remark for faster response. I save that for my political essays on I'm just surprised it made it past the network.

    Lex walks up to Clark and Lana and...rah! Evil Lana rears her head. She turns and walks and pouts. At least it's happening a lot less, huh?

    Why would she be mad at Lex? He pulled her out of a murder rap, got her out of town when she could have died, brought her home and bandaged her wounds, and didn't ask anything in return. ALL that he did was ask for the stone to protect her (without a proven nefarious desire).

    But she suddenly hates him...sigh. At least there's an AMBIGUOUS reason that seems to be there for this one. It IS an improvement.

    Lex is nice and joking, even though Clark just lied to him obviously, and Clark starts in on him right away, saying Lana doesn't trust him. It doesn't really make sense. Lex hasn't really done anything except search for the truth. Maybe he wanted the stones for power. Maybe. But then, for the most part, he's never really indicated that he wants the stone for that reason. For the most part, it seems an altruistic quest to find out what's going on to make the people around him in constant danger. Am I crazy there?

    It's a little strange to see this as the norm, though, after the finale, where Lex tells his dad, "I'm the son you always wanted, white eyes!", which was out of synch there, even if it sounded cool.

    Clark and Lana go for a walk, and Clark jogs a piece of Kryptonite in his hand.


    It's like the time when he switched his body with the kid way back in season one. Clark Kent is a KRYPTONIAN. THIS is the reason he is vulnerable to Kryptonite. It's not his powers. It's that Kryptonite is poison to Kryptonians. And even humans, over a long enough period of time.

    One might argue that for Clark to lose his powers, he'd have to have his DNA fundamentally altered. He'd have to be made human. That's a fair argument...but that's not how it's being portrayed. It's as if Jor-El used magic. Maybe nanites that changed his DNA on a molecular level? But that's making me think too hard. He's Kryptonian, Kryptonite kills him, and just because it's novel to see Clark Kent holding K doesn't mean I'll believe it's sensible.

    Clark and Lana visit the loft and decide to get down. Clark acts all awkward, and tells Lana that it's his first time. Lana tells him likewise. Clark's incredulous response? "Not even with Jason?"

    That was my incredulous response as well, as you might recall last year. A man living with a woman and sleeping in the same bed for an entire year without going for any kind of action? NNNNNNNT again. Sorry. People who move in together before they're married are, 999 times out of a thousand, bumping uglies. Kiddies, that means hitting their foreheads together before talking about baseball.

    What, Jason slept on a couch? Uh...yeah. Right.

    They're about to jump in when the barn bursts open and in come the baddies. I was making the note, "Snuck up on a guy with super-hear-" CURSE YOU, PLOT!

    These guys, they come in, they slam Clark into the roof, and start talking about how he put everyone in Belle Reve.

    Now, okay, what, Lana is not going to ask questions about this? And she doesn't! What would have happened in any of the last three seasons in the last ten minutes of the show. You know it. I know it. She would grill him for ten minutes before walking out of the room in a huff. What happens in the end of this episode? Not to be curt, folks, but Clark gets sex.

    What kind of confused message is that?

    At any rate, reward for lying aside, why wouldn't she ask questions? A hostage situation where she nearly died, and no questions? I don't buy it.

    Alas! It wasn't Sweden, it was the Yukon. Oh well. Bork Bork is still funny.


    Doesn't pop as much, does it? I'll work on it.

    Lex calling Chloe a third wheel, oooh. That was mean. There were three times in this episode where I had a vivid hallucination of the other character suddenly snapping three times and saying, "Oh no you DI-INT!". This was one.

    But at the same time, I was thinking, how justified IS Lex, huh? One insult vs. being knocked unconscious, being lied to, having your personal study broken into and having a priceless artifact stolen. Hate to say it, but I feel for Lexy.

    This is a good dilemma, and good writing. You feel bad for Chloe, too, because she's trying to play the hero, as is Lex. They're both good people with good intentions for the most part, and it's hard to take a side. That's a complex character dynamic, and it's much better than just having Lex go "NYAH!" and have Chloe run for the flux capacitor Deus Ex Machina.

    One of the best part of this episode was the subtle nod to the principles behind the KO Count. The Belle Reve guys coming after Clark because he's put so many of them in there. It doesn't touch the underlying problem of having to deal with the fact that so many people know he has powers, but at least it acknowledges that there are consequences. It's like Spider-Man's secret identity being so easily strewn about. That's cool, so long as you don't forget that there are people out there who will take advantage of that.

    So the Kents come home to find their son in an awkward position, and the bad guy comes out and says, "PIPE DOWN, OLD MAN!"

    Bo Duke wags his hair, snaps his fingers, and says, "Oh no you DI-INT!"

    So the lightning dude shoots him into a toolbox and a KO. I was hoping Bo would lay the smack down, but selah and alas.

    And hey, does it make sense to knock Jonathan Kent, who has a heart condition, out with electricity? Writers? Hello? How is he not dead?

    So the goons grab Clark and they say, "Nyah! I need my Krypto-crack! Race ye to a place where they keep it in repository, fetch it hence, and come back, or I'll turn Annette into Brokette, see, nyah! You got two hours!"

    And Clark makes the tappitty tappitty feet and then disappears, leaving only a cloud of smoke and a sign that reads "YIKES!"

    He's got TWO HOURS! I'm surprised they didn't give us a ticking clock. They did make the single biggest goof in the entire episode by giving that two hour timeframe though.

    Why? Because Clark goes to get Chloe (eats up time), then either drives to Metropolis, or the Smallville bay bridge. My guess is that he drives to what is supposed to be the outskirts of Metropolis. As Chloe and Clark sit there in the VW, behind them is a huge, scenic bridge spanning a major waterway. Metropolis would have that. Smallville would not.

    To get to Metropolis, as we've debated about 700 times, was ultimately decided to take about 3 hours, from the words of the creators themselves to our estimations as fans.

    Two hour deadline minus three hours to get to Metropolis plus the time it takes to get Chloe equals DEAD KENTS!

    I like that Lois gave Chloe a flash bang. Cool character moment, and interesting to plot.

    So the sheriff arrives at the Kents, and plays dumb. She knows the baddies are in the house, and then leaves, calling for backup. The bad guys wait through a semi-humorous scene and then toast her as she leaves. Why not toast her right away? It was still great to see her annoying butt thrown through the air and onto a car. Yee-ha!

    Clark and Chloe, meanwhile, search for level three. This scene, gah, bad. I mean, how do they know the serum will be there? How do they know even if there is a serum there, it's the right serum? How do they expect to get in with just a computer? It's not sensible or believable.

    There was a golden moment. The whole "You told Pete? Pete got to see the spaceship?" It was funny without trying, and it made total sense in context. It reminded me of what little I've seen of Buffy, only in Buffy, it seems a little more forced to me. Here it worked really well.

    By the way, just before I am hung upside down and bled out for saying something even passively derisive about Buffy, I'll have you know I watched Firefly and Serenity and enjoyed them immensely. So there, Whedon army!

    Then, one of the better parts of the show. NAIL GUN! Man, do I love a nail gun. Over the summer, I've been using a roofing nailer on my roof (I do construction to keep this writing gig up), and I've always loved air tools. I always wanted to see what it would do to a human being, but alas, I haven't had any accidents yet. I have, however, made my little sister stand as a stationary target and fired a body silhouette around her like a bad cartoon. Don't worry, it was with her consent. She still has one eye. Kidding! Anyway, power tools good. I would much rather see that than a pitchfork going through a baddie or watching them tip over and explode. Something visceral, something I identify with more. It's why I prefer King Kong Lives to the first one (contemporary). The Konger rips a dude in half in two and eats him. Why couldn't they do that to Jeff Bridges? Of course, Linda Hamilton survives, but I digress...mecha Kong still beats normal Kong. Ask Godzilla.

    The car crash effect was neat, though also a little less clean, as I described in the last episode. Not sure why, it just really was. Maybe it was the detail, just a little less rounded off, but I still see it.

    Clark being afraid of heights was keeping with continuity. Well played. Actual harkening back to the history of the show. I'm very pleased.

    Unfortunately, it's immediately followed by an "Id" moment. That 's what I call a writing moment where you say something you shouldn't, and usually delete it, but sometimes you don't. Like, just a second ago, after I wrote, "Ask Godzilla.", I started writing "Holy monkeys! How did I get from nail guns to Godzilla!" because that's what I was thinking. There is, of course, a logical sequence leading from nail guns to Godzilla, otherwise I would have deleted it, but in Smallville, they forgot to delete it and there WAS no logical sequence. I'd share one I deleted, and there are many in anything you write when you do in as large a volume as I do, but they're boring. That's why they're deleted.

    Clark and Chloe remark about how it's strange there aren't any guards inside, just men on the perimeter in a golf cart. They then fail to resolve why in the story. That's the author telling his or herself, "Uh, this is kind of strange, isn't it?" and then not checking up on it. Pretty strange to leave that in dialogue. I always wonder how this stuff can get by a whole team of writers when I can catch it on my own without trying hard.

    Again, just to reiterate, the K should be hurting Clark in the vault, but then, I already said why earlier. Just another sticking point.

    Ma Kent sees the kidnapper threatening to kill her and Pa and Lana over the phone to Clark, and has the patented CLARK FROM SEASON FOUR moment. "Is it just me, or are they beginning to look a little desperate?" she asks.


    Clark drives ALL the way back to the scene while Chloe remains at the Luthor lab? Wha? How does that make sense? Then Clark comes up with an ingenious plan. Electricity dude operates off of electricity, so if he can somehow smash the electrical panel, he can defeat electro man!

