Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 6 - Episode 15: "Freak"

Reviews:

Freak

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • A freak who can spot freaks spots freaks for Luthor.
  • Clark gets too close, so the freak-seeing freak freaks.
  • Lana stops him with Clark's help.
  • We find out that Chloe is a freak.

    REVIEW:

    David Letterman had a bit I used to enjoy called "Is this anything." Completely subjective, of course, much like this review. They'd trot out something like a midget juggling fire in a pool of water with a girl swinging overhead in lingerie.

    Dave would then turn to Paul and say, "Well, what do you think?" and they'd decide. Yeah, something, or nah, not really anything.

    I thought of that with this episode, really, because when it comes down to it, there are the usual flaws that have been rife with the show for this entire season, but there was nothing really to actively hate here, beyond four of the now-obligatory scenes where Lana berates someone for something with little reason.

    Was this anything?

    I suppose that the revelation that Chloe is a freak is something. If it were anything. I mean, she has no powers. She's obviously not going to start killing people. There's no knowing if it will ever manifest itself, despite the universal law of this being TV suggests that it will within the next three episodes (but we have no way of knowing that).

    Basically, at its core, this is the same story we've seen a hundred twenty-five times. Freak in town. Someone goes homicidal. Gang stops it. No major change.

    Is that anything, any more?

    That's the major construction of every television program. Star Trek: The ship hits a bump in the road. The bump looks like a Lizard, and the Lizards want Picard to die in order to let the ship move on. Picard can't die, so they blow up a clone Picard, nerds clap, show goes on. On House, someone drops nearly dead, they figure out why he dropped nearly dead, they either die or rise from their doom, and House pops a few pills and quips.

    Separating the wheat from the chaff, or the crippled narcissists from the passive aggressive Neutrogena folk, is the ingenuity with which the dialogue, plot, and characters revolve around the repeating concept and the object of desire.

    You can't make drastic changes to House without making him no longer House. So too, one can argue, you can't make a Superman show without some kind of super-powered nemesis to combat.

    Right. I get that. But imagine a House where Cameron whined at House one week about what a bad guy he was, and then the following week fell in love with him, and then the week after he's a bad guy. And then the next week they've already been in a relationship unknown to us. Then she hates him the next week.

    You start to care less about the story and its novelty (a novelty lacking in Smallville, generally, which rips off most of its plots), and more about if they can just keep their own characters consistent.

    House's plot is, every week, some medical malady that most likely wouldn't happen in a given hospital. It's outlandishly impossible to assume such rare things would happen on a repetitive basis. But you forgive it, because by God, it's INTERESTING as hell. That dude just got a toothpick pulled out of his intestines, and yeah, no MRI could pick that up. Awesome!

    In this week's Smallville, we have a telekinetic who, uh, moves bowling balls to hit on chicks. We have a doctor that goes insane and tries to kill people because he's losing his job. We have a character that walks around berating people irrationally (Lana), and we have a mystery that really isn't a mystery.

    Why is it neat to find that toothpick in that guy's colon? Because it's hard to figure out. True to its Sherlock Holmes roots, House uses his brain, we use our brain, we explore, we probe, real life happens in the meanwhile, as it must, but we're engaged with the problem.

    In this week's Smallville, the issue becomes not how we will solve the mystery with our characters, but rather that the mystery is already solved, so we watch how the main characters solve the mystery we already solved, which is yawnotopia.

    This leaves the major dilemmas. Will Lex's 33.1 be revealed? It isn't, so no major movement in this episode on that front. Chloe's a freak. But she's not acting the fool, so no biggie.

    Lana now no longer knows Clark is a freak, at all, because the blind guy proved it to her. She still illogically suspects, but the point of this subplot is that Lana is back to square one. Goody. No change to the status quo, but we don't get there through a creative means, it just kind of happens.

    When House goes back to Vicodin, it's a clever trick he uses to beat the cop, his boss, and his compatriots through logic, the logic of a genius addict. It blindsides you, unlike Lana still being as dumb as a sack of drowned lemmings.

    This is not a promo for House, it's just that House, to me, is doing what Smallville is trying to do, but right. A show where the dilemmas are essentially the same, the characters never really change, and yet we still care.

    The reason this works with House and not with Smallville is that Smallville is, at its core, the story of a hero journey. It has a beginning, and an end, but this show is written without end. So, in the eternal iteration between the beginning, and the promises we expect (Clark to Superman, Lex to Evil, Lana to alone in Smallville, Chloe to dead, Martha and Jonathan to the background, Pete to... well, anyway) are so far from the forefront now based in the need for the show to continue, that spirit is lost.

    There was a question in the last Gough interview on TVGuide.com that struck me as particularly funny, and particularly indicative of the way this show has gone by the wayside.

      Will the show start to focus more consistently on Clark and his journey to becoming Superman? Will we see Clark embark on starting his career in journalism or getting a job at the "Daily Planet"? - Freespiritedjem

      Gough: The whole series has been focusing on Clark's journey to becoming Superman! Themove to journalism has been incremental, but he's worked at the"Torch" and certainly has spent a lot of time at the "Daily Planet," so stay tuned.

    This is an obvious backpedal, and to be ironic, a Lana way of handling things. I'll pare it down. "Clark isn't wearing glasses. He isn't a journalist. He doesn't have a secret identity. He's beyond the age of where he starts to become Superman. He doesn't use his powers. Lex is not a bad guy. When will we see Superman in this show about the journey of Clark to Superman?"

    The response: "This show is about Superman! Stay tuned!"

    He was asked about why Clark wasn't in college, and the response was that college is boring on camera. So's pooping, but reasonable people do it, and to pay lip service to the fact that he's in college without showing it wouldn't twist anyone's nipples, and you've kind of missed the point of the complaint.

    TRUST ME, I know fanboys who take crap WAY too seriously. It's my job, as a reviewer, to draw that line based in consensus, to say when it's just people being too over-concerned about stuff and when it's a real problem.

    Continuity, in the comics, is right now a real problem. The fact that you don't like Adam Kubert's drawing isn't.

    Lateness of books is a problem. Marvel being better than DC in your opinion is not.

    Smallville being a show about Superman that is NOT about Superman, a show that is defining what these characters are to a new generation, and mucking up sixty years of expectations at times, twenty years in others, IS a problem. College being boring on camera is NOT the root of it. Clark not being a journalist and essentially having life happen to him IS.

    There are conflicting issues here, because on the one hand, who the hell are any of us to say what the correct interpretation of Superman is, when it comes down to it? These are the guys who have been chosen, so it's their imperative. And there's something to be said for that. Shut up, you armchair butt-nut, I say to even myself sometimes.

    Where that clear and strong line of delineation stands with me is when I see something that is so universally condemned that it actually HURTS the character's popularity and his standing. When a negligence stands so strong that it draws attention away from the tried and true power of the only true American MYTH in favor of lascivious, money-grubbing, sensationalist fare. Superman is better than that, and we are better than that.

    The answer to the question "Is it anything?" should always be a resounding yes.

    Hard to segue from that into the blow-by-blow, but I had to have out a bit. I mean, I've put six years into this series, all hoping that it may iron out. Michael Rosenbaum just indicated he's bowing next year, but they're talking eight seasons at times in interviews now.

    I think, seeing powers for the first time in the last few months, and having them be brief, to the side, and ignored, largely, set me off. It emphasized what I started watching this show for, and what I would stop watching it for.

    Here's the minutiae:

    Lana is so pregnant, she's bowling in skinny outfits again. Not showing at all. Strenuous activity on a constant basis, tight outfits...

    They have scores of 44 and 30 on the tenth frame. That's hilariously bad. Actually amusing.

    Lana's bachelorette party is in a bowling alley with someone who really has no connection to her or her lifestyle. Suddenly, they're best friends, even though we see no real reason for them to be. Last week Lana hid at her house. Other than that, how has it been established that Lana and Chloe are friends beyond the occasional Lana stop at her house to passive aggression it up?

    Asiatic shoe guy stares at the girls, revealing that he's a freak of the week, one of THREE this week. Four, actually. Chloe. Even though I'm still not sure how one is a freak without any kind of exhibition of powers. That makes you a potential freak, doesn't it? We don't call death row inmates corpses until they're shot.

    Chloe calls Lana a loser after she gets married. A little out of character. I'm also perplexed as to why Chloe is not encouraging her not to marry Luthor, nor is any other character for any reason despite their obvious character bias against him. I guess that's not the kind of conflict they want to cover, you know, logical conflict.

    Another guy obsessed with Lana. They even point it out. Chloe goes after him thinking Lana has another stalker. Of course, there's no reason for Chloe to think that there's anything wrong with the guy beyond Lana bowling better, but there was no real evidence to support her actions. It was just a dramatic excuse to get her out into the alley for the DRAMATIC CHASE that isn't dramatic because it soon devolved into logical incoherency.

    Chloe runs from this van that runs her down. She doesn't pull the cell phone and call the guy who can be there instantly at super-speed. Instead, she leaps, hurts herself, watches the van drive away, and stares. The van, which just tried to kill her, doesn't double back and attack Chloe again. It just leaves the witness alive. Why?

    Doesn't matter. Cue the credits. We'll forget.

    The freak finder is freak number two, though you'd think if freaks make him get a headache and freak out, he'd be in a constant state of headache and freak out, because he's a freak. That's what we call a paradox.

    Does Chloe call the police and say the guy was abducted? Nah. Instead, she gets Clark, and the next day, the next DAY, they break into the bowling alley. I suppose the logic is that because the guy was kidnapped out BACK of the alley, if they break into the empty bowling alley, hey presto, mystery will be solved.

    And true to the writing form of this show, their idiocy is rewarded when the kid pops back with no memory.

    It's like the Superman Returns Lois dilemma I've referenced several times. Just because a sequence of events that someone partakes in that is illogical ends in the right conclusion doesn't make it sensible. For instance, say my object of desire is to get a pancake. I don't write a scene where I go down the street naked screaming "PANCAKE!" and then one falls out of the sky into my hand. I write a scene where I go looking for batter, find none, go to the store, find none, see a kid with a pancake, and, knowing my character, grab the pancake and run, screaming, "PANCAKE!" with no pants on.

    There is a difference, if you look at the subtleties. One is funny because of logic, one is absurd.

    Same thing here. Clark and Chloe break into the alley when the alley has nothing to do with what they're searching for, and the pancake falls right out of the sky. Bad writing.

    Clark breaking and entering.

    Clark indicates that he's not going to the wedding. Chloe indicates that it would help patch up things. He pooh-poohs it, because you know, Clark is all about petty jealousy over someone he was over last week, not over the week before, over the week before that, on and on into inconsistency. This week Clark plays the villain again.

    Next scene, Lex pointedly asks Lana about that back alley and what Chloe was doing. Lana doesn't get suspicious. She gets POUTY, and goes to berate Chloe about what was going on, as opposed to asking Lex how he knew, because the latter is logical, the former allows Lana to stomp somewhere and pout, which is a scene we never get in this show and need tons more of, sarcasm.

    I'll give you half a second to tell me a popular show that's getting all kinds of ratings that involves characters who have freakish abilities that are being kidnapped, having their memory removed while strapped to tables, and assembled to do battle with other freak characters.

    If you guessed Grey's Anatomy, you're dumb as Clark. It's Heroes. It's almost pathetically similar. I honestly expected a cheerleader in this episode.

    Clark and Chloe go to see the guy who can detect meteor freaks after the improbably pic of the freak pointing out the other freak. I mean, yeah, that picture was too convenient, a moron could see that.

    At his house, they question him briefly, then leave. The guy gets a headache, and outside, Clark uses...AN ACTUAL POWER. Holy CRAP!

    He listens in, and hears the guy saying that he's got another one. They assume it means Clark, and I'll admit, that fooled me, they got me with the pump-fake that it was Chloe. But the good of that is outweighed by the fact that you're stepping back and saying, "WHAT? Clark is not a meteor freak, he's Kryptonian. Powers doesn't equal K-Freak, obviously." Had I been more intent on the show and not writing all of the inconsistencies already noted that drug me out of the narrative, I might have taken a moment to deduce Chloe, but then, the whole idea is that I shouldn't be able to deduce Chloe, not be stuck on the fact that they just labeled Clark a K freak when he's Kryptonian.

    Then, we get what we really need, sarcasm, a scene of Lana berating Chloe for trying to save a life, because she didn't tell Lana she was doing it.

    Lana: "WHERE DID YOU GO!"

    Chloe: "I was in ur alleyz! saving ur stalkorz!.!.!"

    Lana: "HARBL!"

    No, actually, Lana turns to Chloe in incredulity and says, "You think LEX had something to do with this!"

    This despite the fact that Chloe has made no mention of Lex, she just indicated that she tried to save the guy's life or check him out, because he seemed like a meteor freak. Whereby we go from Lana having no legitimate beef or reason to hold this scene to Lana having no legitimate beef or reason to hold this scene, only we're supposed to think OH SNAP and instead think OH CRAP.

    But Chloe plays along, as all characters do with Lana. "Well, it's not that big a jump of logic."

    True. Lana's response to Chloe agreeing with her assertion? LEX IZ GUD!? No. Not that. The other thing.

    "Just because someone has an ability doesn't mean they're a bad person!"

    WROOOOOOOOOOONG!

    Yes. Lana actually says that. The woman who at first wanted security against those awful Zod freaks, then defended them, then again wanted security against the evil Zod freaks, is now defending them, because just because they have an ability doesn't mean they're a bad person!

    Doesn't seem like much, except it's four major, arbitrary character paradigm shifts that greatly affect the character in question, perpetrated merely because they make the character "more sympathetic" in the scenes in question. And do they? Well, to a moron likely. To anyone paying half an attention, they want their money back. Or at least a reason to pay MORE attention with their good cash.

    Chloe then... get this... asserts that the guy is dangerous. So Chloe, the freak explorer/defender, is cautious of freaks, whereas Lana, the person who says freaks are dangerous and freaks out, is now their explorer/defender, just for a scene where Lana is sympathetic.

    Grand. Goody.

    Clark goes to the doctor that the freak who can see other freaks calls. All Clark knows is that this doctor is seeking freaks, and that a freak was recently kidnapped. There's nothing to connect the two. Clark asks, and the doctor is rightly evasive. I mean, it's none of Clark's business, really, unless he has a reason to bug this doctor.

    Clark, true to hero form, uses his powers to steal the guy's laptop without any real reason. He doesn't know that it will have any bearing on what the guy is doing or the disappearances. But, pancake from the sky, it solves the dilemma, so we're supposed to be cool with Clark's theft after his B and E, even when it results in this man's eventual preventable death.

    The scene is CUTE, I'll give it that, and funny. And uses powers. But in context, it's crap. Not even crap on a stick. Just crap.

    A plus B equals C. Simple plot logic. A character cannot have an insight they do not yet have without some reason for it. I'll put my money where my mouth is. Check my major works of narrative fiction. I never do it. It's just basic. This isn't whether or not you can get away with making a character make a spur-of-the-moment life change on little or no rationality, which can be argued for. This is me beating a guy up because I THINK he said something about my mom instead of knowing it, and then because I later find out that he did say something about my mom, it's okay, when I'm supposed to be SUPERMAN, THE GUY WHO DOESN'T LIE OR STEAL AND DOES RIGHT. RIGHT?

