Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 3: "Hidden"

Reviews:

Hidden

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • Gabe is a nuclear genius who wants to blow up Smallville. He fails.
  • Jor-El can apparently take over someone to save Clark.
  • Why didn’t he do this before? Ah, who cares?
  • Clark dies, and returns from the dead. Because of this, someone he loves will die.
  • Lana and Clark were caught doing the deed. No one really got in trouble.

    REVIEW:

    Wow, are people divided on this episode!

    I tell you, I got an email one minute, it said, "BEST EPISODE EVER!", and the next, "DIE, SMALLVILLE, DIE! I'M GONNA FALL ON THE SEND BUTTON BEFORE I KILL MYSELF!"

    And though this may seem confusing, I think I know exactly why.

    Most people aren't reviewers, and they don't think of stuff in terms of story elements. They either see something really cool and forget the whole, or they focus on something really negative, and forget the whole. Uh, yeah.

    Here, what we have is a show with an absolutely INCREDIBLE sub-plot. A sub-plot that's better than most of the regular episode in the last year. That, for many, is worth more than a whole show about some yutz doing something that's impossible for no apparent reason with one redeeming death scene and a lot of forced drama.

    With me, I kind of see it as a decently constructed story that needed more time to play out, that tried for tension with a timeclock (bad move) and had all kinds of stuff going on in the background that we all really like, stuff that should have been at the forefront.

    Shall we on with it, then?

    What? Oh, you want me to answer whether or not the show has JUMPED BACK, meaning, is the show back to normal?

    Odd question to answer. No. No, it hasn't. Why? Because to jump back, it has to give you as cool or better of a feeling as the season by which you judge all other seasons does.

    I do not feel as excited going into this season as I did for season one, two, or three. Will this change as time goes on? Who knows. But the reality is we've had one episode with premiere glow, one decent episode, and then a tanker, this one. Not a super-tanker, this is nowhere near a one, but it's not a five, that's for sure. The subplot? Easy five. The story as a whole, not so much?

    I will tell you when I believe the show jumps back, if it does. I believe right now it may, it may not. It all depends on how Aquaman, Brainiac, and sweeps are handled. With nudity and cool factor over rationality, or with tact and brilliance. Smallville's move.

    We fade in on the barrel of a gun, and an interesting scene. I'm thinking, okay, this might be all right. And then the gun unfocussed, we focus on the antagonist, and it's a teen killer. We realize that no, that which we were given last episode, the villain over the freak, has now just as quickly been pulled away from us.

    Anger ensues.

    We are given the scene...Gabriel, a troubled boy, has somehow hijacked a nuclear silo, killed the TWO guys in charge of watching it, who can launch a nuclear explosion, apparently. He kills them handily, starts a countdown, and calls Chloe.

    Immediately, the rest of the plot is negated for me by the staggeringly stupid aspect of this. In so many ways, this is impossible. This isn't like sneaking into a complex and MAYBE there aren't guards, because Lex is there.

    THIS IS NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

    I don't know. Maybe I'm overly trusting because I come from a military family, but I believe that one of the things we safeguard the most is our nuclear capability. You need an order from the president, an access code, two guys turning the key at once, and you know what? Both of those guys are armed to the teeth in a bunker that OPENS FOR NO ONE. At least, that's what I recall. I had a relative who WAS one of those guys for a while, and because for my entire life I've had a paralytic fear of both death AND nuclear war, I found some solace, some reassurance in his stories of how hard it would be to hijack a nuke.

    I hate to put it in this framework, but I will. If it were that easy, Al Qaeda would have already done it. Or Hezbollah. Or any of the multitudinous other people who hate the US for whatever reason.

    I have a whole slew of notes as to why. I won't list them all, because they're all pretty obvious.

    I do have some things which yet vex and perplex me. The first being, why a countdown? Why not just launch the missile. Let's assume it's part of the programming. Yeah, right. They're going to make it so you have to wait an hour to launch a missile.

    Presidential Aide (in his best Police Chief O'Hara voice): "Mr. President, the people's republic of Nealville have declared war on us and launched a nuclear strike. It'll probably be hitting southern California and/or Washington DC in approximately fifteen minutes."

    The president (in his best Commissioner Gordon): "The sum of the triangle of the angles of that isosceles are JUST TOO MONSTROUS TO CONTEMPLATE! Why, oh WHY did we put an arbitrary and meaningless one hour timer on our instruments of death?"

    "I don't know Commissioner."

    "And why, oh why, did we design missiles that could have a trajectory leading back to American territory. Shor'n begora, that was stupid!"

    "Aye. Aye, lad."

    Yeah, sounds stupid here, too.

    And let's get something straight...DEFCON ONE, which blared on the computer screen, caused a great and mighty burst of laughter from me. Because, get this, the president and the Joint Chiefs decide when to increase the DefCon level, and yet, the president and the Joint Chiefs are required to launch any nuclear missile. So apparently we're supposed to buy that they couldn't stop the nukes, but they COULD know it was happening the instant it was and declare DefCon one?

    Oy.

    Yeah, it just really yanked me right out of the story. I don't have to repeat, I assume, my assertion that a man flying, yeah, it's fantastic, but at least it has a rationality of scientific logic to it. A kid being able to co-opt and launch a nuclear facility? Pssht. Please. If a kid can do that, why not just detonate it in the silo and kill his enemies instantly. Why call Chloe on the phone instead of getting her out of town the day before and then doing the deed?

    It smacks of a forced plot.

    Chloe picks up the phone to talk to him, in her brand-new designer clothes in a single-parent family. Pssht. Please. (I say again.). You know what happens when you have one income with TWO parents in America? It's hard. What happens when you have one parent, and he works in a crap plant, and is in the witness protection program (er...). You don't get new VWs, you don't have designer clothes, and you're lucky to have A cell phone, much less a designer, product placement one.

    Again, that pulls me, as a viewer, out.

    We are supposed to believe, yet again, that Gabriel is just another person who is apparently close to the main characters, who they've known for four years, who we just never happened to see. This is one of the bigger critiques of the new Crisis. How did Batman have a satellite up that long without telling anybody? The answer, obviously, is that he kept it a secret because it would tick people off. Gabriel has no logical reason not to have appeared if he was a regular contributor to the Talon, so it's nutty.

    Cut to Clark and Lana in bed after bumping uglies.

    Anger ensues.

    I reiterate, not because I'm sex phobic, not because I'm anti-sex, not because I don't condone sex before marriage, not because I don't like seeing hot people commingling in new and interesting ways...but because it doesn't fit the character, this sucks.

    They started bunny-ing in Lana's pad (which we don't know how she paid for), and then they wake up in Clark's house, which was still being constructed last episode, telling us that they've likely been doing their thing for a while now.

    They come downstairs, and try to escape the parents. Wow, sure sounds like Clark to me, does it to you? A guy who's ducking around on his parents, dishonest, afraid of punishment? Or not.

    They get caught, which is what I'd been hoping for. Good. Ma will express her disappointment. Pa will be so angry he might pull out the Kryptonite.

    Or, Ma could tacitly say it's okay and Pa could ask to speak to Clark alone and then never say anything to him.

    The ONLY thing they mentioned was whether or not he used protection (thank monkeys), and the rest of the scene was played up for laughs with Chloe. Chloe comes in, diffuses the awkward scene, and then they have to go stop the nuclear bomb, so let's just not talk about it, huh?

    Ah, yeah. Let's play teenage sex for laughs, especially from one of our ultimate American arbiters of morality. The consequences will get completely glossed over, and we'll take the cowardly way out. I mean, heck, kids in Smallville grow up in a day and die, so who cares if Lana turns out preggers! Neutrogena will find a new model with a better figure in days. Old Spice Red Zone approves. Maybe they can even have Clark make a commentary that's completely offensive to everyone on abortion, huh?

    Survey says?

    XXX. How ironic, Louie Anderson. Tell us what we've won!

    An all-expenses paid trip to watering down a legend for sex appeal!

    And no family feud.

    It's like doing a contemporary retelling of the life of Jesus Christ, and just arbitrarily having him have sex because it makes sense in a modern context. Granted, Clark is not Jesus, but he is, morally, analogous in meanings and intent and life, for that matter, whether you're a believer or not. Still the greatest story ever told, or somehow lessened?

    Enter Chloe.

    "Oh, Chloe! What's going on! We were just poking fun of intercourse."

    Chloe smirks. "Well, uh, guys, there's a nuclear payload about to hit Smallville in approximately sixty minutes. We don't know why, or how, but Gabriel told me he did it, so I believe him. After all, I've known him for so long even if we never see him."

    Clark. "Oh. Okay. I believe you. Did you call the sheriff?"

    Chloe. "Uh, why the heck would I do that?"

    Jonathan. "You're sounding like Clark. I'm calling the sheriff."

    Hilarity ensues.

    Lana arrives back at the Talon and immediately goes into pout mode. Great. Trifecta. Implausible villain, trivializing a major alteration of Superman's essential elements, and now, Lana acting like a mean old bich. At this point, I'm thinking, what else could happen to make this worse, flying cats?

    "Hey, Lana. I just stepped into your room in the building that I own, where you have no way at all of paying rent, and I found crudely drawn pictures of ways that you lied to me."

    "Yeah, but you broke into my house."

    "Oh, so that changes the pictures?"

    "Get out!"

    What they were trying to do, I think, was establish Lex as a bum. But see, he just saved Lana from a murder investigation, he just helped rebuild the city, and his best friend just punched him in the head and lied to him. Said best friend is now palling around with Lana after being strangers for a while. While nothing can excuse B and E, I know my buddies just come into my house without knocking and wait for me when I'm not around. It's not that odd. They're not strangers, they're FRIENDS. And if my buddy came into my house and found crude drawings of me flying around the room, looking for stones, etcetera, my response would be to try and explain, not pout and kick him out.

    So let's have another forced, great little passive aggressive scene. I mean, why would Lex risk being arrested just to find evidence, when he can pay people to do his dirty work, if you think he's doing it for nefarious purposes. Lex is smarter than that.

    It's arbitrary drama, that's why. Give Lana a reason to be indignant. Give Lex a reason to be snooping around. Yeah, it's not just a device that Lana draws pictures of Clark and his strange doings and leaves them around. Like Clark and his crayon pictures of the cave. You can't hide these simple inconsistencies with a punchy dialogue, especially when the dialogue is passive ninnying.

    It's the old Jim Varney approach, only taken seriously. "Is that a rabbit over there?" We look to the side, and forget how implausible it is that Ernest has just blown up our bathroom. Eggs Erroneous.

    So Pa Kent finally finds the sheriff, and good thing, she has the whole military scrambled and looking for the kid. And imagine, all this in about ten minutes!

    How do I know this? Well, they gave me a timer.

    When Clark and Chloe arrive at Gabriel's house, and when they find his dad, it cuts to Gabriel and the timer. The timer then reads 43 minutes to go.

    When Gabriel calls Chloe, it's at 60 minutes. That means that somewhere between 60 and 43, the entire army is mobilized and out in force in a town as small as Smallville.

    Peh!

    So I'll be kind and say they staggered the narrative so Jonathan Kent's scene happened at the same time as the visit to the Gabriel house. That still means 17 minutes to arrange a STRIKE FORCE to go into a silo.

    A silo that they would KNOW was one of fifteen, and yet, instead of gunning for all fifteen as fast as humanly possible, they send the SHERIFF down with a MILITARY strike force, apparently forgetting the difference between a federal and local investigation somehow and making the sheriff a field commander. They then wait for the fat general to tell them that there were fifteen silos before reacting with astonishment.

    Now, bear in mind, they somehow can't tell which missile this is coming from, even though they control them all from a black box in DC and know exactly where each one is (even if we don't) and can chat with them across computers. And somehow, they don't have abort codes. Which they do. And somehow, a kid can get around them, even if they exist.

    ::Headdesk::! to take a great onomatopoeia from my friend Aelora.

    Clark and Chloe then break into Gabriel's house. They arrive there in 17 minutes, which means that it's a ten to seventeen minute drive from there to the Kent house, assuming Chloe arrived right after the timer started.

    They find a dead guy. Do they call the cops? Who knows. Do they break and enter into a murder scene, only later to never be questioned by anyone on the show?

    That's a big roger.

    Cut to Lionel, drawing on the wall, and Lex slamming him around. "Only HE can open it!"

    That's kind of cool. I respect that. Interesting sub-plot, well executed. Goes well with Lex's frustrations at being unable to open the ship. Top-notch. Though I am confused as to why they give Lionel grease and just let him write all over the walls. It seems a little, I don't know, stupid?

    So they call Gabriel, and Chloe says, "Gee golly, I got a flat! Help!"

    Gabriel, who has enough foresight to plan hijacking a nuclear missile but not enough to tell the girl he loves to get out of town, drops everything and leaves to go and help Chloe.

    Uh, yeah.

    And somehow, the military, which can mobilize almost instantly, can't check fifteen silos near each other in 43 minutes. In fact, they're so inept that he can actually leave the silo and come back without stirring up any trouble, picking up rope somewhere along the line to tie up Chloe.

    He comes upon Clark and Chloe, Clark starts moralizing (ironic?), and the villain shoots him right in the chest.

    Enter the first moment of real, palpable, credible, cool drama in the show. Clark goes down like a wet sack of intestines, spits blood, and we cut to a commercial.

    Okay, I think. This has potential! Though it's a little low to be a lung wound. But eh.

    Coming back from the commercial, they give one of those nice little summaries that don't tell us anything a moron couldn't figure out.

    "If you're just joining us, Clark Kent's been SHOT!"

    And then we cut to a scene where they're pulling Clark Kent into the hospital, giving him the old ambulance treatment, and one of the orderlies, kid you not, says, "He's got a gunshot wound."

    Well, that would make the summary immediately redundant, now, wouldn't it?

    AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES!

    Though we are easily led astray by concerns for Clark's welfare, I am again reminded of Onyx, another episode like this one that people really loved or really hated. There was a scene in that episode where Lex SHOT Pa Kent, they cut to the commercial, and next scene, they were just at the hospital, which begs the question, how did they escape Lex?

