Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 19: "Mercy"



Reviewed by: Neal Bailey


  • Seen the movie Saw? Then you know the premise of this episode.
  • Lionel is targeted by the Saw villain. Martha is brought along.
  • Clark saves Lionel and Martha, and Lionel reveals that he knows Clark's secret.
  • Lionel and Clark come to an uneasy understanding about keeping his secret.


    Smallville rips stuff off.

    This is pretty common knowledge. It's one of the chief criticisms of the show, and particularly of this season. This season there has been a LOT of appropriation. Almost every single episode is a ripoff of some major story convention in a movie.

    Is this for familiarity? Is it writing laziness? Is it to resonate with pop culture?

    I don't care if it's to save the whales. It's annoying, lazy, and offputting.

    Of all the Smallville episodes I've seen, this episode has the most blatant ripoff yet. They even take actual lines from the Saw movie. It's not as bad, maybe, as when they take the actual SCENE from Terminator 3, which they've done, but when you have a character, in a mask, at a remote location, playing games where the mains have to PLAY A GAME in order to survive, a game that is often sadistic and dangerous, where the remote villain is in a HOOD and talking in a voice changer in a particular tone (the same as in the movie Saw), and the goal of the game is to redeem some character flaw, you have a very, very clichéd ripoff of the movie Saw. There's even a scene where a character is abducted from a parking garage (Martha). The "Hell of your own making" line and concept. The videos of people who have failed the same test, just like in Saw. There's homage, and then there's stealing.

    If you look, just what I've mentioned above (which doesn't note the trap similarity, the use of the villain who knows the main and has a small cameo early on, etcetera) tells us that this episode is just blatant plagiarism.

    Even the line: "I WANT TO PLAY A GAME!" is lifted. They don't modify it at all. Not, "LIONEL, I'M JUDGING YOU... WITH A TRIAL OF WITS!" No. They lift STRAIGHT from the movie.

    This is unconscionable. If I were the creator of Saw, I think there might actually be merit to a suit. I don't particularly prefer using litigation in matters of intellectual property, but I mean, how much more obvious can the theft of an original idea get?

    But that's not the whole episode. While the ripoff of Saw, while the THEFT of someone's good idea is enough to make you spit nails, when they move past this horrible appropriation, character shines through, particularly toward the end of the episode. A number of nagging dilemmas were solved, a number of steps toward resolution began to take hold, and frankly, it was pretty enjoyable.

    Onyx syndrome, for those of you who recall. Only instead of OOOOH! Awwwww, it was Awwwwwwww....OOOH!

    Make sense?

    All of that aside, I have less than two pages of notes. That's the first time in forever...fewer notes by the week. This means less Lana, which is a bonus, and less to pick at, which is even better.

    They also solved a number of the nagging Martha and Lionel problems, which is even better. There's still no reason they'd be cool with hanging around a convicted murderer who's tried to kill their friends and families, but now at least there is some small reason, and a little bit of rationale for some of his abilities.

    By the episode:

    We start with a newspaper that Lionel is reading. It says "SENATOR KENT REVEALS FINANCE PLAN" on the cover of the Daily Planet. This, to my mind, cements the fact that Martha is a U.S. senator. IE, one of the two every state sends to the capital. The senior of the two branches of the bicameral legislature. Not the local schlub.

    Why? Simple. No major metropolitan newspaper reports on the doings of a local senator. Like, ever. Even members of the U.S. House have a hard time getting in the news. It took Tom Tancredo saying that we ought to nuke Mecca in order to get him a back page mention in national papers, to give you an idea. One would assume the Daily Planet is a national paper, given that it is essentially a proxy for the New York Times.

    To make the front page of the New York Times, you'd almost have to be one of New York's two state senators. Think about it. How often is Hillary Clinton on the front page of the Times? It's rare, and it takes an extremely important event.

    State, or local senators, hardly ever get there. I think the confusion comes with the fact that the show obfuscates with the term "State" senator, which can mean the local senator, or the U.S. senator. This, coupled with the fact that a local senate race would probably not mean fame OR power to Lex Luthor and he would thusly not compete for it, leads me to believe that Martha's seat is national now. I was leaning toward local. The debate continues over something one simple line of dialogue could fix.

    My guess is that even the writers don't know. Or think about it. Being a politics kinda guy, though, I do.

    In my notes I have a big exclamation and nasty face for the fact that Lionel is on the phone talking as a representative of Luthorcorp again. So we have this line of logic: Lionel goes to jail for killing his parents, and in revenge blows up Chloe and her father, and poisons Lex. Everyone knows he did it. Chloe comes back, isn't afraid of him and even works with him for some reason. He becomes insta-good because of Clark. In the process, he becomes a penniless beggar living in a homeless shelter. He then becomes insta-bad again, for no apparent reason, and lives with Lex despite scheming against him. He then seeks the stones, gets one, becomes Jor-El. He then has money again. Despite being a convicted murderer, he is desired by a bunch of companies, which he consolidates to try and buyout Luthorcorp. He refuses to do so to remain near Martha. He learns Clark's secret, and Martha lets him hang out with her because she's feeling vulnerable despite knowing all of the above.

    Well, all of that is confusing, convoluted crap, and I hate it. At least, after Lionel being thrown in jail. That was the last truly good use of his character.


    Now, in one episode, everything is lined up again. Lionel is working for Luthorcorp because Lex invited him back for knowledge. I buy that. He has money from the job. I buy that. He even has power again. Okay. Now that's all explained.

    Clark comes clean, and tells Martha that he knows about Lionel. Martha tells Clark that she lied. Okay, so it sucks that both have not learned, by now, that there is a lesson in inaction. And I don't mean the George Bush style of "lesson of inaction" in the mushroom cloud sense, I mean the Smallville cliché of a character, for no real reason, not telling someone information that would help them in order to get to a finale. Here we are, though, at the finale, so things fall into place. And that's vital. Clark tells his mom, mom tells him, both realize their respective stupidity, blah blah blah, I hate it, but now we move forward. So why hang out with Lionel? Well, now there's a reason, and it's not the BLASPHEMY that is Lionel and Martha flirting, it's the fact that Lionel now has Machiavellian goods over Martha and Clark.

    He's back on character, and he's back in action. THAT I buy, and that I love. I hope it continues. It's classic Smallville, and though this season has struggled, it's working to bring back the old magic. Though this season is hit and miss, at least it's half hit, unlike season four, and if we continue in this vein of dragging the characters to a respective UR point, next season might be as good or better as the previous years, especially if they start ENACTING that destiny and bringing in that Fine action.

    But then, SAW RIPOFF. Oy.

    Lionel's vehicle stops in front of a train, the doors lock, and Jigsaw appears. For those of you who haven't seen it, Jigsaw is the baddie in Saw. I never caught the name of this week's freak, so I'm just calling him Jigsaw, because there's no difference. Live with it.

    What really sucks about this scene is not the peril. In fact, the explosion of the limo was pretty awesome, and Lionel's frenzied reaction was fun to watch. What really sucks is that it's overshadowed by the stealing. That, and, well, butter knives.

    I'll explain.

    Imagine Smallville started off with Clark Kent stirring in his bed. He's having a dream, but he's being chased by a guy with Orlando Bloom's complexion in a red and green striped shirt. Bloom finally catches him, and holds up a hand. The hand, instead of fingers, has BUTTER KNIVES! It's Teddy Booger, come to get you, Clark! Cue the little girl with a nursery rhyme in the background (another Smallville and cliché horror convention).

    Where do I get that? Well, that's what taking the premise of Saw, which is actually quite nuanced and gruesome, and replacing it with the perils of playing...


    Oh, no!

    Not HANGMAN! Lords! Save us! He wants to play a game of...HANGMAN!

