Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 6 - Episode 2: "Sneeze"Reviews:
SneezeReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
One thing Smallville has gotten so right is how it continues to deliver on the way Clark discovers his various super powers. This time was no different. While not quite as classic as the puberty flare-up heat vision discovery, blowing the barn door off with a sneeze was extremely funny. The boy wonder and I were both on the floor laughing with that one.
The idea of Clark catching a cold in the phantom zone was a great way to bring Super Breath into the mix.
I loved how Clark was secretly helping to clean up Metropolis in the dark. That was a fantastic way of showing his feelings of responsibility for the city that he will grow to be the protector of. It is one of the first times we see Clark being proactive about his "hero work" and I was glad to see that worked into the show.
We also see the journalistic bug biting Lois which was something I am still a bit iffy on to be honest. Do not get me wrong. I am glad they are finally going to explore that more with her but I am a bit unsure about the choice of having Lois Lane's career start at a tabloid. Still it was used for good humor and worked for the most part so I'll let it ride. I feel it is important to point out that despite being published in a tabloid and edited from her original article the fact that it now included Aliens as the cause of the event actually made the article 100% the truth since an alien did, in fact, cause it. So on some level her integrity has not been compromised which I found rather amusing.
I found the Lex story in this episode to be a bit on the dull side but it did make sense. Someone had to notice him when Zod was breaking into the pentagon though I am not sure where they are going with the whole Green Arrow being the one having Lex kidnapped. It just seemed a bit heavy handed for someone who I assume is going to be a major hero in this version of the tale, even if he was telling his men not to use violence. Still it was an interesting introduction to the new character.
Once again Lionel seems to be working both sides. On one hand he is pressuring Lex to find out if Lex remembers his actions as Zod and Clark's involvement, possibly in an attempt to protect Clark. On the other hand we see him giving threats to Queen in defense of Lex. Once again we are on a roller coaster with Lionel and who knows where it will end. Really, would we want it any other way?
After last week's episode moved like a nine year old on a sugar buzz, this week's felt a bit on the slow side despite the addition of a new power for Clark. Clark got to use his new found power to knock down a wall and to put out a fire so the episode was not completely devoid of super action. Despite the somewhat lack of action we do see a good view of the aftermath from the events last week and we are given a peak at what I am sure will be running plot lines for the next few months. So while not the best ever, it was certainly an episode not to be missed.
I will have to give it 4 out of 5 Kleenex. And a solid B seems fitting for an episode that proves that just because something "blows" does not mean it sucked. (You didn't think I'd get through this one without at least one bad wind joke did you?)
Next week looks like we get some Superhero action as the Green Arrow comes to town. I must say I am looking forward to that a lot. See you there!
SneezeReviewed by: Neal Bailey
From the blockbuster team that brought you "Hypnotic" and "Fragile" comes "Sneeze," the tale of how Clark Kent got superbreath.
I've liked pretty much all of the powers oriented episodes until this one.
I've liked pretty much every introduction of a new major hero character until this one.
It wasn't the story that killed this one. Well, it was, yeah, but the story could almost have been overlooked, because if you can't, you're not watching Smallville any more. But more, per typical, the inconsistencies and inanity brought this one down. Just like in Jurassic Park, where you're staring and the raptors come at you from the side. Inconsistency after inconsistency after inconsistency. I have writer's cramp from notes.
Honestly, it usually evens up when I'm watching the show. I take my notes and the commercials make up for the time I'm scribbling, and by the end of the show, I'm caught up. Here, I started watching at 6, as I had to watch it later than usual because of the Superman Returns video game reporting trip I took, and I didn't stop until 7:30. I had to stop and write for eight pages.
This is the single longest note-taking affair I've had for Smallville. The one before that was, as I recall, Hypnotic. Could be wrong. But seriously, how are these writers still getting this job? This writing is abysmal.
Last episode gave me some hope that Smallville was on the right track. This episode completely nullified that hope. This tells me that it was just a freak premiere occurrence, at least for now, and that things are still plugging along at regular, craptacular pace. I hope next episode changes my mind.
My rationality in this stream of unconscious madness we call popcorn television:
Last week: BEHOLD! The APOCALYPSE! The world is plunged into total anarchy, all technology is taken out for an extended period of time. Someone breaks into the Pentagon and steals the nuclear codes. Earthquakes nearly rip the planet in half.
This week: One news report on how most of the world is in chaos, but Smallville is doing better than most.
Yep. Typical everything-is-back-to-normal.
Oh, I can see the letters already! "Neal! You forget that the whole driving force behind this plot is what Lex did."
Yeah, but it's not the consequences. It's the convenient plot tab they grasped. Had it been in the middle of last season it would have been torturing him to find out what the ship means. The plot is unoriginal, doesn't forward any of the characters at all, and accomplishes nothing.
It's an empty exercise from empty writing devoid of soul. But I'm getting ahead of myself before I say why. I'm just still fuming.
"Dark Thursday" is an interesting way of showing that the world will at least have a name for the catastrophe. I would consider it of merit and give it laudatories as such, but I anticipate that if I put it in the "hole in the heart" section of the KO Count it would rack up a few years of numbers before the show is cancelled, because no one will mention it again.