    I'm sure at the end of the episode he's thinking, "Great! I saved the day! And hey, cool free laptop from the dead guy" because you know he never returns the stinking thing.

    Pancakes with no pants, my friends.

    There's also the dumb as Clark award, this week awarded to Clark (He's got a case full of them) for only taking the computer out into the hall, where the doc could have just looked around the corner and said, "Hey, my computer!" instead of all the way back to the house or into some closet.

    This is the second week in a row that Clark super-sped right in front of Jimmy. If Jimmy doesn't suspect something, he's as dumb as Clark.

    But Neal, how ELSE do they make Clark go for a run when he needs to save someone?

    Well, that's part of the fun and difficulty of writing Superman. You come up with new and creative ways for Clark to make excuses to get the hell out of there. He's constantly sicking up or he's eaten bad hotdogs or Lana just called him and there's a sale at Mervyns. You can even have him dash away at the drop of a hat like he does in front of Jimmy, just rarely, and not twice in two weeks in front of the same guy.

    So, Chloe's now naked and tied to a table in a room with tubes coming out of her mouth. Why naked? Why not sedated? Why such an overly-elaborate room?

    Here's where the chickens come home to roost, because Chloe's the hottest character on the show, to me, right now. Neal, don't you like seeing Chloe naked?

    Yes, but not here. It's not in context or sense here. Here it's just gratuitous. As blasphemous as this is to say, I'd have passed on this Chloe naked scene. But then, I'd have written it in in a more plausible way if I needed it for ratings or what have you.

    They need her DNA, so they take it from her stomach. Me? I would have just used a Q-tip on the inner cheek, but hey, you know, they're evil, so apparently they use a long needle into the stomach. If they hadn't explained what they needed, I might have bought that scene more.

    Oh, great! A scene with Lana complaining at Lex! We need more Lana complaining! Here, she asks him what he knows about blind freak, and Lex says nothing. Lana, having no reason to doubt this thusfar, and having, for the last half season, espoused how true and honest Lex is on a constant basis to anyone who questions him, is suddenly suspect and believes him finkish.

    Remarkable consistency there. And why is this change made so arbitrarily? Because to those with a short memory, it makes Lana seem a sympathetic character, because she's siding AGAINST the villain.

    NNNT. Fail.

    Clark sees Chloe walk in, a day after she disappears, and tells her bluntly, "YOU WERE ABDUCTED!"

    Watson turns to Clark and says, "How DID you do it, Holmes?"

    Clark starts eating sofa liner and never responds. Because there's nothing that could possibly lead him to that conclusion beyond a plot hole and a suspicion that has no evidence behind it of yet in the plot.

    For all he knows, Chloe could have been riding the mechanical bronco naked in Miami to impress Jimmy.

    Now THAT is a scene I would throw in. Sorry.

    Lana is now against Lex's freak plan wholly, and even goes to the blind freak to tell him she can get him a cornea if she keeps Clark's secret.

    1) How can Lana get a cornea without talking to Lex first, and why promise something that requires a dead donor?

    2) Why not use her patented passive leading questions to find out who the freak is instead of assuming it's Clark with this guy?

    3) Why the heck is the thunder and lightning outside happening constantly at the same time throughout the entire scene?

    4) WHY THE HECK BRING LANA BACK TO SQUARE ONE IN TERMS OF FINDING OUT CLARK'S SECRET WHEN IT'S BEEN SIX YEARS OF SHOW AND IT'S AN OBVIOUS ANCHOR?

    Et-herm.

    In fact, here's a list of things to never do again if you want this show to end on an up note:

    Lana nearly finding out the secret.

    Red K anyone.

    Someone getting a stalker.

    A Lana/Clark relationship.

    Faux character death (especially those that survive to the comic)

    A kid/adult going homicidal for no reason.

    An object that has nothing to do with Superman history holding Superman history.

    Proclaiming "Jor-El was right!"

    There's more to the list. Send some in letters. That's just the obvious.

    Chloe and Clark are talking about the tracking devices once she cracks the computer. She indicates that they're going red as people are killed.

    Clark's observation on the tracking devices? "Maybe he's trying to observe them!"

    This AFTER Chloe was kidnapped for observation. So, uh, observation with a GPS, how does one exactly do that? Ah, I see, well, now he's buying huggies. He must have HUGGIE-power.

    "No, Bob, he just went to the Supermarket."

    "Alas! Well, kidnap him, ask him about it, then wipe his memory again."

    "That's expensive, Bob!"

    "Shut up! They do it on Heroes."

    Apparently, when one dies, the GPS shuts off. Chloe realizes that she has a GPS, and they're coming for HER.

    What could possibly save her? WHAT CAN SHE DO? Frantically, she runs around, looking for a knife to cut her own GPS tracking system out NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!

    This is a tense scene. Or rather, it WOULD be a tense scene, if her character actually had reason or motivation to get that GPS out. It would have made more sense to make the GPS a bomb that kills the freak in question, but they didn't. Chloe SEEMS to indicate she thinks it will hurt her. But how/why?

    Instead, it's just a way for the goons to find her. And that scares her, even though... wait. Clark, you had something to say?

    "ME AM SUPERMAN!"

    Yes, yes, we know that, kiddo. What, you need some more cheese?

    "NO! ME AM SUPERMAN!"

    Oh! I understand. You're saying that when Chloe panics that people are coming to kill you, it's out of character and stupid, because she's standing right next to Superman?

    "I WET MYSELF!"

    Maybe not. Well, that's what I thought. Here. Have a treat.

    "THANK YOU!"

    Why are you shouting?

    "THHHHHPT!"

    Right.

    Now here's another plot hole. These guys studying the freaks, they're KILLING the freaks after study. They pick the freak up, return them to normal life, then kill them in a day or so.

    What's the logic here? Check the freak out, then let them go, where they can get snoopy kids chasing after the perpetrators, then kill them arbitrarily in a few days despite the fact that they don't have any memory?

    Oh, okay. You're going to argue that they're doing it because the computer is compromised. Okay. Why not the blind kid? Why not simply take them to 33.1?

    This is what I get for thinking, I'm serious. I should just watch reality TV and be done with it. I'm reading Richard Dawkins, then watching Smallville. Richard Dawkins is kind of a pop culture philosopher compared to Dennett and Rorty, but it's obvious the contrast in these two pieces of entertainment media are staggering.

    Why do you, why do people, just SETTLE for stuff like this?

    I wish I knew, because in the world where I am king, stories would have to be more thought out.

    Clark BURNS Chloe's shoulder open, reaches in, and pulls out the GPS. This scar will likely be gone next week, even though it's traumatic, open surgery with no anesthesia. You watch.

    He pulls it open, and expresses with surprise, "It's just a GPS!"

    I'll say that again.

    He pulls it open, and expresses with surprise, "It's just a GPS!"

    This is hilarious, because he's Clark Kent. Why is that hilarious, kids? Because CLARK KENT CAN SEE THROUGH FLESH. In point of fact, he JUST LOOKED THROUGH THE FLESH OF THIS WOMAN, causing me to scream in agony because all they showed were bones. On THIS show, where sneezing means we have to get naked.

    He expresses SURPRISE that it's just a GPS, when he can... oh, I give up.

    The doctor goes instantly homicidal, of course, and decides to kill anyone who gets in his way. Never seen that before. What an original plot. Anyone else hear the Ben Stein in my voice?

    The blind guy casually reaches for the electricity, telegraphing his every movement, and disappears! POOF! This despite that in the scene everyone can still see everyone else clearly for the rest of the scene, so, you know, it seems silly. It's like the invisibility cloak gag where you walk into the girl's locker room wearing a blanket and saying "This invisibility cloak is AWESOME!" They can't SEE ME AT ALL!

    Any of you guys see "The Departed"? I'm a big Scorcese fan when he's on. I love Taxi Driver (you can probably see the poster behind my desk when I do my videos) and I'm a big Godfather fan (no, that's not archetypical, I know, but hey, I do, even though the book sucked). Well, anyway, he just did a great flick called "The Departed." Why is it great? Because when the crap hits the fan, the characters don't goof around talking to each other about how they're going to kill each other and why and where and for what, that's crap. They just start blowing each other's heads off. Here one second, BAM! Dead the next. Even main characters. Why?

    Because when a character is decided upon killing another character, they don't talk about it, they do it, and try to do it with all of their might.

    The doc comes to kill Lana and blind boy. That is his imperative. He sits. He talks. He tells them what the death will be like, telling Lana she won't feel it (despite obviously increasing her pain by not just axing her). He lets a gun get drawn on him, and instead of immediately firing upon seeing the gun, he lets himself get shot.

    Failure to Lana Fu, by the way.

    The blind guy shoots the doctor and indicates that he knows where it hit, saying the next will go into the heart.

    NNNT. Not gonna buy it. Yeah, hearing makes you know where a person is, but I would put money on a blind person not being able to hit within kill range on a tone from ten to fifteen feet. Maybe I'd lose that bet, who knows. Either way, I'm not afraid of some blind guy coming and shooting me for my insensitivity. Not with my invisibility cloak.

    We then have a very confusing scene, where both Lana and Clark bear the responsibility for killing a man and yet feel no issues with it whatsoever. It shows the depth of their character, that they can just kill a man and go walking away, oh well, talking about their SECRETS and LIES.

    The technicalities of the scene are hilarious too. Clark comes in, swats the bullet, and deflects the energy weapon back at the doctor, killing him. Then the question arises, why swat the bullet if you're gonna let the doc die? Not really that sensible, is it? Then you wonder why the heck Clark's chest would deflect an electrical current straight backwards like a laser, when it's an electrical current. Then you wonder how the electrical current would drive the doctor back like the Tiny Cricket.

    Then you wet yourself and die.

    But anyway, beyond that, Lana finds the bullet Clark swats. It has a dent in it from Clark's hand, but there's no mushroom to the bullet, despite impacting into a metal plate and stopping. Kid you not.

    Kids, go to a rifle range, shoot a gun into a rock backdrop a number of times, then walk over (after they say all clear, you dope!) and pick up one of the bullets. If you can find one that looks like the one in this show, I'll give you a bojillion dollars for it.*

    *offer not valid anywhere.

    But I could safely make that bet. Firing into WATER? Maybe. Into a metal plate? No.

    Clark kills again! Maybe I should start counting the number of people Clark COULD have saved. Meh. I don't have that much time.

    AND AGAIN WITH THE MOBILE SQUEAKY SHOES. Ambulances. Get it?

    Apparently, Oliver Queen can buy corneas. As far as I know, outside of corruption, no one can be fast-forwarded onto the organ donor list without a real and encroaching peril. So either Oliver Queen is involved in corruption, or the blind dude didn't need Oliver and could have gotten it on his own in turn.

    That's what sucks about TV. All I know for organ donors is what I learned from TV. So if TV isn't held accountable when it misinforms, how can we blame people for their stupid assumptions. Oh yeah. The truth is in books. That was sarcasm again, check the non-fiction section. Full of crap.

    Hey, you know what we need? A scene where Clark has just saved Lana's life, but she's going to give him crap about it. Wouldn't that just warm your heart?

    It warmed mine. Ben Stein again.

    She gets mad at him, holding up the bullet. This despite having no reason to believe it was Clark that saved her, Clark wasn't there, and this despite being told by the guy who can see freaks that Clark isn't one.

    The doctor supposedly died of a heart attack, despite the minor, gaping chest wound or the easily autopsied body. But hey. That's close enough to a count of murder they would have been indicted on that I'm gonna include it in indictable in the KO Count page.

    And hey...you remember that press that was hounding Lana every minute last week? I guess they just up and disappeared this week, even after she co-killed a guy.

    Consistency, hoo-wah!

    There's another strange chimes moment. Lana is talking to Clark, check this out, and right after she says, "It means a lot." There's this huge, unmistakable, odd, out of place chime that doesn't make any sense given the revelation. Seriously. Take a listen. It's so odd it's... discomfiting.

    There's also the part where Clark learns from the blind guy that the blind guy thinks he's normal. There's a building, annoying, harpish sound as he's about to be told that he's safe, and then AFTER we find out he's safe (thus the building chimes, for fear he is NOT safe), the chimes continue to rise in urgency, despite any and all logic synergistically.

    Lana gives the "It wouldn't matter even if you were a freak!" speech. Again. This likely precluding next week's "He's just another freak!" speech, which we've also seen a hundred times in her inconsistency of character.

    I was going to remark, as I have a few times of late, that there's no real reason she shouldn't be told, but as of this season and her continual secrets and sneaking around, it's obvious she can't be trusted, and she's brainless in suggesting that Lex Luthor is a straight-laced guy, so I wouldn't trust her either. Regardless, we know it's gonna happen, so just stomp the bug, huh guys?

    Hey, you know what we need? A Lana yelling at Lex scene. Joy!

    Of course, she treats him like she loves him while passive aggressively questioning him, and then seems dubious when she hugs him. Drama! Or not.

    Lana accuses Lex of involvement without any evidence at all, relying on the "Being right" justifies not using logic defense, aforementioned. YOU MET WITH CRAZY DOCTOR! YOU DID IT! Pancakes from the sky.

    Heh. Speaking of Richard Dawkins, I would have to say, to those three of you who might get this, that that mofo has skyhooks and cranes, but I have skypancakes and logicpancakes.

    Sigh. Who am I kidding? Nobody's gonna get that.

    Chloe and Clark have a somewhat redeeming scene, where she worries that she'll end up dead or in Belle Reve. The problem with my sympathies for Chloe lie in the fact that all of these meteor infected people don't go homicidal without reason (though the reasons generally suck). They all make the choice to go homicidal. Chloe has nothing to worry about unless she would make that choice, and she would know that.

    I do like the "Consider me your own personal bomb squad" line. Decent. Good moment.

    Lex looks at his Chloe footage, and tells people to keep watching her. So Lex is now behind murders directly for this program. He's made the lightswitch jump. First, he went from exploring alien phenomena to BANG, in one episode, kidnapping freaks en masse. Now, he's taken the jump from kidnapping en masse to murder in wanton fashion.

    I don't think they've justified this in stages, personally, and it's not really that coherent. It's just BANG, Lex goes from questionable plots to BANG, now he's killing, with no catalyst, really, beyond making his army, which, you know, he doesn't necessarily have motivation to do. He has motivation to protect himself by hiring freaks, but why would the formerly logical character jump from exploration to murder? What's his catalyst?

    Regardless, it's just another freak show where none of the characters advance in any way, really. Lana steps back to not knowing. Clark steps back into not telling. The only real change we have is Chloe as a freak, but since it isn't manifested in any way, it's not a change de facto.

    Lex moves from kidnapper to murderer, which is a big change, but because it's not really justified, it's not very entertaining. Add a few (well, okay, FIVE) scenes of Lana calling people to task for things they didn't do, and yes, folks, we have another:

    1 of 5.

