Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 22: "Vessel"



Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

This episode brings up another interesting dilemma. The biggest thing I can say is that in the end it seemed very familiar. Any long time fan of the series will see clearly that some of the cliff hangers are very reminiscent of past cliff hangers, especially Clark in the Phantom Zone. We also have Lois and Martha Kent in trouble in the air and Lex being under Zod's control. Chloe and Lionel being dragged away by looters did help to add something new to the mix but not enough to escape the "been there - done that" feel. At least this time it is Lex under someone else's control and not Clark.

Now this is not to say the cliff hangers were bad. In fact this is where my dilemma comes in. Yes they do feel somewhat re-used but they were still pretty cool and in some ways an improvement over the similar situations in past episodes. Clark being sent away to the Phantom Zone is just intense and I like that more than the last time he was sent away to wherever it was he went that other time. The fact that Prof. Fine has Martha Kent and Lois Lane as prisoners is scary and who's going to save Lionel and Chloe? My money is on Lionel saving Chloe but we'll have to wait till next fall to find out (or spring for you southern hemisphere folks).

There was some good stuff but too much for one episode. One of Smallville's faults is saving too much for the finals. There was lot here that could have benefited by being stretched out a few episodes. The time it took for the world to fall into chaos was just too quick. Plus it would have been really cool to see Clark speeding around Metropolis trying to save people from the riots before realizing he had to go after Lex. Sure we did get to see him save Chloe by catching a car in a pretty cool scene but I think dealing with Fine's plot to cause riots and Zod's takeover of Lex could have each filled 45 minutes if they wanted to do that.

I like that they are still dealing with the whole should Clark kill question. It is a very powerful dilemma and I am very interested to find out how Clark saves the day without killing Lex. (We know he will not) Jor-El wants him to kill, Lionel wants him to kill, and even Chloe is on board this time. Clark is the only one who's saying no and when he saves the day another way, he'll show his true character and I am expecting it to be a great moment for the series. (Fingers crossed).

I absolutely love the Lionel Luthor story. Everything he does could just be him setting up a world class double cross or could mean he's really a good guy. I found it very interesting how he was honest about Lex's evil side to Clark and even backed Jor-El's plan to take Lex out. Now sure, all this could be an attempt to get closer to Clark whom Lionel is betting on winning. We know he tried to kill Lex before but I do get the feeling that he was twisted in such a way that he would only allow his son to be killed by him. He would have never allowed someone else to give the order. It could be that he is seeing this as a way to get Lex out of his way or he could honestly be willing to give up his son to save the world. It could go either way. I also couldn't help but notice how he stopped to let Chloe into his Limo during the riot, putting himself at more risk in the process. It could be just another attempt to win Clark's favor but yet I don't think Evil Lionel would have risked himself like that.

The only down side to the Lionel sub-plot would be the hints of a possible romance between him and Martha. I know I have said it before but I can't help but mention it again. I know the actors have chemistry. That I do not deny, but I do not like the idea one bit. Even if Lionel is fully reformed I do not like the idea. I am okay with a reformed Lionel developing a close friendship with the Kents. That would work real well, but actual romance with Martha? It's too soon after Jonathan's death for her to be having a relationship with anyone, much less Lionel Luthor. I hope they avoid that. I really do. Sorry. Now I am the one repeating myself.

I don't know how I was meant to react to Lana being in Zod's arms at the end. I guess I should have been worried about her or for her but I found myself more worried for Lois, Martha, Lionel and Chloe to be honest. I guess I just see Lana as Lex Luthor's girl now which I guess in some ways makes Lana just another villain for Clark to face in his life. Maybe it was the harsh way she treated Clark. I don't know. Knowing only what she knows, she had more than enough reason to act that way towards him so I guess I am being a bit too harsh on the character.

We see a bit of a super throw down between Lex and Clark but I get the feeling they are saving the big time power duel for next season. Still it was fun to see them toss each other about the barn. The down side was knowing Lex will not remember any of it once the story line is wrapped up. That's too bad. Unless Fine somehow convinces Lex that he gave Clark powers too there is no other way besides memory loss.

Now onto my favorite moment that I just want to gush about. I admit it. I am kind of a softy for good romance. At least romance in the action hero style and this episode had a great classic action hero romance moment that I loved. Chloe kissed Clark and more importantly Clark kissed her back. This was so awesome. I know it's not Lois but I still loved it. Why? Well I'll tell you. Because this is the first time since the show first aired that I saw Clark Kent in a true blue, honest to goodness, sweet as apple pie, romantic moment. I smiled and that is saying a lot considering I had a wisdom tooth pulled the day before watching the episode. It just felt good to see. No angst or tension. Sure there were some nice moments with Lana early in the season but this just had more of that feel good feeling. Nothing complicated. Just a hero going off to do the hero thing and a girl who loves him kissing him goodbye before he goes. Yeah I know Chloe is not his one and only for the future but it still felt good too see a romantic moment without any questions about angst, secrets, or lies. Even if they never touch the subject again I still enjoyed it and was glad they snuck it in there.

So despite the "been there - done that" feel of this episode I have to give it a good grade because, well, it was a good episode. So let's call it a 4 out of 5. (Brilliant! Not Boring! Big time action worthy of a high B! Maybe even a B+)

Now let me say a few words on the season as a whole. I enjoyed the ride this season but I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed. I was hoping to see a bit more of the "Superman in training" that was promised to us prior to the season beginning. Don't get me wrong. I liked what was there for the most part. There was a lot of progress made for both Clark and Lex on their journey to become who we know they will be. I just cannot help but feel like they could have had more. More time with Clark playing with the hero idea. More time showcasing Clark learning different ways to use his gifts to help others. More time spent in the Fortress of Solitude learning about Krypton. Hopefully we will see more of this next season when the show moves to its new network.

And a finally I have to rant about product placement in this episode. They just went too far this time. It is one thing to slip in a car or Accuview lenses but when you completely fill a show from start to finish with product placement it is just too much to stand! This week's episode was sponsored by some movie called Superman Returns and I could not help but notice the total and complete SHAMELESS way Smallville placed reminders for that product all over the episode. I mean seriously. A guy named Clark Kent who acts like a hero? Some bald guy doing evil things? Reference to a "Jor-El"? A gal called Lois Lane and even a newspaper building with a big ball on top of it? It never amazes me how low some people will stoop to sell a product.

Okay okay in all seriousness; Have a good summer, people in the Northern Hemisphere, and you Southern Hemisphere folks enjoy your winter. I hope to see you all next season. Don't forget to check out that Superman Returns movie in late June. If they were good enough to sponsor an episode of Smallville we should do our best to support it. I know I'll be there (more than likely several times).

Douglas "Doright" Trumble


Reviewed by: Neal Bailey


  • Holy...look out! The ground is exploding! Lex is being beamed up...
  • Lana's driving left and right, the electrical of the world is kaput.
  • Chloe's kissing Clark...Martha and Lionel nearly kiss.
  • Clark is imprisoned in the Phantom Zone
  • Ma and Lois take a plane ride. Milton's flying.
  • Zod is Lex. Which equals Zex. Which sounds dirty and French, but isn't.


    Well, I repeat myself. If you read my Infinite Crisis review, I pointed out about a million inconsistencies in the last issue, but nonetheless gave it a five. The overall character study and the general feeling of event made the issue for me. I just flat-out enjoyed it, despite the fact that Superman essentially surrounds himself in Kryptonite and has a fistfight.

    This finale was the same. Granted, there was less character, when it comes down to it, than Infinite Crisis, by a long-shot. But then, what was lost in character was made up in cool effects, an awesome dilemma, and, dare I say it, CHARACTER motion?

    Granted, it's motion that, true to form, will likely be reversed in the very first episode of next season, provided the show gets picked up, but for now, it's a good series of dilemmas (ignoring Martha and Lois).

    The beginning scared me. I thought we were going into yet another ripoff plot. A giant shadow begins moving across the screen, and we realize, the aliens are about to obliterate the White House. Oh noes!

    Just like last year, there are strange lights in the sky. Clark sees them, but if you recall, his previous response was, "LIGHTS IN THE SKY! Must be Jor-El!"

    Now, it's "Eh. Must be the finale." He just shuts the door and walks in to check on the cows. It's so funny, it almost makes up for the fact that Clark is taking part in inaction. If that's not a contradiction...he's ignoring the obvious in a world where the extraordinary is ordinary, where a dude with a space ship is gunning for you.

    Must be because he's feeding Shelby. Yeah, Shelby! Well, Shelby, and the horses they never really had before. It's like, "Oh! We need a scene where the horses are disturbed by something."

    "But, uh, they don't have horses. Not that we've seen anyway."

    "Yeah, we better skip that idea."

    "Oh yeah! There is the blessed horse that kicked Lana!"

    "I'd forgotten! We owe it a favor. That's it. The scene goes in, plausibility be *%@$ed!"

    Either way, still neat.

    Cut to a scene of Lex and Lana sleeping together. Sexual? Eh. Who cares? I still don't buy that Lex would want to be with a gal like Lana, who really doesn't have anything to offer him beyond beauty, being a man of intellect, but then, whatever. It's okay if they have sex on every surface of the house by me, because it's really not going to alter either of their characters. Lana and Lex are not everything to anyone at all, unlike Clark. There is the issue of character consistency. First Lana is living with a guy for months and not doing anything beyond making out, then she's with Lex for what, two weeks, and having sex with him (implied)?

    But if there's anything this show teaches us, it's that Lana is one thing when it's convenient, and another thing entirely when it's convenient not to be that thing she was.

    The angel-whore, forgive the term, but that's the expression. Everything to everyone in that BAD way, unlike Clark-as-Superman.

    Lex gets up, and suddenly has a headache. Talk about entering opposite land! They have sex (presumably), THEN Lex, as opposed to Lana, gets a headache. That's kind of funny too, in that it's true and it actually happened, without trying to be funny.

    He staggers around the room, apparently realizing that he's dating Lana Lang.

    He jumps into the car and drives off, but she follows him. It's like the scene in episode 100, except now it's hideously ironic. Instead of a problem Lana manufactures leading to her own death, Lex is dealing with a real-life problem that compels him to speed away in a hurry.

    Lana catches a Porsche in an SUV, whoever knows how, and both, per their typical standard, drive while on a cell phone at high speeds doing incredibly stupid things.

    Lex has an excuse, and unstoppable compunction. I guess Lana has an excuse too. Sigh. Still, funny to see them making the same mistakes again. That's character development for you.

    The gas chimes begin now. Lana drives what appears to be a mid-size SUV. I've been using 20 bucks per trip from Smallville to Metropolis or vice versa, but I don't think that's fair with Lana's vehicle. Figure she drives 180 miles, and the average SUV gets 20 miles a gallon, which is generous. Some get 12. That's nine gallons per trip, so 27 bucks. I'll say 25.

    Sure, Lex is likely picking up her tabs right now, but we don't KNOW that, and a woman as strong, independent, beautiful and as PERFECT as Lana Lang is wouldn't need to rely on a man now, would she, being as independent and strong and perfect and beautiful as she is?

    That's 25 dollars from the pocket of a beautiful, independent, strong, perfect, face it, AMAZING woman who just spent the last of her feeble savings on drugs.

    Lex enters 1979 cam, which, if you've seen the video for 1979, you get. The "I'm gonna puke" cam, where they strap the apparatus to the character. Given that it's never been used in Smallville before, it's something new, but it's also pretty disorienting and a bit out of place. I'm not sure what I think of it, but it goes to Lex's situation.

    Already, I'm seriously wondering what the heck is going on. The characters are just running around in a field screaming...then the field starts exploding.

    Nods of approval. Hopefully, angels would come in on ropes singing "GOODBYE, LANAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" or some such, while Doritos appeared magically in the laps of every viewer, but alas, I had to take simple, massive, continuing explosions. I dig it.

    The spaceship appears, and Lex beams up, KABOOM! The Zod symbol, on the ground. Very cool, very exciting, I'm REALLY into the episode at this point.

    Lana, intelligent, wise, and capable, decides the best thing to do to take care of the fact that Lex has disappeared is run right into the wake of the giant spaceship and let whatever it's emitting wash over her.


    Now WHY does the ship leave the mark of Zod on the ground, leaving a clue for anyone dealing with this situation to handle? Dunno, don't care. It's actually just cool looking, and I'll leave it at that. I still have to point out that it makes no sense at all.

    Lionel pops over to tell Martha that she's getting to be an important person now. Martha's got no plane to take her to the education conference, so Lionel offers up his personal plane. He then puts the mack on and almost kisses Martha.

    Infuriating. Totally infuriating. It is, as I mentioned, a half-@$&ed attempt by the writers to craft arbitrary drama. Lionel put a gun to his head to save Martha's life. He's playing lip service to redeeming himself, and offering fatherly advice to Clark.

    I guess that means he's a good guy, huh!

    Well, yeah. Except last year he tried to kill his son, also Chloe, and has constantly done everything he can to destroy the family and their friends.

    I don't even have to explain it. You all know. They're just playing the Martha Lionel chemistry, which is THERE, I admit, but then, it'd be like Lex and Clark making out just because there's tension when they're together. Some people want it, yeah, but does it make ANY sense at all?

    First off, the entire scene should have been a phone call. People don't show up to other people's houses just to talk. Especially really busy businessmen.

    Second off, everything Martha and Lois does in this episode is arbitrary, infuriating, and has no point at all. It should all have been cut. It's an obligatory way to put characters in danger. Which really sucks, because we know both characters will not die, or are especially likely not to die. It's like when Lex was poisoned. Oooh. I wonder if he survived. (Faux dramatic silence).

    Chloe and Lionel are the only cliffhanger deaths that would have ANY credibility at all, and honestly, Chloe's has already been done.

    This episode, unlike other cliffhangers, managed to avoid most of the clichè "Oooh! Will he/she die?" open-ended scenes, save with Martha and Lois. Would have been perfect without it, and allowed for a longer Clark/Lex fight. If anything, this is the major detraction in this episode besides the constant and multiple inconsistencies.

    Lana goes to Chloe to tell her what happened to Lex.


    First, she doesn't go to Clark, the person who knows what is going on and seems to know what Lex is getting into. But even before that, her friend just walked into a cornfield that started exploding, was beamed into a space ship, and she doesn't call the COPS? I mean, yeah, they might laugh her out of the room, but why go to a friend with BIG, BIG stuff like that? A friend that, as far as she knows, has no powers or abilities beyond anyone else.

    They have a chat about what's going on.

    "I KNEW he was getting in too deep!" Lana spouts.

    Which sounds really dramatic watching it. Then you think about it...and thinking is BAD in this show. What happened last week? Anyone remember? Because I do.

    Last week, Clark tried to warn Lana about what Lex was doing and how dangerous it was. He told her that Lex needed to be saved, and that she should stay away from him if he persists in this dangerous course of action.

    What was Lana's response? Anyone remember?


    And what was she doing for the last half of this season? Anyone?

    Yeah. She was goading Lex on in the pursuit of the spaceship and Milton Fine. In other words, she didn't know he was getting too deep, she just pushed him off the edge.


    Because this is Lana, and because Lana is always practically perfect in every way, she gets to take credit for having done what Clark and Chloe did, even though her staggering lack of efficacy in dealing with Lex's recent disappearance drove her to drive three hours to speak to Chloe instead of making a simple phone call, leaving Lex in danger for three MORE hours while nothing is done to try and help him.

    Ka-CHING! That's 50 bucks spent by a poor college student moron on gas.

    Chloe, in response, drives to Smallville. Yeah. Really. She drives to Smallville to talk to Clark in person instead of giving him a call. That's another three hours Lex is in danger, and

    Ka-CHING! That's 75 bucks spent by poor college students on gas.

    Clark and Chloe talk about what's happening, and try to figure out a course of action. They study the facts, and try and figure out a course of action.

    1) Jor-El blackmails Clark into doing what he says, constantly.

    2) Jor-El is responsible for Clark not having information about what his actions would cause, and subsequently, he put a key in his ship that killed his fetus brother/sister.

    3) Jor-El gave his dad powers that he couldn't handle, and then subsequently saved Clark's life without Clark's consent, causing an imbalance in nature that resulted in Jonathan's death.

    4) Jor-El murdered a little girl to try and make Clark do what he wanted.

    5) Jor-El never warned Clark about Zod until it was nearly too late, and at that, he still pretty much failed to warn Clark in any effective way.

    BUT, Jor-El, through an indirect medium of Clark's worst enemy, Lionel, managed to make him write something down in a fugue in anagram form that says "ZOD IS COMING" without any way to stop him whatsoever.

    Armed with this information, Clark and Chloe come to the ONLY POSSIBLE CONCLUSION. Maybe, all this time, Jor-El was really trying to protect them! Let's go to the Fortress!


    Clark goes to the Fortress, because it's the finale, and that's when he goes to the Fortress. Inside, Jor-El gives Clark a little background, finally. Zod destroyed Krypton through his machinations, and Milton Fine (still not named Brainiac) is a mechanical construct that will not stop until Zod is returned to life. So here, son! Take my Krypto-shiv and PWN him, verily! You must KILL the vessel.

    Clark shrugs. Aight. Kill Lex. Sure.

    Then he turns around. "Hey, wait! Brainiac just did that last week, and he's a bad guy! So you must be a bad guy too, if you're trying to get me to kill!"

    No, wait. That didn't happen. Curses.

    But the repeat plot did. Curses.

    I actually agree with Clark killing Lex as the vessel of Zod, as Superman even. My take is that Superman kills, but ONLY as a last resort and only in self-defense after clear warning. He threw Brainiac back to the start of time. He threw Doomsday to the end of time. He wiped Imperiex from existence and distributed him throughout the sands of the universe. He does that, when need be. If it's life or death, Superman will put someone down, and he would definitely off Lex to save the world.

    But that's not the point. That may be known, but that's not what happens. Superman instead finds a way to save the world without having to murder, because that's what Superman is good at. This is something that Our Worlds At War missed, and something that Smallville has missed for the last two weeks now.

    How about, "Hey, Kal! Here's a Phantom Zone generator. Put Fine in it."

    And what about the fact that stabbing one Zod proxy would only solve the first problem until Fine found another host?

    I also don't like the fact that they mention that Zod has no body and thusly needs a host. Really? So they know a way to separate the body and soul, huh? First, that pre-assumes the existence of a soul, which is just plain silly for a scientific race like Krypton. Second-off, it makes Jor-El even MORE of a villain, given that if he has the ability to disembody souls with weak bodies and he just let Jonathan die, he's a royal $#%@.

    He disembodied Zod just to put him in jail instead of killing him, but Jonathan is allowed to die? Huh?