    In Saw, which was a GOOD movie, the terms of the game are that you cut off your leg or you die. Not play hangman. Or you shoot your buddy. Or poison your mom. Or walk across broken glass. Real, gory, horrible perils.


    I mean, cripes. If you're gonna rip it off, why go so safe?

    Because it's TV, Neal! You can't show gore on TV!


    There's also the fact that I don't buy that the limo driver would be so complicit. Why aid the guy who's trying to set up Lionel Luthor when in retaliation Lionel will either kill you, or, if you tell him, likely reward you handsomely and take the guy out. I mean, would you rather risk the wrath of Jigsaw or Lionel Luthor? Personally, I go with Jigsaw. Jigsaw can kill you, but Lionel will expose your soul, eat it, and then make you shoot yourself. He's dag nasty evil, not just game-obsessed.

    That and, well, you know, he could have just kicked out the windows of the limo. But that would have been too easy.

    The Daily Planet set is improving. Either that, or I didn't notice before today just how cool it was. If you notice, the establishing shot doesn't do the typical flyover but instead shows the front door, which is almost a carbon copy of the one from the Superman Returns preview. INCREDIBLY awesome and indicative of the genius of the prop department. I've been hard on them of late, but it's really hard to forget, when it comes down to it, how truly awesome the mise en scene in Smallville is because of them, eventual failures like the pine needle Honduran forest aside.

    The elevator, too, if you watch, is just like the one in the video diary. TOTAL awesomeness, and I wonder if the sets will match up. That would be a wonderful treat, even though it's not necessary for either to work.

    Also, there's a picture of Atlas holding the world on his back, which may be a subtle reference to when Superman catches the Planet globe in the preview images. Subtle, and cool.

    Clark hems and haws with Chloe about his mother. Chloe states the obvious when Clark reveals his idiocy with his mother, "So what stopped you?" His reply, "I didn't want to give her one more thing to worry about," (after Jonathan's death). Mighty kind of you, Clark. Guess it'd be better if she were dead so she could be with him, huh?

    But anyway, this episode resolved it, and the scene was brief, so I'll forgive the idiocy.

    Lex and Lionel have a couple of great scenes. It doesn't matter if they're talking about cooking recipes, the two have chemistry, and I think the show is starting to realize that again. Granted, Lionel has no real reason or evidence to assume it was Lex beyond the fact that he's done the same thing so many times, but the scene works regardless.

    And for monkey's sake, I know I haven't mentioned it as much, but Lex calls it LuthERcorp about five hundred times in the scene. I KNOW that Rosenbaum knows how it's really pronounced, because I watched "Justice League Unlimited", and his characters always get it right there. What's the deal?

    Martha goes to a "Civil Liberties" fund raiser. I don't think it's a stretch now, given last episode, to assume that she's a Democratic candidate. I say this knowing multiple parties support the idea of striking back against the abridgements of civil liberties in the name of the war on terror, but assuming that only the two major parties could potentially win in a major senate race, generally speaking.

    Despite the fact that this stands for something that I believe in, I still disagree with the plot direction. Making Superman or his family of any one political direction or affiliation is detrimental to the character, for previously mentioned reasons I'll reiterate. Say you believe that freedoms should be abridged in order to fight the terrorists. Now, Martha Kent, who is supposed to represent the typical, wholesome, Middle-American mother, is suddenly against your viewpoint. In other words, the archetype becomes a polemic. Even if you agree with what that polemic is, like Clark with pre-marital sex, it's still bad for a large portion of the viewing audience.

    I'll put it in a more typical American perspective. Imagine if they made Clark Kent convert to the Muslim religion. Is there anything inherently wrong with this? No. And why would there be? It's just a system of belief like most other systems of belief, right? But the rub lies in the fact that if you're a vehement Christian, Clark now represents a wholly different system of beliefs and is harder to relate to. By keeping Clark and his family's political affiliations and sexual practices off camera, you make them more relatable characters, in that they are supposed to generally represent us all.

    I've mentioned that a ton of times, but they keep taking steps that make me have to again.

    I like Clark mentioning that they have to handle the situation like Dad would. For the first time, and I am amazed by this, a character that dies on this show is not only remembered, but his memory is a part of every show. Maybe it's just that Clark and Martha care for their loses and Lana doesn't give a solid crap about Adam, Whitney, or Jason. But then, what about Alicia? Bad past writing, good current, in that regard.

    Here's my next note:


    Gee. How could I ever have seen it coming? Maybe because he's the extra with the line, and because Lionel focuses on him when he wouldn't. Oblivious to the tension, the writers critically fail to rip off here, because in Saw, it's HARD to tell who the baddie will be. Here, it's handed to you on a DUR platter.

    One thing that kind of struck me in this episode was the one alteration they made to Jigsaw. The Jor-El face. Any of you notice that? The mask looks a lot like the Jor-El face in Superman: The Movie. Symbolic of Jor-El's role in the show? Nah, likely just a coincidence. But still, funny, if you think about it.

    Lionel has a gun hidden in his office. I know they've used the convention of hidden Luthor guns all the time, but I love it. It's awesome. I have an note here that's immaterial to the review, but all the same:



    I don't know if you all know, but my basic way that I support myself is through construction. I move into a house, fix it up with knowledge that I earned through six months of construction work at three bucks an hour (learned to build a house top to bottom), and then refi, or sell, or whatever makes the most money. I'm almost financially solvent through it, but anyway, the point of this tale is that the ultimate goal is to build and move into my own house in the far-flung woods, building continual additional houses on the property to house family, friends, and starving artists working toward a common goal, like a commune, but without the fruity crap.

    At the center of this is the dream house, which is a two story lofted A-Frame a la Woody Creek to house my eventual publication company/headquarters for real literature for real people. The television couch has a button that launches a trapdoor straight into the bathroom. There is an "Ashcroft hatch" which will basically be a Batman like chute leading straight from my writing desk to a hidden underground tunnel into the woods in the event that my writing becomes too dangerous for the political elite. There will be a winch operated bed that ascends to the roof through a skylight. All kinds of goodness, because it's my house, and I don't give a *%$ how Roark people think it is (Roark being used as an adjective).

    And now, because of this episode, there will be panels all over the house that, with a simple touch, will reveal a loaded-for-battle handgun. And maybe, just for fun, one with a prop replica kryptonite, in case Superman ever goes Dark Knight Returns.


    Lex has taken up chess in this episode, which is a minor point in the Lionel and Lex conversation, until it shows up later on. Lex, apparently, is trying to teach novice Lana to play chess.

    This isn't really that funny, until you remember that Lionel essentially told Lex that he sucked at chess. So if a dude that sucks at chess is the INSTRUCTOR for Lana, what does that say about her logic skills?

    Room for improvement. But anyway. That's some fitting characterization, and I have to compliment the succinctness of it, even if it wasn't intended and was subconscious.

    Lana again can somehow afford the gas to Smallville and back. That's forty more bucks on a budget that's now characterized, as of the use of her savings, as FLAT BROKE.

    Part of what took me out of Jigsaw in this flick is that he's just Lionel's little schlub. Knowing that early on, I was able to spot a lot of potential flaws the casual viewer wouldn't notice. Like, say, that he can rent what appears to be a forty, fifty story underground warehouse for his sick games. I can't hardly afford my house rent on minimum wage. Had I lost my job in a merger that happened six months ago, I hardly think I'd be able to afford the tech or the lease space.

    But the worst thing was all the prop TVs that he had around. In the burn room, he has THREE LCD screen televisions that he just burns. What, he couldn't use a tube TV with a VCR? It's stylistic, yeah, but here's an example of the prop department failing after I just complimented them, because it pulls you out of the scene.

    Another step toward redemption. It's mentioned that there are no cameras in Lionel's offices for shady deals. So okay, it doesn't explain away the hundreds of other times Clark would have been caught on camera, but it certainly explains a few away.

