Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 21: "Oracle"

Reviews:

Oracle

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • Jonathan appears and tells Clark he's gotta whack Lionel.
  • Jonathan turns out to be Milton Fine, shape-shifting.
  • Clark beats Lionel up after finding out about the meeting in episode 100.
  • Lex makes a vaccine for every disease.
  • Fine hits him with the vaccine while destroying it, and Lex gets a healing factor.

    REVIEW:

    This episode was so cool in so many ways, but just as it started getting cool, it would always devolve into the season four Smallville and arbitrary crap. Which really stinks, because it had a lot of potential.

    If you look at this episode on the surface, you probably won't have too many problems. If you dig any deeper, it becomes a frustrating experience. And I don't mean dig deep like I do, I mean the casual digging most viewers do.

    Like, I'll take issue with the LuthER thing. That's a niggling detail for reviewers.

    Clark not being able to read Kryptonian after it was a major plot point recently, that's another thing entirely.

    The show:

    First off, the preview before the show. Showing Lex (we find out in the later preview) pushing through a pupae and saying, from this episode, "ZOD IS COMING!" Well, it's Lex, not Zod, so that's kind of misleading, and it didn't happen this episode, but whatever. I just get tired (I sound like a broken record) of ads that don't show what's really going to happen so you sucker people to sit through the filler.

    Actually, that's something that's been on my mind lately. I've been watching The Sopranos, because someone once asked me if I would rather Smallville have 10-14 really, really good episodes, but a shorter season. My answer was then yes, and my answer now, having seen The Sopranos, is still yes. There's no reason to pad like this. There are, essentially, five to ten good subplots and stories in this season. That's a season of television. It's greed over storytelling, pure and simple.

    But Neal, TV is a business.

    Yeah, and I may have lost today, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. That cross belongs in a MUSEUM.

    It's Clark's birthday, and a sad, pretty pathetic birthday it is! I thought it was a continuity error, but sure enough, they celebrated Clark's birthday around this time in season three. Nice.

    I say sad and pathetic because if you, in the year AFTER you're the star football player, can't get more than three people at your birthday party, it sucks to be you...

    It is also sad and pathetic because I usually had three guys at my birthday parties as a kid. But then, they were my boys. Awesome fellas. Not two girls who alternating loved and hated me and my...mom.

    Chloe says that she can't get Clark a present because she's on intern budget.

    You don't intern until your fourth year of college. Maybe fifth. You have to get general requirements out of the way. I know, because that's why I dropped out of the teaching program. They wouldn't let me have a job while I interned, I needed the job to have a roof over my head, I butted heads with an administrator over time issues, and bang. I'm "asked" to quit.

    Anyway, point being, I'm not full of crap when I say poor college students can't afford a three-hour drive every week.

    A three-hour drive Chloe and Lana each do twice this episode, costing 160 dollars. Or half of modest rent. Or a quarter of big city rent, where they both live.

    Pa Kent's card tugs at the heartstrings. It's really neat. Until you realize he was buying his son a birthday card three months before his birthday, which no one does. Or if one does, few MALES do.

    It's a bit far-fetched, but still cool.

    Clark gets the tickets inside, and takes them to the grave and puts them down to rot. Kind of cold, man! I mean, if you go all the way to Metropolis to give the clothes to the poor, what kid at Make-A-Wish wouldn't want to go to a baseball game?

    Jonathan appears, and it's pretty obvious from the start it's Fine. My writer sense tingled immediately. Firstly, because he doesn't materialize like a ghost. He's flesh and blood. Also, it's just a typical plot device. The ghost who turns out to be something else. Well, what could it be, with no teenager we barely know already introduced? Must be Fine. Secondly, because Schneider is just such an awesome actor. He LOOKS like Jonathan, but when he ACTS, he uses the dialogue cadence of Fine, and gives the same body language. Which is incredible, but gives away the game. So plus points for INCREDIBLE acting, but minus points for a surprise that isn't a surprise. That, too, is a writing thing. The writing sets the scene, therefore the writing should account for the suspense.

    And there's also the fact that Jonathan Kent asks Clark to kill someone to save the world, which is something Jonathan Kent would obviously never do in a million years. Jonathan is Clark's moral compass, recall. He's where Clark learns not to kill and instead to incapacitate. As he's provided all the guidance he ever will now, Clark should know that and immediately react viscerally when Jonathan says to kill someone, not say, "I'll think about it."

    It's also of note that Clark never asks why Jonathan wants him killed. He just starts considering it. And almost does it. That's not Superman.

    In fact, there are a lot of times in this episode where Clark isn't Clark, and certainly not a man who's supposed to be close to being Superman, as he is now.

    Last episode, everyone was out of character in a very big way. NOW, everyone is mostly in character (aside from Lionel), but Clark is WAY off base in most everything he does. That's the critical flaw of this episode for me.

    My next note says "If Clark buys it, Clark=teh stupid."

    And he almost buys it.

    Clark goes to Martha with the story, tells her about seeing Pa a while back (WHY DIDN'T CLARK TELL HER EARLIER. THERE'S NO REASON NOT TO). He tells her he saw Pa in the graveyard, and Ma basically disbelieves him, and thinks he's nutty, and tells him as much.

    This in the town where people can manipulate glass with their minds. This in the town where suddenly murderers are your best friend and you almost date them. MARTHA.

    Then, she suddenly believes Clark. Not only that, but she's not skeptical, at all, about Jonathan asking Clark to kill either. She says that if Jonathan said that, there must be a reason...uh, yeah.

    Then, Lana. Oh, Lana.

    Lana, as Lois later intimates, a woman who is a "hot, smart, fun girl." Lois says this after Lana lies straight to her face in this scene. Three times.

    See, doesn't matter what Lana does as a character, she'll never be wrong in the eyes of any of the other characters.

    Lois sees Lana getting coffee from the Talon. She realizes that it's Lex's favorite coffee. Which is weird, considering last time Lois got Lex coffee, he treated her like crap and she thusly would avoid serving him, but okay.

    Lois asks Lana what it's for. Lana says it's for Chloe. BING! Lie one.

    It's for Lex. Lois tells Lana she knows as much, because she knows Lex's brew.

    Lana, in response, gets catty. Lois, talking about Lex's brew of coffee, says, "Lex walks in here like he owns the place."

    Lana: "Actually, Lois, he does own the place." Oooh. Dis. PPPPT! That's a fart noise. How dare you catch Lana in a lie, Lois?

    "Are you his new assistant?"

    Lana: "No, not exactly." This is a lie of omission, because Lois is asking what her capacity with Lex is, and Lana knows this, and purposefully doesn't tell her.

    "Hey, Neal. Where are you going?"

    "I'm not going to the store!"

    "Okay." Person waits.

    If I don't tell them I'm going to the butcher to get a cleaver to deal with Lana, it's a lie of omission, because the person obviously wants to know. Not an EVIL lie, but a deception in the spirit of SECRETS and LIES. Lana's mortal enemy, because she's amazing.

    Then, Lois gives her a "Oh, come on" look. Lana says, "He's not my boyfriend."

    An explicit, direct lie. The EVIL lie.

    You know, like the time she told everyone she wasn't dating Jason? The time she told everyone she was an adult, and thus it wasn't freaky and indicative of "issues" that an 18-year-old was dating her teacher?

    Like a 19-year-old dating a 25-year-old man?

    So yeah. Three lies to Lois. What's Lois' response? LANA AM NEW BEST FRIEND.

    Right.

    Chloe talks with Clark about the meet-up with Jonathan. Chloe questions Lionel's need to be killed. They pull up Lionel's datebook with the "weapon" mention. Clark and Chloe immediately assume that Lionel wants Clark to be a weapon. THE ONLY POSSIBLE EXPLANATION, ROBIN!

    But beyond that, Chloe asks a very poignant question that's then quickly forgotten and not mentioned again. "Is there anything that would make Clark Kent kill someone?"

    Well, historically, NO, beyond Zod. And even that's questionable with most fans. Usually, it's only if killing is the absolute LAST resort, and the idea is that you never write the Superman character into that pickle jar.

    But that's the crux of this episode's flaw. Clark Kent, nay, Superman, nay, any entity of Superman doesn't suddenly start nearly killing people on the whim of a ghost. Period. That being the lynchpin holding this episode together, it pulls apart the core.

    Lex going from hunting ET to making a virus is made plausible, finally. I didn't figure it would be, but it was. He's combining every virus to make a vaccine that immunizes the world to all diseases. Which is, you know, kind of stupid, given that vaccines in an evolutionary system only lead to adaptation, so we have to let some survive to survive ourselves. Or risk catastrophic human losses. But anyway, the idea is, he's trying to do good, and going behind Fine's back to save people, not destroy the world. That, to me, shows that Lex is a good guy.

    Which is FRUSTRATING.

    Why? Because Lex is supposedly EVIL now. They've waffled with this for three years now. Is he good? Is he evil? And usually, everything he does is with the best intent. Everything he does is with a good goal in mind. Like Clark. They're essentially the same character, only Lex is in an environment that lends to him the belief that doing things which are questionable can be good. Like Alex in Infinite Crisis in the comics. Is he fully a villain? No, because he thinks he's doing right. Same here.

    And in Infinite Crisis, this is awesome, because it's a purposeful character duality.

    In Smallville, it's just inconsistent writing, because sometimes he's NYAH for the sake of NYAH, and other times he's a saint, like this episode.

    Lionel asks Lex why he's gathering viruses. How he gets this information, like usual, is unknown, and will never be connected. This is an essential A to B, but it's left A to C. Typically, that's Lionel's theme music. An irrational jump in narrative. Drives me buggy. It's really, really old.

    Lex leaves, and Lionel starts to go Jor-El. He starts writing. The camera pans into his eyes, showing a series of Kryptonian letters.