    Well, how did Clark escape, then? Who called the ambulance?

    And behold, the miracle ambulance, which is much more efficient than the military. Later, when we see Chloe tied up and Gabe talking to her, the arbitrary tension clock is at 16 minutes to go. I pushed that up to 17, because when they show it, Gabe's been talking to Chloe for a bit. That's fair. It's likely higher. Gabe LEFT the silo with 33 minutes to go.

    That means he PINPOINTED Chloe's location, found her, shot Clark, Clark somehow called an ambulance, the ambulance picked him up, drove him all the way to the hospital, began CPR, and put him in a room in 16 minutes.

    THAT is some service, right there. Especially considering the rural area, the slower service to a rural area. Don't think about it, you'll puke blood.

    Chloe in the bunker, "You're gonna kill everyone in Smallville!", as if she's just now realizing this. Chloe gets her second Dumb-as-Clark-in-season-four award of the day.

    The villain then explains just how to Chloe. "You don't watch your father do this every day for your whole life without picking something up!"

    I tell you what, the day they let kids down into the nuclear silo is the day I'll sell you oceanfront property in Kansas. Oh wait...see last episode. Er, I mean, meteor-proof housing in Kansas.

    I'll tell you what. I'm a pretty bright guy. I learned to build a house from scratch, bottom to top, in six months. But I had to be taught. I've watched my dad replace breaks at LEAST six times in the last ten years, and I still can't pick it up. Operating a nuclear silo? Oy again. Unless his dad TAUGHT him...which they never allude to.

    I then realize, yes, the kid is sitting in a silo that the nuclear missile is targeting, and I pass out.

    An ambulance instantaneously arrives and cures me, and I wake up in time not to miss anything.

    Cut to Lana, who has somehow managed to arrive at the hospital almost instantly with the Kents. (Ah, what a great idea, that timer!)

    Clark goes into cardiac arrest and dies. Never mind the fact that they're not OPERATING to remove the bullet. Never mind that he STABILIZED in a matter of minutes and they have him in a private room.

    ARRRRRR!

    But now Lana, the girl who's been nothing but a bink to him every time he's been in the hospital, ("You broke your leg? Who cares, you LIED to me!") now has the best, most touching bedside manner ever. Many thought this was a touching scene. Given three years of hating Clark for being Clark, I couldn't reconcile it. My brain doesn't work that fast.

    He then starts dying, and they allow Lana to look on in what should be a stable and sterile environment. He croaks. As in, dead. Not alive. No longer living. Clark got a whammy. Clark got the big KO.

    For those of you paying attention, that means he arrives, stabilized, and bit the dust in fifteen minutes, by the three minutes on the timer right after he dies.

    Immediately, Lionel wakes up, and busts out of Belle Reve. This is, of course, never touched on later. I guess they just don't want to do a follow-up with his sanity because he's rich. I'll bet they billed him for the grease clean-up, though.

    So Jor-El can snatch a body and save Clark if his life's in real danger. Why has he never done this before in the multitudes of times that Clark was near death (as he is whenever he's near K)? Well, LOOK! Is that a rabbit over there?

    Never mind the fact that he was about to be hit by a NUCLEAR MISSILE, which I'm pretty sure would kill a young Supes (at least, it nearly did in current continuity), and Jor-El is just twiddling his dead thumbs.

    Still, I'm thinking, all right. That was unexpected. That was neat. What's going on here? Is the show going to turn around and rock me off the couch?

    Cut to Chloe and the guy struggling. Chloe clocks him and tries to stop the missile, but he catches her, and points the gun at her.

    Two people have gotten in the way of this kid's plans. He shot them without hesitation. He hesitates with Chloe long enough for her to attack him. Smart!

    But Neal, he loved Chloe! He hesitated for that!

    Sure.

    So Chloe struggles with him, and she kills him. I wonder if she'll still be thinking about the implications, the ramifications, the mortifying aspects of killing another human next week?

    It's okay, because we immediately find out that death is not permanent. Lionel has taken Clark to the Fortress, returned him to life, and adopted a British accent. He's Jor-El now.

    Clark, knowing full well that there's an atomic bomb about to level Smallville, decides to have a chat with dad. He finds out Jor-El brought him back to life, and because he did, someone Clark loves will soon die.

    They fail to explain exactly why, and this royally ticks me off. It's supposed to be some kind of ethereal or magical deal that we're supposed to suspend disbelief and just accept. I don't. It's ridiculous. There's no reason, if they have the technology to reanimate a human being in another human being, bring a human back to death in a Kryptonian body, cause a pregnancy, blow up a ship remotely...the list goes on and on.

    They are writing themselves even further into a corner with Jor-El. Now Jor-El is a fatalist, who is guilting Clark for being shot, saying that he gave up his powers and thus is responsible for killing one of his loved ones. This is not Jor-El. At all.

    Why someone Clark loves? Why doesn't Jor-El say, take GABE's life energy? Or Zod? Or heck, Lionel or Lex? Doesn't make much sense, does it?

    Then comes the cool part. The part I really didn't expect.

    Clark runs for the missile, jumps up to it (I buy that, even though I've heard complaints about it. It's plausible), and starts climbing the hull.

    The rocket heads into space, but he holds on. How Clark breathes in space is beyond me. How he doesn't at least grow icicles is beyond me, but I don't care, because it was too cool, and I know it.

    He rips the detonator out, tosses it, and it explodes, all great.

    Then we don't get to see the landing, which sucks. I wonder what he did.

    I guess we just accept that the outside world won't start exploring what's going on in Smallville when it nearly caused a nuclear war, and no one will ask how the missile was stopped.

    He returns home, all beat up, and Lana comes to say hi. Pa Kent gives the tacit, "Okay, son, put it to her!" nod, and Ma Kent looks on lovingly as he grabs her, hoists her into the air, and makes her look like a midget, completely glossing over the whole sex issue conveniently. Will we ever hear about it again? I wonder. Especially given that Clark's scar disappeared, and sex with Lana might now kill her. They're just going to stop, then? Yeah. That really happens. All the time.

    Is that a rabbit over there?

    I think the worst missed opportunity here was the chance to show how Clark is a hero even without his powers. You might argue he did that last episode, but then, he had help from Lex and Chloe, and complained the whole way. Here, he was just worthless, even compared to Chloe, and almost died. That burns me.

    You can understand, I'm already agitated at this point. So much potential for good stuff (and indeed, some really neat stuff), but all in a shaky, rushed framework.

    I know this isn't technically part of the show, but then we cut to a commercial (at least here on the west coast) that shows a pair sitting, watching tv. A cat walks by them, and pukes on the carpet. The boy then goes to the carpet, picks up the puke, puts it in his mouth, and comes back and offers to kiss the girl. They then say, "That's what it's like to kiss a smoker.". I agree, but I'm sitting here thinking, they have to have a disclaimer when Lionel LOGICALLY contemplates suicide upon finding himself terminally ill, but a guy can stick puke in his mouth and try and kiss someone without any problems? We can't curse, but we can stick cat puke in our mouths and try and make out? What is WITH this puritanical bs?

    Anger ensues.

    Lana bursts into Lex's mansion. Apparently, the guards just don't stop her. Lex should seriously fire his security staff. I roll my eyes already, and say to myself, "Gee, I wonder if this is gonna be a passive aggressive guilt fest?"

    Surprise! It was!

    Lana throws down Clark's medical file and says, "How DARE you ask questions about Clark?" when he's just returned from the dead.

    My next note is hilarious to me, because the minute she started reading him the riot act, I started writing:

    "Lana mad at Lex for being curious about a man coming back from the-"

    And then, right as I get to that point, Lex says, "A normal person doesn't rise from the dead!"

    BING!

    Confronted with this miraculous and perfectly obvious piece of logic, what does the eminently sophisticated, totally adult and ready-for-sex Lana Lang do?

    Turns and walks out the door, slamming it and ending the dialogue.

    See, I might engage in a bit of discussion. Especially if, being Lana Lang, I myself would have had to snoop and ask questions to get Clark Kent's medical file. But then, that would be if I didn't want to look like an idiot creating arbitrary drama. Is that a rabbit over there?

    Lionel trots in. "Hey, son!" he says.

    "Hey, Dad! I learned a few new terms! Krypton, and Kal-El. And you know what? They're associated with Clark! I wonder how I'm gonna forget that by the time I get to Metropolis!"

    Lionel smirks. "Well, son, given that I was just recently working behind your back to steal the stones, given that I've tried to murder you multiple times, given that I took all of your memories, given that I lied to you about being blind, and given that the last time you saw me I was catatonic and now I'm just okay, I'd say that the easiest way for me to have you forget something is to wait until the end of my sentence."

    "Well dad, you're back home. That's a reason for a celebration!"

    "Ha! See! You've already forgotten everything I've ever done to you. Now what was that you were saying about Krypton?"

    "Kry-what? Isn't that the Kent's dog's name?"

    "Son...have some more brandy. I'll knock you out again in a few minutes and all you'll remember is that waffles equals pork."

    "BORK BORK!"

    "That's good, son. Say, how did I get back from BORK BORK!"

    "It's the Yukon."

    "Whatever. Explain it to me. How did I get home? How am I not worried at having my body snatched?"

    "Is that a rabbit over there?"

    No one's gonna check Clark's scar? The hospital's not going to demand to look at him? He's just miraculously shot and healed, and no one's gonna notice?

    Arg.

    The next scene is Clark and Chloe, where he tries to tell her about his problem with the giving up a loved one. He says, "Back to the lies."

    NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I mean, didn't we just have the symbolic goodbye to that annoying string of plot logic? What the heck?

    My next note: "Since he's having sex with Lana, and he's not having sex with Chloe, why would he trust her but not Lana? Seems a little odd. Sex means you're more intimate with someone, doesn't-"

    Again, the dialogue interrupts my thoughts. Chloe tells him that he should tell Lana.

    Well, no kidding. Get it over with, already. It's been five YEARS of this crap.

    So we have an annoying Lexana, an somewhat obvious Chlark, and I'm thinking, what other possibly crummy denouement can they hit us with, huh?

    Well, that's it. Cue the credits.

    To be honest, it's not all bad. This episode had some very neat stuff. The resolution for Lionel, the lurking Brainiac, the Fortress, Jor-El in person, Clark dying, the missile chase. Of all of these, however, only ONE was not subplot, and it was totally rife with inconsistency.

    So what do you rate something when the subplot beats the main plot? The main plot is supposed to be the cool part. It's why we watch. This main plot was pretty much a 1 other than the missile, and even that was effects, not writing, production, acting...the subplot was a 4.5 to a five, if you forgive the stupidity of the life for a life concept. I do.

    So I'm gonna be more than fair and give this one a 2.5 of 5. Just a little below average, all in all. A subplot can't fix a sinking, holed plot.

    Even with a sixty minute timer.

    Next week: FISH MAN! We swim with the sharks...the shark was even mentioned in the preview, you'll note. I wonder if that's ominous, or if it's ready to jump back. Flash was one of the only good episodes last year...but Mxy? Recall...

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW

    Clark's only human, which means, essentially, he can't do much. When confronted by a putz with a gun he falls and dies. Apparently, Kryptonians can circumnavigate death, unless it involves their own, and this means someone you love has to die. Lionel with a British accent, missile climbing, and then look! Is that a rabbit over there? 2.5 of 5.

    LETTERS!

    I'm in bold.

    Jeremy Jackson wrote:

    I had an idea for a new Smallville review subcategory. Sort of a spin off of the K.O. count, it's the "Jonathan Kent E.K.G. Count". It's the number of times that ol' Jon Boy has sustained a traumatic injury without a single mention of how it would affect his heart. Not that every injury should cause cardiac arrest, but I think he's up to five very bad injuries, and always seems to recover in a snap, with no complications. (That's TV for ya, but come on already!) It might be forgivable if they didn't spend at least three or four episodes in Season 3 talking about how Jonathan's heart was so ruined after dealing with Jor-El, that if he sneezed too hard, he'd probably drop dead. At preliminary count it stands:

    ONYX - Shot in the leg by Lex Luthor.

    SPIRIT - Thwacked by an axe handle by Chloe and knocked down a flight of stairs.

    COMMENCEMENT - House caves in on him.

    ARRIVAL - Thrown with Kryptonian strength down a hallway into a cart of hospital supplies, slamming against the wall.

    MORTAL - Shot in the chest with a huge bolt of electricity. Ten minutes later, the sheriff, upon seeing the FOTW's cigarettes, mentions that smoking is a dangerous habit for a guy with a heart condition - Wwhhaaatt??? Electricity to the chest, uh yeah, definitely affects your heart rate. My father in law has an irregular heartbeat. Every time it gets bad, they stop his heart and then restart it---using electricity.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I know the first two you mentioned in business for the first season five review, for which I thank you. Let me know what you think.

    I think it's great. I think it'll make a great addition to the KO Count.

    Adam Hoerner wrote:

    Neal,

    Welcome back, to both you and the show. Yes, after a season-long visit to the other side of the shark tank, I concur that Smallville has in fact jumped back. I think the jump actually began in "Commencement," at least to the extent that they swept out the crap. The question was would "Arrival" provide a smooth landing and a return to greatness, or just introduce more crap. Fortunately, the former is what happened, and "Mortal" seems to indicate the upward trend will continue.

    Now now...it's not back for me. Not yet! It was CLOSE, but I was holding out just in case an episode like this one hit us, and the trend continues. I need consistency. Ask me again after sweeps. But I agree, it's an upward trend! I mean, look at this season compared to last season. 2.5 was GOLD last season, especially towards the end.

    All kidding aside though, I'm in the middle of devouring the season four DVD set, and I have to say knowing where things are going makes the episodes fun to watch overall. The plot holes and inconsistencies of character are still there, but even at its worst Smallville is better than a lot of shows at their best.

    Agreed. People miss that, because I'm so hard on it, but I still think season four at its worst was better than any of that mass consumed crap people devour. Like the best episode of Friends.

