Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 6 - Episode 5: "Reunion"



Reviewed by: Neal Bailey


  • Lex and Oliver went to school together, and encountered a guy named Duncan.
  • Duncan, a loner, seeks to fit in, but refuses to compromise his principles.
  • Lex, however, compromises his own principles to fit in.
  • Because of this, Duncan is put into a situation where he dies.
  • Duncan finds revenge with his ridiculers before being stopped by Clark.


    Now I'm convinced the writers have manic depression, because this episode worked really well. This season started high, then had two crap episodes, then one passable episode, and now high again.

    Even the premiere, however, got about six pages of notes. This is the first episode in a long time where I only have about two pages of notes. That means that the story was remarkably linear, the dialogue startlingly apt, the acting good, the cinematography in place, the music not ever standing out as horrible. In general, all that Smallville's been lacking in regular episodes for some time. For that alone, it's impressive.

    The ONLY thing stopping this episode from the full five is the reliance on the awful freak of the week schema. It makes Clark a killer in this episode, and beyond that, it takes what could have been a perfect exploration of guilt and motivation and turns it into ESP X-Files tripe.

    I see no reason why the episode couldn't end with the kid being alive instead of dying, both Oliver and Lex finding out, and both confronting each other over how to treat what they've done before the kid flatlines on them, showing the power of both characters. Instead he becomes a freak.

    Excelsior academy, the recent past. 1996, to be exact. Nice X-Men/Marvel reference there, buddy. The distinguished competition, throwing a nod? You'd think that Didio and Quesada weren't naked mud wrestling on a constant basis. Me likee.

    They fudged continuity a bit here, obviously. I know, not SMALLVILLE, fudging continuity. If you think about it, at the start of the show Lex was supposed to be 21. That makes him either 15 or 16 depending on how you look at the passage of the year (if he was about to be 22 or just 21).

    So he's having an...eight year high school reunion? A seven year? They're relying on the fact that we'll just assume he's 28 now, or whatever. It's sloppy. It could have just as easily have been a meeting of the old guys for business or something.

    Nonetheless, it comes AFTER the flashback, which is strong. Lex, loner/nerd, is explaining the fine points of a comic book to his equally nerdy kid with a cadence problem. At first it bothered me, I thought it was bad acting, but then it was consistent, and who doesn't know or is a nerd who has that cadence problem? I mean, of those watching Smallville, anyway.

    It's an excuse to show Warrior Angel, and touch upon all of the things about Lex that made him so great in the first three seasons, before he became a placeholder for the future.

    Oliver Queen and pals bust up that noise with the quickness, making for Lex and treating him like garbage. It's an arbitary bullying scene, guys being brutal with no real reason to be brutal. Baldness works as a reason to pick on a kid up until Junior High, in High School it takes some prompting. And regardless, at this point, Lex is incredibly rich. His father has a private helicopter when he loses his hair, after all, that's no slouch.

    Regardless, Oliver is later apologetic, so it adds depth to his character, and Lex is shown as more of a tragic figure, so it works on both ends. And regardless, the acting is strong. The young Lex mimics Michael's mannerisms incredibly well, and while he might not be an exact physical match, he's a very good actor for someone so young.

    The transition from Lex looking up at the greek to the future is very well done. It's a great parallel of time and age, and it played for me. I'm a wistful kinda guy who does the same thing.

    The troupe is all together again, and the one with the alcohol problem decides to continue being a putz, both to Lex and Lana. He walks underneath the entry, and, freak of the week or not, gets impaled quite nicely by a sword from the greek. My reaction to this is "plus five!"

    One official CO-STABBING! The first co-anything in a while.

    Lex gets another plus five for complaining about his drycleaning over the death of that stain. Lionel tries to get some humanity into Lex, but honestly, if I could take the people that poked fun at me for being smart or normal or human in high school and shove a sword up their butts, they'd deserve it. Heck, they're probably why I'm a writer and I should be thanking them, but that still doesn't change them from Dr. Mickhead into people I would want to prosper in any way.

    Another great flashback, of Lex dedicating himself to working with the poor to get back at his father, and of a seemingly doomed youthful friendship based in trust and survival.

    Oliver and Co. sneak the test answers (which is a bit oblong and stereotypical as well, but tolerable given the character development it spurs) and bolt down the hall, with the proto-nerds watching from behind a door. Tense, well filmed, and strong.

    We cut to Chloe waxing about how the Wall of Weird has gone global. I'm surprised, but they've honestly found a good reason for Clark to leave Smallville here. They're very pointedly making Green Arrow and other heroes there, and putting a broader perspective on the freaks that have plagued, until now, mostly Smallville. I'm truly astonished, it's working out well. I can even forgive the term "Zoners."

    Now, is this a new term for a freak of the week? Yes. Is this a new way to disassociate the fact that they have crappy, cookie-cutter villains? YES.

    But here's a key difference. Superman deals with a villain every week. He's a formed hero with a reason to be surrounded by nemesis-type goons. Clark Kent, 14, is not. So when the show moves towards Superman pointedly, even if it's not going there all the way, and indicates that the freaks come from the world in general that emerges requiring a Superman, that's a coherent framework. As opposed to a fifteen-year-old who suddenly starts killing out of petty jealousy for an A.

    Here we have an annoying "I should have just listened to Jor-El!" speech from Clark. In most episodes, that'd lead to crucifixion. Here, it's fine, because Martha AND Chloe rip him a new one for it. "Pfft! He was asking you to murder!"

    I blinked and wondered if I was actually watching Smallville. Mostly because Chloe was encouraging him to kill Lex and Martha went along with Jor-El not four weeks ago, but I'll take the leap of logic if it lines things up again, like with Lois.

    Why will I take the leap with Lois and Jor-El and not with Lionel? Because there's absolutely no attempt to make a coherent framework of why Lionel should be with Martha, not be scorned, and have such power when broke. They TRIED a rationale with Lois, at least, and with Martha and Chloe's dialogue, it's not a big, epic issue like murder, it's a changing of mind into line with the character, which is a good thing.

    And here's the joke of the review, folks. In the beginning of this scene, Clark is tossing Martha's salad. I kid you not, rewind it.

    There's no dressing, mind you, but that boy is DEFINITELY tossing a salad. Someone ought to call the FCC. He's co-TOSSING his mother's salad! Kids might see that! I mean, baking a roast, that's one thing, but tossing your mother's salad? That's...that's just unconscionable. He's using tongs, which makes it somewhat less vulgar...or does it?

    Yeah, I'm just really unhealthily caught at age twelve. Truly.

    I'm pretty curious as to why Queen's satellites are fine during Dark Thursday. I have hopes that it'll be some strange plot element, a deal with Brainiac, some intrigue of some kind. Knowing Smallville I think all we'll get is "trade secrets," which sucks. I hope I'm wrong.

    AND AGAIN WITH THE...HEY! What the heck is this? Metropolis hospital? That's not squeaky shoes. What the heck is that? I' confused! I need to come up with a term for the Metropolis hospital. What's something that you see very rarely that's something like something you see very frequently? Well, platelet-laced fecal matter isn't appropriate. A good Smallville episode? Hey-o. Here all week. Lex Luthor in a green and purple suit?

    Maybe I should stick with Kung Pow.


    Yes. Perfect.

    Nice Gotham reference on the redshirt before getting into the car. I was actually curious as to how the heck the driver's cigarette managed to be accounted for in the planned death, and was going to tear it up, but it's actually pretty well accounted for with this villain's powers. He's trying to kill them, so he uses what's at hand. Decent.

    I mean, I'm so short of technical failures here, it's awesome. I love that! I can goof around more instead of listing flaws. I mean, I'm 1/3 of the way through and only on page three! Wheeeeeeeeee! I mean, I could go on for like a page here about something completely irrelevant and still come in under my usual word count. THAT is a spicy meatball. A real joy.

    Do you watch the ads? I had time to this week, given that I wasn't hectically scribbling notes. I even had time to make fries. You think this irrelevant? Well, usually I don't have any time. I'm trying to catch up, if anything. Beyond any quantitative measurement, that's a really easy measurement of how great something is.

    I bring it up because there was a hilarious, horrible new CW add. It showed a pumpkin and said, "FREE TO BE TRICKY!"

    Not when you're Free to Be You and Me, thank you very much. I'll keep that above-board.

    Free to Be is like "I'm loving it." It has NOTHING to do with what's being promoted, it's metrosexual and awful intentionally, and if anything, it only reinforces that this network and its shows aren't to be taken seriously. Henceforth I will mock it accordingly.

    Oliver making the closed-eye shot and Clark catching it ruled. Very nice scene, and a good way to show them working together. This is like all of the one-off episodes of visiting heroes played farther and done right, finally. I'm digging it now, really. It's like Brainiac, only with a purpose.

    The boxing arrow reference played with me, especially since he moved beyond it to the EMP arrow, which had a cool effect and a decent idea behind it. NOW the trick arrows are working for me. They relate, and aren't just sad gas props from a sixties Batman episode.

    Free to be...PUNCHING GLOVE!

    Kind of butthead of him to just waste a nice stereo system like that. I mean, if he's a good guy, wouldn't he just tell Clark what it did instead of wasting all that cash that could be robbed to feed the poor? Not that big a deal, it's for scene, but just saying.

    Free to be...SOLID GOLD SUV!

