Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 6 - Episode 21: "Prototype"



Reviewed by: Neal Bailey


  • Wes Keenan is a super soldier working for Lex Luthor.
  • Trying to execute Lois for seeing Wes kill a senator, Wes ends up dying.
  • Clark does the killing.
  • Martha Kent is going to Washington.


    I wanted to like this one, I did. As a show leads up to a finale, it's kind of hard not to take it in stride and forgive a little bit. Problem being, this episode viewed like filler, it was written like filler, and it missed all of its emotional beats, even when they were there in the writing.

    Most of the problem lies in the "Eh!" factor. I mean, I went into chat, and some people were semi-amused. I asked why, and could never get a straight answer. I didn't have one myself. The question I pose to myself, the thing that makes me vie between a 1 and 5 and the increments in between, is:

    "What was cool about this?"

    And indeed, what was? A freak with powers that are ill-defined making stupid, illogical moves amidst plot holes? Negatory.

    Martha leaving? Big negative.

    New cut/establishing scenes? I'll get to those, but negatory.

    The promise of leading into a rocking finale? Well, we've already had, what, four, five, six solo freaks based in the Phantom concept? How excited can I get for something that's already been done half a dozen times this season on a show that's known for repeating itself currently?

    Special effects? Nope. The only one that came close to cool was the Clark eye effect, and it was still just odd. Why slow it down? How about a nice little burst from distance with neat pyro and a stunt? Probably would have cost less, and improved the other effects.

    Here's what I see, and this may be incorrect, it's full of assumptions, and it's perhaps ad hominem, but what the hell. It's how I feel, and that's what reviews are about.

    The show has, by my count, seventeen producers. This episode. Executive producers. Co-executive producers. Supervising producers. All they need is a double super secret producer.

    The effects have gone from great, to passable, to sucky, first season Next Gen fodder. Okay, not that bad, but not up to the snuff we've come to expect. Should I forgive that because it's up to the par of other CW shows? NO. Because I don't watch other shows on the CW or their like for just that reason. I would rather have NO effects than effects that look cobbled together. Ask Ed Wood.

    The story has become repetitive, lost any kind of forward motion, and come to a stagnating halt. The only motion this season has involved Lana, and Lex, and the Lex motion forward is based in little to no motivation, is seemingly random and self-contradictory, and typically revolves around high school soap opera premises with Lanee-poo. Lana's storyline is ENTIRELY soap opera, in that bad way.

    I think right now, the show's flatlining, and needs a boost. It started veering back toward the average in the last few episodes, but most of this season has been passed off, typical stuff.

    I don't get the feel that there is a guiding hand in this series any more. I don't feel the current writers understand Superman or his nature. I believe gimmicks are being passed off as mythos and cheap tricks played in a desperate attempt to keep people watching. I believe this is the reason that the ratings are dipping into the low 2 category and being bested by "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader," hosted by a witless, unfunny sellout hack comic.

    I don't say this to hurt the feelings of the people making this show. I say it because it hurts MY feelings. I invested six years into this. Six long, hard years, and right now, I feel like I've had a back turned to my expectations and hopes for this storyline.

    The reason I'm saying it so harshly is because this episode typifies all of what is wrong, all of the above that I've mentioned. I'll explain why.


    The opening satellite graphic was very poor. Not just as in it struck me funny, but as in, really, really poor by current standards. It was a standard pan and return, with a reflection that confused the eye, and it was used again later in the episode, only obviously reversed and with a big Earth. Not in that clever trick kind of way, but in an "anyone looking could have seen it" kind of way.

    This is going to sound like a joke, but when I saw it, I seriously thought it was a cel shaded graphic of some kind for the advertisement. It was supposed to be photo-realistic. That's embarrassing. What's even more embarrassing is that showing it did nothing for the plot. Nothing.

    Cut to Lex, scrambling to a bunker, preparing to stop something coming after him. It ratchets up some dramatic tension, but the problem comes when you find out that it's all just a test, then you realize Lex was showing real panic for something that required no panic, and telling his men to kill something for dramatic effect to later deflation.

    The Predator view is odd, and seems to serve no real purpose other than POV, so if you're using it for POV, why not have it have a purpose? Like, say, finding people in the dark? Instead, it's shown for no real purpose. Like the satellite.

    The sole great moment in this episode is when Lex tells the guys to get more guards and do the test over again. You get a feel of a Lex Luthor that tests powered people for his own ends, a touch of the future, comic-style Lex. It quickly vanishes in favor of a guy who sends his half-billion dollar project to do a simple hit that could be accomplished for a thousand dollars to a crackhead.

    Cut to Lana, primping flowers. Like, literally, she adjusts two flowers. In a masterful stroke of characterization, Lex notes:

    "Independent AND not afraid to get her hands dirty!"

    Jesus H William H Macy Christ. On a telephone pole.

    Neal walks into the room to see Neal on the typer. "Wow! So dextrous, and your stamina!"

    I run a brush through my hair. "You're beautiful, and you take such good care of yourself!"

    I say, "Thanks."

    "Humble! And willing to take praise! What a humanitarian!"

    Getting the gist of my sarcasm yet? CHARACTERIZATION TAKES WORK.

    Frankly, as a writer busting his William H Macy to get work with characterization I spend months crafting into business, this kind of work on a major television show upsets me personally. It coulda been me. Sour grapes? Professionals like to say that. And most of the time, it couldn't a' been me. Many, many, many quarterbacks out there in their armchairs. I swear to you, though, I could easily characterize this better, even given the show's current, impossible, implausible setup of character motivation. I've even put my money where my mouth is on that.