    I have yet to buy the set, though. Something about paying for that abortion that makes me cringe. If someone wants to give it to me, yeah, but otherwise, there are...other methods for reference.

    Now to the big issue this week, Clark and Lana consummating their relationship. I have to say I agree with your stance about what it does to the character. I'm not going to extrapolate on those points, but I do think it bears pointing out why the producers and writers took this course of action.

    We know Gough and Millar based their take on the series largely on the Christopher Reeve movies. In Superman II, Clark becomes mortal and sleeps with Lois. To be honest, I don't think the reasons for Clark and Lana sleeping together go any deeper than that. It worked for the movie, why not for the series?

    Now, in the movie, clearly, Clark pays for his "sin." He is forced to shuck the life he dreamed of to become Superman once more and vanquish his enemies, and in fact end the relationship with his one true love to the extent of erasing her memories of it, though he is not afforded that luxury.

    Yes. And a key difference being that Superman, at that point, was NOT the figure he is now. In fact, in 1980 (or was it 79), he was still a one issue encounter kind of guy with no diverse backstory, almost one-dimensional in ways.

    Tangentally, I think

    SPOILER WARNING

    the child Lois is raising with Richard White in "Superman Returns" is in fact Clark's, a result of their tryst, although the child will of course be mortal since Clark was, too, at the time.

    END SPOILER

    That I don't think it'd be fair to comment on until I see the film, but if that's the case, I'll have appropriate comments in my review of the film. Speaking of which, anyone got a ticket for me? Heck, I'm afraid to wait in the line...guys dressed up like Vader I can take. Guys in spandex frighten me.

    But I digress. Do I think/hope the same fate awaits Clark and Lana once he regains his powers? Not at all, though if I were a betting man I'd put money on the sexual relationship stopping once Clark is no longer mortal. Why? Well, because mortal Clark is a flawed human being and thus is allowed to sleep with his girlfriend, whereas Super-Clark is above all that crap. Duh!

    A rabbit!

    Still, I think Clark and Lana deserve to be a couple for a while. We didn't exactly get to this point logically of course, but the fans deserve it, too, after the crap last year. However, I think the biggest mistake made this week, and the one that could ultimately drive them apart, is that Smallville missed one crucial element of the Superman II story.

    I like the idea of making them happy and normal. There was just NOT any kind of transition, though, and that kills a lot of the joy.

    Taking religion out of the equation here, when Lois and Clark slept together, they knew everything about each other. No (sorry, Neal) secrets and lies. But Clark and Lana took the fateful step with a lot left unsaid. Again, forget religion. To take their relationship to this level without sharing the big secrets both are keeping is a terrible choice by the writers and for the characters. Clark and Lana not wanting to live in the past is one thing. But they both know a lack of truth broke them up last time, and I thought both knew better this time around.

    And what of the vilification of Lex for the same activity? Oh, I guess because Lex got sex with money, and Clark got it by being a good guy, the activity is somehow different? Nope.

    If Clark and Lana had both come clean and then made love, I would feel differently. The story would then be a mirror of Superman II and, for better or worse, understandable to me.

    I think either way I would have been ticked. The subject just should have been avoided.

    To your point about driving to the Bay Bridge, they were simply at the Luthor Corp Plant. Remember, we saw the bridge prominently in the background when Lionel flew in at the start of "Tempest" to fire everyone. Does it make sense? Of course not, but we know the plant is on the outskirts of Smallville, not Metropolis, so unfortunately we just have to go with it.

    Heh. You have better eyes than me. And I pay attention!

    As to why Clark blamed Lex, remember, he asked Chloe to trace the video feed. My guess would be she traced it to the mansion. If Clark knows Lionel is in Belle Reeve, and I would assume he does, who else in Luthor Mansion would be monitoring Level Three if not Lex? And let's not forget part of why he punched Lex was to get Lex to punch him and prove Clark was mortal. Don't know if you picked up on that, and maybe it was just me, but I thought it was cool.

    I didn't see that. If so, there's a better way to prove that point. But then, they don't KNOW it was Lex. Instead of asking, then punching, he just attacked. Superman is a d*%^!

    A quick shout goes to any fans of "The Shield" this week. It was great to see Kenneth Johnson on Smallville, and a true surprise for me since I somehow missed he was going to appear. And I must say he plays a good villain.

    Que?

    Speaking of this week's villain, the only other one I can think of with similar powers is Jeremy from the Pilot, but Kenny Johnson's character needed an outside source, whereas Jeremy's power seemed internal, among other differences.

    Holy cow! That's right! The villain in the premiere IS the villain from last week! Gah!

    That's all from me this week. Keep up the good work.

    Adam Hoerner

    Thanks, Adam.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:

    Re: SMALLVILLE - MORTAL

    Hey Neal,

    FIRST: THANKS for including my email re: Clark & Lex! Nice to see it there and appreciated!

    No problem. Thanks for writing.

    Re: Mortal Clark holding Kryptonite. Ah, if you have a problem with this, then you have an issue with many issues - of the comics, of course. There must be countless stories in which Superman lost his powers and encountered Kryptonite, only to be unaffected. (OK, Bruce, name one!) Actually, I can't name one, but I vaguely recall that without his powers, he wasn't affected by K.

    I know of none in the post-Crisis...which is the frame of reference I was using. I may be wrong pre-Crisis.

    Now, do I agree with your observation? I think so. But one could imagine all sorts of explanations, including one that is related to John Byrne's reboot of Superman, in which an "aura" was introduced that is really the secret of his invulnerability. It explained why his clothing - ordinary cloth knitted by Ma Kent (not the Silver Age version which was made from indestructible Kryptonian blankets) would be protected from the elements. The aura was close to his body and protected the clothes (not the cape, which used to get torn up a lot, though they don't do that any more, unfortunately).

    So maybe when the Smallville-Clark has his aura (and powers), assuming this instance of Clark on the TV show follows the Byrne idea (and it might, because when Clark runs at super-speed, his clothing doesn't burn), Kryptonite distorts the aura - has an effect on the aura unlike anything else - and the mix poisons him - hurts him - can kill him. Without the aura, i.e., no powers, Kryptonite has nothing to interact with (no aura) and as such has no effect on him.

    There must be a dozen other "plausible" (i.e., sensible for this made-up world!) explanations.

    Right. Problem being, they didn't make with any or question it...kinda henky for me.

    Are we thinking too hard? LOL.

    That's my problem. People DON'T think that hard, so they get mad at me when I do. STOP THINKING! JUST WATCH. You'd be surprised how much I get that, which is equally surprising as the political ramifications such an attitude can have.

    Again, I didn't see the episode, but from what you wrote, I am generally encouraged that they seem to have rebooted the series. Hope so! As for Clark having sex, I am of two minds. I tend to agree that it would have been better if he didn't, because Superman doing this before marriage is just what you said - like him being Jewish, a Republican, gay, whatever. He's got to be fairly neutral.

    Heck, the name Clark Kent is neutral. "Smallville" and "Metropolis" are neutral, generic names. The more they tip the show and its characters away from the middle and towards an "extreme" (not to, but towards), the less that character becomes the "big rock" virtually everyone can identify with.

    BINGO. Collect your prize!

    Actually, placing Smallville in Kansas and not some neutral, generic state (although Kansas may be something like that!) - something they didn't do in the Silver Age - is even a potential problem, because if Smallville is then set to be relatively close to Metropolis, and they ever show Metropolis with a harbor on the ocean, they've moved everything into a Bizarro United States.

    They already did...the Edge episode. Kinda crazy.

    Anyway, as far as Clark having sex, in the end (wait - that didn't come out right - wait - THAT didn't come out right.!!!), it may not bother me. It didn't bother me in SUPERMAN II - at least, now I don't think so - maybe when I saw the movie, it did!

    It didn't bother me in Superman 2. But then, when I saw that, I didn't know what they were doing. I was 5.

    Lastly: you name your kid "Fart", and you'll regret it the rest of your life - and so will he/she. Go for "Seven"... :) Or be subtle, and go for a Native American style name like "Little Green Cloud".

    Oooh! A Married...With Children reference! Funny how Seven just disappeared, too, like certain Smallville plot elements.

    The Fart name, of course, is a joke. I do believe I will name my kid John Yossarian Neal Andrew Charles Bukowski Bailey. Even if it's a girl.

    Take care,

    Bruce

    Likewise!

    Parker wrote:

    In the episode "Mortal", did it cross your mind that the albino twins might actually be the "Braintrust"(see Kingdom Come book two, at the Statue of Liberty battle)? They look, talk, and act just like them.

    I've read Kingdom Come three times through, and I can't remember them. But then, with so many characters...I'll trust you.

    P.S. I'm pretty sure Chloe got another KO of her own when she was teleported to the Fortress. I'm not 100%, you may want to check your tape.

    I did, and she did. Fixed! Thanks.

    About Clark simply getting the Sheriff to turn off the power, giving the house's current state of renovation, maybe it wasn't connected to the power grid and was simply running off a generator, so Clark had to go in and smash it.

    Good idea, but then, I can only assume what they tell us. If they were just running off a generator, they probably wouldn't hook it up to a service, rationally. Generally speaking, a service connects to the kind of wiring that comes from a transformer as opposed to a generator, unless Pa's got a BIG OLD, military grade juicer in the barn.

    TRA wrote:

    Thank you, Neal.

    Before your review of "Mortal", I read another review that simply berated the episode, without really analyzing it. I was pretty upset. Like you, I was really impressed with this episode, but for a reason that you only touched on in passing - continuity! Setting aside the whole issue of "would he, wouldn't he" with Lana (since that was going to happen no matter how I or other fans felt about it), this episode had a lot of continuity with the past, the present and the future. There were more nods to the past in this episode than any I can remember - Pete, Jason and Alicia mentioned in one episode! Amazing! Also done easily within the context of the story. I think my jaw dropped! Lois is mentioned even though she's away with the General. Sheriff Adams is still the Sheriff. Blessed continuity. Even with the logic gaps you pointed out, I think this episode had internal continuity as well. Bad guy escapes almost too easily. Lex set it up. No guards at the inside of Luthorcorp. Lex set it up. Drug on level three. That is where the bad guys say it is. And, the police were actually called when the bad guys escaped. Sheriff Adams saw the baddies car nearby; she responded by checking houses in the neighborhood. A realistic police thing to do. She also had the best line of the episode; in response to one of her deputies asking, "What's this, Sheriff?" She responded, "Just another day in Smallville!" Classic. Also, miracle of miracles, there was some discussion of alternatives before the inevitable breaking and entering - Chloe and Clark tried to call Lex but he was unavailable. Lame? Maybe, but at least they did openly talk about alternatives. I also enjoyed the nods to the future. Clark's question to Lex, "Satisfied?" Sums up Lex's motivation in one word. Also, Clark's statement (or question) to Lana, "I guess we really don't know what's going to happen tomorrow?" Good set up for next week, when Clark gets shot. And, as an added bonus, no endless speeches or lectures from Lana. I actually cringed, expecting Lana to give Clark all kinds of "Lana wisdom" about not knowing what will happen tomorrow. Instead, we got a one-word response. "No." I can't remember Lana ever saying only one word. I almost cheered out loud! All in all, it's like DeKnight read fan complaints and tried to make this episode as "tight" as he could despite, or because of, the controversial CLANA consummation. I thought your 4 out of 5 was right on the money.

    Very much agreed.

    P.S. I do think you tend to make excuses for Lex, though. I really didn't have a problem with Clark's conclusion that Lex was the likely suspect, given Lex's obsessive nature, his questioning of Clark and his questioning of Chloe, which I'm sure she shared with Clark.

    I'm not contesting that. I'm contesting that Clark attacked him without making sure first, and that Clark attacked him when what Clark is doing IS extremely suspicious to anyone with half an eye open.

    Also, Lana has had a recent look at Lionel - not too much going on there right now. At least Clark's anger was much more realistic than his blow up over the locked room at the mansion. This time Clark was reacting to the risk of harm to his family and others, not so much about the risk to himself and his secret. More like the future Superman should.

    Looking forward to the episode next week and your review. Peterson and Souders are my favorite writers on the show.

    Very true about the room. I didn't like that either, though.

    I tend not to pay attention to the writers unless it is Loeb or Al/Miles. The reason for this being, if Smallville is the best of tv, the best of tv will never be half of a book or a comic book to me, and I am hard pressed to remember names in comics. It's also a kind of knowledge that the breaking of the story involves many writers, so to credit one or blame one is kind of a slight.

    SCOTTY V wrote:

    Hey Neal and welcome to week two.

    Rao save me.

    Sex. It happens. Get over it. *smile.* That being said, this isn't an attack, just an observational response. Sex was never covered in the old Reeves series or Alyn serials. Why? Because it wasn't allowed to be televised back then. Not only could they not show it, but they couldn't even discuss it. Heck, I think a kiss was far out of the question! Sex is not covered on the animated series because well, those just aren't that kind of show. On that matter, even though I often find the animated Superman series from the late nineties to be some of the best comic-related actual Clark character he should be, the lack of romance or sexual attraction makes it less real. I'm not saying we should see skin on cartoons, I'm just saying that in reality, people are attracted to one another and it's not always in that Strawberry Shortcake let's have a picnic way.

    Oh, I'm over it. I mean, I got a handle on sex when I was 13, and my position hasn't really changed much since. I love it. Whenever, wherever. Fun fun fun fun fun. I'm more lax about it than old Clarky, too. Compared to him, I'm a sailor.

    But it's like I said earlier. Just because sex makes something more interesting to watch doesn't mean we should press it on characters analogous to Jesus in methodology. Superman is not real. He's the ultimate, perfect man. He's not even like any one person on Earth. He's the only person on Earth that can possibly be as moral as Superman is. That comes with assumptions.

    Comics. As far as I know, Superman having sex before the days of being married to Lois wasn't really covered. Although, I seem to remember something about Wonder Woman and Lori Lemaris. I'm a little vague on it and maybe the reason nothing was revealed particularly was for the reasons you mention. Perhaps we're just supposed to take from it our own assumptions, if they didn't actually say, but I know I can't picture that scene high above Metropolis where WW and Supes are in the air, wind cycling around them, making out and rubbing each other NOT leading to something more. My memory also tells me that he was in love with Lori Lemaris for a time and as consenting, grown adults - in our world I also can't see something like that, if there was a prolonged romance, NOT leading to sex.