You'll forgive my sarcasm, I hope. You might relate. I'm angry because, like for the previous, oh, five or so YEARS, Smallville has promised big change, character, interesting development, and unheard of awesomeness, but after the finale/premiere and up until the sweeps, it seems to have started dropping the ball again. For one year, that was a coincidence. After five, it's just simply unacceptable.
Clark clears the rubble at night and helps bring Smallville back to normal. This is cool. Except it's followed with crap.
Clark goes to his mother and explains that he feels responsible for what happened with Zod. While this is not the case (and Martha reassures him of such), Clark takes responsibility. Great, I'm thinking. That's in character, and at very least a neat angle.
Then they follow this up with Clark saying, "And none of this would have happened had I just believed in Jor-El's intentions and done as he said."
Jor-El killed Clark's sibling, killed a teenage girl, blew up the farm, etc, almost as much as Lionel has done (if not more, as Jor-El succeeds), and the last thing that he did was effectively screw Clark over by giving him a knife to MURDER Lex Luthor and then not tell him that putting said knife into Brainiac would cause the return of Zod.
Some logic, there. So Clark laments that he didn't murder Lex in cold blood for the potentiality of what he was becoming. Great character work there, dumb#$@es.
Clark starts nailing some steps together with his fingers. This is kind of neat. You're thinking, "God, the world is still decimated, but he's repairing the porch steps. What a guy." Can't say I didn't like the effect, though.
He starts to get the sniffles, which is strange, because I don't know about you, but I've NEVER had to sneeze because I got sick. It's like the movie convention of instant thunder and lightning at the same time.
And hey, though he went through the Phantom Zone and when he returned retained his instant healing abilities (as evidenced by the healing to his person that occurred when he went back through the portal), he somehow lacks the instant return of an immunity? I don't buy that.
BUT, assuming you buy that a person will have to sneeze because of a common cold (which I don't) or that a Kryptonian can get sick without Kryponite involved while under a yellow sun in this continuity (which I don't), I don't buy that someone would sneeze and not be able to hold it in after the first time. Especially given super lungs, ironically.
Clark sneezes nonetheless, and blows two doors off the barn. It's a cheap looking special effect even if the idea is solid for an introduction to the power. It's accompanied by an "aw shucks" kind of soundtrack cue that seems to be there to indicate they're hamming it up. I hate it when Smallville hams it up unnecessarily. This time it was apt, but the music was overdone. For the rest of the show, the music is overdone and it's less apt. I'll bring it up again, because it stuck out like a sore thumb.
The doors come out at approximately what I would guess to be a 20-25 degree angle in several pieces.
Lois, out jogging, sees a piece fall straight down. Now, I'm no physics major, or Will wouldn't have to keep correcting me, but I do know that most objects follow an arc, and to start out at 20-25 degrees and come down at a virtually vertical descent would require either more distance or a steeper starting angle, unless Lois was jogging somewhere in Tokyo (nay) or the doors suddenly did a Xena turn. (In the one Xena episode I saw as a kid, she jumped straight at a tree while doing forward flips without any contact with the ground, then, I kid you not, began a vertical ascent (still flipping) before landing on top of a tree. Wonder why I changed the channel.)
Lois, while jogging, sees the door fall to the ground. The barn door at the house she's been living at for two years now. She doesn't recognize it until much later. Dumb as Clark award number one. And hey, with a sharp mind like that, one makes the immediate assumption that she's bound to be an investigative reporter, right? No? Well you'd better, baby, because it's coming!
Lex and Lana drive through Metropolis, being tailed by an SUV. This is an SUV we later learn is under the employ of Oliver Queen. Oliver Queen in the comics is a noted environmentalist liberal hippie-type. And he hires goons with SUVs. Or maybe they're driving one of his corporate SUVs. Oh, well.
Lana is talking with Lex about moving in, which she's doing.
Now, let me get this straight, and if I'm wrong, I'm sure you'll write in to correct me, but this takes place a few days, maybe weeks after "Dark Thursday." This means that it also takes place maybe one or two months after Lex and Lana become boyfriend and girlfriend (and sleep together, if I recall correctly in the murk of my memory a scene where they were caught sleeping together by Clark, or a scene where they woke up together).
Yeah, they first kissed in Fragile, which was five episodes before the finale, so assume likely 5 weeks (estimated) before the finale.
So they've been dating for less than two months, and they've moved in together.
Now realize that I'm not one to complain about male-female cohabitation, premarital sex, heck, a lot of things that might surprise you. And no, I couldn't really give a solid crap about Lana's purity. She's not the future Superman.
Who I care about here is Lex. And not in that joking, "Oh, you just don't like Lana so you're trying to protect him from her" kind of way. Though that, too.
I mean his character. Lex is a cad. A womanizer. Cads and womanizers don't move in with chicks, they bed them then broom them. Womanizers don't bow before women, they take what they want and keep the women begging. It's not a laudable thing, but THAT'S HOW IT WORKS. Lex is a villain. He does these things. We've seen (and been beaten over the head with) him doing these things.
Darth Vader makes rash and brutal and emotional decisions for the woman he loves. Darth Vader isn't a player. He's a murdering, brutal, sadistic, physical SOB.
Lex Luthor woos women into bed with his money and prestige, uses them for what he wants, then either kills them, marries them if they're like him before killing them (Lana is nothing like Lex in terms of intelligence or scheming, though she is duplicitous in this continuity), or simply ends things.