    Lana is an independent woman because she touches flowers. Touching flowers is getting her hands dirty.

    If she walked over and twisted Lex's neck, as he died, he would gasp, "Good form! You can do it!"

    She's even somehow fully recovered from a gunshot wound to the shoulder in a week. It's "just a little sore."

    My God.

    A senator comes in and babbles to Lex about their secret project. Problem being, senators don't control covert funding, the CIA does, congress authorizes it, that's all, as I understand it, and earmarks are public knowledge. Probably talking out of my butt on that one, but in the ideal government I believe in where I understand the basics of how my tax money is spent, the Department of Defense controls defense spending, and creating projects are an executive and/or cabinet affair.

    Over their clichéd back-and-forth threats, we get twelve of the producers, and five more are mentioned in the closing credits. If it has THIS many producers, and network cash, and there's only 38-40 minutes of show a given week, how the heck is it getting this bungled?

    Oooh! Lana's LISTENING IN! She's SPYING! Putting herself in DANGER!

    Which falls as flat as a vegan fart in the potpourri wind that, ironically, comes from The Lana Chloe Knows' eternal butthole where sour gumdrops make sexy time.

    Then we cut to a Luthorcorp establishing shot that's just, man, it's like the satellite. It's really, really awful. It also places Luthorcorp's new, magically created building towering over the Daily Planet building, which still looks semi-decent.

    Lionel is now writing in Kryptonian without any real reason. The video offers no Kryptonian writing. He comes up with "mirror," which seems to be an oblique clue toward the supposed appearance of an alternate Clark in the finale. Problem is, you're not caught up in the hint, you're thinking, "With Jor-El out of the dude, why is he writing in Kryptonian?"

    Lionel's hair remains shorter, which undermines his symbolism of rubbing it in Lex's face. I just realized that.

    Clark accuses Lionel of doing things to Lana, which I'm sure would be effective if I thought Lana had done anything not of her own volition, but she hasn't, so it falls flat as Lana-centric soap opera crap. Why Clark cares for her, beyond just the statement that he cares for her, has yet to be established.

    This episode is rife with cliché, as I've mentioned, but sometimes they're particularly notable. Like when Clark threatens to take the gloves off with Lionel. Oooh. Push it to the limit until you're as old as the hills while hoping in vain to carry the weight into the emptiness in your heart while you're at it. Oh, and check please.

    Chloe hides Lana's "SECRET" from Clark, despite the fact that the secret protects nothing and only hurts people, pushing Chloe out of character in the vanity for Lana's character. I wrote "Soap opera bull****" six times on this review's notes.

    They use the same stock Smallville alley set for the Senator's arrival at a restaurant, pretty obviously. Very little attempt to dress it up. This is where Ollie shot the can, remember?

    Another gem of a line, "Bluh bluh bluh! That paper's only good for catbox liner!"

    He didn't call it a rag, or her a yellow journalist, but I'm sure, tee hee, that it was on the tip of his tongue and just waiting to jump the gun. In case you can't tell, those are clichés. What a zinger, dude! Cat box liner! That's why they get the big bucks. Yes, another intentional cliché. I'm ten pounds of cliché in a five pound bag. I'm a few clichés shy of a Smallville.

    Is rope-a-dope a cliché? Because I feel like that's what I'm doing here. It's not very satisfying, though, because it's just so damned easy.

    Lois is present at the senator's murder, but there's no questions from police? No implications? She's covered in blood and was accosting him.

    Get this, you're a brainwashed military operative attacking someone. You can go invisible! You can move at superspeed! You're incredibly strong!

    Do you:

    A) Move in at superspeed and clap the dude's head in massive explosions (or use a GUN), while staying invisible, then disappear? Or

    B) Appear, gloating, brandishing a combat knife, hesitate, leave time to be caught on camera, say hi to Lois, mug for the camera, then saunter off?

    Sorry, I know these usually have four choices, but here it's so bad I could only do two.

    So the next morning, Lois is STILL covered in blood and the stereotypical "other person's coat". The next MORNING. Note.

    She tells Clark what happened, that the guy murdered them with powers. Clark's conclusion? HE MUST BE WORKING FOR THE MOB. Serious. He said that.

    The guy is as bright as a dim bulb. A few freckles short of an Irishman. No, wait, that last was somewhat original.

    Clark somehow doesn't make the Jodi Keenan and Wes Keenan connection. He should really get back to school.

    How about another Cliché, in Chloe's case a Chliche: "He got the Fredo treatment!"

    Here's another nice plot hole: Lois uncovers the fact that the senator was given a five million dollar payment from Lex, something that requires her to hack into private Cayman banks, some of the most secure systems in the world. But she can't pull a military man's jacket.


    Clark talks to Lois in the barn, and Wes appears. He throws Clark through a beam. Lois, now clinically blind, apparently doesn't see this. Also, brilliant military tactician Wes Keenan reverts from invisibility despite no real reason to do so.

    Clark is not unconscious, point of fact, he springs right up to chase them, but somehow he's INVISIBLE! Like Graham, we are told, only I can't remember who that is despite my near-encyclopedic knowledge of the show, making him lamentably forgettable. They can have continuity for Graham, but Clark can't remember the name of the baddie from two shows back?

    Beyond that, there's no way that Clark would not be able to see Wes. Invisibility, outside of magic, is based in physical properties Clark can monitor. This is based off of Titan (who couldn't go invisible, recall), but it somehow baffles Clark. I don't buy it.