    Or, having no powers at all, he could just ask the sheriff to cut the power and then have the Kents gang up on them all. But that might make some sense, and the climaxes in this show have not always had the best kind of making sense going on, only cool factor. Here, seeing Clark kick butt around almost makes up for it. It's close, though. I LOVE to see Clark being heroic powers aside, but then, framework, as I've said, is also integral.

    Another case of Id writing. Clark says, "Sometimes it's easier just to shut the power off."

    YES! Bingo. It is definitely easier to shut the power off than to hit a service with a hammer, which will not likely shut the power off, only damage the service. But then, I'm somewhat of an electrician, and the average Joe bought it when Dawn ripped the chord off the vacuum cleaner that wasn't plugged in and sparks flew, so hey.

    "Keep moving, Sparky!" Oh, Sheriff, you cad! GET MY NAIL GUN! DANCE, SHERIFF! DANCE! P-KEW! P-KEW!

    Sorry. I've been working on onomatopoeia for my comics. P-Kew was the best gun sound I've come up with in six months. Budda is good too though. But budda is the sound it makes when bullets hit, as opposed to ricocheting. I think about these things. Really.

    Steve: P-KEW! P-KEW!

    All right already!

    Clark and Lana are about to have a talk when Chloe pulls him aside. Sweet monkeys, a CHLARK! And she's telling him to get his powers back. Very cool. I thought it was going to be a nice way to jog around the Crapana, but nay! It happened anyway.

    But first...the PUNCHES.

    Clark pushes into Lex's office after finding out that someone with Lex's number was watching them steal serum, and punches Lex for it.

    Now, just in case that didn't sink in, I'll say it again, more simply.

    Clark punches Lex for seeing Clark stealing from Lex.

    This is on the assumption that the person watching was Lex, this is on the assumption that because level three exists, somehow it's okay to steal from Lex, and this is on the assumption that Lex was behind it when no one but Lionel has ever threatened or hurt the ones around Clark.

    Lex says, "Let me explain."

    Clark punches him in the face.

    That, too, is out of character for Clark. WAY out of character.

    But you know what? I don't care. It's like Lana just suddenly being cool with Clark. If it brings a dynamic, a normative functionality to this show which was lost, I'll take it. Clark is WAY wrong. I was rooting for Lex to kick the crap out of Clark.

    Clark explains that he knows Lex was behind the attack as a test. This doesn't logically follow at all. Even the audience can't say that for sure. It's a plot hole that doesn't make sense, so sympathy with Clark is absent. If anything, attack Lionel. Sure, Lex has been after the stones. Yeah, he's been asking questions. But really, what has he done to be suspect of late. Clark is wholly unjustified, and this is drama for the sense of drama.

    It's understandable to lash out in anger when your family is threatened. Clark, however, would find the right person to attack, I believe. And especially given how many times he's been wrong about Lex, he'd at least let him explain.

    That doesn't mean I didn't giggle when I saw them punching each other.

    Evil Lex, even if it wasn't arrived at well (and I never really thought it could be, given how long they made him out to be good) is still more exciting than good one week, bad one week Lex. And Lana pretending to hate Clark is abrasive, while Lana loving Clark is at least new, even outside of rationality. Is this a strict apologist standpoint? I don't care. Hee hee! Clark punched Lex. Lex punched Clark.

    Lex goes, "Oh no you DI-INT!"

    And now, folks, it's on. I hope.

    Cut to the crapana. Clark and Lana up in the flat, with Lana pacing with her back to Clark (at first, anyway). All I'm thinking is, "Man, how the heck is she still affording that apartment without a job?"

    Maybe this all segues into whatever that pole dancing in the preview is. Ha!

    BUT, she didn't guilt him, aside from prodding for bloodying his knuckles, which was caring as opposed to passive aggression.

    I gotta say, if I'm gonna have to put up with Clark losing his virginity, which I despise, why does he have to take off his shirt once but Lana's stays on twice. I've been cheated!

    The moon ending was a nice shot. Took my mind off the squeaky squeaky going on with my icon of purity, but hey.

    I like the new preview. Clark getting shot has been done, but never where he can't insta-heal. Should be really neat.

    All in all, I'm torn as to how to rate this one. There were a few really big things that change the whole mythos of the series, and I really didn't like them. At all. But that said, I love them, in that they may instill a sense of normalcy or at least a dynamic to this show that's been lacking for a while.

    To that end, I'm gonna rate the mythos change and the episode separately. The mythos change is about a 1 of 5. Honestly, this episode, while flawed in ways, still showed more heart, more fun, and generally more work than the entirety of the fourth season. My enjoyment that I had watching it was a 4 of 5. Chloe and Clark in a relationship, the barn raising, Clark and Lana being human to each other, Lex and Clark's relationship moving forward (at least to the punch), Chloe and Lex at odds for a good reason, the real family drama of the Kents taken hostage, there's a lot good here for all the technical glitches. There's also the nail gun, so maybe I'm biased.

    P-KEW! P-KEW!


    Ma Kent is the Clark of dumb, and while Lana with a nail gun would normally be a bad thing (because it would be aimed at Clark), here it was cool. Freaks become villains, heroes become buttheads, Lex takes his place, Chloe takes her place, the barn is returning and there's just something really nice about this season so far that I can't put my finger on totally. Maybe it's a normative framework. Yeah. That's it. 4 of 5.


    Well, fine! Don't do any YTMNDs then! Your loss!

    But I did get a nice little swell of letters for Arrival. Here goes! I'm in bold.

    BTW...I'm correcting a little bit this time to be nice, but feel free to check grammar before you send. As the season kicks into gear, I'll get more letters, and as that happens, I won't be able to correct as much, just respond, so bear that in mind...

    David Khattak wrote:

    As a new show: 4

    As a Smallville show: 3

    My eye-catching premise for scoring was dreamt up as I saw the new title sequence. A sequence of film that more than any marks Smallville out as a changed show, but is it one that's learnt from its mistakes? Intrepid Bich-er David Khattak investigates...

    Or that's how I'd like the tone of the email to go except it'll descend into many many asides, flights of fancy and one or two sneery remarks on "wind machines and flapping fringes"...oh and lest we forget my 'unique' punctuation....

    Anywho.... It begins. A crisis.

    An identity crisis so it turns out as all new 3d letters take up the mantle of "why did they bother" from Counter O' Death and run with it.

    This small detail, which harkens back to the very BEST of mid 90's tv alarmed me. not only did it artistically recall more Lois&Clark than grand old "Zod attacks and Superman fights in a rubbish tip" superman but it reminded me that, when entering into the 3rd dimension and placing your stars on turntables (you know, the ones ditched for shiny plastic and "listen once then it deletes" downloads) a dolled up title sequence is about reinvigorating the demographs.

    After all teenage girls hate beautiful tracking shots of meteors and the obligatory flurry of frenzied editing of highlights. The audience thrives on fractured editing, indisctinct cuts and Kristen Kreuk's coquettish smile to draw them in against Lost, or the less glamorous House Wives Attack here in the UK.

    Thus I hereby look upon Smallville as a new show; one detached from the restrained (?! Okay okay, Tractor hurling antics and Clark's Toss O' Death aside!) progression of Series 1 to 3 replaced with a sequences that whether directorially or editorially annoyed and frustrated my enjoyment.

    When I fired up the file I hoped I was watching another work of fan fiction. The type that brought the rough diamond of 'that' Superman Returns 'trailer' . The editing recalled the very best put-downs of "MTV-generation" jump cuts and entertainment. Of course this was only on a frenzied "21 eps in 21 secs bich!" opening so I calmed down when it settled down... if watching a 40 floor high ice castle appear can be called "soporific"! It was exciting and, before my hopes were dashed by the rejigged opening, got me rooted to the seat. Director-related annoyance was aimed at bad blue -screen crash zooms but it was a scene about actions and what little dialogue there was rung true, for once.

    Once the stilted scene with Zod-ites started I was mildly amused by Lana..standing on a leg that would fell might oaks of men, passive aggression has built up a core of iron in the little lady. The action scene, like the later similarly wooden Lex mansion scene, harkened back to Lois & Clark cheese. People who fire, er, fire from their eyes shoot squinty potholes in the ground ("That'll teach 'em!") suggesting gold eyes make you the laughing stock in any Kryptonian schoolyard as you crash into benches and crystalline slides. The fact they couldn't shoot for $#%$ lessened their threat.

    As someone who is "mildly" interested in directing I was frustrated by the lack of movement of on-screen characters. Watch the scene where the camera draws towards Lex lying on the cave floor whilst Zod-ites speed off. A kinetic scene, much like the one with Chloe freezing to death.

    Contrast with the baffling "climax" in the mansion. cold, clinical and like something you'd see in a student production with actors unused to using the space a stage provides.

    As a story it felt impressive but as the first example of fellow Kryptonians, suggesting our Kal-El isn't the only Kryptonian out there, it didn't delve very far. If it'd been stretched across 2 episodes it'd have worked far better (and if you read about forthcoming eps, I'd've been glad to lost one of them in favour of having this fleshed out)

    Finally, Lex. Directorially claustrophobic camera angles worked well to suggest his "intensity" but it was wrong. You could have played out his scenes with a much 'looser' camera and slowly, as the series progressed, tightened it up. Course this is what 'happened' in Series 4 (much to my chagrin). But here it highlighted the 0-100 turn unsuccefullness and I found myself disliking the character not for his 'evilness' but with what has happened to him att he hands of The TurnTable Brigade; those who're out to 'sex up' the show.