    Wasted effect, if you ask me. I mean, all these times they don't show stuff any more, use strategic cuts and move away from using powers (likely because of budget issues), and then they go and waste money showing the obvious, something they could show with a white contact (and do), it bugs me. I'd rather see cooler stuff. Like, say, a fight with Milton Fine and Clark that lasts more than two blows. Or between Clark and ANY bad guy that lasts more than two blows.

    I find that the usual sense of suspense leading up to a finale is not there. It doesn't feel like an event. Even last year felt like an event. Every year, the finale has always been the height of awesome. The finale and the premiere were always, if flawed, the best the show has to offer. I'm getting the feeling that this finale will be very ho-hum and little will be at stake. I'm not getting that much of a fan buzz, either. Usually people are really geared up for the last episode, now the general attitude is more, "When will Smallville be good again?"

    Which sucks. And it's because of choices like the above.

    Lex and Lana sit and talk about "going the distance" with Lex putting Lana "all in" and every other metaphor for going along with the plan they can come up with.

    Lex tells Lana that he hasn't been honest with her lately, and that he's been hiding something.

    Okay. Pretend you haven't seen the episode. Read the above sentence and tell me what you think Lana's reaction would be.

    A) Pouting, folded arms, and accusations of wrongdoing, because she's a big girl and she's more than capable of handling herself.

    B) Lana stands up immediately and walks out of the room.

    C) Lana breaks up with Lex (as she would with Clark, only to reunite the next episode).

    D) A quiet bemusement as she looks on and quietly anticipates what Lex will say next.

    If you guessed D, you're

    Wrong!

    WROOOOOOOOOOONG!

    But that's what they did anyway.

    Lana's next line is even more odd. "Lex, whatever it is, I trust you."

    Because there's nothing like bursting into the Luthor mansion 18 times out of 22 episodes to accuse Lex of something, and then suddenly trusting him right after he's told you he lied to you explicitly.

    If I were the Daily Show, I'd play a montage of all the clips of her bursting in. Sadly, I just have words. Imagine it.

    Lex tells her that he's working on an antidote to all viruses. Which is, you know, a MUCH bigger secret than alien technology, and thusly he can tell her about the ET presence without worry, but can't tell her about the vaccine. That's logical. Yeah.

    The good part about this, when Fine reveals himself, is that Lex now has a logical reason to hate and fear Kryptonians. So not only is he not wrong in fearing Superman, he's also justified in trying to stop him. Lex is still a hero. If Lionel is now a redemptive figure after MURDERING his parents, Lex assuredly isn't Satan for drunk driving and a bit of torture.

    Character consistency. Literally, Clark and Lana could marry and I wouldn't say a thing if we could just have a little character in this show.

    After reading Infinite Crisis, seriously, this crap makes me sick.

    Lana knows and remembers that Kryptonite stops Kryptonians. Good. At least there's some continuity there. Me likee.

    Martha checks the answering machine. It's Lionel. He says he needs to talk to her immediately. "I'm sorry things are strained," he says.

    The only problem being, things aren't strained. At least, not that Lionel knows of. Plot hole. Remember the episode before last? You know, where Martha and Lionel had an experience where Lionel nearly killed himself for her? And since then, all we've seen of Lionel is an accusation of buying Clark a TV that he denies.

    That's just bad, lazy writing. I mean, even if production is rushed, you can coordinate that instead of just assuming. Even if the writing staff were told things were strained, a producer could have set it straight on the set.

    Milton appears as Jonathan and gives Martha crap for dating Lionel. That would also be a dead giveaway that it's not Jonathan. Jonathan isn't a jealous guy, just a defensive one, and he knows Martha's character. Martha instead gets upset. Fine-as-Jon then tells her that Lionel was there when Jonathan died. Fine has no way of knowing this, he just does. Plot hole. Another? Yep. Fine, pleased to have sowed chaos, leaves.

    I'd just like to take a minute to offer you fine people a fine product that I'd like to share with you. It's called a PLOT HOLE! Acme plot holes are the best plot holes. They're cheap, they're effective, and they're a real time saver! Just put a plot hole on your Michael Rosenbaum, and suddenly he's in love with Lana! Troublesome issues of Jor-El being a bad guy? Just put an Acme plot hole down, and he's suddenly a father figure after murdering a young girl! Lionel got you down? Just put a plot hole down, and suddenly the people he tried to murder are allies!

    Sorry. I can only say that so many ways before I have to laugh at it.

    There's also the fact that every episode Fine gets a new power that would have impacted previous storylines had he had it. And the fact that even in this storyline, the powers he has makes the storyline impossible.

    First off, previously why would he have to imitate a teacher to get Clark incapacitated and to the Fortress? Simply hit him with K (because Fine is not vulnerable) carry him there at super speed, have multiple Fines hold him in place, and summon Zod. Simple. Send a Clark double and leave it in Smallville so no one suspects anything. Easy.

    Or, for this episode, why go through cloak and dagger to get Clark to kill Lionel? If you want to kill Lionel, you simply throw a tractor at him if you can't touch him, and if you can touch him, you slice him with finger knives.

    Or, if you can't attack him because it's against your programming, but you CAN persuade someone to kill him, as he does, then you simply pay people hundreds of thousands of dollars which you steal to attack Lionel. If you get caught while stealing the cash, fine. One doppleganger goes to jail then melts under the bars. Big deal.

    Or you can subtly try and con Clark into doing it, for no real reason at all.

    Yeah, says the writing staff. That's the ticket! Good one! And while we're at it, what will Lana be wearing this episode?

    This is not Brainiac. This is Mystique meets the Eradicator meets the Multiple Man meets the Terminator. None of those are Brainiac. Brainiac is a sentient computer that essentially has the same modus as the borg. He has nothing to do with Zod, really.

    It's like Mxy being a homicidal rapist. There's a difference between interpretation, like Bart Allen or Aquaman, and changing the character entirely but using a familiar name as a device.

    Brainiac walks through Lex's beefed up security without flaw. This is the security that was ratcheted up last week, presumably (because no reason was really given) to watch for Fine. Week in and week out, people can just walk into Lex's mansion. That's really, really old too.

    The Fine and Lex scene, top to bottom, was awesome. Two minds meeting, fighting, bantering, ending with a very startling vision of Fine putting knife to Lex and letting him know that he's really a Kryptonian device. Awesome scene.

    Clark and Chloe then investigate where Lionel's been, and find that he was near Clark's house on the night his father died.

    THIS is a good way to do it. If they'd skipped the whole Fine tipping them off thing, which didn't make any sense, and just had them find it because they were researching Lionel because Jonathan told Clark to kill him, it would work better. But then, given that Fine shouldn't have initiated the dumb plan to begin with, there's no reason for most of what happens following it.

    Then, the scene that really, really p%@$#d me off. The scene where Clark abandons everything that makes Superman Superman, delighting in the sadistic beating of an enemy.

    Here's how Superman confronts an enemy, which you all know, but just to make it clear.

    Bad guy does something. Like, say, rapes and murders a little girl.

    Superman finds out, and gets the bad guy's address from NAMBLA.

    Superman goes to the guy's address, and he's just SEETHING with rage. He's infuriated. This guy RAPED and MURDERED a little girl.

    The door blows in, and Superman stands there with red eyes. The criminal cowers, pulling back into the corner. Here's the next sequence of events, almost in a dichotomous.

    If the dude surrenders, Superman takes him to the police.

    If the guy pulls out a toastmaster and starts saying Superman will never take him alive, Superman crushes his weapon then takes him to the police.

    If the guy suddenly grows three feet tall and invulnerable, Superman fights him with his fists. If at any point the guy holds up his hands and says, "Okay! Yield!" Superman takes him to the police.

    If the guy grows three feet tall and invulnerable and refuses to yield, Superman fights him with his fists until he's unconscious, but no matter how much he WANTS to pound the rapist, he doesn't take pleasure from it.

    Now, imagine if Superman comes upon the rapist in his house. The door bursts open, and he's standing there with red eyes. The rapist walks forward. Superman holds up a finger. "You raped a little girl!"

    The rapist (without being hostile at all): "No! I've been framed, and I have evidence! Please, if you'd-"

    Superman then throws him twenty feet into a sawhorse. The sawhorse snaps, and the accused rapist is nearly down for the count. He stands, desperate, holding out his hand to Superman and pleading for mercy, saying, "Superman, no, I-"

    Superman then grabs him and throws him across the room again, twenty feet. Now the man is so staggered that it's a true effort to rise. But he does, as Superman comes up to him again. "Superman! I know you saw it on tape. But you've got to understand, I was only trying to save the girl from the real rapist. If you look, I'm not raping the girl on the tape, I just found her..." BAM! Superman throws him again.

    Superman, then convinced that the rapist has plots of world domination because a ghost told him so, pulls the accused rapist up by the throat and prepares to choke him. Superman then considers snapping his neck, but relents at the last minute, ONLY because he realizes the ghost is not a ghost, and not because killing is wrong.

    And there you have the next scene.

    Clark essentially beat Lionel senseless on the basis of hearsay while Lionel tried to tell him what really went on. He took pleasure in avenging his father for the wrong reason, and almost killed a man.

    THAT IS NOT SUPERMAN, AND IT NEVER WILL BE. PERIOD.

    Put aside the fact that any one of those throws, had there been anything sharp around, would have killed Lionel. Put aside the fact that maybe Lionel was lying. There's no reason a hero would act like that. Wolverine, maybe. Even Spider-Man. Not a DC hero. Not Superman. Not even BATMAN, without evidence.

    Lionel tells Clark that he went to Jonathan because he felt Jonathan needed an ally but Jonathan took it the wrong way. True, from Lionel's perspective. That might be manipulation, but it also might be true. You don't just beat a guy when there's a chance he's not being evil. You or I might, but Superman believes in redemption, and would never do such a thing.