    Clark should have seen and followed Wes, and the next dialogue between Chloe and Clark emphasizes this, and tries to account for it, failingly.

    Here's another problem. Chloe can't hack into the jacket either, which means that Jodi Keenan, a marine specializing in explosives, was able to out haxxor Chloe, the person who can look at a computer and have it do her laundry (Episode 423: Chlorox, also Chloe Chronicles: Tumble). Yeah.

    Then we cut to a scene that's supposed to, I imagine, illustrate Lana's difficulty in having to stay with Lex despite the fact that he's a killer. They show him lighting candles and basically asking for sex. Lana turns him down, and he's cool with it, even understanding. The dude's been married for less than a month, he lights all those candles...hard to buy, unless you're focusing solely on Lana and totally empathetic, which hardly anyone who watches the show is. Instead, you're thinking, "He just ordered Lois killed for seeing Wes Keenan, and now he's just okay with never getting poonanny?"

    Lana lies to Clark directly about Ares, with Lois' life on the line, for no reason. It's not like Clark would turn around and tell Lex, and he would help solve the problem. They play this up to show Lana's nobility and to show how she will later relate to what Clark did, perhaps, but you're sitting there thinking that Lana backstabs and tells secrets, Clark keeps them hidden when not under Red K, and Clark would tell his secret if it meant another's life. In an instant. Lana throws Lois to the wolves to preserve minor espionage that EVERY MAJOR CHARACTER already knows about except Jimmy.

    Clark essentially materializes and then disappears in front of Lana, which is supposed to be okay because she already knows, so it's no big deal, but Clark doesn't know she knows, so it looks remarkably dumb.

    Lex berates his scientist, saying that they need superpowered people to confront the wave of rising supervillains.

    Read that again.

    Lex Luthor (think of the comic one, not the Smallville one) just told you that the solution to crime is a man with superpowers.

    Read that again.

    Does it make any sense? Call me when it does. The Lex Luthor I know craves power and achieves it by DECIMATING men with superpowers.

    And get this: Clark Kent in Smallville IGNORES the idea of men with Superpowers stepping out and fighting supervillains in a proactive way. He is literally washed over with his duty. It just happens to him. At least in cheesy vampire hunter movies you see them often go find the vampire hunters.

    Cue the backwards satellite aforementioned, and then the Justice and Doom series, which was actually pretty neat. It tied right into the show, and played well. It still reads fast, but I enjoyed it. It was exciting, fun, and this time not too heavy on the ads. Enjoyable.

    Martha's haxxors trump Chloe's. Even Martha's.

    Wes takes Lois to Addleson, which makes story sense given dialogue, but Clark and Chloe's conclusion that this is where he is makes for quite the stretch. OH! She must control bees! Like that.

    Lois and Wes interact, and Lois reminisces on their first kiss while Wes spouts trade computer lingo that sounds absurd coming out of the actor's mouth. They should have used a puppet, because at least puppets can bob their head and show some expression when mouthing what's been put into their voices. Wes was, yeah, very, very stony.

    Lois had no chemistry with him, either, that tender feel ex-lovers in a passionate situation ought to have. I couldn't stop focusing on her perfect makeup and wondering why the heck she wasn't slightly ruffled despite being knocked unconscious. The first AND the second time.

    The "WES! FIGHT THIS!" scene is a cliché in and of itself, but that didn't stop them from using it twice proudly.

    Cue predator view again on Clark, even though it doesn't really offer anything.

    Lois is choked out conveniently, and the epic fight scene occurs. By epic fight scene, I mean Clark gets punched through some stuff, gets up, and the invisible dude for some reason decides to make himself visible and jump straight for Clark with a bowie knife.

    Of course, though he's evil again, he only chokes Lois out instead of snapping her head off. Why? Because that would end the series. But good writing doesn't leave that kind of situation open like that.

    Clark hits him with heat-vision, and it blasts him over. Clark kills Wes. In self-defense, but as I've stated, what, eight times this season, Clark DOES NOT KILL even in self-defense, unless it's the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY. Like with Imperiex. Like with Zod. He finds a better way. This is an ESSENTIAL tenet at the core of Superman. If you really want to have him kill someone or something, make it a robot, a golem, a zombie, a magical conjuration...there are a ton of ways to do it. All it takes is some ingenuity and work.

    Does Lois see Clark? Does she wonder how Wes died, when he was seemingly indestructible? By this point, do we care?

    One small burst of heat-vision takes out a dude who is hard to defeat with a mini nuke?

    Clark doesn't do CPR. He doesn't take Wes to a hospital. He doesn't try to resuscitate him. This after playing up what a "true hero" he was. That always bugs me, the instant TV labeling of any soldier, firefighter or policeman a hero. Some soldiers are real ****s, take it from a military kid. Doesn't mean their sacrifices aren't heroic, my point is that it's another cliché.

    Okay, here's causality for you, in a show that obviously values continuity, referring to Graham as they did.

    Lex Luthor offers Clark a brand new truck for saving his life, a total value of what, thirty, forty thousand dollars that doesn't really affect Lex in any way. Jonathan Kent takes strenuous objection, makes Clark return it, and an important lesson is learned. We do good because it's the right thing to do. What was that, episode 2?

    Now here we are, where Clark is supposed to be fully formed, and Jonathan Kent is dead, so Clark should know all that Jonathan taught him and then some.