    Also, how will Zod appear in the future? Always with a host? That kind of makes him the Shadow King instead of Zod.

    Chloe goes from Smallville to Metropolis again, where Clark and Chloe discuss what he should do. Should he kill Lex? Should he not? Clark leans toward not, learning a bit from, what was it, LAST WEEK.

    Lana hears two abstract words while eavesdropping. "Kill" and "Lex" and automatically assumes and takes as gospel that Clark is dedicated wholly to killing Lex.

    Rather than walking over and asking Clark WHY he wants to kill Lex, she turns around, DRAMATICALLY (read: arbitrarily) and stomps out. Because Lord knows, Lana has learned over five years that not confronting a problem and simply brooding on it solves it.

    Clark, back in Smallville, puts the Krypto-shiv into a drawer in the barn, where any idiot can find it. THAT is funny.

    Lionel sneaks up on the guy with super-hearing, surprising him as he hides the super-secret Krypto-shiv in plain sight.

    Lionel, good dad that he is and always has been, gives Clark a morality tale about how what he's doing is right, and how he's a good person for saving the lives of others. It's almost as if it were coming out of Jonathan Kent's mouth.

    HEY! Wait a minute! It IS Jonathan's speech! They just don't have Jonathan any more, because they KILLED him without a reason, really. So now, Lionel, the man who poisoned his own son, had sex with his son's girlfriend, blew up Chloe's house, blackmailed Jonathan for his son's adoption papers (the list is long and you know it) is suddenly a father figure.

    His line is, I kid you not, "The real test of a hero, son, is..."

    Lionel Luthor says this. We're supposed to buy it. The murderer is giving Clark a lesson on what it means to be a hero, and it helps Clark. Seriously. Can they spit on Jonathan any more?

    Then, Clark reveals that his only option to stop the "vessel" is to kill it. And guess what? It's LEX!

    Lionel drops, sits, his mouth opens, and he seems to have lost his wind. This despite the fact that on multiple occasions he's tried to kill Lex himself. Well, hey, nothing like character consistency.

    This episode was nearly 44 minutes long. So that's where the other 2 minutes went on the other episodes. I'll take it!

    Lionel finds Lex's field where he was abducted. How, without Lana telling him where it is? No one knows. He just found it. And he found it, but no one else found it in the AT LEAST six hours that had elapsed since Lex disappeared and woke up in the field. Implausible.

    What happens next is just diabolically awful, and almost spiked the whole show for me. Lex wakes up with Clark's powers (no problem there, I mean, it's not really likely given that he's human, but this show has a precedent for it), and immediately lashes out at his dad on accident, LAUNCHING him into his car horizontally and at super-speed.

    If you watch it, and I did about four times, I would estimate the distance (and my eye is pretty good right now, I've been shooting a bow a lot of late) at about 80 yards. That's 80 yards in about, say, half a second. If you figure that's 160 yards a second, which is a mile in 11 seconds, and round that down to a mile in 10 seconds, that means that Lionel was going approximately 360 miles an hour. He took the full force of 360 miles an hour on his face.

    I sat up, uttered an expletive, and dropped my pen.

    "Holy *%$@. They just killed Lionel."

    I said to myself, this just became the best finale yet. Lex Luthor, on a quest for power, accidentally kills Lionel. It's like Anakin and Palpatine with Mace, really. The temptation of power leading to his undoing.

    Lionel has the open eyes, the slack expression, he's dead.


    He then rolls off the car and gets up.

    The moan I give out is heard approximately forty miles away.

    Lionel Luthor impacted a windshield at 360 miles an hour. THIS, on the show where a head impacting with a banister at low speed will knock you out. Where TRIPPING knocks you out. He impacts a windshield at 360 miles an hour and ISN'T EVEN KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS. He breaks no bones, and later in the episode is spry enough hours later to haul Chloe into a limo.

    BULL*%$@. I'm sorry, but BULL*%$@. That is complete and utter BULL*%$@.

    Again, Smallville presents a chance at real, good change. Lionel's death is a springboard for a number of storylines (as is Jonathan's death, if handled appropriately, which it was not). Here is a PERFECT way to do it. They even DO it. Like with Lana. And then, afraid of actual character development, afraid of taking any risks, they pull it back.

    THIS is the critical flaw with Smallville. What MADE Smallville, what gave it such a fanatical fanbase that still largely clings, is the promise of a coherent story offered by the first and second seasons. They were willing to overlook freaks in order to see just how Lex becomes evil, how Lionel dies, how Chloe works her way out of the Superman mythos, how Clark fares with Lana.

    Instead Lex remains a benign, mostly good entity. Lionel is alive long past when he should be dead. Chloe is now a staple. Clark and Lana are so inconsistent it's laughable.

    People used to yell at me when I'd suggest that Lionel would live past season three. They'd suggest Lex would be evil by, at the latest, third season.

    And they were right. That's when it would have been plausible, and should have happened. They've maintained the status quo long after it was past its prime with scenes like this one, indicative of the larger problem, and that alone above all is the reason why this show has jumped the shark, on beyond witches and stones and crappy vampire ripoffs.

    Every scene that rubs that in our face is an abomination to the faith we put into this production that has since been flattened.

    So yeah. Cool effect.

    Implausible, awfully cheap, and wrong.

    Lex, instead of taking his father to the hospital, speeds away. That's pretty cold. Not out of character for Lex, but then, how did Lionel live? How did he get to the hospital? We're supposed to believe after that he drove himself?

    Lana drives back to Smallville to rifle through Lex's things. When Clark rifled through her things LAST EPISODE, remember what happened? The fifth degree. Then Lana does it, and nothing at all is said.

    Ah, Lana, you're amazing..

    Oh, and by the way, you just took another three hour drive to Smallville. Ka-CHING! That's a hundred bucks on gas from poor college students.

    Lex grabs a gun, shoots himself in the hand, and Lana bursts into tears. Why? He's not bleeding. He's not even hurt. He shows her the bullet, and she immediately accepts that Lex has powers without a second glance.

    Why would Lex think himself invulnerable to bullets? He knows he has a healing factor, but has no reason to believe a bullet wouldn't go through his hand, and really, really hurt. Maybe a paper cut first?

    Dramatic, nonetheless, and leads to Lana holding his hand to see he has powers, a clear and awesome homage to Superman II. Loved it. Makes the whole implausibility of the scene melt away, actually.

    This scene also illustrates the morally superior Lex. They make a point of emphasizing how good Lex is, or how good he tries to be, at very least. Here, he immediately tells Lana his secret, whereas dirty, nasty, evil Clark doesn't tell Lana at all. This is counter-intuitive if Lex is to be a villain. This is the year where Lex went WHOLLY EVIL. By mid-season, everyone hated him. Clark even punched him out on the ASSUMPTION that he MIGHT have done something to his family.

    Now, he tells Lana that he would never lie to her, ever ever, and we're supposed to believe it. Furthermore, he's back to being a good guy, largely, thinking of what these powers he has can do to benefit humanity immediately.


    Lois and Martha, on the plane, enjoy the amenities. Lois remarks to Martha about how Lionel is spoiling her, and about what she can expect in the future. Basically eggs her on to get with Lionel.

    Ah, what a feminist icon. Because, as you know, the best possible way to assert feminine equality is to have that character promote dependence on a sugar daddy. First the crazy guy who tried to kill her a few episodes back, now pushing it on Martha right after they had a conversation about how biker butthead guys aren't the best kind of mates. Makes you think she's being portrayed as shallow, doesn't it. Because she is.

    Bear with me, this next section is nothing you haven't heard before, but I ended up taking half a page of notes on the Lana passive aggressive confrontation scene here. They're always at their worst in a finale.

    Lana storms into Lex's office as Clark stands there, looking for Lex, to protect him from Zod. She informs him that Lex has flown the coop. Clark wants to know where he is.

    Lana: "How do I know you won't hurt him?"

    Clark: "You know me."

    Read the above. Duh, right? Then Lana says:

    Lana: "No, I don't!"

    Well, who DO you know then? Five years, fifty breakups. Heck, even assume that you haven't been with Clark a bojillion times in a bojillion situations, you KNOW that he never sets out to hurt ANYONE. Even when he hurt Lana by saying that he didn't love her, she would believe (or could only assume) that wasn't him purposefully trying to hurt her, it was him being honest. And though we know he did it as a lie, he did it to PROTECT HER, not to HURT her.

    Lana is, if you note, in a low-cut shirt. Apparently she changes clothes to be more sexual when with Lex, more "mature" when living with men but not having sex with them, and "girly" when dating homicidal sociopaths like Adam Knight or high school good boys like Whitney. You might say, given dangly earrings, low cut shirts, witch outfits, girly clothes, she has an ever-changing fashion sense, right? That she has many different sides to her character's fashion?

    Then there's the fact that one week she loves Lex, after hating him the week previous. Same with Clark. And Chloe. And Lois. Heck, everyone. She's a druggie one week, and an astute student the next. She can handle a car payment, but spends her savings on drugs.

    Clark? He wears plaid and a red coat. Constantly. He's always trying to help people, never really changing except when unduly influenced by the drug of red K. He never had a dangly earring phase. He's always just flat loved Lana, whereas Lana has loved Clark, not loved Clark, loved Whitney, Adam, Jason, Lex, Magneto...

    Clark is consistent.

    Lana's next line, after he asserts that his usual behavior is NOT to hurt people, and thusly he's not hurting Lex? "You have all these different sides to you, and how can I tell which one is the real you?"

    Well, let's see, Lana. How about by looking at the POT and the KETTLE. Her character is the one that changes and has multiple sides. Clark's is consistent.

    Lana tells a lie of ignorance. It's a Lana secret and lie, and I'll explain.

    I walk into a room. I see Steve Younis jumping up and down on a straw doll of Neal Bailey. I give a pout, turn, and walk out of the room.

    I then go around to all of my friends and say that Steve Younis is trying to kill me with Voodoo. Steve! How do I know you won't hurt me? (He's never threatened me once, and only has my best interests at heart, that's why.) You have all these different sides to your personality, Steve, how can I tell which one is the real you?" (Because I've known him to be consistent for six years).

    What should I have done? I should have said, "Uh, Steve, why are you stomping on an effigy of me?"

    To which he would have replied, "It's a pork rind piata I made you for your birthday! It accidentally caught fire, so I was putting it out."

    I'd then hit the piata and eat my pork rinds and solve the problem.

    But by going around and telling everyone that Steve was trying to kill me with voodoo, I was wrong. I was telling a lie of IGNORANCE.

    So too, Lana. She heard Clark discussing whether or not he had to kill Lex to stop him, and made up a bunch of crap. Clark never explicitly said he was going to kill Lex, or that he had to.

    So when Lana freaks out about how inconsistent and weird Clark is being, and when she accuses him of inconsistency and claims she doesn't know him while asking him who he really is, his brow furrows. Her response?

    "You don't trust me!" As if this is an odd prospect.

    Well, let's see, Lana. You lied about Jason, about Adam, about Magneto. Heck, you even lied to Whitney about loving Clark, and lied to Clark about loving Clark. And what, three weeks ago, you lied to Clark about your relationship with Lex. Furthermore, you didn't tell Clark about Lex's disappearance, who was actively on the Lex's problem case last week, you told Chloe.

    Why should he trust you?

    Clark remains quiet, trying to figure this out, no doubt, and failing.

    She gives him an ultimatum. "If you ever loved me, tell me what's going on!"

    Because, you know, the absolute BEST way to foster positive and productive communication is a threatening ultimatum.

    Clark refuses to tell her, not because he's a lying two-face, but because he knows she's just going to get herself hurt with her foolishness, first off, and second off, she doesn't give him enough time before she spouts, "I don't know how I could have ever loved you!" and stomps out, still the best way to solve any conflict.

    You know what? I %&#$ing HATE the Lana character so much. So very much. It's like putting a cheese grater on my knees and being asked to enjoy the ride. It's like being thrown into a windshield at 360 miles an hour.

    WHO in the HE@% FINDS THIS ENTERTAINING? It's like Bush and newspapers, it has to be. Al and Miles must be in this room where no one ever speaks to them. Otherwise, any idiot would tell them how moronic Lana's character is, how annoying, how inconsistent. Even the most cursory examination shows this. They continue to fetishize her regardless, this the product of yes-men, and the decline of art.

    Checking message boards is a sad thing to do. If you're an artist, you should trust your work, and not let readers or viewers sway you from what you do. Regardless, if you NEVER take a peek, that's just as bad as listening to every little thing a fan says and taking it to heart, because both result in a corrupted product.

    Lana is tearing this show apart. Other things do as well, don't get me wrong, but an inconsistency with one show is a variance that can be challenged. Lana never, in any capacity, is diminished as a liability to this show. Period. Not for the last three and a half YEARS. She has offered NOTHING to this show beyond the vapid fifteen-year-old girl demographic, and I don't need a woven bucket of her CRAP tossed in my mouth in the middle of pinnacle moment of the season, the finale.

    It, like Lionel's "death," almost ruined this excellent episode for me.

    From here on out though, things get better. Glad they got it out of the way before the windup.

    Fine and Clark, squared off. One last chance to turn himself into Zod and save the world. You know Clark's response. Go Fine yourself.

    Fine chides him about humans being his weakness, and that he knows as much. It's awesome, because that's Zod's discovery in Superman II as well, and echoes a true sentiment. The sadistic choice that always comes of being a sucker for saving people.

    Humans, Clark's only weakness. How did he know? And just then, Doogie Howser stole his car.

    Fine blasts the world with a virus that knocks out the technology for every electrical grid and flat-out tears up most of the infrastructure of the world.

    FINALLY, the character of BRAINIAC appears in Smallville. If not in name, in practicel. Not a T2 style metal knife guy. Not a multiple man. Not a stinking professor. The COMPUTER that asserts dominance by tearing things up with computer technology. THAT is Brainiac.

    Chloe aptly calls it "Y2K on acid", referencing the comic perhaps. Cool in-joke.

    The Kryptonian font has now been seen across the world. That's...something.

    So get this. The ENTIRE electrical grid for Metropolis goes down. Clark and Chloe then listen to reports of the death and destruction on the radio.

    Read that again. Enjoy the laugh.

    "Plausibility! My only weakness!" That's okay, Al! We have Acme Brand Plot Holes!

    Clark stops a car that blasts through the window with his hand. AWESOME effect. Somebody could have seen it, but feh. Too cool to complain.

    Chloe kisses him. Great moment. Too long in coming. Needed to happen earlier. Hopefully next season starts with a Chloe relationship, and Lana is truly gone from his life with her passive aggressive crap and her low cut shirts and her fancy big-city talk.


    A guy can hope, can't he?

    Seriously, I just keep pulling the, rewinding the tape recorder and watching that scene again and again. It's sincere, it's beautiful, it's selfless. It's what Superman should be. It's probably the only moment of the show that I can say has been truly romantic, in the way that I define it.

    Fine is piloting the plane with Lois and Martha. Tense reveal. Dramatic. You then immediately realize that there's no reason at all not to crash the plane, and he's instead placing them in an overly elaborate and easily escapable trap. And then it sucks.

    Clark meets up with Lex, who's acting a little funny. This means that somehow, after the premiere, he will forget everything that happens, including Clark tossing him through a girder. Which is lame. It has to be, but it involves no risk, and thus no dramatic tension for an audience prepared for and expecting it.

    Lex revels in his success with Lana, after pointing out (fairly) how Clark lied and lied and lied constantly, and never had to deal with the consequences. It further gives us sympathy for Lex's actions while pointing out why Clark acting un-Superman-y in a Superman show is just patently stupid.

    He throws Lex into stuff, and Lex's response? Not like when he saw Clark catch a car before having his memory wiped. Remember that? Blank awe and fear, sitting on the ground, out of his mind with shock. Here?

    "I knew there was something strange about you, Clark!" Commence fight again.


    Speaking of which, the fight didn't last nearly long enough. Clark turns, sees Fine goading them on, and tosses the knife into Fine. Which then, uh, releases Zod.

    Now, bearing in mind that it's utterly ridiculous that Jor-El wouldn't have warned Clark that the blade touching Fine would lead to releasing Zod, we can't accept this principle at first. At last, however, if Brainiac knew that getting stabbed would release Zod, why not simply stab himself with the knife? Not too hard to do.

    It's a way to show Clark standing up for Lex and turning down murder. I get that. But why not have the power from the world be what Fine needed to release Zod? Or any number of things. A knife stabbing Fine releasing Zod? I don't get it.

    Maybe I missed something. I doubt it.

    Either way, I don't really care in the end, because then we get to see Rosenbaum on his game. Not only is he incredible at playing Lex, he's even BETTER at playing Zod. How he can be better than he already is, I have no idea, but he pulls it off.

    Will Sabel Courtney called it the Zex. I like that. I'm gonna run with it.

    It's like you take the cool and calculating part of Rosenbaum's Lex, and you marry it with a genocidal freak. That's Zex. And it's just...I got goosebumps. It was incredible. From "Your father's eyes" to the raw treachery in his every motion. Wow.

    He knows Clark's weakness for people, which he shouldn't, but okay. I'll take it.

    Zod: "Blah blah blah...unless you join me!"

    Clark: "I'll never join you!"

    Star Wars culture ripoff number 9,543,095. They've met quota!

    Zod, in response to Clark not joining him, tosses out a Phantom Zone ring. It goes off into space, and sucks Clark in. You have to watch it a few times to get that, because it's not very plain at first. It looks like Clark runs off into it. A little of Clark pulling and trying not to be sucked away would have helped that effect. A lot.

    Gotta love stock riot footage. I mean, how hard would it be to take the debris and people from the "Metropolis" riot scene and put them in a different neighborhood? I guess a lot more.

    Chloe apparently just randomly runs through the streets of Metropolis in the riot for no real reason.

    Lionel apparently drives to Metropolis in his limo for no real reason except to save...uh...Chloe, the girl he tried to kill in revenge two years back, and the girl he's had no contact with this episode.

    Chloe sees the door open, and instead of going, "Uh, martial law, and here's the dude that wants to kill me!" hops right in.

    The riot is overstated, and goes on for a long time. We get the idea that there's a riot. We don't need Chloe running through it forever to figure that out.

    Lana meets Lex on the rooftop. When Lex turns around, my heart nearly leapt out of my chest. Scary as all get-out.

    Lana drove all the way to Metropolis to meet with him. Ka-CHING, that's 125 bucks out of the pockets of starving college students.

    Lana wanders through the streets, karate kicking people with Lana Fu. Because it's not enough that she's everything to everybody, she just suddenly remembers all that whip-kicking she forgot all season for what must be an attempt at interesting action that fails because we know the character trying to kick butt in no way kicks butt. She's wholly dependent on others for the most part to be saved from most any given situation.