    Then, the scene with Lex, where he gives in, tries to find acceptance as a bargaining chip instead of doing the right thing, while his friend, foreshadowing Clark, takes the right path, and Lex becomes furious, beating him senseless. The car hitting him played well, good effects, believable, startling, if predictable.

    I'm glad they went with Lex not being wholly at fault. If he had pushed him and then the car hit him, it wouldn't have worked. Now Lex has a reason to plausibly believe he was just acting out of conviction, which makes his later forgetting speech stronger.

    Free to be...OWNED BY A CAR! (All-American Rejects and Maybelline!)

    Lex recalls, and finds himself in a room with Lana, worrying about the past, thinking. The ghost attacks, and though Lana's standing NOWHERE NEAR a light, it falls down, splits her head open, and knocks her out. Now if THAT is not a plot failure I can forgive, I can't really think of one.

    In all seriousness though, it makes some sense, given that he's going for Lex at the time. Lana was actually, scary to say, fairly supportive, human, and abnormally sympathetic to something that doesn't directly concern her in this episode. Opposite land indeed.


    Free to be...SQUEAKY.

    Lex is possessive over Lana, and reads the riot act to Clark. While I don't believe he'd fall in love with Lana, his actions are in character, pointed and well-written, and Clark is fittingly rebuffed for trying to care about Lana without a reason or in all fairness, a justification, given that they're broken up.

    What sucks is when Clark rounds the corner and starts spouting to Lois about how "I've hurt Lana more than anyone else, and she wouldn't even BE with Lex if it weren't for me!"

    Free to be...CRY MORE, EMO!

    Honestly, Lana's hurt her damned self, and though Clark lied to her, his secret never directly hurt her in any way. Yeah, he had a secret. The only thing he didn't tell her was what it is. It could have been that he had a carbuncle on his butt. Maybe that's why he's always running away, huh? She doesn't know, and indicted him anyway, which is HER hurting herself, not him. It is, however, arrogant to assume that she went to Lex because of him, and BS.

    Free to be...CARBUNKLE ARROGANT!

    This is rectified (couldn't help myself) when Lois tells him to stop beating himself up. Good. In character, giving them an excuse to move closer. It's like they're trying to fix the previous bad writing.

    Clark goes to forward the plot by talking to Lionel, and finds out the boy is still alive, which is actually a surprise. I was trying to figure out how Duncan was behind it, figuring crappy ghost plot, until right then.

    It's funny, because as Clark walks in, Lionel closes a notebook filled with Kryptonian sigils. Like that'll stop Clark from seeing inside of it.

    Free to be...DUMB AS CLARK!

    The next scene reminded me of Kill Bill, with the nurse going into the comatose patient's room. I expected her to start whistling. Maybe I AM crazy. It just goes along with the revenge theme, and we know Smallville rips stuff off. Heck, this is basically a ripoff of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" meeting "Final Destination" for horror. It's how they steal that makes the show.


    They push the kryptonite fluid (the reason this episode loses half a point, by the way), and his eyes light up. Good grief.

    Free to be...IMPLAUSIBLE!

    The IV's connected to the...eye bone?

    Clark's knob trick is funny, and cool. He breaks the lock subtly, with some skill. Good writing. Impressive thought going into it. If only they did that all the time.

    Lois competing with Clark for the by-line was supposed to be funny, but fell flat, seeing as Clark is not in college and no longer writes for anything. Something you'd think they'd address by now, but no.

    Coming back when Clark opens the door, Lois says, "Ladies first!"

    Feminist commentary about equality aside, Clark goes in first, making HIM the lady.


    Lex confronts Oliver, and they fight plausibly. They're angry at each other, neither are entirely rash. They hate each other, and they fight. It's strong, because this is Green Arrow fighting Lex Luthor, and we all know this, so Lex doesn't have a chance, but you still feel for him, because Oliver is just as culpable and wrong. He's made some amends, but never really to Lex. He still treats Lex like garbage, making him a sympathetic villain, which is also well thought-out and good writing. Great dialogue, too.

    Lex: "Like your hands are clean?"

    Oliver: "No, not even close, but since then I've been scrubbing 'em real hard. Yours just keep getting dirtier."

    Lex gets co-knocked out by glass, and Oliver takes an arrow to the shoulder that somehow lifts him implausibly about ten feet into the air and sticks him in mid-air.


    Clark arrives, realizing what's going on. He stops the arrow intended for Oliver, and the EMP goes, showing the electrical ESP impulses of the guy in bed. A bit cheesy, but somewhat clever. I'm undecided over whether it makes sense or not, but what tipped the balance is that Clark KILLS someone here, just like two weeks ago, and shows no guilt. Even though he wasn't at fault, he's still Clark, and he'd feel bad. That sucked.

    Clark talks to Lois, and tells Lois that sometimes people keep secrets to protect the people they love. Lois' response rules. "That's totally retarded!"

    Great! It's MUCH more relieving than guilt. Yeah, she's wrong, but at least she's kind, honest, and human about it. The anti-Lana. It's like a Clana that rocks. I love it!

    Oliver drops in on Lex sporting an arm sling. Ten bucks says it's totally healed by next week. Any takers? Looks like a few month wound, but hey! Smallville miracle forthcoming.

    Oliver apologizes, making amends for what he did, which is exactly what a hero does. Lex, unable to relieve himself of the bitterness (somewhat justifiably) says, "I regret ever feeling I need friends like you." Awesome characterization. Solid all around.

    Lex goes all the way to Metropolis to confront his dad, which doesn't make sense, but at least it provides a great character moment. Lex's attitude shifts from trying to right wrongs to trying to more forward. It makes sense given his later "Tomorrow Party" atmosphere and attitude, and it's what megalomaniacal people do. So I killed a few thousand serfs! My kingdom is now in order. It's dictatorial logic. STRONGLY in character.

    Plus there's Lionel's little smile at the end. Lionel is still manipulating Lex to be the man that he wants him to be, he's just gotten less overt. Now THAT is a Lionel I can admire and respect. More please. Less courting Martha, more magnificent bastard.

    Chloe has a Dark Thursday article thanks to Oliver, which marks I think her second mentioned article. Is she still a phoneling? This should be addressed, and isn't.

    All in all? EXTREMELY solid. Six pages? I can't come up with more than six pages to rip this thing?

    Free to be...impressed. Heck, I'll even forgive the failures. This is exceedingly rare. I'm going 5 on this one.

    Next week, Raya on Earth. Lana being passive aggressive even in the PREVIEW. Free to be...WORRIED? I think a Kryptonian who insta-dies is on the way. We'll see.

    "It's the box or me!" says Lana. How apt. Is that more vulgar than the salad joke? Only if you're perpetually twelve, like me.




    I missed a few last week because I was changing over computers and a few fell through the cracks, so here goes:

    First off, a letter from Bruce Kanin. He's a steady writer, a good friend, and as I've said before, I use his ratings as a litmus and starting point every week. He sends them to me as a letter, and thankfully has granted me permission to start putting them in here..

    This one isn't easy to rate. So much silliness, yet...OK. B MINUS. I'm in a tired and forgiving mood tonight.

    - Oliver Queen's remark about him considering a boxing glove arrow. Yuk Yuk.

    - Green Lantern's super-villain, Hector Hammond, appears! Yes, Hector Hammond, one of GL's greatest enemies, all brain dead and paralyzed, with his super-head could send his brainwaves anywhere and manipulate anything, including Green Lantern's ring! OK, Bruce, enough of that...well, Duncan wasn't Hector Hammond, but he sure reminded me of him.

    Good call. Didn't know him, myself.

    - Good that Lois decided not to write a story about Duncan - would have been tacky.

    - Lois and Clark shouldn't be a team this early on - before Metropolis - but they're beginning to grow on me as one.

    - Minimal Lana in this episode! That's always a good thing!

    - Return of the Meteor Rocks / Meteor Rocks fluid / Freak of the Week. Ugh! And how does any doctor - even one hired by Lionel Luthor - justify using Kryptonite fluid, e.g., "Hey; nothing else worked - let's use this green stuff".

    - Contrived alert! Oliver Queen's satellites are the only ones who got shots of the Earth during Dark Thursday.

    - It was really easy to predict that Duncan was somehow behind the murders and attempted murders. C'mon now.

    - Clark kills another bad guy! There have been a handful of episodes in which Clark either does something that causes the death of the bad guy/gal, or doesn't do something and the same thing happens. Here, he intercepts the "stasis arrow" (for lack of a better name), which somehow causes Duncan to die.

    - So what happened to Green Arrow - no appearance by him - just his secret ID of Ollie. Boo hiss.

    - So if Lex and Lana are a couple...and Ollie and Lois are a couple...why aren't Clark and Chloe? She knows his secret ID...they'd make a perfect couple.

    Because that would make sense! Heh.

    - At the end, when Chloe showed Clark those photos, I was kind of hoping he'd discover his microscopic vision.

    Bruce Kanin

    See? Awesomeness.

    Sara wrote:
    Hey, handsome!

    Hey, babe!

    I figured I'd send this week's snark through official channels. I try to do that every now and again... (And by the by, your new pic is very... um... artful with the long hair blowing in assumably the wind. ;D) I know you weren't very pleased with this episode, but I thought I'd go through it anyway. Let's see...

    The pic was chosen by the perplexes me. I like simpler, but hey. The mohawk one they all though I was crazy. The normal one was boring. The beard one people kept calling me Kevin Smith. Now maybe they'll call me Sparticus.