    Lionel Luthor offers Clark's mother a position of power that would, very literally, put the entire military might of the United States at her fingertips and give her unmatched power and persuasion over much of the American public. The value is immeasurable, unsurpassed, and extraordinarily corrupting. This is in exchange for minor verbal pleasantries over a year.

    Clark insists that Jonathan Kent would sanction it, and tells Martha to leave. The lesson being, good guys getting power by any means necessary is okay, because Martha is independent AND not afraid to get her hands dirty! We do good because rampant cronyism allows it!

    Exit Martha, stage left, having taught Clark HER last lesson. This depresses me.

    Jonathan and Martha leaving Smallville before Clark? WHAT?

    Read the last again, please. "I think dad would have wanted you to!"

    Clark says he'll lease the back forty to Ben Hubbard. In chat, someone asked me if that was cool. It would have been cool if Martha had leased it to Ben because Clark was leaving. It's not cool if Clark's leasing it to Ben because Martha is leaving, to say nothing of the implication of who will be keeping Clark company in his beloved mother's absence.

    Ew. Cheerios.

    Ah, you know what this needs? A Lana scene! Preferably where she's irrationally angry! And boy, does Smallville never fail to deliver. She comes in, snarking at Lex for not coming home the night before, even though this episode makes a point to show she doesn't want to be around him, and that he says directly to her not to wait up, because there are problems.

    He confronts her about listening at the door, and tells her she's welcome to know anything about his business. It's supposed to, again, make us feel for Lana in a creepy situation, but again comes off as Lex sounding reasonable, which makes no sense.

    Stupid soap opera bull****.

    We see a warehouse full of Wes types, which seems a bit cool, I'll give it that. The problem being, the scene before makes a big point of how they're out of material, and both seem concerned, deflating the logic of the scene.

    I am not impressed, I am not entertained, and I hope to hell that the finale offers more than this in terms of actual suspense and payoff, because it damned well better. People are telling me they're jumping ship off the show left and right.

    More Lana. Or wait, I know! Try adding three more producers, or making Superman edgy by having him kill more. That might do the trick.

    1 of 5.



    Shannon Loomis wrote:

    Hey, Shannon!

    Since you were bemoaning the lack of responses in the last review, I felt somewhat compelled to write, as I would hate for you to stop writing, mistaking lack of correspondence with a lack of readers!

    Ah, I made a promise. Even if I'm just spinning my own wheels, I will finish, even if it goes 12 seasons. Thank you, though.

    Anyway, I basically agree with the review for the Kryptonite Tunnel of Love episode. I did not really care for it, not just for Lana, but because of the completely inconsistent use of Kryptonite, one of my pet peeves. That also detracted from the end of SR, because in no way, shape or form should he have been able to lift that continent of Kryptonite into the sky. Though it was pretty cool. And I did really like the movie. But I digress.

    I liked the movie too. People really seem contentious about it. It's a frickin' MOVIE! Some stuff is gonna suck, some will rule, but it's not that big a deal.

    Lex should have had to DRAG Clark's butt through those tunnels. On Lois&Clark, even a small amount of K meant Lois or the Kents had to drag Clark away. Though the use of K on that show was also very inconsistent, it is not quite as glaring as Smallville. Of course, they did not have bushels of it lying around as it appparently does in Kansas. One would think plowing a field would have disasterous consequences in Smallville for Clark. Kryptonite is everywhere!

    I actually have this great (fanfic) theory that Clark would try to fly, because he's seen Kryptonians do so, but he can't because the ground in Smallville is so perforated, thus when he goes to Metropolis and tries, badda bing. Hopefully I'll be able to work that in somewhere.

    As for this week, I am not a fan of the "time travel" episodes. It was done very similarly in L&C, and of course, in Star Trek (many many times). That said, I did really enjoy the central role of Jimmy. He is a pleasant actor and a decent character, though his role at the Planet confuses me a bit. Is he a staff photographer, copy boy, or what? Is he paid or is he an intern? Anyway, it isn't important and I probably missed the explanation at some point, as I don't always make it home in time to watch and do not have the technology to record yet. Digital technology lags in the backhills of WV.

    He was just there. Really.

    I am interested to read your take on this episode. I did not feel it really contributed anything to the show, though Lana must have her own private room at the hospital. She barely checks out before she is right back again. Her medical file must rival the size of Tim Taylors on "Home Improvement"!

    The technicals were neat, the story pretty lame.

    Unfortunately, the best part for me was when they panned down to the body on the floor - my heart leapt into my throat - was that Lana!?!! Whoo hoo! But I should have known she would live. Are we certain she is not a meteor "mutant" (just for Sara) with powers of healing?

    I think she has mutant whine.

    Well, I am off to see Spidey. My husband is a huge fan, though I prefer my Superheroes to fly!

    I liked Spidey 3. Everyone I know seems to hate it. I don't get it. I didn't expect Shakespeare.


    Ami wrote:
    Hi Neal! :D


    Sorry I haven't been writing much (tho it's prolly easier on you that way! XD) but I keep missing Smallville on Thursdays -_-;;

    I...pity the fool? No, wait!

    Neways! I DID get to see Noir tho :O Tho I dunno if I should be happy about that... did any of us rly sit up at night thinking "you know what would make Smallville great? An episode about what goes on in Jimmy Olson's mind!"

    What? That was my first wish next to another Lana stalker episode. You've broken my heart! I kid.