    So, if this were a new show, I'd have been impressed with the SFX and some 'groundwork' for the Superman mythos, but as a continuation of Smallville it felt curiously detached and a bit TOO grand!?!?! Certainly it felt constrained by taking place in 45 minutes and working too hard to catch up on the woeful Series 4 attempts at story-telling.

    Indeed, more than ever this show felt like it should have had the first half rounding off the previous series! Cutting off somewhere after Clark talks to Chloe and Zod-ites ask Jonathan where Kal-El was...

    Ah well, now that it's taking the turn for the Lois & Clark I will just download, watch, and see where it all leads. Can't wait to read the review.

    I supose a lot of people will email in about little niggles they had with the ep. It comes down, tho, to poor directing.

    - Lois standing beside Zod-ites despite being in mortal danger. The resulting line of dialogue comes across as weak and devoid of motivation (ie she should be backing away as an actor or director you consider these and usually act on them. Too many bad cues and setups. They must have someone with a whip off screen threatening them if they leave their marks!)

    - Clark V Myopic golden-eyed Disciples Of Zod

    - Zod Disciple #1 being unaffected by kryptonite long enough to "do a Mowgli" and shuffle across the floor and heave a metal door into position....obviously Mr Welling wasn't around to advise them on his brand of "probe acting" (ie shaking, panting, twitching of the "bot-tocks")

    With my own admission that a lot of the problems stemmed from shoddy production I'd feel less worried to 'give' Smallville a 3.5 but it's truly a different anything goes!

    Oh and chalk up Lana's TWO unconscious assaults on the chart!

    And it wasn't so much squeaky shoes so much as padded seal fur slippers in Alaskan hospitals.

    David Khattak

    See, folks! I'm not the hardest person on Earth on this show. But David always has a nice prose style I love to read, he's got an eye for the show that I lack (his interest in direction, his focus where I wander), and I always enjoy a good letter from him.

    I don't think it was too much of a failure, but then, as I've said, in contrast to season four, what wouldn't seem like a great success? However, when this letter arrived, I did see a lot of things that even I missed...

    Jehu Johnson wrote: Just want to say I agree with you about how good the episode was. Also I want to point out that when the cops were shooting the friends of s&m I don't think that that many bullets would have hit them. I see cases in the newspaper where the cops shoot 140 bullets and hit the person 4 times. If those cops where that good they all should be in special forces. Just a side note.

    And a good one, at that. I don't know. Usually they don't have a solitary target in those news cases though. I've never seen a criminal standing still while being shot at. The cops are probably juking and jinking as well, for that matter...

    After David read the review, he wrote again:

    It's odd reading your review. It begins to let me understand this "new" show. Whilst I tear myself away from the "Turntable & Wind Machines" title sequence I appreciate it didn't have really any horrid Lana "I hear we won't need men in 10,000 years" Lang moments.


    And for scale it WAS impressive......(I begin to sound more like one of those people who didn't want to buy that 50" TV..but thinking about WOULD fit in the space where we kept our jihad scoreboard..)

    ....and they had two good scenes of dialogue

    .....and we got to see Kryptons latest fashions....

    Schumaker nipples, baby.

    There just seems a bit of a disconnect. 900 minutes of TV prior to this resulted in an irrational fear of French-toting-exchange-student-photographers and sullied memories of Sabrina teenage witch to boot. Then it comes back ironed out but with poor direction and lower than expected production costs. Not the most important thing but I think I'll skip the 'Battle Of The Zod-ites" and make up something more grand to drive the show into 4/5 territory!

    Might be...that's my biggest fear right now.

    [Clark ducks round heat vision going off every which way from squinty Kryptonians]

    [Jackie Chan bursts in and proceeds to go through some complicated movements involving a bucket, Kryptonian and an umbrella]

    And a hovercraft. (Kung Fu, do what you do to me I can't live without my Kung Fu movies...etcetera etcetera)

    Oh, but I LOVED the brilliant silent* crystalline build up of Spike (who has a *&%$-eating grin on him cause they inserted an episode on vampires all for's in his contract you know)

    [The OC: Decimated by vampires whilst Marsters swans in, cheekbones and all]

    *a one off brilliant directorial decision; not a cheesy keyboard sound effect in earshot...(!)

    Kind of odd reading the final "Oh why art ye jumpeth thy Shark?" melancholic letter. It summed it up for me.

    Which, since they seem to sum up so much of what I feel watching this slice of US televisual entertainment, makes me wonder if your pages of prose and criticisms hold vast secrets to Life. You know, like a modern Da Vinci Code.

    Monkeybella is the key. The whip is the gate. Around the corner lies...Rebecca, arbiter of Ragnarok and the Lord of All Creation. Only if you have a strong heart can you pass her without the flying dog. Or maybe it 's G'mork. Test your philosophical mettle, numerologists!

    [100's of years in the future]

    [Researcher studies holograph, in fetching metal Kryptonian chest plate from Gucci]

    Fred: Hmm....he keeps mentioning "Rebecca" you think this refers to the FIGURE THAT MIGHT OFFEND declaring a WAR THAT MIGHT OFFEND on Tom Welling haters?

    Rose: No no no. A "WAR THAT MIGHT OFFEND" is when a woman stands you's call "flaky"....keep studying!

    David Khattak

    Sorry to change the phrase there, folks. I gotta think of the public. But I will say I agree with the sentiments, David. ;)

    Daniel McIntosh wrote: Very entertaining review Neal. A little on the cynical side at a few points but entertaining none the less. I would like to have seen Q make an appearance in your review saying to Warf "And Micro braaaain!!!!!! Growl for meeee!!!!"

    If it 'tweren't cynical, it wouldn't be Neal brand reviewing. An easy to please reviewer is also known as a shill. As for Q, don't count him out. I plan on making the Trek theme a recurring mantra. Kind of a revenge for Enterprise being taken off the air. Expect me to say things in Klingon that would make the FIGURE THAT MIGHT OFFEND upset.

    I am with you on the CGI for the fortress. But that is what happens to the budget when you have a crap season. Also, CGI ice and diamonds are incredibly frickin' hard to do.Why? Well there are two ways. 1.) texture making as in Computer games. This involves creating the object in the computer and then taking photos of the real surface and mapping it to the object. A lot of hard work. 2.) Ray tracing. basically getting a computer to reconstruct the lattice for the ice crystals and then calculate the path that a ray of light would follow through it from multiple angles requires some SERIOUS computing power. Probably not an option to the show. What we got was something in between. I was still reasonably happy though. The Interior (actual set they constructed) of the Fortress rocked though.

    Yep. That's why I would have went with a model, myself. I think models have largely been forgotten and are still a powerful medium. Just look at how well they made Revenge of the Sith work.

    I don't know about you, but when I saw Lana in the opening credits I was reaching for the ice and the cold water. I think that is why she will remain.

    I was trying to pull my foot from the screen.

    As far as Kryptonians knowing English? Well Jor-El did come to Earth for a short time before Krypton went kabooom shakalaka? It stands to reason that he would have passed on the English language to others or at least stored it in a computer to which Brainiac had access to which in turn Brainiac could have passed onto Bashful Barbie and Hip Hop Ken???? Or is Blane the Bashful Boogie Border now.

    Blane is quite a I recall, I ripped into it then, too.

    I wonder how the HECK Chloe is going to explain her sudden appearance in Bork Bork?

    Or the chickens.

    As far as preventing the immanent danger facing the world the Jor-El spoke of, well? I think the Kryptonian SUPERBABE and her pimp daddy were just the warm up for the real threat that Jor-El spoke of and that is Brainiac!

    Well, yeah. I don't know. I kind of like a woman that won't pop off my head for being insolent. But yes. BRAINS.

    I didn't get to see the preview of next weeks episode due to the means in which I watch Smallville, but from what you said, I think I may be needing that ice bucket next week and set the shower to running cold! ;-)

    Alas, yes! And that is my beef with the show...

    Later man

    Parker wrote: To me, the show definitely jumped the shark the moment Lois moved in with the Kents. This was my biggest gripe about Season 4.

    And also, Lana lied to Henry Small about what his wife said to her (that she should stay out of their life).

    Good one. I'll add that to the Lana lies. And good break point for the shark. Lois was it for a LOT of people, from the mail.

    Joe Bessey wrote: Neal,

    I've been coming to this site for a long time, and I enjoy reading your Smallville episode reviews, among many other things. I just have a couple of things I'd like to give some feedback on, both from your review of Arrival:

    Thank you, and commence!

    1. "Then they hold out their hand, use the force, and summon the key through telekinesis, last seen on a Kryptonian in Superman II."

    Other than in Crusade, after Clark rips the door off of Lex's plane and summons the Kryptonian artifact to his hand through the door.

    Good call. I forgot that.

    2. "Holy crap! Jason's thorax! But no Bo limbs, thank Rao."

    That made me laugh heartily. Thanks, and keep up the good work.


    You're welcome. It made me laugh too. That's the best ones, when I make myself laugh...

    Jeff wrote: Before I officially start this letter, let me say there is no way season 5 will erase season 4's inept storytelling and blatant discontinunity. Maybe the best approach is to ERASE season 4 (give or take a few episodes like the premiere and the finale) from the current and overall continunity. It's strictly a patch job at best, for there's probably no perfect solution other than rebooting the series.

    Agreed, for the most part.

    Now then...there were a few gaping holes you missed in your review. The Kents' truck was empty of belongings. OK, fine. But what about Krypto? Wasn't he on the bed of the truck? Even so, not even Clark was concerned for his beloved dog's whereabouts. What's up wit dat?!? Now maybe the budget couldn't afford the dog for this season, or the dog was unavailable for the days they shot this episode, or whatever. Who knows, maybe the writers wrote Krypto in, only to be left on the cutting room floor.