    I'm hoping it's not the last year, but that's because I'm a masochist/sadist at heart. Let's be honest. We all know that they've been pumping out drivel for awhile now, but we're all still there. We're all still watching and dying to read your reviews. (Or is that just me?) Even after Season 4. I think this is the next to the last year, but I wish the PTB would just pull their heads out of their butts!

    "Never give up! Never surrender!"

    I'll take Ripley cleavage.

    I'm hoping that they'll move everyone back to Metropolis. I mean, I know the series is called "Smallville", but you can only do so much to a small Kansas town. Seriously! But you're right. Every forward motion they've ever made has been reneged and actually knocked back two paces. We're not going forward. We're actually going backwards in the mythos and the characters' maturity. Oy! And the addition of Jimmy... Personally, I think it was a sop to the pride of Allison Mack fans that she actually has a boyfriend-type person, considering that they won't allow any Chlark in this or any other universe. And he only took pictures AFTER forgetting his camera when they went off to investigate the scream. OK, I know he was wetting his pants in that scene, but reporter Chloe was on the case, so wanna-be news photographer Jimmy should have been as well.

    And you'll notice they're pretty much ignoring Jimmy so far...

    I didn't buy Lois/Oliver. I know that they're supposed to be a pre-couple, but there were times that he looked at her like she was something he'd just stepped in. But maybe that's just me... and that I really don't like Lois there.

    It's semi-plausible to me because of Lois' hero worship. It was insta-love, but at least they're building it instead of forgetting it.

    I highly doubt that they were out on some sort of official undercover stakeout. I thought it was just Jimmy's lame way to get Chloe to Lover's Lane. Because there wasn't a story when he came up with it. Oh, there's a story later, but that's not why he brought her there. He probably brought it up with "Let's be a couple of newspaper self-starters and really impress Kahn". ("KAHN!!!!")


    I do think the product placement is WAY overdone. I don't know why they feel the need to beat everyone about the head with this type of thing. Just doesn't make sense...

    Cash. Cold hard cash.

    And the other thing about AAR and the darn ball is that he was trying to get his rich acquaintances there. And most rich people tend to be older, so AAR would have been way out of their taste range. Maybe that's just me.

    I've decided that the PTB feel that Clark MUST live in Angstville, U.S.A. 24-7. Clark doesn't deserve to be happy, obviously, because his coming to Earth killed people and mutated people and that means he's responsible for all of it. It would have been better if they'd said it once, maybe twice, had someone whack him upside the head with a "Don't be stupid!", and then let it go. Apparently, their only way to make a good fantasy drama is to have angst, because everyone is miserable nearly all of the time so Clark needs it more 'cause he's super, right?

    They need to look up catharsis and angst and find the difference.

    I rolled my eyes at the costume line. You're right. At first, it was cute and funny. But they've used it SO much with everyone that has a future in the continuity that it's losing its punch. Grrr... And that's happening with a lot of things now. Martha's speech. Chloe still liking Clark. The Clark/Lois sibling angle. Lana. Yeah. They need to do major housekeeping... and soon.

    Clark did toss Martha's salad. Oh lord, that will never stop being funny.

    The only thing about the greenhouse scene that I found satisfying was Lex kicking Clark off his property and good. That was the only thing I liked about that scene. Because when he opened up the seed pod, all I could think was "He thinks an orchid is killing people?"

    Yar. Crazy talk.

    Does it even do any good to complain about Lana anymore? If Chloe or Lex wasn't in the scene with her, I'm often tempted to fast-forward. Is that bad? I would have liked it if she'd realized that was her problems and insecurities were why she and Clark had SUCH problems. That I would have paid money for.

    I would fast-forward if I didn't review it. Every time.

    I thought Clark's ID of the ranger was off for a number of reasons. #1 - I don't think the authorities typically allow someone to stop them in the middle of the hallway to gape at a dead body. #2 - They didn't need someone to ID her because they already knew who she was. They should have told him to blow off. #3 - He seemed really cold about it and for someone that doesn't want to attract attention, it seems to really be shining a light on himself. Whatever. That was OBVIOUSLY the only way they could have found out that Gloria (Was there her name, 'cause I couldn't develop enough interest in her to take an actual interest in her name.) wasn't really a park ranger.

    Dude! I have to limit my sodium intake?!? When did *that* become the rule?!? Oh, and my comments didn't make it in... Probably 'cause I submitted them wrong. Oh, well. They were too long anyway! :D

    That's an old poem joke from my site, actually. Har!

    Hasta, baby!

    thebrakeman wrote:
    In your notes:
    thebrakeman wrote:
    No problem with some bad guys having bodies in the zone, and others do not. On Krypton, they must have had a means of removing (and destroying) criminals bodies, then banishing their spirits to the zone. But Raya was placed there for safekeeping, so she kept her body. Nam-Ek (sp?) and the other Krypto were pushed in by Clark (he didn't have a Kryptonian de-body machine. And likewise, Zod must not have had that technology in the barn when he banished Clark.
    Neal said:
    Perhaps, but they never said that...
    Actually, yes they did.
    Raya said something to the effect of, "The worst criminals were stripped of their bodies and banished to the zone", to which Clark responded something like, "So those were the spirits that kicked my butt a minute ago."

    I think the writers covered themselves well as far as some in the zone having bodies and some not.

    What I meant was that they never said that Zod had that technology.

    And so far, of the 7 "stars" that came out of the zone:
    1. Clark
    2. The vine lady

    The rest, here are my guesses:
    3. Nam-ek - Transported and healed of his neck wound before he died in the PZ.
    4. The other Kryptonian (woman) banished by Clark with Nam-Ek (I can't remember her name).
    5. Raya - I don't think she was dead yet either, so she is now on Earth and healed of the stab wound. Why she hasn't sought out Clark, I don't know.
    6 & 7 - The 2 goons that attacked Raya...(you know, they looked like Tuscan Raiders).

    You watch, it'll be more than the seven. I'm betting, anyway. Does Bow-wow count as half?

    Rick wrote:
    Hi Neal,
    Love the reviews every week and wanted to comment about something in your review.

    Thanks, and sure!

    In it you wrote "The only way it could hurt him is if his defensive shield fell, and that's basically with Kryptonite. BUT, given that the villain has to be from Krypton (because she was in the PZ) unless Krypton, uh, exported the Phantom Zone, which would be weird and was not noted in the show, she too would be weakened by Kryptonite."

    I went back and watched the season opener and I swear that when Clark was being explained about the Phantom Zone, Raya explains it was used to imprison criminals from the 28 known galaxies. With that being said, in Smallville's world, why would we assume that all the criminals there are from Krypton?

    Well, mostly because the Phantom Zone has always traditionally been a Krypton or Earth based prison. I do recall that galaxies speech now, though.

    Also, we know that, again in Smallville's world, an alien is effected by our yellow sun, so couldn't it stand to reason that Earth would have different effects on aliens from some other planet other than Krypton?

    Yes, but that doesn't mean it would CUT Clark, just that they too would be invincible.

    Hope you can shed some light on this. Then again, maybe I am just totally missing the part where Raya said that all the criminals there were from Krypton.

    Keep up the good work!


    Nope, you're right, I believe.

    Michael Herrick wrote:
    Hi Neal,

    I'm going to defend the Smallville writers because you've unjustly accused them of fuzziness in some matters that they actually set out pretty clearly.

    Okay. Can I defend myself because they unjustly afflicted myself with that episode? Heh.

    The plant alien was not from Krypton. Raya tells Clark that the Phantom Zone was used to house criminals from 28 galaxies. I think that was the number. Whatever it is in Superman: The Movie, anyway.


    And she said "the 28 inhabited galaxies," which is a conscious improvement over Brando's "28 known galaxies" (like you can't count more than that with binoculars). Also, Raya and Jor-El both made it clear that there are two kinds of criminals in the Phantom Zone: ones with bodies and ones without (the true Phantoms). So the plant lady took her body into the Phantom Zone and then out again. Zod was a true Phantom and I think he'll be back later this season. I think that was him in South America, since all the other criminals sucked through the portal seemed to have bodies.

    Sounds good to me.

    I think these are both departures from the usual comic-book Phantom Zone, but I think they're kind of cool.


    Cool. Thanks.

    Sarah wrote:
    I thought that you (as a professional writer) might appreciate/scorn this little tidbit appropriately. Anrie at TWoP transcibed Lois' two "articles", the original article presented to Chloe and the one PRINTED in The Inquisitor. Somehow this little gem slipped through both times in the "editing process":

    "...theories [placed] on the table such as a microburst. A microburst being almost like a mini-tornado."


    Dear God. That's not even a complete sentence. It's a present-participle gerund phrase that could (maybe) serve as a non-essential appositive or a nominal absolute phrase, if Lois (or this awful editor) had set it off with a comma at the beginning (or ending) of an actual independent clause. [/end high-school English grammar rant]

    It makes me cry that a professional writer could even construct that sentence. Ohh, Smallville...Chlois really is the only way.


    I have no problem with non-essential appostitive. Never have. Never will. Don't. But if I were writing a piece of journalism...AW, CRAP! Well, most newspapers wouldn't print what I do. And hey, Lois isn't a pro. She's just a chick who took a sudden unexplainable interest in journalism. Doesn't mean you're wrong!

    Dan Fenton wrote:

    Long time no talk. Wow, three episodes into season six and I have to say, we're in a whole lotta trouble if things keep up the way they have the past two episodes. Nice that they got the pseudo-comedic discovery of Clark's new super breath power out of the way in episode two...and the first big freak of the week in episode three, but there's one thing that concerns me...