    In the comics, we're led to assume that he had sex with Lori Lemaris as his first experience, but it's never explicitly stated. For the reason I mention, no doubt. I can't see said encounter NOT leading to sex, either. But for every you and me, there are three people who CAN see it not leading to sex, and see that as the only morally permissible way to be.

    Why do I say these things, when I know someone may kill me for it? First off, we are in a more modern world. But that's not important to Superman, of course. If it were in his belief system not to have pre-marital sex, then he would make all efforts not to have it. However, one weakness other than the obvious one that even Superman, having lived among Mortal(s) for so long, cannot control is love. We know now that Clark has been attracted to, lusting for and most importantly, in love with Lana Lang since childhood. Their first scene together, where Clark falls to pieces (so be it because of the necklace) and Chloe says something like "same old Clark, can't even stand when Lana's around." This, of course, came in the time before Chloe became a freak for a while because she felt jaded. In fact, she smiled, if memory serves, and thought it was cute. I digress, we're not talking about that now. My point in this paragraph should be: If our Clark (especially the one in this show but Clark in general) WAS religiously or morally inclined NOT to have premarital sex, real true love might be the only thing to override that fact.

    Well, if that's the case, then after he KNOWS Lex Luthor to be a murderer, why doesn't he just snap his neck? I mean, he's hated him for DECADES, he knows how evil he is, and it's only natural to want to end that threat, and the only way to do so is to KILL Lex, and even that sometimes fails. They don't because Superman doesn't MAKE decisions like that. When he did it with Zod, it caused an uproar, and rightly.

    Back to portrayals. In what I've come to believe is your absolute favorite Superhero movie of all time and it seems your favorite Superman portrayal, Clark and Lois have premarital sex. I realize your not talking about that here because that isn't the current show your reviewing. But since you speak highly of those films, whereas I feel they were lacking in most ways, I'd find it interesting if this subject didn't bother you there but does bother you here. Next up, Lois and Clark. In my opinion, as I think I've mentioned before, outside of the sometimes campy/corny stories and villans, L&C was the best interpretation of Metropolis, the DP and the main cast of characters. To your approval, I can't seem to remember them ever saying Clark had sex before marriage to Lois. They may have done this for the main reason you seem to be suggesting - not to isolate any viewers. Smart business move if nothing more. In fact, I seem to remember it being a point of that show to tell us that Lois DID have sex, where Clark may not have. They may have even made it definite for Clark, I can't remember. Nevertheless, even in that show I would say the Kents were a much more modern set of parents, which brings me to my final point.

    Actually, none of the Superman movies are my favorite Superhero movie, believe it or not. Blasphemy? Eh. I don't think so. I love them all, and watch them constantly. My favorite Superhero movie is Unbreakable. Followed closely by Batman Begins, Spider-Man 2, X-Men 1, Batman Returns, then X-Men 2. The reason is not because I prefer them to Superman. The reason is simply because they're a more modern context than the older Superman movies, and they take it more seriously. Ask me again when Superman Returns comes out.

    In Smallville, we are seeing a modern interpretation of the Superman characters. Ma and Pa aren't really Ma and Pa, and really haven't been on film media since...well since never, that I can remember. I believe the parents barely appeared in Adventures of and were called Mom and Dad in the Donner films, L&C and on Smallville. What does this mean? Nothing specifically. But Ma and Pa seem to be nicknames for parents used in days of old. We are now witnessing a modern day Kent, a modern day Clark and a modern world portrayal of Superman. This doesn't mean all morality and ethics would be thrown out the window. Instead, what I think it means is that the Kents are enlightened. Christians would probably like that word for different reasons than I use it. What I mean is: the Kents would be accepting, even welcoming of every possible interpretation of life there is. In fact, that may have been a truer interpretation of them from the beginning, had it been acceptable in culture. Did you catch the hint of a smile on both parents faces when they seemed to realize what must have happened? Clark's an adult now and they seem to know it's his choice.

    I did. And in all reality, that is MY take on it. But that's never been my argument. My argument is that if it weren't my take, it would be unfair to me.

    I really don't believe our Kents are particularly religious or necessarily Christian. It hasn't been brought up, perhaps for your reasons, but it seems to me they're all for deciding what's right when the time comes. They would certainly be against it, and have expressed that, before he's of a certain age, but I think love overrides and they know that he's always loved Lana. My overall point here is, I think in the modern world, with the exception of very very strict religions, which I don't think Superman, Clark or the Kents represent, sex associated with real love is much more acceptable and if two people are in love it is their decision what they do to express it.

    I strenuously disagree, as anyone who is religious will tell me when I try and be intimate with them, right or wrong. What has changed is not that sex has become more acceptable to religion, but rather, more people who are religious refuse to stick steadfast to their beliefs about sex. Which is unfortunate. I believe in sticking to your guns, whatever they may be, as long as you have a good reason for pulling them.

    Furthermore, I don't think we can go the "what about being a role-model route" because unless we're talking about role-modeling for the strict Christians, Amish, Puritans or other strong religious groups, the only other group would be underage teens who might be watching this show. In that case, they are witnessing a perfect case of a role-model in Clark AND Lana. Unbelievable as it might be, a strain on your brain to see Lana portrayed as perfect once again - neither Clark nor perfect Lana has had sex. They are both over 18. They've been in highly dangerous, life-threatening and volatile situations together more times than we can count. And finally, they are in true love. The canon may be destroyed, but sex is not unacceptable. They don't know if they'll live to see another day in their whirlwind lives, let alone ever be married. I'm sure Clark, when he's fully Kryptonian doesn't even know if he should or could get married, since he's always rightly concerned about getting closer to more people in his life, concerned for their welfare.

    It's usually an all or none in religious situations. You either have sex whenever you want to (and are ergo condemned, or sinful, and that goes WAY beyond just the Christians, Mennonites and Puritans, I promise you. Ask a woman in Africa or Darfur or in a Muslim fundamentalist community.), or you wait until marriage. I've never, in all of my days, seen a religion that says 18 is the line where you can start having sex outside of marriage if you really love each other and death is nigh imminent.

    In fact, this particular time in his life, when he's Mortal, would be the only time he could reasonably assume that it would be safe. He knows Jor-El is unpredictable and fickle (another problem with the whole Jor-El/Krypton arc) and he knows that his life can and has changed in large ways over the years and that it's likely to happen again. He may hope it doesn't, but he's gotta be reasonably sure that his days with superpowers and or weirdness in his life, as well as his connections to Jor-El cannot be yet over. All of these reasons make for a perfect formula for our Clark to decide to have sex with the, now woman, that he loves. None of these make for bad role-models, other than in a religious sense.

    I agree. It makes perfect sense to me, having sex at that point. But that's not my point, again. My point being, it estranges all of those who think that's NOT in perfect sense. And there are many.

    Wow that was a long bit. Sorry. Now on to the rest. Insta-evil Lex? I don't agree. Lex has been doing underhanded, devious, untrustworthy things like this for quite some time now. Just having level 3 still operational all this time, specifically when it pertains to experimentation on people with dangerous chemicals is a step toward evil. Keeping a room on Clark and the Kents for 3 years is, if nothing else, definitely showcasing his obsession, which leads to the dark side for sure. Attacking Lana and Chloe for a stone he thought one or both of them might still have and throwing them around violently is yet another step.

    When did he attack either of them? Personally, I still think he's a good guy, and hasn't done anything that's really wrong out of context. I mean, he's broken and entered. So has Clark. He's forced people to help him in order to try and do good. So has Clark. He's burned some bridges. So has Clark. What I'm saying is that the show seems to be indicating that he's turned a corner toward evil...I don't think he has.

    Pseudo threats to both women, as well as multiple others throughout the years is another. In this episode in particular, though Clark is merely playing a hunch (which bothered me a little), Lex DID directly and knowingly put Clark and those close to him at risk of bodily harm and ultimately death in order to try and once again prove his theory. A selfish and dangerous move that we've seen isn't a one-time happenstance. Lex has often chosen his selfish pursuits over his friendships. He always buys back his conscience by helping the Kents keep the farm or paying off disaster relief reps to get to Smallville sooner, but that's still what it is.

    What's selfish about trying to find the truth? He probably believes that it will help Clark and him grow closer, perhaps. Yeah, he put Clark at risk, but Clark punched him before making sure. And Lex did it believing Clark invulnerable, or at least able to save his family, right?

    I believe that Lex has really wanted to be honest and good, but he has failed much more than "Clark and Lex becoming enemies over one incident." Furthermore, I think it seemed to me that Clark didn't necessarily want to fight, but that he was trying to get Lex to hit him in order to disprove his theory. I haven't come to this point in your review yet so maybe you cover it but it seemed to me that once Lex finally hits Clark, Clark just smiles and walks out, seemingly satisfied that his mission was accomplished. I also take exception with your opening basic point *Lex Luthor and Clark have a bit of a fistfight. Lex wins. Clark hits more. But I'll come to that when you do.

    I do think Clark baited him. I do think Clark did it on purpose. That makes Clark the butthead, though, doesn't it?

    The only lightning villain, if he would qualify, was the electrical scarecrow boy from the pilot. I also didn't gather that the villain's powers did not involve meteor rocks. In the sense that Luthor was injecting them with Meteor chemicals they most certainly did. Aside from that, they had to get their already had powers from somewhere. They never really said they were born with them or where they got them from, but even if they had, haven't there been people born with meteor abilities before? Born that way because of the radiation and the close proximity of their house with meteors? It doesn't really matter because I agree that this portrayal was much better. They were criminals, although they weren't too old so they could have easily been criminals with meteor-based powers when they were young, and they weren't, currently at least, murderous Smallville high students. However, with no other explanation, much like the T2 baddie from episode 2 of the 4th season, I think we have to just assume that everyone's powers came from meteors. I wish we didn't, but I see no other route.

    I'm even cool with that, as long as they have a reasonable motivation. Gabe didn't. These guys did. They were dag nasty evil, not kids having a misunderstanding.

    I too hated the "light up a room line." The whole scene in Belle Reve to the opening credits made me think of meteor freaks and bad episodes and I even said to my wife as the titles were rolling: "so far...not good." What I mean by that is that we've all been talking about the 4th season and how terrible it was and how the 5th is supposed to be what we've all been waiting for and how the season premiere really made it seem like it really could be that and now we have the same old regular silly freaks from Belle Reve. The episode turned out much better than I thought it would, plus it didn't look, to me, like Lex did anything specific at the time. I thought it was an accident. So much so, in fact, that when the fight scene between Clark and Lex occurred and the show was over, I had to rewind and watch the opening again. Still wasn't very clear but I think Lex's reactions to Clark's accusations made it clearer.

    But not totally...which burns me.

    I'm reading your review as I type the points I thought I wanted to make. I just got to the paragraph where you talk about the potential for having empathy for Lex. I felt the same way, and before I get to whatever you say about the confrontation scene, I'll say my piece. I thought it was extremely odd when Clark first walked into the room and attacked Lex. It seemed like he knew what Lex was looking at, even though he had no powers, therefore no x-ray vision and no super-hearing, so he couldn't have seen or heard the laptop. He assumes, as he did the whole situation, that Lex is referring to Clark and Chloe when he says "That's impossible." Clark is right, of course, and based on Lex's reactions and hesitations rather than outright denials, I think we can see that Lex DID put those guys up to it. In which case, he deserves to be accused and attacked. But at first, when he and Chloe get suspicious because there was a video feed in a highly sensitive, important area of a privately owned business, even if the area is based on a deceitful obsession, I thought, why is that strange? In fact, there SHOULD and probably WOULD be cameras all over that place and Clark and Chloe WERE the criminals here. Lex may be too, but he's always been good at hiding his actions, which it what makes him able to stand up to superpowered Superman in the future. Clark hiding his actions? Not so much.

    They both did very real wrongs. Why is it okay for Clark to hit Lex for it?

    There are reasons I think it's ok, though still a bit bothersome, that Clark confronts Lex and goads Lex into hitting him. 1)He truly believes, that after what Chloe and Lana have told him Lex has been doing as of late, Lex can't be trusted and that his Kent obsession is back in full swing. 2)He believes that Lex might actually have some good reason to suspect that Clark is hiding some form of abilities and Clark needs Lex to hit him so he can prove that isn't so. Clark is correct on both counts.

    But what about the Clark that believes the best in people and trusts that Lex will redeem himself? Ah, never mind. Just punch him! You know what I mean?

    I think it's a little sketchy that it wasn't proven to Clark for sure BEFORE he went there, but since we now know for sure that Lex did it, it's acceptable. Still very bothersome. I wish Clark had overheard the criminals say something about Lex at the end when they were being taken away. "He won't stop just because we failed, you know?" Says electro-man. "Who won't?" Queries Clark. "Lex." But maybe that wouldn't work. He also could have overheard the three villans talking about their mission to each other. Nevertheless, Clark has been losing his faith in Lex for a while now and since Lex showed up in the Yukon to pick up Chloe and no doubt Chloe and Lana have told Clark all about Lex's Clark based questions, Clark knows something is up. He guesses at the exact plan and guesses right. Maybe this is a good prerequisite to Clark's crime-stopping deductive skills in the future.

    Or dumb luck from an auspicious butthead.

    On the other side of the coin, I think there are even more reasons NOT to assume we have insta-evil Lex. He's definitely turning to enemy this year and going the way of the dark side, but he's been doing offhanded things for much longer than this episode. I've already mentioned a few. But now I'll mention some of the reasons I think he isn't insta-evil in terms of good. He still got the emergency relief crews to move more quickly, as quoted by Clark. This shows me that he's probably feeling guilty and therefore trying to repent somehow. Evil people don't really care about repentance. He also doesn't turn Clark and Chloe in. This kind of bothered me at first, but maybe here again we have a case of Lex, who may have really wanted to be Clark's friend and confidant at one time, feeling badly about the choice he made due to his obsession, which, in turn, turned his one friend against him. We could also say that he might have some of his own explaining to do if there were a further investigation into Clark and Chloe and the villains, though I'm not sure anything would be able to be proven. Other than the fact that Clark and Chloe broke in to LuthorCorp. But that Lex is apparently letting the break-in go, although I guess since HE set it up, he really doesn't care that they broke in. In fact, he expected it and it's what he wanted, so I guess that's really our explanation.