    And they WILL NOT STOP until this show steps up its game.

    Chicanery!

    Malarky!

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilftV0NjQqA

    LETTERS:

    If any of you all are interested, my new daily content blog (which encompasses a lot of the things I do outside of this site (NSFW)) is now up at http://envisionwebs.thinkhost.com/wordpress/ .

    Dave Korman wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    I'm looking forward to your evisceration of this episode. Reading your review will be a billion times more fun then watching this episode was. Crimson was just a horrible episode. I felt like I needed a three day shower, after watching it. There are only three reasons I'm still watching this series. I'm a completist. I would like to see the few decent episodes they make. And because I enjoy reading your reviews. But you know what's really scary? I was reading comments made about this episode, and there are people who actually LIKED this episode.

    There are always people who like anything, I've found. I mean, there's probably a whole cadre of people out there who think Spell is the best episode of the series.

    I have no issue with people who enjoy the show, I'm glad they do. I don't think it makes them any dumber than me or worse than me.

    I just know I too feel like I need a shower after Crimson.

    I've noted that the music in the episodes had been horrendous lately. Creepy music playing during what are supposed to be touching or emotional scenes, wierd stuff like that. Mark Snow needs to be fired.

    You know, I like the music, I just don't like the order in which they play it. I don't know if that's the editor, or if it's Snow. Whoever's doing it, though, needs to tighten it up. I do, however, think it's Smallville's smallest problem right now.

    You should see you movie "Stranger then Fiction," as a fellow writer I'm sure you will enjoy it.

    Thanks for reading,

    Dave Korman

    I'm gonna check it out. The fourth wall movies coming out kind of anger me, because honestly, I wrote a number of stories with those ideas about ten years ago, back when magical realism was less in vogue and more for theater crowds, and now it's going mainstream and being written by Hollywood types, and yet here I am, writing my new stuff that's now being ignored that will probably be mined in ten years.

    I mean, seriously, you want that plot? Check out my play "Ryan and the Lord of All Creation", first written in 1996 and finished in 2000. It's the story of a guy who finds out he's in a book and the book is his life and how to stop it.

    Krystal wrote:
    Hey Neal, oh-my-God, that was by far the BEST review I've ever read from you. I could not stop laughing you're so hilarious.

    Thank you. Now all I need is your credit card number. :)

    Anyway back to the main point: This episode sucked cuz I hate Lana and I want her to die a slow horribly painful death (by watching herself on screen), actually I hate Kristen Kruek who's like in this new movie she's being praised for doing where she's in love with some guy who is like 30 years her senior...im like...(!@#*!& anyway it's not Lana Lang (bcuz i LOVED Annete as Lana in the old Superman movies).

    Oh, this is rich. You mean an older gentleman is fawning over Kristen Kreuk making her feel like she's amazing? Never heard that plot before. Heh.

    The plot is sooooo overdone it's burnt...I would send it back to the kitchen :P We need to write some sort of petition saying that Smallville season six SUCKS @$$. My older sis keeps asking why I still watch it (she watches reluctantly with no hope left) and I say it's cuz I still have hope the writers will redeem themselves and come up with a way to save this show that I really liked (I own all 5 seasons...5 I needed to complete my collection *I'm a collection freak :P*) There are soooo many things wrong with this season and it started going downhill Episode Two of Season Five (only cuz I love season openers of shows. I read these spoilers for all the shows I watch during the week and they spoil for the next four to five episodes, anyway i read this one where it said Lana (I DELTED THIS, ME, NEAL, because it's a big spoiler. Check out the site if you're interested)...i got up and started dancing (and i cant dance to save my life) i was soooo happy...anyway the site is www.spoilerfix.com if you want to know what happens... Keep up the amazing reviews

    Krystal

    Spoilerfix seems pretty decent as a filter. Nice. On that spoiler you mention, I think I saw that about ten miles away, honestly, but it's good to know.

    Todd Matthy wrote:
    I enjoy reading your reviews and while I'm the biggest stickler for continuity I have to say I agree with you; DC what history are you using for Superman? Its hurting not only Superman titles but I also feel the growth of new Supergirl. How are her writers expected to develop her as a character when DC can't figure out a proper history for the character she's a spin off from? (I hope that makes some kind of sense) At least were beginning to see some continuity being developed now, but we should let DC know that it would be stupid to let Superman's history become as convoluted as Hawkman's. Especially since their depending on a franchise being rebuilt.

    I think that whichever company reigns in creators first and gets a strong continuity will take the market, myself. Both Marvel and DC have crazy continuity right now, though admittedly Marvel's is better.

    Secondly, I figured out a way to mesh the Mon-El story into continuity. Maybe after the Mon-El incident Clark becomes so obsessed with finding a cure that Ma and Pa Kent decide that maybe he should be playing with other kids. So they let him but tell him to hold back. And of course holding back for Clark is being All-American instead of pro which will lead to where he is in Man of Steel. Just an idea. I'm doing my thesis on Superman so I have him on the brain.

    Heh. You assume the editors and writers care about their own inconsistency, which of yet I have no evidence to support.

    Magnus wrote:
    Hi Neal.
    Everybody seem to mention that the reason for Clark realising it was a fantasy world was that Shelby barked but I thought the real reason was that when he got the drill operation prepared, he saw that Lana disappeared and realised it was a fantasy, I became a little unsure now if that happened since noone has mentioned it.

    There was a bark, and people have given me crap about that. Bottom line though, the lack of clarity is present all over, making it not just me.

    I enyojed Labyrinth and Crimson but I don't think I enyojed trespass so much.
    The reason I enyojed Crimson I think is that I have always liked it when other persons find out the Superheroes secret identity.
    Well, I don't know why I enyojed Labyrinth since I don't usual like dream sequences.

    If Lex is experimenting with the freaks in 33.1 shouldn't he know Clark's secret since most of the freaks knows Clark's secret.
    I get the feeling that in Smallville, more enemies than friends know his secret.
    And isn't he usually too fast to reveal his secret to enemies.

    There's a whole list of people who know his secret and would have told in the KO Count.

    A little about Smallville in general.
    I don't like it that in Smallville Clark can lose his powers via lighning or Jor-El, I thought that he had superpowers because he is a kryptonian.
    Switching bodies is okay but not losing powers.
    Another thing I don't like is that as soon Clark arrives at the scene, the person he is about to rescue has either been knocked out a second before or won't remember what happened afterwards.

    It's poor writing, is all. There are creative ways to do it.

    The girl from the phantom zone(don't remember her name), didn't she say he had to start his training? When will he do that? And wasn't that what he was doing when Chloe interrupted him in the fortress of solitude, why not go back there when his powers returned?.

    The training seems to mean that time he's away from Smallville and Metropolis for a period of six years, and will presumably mean the end of the show. I think they introduced it this season in case they have to end it this season, but will likely pay it out in the finale.

    And I believe that Jor-El, was an Artificial Intelligence, and since it was a computer program it probably got affected by a virus. I think some persons has suggested that.

    I read some superman comics where if Superman was exposed to red K, almost anything could happen but you never knew what.

    Generally, yes.

    Why couldn't Mxypltk be an imp from the 5th dimension in smallville?
    I've always seen him, not as an enemy but more as someone who does what he wants and sometimes it can benefit superman and sometimes not.
    I think I rememebered an comic where Mxypltk did so Supergirl wasn't weakened by Green K anymore but he had forgotten about Red K.

    I didn't like his portrayal either.

    About last episode:
    Lana must know Clark's secret now, she saw him throw that photographer, but why didn't Clark realise the guard lied when he said that the photographer had a gun, Clark only had to do a quick X-ray check.

    I wrote that myself.

    Sorry if this mail is a little messy, since smallville is showing from the beginnin Mon-fri here in sweden. I have a chance to read all your old reviews(since I haven't read them before) so now I've read all reviews for season one and one for season 2, today's episode is Heat.(episode 2 season 2).

    No worries. :)

    And on wednesday it's time for Red(episode 4 season2).

    Red is actually pretty decent, the first time they did it.

    /Magnus

    Jason wrote:
    102: Greg Arkin, the bug boy, tried to make Lana his bride.

    205: Byron Moore, Lana's "dark poet" crush (that was Lana, right?).

    211: Tina Greer. Even goes lesbian to get Lana.

    219: Helen Bryce gets a stalker. Not Lana-focal, but this exact same plot, basically.

    221: Emily Dinsmore 1. Loves Lana, so when Lana won't love her forever, she tries to kill Lana.

    303: Jake, the gilled Lana obsessed freak of the week who is shot before he can go nutty.

    307: Seth, the guy who can influence women to love him with his "magnetic" powers, who of course instantly obsesses over Lana and takes over her mind.

    316: Adam Knight, when Lana leaves him for being a freak, attempts to kill her because he can't have her.

    321: Emily Dinsmore 2. Obsessed with Lana, tries to kill her."

    Actually we got Tina Greer twice too =). Ironically the second time was the last time we saw the Lana necklace as well (Tina put it on Clark and the ship neutralized it). Saw you say you couldn't remember.

    Thanks. That clears it up.

    I actually liked that they put it in for two reasons. First is that I always like to see old props resurface. It's a fairly meager re-assurance that someone rembers something that happened in the past seasons. Yeah I know it's pathetic to have that pass for continuity on a show but hey. Second (although I doubt they actually verbalize it) is that it's intent seemed to be affirmation to Lana that Clark was/is a meteor freak.

    The funny thing is, they turned what was once this huge plot device into some throw-away joke in that episode.

    Oh, and it was Jimmy that went with Clark to the photographers not Chloe. I sympathize though. I wasn't paying too close attention by that point either. This episode started behind the 8 ball when I read the description and steadily got worse. In fact this one exceeded my expectations but in all the wrong ways. I was expecting a dud when I read that it was a Lana stalker but it was worse than I had even prepared myself for.

    Thanks.

    Nate wrote:
    Hey,
    I've been reading your reviews for a long time now but I rarely read the letters so I'm sure my Lana theory has already been dicussed, but incase it hasn't been, here it is:
    Lana is a meteor freak.
    Think about it. Lana isn't the best looking girl in the world. Or Smallville. Or even in a room with any one of the shows leading ladies or female guest stars (excluding Tori Spelling.) There's no way it's her personality. Yet you have Clark, Lex, Whitney, Jason, Boone from Lost and a half dozen stalkers all with Lana on the brain. Let's not forget Smallville's Lana-centic media. My theory is Lana has a power that is similar to that of the sex-ed teacher who married Lex. This theory also explains why Lana is evil because all meteor freaks are evil, green K negates red K and Jor El is soap.

    A ton of guys love Kristen. It's what they call the "exotic" look, whatever the heck that means. Sounds kind of questionable to me, though I could never put my finger on why half-chinese is exotic as opposed to well, half-chinese. But to say "foreign" is apparently racist, so whatever.

    Honestly, I don't care how a woman looks, if she constantly looks like she's pouting, I can't stand her. She could have boobs that go out farther than she can extend her feet, and if she's complaining, I don't want to have anything to do with it.

    P.S. I know that there is no way that this will ever be true, it just explains everything. At least I'll have this to ease my pain: lanahasoneweakness.ytmnd.com

    Good one. I love that site.

    Jon wrote:
    What's up, Neal?

    My fifth novel is about ready to be submitted, I'm finalizing con tour plans, and I may be buying a piece of land per JD soon. Cray-zee!

    Hey, thanks for getting back to me so soon, and publishing my critiques of your critiques. I appreciate you officially making me part of the pop-culture that is the Superman Homepage. While I have my fifteen minutes of fame, I thought I'd take you up on your offer to continue the discussion (or "pointed, robust debate," as you called it.)

    Any time, man.

    I do feel I owe you an apology. You were correct in your observation that I did not give examples of my nitpickings about your nitpickings, and I should have. Frankly, my first letter to you was started with my intentions of it being a grand opus of citing all the times I thought your coverage of Smallville was fair and balanced like Fox News and all the times I thought it was definitely slanted like CNN. (Read into that what you will.)

    My read is actually the same either way. I think both networks are irresponsible, slanted, and poor sources of information compared to the internet. Fox is obviously worse, in my opinion, even though I share many conservative viewpoints.

    However (and I'm not lying or embellishing in the least), around the time I started to talk about your nitpickings and all, my work started to pick up that night (don't worry, I'm self-employed, so I don't have to worry about the boss discovering me writing about Superman while on the job) and I found myself having only ten minutes of free time left before I would have had to leave my computer and go run much-needed errands. Therefore, I hurriedly finished my e-mail to you.

    No worries at all. I understand a time crunch.

    Frankly, I kick myself for not thinking to save my draft and work more on it at another time so that I could have given you the review of your reviews that you deserve, and so I appreciate your invitation to continue the discussion. This time, I'm tying everything out ahead of time before pasting it in an e-mail to you, so that I can give you the time and attention you deserve.

    Coolness.

    Okay, here goes.

    To start off with, I was reading your response to another person's letter (in the same bunch of letters that mine was in. This person was pointing out how Clark is not yet Superman, but is a teenager still growing up. Her point was that Smallville is a show about his journey to becoming Superman, and the mistakes he would make that he would learn from later in life when he wore the cape. You responded by first listing your's and your parents' accomplishments by the age of twenty, and then you stated that you viewed Superman as a Christ figure, not one of us, and not one to give into narcissism. You then basically stated that if you could climb to such heights and achievements by age twenty, then Superman surely should have his ducks in a row by age eighteen. What I read in your response to that person's letter is nothing new, because it is clear that such thinking has a big impact in how you review episodes of Smallville. Respectfully, such thinking is an unfair and unrealistic expectation. Here's why:

    1. You called Clark a "Christ figure," but even Christ had to learn things and grow in wisdom when he was younger (see Hebrews 5:8-9 and Luke 2:52).

    I have to clarify here, because you've misunderstood me. I mean Christ figure as in an ultimate moral arbiter that is believed (subject to interpretation) to know what is right in all cases. But even so, Christ's youth isn't covered in the bible. He makes the jump from a very young man to 33 with very little interpolation. Much like Superman.

    Therefore, if Superman truly is the Christ figure you claim, then what Clark has been going through during the past six years in Smallville (the stupid mistakes he's made at times, the learning of things at other times) fits (granted, excluding the mistakes he's made which involve what Christians would call sinful such as pre-marital sex, etc., 'cause Christ would not do that). It's just a fact that experience is the best teacher, and one grows wiser and smarter when one learns from the mistakes they made, especially the mistakes they made in their teens and twenties. (More elaboration on that in my next point.)

    True, but that doesn't mean one has to smoke crack to know it's stupid, and it doesn't mean someone has to throw someone forty feet to realize it's overkill.

    And, many biblical scholars would contend, Jesus is supposed to have never made a mistake. His entire life is supposedly infallibly Godly, to many. I'm not suggesting that for Superman. He's more human than Christ. What I am suggesting is that most inspirational people have their viewpoints and intentions mostly formed by the age of 18. The exceptions I've known are, ironically, people who convert in their thirties and suddenly take on a new cause (which is not the Superman archetype) or, say, Charles Bukowski, which hardly parallels, because he was basically who he was by 18 too.