    How does Lex manage to get through airport detectors with all that lead in him?

    The bald head repels security forces. And he throws out his liquids, the REAL threat.

    Seriously, it's a pretty worn out plot device, Lex gets kidnapped stuck on some table, then shot...where have we seen all or some of this before?

    Saying that, though, I like the evil turn his character is taking and show by show, we should see him grow worse and worse (or better and better, since we all want the truly evil Les LuthOR to finally arise).

    Mayhap someday.

    But...c'mon...Lana?? It's hard to enjoy Lex's evil scenes with that meddling Lana constantly on hand taking offense when anyone breathes...and now there's baby rumours? Say it isn't so!!

    In chat I postulated that it will have eight legs and call its mommy Satan. Either way, it'll just be a ripoff of The Fly 2.

    Am I imagining things or has Smallville gotten a little crowded? Okay, characterwise they've always given us the Whitneys, Petes and Jasons of the world...and they did off Pa Kent last year, opening up a spot...but it seems now they bring people in to pair them up with every woman character in an attempt to make Clark the loneliest guy on the face of the earth.

    I mean, Chloe and Jimmy Olsen, Lois and Oliver Queen...even Ma Kent and Lionel? Here's what we know so far this year...Clark seems to be jealous that Chloe has found someone...not that he ever cared before...or did he always just assume she'd be around as a backup if he ever actually got over Lana?

    I dunno. It's pretty convoluted, I agree.

    I've always maintained that Chloe is the one I'd go for...but I always liked the Bettys instead of the Veronicas...but Clark's reaction seems to have no base unless he just doesn't like to see his friends happy. We know he's going to end up with Lois this whole Lois and Green Arrow thing seems to be a waste of we're supposed to believe it'll work out, though he does know how to pick out a costume.

    I like Betty and Veronica at the same time. The answer to that question is always both. But I'd much prefer Betty for cerebral activity.

    I think it's time to lose another character and, because there seems to be a prevailing hostility over her very existence...and she's getting herself in too deep with Lex, my money would again be on Lana. As much as people question bringing Lois and Jimmy into the show...Jimmy at least gives Clark a male character to play off of (a-la Pete perhaps)...while Lois adds sex appeal and humor.

    Both overrated on a drama...

    Lana, on the other hand, has become a boring one-note character. Even in the scene with Chloe in episode three where Chloe was telling her to "grow fins" or can see Lana's nostrils flare. Everything is a personal affront and I'm glad I tape and watch because there are times I just zip through the Lana scenes. It was pretty much this way in season four and the last half of season five as well. She's now on the show to be the show bitch and she's not very good at that. I have to wonder if Kristen likes playing her so stuck up and superior? Lana has to leave Clark's life sometime...why not now...since their time as a couple has passed.

    If they're gonna take this many liberties, they might as well kill her.

    The other problem with all of the characters is it limits Clark's screen time and you can tell sometimes that there's some rust. Tom telling ol Poison Ivy to "Go back. Now."...well, how many people did it take to com up with that brilliant line? Now Oliver Queen has been added to the mix and while that might bring some great interaction with Lex, time will tell how it works with Clark.

    Apparently two writers, as I recall.

    Time to advance Clark along too, since I don't think we'll be seeing a season seven the way things are going. Time for the Superman part of him to start coming out since, presumably, that's where he'll end up in the last show.

    Hope things improve, though. Episode one was awesome and I would have liked to have seen Zod remain around a couple more episodes. Things went from chaotic back to "normal" a little too quickly. One week the world seems on the verge of destruction...the next week a barn door passes over Lois' head. Hard to believe it's the same show sometimes.

    Well, onward and upward. Maybe they'll fool us next time and blow us away instead of the Kent's barn door.

    Take care for now.

    Dan Fenton
    Burlington, Ontario

    Thanks, Dan!

    Arune Singh wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Just wanted to say I respect you even more for how you handled the comments from readers last week. But you forgot to tell them about your man crush on Justin Hartley. And, am I the only one who has a hard time taking Lois seriously after the stripper episode?

    Arune Singh

    Thanks. Sometimes, heck, every time it sucks to get crapped on for something you do for free that you don't force people to read. It makes me kind of empathize for Smallville and what I do to them. Except it's case of the week of where they'll just have to take a swim in the money bin and get over it. Me? I do this out of love.

    And Justin is hot in green.

    Women can be strippers and intellectuals. Just ask...well, okay, there are none.

    You guys have gotta check out Arune writes for CBR and is a really awesome guy. I generally hate blogs, there are like four I enjoy, Felix's, Arune's, Americablog, and my own, Chronicling the Fall. Arune has a great structure, a strong format, and does a ton of waxing on Superman. Get on over there. GO!

    thebrakeman wrote:
    More regarding some in the PZ with bodies, and some without. I cued up Episode 1 last night to listen to Raya's explanation of why it's so dangerous in the zone. Direct quotes:
    Raya: "Most viscious offenders are condemned for eternity, their quarkorian (?) bodies destroyed, their essence haunting the wasteland."
    Clark: "The phantoms - like the ones that attacked me."

    Notice the first word "most". This assumes not all criminals were stripped of their bodies, but only "the most viscious". So they DID explain it this way. Therefore, there is no issue with the vine lady or others being their with their physical ("quarkorian" - made of quarks?) bodies.

    I've also rethought who I think the 7 things are that came back from the zone:
    1. Clark
    2. Vine creature/lady
    3. Nam-ek (healed)
    4. Nam-ek's sidekick (I forget her name)
    5. 3 phantom zone goons

    I'm still not sure where the phantom came from (the one in Argentina at the end of ep. 1). I didn't see any phantoms in the fight scene by the PZ gate (only those 3 goons that looked like Tuscan Raiders).

    Better theorizing...good stuff!

    I also don't think it's Zod's phantom. I think Raya's crystal is the mechanism Jor-El created to separate a Kryptonian's essence from their body. Normally, that body would be destroyed, but in Lex's case, his human essence remained, so he lived (speculation!). So Zod's essence (phantom) is either:
    1. Back in the Phantom Zone
    2. Trapped in Raya's crystal
    3. Somehow released, and is haunting random waterways in Argentina

    I think it's #2.

    I'm guessing it's 2 as well.

    Felix Vasquez wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Since the popular theory is that I'm YOU in disguise a la the Scarlet Pimpernel, you're writing this to yourself. Cool, huh?

    Yar! Yet another theory of who I might be. Rebecca caused that. People said that because Felix defended me on the message boards, he must be me. Infallible logic! No, I'm not a girl, not Felix, not an executive for Smallville's competing networks, but yes, I am dead sexy.

    Another week, another episode of "Smallville." How's things on your end? I have to read "Elephant" when you can manage it. "Madly" was beyond great, and I'm shocked not many people have yet to discover it.

    I think they're watching Everwood or tossing salads. Honestly, it's got flipping cars, rampant sexual deviation, poop humor, cursing, and Charles Bukowski. They don't know what they're missing. But I wrote it to be good, not popular.

    It's a shame, I've found myself drawn to "Heroes" more these past months, mainly because it's much more episodic, mature, and well written, and that's probably because of Jeph Loeb.

    Gonna watch it over break, you watch.

    I'm in better spirits writing this, and judging by this week's episode, "Arrow," Loeb's "Heroes" is looking so much better. So, since some people hate to read long things that don't concern MTV, and Harry Potter, I'll get straight to business. Long, meticulous notes ahead, in honor of the site.

    Sorry. I stopped reading. Paris is on tv. Ah, okay, I'll keep going.

    1. Lois is dumb, I'm convinced of it. It's bad enough she can't recognize Clark, but now we have to believe one of the soon to be greatest reporters in the world, can't recognize her boyfriend in a hood, and sunglasses? Please.

    1b. Lois strikes me as someone who'd go to journalism school. This self made woman thing without schooling is cheesy.

    And falsely inspiring to people who have learned helplessness.

    2. Erica Durance is still a terrible actress. She just doesn't provide lines with enough conviction and delivery to make her believable, and due to her hilarious interview on Howard Stern, she can't really take a joke either.

    2b. Did you see her on Howard Stern? They couldn't stop calling her on her Bullsquat, and she ran off crying. Seriously.

    I read about that. Any comment I make would get me in trouble. I like her acting myself, I hate the way her character has been butchered.

    3. This romance, sub-plot, chemistry, and everything else involving Lex and Lana is horrible. I fall asleep watching them, and I just grow incredibly impatient.

    My hair burns.

    4. The sunglasses. GA's sunglasses. I hate them. I despise them. This is obviously new sunglasses CW is touting for a company, or new sunglasses the CW is touting themselves and marketing for all the teens watching. I hate it. It's blatant, ridiculous, and STUPID!


    5. Martha and Lionel are still an uber-couple. You go girl, don't be tied down by the memory of the father of your child, whom you were married to for possibly thirty years, and shared many emotional experiences with. Move on with your life, to the homicidal man! I love feminism.

    This is just bad writing. Bad feminism is the fact that she's a single mother with two businesses and no problems. BS.

    6. Is it wrong that when they were drowning Lois, I wasn't upset?

    I think it's funny.

    7. The interplay between Clark and Oliver is old and lame. We've seen this a thousand times with he and Lex, and, as someone else on the site proclaimed, It seems like they're using Oliver as a replacement for Bruce Wayne. It's boring.

    So, 2.5 for me.