    Speaking of breaking in...how in the world did Chloe do all that stuff? I haven't read your reactions to Clark and Chloes scenes together yet, but if past reads are any indication, I get the feeling you'll love them as I did. I was really loving their scenes together. The little jokes, the jibes, the line about Pete. I think Chloe is finally coming back into her own. She's even accepting of Lana and Clark together now, as she once was in the beginning of the show when she thought it was cute, and she's really back to acting like cute, spunky, cool little Chloe. I like this and I think it's even ok that she had a brief lapse in judgment as a jealous, spurned high schooler. She did the right thing in the end and after all, the whole thing was (like it or not) a character journey. Isn't that always what we're asking for?

    Yes. Which is why, to wit, I think Chloe's character journey is the strongest of the show, next to Lex. It should be Clark and Lana, but they're inconsistent on all counts.

    I'm thinking that the cuffs are some sort of "inhibitor cuffs." I think that's what they're called in the Marvel comics. Plus, since I assume DC felt the whole X-Men and mutants thing in Marvel was putting DC to shame, they then had to introduce Meta-humans into their universe, I believe there are special cuffs the Metropolis PD use on Metas. I think these cuffs are those. Special inhibitors that help to negate the powers. Don't ask me how they would work or why they wouldn't have been explained. As far as I know in the comics they aren't explained either. They just are. Much like our world is over-ridden with mutants and sentinels and for that matter - superheroes. After all, none of these comics purport that we are in an alternate universe. No, this is our world and somehow we just miss the fact on an everyday basis that there are 200 foot tall robots that hunt down people outside the norm.

    A rabbit?

    In so far as attacking the Kryptonians in the premiere, I'm thinking we're still pretty close in time-line to the events of the finale, perhaps even right after. In which case, I wonder if the Po-Po's might have, in their exhausted, confused and war-zone like state of affairs, they might have made the connection that these beings weren't just here in a horrible, destructive, death-dealing meteor shower and that perhaps they were instead causing the destruction. When I was watching the premiere, I had the same thought. "Why are they firing immediately." I think they were afraid. Not unwarranted. Suspicious. Also not unwarranted since the aliens WERE involved. And Accusing. In that case, if the aliens could do all of this to a small town, they were obviously a threat and when they didn't get on the ground it was: "Fire at will, assuming one of those armor clad freaks is named will, otherwise hit the aliens!!" In terms of firing at the villains breaking out of Belle Reve, they were dangerous, mad, power-possessed freaks! They may have a condition that's out of their control but once they're lose and killing guards, what else can you do?

    Run?

    Why is Lana mad and distrusting of Lex, you ask? I think I made it clear in the above that he grabbed her and yelled in her face and made it clear that his obsession, not his desire to protect Lana, was what was driving his actions, in entirety, in the season finale. Now Neal...oops, I mean Fartholomew, I know you have this constant desire and habit of painting Clark in the bad light and Lex in the good.

    Mostly because that's how they act. And hey, how many times has Lana yelled at Lex?

    In a lot of ways, I think the creators want it that way. So much so, in fact, that I think they overdo it to the point where it's almost too Clark's fault that Lex does bad things. Obviously, we know we can't blame society or others for the bad things we do, but I think there should have been more apparent, obvious moves of Lex doing bad things, without Clarks secrets or influence. But to what I was saying Neel, or Apple or Kal-El Cage or whatever the heck you're calling yourself these days, Lex has been doing these bad things for quite a while. Not down right evil. Not everyone's instant enemy. But definitely making it hard for people to trust him.

    Plus I think you answer your own question a few lines down with the whole "son you've always wanted" thing. He's admitting to us that he's willing to do anything, including leave his own father in a meteor shower in a comatose state in order to get what he wants. We can argue that the guy would get what he deserves for being a jerk of a father. But that still leaves Lex attacking Lana and Chloe obsessively, releasing three prisoners that could very well kill Clark and his parents and many more deeds than I can even list. Again, not altogether evil, but certainly not altruistic or protective of others. At least not in full. He uses that as a cover, and on some level he may even like the idea and he has done protective, helpful things in the past. He still does. Albeit possibly to relive his own conscience, but he still does. That doesn't make his transgressions any less transgressions. I know that's not a word but I wanted to write it anyway cause I thought the sentence sounded cool.

    I don't believe the search for truth must be altruistic in order to be noble. In fact, the quest for good doesn't have to be altruistic in order to be a noble endeavor...ask Wolverine.

    It's also a bit disheartening to continuously see you call Clark on his "constant lying to Lex's face." First off, Clark in any incarnation has never told people about his secrets involving Krypton or superpowers. This is a constant. It has nothing to do with being devious or un-friendlike. I've said this before. Normal people, let alone wild circumstance superheroes, are allowed and I say even expected to have things they keep to themselves. Just because a person is one's friend doesn't mean they are privy to every single thing you've ever done or are doing. There is something to be said for complete openness and honesty between friends, but there are some things that will always be private, save for lifetime partners and even then it's not always that simple. In Clark's case, he has this secret that he has to bare. He's not sure he should tell anyone for their sake's let alone people he's not yet sure he can totally trust. Obviously Lex COULD be a dangerous person to trust with this secret. Sure, he may turn out to say "Wow Clark that's great! Why didn't you tell me sooner?" But then he may be just as likely to try to run experiments on him in level 3. Dangerous ground.

    Ergo Clark should not put himself into the position where he'd have to lie to Lex. That's what Superman's costume is for. In Smallville, if he compromises that foresight, he does so in full knowledge he may have to lie, which is just as bad as lying for gain.

    You know, I've said the same exact thing about the whole Clark losing his powers thing on many occasions. Just because he doesn't have his powers doesn't mean he's not vulnerable to Kryptonite. He IS Kryptonian, as you say, unless his DNA was altered but I don't see how that could be. I really have never liked the idea of Jor-El or a machine being able to totally change Clark's body and take his powers away. Though a machine in the Fortress is a little better, aside from the reason Lara gives for it is silly. A simple click of his ruby slippers on Smallville and Jor-El, who doesn't even exist in any tangible form, can wink away Clark's powers. Silly. I don't really like it even though it makes for good drama and to reiterate, he could never be human. He's an alien and should, unless there could be some scientific advancements on krypton, in which case there would still need to be a process - a beam or a machine - not just a wink, gone.

    Agreed.

    You say that you are annoyed that they snuck up on Clark and his superhearing. He doesn't have his powers right now. Not that it's stopped them before. Lana does ask what they're talking about and Clark just says "you've got the wrong guy." Apparently that was enough for her. Especially considering that she knows he's responsible for sending some of the people there. JT, Meteor Freak assassin guy and probably others that survived at episodes end and weren't mentioned again. People that weren't necessarily related to him having powers. Like the kid who paints himself invisible with flower petals or the guy who could grow young. They must be there. And again, another slap to you for mentioning Clark's lying. He isn't divulging and they've already agreed that past is past. He has a little more to be concerned about than most people with secrets, at least acknowledge that instead of bludgeoning the guy every chance you get.

    So if I hid something, and then someone just told me, the past is the past, that makes it okay? I still say he's being a liar. With Lex, he has a possible reason. With Lana, none.

    Again with the Lex. They KNOW they can't trust him. Plus it's up to Clark when and if and to who to he decides to reveal his secrets. I disagree at this point that Lex is really try to play the hero. He's trying to spy on his friends and grill them obsessively until they give the answers he wants. No one is entitled. No one. Not people who refuse to leave situations where they've been warned for over four days that it's not a good idea to stay. And not sometime friends who do nice things to clear their conscience or because they think it's the right thing to do.

    Right. Which is why it's just as bad when Clark does it to Lex, and Lana does it to Lex, and Jonathan does it to Lex...

    Now...when the sheriff was finally fried up a bit and thrown through the air did you say, as I did, "Is it wrong to hope she's dead?" Because I did. I turned to my beautiful, caring wife and I said those exact words. And beautiful, loving, caring person that she is...laughed. I. Don't. Like. The. Sheriff. Though I must admit she was toned down here. I thought that maybe, when we hadn't seen her for a while, she was gone. Fired because she was too over the top as an actress. Then I hoped we had actually gotten to SEE her last performance after she was fired but alas...like the pre-recorded overly dramatic voice that comes out of the freak-house at county fairs, no matter what freak thing had happened to them all...they are, and so is the sheriff, "still alive."

    She's a military commander. Did you know that?

    I think it's funny that you like the nail gun. I did too. But usually, any scene where a character uses violence, like when Lana accidentally kills the guy cause he FALLS on the mentioned pitchfork, you call her a murderer or with punches and slaps you say it doesn't need to be on TV. Oh well, nonetheless, I enjoyed it as well. I also like Clark punching the guy with no powers.

    You're misinterpreting what I said. I have no problem with her killing in self-defense. What I think shouldn't be on tv? Nothing. What I don't LIKE watching on TV (an opinion, as opposed to propagating censorship) is women slapping men for perceived slights and getting away with it, when if a man slaps a woman, he's dirtier than dirt (and justifiably).

    Two things about the break in relating to Clark being afraid of heights and the guards YOU say are not resolved. Clark falls through the vent and is hanging in the middle of a wide-open room. This isn't as bad as "Onyx" moment where Lex has the Kents and then after the commercial they're in the hospital with no explanation, but in the next scene, after Clark's hilarious "yeah, great" when Chloe asks if he's okay, Clark is climbing down onto a catwalk. No explanation how he got there, since there was nothing around him and he was in the center of a chasm and we don't see him climb back up. That's a bad editing or writing error. The guards aren't. Lex set Clark up. Another reason Clark would have for figuring his assumption was correct before Lex proved him right. Lex made sure there were no guards. He also gave Chloe his clear and complete thumbprint. Otherwise how could Clark ever even get to the room with the stuff Lex's cronies needed? Lex ordered the guards not to be there while he was watching the whole thing on his laptop.

    True, but none of this is ever explicitly stated. I think it should have been. Clark has big muscles...he could have climbed around. I'll buy that.

    I think Clark does the saving himself because he's naturally inclined to be a hero AND because he knows he must distract the guy first. Otherwise, the three hostages would still be in danger of being killed. They might not have their powers but they are still three strong maniacs. And if we assume that the power is only running on this makeshift generator since they're rebuilding, (the house looked really good, by the way. Although I do suppose Lex said it had been weeks) that smashing the generator might actually knock out the power and if not, well it is a show based on comics. If Superman told the police to shut down the power in the comics and that was the end, I don't think we'd have a 70-year-old Superhero on our hands at all. I also thought Clark's line was very cool. He hearkened back to an early line said by Chloe, which you know is called foreshadowing. Plus I think it was our chance to realize how they were going to stop the guys when Chloe said it. Did you figure it out? Neither did I. But I guess we should have known the baddies weren't gonna get their fix.

    Hero and dumb aren't very far apart if the natural inclination to be a hero drives you to suicidal acts...

    And finally, Lex is behind the whole danger of this episode aside from many others. Lex IS at fault here. Directly. Clark may have jumped the gun on a guess, but he was proven right and for doing what he's done, Lex deserved it. Think about it, if someone who was your friend released three murderers into your life so they could see if you would do something they wanted you to do, would you still be friends with that person? We don't even need to mention the proven untrustworthiness of Lex in the past that Clark HAS forgiven. The room. Level 3, other spying. Grabbing and throwing Lana and Chloe around. But oh well. Believe me, I like Lex too but that doesn't change the fact the he is...especially in this episode...he is the villain of the story.

    Yes, IF, and that's a big one, IF he really intentionally released those guys. It could have been an accident. The failure to explain this away by the writers in clear terms is the major failing of the episode.

    Jeff wrote:

    Arrival. What an interesting (and appropriate) title. But what Arrival do theyth speakth ofth? The arrival of season 5, maybe. Or is it the arrival of a bun in the even? No, no, it was the arrival of the prelude to Lex vs. Superman. I, too, was giddy as a horse, dropping my jaw in amazement when Clark demanded, "why don't you do it yourself you coward!" Regrettably, my faith in the writers' abilities to plausibly explain why Lex is the devil himself and Clark is an angel have faded into black. The Lex in this series is an attractive, likable, even warm, character, although that may have been facilitated, in part, by the actor playing him, who himself is very charismatic and charming. Still, this does not excuse their inability, thus far, to construct a plausible arch-villain for Supes'. I mean, Lex Luthor (again, this series) is no Joker or even Jason Todd!

    And that's why I love him so much. His motivations are not evil. At least, the modern incarnation. Granted, the comics have changed that, but there was quite a potential there. A potential sadly lost.

    Anyway, what I wanted to draw attention to is the inconsistency of truth spawned by Lana and Clark, in particular. What did they say to each other at the opening of the curtain? "No more lies, the past is the past," right; something like that. As you alluded to, Lana inconspicuously never questions why those goons were after Clark. But what you failed to mention is why Lana humbly agrees to stand aside, just after Clark saves the day, while Clark converses with Chloe. How come Lana didn't ask Clark, "hey, what was that all about? What did you two talk about?" Even worse, since when are Chloe and Lana on non-speaking terms? What the heck is with the silent treatment? I know the past is the past (remember way back in Season 1 when Chloe and Lana were like nerd girl and miss popular?), but this is just ridiculous.

    Verily. I guess it ended this episode. Sigh.