He does not become a sappy emotional wreck hanging off the end of every word that comes from a pretty tongue before bowing to her every whim and offering her the world. That's Clark. And that's because Clark is a nice guy, and hot chicks can and often DO such profligate, hedonistic, sadistic things with guys like Clark. And me, cough cough.
BUT NOT LIKE LEX. This is out of character, boring, tiresome, awkward, awful, and destructive to the only character that has stayed fairly consistently awesome on this show. Point of fact, it's killing the last great thing about Smallville next to when Clark is actually on point, which is rare at best.
So you'll understand, perhaps, why when I find that Lana is moving in with Lex because school will "reopen next semester because of the damage" (WHEN IT'S THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER AND MOST STUDENTS ARE OFF ANYWAY). There's also the fact that in a global crisis they'd be cramming MORE people into dorms, not emptying them for the repairs. Anyone watch Katrina on the news? I did.
But even so, why would Lex offer her his house? Has he offered the other girls with little brains and even less dynamic to their personality he's bedded for the breadth of the show a room in the mansion?
She brings two suitcases saying she doesn't need a lot, because the school will be open again next semester. How is that logical in any way? I mean, even assuming the school opens in a few weeks, if they're kicking her out, wouldn't she have to take all of her crap while they repair? And if they're not kicking her out, why is she leaving?
Beyond all that, assume you like Lana for whatever reason, she's portrayed as frankly amazing in every way, like Mary Poppins, so one might assume that for some reason she's put up as a role model for female power an independence.
So even if you like Lana, this scene should irritate you, because it reduces her to a helpless tart relying on a man who she's bedding for her place to live and anything she needs in the event of the first crisis. And, true to her judge of character, he turns out to be video camera-ing her naked. Judgment, -10!
And if you can believe a woman who changes clothes every scene can fit her crap into two suitcases, well, die.
Lana: "I don't know what I would have done!"
Well, the same thing you always have done when you put yourself in an impossibly do-able financial situation. Continue anyway and have all of your wardrobe, rent, and property including cars appear on a regular basis, insulting people who work hard and have little to show for it.
Clark laments in the living room, explaining to his mother that this is the first time he's ever been sick and had his ears plugged. Well, except for that time he almost got sick and died. Or that time he got clammy and thought everyone was out to get him. But I guess those doesn't count, because that was the semi-real kind of sick where you don't sneeze. Because, you know, what's Smallville with continuity?
A good show.
Another great Clark line: "I've never pushed myself this hard before."
Every other comic Superman says something similar. "I've never been hit that hard before!" "I'll have to go faster than I've ever gone before!" "Wow, I haven't pushed myself this hard since...ever!"
Cheese there, cheese here, and utter BS. Jumping onto a missile, dying, running to the Amazon in ten seconds, he's pushed himself harder. Bad dialogue.
Clark, when Lois comes home and realizes that the barn door missing was the one at the Kent house. "Maybe it fell from an airplane!" (Cue the cheesy music to indicate camp that drives me crazy.)
Yeah, Clark! And maybe they hired Erica for her personality. Oh, wait, that line was dull, unoriginal, and obvious. So's yours.
Here I got to thinking about Lois, and I wondered again, for the first time in a while, why the HECK is she living in Smallville still? Her cousin is in Metropolis.
Several arguments spring to mind to counter my assertion. One, Lois works at the Talon with Martha. But Martha's a senator now, even though she can seemingly take any day off and spends all her time in Smallville.
But then, Lois works as Martha's chief of staff, so she's moonlighting, and should be in Washington.
Oh, but wait! She works at The Inquisitor in Metropolis, now!
But Neal, she can telecommute to a paper! And Martha's just a state senator.
Point is not that she has three jobs that could potentially be in Smallville. Point's not that maybe she quit the Talon and dropped the chief of staff position in the background.
The point is that taking a character who looks pretty and throwing her into a show to be the object of lust and not development, and then to take that character and subject her to repeated and implausible improvements to make her everything to everyone because she's a positive female character no matter how possible or impossible, is a disservice. It started with owning/helping to run the Talon with Martha despite being a flake (sound like Lana?), it progressed to being the chief of staff with no real reason, and now, insulting to writers and Chloe in particular, in one episode she develops journalism as a class skill without proffering any ranks. Low wisdom score, I guess.
Particularly when that character is a feminist icon, a beloved character, and important to me and every viewer.
Though a door has seemingly been ripped from its hinges, and though a being who has super-strength and can dodge bullets was just decimating the world, Lois makes no assertion or fear that the torn door might be the return of said entity?
Cue Lex's goon. Lex informs him that he's still being followed. The goon informs him that it's a Range Rover with Edge City plates.
Read two paragraphs up again, and try and spot it.
Find it? Yeah, they said that a city had plates.
My car has Tacoma plates. Uh, yeah! Unless in the DCU Edge City is a state. I doubt it.
Lex then tells Hayworth the goon to take care of the situation by any means necessary, implying that Lex is willing to kill a guy for following him. Quite the character leap there from last week, where he felt bad for humanity and wanted to be a good person.
Lex appears distressed, so Lana tries to pry what's wrong out of him.
Lana: "You can trust me."