    Clark actually uses his x-ray vision, a power, in this episode, which is a pleasant surprise. He even doesn't just flaunt it, he uses his deductive logic to find an excuse for why he has to smash the statue. Excellent. I half expected him, given past characterization, to simply lift the statue and smash it for no real reason, and get away with it because there was a camera inside, without explanation.

    Cool move.

    But then, they kind of waste the good will earned there by having Lex get a phone call from Lana right as he's trying to make nice with Clark, and Clark, the man who can hear a mosquito rubbing its feelers together on Pluto, doesn't hear Lana's familiar nasal tone? Wasted opportunity, and implausible scenario. You've gotta assume if it's in the vicinity, Clark will hear it. I know there is a response to that criticism, that he has to focus to hear things a distance away, but I liken it to the Hilltop sixth sense. Living on Hilltop in Tacoma, there's a very good chance your car or house will be vandalized, or you'll have someone do a snatch and grab for drug cash. So you put the ear out, listen for anything that sounds like a jimmied lock or a smashed window nearby, and you don't always hear it, but if it's nearby, you can often catch someone breaking into your car, go out with a gun, and scare them off.

    I believe super-hearing would work on the same premise, and Clark, though he might not catch the entire conversation, would be attuned to Lex conversations, and listen for known voices nearby.

    Either way, it was just a wasted opportunity.

    Jigsaw prompts Lionel and Martha to move upstairs after the overly dramatic anagram. He drops electricity into the water, which, though it electrifies the whole floor and makes it impassable, somehow doesn't travel up the metal staircase and fry Martha and Lionel. Sigh.

    But is that the true crime, or is the true crime the fact that they follow up the precarious, dramatic, tense game of hangman with...AN ANAGRAM!

    I want to play a game, Neal.

    No! Not a game!

    Yes. A game. We're going to do...a SUDOKU! Or lizards will suck on your toes.


    Yes, mwu ha ha ha ha! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8...what goes in the last box?

    STOP! I can't TAKE IT ANYMORE! I'm a bad person! I'll change!

    Yes, but first you must solve the riddle.

    But...that's the combination for my luggage!

    Lionel and Martha get on the infinite elevator. And I mean that because they have an extended conversation in the elevator that shows that they're somewhere in the core of the Earth, to travel that far and for that long. It's like in Star Trek when they're on the turbolift for about a half hour with the lights going by on the outside. Particularly funny on Enterprise, where there were what, fifteen floors?

    The scene is also critically flawed in that, if you watch, you can actually see landmarks in the background as they shake the cage while Lionel and Martha talk. Meaning, they make lights go up and down to give the illusion of motion, but if you watch the sides, you can see that the cage is static. That's just a rank amateur set mistake.

    In fact, I timed the scene to see just how far they went. It took about five seconds to go up roughly a story, and elevators typically get faster than that first story jaunt as I recall, but anyway, assume a story a minute. They start rising at 26:44, and the elevator finally stops at 28:19. That's 95 seconds of rise, or a 19-story rise.

    You're telling me that a goon on a simple salary could somehow cordon off and set up a 20-story structure? It's like the House of Wax ripoff episode where the kid somehow gets a whole warehouse.

    The best part of this protracted scene, however, is the blank look on Lionel's face. Great character moment. He tells Martha that he's testing and training Lex to be strong. She says, "You ever try talking to him?" and he gets this blank look that lasts for a few protracted seconds. It's good, and it works as a serious moment, but as you're watching, you can see him thinking, "You just...don't...get it, do you Martha?" in a Doctor Evil voice.

    Clark and Lex drive together, which eliminates another Clark insta-disappearance. Good. It's later totally forgotten and botched, but at least before they did it right. I get the feeling two writers worked on this episode. One that sucked and did the Saw thing, the other that knows a thing or two about character.

    Lex asks Clark if he wants to wait, and he says that he doesn't. Lex draws his gun and blasts the door in. Awesome moment. Very cool. Very fun.

    Lionel and Martha have to kill someone. Lionel chooses to end his own life rather than kill Martha.

    You remember season four? Now, I hate to dredge the old swamp, but remember when Lionel, as a plotline, decided to go GOOD? Well, magically and instantly converting him through a MYTHICAL STONE is NOT a good way to do it. Forcing him to realize that his evil hurts the people he loves and having him choose to end his own life over another person's is EXACTLY the good way to do it. They didn't go that way with this plot, but in retrospect, this just shows that there is a way to do it, and a good way, and that, as I stated, season four didn't show it.

    The elevator goes. Turns out Jigsaw was going to kill them after all. Well, grand.

    Clark arrives, catches the elevator, and eases it down. After falling forty floors, they'd likely be at terminal velocity, so an instant stop would crush them both. Lionel and Martha are dead.

    But hey, I guess they aren't, somehow. Sucky moment.

    Lex realizes that Clark stopped the elevator, AND that he ran across town in an instant. Lionel just blows it off, but that's important. VERY important. He knows Clark has some powers now, or has a friend with powers, at least. Will this ever be mentioned again? I doubt it. But it's vitally important. And that sucks.

    Lionel calls Clark "Son" again, very pointedly. This is their "succinct" way of revealing the fact that Jor-El is still hiding in Lionel, along with the destiny speeches and all that. At least, that's my guess. We'll see. Either way, though that dialogue is forced, the confrontation with Lionel in the end was incredible. Tense, and showing Clark in a finally justified moment of extreme anger and righteous wrath. He scares Lionel, which is hard, and he scares me, which is even better, because he's right to do it. He finally takes the stand against the guy with his mom. Will it stick? Let's see. But excellent scene.

    Cue Lionel getting a headache and writing again, likely Jor-El inspired. We'll see. Excellent sub-plot.

    Next week? Another Lana shower scene, a somewhat decent looking across the street effect, and what looks to be a freak of the week story in the middle of what should be the rising action for the finale. Still no word about Brainiac. We'll see.

    This episode had the single worst rip-off of Smallville's run. BUT, it also had a TON of great scenes and a lot of character. A LOT of recompense for former continuity failings, as well. I give this one a 3.5 of 5.


    Lionel is explained away, which doesn't fix his past faults, but moves us to a position where we can go forward. Alas, this involves a blatant, horribly obvious rip-off of Saw that could easily be used as a grounds for litigation. BUT, there is no Lana in this show, not really, and nothing too extraneous. We also have some great moments and character. 3.5 of 5.


    Hey, guess what?


    Better than that. I got a TWO BOOK DEAL.

    Poetry. In three to four months, the book will be released, followed by another at an undetermined date.

    I know you all have heard me harp on my books before, but this is different. Being ASKED to have your work published, to the publishing world, is like getting "made" in the mafia. You may never get to Capo, but someone will vouch for you, and that means that New York will listen.

    Actually, that's a pretty good metaphor for the publishing industry.

    But at any rate, it's all thanks to you guys, for helping me keep up the faith and the strength and the belief that it isn't about the money, it's about the art.

    When I started trying to get published eight long years and two-hundred fifty rejections ago, I thought it would take, at most, a year. I took faith from the film The Shawshank Redemption, still one of my favorite films. I relate to the character who is trying to do the best he can with his life, but is unjustly beset on all sides with things that drag him from his life and dream. He has two things, patience, and time, and he uses them. With logic. With faith. With friends.

    He crawls through a river of $%#% and comes out the other side a free man. It was the theme of my first novel, and it's what's helped keep my hope ever since.

    I'm drawn to a particular quote from the movie. This quote:

    <A HREF="">[Play Sound]</A>

    "'..In addition, the library district has generously responded with a charitable donation of used books and sundries. We trust this will fill your needs. We now consider the matter closed. Please stop sending us letters.'"

    Guard #1:
    "I want all of this cleared out before the warden gets back."

    "Yes, sir."

    Guard #2:
    "Good for you, Andy."