    Also, this shows again and wakes the old agony that Jonathan's death was unnecessary. Lionel might very well have only been there to be Jonathan's ally, and therefore Jonathan's rage in the face of dialogue and diplomacy is a poor example of his character and a crappy reason to kill him. Furthermore, the death is made even LESS relevant to Clark's life in that he's very simply, and without much persuasion, repeating the mistakes of his father, only without chastisement. And it almost results in murder.

    Once in rage is almost a human flaw, acceptable. Throwing a man, a normal man, across a room three times while he pleads innocence...that's VILLAINY. Even if it's Satan himself, provided Satan has no superpowers in said metaphor.

    It takes even LIONEL to say to Clark, in the end, "Jonathan would never make you a murderer."

    At which we all scream at the television, "NO SH%$!"

    Clark turns, heat visions Fine into a tractor, and lets Lionel go.

    Here we have two guys with Superman's powers, about to fight. What do you expect? I expect caved in barns, fire, leaps, destruction, anarchy, chaos, and a swath of destruction. Heat vision burns, large lines of chunked up dirt in the ground. Maybe, even, you know, back in the day, a dude co-swinging a TREE.

    Instead, Fine tosses a tractor. Clark gets up. Fine grabs him from behind.

    Lionel appears as Jor-El Lionel. He touches Fine, and Fine dissipates.

    Well, I guess that'll work too.

    Sigh.

    The tractor falls right where Lionel does. Lionel somehow avoided it. Our minds, however, still consider him there. Bad continuity. Poor camerawork. Pulls you out.

    Lionel asserts that it is important that they keep all of what happened from Lex. Why? ACME brand plot holes! Get 'em by the dozen!

    "I heartily endorse this product!" (Wile. E. Coyote)

    Lionel, if he can find out what Lex is up to, would also know that he's working against Fine. What better way to stop Fine than to team up with Lex? Superman's power. Lex's brain. Guess that would make sense, right? And Lex is just bad for the same reason Lana is always totally amazing without any reason. The characters just say so.

    ACME brand plot holes, ladies and gentlemen! Guaranteed not to send you off a cliff with a "YIPE!" sign.

    And hey, let's put a PLOT HOLE on that PLOT HOLE! Put some LAG on that PLOT HOLE on that PLOT HOLE! Now make a few Chuck Norris jokes, and we have Barrens chat. Or Smallville.

    It gets worse. Clark then asks Lionel how he dissipated the Eradica-er, Milton Fine. This despite the fact that Lionel explained, in the form of Jor-El, just a few months ago, that any time he needed him, he'd be there, in Lionel's form, to help. If he can jump to the irrational conclusion that Lionel killed his father on the word of something that may or may not be a ghost, why can't he make the logical connection that Jor-El in Lionel dissipated Fine? He's an IDIOT, or he's written poorly. For the sake of the Superman character, I'm taking the latter.

    Then Clark visits Lionel's safe, and Lionel shows him the funny writing room. Inside, Clark sees three Kryptonian words, holds up the paper and goes, "I'll get Chloe to analyze this!"

    Because, you know, even though he can READ Kryptonian because Jor-El forced him to learn the language in the Fortress THIS SEASON, he has to turn to a lay human with no rosetta stone and let her figure it out.

    ACME BRAND!

    And when they translate it, Lionel stands above Chloe, clued in and curious, and she banters with them as if they're buddies.

    OLD SPICE PLOT HOLE!

    People say, "Oh, Lionel's redeemed himself!"

    YOU DON'T REDEEM YOURSELF FROM CO-MURDERING SOMEONE!

    I mean, I know Lionel's been nice of late in some ways. He really has. Almost shooting himself for Martha. Not revealing the secret.

    HE MURDERED HIS FRICKING PARENTS, TRIED TO KILL LEX, BLEW UP CHLOE'S HOUSE, AND LAUGHED ABOUT IT FROM PRISON BEFORE BEING RELEASED BEFORE SERVING HIS CRIME.

    I don't care if a dude bought me a date with Annette O'Toole. If he tried to murder me, even ONCE, I would still be like, "Thanks, dude, but YOU TRIED TO FRICKING KILL ME! GET AWAY, FREAKSHOW!"

    Even if I had to tacitly ally with him to save the world, I'd have a rear-view mirror attached to my shoulder so I could watch him while fighting Fine, and in the middle of the fight, I'd be saying, "Hey, you're not back there killing anyone, are you?"

    It's just...

    Aw...

    You know what? You know what they just made me do?

    You PUNKS!

    You brummagem! Philistines! You get paid to do this while I'm still starving?

    How dare you?

    That's...I'm...okay. Enough.

    BOOM! The door opens, and there I am with red eyes.

    Gough: "No, Neal, you don't understand! We've had budget cuts, and equal opportunity laws mean we have to have a mentally deficient writer from a reality show, and I have a new Mercedes to pay fo-"

    CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!

    Gough goes flying twenty feet into a window, crashes through it, and goes unconscious.

    Millar, on the other side of the room, holds up a plot hole, throwing it at me. I deftly throw it aside.

    CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! "Ketchup, homie! Mustard!"

    CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!

    Oh! You thought I forgot the whip, didn't you? Truth is, I just didn't care enough about the show fourth season to bring it out after I jumped the shark. I started using a bowel disruptor for a little while there, and I was focusing on Chuck Austen. Then I gave some to Rick Berman, and I cracked it so hard the thing broke.

    But today, you boys pushed me TOO FAR. I had to bring back multiple choice. I had to bring back the whip.

    CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! Welts all around, you pigs! You scum! I write five novels for not a penny, you write this episode and get PAID?

    CRACK!

    CRACK!

    CRACK!

    Clark finds out that Lana is in on Lex's plot to destroy the world, as far as he knows. He goes to Lana's apartment, rifles through pictures, and finds out what's going on.

    This saves Lex's life, theoretically.

    Lana arrives. "HOW DARE YOU SNOOP IN MY ROOM JUST BECAUSE I WAS HIDING A PLOT THAT COULD MEAN THE END OF THE HUMAN RACE?"

    "Uh, Lana, you're hiding a plot that could mean the end of the human race. And I'm trying to save your life."

    "No! You're just mad because I'm hiding a plot that could mean the end of the human race...because I'm with Lex!"

    "Uh, yeah. That must be it. Mind if I go save Lex's life now?"

    "How dare you!" (Fold, stomp).

    "Look, if it's any consolation, I likely just saved your life by warning you about this too. Is it all right if I-"

    Lois: "Way to go, Clark, you snoopy mc snoop snoop!"

    CRACK!

    CRACK!

    CRACK!

    Lois: "Thanks for saving our lives, Clark."

    Lana: "Yeah, thanks, Clark. You rule. Want a back rub?"

    See, it sucks when Lana does this, because she's doing what Clark did earlier out of character. Jumping to conclusions and risking the lives of the people around her for a feeling of superiority and control of the situation. Only when Clark did it, it risked Lionel's life. When Lana did it, it risked THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE. No "Why?" just straight to the attack.

    Yeah, it's gotten so bad that her passive aggression can obstruct someone trying to stop the END OF ALL HUMAN EXISTENCE, and because Clark snooped to do it and is upset that his ex-girlfriend is dating his ex-best friend, he's suddenly a fink for it.

    Gough? Millar?

    CRACK!

    CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!

    GET OFF AQUAMAN AND BRING THIS SHOW BACK. NOW!

    "Clark, you broke into my room, so you must be lying out of jealousy!"

    Yeah, because you know, Clark is always wrong about the people Lana dates when he tells her they're insane. He was wrong with Tina Whitney, and totally wrong with Magneto, and wrong with Jason, and even Adam, both times he came back from the dead and when he shot her in the back. Or with Lois last week, eh? The same Lois who stands firm with Lana and calls Clark a dink for searching Lana's apartment this week.

    Cripes. Acme brand cripes.

    Fine immunizes Lex, then destroys everything in the lab. Lex gets a KO. Now, why does Fine immunize Lex? What does keeping Lex alive offer him if the goal is to eliminate humanity? I though Lex had served his purpose to Fine. Oh yeah! Because they can't kill a main character and didn't want to think of a PLAUSIBLE way to save him.

    We then enter the FIVE LOFT SCENES.

    By a loft scene, I mean what it sounds like. A Clex. A Lexana. A Lionartha. A Lark. A Chlark. One an episode is enough to make me kill a kitten. FIVE? WE GET THE POINT. THEY ARE REFLECTING ON THE STORY. You don't need FIFTEEN FRICKING SCENES to show that.

    First Lex and Clark fight. Lex tells Clark he spent ten million dollars on trying to make a vaccine. That he's a good guy for it. And that Clark breaking and entering when he can just TALK to Lex sucks. And that Clark has no business being ticked at him for being with Lana when he broke it off arbitrarily for no reason.

    And he's a hundred percent right. Wow! Clark's a heroic guy, confronting these problems head-on. IN OPPOSITE LAND!

    Clark's response is Lana's. He turns and walks out without saying goodbye. Out of character, annoying, wrong, and not following from Clark's character archetype.

    Then, Martha and Lionel talk about Pa Kent's death. Lionel tells Martha he was there. Martha's response is Lana's. Instead of solving the problem, she gives him the cold shoulder until he leaves. Wow. Character development. In OPPOSITE LAND!

    Lana and Lex sit by the fire and talk about Clark. Lana's response is Lana's. Instead of trying to figure out with how to deal with the problem of Clark's jealousy and their culpability in having a secret relationship, Lana declares a moratorium on Clark, because as we all know, not talking about a problem is the way to solve it. IN OPPOSITE LAND!

    Clark and Lois have a conversation about how much of a dink Clark is for having saved Lex's life by breaking into Lana's apartment. Lois says he should just let Lana go. Even though in her words, Lana is hot, smart, and fun, especially because she's covertly aiding a guy who's designing a supervirus while paying for college without a job! Then, if he just lets this woman go because he's not good enough for her, he can ride a Harley! Meaning, Lois. Clark realizes what a buffoon he is for saving the day, and Lois trots off. All of the character dilemmas for both are solved. IN OPPOSITE LAND!