A lie. She blabs to Chloe, later, endangers them both by getting kidnapped in the resting area, and insists on putting him in jeopardy by removing security from his mansion which is broken into constantly. Trustable people are dependable and responsible. That's irresponsible. Beyond that, a trustworthy person won't examine your private technology while you're away. Just because it turned out to be a fortuitous discovery for her and detrimental to his character doesn't mean searching his crap while he's away isn't a betrayal of his trust.
And besides, the statement has just so frequently and obviously been proven false it's not even needing justification from me by now.
Lex directs her to Robert Pontius, a great private detective, in case anything happens to Lex. Not his security team, not the police, a private detective so good at what he does he's kidnapped, shot, and killed before Lex is.
The Lexana offers nothing in terms of chemistry. Lana is emotional and vapid, and this makes Rosenbaum and thus Lex emotional and vapid, which removes identity with the character. They simply can't extricate Lana from the plot despite her lack of a need to be there (like Lois) because she hot.
Ridiculous television, writing, and story.
Clark and Chloe are in the Daily Planet, when Clark gets another sneeze coming. Instead of holding it in, it takes him by storm (unlikely) and Clark blasts a sneeze through the Planet, a sneeze that just happens to catch the woman in the black dress, blowing the dress up. Cue the cheesy popcorn music designed to indicate how funny that is.
Oh, tee hee! He just almost killed someone! Har!
Clark fakes a sneeze with Chloe. Cheese music again. Yuk yuk yuk. Where's the laugh track?
Cut to Lionel, now in the Luthorcorp office. How? I dunno. As I recall, the last time we heard anything about Lionel and Luthorcorp, he was trying to acquire stocks with Apex and failed, because Lex threatened to expose what he did with Jonathan to Martha. Now somehow he's in his old, lavish office, despite the fact that his son is hacked at him and owns the company. Plausible? You decide. I have. No character consistency with anyone here.
But hey, let's make this scene better. Let's flat-out make Lex act like Lana. He bursts into this office which has no reason to be in existence, and accuses his father of tailing him without having any reason. He tells Lionel that he thinks he's being followed because of what he did as Zod, but theoretically, if anyone knows about that, he'd be arrested, being one of the most recognizable figures in a major city. Not that he (well, only according to the show) swatted aside bullets like gnats and made a show of breaking into the Pentagon.
Let's improve this by another step by giving Lionel stereotypical dialogue. "Son, I want you to know, son, if you ever were followed, son, by me, son, you wouldn't know, son."
Lionel: "Those atrocities could have been witnessed by anyone!"
Yes, Lionel, but apparently in the Smallville universe swatting away bullets like flies while bursting into the Pentagon is only visible with a...working satellite that shouldn't be...working? At all? And none of the many people firing those bullets, likely guys who are in the upper echelons of a very rich, white, suburban society, would EVER interact with or know a financial pillar of a very rich, white, suburban society. Nah!
Lex goes into an elevator, where he's gassed out dramatically. Lord knows they couldn't hold a gun to him and force him to go with him. It's much easier to secure illegal chemicals just to put him out dramatic style. Sigh.
Lionel pops over to the Kent house, who are now just okay with him walking around their property with no real reason to be STILL. He pops at the door and it's like the Fonz.
Lionel: "Eyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...son." (Laugh track).
He puts his fist to the jukebox and lays down the heavy news. "Look, baldy's been abducted."
Clark wins the dumb-as-Clark award, saying, "Who do you think is behind it?"
It's not really that dumb a thing logically, but in a show that just set up the internal logic that Lionel will be the first immediate suspect for a Lex kidnapping, it then BECOMES dumb to not know immediately that Lionel is the first immediate suspect.
And then, the most frustrating part of the whole show.
Lionel: "You have to find him, Clark!"
Clark: "Why? We're not even close any more."
You read this? This is the problem with the whole show. They JUST DON'T GET THE CHARACTERS. Not anymore.
Clark's response to, "Hey, Clark, Hitler's been kidnapped!" is "Man, Hitler's moustache is ugly, but it's my duty as a hero to save him." Particularly when Clark is, as this episode emphasizes, suffering guilt for having been un-heroic, whether it's true or not. NOT SUPERMAN. Just as before Lex was not Lex, as here Lionel is not being Lionel, as Lois is not being Lois (either as established in this show or per the comics).
In this episode, Clark only agreed to help save Lex's life because it threatened his secret. Abominable.
Lex is tied up and held in place by a goon whose name is so irrelevant, as is his character, that I never got it. I'm going to have to dig it up for the whammy count. Digging now, it says his name is Block in the show. Nice name for a guy who, despite having a good paying job from a rich employer, suddenly decides to squander it all for a set of powers he's not even sure he can attain or exist, becoming an instant murderer along the way.
Block kills Pontius, Lex's private detective. Why he doesn't just turn him away at the door, and how the heck Pontius would know where these guys who had kidnapped his employer were without calling the police, is beyond me. Could be, I dunno, crappy writing?
Chloe drives to Smallville, racking up the gas for this episode to some fifty bucks. Post-apocalypse, of course, when gas will be in no way destabilized, hard to find, and more expensive. Why? Well, just to talk and hang around with Lo-Lo.
Clark hasn't removed the barn door that could expose his secret, for whatever reason. Even beyond the identity, it's obvious if Lois told him where the door was, he'd be obligated to remove it. It's an excuse to start the only precluding scene to Lois gaining an instant obsession with journalism that makes no coherent sense. And hey, though I would be the first to insist that journalists like myself are not necessarily the brightest bulb nine times out of ten, they usually have the intellectual capacity not to accept the fact that a freak meteorological occurrence in a land of constant tornadoes doesn't rip a barn door off and throw it across town.