    "Wow. It only took six years. From now on, I'll write two letters a week instead of one."

    Guard #2:
    "I believe you're crazy enough."

    Except with me, it took eight years. But the feeling is much the same.

    Funny thing is, it wasn't a letter I wrote, or the number of readers I had. It was, ultimately and finally, everything I'd dreamed it would be. A man who met me, saw my work, and realized that I did it because I believed in it, just like he did, and don't and will never do it for money.

    His quote? @%$# the audience. We write for eternity. Truer words were never spoken, and I hope you'll forgive this tangential meandering, as you have all others, so I can just whisper a thank you to all of you before moving on to this first and apt letter:

    Chris ( wrote:
    dude, get a job.

    YOU'RE a towel!

    Actually, Chris, whose email address I publish because it's a false one that bounces, as most critical letters from cowards are, for fear of getting an actual response from a human instead of just giggling in your mother's basement, I took your advice this week and got a job. A two book deal. So eat it.

    But aside from that, I promise you, I have two other jobs, and I work longer, harder hours than you do. I can tell this without even knowing you. How? Because I don't know anyone who is not a famous comics figure or novelist who busts butt as much as I do.

    But then, you know that. You're just trying to goad me. Congrats. You've failed.

    Bill Albanito wrote:
    Hey Neal

    Thought I would drop you a note instead of trying to catch you on MSN.


    OK. First of all, as we've talked about before, I believe that Martha is a senator for a district in the state of Kansas - not one of two senators who serve in Washington D.C.

    This seems to be the prevailing theory, which perplexes me...let's hear why you think so:

    The fact that she is needing a chief of staff is just bad writing, IMHO. "Bad writing from Smallville?" you say. "Pfft. Never happen."

    That's a good argument. It might explain the Daily Planet covering her too. Something one line of dialogue could fix, eh?

    (insert tongue in cheek here.)

    Or boot in Smallville writer's (CENSORED FOR YOUR PROTECTION).

    But the true fact is that if she were a D.C. senator, she would no longer be in Smallville if the senate was in session. Not even the most liberal of liberal taxpayers would put up with that kind of spending. You talk about your $40 gas trips to and from Metropolis? Well, how about jetting to D.C. and back every day so she can tend the house or spend time with Clark? But then that begs the question, how far of a drive is it to Topeka, where the state business would be run, from Smallville? Anyhoooo...

    You know, I'd buy that, but then, with Abramoff, and with all the freebies, and with all the lack of regulation in congress, with their exorbitant salaries in the face of increasing poverty, I think a senator is the one person I WOULD believe could commute on an almost daily basis to and from their home state. Which is sad.

    Either way, it remains unclear. I wish they'd clear it up.

    A few minor episode points:

    The way scary-dad "Magnetoed" the diamonds out of the stained glass thingy at the Talon? Cool effect, but a bit inacurate as diamonds are carbon based, not silica based. He would have no control over diamonds.

    Hah! Good call. Maybe they were zirconia? Is that carbon based? I purposefully flunked chem. As a kid. Not enough words.

    You kept referring to Clex. Now, I believe that stands for a Clark/Lex ship in the vernacular. I am assuming you mean "Lexana"?

    I did, in fact. It was an error. I regret nothing! But we will NOT be exploring what that says about my subconscious. Mostly because it means I would prefer a Clex to a Lexana, I guess.

    I agree with your review that the episode was pretty well done. Hats off to Tom for his directoral debut.


    Past/Future episode points:

    Please, by all that is holy, let there not be dead people guiding or advising the main characters. One Lilian in Lexmas was cool. Maybe even another one in Void...maybe. But I get the bad feeling that there is going to be more of this. Especially with Jonathan supposedly returning again.

    I think Jason should come back and tell Lana to take sleeping pills so they can be together forever and ever. Then his brother from Supernatural should smack him and pull him off screen.


    Brainiac, according to spoilers, does something to Lex that gives him powers or something? Not sure of the actual spoiler, but it really has me hoping for a cool posession-type thing like what was done in the JLU cartoon. Probably won't happen and it will just be a weird injection or potion type thingy, but I can hope.

    Sounds interesting to me. Lex getting powers is an old staple, from Luthoriac to, like you said, JLU. Depends on how it's done. It often helps the Lexes that are less intelligent get a leg up.

    Jor-El and Zod coming up? I heard that too somewhere. Please let it be revealed that the "intelligence" in the cave is actually Eradicator. The actions have been very Eradicator-ish. His attitude is the same. Even the power beam that came from "Kara" when she destroyed the car is an Eradicator thing, if I remember right. Anyhow, here's hoping again. (Yeah, Bill, and if wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak.)

    And if the Smallville writers could write that coherent of a long-term plot, Lionel would have a reason for being out of prison...

    Random points:

    Dude! You know who you are...the guy who was trying to rip Neal a new one for no other reason than because you think he owes you something?? Get over it, man! It was a bit uncalled for and quite rude. Opinions are fine, but that was just...well...not fine.

    Ah, it doesn't bug me. Don't let it bug you. The internet is full of crazies. They're fun, not bad. They only suck if you let them get to you.

    Lanafan. Are you for real? LOL. Neal, until you find out you've been "Rebecca'd" (which you would deserve for that trick you pulled, BTW :P), please continue to respond to "her" when "she" writes. It is a good laugh. You called for a vote, and here is mine. Oh, and the other vote??? LOIS by a longshot!

    I plan on it. She didn't write in this week, but, conspiracy theories aside, it's not me. And I am probably being Rebecca'd. Either way, it's interesting. Maybe I scared her off being hard on her last week. Whatever.

    The reason you can know it's not me is because though I joked about the death of my dogs, and though I poked fun at airhead sycophants, one thing I tend not to joke about is racism, sexism, and accusations of such. Especially given that, though I do speak my political views at times in this column, out of respect for Steve I only do it when it's relevant or warranted by my assumption. LanaFan makes explicit attempts to insert it where it isn't relevant or logical.

    It's not me. And if someone had said, "Are you Rebecca?" while I was doing those columns, I would have said yes. I was hoping to get caught so that I could rain props on the person who figured it out. Alas, people really believed there was someone that dumb...

    I think that's it. Keep up the great work.



    P.S. Only 5 more weeks until you can get started on BSG! Can't wait to see what you think of it.

    After I finish the book...but yes. :)

    David Wilkins wrote:

    I just have to mention that if you go with the comics, the Chlark, Clois, and Clana relationships are wrong. Referencing Smallville then the comics; Clark/Lana is more like Clark/Lois, Clark/Chloe is like Clark/Lana, and Clark/Lois is what the Clark/Chloe relationship should be. For the fans that don't know to what I refer, I will let you explain.

    Well, I don't know that you can state that anything with Superman is wrong. There are just guidelines. Superman has been unable to fly in some continuities. In others, he's a vegetarian. In some, he has pre-marital sex with Lori Lemaris, as I recall. In others, he spurns Lois, in others, he falls all over her. I don't see a relationship with a character that didn't exist as that big a stretch.

    But I see what you're saying, that Lana is playing Lois when she should be Lana, Chloe is being like Lana would be in continuity, and Lois is playing what Chloe used to play. That makes sense.

    Is that wrong? It's what you make of it. I wish they'd gone the way that makes the most sense, but I can live with different character archetypes, so long as the characters are thereby consistent. Which they're not. That's my beef.



    P.S. Has anyone told you you look like Kevin Smith?

    I get Dante more. It's just since I posted that new pic. The beard is a new thing. I am growing long hair out now. But then, I'm not really a fat *^$%.

    Matt H. wrote:
    Hi Neal,
    I dig your reviews and look forward to reading them cause sometimes you point out things that I miss. Although I am still trying to figure out why even bother with the whole "Poor college students gas" thing, but I digress.