    Then Chloe comes over to berate Clark for his horrible handling of the situation that saved everyone's life. Well, okay. Actually, Chloe just gives him the translation, treats him like a human being, and offers him cake after a hard day. Clark of course realizes how awesome she generally is, how she helps without complaint, how she often saves the day, and how hot, smart, and fun she is. He plants a big, wet kiss on her and asks her to marry him. Awwwwwww...IN OPPOSITE LAND.

    Chloe presents him with the Kryptonian dictionary he doesn't need, and Clark reads three symbols. These symbols are essentially letters, because Kryptonian uses letters, as we've seen in previous episodes. They're not like Japanese, where it's a symbol for a concept. But hey. I guess they decided to keep that flawed new idea from fourth season, despite the fact that they've forgotten Lionel murdered people and a hundred other things.

    Apparently, the three symbols mean ZOD IS COMING.

    How Jor-El would know this, and why he would say that instead of "STOP ZOD FROM COMING BY DESTROYING FINE, AND QUIT MOPING OVER THAT WHINEY TART" is beyond me.

    Either way, for all of these problems, the show still had some decent stuff. Fine and Lex played well. The fight, albeit brief, was cool. And at least the plot is SOMEWHAT ramping up. This is where it should have been three episodes ago. That this is the next to last episode is sad.

    I'll be honest. My initial impression before I examined all the flaws in this episode was a 3.5 of 5. So if you want that to be my rating, fine.

    My current rating, after giving the episode a critical eye, is 2 of 5.

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    If you're sliding towards home, and your pants begin to foam,

    CRACK!

    CRACK!

    Lionel is a murderer. Clark is a hero. If you can become forty guys, you don't stay one guy and not kill anyone who threatens you when they're old businessmen. It's okay to break into a house if it's to save the world. It's GOOD to spend money trying to find a vaccine to save the world. Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. 2 of 5.

    LETTERS:

    In bold, per tradition.

    Jolza wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    I've been reading your reviews for years now but felt compelled to write after reading the good news in your 'insert pop culture movie storyline here' review, otherwise known as the episode 'mercy'. Congrats on the 2 book deal. It's always refreshing to hear of someone achieving a goal that they have been working at for years. It definitely gives hope to the rest of us that we can achieve anything we set our mind to. Hope it leads to even more success down the road.

    Thanks! It's less about making money, or prestige, or even recognition. I just know that if I get out there, I can get more books to more people, and that connection is the goal.

    One quick mention about the most recent episode 'Fade'. Now while Smallville is known for probably crossing the line with constant small nods to fans, such as the Lois destiny comments and the constant mentioning of forming a JLA, the last conversation between Lois and Martha concerning her love life seemed to stretch out further than just a small nod. Curious if perhaps you also see this as maybe they're finally going to be heading towards a Clark/Lois storyline as opposed to, *shudder* Clark/Lana again. Yes, my fingers are crossed tight.

    I see it coming. It's like the Lex Lana relationship. It doesn't really make sense to me. I mean, Lois and Clark getting hooked up in Smallville? They're not even supposed to KNOW each other yet. But then, given this continuity, why not? I mean, at least it's something new. But he should get with Chloe, if anyone, first. Just sensibly.

    Oh and one more vote to keep posting LanaFan's comments. Its hard to decide which is more enjoyable to read. Her comments, or your spot on replies to them. Keep them coming.

    I'll keep posting them. She hasn't written since the last one.

    P.S. Can't wait to hear what you end up thinking of Buffy season 2. It's amazing how much more enjoyable a show is when it is actually well written and it has that odd thing commonly known as character development.

    Compared to Smallville now it might actually be decent. I'll let you know. Ask me again for the premiere!

    Jolza

    Thanks.

    Christine wrote:
    Neal,
    Where's the review????
    I give you till Sunday....did I miss something? Did you go away???
    Hope to see it soon.

    A Fan,
    Christine

    Thanks, Christine. Basically, what happened is that I drop a 40-80 page review on Steve, often at about 6 AM, and that takes a while to edit and template. It also gets to him on Saturday Morning in Australia, so it's a REAL pain in the butt for him, having to maintain the site all week (which is a bigger task than most realize, a really big task, especially as we get closer to the movie). So, thanks to Smallville being on Thursday now, he either sacrifices his weekend to template it, or, every once in a while, it takes him an extra day or two. Which, you know, I wouldn't begrudge him.

    Wasn't there some crazy obsessed fan movie with Robert Dinero and Wesley Snipes? LOL!! I"m not that bad but every time I write "a fan", I think of that movie and hope you don't get the wrong idea....really I'm sane.

    Hey, don't get the wrong idea from me, either. I'm not saying pipe down. I'm honestly really flattered that you care enough to want it sooner rather than later. Not that I ever, ever do this,either, but if you IM me over scotttreadwell@hotmail.com, I might consider sending you a draft if you ask, so long as you promise not to fault Steve for what I say before he gets it.

    David Wilkins wrote:
    Neal,

    Sometimes, I want to repeat Pete and tell lark to take off the "Lana Blinders" especially when talking to Chloe.

    Word.

    I kind of understand what she is going through. I don't want to hear about my sister's sex life, and no other guy she talks to really cares about other guys in her past, especially her husband.

    It really does go both ways. No one wants to hear how happy the woman or man they love is with another person. Chloe's really, really patient in that respect, and takes a lot of guff despite an obvious love for the galoot.

    I noticed that the plots were ripped off from other episodes as well, and "Silver" was not the 100th episode(or was it "Sliver"?).

    Not sure what you mean.

    I think it is cool that you have a job where you can actually afford a car up front and a 55 inch LCD screen, and the twenty grand could be the Grand total for all the stuff Graham sent. Then again, a good sound system only costs a couple of hundred dollars, unless you go somewhere that severely overcharges. Oh, well.

    Well, let me put it this way. First off, I don't have a job that makes it so I can afford that stuff. I just bought it flat-out when I sold my house, off the profits, most of which I pumped right into the next house. But anyway, I got a REALLY, REALLY cool sound system for 400 bucks, and the TV for 2,500. But some sound systems get way up there...and is typically why a TV set costs so much with the works. But then, I just saw the basic setup...

    David

    Thanks!

    Daniel wrote:
    Neal,

    At one point, I would look to your reviews before I formulated my own opinions. It was not because I couldn't do that on my own, but because you, as a writer, found stuff much quick than I was capable of. Now, even before you write your reviews, we come to the same conclusions. And I have just one thing to say about that, NEAL, GET OUT OF MY HEAD. Just kidding, keep up the awesomeness of your reviews.

    I'm like Professor X. Except I can WALK! Hahahahahah!

    URK!

    Someone just broke my spine with a pipe wrench. He's wheeling away. I can't run after him. Oh, the irony!

    One thing really bugged me about this episode. For the first time in a long long time, they had a krypto-freak that actually served a purpose. He was a useful villain and they used him in an appropriate context. Clark saved a murderer. Clark saved someone capable of murdering hundreds of others. Clark saved someone that clearly would have been better off dead. Great. Perfect opportunity to teach Clark a lesson. Perfect opportunity to demonstrate to Clark why this is still necessary - why a hero saves even the villains. Why a hero doesn't make like Wonder Woman and kill Max Powers or whatever his name was. It was a perfect opportunity to progress Clark. And they glossed over this point.

    Yeah. I thought that sucked too.

    While it was nice to see it brought up in Clark's conversation with Chloe in the end, it should have taken much more than that to drive the point home. It's an important lesson. Not just for Clark Kent, but for his fans. A show about a morally upstanding character has an opportunity to speak to such things in an authorial voice and promote a positive message. It has an opportunity to influence its fanbase. But instead, they delivered the message and Clark simply accepted it. There are two things wrong with that. One, is that Chloe is teaching Clark as if she is his sidekick. As much as I like her as a character, the writers need to tone her down and not try so hard to make us like her. We already do. But the real issue is that Clark was so quickly to accept that. For such an important lesson - one that forms the groundwork of the superhero, not just Superman, they should not gloss over it the way they did.

    Well, simply put, even a KID Superman is supposed to be an influence to others. People aren't supposed to be tutoring him.

    For once, they gave relevance to their villain. And, as we have come to expect, they missed the target by way too much. I didn't think the episode was quite as bad as you made it out to be, but ultimately, this pi%$#d me off the most. The writers should know better.

    Yes.

    And here's the difference between quality writing and good writing. Mercy, last week, filled all potential areas that could have caused problems. For the entire episode, I was wondering why the guy didn't simply kill Lionel. They explained that. For the entire episode, I wondered why the guy really wanted Lionel dead. They explained that. For the entire episode, they dealt with character motivation. The only one that was missing was Lionel's and they hinted at it at the end. My opinion, Lionel is dying. This is his last stand. He is seeking atonement for his sins from Martha. It's necessary. It distinguishes him from Lex. It makes Lex the ultimate criminal, not just his father's son. This is important. And if Lionel doesn't die, I will be pi^%$d off. Frankly, it's time for him to go and I felt like Mercy was a great way to setup this arc.

    Doesn't look like he's dying. I mean, seriously, he's one of the few characters that really has some depth for them, even if they corrupt it with inane plot holes. He won't be gone until he has to be. They're trying to make him a hero, I think.

    But, if Lionel is not gone by next season's premier, I will be mad. Why? Character motivation. Lionel's actions won't make any sense, especially in the context of this show. We've dealt with good Lionel before. Now, give us a reason for him going nice. And if they do all that, I will go back and give Mercy an even higher rating. I will completely ignore the fact that it was such a blatant and overt rip-off, because I will see exactly what they were trying to do.