    I think Tom Welling looks rly good in glasses and pretending to be bumbling tho! :o Why isn't he doing this alrdy? :( How is he going to have a sekrit identity in the future if everybody alrdy knew him as a confident 20 year old without glasses?

    If I knew that, I would be hip, and edgy.

    And... Jimmy seems to be rly working his way up the ladder tho, by the time Clark joins the Planet, why would Jimmy be subordinate to him? :

    And older than him, note.

    It's rly silly (but a little cute?) that Jimmy would dream of Clark have a sekrit identity, tho it doesn't make a lot of sense why he would think that given what he knows :O


    The Noir idea was kinda interesting and I found some of the homages to older films cute XD But I dunno if it's a good idea with so few episodes left to be doing something like this when we could be telling stories about Clark becoming Superman (but then that would imply that Smallville is about a young Superman, and that'd be silly) XD

    HAH! You thought that?

    I'm amused about how Clark said he should have been watching Lana :O CREEPY! His obsession with Lana's become... scary :( I think he cares about her more than he cared about his dad :( His grief and anger over his dad's death lasted like an episode XD But here he's still going crazy over her marriage .;;

    Nothing more moral than homewrecking.

    Lana's secrets and lies rly annoys me tho :( I'm tired of her haunted looks. And if she rly wanted to hurt the Luthors, she could just take Lex's laptop and give it to Clark and tell him to superspeed it to the police or the FBI or something. Since she KNOWS Clark has powers now .;;;

    You say haunted, I say puerile. Same difference.

    And she still take's Lionel's threat at face value! She has no idea WHAT this weakness could be. Or if Clark could evade it. But one thing's for sure. If Clark KNOWS about a threat to him he stands a better chance of surviving than if he didn't :| She doesn't trust Lionel at all, so why would she believe that he'd keep his word to not kill Clark?


    Blah :| At least Chloe DID tell Clark, even tho she didn't exactly use words xD And Clark and her had a rly sweet moment when Clark rescued her :D It's so frustrating how they insist on writing her with Jimmy and Clark with Lana when those are forced pairings and Chloe and Clark have so much chemistry together :D

    I've been saying that since season one.

    And Lois just showed up out of the blue o_O


    Oh! Yus!

    I think I know what Project Ares is!

    B/c right now the characters are:

    Clark - mopey, clingy, only has love on his mind
    Lex - Good
    Lana - Evil

    Lionel - Apparently Martha's love of her life and Clark's surrogate father
    Jonathan - Dead

    Chloe - Nice, supportive, intelligent, assertive, investigative and a reporter through and through
    Lois - Random sex appeal, serves no real purpose sometimes :(


    Project Ares is a mind switching device!!!!

    Lex becomes Clark, Clark becomes Lana, Lana becomes Lex.

    Jonathan becomes Lionel.

    Chloe becomes Lois.


    You forgot: "Annette becomes Neal's friend with benefits, and Michael McKean disappears in a tub of beans."

    Now everything makes sense! :D

    It's brilliant! XDD Gough and Millar are geniuses for fooling us like this the whole time! :D



    Neways.. I can't wait to see what you wrote about this episode! :D

    Take care :)


    Hope you liked it...and thanks!

    lydia limon ( wrote:
    hey check this stuff out!!

    Oh, now this is getting ridiculous. They're still spamming me with "Yes Publish This Letter," but this time, they didn't even include the links. How am I going to please the ladies if I don't know where to go?

    Oh yeah. By being the cocky b**tard I am.

    Remember my epigram: I am the most arrogant son of a ***** in the world./Why?/Because everybody loves me!

    Take your pills and your spam and sc**w.

    RMF wrote:
    It would have been a very cool idea to do a throwback episode that paid homage to classic Superman, both because it would just be cool, and because it would give the audience the chance to glimpse the cast in fully iconic roles, something we're not destined to see on Smallville. What we got was not so cool. It was gorgeously shot, but otherwise wasn't terribly well done. So much of the cast botched the 40s-style dialog, plus Jimmy is just not an interesting or important enough character to build an episode around. The only moment that really shone was Clark in glasses and his hilarious meeting with Chloe.

    Yep. Pretty much. Though I still admire the technical aspects.

    The other part of the episode was probably more important, but I'm pretty sure it didn't make any sense. Take the first view of Lana after she's been shot. Her foot is sticking out the elevator door. That suggests she was shot in the basement and fell over with her foot across the threshold. But Chloe and Jimmy use the elevator's memory to discover that she had been to a higher floor first. Brennan tells them he heard the gunshots and came out of his office to see the elevator going down. That means that Lana was shot on the upper floor and somehow fell so her foot was in the air long enough for the elevator door to close and brace it so it fell out when the elevator opened in the basement. That's silly. I guess it's a minor point, though, considering the bullet wound migrated from one shoulder to the other.

    I have been told that maybe it was an homage to old films, where that would happen. I dunno.

    Most painful were the witless conversations at the end between Chloe and Lana and Chloe and Clark. Lana tells Chloe that Lionel is forcing her to spy on Lex. Chloe guesses that that is why Lana went through with the marriage. Chloe insists Lana tell Clark, but Lana refuses because Clark has a weakness. Chloe therefore knows that Lionel has threatened Clark. She inexplicably agrees to "trust" Lana and keep this information from Clark. This results in Chloe delivering an idiotic lecture to Clark about how he of all people should understand that people keep secrets for a reason. It makes *no* sense at all. These situations are *not* symmetrical. When Clark kept his true nature secret from Lana, it was to keep her from danger. In this case, however, there is a known, overt threat to Clark's life from someone who is regularly invited into the Kent home. It couldn't be more grotesquely irresponsible to keep the truth from him. This is what I was afraid of -- that this plotline stemming from "Promise" exists purely to turn the tables on Clark. It doesn't make any sense for Lana or Chloe to behave this way.