    2. Sure, I admit that Clark in the past six years has made a lot of the same mistakes over and over, but you know what? That also is realistic, trust me. I work with people intimately a lot in my job, and trust me when I say that it takes a long, long time for most people, both old and young, to change for the better. A lot of people make the same mistakes over and over before they finally learn, especially when they're in their teens and early twenties. You might have achieved a lot by age twenty, but I'm willing to bet that by age twenty and even today (however old you are, I'm guessing late twenties, early thirties) there's still things that you have yet to mature in and learn. Yes, you and your parents might be in the minority when it comes to how far you had gotten by age twenty, but the majority of people in their teens and twenties are about where Clark is and was. I know that applies to me and just about every guy (and girl, to defend Lana for a second) that I know.

    No, actually, I think quite the opposite is true. I'm unremarkable, as are my parents. You miss my larger point, that most people are who they are when they're eighteen. I KNOW that people repeatedly make the same mistakes, for their whole life, often. My point is that Superman, Clark Kent, is one of those people who choses early on to do the right thing and constantly. He doesn't make a bunch of mistakes until the show is over and then suddenly knows his purpose and stops making mistakes. THAT is the unrealistic potentiality.

    3. Yes, yes, I know that you believe that "Superman is not one of us, he's above us." But think about it for a second.

    Nope. That's not what I think. I think Superman is one of us that chooses to reach his potential. There's a key difference, and the difference is that between Christ himself and a bodhisattva, which is why I clarified my "Christ-figure" assumption that I thought was self-evident.

    There are people among us who sacrifice their lives for the greater good. They are rare, but they're out there. I see Superman as one of those people, and a special case, because his powers are such a temptation to use for evil, because no one could force him not to. It's not a divinity thing, it's a celebration of someone who chooses to do right when to do wrong would be so easy. And when you show that character doing the so easy wrong on a regular basis, I don't think it befits the character.

    This alien from another planet basically "was born" (in Byrne continuity) on earth and, in Smallville and comics continuity, was raised on earth by good, honest, hard-working folks, parents who, in Smallville, have also made mistakes just like everyone else (Bo Duke's stubbornness comes to mind, Annette O'Toole's willingness to first work for and then later become romantically involved with Lionel Luthor also comes to mind). So, other than being an alien with powers, how is Clark Kent really that different from you and me? He is the product of how he was raised, just like all the rest of us. What makes Superman great (but not as great as you think) is that he was raised well, generally. However, that does not mean that he was raised perfectly, and that does not make him perfect. (More elaboration on this in my next point.) Therefore, the show is realistic in my opinion by showing Clark's mistakes and how he in some cases learns from them and in other cases doesn't.

    There's a key difference between MISTAKES and critical moral failings. A mistake is when you don't notice the villain is about to die, and he dies. A critical moral failing is when, through a personal bias, you allow bad things or violence to happen, which is what Clark does often in this show.

    Further beyond that, I find the excuse of being normal unpersuasive. People use it to explain unwanted pregnancies, failures of marriage, but when it comes down to it, "Being human" as an excuse is a failure of the agent, not a catch-all excuse for why a person holds no responsibility, as it is used.

    And it's CERTAINLY not indicative of any Superman portrayal I've ever seen beyond this one. I can't think of a single example of a Superman show where it was just okay that he abdicates responsibilities, has chronic failings of character, and refuses to do the right thing when it would ease the pain and lives of others.

    That doesn't mean he's not perfect. Even imperfect people avoid a certain level of moral failings that Clark has perpetuated.

    4. Superman has not always been the "moral compass" you make him out to be. Chris Reeve had pre-marital sex with Margot Kidder in Superman 2, something they're exploring in the current movie. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher did the same thing in Lois & Clark.)

    And both were, to most fans, critical failings of writing and character. I can't think of anyone who looks back on those fondly as key moments of characterization.

    During WWII and earlier in the 1930's, Superman in the comics was portrayed as a killer of villains at times.

    That, I would say, is a completely different character from the one we know and love. But even so, he was killing Nazis, which is hard to argue against from a moral standpoint. Going back 60 years in continuity to a character that no longer really exists hardly proves the point, though.

    The first Superman comic I picked up to start my collection (the Death of Superman storyline) had Superman cursing while he fought Doomsday, and Superman's cursed in the comics since.

    Cursing doesn't indicate a lack of moral fortitude to me in any way, and I've never complained when Clark did it on this show. And besides, it was only stuff like "hell" and "damn", which are obviously not cursing in the larger sense. I could show you cursing, if you'd like, heh. I know how to curse. Superman couldn't hold a candle to me.

    A couple of years ago in the comics, he kissed Lana Lang while being married to Lois.

    As I recall, this was while under some kind of control, and thus he has no moral responsibility. You mean the Lost Hearts storyline, right?

    He recently (even though his mind was being manipulated to see something in fact wasn't there) tried to kill both Batman and Wonder Woman because he was being made to see that Doomsday, etc., were killing Lois and those closest to him and thought he was killing Doomsday. (Still, he wanted to kill someone that killed Lois, inconsistent with his reaction when the Joker tried something similar earlier when he and Lois were engaged.)

    It's pretty well accepted that an agent isn't responsible for what they do while under mind control.

    My point is, Superman as an adult in the comics and in the movies is not exactly the moral saint and example to us all that you describe him to be, at least not all the time.

    Your three examples of Superman's moral failings include 1) Cursing, 2) Kissing Lana while mind controlled, and 3) Trying to kill someone while mind controlled.

    I've criticized Clark for none of these things in Smallville (even though in Smallville he is cogent while "high"), and cursing isn't an example of a moral failing, it's just an expression. Still not seeing how this relates to how my reviews are biased and/or that this show is an accurate depiction of a moral arbiter.

    You're trying, I can see that, but you still lack any specificity of purpose that will lead to a clear and logical argument outside of anecdotal opinion.

    So I do not find Smallville's portrayal of a young, still-growing-up-even-at-age-twenty Clark who has pre-marital sex (which, admittedly, I do not like shown as it sets a bad example to kids) and who, due to immaturity does things like purposefully put on Red K (with the result of him robbing ATMs) or can't make up his mind about Lana, and who, due to inexperience, inadvertently causes or allows the deaths of some people to be unrealistic.

    Right, but again you ignore my point that it's not about whether it's realistic for you or I (it is), but rather whether this is consistent for young Superman. It's not.

    5. "But Jon! There's no real plot progression! There's no real character development!" Welcome to real life, Neal. In real life, I had the same plot for my life from age 14 to about age 25. And that plot was basically what Clark's plot for the past six years has been: wondering about feelings for one girl or two or three, wondering about one's place in life, making stupid mistakes at times, etc. There was some "plot progression" (college, etc.), but nothing of a huge impact until my mid-twenties when I married, and you know what? After a while, my life after marriage has pretty much stayed the same, and will continue to stay the same until kids come along.

    Story 101, from a guy who's written five novels, and even in the words of Al Gough: A classroom scene is boring.

    The point of that being, writers, people who create drama, our goal is not to show real life as it is. Not at all. Uh-uh. No way. We're supposed to show the time when peril dictates action, not when we decided Revlon over Neutrogena.

    Story is a process of inciting incidents, then rising action, resolution of dilemma, falling action, then denouement. This REQUIRES, necessarily, plot progression, and character development, in order to be successful. Smallville has even done this in some ways, even though it retracts it for the medium, one would assume.

    Here's your argument, restated: My life is boring, so it's okay if Clark's life in Smallville is equally boring. That's a hard statement to defend. We watch escapism in order to escape the boredom of our own existence.

    Regardless, it's hardly defensible as a logical position, to suggest that because Clark, a man who can fly and shoot fire from his eyes and is indestructible and has freeze and blow breath and x-ray vision and super-speed, is treated like you, who has none of these things, the show is good.

    Then more plot progression will happen, but after a while that also will slow down and things will stay the same until the kids become teenagers. After that, guess what? More plot progression, and then more stagnation. That's life, for most folks. "But Jon! Smallville is not supposed to reflect real life! TV is not supposed to do that!" Well, to me that's what so refreshing about Smallville. I can "escape" from the real world by watching it, but at the same time since certain parts of it are so much like real, teenage/early twenties life, I can relate more to it.

    I struggle, even giving the benefit of the doubt, to recall any teenagers whose real lives were even remotely close to the dilemmas any of the characters in this show faced.

    And to excuse a show's stagnation simply because it reflects the boredom of our own lives and then calling it entertainment... is that serious, or are you putting me on?

    A lot of what I just wrote would apply not only to Clark, but also to Lana. Sure, Lana's "thecrets and lieth" is annoying, but let's face it. A lot of women are like her. A lot of my girlfriends in high school and college were like her, with the double-standards, etc.

    And this was what you would have called entertainment growing up? Because that's what you're saying here.

    It's female immaturity, just like some of Clark's idiotic mistakes have been chalked up to "male immaturity." However, Lana isn't all bad. I admired her for quitting the cheerleading squad to get a job, and I admired her for not giving up when she was fired from that job, but basically, due to female sentiment about the place her parents met (realistic, trust me, I'm married), starting her own business with Lex as her partner.

    But DUDE, that was FIVE YEARS AGO.

    And frankly, Clark's not that good of a liar, and so I can't really blame her for, since the beginning of Season 2, getting exasperated with him and his (well-intentioned and, frankly, needed for his secret) lies. "But Jon! If she's so exasperated with him, why after several years does she still have feelings for him?

    Not several. SIX. More than half a decade.

    Why the constant back-and-forth, on-and-off-again aspects of their relationship?" Again, welcome to real, teenage/early twenties life, Neal. I know a lot of both guys and girls (both around Clark and Lana's age and, sadly, a lot older too) who are just as stupid. Just the other day, I was at my chiropractor's and talking to this fellow patient was engaged to be married to a real wench, and he knew it, but.the date was still being set anyway. Sad, but true.

    Again, I reiterate, and this is what you would call entertaining? Something you'd want to escape into? Watching morons flail retarded limbs?

    So I applaud the writers for how they've made Lana out to be, and her journey isn't even done yet. I compliment the show for being accurate that way. I feel sorry for her right now, due to the bad lots she's gotten in life and how her immaturity has brought some of them onto herself, but I don't hate her. (Neither should you, Neal. Very un-Superman-like of you.)

    The bad lots? She owned a business at 14. She went to France. She has designer clothes and friends who save her life despite her being a degenerate. She's marrying a rich guy and has people caring about her every move. She's got the most powerful man on Earth at her feet.

    Poor, poor Lana.

    Hate is not un-Superman-y. Not that I'm Superman. I'm more Luthor. But I do know Superman's character. He hates people who are unjust. He hates his own failings. He hates that he can't save everyone. Clark on Smallville doesn't.

    Lana's immaturity has not brought SOME of her failings onto herself, they've brought ALL of her failings onto herself. From the boyfriends who try to kill her to her romantic failings due to not being able to suck it up and say how she really feels.

    I denigrate this show for being accurate in this way, and you've really offered no rationale that the proponent of my arguments would accept to counter-example my rationality. At least thusfar.

    Let's face it, this show and basically every other show would not last past two seasons if all the good guys in the show learned from their mistakes immediately, grew up, and started acting right.

    True. That doesn't mean Clark has to throw people forty feet to learn that lesson.

    Because human nature dictates that people acting right rather than screwing up is boring after a while, and so ratings will drop and then the show will be over. I know you probably disagree with the sentiment behind that also, but that's why you probably wouldn't last long as a TV writer, Neal.

    Incorrect. Because you know what I realize, being a pro? That yes, people acting right rather than screwing up is boring, which is why if you have a character that acts righteously, you counter-act that boredom with a character that acts wholly indifferent to the good character's rationale. We'll call this device a VILLAIN, and I'd name him, oh, I dunno, Tex Muthor.

    And beyond that, for further flavor, we could introduce characters that are neither good nor bad, but somewhat into the shades of grey. We'd call them the SUPPORTING CAST.

    Then you can have a character who acts right, a character who acts wrong, and other characters that fall in between, creating something called tension through a well-crafted plot.

    You are right about one thing, however. I probably wouldn't last long as a tv writer. Not because I don't know how to write or understand plot fundamentally, however, but rather because I would have trouble co-opting my overwhelmingly formed sense of plot and character in order to give out boobie shots and sell Ford products.

    But again, I challenge you to tell me how that's wrong in any way.

    In a book, you can make decisions about people's growth or lack thereof and then decide to end the story at your leisure before trying to publish it. However, if you're hired as a TV writer, you have to keep the story going for as long as the producers want you to due to their wanting money. Heinous, I know, but a fact of life.

    Here's another fact of life, however. A good story can last forever, as long as the writing changes up and stays fresh. The urge, however, to keep telling the same boring story over and over, is what killed Smallville.

    A book is the same as a movie or a television show in every way. It's episodic in format, it has the same basic character principles. The only difference is that you have to describe the surroundings as opposed to show them. I've written both. They're very similar animals. An ongoing novel would NOT be difficult or dissimilar to a good book that ends. You'd just have to explore different themes.

    Frankly, I think Smallville overall has done a good job. Not perfect, and a few continuity problems (the only real big one is Lionel's wealth coming back unexplained) and a few unrealistic things - you're spot-on about the gas money, for example - but better than you're making them out to be. More on that in a sec.

    A FEW? A few? Seriously? Man, have you even read my reviews? I mean, In one review alone I could likely give you fifty separate continuity problems.

    Moving on.

    As if you'd thoroughly covered the subject? Come on, man.

    You gripe a lot about how Clark, Martha, and Chloe just accept Lionel as one of their own (Thanksgiving dinner episode), even though they all know that he tried to kill Chloe, he flirted with Martha while she was married, tried to kill Jonathan, Lex, and Clark, and has hunted Clark's secret for a long time before finally learning it.

    Yes.

    I agree that it's unrealistic.

    It is.

    However, you then gripe on and on about how Superman is supposed to be "above us" and "our moral compass."

    "A" moral compass, but yes. Just as Jesus is "A" moral compass.

    Well, to go by what you're saying, Superman is a forgiving person. He was raised to give people another chance. So technically, them welcoming Lionel into the fold fits, even though it's unrealistic. Can't have it both ways, Neal.

    Actually, you can. Nuance is an important part of argument. People berated John Kerry for it, because it IS boring, if logical, but nuance and specificity are the key to an explained position.

    You can have it both ways in this example because (as I've mentioned in past reviews), a forgiving character is not necessarily stupidly forgiving. My brother hits me in the head, I forgive him easily, because I'm a forgiving person, even though it's a rough thing. Heck, I had a girlfriend cheat on me once, I even forgave her. I'm a forgiving person, she changed, that happens. That's Superman forgiveness.

    When someone rapes my mother or kills someone, they lose forgiveness. When someone stabs someone or beats their wife, they're beyond forgiven, at least until DRASTIC amends are made.