    She also runs into a burning building. Bright!

    How does Zod know about Lana's rendezvous with Lex? Acme brand plot hole!

    Still, it's all made up for by the roof visual.

    Even ZOD loves Lana. I guess that says something about Lana. Zod sees Lana, instant kinship, and a kiss. I buy it.

    And Clark, spinning, spinning, spinning...into space. Goodbye, Clark!

    Actually, that's a TON of great action without crappy dilemmas, and yeah, it's implausible, but even I admit it's one heck of a ride.

    My gut for this episode speaks beyond my evisceration of it, which I think is a fair evisceration. I'm gonna say, because of Lionel's death, and because of Lana, minus a point. Otherwise, looking beyond all of the crap, I proffer a 4 of 5.

    Before you go, don't forget to check out the CONTEST below!


    An exploding cornfield and transporter technology lead to someone being thrown at 360 miles an hour into a windshield. Sounds awesome, and should be awesome, but that person didn't die. Lana passive aggression, yeah. But then, LEX AS ZOD, the world in chaos, Clark spinning off into the distance, a ton of great, crazy stuff only slightly undermined by the inconsistencies. Go with a 4 of 5.


    Each year I take my old ratings and re-evaluate based on my shaky memory of the episodes in question and how they impact me now. This is just in case, in retrospect, I was too easy or too hard on the episode at the time. It's to please the folks who say I'm too easy or too hard on a given episode, and just to show that time changes things (duh).

    So, without adieu!

    Ratings for this season:

    • Arrival: 4.5 of 5.
    • Mortal: 4 of 5.
    • Hidden: 2.5 of 5.
    • Aqua: 2.5 of 5.
    • Thirst: 2 of 5.
    • Exposed: 1.5 of 5.
    • Splinter: 2.5 of 5.
    • Solitude: 4.5 of 5.
    • Lexmas: 4 of 5.
    • Fanatic: 2 of 5.
    • Lockdown: 1 of 5.
    • Reckoning: 2.5 of 5.
    • Vengeance: 2 of 5.
    • Tomb: 1.5 of 5.
    • Cyborg: 4 of 5.
    • Hypnotic: 1 of 5.
    • Void: 3 of 5.
    • Fragile: 4 of 5.
    • Mercy: 3.5 of 5.
    • Fade: 1 of 5.
    • Oracle: 2 of 5.
    • Vessel: 4 of 5.
    That's an average of 2.591. Last season's average was 2.63, largely considered the worst season of Smallville. And you'll note, for this whole season, there were NO 5 ratings. Not a single episode lacked significant flaw. Even season four got three five rating episodes.

    So yeah, this season interacted with the mythos more, I grant it that, but honestly, on a whole, it was WORSE than last season in terms of over all efficacy. Building on the failures of last year? Maybe. Or perhaps it's getting worse but we're inured because we've already been dealing with a less quality-driven show for two years now. I just know my numbers don't lie for me.

    This season we had:

    2 4.5 of 5s

    5 4 of 5s

    1 3.5 of 5

    1 3 of 5

    4 2.5 of 5s

    4 2 of 5s

    2 1.5 of 5s

    3 1 of 5s

    Season four had five one ratings. That's pretty bad. But it averaged that out with a few three rating episodes, and a number of fives. This series, if you look, the broad spectrum of what was seen is in the range of below average. 13 of the 22 episodes were BELOW average. That's one MORE than even season four.

    So when it comes down to it, yes, there was a better sub-plot this season, but all in all, it's WORSE than season four for overall impact. That says a lot to me.

    Compare that to the last few years:

    Season four:

    5 1 of 5s

    2 1.5 of 5s

    4 2 of 5s

    1 2.5 of 5

    3 3 of 5s

    1 3.5 of 5

    3 4 of 5s

    3 5 of 5s

    (2.63 average)

    Season three:

    2 1 of 5s

    2 2 of 5s

    1 2.5 of 5

    2 3 of 5s

    3 3.5 of 5s

    3 4 of 5s

    3 4.5 of 5s

    6 5 of 5s

    (3.66 average)

    Season two:

    0 1 of 5s,

    7 2 of 5s,

    1 3 of 5s,

    1 3.5 of 5

    4 4 of 5s,

    10 5 of 5s.

    1 6 of 5, if you count ferrets.

    (3.76 average, 3.80 if you count ferrets)

    Season one:

    6 5 of 5s,

    9 4 of 5s,

    1 3.5 of 5

    3 3 of 5s,

    2 2 of 5s

    (3.92 average)

    Quality continues to decline. It's gone from an ABOVE AVERAGE SHOW (3.92 average) to BELOW AVERAGE TO AVERAGE (2.5) in its run.

    For reasons, see my 110 reviews.

    HOWEVER, the re-review of last season brought the average to 2.43, which is less than this year's average. Let's see what the re-review does to this year. I do this by reading the episode summary and then rating it based on what I remember, not what I wrote.

    Episode 1: "Arrival"

    The premiere for this series offered us Kryptonians who couldn't fly, a ton of inconsistencies with police who insta-responded to the ship but somehow forgot all about it later. A few of the cops remember the episode later, but if you remember, that didn't exactly turn into great an episode. Rather, it was a rip-off of Panic Room.

    Introduction of the Phantom Zone, yes, but the inconsistencies weighed it down. I was overly kind out of premiere lust. Clark also loses his powers only to get them back far too quickly, for a reason that makes no sense.

    3.5 of 5.

    Episode 2: "Mortal"

    This is the episode where Clark loses his virginity out of wedlock, always a point of angry contention with me. It's also a story of three villains who harass the Kents. The wonder twins and electro man. I don't really remember too much about them, so they probably didn't resonate that well. Lionel goes to Belle Reve, an interesting part of the Zod plot, and Clark and Chloe talk about why Clark needs powers, so some good moments, but nothing I remember too well now. Typical fare.

    3 of 5.

    Episode 3: "Hidden"

    This is the Gabe story with the leap onto the missile and the kid who somehow manages to get to nuclear power when the whole of Iran would take ten years. It's also the episode that starts the ridiculous line of logic that a natural balance requires the end of a life. In retrospect, without the things that this episode did, this season would have fared much better. It takes the interesting premise of Clark losing his powers and turns it into a cheesy reason for Jonathan to die.

    2 of 5.

    Episode 4: "Aqua"

    I actually fondly remember this episode, even though I know there was a lot of henky stuff. It was the first time Lex really did something awful, and it also introduced another hero character, which worked for me. The attacks were implausible, as was the romance with Lois, but I think I might watch this one again some time, just for fun.

    5 of 5.

    Episode 5: "Thirst"

    All I remember about this episode is naked chicks eating a dude in a hot tub, Lana dying but not really dying, girl power, and drinking Clark's blood giving someone heat vision. Such crap I lost all the salient points after just a few months.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 6: "Exposed"

    Lois as a stripper, ah, what genius. A Russian murderer freak of the weak straight out of Triple X. The helicopter catch that would have killed everyone aboard. Yeah, pretty much sweeps trash and filler, as I recall.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 7: "Splinter"

    This is the episode that, just to be original on Smallville, mines kryptonite for a plot device. That was said in sarcasm. Silver Kryptonite, a substance that apparently makes Kryptonians paranoid, inflicts Clark with a fear that everyone is out to get him. Alas, this plot had already been done a bunch of times, so though it furthered the Brainiac plot a bit by making Fine known to be a Kryptonian, which was curious, otherwise it featured a very much repetitive plot that was cool the first time, but is hard to remember the second. Or third. Or fourth.

    2 of 5.

    Episode 8: "Solitude"

    This is what the second episode of this season should have been. Or maybe the third or fourth. Establish Fine, then get to this story. Instead, we had to wait half a season to get to the good stuff, which this is. Martha's life threatened, the Fortress, finally, a battle between Clark and Fine, and a ton of character motion. Easily one of the better episodes of the season. One of few.

    5 of 5.

    Episode 9: "Lexmas"

    After a month break, they treat us to a Christmas episode before another break, about how Lex has the potential to be good, but instead chooses evil, because being poor leads to less resources, power, and misery, even if you have love. The mother becomes a ghost warning figure, and though Clark saves Santa drunk, it's easily forgotten in the awesomeness of Lex.

    5 of 5.

    Episode 10: "Fanatic"

    A cheap opening with Lois shooting Jonathan that is later revealed to be cheap, another corny freak of the weak story, and so little substance that I can hardly remember anything else about it despite writing some 12 pages about it.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 11: "Lockdown"

    The one with the two security guards. A ripoff of Panic room, and the story of Lex and Lana's burgeoning romance not based in any logic whatsoever. Plus, on top of this, Clark saves Lana's life only to get crapped on seeing her with Lex.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 12: "Reckoning"

    This is a lynchpin episode of Smallville, meaning, it's one where things actually happen, character moves forward, and things are decided. Sadly, this is the decision that Pa Kent needs to die to "fix the balance of nature" which makes no sense at all. It also shows us the death of Lana, and makes Clark CHOOSE to purposefully take one life over another. Very un-Superman. Granted, the show is exciting to watch the first time. On successive viewings, knowing what it leads to, there's just a burning, slow anger. It didn't need to happen, and if it did, not like this.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 13: "Vengeance"

    One big contact lens commercial featuring a female Batman who kills. Clark just lets her get away with it. Oh. Great. All this AND an 8:50?

    1 of 5.

    Episode 14: "Tomb"

    Someone's in the Talon Wall and dead. This person was killed by a dude who can reincarnate people with bracelets, and then that person comes back to him and gets killed, and, uh, Kryptonite. That's about all I can remember of this crap. I wish I could forget more.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 15: "Cyborg"

    Another decent introduction of another Universe character. Another step for Lex towards evil that is played with a little class. A good character drama. Memorable, and something that I plan on viewing again at some point.

    5 of 5.

    Episode 16: "Hypnotic"

    A chick has the power to control minds, so does she get rich? Does she take over the world? No. She seduces farm boys in the middle of nowhere, works with Lex when she doesn't have to, and gets killed for it. How does this forward any of the characters? That's right. It doesn't.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 17: "Void"

    This is the Lana-centric episode where she turns into a junkie for no real reason to see her dead parents. I remember something cool about the return of Jonathan Kent, but Clark tells him that he chose to kill him, and there's no repercussions. Fine starts to heat up here, but not much. Also, Lionel is just allowed to parade around Martha and that's supposed to be cool because it's chemistry.

    2 of 5.

    Episode 18: "Fragile"

    Glass controlling dad and daughter go for a ride in Smallville. Basically Ryan all over again. Welling, however, manages to make it somewhat interesting in his directing debut, injecting character and humanity into a crappy plot with a repeated idea. For that alone, it deserves some credit. Still, just another average episode...

    3 of 5.

    Episode 19: "Mercy"

    Blatant Saw ripoff meets some decent Martha and Lionel character moments. There's a lot that doesn't make sense, but the end is almost strong enough to make up for it. Couple the good with the bad, another average episode.

    3 of 5.

    Episode 20: "Fade"

    Dude who we don't care about who can turn invisible tries to thank Clark by first trying to kill Lex, then trying to kill Clark. Clark and Lana have a big fight for no real reason, breaking up, and Lana goes to Lex. Yawn.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 21: "Oracle"

    By all means an attempt at a good episode, but in the end, so many inconsistencies and failures that it doesn't work. Milton Fine tries to con Clark into killing Lionel. Why? No one knows, and it doesn't make sense in the long-term, given that he can just toss a tractor at Lionel. Also, more Lana/Lex crap that makes no sense. Forgotten as of next week.

    1 of 5.

    Episode 22: "Vessel"

    An awesome finale with some flaws. Just wrote the review, gotta stand by it.

    4 of 5.

    Re-review average? 2.432.

    In other words, in retrospect, down to the decimal it gets the exact same rating as season four.

    The conclusion I draw from this is that this episode took a lot of flash and bang, a lot of mythos and some motion, and tried to distract us from the fact that the characters aren't changing, the plot isn't dynamic, the show is totally stagnant, and it STILL has jumped the shark.

    If it doesn't stop this, and I mean next season, the show will not make seven seasons. As it stands, I predict next year is the last anyway, barring some major changes.

    That means good stories when it's not a finale, a middle of the season break episode, or a hundredth episode.

    That means character.

    That means less kryptonite inspired villains and high school bull*@%$.

    And that's just not going to happen, by my reckoning. Sorry.


    In bold...

    Ben Holroyd wrote:
    Hi Neal,

    I'm a huge fan of your comic reviews. Not trying to suck up, but your eloquence and humour are consistently top notch.


    I just wanted to draw your attention to something in the Superman Returns trailer. In the first scene of the footage, we see the silhouettes of Lex and his goons entering Superman's Fortress. Did you notice that Lex's silhouette looks exactly like 70's Luthor i.e. his fur coat outline has a high collar akin to his green and purple suit? It's a nice nod to us dedicated fans...


    Keep up the good work!



    Daag Alemayehu wrote:

    I think you usually have good points when it comes to your gripes with the show (continuity errors and whatnot). I'm a big fan. However, I must take issue with some of the "errors" you pointed out for "Oracle."

    Thanks, and okay.

    First, I know of MANY people, particularly at my alma mater, that begin interning early in their college careers. Yes, even as freshmen. In fact, I know of people that began interning BEFORE they even got into school. The term "intern" doesn't have some specific meaning that requires 3-4 years of college experience. It just means you're a young'un learning the ropes while being paid a pittance (if anything).

    Per'aps. I'm just used to the later ones myself.

    Second, let's look at the three-hour drives Chloe and Lana make. Let's say they each drove three hours, round trip, twice. I don't know what YOU call three hours, but I'd estimate that it would be between 180 and 200 miles. Let's just say 200. That's 800 miles total between the two of them. This distance just happens to be the distance between my current apartment and my parents' home, so I know more or less how much this drive costs. When I make this drive, I stop one or two times to fill up my 18-gallon tank. After the second fill-up, I usually have about a quarter of a tank left. Total cost? At about $2.659 per gallon, let's say, that's a total of about $95. I'm just saying, I'm not sure where you get this $160 estimate from.

    The fact that Lana drives an SUV, which has terrible fuel economy, and the fact that gas is now three dollars a gallon, not 2.65.

    Third, and I guess this is part of my second gripe, I don't get your $160 "half of modest rent" comparison. I've lived in Atlanta for several years, and I currently live in St. Louis. I've explored rental rates in both cities, and I know that you will NOT find a modest apartment for only $320 a month. Hell, I don't think I've seen any type of apartment available for that kind of cash. A typical one bedroom apartment runs from $500 a month for a low end, potentially roach-infested place, to $1000 for a nice (but not necessarily fancy) loft downtown. Now, you CAN find apartments in the ATL and STL for $640 a month (i.e., four times $160), but those are usually on the outskirts of the city, perhaps in a suburb. You can't find anything of quality at that rate in the heart of the city. But you know what? I don't think many people would call St. Louis a big city, at least nobody that's lived here.

    I would. You're talking to a dude who lived in a COLLEGE town on 175 a month in 2001. It's not impossible. It's just hard to find. You CAN find cheap rent if you're poor. But then, that just furthers my point. Say my gas figures are off. Where are they getting the cash for that?

    The point of the argument is not that I can precisely estimate what they're spending, though I relate that to my experience. The point is that it's irresponsible for a show to illustrate young people spending all kinds of money and having nice cars and clothes when it's just not as easy or plausible as they make it out to be.

    And while Atlanta probably SHOULD be considered a big city, it's still not on the level of Chicago, L.A., or New York, which I think are more analogous to Metropolis. From what I understand, apartments in those places are going to run you upwards of $1000 for somewhere safe and clean. My point in all this is to say that if Chloe and Lana are living in city apartments in Metropolis, it's probably a safe bet that they've budgeted close to four figures a month for rent. Thus, paying about $50 each (or $80, if you prefer) for their long drives this episode isn't so completely out of the question.

    In Seattle, even, I know where you can get 300 dollar rooms. That's as big as a city gets. I believe that no matter what city you prefer, 160 bucks is 160 bucks, and a large chunk of change.

    I think there are enough legit beefs to have with some of the writing of the show that you don't need to streeeeeeeeetch so much to find "errors" like those above. Otherwise, keep up the good work. Glad to see I'm not the only person in the world still watching this show.

    - Daag

    Understood...but this one isn't stretching. The reason I started mentioning it is because it was mentioned to me a few times by readers and fellow viewers...

    fulvio wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    Great review, as always. Longtime reader. As I've said before, your review has become part of the viewing experience for me.

    Thanks. Cool!

    While reading your review and the whipping of Gough and Millar, and I was wondering if the lack in show directionisn't just Gough and Millar, but the loss of Jeph Loeb. If I remember correctly, wasn't he a part-timer first season, and then headwriter the second and third seasons? That might really be what is holding the show back. I knowthat I've loved the episodes written by him, and any comic I've picked up by him.

    I know it hasn't been the same since he left. But he was there for a bit of fourth.

    Towards the end of your review I thought that I can only hold out hope that maybe this whole time the show was supposed to be a take on "Lex Luthor: Man of Steel." But then apparently they can only change continuity just enough to suck the life out of Superman, without changing it enough to be cool.

    With still no official word about the CW, what if your next review(I guess thisone right now) were the last? The end of an Era. Thanks for the fun,Neal.

    Thanks. I doubt it'll be cancelled, but if this is the end of the reviews, I feel I did my best and am pleased with the results. If there are no episodes, I'll do one final wrap-up column and a thanks for the readers. But don't sweat it. There are no major impediments to another season so far...


    Daniel wrote:
    Hey Neal

    Great review. You definitely highlighted a number of plot holes in this episode that I completely forgot to consider. I guess that is what happens when one forgets to actually think about the episode and gets lost in the bad@$$ aspect of Brainiac's return.

    True. Thanks.

    Considering that Brainiac is back and they finally use him, Oracle deserved a 2. Which is pretty much the way you justified that score. But, there are certain things which I disagree with that make the episode a bit better in my eye.


    First of all, you highlighted that Clark Kent should have immediately been able to tell that his father was acting uncharacteristically. The thing is though, that Clark did (but even Clark wouldn't have been able to make the connection between him and Fine, because that is a bit of an illogical conclusion in his situation). He didn't immediately jump to kill Lionel, but when someone that commands that much respect with you says that, you don't immediately drop it and assume something is up. Considering that just a few episodes ago, Clark interacted with his father, who warned him about Lionel and proved correct, Clark has to at least consider what his father is saying. I never got the impression then that Clark immediately wanted to kill Lionel, but Clark cannot simply ignore it and suspect that his father isn't really his father. There's enough precedent beforehand for Clark to believe that it really was him regardless of how uncharacteristic he was acting.