    Oh, snap! Okay. I've been schooled. Good ones! Natural extrapolation, too. Can't believe I missed that.

    And speaking of floors, what the heck was Lionel carving? It had a distinct shape, perhaps Kryptonian. Oh, and just where the heck did Lionel walk off to, when Lana terrained all over Smallville on two broken legs, just to setup the two freaks of the week for a trap? Can you explain that one to me, please?

    Of course! No wait. No. D'oh!

    Ya know, I'm just as confused about the whole Jor-el nonsense as you. What's strange is the disciples of Zod wish for Clark to join them, yet where is General Zod all this time? Somehow, Jor-el knew General Zod's disciples, but not Zod himself, would scavenge for Clark after a meteor shower. And the evil I think Jor-el was speaking of was Brainiac, not the goons. Yet, isn't is ironic that Jor-el is fast-forwarding Kryptonian knowledge via neural download when Brainiac is capable of the same? I have a feeling Jor-el is either Zod (I don't mean the voice) or Brainiac. After all, and stop me if you've pondered this, how the heck can a dead Kryptonian actively communicate with someone, engaging in conversation? I don't recall Jor-el from the Superman movies able to carry on an active discussion with his son, do you? Honestly, does it make sense? Either Jor-el is dead or he isn't.

    Take care,


    All very true statements, and all things I've wondered. The reality is, I believe, the writers don't know, but they have to run with something, so they continue in the same vein. Because to contradict themselves, unless it' s cool, is worse than avoiding skin on sweeps.

    Aaron Keel wrote: Hey man!!! Just wanted to say great review on episode 1. It's good to see you back. I just had one explanation about Jor-El taking Clark's powers. When Clark is trying to take Chloe to safety Jor-El tells him that his "emotions" get in the way too much and that always saving the one may do more harm then good. I hate to go all Star Trek but you remember what Spock says in Star Trek 2-"the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one". Jor-El is trying to teach him that his powers carry a certain responsibility with them and if he's willing to risk the entire human race for one or two people then he's not responsible enough to have them and shouldn't have them. And as emotional as Clark gets every time he doesn't do something right you'd think he'd heed this warning more. Anyways that's just my take, Jor-El is not evil, he's just trying to prepare Clark for what's to come and I think that's what the show is trying to get across. Great review again and I look forward to next week's!!!

    It's a pretty common theme in literature and movies, and it's a very Kryptonian thought process. What gets me is that here it has such potential, but they pass it off so that Jor-El can stay mysterious. I say define him as malevolent or good, and then riff off it. Like Lex. Make him good or evil. A little waffling is good, but four years of it gets tiring.

    Bruce Kanin wrote: Re: ARRIVAL

    Hey Neal

    Thanks for mentioning my questions from last season. That said, the less mentioned about Season Four, the better.

    Any time. Your letters and comic reviews are a constant informing source for me. The guy's got non-letters to DC folks, and they really do a comic nostalgic who loved the letters good.

    One thing though, which I missed mentioning in my other email: I still don't buy the rift between Clark and Lex. It's so contrived. If there were reasons for Clark to mistrust Lex, I've forgotten what they are. They used to be such good friends, although always with an underlying "something".


    Still, I almost wish for a solid reason for the two to grow apart, like Clark causing Lex to be bald (ha ha). I don't want the writers to make them enemies because they're supposed to be; it should be for good reasons.


    All that said, maybe something appropriate per Superman mythology is in fact going on: Lex still considers Clark a friend, even though his motivations have always been suspect. In fact, his motivations are probably a combination of curiosity (suspecting Clark is more than he appears to be) and jealousy (Clark getting parental love that Lex doesn't have).


    But while Lex still wants to be friends with Clark (for whatever reasons), Clark, who will one day be Superman, is already pulling away, sensing something about Lex.

    So, SMALLVILLE shouldn't show Clark and Lex as enemies, just no longer friends, by all rights.

    More agreed. They're gonna go for the excitement though. I can tell already.

    However, since Lois Lane shouldn't have spent many hours with Clark and in Smallville, and since the Fortress really shouldn't appear until Clark leaves home and is on the verge of being Superman, this TV show will likely exploit as much of the Superman mythology as possible, including have Clark and Lex be mortal enemies. You see it in the coming attractions. It's got to happen to make the show more interesting (so the SMALLVILLE creators think), so it will happen.


    It's just not right, because it's not Clark who's supposed to be enemies with Lex: it's Superman.


    Looking forward to Episode 2 of Season 5,


    Tim Gordon wrote: So I was really excited about this week's episode. The best part about it, at least until about 15 minutes ago, was the homages to the Donner film that were included in the episode. They were so wonderful that I called my sister in Baltimore to tell her about them (I live in Atlanta). She is an avid Superman the Movie fan, having grown up at the time of its release. Telling her all about the Kryptonians falling and the ship and the phantom zone rings rolling on one another had her very excited...but of course I had already read your review and need to explain to her the subtle inconsistencies of the portrayal of Jor-El. This is now the best part about the has granted a theory beyond all theories in greatness.

    What if Jor-El is not Jor-El at all? What if the character inconsistencies that you have found, the indications that he is a bad guy, are there on purpose? What if the choice of Terrance Stamp to play Jor-El was a well thought out ploy? What if Jor-El is Zod? That explains almost every single thing that you find wrong with the characterization of him. It explains why he would steal Clark's powers if he didn't return to the fortress. He doesn't want him to be able to stop him. The new version of Supe II's "Pains in the Neck" were the disciples of Zod...they were there to recruit Clark...he defeated them and lost his powers as a result of the time it took. Kara came to show him his help him realize that he is there to rule rather than protect, Jor-El would never want that of his son...and while they have butchered almost everything on this show when it comes to Superman cannon, they have held the Donner film in an almost reverence...they wouldn't change that characterization. Who is the one character that would be able to make Lex cower? It isn't Brainiac (though we all think that it will be this season), it is ZOD!!!

    I haven't really had that much time to hash this out...I am kind of doing it as I go. But think about it. Shoot Neal, write about it...use your talents to really work this theory, and I know that you will see how brilliant it is. I really wish I could take credit for it, but alas it is my sister who is the genius. Let me know what you think. Peace!!

    My instinct is to hope for your theory. My experience with this show has taught me otherwise. Look at the caves. People constantly told me to expect them to be explained. I think they were created and then used because they were there. Nothing on this show seems to have that "gotcha, we've been planning this for years" thing except as relevant to Superman canon (Fortress, flight, the progression, etc). In terms of original mythology, it 's all been winging it, as I can see it. J Mike had a long plan for Babylon 5. I find it hard to believe they've been plotting for Zod for the better part of four years. I would love to be surprised, though.

    SCOTTY V wrote: Hey Neal,

    Well it's been one HECKuva summer and we're finally back to new Smallville episodes. Happy, happy, joy, joy and all that jazz! I must agree that it was incredibly cool to see the fortress, even though we all knew it was coming AND we've seen it before. My only problem with it? I wasn't crazy about it in the films and I'm not crazy about it here. The Fortress should be a hidden arctic base. In the comics, which should always be our reference whether starring George, Chris, Dean, Tom or Brandon, Supes must use his heat vision to melt his way inside. He then flies under the ice and through a secret entryway known only to him. This gigantic scar in the middle of the planet seems awfully visible to ANYONE flying overhead, not to mention all of the secret satellites above the earth. I still can't understand why everyone still wants to dwell on some films that were made in the late seventies that weren't even that good then and should most definitely be considered outdated now. This is most definitely NOT the Fortress of Solitude, at least not what it should be. But at least they went there, something I kept waiting for Lois and Clark to do, and it was definitely very very cool.

    I still think Superman stands up, but I do think it would have made more sense to go in a new direction given the satellite life we live now. Underground with the old set would have been fine. A nice idea.

    Barring all that, yes I got goosebumps and I loved it. It was great to see all of the little nods to the old films, because even though now in my adulthood I can see how off they are from what they should have been, I did grow up with the movies and have seen them hundreds of times. Agreed about the whole Jor-El thing. Who in the world has any idea where they're going with this? He's been a genuine bad-BUTTONIA in the past, kidnapping little girls and holding them for years just so he can use them in the future on his son to trick him or something. But then he was a great guy when he visited the earth in the 60's and fell for Lana's great Aunt. He was capable of love and romance and goodness. Then he forces Clark to go bad, gives Jonathan a heart attack and now he's talking about saving the world. Not to mention, he was uhh, killed at least 15 years ago when his planet exploded with him on it! Remember, he was one of those flying bodies Clark and we get to see during his schooling. Who is this Jor-El, what does he want, and what has he done with the Jor-El we SHOULD have? I really thought we were going to find out he was a broken or damaged program or the Eradicator or something. But, since he's present in the Fortress and now he's talking about saving the Earth, I guess this is the real father. Sigh.

    My guess is it'll all turn out to be Yoda playing some trick on us. CURSE YOU, YODA, WITH YOUR ZEN TEACHING!