Block, meanwhile, is showing why he gets paid the big bucks by talking his strategy with the victim right in front of the victim. Booya! That's class henchman!
He then comes over and shoots Lex in the arm superficially, making this the eightieth time Lex has been shot in the course of a year. By all means, guys, Lex getting shot is in no way a stereotype right now. Keep it coming. Original!
For some reason, because the sound editing made it hard for me to hear certain lines, I had my closed captioning on. There was a line on the closed captioning that wasn't on the show here. Block says, "The next bullet goes in your brain. Now start talking!" I can see why they deleted it, it's an awful, cliche line of dialogue like most of the ones in this episode. But why put it in the CC? Curious.
And in the time between the last three paragraphs, Lois goes from a vapid, self-obsessed Klingon house-guest with two jobs but no place for herself to stay into an investigative journalist. She walks into the Daily Planet (K-CHING! That's a hundred bucks spent by poor college/layabout students on gas in the middle of the apocalypse) and hands Chloe an article that could in no way be emailed, no, not at all, and demands that this cousin who she knows to be a lower-level phone answerer with one story to her credit about vampire sorority sisters with one year of college under her belt (maybe), and demands that she take it to Paulette Kahn.
Here, I sh$# you not, here is the actual dialogue that turns Lois from a vapid twit into a reporter:
Chloe: "An article? You're a journalist now?"
If you're into YTMND, which you should be, this is known as an EPIC CHARACTER MOMENT.
This is insulting to the viewer's intelligence in multiple ways. First, it's digging yourself out of a character hole without any real writing work, which is awful. Secondly, it's putting it outside the realm of possibility even if you buy Lois' one-eighty, because she's expecting a newspaper to just accept a cub reporter with no experience. Maybe in 1939 if you knew somebody. Now they won't even look at your application, much less a story, even if you have four hundred and twenty articles in a major publication like the Superman Homepage. Who would know that? Gee, I dunno. Maybe a guy who writes good articles on a constant basis but can't get employed despite the passion of a thousand sham Lois Lanes because he doesn't put a suit coat over an offensive tee-shirt and get a degree in journalism? Silly fool, he thought just putting in work got you to be a made man.
Lois then asserts through dialogue that she came all the way to the Planet to hand the article to the editor herself. She then, I kid you not, hands it straight to Chloe. Purposefully shallow? Well, you know what I do when I'm trying to characterize a vapid person as instantly becoming a responsible reporter, I make her completely miss her objective and put expectation about reality.
And for that matter, what's her story? A DOOR FALLS?
Boys, ready me the Pulitzer. This morning I had a bowel movement, and I'm writing an article about it. Guggenheim, here I come!
Chloe points out the utter stupidity of this plot, and the spelling errors. Then the writers actually have the audacity to give Chloe a line that suggests that she's jealous of Lois' body but not her mind.
I mean, seriously, if I were Allison Mack, having put FIVE YEARS into a show, and they brought in a tart with breasts and gave me a line that made me acknowledge that she was hotter than me on the show, I'd quit on the spot. It's the most disrespectful thing you can possibly do for an actress who has been with this show through good, bad, awful characterization, no major love interest, a near complete abandonment of her character, and a series of episodes with a character similar to her own that essentially takes up her role in the show.
And this all on top of the fact that Lois ALREADY HAS TWO JOBS, one at the Talon, one as the chief of staff of a senator. And you know what? While I know for a fact that a writer can hold multiple jobs, I don't buy that Lois is. Too irresponsible in all things.
Hey, can we make this episode any better? I've GOT it! Let's take Lana, who Clark has officially broken it off with, and let's give her a protracted fest of guilting Clark, the guy who's trying to help her at the time. ACTION! It's SOLID GOLD DRAMA, BABY! An 8:50 at 8:30, revolutionary television!
We start with a solitary shot of Lana, alone, in the mansion, learning to play the piano in the dark. She's playing two dramatic, horribly abrasive keys, repeatedly. It's like, SO deep.
Clark walks in, and mentions that Lex is missing. Lana SCOWLS.
Clark: "Has Lex mentioned any plots against him?"
Lana: "Why are you searching for him?"
Note how the passive aggressive automaton, after scratching the mites from her buttonia, moves from a direct question of assertion to another direct question of assertion that in no way answers the original assertion but nonetheless implies that the questioner is a butthead for trying to do something that benefits the secondary agent.
In other words, Clark asked if Lex is in danger that she knows of, and she replies, "What's it to you?"
Note further that through the entire exchange of dialogue, Lana doesn't mention being followed, doesn't mention Lex's instructions about Pontius. EVEN IF IT WOULD SAVE LEX'S LIFE, just so that she can spurn Clark for...caring?
Because though WE know that Clark's motives are unsavory (out of character though that may be), there is no way that Lana WOULD. So essentially what happened here is that a guy who's saved her life multiple times, saved Lex's multiple times, heck, saved the lives of everyone she knows multiple times walks in, says, "Hey, someone's in trouble, I want to help him." And because the writing doesn't account for the fact that there's no way Lana would know his motives were ulterior, it just assumes him, she immediately jumps to the fifth degree. This is BAD, BAD writing. No continuity, no internal consistency, couple that with worthless dialogue and...well, it only gets worse.