    That's not having it both ways. That's common sense. Lionel KILLED people. He ATTEMPTED to kill multiple people. He was an all around rat fink and everyone knew it.

    No attempt at amends were made. If Clark were to simply forgive Lionel, that wouldn't make him forgiving, it would make him inconsistent and clinically retarded.

    In the comics, Lois immaturely broke off her engagement with Clark, but he gave her another chance and they got married. Batman went behind his and the JLA's backs to prepare weapons to use against them, those weapons ended up being used against them by a villain, but in the end Superman gave and continues to give Batman another chance.

    Batman apologized and made amends. Lois apologized and made amends. Lionel never did or even seemed to.

    So when Lionel looks like he's changing his spots (he's not, but he looks like he is), then it's fitting with Superman's goodness that Clark and Martha give him another chance. The only thing I would change about it in order to make it just a little less unrealistic is to have Chloe still not want to have anything to do with him.

    I will remind you of this when I invite my serial murderer buddy to your next Thanksgiving dinner.

    "But Jon! In Crimson, it's obvious that Clark doesn't like Lionel and doesn't trust him! So it's inconsistent that a few episodes earlier they're having Thanksgiving together!"

    Yes.

    In actuality, it's more realistic, because it shows Clark giving Lionel another chance even though he has reservations about it. That not only helps him to be the great Superman example, but it also caters to how human he was raised to be by inwardly having doubts, ill feelings, and suspicions. I applaud the writers.

    Actually, that just shows Clark, even at 20, to be incredibly reckless and nave, which I condemn.

    At times, you also come across as making Lex seem like he really hasn't done all that much that's "truly" bad.

    Until the episode where he started blatantly kidnapping 33.1 people, yes. He hasn't done true evil. Now it's on like a lightswitch.

    Not true. From season 1, episode 2, he has acted underhandedly. It's been subtle, but there. And as the seasons progress, it has been masterfully shown how the evil that has always been there has just been growing more and more blatant and powerful, all while the good has slowly been forced out while still fighting to remain. (A list of examples of what I'm talking about would be very long, so let me know if you want it and I'll start on it then.)

    An assertion does require corroborating evidence, yes.

    Frankly, I think he sincerely loves Lana, that his relationship with her is the last chance the rapidly-growing-smaller good part of him has to make a come-back.but I applaud the writers because even in his relationship the evil is being shown in that he obviously has done something to Lana concerning her pregnancy behind her back and, in the meantime, is doing his Level 33.1 evil stuff.

    Again, how is this in any way related to my reviews and their harshness being incorrect and unfair in any way?

    There's more, but I want to give you a chance for rebuttal. So here's my last nitpick about your nitpicking. You have made it clear that, if it were up to you, the plot progression would be a lot faster and better in a lot of ways.

    I've never said this. I think that plot progression would be structured and linear, not stagnant and devil-may-care. Timeline is optional.

    The thing that I challenge you on, Neal, because I'm interested to see if you could do it (I give you a 50% chance of being able to do so), is to put together exactly 132 episodes (the length of six seasons) of a Smallville story in the following fashion. There must be four major plotlines that span the entire 132 episodes, with every single episode bringing forward plot progression in a realistic fashion. One of these plotlines must be romantic and related to the mythology, one of them must be related to the progression of Clark becoming Superman (finding his powers, learning how to use them, moral and ethical lessons, etc.), one of these plotlines must be related to the progression of Lex Luthor to evil, and one of these plotlines must be action/drama and related to the mythology. The romantic plotline must span the entire 132 episodes by basically keeping the focus on Clark and Lana, while with the action/drama plotline you can have 22 episodes lead up to a climax in the 22nd episode, only to have that climactic story be the beginning of a related action/drama story that will span the next 22 episodes, etc. The Clark and Lex progression plotlines must also span the entire 132 episodes. In the meantime, 90% of the 132 episodes must also have a fifth plotline which is a stand-alone story. Those stories can be about anything you want them to be about so long as they have Clark fixing a problem related to Smallville or Metropolis, any of his friends, or any of his family. The key is that once an idea has been done in an episode, a completely fresh and new idea must take its place. You can never re-hash any ideas in future episodes again. In addition, everything must be completely realistic. Also, keep in mind that due to budget reasons, you can only show Clark using his powers or any other special effects up to three times an episode.

    Point of fact, I flat-out KNOW I could do this. And I'd do it with a vigor that would put the Smallville crew to shame.

    That said, I'm not in the way of doing things for the sake of exercise any more. If they ask me for it, I'll give it. But if you want proof of my abilities as a writer and my ability to maintain a consistent character study over a long arc of time, I would refer you to my last three novels and the fifth I'm writing.

    A poem is a short short story, a short story is a short novel, a novel is a short epic, and a television show falls somewhere between a novel and a short story. If I had to do one a week, and had six months to prepare the season's arc, as these folks do, and if I were being paid to do it, I could whip that llama like a bad habit, and don't you doubt it.

    My own personal failings prevent me from doing that. I don't suck up to producers and writers, so I don't have connections. I didn't finish college for an arbitrary degree when I already knew how to write, because it had no reflection on my character, and that pride gives me less chance with agents. I don't really care for television, so I put my TV energy into writing novels.

    But bottom line, and I think the true irony of this letter, I have set before you over a million words of rationale as to why I think what I think about this show, and you're trying to obfuscate the fact that your rationale as to why this is wrong has been occluded by your accusation that I should either write the show better or not criticize it, which is a straw man.

    In the end, I don't have to write the show again in order for my criticisms to stand, even if I can and could. You still have yet to address the thing you took umbrage with originally.

    If you want, start over by pretending the past six years never existed, or you can pick up somewhere in the beginning, middle, or end of the current Smallville TV storyline. It's up to you. The reason I'm asking you to do this is because you're a writer, obviously, but you also constantly nitpick at just about everything the writers of Smallville do for a living.

    But that is EXACTLY it. They do it for a LIVING, not as a passion. I have yet to make penny one on my writing, and for that, I challenge you to show me a single piece I've put out that lacks passion, motivation, or strength of character and plot, even in the meta sense.

    I can show you a Smallville that lacks it all in about two seconds flat.

    So I am interested to see if you can do their job without doing any of the same things you criticize them for doing.

    You'll have to either accept that I could or not, with my books as reference to show I understand plot structure and coherent writing.

    I know you're a busy man, so why not wait until the summer between seasons to work on it? You could work on it during the episode breaks during the season, also. However long it takes, even if it takes a couple of years or so, I think you ought to try it, and get back to me on how it goes, 'cause I'd be interested to read it. (Show it on your website as a fan fiction so everyone else can see how you did also.)

    Because I have a book that says far more than Smallville does to write this summer. It's got broader themes, more insightful characters, a stronger overall narrative, and honestly, it doesn't resort to plot devices to get to them.

    I could write Smallville, but more importantly, I can write BETTER than Smallville, and I know this.

    Well, this was fun. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks again for writing back to me.

    Jon

    Thanks, Jon!

    tom ogden wrote:
    Hi Neal,

    As usual your reviews are spot on. I love watching the show and seeing if we agree and or notice the same points of failure(and or success). What is happening in this show? Every week the characters act in totally different ways with inconsistent motivations. Clark grows a brain and decides he should stay out of Lana's life(thank god) then he finds out she still loves him (which he knew anyway as did we all) and then has to be around her all the time, which he was anyways so all that highschool drama is a giant waste of story that could be new. Then there is Lana. One week she is good, next week a dark, evil, money grubbing order giving snob. Martha is aparantly retarded from crashing the Kent Farm truck 87 times and associates with Lionel who us always screwing everyone in the long run and is clearly trying to do to Marta, literally. lark kills or basically lets them die by mking obvioulsy poor, immoral, unjust, non superman-ish decisions. The only way the writers could bring Clark back to me is to have him look back and all his failures he has made(failures that are obvious to everyone who knows what he SHOULD BE and SHOULD BECOME) and somehow have him emerge out of that onto a path to being Superman. Wont happen, but I can hope.

    But it's realistic, ain't it? Er, or not. I'm with you.

    My favorite screw up this week was when Lana was explaining to Lex why she went to the Kent farm instead of Luthor Corp to hide out. "It was the last place anybody would think to look for me!" But aren't Lana and Lex front page news all the time per the news crews we see always following her and the newspaper aticles about their enagagement we see lying around? Didn't a few episodes back with Tori Spelling we see the Lana and Clark relationship as front page news? Dont we all hear about celebrities and their ex-partners all the time? (Anna Nicole Smith) Surely someone would be on Clark all the time as a result of the Tori Spelling article. It makes Lana's point so stupid and unjustified and Lex would NOT accept that.

    Welcome to my world, heh. I agree.

    He just wouldnt, people dont end converstaions that way. At least in the comics he would have her killed or tortured for information, SOMETHING, anything but take a hit form a 19 year old. It to me was one of those Smallville moments that has no basis, contradicts what we have seen, and has the characters act in a totally different way than we are used to.(lana and clark back in love end of season 4 style)

    One of the many, yes.

    Keep up the awesome reviews, they make the bad episodes something to look forward to! And thanks for saying that all the attention that Anna Nicole Smith's death is getting is horrible. It makes me sick. We need a 9/11 channel that is dedicated to those who died and continue to die in war for our country, not 24 hour news coverage of some wacked out celebrity. Peace Out!

    I dunno about that, either. But one thing I think we do truly need is an informed public through a vigorous journalistic quarter, and I hardly believe that is accomplished by coverage of the "Death FRIDGE" and the jealous astronaut.

    There are, I am sure, more reporters on Anna Nicole than embedded in Iraq.

    I often wonder what would have happened had I headed towards journalism as opposed to fiction. The reason I chose fiction is because the job of a newsman is to get paid to take dramatic events and make them empty, shallow, and scientific. While I love logic, it's kind of antithetical to the passion I bring to life. Still, it seems obvious to me the difference between Wolf Blitzer and Edward R. Murrow, along with the decline of information-based news and its correlary with a largely ignorant and belligerent political public that votes not on intelligence of a candidate, but religiosity or catering to special interest.

    And that sukzors.

    Magnus wrote:
    Hi again.
    I saw heat today and then I read your review.
    Here is a quote from that review

    "He melted a bullet. That was so sweet.

    Lex Luthor on fire. Wow.

    Seeing the golddigger get her hand burned. Priceless.

    What is the deal with Clark being around something sexual for each new power? First flight? Dreaming. Probably of Lana. First X-Ray vision? The girl's locker room. First heat vision? Well, I won't recount it here.

    I'll go watch it again.

    Okay, I'm back. Heh heh heh.

    I think it's that sex sells on TV.

    Anyway, what will he do when he gets his Super-breath? Blow a girl's skirt up? Or perhaps for his thermoscopic vision, he'll be following a girl's leg and start seeing heat trails.

    Just wait until you see how he got porno-vision.

    You were right about the skirt, didn't Clark sneeze so a girl's skirt blew up in the episode where he got his superbreath.

    I liked the Heat episode since in this episode when Clark was in the room when Jonathan was trying to kill Lex, he used his powers without revealing he had powers.

    1. He melted the bullet instead of stopping it with superspeed.
    and
    2. He made the doorhandle hot so Lex wife couldn't escape.

    Neat, huh? Wish they'd do stuff like that now.

    I'm having a question about Superman powers, what powers does he have?
    I know about strenght, speed, flight, superbreath,Icy breath, heat and X-ray-vision.
    But from what I've read he has more visions than heat and X-ray vision.
    And will Clark get the Icy breath in the show soon? (Maybe he catch a cold or something)

    Depends on the continuity you follow. All that's missing from your list is telescopic vision, and thermal vision, one would assume logically, even though it's often overlooked.

    I've also read in some comic that Superman is a super-ventriloquist so when will he get that power? ;-)

    Hopefully never. That's Silver Age pap.

    /Magnus

    Sara wrote:
    Hey, honey.

    Yo!

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Kristen must be the secret love child of Al and/or Miles or their mistress. because there's no reason for this. There's absolutely no call for the storylines to follow her so completely. But I can see why so many people want to kill her. I may have to invent a stuffed Lana doll so I can stab her whenever the rage gets too strong. All in pink. Couldn't be that hard.

    JoAnn Fabrics road trip.

    And we've griped about consistency more than once for this show, but let's be honest. It also solely resides within the Lana character. "Lex, I love you and trust you completely." "Lex, I don't know how I feel about you. I may still have feelings for Clark. And you pulled a *shiv* on him of all things!" "Clark, I hate you and what you stand for. Keep the f%#k away for me before I cap your %#s!" "Clark, you're the first one I wanted to tell about this engagement. even though I voluntarily told Chloe first of all my friends." Oy vey!

    Yes.

    And for her to keep Lex's shiv? Well, let's just say that macabre doesn't quite cover it. The man she loves, Lex, tried to stab to death the man she loves, Clark. And you keep the shiv for a souvenir? (Oh, and she probably picked it up while searching the barn that the paparazzi guy captured.)

    While brushing her hair, it all seemed logical...

    And please correct me if I'm wrong. but usually camera phones make that horrid "I'm taking a picture" sound. I suppose you could turn it off, but they also don't have that great a zoom and clarity. And Bodyguard #2 (since we never did get to find out his name. and will forever be called #2 by me. or at least in this letter) insta-sent the picture to her. After all, she had to put the twisted shiv away to look at the picture.

    I dunno. I don't have a cell and don't plan to.

    (Too bad you couldn't have inserted that D.S. "Khan" video I made for you. Darn you, YouTube!)

    Nothing like greedy corporations stopping consumers from enjoying their product for a dime or two. I mean, lord knows they're only making a ton of money, not money hand over fist. I mean, crap, it's so absurd to me, considering I do this for free out of love. As it should be.

    I believe why they had Jimmy kvetching over how Clark treats Chloe because they're trying to say he broke up with her to leave her free to pursue Clark. who, if Chloe's griped at all, is absolutely devoted to one Ms. Lana Lang and has hardly ever given the time of day to Chloe. Perhaps they've heard how he's an absolute waste on the show right now and they're trying to improve his character. 10 to 1, if they make it to another season, they're going to make Jimmy a "main" character and he'll be on the credits. AND they'll have Clark break some sort of incredible story, making him an insta-journalist like Lois, and he will immediately ask for a leave of absence so he can study at the Fortress AND work with the soon-to-be-named Justice League.

    I think you're about right.

    I thought about the panic room! Yea me!

    I think she was "shocked" to see that the necklace was no longer green. If you remember, arbitrary plot device numero uno (now known as APDNU) was leached of color by the baby ship after Tina Greer (if I'm remembering correctly) put it around his neck and dumped him in the cellar so she could run off and pretend to be him so Lana would love her. (Wow! Talk about she-male!)

    I was reminded of it, but it's so long ago now...

    I think they sliced Brady's neck so that he could be pleading for help, snag her ankle and making her take the tumble. Otherwise, #2, who's supposedly in love with her, would have had to push her down the stairs, which is unacceptable at this point in their story. And you're right to question where Martha was. Although #2 did say later that he killed Brady because he suspected #2, Martha was there in a rather small farmhouse. More than likely, she *should* have heard a struggle at least and come investigating.