    Speaking of bad CG, and bad Superman interpretations from the 70's. The Phantom Zone is not now, nor was it in the 70's, nor will it ever be a flying PIECE OF GLASS!!! Not that the world at large will ever know it isn't. Just as the world won't ever know Jonathan isn't supposed to die because he's still alive well into Clark's career as Superman! But then, they also won't know that Clark is the real person who chooses to be Superman who then hides that fact by continuing to be very shy and perhaps feigning clumsiness and weakness. Why won't they know these things? Because the media that most of the general public get involved with is not comic books. It's film. And then television. And if we're lucky, we might find regular books somewhere down the line. Which means, that whatever stupidity these movie and TV people attach to Superman, that's what he is to most people. Unfortunate. And the strange thing here is that I loved this episode and I thought it made up for so much of last season. But I'm still saddened that the Donner films are so overrated and that people value them so highly. I loved Christopher Reeve, but the way the portrayed Clark Kent was just wrong. I like Gene Hackman but may I just say his Lex Luthor interpretation was...ahem, hack, man! That most certainly was not Lex Luthor. I was so happy when Lois and Clark showed us the real Lex. Unfortunate that they killed him off way too soon but John Shea's interpretation was the best ever. Rosembaum is great, incredible even, but here again we have the problem of him being too engrossed in Clark's life for him not to know that he's Superman when the time comes. We could make the argument that he's seen Clark hurt, in fact, that he's been responsible for making him bleed on occasion. Same with Lois, and though I like Erica Durance and the way they present the character, it makes almost no sense that she wouldn't know. As if we Superman fans don't have to defend the glasses being his only disguise enough. Al and Miles gives us MORE problems! It was great when they opened the PZ and it was just a portal, I think it would have been cooler and less cheesy had it just closed on the villains without the mirror effect.

    I don't know, I tend to like that effect. But then, not because it's sensible, more because it's what I knew as a kid. Probably the same reason they want to bring back the Silver Age.

    I really like the new credits, though I cannot believe they spelled one of the stars name wrong! You would think, that a multi-million dollar business such as television would be able to hire editors and professionals that actually DO their job! I mean, I am an actor, and I've been in many stage productions in my career. And much of the time the budget on these stage productions was very low, sometimes non-existent. And I can remember at least one time, in the 50 or so shows I've done where they've spelled my name wrong on the program. But we're not talking off off Broadway here, not to mention anywhere near television, we're talking about non-paying community theatre in small towns. For the last few years I've been getting paid, albeit much less than Kristin, and where I still could see it happening, I'd expect in this day and age of computers and spell-checkers for our spell-checkers, that we could get the opening credits of a high (albeit dropped recently) budgeted television show correct! Beyond that, I really liked them. I did expect them to be cooler and have more of that 3D thing everyone's been chirping about. The 3D-ish thing only happened for the title of the show. Other than that, the credits weren't too advanced. They do look cool though.

    You caught that, huh? I missed it...and I'm still kicking myself.

    I thought it was a little over the top when all the police started firing at the Kryptonians without provocation. It would have been a slight tweak just to have the "Disciples of Zod" fire first. Then the attack would have been warranted. I guess we could say that the town's just been destroyed and that from the chopper, they could see a craft of some kind and that the authorities assumed whatever was in the craft had caused all of the destruction. Correct on all counts but still that's a lot we have to assume on our own. In so far as the landing and the firefight not being reported. I was thinking maybe they didn't have time to call in or make a report before they were all destroyed. No one survived the destruction so I'm thinking no one was around to tell anyone else what happened. Lana knows but she hasn't made a report to anyone yet and perhaps Clark will convince her not to tell anyone about it, lest he bring unwanted attention into town. In terms of the hospital, there's no real proof that there were aliens. People might say two really weird people attacked some folks. But those people could have been on drugs or just kinda strong. Out in the field, there was a lot of destruction and possibly nobody left to report exactly what happened and now the ship is gone. In the hospital, hearsay. Of course, we could really make the argument that with all these high school students dying or being killed weekly, often by super-powered people, that there would already be government officials everywhere and this town would have been investigated ad-nauseum but then I guess we wouldn't have a show.

    I think Lois going to the Kent farm makes sense. They took her in and they've helped her quite a lot. Other than Chloe, they're really the only family she's had of late, and she knows that Clark and the Kents could be in trouble. She doesn't know that Chloe is any danger. All she knows is that Lana went to the mansion and that Chloe went to find her. Lex isn't evil, at least that anyone knows and perhaps it's already been reported that the outskirts weren't hit. Besides, the Kent farm is a staple in the main part of town. The Luthor mansion is much further away and she might have been on the way when she stopped off to make sure the Kents were ok.

    Lana tricking the Kryptonians? I thought it was real cool. Besides, I think it's obvious they don't really know who Kal is or what he would look like. After all, they ask Lex if he's him. Lex may only be a few years older than Clark, but he most definitely doesn't resemble him. They probably know that a baby was sent to this planet 15 years ago by Jor-El and not much else. They were asking everyone where he was. So if someone actually said they did, that was what they were waiting for.

    Sure...great idea. Poor execution. And still, how do they fly across the galaxy but not have a scanner?

    The Fortress in the Donner film did have heat if I remember correctly, because Superman asks Lois if she's cold and she says "I guess I should be freezing but I'm not." If there were no heat, or some sort of shielding from the arctic elements, Lois would be like Chloe is here, blue-lipped and shivering. I think Clark can run and fly with people without hurting them because of his control and his protective aura. It's really the only explanation, otherwise throughout the comics and other incarnations over the last 70 years, many many people would have broken into various bits due to having been "rescued" by Superman. Very romantic and very cool the way Chloe puts it to Clark, though. One of the many times I grew teary during this premiere.

    Perhaps ask Eddie on that one...

    Lana is very lucky. You only survive that sort of crash on television, my friend. Although, I could definitely see her ignoring the pain and staying upright to move away from the Kryptonians in fear. Adrenaline can do a whole HECKuva lot in these situations, me thinks.

    Oh yeah. No question. But why didn't it AFTER the crash? I'd say that would inspire a TON of adrenaline.

    Lex has a right to be angry with Clark? I'll say this again, just because I think everyone's listening. Not everyone you ever meet in your life just has the right to know everything that ever happens or has ever happened to you.

    Nah, but if they do it in MY cave, I'm gonna ask!

    Clark decides, in every version of the story, that to keep his family and others safe, that it's best if people don't know about his origins and abilities. We saw it with Pete, he worries about it with Lana, in the future he worries about Lois. When people are let in on the secret, their lives become more complicated and dangerous. Plus, in recent weeks in our characters lives, we have seen Lex become more and more obsessed with caves and elements and Clark's secrets. I think it was enough when Clark found out in season 3 that Lex had still been studying him and in fact had a whole room in the mention dedicating to fostering HIS lies. Lex has been pretty trustworthy? Pah! Furthermore, I think Lex is lying just to test a hunch, because in my memory he never gets close enough before Clark is already gone, to have seen his body in the light. While I was watching it I didn't think about it and I thought it was possible, but first, Chloe knocks him down and then, as they're both getting closer again, the light gets blinding and they turn away and shield their eyes. Speaking of which, how does Chloe get to the arctic? Clark was gone and she was still outside the room?

    That field that protects her also dragged her along! Uh, yeah! I think. Pah! But anyway, I see that they've built it up with Lex. What gets me is that they've done it before and he hasn't gone bonkers, nor has Clark.

    Clark loses his powers because Jor-El tells him to be back before the sun sets and he isn't. We see this in Clark's expression as he's looking out the window and the sun's going down. I don't particularly like it, because I don't really see HOW he could do it. Being that he's non-existent and all. At least when Jonathan was granted the powers he was in the cave and hit with energies and power from within the chamber. I get the connection to the Donner films again, where Clark makes the choice to be with one woman rather than savior of the world so he must go in the room that removes his powers. I thought that was kind of dumb then too, but at least there was a room in the fortress. Here, they just go away magically. Nothing hits Clark, he doesn't even jolt or grunt or anything. The powers are just gone. But, if it was Jor-El and that was the reason, it was explained in both the narrative from Jor-El when he warns Clark, and in the scenery as Clark sadly watches the sun go down, but decides to stay with Lana.

    Makes sense. I missed it. Which doesn't mean I'm dumb, it means the message wasn't clear. Or I'm dumb. Wait!

    I didn't even think about the Kent's repaired windshield and missing stuff but that's pretty funny. I did think it was strange Jason wasn't mentioned or thought about. I know he's busy gettin' all Supernatural on the WB's collective BUTTONIAs and all, but someone should have looked around! I guess the article in the paper was supposed to be enough. Lex apparently paid for an article to be written that both the Teagues were found in the same rubble. And yes, I must say I can't figure out how in the world Lex could know where Chloe was. I understand he's playing a hunch with guessing that Clark must have been in the caves and that Clark is lying to him, but how did he find Chloe??

    On your scale I give this episode a 4.5. Many of my deductions are in line with yours, some of my disappointments with it are not. All in all, if they can keep this up, I'd say we're up for a great season. But then, we do have the "outside the arc" episodes like "Aqua" and whatever has Lois stripping to look forward to...

    Scotty V

    Exactly my fears. AWESOME letter.

    Mike wrote: Just wanted to add my Star Wars comments to your on the season opener.

    When Clark is getting his Jedi training from a his master yoda he learns that his friend is going to die. He says he must leave to save his friend. Your training complete it is not says Jor-el. Etc Finally at the end I'll come back, I promise.

    I'd swear that line is a direct quote from Empire. The best part was at the end of the ep when clarks cheek looks like it has been FEMALE DOG slapped by a wampa.

    Enjoyed the review.

    Thank you.

    They even got Hoth in there! But then that would make Lana Clark's sister which is just TOO Kansas.

    Will Sabel Courtney wrote:

    All right, the show is back! And starting off on a high note, too. I really did enjoy it.