Lana: "Why are you searching for him?"
Clark: "Because I don't want Lex to get hurt."
Lana: "Maybe you have your own reasons."
Okay. Now, reader, maybe you can tell me what those reasons are? I'll give you a clue. It starts with Lana's character being narcissistic and ends with the assumption that her beauty is more important than another character's life and the potential for its end.
Lana: "How did you know Lex would be transformed before anyone else?"
Complete fishtail in the conversation into something irrelevant. Which, you know, seems like a logical complaint in the middle of a crisis situation until you realize that Lana has had literally weeks to confront Clark about this issue and waited until Lex had a gun to his head and someone offered to help before putting the screws to the person helping. It's off-topic, it's a manipulative question, and it could have been asked at any time.
Clark: "Did you tell Lex yet?" Logical question, because if she did, he could have been kidnapped because of something he was trying to do about it. An investigative question, albeit a hack writer one.
Lana: "Not yet." (Lana, hater of SECRETS AND LIES, just made a LIE OF OMISSION to Lex about Clark knowing about his powers).
Hey, wait a second, wasn't the whole "No more secrets and lies" thing a premise of what was supposed to make the show turn around and be cool again? Sigh, yeah.
Lana: "Clark, I want an answer. You can't keep SECRETS when Lex's life is in danger!"
What was that I was saying about SECRETS and LIES after pointing out one of Lana's lies? I guess I must have been mentioning something along the lines of how, because Lana keeps the SECRET that people were trailing Lex, and LIES to Clark about knowing anything about it, Lex's life is in danger because Clark can't investigate and save Lex with the "ulterior" motive of saving his life.
Now, suppose that Clark knew Lex was going evil because he was somehow involved in the kidnapping plot. One supposes Lana would examine the fact that Clark lacks and cannot afford a Range Rover, does not live in Metropolis, and avoids Lex like the plague, and maybe rule him out as a suspect. But nah, because she's hot, it must be because he's jealous of her, as we're getting to.
Clark: "If I had answers, I wouldn't be here. I just want to find Lex." (This is something Lana has no reason to believe otherwise.)
Lana: "Then DO IT." TURN, POUT, open door and imply Clark should leave for daring to come to her for help in saving her boyfriend giving her free room and board.
Because folks, Superman saving your life isn't a privilege to be respected and grateful for, it's something owed to you if you hot.
Lana (as he walks out): "Don't pretend you're doing it for HIM!"
Yep. He must be trying to win Lana back. The ONLY POSSIBLE EXPLANATION, Robin! Are you telling me Lana has all this shrew-less hotness AND she's humble? Sign me up! And garrote me.
I know guys are just obsessed with Kristin's hotness that frankly I can't see. I get that. But honestly, there has to be a point where the beauty is overwhelmed by the annoyance you have with her character. Where is the breast-line? Where the heck do we stop forgiving women just for being pretty and regard as equals? But yeah, I guess I'm just a misogynist.
No goodbye, a slammed door, and we learn once again that dodging any personal responsibility, not confronting the thing that's bothering you, and assuming people worship the ground you walk on because you're hot is the way for any enterprising young debutante to solve her problems. Go go gadget social progress!
She immediately calls Pontius, proving her earlier maxim "You can trust me!" again a patent falsehood.
Clark, though he can hear things from far, far away, stands at the door to listen when he could continue walking and not look like a creep-o. Then he leaves, having heard the name "Robert Pontius."
Lana, meanwhile, in a clever writing reversal to try and prove the trustworthiness and nobility of her character, decides to start snooping through all of Lex's crap. She finds a remote, and uncovers a bank of security cameras that...show her semi-nude in a way that is not-at-all revealing! It's so lurid, you CAN'T EVEN SEE HER BREASTS! Oh, the wretched humanity! It's like the Hindenburg of Lex! His magnum opus of evil...having a GIANT FORTIFIED MANSION (that he lets you stay in for free, mind you) and using...VIDEO CAMERAS to ensure security in the place where you're most likely to be kidnapped, shot, or raped...the BEDROOM!
And this coming from a man who...who...has ALREADY SEEN HER NAKED! The audacity! It MUST be an evil plot to see her naked, considering he's already done it! Time to turn and pout. No! Time to turn and pout and close a door! No! This is defcon maximus! It's time to turn and pout and close a door and...get kidnapped!
You know what's REALLY funny in this scene? Lana has LIVED this scene, where she gets naked, so she knows what happens, knows what is happening, but she still just stands there watching herself get naked. I once asked my gay best bud if you can get turned on looking at yourself when you're homosexual. I won't answer that question for the kiddies, but now I know for a fact that it must work for narcissists.
Of course, given the fact that this monitor bank is right in front of his safety room that nobody remembers could make it a liability. But also given the fact that he hires security guys to watch his facility and yet has all of the security cameras in his room is illogical, I suppose we can just through causality to the wind. Even assuming that he potentially has naked Lana videos for whatever creepy reason (which isn't really sensible given that he's putting it to her), then why would he have the videos of the other parts of his mansion cued up, if he was there?
If I were a cynic, I might assert that they were just looking for a way to provide arbitrary tension between Lana and Lex so they can forestall the fact that the relationship is boring and improbable until they can come up with a solution. That's just what a writer with talent or a hack who knows what he's doing might say.