    The gist of that is that Hollywood reinforces the idea that normal, every day people can afford nice cars, good clothes, proper health care, nutrition, and a home. They never show the real hardships that poverty or rural life can offer. This is bad on multiple levels, because for the rich, it reinforces the idea that it's not so bad to be poor. For the middle class, it makes them strive beyond their means and try and BE these people, running up credit debt and pushing them back toward poverty. And for those who are extremely poor, like me, it's insulting on a couple of levels. Firstly, it makes me feel like I'm a *%$^ because I can't afford a Ford Fusion or a cell phone or nice new clothes or a swanky dorm room. Secondly, it's also mischaracterizing ME and the character I derive in being humble by not having money. There is honor in it, and by removing that honor, it doesn't promote a very honorific society, but rather a materialistic, wastrel, surface value group of non-utilitarian fools more obsessed with their belt buckles than their local congressmen.

    Plus, you just can't use all that gas and afford college. Period.

    I do have a couple of issues with this weeks review, and just thought I would bring them up.


    1. You spoke of the girl about how she killed her foster mother. From what I remember is that not only did she tell Clark that she didnt and wouldnt have hurt her, she also told him that she cant control her power through walls, which we didnt see anything to the contrary on that point either. Plus in the scene where she is at the pay phone and her father grabs her out, she says something to the degree of "you killed my foster mom" then he replies with something like "I had to get you back so we could be together". So I had no impression that she was the one who blew up all the glass and killed her foster mother. Plus we found out too that her father killed her mother.

    True. But she was complicit in not telling on him...hmmmm!

    2. You also mentioned that how it was unrealistic that when psycho-dad blew up the glass in the car (and killed the social worker dude too) it would break into the "pebbles". I agree with you by real life standards of course, but in this case relating to the show, I can't. The way I understood it was if the dad can mold glass into shapes, why couldnt he mold the car glass into shards so he could get the most bang for his buck, if you pardon the cliche.

    I would buy that, if I believed he could do it in mid-flight. That seems a stretch.

    I just thought that I would write and pitch my 2 cents into the fountain.

    I'm glad you did! Thanks.

    B-Rad wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    I know I haven't kept up with my e-mails the way that I should have. Its just that I'm in the process of doing something that if I do it right, it will be the next big thing in writing.

    Smell-o-vision? I kid. Good luck.

    Anyway just want to say that I read your reviews every week and as usual and they are superb.


    I have a few questions though. I always wondered, when did you start hating Lana?

    I love the Lana character, actually, just not on Smallville. In the comics, she's one of my favorites. On Smallville, I began hating her in the middle of season two. First season, she was decent. Second season, the Clanas started, she began hemming and hawing about the relationship and giving Clark crap for being a hero, and from there, the show started over-focussing on her and her brilliance without showing the brilliance beyond her doe eyes.

    Also, I believe that Smallville has found a new fan base. Away from the Superman mythology fans to those who are fans of teen dramas. You say that if the show keeps going the way it is, it will soon be out of business. My belief is that it won't because there are enough people who like teen dramas who would watch this, despite the poor writing. Do you have any thoughts?

    I believe that it's very hard to predict Smallville's future. I believe that your analysis of the show being less for Superman fans and more for teen drama people is an accurate characterization, though it's been that way from the start, now it's actually moving in that direction more.

    Here's the facts. Smallville is dropping, and has been dropping in ratings, for two straight years.

    These ratings, however, are stellar ratings for the WB. And UPN. And even both combined. So the show will likely not be cancelled.

    Actors get tired. Producers get tired. Al and Miles are already eager to move on to the next project about Fish Face. The plots are all recycled, for the most part. The mythology isn't focal. The show is, to my mind, dying creatively unless they change something.

    Ergo even though the WB would take a 2 share and keep Smallville going for as long as Charmed, I see the show dying, like a Trek show, after six or seven years, ending on a high note with next season being somewhat good and the final year really kicking it out. I hope.

    Anyway Happy Easter and I hope to write again soon,



    Veronique wrote:
    Hello Neil,
    Last time, I wrote to say that I had been so disapointed by "Tomb", but that I still had faith in Smallville. Well, I still have some doubts, but I really enjoyed "Fragile". I think the story, even though it has been done before in "Stray",was worth watching, believable and even touching. I didn't say to myself "wow, the writers really think we're going to believe that!!!" during the episode, so it's good.

    That's always nice. :)

    One thing I particularly liked is that finally Clark was acting more mature. He didn't need guidance in this episode, he was the one guiding Maddie on the right path. That alone makes a good episode of Smallville for me, one where Clark is acting like a real hero (or almost), not like a dumb@$$.


    Tom Welling probably doesn't like portraying a dumb Clark too much, so since he directed this episode, maybe he made sure that even if what he had to say to the girl was cheesy, Clark would seem mature saying it, not just dumb. In fact, I really liked Clark's interaction with Maddie, it was genuine and touching.


    Also, there was no Clana during this episode, thank god!!! Yes, now we have Lexana, but hey, as long as she stays away from Clark, I am ok with that. And Clark is acting like an intelligent man when she's not there, so I hope it will stay that way, but... I should not get my hopes too high on this one.

    I wouldn't. But still, you watch. Even if it stays Lexana, there will still be mad forced drama with Lana. I'd bet money.

    During the episode I was wondering about one thing that you didn't mention in your review. How did Maddie's father know that his glass art thing was in the Talon (and how did he enter the Talon in the first place)? His mom said she had sold it after he was convicted and put to jail. And I was also wondering if we had seen it before in a previous episode... just curious about whether the put it there just for this episode or if it was there in the Talon before and they just decided to use it.

    I don't recall it, and I don't know. Alas, not a great response, huh? I think it was just a plot hole you caught and I missed. Good one.

    Another thing, but not related to this episode. I don't know if somebody else wrote in to say that, but what about Chloe's mom? She saw her, and then... nothing!?! I think it's important for the character, but we just don't know what happens with that.

    Like I said in the review, they didn't show her face because I'm guessing they won't develop it for a while. Which sucks, because if we can look in on junkie Lana, why not Chloe's mom, to character?

    Last thing, I am also a fan of Lost and there's a link between Smallville and Lost. Just a small one, but still, it's a fun coincidence. A few weeks ago, on Lost, the title of the episode was "Lockdown" and the next new episode will be titled "Reckoning"!

    So they steal too?

    Thanks for your great reviews, I always enjoy them!


    Loren Collins wrote:
    With the continuing confusion over Martha Kent's political position, I think the best evidence was back in the campaign itself. Namely, the fact that Lex was a candidate. The Constitution mandates that U.S. Senators be, at minimum, 30 years old. Lex is only 25 or so, and too young to be running for a seat in D.C.

    Ah! Good call. Actually, he's 26. But that's a good point. Not that they'd ever really stick to the accuracy in the show by my opinion, but a very good argument. I still say that it's more likely US Senator. It's a pain in the butt to find minimum age online, so I didn't look it up, but it could be 21 for state senators, for all we know.

    Plus, if Martha was a genuine U.S. Senator, she wouldn't be hiring a college-dropout coffee-shop worker to be her Chief of Staff. And she wouldn't have had a local foster mom as her previous Chief of Staff. She might have mentioned having to go to D.C., and not just Metropolis, by now. And if Lex and Jonathan were running for the U.S. Senate, you'd think at least one of them would have had to run in a primary election first.

    That's true. I think the long and short of it is that the writers either don't know themselves or are playing off of American ignorance to their own political systems, and the result is a confusing mash to those who have an idea.

    That said, I think it's also fair to say that the writers don't really understand what being a state senator entails. There appeared to be some confusion in the early campaign episodes, and things like statewide TV campaigns, huge, Lionel-funded campaign budgets, and gigantic rallies are absurd. But just because the writers are a bit ignorant on the subject they're trying to portray (as if that's new) doesn't mean that they've intended to make a farmer's wife into a national politician.