    It worked in the wedding. They've now corrupted the logic to make Lana arbitrarily look still good and in the right. It ticks me off.

    It gets even sillier because Chloe ends up spilling the beans to Clark anyway, as a result of another script gaffe. Clark half-heartedly floats the idea that Lex had something to with Lana's shooting, and Chloe says, "We both know that Lex would never do anything to hurt her." Um, no they don't. In "Progeny", they both agreed that before lowering the boom on Lex, they had to get Lana out of the way so she wouldn't get hurt, and Clark said something to the effect that Lex would drop a pile of bricks on Lana just to spite him. Oops.


    And I don't understand at all the logic of the exchange between Lionel and Lois. First of all, I hope the writers don't mistake stealing from a crime scene for being a hard-driving reporter. A hard-driving reporter would have wheedled information from the police, not ruined the investigation so no one could solve the mystery. Second, Lois claims there was nothing on the flash drive, so Lionel makes the bizarre move of playing it right in front of her. I don't know why Lois would bother with the weak lie that there was nothing on the drive, since that would hardly discourage Lionel. There is also no reason for Lionel to stick around and play the video in front of a tabloid reporter, because there is the chance that she truly hadn't seen it yet. He doesn't make mistakes like that, so the only way this works is if he's playing her. Why not have Lois play the video on her own, and Lionel show up and snatch it away from her?

    Why does Lionel do anything anymore?

    Lionel's parting line is that whoever is protecting Senator Burke must be behind Lana's shooting. The obvious candidate is Lex, but he would hardly have someone shoot her with his own gun. Lex's henchman suggests that Lana was carrying the gun and whoever shot her took it away from her when she pulled it out. But that would have to mean that either someone was lying in wait for her at the Daily Planet but brought no weapon of his own and didn't steal the evidence back, or that the shooter just happened to be at the Daily Planet when she turned up (but if you believe Chloe, she, Jimmy, and Brennan were the only ones at the DP). Or that Lana shot herself in a really ridiculous attempt to frame Lex. Like I said, this episode doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and I'm not sure it ever will.



    It won't...but thank you still for trying to help make sense of it.

    Patty wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    Your reviews are a riot to read. I look forward to them every week.

    Thank you. :)

    While watching the trailers for "Noir," and eventually the episode itself, one thing kept nagging at me: Why was Tom Welling (as Dream-Clark) wearing Brandon Routh's glasses, or a style dangerously similar to them? Why not use a pair that looked like they were from that time frame? As far as I know, glasses back in the '40s didn't have horned rims. They were rounder, almost like tortoise shells. I think Tom would have looked all right in those style glasses.

    Ah! Good call! I didn't notice, the prop department got that one by me.

    John wrote:
    As far as the mountains in Nemesis, I think they were when Lana and Chloe find Clark and Lex...not too sure though.

    Also, I agree with your assessment. Noir was a crappy episode, a filler that didn't really do anything for the story. That being said, the noir was good.

    I'm not really looking forward to the end, it seems to be grinding down to a less than spectacular episode this week. Hopefully I'll be wrong.


    You're right! I checked the tape, and yep, they're there. You get the credit, my man! Thanks!

    Loren Collins wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    I wholeheartedly agree with your overall assessment of "Noir." While it seems a number of people hated the episode for being unnecessary 'filler,' I preferred the B&W sequence to the bookends.

    Same here.

    To that end, there was plenty wrong with the mystery in those bookends that you missed.

    - How exactly did the shooting happen? Based on all the information we were given, it seems that Lana entered the Planet building, got shot, and ended up on the floor of the elevator in the cellar, with her things strewn outside the elevator on the cellar floor (except for her gun) and her foot blocking the door. Even ignoring the issues with the wound and the blood, how did she get in that position? Are we to believe that she was shot, took the elevator down to the cellar, stumbled out, dropped her things, then fell back into the elevator?

    Hah! You expect consistency? You should know better by now! ;)

    - Who hit the button for the 6th floor, as Chloe discovered? If Lana was already in the elevator when she was shot, then she never went to the sixth floor. If she was outside the elevator when shot, then there's nobody to select that floor. Either way, she didn't go from the main floor to the 6th floor and then back to the cellar. And she clearly hadn't visited the reporter already.

    I remember a riddle like this when I was a kid, about a dude who went to the fifth floor and always walked to the eighth, because he was a midget. Midgets rock.

    - Chloe's clincher piece of evidence: "The building was sealed off. Only someone with prior access could've [hit Jimmy]." Um, rewind back to the second act, after they've discovered Lana's body. There are roughly two dozen people hanging around the scene. That includes Lex, Lionel, Clark (who had to come from Smallville, which no one questions), Lois, a handful of medics, several police officers, an unusually large number of reporters and photographers, and at least one video crew. Did Chloe forget about all of them?

    Hah! Good catch!

    - Why were there so many people on the scene, anyway? Sure, it's a newspaper building and Lana's a socialite, but it's the middle of the night, and two dozen people manage to get notified and show up before Lana makes it to an ambulance.

    It's the sound of the squeaky shoes. It drags in gawkers.