    Don't hold your breath. :)

    On the other hand, this episode lacked motivation in characters, primarily between Lana and Lex. It's not that this relationship is a bad idea, it's just that it doesn't make sense. And people who think Lana is playing Lex because of this are really kidding themselves. Talk about mischaracterization. Not only is the relationship arbitrary until they explain it, they made a jump in this episode that completely confused me. When did they go from fear of discussing the topic to out and out liplocks? That's beyond me. They don't need to show us the progression from Mercy to Fade, but they do need to explain it. Sheesh.

    It's just arbitrary drama. Lame.

    Anyways, keep it up and keep it real. Until next time...Zod is coming, finally something that may be worthwhile.

    -Daniel

    I certainly well hope so! Thanks, Daniel.

    Jim wrote:
    The episode was just........yea. That being said, you wrote

    "Like, for instance, how if Lois had, as she stated, taken an hour and a half shower, the room would be a relative STEAM BATH, and any Graham moving through it would be really obvious through the steam."

    You have seen to many old horror movies for your own good I think. My wife unit has this thing for taking long showers or better yet a bath so hot it will cook a five pound chicken. An open window in the bathroom keeps the steam from taking over. Second, have you seen how freaking large her bathroom is in that place? One open window. Honestly it was the only thing in the episode that did not bother me.

    Yeah, but there's still SOME steam. You're talking to a guy that takes hour tubs that could cook a glacier, and I leave the door open, that room is still a sauna...

    On a side note, when this show is done I want that tub. Maybe it's luck of a constant stream of hot chicks taking showers in it will continue. As always, good review Neal.

    I have a tub like that. One of the benefits of having a really, really old house. They're AWESOME. And not cheap, either. I wouldn't have one if it weren't already there, but I don't know what I'd do without it. I soak my sore hands in it after every review if I'm still conscious enough to do so.

    Thanks!

    Chris wrote:
    Thanks for posting and responding to my previous letter. I appreciate your fair and thoughtful assessment. I would like to clarify a few things, though.

    You're welcome, and sure...

    I would hate for my choice of rhetoric to give you the wrong impression about me. First off, I am a firm believer in the necessity of a safety net. Also, I have no problems when people like you take advantage of it. You have a plan, a goal that you are constantly and seemingly tirelessly working toward. You work. Everyday. People like you, I have no problem with.

    Cool. That's my attitude as well. I believe a safety net is just for emergencies, and when you use it, there should be a plan to get to stopping it, and then a further plan to pay it back, either through taxes or flat-out payments.

    I like Patton. He's an icon for me. He never took a dime for his service to this country, and I hope to one day do much the same in some way, even if my service is just words. Though honestly, I have aspirations for Aspen sheriff...and other political fun.

    I just wish that the government would make a comprehensive effort to fund the arts, so people like you don't have to go on the dole.

    You know, that's a very good point. And honestly, there ARE a lot of programs, they're just mismanaged. For instance, the NEA offers some 15-20 grand for poets, writers, and novelists to work in their field. BUT, to even apply, you have to already have so many books or poems published in a PAYING market. At which point, honestly, you don't NEED any aid.

    There's the Guggenheim, but that's more for people who have creamed college and write in the intellectual niche. Charles Bukowski never got an endowment until he was very successful.

    The money's out there, they just won't give it to you unless you fill the rich yuppie definition of artist. Meaning you don't take risks, and/or you make money, or you take popular, safe risks, like the bold, difficult statement "RACISM IS BAD!" That was sarcasm.

    Every great society in the history of the world funded the arts. Its true, money does make the world go round, but art is what makes life tolerable. In other words, keep doing what you are doing, no matter what bored jack%$#es like me say.

    I don't think you a jack$#@. The simple fact that you've engaged me in a dialogue and are remaining true to yourself shows the strength of your character, even if we never find equitable compromise. Which we have. I totally agree.

    You should know, the only reason for my goading you was sheer boredom. I manage a restaurant and bar, and on slow nights I have very little to do but to attempt to find the end of the internet. My goading you was an attempt (a juvenile one at that!) to elicit some response, to give me something to do.

    I figured so. No harm no foul. That's why I don't track people down and nuke their IP. I mean, generally it's just someone having fun. It was, however, a good example to spark a discussion about important things, which is the reason for this letter column, and in that, your letter was a highlight of the last few weeks.

    You seem like the type of person who literally HAS to write about everything they think or feel.

    It's a DISEASE. :) It saps your pocketbook, your will to go out, your strength. But it's not a choice. The good thing is, 2 out of every 10 things you write end up publishable, sometimes.

    I have a friend with that same obsession. It's as if something isn't real to you until you've had a chance to write about it. My friend's brain works the same way. I suspect you are a religious keeper of journals, and probably have shelves of them.

    I Livejournal a bit, not too much. I have a private journal I show no one. Mostly, though, poetry is my journaling, and how I compartmentalize and rationalize everything that happens to me. I have 1,700 now, more for the new book I'm working on, and approximately 28 filled notebooks on my shelf. Those 28 represent maybe 700 of the 1,700. I'm much more prolific on the computer in the last three years.

    It's just a way to figure things out, I guess. And it helps. In real life, whenever I have a debate, I have an answer and a thought for almost everything. People think that's me being a smart*%$, but really, it's just because I do sit down, research, and think out most of my positions...

    I sometimes wish I had the same obsession, sometimes its hard to know where you are going unless you can remember where you've been. It's a natural outgrowth, I suspect, from a rather harsh childhood beset by the poverty you so passionately write about. It's escapism.

    One hundred percent correct. Like the fat kid who becomes a comedian. It's a healthy way to deal with stuff. It beats smoking crack, anyway.

    In writing, you have the opportunity to reshape the world, the opportunity to re-write the script of your life. It also allows you a level of introspection that only artists are able to attain.

    You can get the girls who turned you down, be a cool, Ash, Army of Darkness style hero, you can swing your sword. You can punish villains when in real life you can't spank the cat when it pees on the couch. Very much exactly it.

    It's also very fake on one level, that's the detriment. But it's a great construct.

    That level of introspection gives most artists an acute understanding of and sympathy with their fellow man.

    Too much, often. I live in a very crime-ridden neighborhood and I'm always getting taken for cash. The other day I saw someone in a broke down car, pushed them into the gas station, the lady started crying, said she was out of gas. I put in my (credit) card, explained I was buying my own gas on credit, so to only take two dollars, please, so they could get where they were going.

    She filled up the tank to thirty bucks. I said, "Hey, I just helped you! I just, out of all these people, pushed your car without you even asking, and you take my thirty bucks? How dare you?" She shrugs, says she'll come by with it later that day.

    I tell her, "Yeah, see you on the fifth of never." She might come over tonight, but I doubt it.

    But that sympathy has its own dividends. I mean, look. You started out goading me, now we're having an awesome dialogue...it's not monetary payback, but then, when you don't focus on money and instead focus on the humanity of it all, you get a lot more out of things. I think, anyway. Until some crackhead stabs my brain out for a dollar.

    Though we are all islands unto ourselves, the artist attempts build bridges to all the other islands by putting themselves on display for all the world to see (and in the age of the internet, that ceases to be a metaphor). I know I may be getting a little hippy dippy here--though I suspect you harbor no ill will toward the sentiment--but I just wanted to make sure you understood where I am really coming from. I get snarky when I'm bored.

    Chris

    No problem at all, Chris. In fact, your letters have been the best interaction, as I said, of the last three weeks. No harm, no foul at all.

    P.S. What possible reason could the writers of Smallville have for compressing what is potentially the best part of this season (the showdown with Brainiac) into the final two episodes.

    My money is on budget. I think they're trying to save cash. Or they have to. Alas...

    Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the meanderings of this past season will make some sense in the context of the final two episodes, but, I doubt it. I think the last two episodes will kick major %ss, almost enough to make up for this lackluster season.

    I had hopes. It was better than some, but not incredible. I'm still hoping the finale can pull the first five in a while...

    I won't necessarily have a problem with a cliffhanger, I just hope there is enough resolution and explanation to hold me over to next season. Maybe a little hint toward Clark and Lois's future relationship. Hopefully a few more shots of her six-pack abs of steel.

    Heh. You know, my writer sense tells me that's where we're headed. They might even be able to pull it off, who knows.

    Best!

    Matt H. wrote:
    Howdy Neal, hope all goes well in your world, but in my Smallville world after this episode, man-oh-man.

    My condolences. ;)

    After reading your review, I have to say you are 100% right on all of it. I mean, there were a couple of cool moments (such as Clark using his hearing to find the FOTW) and the scene of him saving the dude from becoming a bug stain was great. But it seems everything else was an absolute cringefest. I dont know how many times in the 40 some odd minutes of show I wanted to just fast forward to get to something else. Can I just say that the scene where Clark and Chloe were in the Planet talking, and the FOTW heard them mention the kryptonite as his only weakness floored me. Absolutely floored me. I mean, what the frig is the motivation for writing some tripe like that? In my head, it went something like this...

    Writer 1: "Ok, we got invisible guy, and at this point we know he will get spanked by Clark in a fight, so lets FIND a way to give him kryptonite so he can beat Clark."
    Writer 2: "Is that such a good idea, I mean at this rate everyone in the midwest will know that kryptonite is his only weakness, and when he finally dons the tights, they will be selling K-keychains to any villian that happens to want to break the law. Couldn't we just have Chloe or Lois get kidnapped since Invisible guy knows he can hurt her, that way Clark can beat him up and we can ship him off to Bellreave and maybe use him later?"
    Writer 1: "You're fired. Get out. "

    Awesome! And funny, because it's true.

    Sorry, but to me that seems like the only way it could have gone down. it made me wish I was watching an infomercial about knives. Oh well, I will get over it I suppose. Thanks for listening to me rant and keep up the good work Neal, good luck on your writings too!