    Jeff

    C. Bowland wrote:

    It was nice to be able to read your review again. I love your wit and cynicism. I was unable to write last week, but this thought just will not leave my head. Since the Fortress of Solitude is in the Artic, be back by the time the sun sets would have a different meaning. You see, in the Artic due to the Earth's tilt the sun does not set throughout the summer, the season graduations from high school usually take place in. So if Clark meant before the sun sets on the Fortress of Solitude he technically had a longer time than was shown in the episode. But maybe it meant when Clark sees the sunset therefore it was something inside Clark that took his powers.

    Hahahahah. Awesome. Good one.

    Also. I think that you take Lex's side too often. You understand why Chloe is uneasy with him, so I will skip her. First, I try to present Lana's point of view. Yes, Lex did help her in the Genevieve situation, but then he undermines that by shaking her, yelling at her, and demanding the stone making it seem like all he wanted was the stone in the first place. I am sure she was also thinking about how evil Lex had propositioned her (continuity) when he started talking about how her safety was important and it did not come across as friendly concern. Then he shoved her onto a helicopter that crashed. True, he did not know it was going to crash, but in her mind the two are probably linked. When she sees him again, he almost runs her over. He grabs her, forces information out of her, and then calls her crazy. She passes out, but instead of waking up in a hospital, she wakes up back in his mansion, which is odd. Then she gets that article that has Lex telling her she owes him one written in red. If one person did all that to me, he would not be high up on the list of people I trust.

    Yeah, but if I was a person that had ALSO done strange things to Lex under K influence, like stealing his Porsche, and if I had slapped Lex, yelled at him constantly, and only leeched off him for years, I might have no leg to stand on.

    As for Clark, Lana probably told him all of this, and Chloe probably told him her story of Lex as well. Then there was the confrontation in the shambles of the Kent house. ( By the way, the Kent barn was still standing, they are raising someone else's barn. Shelby was in Arrival as well, Lois tells him that she is glad he is all right (paraphrase) before she goes into the Kents and looks for them.) Clark is probably still remembering how Lex investigated him, then told Clark he had quit. When Lex interrogated him about the meteor shower bright light incident, Clark is probably thinking that Lex is at it again. So his reception was kind of chilly at the barn raising but in more of the "I am not sure how things stand between us" kind of way. As for Clark accusing Lex of putting those he loves in danger, he has these pieces of evidence. He knows Lex has been experimenting with kryptonite since Lionel was jailed, Onyx. He could easily with Chloe's uncanny ability to find out things discover that Lex was at Belle Reve when the baddies escaped. The vault was not as heavily guarded as it usually would have been, thus the "guards patrol only the perimeter" line. And the carrier wave going to Lex's place. I mean who else is going to go to that much trouble that has access to Lex's computer besides Lex, a disgruntled maid with a pair of diamond earrings?

    Lionel, the man originally behind Level 4. That's the logical suspect. Like he's never feigned being out of it...

    So Clark puts all that information together and knows Lex is investigating him again, like Lex promised he would not. Plus, the people he loves were put in danger. So he had every right to confront Lex. But I do not believe that is why he punched Lex. If so, he would not have stopped after Lex punched him back. No, Clark's whole purpose for physically attacking Lex was so Lex would punch him and see that he is vulnerable. Which seemed to have worked. But you know, I would have trouble being friends with person who treated my girlfriend, my best friend, and my family that way, and he lies to me about something he swore he would stop doing. So it was not only was it this one big thing, it many different things added to it that ended the friendship.

    Everyone's trying to make Clark's motivation for cranking Lex in the head altruistic. I still don't buy it. Say it shows Lex forever that Clark is normal, is it worth punching a man you want to redeem? I don't think so. It's un-Clark-y.

    Cary J Kingdom wrote:

    Neal,

    Great review as always, but I gotta disagree with you on one thing:

    "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. "

    Not at all. I think it's a reference to the fact that Lex has a hand in the whole affair. They couldn't get in unless Lex or Lionel was arranging the whole thing, which Clark realized later when he found out Lex was watching (Lionel's being in catatonia kind of rules him out. Though, admittedly, I don't remember how he got there, so Clark might not know about it). Also, this explains (though doesn't rationalize) Clark's punch frenzy.

    Just a thought.

    A good one, and I agree that's what likely happened. What kills me is that the writing took no steps to make that clear beyond accusation and heresay. I want to know, not have ambiguity.

    Also, is it just me, or have they suddenly started using music that makes the show seem a LOT more adult? It seems so much more like a Superman show instead of a teenage drama when they use symphonies instead of whatever pop stuff they're getting paid to throw in.

    Heh. You're associating Depeche Mode with old people. Not entirely untrue. Ah, the 80s.

    Anyway, love your reviews and look forward to the next one.

    Cheers,

    Cary "The Old Bum" Kingdom

    Thankee sai!

    josh slater wrote:

    Before I begin, I'm going to refrain from cursing, so if anything sounds a bit forced blame it on the censorship.

    Or the mothers who won't teach their children what not to look at that causes the censorship. That's who I blame.

    I have finished my attempts at reading your latest episode review Neal, and I must say...Holy Frosted Christ Flakes that is the longest review I have read in 30 years.

    Of course it is. I pride myself on it.

    Anyways, you seem to be attempting to ride the giant Kryptonian shaft to Internet critic fame by trying to break it off.

    I'm going to assume you mean an elevator shaft. Actually, I'm trying to ride it to a book deal or three, and it's failing. BUT, I could care less. I spend my days writing and interacting with people who read what I like. It's kind of like Heaven. Fame enters very little into the equation. I don't want to be famous. I want to interact. We are interacting. That is my success.

    I enjoy a tough critique of my favorite shows, but i believe you're being a little hard on Kal-el here. Though I am not Christian, I do know some of their belief patterns, I use the term pattern becaus different denominations hold different "truths," the Christain basis of marriage is true love and nothing more, so Lana and Clark, who are ,for the time being, in love, is a sin but not a mortal one. He didn't take a dump Jesus' mashed potatoes now did he?

    No. He did not take a dump Jesus' mashed potatoes. Unless he did it in a deleted scene.

    And who knows his values, why would he believe a book that didn't acknowldge his own people's existence. I, for one, was glad to see Mr. Kent finally get a little earthly action.

    My point is not that you wouldn't. My point is that some others wouldn't, and this is estranging. Many are missing this.

    Your whiny, freak of the week induced rages are too ironic, in the sense that all you have done is complain and whine about minor descrepancies *sic* throughout what should be a 4 part mini-series of a review.

    And you read it, right? Which is why you're qualified to ride it down?

    I honestly didn't finish it, I couldn't, my legs were not recieving the proper circulation and my eyes had glazed over (I was sitting for a really long time reading your review.)

    So you haven't read it, but you're criticizing it? Sounds like what a lot of censors do.

    Now don't try to claim that I am merely complaining about a complainer that just happens to be complaing about past complaining teens on a show founded on super-powered teen angst.

    Frankly, I don't have to.

    Because if you do that I will just call you a complainer back and we will get nowhere. I also realize I have just written a too long comment/critique of your own way too long critque, *sigh* alas irony has us by the BASKETballs yet again.

    Irony has you. You set out to write a critique of a long review, and your response got long. Irony does not have me. I never said I don't intend to write a long review.

    Matthew J. Theriault wrote:

    Just for clarification, Clark is not Christian. In fact, that religion, or any other actual faith for that matter, doesn't exist in the Smallville universe, except as part of history. Why? Because Clark himself IS the Christ-figure in his world.

    Fair enough, but why does that mean there's no Christianity? Both can co-exist.

    If there is any portrayal of religion in the show, it is in the form of the Kiwatchee caves and the prophesy of Naman. If there is any mention of God, it is in the person of Jor-El, whose ways are not our ways.

    They don't go to church, but how does that mean there's no religion?

    As in the Donner film, the allusions are both intentional and obvious, perhaps even more so in Smallville. Jor-El does not send his only begotten son to earth to save him, but rather gave him that the world would be saved through him, in this case from the same fate as that of Krypton.

    Thus it's paralleled to religion, but that doesn't mean it replaces it...am I missing something?

    Does this mean that Clark possesses no moral upbringing and it was wise to show him having pre-marital intercourse. By no means! It was a terrible blow to the character. But he was raised with a knowledge of right and wrong. In fact, according to the show, Jor-El sent his son not merely to earth, but to the Kents themselves, because they were good people. Thus, it was all the more out of context.

    I don't know, that might mean that people who have pre-marital sex are bad people. I'm not a bad person. I do think having Superman say any one group is right or wrong is out of context and bad.

    If there is going to be a show about Clark Kent growing up in modern times, the best way to show that he represents the American Way is not for him to conform, but rather to show that his morality isolates him just a much as his powers. By having him be in the world, but not of the world, both because of his alien heritage and his alienation due to his ethics, would show that modern America has lost its way.

    Are you saying that Americans are more interested in instant gratification of personal endearing actions as opposed to following a moral code? I think you might have just found why Superman is special, and why I like him so much. :)

    Clark exists then to show it the way. Why? Because he is The Way. As Jor-El said in Superman the Movie: "They can be a great people. They wish to be. They need only the light to show them the way. For this reason above all else I sent them you, my only son."

    For you, The Way. For me, the embodiment of a secular nobility. Both lead in the same direction. To say it's one or the other, that's the crime.

    Rhyne Putman wrote:

    Neal,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your review of "Mortal." I've been reading your reviews for as long as I can remember. I'm a Biblical languages student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (temporarily dislocated) and (excuse the pun) a "religious" Superman fan.

    Thank you! Very cool. Not the dislocation, the praise. May you get back on your feet well and be prosperous.

    In the evangelical community, as you know, pre-marital sex is often shunned like the plague. Raised in a very conservative evangelical home, I felt like I was playing with fire in every one of my "pre-marital" situations. The irony is, however, after much time in the New Testament, I see how the person of Jesus breaks through this social faux-paux by graciously associating himself with the hookers and the scandalous--not the religious elite. That's one reason I've loved having the opportunity to minister in New Orleans, LA, and love the people that some religious would call unlovable. I'm saying all of this to say, as what I call a mortal sinner myself, I've no reason to pass judgment on people outside of my circle of moral belief.

    Likewise.

    Yet I couldn't possibly agree with you more here about the discussion of Clark's sexual nature. I'm glad Superman has always had a pluralistic understanding, but your argument about the moral idealism related to the Christ-like nature of Superman is brilliant.

    I say it because it's true. Personally, I'm not a Christian, but that doesn't mean it isn't obviously motioning towards and emulating the Christ-myth in many ways. To deny the obvious parallel for the sake of comfort is to destroy a truly epic part of the story. That said, to say he's X type of Christian metaphor, or to say he represents only atheists, or to say he's X on X, where X is a closely held spiritual belief, that's treading thick water.

    Each incarnation of Superman seems to have a different bench on the "moral meter"--one in particular I've not heard mentioned yet was the almost-preachy and abstinent Superman of Lois & Clark, who under Dean Cain's guidance, refused to have bedroom flings until exchange of rings. Of course there's Millar and Gough's so-called "Superman II loophole".

    Or the "Whatever we can use to justify what we were gonna do anyway" loophole, as I call it.

     I find it amazing how often some people are so easily insulted by the threat of moral preachiness but don't have the slightest reservation of forcing a worldview where Superman, this childhood hero, got it on with the Noxzema Lana. I think that sometimes silence is golden--and maybe that's where they should have stayed.

    I do see a very real danger with moral preachiness, when it's applied to others. For instance, saying that we must all be Christians is akin to me to saying "Clark would have sex before marriage.". It's estranging, it strangles dialogue, and it's detrimental to a utilitarian society, which we are (fallacies of the theory aside, I speak in generality). It works both ways, I know that much. In this case, I try and practice what I preach. Where Christian morality is usually forced on me (and thus I know the sting), I would want nothing of the kind to occur in return (meaning, making Superman sexual before marriage just because I am). Ironically, this is turning the other cheek.

    Thanks for reading my ramblings,
    Rhyne

    Any time. Good luck with the post-Hurricane recovery. Let me know how it turns out.

     thebrakeman wrote:

    Ummmm, Neal?
    Change the episode title next time, bud!!
    "Arrival" was last week.

    I did! Steve accidentally put in Arrival. I blame Zod.

    michael fulvio wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    longtime reader, firstime writer.

    You poor, poor man. Seriously, though. Thanks.

    I first wanted to respond to one of your letters, 'Jeff' wrote in wondering what Lionel was carving in the floor. It appeared to be a giant Z. Which we see Lionel has later carved all of his Belle Reeve cell. Which is unfortunate to know, previews of pole dancing is okay, and well, Lois is hot, but plot points such as what I see to be the hopefully soon arrival of General Zod should not be revealed in previews. I'm hoping Lionel will turn into some sort of Kryptonian prophet of Zod, since he seemed to know that Zod's 'disciples' were coming. I believe Lionel knows Clark's whole story, since he set up a whole adoption agency for Clark's sake, and was in debt to the Kents. Where is that history?

    Yeah, I know. Sigh. But hey, if it's a Z, that rules.

    Also, the super-sex. Could anyone but Wonder Woman recieve Superman's SPECIAL STUFF? I believe I read a comic to that affect at some point. I'm sure you have some friends at SupermanHomepage who might be able to look into, I am not Super-Knowledgeable (pardon the pun) as far as Superman comics come, just love the character. You're right, Bruce Wayne would do it. But Batman came from Bruce Wayne's life. The whole mix of emotions and egos is completely different than Superman's. I've always been a firm believer that Clark Kent is Superman's alter ego, and not vice versa. But here we are, watching a show about Clark Kent. His choices, not Superman's. So I don't feel that it is too out of character. You're right, Superman is a symbol for world freedom, much more than America's these days. But at this point in Clark's life (not Superman's), he can't see past Smallville. Opening up his world view will be Brainiac in the form of a Political Science professor (I believe, I just read news, not spoilers) and Aquaman (the King of the Sea in Kansas of all places). They will teach Clark the world is bigger than Smallville.

    I don't know. He's a GROWN MAN now. I am pretty much, morally, the man I was at 18.