    My biggest question about the show is, WHY DIDN'T THE DISCIPLES FLY??? Was it because they didn't know how their powers worked when they got there? Jor-El knew he could fly, we saw that in Relic. Clark knows he can fly, but only when he "accepts his Kryptonian heritage." Blegh. Fara (fake Kara) knew she could fly. Why can't these guys fly? And if they didn't know about their powers when they landed, how did they get the heat vision and x-ray working? This is my main problem with the Kryptonian wannabes/actual Kryptonians other than Clark on this show. It took Clark a lot of time to control his vision powers, but they seem to get the hang of it right away. I'll buy the superspeed and superstrength, as they're just extensions of normal human abilities, but blasting fire from one's retinas? Nu-uh.

    EXCELLENT point that I can't believe I missed.

    And if they were shooting up the cops with their heat vision first thing off the ship, wouldn't that mean helicopters and SUVs turn them on? :)

    Maybe it's just destruction that turns them on. Sounds Zod-y.

    The show's not being too clear as to how the invulnerability thing works, with regards to bullets. In the first few seasons, when Clark got shot, his skin was like Kevlar; the bullet just stopped on it, until he brushed it away. But here, it was clearly BOUNCING off the skin of the disciples. Is it that as he gets older and more invulnerable, his skin places a more powerful opposite force on the bullets? Or do they even think about it on the show?

    Kryptonite. Look! A rabbit!

    Just because Lex was bleeding from the neck doesn't mean that his larynx would have been damaged; in fact, probably just the opposite. To be able to dig your nails into someone's neck, you have to place the pressure on the fingertips, lessening the pressure in the grip of the hand. Try it (gently! On yourself!); your palm doesn't even touch your adam's apple, if you do it right.

    I'm bleeding! What have you done! Guuuuurk! (FWUMP)

    Actually, if you look close, you'll notice that Clark's eyes ARE green. Or at least Tom's are. :)

    When I stare longingly at Tom Welling, he won't stop calling me, so I gotta trust you on that one.

    Were their eyes even glowing green? I didn't notice it.

    YOU were looking at the Schumaker nipples, weren't you!

    Totally with you on the "where's Jason?" thing. You'd think they'd at least be like, "Well, I'm glad that GROCERYbag was directly in the path of that meteorite."

    Or at least have Supernatural on in the background. This show is ALL about product placement.

    I was really sad when I saw that they'd destroyed the house set. It almost felt like my own house had been smashed. I wonder how they'll rebuild it. Actually, did they really destroy the actual house, or was the inside just a set and they CGI'ed the outside shots?

    I don't know, honestly. Anyone?

    Were there anymore Kryptonite in the meteors this time? It didn't seem like there was, seeing as how a) we never saw any when it was in space and b) Clark was near them and hit by them with no ill effects. It's a good thing, too, because if there was then the OMACs would be coming to town to steal it. And on this show's new budget, that would be ugly.

    I think Smallville is now wholly made of Kryptonite.

    Clark got the key back, by the way. He grabbed it (presumably, unless he's a COMPLETE DUMBEDDIEMURHPYINSHRECK) when he saw it on Lex's desk.

    I missed that. MAN, Clark's a good thief.

    I think at least five times I shouted during Clark and Chloe's scenes, "WHY DON'T YOU JUST GO OUT WITH HER!!! SHE'S SO MUCH BETTER THAN LANA! SHE'S THE PERFECT GIRL FOR YOU, YOU MORON!!! At which point, the other people in my dorm, the people on the street, and even my neighbor George W. Bush all yelled at me to shut up. But, come on, she's so perfect. I want to meet a girl like Chloe someday. Cute, smart, spunky and brave. Chloe or Lois.

    I'll take both, thank you. PWNED!

    Also, the hospital was in the Yukon, not the Alps. The shot was Switzerland or Scandinavia, no doubt, but Lex later says "I was wondering how you ended up in a hospital in the Yukon."

    Why do you say this to me when you know I shall only kill you for it? BORK BORK!

    Interestingly, my dad thought that the guy who oozed from the ship at the end was Zod, until I told him it was Brainiac. I wonder how many other non-fanboys thought that?

    What I giggle about right before I go to sleep is how many people thought it was a guest appearance by Spike.

    That was awesome when Clark punched through the floor to keep from being sucked into the Zone. Probably my second favorite moment in the episode, after Clark and Chloe's moments in the Fortress and in the hospital. (MARRY HER, YOU MENTALLY CHALLENGED KRYPTONIAN FARMBOY!!! MARRY HER!!! RESPECT THE PURITY OF LOIS, MARRY CHLOE!!!)

    Waitasec - did I just say, RESPECT THE PURITY OF Lois?

    (Editor: Yes, you did, Will.)

    (Neal: I need to keep my job here.)

    Umm...y'know what, maybe think twice about that.

    Or three times. Or twenty.

    Um, where was I? Oh, right. TV. Teacher, mother, secret lover. :)

    Babysitter, salesman, political force and a great piece of furniture when you put a blanket over it, which I recommend.

    Yeah, the Zoddles kind of made the typical Dr. Evil mistake. You know,

    Faora: Begin the unnecessarily slow-moving suction! Now, turn away. (Lex comes in) Lex: That's it? You're not going to watch, make sure he dies? Black Non: No, we're just going to assume that everything goes according to plan and not watch. Why? Lex: Come on! I have a gun, loaded with Kryptonite bullets, in my room. I can get it, be back in five seconds, blow his brains all over the Zone. Faora: Puny just don't get it, do you?

    There really is nothing like a shorn plot hole. It's...breathtaking.

    By the way, why COULDN'T two trained cultists of a military leader defeat an eighteen year old kid? It's not like he's twice as powerful as them. One-on-one with another Kryptonian, their powers are the same, so it's just like two normal people fighting. Level playing field. Two-on-one, Clark would have not much chance, unless he's Indiana Jones. Pulls out a kryptonite whip, starts kicking some EDDIEMURPHYINSHRECK.

    (But, Will, wouldn't the kryptonite also hurt Clark?)

    Don't be silly, it's, uh...white kryptonite! It only affects BAAAAD Kryptonians.

    They could not defeat Clark because their codpieces have a disease in them that make them catch stupid. It's contagious, but brief. Martha caught it this episode. Who will it infect next?

    By the way, now that they're out of high school, can I put away the Whip Of Teenage Angst? Or do I have to wait for them all to turn 20?

    Oh, you silly, silly, man. Grown humans never let go of their teen angst. But adults can poke fun at kids when they do it, so that's why we call it teen angst. When adults do it, we call it "issues" and give them therapy.

    I think Jor-El's just passive-aggressive. One moment, he's all for Clark saving the world, the next, he's taking away his powers. He and Lana should get together, so Clark and Chloe can get together, and Lois is all mine. ;)

    Okay. You get Margot Kidder, I'll take Erica Durance.

    The truck's windshield? Clear kryptonite. It's self-healing. :)

    Of course.

    Not to change the topic, but I think the only reason most people don't think Superman could work in the rain is that nobody's really tried to pull it off. Nobody's shown a Superman who really feels the pressures of his life, who has to push through each day's problems and bring himself each day to get up and start all over. Not a depressed guy, just a more three-dimensional take on the character. The darker, but not more evil, side of Superman. It got touched on a few times in songs (Crash Test Dummies, Fuel's "Walk The Sky" - which really applies well to Smallville's Clark especially, check the lyrics) and in Superman: Peace On Earth a little bit, but I think it's something that needs to be explored more. Maybe as an Elseworlds, maybe just as...something.

    In ten years, provided I get a shot, I swear to you on the soul of my son Fart, it will come to pass.

    Lex's owning the ship works for my idea that Lex will eventually come to become the world-renowned genius and richest man alive that we know he becomes by reverse-engineering Kryptonian technology. I think there was an episode of Voyager like that, where some software developer made it big because he reverse-engineered the circuits on a 29th century timeship, then created a chip business for billions. Which works well for my planned semi-sequel to Smallville, called (unimaginatively, I admit) Metropolis. Clark's spent his years wandering the Earth, and he's in school there; he's halfway to being Superman now; Lex is the arch villain for good; Lana is dead; Clark wears glasses, because he doesn't want to be recognized by anyone in Smallville. And he meets a new girl, named Lori Lemaris...stay tuned.

    I still get Erica.

    Well, my hand is in pain from all the typing on this Mac, so I'm gonna end this letter here. Best of luck, man!

    I'm gonna need it. Thanks, Will.

    TRA writes:

    Dear Neal:

    I've decided that one of the most frustrating things about watching Smallville is how many "good" or "solid" episodes could be "great" with just a few minor changes. Do the writers just get so into a story that they forget about what came before or are they just trying to cram so much in an episode that important pieces get left out? I don't know. Whatever the reason, so many episodes simply need some little changes to put them back on track. Let me demonstrate with "Arrival", an episode that I enjoyed, but that could have been "great" with a few dialog changes. See if this isn't better (and I'm not even a writer)!

    1. Lana is running from the spaceship; police cars and helicopters surround the area. One of the officials run up to Lana; Lana says "What are you doing here?" He replies, "One of our guys with Search and Rescue sent out an emergency call saying he saw ... who are they?" Dialog followed by remainder of story - aliens blast, Lana hides, etc. Without involving any new characters, the appearance of the "cavalry" is explained. No one new knows about the spaceship and none of the real tension of the scene is lost.


    2. At the hospital, Martha awakens. Jonathan is relieved - hugs and kisses. Before Lois comes in, Martha says, "What happened to Jason?" Jonathan says, "I don't know, sweetheart." We have at least touched on the fact that Jason was with the Kent's when the meteor struck. Continuity with last season.

    Excellent as well.

    3. Lois comes into the room with the Kents. Episode dialog ensues after which, Lois says, "You know, I'm worried about Chloe. I tried to go find her but there are road blocks everywhere!" This line is followed by the explosion in the hospital, aliens arriving, and you know the rest. By adding only two short sentences to Lois' dialog, we know that Lois does care about her cousin and that the authorities are concerned about the death and destruction of a load of their troops out at the field where Lana was running and hiding, etc. Continuity within the episode.