    - The attacker is, presumably, a moron. He attacks and shoots Lana over the flash drive. Then he flees the scene, leaving her with the flash drive. If Lois hadn't swiped it, then the police would've had it. In which case, attacking Lana accomplishes what, exactly?

    Good point!

    - Later, the attacker comes back and kills the reporter. How did he know who Lana was planning to meet? And if he knew, why kill Lana in the elevator? It would've made more sense to wait until she was in the reporter's office, and then kill both of them on the 6th floor where nobody would hear him.

    I can't touch any of these. They're all incredible.

    - You touched on this, but Lionel better not be behind Lana's attack. Because if he is, then it makes no sense whatsoever for him to have played that video in front of Lois. On the other hand, if Lois shared this info with Clark or Chloe, they could safely conclude that Lionel wasn't responsible.


    - I'm rather curious how Lana got that video. Did the incriminating meeting take place in the Luthor mansion, which Lex knows has video surveillance and also knows that Lana knows? If it took place somewhere else, then how did Lana possibly have access to it?

    The same place Lionel gets all his information. He just reads the scripts.

    - If Lionel wanted an "inside man," why Lana of all people? Most of Lex's covert and suspicious activities aren't going to be taking place at home; they're going to be at work. Lionel needs to be bribing a security officer or a tech person, not the housewife who has, if she's lucky and stealthy, access to the unsecured files on his laptop.

    Because Lana is independent AND unafraid to get her hands dirty. Face it, she's amazing. She touches flowers.

    On the other hand, there was one thing in the opening bookend that I liked, and which you criticized. You called it "convenient" that Jimmy took a photo rather than pursue the presumed shooter. I thought it was smart, and in character. It would be rash and stupid for unarmed Jimmy to run after someone he knows has a gun (and who has already used it). So instead, he instinctively does what Jimmy Olsen does best: he takes a photo. It's the defining aspect of his character, and it serves to preserve evidence without putting himself in unnecessary danger. So I liked that bit.

    And later chases and attacks the guy. Yay! I got one! :)

    Keep up the good work,

    Thanks so much, Loren!

    Bruce Kanin wrote:


  • C-. About as mixed a bag as you can get. A strange episode that kept my interest and even had good, moody music, but was fully of contrivances and nonsense.


  • Clark mentions Ben Hubbard in the awful (see THE BAD) "Martha for U.S. Senate" scene. Nice continuity with the Chris Reeve and Brandon Routh Superman movies.
  • Good that they tied in Wes to last week's episode. Good continuity.
  • Maybe in a few days I'll think it was lame, but I kind of liked the fact that right after the cartoon-comic book break with the "Smallville Justice" team in which we see Green Arrow wipe out a super-powered bad guy in the desert somewhere, Chloe - the "real human being in the flesh" version - tells Clark that she spoke to Oliver and he had to vanquish a super guy in the desert. Perhaps too cute, but it won me over for some reason. That will obviously not have the same impact when this episode is on DVD, unless they include the cartoon-comic book on it.
  • The Lex-Lana scenes are good. Especially the last one in which Lex is pissed at her. He's got veins popping out of his bald head in that scene.
  • The Clark-Lana scene in this was actually good in that they both want to be with each other, but this time it's Clark who can't understand why Lana won't break with Lex - not Lana wondering why Clark can't be with her.


  • Lex tells his scientist near the end that the reason for Project Ares is that he wants to protect the world from, essentially, bad folks. Whether or not this is true, what bugs me is that this is part of one of "Smallville's" major series failures, which is the evolution of Lex Luthor from whatever he was in the early seasons to what he will eventually be - Superman's arch-enemy and a threat to the world, whether the Silver Age criminal scientist or as the Byrne-spawned corporate mogul. To make a long story short, I missed the part (over the seasons) in which Lex became a world-conqueror or world-savior on a grand scale. Somewhere along the way the writers decided to help Lex take the leap to the truly evil comic book version. The problem is that they never really laid the proper foundation for this, and as such, his current schemes, attitudes and actions just don't ring true to me. He's evil because they forced him to be, not for any believable reasons.
  • For instance, why has he built an army of supermen - that last scene we see in "Prototype"? And what are they, anyway, if Wes was his, well, prototype? Just seems deliberately over the top by the writers in order to elicit an "ooh ahh" reaction from the audience.
  • The question of what kind of senator Martha is was finally revealed (unless it was in an earlier episode). Unfortunately, while I was coming to grips with that, they pulled the rug out and decided to make her a United States Senator. Out of all of Kansas, Martha Kent is best qualified to replace the slimy senator (um, the one from Kansas - not all the other slimy senators!)? And she's urged on by Clark, who's urged on by Lionel, the man Clark probably still believes is responsible for Pa Kent's death, and the man that Clark effectively knows has something to do with Lana marrying Lex? The senate business aside, why didn't Clark super-shove Lionel out the door? Because the sun was shining on Lionel's sweet grin? The only "good" part of this scene is that you have to believe that this is all part of a Lionel-scheme, perhaps to have influence in D.C. with Martha there. Otherwise, it was, like so much else on this show, a thoroughly unbelievable and unconvincing scene. My god - Lionel himself suggests that Clark could take care of the farm while Martha is cozying up at the Capitol! I'm surprised that Clark didn't say, "Pshaw, dad, of course I can..."
  • Clark used his heat vision on Wes, which was rather neat, and the effect on Wes was understandable. Of course, here we have yet another instance of Clark effectively killing someone, but that's not my "nit": no, while Wes was dying in Lois's arms, Clark was standing a few yards away doing something no Superman would ever do...he was watching and doing nothing! Was he trying to conceal the fact that he was there in the first place? If so, he valued protecting his secret over saving someone's life. That's not the Superman or Superboy I know. He could have swooped up Wes at super-speed and taken him to the Smallville Hospital (well, of course, not the military base's hospital - that'd be too easy).