    Then we'll see Clark's morals raise as his sense of responsibility does. With great power, comes great responsibility. And Clark has no where near Superman's powers yet (Which as a early-twenty-something I find it comforting to find even Superman isn't grown-up yet), so his responsibility is much less. He doesn't need to take on the world's problems yet. And Clark hasn't been asked to save the world yet.

    He has all the powers but two, though! :) I think he should be pretty near set as Supes right now, myself.

    So of course he wants to have sex with his high-school love. Of course he wanted to be on the football team last season (which was all just an alternate timeline anyway).

    I want to punch a mime. If I did, people might question me. Well, okay. Bad example.

    Anyway, Clark only took his shirt off and then we were looking at the night sky. Plausible Deniability.

    Heh.

    Anywho, thanks for the entertaining and well thought out reviews. I'll continue reading as long as the show's on (Hopefully a season or two after college. I know that's asking a lot.)

    They'll go as long as the buck takes them, mark me on that. That's TV.

    Fulvio

    Baldauff wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    I really enjoyed your review of Mortal this week! You mentioned that there was no further mention of the lack of inside guards after Chloe mentioned it to Clark inside Level 3. Could it be that this was because it was a Clark-test set up by Lex? That's what jumped to my mind later in the episode when Clark confronted Lex. Lex wanted Clark to succeed in getting to the green liquidy stuff, so no guards inside!

    Likely, yep. What gets me is they never said either way. Curse them!

    Thanks for doing what you do!

    Without you reading it, it's just deranged ravings. And it might be with you reading it. Nertz!

    james nechleba wrote:

    I like your commentary on Clark being the archetype for Midwestern values, thus the stance on sex was an interesting ideal. I submit the "Al Gough plot device matrix" in solution to this conundrum, though (it actually does make a little sense without the whole throwing-up-the-hands-in-the-air-exasperated-noise effect). This is not superman. This is not Clark Kent, "the disguise." This is not Kal-El. this is just a "kid" who's learning how to do the right thing, and making mistakes along the way. If we could take a second to forget season freakifest four, and go along with me on this, I predict that THIS is the only time that Clark has sex with lana. Why? He's got no powers, no problem, he's "human" like in the Richard Donner film. Just like in the silver age comic where it was hinted that he and Lois did the deed when Clark had no powers and sparked the "beef bourgenouis" or however you spell it.

    In addition? In the country they GIT IT ON. The "bible belt" is actually the highest concentration of debauchery...kids drink as their parents rally against it (even though they did the same thing at their age) they smoke them cigarettes because they can, they get themselves some sexin' because it's there and they're BORED. My girlfriend moved to a little place called Filpot in Kentucky (it's a little place outside Owensboro) and her high school attending sister reported back to her that the amount of promiscuity that goes on at that school HAD to have been 10 times that of where they had just moved from (a suburb of Chicago). It's my opinion that the country setting for Smallville has been completely unrealistic down to the base culture. But I do love the superpowers, and I do love that the plot is moving along. Good work altogether.

    I agree. The number one way to make one have premarital sex or do drugs, etcetera, is to say, "DON'T DO IT!" or to not talk about it at all. However, we're not talking about your average guy. We're talking about a moral arbiter...the man does NOT do what we all do. He knows what is right, and he does it. It's why he's unique. He's not selfish, he's selfless. His motives are altruistic. Even if the writers, per ce, are not.

    Jack Woodrup wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    Top O' the mornin'! (And it is, now).

    Just a few thoughts in regards to this seasons first 2 episodes. Firstly episode 1 and Clark losing his powers. I think that perhaps the fact that he interrupted his download in the FOS might be the cause of his power loss at sun down, not Jor-El. His Kryptonian powers are after all derived from the sun. Maybe what makes him Superman is that he has certain receptors in his body that absorb yellow sun and convert that energy into super powers. Maybe they were shut off because he disrupted his download.

    True. Can't know unless they tell us.

    This might also explain his non illness from the Kryptonite when he picked it up in Mortal. Perhaps the same special energy receptors that absorb yellow sun, are the same energy receptors that absorb kryptonite radiation. Just a theory but it kind of makes sense to me.

    Speaking of the FOS, I think it attacked Chloe. 1 minute she is fine, then the next turning blue. I watched it again to make sure and it all happened pretty quickly. Perhaps this is a FOS defense mechanism that Clark doesn't know how to turn off yet.

    Again, they didn't tell us. URG!

    Also in Mortal you noted that Clark walked in and punched out Lex because he was caught trying to steal from him. This doesn't actually follow with what happened. In the episode Chloe actually asks Clark why he didn't just call Lex, to which Clark replied that he had called him and he was on his way to Washington. So he didn't just try and steal willy nilly, he was trying to save his loved ones. Now consider the following information that is available to Clark:

    1. Clark's family and Lana are put in serious danger from some cold turkey freaks,
    2. The freaks were tested on by the Luthors
    3. There is only peripheral security at the high security plant
    4. Lex had some knowledge of what was going on the whole time in the plant (i.e. he was watching - Chloe remember told him about the video feed signal that belonged to Lex)
    5. Lex was at Belle Reve the day the freaks escaped - actually on that note, I just re-watched that scene, Lex clearly moves into their path to initiate contact and unlock the special cuffs that Electro psycho guy was wearing (which correct me if I am wrong looked a lot like the ones Superman was wearing in, I think it was The Trial of Superman? The cuffs also for reference covered the bad guys hands so they didn't have access to doing the wonder twins trick or absorbing electricity.)

    True, but it's all circumstantial until Lex admits it, and punching him before that is going off half-cocked.

    All this, plus Lex's already displayed suspicion of Clark, points to the reasonable conclusion that Lex had orchestrated it just to test Clark. So Clark is obviously very upset that Lex endangered his loved ones to test a hunch, and then goes and punches him out for a bit. It all seemed fine to me. Except for the continuing appearance that Chloe Sullivan is the greatest hacker computer whiz in the known universe.

    Heh.

    I just noticed the check box. I don't mind if you publish it in your reviews, but they are your reviews so you should do what you like.

    Really? Okay. I'm gonna go punch a mime.

    Rob "The super 1" R. wrote:

    Dear Neal,
    Just want to say I've enjoyed your reviews for quite some time.

    Thanks!

    I just want to help try and clear up a few things. In the movies I've always assumed the fortress ran on some kind of AI(artificial intelligence) .

    In Superman 2 Clark clearly had a conversation with Lara in regards to Lois and the loss of his powers."You must choose my son".If this is the case I think it's safe to extrapolate that Jor-el in Smallville is a freethinking AI construct himself .If this is the case Its possible this construct could have been altered (virus?) in some way . it would explain why Jor-el seems so schizo.

    Sure. If only they'd tell us one way or another...

    You may not agree with sex out of wedlock for big blue ,but the precedent was set in the aforementioned Superman 2. Something else I would like to point out that both the movie and the show did aside from him being powerless in both instances . The fact they stressed that it was an act of love and not some fling .

    Sure. Doesn't change my point, though.

    Max Heller wrote:

    Do you play World of Warcraft? I noticed some of your "l33tsp33k" in the review for Arrival was similar to some catch phrases from the the WoW forums. If yes, what is your main and what server do you play on (if you wanna tell us)?

    Maax, 60 Tauren Druid, Nathrezim Server

    Honest truth, about three times last year I mentioned I was a character on Stonemaul named Chinaski. Over the summer, I played my buns off for about two hours a day (my version of a vacation, with the other 12 hours spent writing, the rest spent eating). No one ever called and said hey! But I'll tell you what. If I can get a few people to promise to play with me, we'll pick a server and do a Smallville guild. The main reason I quit is because I play after I finish writing (usually 2-4 AM pacific), and there was no one to play with.

    Though I'd be a liar if I didn't own up to the fact that I didn't learn my l33t from warcraft. My first stories were written like this:

    10 It was a dark and stormy night
    20 In the computer lab. Neal tried
    30 Printing the document. It works.

    That, in fact, is how I started my first novel at about 10. I used a manual typewriter until about 1996, because we didn't have cash for a computer, but that didn't stop me from learning a lot in the computer labs.

    Anyway, point being, though I'm not of the class of computer geeks, necessarily, I speak pidgin. I'm kind of like an ambassador.

    Stephen Hudson wrote:

    (Hi, Neal! I'm hoping you might publish this rant in hopes of generating some conversation out there...)

    Yar! Your wish is granted. That'll be one season 4 DVD set. Yar!

    Okaaaaaaaaaaay... After watching one-and-a-quarter episodes of Smallville season 5, and after now having read two reviews of said season (yes, Neal, your review is more entertaining to me than the show, itself), I feel I must weigh in on a recurring issue. After reading through the various letters you posted from your Arrival review (Were those all of the letters, or were those just the best of them? Geez, you get a lot of mail...), I noticed a whole lot of questions revolving around Clark and the other Kryptonians using their powers, or failing to do so, in a manner befitting the viewing audience.

    Thanks for the praise...I really get a kick when folks say they love the reviews more than the show. There are people who actually read these and don't watch the show. How awesome is that? As for the mail, I post most of the ones that click the "yes, publish" box. Some are not fit to print because they are tangential, some are too full of curses to be edited, and some are personal. I would say half of the correspondence I get goes in here. I have many people I write to and from with who just use my regular email as opposed to the feedback. If you do, please note if you want in (as Stephen has here).

    (BTW, you titled your week 2 review "Arrival," a mistake that may not have been yours, but appeared on the website nonetheless.)

    Zod! It was Zod, I tell you!

    I'd like to jump in, here, because this touched on something that I've been wondering for quite some time, myself. Many people wondered how Zod, er, I mean, Jor-El took Clark's powers away, or why the Kryptonians could or couldn't use their powers in a more appropriate manner, or how do their powers work, anyway? The specific topic I want to address is, "What is it like to have Superman's powers?"

    Through most of the different versions of Superman's history, most scribes have agreed that Superman's powers come from a combination of Kryptonian physiology, Earth's atmosphere and lighter gravity, and the relatively close presence of a yellow sun. Clark's (and others', it would seem) body interacts with various elements of a different atmosphere to give him abilities beyond those of us indigenous humans here on Earth. I've often wondered what it would be like to live this type of existence.

    For instance, a great example is when Stan Lee "created" Superman in that line of DC comics he remade a few years back. I remember Superman, having first arrived on Earth, noticing how slowly everything around him moved, how the gravity barely affected him, and even how objects in gravity's grasp fell really, really slowly. This makes oodles of sense, and would lend greatly toward explaining a number of Superman's abilities; namely super-strength, super-speed, his superhuman reflexes (not only is he faster physically, but he perceives everything around him as being slower, allowing him to react relatively faster) and his knack for providing convenient excuses to Lois for his odd behavior over the last several decades (events unfolding appear to happen more slowly to him than to other humans perceiving the same event—therefore, it would seem his brain functions at a much higher rate than a human's, allowing him to process information much more rapidly in a contest of wits with any human—this makes you REALLY wonder what's in Luthor's head, doesn't it?).

    What gets me about that is that time MUST be relative for Superman, otherwise things would be at such a crawl he'd go nuts. My guess is that he can consciously slow time for himself at will.

    Having said that, I would think that using these abilities would come pretty darn naturally to Clark. He probably has to control himself to keep from zipping all over the place just by walking at what he perceives to be a normal pace, or bounding through the ceiling when taking an enthusiastic step. He'd have to figure out how to run closer to the ground, to keep his legs from propelling his body up into the jetstream every time he pushes off with the intent to move quickly. Objects around him would move in almost perpetual slow motion, allowing him amazing agility and control when interacting with his environment. 

    Sure.

    So, here's the thing. These abilities would make Superman a tour-de-force, an AMAZING physical marvel that mere humans would have trouble keeping up with. He might look like us when he's standing still, but he wouldn't move like a human, or likely act like a human. He'd be too fast, too powerful, too OTHERWORLDLY to interact normally with the populace. He might not even sound normal—I haven't delved deeply enough into the physics of how he'd perceive sound. Clark, on the other hand, would be able to pull that trick off, but he'd have to rein in his body (not his POWERS, mind you, but just his simple, everyday movements and actions) in order to move as slowly and ponderously as the humans around him. In short, he'd be painfully aware of his abilities, their use, and the reactions of others to their use, AT EVERY WAKING MOMENT. These marvelous physical gifts aren't POWERS, they're just extensions of his everyday existence, the laws of his reality.

    Agreed.

    This is simply one example, to say nothing of his senses or his more esoteric abilities, like flight.

    This is how I've imagined it would be to have Superman's powers: to be so powerful as to actually have to constantly restrain myself when interacting with any other being on the planet, in order to avoid detection as a supremely powerful being.

    After watching Smallville, I get the impression that this is entirely the opposite of what Millar and company think it is to have Superman's powers. It's been quite some time since I've seen the first season episodes, and I know some versions of comics continuity will run against me here, too, but I believe in Smallville continuity Clark found his powers around puberty, and is indeed still discovering them as he grows older.

    Yes. This seems correct.

    This is where I get really confused. Clark gets taken by surprise all the time. He gets snuck up on when his senses should easily pick out signs of a close-by presence. Objects are broken over his body that could be entirely avoided, as he is capable of moving faster than most any other being can contemplate. Okay, okay, so this lends to plot, or dramatic license, or whatever. It would seem the creators of Smallville envision Clark as a normal kid who can "turn on" his abilities when they're needed. It makes it more convenient for the writers to put the cast in perilous situations, I suppose, but honestly, it just isn't Superman. Or even Clark Kent. And, in my opinion, it shouldn't be.

    It also begs the question, why isn't he extremely disoriented whenever it happens.

    I cannot remember the title of the episode (Neal, if you might be so kind as to help, here), but I remember Clark getting beaten up by a bunch of Krytonite-powered, super-strong thugs. Just before Clark rides off to do final battle with this gang Jonathan says to him, "They have your strength, son, but they don't have your speed." Clark gets the hint, speeds into battle with the thugs, and never slows down long enough for them to touch him. He wins the fight easily, in a walk. This shows his growth as a crime-fighter and in learning to use his abilities to his best advantage, it shows that old Pa Kent still knows a thing or two that his son doesn't, and it makes for good drama.