    True. Good call. You're right.

    And what eventually comes out of it is that in his search (therefore, making an effort to verify what was going on) for what could make his father actually have him kill someone, Clark incorrectly discovers that Lionel wants to use him as a weapon. Yes, there are other explanations, but assuming that this was Lionel's intention, Clark has to take immediate action. I don't necessarily mean to try to kill him, but I do mean that he cannot simply spend the next several days trying to figure out what is actually going on when, by then, it would be too late. He had to confront Lionel about it. He had no other choice.

    Right, but did he have to beat the bejesus out of him? I say nay.

    The other thing is that I can accept Clark's and Chloe's conclusion that Lionel was intending to use Clark as a weapon. The message alone was not sufficient. But when it is coupled with Jonathan's message and with Lionel's past and with all the circumstantial evidence that this was the case, it wasn't an unnatural conclusion. Plus, when it comes to this, Clark has to assume the worst and then alter his actions based on any new information later.

    You or I would. I think Clark Kent wouldn't. Not the Clark I'm beholden to, anyway.

    Now, I do agree that his reaction was a bit overboard, but Lionel does possess the power to do a lot of damage to Clark. This is also Clark that is not yet Superman. But beyond that, this sort of reaction is not unprecedented even in the comics. Now, I know you were bugged by this element in Infinite Crisis, but even then, when Earth-2 Lois died, Superman from Earth-2 immediately blamed Superman from Earth-1 and started fighting against him. He had no basis for that action, but he still did it. What this effectively means is that this is a humanizing element in Clark that he is still dictated by his emotions. He is still vulnerable to overreacting to circumstances where his emotions clout his judgment. It happens to us and it d%$#ed well should happen to him.

    I disagree. I think the whole point of Superman is that he's not like us. He makes the right decisions and is unselfish. He's the only wholly good person in a world of chaos. I believe that the Earth-2 Superman is a different animal, and not the Superman we now know.

    The difference is that while he is not yet Superman, he is still Clark Kent. He still made the choice not to kill Lionel. He still made the choice to listen to his words. So what if he roughed Lionel up a bit in the process?

    Well, sarcastically, five to ten in the big house. Morally, I think the answer is obvious.

    Granted, Lionel could have died, but at the same time, Clark is fast enough to have prevented that. I didn't exactly mind how he handled that situation, but the fact that his actions could have led to Lionel's death by throwing him around the barn was a problem. But, in the same vain, I didn't really get the impression that Clark wanted to kill Lionel until Brainiac, as Jonathan appeared. I simply think Clark was trying to force all the truth out of Lionel. And, given Lionel's past, Clark's refusal to accept it is understandable.

    Yeah, but he still stepped WAY over the line.

    One thing I did not like is that Lex is shown to be a hero in this episode, as you pointed out. At least it is definitely portrayed that way and we have no reason to suspect anything else. If that is the case, then it is simply stupid. By now, Lex should have had another reason, an ulterior motive, in creating that vaccine or collecting the viruses. The thing with the Lex that I've seen in the comics, even the Alex Luthor in IF, is that he justifies nefarious means with justifiable ends. In "Superman For All Seasons" he concocts a virus that kills a lot of people to essentially force Superman out of Metropolis (I apologize for missing the details of this - I've been taking in so much Superman stuff lately that it gets convoluted in my mind). The point is that his ends, from his perspective, are good. The problem is that he uses them to justify any means. The problem I have with this episode in that regard is that his means were not nefarious nor were the ends. Had creating this vaccine unfairly killed thousands of people, then it would have been better. But that was not the case. The show has to stop being so inconsistent with Lex Luthor. If he is evil - write it that way.

    WORD. Truly.

    Here's another thing. How would a collection of all the viruses work as a vaccine? Is this the classic Mr. Burns case (please tell me you get that reference) or do they actually think there is a scientific explanation for this.

    I do get the reference. And I do think they're dumb enough to think it works.

    First of all, a collection of all the viruses would not be an effective biological weapon simply because it is no different then just having Ebola or Bubonic Plague. What good is adding HIV to Ebola when Ebola will kill you before HIV can actually be effective? And, we have substantial measures to protect the human population from the outbreak of such diseases as Ebola or the Bubonic Plague. The other thing is that a collection of viruses cannot be used to create a vaccine. First find one for Ebola or HIV and then report back to me. The point is that this cannot be done. And, just as a note, assuming that this was possible, which the show is, then no one on this show can ever get sick again.

    Yepper. And why? Well, judging from the green vials, Kryptonite. Ten bucks says that though Lex had the resources to do this, and could again, he doesn't next season for no real reason.

    However, what they should have done is use a super-pox. The truth is that this is a realistic biological weapon today (they accomplished it with mouse-pox and it is widely known that many terrorists are working for a version of smallpox that cannot be defended against) and is very relevant in today's society. It provides a contemporary context and is more realistic then what actually happened.

    Which is likely why they avoided it. Plausibility! Feh!

    Now, you make the point that Brainiac should just use kryptonite, weaken Clark, go to the FOS, and release Zod. But, if you remember in Solitude, he needed Clark to destroy the FOS in order to do so. In the same vain, I think he still needs Clark to release Zod. And he knows that Clark would let himself die before complying. Also, it seems that now he needs Lex to release Zod. Obviously, in Solitude, this wasn't the case, so maybe he really doesn't need Clark. But, considering this plot, he does need Lex.

    All of this is absolute garbage to me until the writers actually tell us WHY he needs Lex, or Clark. They never told us why they needed Clark, and never will, which stinks.

    You ask why he immunized Lex? Apparently, Lex is going to be the one channeling Zod, but when that happens he will still be vulnerable as a human. Why is this the case and why does he need Lex to channel Zod? Beats me, but I trust this will all be explained. I know you are skeptical about this, but this actually has to be explained. There is no choice and I think even the writers on this show will manage to do something if you corner them. But, we'll see.

    I liked it.

    Now, you say that Clark acts like an idiot for not being able to make the connection between Brainiac's dissipation and Jor-El. Maybe, but I understood the question differently. I think he realized that it was Jor-El, but I think the question was why Jor-El would have been able to do that. Why would Brainiac dissipate at the touch of a Kryptonian or Jor-El or Lionel possessing Jor-El? This was the question I had when I saw that scene and that's how I understood Clark's question.

    And honestly, it's not the fault of the device, it's the fault of bad writing explanation.

    Now, you make the point that Lex and Clark should work together to stop Fine and Lionel should know that this is the best course of action. However, I buy Lionel's hesitation to reveal this information to Lex, because it could possibly expose Clark's secret, and moreover, present a greater danger in that Lex is not totally working against Fine either. Frankly, what could Lex provide that Lionel couldn't?

    He has more cash, and he knows all about the Fine ship and Fine's motivations.

    The scene between Lex and Brainiac at the mansion was awesome. I love their dynamic. But, what didn't make sense to me is why Brainiac has no idea where Lex's lab is (given Brainiac's powers, this wouldn't be difficult for him) and why he even needed Lex to do the dirty work and create this vaccine. Given that Brainiac is more intelligent than any human on Earth, he should have been able to accomplish this with ease. The only possible explanation is that he wanted to test Lex. The problem with that, though, is it then needs to be explained as well.

    Totally agreed. A whole lot needed explaining.

    Lionel's and Martha's interaction at the end of the episode wasn't as bad as you made it out to be. At least not in the way I saw it. Sure, Martha did not make the point to actually discuss it - which is the key to conflict resolution - but instead folded her arms and indicated her anger.

    Yeah! That sucks.

    However, this reaction was somewhat justified in my mind (unlike Lana, who's passive-aggression is targeted towards someone who she has no right to vilify). No, I'm not trying to justify passive-aggression here, but Martha knows as well as anyone that she has to let the information simmer before she can truly confront Lionel about it.


    And, put yourself in her position.

    In that case, I would immediately confront Lionel. It estranges people, but my abrasive honesty makes my life simpler, and happy.

    Let's say someone near and dear to you was killed. And now, let us say that when that person was killed, an accused murderer was there at the same time. And let us say that this isn't just an accused murder, but one you know should have been convicted. And now, let us say you got this information. You would be pretty p($#ed off.

    Oh yeah! Livid! Doesn't mean I'd ignore common sense.

    Sure, Jonathan may have misinterpreted Lionel's intentions. Sure, Lionel's intentions may have actually been good. But, not only would you be skeptical, you would refuse to believe it. And, when given this information, you would be pretty speechless too.

    Not me. Maybe most people. Most Americans. Not me. Injustice makes me livid, vocal, and active.

    Was the conflict resolved? No. But this was not a case of arbitrary drama. The conflict was real and obviously creates a wave of emotions in Martha that clearly would confuse anyone. From an objective and unemotionally attached perspective, one can try to criticize Martha for her reaction instead of actually confronting Lionel. But, in her position, I think it was understandable and realistic, which may be the most important aspect of it all. Oh, and this scene was necessary, because ever since Reckoning, it needed to factor into the show.

    I don't find it understandable. I find it wholly realistic. But I don't watch fiction for reality...more for entertainment. And entertainment for me requires a coherent framework...from my perspective.

    Lois and Lana's friendship is both unnecessary and pointless. If the writers decide to add it in, it needs both a logical explanation and, more importantly, a purpose. Here, it had neither.

    And they dropped it. Which negates that whole show's work.

    However, I kind of liked Lois' interaction with Clark at the end of the episode. From her perspective, Clark was being an overly intrusive ex-boyfriend.

    By protecting her?

    She has no idea of the danger that Lana has created by keeping information from Clark and working with Lex.

    Nor does she ask before condemning.

    Moreover, she also knows that Clark still cares about Lana. But, Clark needs to learn to let go. At least that would be how Lois saw it. She wasn't being a dink, primarily because she used that to effectively refer to herself as an upgrade from Lana, which she really is.

    That I agree with, but she was being a dink.

    I don't think she was trying to criticize Clark, but more indicate that he needs to move on with his life. And, in truth, she is right.

    Right, but it was a spoonful of "How dare you!" with the "Move on!"

    I'd much rather see this than angsty Clana. Now, you'll probably make the point that you would rather have neither.

    Ding! Cup O Noodles are done.

    But, what was nice about this scene was that it foreshadowed Clark's relationship with Lois in a way where it had some context and wasn't completely unnatural. They are trying to show that Clark and Lois are growing closer together - which can be done more effectively - but it is a welcome change from Clana. I'm not saying that the scene was great. But, I didn't think it was as bad as you made it out to be.

    It was good and bad.

    With Chloe, I am getting a bit frustrated. I like Chloe as a character, but the show is over-characterizing her. They make her capable of accomplishing far too many tasks than is realistic for either her age or her economic circumstance. Plus, they have made her Clark's advisor, which is just not a role that we need to see her in. Sure, she should help guide Clark, at times. But not all the time.

    That's why it's bad they axed Pete.

    Now, the sense that I got from the books of Kryptonian letters was not that Clark couldn't read it, but was that it was a bunch of letters written randomly on a page. If we saw that in the English language, we wouldn't know how to decipher it. What Chloe did was run the images through a computer program that would detect patterns and essentially decipher the message. Computer programs are capable of that today and this was very possible. Now, I am justifying something that I didn't like, but it was not for this reason. They were a bit vague about this, but it more has to do with the fact that this is another role they are giving Chloe which they shouldn't.

    That may be. The writing should have been clearer there. If I missed it with my eagle eye, so did most viewers.

    By the way, I think the final message was "Zod." I think Clark simply interpreted it as "Zod is coming." Now, why does Lionel become catatonic when he channels Jor-El when clearly, in Hidden, Jor-El is able to manifest himself in Lionel in a way where he acts normally is a bit confusing and, if not explained, arbitrary considering that this would have been far more effective than what he actually did by randomly writing some letters that had no distinct message.


    One other point. You made the point that Chloe isn't an intern or something to that effect. The thing is though, I'm only a high school senior and I have interned twice at the same place, making barely enough money to support myself (thankfully I didn't need to), but enough for Chloe to be able to make the point that her budget is greatly limited. The irony, of course, is that while she is able to afford the gas and everything else, she is unable to give Clark a present. They acknowledge her limitations here, but ignore them elsewhere. That is lazy writing.


    Lex and Lana didn't bug me so much in this episode as it has in the past. While, I agree that it needs to be explained and thus should be considered arbitrary at this point, the focus on the relationship was not on Lex and Lana themselves, but on how this relationship impacts the other characters. As long as they keep the focus off of Lex and Lana and to how this contributes to Lex and Clark's relationship, Clark's journey, and Lana being able to stand up for herself, then Lexana can serve a purpose in forward progression of characters.

    It's still wholly implausible...

    On that note, I would like to mention this one thing. There are a ton of theories that Lana is playing Lex. I don't exactly buy them.

    Yeah. What would be the point?

    However, I think that while she has feelings for Lex, those are equally met by an insatiable desire to figure out what happened the day of the meteor shower. And Lex is her primary entry into this search. While I think her feelings for Lex are legitimate, I think she has an ulterior motive in regards to the relationship. And now, I think she is slowly becoming suspect of Lex's motives as well. I don't think she is playing Lex, but I think she is preparing herself to stand on her own two feet and if it comes time to defend herself from Lex, she will be able to. I think they are trying to give her more brains than they have in the past, which, if this is the case, is a very good move.

    I doubt it is. I mean, she slept with him. She wouldn't do that to squeeze info, I don't think.

    Okay, that's all for now. I know it is a lot, but I had a lot to say. I know you'll disagree with a lot of this (don't make me sound like too much of an idiot), but I just didn't think the episode was as bad as you did.

    I hope I didn't make you feel like an idiot. Disagreement is good. Argument is even better. Consensus is the ultimate. And it's GOOD that you like the episode more than I did. It means you enjoyed yourself. Woot to that! Critics are just critics. Don't let me stop you from liking something.

    They are building up for a much more significant finale where the consequences of certain choices, namely Clark's, will reverberate throughout Smallville for years to come. Clark is going to have to make a choice that I believe will create the moral foundation for Clark becoming a superhero and Superman. Maybe excitement for the finale is down this year from years past, but I think this may end up being a much bigger episode then ever. I hope I am proven right here, because the spoilers that I have heard from it have given it amazing potential.


    It was pretty cool, huh?

    Thales Gomes wrote:
    Hey Neal, glad to hear about the book deal, I'm a big fan of your work and I hope that this deal is the first of many, just hope that the book doesn't take you away of the supermanhomepage and from the reviews (wich are the only reason for me to watch smallville), also, I would like to know your opnion about the new superman movie and it's most controversial piece, Lois Kid...I don't think that the existence of this kid will destroy the movie, but it sure has teh potencial to..what's your opnion?

    Thales Gomes

    Hey, Thales! First off, don't worry. Even if I have a hundred book deals, the Superman Homepage will always be a regular place I write until Steve boots me off for saying something so wholly offensive it kills a baby kitten.

    I am very skeptical of the idea of Lois and the kid. A lot of people disagree with me, and I'm okay with that. I can't condemn until I see the movie, but given what I see in the promotions, I get the impression they're playing Lois as a strong, successful single mother. I grew up around enough broken families to know that's hardly ever the case, and it reminds me of why these mothers I knew made this poor choice. If it turns out she's with Cyclops and they had the kid through marriage, it hardly makes it better, because that tarnishes the Superman as the one true love and makes Superman a homewrecker. If Lois had a kid out of wedlock and stayed with the dude, that's cool by me but also shows the ultimate feminist icon making a buttload of poor life choices.

    But there could be a hook I'm missing. I'll give it a fair shake in the theater then judge.

    Marklar wrote:
    Wasup Neal,
    If you stop and think about it, lana really has no argument that Clark always lies to her. I mean, think about it, when has Clark ever lied to lana (besides his secret, of course), and how many times has lana lied to Clark (and Chloe, Lex, Lois, Adam, Jason too, but we're focusing on Clark here).

    Very true. But then, when has Lana been justified for anything in the last three and a half years?

    TRA wrote:
    Neal, after "Oracle", I want to SCREAM! I want to scream at the writers: "Clark Kent is the GOOD guy!" He's SMART! He's HONEST! He is not a murderer; he should not be petulant; he should not be a jerk! Lex is the BAD guy. He's SMART! He's DIShonest! He is often petulant and should be a jerk.

    Here I scream, WORD!

    Lana is NOT, NOT, NOT, NOT that important to anything. This is a show about Lex and Clark. When two men who used to be good friends begin to drift, the good guy does not say, "When we were friends all those years, were you after my woman?" The "good" guy should NOT be portrayed as jealous, petulant and stupid!


    I'm not a writer, which is pretty obvious, but I like to think I'm a normal, sensible human being, who can come up with better dialogue in five minutes, than what the writers wrote for Clark and Lex at the end of "Oracle":
    Clark: "You don't know how to handle Fine"
    Lex: "I can take care of myself."
    Clark: "What about Lana?"
    Lex: "Oh, so that's what this is about?"
    Clark: "No, I don't like that you're with Lana, but it's more that your decisions lately scare me. I care about both of you, but I don't know you anymore."
    Lex: "Don't worry, I can take care of Lana. And, for the record, you scare me, Clark; maybe we're just opposites sides of the same coin."

    You forgot the swoon at the end. Sigh.

    This is not stellar dialogue by any means, and I'm sure you could come up with much better,

    With my eyes closed.

    but at least Clark comes across as what he is supposed to be: caring. Let Lex, if he's turning toward the dark side, be the petulant one who raises the jealousy issue. Also, how about a little foreshadowing - mine may be too obvious, but at least it's fun and sets up next week's show better than what was actually said between these characters. Also, WHY shouldn't Clark talk about why he doesn't trust Lex anymore - i.e. Lex's decision to kidnap Aquaman, his shady involvement with Cyborg, his decision to drive drunk after Lana, gee, pick a bad decision from this Season and TALK about it.

    That would require continuity and characterization, which is like kryptonite to the writing staff.

    All this, "I don't like you anymore" is really straining my ability to watch the show and is NOT drama. Good drama would involve talking about the issue.

    Yes, yes, yes! You've got me sounding like Meg Ryan.

    There IS real drama and sadness in the destruction of Clark and Lex's friendship. That friendship is what drew me to Smallvile - always wondering how these two would become enemies. I expected better than this! But it will be the continuing downward spiral of Clark's character that will destroy this show for me. I'll keep watching but these episodes break my heart. I've seen better. I want better. The fans deserve better.


    Ray Adler wrote:
    I think you unfairly cried plot hole for last week's Smallville on a few items that aren't really plot holes.

    Depends...Acme or regular brand?