Said cynic might also say that in the midst of an episode with so many already glaring flaws, that's an awful death knell.
Lex, about to be shot to death in a scene which holds no peril because we know he's not gonna be shot to death, he tells them that he has a super-power serum on the 33rd floor of the Luthorcorp building.
The Luthorcorp building, a highly secret organization with a ton of skeletons in its closet, has a most super-secret room where all of the darkest secrets are stored called the 33rd floor. Apparently, without any planning, the "assistant goon" goes to this facility, infiltrates it, steals one serum without any consequence, and gets back to the hideout without being trailed.
Now, how can one goon turn out so efficient when the other is so murdering and easily swayed to hurt or maim while in the employ of a hero? Beats me. I wonder if it beat the writers.
See, the exact problem with a freak of the week is that they go postal for no reason. You want a reason to go postal and start trying to kill someone? Be a writer struggling to survive and realize that these putzes are making money. And yet STILL I don't murder. Doesn't help their case.
Lionel goes to the Oliver Queen watchtower and engages in what is one of the only relatively amusing parts of this show, the introduction to Green Arrow. The actor is a bit rigid, but it plays. Lionel probably helps. The threats and the banter are nice.
I would think Green Arrow would have a goatee, or that they'd pick an actor who would carry a goatee. Instead they picked a kind of clean-shaven guy more suited for another hero. I don't know which hero, but I think it'll come to me.
For some reason, I'm suddenly thirsty. Excuse me.
Okay, I'm back. When I'm dehydrated, I can't really think straight.
They missed a music cue in this episode. Clark tells Chloe that he's feeling sick, and his powers are wonky. He says that he was going super-speed, but then because he was sick, he had to stop and jog the rest of the way.
Where was the music cue? I mean, it's bloody hilarious to imagine he's too sick to run at super-speed but he can still jog across Metropolis.
Clark again talks to Chloe about his problems with Lana, which were supposedly over with this season. Chloe is again forced to listen to his whiney crap, all the while hinting that she likes him. This, of course, will never really be addressed.
And as any Superman fan will tell you, nothing sings catharsis and great character more than a whining, brooding Clark. I mean, seriously, it worked for Azzarello!
Clark: "I'm no hero, Chloe!"
Boo hoo hoo! I can move mountains, and I hate myself.
Cry more, emo.
Lana drives up to the warehouse with her SUV. Does she call the cops? Does she ask Clark to come along? Nah. She figures she can take professional kidnappers on her own. All this and a floor show?
She calls Chloe, finally, saying that she's onto something (but not what, really). The villain is standing there as she tells Chloe this. The villain holds up the gun and takes Lana hostage. What he DOESN'T do is wonder if maybe he should move his operations after he hears Lana talking about the people who are coming to help her save Lex. Real bright bulb.
Clark goes with Chloe into the private detective's office. He uses his x-ray vision to see a door in the wall. He then peels back the steel door covering the interior door. He then decides that he doesn't have enough power to open the door. (?) After doing those two feats? Uh, no, that's not just a poor excuse to use super-breath.
I mean, why not have the x-ray vision fizzle out. He looks like he's taking some effort to pull back the steel, but not TOO much. Maybe that's bad acting. I doubt it.
Nonetheless, it's an excuse to use the breath, and they do. Clark sucks in air (with a catastrophic, slo-mo effect that really could have better been used on other effects), and then a BLAST, which was handled well, but not shown very much at all. For a new power episode, they sure don't show much of it. The music swells, and it looks like it was trying to be an epic moment, but it really fell flat after all the other above crap for me.
The door blows off, which is kind of neat, until you realize that the actual frame of the door has no studs, no header, and for some reason lacks a hollow for the door to recess into when it opens. Unless it opens outward, but there would still be a header and metal framing and rebar in a concrete building. Especially a HEAVY door like that one.
Clark and Chloe are, of course, breaking and entering in a building with expensive doors. This building would have no security cameras?
The bad guys, back at the Lex tie-up emporium take Lana and indicate that now that they have a serum that gives someone super-powers, they're going to test it on Lana. So yeah, you give your hostage a serum that turns them into a super-fast God that can overpower you, and trust they won't do it because you're pointing a gun at their lover. Powers that can, to quote the guy administering the serum, make you swat away bullets like bugs.
Lex manages to salvage the situation while strapped to the table, which would be amusing, were it plausible. He headbutts the baddie, and Lana steals the gun. Lana then, instead of telling them to step back, lets them stand five feet away while she looks away to untie Lex. They take advantage of this and steal the gun. Failure to use Lana Fu.
The fight is on. Lex is loose, and Lana is fighting the baddie, who slams her up against the fence. The goon who managed to infiltrate Luthorcorp in a matter of hours at its highest level then stands there benign as Lex takes the needle and moves forward to stab the crazy baddie with the needle. Why he just stands there is beyond me, but on repeat viewings, it's hilarious.
Either way, the original baddies causes a chemical fire, and the guy who watched the original baddie get co-stabbed runs out, leaving them all to die. Kinda funny. But where was the music?
Clark appears, hiding in the background and blowing out the fire. THIS is a plausible, good use of the power. It's also a good moment, probably one of the only good ones in this episode.