    3. Lana awakens to find Lionel scratching in the floor. He tells her, in his whacked-out way, how the aliens can be destroyed. She asks, "How can I find them?" To which he replies, "Oh, God! They're going after the wounded!" Now we know why Lana suddenly appears at the hospital. After all if Lionel knows who the aliens are and what can kill them, why can't he know where they are and what they're doing? After all, it was no real surprise when Lana ended up at the hospital - the only nagging question was why she ended up there in the first place.


    4. Finally, Clark is telling his parents that he has lost his powers. After the dialog ends but before Clark and Martha walk away, Clark says, "I know this is bad timing (looks at the half-a-house remains standing) but I will do whatever work is necessary to get this house rebuilt." For once, we get to see that Clark has the ability to assess other people's concerns and address them. Recognizing that, although his parents are happy for him, his ailing father might be concerned with the fact that he can no longer do the work of 5 guys at a time when half of the Kent house is destroyed.

    The only issue I was unable to address was how Lex knew that Chloe was in the Yukon. Every way I thought of would have ruined the surprise of it and surprise was important for that scene. Maybe the writers will deal with it in the next episode (but I doubt it). Maybe the writers need to hire some fans to review the scripts before they're final, since we're the only ones who seem to pay attention to these nagging little details! It's the little things that seem to continue to keep the good episodes from being great. Here's to the little things!

    It might be a hospital patient list, but why would Lex look anywhere but Metropolis? Cool letter!

    Dave Bratton wrote:

    Hey Neal--

    I gotta tell ya, the Season 5 premiere kicked this season off quite nicely.

    The scene with Clark in the Fortress of Solitude getting Kryptonian downloads from Daddy-Jor-El had some Superman goodies from the first film. I've taken the shots from Smallville and the original images from the Superman Movie and put them together for side by side comparisons. They are attached to this document in JPEG form; hope you like 'em.

    If you guys want to put them on the website, great. If not, I won't be offended.

    Take care,

    Dave Bratton

    IMAGE 1 | IMAGE 2 | IMAGE 3 | IMAGE 4 | IMAGE 5

    Incredible captures, Dave. I don't remember who said it, but I remember someone saying that the shots were entirely newly created. This pretty much puts that to rest. Excellent.

    Novashannon wrote:

    Note: I actually do not care whether you answer or post my letter. whatever floats your boat!

    Lois and Chloe.

    Dear Neil, Neil, Just read your interesting review, and felt the need to set you straight on some things. You listed Alexander the Great, Philip of Macedonia, and Darius are all historical, not mythological, references. Please fix that!

    It's greek to me! Though I do agree they're not myths...but then again, their glory IS exaggerated. And they are Greek. Thus they qualify.

    Also fix your grammar. You only say someone and I if you are the subject. When you are an object of a preposition, it is someone and me. For example: he gave the book to Neil and me, not to Neil and I. As an aaspiring writer, it behooves you to set a better example for your readers! I know that you were reprinting someone else' work, but edit, please! (it said, "If I'm not careful, that purple kryptonite will increase the already boundless tension between Lex and I." Between is a preposition, so it should be "Lex and me."

    Right, yes. True. You are correct. An aaspiring writer named Neil should definitely know how to modify groupings. Sorry, gotta tease you there But then, it could just have been style. See, one thing you learn after you intensely study grammar is that there are things you're not supposed to do that are nonetheless conversationally acceptable. And that's how I write this article. For instance, the last sentence is totally grammatically unacceptable. You're not supposed to use "And" to start a sentence. Doesn't matter to me. I'm a descriptive linguist as opposed to a prescriptive, and my philosophical ideological approach towards mass market publishing is that I'd prefer to say Steve and me went to the store if that's what I'd say conversationally. It's a colloquial choice. Or it could have been a mistake. I shoot out 30 pages worth of stuff in 8 hours. Mistakes will occur.

    Okay, now that fact and grammar lessons are over, I basically agree with your review, although I do not agree with the high rating you gave the season premier. The show featured too many things that made absolutely no sense. You mentioned several, but I would like to point out another one. How the heck did Jor-El (if indeed it is he, givven his attitude changes) take away Clark's powers? He has the powers due to his Kryptonian DNA, coupled with the yellow sun and lesser gravity of Earth. How did a dead guy think ahead to plan such a thing, and when did he have the time to perfect a DNA-changing machine? What did he, in fact, use to change Clark's DNA, since we saw nothing. Did it happen by magic? Why in the world would JOr even think about taking his son's powers away while trying to save Krypton? How did he do it? (I know I already said that, but I still think it is the largest flaw in the story). I know that the second movie had Jor taking away Kal's powers, but it made no sense there, either, but at least it happened in the FoS, where Jor could have had a machine that did that. It was a poor deus ex machina in the movie, and it was poor here.

    I don't have any problem with the crystal causing the Fortress. As for taking away the powers, it might be to teach his son a lesson, I guess, but I agree. It's a little odd.

    I also want to say that I really wish Lois would go away. The story is supposed to be about how Clark became superman, not rewriting the story. Having her guest ssttar would be one thing, having her a regualr in the "ville is ludicrous. No way she woulkd not know who Superman was when she saw him after spending so much time with Clark. Not to mention, that she knows he is not a bumbling nerd. Kinda blows the whole story.

    Yes. Duly noted.

    Oh, yeah, and would you please tell the misinformed that Lex originally was a freind of Kal's in Smallville. For a few years, after the Crisis, he was not, now the comics have resstored him to Smallville. I get so annoyed when people say, "Lex was not in Smallville." That scenario was only around for less than twenty years. The rest of the time, he was.

    Those twenty years are the basis for most of the current fans...but yes, I' ve stated that in the Silver Age Lex was in Smallville.

    Finally, on your KO page, you have someone saying that he met Flash on the show. Well, he met Kid flash, whohas not been Flash so far. It was not Barry Allen or Wally West. They are the ones who have been the Flash!

    Just like Dr. Hamilton was not Emil. The column is more to show the incarnations (if changed) of classic characters.

    Anyway, glad to have you back.

    Thank you.


    David wrote:

    Hi, I've just seen the first episode of Smallville series 5, it was brilliant, as a massive superman fan I thought it couldn't have been any better, but I do have one problem.

    In the scene when Clark is talking to Jor-el in the fortress, you can see glimpses of Krypton from Superman the movie, but in these background images you also see the space ship bursting through the roof of Jor-els quarters, but in Smallville's first season its a completely different ship, i really love the homage they paid to the movie, FANTASTIC, but what do you think of this slight oversight by the creators of smallville. Or am I being a spaz? Thanks.

    You are correct...and a good point. Thanks, David.

    SCOTTY V wrote: Sorry Neal,

    I'm sure you're getting a lot of emails and I've already sent a few but I thought of something else you mentioned. I remember when I first watched the season finale last season, the scene with Clark ripping the safe door off at the mansion WAS in the episode. Then I downloaded it from online about two months ago and the scene wasn't there. I was very confused. I then, in my excitement for the premiere, taped the finale which was on again on the WB the week before the premiere, and the scene was there. So I'm not sure what affiliates did what and/nor why they would cut that scene, it seemed pretty essential, but out of watching the finale three times, I did see the scene twice.

    Odd. I can see why, though. Good catch.

    Jonathan wrote: It seemed pretty obvious to me that Jor-El took Clarks powers in the season 5 premiere for not returning to the Fortress by sundown as he promised. I mean it seems Jor-El has been testing Clarks resolve these past few years. I think it seems like he's been evil but I have a feeling it will be one of those things chalked up to different parenting skills on Krypton and Jor-Els belief that Clark will be Earths greatest champion. I think when he told him to take over Earth he was just testing maybe the way Clark was raised on Earth and testing Jonathan and Martha as appropriate parents (how he does all this from beyond the grave is beyond me). I also got the feeling that the trouble facing Earth that Jor-El spoke of was Brainiac and not those two sissified followers of Zod. And what really irked me about them was their seeming mastery of powers that they had for all of 2 seconds and in truth shouldn't have manifested at all due to limited yellow sun exposure. I'm willing to overlook that for purposes of plot movement and the off chance that they soaked up yellow rays on there trip from wherever they came from (and I would like to know how they survived Krypton exploding, I doubt they busted out of the Phantom Zone via spaceship). I didn't like that they had immediate use of heat vision and I will note that they weren't given the ability to fly which I guess was the directors way of establishing they hadn't quite absorbed that much sunlight. I also was not surprised that Lex tracked Chloe down, in fact I don't think it should have been that big a surprise, I mean if you are a billionaire and some girl just disappeared from a cave or it seems she left the scene of an accident that left Lex unconscious then it stands to reason Chloe may be injured and a fairly effective computer search by Lex's people would find Chloe in an Antarctic hospital (I'm guessing she had to use her name for insurance purposes and for the fact they, her and Clark, would see no reason to use an alias out in the cold tundra). I had a few other quibbles but what are you gonna do?

    The usual...write about it for 20 pages! Good points.

    unusual_gent wrote:


    First off, great review. glad to see you back. loved all the movie quotes... I got all of them and each one made me laugh out loud. (not lol, which seldom is a smirk, but literally laugh out loud.)


    To a few points:

    1.Why do the Romans have British Accents and why do Kryptonians speak English? From everything I have seen on Smallville, it seems that Kryptonians are not only familiar with earth but use it as their spring break. (remember Jor-el in the 50's) Earth girls are easy. Since their artifacts have been found tracing back hundreds and thousands of years, I assume English is one of the required languages of study.