  • I initially had a problem with Lois knowing Wes, because it smacked of being too contrived, but after awhile I though that it made for a good plot device, and, it even made some sense, given the military tie-in. Lois's scene with Wes, BTW, was very good, especially her relating the story of her first kiss. Erica Durance has come a long way on this show.


  • The season finale - looks like things come to a head, at least with Lex and Lana. They'll certainly have their traditional cliffhanger. Looks like the Martian Manhunter returns, as well. Could be good...or not!
    Bruce Kanin

    You were much kinder than I was, but nonetheless, you make many of the same points. I'm especially glad you share the thought on Clark watching someone die. It really, really hacked me off.

    Best, all! Remember, next week will be a little late because of the finale film and the re-review. I will do my best to have it in Saturday, but I'm not guaranteeing anything. All I'm saying is to tune in, it'll be worth it.

    And check out the updated KO Count too.



    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    WOW WOW WOW... Yes that is 3 wows for those keeping track. If every episode was like this one Smallville would be... well.... 3 wow worthy. To say I liked this episode is a major understatement.

    It had it all. Lois Lane being a nosy reporter who gets herself into trouble. Lex Luthor as an evil son of a... well not a nice person. Clark Kent being a proactive hero saving the day like only he can. Chloe Sullivan being cute as heck as the faithful sidekick providing information to our hero so he can do his job. Heck even Lana Lang was good in her part as the not so evil, evil damsel who's playing the villain for information to protect her friends.

    Lois was tenacious in a way that only Lois Lane can pull off. Heck with the danger. There is a friend in danger AND there is a story here. That is something Lois has more so than Chloe. The willingness to totally charge in head first and to heck with the consequences. Chloe is nowhere near as reckless and while I admit Chloe's character has always been similar to Lois that is the one thing that sets them apart. This episode showcased that very well. One constant in all Superman stories is that Lois Lane really needs Superman in her life to keep her from getting killed. Her stance at the end of the episode about making Lex pay was chilling to the bone.

    Lex was down right evil and that is so good to see. Michael Rosenbaum really does evil well. Plus according to the wife he still looks hot doing it. (It's the hair... Chicks dig the hair... or lack there of). I love how he still continues to delude himself that he is doing good for the world. We all know that is a pile of something the Kents might find in one of their cow fields but Lex still sticks to that story. Is ordering the murder of an innocent witness part of his master plan to save the world? I don't think so. At least the Senator he had killed was a dirt ball. One could argue taking him out was a "good thing". From a certain point of view anyway. But ordering Lois's death? No, that was pure evil. Even if Lex did not know it was actually Lois he was ordering killed.

    Clark was great. He was really proactive in his hero work here and I always like to see that. He was the good guy through and through here. Sure the villain ended up dead but that was thanks to Lex's evilness, putting a fail safe in his creation, not Clark which is very important to note. The fight with Clark might have indirectly caused his death but Lex is the one to blame there. Not Clark. Even when Clark was sneaking into another man's bedroom to talk to his wife Clark was still in the moral right here. Some people were in serious danger and he needed information that Lana might have and there was no way he could openly approach her. Sure there was that moment where they almost kissed but that is understandable under the circumstances. At least the Lana/Clark love angst moment was brief like they all should have been. Plus it was an important moment to teach the kiddies watching that unless you have super-speed to get away you shouldn't be sneaking into a married women's bedroom at night. I kid, I kid.

    I even loved how the Justice and Doom animated short this week tied directly into the plot of the current episode. Clark tells Chloe to call Oliver and we see that call in the animated short. Plus we get a glimpse of some things the League is dealing with in regards to Lex's activities. I think it is a fine way of expanding the story without the added costs of a lot of guest stars. It might not be for everyone but I think it is pretty cool.

    But beyond all that goodness we have what is going down in my book as perhaps the single greatest FX shot of Clark using one of his super-powers in the series, heck of any Superman series. When Clark went supernova with his heat vision I was wowed beyond belief. We see the beams go from briefly being the familiar Smallville heat ripples to the full blown high intensity heat laser eyes. Fantastic, just fantastic. I was totally geeking out. I thought it was a great way to merge the fantastic heat ripple effect they have been using to the laser eyes that is often used for Superman's heat vision. So now we know he has both. It is simply just a matter of heat intensity. Nice job! Plus the effect just looked cool. Everything from the eyes glowing, to the change from ripples to lasers, to the villains point of view of the blast coming in was just fantastic. WOW WOW WOW.

    Even the over all production values of this episode felt spot on. From the space shots of the Luthor Corp satellite to the fantastic CGI Metropolis everything just fit. The show, in general, has really transitioned from a teen drama to more of a scifi action show and I think it has seriously benefited from it.

    So needless to say I am giving this one the full blown A+ or 5 out of 5 rating. One of best episodes of the season for sure and it can hold its own against the best of the series. The Justice and Doom animation also gets an A+ this week. If those commercials keep up being that good I just might have to buy a Toyota.

    Next week is the finale and it looks like as usual all the stops are being pulled out. I think I saw our favorite Martian in one of the preview shots and it looks like the war with Lex really heats up. Even though I feel a Major Cliffhanger coming I am so not going to miss it.


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