    Good episode, but not great.

    So, Neal, explain in a long drawn out meandering paragraph: Do you subscribe to the theory that we are one in the same?

    Yes! Actually, in the sense that the whole universe is a series of true or false statements, and given the fact that truth is relative in our framework of cogent existence to how many people believe that a thing is true, if we can get approximately ten billion people to think that you are me and I am you, then yes, it will become what is likely a true statement.

    But seriously, man, you hate Fight Club and I love it. That's difference enough to make you Betty and me Veronica. Even if I'm not...vixen-y?

    Terminal aka Felix aka Neal 2
    Cinema Crazed

    Bruce Kanin wrote:
    Re: SMALLVILLE - "Arrow"


    You and I are back in sync, more or less. 3 out of 5? Well, I gave it a "C", so I guess that's right (A = 5, B =4, yeah, 3 = C). Still, it's more like a 2.5 out of 5, but why quibble.


    You know, I only watch SMALLVILLE because it's the only Superman show in town. Heck, it's the only DC show in town, except for whatever DC cartoons are left floating around in TV land somewhere - and except for the glorious DVDs of everything, of course.

    You forgot Poland! And Krypto. But does that count?

    But SMALLVILLE is just not a thinking man's show any more, if it ever was. Just compare it to HEROES, which I hope you watch. It keeps you on your toes, and then some. I just CANNOT WAIT for next week's episode...and the next one...and the next one.

    I'm gonna watch Heroes after episode 8 and have it caught up before Smallville comes back.

    Granted, HEROES plays more like a serial, and SMALLVILLE doesn't. But SMALLVILLE could be just as great as HEROES. In fact, I recall the first two seasons of SMALLVILLE when I all but hungered to see the next episode, because it was unrolling Superman as a teen growing up in Smallville for the very first time.

    Yes. That's why the first half of the first Heroes I saw pleased me.

    It has since become contrived, inconsistent, silly, stupid, blatantly obvious, repetitive, crude and, often, boring. Occasionally there is a glimmer, such as when it taps into the Superman mythos, reminding us of Clark's greatness and battles to come (hah - "reminding us...(of things) come" - is that an oxymoron?), and sometimes the dialogue between characters, especially when it involves Lex and Lionel (rare, now) or Chloe and Clark - can either be riveting or heart-tugging.

    But mostly, it's become a chore.

    Sadly, yes. I love it, but yes.

    They tried throwing us a bone with Green Arrow. WOW! Another DC superhero. Let's watch! But folks, what made Green Arrow interesting in the comics was Denny O'Neill and Neal Adams, when they converted him from a Batman clone (um, the Arrow Car, Arrow Plane, Arrow Boat, Arrow Cave.wish they'd have had Arrow Dog) to a grouchy anti-establishment guy who was on a crusade against not the black in black & white, but the grey stuff in life (recall the classic stories with Green Lantern).

    SMALLVILLE's Green Arrow was no more interesting than their lifeless renditions of Aquaman, "Flash" (hah), Mxyzptlk (eh?) and Cyborg (who, I will admit, was perhaps the most interesting of the bunch).

    And he ruins stereo equipment. The putz!

    If the SMALLVILLE writers want to make things interesting with DC characters, have the Legion drop in from the future - that would make lots of sense, because they did just that in the Silver Age.

    Introduce Bizarro, because THAT happened in SUPERBOY comics.

    Al told me no Bizarro. That Red K WAS their Bizarro.

    Have Mon-El arrive on Earth, and recreate the classic Silver Age story that introduced him.

    Interesting idea.

    Or find a way to have a troubled, brooding Bruce Wayne make a pit stop in Smallville. Yes, I know they wanted to do this awhile back. In fact, SMALLVILLE was originally supposed to be the Young Bruce Wayne saga. But "Batman Begins" presumably put the kibosh on that - however, one would think Warner could do anything, since it essentially owns SMALLVILLE and the Batman franchise - plus it would be terrific publicity for "Batman Begins II".

    Time to home in on HEROES.hey, Jeph Loeb switched to helping out with that, away from SMALLVILLE.



    I think half the problem is that they wanted a broody hero who did bad things and imposed that on Clark.

    Maren wrote:
    Well, for my first time emailing, I would actually go into a whole lot of depth about why I really don't enjoy your reviews and how I think you're overly cynical (although, yes I realize you need to critique blah blah blah and I agree with a few of your criticisms, but I don't believe it's necessary to criticize basically every tiny detail, especially when numerous ones are really off the mark), but I'm going to leave it at that, knowing fully that you yourself get criticized excessively, and nothing I could say probably has not been said before. (Sorry bout that run on sentence...)

    Actually, I'd prefer that you did go into your critique, otherwise it seems like you're passive aggressively and backhandedly trying to assert something you can't really prove, which makes you look bad.

    But anyway, a few things I couldn't not respond to:


    You said: "where somehow this highly trained, honed body of his doesn't tip her off to the fact that it's the same guy. And apparently, sunglasses disguise him totally."

    Ok.... are you kidding me??? Did you *really* just say that??? When Superman/Clark Kent's complete disguise is essentially a pair of glasses???!! And not even sunglasses! I mean come on.

    Actually, his disguise in 1950 was glasses. Now it's a hunch, a voice, hair, clothing and attitude change, he doesn't blur himself to avoid photography, he has a completely different attitude, and he's shorter. But hey, same thing.

    I do agree that with Lois and Green Arrow that close, Lois should have at least recognized his lips, which I think are pretty distinguishable, but we all know that it takes Lois more than a while to even start considering that her neighboring bumbling reporter might be our favorite superhero. But going off the disguise concept that has been consistent ever since the start of Superman, why would you criticize that?

    Because it was poorly done.

    This is a fantasy show, based loosely on the Superman legend, and although the characters are meant to be real, you sometimes take it like it's supposed to portray real life.

    The goal of a fiction is to emulate our lives with a message or rationale. So yeah. Especially drama.

    Never in real life would there be a guy wearing a leather green suit and shooting high-tech arrows, let alone a guy who has come from a different planet. There are certain assumptions and beliefs that just need to be thrown out the window from the beginning.

    Yes. But one of those is not a coherent rational framework. A man can fly, but there is a reason for it in this story. Not knowing that a person who looks and acts the same in two different situations is the same person is ridiculous, which is why they changed it from "just glasses." If you expect people to just accept what writers say, how are you questioning what I wrote?

    Therefore, I'm sorry, but it really just bugged me that you would criticize GA's disguise. Yes, the fact that no one ever seems to guess that Clark Kent looks exactly like Superman without the glasses is ridiculous. But there you go, it's a comic.

    There you go, it's a sentence. That doesn't mean it proves anything.

    The other thing I'd just like to point out is about the whole Robin Hood thing... you said if he's already rich, Green Arrow should just give to the poor, he wouldn't have to steal more. I actually agree somewhat, and I had the same thoughts upon watching the episode, but it would just appear to me that he needs quite a bit of that money to fund his whole Green Arrow gig. Those arrows are probably extremely expensive to make, and the bows, sleeping gas, electro-shocking whatever the hell those are, etc... But yes, I do think he should give from his own pocket somewhat.

    So in other words, he spent more money on arrows than he would have on feeding the poor, making him MORE of a punk, heh.

    So that's pretty much it. As you yourself said, a lot of a critic's audience are the haters, and although I'm not a complete hater, I like to tune in to see what kind of outlandish thing you've said. And perhaps some true statement you've said too. So I laugh at the people who try to change you, because that quite obviously isn't going to happen, but I just like to get my opinions across.

    Cool and cool. And I'm totally awesome with you writing in to criticize, just bear in mind it works better with VERY cogent logic, because I work really hard to analyze argument forms and their reactions.

    And THANK YOU for reading.


    Jim Smith wrote:

    Dig if you don't remember. When Perry White came around in season 3(?) did he work for the same paper Lois is sending her junk off to or was he with a TV show. Life of me I can't remember.

    He was working for a tv show, as I recall.

    The arrow stopped the bullet... Only part of the show that bothered me in any great detail. Had it still hit her just way off target I would have been fine with it, well almost.


    Last time I remember a woman getting that close to Lex, she ended up dead. So here is hoping Lex and Lana do not break up but that he just kills her or ends up dead because of him. She was so vile in that elevator shot, someone missed a chance to play "True Colors" in the back ground.

    Good call. Good idea, actually.

    As far as Lois being "dumb as Clark", well if anything being blinded by the costume is a long and well known character flaw of hers. Not on the show mind you but over the history of the character.

    Yeah, but that's why they changed Clark to be more of a disguise, a better one anyway. Arrow and Queen are essentially the same person. He's playing with arrows in his civilian identity. It'd be like Clark wearing a red cape around.

    Oh and now that I am think about it. Chloe was way out of character at the end. Chloe should have had a back up disk, Chloe would know how to reset her PC to a restore point before it was tampered with. Anyway, look forward to your next write up. Until then..


    Octantis wrote:

    I began reading your SM reviews with Season 5 Episode 1 and I even read your whole XXL Superman Returns review (I don't think there are many people who acutally read all of the freaking 30.000 words, I hope that I wont miss that part of my life, you stole from me, someday...) so you can't say that i don't like your reviews. But one thing really starts to annoy me. In every second review you write about SM chars wasting money they shouldn't have, driving from Metropolis to Smallville and back.

    Yes. With the rationale that portraying these poor farm kids as being able to afford things that they wouldn't be able to in real life does a disservice to the realism of the show and raises expectations in the more nave viewers that they need to be everything to everyone. It's a good criticism.