    Must be.

    2. I think clark gets a pass for hanging out in the fortress while there is a meteor shower in smallville. Super-Pops tells him that the meteor shower is just the beginning and that he better be prepared for when the real poopy hits the fan.

    3. I thought the fortress was attacking her too... humm

    4. He superspeed off with Chloe? Hope she had on some chapstick... cause the windshield factor must have been kickin.

    5. I liked Clark seeing the news coverage and realizing it was time to get work. It reminded me of superman II. In fact this whole episode did.

    Likewise. All good points.

    6. Why are the Ghosts of Krypton speaking through Lionel Luthor? Why are they telling the family enemies of Kal - El how to kill Kryptonians?


    7. I remember thinking... ahhhh shouldn't lana be at least holding a piece of the rock for her own protection? Then at least she wouldn't have gotten super SYNONYM FOR LANA slapped across the room...


    8. OK Biggie! **** Why does Clark lose his powers? I think you are making the same mistake that I was, and that Clark does: We assume that when Jor-El says "Do action A or consequence B will happy," that consequence B is a form of punishment by Jor-el. But Jor_EL is dead, right? What Clark is talking to is a sophisticated, interactive, voice operated computer program Jor-El created. It doesn't punish Clark (in my opinion). It merely anticipates all the choices that Clark could possibly make and then warns him of the most-likely consequences. Maybe that beam was changing his body... and not completing the process in 24 hours causes a Kryptonian's body structure to change.

    His desire to complete the process, even at the risk of Chloe's life is consistent with Brando Jor-El of the movies. That Jor-El was willing to let the whole population of Krypton to die in order to 1.) avoid personally going to the phantom zone and 2.) have time to sneak Kal-El off the planet. What is one girl's life to make sure the last son of Krypton remains invulnerable and alive?

    I can't make sense of Jor-El in this show...

    9. Remember saying wow, Clark just forgot about Chloe. I told my sister, I don't see how lex would have found her or even had a clue where to start looking. and even if he did find her, how would he get to her the same day? To which, my sister replied, "Dude... He's Lex Luthor." To which I must admit is a compelling answer.

    A fair point.

    10. I can see why no one in the hospital would in the news or army would freak out at the two aliens rampaging through Smallville. IT IS SMALLVILLE. There are super powered freaks every day, including many that have rampaged the hospital. BTW: what is the Kent healthcare plan... it seems to cover everything. Speaking of which... was the gimpy leg that Lana ran on the same one that was trampled by her horse and required extensive rehab? If so... back to the walking dead rehab center she goes.

    Look! A...leg!

    thanks neal

    Any time.

    thebrakeman wrote: Neal, I think Jor-El took his powers away because Kal-El did not return before sunset. Remember, it's not just that Jor-El required it, Clark said, "I give you my word!" I took note of that. If Clark is going to stand for Truth & Justice, he must be true to his word. He was clearly warned of dire consequences of breaking his word. Jor-El would have been the poorest of fathers for not punishing his son.


    That said, I agree that it will be used to teach Clark a lesson. Dying & bringing him back to life?....Well, you must have some inside information there. It's clear from interviews that they will use this period (like Superman II) to let Clark get some hanky-panky. I think that this is an unnecessary ploy to get ratings (as is Lois stripper previews). The story would hold ratings on it's own, so I really don't understand the need for pole dancing, first-time sex, and last year's honeymoon suite encounter. But I guess that ropes in everyone that doesn't really care about "Superman", and that means more ratings.

    ..sigh......... thebrakeman

    Yes. Boobies rule the world. As does the illusion of sex.

    DJ Gallaher wrote:


    I've never seen Monster Mash but being a fan of 80's HBO as well, I thought of Monster Squad as another vortex-end-scene-movie. Also, the fully enlarged friendship bracelets reminded me a lot of the restrain hula hoops that Zod & Co. were trapped in in Superman the Movie.

    D'oh! I meant Monster Squad. This is worse than the time I confused Faye Dunaway with Glenn Close!

    I'm looking forward to how Season 4 pans out. Have you heard any reason why Smallville wasn't aired at all last year? Or am I just in denial?

    I saw nothing. NOTHING! Just Lionel standing over me, saying, "It's for your own good, son." And then a slight rubbery taste, Johnny Cash...then I woke up with Squeaky Shoes.

    Adios DJ

    Adam H wrote: Neal-

    And so another Smallville season is upon us, and once again, the powers that be have put a lot of effort into the premiere... but can it last? I don't know if you've looked at the spoilers at all, but it looks like the next few episodes aren't too interesting to me. But yeah, overall, a good "redemption" for last year's debacle.

    I have worries, but they're getting better. It helps that I'm not picking at them.

    A few things caught my eye in the opener. Much like you, I'm a Star Wars geek, so I thought the way the Kryptonians would grab someone by the neck was a little Vaderesque. Nice nod if it was meant to be... I don't know if you're a Spider-man fan, too (I think you are to a degree if I remember correctly) but the "Brainiac oil" dripping at the end made me think of the Venom symbiote immediately. Do you know if Gough and Millar are connected with Spidey 3? I know they were with Spider-man 2, and I thought that'd be a cool foreshadowing to the next film...

    I am a big Spider-Man fan. Generally I like all comics except for Archie (what a puss) and NFL Superpro. And that's only because the Superpro took steroids. I shot him up myself. I can't verify that. As far as I know, Spider-Man 3 is Gough and Millar free.

    You kind of poked fun at the "fight". Didn't you think that had much more potential? I mean, here we have three Kryptonians with full abilities, (how the Zoddies absorbed enough solar energy already, I don't know) yet all we get is a couple pushes? What is that? I want punches that break windows, heat vision that melts floors, and some supder-speed! Hopefully we'll get it all eventually, though... Question: why did Lex just leave Lana on a couch in his office, where his now psycho dad was? Did he not foresee some problem there? Also, why could that kryptonian pick up a vault door under kryptonite radiation, yet Clark curls up into the fetus position whenever he's within 20 meters?

    The biggest IM complaint I got was that the fight was not pursued to its full extent. And yeah, there's some truth there, but just how much can TV afford, you know? Complain if the MOVIE fight sucks. Here, be glad for a good story. Though I would have liked to see it.

    As for the vault door, appears to have perished with its mother during the storm.

    I'm hoping beyond hope that the writers have a plan, and will bring everything together by the end. What I'm hoping is, that since we now have Zod mentioned (but not seen, correct?) is that who Clark's been led to believe is Jor-El is truly Zod. I know this has been thrown around before, but it would just make so much sense. That would explain why he appears evil, and you could say that when he was "downloading" info into Clark, it was in order to prepare him to join the other kryptonians. Wouldn't that be better than just making Jor-El normal in the end and pretending a lot of this never happened?

    Yes. Will it happen? The 8 Ball says "Outcome unknown".

    As always, thanks for everything.

    -Adam H


    PS I'll check this box to be published in your reviews, but I don't care either way. You may use it if it's what you want, or you may edit it however, too. If you do use it, just please obviously don't use my email address or the PS.

    Good. The following he TOTALLY said:

    Neal, I don't know how you get all the ladies. I hear everyone's sending you cash! I hereby agree to send you ten thousand dollars. Erica said you were so hot last week. I COMMAND the publishing companies to give you a book deal. If they don't, I will personally lead an army of the dead to the steps of Random House and SLAUGHTER all of the evil editors.

    Gee, thanks, Adam!

    PPS I don't think I ever heard what you thought of Revenge of the Sith. I thought it was pretty much everything I wanted. How about you?

    It was excellent for me. There were two parts that made me laugh. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, and the awkward look on "No, no, I'm too weak!" I've been using that excuse to get out of housework for years. Then I blast whoever's asking me for help out the window with forcelightning. UNLIMITED POWAH! Look, a bunny!

    George wrote: Neal,

    Wow, awesome way to kick off the season! Great Episode, followed by a great review! anyways,

    "I kept thinking, "His name is Robert Paulson." For some reason, but then I had to get back to Project Mayhem."

    Don't you know? The First rule of Project Mayhem is that you don't ask questions about Project Mayhem. So, keep it quite before Tyler finds out you're telling people about the Project. ;-)

    You just talked about Project Mayhem. And I thought I told you to call me sir! Funny story there...I managed to, in very Fight Club style, sneak into a Chuck reading. He was a very cool guy. If I could pick someone to fight, I would fight Bill O'Reilly. I hear he's seen combat. That'd be a great fight.


    Great Review, keep up the good work!

    Thank you.

    Joe Slavin wrote: Hey Neal I just wanted to say that I love your reviews, especially when you point stuff out to me that I may have missed, I think they're funny and make good points. Anyways I was thinking about Clark's X-Ray vision, I've always thought that it was cool that it looked like an X-Ray but, correct me if I'm wrong, X-Rays are a certain wavelength of the light spectrum and when they are shot at a hand or leg or something placed over a Photographic plate the result is the photo of the bones. Anyway, I don't think that Clark would be able to see what we are shown. I know I'm about 4 seasons to late but this just popped into my head when I was watching the season 4 DVDs.

    Keep up the good Work Joe Slavin

    No sweat. Actually, my thoughts are that because he can see through things, he also has the ability to choose where his spectrum ends, and where to make light solid. So yeah, you need something for the rays to bounce off of, but who's to say he can't see it bouncing off of whatever he chooses to make solid in his spectrum behind it? But then again, I don't know much about it. I do know, however, that if Superman farts, someone's really gonna pay.

    Thanks for all the letters. Now make me a YTMND!


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