Later, Chloe and Clark prepare to fly a kite. Chloe to Smallville, another fifty bucks in gas. That's 150 so far this episode.
Lois comes in, beaming that she's got a job at The Inquisitor as a yellow journalist.
Funny thing is, I tried to work for yellow journalism papers, and the thing is, they don't take unsolicited submissions. Thought it'd be fun. Oh well. I guess in one episode and for no apparent reason we now accept that Lois is a reporter. Sure.
And they even give you the funny music cue when she's talking about it.
Clark alters the weather to aid their day. I've actually seen criticism of this, that, you know, it might hurt the climate or whatever. But honestly, I love this show so much, anything to get Erica to go to the beach with them and get in a bikini, like, totally, I'm SO THERE.
Joking aside, neat effect, if a bit crazy.
Whatever happened to the "forgotten powers" they talked about? That might have been neat.
Then, the arbitrary browbeating from Lana to Lex for taking security pictures. Lana confronts Lex, Lex explains that it's for security, which is a logical and plausible assumption.
Lana: "Was I breaching security when I was alone in my bedroom?"
Lex: "No, but we did stop three kryptonite freaks who had cameras. Aren't you grateful?"
Lana: "I'm amazing!"
Look, if it were MY house and you found a camera taking naked pictures of you, you could get mad at me. If I had a mansion, though, and people were constantly trying to kill me, I would have cameras in every room. And if you were FREELOADING at my joint and wanted to bich about the video cameras, I'd boot your %$$ right out.
Emasculating Clark is possible, theoretically, in this framework. He's a nice guy. Emasculating Lex like this is ridiculous. The only step they take to rectify this is having Lex insist on keeping the other cameras.
Lex: "You have the wrong idea. We never view these. I would never invade your privacy."
To restate that: "I didn't watch these. No one watched these."
Lana: "But you already have!"
Nobody's seen it, but it's an invasion of privacy? Dr. Obvious Logic, paging Dr. Obvious Logic. We need a consult on a tree falling in a forest. Does it make a sound?
In Lana's world.
Did Lana ask if he saves the videos? Sells them? Views the naked images of her in his free time? Nah. He's just a fink for trying to protect her. In fact, anyone who protects or shields Lana inevitably becomes a fink somehow.
Lana: "Lex, the cameras go, or I go."
Lex: "Well, the cameras aren't a continual drain of spirit and resources. I'll have Jeeves escort you out before I have you secretly liquidated, you insolent twit."
No wait, that's the real Lex.
This is what guys call "testing." It's when a woman does something to see how much she can bully you. When you respond, she takes advantage of you on a constant basis and doesn't offer you much, provided she's the shrewish type who tests in the first place. The only response to this, and something a man like Lex would know, is to not give in to anything a woman like this does to test you. He does anyway. That's something Clark would do, not Lex. Bad character.
The cinematography and posing of the scene suggests that Lex is a fink for insisting on keeping the other cameras. I don't get it. Arbitrary drama.
Green Arrow's goon comes home, and finds an arrow coming at his head, sticking into the wall next to him.
Oddly and beneficially, I took up archery last year. During the hiatus, I shot my first deer with a bow and arrow. I also managed to lose a lot of arrows. The reason being, when it hits something hard that's not a target bale, even the carbon arrows shatter. At least, when you're using a compound, like Green Arrow was. Traditionally, he uses a recurve, which doesn't have the cams and requires much more strength, accuracy, and flat-out talent.
A recurve will likely make the arrow shatter too, when blasted into a brick wall, it's just a matter of less speed.
Assuredly, a broadhead like he was firing would not stick into a brick. Took me straight out of the scene and had me laughing like a hyena.
He shoots an arrow into a particular location on the Daily Planet...that was kind of neat. I'll give it that.
But beyond that, this episode was an abysmal example of all that is wrong. It gave me too much to attack, and much though it may seem I enjoy this, I don't like being able to write over eight thousand words of what is mostly criticism of a show that I want to enjoy. It's particularly agonizing when I enjoyed it last week.
Clark's sickness is never really resolved. He just does what I wish I had been doing instead of watching this episode: Flying a kite.
1 of 5.
This one's for you, Smallville! http://karatekide.ytmnd.com/ You go, girl!
"Smallville, you forgot Poland!"
SUPER SHORT REVIEW:
There isn't much here to like. This episode is rife with flaws, botches a new power, involves little to no character development beyond Lois' sudden and unexplained infatuation with journalism, and seeks to do nothing but squeeze my brains from my head and turn my fingers to liquid goo from complaining. Skip this episode. 1 of 5.
Due to the fact that I'm running out of time before the next episode and because I have a very large EA Games Superman Returns preview/review to prepare, I will be forced to can the letters this week. There are only 12, so I'll just roll it over into the next week, and it should be relatively unnoticeable.
I do, however, have an announcement for you letter-writing folks, since you sometimes ask. I have eight copies of my third book Madly with a universal speaker tag error in them. First edition. Rare as heck and likely to never be seen again. I'm still getting rid of them. If anyone wants them, the typical price of 10 bucks plus shipping has been lowered to ten bucks, and I throw in shipping. Which means you're essentially paying six bucks for the book. Give it a shot, eh? And I now have copies on-hand of Benjamin's Dream, now reduced in price, and the poetry book, If You're Reading This, I'm Probably Dead.
Catch you in three or four days!
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