    And hey, a ton of people read that review. Or said they did.

    We get it, beeing poor sucks but there is no need to point that out every week. Get over it, it's just a TV series and it's another universe. Who knows, maybe gas is really cheap in this universe. As far as I know they never showed or talked about a gas station in any episode. And even if gas costs as much as in your world (which is still really cheap compared to Europe) there could be dozens of other explanations.

    Every person who's given me the "just get over it" argument about being poor has been either rich, or Republican. I hate pegging people that way, so I'll just assume that you're mad at my criticism because you find it irrelevant. You have yet to indicate how it is, however.

    And I never said that gas wasn't really cheap here. Compared to Europe, we've got it made. That doesn't mean it's cheap, and that doesn't send any broader geo-political message. Though I could. It just says if you have no job and are attending college, expensive three hour drives are unrealistic on a regular basis.

    There could be dozens of other explanations, but none are offered, and that's the writing staff's job, not mine, to come up with.

    -Maybe the have some kind of welfare system, where the government (or Lex) pays all travel costs.
    -Smallville universe cars use some other kind of fuel than gasoline.
    -Lana, Chloe, Lois have some kind of income we never saw.
    Well I admit,there aren't dozens of explanations I can think of now, it's just too early in the morning, but as I said before it's just a TV show (and mostly not a good one).

    Since this is just a letter, should I ignore it? What the heck does that mean, "It's just a tv show?" So I should just accept mediocrity because it's usually mediocre? Lame.

    And honestly, the explanation might as well be that angels fly in off screen and fill their tanks with mana. You REALLY reach that far to justify bad writing? I don't.

    Maybe you would enjoy Smallville more when you just forget about such things and don't remind yourself of trivial illogical stuff happening in Smallville. There are really enough other and more important things in Smallville which you can worry about.

    Like? You didn't name any.

    But enough of that, I have a question too.
    Do u write reviews of other Movies or TV shows or is Superman your only writing interest?

    Yes. I review movies fairly regularly at , I used to review books at the Mid-West Book Review, I do a political blog at which includes entertainment, and my writing interests include novels and poetry, of which I've written many volumes, details of which can be found at, including five books and five poetry collections.

    Cele B. wrote:
    Hey Neal,
    I agree that Lana's turn towards evil by way of Lexian influence is sexist, but not because it reinforces "impossible stereotypes of female perfection". I feel like it reinforces the stereotype of the weak-minded, easily-influenced female.

    That too. Good observation.

    Yes, I know they constantly try to say Lana is perfect. She's amazing. Her complexion glows like the nuclear waste. Whatever. But it follows previous precedents set in past episodes. As we learn in Bound, for example, women are so weak that they're turned into murderers just because a man didn't commit to them instantly. Also, they're forced into having consensual sex, the wimps! No way can they just decide to have a fun romp with no strings attached like a guy!

    All of which is true and sucks. I agree. It's the angel-whore all over again. I tend to harp on the perfection flaw, because trying to make people perfect bugs me. Asserting that women are weak is more defensible, not because women are weak, because it can be argued that they're simply asserting that these women are a class of most people, who are weak, a fair assessment, and they show the men as often weak on this show. But perfection sticks to the ladies...

    What's worse, though, is that I think stuff like this is the show's idea of GRRL POWER. Making someone utterly blameless for their actions isn't giving them undue power, though. It's taking away accountability, which takes also takes away power and autonomy, so in the end what you're left with is a rather depressing view of women: They're weak, they can't help themselves, they're influenced by Big Strong Men, it's not their fault. I think this is a surprisingly misanthropic show in general, but sometimes I'm just extra surprised at how specifically misogynistic it is, too.

    That's a good way of reversing it, but it's tomato, toMAHto. Point is, they're devaluing women by making irrational and unrealistic depictions of them, whether that's weak through perfection, perfection period, or just simply not holding them accountable for anything. They get away with it because the alternative, misanthropy, is widely condemned, as is criticism of women on a general basis.

    I agree, though.

    TRA wrote:
    Neal, so surprised and happy to see your review of "Arrow" this quickly on the Website!

    Less behind, more poo!

    Like you, I found great things in the episode, mixed with what I would term "bizarre." First for the great: I've like Clark so far this Season (minus the I will save Lex only because it may save me bit, and even more so in this episode. He has been willing to use (maybe not as much as he should) more of his powers and less of his brawn. He has been less whiny overall. And when they show the scenes of Clark alone, I for one am happy. I like Clark alone. I think he needs it. Everyone knows he'll never move on as long as he's pining for Lana.

    Word. Though why we're watching Green Arrow and Lois in Smallville is beyond me...

    So, I have the opposite reaction from what the writers want us to feel when Clark is sitting in the barn throwing the baseball. I say "Yes; reflect on your poor decisions and get on with the program!" Because I am quite a bit (we'll let it go at that) older than you, I have to laugh at your comment that Clark should be who he's going to be in his early twenties. I sure hope not. I am far from where I was in my twenties. Although I agree that the essence of a person (their underlying values) are established by then, I for one, made lots of stupid decisions well into my thirties even with an underlying set of values. So, I still see this as a time for Clark to learn from mistakes, but only if the show lets him, which I hope will continue this Season. What can I say, as you know from my ramblings last Season, I am the eternal optomist!

    I dunno. A lot of people tend to go down that route and make a lot of crazy decisions into their twenties. I can't say I pity it, or empathize, because I didn't. I just didn't. That's just me, though. Many would probably still relate to finding themselves at twenty. I was still finding myself socially, I guess. But the point being, RIGHT and WRONG, I would say, are firmly meshed in place by then, and what to do in a situation of right and wrong, which is what Clark messes up even yet.

    Now for the bizarre: I am surprised in a way at you reaction to Lana. Although I was also saddened by her sudden willingness to threaten so poor guy for Lex, I thought it was time that they finally show what they've developed for Lana throughout this show - she is the ultimate in co-dependent. It's not that "people" go bad hanging with Lex, it's that Lana takes on the characteristics of those around her. Sad, I know, but she's been horribly written throughout the show and I, for one, would rather see Lana driven by her fear of aliens, hanging on Lex and going bad than the way she's been handled so far. And remember, before you get too upset about your favorite character so far, the Lex is doing the dance from last Season - he wants it all - Lana and the power to keep her. You may not buy that he wants her but I do think his actions are reflective of a man that went through last year's Christmas episode.

    Yeah. This is true. Doesn't make him irrational though, and a rational person who wants it all would still realize that's not Lana. He's almost dead to me! Heh.

    The one thing I did like about this bizarre scheme of Lex's (even if I don't buy that he would involve Lionel in anything right now) is the scene between Lionel and Lex. Did you notice how the tables have termed from the early in the show. The writers have reversed the early plots and now Lionel is the one seeking Lex's affections (at least that's the way it was written in this episode) and Lex is the one offering rejection. I like this "Cat in the Cradle" approach to their relationship and would like to see that continue this Season. A reversal in the underlying relationship provides some continuity to Lex becoming more like Lionel (bad), something the writers handled terribly last Season (i.e. Lex "bad" one episode, "good" the next).

    I see that coming, myself.

    As usual, I continue to have hope and am more excited about this Season than last.

    This is similar to me. 1-3 was a buildup, 4 awful, and now 5-6 have been building up again.

    Dino Pollard wrote:
    Hey Neil, I just read your article about the continuity ramifications of "Birthright." While I can understand the points you make, I thought I should send out a message to say that personally, these kinds of things don't bother me as a reader.

    Given the often fluid state of continuity with the DCU, I don't see these changes as a problem, especially in regards to trying to figure out what the dates are when a character is active. My personal opinion is that when you start to get into that territory, you run into the risk of moving outside the suspension of disbelief.

    The dates was just goofing around. I'm more concerned with a coherent framework, myself.

    Bottom line is continuity is never going to be straight. There will always be glaring errors. That's just the nature of the beast when dealing with serials which feature characters who have been around for the better part of a century.

    Ah! But continuity WAS pretty straight when I started reading, which is why I kept reading, in 1990. There was flow, reference to past stories, an ongoing plot, and four teams working in tandem as opposed to parallel. It was awesome, and for the last fifteen years they've been systematically dismantling it. New Earth is a chance to fix that. They're not.

    I know you personally weren't knocking "Birthright" for its continuity glitches, but from the article, it seems that you've spoken with a lot of people who have. My personal opinion is that these are people who simply take comics far too seriously for their own good. I think that ultimately, trying to keep track of continuity will detract from the enjoyment of the stories.

    I agree, taking it too seriously sucks, which is why I don't complain when they make changes unless they're fundamental. I just demand a coherent framework.

    Just my two cents.


    Zel wrote:
    Hi Neal, another great review.....


    One question have been on my mind. Are you paid to do the reviews? If you are, you need a raise.....I mean sitting through the episodes, some good, some bad and then having to type up every thought...yikes!

    Nope. Unpaid. I've systematically fallen into debt, actually. But there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I realized I couldn't write and not work, so I apprenticed as a construction worker for three dollars an hour for most of a year and learned how to build houses from the inside out. Since then I've been buying properties, turning them around with credit, then refinancing or selling them in order to keep myself writing. Right now I'm 25,000 dollars in debt but I have 125,000 in equity about to turn around, but as anyone will tell you, that's not real money, so who knows?

    In other words, if you want, buy one of my books. But the thanks is enough.