    Right. That's why I'm so confused as to why she was on the Daily Planet cover...hrm. More to come. Thanks!

    Charlie Blakeney wrote:

    I don't think the girl killed her foster mother. She says at one point that she needs to be in the same room to affect glass (Line of sight?). That was why she was hiding in her room under the bed. I was thinking when she said this, that her father would pop with the same powers at some point and was not surprised when he did. The father had to be the one to kill the foster mother.

    Likely true. Probably an error on my part.

    When he piled up the straw Clark had her turn around so she can not see him super speed around moving the straw. For all we know she thinks Clark straw controlling powers similar to her glass powers.

    Yeah, but it's still something that says something is up. That causes people to get curious and investigate...

    One problem I have with the glass powers was when he controlled the diamonds. Diamonds are not glass, not if they are real diamonds. Diamonds=Carbon, Glass=Silicone. He should not have been able to control the Diamonds. I thought that her stopping of glass pieces from hitting Clark was a turning point for her in the use of her powers. She had seen her father his powers for more then breaking glass and knew she was capable of doing more. I think that it was a matter of will power and her desire to keep Clark from getting hurt, but not much in the way of control. She may have stronger powers then her father but has not learned control yet.

    Perhaps. I don't know, the whole idea of the power was a bit henky to me.


    Charlie B.

    Thank you.


    I want to ask you about your book. Is it a printed book or an e-book of some kind? What is it about, story, theme, and is a genre book of some kind or more of a real life book (no guys running around fighting crime in their underwear). And what is the cost?

    Well, truth be told, I have four books out right now, one e-book, and a few in the pike. The best place to watch what I'm putting out is, or, if you want to see the novels I'm working on getting to print, hit up, which will give you summaries and preview chapters. Noah and HSPSteve are being revised, so bear with them, please. I wrote them almost ten years ago.

    Thanks! And hey, if you need more info, shoot me another email. I'm very eager to hook up people with work.

    marklar wrote:
    Two things i want to say:
    Concerning LanaFan's comment that the fans want lana front and center, it's true, I want her front and center when we parade her through the streets after we tar and feather her. I would rather have anybody, including Shelby take lana's place in the show. I also feel sorry for Lex, as he has no idea what he got himself into. Maybe he goes evil because of lana.

    Marklar: Word. Couldn't say it better myself. I have a good solution. Expose her to "tar" K, have her fight the passive aggressive self in a junkyard, and return as "good" Lana. Heck, I'd even look over her fixing the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

    About next week's episode ('Mercy'), if you've ever seen the movie 'Saw' you might see a similarity between the two (although in Saw, the villian has the victim do a task, where in 'Mercy' he has Lionel playing games, so I guess there's a touch of originality)

    Hah! I saw them as both the same, myself. Heh. Thanks!

    Shafi S wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    I want to write so much stuff but I eventually forget half the stuff I want to write anyway so please bear with me.

    That sounds like me. I'm always remembering stuff I wanted to write into the review after the fact.

    Before I start, I only registered recently to the superman homepage forum, and before then a fan but just a passer by of the Great Superman homepage. But I just wanted to write that even though I didn't know your friend Nick, it was cool for you to honor him. And I hope he is resting in Peace with the other heroes who are up there.

    Harold was an incredibly nice guy. I'll miss him. It's so hard when it's someone you just know online, but when most of your closest friends are online folk, it's a blow.

    Now on the smallville stuff. Hmmm... Tom Welling did do a good job directing but the writers. Hmmmm. Sorry for bringing up a lost cause. Isn't more cool for Mr. Welling to direct an episode that shows Clark almost going into Superman. Its hard for me to write about this because words just don't come to me like the feeling I'm having right now. Dang,(can I use Dam@#?) its hard to explain it. Sorry. Maybe I should write about this latter with the right words.

    You can use any curse you want. I just have to put up symbols because printing curse words means you work for the terrorists. Or something like that. I forget. *%$#! But humor aside, it's so we don't get angry letters from soccer moms who, rather than simply not reading curses, want you not to say them.

    Lois and Clark being sister and brother makes me sick. If they want to write about Superman why have Lois be a background character or worse A SISTER!! Does Tom Welling know that Lois is Superman's future wife or he doesn't care to let the writers play around with the stupid Lexana story. Oh yea, I almost forgot the Lana fans, ok if you guys (except you Neal) want to love Lois more fine thats your opinions, but hear mine. Lois in the comics and on tv shows before smallville depicted a woman that was far more stronger and more rightous than camera hugging, kissing almost every male lead, a liar, who pollutes the world with driving three hours of her wasted time and polluting the world by doing it Lana.

    But she's...amazing?

    Like Superman, Lois is a symbol for feminism (the way men like) and rights for humanity. She shown writing for the truth, helping people if she can. THATS WHY SUPERMAN PICKS HER!!!! Geez where do you Lana doing that, no where, she wants to know where a SPACESHIP CAME FROM!! Well you can blame the writers or shes just a comic character but to me people (not just ladies) should look up to Lois Lane.

    Personally, and I've read a LOT of Greg Rucka, so I know some STRONG chicks in lit, I think Lois is my all time fave strong woman in media.

    Off topic. Neal, you're an excellent writer and should write for tv or comics. Your detail in things that people (me)usually can't see, are right on. In your All Star Superman review, I thought the issue itself was ok but some of the other stuff I didn't notice until I read your review on it. It just comes to show your talent and knowledge on various characters and heroes is dead on.

    Thanks. It's like a guy who knows engines, basically. It's my passion, I study it, so you get the knack after a while.

    AHHHH. All that stress went away like a bad itch. Now for the COMICS.

    I like where Superman is going after year one. But for other heroes, thats a different story. The Batman is ruined in my opinion well I can't say its that bad, but I think Nightwing should've married. Why there trying to make Blue Beetle (well almost) be another Spidey rip off. The armor the young guy in high school with powers and other stuff. Well I can't take to much space.

    It's okay. Actually, I hero-worship J Mike, and the spider-armor is the first thing he's done I just abhor. But I'll stick with it and give him a shot. Batman's back to basics, which I dig. Superman after One Year Later Enjoying it a lot.

    Thanks for reading.

    Shafi S.

    Thanks for writing.

    Kevin wrote:
    Hey neil how's it going.

    Incredibly well. Thank you.

    This is kind of an unusual letter as I'm watching the show after having read your review(Hockey game preempted it a couple of days).

    I heard about that! That sucks. Whatever you do, when that happens, DON'T download the episode, because people who download episodes deserve the Phantom Zone. It's so easy to be so evil, too. Don't fall for the temptation. Don't get bittorrent. Don't hit torrentspy. Do NOT download those episodes. You hurt corporate interests when you do that, and hurting corporate interests is un-American, frankly wrong, and means you love communists and would slap your mother. Don't do it! It's like doing drugs and driving with an STD!

    Don't say I didn't warn you! You might break out in terrorists!

    I just saw the scene where Mattie's dad showed up, it occured to me that he could do more than break glass but control how it is shaped so he might have broken it a certain way so that it would not break like safety glass normaly would, I mean he made a crystal or something out of glass in his bare hands.

    True, but he'd have to do that Jedi squint, I submit.

    On the whole Lois and Clark seem like brother and sister I will say that I do agree that she has been on the show too long but it looks to me like there really is an attraction. However they are both trying to pretend as if they feel nothing when around each other. I think that after a couple of years apart when they meet again in Metropolis at the Daily Planet those feelings come rushing back(going by Smallville's timeline as opposed to comic timeline).

    It can be done. No doubt. I just wonder why she's even there? What does it serve? Every character needs a reason...