    Yes.

    And it wasn't Clark & *Chloe*, honey. Clark & *Jimmy* because Chloe said Jimmy had the connections but because they were broken up, she couldn't ask for his help directly. And Jimmy also mentioned that Clark left him with a B&E charge. I find it terribly interesting that a paparazzi's slummy neighbors (even though Jimmy said he was making bank with his pictures, it still looked like a Suicide Slums apartment) called the cops. When the cops never get called if someone B&Es the Luthor mansion?!?

    True. I missed that.

    Don't forget. Not only is she alone and moved to the ODRoPUHCS (Oy!), but she's also sedated earlier for no apparent reason than she bonked her head. even though most doctors like to keep concussion victims awake for at least a little bit AND even though she's preggers and a moron would know that it would effect the baby. And it had to be a pretty powerful sedative to take her from entirely cognizant to sleeping in 1.5 seconds.

    I know there was some reason why I failed medical school. But I can still practice medicine under the name Yan Itor.

    Didn't you find it odd that she was "blinded" by the flash? And why was she running like an idiot? Wouldn't you, with your new found Luthor power, have stared down said paparazzi, grabbed the phone and called for your "crack" security force that should have snagged the guy even before he got to said ODRoPUHCS? And I'm sure that they'll say Clark had a burst of adrenaline because of the anger of his ex-girlfriend getting harassed by paparazzi because she willfully chose to put herself in said situation AND they'll not have Lana or #2 notice because the flash blinded everyone in a 10 foot radius.

    They did the same scene five times. I was just praying for death.

    Lana walked off with a guy who just KILLED another guy. without checking to make sure said paparazzi is okay because, even though he's scum, he should pay for his crimes by staying for a long time in prison. When did capital punishment become an acceptable solution for Smallville? If they don't get locked away in Belle Reeve where they can easily find Clark again, they die. What?!? It's INCREDIBLE!

    Happened again this week, too. Another body hits the ground.

    Well, he didn't *necessarily* say he dismissed the "security" staff. He just said "staff" 'cause she asked him to ask the cook to make her a sandwich or something else very entitled. And I'm sure the writers thought that, because he'd killed a guy for her, she trusts him above all now. AND it's snowing outside, so it's always "thoughtful" to send them out traveling in it, when 9 times out of 10, servants in those types of establishments actually live in the mansion? Hello? Don't we remember Lex's stalker servant girl???

    Hasta, cutie!
    Sara

    Hah! Best.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:
    Neal,

    Re: "Trespass"

    This time, we both locked in on each other. We both agree that "Smallville" sucked moose, antlers and all, big time (except for the final scene between Clark and Lex that was an A+ in my book).

    I'm with you on that scene. I just need more than one small scene to raise the rating from bad.

    You write that you were asked why you still watch it.

    I watched the really lousy, kiddie episodes of "Adventures of Superman" (albeit many years ago). Why? Because it was the only Superman in town.

    I watched the fourth season of "Lois & Clark". Why? Because it was the only Superman in town.

    And so, that's why I still watch "Smallville". It's the only Superman in town.

    But- it's got competition, that being "Heroes". "Heroes" isn't Superman, but it's not "Smallville", and that's a good thing.

    You know, I'd be perfectly content not watching Superman if it was lousy. I'm not that way with the comics. Odd.

    I can't wait for Monday nights at 9 for "Heroes". My wife watches "Heroes" with me. We have "Heroes" water cooler talk at work. More and more people I know are picking up on "Heroes" (including you).

    I've decided to wait until summer to watch the second half of the season, myself.

    "Smallville"? No one watches with me, at home. I still sort of can't wait for Thursday nights, but it's not like it used to be. There was a buzz for a short while, but it's long since gone. A shame, because there's still SO MUCH they could do right.

    Cheers,

    Bruce

    Heck, I remember when I'd have a whole CROWD for Smallville at my place. Now it's either me and Sara or me and myself.

    Julian wrote:
    Hey Neal, I enjoy reading your Smallville reviews every week, and I'm always entertained by your pithy genius/madness. Now that I've flattered you, I'd like to suggest two new catagories for the KO count: People who Clark has killed or let die and one dealing with the ever so subtle Product Placement. If these have been suggested before or are already in the KO Count, feel free to mock my ignorance.

    Actually, they're great ideas, but beyond my time level right now. Generally speaking, any reasonable KO Count gets addition if I can have someone give me three examples. So...if you have them for those two, I'll start it in the KO Count. Deal? :)

    RMF wrote:
    I laughed when Lana fell down the stairs. For two days afterward, whenever I thought of Lana falling down the stairs, I laughed again. I suppose I could say something cerebral about the effect of taking horror-movie cliches to a new level of excess, but I'm pretty sure it was just funny.

    It was definitely funny, which is sad. Odd, huh?

    About the only noteworthy thing in the episode is the concluding scene with Clark and Lex, and even that is damaged by being about Lana rather than anything substantial. The scene had the acting, the chemistry, and the intensity to be memorable had the two men been fighting about something that counted. It's kind of silly, too, to have Lex remarking on how odd it is that Lana still feels safe at the Kent farm despite what happened last week, when he himself has walked all alone into the barn to hand Clark an invitation to his wedding. Is he hoping that Clark will put in a repeat performance at the church? Anyway, I liked the continuity of Lex's remarks on understanding what it's like to have been mesmerized by Clark's secret back when he "thought you mattered." It made me think that perhaps now that Lex is collecting meteor freaks in his lab, Clark seems less remarkable to him, and that his dehumanization of the freaks by experimenting on them may go hand in hand with his dehumanization of Clark by trying to ruin his life. This may be an idea born more of the subtext in Rosenbaum's performance than insight on the part of the writers, though.

    Either way, it was a good scene, I agree. But like I said above, one good scene doesn't justify ten bad...

    I wonder why this Clark-Lex scene wasn't the conclusion of "Crimson" instead of "Trespass". Traditionally, Superman is pure of heart, but TPTB have taken a more "theological" approach in Smallville, in other words, that there is no virtue without temptation. The temptation to the superpowered is naturally to rearrange the world to suit themselves because they can do it. RedKClark forcibly takes Lana out of a bad situation and pushes Lex through a wall, but normal Clark apologizes in some shame for his part in the fiasco, despite Lex's cruelty to him and others. To Lex's barrage of taunts and sneers, he says only, "Are we done here?" Much like in "Vessel", Clark refuses to be provoked. That is the perfect illustration of just how much difference Clark's morality makes to his character, especially in contrast to Lex's boast that the dishonesty of his day's work doesn't matter because "My life is perfect!" It's a much better counterpoint to RedKClark in "Crimson" than that twaddle at the end about which girl he wants to hook up with.

    I agree.

    Regards,

    RMF

    Thanks.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:
    Re: Action Comics Annual #10

    Neal,

    I was waiting until I could finally buy this issue before responding to your review. Your question about continuity and the Silver Age is a good one. They're essentially driving a nail into Byrne's coffin, which was already sent six feet under when "Birthright" came along. Now, with Superboy all but back, the square Bizarro world back, and the multi-colored varieties of Kryptonite back (oh, can Jewel K and White K be far behind?), they are at least cherry-picking the Silver Age in order to reuse 40-year old Weisingerian (!) inventions in order to come up with "new" stories.

    And I love it!

    You know, I love it too, except for where it pertains to Superman. I want the Byrne explanation of how he came to be, so he had that period of humanity. Otherwise, plot elements and character devices are all fair game to me. I just don't like a Clark that was never human, really, and yet still chose the right path.

    While I loved, too, the Byrne Age, I don't mind Silver Age elements being re-introduced. Heck, they won me over with the cover, which looked like the original Superman Annual covers and/or the 80-Page Giants - AND had the late Silver Age checkerboard on top.

    It was pretty cool, huh?

    For the most part, you rated this one highly in almost every regard, and so did I - it may have helped cement my return to the Superman line...

    Cheers,

    Bruce

    Sweet. And it looks like they're dealing with the release failings. This could suddenly become a good year for Supes.

    Joe wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    No real comments this time, other than "Great job as usual". Just a question you probably don't have the answer to: Did Lana invite Henry Small to her wedding?

    Joe

    Thanks! Actually, it's been, what, 90 episodes since Small has even been mentioned? Heh. Maybe they'll bring him in, who knows.

    Phil wrote:
    Hi Neal,
    Love your reviews. Along with the small glimpses of super powers we get every 3-4 episodes, your reviews make watching the show worth while...if that makes any sense. When are they going to get you on the writing team? Seriously !!

    Hah! When I get a crisp five dollar bill. I insist on at least five bucks. I do parties for ten.

    Oh, you mean WRITING with them. Heh. Well, when pigs fly, likely.

    I decided to write this week to make a small note about your Trespass review.
    You mentioned that the necklace had no significance, but I think you'll find, if my memory serves me correctly, that it used to be the Kryptonite necklace that Lana owned. Clark used it to save himself for some reason and the Kryptonite got sucked out of it. Details are sparce, but I think Lana recognised it as her old necklace minus the green.
    It was still a crap episode by and large.
    Thanks for your hilarious reviews.
    Phil.

    Thanks. Actually, I know it was very significant in the past, my point was more that I don't recall how or why, mostly because it was dropped unceremoniously like most soap opera style plot devices.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:

    OVERALL

  • And here I thought from last week's coming attractions of this episode that this would be another meteor freak disaster of an episode. Just when you thought it was safe to throw this show in the trash bin, it claws its way up and out. Hard to believe that an episode all about meteor freaks gets this grade, but it does: A.

    THE GOOD

  • I can't remember an episode in which Clark behaved more like his future self - Superman - than this one. I'm talking about his behavior - rescuing and protecting people, and not just his use of super-powers (more on that next).
  • As for his super-powers, they really went wild in this one. In fact, I believe that almost every power that Clark knows he has was used in this episode, i.e., super-breath; super-speed; heat vision; x-ray vision; super-hearing and indestructibility. I don't recall him using his super-strength, although I could be wrong.
  • At the same time Clark has exhibited, more than ever, that he is on the verge of being Superman, Lex Luthor showed in "Freak" that he is all but his future self - truly evil. His scene with the doctor reminded me, actually, of Darth Vader and one of his ill-fated henchmen who failed on the job.
  • Good stuff with Tobias telling Lana that Clark is normal. Let's confuse the hell out of Lana!
  • There were at least three tremendous scenes involving Super-Clark:
  • First, when he steals the doctor's laptop with a super-breath distraction followed by his super-speeding away with the laptop (but brilliantly hiding it under papers until he could walk away with it).
  • Then, when he has to remove the GPS device from Chloe. Per her request, he x-rays her, and then, in a riveting scene, he opens her up with his heat vision in order to extract the device. I totally loved the fact that he was unsure of himself and held Chloe, asking her to stay still. Memorable scene and done extremely well.
  • Finally, the scene in which Clark saves Tobias and Lana. Shades of Superman! First he deflects a bullet, but then, conjuring up George Reeves in "The Unknown People" (AKA "Superman and the Mole Men"), when he was protecting one of the nasty townspeople from the mole guy's ray gun - Clark stands in front of the doctor's strange ray gun blast to protect Tobias. That is worth rerunning. Masterful scene. Super in every way.
  • For the first time, I actually liked an episode about meteor freaks, and that's because they constructed a decent plot around the whole thing, in my humble opinion. Tobias, in particular, made for a really good character. The actor playing him was good, too - very convincing.
  • I like seeing Lana's trust in Lex slowly crumble. How often have we stuck with something that we begin not to believe in? When do you pull the plug? Kind of like when you realize you're nauseous and you have to throw up (sorry), but you keep putting it off!
  • Is Chloe a meteor freak? Is this how she meets her end in a future episode, especially since she is not part of "Superman mythology"? Good scene with her and Clark near the end re: him being her own personal bomb squad. Very touching.

    THE BAD

  • At the beginning, when Chloe yells "hey" a couple of times at the people abducting the Asian guy, what did she think they were going to do - stop?
  • Clark gives the doctor's laptop to Jimmy and asks him to figure out what's on it, but I don't recall Clark explaining anything about the doctor or what to look for on the laptop. Jimmy should have been awfully confused (more below).
  • I'm sure there were more "nits", but the goodness of this episode eclipsed all else.

    THE REST

  • With all the talk of meteor freaks and people with special powers, I thought I was watching "Heroes".
  • The Jimmy Olsen on "Smallville" doesn't seem to know much about computers (although I thought he did, in a prior episode). The Jimmy Olsen on "Lois & Clark" was a computer whiz. And the only computer that the Jimmy Olsen on "Adventures of Superman" ever came ever came in contact with was Mr. Kelso, in "The Machine that Could Plot Crimes" (a terrific second season AOS episode). Just thought you'd like to know.

    COMING INTERACTIONS

  • Wha--? None. Dang.
    Bruce Kanin

    You're more kind than I was, and I can understand why. It's nice to see Clark acting like Clark again. I think where we differ in that respect is that with me, it's not refreshing enough to give a good rating to see Clark act like Superman...for me, that's kind of expected, and the plot should enhance that. That's like baseline for consideration, for me...

    Ami wrote:
    Hi Neal! :3 (That's supposed to be a cute smile, like a cat :D)

    Cool. :)

    An episode named Freak! :O Couldn't that be the name of like 90% of the episodes? :O

    Actually, statiscially speaking, 104 percent of them, given that there are more freaks than episodes right now.

    I dunno how you felt about this one, but I kinda liked it despite a lot of rly frustrating aspects about it XDD

    I think Chloe being a meteor-freak is a good development and, assuming the writers have any talent at all, is a good way to give her a reason to just vanish. :O It could be b/c of her powers (whatever they are), or it could be her setting up a new life to get away from like Lex, trying to capture her.

    When they go somewhere with it, I'll give it a fair shot. It sounds fun. Problem being, I'm guessing whatever power she has would have been evident before. But we'll see. And besides, as I recall, she already became a freak a few times.

    Maybe her power is the ability to retcon things XD And at the end she waves her hands and everything that happened is gone and Superman's history progresses the way it should XD

    What I didn't like about the episode was all the arbitrary lying! It's infuriating! :O It's like ppl in this show have gotten so used to lying to each other that they just do it casually now. "Hey, nice pink sweater Lana, is that new?" *Lana angst look* "No Clark. It's old, and it's actually orange."

    That's about it, too.

    e_e

    In this episode, I think every character lied to every other character. I think the only combination is rly that Chloe didn't lie to Clark and Jimmy didn't lie to nebody. It's almost funny watching Lana and Clark lie to each other about Clark's powers. Clark knows Lana knows. Lana knows Clark knows. JUST TALK ABOUT IT!

    F%#% yes.