    I forget the episode name, but I remember it.

    But it never, ever, should have happened. Clark's amazing abilities (or, at least the ones in question here) are inborn, and a result of his presence in Earth's atmosphere. Their use should be completely instinctual, as instinctual as breathing, or flexing a muscle, or in this case getting out of the way when something is trying to hurt you. As soon as the first thug threw a punch, Clark should have handed him his keister and then trounced his buddies before any of them could have reacted (absent any Kyrptonite, of course). I envision a scene not unlike in the Spider-Man movie, where Peter Parker watches Flash Thompson's fist move by in slo-mo while the bully tries to attack him. THAT is what should happen whenever someone tries to attack Clark. Even if he's a kid who doesn't have it all down just yet, shouldn't his natural reactions count for something?

    Yes, which is why I tend to harp on it when people get the drop on Clark. Shouldn't happen without K.

    Anyway, that has bothered me since the show's inception, and I wanted to run it by you. I think it cheapens the Superman mythos to do this to the character, even if it provides drama and plot devices for the masses. Your thoughts, Neal?

    I agree! Hate to make it that simple.

    While I'm at it, here's something else that is related. Instead of just wondering what happened to Clark's powers, I'd like an explanation for how they've been taken away in the season premiere. How? Was Clark's physiology altered? Implanted mental block or post-hypnotic suggestion? Did the creation of the FoS create some kind of atmospheric change, or alter the Universal Constant? If this is Zod's doing, why can't he take Clark's powers away whenever he wants? Call me a purist if you will, but it's this kind of mucking about with Superman's fundamentals for the sake of plot that drives me crazy. 

    Is that a rabbit over there?

    I missed most of the season 5 premiere so I can't weigh heavily in on this, but it's occurred to me. Clark, possessing the same powers as the other Kryptonians, beat both of them in a straight fight because he's had the powers for years and they haven't. Even if Zod was able to give them some kind of training (which would justify their immediate use of said powers upon their arrival on Earth), he probably couldn't give them years of experience before they had to leave. Just a shot in the dark, there...

    Thanks for listening to me rant, Neal. Keep churning out the review—I look forward to it every week—and please weigh in on my aforementioned rant.

    It's accurate, and it's right on. I also agree about Zod's disciples. Very insightful letter, Stephen.

    Tom wrote:

    ALICIA was in last weeks episode-MORTAL-They actually mentioned Alicia last week when Lana and Clark are about to get down and busy in the barn. Of all the characters the writers could have used to mention her, they use Lana. Oh well, continuity points count for a whole lot on this show. Thought you'd enjoy this Neal, keep up the good work.

    Thanks, Tom. It was a reference, though, not an actual scene where he goes, "Aw shucks, she's dead!" so she stays on the "very missed characters".

    Rick Diamond wrote:

    Love your reviews. I look forward to them every week. I am a Smallville junkie, along with my wife, even though when we tell people, we are a little embarrassed.

    Thank you. It's hard to explain to people who think Smallville is stupid why you like it. These same people wear Gap clothing and drive SUVs and think that perfectly rational, or they chew tobacco and have kids without any cash. Be proud of who you are. Don't let them get you down. We all have our loves.

    Okay, I think you went to the bathroom or something and missed some points. You pointed out that there was a plot flaw in that they didn't explain why there are no guards, and the fact that Chloe points this out and there was no follow up. There is a follow up. This is vital to Chloe and Clark putting the pieces together. The no guards fact, a video feed watching, along with Lex at Belle Reve the same day, makes his case for going after Lex at the end. He deduces that this is a test from Lex. If any of those pieces were missing, he could not, in good faith, go after Lex as he did. The only reason he punched him a second time was to get Lex to punch him back. If you noticed, he went for a third, but was stopped by Lex. Because Lex finally punched him back, Clark was done.

    True. No questioning that. What I don't like is that he didn't make SURE it was Lex before opening up.

    You didn't even mention that Clark's assumption about this being a test was all true. We see Lex wondering why he did not see a Super Clark on his computer. This adds to Lex's development. He actually had put the Clarks in danger this time, and it was intentional, unlike when he was robbing his fathers office.

    We don't know it was true. Lex really might have accidentally released that guy. That's the problem when writers aren't specific, or at least concrete, on some important details.

    Just some thoughts.
    Rick

    And good ones. Thank you.

    Michael Herrick wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    Just read your episode 2 review and had to write to thank you for hitting the nail on the head regarding the horrible sex scene in Mortal. Your ability to understand how a character should behave, even if it's not the way you would behave yourself, is a rare ability and an indispensable one for a writer, but they don't have writers on this show anymore. They bought the novel-writing machine from 1984 and it's cranking out the crap.

    I actually prefer the Vonnegut automatic writer. Galapagos made me cry. But thank you. Please tell someone who can print what I do en masse. ;) Tell them I don't even want money, just copies.

    The letter from Cat was very interesting. I liked her definition of "jumping the shark" and I have to say that by that definition this show is still in post-jump mode. The show no longer makes any sense to me. How many more times do we have to watch Clark like Lex, hate Lex, make up with Lex, like Lex, hate Lex, and so on. It happens every stinking season. You watch and we're going to go through the secrets-and-lies cycle again with Lana. You should start a pool. Put me down for episode 7. And Chloe's a great character, but Cat was right in her letter to point out that they've done a major switch on her. In episode 2 she was anything-for-a-story Sullivan, betraying Clark, selling out to the devil. Now we've put all that behind us.

    I'd make a pool, but then the show would jump it. All things lead to entropy. I'm grateful for what I had in the show. If some of it shines back sometimes, booya.

    The only reason I continue to watch this show is because once in a while, it kind of reminds me of Superman. It has this character called "Clark," which, by an odd coincidence, is the same name as Superman's secret identity. Once in a while, he'll catch a car or swing a tree. And occasionally they steal something cool, like the counter-woppling rings around the Phantom Zone. That's all I watch for. The rest is trash.

    I watch for a little more than that, but I respect that feeling. I have it often.

    Oh, darn, I'm going to write about the plot now, which might make it look like I still care. The reason Jor-El took away Clark's powers is because Clark thought all he needed was to be big and strong. He still thinks that Ken and Barbie were the "threat," and he "handled" it. But the real threat, from the beginning, was Brainiac. Clark is going to need to defeat him with superior knowledge. That's why Jor-El put Clark into the magic learning bubble, to prepare him for that. Clark despised the gift and went off to flex his muscles. From those that have not, even the little they have will be taken away. So later this season, Clark will confront Brainiac, lose a muscle test, crawl back to the north pole (hey, Reeve could do it), receive the wisdom, beat Brainiac and get tapped with the magic wand that restores powers and turns pumpkins into a coach-and-four. Oh, I forgot. Applaud the pole dance, THEN beat Brainiac, and so on.

    I hope it's better than that. :)

    By the way, "woppling" is my own neologism and I would appreciate your shilling for it on your page.

    I shall try!

    Best,

    Michael

    Likewise. Thank you all for great letters this week!

    Neal



    Hidden

    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    Well this was an interesting one to review. It is a mixture of good parts and not so good parts so my final rating is going to be very difficult to decide on.

    Let me start from the beginning.

    We have a crazy ex-Smallville High student which is the first knock on the episode. While in the grand scheme of things it is a minor complaint it is just getting old and it is time to move on. Another bigger issue with this intro was something I will try to explain. I understand we never know how someone is going to act when a gun is put to their head. That is pretty much a fact, you just never know. However I do know a little about how people are trained who work in missile silo's and the psychological testing they go through. I am willing to bet good money that the overwhelming majority of those fine men and women serving in those situations, be American, French, Russian or whoever, would willingly take a bullet and/or let their partner take a bullet instead of turning that key. Honestly a nuclear bomb? Your life for thousands to millions? I would even bet the majority of people off the street would take the bullet instead of turning that key. So the crazy high school kid got lucky and found the one crew with someone who caved under pressure. Alright, I'll deal, but it did induce a "what the heck" moment.

    So we see the boy take over the missile silo and we move on to some of the great parts of this episode.

    Lana and Clark wake up together. We see them in a very nice young love moment as they enjoy being with each other. We see the fun as they realize they messed up and the following scene is just fantastic. Ma and Pa catch the lovers trying to sneak out. We get some great moments from Pa very well played by Jonathan Schneider which speaks volumes for the morals of the situation. I get the feeling it's scenes like these that Jonathan Schneider signed on for and he does not disappoint in this one. The "protection" question was answered in a non-preachy way which I think was also a good choice. It needed to be addressed but I was glad to see they did so using a bit of humor while still being tasteful about the situation. Such a great scene and one of the highlights of the evening's episode.

    Chloe comes in and warns of the danger. I had to wonder here. Do the Kent's know Chloe knows? I am not sure. Still the story moves on from there. We see Mr. Kent try and talk sense with the Sheriff only to find out she's already on the case. Seems like the government has some sort of warning system for the bombs hidden under our feet. It is some comfort to know that when crazy 18 years olds can hack in and take over our missiles that at least Uncle Sam will get a warning buzzer that will go off.

    Clark and Chloe confront the bad guy and Clark gets shot. Through the lung. Here is the second "what the heck" moment. We see when Chloe calls the bad guy there is only 33 minutes left before launch time. Clark is brought to the hospital and is in what appears to be a recovery room in about 25 or so of those 30 minutes. Now after I thought about it I realized that it only makes sense if he had not been in surgery yet. When Lana found him he was bandaged up and they must have been preparing the Operating Room to go in and remove the bullet. A few choices on how they portrayed that scene made this confusing though. For one how did Lana get into the prep room? Two? There should have been a nurse with him and he should have had pressure bandages on. Not a little gauze pad. They made it look like he was in a recovery room after the initial emergency situation but the timing only works if it was "pre-op", not "post-op". Not a bad story point but perhaps a less than stellar choice in how the scenes were filmed.

    For that reason it was a "what the heck" moment but there was still some good there. Kristin Kreuk's acting was absolutely fantastic here. She really played it well and the emotion of the scene quickly make the "WTH" moment quickly fade from my mind. Annette O'Toole and Jonathan Schneider also give a shorter but equally emotional portrayal of the situation.

    Jor-El charges up Lionel and he rushes in to get Clark's body. Let me say it was very cool to see John Glover able to do some super action on the show! Then we have a really interesting scene in the Fortress of Solitude that gives us some questions to ponder through the season. Jor-El saves Clark but only by using the life force from someone else. This is very reminiscent of the deleted scene from Superman II between Jor-El and Clark after Clark returns from being beat up in the diner, for those of you who know of it. It is exactly what I 'think' happened here. I do not know for sure since I avoid spoilers but from that scene I thought it was pretty clear that Jor-El gave Clark his own life force. The thing that makes this very interesting is that I do not believe Clark realized what really happened. Clark thinks that someone he loves is going to die. So Clark is off in the world expecting someone is going to drop dead because of him and that fear leads to him making some bad choices at the end of the episode, but I'll get to that later. Let me just add this: Clark was dead. To return his life, Jor-El needed to give him someone's life force. That makes sense but Clark would need it now, not 6 months from now. This isn't the same as when Jor-El made the deal with Jonathan. This was an immediate need, not something to be paid later. Everyone Clark loved was still alive. So it had to be someone Clark does not realize he loves yet. I could be wrong but then when you really get down and think about it, what Earthling's life force would be enough?

    Anyway. So now Clark speeds off to save the day. We have one heck of a scene with Clark flying or super-jumping to the rocket and punching hand-holds as he climbs ahead of each stage before it falls off. Fantastic drama, action, and pretty good effects for a TV show. I loved how he just tore out the core and tossed it into space. Makes me wonder if he just freed Barbie and Super Ken from the phantom zone. No spoiler junkies, I do not want to know.

    All and all a great scene that had the fan boy glee meter going into the red zone. (No product placement puns intended. Well ok, partially intended)

    Clark's return to the Kent farm is priceless. The look on his face and his torn up clothing was just fantastic. Lana's reaction was good as well.

    Lana goes to Lex and we find out he is convinced there is something up with farmboy. Well that has been obvious for some time but I think this is really the first time we hear Lex openly admit he suspects Clark is something beyond mortal men. Before it was heavily implied and he was open about his belief Clark knew something more than he was telling but he never openly admitted his suspicions like this before. It was a great moment that excellently added on to last week where we learned Lex was trying to trick Clark into doing super stuff in front of him. Things will only get more interesting now that Clark has his powers back. It is clear Lex is up to no good.

    Lastly we have Chloe and Clark in the barn. We learn some interesting things here. First and most important of all we learn it is not being different that Clark hates about his powers and abilities. It is the having to lie about them and hide himself that really bothers him. I liked that explanation a lot. I thought it was a great moment that shows us a great glimpse of the man we know Clark will grow into. He is forced to lie and absolutely hates it. So much so that it is tearing him up inside. Clark is forced to lie almost every episode in some form or another and it was so nice to see the consequences of that.

    Smallville's Clark has a long way to go before being Superman. This is so obvious in his rationalization to not tell Lana. Chloe is absolutely right in that he owed it to her to tell her. Especially since their relationship had recently become physical. Sure when he believed he was human not telling her was somewhat forgivable, or at least understandable, but now that he has his powers back? The right thing to do would be to tell her everything and let the chips fall where they may. He is rationalizing not telling her out of fear and I am flat out saying his conclusions are wrong. I know it, obviously Chloe knows it, and from Chloe's speech I am pretty certain the producers and writers know it as well. So while I am a bit disappointed in Clark Kent for making that rationalization I can see it is a point of character growth they are trying to show with this season and I am interested in seeing how this plays out. In the end I am confident Clark will realize his mistake and make amends for his bad choices. I can not wait to see how the Smallville people play this one out.

    Sorry. That was a bit on the long side. I felt I had to break it down a bit due to the mixed bag this week. All and all a good episode with two plot points that were a bit sub par.

    So with all that in mind I'll give it a B-. (or 3.5 balls of hot gasses)

    Thanks for taking the time to read my review. As always, comments are always welcome!

    Doug



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