    On how Mattie can control her powers after seemingly not being able to maybe being in proximity to her father allowed their minds to synch up giving her more control the longer she is around him,(man that sounded geeky lol), I mean the power is psyonic based never know how those work of course it also seemed as if she had more control the more she was around Clark and her main control was when she tried to protect him.

    Yeah. But it requires us to assume where the writing should provide, I assert.

    I don't like how he knocks jor-el later in the show though. It really annoys me how they seem to just act as if Jor-El is a bad guy. He has done what every parent does, and that is, do what they think is best for their child even if the child does not agree.

    Well, that and kill people. I might speak ill of my dad if he killed a young girl to make a point with me. Unless it was Lana.

    I still hold that if Clark had listened to Jor-El on every occasion Jonathan would still be alive, heck would never even had the Heart attack in the first place, Clark would have a brother or sister, and him and Lana would still be together(ok so not everything that happened is bad lol).

    Maybe, but then, if he had listened to Lionel he might be fine too, but corrupt. Here comes the requisite Hitler: A lot of people who listened to Hitler survived just fine. Many who bucked him burned. Sometimes you gotta stand against the evil AI fascist.

    I think you are right, the clips shown in the trailer are probably from either the season Finale or one of the episodes leading up to it. I've seen you name Clanas Clexs and even Lexanas but what would you call a Clark and Chloe? Just something to think about

    Chlark is the term. But I also call it "The dream." Sigh.

    Dan Sjöström wrote:
    Hiya Neal,

    here I am hollarin' back at ya after a couple of weeks. I would write earlier, had it not been for computer issues, the stress which follows a new job and the disappointment of Marvel 1602 New World not living up to the standards of its predecessor.

    I still haven't read the first. The trade is out of my current pay grade. But my buddy Sion may let me borrow it if I seduce him with Bukowski. We'll see.

    I have to tell you how cool it was to read your reply to my letter. I hadn't been that excited since I received feedback on my first Smallville-inspired fan fiction, which was entitled Bedrock. And about the Swedish alps thingie, no hard feelings. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, not a lack of consideration. BORK BORK all you want, in fact Swedish chef was based on a chef from Sweden who had a spaz-out on live TV so at least that has some factual basis.

    Neat! I didn't know that. I thought Jim Henson was just insane. Heh. But all joking aside, I love letters. I wish I could respond to more, and faster, but this is why I resorted to the letter column. It means I get back to folk faster, and especially urgent folk. I love it.

    'Nuff about me, on to the show. First, let's talk about Mortal. A great ep, about the same quality of Arrival I should say. I loved to see Clark sans les superpowers fighting those über-cool villains who could even give him a run for his money in his Metropolis days. Mr. Livewire pinning Clark to the barn ceiling looked a lot like Lorelai being electro-stapled to the cave wall by the fem-bot in Superman III, btw.

    Nice parallel. I keep getting Superman 3 references. Now I want to watch it. But A History of Violence First! And I owe Felix like 80 reviews. I'm like an Underpants Gnome. No rest for the wicked.

    For some reason, Clark and Chloe breaking into LuthorCorp felt like a level on Smallville: The Video Game, if that would ever see the light of day. I remember that you compared the Pete-knew-the-secret quarrel with the interaction on Buffy, which you felt was a bit forced. My theory is that since that's pretty much a routine in that series, it must've stagnated from every now and then, with the actors getting too used to it, whereas it feels more fresh in a show where you don't see it as often.

    That makes sense to me. I still have yet to watch more Buffy...

    Is it just me, or did it look like the Sheriff had stolen Lois' hairstyle? Maybe they go to the same hairdresser? :P

    Ethan? Kidding. Yeah, come to think of it.

    I agree with you about the Bedside Adventures of Superman. As a show about a guy growing up having a life it might seem natural to include sex, but when it comes to the Last Son of Krypton it's not quite right to have him start making Kryptonian whelps before marriage. Gotta think about the rest of the people who watch, you know.

    During the slug-fest Lex had my sympathies. Clark had no right to barge in and accuse him like that, less serve him a round of knuckle sandwiches. No wonder Lex is gonna turn evil if that's how he's being treated.

    I sympathize with him. It makes for a good villain, but alas, they never torque that drama.

    Next item, Hidden, where they dropped it a few notches. It was good though to see Lana's artistic skills being mentioned, even though the art school thing was pretty dumb in the first place. The timer was even dumber than the one on Commencement. Having the Extinction-mimicking Quintuplet invade the missile silo like that didn't feel quite right. I would've preferred if he hadn't called Chloe on the phone, but desperately kidnapped her to have someone turn the second key and Clark had been shot at that point. Seeing Clark seizing to be was very overwhelming, as it was something I thought I'd only read in a fan fiction, but there it was. But then I thought, if he was officially declared an ex-Clark Kent, shouldn't he have hesitated before coming back, even just for a minute?

    That would require writing with consequence in mind. Hah!

    With those powers and the somewhat vague destiny of his, I wouldn't blame him if he considered to let the world think that he was dead, until he could control the raging spirit that dwells... Whoa! Sorry, no idea where that came from.

    The writers! Zing!

    Something that totally rocked me was the missile scene. Took me right back to Superman The Movie, only this one was neither heading for Hackensack, New Jersey or the San Andreas Fault.

    Somehow it made me think of the song Major Tom. The Schilling version.

    Weird how his clothes were trashed though. Protective aura, anyone? The reunion scene looked sweet, but what about the sex issue? How does Lana react next time she gets in the mood and Clark goes uh-uhn? Could she go as far as suspect an affair? Obviously you know already, but I intend to find out on my own.

    You'll see. Hooooo-er (with a Pantolino accent).

    When Lionel channeled Jor-El I couldn't help but think how it made Clark and Lex look more like a couple of rivaling brothers. I don't know how much they intend to uphold the Cain and Abel image, but that's how I viewed it.

    That's cool. Hadn't thought of that.

    Also, thanks for the advice on the real name-pseudonym issue. Now I know there's a chance to get published overseas even if my name sounds like somebody sneezing. I don't think it would hurt my identity to go by an alias though, as I was thinking of doing it to distance my work from my personal life. Oh well, there's lots of time to make that decision.

    Sure. I mean, the first priority is not what you'll be known AS, but what you'll be known FOR.

    That's all I could think of during the approximate hour I spent typing this down. 'Til then, take good care and keep up the good reviewing.

    Thanks, Dan!

    Med vänliga hälsningar, which is Swedish for With Friendly Greetings,
    Dan Sjöström


    TRA wrote:

    Hey, Neal. I just wanted to mention something from "Void" that really ticked me off, and I'm surprised you didn't catch it. In the scene with Jonathan, Clark does not apologize for choosing Lana over Jonathan. He apologizes but then references Jor-El's requirement that another life be taken in exchange for Clark's life. In essence, Clark apologizes for living! Having read and agreed with your review of "Reckoning" I was paying close attention to Clark's apology, thinking, "Oh my, they're actually going to bring up the fact that Clark killed his dad by demanding that Lana be brought back to life?!" But no, listen carefully, that is NOT what Clark apologizes for. I don't agree with you that Clark's apology covers his decision. You know, I could have lived a little better with Clark had he really admitted that HIS choice was the mistake, but he doesn't.

    I went to the tape, and I agree, actually. Probably not intended that way, but the dialogue writer probably got away with it for me because you pay less attention when the setting is overwhelming.

    On a more upbeat note, I agree with your positive review of Fragile. I love when Welling acts with kids and dogs. He must really have the heart of kid to act so well with them - I think that is why he is most like Superman (to me) in those episodes - Ryan, etc. In addition, although I know you think Lois in this series is filler, I enjoyed her entrance into the episode - ready to power her way through, even though she doesn't have a clue. That's a real glimpse of Lois of the future. I really think they have not used Lois as effectively this Season as they did last Season. She and Welling have great comedic timing and they just haven't had much fun this Season. Superman doesn't have to be so heavy-handed all the time. I actually miss some of the spirit of fun from last Season.