    Holy cow! You watch knife infomercials too? Whenever I go visit my East Washington family, I always take a day off writing and watch crummy TV. Andy Milonakis, Jack@ss, Wild Boys, you know. Pain humor. When I'm ready to sleep, I check out those dudes with 500 knives for 14 bucks. And that's actually pretty entertaining, compared to Fade...

    Dan Sjöström wrote:
    Dear Ne-Yo (sorry, watched MTV this morning),

    Does MTV still rap? I gave up on it when they stopped showing The Refreshments on 120 minutes.

    This weekend has been quite unusual to me. Not only was it the celebration of our own holiday Walpurgis (didnęt even know thatęs what itęs called in English, sounds kinda goofy), I also watched three Tim Burton movies in two days (one rented on DVD, two on TV) and of course I was watching a vampire-themed Smallville episode. Yup, it was Thirst alright. The irony of an ep with that title being aired after Aqua being one if its few positive notes.

    Heh. Yeah, no kidding! One more whammy for Lana! Walpurgis sounds like what you do after you eat a Wal-Mart when you're anorexic. What is it really a celebration of, when an ignorant American like me isn't poking fun at it?

    At the very beginning I experienced an OOOOH and AAAAW moment like you called it in Onyx. It kicked off with Chloeęs narration, which I thought was neat. For the second time counting the premiere of Veronica Mars it felt like she had got a spin-off series. It also reminded me of when I travelled back in time and accidentally created an alternative timeline where the Superboy tv series starred Fred Savage in the title role and used the narrator from The Wonder Years. Wait, that never happened.

    Did you know the narrator was the non Joe Pesci thief from Home Alone? Either way, I'd still make it with Winnie.

    And my doctor said I was making progress... Anyway, next we see a pizza delivery guy being dragged into the house by three scantily clad women and forced into the hot tub. By the time one of the vamps ducked under the water I asked myself if this was TV3 (not ZTV like I said before) at 6:00 pm or Canal+ after midnight. I believe the phrase a young padawan would use is "I have a bad feeling about this, master".

    Or even "Only a Sith deals in ratings."

    Buffy-brainwashed as I am, it felt like I was gonna have the wolf howling, the full moon and the organ playing "daaahm, dah-daah daaahm", but instead there were meteors swooping over fields and "Somebody Save Me" by Remy Zero. Which I am very glad for, in a way. Sure, there were vampires, a chick named Buffy and the appearance of James Marsters, but that does not a BtVS make. I can tell you, this was not Buffy. Not that it was intended to be, but still it wasnęt. Buffy never tried to be Superman, even though there were plenty of Superman remarks in that show.

    I'm gonna give the show a fair shake. Really this time.

    I donęt know whatęs the deal with the writers. Theyęre trying to portray Lana as a perfect flawless person, but they always get her in these situations that make her look horrible. Ięll get back to that later. Youęre right, Lana saying Clark is needy was idiotic. It made as much sense as turning down the sound during the opening credits for Tim Burtonęs Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and playing Danny Elfmanęs opening score for Spider-Man on the stereo. Which I did the same day I saw Thirst, and it was far more enjoyable than that line. Tried the theme for Batman too, but it wasnęt as funny, though.

    Try the soundtrack to the Wizard of Oz while watching The Wall. That'll REALLY scare any druggies you know, because they'll think they've entered opposite land.

    The costume party. Chloe dressed as a school girl. Well, I do think Allison Mack is hot and I have a thing for pig-tails, donęt ask me why. I donęt associate them with underage girls, and frankly school uniforms donęt do it for me so to speak, I just think itęs a nice hairstyle. However, there was no need to see Chloe like that on the show, even though it clearly was for a dress-up party.

    Pigtails can also be a Swiss Alps thing, right? That's where it's hot for me.

    Clark dressed as Zorro. Crap, now I have to rewrite my Smallville/Zorro crossover fan-fic. I was spared the awkwardness of Clark saying "si" or faking a Spanish accent, though. Another thing about the costume: Clark snoops around in Buffyęs room, when she walks in to see a man dressed in black, complete with a mask and a cape. He disappears into thin air, with an object in the form of a bat in the spot where he was standing. Meanwhile, Lana is parading dressed as a feline. So basically, they made Clark and Lana look like Batman and Catwoman in my eyes. So not only do they make Lana evil by being herself, but she also mimics another heroęs love interest who happens to be a bad guy. I wonder if the writersę subconciousness has been playing tricks on them.

    Well, apparently you can see Batman in that scene, so maybe not...

    Lana adopting heat vision by drinking Kryptonian blood is debatable, to put it mildly. I know they werenęt real vampires per se, so sunlight or the energy thereof shoudlnęt be a problem for them and knowing how Clark got his eye-lasers makes it somewhat understandable. But still, what? Hello, kryptonite right next to you? Hello, no sunlight to charge you up? Not to mention hello, vaporizing the villain who after all is just a human being and getting away with it? Get my aspirin!

    Yeah.

    And seriously, I didnęt understand Chloeęs logic in writing that story. "How will I get to work at the serious newspaper Ięve always dreamt of writing for? I know, Ięll write about those meteor-infested vampires living at the sorority at Met-U! Heck, Ięll even use one of the involved peopleęs real name as her alias!" Ięm starting to think this is really Bizarro-Chloe and the real one is trapped on the planet Htrea. I almost expected Leia to do like Perry White in the Fleischer cartoon The Underground World and burn the story with a lighter. "Itęs a great story, Chloe. Too bad we canęt print this." I know, it was all meant to be a way to get her job at the DP into the story, but it just didnęt fit in. It was like the trailer for Titanic 2 some guy made, where he put together clips from different movies. They all were put into a phony context, but you knew they didnęt really belong there.
    Chloeęs remark about future superheroes was nice, yet confusing. Did she see it coming that CK would get to work there, or was the narration set even further away in time than it appeared?

    I think it was left open to interpretation. But still...

    To me, Brainiac saved the show. The lecture, the pool game and the murder by tentacles to get the spaceship were the most redeeming traits it had to offer, ęnuff said. His "thereęs no such thing as vampires"line however resulted in me rolling my eyes and emitting a sarcastic har-dee har-har. No bigger damage, though.

    Fine is usually the better part of a sub-plot. At least until of late, when he started doing irrational stuff.

    Watching an episode of this quality made me feel like Morgan Spurlock ordering a salad and getting a super-sized Quarter Pounder. It might be pleasurable for a brief moment, but in the length you get nauseous, it reminds you too much of the crap you had to swallow a couple of years ago and mostly, IT IS NOT WHAT YOU ORDERED!! This time I mustęve gotten somebody elseęs logic-blinders, cause they slipped off more than last week. Sure I can still enjoy it without using my brain too much, but not as much as I did with Aqua. (Funny anecdote about Aqua: I write all episode titles on top of my video tapes with a black ink ball point pen. After taping Aqua, I couldnęt find it so I used another pen, with blue ink. Watery blue.)

    Morgan Spurlock is kind of a wuss. I can tell you, without boasting, but boasting, that when I was working construction, I burned about 4-6 thousand calories a day. I could eat WHATEVER I wanted, and I still lost weight. We ate fast food every day for four months. Twice a day, often. No ill effects. It's all a matter of moderation if you're sitting on your butt, and if you're working hard, enjoyment to keep you going. Spurlock, while making a compelling film, set out to make himself feel ill effects. Plus, he went from rarely eating meat to eating it all the time. It'd be like if I suddenly started a daily five hour workout regimen after not working out at all. Not smart, and the results would be comical and make exercise look like a horrible thing on a human body...

    Concerning all these flaws and inconsistencies, one important thing that has to be regarded is how people will look back at SV in the future. If they ever make a Smallville movie, I fear it would poke fun at the base material the same way they did with The Brady Bunch, Starsky & Hutch and others. Lana would be the spawn of Satan but still considered an amazing person, Lois would pop out of nowhere like Hermione in The Prisoner of Azkaban and Lionel would try to kill Lex at least once every week and still be allowed to enter the mansion. Thatęs Smallville The Movie for you, starring Seann William Scott as Jonathan Kent, coming to theaters in the summer of 2025!

    Interesting! I think they'd just make a Superman movie first.

    Again, I must say how great it is to discuss the show with you, regardless of personal opinions. Leaving and receiving comments has started to become a highlight of the week to me. Catchya later after Ięve watched Exposed, which I suspect you might not have such warm feelings for. Well, the fact that I saw a 1.5 next to the title gave me a clue. Whaę happenęd to the ratings at the review index, btw?

    ęTil then, Dan

    It spoiled it for people, so I got asked to remove them. We were going to put them back, but it was a lot of work...maybe this summer.

    Matt "Jor-El" Ashbaugh wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    First off I want to thank you for your commitment to review every episode of Smallville until you go insane for one-too-many Clanas, or the show is finished... whichever comes first. Your reviews are the "dessert" to my Smallville meals. No matter how wonderful or horrible the meal was, I can always look forward to a delicious treat afterwards.

    Thanks! And it'll be insanity first. You watch.

    Well here are some thoughts on the odd reasoning that this show has taken on.

    Thought #1): The Lois we are seeing is not the feminist icon we know and love because she hasn't developed into that character yet. They do make a point to have her be a lot more capable than the other WiD's (Women in Distress, of course in Lana's case I would have to say witch in distress... anyway). I guess I would say that the writers are thinking that this Lois is more of a pre-Superman Lois. The woman and icon that her character is has not yet been developed. They believe they can get away with it because "all" people go through an experimental stage in their college years. Of course, I would argue that while people to change some in college, people really don't change that much.

    Yeah, I mean, to quote a movie, you are who you were in high school, and always will be, pretty much. I believe that by 18, you are what you will be. Superman should be Superman with only a few rough edges. Age does not excuse idiocy. Otherwise they wouldn't punish kids for murder.