    1. Clark couldn't read Lionel's writings because it was-in his own words-gibberish. You may be able to read english but if I gave you several hundred pages of random sentences you wouldn't understand it. Hence Chloe finding the most repeated phrase which Clark easily read as "Zod is coming."

    Here's your chance to prove yourself wrong: Unscramble the following...

    dosco Ziming!

    Need a computer? Nah. Maybe five minutes. Especially if you know Jor-El is preoccupied with some guy named Zod.

    2. Fine most likely has been watching Lionel because his Jor-el knowledge makes him a threat. He most likely saw the confrontation on the night Jonathan died. Granted this is my own theory, but its a pretty simple one, and kind of negates calling it a plot hole.

    Except the show never indicates that happened, so it doesn't. Also, what threat is Lionel?

    Especially since it all happened in a barn (easier to spy on than a closed room).

    Not for a dude that can morph into curtains.

    3. Fine needed Clark to insert the crystal at the Fortress. This was made clear by Fine not just whipping out the Kryptonite and doing it himself once they were inside. I think he even said only Clark could do it.

    He didn't need Clark to do that in the finale...

    Beyond that, I enjoy your reviews even if I disagree with the harshness of them (still fun to read). And I completely agree that Lana is given too many free passes.

    No problem, man. Thanks! Awesome.

    Zak wrote:
    Hi Neal,
    First time writer, but long time reader. I didn't actually get into Smallville until around December last year, but have since completely caught up through the DVD sets and your reviews.†

    Wow! That's some long hours. Thanks!

    It's funny. Now when I watch Smallville, at least once an episode I'll see something that I'll be like "Oh man, Neal is gonna have a field day with that one." The instance that sticks out in my mind is a few episodes back where Lana and Lex had their lip lock. It was so cheesily done, I felt sure you'd rip it apart. Was surprised you didn't, but I digress.

    I kind of did. I mean, I pointed out how stupid it is that Lex would want her, and how they portrayed it as Lex's aggression rather than Lana's naivety...

    Actually, I need to digress one more time. In watching all the DVD sets so so quickly to catch up. I have to say something that is near heresy. Season 4 wasn't so bad. When you can sit there and watch a season of Smallville as more of a tapestry than little compartmentalized episodes, a lot of things seem to make more sense. I'll prepare my rotten tomato shield once I hit "Send".

    Nah, man. That's fine. I'm glad you enjoyed it. No one HAS TO (or even should) wholly agree with me. If you do, cool, but I mean, don't feel bad for liking four. It means you had fun. That's a good thing.

    Now, I actually saw a couple things in your recent review of Oracle I wanted to yap about.†

    First was your assertion was that Clark couldn't read Kryptonian, which was negated in the last 5 seconds of the show when Clark read "Zod is coming". Now, admittedly this is shoddy writing, but looking at some of the pages in Lionel's book, it occured to me that maybe it wasn't that Clark couldn't read Kryptonian so much that it was so much Kryptonian as it looked like gibberish. After all, Chloe's program didn't translated, it just pulled out the pattern. It would have been half a line of dialogue to clarify that though, which is bad.

    True. That's my argument.

    Pointing out that Chloe wouldn't be interning until her fourth or fifth year of college may be a valid point, but I don't remember anything in the episode she got the job that clarified it was through the school. I don't know where else it would have come from, but a possibility?

    Yeah. I just found out that internships are not year specific, just the ones I would have had to do in college. Mistake on my part!

    This was one of the rare instances I read your review before I got to see the episode--some eye surgery last week threw off my viewing schedule. That said, man did you call it on Schneider's portrayal of Fine As Kent. The almost lyrical cadence of speech was what blew me away the most.

    Yeah. It was very well acted, but sadly it killed the surprise.

    Last comment--the five loft scenes. It seems standard in this show, pretty much from season 2 on, to have what I call "housekeeping" every 4 or 5 episodes. It also seems to happen invariably in the episode before the finale. This is where several scenes occur for the express purpose of explaining/foreshadowing/summing up recent events and what might be coming. Maybe it's just my smallville sense tingling, but I think we're in for a treat with the finale.

    Your sense is with the Force, man!

    Rock On,

    Thanks for writing in!

    ruth wrote:
    Oi, gostaria de saber sobre o resumo de smallville do 5∫ ano.E sobre tudo da sÈrie em si.


    Trent wrote:

    Clark learned to read Kryptonese back in the second season episode Rosetta (which, I trust, stands out in your memory). You're right in saying Clark wouldn't have needed Chloe's help in deciphering the language, but wrong in terms of when he learned. Since the language was directly implanted into his brain, it's unlikely it'll ever get rusty, so to speak, and Clark could somehow lose his proficiency with the language because of not using it.

    This episode should've been a 6/5, it's completely inexcusable, esp as the build up to a finale which promises, among other things, ZOD!

    It was a decent idea, bad execution, at least for me. Zod himself was pretty awesome!

    Laurence Cohen wrote:
    Hi Neal,

    As always, thanks for the reviews.

    You're more than welcome. Thanks for the letters.

    Just a few points on the episode Oracle. Since when can Fine apparate and disapparate (yes, I like Harry Potter books)??

    So do I, and I don't know. In fact, I fricking LOVE Harry Potter. There go ten man points, but what the heck.

    When Clark sees and talks to his father's "ghost", wouldn't he instantly know it's not a ghost and thus his father when the "ghost" (Fine) disappeared, when in actuality, fine just ran really fast like Clark can do?

    I think x-ray vision would give it away, myself.

    Unless i'm mistaken, Clark can see practically anything that moves because he can move just as fast, (like seeing the Bart run) so I don't really see a valid reason for him not noticing his father's ghost run like the wind.

    Me neither.

    I don't buy the argument that he might have been in shock at seeing his father (since he just recently saw him when he had a near death experience) (boy, rehashing stupid plots makes me feel ill) or even wanting it to be his dad very badly, since he should have seen and heard him.


    For someone with super hearing he does get sneaked up on alot doesn't he. Of course if he were smart, he could have used his x-ray vsion too, but alas the writers think we're all ignorant fools like him I guess. Also, as you already pointed out, how could Fine have possibly known that Lionel was with Jonathan when he died, unless he's a mind reader. (maybe the writers are giving him that power too...oy)

    Acme brand plot holes!

    Sara wrote:
    Hello, darling boy!

    Hey, Sara! Sara made me cookies and watched the finale with me. Sara rules.

    How you doin'? I've been down an internet connection for a little bit, so my episode comments are a little behind. Doing my comments and comments to your review on the same entry again! Huzzah! Of course, I'm two weeks behind, but who's counting?!?

    My hands hurt. I've been up on a roof for four straight days.

    Filler: I totally agree that this was a filler episode. It was just a slightly eviler version of Season 1 Lex in a "I have to pay you back for saving my life" scenario. I really could have done without it.

    Me too.

    The beginning did have promise, but it turned ugly pretty quickly, which I found distressing. The problem is that they should spread out the crap more if they absolutely must have it. If they would just keep the good show/bad show rotation, it wouldn't be such a shock when we have to watch something like this.

    Instead they do 18 below average shows and four good ones.

    Is Lana really so hot? So hot that her character is considered one of the main three, even though her actions and plotlines really only qualify her for a supporting role? Most people will say I'm jealous, but I can SO say that isn't true.

    Well, honestly, I really don't see the appeal. Maybe I'm nuts. She's like a toothpick. Climb her even once, she'd snap in two. Why date a woman you can't arm wrestle, or at least tickle without accidentally rupturing an anorexic stomach?

    Why is Chloe covering a story that is so important the witness is herded in with a platoon of PD and a bulletproof vest on? Isn't she supposed to be doing obits? And why do they feel the need to constantly harp on Clark's eminent future? Is that how Clark's supposed to grow into Superman? By witty repartee??? And why would the guy rematerialize outside the door? That totally makes him more memorable!

    Arbitrary dramaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    Loved the idea of Aquaman laughing like that. To be honest, I'm looking forward to watching the new show, but I don't like that it feels that it's at the expense of "Smallville". And I do have a hefty amount of trepidation. What if they ruin Aquaman like they've been doing with Supes?

    Aquaman is already ruined, by my reckoning. His power is that he TALKS to FISH. You can't make that cool.

    I see your point about using his powers in a public place. However, I guess since it's not the first time he's done such a thing, it's not something we should be surprised at. Maybe they're operating under the premise that, in a large city, people are focused on themselves and rarely notice things around them. That's the city stereotype, isn't it?


    I did like that Chloe helped him come to terms, or used the phrases that would help me come to terms. When you're a superhero (which, whether or not Clark wants to admit it, he is), you can't make a judgment call on who to save. Then you stop being a superhero- You're a vigilante. Superman saves everyone. That's his schtick. And she told him that it's like he's in an emergency room. You save everyone not determining their societal worth or whether their good or bad. To do anything less would lessen him as a hero. It would stop him from inspiring the bad guys to become good guys. They should definitely have Clark verbalize his awareness of this, but I guess they think that would cancel out a lot of their future plotlines. But I digress and it's not in the timeline of the show.

    A good point nonetheless.

    I thought when Chloe said there wasn't a "Chameleon" freak of the week that it was off. After all your examples, don't forget the bank robbers as well. You know, the ones Whitney was temporarily involved with - or maybe they could just walk through walls. Tina Greer's being able to meld with a crowd wasn't due to invisibility, but more her shape-shifting abilities. (And were those instantaneous? I don't remember. I would be odd if she was in a crowd and suddenly went through a very painful transformation.) I hadn't realized that Alicia had done that. Or did Alicia go after Lana because she was competition for Clark's affections?

    Both, I think.

    Happy with material rewards: Just one simple line "My dad taught me that to accept a reward for a good deed negates the good deed" or something like that would have held much more impact for me. Especially considering only 4 short years prior he was more than willing to accept his truck gift from Lex.


    Never heard of "Dynasty Warriors". But my first impulse was "What is Lois doing in their house with no one there and apparently not expected and yet she starts playing video games with the new system?" Didn't she question that the delivery men were at the house? She had absolutely no suspicion? And for someone that's supposed to be world wise, that's inexcusable. And considering she's Martha's chief of staff, wouldn't she be suspicious that someone's trying to influence Martha? COME ON!!!

    Heh. Remind me next time you come over to show you the game. Good times.

    Chloe saying it's winning the Trifecta was a little much. Yes, it makes my geeky heart go pita-pat, but they're totally exaggerating. You could probably get a totally tricked out home theater system like that for less that $5 Gs.

    Heck, mine, which you've seen, is AWESOME, and it was, total, 3 grand.

    Now Clark's jumping the gun is straight to Lionel, not Lex anymore??? I thought it was interesting that they went straight from blaming Lex for everything to blaming Lionel. Although I guess getting an extravagant gift isn't something to be blamed for, but still. And do they really think Lionel's so one-dimensional that he seriously believes he can BUY his way back into the Kents' good graces? Come on! Lionel's a MUCH better judge of character.


    I need a Lois rant here. WHY is she lobbying for votes for Martha's bill? WHY is she exercising at the Kent farm when we all know that she has a perfectly good apartment five minutes away? I'm not sure why else she'd be working out in practically a bikini at his HOME! AND WHY did she have to give the "Not in this lifetime" line to the girlfriend question. Is it just for the future innuendo? OK, to calm down and NOT give myself a heart attack, I'm going to go watch Iron Chef. I will be back in 45 minutes. not that you'll be able to tell, but I may be able to get my ire under control. Ahhh. Chef Morimoto and Alton Brown have worked their magic and I am now able to keep going. (Sad thing is it took only 10 minutes to chase me out of the room screaming "I hate Smallville!" I didn't really mean it, of course, but sometimes they just drive me crazy.) And then Lois totally hits on the guy? Are you serious??? (Calm, Sara. Calm.)

    What is it with chicks and Alton Brown? I mean, he talks about crap like lemon zest. There's no such thing as lemon ZEST, it's a lemon PEEL you just don't want to call PEEL when you're putting it in food. Feh! But I will admit, under duress, to watching the occasional good eats.

    Crap. There go ten more man points. And the tv was on the food channel when you popped over. I'm losing it!

    I liked Chloe's response to Clark's favor. And it was more like "You've put enough coins in the saving my butt bank to make a withdrawal any time you want." But that's an interesting visual there. And Chloe. Tee hee. Chloe letting slip why Lex might feel guilty enough to send the entertainment center to Clark and then fibbing her way out. I just loved it. Gotta' go back for some sound bytes.

    She's got decent lines, usually.

    You know, I hadn't even thought of the money with the returning. Perhaps he just called the company back to come and pick it up and then immediately headed to Chloe to find out who. No, he said he called them and they would have offered him the cash in return. And if they offered him the cash equivalent, why would he assume that she could find out who bought it. Now, here's a thought. When you're given a gift and don't have the receipt (although Clark had a copy - was that through the store or did the delivery guys leave it?), they can offer you store credit, whether it's on a credit card or in cash. Maybe he did get the offer of a refund, donated the money to an orphanage, and thought that there still might have been a record of the purchaser. Hmmm.

    Would have been nice for them to cover that.

    I liked Lex's reasons for being homesick. He was being snarky, but it definitely struck my funny bone. And what I think even more interesting is that they could hardly talk about their first kiss before and now their making out like it's no big deal. And if Lana had a hard time getting in, why didn't Clark? It was just something that was thrown in to appease us because of our irritation with the lack of mansion security. It doesn't flow with the storyline. It doesn't jive with the characters. Definitely not well thought out. And no, the baby's coming from the cabbage patch. Can't have something ruining Lana's figure.


    ARBITRARY DRAMA: Tee hee! But totally good point. They don't make it realistic. They don't give a good subplot to show reasons behind these things. They just throw it in to say "Look how serious this all is. No, really. Look - right - NOW!" I mean what the heck?


    At least Chloe didn't cave in to Angry Clark. I liked that after the initial "I'm sorry" she didn't back down AND she actually said she'd thought Clark would understand her actions because of the situation with him. Yeah. I LOVED that part! I loved that she called him on his crap. I'll say this a couple more times. I LOVED it! I LOVED IT! I LOVED IT!!! And because of this very human and realistic reaction, I once again must ask the question why she's shoved into the background so much? At least she's getting a lot more play lately, but COME ON! She's one of the best characters they have and they're totally WASTING her! (OK, Sara. Calm down. Put down the kitten. Slowly. Slowly. Everything will be OKAY!)

    Kitties! They overuse her, then under use her, but her direction is pretty much ignored. What about the mother/going insane subplot?

    As much as breaking the picture is a good character moment, real and normal, it's still a childlike thing to do, breaking Lana's picture frame. OK, he's still mourning his relationship and he finds out that his ex-girl is dating his ex-BFF. That totally breaks all the rules and therefore is due some frustration. I liked it. It was good. And just to please my sense of semantics, the badge wasn't around Clark's neck. Clipped to his zipper. And Invisi-Dude got his powers in the second meteor shower? How convenient! And Clark has no problem partying with Invisi-Dude, but Chloe has to drag him out? Are you kidding? Invisi-Dude's reaction to his appearance made it clear that he didn't drive up with Clark. However, that makes me wonder if Clark brought the truck.

    I wonder if he ever does...

    The Clark-Lois meeting at the party was such a brother and sister thing! How can they expect us to buy that those two are going to get romantic??? I thought his reaction to the hooker kiss was odd. If he's still SOOOO in love with Lana, why would he be all "Yes!" with a kiss from a stranger? It felt a little off for me, but with my other problems in the ep, I'll let it go. I love Clark's face when he realizes that Gia was bought for him. Isn't it interesting how all of a sudden, Lex's earlier role is now Invisi-Dude's? I could swear that he's using some of the same lines previously written for Lex!

    Pretty much, yeah.

    Who's running the Talon? Apparently, the Talon is running itself. But we DO know that Lois still lives above the Talon. Doesn't Lex still own the place? Would he really be so apparently gracious to a girl that has accused him of evil and working for the woman of his defeater in the senate race? The Talon is now just a prop. It's like the scene with Martha talking about her education bill. It's a place to show that yes, the characters are still hip and with it because they're hanging out in a high school hot spot. Yeah. Right.


    Lana STANDS there and WATCHES: Does she really? Now THAT's funny. And, while I understand that he was trying to do Clark a favor by bringing Lana back to him, his insistence to kill all witnesses said he should have finished the job with Lex and then killed her. The other question is why he felt the need to decloak while killing Lex. I don't know.

    No kidding. Hadn't thought of that, actually. Very good call.

    Lana's suddenly there to save Lex? Invisi-Dude makes an insta-trip to Smallville? Gee, I guess everyone just has money to burn, right? And here I was feeling guilty about buying Outback tonight. And why is Clark running to the hospital for Lex? Considering what he now knows about his and Lana's relationship. (And why does Lana look guilty?) And isn't it nice that after Lana's so concerned with SECRETS AND LIES that she won't tell Clark about her new relationship, even though he gives her an easy and calm opening.

    Outback is so incredibly good. I used to sit in one with my buddy while we pined over one of the waitresses as a kid. I used to work in a restaurant, and she'd always come out with this armful of cantaloupes to cut up for side work, and invariably, I'd get smacked for the comment that followed.

    Man, I wouldn't want to be a newbie in that town. I'd get accused of everything done by an overweight Washington blonde girl. And who wants that type of pressure? And with that sketchy description, Clark immediately knows it's Invisi-Dude? (Oy! All the tongue in cheek innuendo from Invisi-Dude is getting on my nerves. I only have SW:KoTOR - Sith Lords left. and I have another full episode to watch! COME ON!)

    Heh. Is it any good? Never played it.

    Lois the UR-feminist: She automatically accepts a date to a guy's home (where he could possibly take advantage of her) on a mere nodding acquaintance. That's usually what I scream at my friends about. It's always the assumption that someone like that could be a murderer or worse. Why does she automatically assume he's another possible Prince Charming? Because he has money? And she's as much a feminist as I am a runway super model!

    In this show, yeah. Traditionally, she's been a very positive female role model.

    How Clark is supposed to have a secret identity is totally beyond me at this point. Is it just me or does wealth equals stupidity? Because Invisi-Dude - like Lex - never locks his door or has security. Yeah. Makes sense. But at least Clark is true to form and dashes in with unfounded accusations a blarin'. But Invisi-Dude cops to his evils much easier than Lex does. and there's quite the mirroring effect for the heavy sculpture hitting Clark's arm and the sword Lex swung. I see that they're trying to foreshadow Lex's evil by showing Invisi-Dude in all his evil. And why didn't Clark try to use his X-ray vision to find him? I doubt he disappears entirely or goes insubstantial.

    And Clark can see guys bending the visual spectrum, easily.