    When are they ever going to let you write the script for an eppie? I would love to watch it coz it would be funny. Oh my goodness, I realised what you would would probably have Lana killed in that eppie and the writers would bring her back in the next one, resurrected as Isobel.

    I don't know that I could in this framework, but I'm sure they wouldn't let me near the writing room now.

    Just saw your picture as am thinks you should have been a pirate!!!No offence coz there's a gleam in your eye!

    I am an outlaw journalist, and I do love guns and swords. But I lack a ship. ARRR!

    Of all the reviews you have done, my most memorable one will always be really attacked it, I loved that teh whip made an appearance. If you can, give us your worst episode by season.

    Oh, heck. Offhand, one, Drone, two, I forget, three velocity, four Spell (The witch one? Is that Spell?), five Thirst. But so many have sucked.

    So thanks again for the review.

    Thanks for a cool letter.

    David Lake wrote:
    Hey Neal, how's it going? This is my first time writing, so let me say that I enjoy reading your reviews and look forward to doing so each week. I thought your reviews on season 3 and 4 were both correct and hilarious. That's when I became a fan of your reviews. That said, somewhere around season five I realized that one of us had changed a bit.

    Thanks, David. All is well. But...things changed?

    You like to criticize what the writers do with character. You say that characters aren't consistent from week to week, and that things never really change. That's all true and I agree with you there. When you used to rip apart the show though, you did it creatively. My personal favorite is the "And turn, and pout and walk, away." thing you said about Lana. Not only was it so true but it was hilarious and I could picture it.

    This is true. I'm working on the humor.

    Lately though, you don't joke. When you criticize the show, you attack it, no humor, just "This was bad. This was bad." It makes me miss season 4. Sort of. Strangely though, with everything you say about characterization, there was no mention of the fact that Superman killed Poison Ivy. Clark may have offed FOTWs before, but this one was really bad.

    For the last three episodes, it's been mostly because there were so many technical flaws it got to be like listing, so I didn't have a chance to step back and throw humor out there. This review, and future ones as you'll see, I'm trying to fix that.

    First, Clark asked her to leave and she told him she couldn't. Later I believe the actual line was "Can't leave, can't stay. What am I going to do with you?" or something close. That made me think: Cool. No jail can hold her and she can't leave so what is Clark going to do to stop her? They actually FOCUSED on the question. And then they had him kill her. WHAAAT? That was not the correct answer. I was so surprised when you weren't up at arms about it. What happened?

    I was up in arms, it's just by then I was also so tired of listing the crap my head split and I had to get out of Dodge...

    The other thing I wanted to point out is that a lot of your reviews attack the show on realism. Just to use 'Arrow', you attacked the fact that Green Arrow uses a hood and goggles. You attack the fact that his arrows don't shatter. You attack that Lois couldn't figure out who he was, and you attacked the arrow hitting a bullet. All of these things, you say, are unrealistic.

    Yes. Those things pull me out of the show.

    While that may be true, let's examine what you don't attack. How come there are aliens? Why do they look exactly like humans? Why isn't there a sonic boom every time Clark superspeeds? How exactly does he fly anyway? How does he lift so much yet have the musculature of a man? The list goes on. Hell, you enjoy comic books. Let's throw a few more on. How does a pair of glasses keep people from recognizing Superman? Does Superboy punching reality make sense? Does the entire concept of the superhero make sense?

    Well, that's to the whole "rational framework" thing again. There are reasonings behind these crazy things. There are aliens because aliens are a probable thing. They look like humans as a fluke, yes. I always found that funny. I do point out the lack of a sonic boom a lot. He flies because of the aura, which has a scientific (albeit trek physics) explanation. He lifts so much because he's super-powered by a yellow sun.

    Do the arrows not shatter because of an established yellow sun structural strengthening? Nah, the rationale is "cuz it cool!" Which doesn't fly with me.

    In the real world it doesn't. But Smallville isn't the real world. It doesn't even try to mimic the real world. Smallville is a live action comic book. That means it comes complete with comic book science and comic book conventions (ideas not gatherings).

    Smallville does indeed try to mimic the real world, in our problems, our thoughts, our actions. Fiction, as I said, is a creative emulation of the things we do and are. By necessity. Outside of real life, it would be dada crap no one would enjoy.

    Since you like DC comic books, at least, I'll assume you like Batman & Robin. Robin's mask is a lot more revealing than GA's costume was. In fact the costume is MUCH better than a pair of glasses. GA's arrows might shatter in the real world but Smallville is really a comic book. How often do GA's arrows shatter in the actual book? Lois Lane is supposedly an ACE reporter, the best. Yet for over forty years a pair of glasses kept her from noticing that the man she loved and her coworker were the same guy. Smallville just did the same thing in 'Arrow'. I doubt you attack the comic books, so why Smallville? And if you can accept a man flying, then why can't you accept an arrow hitting a bullet? I doubt you'd say anything if you read it in 52.

    Same thing as I said above, rational framework. Clark hunches, Superman stands up straight. Robin has a colorful outfit, Tim is a quiet computer nerd. Green Arrow's arrows are often shown impacting people, but not sticking in bricks. Lois Lane DID figure out that Clark was Supes.

    And I do tear apart 52. I tore apart the irrational framework of the cult and the "JLA" response to it in issue 13, I think it was. It all comes down to how plausible a story is in its own framework. Smallville for that is frankly lousy.

    You like to harp on the LuthOR vs. LuthER thing, but I think whomever is in charge knows that it's "or". He probably thinks Luther sounds better phonetically and instructs them to use that. I understand that it's inaccurate and you don't like it, but it's a very minor change. (You hated the organic webshooters too didn't you?)

    No, I liked the organic webshooters. More rational. I doubt they even care to think about things like LuthER and LuthOR which is why the show is decent, but will never be great.

    You like to get on the show about the distance between Smallville and Metropolis, but the show is made better by having character face to faces instead of character over the phone's. It's unrealistic, but it's minor and it makes the show better.

    What would make the show better is to have a coherent reason every time a character interacts. Yeah, that's hard, but writing IS hard, and they get paid well to do it, so they SHOULD have a realistic reason, in my opinion.

    The show is not about the hardships of being poor, and they have to make money too. That's why characters who are supposed to be poor still have awfully nice clothes and product placement cars. Maybe that's what poor passes for in this universe, which is again not to be confused with the real one.

    They don't HAVE to make money by shilling, they choose to. And poor is poor in any universe. That ain't poor.

    Wow, that was a lot of writing. (That probably makes an actual writer like you laugh, but for me it was.) That's everything I have to say about some of the things that you have to say. I hope Smallville gets better for both of us. I hope I hear back from you. And I REALLY hope Clark doesn't kill anyone else. Have a good one, Neal.

    Heck, I don't laugh. I feel bad that I write so much. But it's too fun. And awesome letter, man.


    Connor wrote:
    Hey Neal,
    In your recent review of "Sneeze" (it might have been Wither)you seem pretty upset that Clark at twenty doesn't already know what kind of a man he's going to become. So I just thoguth I'd remind you that he doesn't end up as Superman until he's THIRTY (at least in the movie, and Smallville seems to be adhering to the movie, what with John Kent's death and the movie fortress).

    Stock response: HERE. We should know right from wrong by 20.

    I think I'm going to write a list of questions I've been asked a hundred times and simply link to it for the people who don't read the old columns but still accuse me of something I don't do on a regular basis, like saying that Clark should be fully Superman now instead of the more nuanced position that most people know what's right and wrong by 18.

    So he's still got a good ten years to develop into the hero he'll eventually become, there's no need to be so impatient.

    Beyond the fact that he's killing people without remorse, or that it will cause more death?

    gary wrote:
    I said in my last email that Lana was right for calling Lex out on his revolving door of women and I said that in Bound it said he had slept with 13 women in the last year. You said 13 got a list. No I don't because they nevr listed them but Chloe had the article and they had interviewed 13 women that he had slept with in the last year. Which for some people might not be too many and some it may but thats not the point. The point I was trying to make was that yes Lana has been in a few serious relationships but before Lex she had only slept with Clark. I can name at least 6 women Lex has slept with, Victoria, Desiree, Helen, The lawyer in Bound, the girl that tied him up in Bound, the girl that was killed in Bound, and then all the girls that were interviewed. And if he had slept with that many after Helen then how many has he slept with since before Helen back to before the club Zero flashback, and then how many more after Bound and before he started dating Lana in Fragile. My point is Lana is in no way more promiscious than Lex.

    Did they show him sleeping with those women, or just heavy petting as with Lana? What, because it's a guy it's automatically sex he's having? That's sexist.

    If you can do that, I'll assume Lana's banging every guy she holds hands with, which makes her WAY more promiscuous than Lex. And rrrrrrrreow with Chloe, boyeeeeee!

    Sara wrote:
    Hey, hottie!

    Actually, I can't turn my heat on. But thanks! Heh.

    No worries about not seeing my mail sooner. It was just fun to tease you since you're normally so meticulous! And naughty too! Oh, my! Think I'm going to blush!!! As you may (or may not) be able to tell, I decided to read over your comments to my comments on your review (Oy! I think that supersedes any previous geek factor.) before I make any other snark. I wasn't planning on saying anything, but I thought. well, maybe. And maybe calling Lana a "slut" was a bit much, but I've been cranky about how much they try to center around her for over five years now. Crabby Sara will make more appearances, you can be certain of that!

    According to the above guy, she is a slut.