    Lex is arbitrarily evil again. .;;

    Yes. :(

    I think Chloe being worried about that guy being another Lana stalker is a perfectly reasonable explanation on why she would follow him out considering how many ppl in this show become Lana stalkers b/c Lana's a goddess .;; Even girls fall in love with Lana and stalk her XDD

    I love how often Clark uses his powers in front of ppl in this episode XD He can't even just take 2 seconds to say bye to Jimmy and then walk out the door AND THEN RUN OFF. Nooo.. he has to just go BOOM. :o And wouldn't the doctor feel the air coming from Clark past him when he used his super breath? :O Clark stealing the laptop RIGHT in front of them was hilarious XD The doctor just kinda accepts that this weird kid who shows suspicious knowledge about his activities appears and then his laptop is gone just like that. And then he doesn't have Clark held by security to be searched or nething? XD Or hold Clark and tell ppl to look for the laptop? Aren't there security cameras in hospitals? Even if Clark is moving so fast he can't be seen (how fast would that have to be btw?) what if somebody just slowed down a camera footage while looking at it? :o

    I would think he could get away with it, but just in the hall was silly.

    If Lana is so sure now that Lex is evil, to the point where she just does stuff behind is back and doesn't even ask for his help, WHY IS SHE MARRYING HIM!? It IS cuz of the child no matter what she says :O

    I think it's because her character is inconsistent.

    Where'd Lois, Martha and Lionel go btw? :o I dun think we've seen them in a while.

    Probably doing wise things like movies.

    Chloe's worried about being a ticking timebomb. But all the other K-Freaks were bad not b/c of their powers but b/c they were selfish people who used their powers for personal gain, or who were just a little nuts to begin with XD Just b/c she has powers doesn't automatically mean she's gonna use them to hurt people. :O

    Noted.

    All this discussion about people with powers this episode made me wonder if I wasn't watching X-men instead o_o

    True! And they pretty regularly do X-Men style villains.

    So now that Clark knows that Lana wants to PROTECT his sekrit and thinks what he does is good and stuff, WHY isn't he telling her? :O

    Malarky!

    However, I did like the reveal that Chloe may have latent powers tho! I think that's at least a nice forward movement for a show that's rly done nothing but enforce the status quo for what is supposedly their final season. :|

    We'll see how they handle it.

    Oh, on another note. One of my best friends is blind, and she still points to things. Her hearing is very acute as is her sense of surrounding. Also, from that photo, it was quite a leap to think that he was pointing at the telekinesis guy b/c he SAW him :O He could be pointing at other things. Or he could be pointing at the guy cuz he heard him .;;

    So it may be plausible, the gunshot. Interesting.

    I thought that most of the first half involved a lot of big assumptions that the characters rly shouldn't have been able to make with any accuracy with the knowledge they had. And it seemed like they just wanted to get ppl from point A to point B. :S

    Noted as well, and correct.

    Neways, I'm kinda mixed about the episode and that's prolly b/c I've been so annoyed with this season that it makes me mad at all the little things like the lying and Lana. XD But I thought the scene with Clark taking out the implant in Chloe was rly good and I liked how scared Chloe was and also at that moment it seemed like the show was rly moving forward. I wish we could have more moments like that. :( I also with Clark and Chloe would have more scenes like that.

    I can't wait to see what you thought about it :D

    Thanks!

    Oh! Right! Before I forget :D

    Your Tasha/Seven of Nine analogy has a flaw. Jadzia Dax died and she was considered the "hot" girl in that show :O

    This is true! You're right. But I guess my point is more how rare it is, and yeah, usually because they want to leave the show.

    But I think that's cuz she wanted to leave the show? I dun remember XD But you're still right, if there was no influence from the actors, the writers will never kill off the "hot" girl. :/

    Have a good weekend Neal! :3

    You too.

    - Teh Ami

    PS: Oh yus, my comic review site is: http://ami-angelwings.blogspot.com

    http://ami-angelwings.blogspot.com/2007/02/supergirl-14-review.html

    And that's where I used your Soapy Jor-El line (and linked to you :) )

    Take care!

    Awesome! Great stuff, and thanks!

    Magnus wrote:
    Hi Neal!
    Hmm, I've started to read letters to your reviews now, didn't do that before just read them but now I write to you to.
    Well it seems that after you write the first letter the rest just seems to follow automatically.

    Hah! Automatic writing.

    Since they don't show season 6 in sweden yet, I have to see the episodes on youtube. I can't wait until the come to Sweden so I can see them on television.
    But when they came here, I want to see them on television.

    I can neither condone nor advocate the illegal downloading of shows by downloading bittorrent and then seeking torrents based in the show you want to see. Anyone who does so is an awful, awful person and deserves to die in a fire. Demonoid is the absolute worst place to look for those said rotten degenerates, and google never works.

    I was happily suprised by this episode, I didn't like the trailers, but when I now saw the episode I really enjoyed it.
    I liked Lana's reaction when Tobias said that Clark was the most normal person he's ever seen. (And aren't kryptonians as normal as all other aliens?).
    Which I think makes sense since Clark is a normal Kryptonian but the kryptonite-freaks are humans that has been infected with meteors and therefore not normal persons anymore.

    I want Clark to tell Lana the secret but actually I always want him to reveal the secret to people.(I like it when persons finds out superheroes secret identities).

    It's neat, but it's hard to retract.

    I liked that he used Super-breath(he hasn't used it many times since he got it).
    And in this episode he manage to use his superpowers without anyone seeing him so I liked that.
    When Lana confronted Clark, why didn't he just say "I'm not infected by meteors". since that would be fun since it's true but it would be more fun if he said to Lana
    "I'm not infected by Kryptonite" by mistake.

    Yeah.

    But I don't like it that he is so sure that it's Lex every time,(even if it is).
    And why is Lex lying to Lana didn't he said he would share everything with her. Can't he explain to her that the meteor-infected person is a threat and that noone meteor-infected has been nice
    Wasn't that what Chloe said? Ohh, didn't she forget Kyle then? Kyle from Hug, in the first season, he was nice, Alicia was nice I'm certain that there's more too, so every freak Chloe has met can't be ba she must have a bad memory but I like her, maybe her freak-power is to hack into all computers.

    You know, if that's it, I'll buy it and love it.

    Ok, now I just want to read your review to see if I was right or wrong in liking this episode.
    Your and Douglas reviews make Smallville worth watching even if it's a bad episode.

    Thanks!

    My littlebrother is named Tobias maybe that was one of the reasons I liked the episode.

    Two more questions, how many freaks was it in this week's episode?
    One thing that bothered me in this episode was that when Chloe and Clark saw all green markings turn red, why didn't Clark superspeed away to rescue to victims?

    This week? I see it as three. Two freaks and a homicidal guy.

    I read a superman comic(I bought 22 old swedish superman-comics this week so I can read stories about Superman) where he used his heat vision on a man's stomach so the man got a stomach ache and then Clark could fake a stomach ache too and rush out to change to superman.

    Neat!

    So my question is:
    How thin can Clark make heatvision? Can he make it so thin that it is smaller than atoms, if he can do that then he could have destroyed the tracking device without hurting Chloe.

    Usually depends on the medium. This is the first episode where he's refined the beam, technically, but he can make it very, very precise in comics currently. Or at least, unless New Earth changed that. Sigh.

    and thanks in advance for the reviews I know I'll like it when I read your and Douglas reviews.

    No worries.

    When I've been reading your old reviews , they felt more like the reviews douglas do now, but now I think your noticing more than you did then, atleast you write more.

    I started taking notes, and I got sick of repetitive devices. It went from review to analysis.

    today I'm going to see Redux, I don't think I've seen it before.

    This letter became longer than I expected, hope you have time to read it all.

    Looking forward to the review
    /Magnus

    Thanks!

    Dan Fenton wrote:
    Neil,

    So what have we learned recently:

    1) Michael Rosenblum will be leaving Smallville at the end of season 7 even if the show does somehow limp into a season eight.

    Yar.

    2) We will not experience that magic moment at the end of the series when Clark puts on the glasses, dons the suit and flies off to his destiny. The film franchise has killed any sort of chance that would happen.

    Yar.

    3) Again because of the film, we'll never see Lois and Clark in any sort of relationship/romance.

    Yar.

    4) Chloe is apparently a meteor freak...who knew?

    5) Can you say "sinking ship" ten yimes fast without it sounding rude?

    Smallville. Smallville. Smallville. Smallville. Smallville. Smallville. Smallville.
    Smallville. Smallville. Smallville.

    Nope. That was rude.

    But I digress...or at last begin at the beginning.

    1) As stated on this very site and elsewhere, Lex Luthor will be no more(at least in the Smallville sense) after one more season (providing there is a seventh season, folks, don't count your chickens before they're hatched, as they like to say on the Kent farm). This would remove Clark's biggest adversary just before he becomes the true evil genius (or whatever)he is destined to become. That means they will have to step up to the plate the remainder of this and next season (if there is one)in order to provide some satisfaction to the viewers because, without Lex...there is no show...so they have the off-season to figure it out.

    Taking bets for "not" currently.

    2) So how DO you end things for Clark Kent? This is the man who will be Superman and you can't even show a hint of that? So what happens, then? Clark goes back to college? Clark gets a job at McDonald's? Clark becomes the Green Arrow while Ollie helps meteor freaks receive cornea transplants? I know they had this "no flights, no tights" rule to begin the show, but to pull the rug out of any opportunity of anything close to that happening is going to cause a lot of fans to ask "what then"?

    I started asking that two and half years ago.

    3) So another season of Clark pining for Lana? Gee, that will be fun. Given the lack of chemistry between Brandon Routh and Kate (Replace Her) Bosworth in Superman Returns, why do they hold back on this? Again, it's something we know is detined to happen. If there is no chance of a relationship here, with the woman he will one day spend the rest of her life with, then it really causes us to ask again: What was the point of bringing Lois Lane on anyway? If the answer is anything other than: So we can drool at Erica Durance's breasts. then we are lying. It's nice the way they play off each other but, again, you've snuffed out something the fans might have tuned in to see. Now it's going to be Lana, Lana, Lana....

    Yes.

    4) I might have said "Chloe", but this week's episode, if nothing else, sets up her demise. Now that she is a meteor freak, things are going to be different, the rock that Clark has counted on has now crumbled and it will affect the rest of her (brief) life. The one scene at the end between to two of them told me we were seeing the beginning of the end...otherwise there was no point to this episode, either (oh, yes, that bullet that ricochetted).

    Hah!

    It also proves to be careful what you ask...I've always felt they should have Chloe show more skin...and we have her on a table wearing nothing but the straps keeping her down...but the ugly mouthpiece just spoils for me what should have been a very erotic moment...at least SHE can't remember what happened.

    I dunno. How to put this...hmm. I can't without getting in trouble. But let me just say that even for someone who enjoys someone pretty being tied down consentingly, I imagine the scene was just gratuitous and odd.

    I also don't like her chances because I think Lex has to do something truly evil by the end of the season...and I think a confrontation between Lex and Chloe will end up with one of them dead...and Lex has a long way to go.

    5) Are there any compelling reasons to keep watching past season six given that anything the fans could anticipate has pretty much been bumped off? It may be interesting to watch...but then again maybe not.

    Right now, I can imagine little save the final few episodes, if the show doesn't get cut off on a cliffhanger. I hope that changes.

    Cheers,

    Dan Fenton
    Burlington, Ontario
    Canada

    Stephen Carty wrote:
    Hello there Neal, I've written to you before regarding the show (Scottish former film-student come freelance writer / film reviewer, I wrote my dissertation on comic book movies and dedicated to the late great Christopher Reeve) but I'm sure you will have no memory of this as you get so much mail! Regardless - thought it was time for another Smallville critique.

    I remember it vaguely... but either way, welcome back.

    So - I still watch and love the show but it is my favourite purely due to my love for the man of steel (allthough arguably you could question if it is still a Superman show?!)and I consider 'Lost', 'House' and 'Entourage' to all be far superior in terms of writing, characterisation and plotting. These, by the by, are the 3 things that I consider to be most important to a good television series. Now, onto what is wrong with the show:

    Entourage, eh? What's all this then?

    Writing:
    - I may only be a freelance movie critic (who does it out of love and gets paid zero) but is the writing very poor at times? The show constantly writes itself into huge holes,presumaly to get some emotional response and / or drama,and then gets itself out by absurd reasoning. Consequently, the viewer - or at least the educated viewer - knows that things will be swiftly be put back to the status quo shortly and this then removes any emoting or drama.

    Doesn't matter what medium it is, that's poor writing, yeah.

    - I find the status quo to be a big problem. The show should be more like 'Lost' in the respect that things move forward slowly - but they should move forward. For the last 2 or so seasons the show has jumped forward only to quickly jump back again. This is particularly bad at the end of a season episodes where there is a cataclismic event which is all but forgotten and sorted by the start of the new season's first episode. How can we go "woah - Brainiac is electronically scrambling the whole of the USA's systems and causing chaos! This is huge, how will Clark stop it?" when we know that it will take something small to put everything back the way it was before we are back to normal and it is like nothing happened.

    Lost does move forward, rather rapidly for a TV show, which is why I imagine it's successful. People die. Things are revealed. There are many mysteries that aren't even answered that bug people, but honestly, things change on that show. It's fresh and new on a constant basis. I doubted it at first, but I'm really impressed by it, all in all. It's the kind of show I would probably write if I wrote for TV, a forward-moving drama with a clear end in sight. Does Lost have this? I don't know, but I'm reassured that they're planning on ending it before it jumps.

    - I am a big believer in small is big (or so I tell the ladies). The end of season episodes keep getting bigger and bigger and, in my opinion, lamer and lamer. The city being overrun? Hmmm. Happened almost instantly and it is another thing that Clark is not ready for. I just didn't care about that. However, series 2 when he rides away on the bike - superb. Really superb. Puting on the ring (actually a good use of Red K), a great emotional exchange with Lana and then the voice of Jor-El while he rides away? I was blown away. This shows we do not have to have every single member of the cast in absolute dire peril for an end of season climax to be dramatic and involving. Like the end of that episode (think it was the Cyborg episode)where the ending is simply Lionel in front of a computer with opera music and he looks at the screen, says "your secret is safe with me, Kal-El" whilst looking at footage of Clark and we know that he knows Clark's secret. Awesome. Loved it. These are the moments of real power.

    I would concur.

    -As I said, the show writes itself into holes that will cause itself problems. For example, after the second meteor shower one of the characters noted that much more Kryptonite came down than there was in the first one. So, there should then have been A LOT more meteor freaks (not that I want that - freaks of the week were my only major flaw with season one). Now, why say that??!! Why not just remind Clark that Kryptonite came down?! They keep going for the quick bang! This is ok in some walks of life but not in a -thus far - 6 series long television show. THINK ABOUT THINGS!!

    Agreed.