    This scene also bothered me. and you totally make a good point about the proper name of the rocks. I know Clark isn't the world's smartest superhero, but would you put 2 and 2 together to realize that you've just correctly figured out a new "friend" is an assassin - he's already tried to kill you once - so wouldn't you conclude that he would follow you? And this should teach him and Chloe to talk so openly about Clark's powers and weaknesses. As soon as they started talking about it, I knew he was there. Really. What kind of cracked me up is that I thought Chloe may have realized their error (if you remember her slightly worried look when mentioning the fly on the wall), but then mentions Lois. Why would she be worried about Lois? After all, the guy likes her. Why would he try and kill her when she doesn't know his secret?

    Arbitrary dramaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    Chloe keeps her Digital WoW on her computer at work? Seriously? I know for a fact that most office computer systems are monitored by the PTB. Does she really want the fact that she's investigated - and given credit to - meteor freaks? Didn't she learn anything from Sniper Sean?

    Maybe it's considered a workspace?

    Ah! Gratuitous shower scene! - Holy crap, Neal. I used nearly the exact same wording. Am I channeling you?

    If you are, I require an altar of cookies. Oh, wait...

    But the shower scene is absolutely killing me! I actually thought she would notice Graham due to the steam. Instead, they have him very clumsily bumping into something and leaving the curtain open for too long. And not only is she showering in the dark, but she's being backlit so it can show stupid shower poses. I was irritated by this. If I think there's an intruder in my house, the LAST THING I DO IS RUN AROUND NAKED! (It'd serve him right, but still!!!) I'd grab a robe or a towel or something. If said something falls off during a scuffle, well that's one thing. But to go to find an intruder in the buff is the height of stupidity. Maybe she thought her body's so fantastic that he'd stop, stare in stunned amazement like Clark, and that would give her the time to bash his brains in. Yeah. A little annoyed with the Lois scenes for this one.

    I know if I were Lois I'd just stare at myself all day. But that's me.

    At least Clark actually is using another power now. And Graham's escape was oh so subtle. Of course he tells Clark his entire plan, but isn't planning on killing Chloe? Or Lois? They both know his secret now. He might be justified in thinking Lois doesn't know, but Chloe obviously does because, when he heard about the kryptonite weakness, he knew that Clark had told Chloe about him. When Clark was close to Invisi-Dude in Lois's apartment, why didn't Clark feel all weak and stuff from the kryptonite in his pocket? (Is that kryptonite in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?) Why do they insist that kryptonite is so harmful to him nearly immediately, but tossing it 3 feet away or behind a wood wall is enough for him to recover from the effects? We've said this before, but it deserves another note.


    Boy, these Lexana scenes are getting more and more cloying! I almost vomited over their convo in the hospital room. I could just whack Lex. He's annoyed that it takes him almost dying to get Clark to visit, but he's the one who's dating his ex? Even I know that isn't kosher! And Lana doesn't owe Clark anything? Not for saving her numerous times from fates worse than death. or just death? (Oh, the rage is coming on!) And is Lex really supposed to be evil now? Now that he's counseling Lana in the morally right thing to do. The writers just have no clue what to do with that character!

    Not really. Other than show her constantly...

    Lois automatically believes Chloe, but assumes the worst of Clark. Right. I have issues with the timing, but have decided to let it go.

    I didn't.

    Lois & her cell: Would she ignore a phone call coming in because she's in the shower? What if Invisi-Dude had to cancel? Even if I don't have a hot date, I'm going to get out of the shower, wrap a towel around me, and answer the phone. I'll probably be cursing the entire time, but I'm so going to answer!

    Likewise. I even arrive early. What a nerd I am!

    I find it funny that not only is Lex totally able to work and talk naturally, but the hospital has allowed him to have a gun in his bed. At least he had the courtesy to equip it with a silencer for the other patients. Why did they stop in the middle of the hallway? And did you notice that the hallways were suspiciously empty? But as you know, bullets can travel through walls, so there should have been SOME commotion.


    Lois's lament: You know, I could wax eloquent on this, but you're doing just fine.
    I really wish that they would get Lois off the show. I know she's eye candy for the dudes, but she's totally wrecking the character. She accepted a date from a guy that's suspicious. even if she's gone out on one or two dates with him. She doesn't know any of his friends and family - she doesn't have anyone else's opinion on him - and she doesn't trust the opinion of people she knows with good heads on their shoulders. But because he has money, she thinks everyone should be auto-fine with him? It's a freakin' crime, that's what it is. And for her not to accept responsibility for her romance picker being broken and Martha enabling her is really infuriating.

    There's NO reason for her to be there. I mean, really.

    I definitely wanted to smack Clark, but all of a sudden I realized how passive-aggressive Chloe was being. At the very least, she should have smacked him and shouted "Clark, you are so stupid! Of course I know EXACTLY how you're feeling because you and Lana did exactly the same thing to me!" But noooooo! She has to be all "I understand how you feel" with no "Clark, you're a freakin' idiot!" Grrr. However, they should give Chloe some props soon for her Girl Friday stance and lady-in-waiting to Smallville's most passive-aggressive couple! SERIOUSLY!!!


    I notice you don't take this moment to groan that Chloe Sullivan, intern for the Planet and obit taker, got an article published on the front page. At the very least, I would have thought she would get a co-credit and a more experienced journalist would polish it. AND she's still in the basement? Are they going to give her bigger stories? Hopefully not because she really hasn't paid her dues yet. (Although, with the byline, maybe the paper paid for her gas to Smallville.)

    It's the "anyone can do anything instantly" idea I decried in the Lois stripper review.

    The only reason why Lana doesn't want to be less than honest with Clark is because of Lex. She totally planned on continuing to be so until her current boyfriend says she's being childish. Doesn't say much for her character, does it? You know, fine. He broke up with her. Isn't that great. And of course, that means that he can't give an opinion about the new guy in her life that he probably knows better because that automatically means he wants her back. No, that doesn't work that way. If you're playing the friend card and the "I thought I should tell you first" card, then be prepared for comments the other way and don't be a b****.

    Preach it.

    The preview before the show: It's true. Not only that, but every preview for the next week has been about the freaking virus for the last month or more! And they're hardly addressing it during the show!!!

    And it was just a distraction, too...pretty lame.

    Clark's birthday: Wow! Finally some consistency! I'll be honest. Sometimes the quiet birthdays are my favorites! Hmmmmm. And Lois gives a thoughtful gift? Since when did she become sensitive? OK, maybe I'm being harsh. Sensitive to Clark??? Chloe's budget: But they never said that Smallville writers were consistently consistent. Pa Kent's card: That reminds me. My mom wants me to get my sister-in-law a Mother's Day card so that means I need to do my two sisters as well. Hallmark, here I come!

    I thought Clark and Lois hated each other...mostly.

    John Schneider acting: Holy crap! You're totally right. It's very clipped and stilted like Fine would be. Maybe he thinks it'll be okay to kill Lionel because he said he was sorry. And he disappeared in a cloud of mist? Oy! How clichÈ! Jonathan would never in a billion million trizillion years ask Clark to kill someone. And what's to think about? You do something like that and you turn into the villain. Pure and simple.

    Yeah, to everyone except the ur-moral arbiter, Clark. Sigh.

    Clark never asks why: He didn't seem to have a lot of time to ask. He had his justifiable moment of shock and then Jonathan was gone. Not a lot of time to ask questions. Considering his run-ins with Tina Greer, he should be suspicious of anyone, especially loved ones, acting out of character.

    Obviously, yep.

    Martha does give some really good justification. But then with one little confession about the near-death experience (possibly withheld to save her worry), Martha totally backtracks? Um, yeah. That would never happen. Martha has been Jonathan's sounding board and opposed him when she thought it was necessary. Martha would never condone killing Lionel.

    She's slipping morally too, without Jonathan. Another reason he needs to be there. The characters are still morally in first progress.

    Do you really think that Lois served Lex coffee very often? If I was him and she'd level her accusations at me, I would have to assume that she's going to spit in my coffee - and who wants that?

    Well, yeah. That and Lex doesn't even live in Metropolis any more, remember? Seems no one does. He moved to Metropolis last year and never said he was moving back, and yet he's always in Smallville.

    Lana's three lies: What?!? Oy! If she's told Clark about her new relationship, why would she keep it from Lois? But now we know. Lex does still own the place, but does absolutely nothing about it. He allows his senatorial adversary use it for his party AND allows Lois to live above it even after she's called him names? Unlikely! Lie of omission: True dat. SECRETS AND LIES, Lana!!! The EVIL lie: And obviously defensive. A lie that everyone knows is a lie. IDIOT! LANA AM NEW BEST FRIEND: What? Really? Oh, sure. Lois is suddenly sensitive to not only Clark, but Lana.

    It's annoying. I'd spit in her coffee.

    I do like Chloe's question. And it's totally true. Superman, and therefore Clark Kent, doesn't go around killing people. Period. Maybe I'm not up on my comics, but I really only know of one exception: Doomsday. And that was still a last resort. That he's even considering it is out of character and that's irritating. It's a criminally flawed plot device.

    Superman has killed on multiple occasions. All of them are pretty questionable, or last resort. I don't like it. And people like to cite it as canon, but honestly, Superman once killed a dude for fun in the early days. That doesn't mean it's in his character as we know it.

    Oy! Lex threatening Lionel with unemployment for questioning his trips is ridiculous. If the man that nearly killed him, is an ex-convict, AND was committed for insanity is still working at LuthorCorp, I hardly think there's much that will get his butt fired.


    Frustrating Lex situation: It's because he's supposed to be the bad guy at this point. Maybe he's planning on selling the antidote instead of giving it away and making tons of dough which could be considered bad - but standard pharmaceutical business practices. Lex says it's under control, but he should know better. How many times has one of his experiments gone free?

    Not too many, actually. Mostly they were Lionel's. Lex's, maybe five, ten times out of 100 eps. Still, it happens a bit.

    You know, Chloe & Clark should be master thieves. They have shown that they can walk into and out of even the most secure places and rarely get caught. Not only because Clark's super-powered but because Chloe is super hacker. (I LOVE that she realizes she needs a real life!) But of course, their assumption is the only possible explanation. Any further thought might cause permanent brain damage. It irritates me that they think Clark is Lionel's only secret. It's retarded. There's no evidence to that. Of course, we know that they're totally conclusion jumpers, but this strains my patience.

    As does the writing for me.

    "My Evil Scheme" file: Loved that line. Chloe gets some of the best ones!

    Why would a conversation between Lana & Lois lead to an article about them? If Chloe didn't leak it out, why would Lois? Does she have reporter creds that I'm unaware of? "Something bigger than either of us." Oh, I'm gonna puke.

    I already did. Towel?

    Montage of all the clips of her bursting in: I'll do it for you. Never fear. I've been meaning to do a number of mini-Smallville videos and this I'll do just for you. Pick a background song.

    I'm No Superman? Kidding. I about "Hulk Hogan Bubblebath", by the band Ash? I always wanted to film an action scene to that song.

    Lex's revelation: He would have gotten a lot more Lana brownie points for her knowing that he's working to help save the world! (I'm not going to be able to take much more Lexana. It's even more nauseating than usual.) Why is it that Lex doesn't realize that all the antidotes and immunizations just lead to bigger and badder viruses. But maybe I've just read too many SciFi novels. And Fine doesn't know about the vaccine? He's got Lex convinced that there's going to be an alien invasion? Why would they use Earth created viruses? It would be much more logical and deadly to bring something no one has ever experienced before. (The pictures were on AOL.)

    I dunno. The whole thing fell flat for me.

    Lana knows how to stop Kryptonians: At first, I was "How does she know that???" Then I remember the whole thing. Now, Neal. Refresh my memory. Did Superman let everyone know his weakness when he was first revealed? Lex is going to remember this and put 2 & 3 together. It just seems too soon for this info to be given to him.

    No. Traditionally, Lex is the one who discovers it, somehow. Or at least the first to put two and two together.

    Milton appearing as Jonathan to Martha: You're right. Milton shouldn't have known that. Martha should have been tipped off, but apparently if you dress like Jonathan, anything you say has to be taken as gospel. But at least "Jonathan" didn't let her touch him to keep the illusion that he was a ghost authentic. Jonathan had a heart attack. That's not "drowning in your own blood". But it was a nice reveal about "Jonathan" being Fine. but hanging outside the window where she totally could have seen? Stupid.

    But SOOOooooooooooooo dramatic!

    Fabulous ad, by the way. I need to put in an order for 2 dozen plot holes.

    Here's one. This sentence ends with

    All of the video e-mails Lex got weren't on the AOL journal. Fine just walks in. Great security guys. But the scene with Lex and Fine was fab. I think it's hilarious that he tried to coerce Fine with kryptonite. I almost fell out of my chair. Now I have a question. Usually kryptonite only glows when around Kryptonians. Why did it glow there? Was it because Fine's a Kryptonian construct?

    I think the prop department got overzealous.

    Not Brainiac: I really like that comparison. I know they keep talking about Fine being Brainiac, but I just don't believe it. I just don't.

    It's in the don't really think this Clark Kent becomes Superman either, if you look at things on an objective level.

    Here's something I don't get. With Clark warning him away, why would Lionel come to the farm to chat? If it had been me and I'd known a super-powered person was already more than annoyed at me, I would have chosen a crowded location. Lionel totally copped to being there when Jonathan died. But when he denies planning on using him for a weapon, Clark doesn't believe it? To be honest, I would be angrier at someone possibly killing a parent than I would that there was some nebulous plan to use me. I'm not sure I agree that Clark was taking some sort of nebulous pleasure from throwing Lionel around, but you have a valid point. But if "Jonathan" was so smart, he wouldn't have shown up to try and make sure Clark followed through.

    Yeah. So much for advanced intelligence.

    Why didn't Clark catch the tractor? He's done it a gazillion times before? Why did he allow it to smash him into the loft staircase? And why did it take him so long to get up? Fine shouldn't be able to snap his neck. I'm sorry. Even when he was fighting Doomsday and getting the snot beat out of him, no bones were broken! And WHY is Lionel/Jor-El's touch enough to destroy him? (If I wasn't in an apartment complex, I would scream bloody murder, but for the sake of my neighbors, I'm holding back.)

    I think the snap his neck thing was just to be dramatic, unfortunately. Really, Fine can't do much to Clark without Kryptonite...

    Keep things from Lex: I see why Clark agrees. He's been doing that forever. But why do they have to? Why can't they tell Lex that Fine tried to manipulate Clark into killing Lionel and that he shouldn't trust him? Why not? Come on!!! WHY NOT?!? But now Lionel is officially a good guy. He gives Clark all the pain written documents. He lays out all the cards. He HAS to be considered one of the good guys now, right? But good point about co-murdering. They're now treating him as a trusted ally when nearly all of their history with him says they shouldn't.

    It's only took three episodes, too. Just like most finale turns.

    So they take everything to Chloe (because it's oh so secure at the Planet) (and boy does that girl work lots of hours!) and ask her to translate it. (Like the line about hell freezing over, but still.) But how does Chloe know that Zod is the ultimate evil? Chloe just happens to have pattern recognition software at the Obit desk of the Planet? Why would Chloe think that Lana would know where the lab. I'm. I just. Oh, f*** it!


    The scene in Lana AND CHLOE's apartment nearly sent me off the deep end. I had to go and see if I had any Iron Chef's saved up for just this eventuality. But I didn't. I hate that she gets to pretend that she's all above suspicion when she's been lying to everyone for quite some time now. SHE WAS INVOLVED IN THE ORIGINAL INVESTIGATION OF THE SPACESHIP. SHE IS INVOLVED WITH LEX. SHE IS INVOLVED WITH THE SECOND INVESTIGATION OF THE SPACESHIP AND THE WHOLE VIRUS THING! I have to calm down or I'm going to have a stroke. Not only that, but Lois - Lana's new BFF - runs away like they just stripped and started having wild pig sex? But if Clark didn't listen to Lionel, why are we surprised that the writers didn't have Lana listening to Clark?

    False hope.

    Why would Fine only need one vaccine for LEX? And what did he inject into the vaccine first? And one punch destroys the lab? And Clark superspeeds in - and you know there's cameras - then superspeeds out? He's not worried about Lex being electrocuted by his equipment? He's not even going to try to save his old friend?

    Is that a rabbit over there?

    Lex had a point about being the good guy. He also had a point about Clark looking at Lana's stuff. But hasn't Lex done stuff - bad stuff - for the good of others? Wasn't Clark trying to help Lex? Did Lana even bother to say that? For the Clark character, he should have at least tried to say, "I was worried about you." That gives him a reason AND that he and Lana are on such bad terms, why is it so impossible to believe that he would be looking for any indication of where Lex was? Maybe he thought Lex's point about losing Lana had merit and that he had no reasoning. I don't know.

    I think they're all so inconsistent it's hard to condemn or praise any of them. Which is the end result, frankly, of consistent bad writing with no eye for continuity.

    I had things to say about the Lexana scene and the Liomartha scene, but I can't. it's too much. One note: Lex heals like Fine would so it must have been Fine essence injected into the vaccine.

    Yeah, but then, how does he LOSE that power later...

    The scene with Lois makes me what to throw another fit. No purpose in it whatsoever. And he was in the room ONCE! For a very good reason! Lois doesn't have all the facts so should just shut her mouth. And Clark's "times you know me better than anyone" should have been scribbled out in purple crayon! And the warm and fuzzy smiles between them made me want to skin a cat. Tee hee! Loved your Opposite Land scenario for Chloe - but then I'm a total Chlarker. Is it possible that trying to read Lionel's scribbling would have been impossible because they weren't in any particular order, but it's still really odd. And your message would have been better.

    I would have written, "RUN! ZOD!"

    I think 2 of 5 is generous considering how many times I had to pause and breathe or actually leave the room.

    When I finished all my comments and my comments to your review, I wound up with fifteen pages for two episodes. I'm going to re-read and pare it down. Good. Got it to 10!

    Not so bad, actually.

    But any way it goes, you'll be getting this soon. Thanks for the good and the masterful use of that whip. On Al and Miles! Gee, get your mind out of the gutter!



    Scott wrote:
    I have been reading your reviews of Smallville and Infinite crisis and they are a lot of fun to read to be honest. Not that I always agree with all your opinions but you usually have a better arguement than I do.†


    I was just e-mailing about in how Infinite crisis 6 the spectre comes and kills starsphire and that being kind of a throw away scene. I think its kind of reminiscient of the original crisis where the call in the spectre to fight the Anti-monitor. Just though that was kind of a cool tie in from the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

    True. I hadn't really thought of that until I read it from you here. All in all, Spectre was really thrown in. Good to see character motion, but it was tangential to the plot.