    And now for any comments that you didn't hear while we were watching. or maybe I'll just go over them again if I feel their really important. or I forgot that I made them.


    I thought the jewelry angle was way too much shades of "Pretty Woman". Isn't it actually better for a state senator to show that they're fiscally responsible by not wearing irreplaceable expensive jewelry? Wouldn't it have been better to say "I want your support" and show you're a no-nonsense person? But maybe that's just me. Maybe I think that people in power shouldn't have to show that they've got lots and lots of money and the only reason why they're in politics is because they don't need the money (but apparently could sure use the power). Grrr. Politics! Oh, and why would she want to run for U.S. senator? They were already concerned about what the addition exposure would mean about Clark's secret. It's just a lousy plot device to excuse Lionel being around constantly.

    Apparently it culminates on Thanksgiving...sigh.

    Ollie slipped away to get her a drink or something. I know they mentioned it.

    Oh my GOSH! You put in "Footloose"! How could I not adore that!!! But it kinda goes with the theme. All those kids that weren't exposed to music or anything instantly know how to dance what could be considered complicated moves (if that's what you call line dancing). Hmmm. But the "Scrubs" scene made me laugh so hard I was crying.

    I say luftballoons solves everything. And Dr. Acula.

    Research is easier now with the internet. and potentially more confusing because of how much is thrown at you. But point made.

    Dangling plot threads. Hee! Must. get. mind. outta. gutter!

    The stealing point. Do you think it's possible that they're planning on having Clark help change his focus? Because you're right. He's rich. He should just do good deeds and donate anonymously. (Although that wouldn't allow him to buy rich toys and pretty girls.) The focus shouldn't have been on the stealing. It should have been like they did with Vengeance, only better. A hero out to protect the citizens of the world. Instead, we get a "Flash"-back (like the nod?) and we get another thief. In what parallel universe is stealing justifiable?

    It's the problem with making good guys "hip" by making them rich or thieves.

    Clark's "secret identity" is a joke. They're going to have to brain drain the entire planet for him to be Superman!

    I enjoyed the episode like I enjoy many of the other superhero episodes. It helps throw the Clark character into relief. But I agree with your rating. It was good, but the bad tarnished it terribly.


    I surprise myself as I read your comments to others' comments and had a few things to say:
    1. We'll get you some Buffy experience soon. I swear it!!!
    2. Oh. You're insane. but it's a good insane.

    Insane like a...KITTIES!

    Good night and good luck. See you next time.



    kabir.Mahajan wrote:


    And thanks. Poland.

    RMF wrote:
    Just an observation about Lana in "Arrow". I thought the elevator scene was ridiculous, because in no other episode has she been shown to be savvy and resourceful enough to pull off this intimidation, and the actress really isn't scary at all. The only way this works is if Lionel coached her on what to say to help her pass the test in hopes of turning her into a mole, because the background check and threats are right up his alley. What struck me was Lana's final line about how they had to uncover the mysteries of the alien device in order to have a chance at defeating the aliens when they return. That comes across to me as her using Lex to save her own -- er -- the world's butt. But what just happened last time someone tried to outsmart the aliens? Brainiac played Lex like a fiddle, appealing to his egocentrism to manipulate him into using Luthorcorp labs to produce the serum he needed to create a host for Zod, and the whole planet nearly paid the price. Now Lex is headed straight for this danger again, and Lana is an enabler. And mind you, these people have *no* idea how the alien incursion was stopped the first time or how Lex was de-possessed. Earth to megalomaniacs!

    They were trying to make it a cool moment by making Lana act out of character. Problem is, she's really cruel like that, she didn't have any place doing what she did, and the guy was taller than she was in the mise en scene, which blew it.

    The TPTB made much of this season's theme of "the corruption of good", presumably Lana, but as my great-grandmother used to say, "Can't spoil what's rotten". Lex may credit Lana with being the only good thing in his life, but she's putting her hands in his back and giving him a big old shove towards the abyss. This doesn't have anything to do with his corrupting Lana, it has to do with her constant search for security, and it's downright disturbing now that she's his lover. Many people have faulted Clark for being accusatory or self-righteous toward Lex, but he genuinely gave a damn about his friend and whether he did right or wrong. Lana appears ready to trade Lex's soul for her safety. I know Lex is a grown man and makes his own decisions, but this isn't about him. It's about who Lana is.


    Felix Vasquez wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    So, how's life going? I just want to say the fact you had to give a disclaimer to readers about your reviews on Radio KAL is both indicative of your maturity over the fan boys who can't stand opposite intelligent opinions, and sad because many people are just too close minded to take differing opinions. That you were drawn to doing that makes me very sad.

    Life's actually coming around. I actually purposefully drew myself into it. I have tried many responses to those who would silence me because they disagree with me. Anger, denial, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I alternate. This week was anger.

    It happens EVERY TIME I give more than one "one" so you think I'd come to expect it by now, but believe it or not, Neal's a human being and gets tired of being pooped on for trying to entertain. Sucks!

    It's like the six disclaimers before "Cannibal Holocaust." It's so blatantly a sign of artistic supression, and while Steve can't be accused of that, I blame the narrow minded readers.

    Didn't know about that. Now I have to see that.

    No one will continue it while I'm around.

    Cool. Thanks, Neal 2!

    I also found your idea for bringing Chloe into the Superman lore to be rather brilliant, and I do not bring in the hyperbole for that. I was reeling when you explained your idea to Steve. You guys have a very good chemistry.

    We're buds. It flows. He keeps me sane and stops me from saying that which would get me shot.

    So, I'm working on a deadline for Film Threat, so this letter won't be lengthy this time, I'm afraid. I know I name dropped, so forgive my shamelessness. Anyway:

    It's not name dropping if your Film Threat blog at is...well, okay, it is. But it's cool, so nyah.

    1. The gathering of the wooden cut outs at a prep school, and Lex and Ollie brought them along. I've never seen two more boring couples in a long time.

    They did have some tension.

    2. And STILL no Jimmy Olsen! Wow, CW free to be hyping a casting stunt. So, you didn't hire Aaron Ashmore to bring in Jimmy Olsen, you just needed a change of color. Tisk, tisk.

    Maybe they realized they had too many characters?

    3. The opening scene was ridiculous. If a large stone statue shatters to the ground I imagine people would be running for cover. But everyone stands there? Absurd.


    4. "You're not a murderer, Clark," says Martha. I mean... except for that plant lady. I hate Smallville continuity.

    Hah! Hadn't thought of that. Awesome.

    5. Have you gotten any word of a cut in special effects on the series? That scene where Lois and Ollie being thrown from the explosion was awful. I mean it was terrible. Then there was Duncan being hit by the car, the utterly hilarious reactions from his bullies, etc.

    There has to be a cut, simply numbers. They're last in the ratings across the board, and losing by the week.

    6. I'm enjoying the interludes dabbling into the Green Arrow gadgetry, especially the experimental arrows he presents to Clark. Not wise letting someone else in so close on your devices, but still a fun moment, nonetheless. And Lois and Clark working together... pretty cool.

    Getting better, anyway.

    7. Back to liquid ooze! I'll be, CW, one step forward, three steps back to where we were on season four. They're REALLY running out of ideas. Time bag it and tag it, this show is dying. Somebody save it.

    Or at least end the Kryptonite fueled awfulness.

    So, all in all, it's a 2 out of 5. Another very weak episode with some interesting plot qualities, and I wish we'd move on from the boring Lana/Lex plot. Seriously, these writers will do anything to keep Kreuk on.

    And if you say "Face it Felix, She's Amazing" to me one more time, I'm going to go to Washington and drop a statue on you!

    And I'd deserve it. Hey, I liked the show, but then, I'm a sucker for Lex.

    Later buddy,

    Take care.

    The Caption Contest will be delayed one week because of Halloween...sorry, guys. I love dressing up as a grown man, and I'm going to Canada to say goodbye to a good friend as he moves away. And don't forget to check out the updated KO Count.




    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    Well after last week's fantastic outing I think it was only fair to expect something a bit more low key this week. So I went into this one expecting to be somewhat let down but surprisingly I was shown an episode that was actually pretty good.

    Not "best ever" material but pretty good.

    I really liked to see that Clark is not just blowing off the fact that some other beings escaped from the Phantom Zone with him. He is proactively trying to find them and I for one was really impressed with this part of the story.

    Lois is still following her reporter's nose and I love it. The few scenes with her and Clark actually working (somewhat) together were fantastic and something I hope they work into the mix more often.

    I though it was a good story between Oliver and Lex. Sure Oliver was a bit of a bully when he was a kid but that is ok. It was nice to see he had grown out of it and learned from that mistake in his life. Lex, on the other hand, showed us that he has always seemed good on the outside but deep down hid an evil that is just waiting to get out. Some day it will overtake him completely. This story showcased that very well I think.

    I am also pleased by the growing cooperation between Clark and Oliver. One wonders if Clark will actually enlist the Green Arrow's help in bringing the "Zoners" back where they belong. I can understand that now Clark feels it is his responsibility alone to take care of it but we can always hope for a bit of superhero team up action in the future.

    This was an important but small step forward in the main stories this season but an even better look into the real Lex Luthor and his past.

    So I will have to give this one 3.5 out of 5 astral projections. Or maybe a B-.

    Next week more info on the "Zoners" and return to the great white north. I for one cannot wait. So have a safe and happy Halloween, try not to eat too much candy, and I will see you all next week.


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