    When Lois is on, she's on. She's just very hard to justify in the series. I love having her there when it makes sense.

    As always, keep up the good work.


    Azor ( wrote:
    1) The term "state senator" does not imply that somebody works out of either Washington or a state capitol. A senator who works in Washington, one of 100, is called a U.S. Senator. A senator in a state capitol is a state senator. Despite the peculiarities of Martha's job, she is clearly not a U.S. Senator.

    Typically, the phrase "state senator" can apply to a US Senator or a local state senator. They have different grammatical usage. For instance, when they say, "You're a state senator" that can mean you are a senator (for) a state, where the for is implied, or you are a senator (for your) state. Linguistically, both work, and that's how they're commonly used. I'm still leaning toward U.S. until I hear a reason for the Daily Planet cover, the cash laid out, the need for a chief of staff, etc.

    2) You accuse our poor FOTW in Fragile of killing her foster mother. I think her denial to Clark ("I wasn't even in the same room") and subsequent revelation that her homicidal father was stalking her are intended to exonerate her and put the blame on him. Why her father didn't abduct her in the opening scene after killing the foster mother is something we aren't supposed to think about.

    This is true. I was wrong.

    3) LanaFan 315, who I believe is you, is actually right about Lana's dad being a cuckhold, though not with an Asian man. Funny how Lana goes through death to meet her parents when her real dad Henry Small is apparently still alive. But I guess Henry Small is just her father and it takes someone special to be a daddy.

    Good point. But no, I'm not LanaFan. I mean, if I could come up with stuff that crazy, I'd be challenging Neill Cumpston for AICN awesome status.

    Also, I never miss a Smallville deadline, and you'll note she didn't write me this week.

    Felix Vasquez wrote:

    On "Mercy":

    Was there plot movement? Sure.
    Closing up of old questions? You bet.
    More character focus? Definitely.
    An original plot? NO!


    And that's one of my problems with the newest episode of "Smallville". But with all that I listed above, there were very, very familiar plot elements.

    A tormentor behind a television
    A victim/victims stuck in one locale in a trap.
    A man with a warped voice.
    Over an intercom.
    Teasing them.
    Asking if they wanted to play a game.
    Giving them a time limit.
    Showing them a video example of a victim and loser of the game.
    Watching them turn on each other.

    The newest installment of "Saw"? No. Smallville, you fool. What I want to know is, has "Smallville" not found a movie that they couldn't tap a story from?

    Videodrome. But it's coming, mark me!

    First episodes deriving from "House of Wax", "The China Syndrome", and now "Saw"? Will we have a "The Hills Have Eyes" retread as well? What about "King Kong"? Either way, I just can see how Al Gough can allow such an embarrassing retread and still be able to look himself in the face in the morning.

    Clark will be climbing the Empire State Building. MARK ME!

    Sure, Saw didn't invent the concept, but come on, Neal, even you in your wisdom should have been rolling his eyes in sheer disgust that they'd recycle "Saw". I don't see how anyone can defend this episode and not deem it an automatic recycling of "Saw".

    Oh, I saw it. Beans on it, too. Beans and farts.

    2.5 out of 5 for me, because while we had character progression, all of it was brought down by a shameless "Saw" retread, regardless of how good John Glover was.

    I repressed it, and thusly went a little higher. Normally I wouldn't, but I want the show to get better. I do.

    And congratulations on your book deal!!

    - Felix

    Thanks! Awesome.

    Best, everyone! Three to go! Don't forget to check out the KO Count.



    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    What we had here was a pretty good story right out of a comic book. While I think the villain was a bit shallow and could have used a lot more development, I think the entire set up and the drama involved was absolutely fantastic. There was a very strong Prankster, Toyman or maybe even Riddler feel to the whole thing. Sure Tin Foil Face was not exactly on the same level as those evil doers but I think they captured the feel from those types of villains in this episode and that helped sell the comic book story set in a realistic world.

    The real gem this week was the continuation of Lionel Luthor's story. What a roller coaster ride that is. The twists and turns are coming non-stop now. In this episode we begin thinking he's evil and John Glover plays that so well. Slick and evil just drips off the man when he wants it too. Then things turn and Lionel does some things that make you question his status as an evil doer. He shows real concern for his dead driver. He shows real fear for Martha's life and even seems to be willing to give his own life for her.

    John Glover was able to sell these moments so well, making such a turn in how he acts, yet remaining Lionel the entire time. His acting skill just amazes this humble reviewer.

    Even things like the word puzzle Lionel is forced to solve make you question assumptions. First the solution seems to be "Dare to pretend evil" Which really seems to be a big hint about Lionel pretending to be evil to get closer to Lex. Following that, the real solution refers to a business deal he sabotaged so the roller coaster ride continues. Up. Down. Around and around.

    We see Lionel give Martha the gun and even take it himself to give his life for her. It is very powerful. Any doubts about Lionel's turn to the good side suddenly went away. It was a similar feeling one had when watching Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker pick up the emperor and toss him into the pit. Okay maybe not that powerful but very similar. I was so sure at that moment Lionel was a good guy. His reaction to Clark saving them even sold me more. I was pleased, satisfied, and even a bit relieved. Then Clark had to go and mess my security and comfort all up by reminding us that Lionel could have been playing. That Lionel might have known the gun was not loaded. Suddenly we are on the next dip in the roller-coaster ride and all I have to say is WEEEEEE!

    It really is a fun little side story they have going in the show. Just when you think you have it figured out they toss another curve at you and the ride goes on.

    Not all the curves have been totally smooth, I'll admit, but I am still enjoying the ride.

    We learned a few other things this week. We learn Lex and Lana are still coming to grips with their lip lock last week. We learn Lex still suspects Clark has powers and we also find out how Lionel knows about Clark, though there could be more to that explanation we have yet to learn. Martha knows about Lionel now and feels they have to trust Lionel which seems like a valid point. Clark does not trust him and you can also see his side. I loved how he went and told Lionel off. It was a great scene showing that when you push the right buttons you can make Superman really mad. Everyone knows that when you make Superman mad things will not end well for you. As the song says, "You don't tug on Superman's cape."

    So anyway. I have to grade this one high because it was a good one but yet it was not exactly perfect. (Tin foil for a mask? Umm? Okay then.)

    I am going to go with a B+ or (4 out of 5 stars)

    I'd like to finish up with a note to all those people in Hollywood who make Superhero shows/movies if I may.

    Simply said, falling does not kill people. It's the sudden stop at the end of the fall that causes your back side to meet with your front side that will kill someone. The laws of physics really do not care if that sudden stop is caused by the ground or if it is caused by arms of steel. Realistically? When the falling elevator hit Clark this week it should have crashed just has hard as it would have hitting the ground. It might have been even worse considering the impact would have been focused on two hand size points instead of spread out across the entire surface area of the elevator floor.

    All superhero shows and movies do it. This is not something I am singling Smallville out for here which is why I am just adding this comment after my review. For example... On "Lois & Clark" Clark would often catch someone at the end of their fall to save them. Realistically to save someone who is falling Clark would have to fly up, catch them while meeting their downward velocity, and then slow them at a rate that the human body could withstand. I know. The ability to show that with FX's is limited and I am ok with the super catches. They do not ruin the moment. I just mention it here because it is noticeable at times and we are getting to the point in our movie/TV show making technology levels that such things will become very easily done. It would just be nice to see a bit more effort made on such minor details. Just because super catches work and are easier doesn't mean someone can't step up and make things even better.

    Next week looks like Clark faces off against someone with powers of their own. Could we be in store for a superpower throw down? We'll find out in 7 days! See ya all then!

    Douglas "Doright" Trumble

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

    Back to the main TELEVISION page.