    That's pretty much it keep writing the reviews they are excellent although i havent read the recent episodes of smallville because the tv schedule here (Canada) is a bit crazy. Try not to critique them too much :P.


    Oh, I try. I always fail though.

    Chad H. wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    Excited to have a break coming up? :)

    You ain't kidding. I love these things, but right now I'm very exhausted. I have two books to edit, one book to write, a movie to film, and chapbooks to prepare this summer. I NEED the time.

    I enjoyed the last review and agreed with much of what you said, especially the bit about Fine and why he didn't just take out Lionel himself.†


    I had the privilage of getting to ask a few questions to Steve DeKnight(Smallville writer) last weekend, and I thought you would find some of the answers interesting. One of the questions I asked him was about that exact thing. I thought I would post the Q & A right here for you:


    -Questions for Steven DeKnight-

    Mr DeKight:

    1) Do the writer's have a plan set out that is going to explain Jor-El and why he has acted the way he has in the past seasons? It's just really hard to see this Jor-El being the one that Clark grows to trust from the comics. Do they have a plan set out to explain this?

    DEKNIGHT: Al and Miles do have some sort of plan. But I can't tell you what it is. I like my job.

    "Some sort" is indicative to me. I'm guessing that means, like most things, the show is winging it.

    2) I know that you have to work on an SFX budget per episode, but it seems we don't see Clark effectively use his powers as much as he used to. What do you think of this, and is this a concern at all to the writer's or producers?

    DEKNIGHT: We'd love to have Clark whip out his powers all the time, but yes, the CGI is super expensive. And when we do a huge bit like the missile gag in Hidden, we run overbudget. Which means we have to make that money up by skimping on the powers in two or three epiosdes down the line. It's a vicious CGI circle.

    Yeah, except that problem wasn't there at all the first few seasons when ratings were REALLY, REALLY high because the writing was exemplary.

    3) Speaking of powers...when are we going to get to see his Super-Breath and for the love of god FLIGHT. Clark knows he has that ability in him, but we don't get to see him wonder about it or try it out any. Are we going to get to see any of these two?

    DEKNIGHT: Flight explained earlier. Super-Breath coming up next season, we hope.

    About time...he's 19 already.

    4) With as powerful as Milton Fine is and the fact that he gains a new ability every time we see him, why didn't he just off Lionel instead of trying to get Clark to?

    DEKNIGHT: That really irritated me when I saw Oracle. In the last script I read Clark and Lionel pose the same question, and come to the conclusion that Fine couldn't get close to Lionel. Whatever Jor-El did to Lionel, it disrupts Fine's systems. In effect, Lionel is a weapon against Fine. That's why Fine was using Clark to do his dirty work. But all that got cut somehow. And that made us writer types look bad. Hate when that happens.

    I do too. But there's a solution to that. There is a thing called email, whereby creators can interact with the people who they write and create to. If you'll notice, whenever an accessible creator screws up or seem to, we can ask them about it, inform the fan, and the problem goes away. Whenever the production is asked publicly about mistakes, the interview well dries up, complaints begin, and the story progresses without taking fan input. That's why the show is tanking.

    5) Will we ever get to see Lana learn of Clark's abilities? It would really help her to see how unfairly she has treated Clark throughout these last two seasons.

    DEKNIGHT: I hope so, but it probably won't happen until late in the series.


    6) Are there any other Superman Villains you would like to introduce in Smallville, and who are they?

    DEKNIGHT: Bizzaro, Metallo, and Toy Man come to mind. Any other suggestions?

    -End of Q & A-

    I have one. Lex Luthor.

    He was a nice guy and took the time to answer questions posed to him by several people. Some of the things you mention quite frequently are things that I have issues with in the Jor-El...and thought he might provide an answer for. Alas though, twas not to be, because appearently they have a plan, but he can't say what it is.

    Well, I like Stephen as a person, myself. I've ripped on his writing a lot, but you'll find that most writers get ripped on by me at some point or another. It's always hit and miss. At very least, that he's given to interviews is a very big boon to me. And given what he told you, it enlightens a number of things. You might suggest to him that if the writers and the producers were a little more forthright about the mistakes, the armchair critics would be less able to pounce. It's OKAY to say, "We don't have money for the effects, that's why there's no heat vision." But when you plug along pretending all is great (that marvelous tv BS faade), that's when things fall to hell. And when you have declining values but you don't introduce new blood, either in staff or in story direction (Smallville is one big "let's get back to home base" trip, without character development), it gets old fast.

    I think if the staff and the producers listened to people more (not took stupid suggestions to heart, but actually listened to what people like and don't like and went from there) it would overall be a better show. You can do this through reading internet reviews and reading well enough to get the writer's name correct (et-hem), or you can do it by talking to ordinary fans, or you can get that very directly, to toot my own horn, from a dude who talks to thousands of Superman fans a year and hears, likely, more complaints about what doesn't make Smallville tick than the staff.

    I wanted to also give a quick two cents to the guy who thinks anyone poor or on wellfare or food stamps are free loading thickies. What right do you have to say to anyone what they're status in life is, whether you were just trying to ruffle feathers or not. Only those who haven't had to live through a similar economic situation have the gall to say these things. It urks me when people, with no education of a situation, decides they know what another person's life and motivations are like. That's the way of the ignorant I guess.

    It's because there ARE so many people who abuse the system. I see where that thought comes from. But the reality is, if you want to complain about government waste, why complain about money that goes to poverty (and some greedy schlubs) when the entire budged FOR said program can be made up with the removal of a few bombers we don't need, or one less fleet of tanks?

    Keep it up, and if I don't get to write next week, we'll see you next year.
    Here's to some writing consistancy!

    Word. Thanks.

    See you later....oh...and a belated congratulations on your book deal! Hope another one comes soon after.

    You and me both. But either way, I'll be tapping the keys. Awesome interview chunk...

    Dan Sjstrm wrote:
    Dear VaNeala Ice (sorry, that was just stupid)

    Stop...collaborate and listen!

    First of all I want to sort out some things from my previous mail. 1: Yes, MTV raps, at least in Scandinavia as far as I know. It also rocks and pops, but I highly doubt it bops. I think they leave that to Vh1. 2: The holiday Walpurgis night, or Valborg as we call it, is celebrated in several European countries at April 30 with bonfires and fireworks in the memory of Saint Walburga who was an abbess at the Heidenheim convent in the 8th century. That was the history lesson of today. And now for something completely different...

    Saint Walburga...sounds like Wal-Mart meets a hamburger, but it still sounds like a lot of fun. :)

    Your review for Exposed really stood out from the rest with the Star Trek TNG script pages and all. In a good way of course. The way you wrote Picard reminded me of Patrick Stewart¥s character on American Dad for some reason. It¥s also strange that I read it the same day that TV6 was brought back on the air with a fat load of shows to be aired each weekday, one of them Star Trek TNG. Spooky... I can sorta understand why you did it that way and not just cause of the sweeps. Like Mary Poppins sang, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. And boy, that spoon was really needed for this medicine.

    I just re-read it for the re-review, and it doesn't stand up as well as I'd hoped, but it still has a few great moments, and it was a LOT of fun. Steve almost killed me for all the formatting though.

    The beginning was sorta fun. Lois was finally at the Planet, but only to play video games while Chloe was the reporter. Well, the phone operator actually. But hey, if I answer the phone and there¥s a person fearing for his or her life, I wouldn¥t even dream of getting involved. I would turn on my supersonic signal watch. What I mean by that is I would look for somebody who I knew would be able to handle the situation.

    Jimmy? Hey-oh!

    The Senator of Hazzard. Another character we never heard of but the main folks know like the back of their hand. At least they could've done some foreshadowing. Campaign posters, television ads, a mentioning over the dinner table, whatever.
    And again with blaming Lex! Why? What's with these people, really? This was even worse than the fist fight at the end of Mortal, seriously. They couldn't figure out Ethan shot Lionel until the end of Suspect, but when they see a photograph of a politician with a stripper in his lap they instantly jump to the conclusion Lex is framing him? Puh-lease! You know who they need to consult? Dr. Phil! "So what you say is that whenever something bad comes along you immediately presume Lex Luthor is behind it? I mean, why? I¥ve written a book about it that I think you should read. It¥s called 'Crisis of Friendship'."

    Only if Fine puts a knife through Phil at the end of the show.

    I can honestly say it was the first time I felt embarrassed watching Smallville. That was during Lois¥ "striptease". It seemed to me like Tom and Erica felt awkward both in character and as themselves and I¥ll bet even my TV was ashamed of displaying this on the screen. It was a bad move just to merchandise it in that particular way, but even worse to suggest it would be more than the shaky, fumbling attempt of a pole dance. So not only does the Superman fans take another kick in the teeth, but also all the car mechanics who are tired of staring at their calendars all day long. Okay, that might¥ve been offensive to any car mechanic who might read this. Lucky I don¥t have a car...

    Nah, car mechanics have nudie pics. Point being, they don't look at those girls for the plot. Promise.

    Until now, they¥ve always tried to camouflage this sort of thing with Nicodemus flowers, witches, college recruiting and heck even vampires. It¥s like they weren¥t even trying anymore. I guess the episode title says it all. Last time I reflected on Thirst coming right after Aqua and now there was something similar as Hidden ran before those two, followed by Exposed. Don¥t tell me that¥s not intentional.

    I won't.

    Knowing of Maggie Sawyer¥s preferences so to speak, I shamefully admit my imagination ran away for a bit when she raided the club. As if a waiter would walk up to her and say, "Good evening ms. Sawyer. The same table as usual?" "Not now, beaver-construction it, I¥m working!" Will I ever grow up?

    Actually...that's a remarkably astute reference given the comics. I'm surprised I didn't crack wise about that at the time.

    What was Lois wearing again? Red boots, red hotpants and the dress kinda looked like a cape when she put it on. Were they trying to make her look like Supergirl, perhaps? At least I thought the dresses looked like a bunch of capes in the closet. Imagine if the Russkie had opened it and it was full of Superman costumes. "Ooops, wrong closet. Who¥d wear those things, anyway?"


    The helicopter lasso was cool. In your review I expected you to write something like "Wonder Woman called, she wants her gimmick back". At least I would¥ve, but I¥m not you unless Q would decide to snap his fingers and change that.

    I think Wonder Woman should come and say that herself...

    I think they chickened out a bit by telling us the Russian got caught by Interpol. Sawyer already pointed out that justice can¥t always prevail and I was fine by that. The good don¥t always win, sometimes the bad guys get away. Just look at Dr. Doom, for the love of Marvel!

    Or Joker and Qurac.

    In my personal opinion, this was one of the worst episodes I¥ve seen. That means a lot coming from someone who tries to stay as positive as possible, but that was beyond me in this case. I would pick a marathon of Jinx, Spell, Spirit and Thirst over this one, those are my feelings, how harsh they might be. Maybe if I¥d seen the Dukes of Hazzard I¥d appreciated this a little more. Sure, I recognized some stuff I¥ve overheard but I would¥ve liked to hear it from the horse¥s mouth before I saw this. Too bad we don¥t have that show here. I could always rent the movie, but if John Schneider thinks it¥s bad I suspect it¥s a whole different animal.

    I watched it. It was...what you'd expect. Shallow crap with one or two half laughs.

    Another thing ¥fore I take a hike, I saw the Superman Returns trailer. It was amazing, I can¥t remember being so thrilled over a trailer ever. I believe this will go down as a classic in movie history. I just can¥t wait ¥til it opens at theatres, then I can¥t wait ¥til my turn at the box office, then I can¥t wait ¥til the commercials end and the movie starts rolling. Long story short, me wanna see Superman Returns!!

    Likewise. I will line up early in the day. I do that for Star Wars, and Superman. Period.

    Oh, and your review. Hilarious stuff. I laughed so hard, so many times. Around my block, Saturday Night Live isn¥t exactly live and Hey Baberiba on TV4 barely jokes about things happening outside of Sweden, so I was glad to read something humorous about the trailer so soon after I saw it.

    Saturday Night Live isn't exactly funny, either. Tina Fey is hot, but other than that, meh.

    And then Kate Bosworth. Man, she makes a beautiful Lois Lane. Even more than Erica, even if she¥s not too bad herself. Not that I value looks over everything else in an actor, but still. Although, Kate is playing the more mature Lois that CK will fall for in the future rather than her Smallville equivalent, so I guess that does its part.

    I dunno. I'm not so attracted to Bosworth. Mostly because I like women I can climb. Women who, if it came down to it, might have a chance with me in a fistfight.

    Well, I had nothing more to say so I¥ll have to quote Porky Pig and say that¥s all, folks, without the politically incorrect stuttering.



    Felix Vasquez wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    It's been a long season eh? Ups and downs. Mostly downs. But a step up from Season four, you have to admit.

    Yeah and no. I think it depends on how you look at it.

    I have to wonder why Lana continues to take center stage in a series about the evolution of Superman. It's one of the constant turn offs to a show that I could possibly love. It's one reason why I never buy the DVD sets, it's one reason why this show doesn't warrant repeat viewings. Lana always takes center stage. It's unbearable these days.

    They seem to realize it and walk away a bit, then step back to it. Lame.

    I hate this character. I hate her, Neal. I despise her. She gives away the heroes plans to the villain. Disgusting. I literally cursed her aloud when she betrayed Clark and Chloe. Will she pay for her betrayal? No, because she's amazing. Next season we'll be back to the same junk. For shame.

    And back and forth. Even when she's a junkie, they don't flip her crap.

    Regardless of the gripe with Lana, I thought this was a very good finale. Sure there were more biblical themes, sadly more allusions to the Birthright correlation, a huge plot hole involving Clark and the inscriptions from Krypton. Why couldn't he read them before and suddenly read them on the spot in front of Lionel? Plot hole! I'm sure you caught it.

    Acme brand. Actually, I pretty much liked the finale too. Not too bad.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed this episode a lot. Not one of the best finales I've ever seen, but it sure was fun. It will be interesting to see how Clark gets out of the Phantom Zone and if he and Zod ever fight. If Smallville is nearing the home stretch as rumored, it's time to get the ball rolling on Clark's progression to the man of steel. Here's hoping Gough and Millar get their heads out of their butts.

    Seconded and forwarded to a vote.

    3 out of 5. Not a perfect finale, but still good.

    Cinema Crazed

    Thanks, Felix!

    Jen Rouse wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Another season draws to a close, and curiously within one episode there was a demonstration of every single thing that annoyed or was enjoyable throughout the season.

    Heck, that's most shows. Heh.

    Clark can no longer be considered a hero. Heros do not hold back crucial information such as he does when he doesn't tell his mother that Lionel knows his secret. Or take forever to dump someone, and when he finally does, he looks like HE is the one being dumped. But in reality Lana dumped him in "The Wreckoning," and they were still going out after that. If Clark decided that he couldn't trust Lana, he should have just broken up with her right then and there. Instead of dragging that issue on for five more episodes.

    Or the rest of the series...

    Lex's speech in the finale about Clark lying all the time, is all true. He does lie all the time to everyone he care's about and at times for no good reason, as you have pointed out. Lex has a throwaway line to Clark in that same scene that he knew something was diffrent from Clark. What do you want to bet Lex doesn't remember anything about Clark's power when he becomes himself again. Why even have him realize his powers, if it's just going to be forgotten-AGAIN!

    In episode two or three of next year.

    I have a couple of questions. What was the deal with everybody referring to Lex as his best friend?

    He was once, in seasons one and two. Then he still was but they called him "going to the dark side," so Clark just took his cash and treated him like crap. That's where it's been ever since up until Clark punched him. They just don't remember that sometimes.

    That hasn't been the case all season. Clark and Lex are Ex-friends at this point.†If stabbing†Fine with the knife would†help get Zod out of the Phantom Zone,†wouldn't you think that Jor-el should have told him that?

    Yes. With haste.

    And for that matter WHY did†a knife Jor-El give him cause the portal for Zod to escape from? That didn't make any sense to me.

    Me neither.

    There were some cool idea's mixed in with this finale. Some which could have been fleshed out throughout the season, rather then being rushed in the final episode of the season. If they didn't waste so much time with filler episodes, the Lex getting powers thing could have been an interesting Storyline.

    This Season as a whole was much better then Season 4, but was in general a miss or hit affair. Sometimes even in the same episodes. Next season I might just watch the beggining couple of episodes, some during the middle during sweeps, and the last couple of the season. Those seem to be the only ones worth watching. Even if this Finale was kind of weak.

    Yeah, compared to the past...

    Ritesh Rajan wrote:
    Hi Neal,

    I've only written to you once before about smallville, asking a question about the Kryptonian blade being able to cut Clark in the season 3 episode..Talisman....since then I've pretty much sat back, read your column every time, agreed with all your smallville and mild mannered reviews for the most part, read your stories and voted for you on dark idol (Sorry about how that went) but congrats on your finally getting that book deal you were looking for!! Better late than never and I'm real happy for you.

    Thanks! And thanks for the help on Dark Idol. Slowly but surely, because of you all, I'm starting that run toward success!

    On to the episode....where do I begin....I so agreed with your comment from the review for 'Oracle' that there wasn't a sense of anticipation to this years finale as I had in previous years including for the otherwise execrable season 4 where the fortress redeemed everything, I don't know if other priorities, my newfound habit of mostly DVRing and zapping ads that may have included promos for the finale preview contributed to a lack of buzz, but Gough and Millar had always delivered before and I expected it to be no different....I'm sad to say that other than the preview for Superman Returns, I was rather indifferent about the whole episode last night.

    It was an awesome preview...

    I wondered if it was me but even my wife, whom I'd persuaded to catch up on it after she'd missed the first 2 seasons and usually follows most cool things Superman now that she's married to me, poor thing :), had the same thing to say.

    Those Superman widows...poor gals. (takes off hat)

    I think you summed it up best with your 2 words 'Arbitrary Drama'!!!


    Cases in point

    1) Opening scene, the animals sensing something...Ooooh..they can sense Zod..can they? At least we see Shelby.


    2) Lex is taken! ..was that a reference to the 4400, Spielberg's 'TAKEN' or just a generic pop culture impression of an alien abduction...oh well at Lex finally got his close encounter of the alien kind. We know he's going to come back changed..for awhile I had hopes he might come back as a hybrid version of Brainiac..thoughts of Alan Moore's 'Lexiac' entity from 'Whatever happened to the man of tomorrow' swirled in my head..then I remembered..this is smallville in the 5th aim low....

    Luthoriac would rule. I hope they actually do that at some point.