    -Writing showing little thought for the future. Clark wearing red and blue. Every episode all the time (bar the last couple where a few shirts are back!). Now, fair play, Clark does not know yet that he will wear a costume and therefore does not know that he is wearing the two colours that will be part of his secret identity. However, Lois (soon to be an ace reporter) and Lex (supposed smartest man on the planet) will have seen Clark in those colours a million times, with no glasses and know how built he is. They would, of course figure it out. I know - it is a show about a Superman but to work it has to be taken serious! The findings of my dissertation were that, as per Richard Donner, for a comic book movie (or show) to be taken seriously and to be good it has to be presented seriously, with good internal logic and the unbelievable element (Superman and his abilities) has to be placed in a realistic world. It is not enough to simply assume people will not get it - we need to know WHY they would not figure it out.

    Good thesis, actually. What grade did you get? Heh. Let me know, so I can throw that at people who call me a hack, because this is the stuff I explore here.

    My reviews, were they a doctoral thesis, would have gotten a:

    And please, if you flunked, lie to me. Please!

    Like in series one where Clark has lost his powers and ex sees him hurting his thumb with a hammer. Like where Lex sees him cutting himself with the laser in series 5. There should have been a successive stream of these (possibly to the point of overly done as that is what it would take to convince someone of Lex's obsessive nature) to put Lex in the frame of mind that Clark is nothing special so he writes him off. Like John Shea says in 'Lois in Clark' (season one when it was good) "Kent is nothing". Therefore, he has no reason to suspect him when they meet in later years, no reason to connect the 2. The fact he has seen his face a zillion times is waaaay beyond the point.

    With you still.

    -To continue the internal logic theme... scenes like Lionel having Thanksgiving Dinner with the Kents and Chloe. The WORST scene in the series ever. Would not happen (yeah, guy that flys blah blah blah - see my point about about the unreal in a real world). No way. Not even worth mentioning. Allthough I already have.

    There's a difference between suspension of belief and exception for inconsistency. You're not crazy.

    Characterisation:
    Quite Simply, all over the place. I still like Clark. I know you think he is too piny and mournfull but I think that is they way he should be AT THIS POINT. In 'Superman Returns' he was like that over Lois having moved on and that is when he is grown up so it makes sense for him to be that way at a younger age.

    At 14 I would agree. At 20, I would not.

    Lana is just so poorly written (yes I know - writing was my previous section!!!)that it is very difficult to see why anyone likes her. However, I disagree with what you said a few weeks ago about how Clark should see the light and like Chloe instead. With love there are no rules and sometimes you just like someone for no reason at all.

    Heh, actually, the general rule is you want what you can't have, even in drama. Which is why they should be playing Lana as the one who wants Clark, justifying his eventual departure.

    And to be honest - I am not seeing one with her. My second biggest problem is Lex though. I use to love him and the 'Baum is great. But can we just decide who he is?! It seems every season we are told "This is the year he loses tha inner battle and becomes bad". When exactly?!

    YES! Thank you.

    At present it still feels like he is a nice guy who, if given more chances from the Kents and other surrounding characters, may not have chosen the path of evil we know he will one day take. It should be the other way around! He should be squandering chance after chance from the decent people like the Kents so we feel they are good for believing in him and dissapointed in him for failing to do the right thing...again. I thought 'Lexmas' was great. Very Anakin Skywalker in the way that he was driven to give up the good life and I loved the end where he said he wanted it all. This is one (there have been a few "Dad you've raisde the son you've always wanted" springs to mind) moment where it would have been perfect to start his disent to evil. But noooooo, back to nice Lex. Ho comma hum. The conversation with Lex in "Aqua" (in my opinion - the last great episode)at the end where he tells him that Fine accused him of being close to the devil was superb. Lex's malice-filled grin and his "you didn't tell him about my pitch fork?" line was spot on. More of this please - less of Lex doing everything perfect only for us to blame the people around him for his future evil.

    Now the problem is that he's beyond redemption. Now he's a murderer, seemingly arbitrarily.

    Storyline:
    Well, all the problems here can be split in 3. Repetitive storylines, too much of future-related stuff (outwith his mythos and his journey) and not enough of his mythos and journey.

    Right.

    With the repetitive storylines, I won't go into it as you have many times (IE Lana being stalked sooooo many times) but as I said in my last letter this would not be a problem if we had bigger story-arcs. For example, the first red Kryptonie episode "Red" could have easily been spread over 3 episodes and then you have 3 eps of Red K but it is not repetitive as it is all together. Instead they have a self-contained one, gap, another self-contained red K one, another gap and then another red K one. Repetitive. See what I mean? The real problem here is probably and the creators have to pander to those mindless fool viewers and cater to the lowest common denominator fans who like simple, 1-ep arc stories with CGI over story. Tools.

    And sadly, most of their most sycophantic devotees.

    With the future stuff, for me, there has been way too much. Lex, ok, I can deal with that as it was probably neccessary to make the show. Lois? No, she should NEVER have been in it (despite how hot Erica is). Justice League? Way too soon (Even though I loved all the JL guys and thought the Green Arrow was excellent). Jimmy Olsen? Far, far too soon. Brainiac and Zod? What??! Sorry??!1 These are villains that Clark will struggle to defeat when he is the fully grown SUperman.... so he probably is not ready for them now. See where I am going? The only one I liked was Perry. This could make sense as it would help explain how he gets a reporter's job at the planet (meeting Perry, Perry liking him, liking his work, saving his life) as, to be honest, he has done little else since the Torch.
    The Mythos? Remember that?! Jor-El, Clark struggling with his abilities, wanting to be normal, playing football, becoming a reporter, the S-symbol...these things were all well done in seasons 1-3. Now all that happens is we have a problem per week and Clark saves the day. So he basically is SUperman then minus the cape and job. I think the BECOMING part can often be just as good - a la 'Batman Begins' and 'Casino Royale'.

    Superman minus the cape and job and "forgiven" for his character failings. Edgy Supes. Ooooh! Very... uh, late eighties and not Supes?

    Ok - rant over! It must seem like I hate the show but to clarify, I am just frustrated that good ideas and potential are continually wasted and passed by. IE, Jonathen's death should have been THE emotional moment of the show. It should have been heart-breaking (no pun intended... well maybe a little) but it didn't come off because it was kind of Clark's fault. It should have been more Like in "Superman: The Movie", with that great line "all those powers...and I couldn't even save him". Great stuff.

    I'm with you. People constantly assert that those who critique hate the show. Fact is, I think we love the show the most, so we react so violently when it fails because it's like taking a little piece of who we are.

    And it is.

    Finally - can I ask, what are your favourite Smallville moments / scenes (top 10 if you can be bothered)? Very curious. Ok, well keep up the good work and lets hope the show can get someway back to season 2 / 3!

    Hourglass and the rain, no doubt. Lex crying in Memoria. All of Rosetta. The first time Lex found the secret in season three. Lana's bus death.

    Stephen

    Rob wrote:
    In general I thought this last one was a reasonable episode, but I'm not sure how it makes complete sense for Chloe to be a meteor freak. I liked the way Clark handled Lana at the end when he learned what she'd been trying to do.

    Now, I wish that this Jimmy character could make some reference to having a five-year old cousin with the same name who also likes taking pictures. Then, the Jimmy Olsen on this show, they can do whatever they want with, but the fans I think would be much happier. Maybe he could be possessed by Nuclear Man or something. Nah, they should save Nuclear Man a little longer.

    Heh. Wait until Season 9: Smallville Harder.

    "Trespass" was much too predictable. "Crimson" was downright unwatchable for large portions of the episode. But I think this last one was better.

    By the way, I only realized recently that Gough and Millar were credited as screenwriters on Spiderman 2. Speaking of which, did anyone besides me notice a few similar elements between Spiderman 2 and Superman Returns? When I first read a plot summary of Superman Returns, that was the first thing that came to my mind. In both stories the main hero's love interest is engaged or to be married to the "relative" of the editor in chief of the newspaper, apparently having "moved on," but doesn't do it.Then, the hero goes and feels all sad about it.

    Beyond that, it was already first done in Superman 2, recall.

    It's weird that Superman's kid is supposedly related to Perry White.
    Anyways, the reviews are brilliant as always.

    Thanks.

    JB wrote:
    Neal,

    While I've seldom seen this many leaps of logic in a given episode, and I'm not comfortable with Clark thieving the laptop, I couldn't help but enjoy seeing the ever-more-evil Lex swear a total lie on the soul of his unborn child. Not to mention we saw the first ever episode--correct me if I'm wrong--to pull off the grand slam of superpowers:

    Strength - Breaks lock at bowling alley, deflects bullet, crushes Chloe's gps implant.

    Speed - Several times.

    Super hearing - Eavesdropped on Tobias' phone call.

    X-ray vision - Saw Chloe's implant

    Heat vision - Burned through Chloe's shoulder

    Breath - Blew doctor's papers away

    That's worth a 0.5 pt bonus in the review, eh?

    No, that's worth a "This should happen in every episode". We've gotten to the point of where the stuff that's just SUPPOSED to be a part of regular Superman is supposed to boost ratings?

    I won't accept that. No offense. I do think it's neat, but it's what's SUPPOSED to be there.

    Question for TPTB: If the gps implant was nothing more than a tracking device, then how did all the other meteor freaks suddenly die within such a short time period? No henchman showed up to kill Chloe, right?

    Ding!

    Question for Neal: What would you put as the over-under on the time remaining until the end of Smallville? Now that Rosenbaum's stated he's leaving (he has what it takes to be a director, it appears), is next season definitively the end?

    I believe there is a 50% chance this is the last season no matter what anyone says, and I believe that there is a 90% chance next season is the last. That's my take.

    Love the reviews. Keep up the good fight.

    JB

    Thanks!

    Azor wrote:
    I guess I've gotta stick up for that poor dude who asked questioned your grammar, only to have you talk about Annakin, only for me to bring him into the next week's discussion, only for you to imply that he was being passive-aggressive. I've cut and pasted his original question so you can see that he was actually being pretty clear that he was asking about grammar and not Annakin:

    Okay.

    "Btw, I don't mean to be a jerk or seen as sarcastic by this remark so bear with me when I honestly ask, when you wrote, "I could care less about Anakin" and "And I could care less about Anakin's wooden acting" what you really meant is that you couldn't care less, right (again just wondering how I'm reading this, sincerely not trying to be nit picky, I know my grammar needs much improvement, just curious)?"

    True. It's ironic, however, is it not, that the person questioning my grammar had a problem with clarity because they didn't use quotation marks to "differentiate phrases?"

    Heh. I'm a smart-#%%.

    For what it's worth, I'm impressed with your defense of the phrase "could care less." It might actually be a novel defense. Most have argued that the phrase is nonsensical. Here are some examples:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/help/faq/language/g09.html
    http://incompetech.com/gallimaufry/care_less.html
    http://www.bartleby.com/68/29/1529.html

    The irony of this discussion is not lost on me.

    I could care less. Hah!

    But honestly, you're correct pedantically speaking. I have debates like this with my buddy Will all the time. I'm probably wrong "technically" when I make descriptive pronounciations, but that's the beauty of prescription. It's based on communication and it's efficacy. My point is that if most people don't notice the difference, it's not because of the horror of most of the public not knowing some pedantic rule, it's because the prescriptive collegians do not move and adapt to the living language like a bunch of stuck in the mud theologians on the "science" of faith.

    My argument, however, is fairly stated not my own. I adopted it in college when, in linguistics, I was presented the choice of prescriptive or descriptive schools of linguistic thought.

    To me, trotting out failings in grammar made on accident to disparage an argument is generally a tool of someone who doesn't want to get to the core of the argument. That's why whenever I poke such fun I try and couch it in logic, or make sure it's in a letter so rife with error outside of the pedantic that it's just one more piece of evidence in a long line.

    My reviews and writing on this site are often rife with spelling errors, grammatical failings, and things that would drive a pedant wild. I do this because I want to get the review to people who want it quickly, and will fix that in collected editions later. It's not because I don't know how to edit. It's because the internet is a place where it's about speed and content, not necessarily the ability to be grammatically perfect. For my vision of that, check the books.

    Best, all, and see you in a month!

    Neal



    Freak

    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    Well after last week's somewhat disappointing episode I was pleased to see one this week that I rather enjoyed. Other than one major revelation about a main character there was not much here that is "must see" but the episode was still rather entertaining and in the end that is why I tune in.

    I see that this was Michael Rosenbaum's first time in the director's chair and I think he came through with flying colors. This was a good story, told at a good pace, with great drama, a little bit of action, and good acting all around. You really cannot ask for more than that from a director and Michael Rosenbaum should be very pleased with the final result.

    I was very pleased to see Clark use almost all his powers this week in the course of trying to save the day. Heat vision, super-breath, super-speed, X-ray vision, swatting bullets, and even super hearing were all used and it is about time. Not only were they used, they were used well. All came about in situations where they worked very well. None felt forced just for the sake of using the power even when Clark was actually forced into using them. Sure, in the scene with Chloe where he had to x-ray her and use his heat vision on her there was some very understandable hesitation on Clark's part. Of course he would be hesitant to x-ray Chloe and burn a hole in her. That is how it should be. It made for a very intense scene that was the highlight of the episode. Very well played by both Tom Welling and Allison Mack.

    The revelation that Chloe is a meteor freak is not that big of a surprise to me. I have believed that to be true for some time now. I have always thought her super "hacker" skills may have come from that. Still even if I am wrong and they decide to go some other route with her developing powers I am cool with it. The idea that Chloe might be on the track to Superhero status is one I find fantastic. Something that makes Chloe a bit more than just a side kick. It makes her one of the team. I cannot wait to see how that plays out.

    I was also very pleased to see Clark actually try and save the bad guy for once. Sure the tazer ended up doing him in anyway but I guess that is another case of the bad guy impaling themselves on something. I still have to give credit to the fact Clark actually tried. Maybe some day the folks making the show will figure out that bad guys can actually go to jail, not to the grave. Plus the shot of Clark swatting the bullet out of the air as he ran by was fantastic so I am forgiving this time. Also in that scene I found the moment amusing when the bad doctor did not believe Lana could shoot him. Come on. The girl has a bigger body count under her belt than some serial killers. Of course she will pull the trigger. Guess this week's bad guy was not the brightest one on the tree.

    Speaking of Lana I really like what they are doing with her and Clark right now. Having her believe Clark is a meteor freak makes absolute sense when you consider all that she has seen and suspected. I do not know if the events of this episode will change her mind or not but it is still an interesting situation that I hope they play out a bit more.

    Lastly I really liked the use of Jimmy Olsen this week. He was actually needed. No one else would have blinked twice about Chloe being gone for a few hours, or overnight. Jimmy provided the right amount of panic over the situation that help sell the point Chloe was in danger. Also, I caught something during Jimmy's time on screen. When Clark took the laptop he still thought the Doctor might suspect him as being a meteor freak. He had to have at least suspected the computer might have information on him. Despite that he still turned it over to Jimmy to look for clues when he found out Chloe was missing so he could search for her. This really shows that saving Chloe was more important to Clark than protecting his secret from Jimmy and I was very pleased to see that.

    So all and all a pretty good episode this week. I am going to have to give it a 3.5 out of 5. Call it a B- since I am told that is my favorite grade to give out.

    Looks like we have a few weeks off now so I will see you all in about a month. Keep up the good fight. Stay Super!

    Doug



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