    Smallville Lois' current character is, proud, stubborn, untrusting (exception being that she is completely trusting of villianous men for the sake of "drama de la crap"), is not ashamed of her body (an actual true feminist trait), and has a smart mouth. The factors she is missing is that she is not driven to do the best job she can do. She is not always driven to reveal the truth. She doesn't seem to have the brains to back up that smart mouth.

    Agreed.

    Again the only way I will excuse this is that she isn't full on "Lois" yet. She is more pre-Lois. Which brings me to...

    Thought #2) Clark. Aside from powers and blue eyes I am not seeing Superman or even Clark Kent in him. In fact, for lack of a more graceful way of putting it, he's a chick. No not a woman, not a girl, a chick. That frame of mind that women put themselves in that is a result of obeying the all mighty Oprah and studying Cosmo as the bible.

    Actually, I would agree with you there. He's the...god, I have to use the verb. He's a pu#$*fied guy. He's so in touch with his emotions he's lost track of what it means to be a bastion of honor and decisiveness. I don't mean become a jock, but I mean there's something to be said for the MAN in Superman.

    He wears his emotions on his sleeve and denies them if noticed. Eyes any guys who start flirting with any of his "girlfriends" like some protective mother hen. He is just all around over-sensitive. To make my opinion even more stated, watch how quickly Clark swoons at the sight of a baby or child. Most men, especially Kansas single child farm boys, don't melt at the sign on kids. They act friendly (stereotypically scared of them) but not drop everything to play with them like he was a 9 year old, like Clark is shown whenever a baby/child is the freak of the week.

    Even good, wholesome guys don't. And that's normal. People shouldn't be cranking out kids at 18, or feel prepared to. It's just not late enough in life to know what you're doing, and people at 18 aren't thinking, "Oh, I love kids!" they're thinking, "How do kids fit into my social life, and how the heck did I get pregnant?"

    Clark might love kids, he's Superman, a rare, strange specimen. But he acts like he wants to get married and have one, now. I think Superman would know that's irresponsible at his age and with his finances.

    I'm not saying Superman is completely "Wolverine macho" but he does act like a chivalrous knight. You have to be one tough hombre to pull off the underwear over my skin tight spandex thing. He embodies character and moral strength. Again this Clark has not become the man who I believe can fly, at least not yet.

    Superman is what you might call a sensitive man, I would say. He respects feminism, believes in equality, and fights for it. I don't think, however, he thinks part of that equality is stepping out of his gender identity and or arbitrarily and constantly allowing himself to be bullied by all the women in his life.

    And not having male friends is quite unrealistic as well.

    That is what irritates me even more than Lana's completely villianous character. The man we are told will be Superman is currently, dumber than a bush (double pun intended), doesn't act like a heroic male, doesn't think before acting (especially given that at his speed he has a lot more liberty to pre-action thought), and more horribly of all does NOT seem to have accepted his "destiny". Considering that the whole "accepting his destiny and becoming the hero" was what this whole season was promised to be.

    Well, that's the downside of adopting the stereotypical feminized male role. He cares EMOTIONALLY about how to use his power instead of logically. That's why he throws Lionel around in this last episode instead of thinking. He FEELS that he needs to, even when he shouldn't. And that's not Superman. The Ubermensch is a concept based in the idea that you can move beyond faith for faith's sake in an ideology and move into a logical perfection. Superman wasn't designed to imitate Nietzsche, but I believe he adopts that particular part of the Superman.

    And with Fade being the third to the last show for this season how is our almost-Superman acting? He almost got killed by an invisible boy with a piece of kryptonite. Which is even worse when you consider that he could: 1) out speed him, 2) blow the chunk away with heat vision, 3) pull off his patented "One armed Man sling" and chuck Invisibo into an arbitrary glass display case before the kryptonite fully drained him, 4) run a distance back, 5) use X-ray vision to find him in the first place and notice the kryptonite chunk. We have yet to see a "heat sensor vision" so this would have been a nice place to pull out a new power ... how long has it been?

    Too long. Super-breath seems almost impossibly late to the mix.

    6) or the Batman approach. Realizing he is against an invisible boy finding him inside the Talon by using his heat vision to activate the fire sprinklers then seeing the shape of a person in the droplets. Or carrying around a paint can or spray paint to "tag" his butt so he can't lose him so easily. Plus conveninently blinding him. Argh.

    Yeah.

    I want to watch this show and think "this is the man who would be Superman" Not, this is Peter Parker in Clark's origin ... with less quipping.

    Yes.

    And just a little lightning round to finish up. There is no doubt that Martha is a federal level Senator. If they wanted it to be a more localized thing the writers would have gone for Smallville mayor. Martha being in charge of the Talon obviously put someone else in charge of it to allow Lois to concentrate on her senator dealings. It was never mentioned because it would have required a single line of dialogue or even worse, an extra to be moved into a bit part and be named. Lana being the original owner of the Talon might be getting a bi-weekly check from Talon money just for being the owner.

    She sold it, actually.

    That could explain how she has no job yet seems to have money. Though I'm sure "Lexy Warbucks" might start helping that out as well. There is still no doubt in my mind that we have yet to meet Jor-El in the show. I stand by my claim that it has been Zod the entire time. And I assume the big "reveal" of this season will be just that. Having the real Jor-El emerge after Zod is defeated along with "Brainiac". Maybe then Clark will finally have a brain. Or at least start taking journalism classes.

    Yeah, but why would Zod try and help Clark with information, and not just kill him? Especially when Clark has flat-out given himself to Jor-El several times.

    I agree that Lana has a short memory when it comes to how many times Clark has saved her life. She knows he has. Heck half of the "lie and secrets" he has told are directly related to her asking how he was able to make it out alive and him lying horribly. Which is another thing I hate. Clark lies well. This is a dude that can tell Lois that he was abducted by aliens and forced to answer pop culture questions from the 40's in the comics and make her believe him. Clark on the small screen should lie with a flair that is usually only reserved for Luthor. WE the audience know the truth, so he doesn't have to act like he's lying. He just has to tell his cover story without adding all the "eye aversions" and "coughs" and "uncomfortable shifting in his seat".

    Pretty much.

    I mean that was the best part of the classic Superman stories wasn't it? Lois asks how he can always know where Superman will be, and Clark will say straight faced, Well maybe that's because I'm actually Superman, Lois. She says, yeah right. Then the music builds and Clark winks at the camera.

    Heh.

    Finally, I have to say your picture is a little un-nerving. Your disapproving expression stares at me as I type this as if to say, "By the power of my relatively new beard, I command that you cease your keyboard ramblings and get to the point. Oh yes, and Lana is the devil."

    Later, Matt

    Tell you what...I get a lot of Kevin Smith out of that, a lot of unnerving stuff. I'm really not staring into your soul...but I WILL, on my weekend to Orcas Island, try and get a decent new picture. Just because I like to change things up. Hah!

    chuckmo wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    I actually enjoyed this episode. I know there are alot of things in fiction that aren't realistic (hence "fiction") that you just get used to. It must be my luck that I've come to accept that the weird relationship whatnot is just a part of the Smallville universe. I think I just fill in the gaps in my head subconsciously, making the show more enjoyable.

    That's cool. Good for you. I do point out, however, that fiction is just a word. It doesn't mean it can't be realistic. My favorite fiction (Fear and Loathing, Bukowski, Name of the Rose, Catch-22) is stuff that skirts the problems of real life so perilously close to our real actions that it cuts...

    But you made extremely valid point that I totally missed. That's a luxury of being an average viewer (as opposed to being a reviewer like yourself) - getting lost in the episode.

    It also helps that I watch without commercials ;)

    -chuck

    Indeed. And I mean, that's what reviewing is about. Someone finding details to analyze. Most people have two ratings, at least with friends. "This sucks." CLICK! Or, "This rules!" And then they keep watching, maybe discuss why. Reviewing is counter-intuitive. You take something you enjoy, and find the faults. Watching is intuitive. You watch, focus on what you enjoy, and stop watching when you don't enjoy.

    Why reviews are valid and fun, though, is because analysis, and particularly critique, is a way for you to compare your viewpoint to another's. Agree or disagree. It's also what's fun about talk radio, I think. And Fox News, even if I hate it.

    P.S. I was reading the review and you kept using "dag nasty." I knew I'd heard it before. It wasn't until you wrote "Clear as purple crayon" that I caught it. Great reference! Now I must return to the Deathticle, poo poo head.

    EXACTLY! Obi-Wan Keboozey couldn't say it any better. Best Star Wars Parody since American Jedi.

    Jules Brice wrote:
     My first side note is to ask if you were also concerned when Martha said that she was going to dispel the Lionel-Plasma Theory (That sounds like something on the surface of the sun, but in a dastardly way), so she calls him to check if he bought the valuables. That would be OK, except that later in the episode we learn that Lionel is returning from Singapore... I hope she called collect, because she'll have run up quite a phone bill at the farm.

    True.

    Secondly, we have only two episodes to go... and a whole heckuvalot of territory to cover so we can have closure (heh) on the main and B plots to have a monumental cliffhanger... think you we'll have a two-hour finale this time around? Or are they going to wrap everything up this season and the cliffhanger leads to... Superman Returns. Wanna know what happens? Go see the movie!!! Gosh, I hope not

    I think we'll have closure. I'm pretty sure it's just an hour, but they're not going to end the series. It might be cancelled. Highly unlikely, but we won't know until May 18th. That'll be covered here, so watch for it...

    Speaking of Superman Returns, that new trailer is... ummm, not that I don't like it but I came into the office right after watching Superman II and it felt like a rehash (a GOOD rehash) of the Superman II story, but with lots (and lots) of eye candy thrown in, I just hope it turns out as good as I expect. Still, I was taken in and got the same thrill I had when I was a kid and watched the first movie by seeing Superman flying around Metropolis. (fanboy squeal)

    I look at it like, it's three minutes of three hours. I'm jazzed about the trailer, but even if it made me cry because it was so ugly, I'd still say the rest of the movie could more than make up for it. Batman Begins had a HORRIBLY boring teaser, and turned out to be the best hero flick of last year.