    2) Clark suddenly realizing Jor-el might be trying to 'protect us' - based on current evidence..naaah! based on Clark's own terrible Daddy issues....can he really make a logical leap of faith like that? I don't think so unless his double take on Lionel is forcing him to re-evaluate everything he knows... and dont even get me started on Lionel, one daty he's evil, another day Kal-el's spirit changed him, then bad Lex turned him again, and now it seems being Jor-el's vessel redeemed him again..or does he have an agenda?

    Or the writers have no clue, the more likely.

    3) The obligatory Jor-el encounter, 'I am your father'!! unnecessary Star Wars homage, but then since its done Spike, Vampires, Saw, the Grudge, Kryp-Tuck....alright sigh! tolerate another forced pop culture reference..but whats this..Just when I thought we had enough of Jonathan exhorting Clark to kill, here goes Jor-el clamoring about the greater good.And whats that, a knife? Hmmm....Jor-el sure was prepared wasnt he, 1 time use only time travel, 1 time use only powers for Jonathan and they gave hima weak heart, and yet now Lionel and Lex have exhibited powers with no side effects, guess they got Kryptonian Powers v 2.0. Also, oddly enough..another Kryptonian knife again in another episode I write to you about..I'm beginning to see a pattern here ;)...

    Yeah. A couple thousand. :)

    Wonder if Smallville's obsession with the hero and a dagger is a homage to the 7 daggers of Maggedon in Omen....Lionel and Lex were involved then as they grabbed at it, and Clark wasnt sure who was the worse evil because it disintegrated at their combined touch, and now again.. a knife, Lionel and Lex..although knowing the writers, I do not think this was intentional in any way. Seeing as they have jettisoned further exporation of the whole Naman..Zegeeth...Native American and Kryptonian links, which I always felt anyway, was an extended homage to the X-Files use of similar themes, seem to have been long forgotten except for the cave portal to the fortress which is a mess they wrote themselves into.

    And never wrote themselves out of.

    4) Ok, so now we're back to the Daily planet for the obligatory Chlark, and she reasserts Jor-el is psycho, I'd have to agree...he is asking his only son to kill the vessel....Lionel seems ok with it, calls it a tribal rite of passage even though it is his own son who's going to be carved up? Wait...whaaa....? At least clark says he will not kill...that's the Superman I know...except where was he when he was throwing Lionel around and entertaining dark thoughts put there by Fine Jonathan. He almost did kill Martha's attackers in the Batman knockoff episode (Vengeance , was it?)...and they called poor John Kerry a flip flopper!

    Heh. How DARE he change his mind on the basis of new information?

    5) Oh and whats this, haven't they learnt from the invisible guy who overheard 'meteor rocks'...repeat after me..thou shalt not speak plot advancing lines loudly in a public place if you are trying to keep a secret and if you do, check that no one you know is around...too late..Lana heard...but is she goign to confront them about killing Lex right there...nope...passive aggression until the end! And when she does confront Clark....rather blase about his wanting to kill Lex methinks, she manages to make that about Clark's distrust of her too! Such self aggrandizement!! I tell ya, Clark rid himself of a high maintenance millstone around the neck. Good luck, Lex, you'll need lots of it.

    And he'll need to lose a certain something too...two of them.

    6) There's enough of Lex left to ask Lana to see him, tell her no secrets and show up Clark as a fink, and yet have no consideration for Lionel when he casually throws him aside....I'm amazed...the charm of the show initially was that it showed a Superman in training learning how to use his powers, hold back, turn it on.....we go from one moment where Lex tosses Lionel aside without knowing his own strength to perfect super speeding and cupping Lana's face intimately in his hands in a grip that looks like it ought to have crushed her! Guess he learnt how to use his powers on his way to the mansion. Guess Clark really is a dud for taking so long.

    Or the writers.

    7)Martha and Lois going to Washington on board a Lexcorp jet piloted by Fine. Totally unnecessary, adds nothing to the plot than add to the multiple jeopardy situation at the climax...and my wife and I were ROTFL at Fine bothering to change into pilots togs, thats Milton Fine for you, attention to detail! If they didn't even have him leave the cockpit and have a bwahahaha evil supervillain gloat moment..what good was it to show him piloting the plane , they might as well left it pilotless..oh wait..they already pulled that one on Lex when he crashed on the Island in the season 2 finale.


    8) I figure the whole plot device of giving Lex powers was this shows equivalent of giving him a Green and Purple battlesuit and have a no holds barred fight with Clark but as has been the norm, a few quick blows and it was over.I wonder how they hope to rebuild the barn, but then again with all other things on Clark's to do list, that can wait I guess.

    I'm hoping in the premiere there is at very least a decent fight.

    9) Why does piercing Brainiac with a Kryptonian dagger release Zod?? Was that always the plan? Brainiac goading Clark into killing Lex knowing this is what he would end up doing ? Random senseless stuff!The whole coolness of Zod saying 'you have your fathers eyes' in Lex's form was offset by the absurdity in how it came to pass.

    Er...look! A rabbit!

    10) Why oh why have the car crash through the Daily Planet...since they always seem to take the stairs or the elevator, I assumed it was a higher floor...did the car drive off a multi level parkign garage? Unnecessary obligatory save for the ssake of coolness...and the kiss..ok so they've let Clark be the dunderhead who never seems to realize Chloe's true feelings for him all this least now that he knows..I do hope they acknowledge it going forward, he can't feign ignorance any more...assuming chloe survives of course.

    Twas still pretty cool. I liked it.

    11) So Zod uses Lex as a vessel and remembers what Lex said to Lana about meeting him someplace? Guess he needed some lovin' since there are no conjugal visits in the phantom zone unless Ursa's there and interested. Truth be told Lana deserves someone like Zod, altho it'd be a whole new take on 'Kneel before Zod' ;) anyway.she's caused Clark more pain than Ursa ever did in Superman II.

    I hope she dies, as she deserves too.

    12) When Zod-Lex threw that ring (Lord of the Rings?), into the air and we saw Clark whiz away in a blur of red and blue, I thought...hmm..the teaser promos read 'he accepts his destiny', is that soem new doomsday instrument of earth's destruction, did Clark really fly to save the day and then the last shot of him trapped in the phantom zone being rocketed into outer space pulled me out of it..I guess it was too much to hope for. Also, the Donner movies showed it as a near 2D glass pane....something I've relished as akin to artistic depictions in the comics of our 3D as 2D in Myxzptlyk's 5th dimension world (check out Mark Waid and Bryan Hitch's 'JLA - Heaven's Ladder' for the reference).The thickness of the pane here made it seem tackier somehow..maybe thats just me.

    I liked it myself, but I think the effect of him being sucked into it wasn't all that cool.

    What makes it so much worse is a season that started out with so much promise ended up with almost a whimper....perhaps thats in relation to expectations but after all the recent filler we had been subjected to, this didn't raise the bar in quite the way other season finales had done in the past.

    It kind of did, in that it had more plausible action and fewer arbitrary dilemmas, but it still had a few.

    the irony is for an episode that had more 'mythos' moments than many other episodes of late, I was left really cold because so much of it was so inconsistent, truth be told, I almost thought a bunch of writers tag teamed it...witness the moment Lex is giving Clark grief over all his lies ( I thought ok, finally some acknowledgement of how the show has portrayed Clark so this a nudge wink in joke or all literal and in plot?!) and then Lex goes and says he always coveted everything Clark had, he didnt have his iron will, scoffing at Clark trying to save Lex from his dark much for the ambiguity and the casting Lex as a flawed well meaning guy trying to do the right thing..of course this could be Zod or is it Brainiac nanite vaccine or part Lex playing mind games with Clark but seeing as how they keep things simple, I doubt they wanted their viewers to make that leap of logic. End result..I still don't know what they meant and where they were going! the sheer numebr of crises that this cliffhanger ends on, its like one writer each dreamt up one jeopardy scenario apiece and they threw them all in to have us return for the season 6 premiere.

    I'll take it, though. Just this once. Premieres get a pretty good pass.

    I'm just curious how the writers are going to write themselves out of this pickle....what totally unbelieveable deux ex machina are they going to pull out of their collective hats....Clark needs to be released from the phantom zone, a term he heard in the premiere and from Jor-el in this episode..hope he knows where he is, perhaps he could ask Mon-el to let him loose :D, and assuming he gets free, what does he do first......contain a fast spreading computer virus of extraterrestrial origin, hope that power and communications being restored brings sanity back to the neanderthals who were about to tear apart Lionel and Chloe, save Lois and Martha from wherever they are assuming their fuel lasts and last but not least release Lex and presumably Lana from Zod's thrall by taking on him and Brainiac together.I don't know that even Superboy in the silver Age dealt with so many threats all at once and Clark is already at a disadvantage because he is not as smart as superboy ever was nor has he embraced his Kryptonian heritage in quite the same way. Also, assuming that Supes is the first costumed superhero in this universe, if the world gets saved from this global threat without the appearance of any costumed do gooders, wouldn't there be lingering questions as to how, why? O but Smallville takes freaks, meteor rocks and coincidences in its stride anyway so I guess the world is no different or maybe they will turn back time again...I for one sure wouldn't be surprised..i only wish they'd really turn back time and we'd have a season 4 comprised of the best episodes of 4 and 5 without the gratuitous plot rip offs, T & A digressions and all round crap of the past 2 years. Where is the show that I loved, gone?

    Yes. But then, I think with all of those dilemmas, they really have a chance to start off the new season well and pick things up anew. I have hope.

    In my mind, I just wished they'd ended it and shown him being given his costume in the fortress and flying off to save the day, I don't need to know how...but please end this travesty of a series that claims to have flown the Superman torch all these years. The only Superman torch in 2006 shall be borne by Brandon Routh courtesy Bryan Singer's Superman Returns and I'm guessing it will be every bit worth the wait of suffering through the agonizing development hell this movie went through.

    I don't want the show to die. I do want it to get better.

    With Gough and Millar concentrating on Aqua, the prognosis looks dim for Smallville, it seems like they are phoning it in now. I am most incredulous at the grounded in reality, no flights no tights dogma of the show...they might as well show the tights seeing as we have suspended disbelief for all the other junk thrown out at us so far in the same of suspension of a Kryptonian primary colored costume really such a stretch?

    I didn't think it would be after 18. But apparently so.

    I'm also curious about the mandate about no use of Kryptonians on the show...with doesn't get any more Kryptonian than him, has it been relaxed or is the Lex as vessel idea, a cop out to co-opt that and still play with the idea? Apparently there was a meeting about not stepping on the toes of the movie and vice versa, its ncie that they kept the look of the fortress consistent but I wish they'd ended the terrible now he's ok, but mostly curmudgeonly...Jor-el angle. I wonder how die-hard smallville fans ignorant of the myth are going to deal with the kind avuncular Jor-el as played by Marlon Brando in the movie. I had an idea for a while, Terence Stamp as Jor-el meant he might be Zod, perhaps Lionel is really the vessel and all is fooling us all until a time Jor-el actually makes his appearance? But the Lex, Brainiac thing quickly put paid to that, and Lionel has been far too genuine to be anything but the real thing.....oh well

    I don't think people will bat an eye at Smallville and Superman differences. They're just two different interpretations. It'll be well. :)

    Sorry, I rambled a lot, but I just couldn't hold back and needed to vent, thanks for listening, have yourself a great summer and lots of excellent writing!

    Take care,

    Thanks! Awesome letter.

    B-Rad wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    I hope that this gets to you before you published your review. Since the Superman Returns movie is getting closer, everyone, including me, is getting excited that they will see what has the potential to be a epical Superman event. Yet, there is the skeptic inside of me that says this could be a flop. Do you have any thoughts on this, do you have skeptism about the quality of the movie?

    My belief is that the movie looks good, is on track, and will likely rule. My guy says that. I am skeptical about the kid, but they have three hours to justify it. I have faith.

    I also have a simple request. Could you write a review for "Superman Returns" in the same way that you write your weekly Smallville reviews? I don't know if someone requested this already, but I would really like to see that happen.†

    Already planned. I will be doing two. One, the review where I just come out of the theater and am flush and emotional, and two, the Smallville style note review.

    I hope you have a good summer and I look forward to reading more of your Smallville reviews next week.



    Byron Abrahams wrote:
    Hey Neal...

    Probably won't remember me, but I wrote you a few years ago - we swapped some poetry and stories - I still have the poems you sent me and they are still, in my opinion Zen-Fantastic. Anyway, I walked out of my old job, which was where my computer was located, and didn't bother taking any email addresses with me, which is why I haven't written for so long. So apologies, dude.

    No problem. I remember ye, no sweat. Glad to hear from you again.

    I do still read your reviews each and every week - because they're fun, insightful, courageously honest (which means you say it even if its painful) and they make me laugh. That last point is the main one, btw.

    Yepper. And hey, honesty hurts, but it's necessary. It estranges people from me, but when they come back, it's always better than if we were phonies.

    Okay, props out of the way - wanted to share this:

    Lana: I hate her. Let's get that down. Everytime she appears on screen, a few lines from an old song burst into my head - Please, someone tell me who sings this song. I don't know, just remember these lines when I see Lana - "She's an easy lover - she'll get a hold on you, believe me! She's an easy lover - before you know it you'll be on your knees!"

    Apt, no?

    Apt, yes.

    To the writing issue - I walked out of my old job to sort out my train wreck life and see if I can make it as a professional writer. I ended up with a job on a TV show here in South Africa. Not the ultra-cool kind of shows - it's a soap opera, but I've learned more about writing in two years on a soap opera than I ever did writing for my own ego or pleasure. I learned that sometimes you have to let go and just get the episode out - that not every episode you write will win prizes for it's glittering brilliance, and that TV is a business and that things like budgets, hard-nosed wardrobe ladies, spoiled frikkin brat actors and meddling producers are a way of life in this business and you have to work around them.

    This is why I absolutely abhor the idea of writing with money as the goal. I like writing for the sake of creating something beautiful and being sure that I don't release it until it is. That's why TV won't ever let me work for them, I don't think. I would be like The Sopranos. I need to make it good. That's it. Period.

    There's also another part of me that says, "You know what? If I had a tv show to write and a set time period, I could make my deadlines and write like the wind blows." I'm just dedicated like that. I put in my work.

    If they give you an impossible deadline, that's another thing, but that's not your writing...that's television greed.

    THAT SAID: (that had to be in CAPS) - Myself and the writing team on our show put out a good product because WE CARE! Smallville puts out a 42 Minute show once a week. We put out a 23 minute show once a day. It's vastly different. Our time constraints are killer. And we can get a call from producers absolutely lacerating us because we dared give a waiter in a restaurant a line of dialogue because that immediately makes the actor more expensive. So you know what we do? Something I bet the writers of Smallville don't - the head writer and I show up at work at 8am every day, and leave at 11pm - 7 DAYS A WEEK! All this time we spend working out how to tell a good, consistent, believable and entertaining story.

    YES. This is exactly it. With me, it's 12 noon to about 2 AM every day, and if I skip a day, I beat myself up. That's how you get good, and that's how it stays good. If you're in it for the money, the girls, or the fame, bug off, buddy! You have your heart in the right place.

    Somewhere in that crazy block I have to factor in time to actually write my episodes, edit other writers episodes and try to have some kind of life. But we manage, because we care. We question every episode - over and over again. Between ourselves, and if we disagree we go to others - other writers, the producers, friends and family to find out if they buy what we're doing because we won't consider, for a second, locking down an episode that's sub-par. That's all I want from the Smallville writers. I want them to care. The result of caring that much, in our case, is that in two years our viewership has jumped by a million, and we're breaking all the records for a TV show on the African continent. Only the olympics gets more viewers. Am I bragging? Yes, but I earned it. If a Smallville writer bragged to me - I'd punch him and feel validated.

    Congratulations! I would punch too. And honestly, that's how the homepage is doing it too. Just consistent, constant attention, work, and dedication from everyone. Smallville doesn't even talk to US beyond two cursory ten minute interviews with Al Gough and a promise for a set visit that never happened and would have been on our dime. That's not how you sell a drama.

    The first time I really felt my heart sinking, because of this show, was when I watched the In The Writers Room feature on the Season Four DVD. There, they TELL US that Gough and Millar have markers that the writers have to hit throughout a season, building up to a finale - but beyond that it's up to the writers to plot the season. HELLO! No wonder your ratings are down because you're showing that YOU DON'T CARE! I'm not saying they should stand over their staff with *hee hee* a whip, but they should at least oversee every episode to a degree where obvious plot holes can be identified and dealt with. They're not doing that - and we're suffering. And even if Gough and Millar are working on other shows - as a writing team, the Smallville crew should see it as a chance to explode their creativity. Without the bosses dictating their every move, this is their chance to create something great in their own right - in their own name, and prove to said boses that they're worth their paychecks. Thay're not doing that - and we suffer. It's just sad.

    Yes. Outlines just suck. As Stephen King puts it, if you don't let character do the things you don't expect, it will be, as you outlined it, predictable.

    I think this roadmarker tactic of Gough and Millar is a huge problem - especially for character. Because what happens is they want certain characters in certain places by the finale. Lex and Lana have to be together - Lionel has to be good - Martha has to be wavering over her feelings for Lionel - Lois and Clark should be at least taking tentative steps toward their destined love etc. etc. NOW WRITE TWENTY EPISODES OF WHATEVER YOU WANT BUT MAKE SURE YOU GET THERE BECAUSE WE"RE BLOWING $10 MILLION ON THE FINALE AND WE DON'T WANT TO WASTE IT. - So now, whenever something unexpected happens, as will ALWAYS happen in the creative process, when circumstances in whatever story will force a character to waver from that big signpost up the road - the writers take the easy way out and ignore character development rather than changing the story. They fear the signpost more than they fear the fans. So if, for example, Chloe's unwavering friendship and support throughout the season opens Clark's eyes to the possibility that she's better for him than Lana - and there were numerous incidents this season where that might have been the case because they shared so many scenes together over so many episodes, the writers pull away from it because the signpost says Clark has to be broken up over Easy Lover Lana by the finale.

    Yes. I can't say it better.

    I'm not trying to justify what they do - just giving my interpretation of why they are doing it. However much it saddens me.

    Wow, it took me a lot longer to get that out than I thought - Sorry. You can, of course, share this with the board in LETTERS, but I'll understand if you don't because I'm so long-winded.

    Actually, this is my favorite letter from this batch. Write me over the summer, man!

    Anyway, that's it from me for now.

    Thanks For Caring.


    Thank YOU.

    Well, another year gone, down the tubes, up the hatch, in the elevator shaft and imploded, sucked into the Phantom Zone, rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.

    Have a good summer. Write me. Read me. Interact. Heck, enjoy the sun.

    And thanks, as ever, all, for a wonderful, amazing experience, and another incredible year.


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