    Lana - Believe it or not, one of the characters I used to watch most closely was Lana. Not because she's hot, or because I feel titillated by the character, but because of the way she (the Lana character, not Ms. Kreuk) interacts with everything and everyone on the show. Let me clear that up, before you put me on the Lanafan Minion's list.

    (takes pen away form the Minion list...) Okay! I'm listening...

    Kidding. I don't care if you like Lana. Please do. Your business...not mine.

    My stepdaughter behaves exactly like Lana, before the show aired, during, and possibly after the show is over. Pretty horrible, eh? Well I'm sympathetic towards the character, but I definitely do not condone what she's done most of the time, though I do understand some of her reasons. Simple Paranoid Schizophrenia. Which reminds me that I'm not taking any more from that snotty brat... hmmm... anywhoo...

    Well, you know, I really don't think it's so bad that Lana-like people exist. And I know they do. I tried to date a number of them in my youth. They're just as entitled to be that way as I am to try and live a noble life. It's all equal in the eyes of the great magnet.

    What gets me is when they try and promote Lana as an entertaining, wonderful figure. That just doesn't work with me. In real life, I wouldn't ignore such a person, I'd probably make my peace with them. In a TV show, I want something that resonates with me, and Lana just doesn't.

    All of that was to say that there's a way like mine to believe in a character, even if I don't like the character, and then there's the Lanafan end of it and the hatemail that you published from such, is the wrong way about it all, because Lana (the character, not Ms. Kreuk) is really all of the things you've accused her of and then some.

    Well, yeah. And you know what? Just because I don't like it doesn't mean I'm right, either. It's just what I believe. I think I can back it up, and typically most people don't have many cogent challenges to it, but like you said, that doesn't mean you can't like her for that.

    Honduras - I know this is kinda late to post this, seeing as how we're probably not going to see the country again. I was born in Honduras, and I can say I know it pretty well, and the terrain, and the weather portrayed aren't necessarily wrong. See in the northwestern end of the country we have highlands that have mildly cold (50's & 60's) weather, and Honduras was originally known to colonizing spaniards as "The Land of Pines" because they have pines everywhere, not to say they have pine forests (maybe there were a long time ago, but deforestation put paid to that), but a lot of pines growing next to bamboo? definitely.

    Seriously? Well, cool then! That's like the time I said that the Swiss Alps was just below the North Pole...heh. And I like to think I'm an INFORMED Americano. Heh.

    A small village whose people look like they just bought their clothes at a better than average store? now that's unreal. Lot's of poverty, cities are overcrowded, and there's so much violence there (hmm, both Predator and Fine seem to have picked the country for these reasons, do I sense a stereotype somewhere in there?) nah, I... look! a rabbit!
    So, these are the points this time, thanks for your time. Hope we end the season with a bang, not a whimper.

    Jules

    Agreed! Thanks, Jules.

    Felix Vasquez wrote:

    So, it's been a long time since "Smallville" had me this excited, and for that, and its story, I give this episode a:

    3 out of 5.

    Shocking. It'd have been higher had we not been given the usual Lana/Clark, Lana/Lex junk that usually accommodates an episode of "Smallville", but what we have is the makings of an episode that should have littered the entire season. It's a shame it takes near the season finale to bring the series back to the way it used to be.

    Yeah, and even then, with stuff missing, alas.

    There was so much in this episode that I loved. Pa being used as a vessel to seduce Clark in to evil which was an inadvertent reference to Deadman using Batman's body to shoot down a villain in "JLU", Clark discovering his enemy was his salvation and his father the key to evil, Brainiac back in form, Lex back in form, Chloe back in form, Lois... well... she was there.

    Curious! I hadn't even thought of that. Cool.

    And hey, Lois made the cake! That's so important! (Sarcasm).

    Ever seen "Facts of Life"? In the late end of the series, George Clooney joined as this character who'd work for the girls, come in for about five scenes, talk for a few minutes, and leave without explanation.

    No, actually. Curious. Sounds like that Clooney, though! Always trying to upstage my manliness...grrrr!

    That's what Lois has become. That character who's there for no reason anymore. She has no involvement in the plots, no cause to be there, yet she's there. I know the WB value looks over talent beyond everything else, but do we have to have Lois in episodes that have no point in showing her?

    Look! Boobies!

    Only the WB could turn one of the most important characters in pop culture in to a third wheel.

    Pretty much.

    See ya for the finale next week! I'll miss your reviews.

    I'll miss 'em too. How weird is that?

    Sincerely,
    Felix
    Cinema Crazed
    http://www.cinema-crazed.com

    Thanks, Felix!

    Will wrote:

    Hey, Neal, it's Will Sabel Courtney. Just reminding you, as you asked, that in the fight scene in the barn, Clark's heat vision shouldn't be able to knock Fine back, as heat vision has no physical mass. Also, it wouldn't cause him to recoil in pain, as Fine is capable of generating his own heat vision, and as such should be resistant to its temp.

    Awesome point! I would have forgotten to mention it, which is why I'm glad I asked you to post it. Nice observation! Thanks.

    ONE MORE EPISODE, FOLKS! Will it live up to the hype?

    Be sure and read the letter column next week. I'll be announcing a CONTEST with a cool prize! And don't forget to check out the updated KO Count.

    Neal
    MSN: scotttreadwell@hotmail.com
    AIM: scotttreadwell69
    Yahoo: noahtreadwell



    Oracle

    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    Finally we get some serious action on the main plot of the season. I do mean serious. Prof. Fine posing as Jonathan Kent's ghost was low. Real low. Something only a manipulative super villain would do, which is exactly what Prof. Fine is and why I loved it. Plus it keeps Jonathan Schneider in the mix and I love having the actor around.

    It looks like it might finally be clear whose side Lionel is on. Still, I cannot shake the feeling that we could be ripe for a possible double cross in the end. That would be fun. One thing is clear. Jor-El still has his fingers into Lionel which explains a lot but that does not mean Lionel is completely under his control. Lionel might be 100% good now but it's also possible he is just playing along and will try and pull a fast one in the end. I hope he turns out to be good. I really like the possibility that somehow knowing Clark Kent and interacting with him has taken what was once a vile and evil man and turned him into a good person. Well have to wait and see where all the chips fall I guess but imagine how that would add to the Clark/Lex relationship when Clark ends up having a closer relationship with Lex's father than Lex ever had. Oh yeah... Those chips could fall hard.

    I liked how they showed Lex and Lana's perceptions of Clark's actions. We see him as a hero trying to keep people from harm but they see a pushy kid who's quick to accuse. This could lead into the whole secret identity thing. Perhaps Clark will see a reason for him to keep his real name separate from his hero work. Here is a perfect example where he would have benefited. Lana would have reacted differently to Superman showing up at her house in a desperate attempt to find a secret lab with deadly viruses than she would her ex-boyfriend whom she just automatically assumes is up to no good.

    There were a few really great moments in this episode. I loved Chloe's reaction to Clark believing he saw his father's ghost. "Give me a cloak and call me Horatio" was a fantastically funny line that one could miss if they sneezed at the wrong time. I also loved her reaction to Clark showing up with Lionel in tow at the Daily Planet. Speaking of Chloe... Was it just me or was Lois trying to push her and Clark together there at the end? That could be an interesting twist for season six if handled well. Just a few words to the writers/producers should they decide to follow that story line. A person can have a good healthy relationship without angst that ends as the people just grow apart. That would be nice to see. It could be used to provide some closure on the Chloe crush story line as well. We know some day he will end up marrying her cousin so it'd be nice to see Chloe getting some closure on her feelings before that happens. Of course just having Chloe falling in love with someone else would work too and they could then focus on Clark and Lois growing closer to each other. Either way works for me. (Basically keep Lana in the done and over with category and I'll be just fine.)

    The other moment I loved was when Clark fought Fine's attempts to manipulate him. As I said in past reviews I have grown very tired of the stories where Clark is under someone else's control in some form. I was extremely and totally happy to FINALLY see Clark shoot down someone's attempt to control or manipulate him. Shoot him down literally with a nice heat vision blast. Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! Yes I admit it. I cheered. Heck I even hit the rewind and watched it again just so I could savor the moment. I've been waiting a long time to see that.

    The fact Prof. Fine was posing as Clark's recently departed father made the moment more emotionally powerful. You can imagine what Clark must have gone through. To not just refuse to kill but to also come to the realization that someone else was posing as his father takes a lot of fortitude on his part. I loved how they played catch with the tractor and how Lionel/Jor-El was able to stop Fine in the end (or maybe it would be more correct to say Fine-bot since it was more than likely one of the copies we saw a few episode's ago.)

    It is hard for me to say more on this episode. There was a lot there with movement on Prof. Fine's agenda and revelations that Zod may once again be coming but for the most part this is a cliffhanger that may not be resolved until next September. I find it hard to critically judge a story line that has yet to finish. I could say I loved the fact that Fine seemed to put something of himself into Lex but who knows how that will turn out. I can say I love the possibilities it brings and I can't wait to see how it turns out. So with that in mind it was a success. Should it end up turning Lex into a sliver bunny villain who delivers exploding eggs I might have to take that back but I do have confidence that the story is heading in a satisfying direction.

    So all things considered I had a good day as a Superman Fan. I was able to pause from my excessive drooling over the Superman Returns Trailer to watch an extremely good episode of Smallville. How can that be bad?

    I give this 5 out of 5 Stars. (I've been told my letter grades don't translate so well so I'll just go for the stars from now on but it's an A folks. This one is an A.)

    Next week looks like Lex-bot might get into a super throw down with Clark. I wonder how that's going to play out? I can't wait. Though since we're coming to the finale I am preparing myself to wait months to get the whole story. Arrg! Cliffhangers!

    Douglas "Doright" Trumble



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