Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 8 - Episode 4: "Instinct"



Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

So Galactic Super Babe Maxima comes to town and apparently has Super Pheromones that not only make men go super ga-ga over her but will stop the heartbeat of any man who is... well... not Clark. This leads as you might suspect to a prickly situation as her potential suitors are found dead in the streets and alleys with their pants still on. Things really heat up when Clark speeds to the rescue and saves Jimmy from the kiss of death thus revealing himself to the intergalactic hottie who locks in on him as her man of the future.

Okay... Seriously? This was only an average episode. Not bad by any means but not really great either. Still I found myself enjoying the hour if only because of some of the character moments sprinkled within.

First of all Maxima? Eh... Really that's all I can say. Eh. She wasn't anything more than a freak of the week that just happened to be from outer space instead. Sure it's great to see them using actual characters from the comics over the years but I didn't find her to be all that engaging of a character. I mean sure the gal was attractive and all that but the character was rather stiff. I could go on to compare Smallville's Maxima to the comic's Maxima but I'd rather just focus on what was here on the show. She lacked passion to me. Sure she was doing passionate things but I never really got the feeling from the character that she was desperate to find a man who measured up (other than the fact she said so). When I think of Maxima I think of a woman with fire and 'take no prisoners' kind of outlook. This one came off more like Poison Ivy than Maxima. Sure she had some super powers too but for the most part she was all about the pheromones which kind of leads my mind back to Ivy. Plus didn't Jimmy end up in the hospital once already because of a Poison Ivy rip-off a few seasons ago? Meh....

Still that is really my only criticism of this episode. It might read bad on paper but on screen it was really a minor mark in a pretty good episode.

What made this good? Well first of all Clark continues to shine in his Superman roll. Getting wind of people ending up kissed to death (even people he never met) he switches into SuperClark mode and jumps on the case. Sure Lois ends up tagging along but it's Clark that spots the oddities in the deaths and it's Clark that finds the clues that lead him to Maxima (with a little help from the Chloe-I.A.C.). It's also Clark that uses his head and sends Maxima back through her wormhole without resorting to violence. I like a super powered throw down as much as the next fan and I am not chauvinistic enough to say just because she was a girl that Clark shouldn't take her to the woodshed but it is always nice to see Clark using his brain before his fists.

Plus Clark was very clear that his place was there on Earth and would never be with her, so even though I am sure she could just come back I doubt she will... At least not any time soon. She knows better because of my next point.

The whole scene in the elevator just made this episode to me. Sure it was funny that they were "rocking" the building but what was awesome was everything that happened after Lois caught them. Erica Durance really played the scene and sold it. The shock and hurt on Lois' face was priceless. It removed any doubts to me on if they can make her falling for Clark believable. Clark being able to shake off the Super Pheromones with one look from Lois is something else that is just totally awesome. Maybe Maxima's little speech about sensing Lois and Clark's "connection" was a bit over the top but I still liked it. Especially Lois' half hearted denial. Yeah I didn't believe her either. That was cool. I just can't say enough about how much I am enjoying them building this romance. After the Lana train wreck and the other attempts this show has at romance it's nice to be able to enjoy the ride on something we know has a future.

Which leads into something else I liked. They finally acknowledged Chloe's past feelings for Clark and removed any doubt that she might still be pining for him when marrying Jimmy. Sure it's natural that Clark might be feeling a bit of regret at this point wondering "what if" and it's also natural that Jimmy might feel a bit of sting. They did a good job showing those natural responses but they did an even better job showing us that it was clear from Chloe's side of the whole thing that Jimmy is going to be her man. I thought this whole little side story was handled very well both in how it was written and how the actors played it out.

I also liked where they are going with the Fortress crystal. Clark knows it's still in play now. I liked how he went looking for it after Lois was safe and I also liked how his first motivation for doing so was to help Chloe deal with her inner Brain-I.A.C. (Superman always thinks of others first). There was an interesting twist with the mysterious Mr. X taking it from Lady Lex though. Sure the first thought is that it was Lex himself but I wonder if that is a red herring. Either way I like the idea. Either Lex himself is still pulling the strings while staying in hiding until he comes up with a plan to defeat SuperClark or someone else is out there we need to worry about. I am looking forward to seeing how that plays out. Plus it gave us the awesome scene with Chloe-I.A.C. facing down Lady Lex. She basically said, "Lady, I've played this game before with the real Luthors... You think you're going to scare me?" and my wife is on the couch next to me going "Yeah. You go girl!"

Lastly, I liked how Clark changed into the red and blue before super speeding out to save Lois from Maxima. That's pretty cool. All she saw was the red blur going by seconds before Maxima took her out. Smart on Clark's part since she didn't see him but it gets Lois thinking about things Clark might not want her thinking about and that just might mean more fun for us viewers.

So you know. Nothing great here but then I enjoyed it. Call it average with a little more. Like a tasty donut with sprinkles on it. Not the best breakfast ever but still something filling. I'll give it a B-. Call it 3.5 out of 5.

Next week's looks scary. I suppose it's getting close to Halloween. I'll be there for sure. See you then.



Reviewed by: Neal Bailey


  • Maxima comes to Earth for some hot nookie.
  • She kills a bunch of guys, and Clark appears to confront her.
  • Clark snogs her, then banishes her. No fisticuffs, ergo he snogged it and quit it.
  • Lois and Clark banter about soul mates.
  • Chloe and Jimmy worry over a note from third season.


    Well, it's hard to do Maxima right, given that she's kind of an exploitation from the get-go as a character. "Hi! I'm a nymphomaniac who dresses skimpily and wants to throw myself at Superman!"

    Still, nonetheless, if you've read the comic, they managed, back in the day. She evolved from a simple creation with a somewhat odd motivation into a warrior princess who gave her life to stop Imperiex. It's not a dynamo effort in terms of characterization, but I still remember Maxima fondly and enjoyed her part in the DCU of the last ten, fifteen years.

    Smallville episodes that feature guest heroes or villains usually go one of two way. Mxy, or Flash. Flash works well, because they focus on the character and keep it as close to the initial inspiration as they can. Mxy they pulled so far from the original I'm surprised it was approved.

    Maxima is an odd case in that they keep her FAIRLY close to the original character, and yet she doesn't really come across as an interesting or even fun endeavor.

    Is the chick hot? You bet. I loves me some redheads, more than almost any chicks on the green Earth. But as I've said a number of times, there are easier ways to see hot chicks if that's what you're looking for, and unless she's buttressed by a good plot, make mine Marvel, natch. Cogito, ergo character. Ne cogito pas: Cinemax or the internets. Or God forbid, a real-life Maxima.

    But beyond the lack of the character I so desire, many of the things that happen in this episode proceed to forward rather arbitrary drama, there's a lot of incoherent stuff... in short, back to the typical Smallville just as things seemed to be getting better.

    We open with Tess obsessing over a crystal doohickey, the only thing they found at the scene of Lex's disappearance. The scientist says that it's basically some kind of alien computer. Tess scoffs. Yeah, man! I mean, aliens? That's right out! Odd there.

    Somehow, spinning the crystal generates frequency. Why the doc wants to do this, and what it does to bring back Lex, and why it sends a transmission to Almerac instead of, I dunno, warming up with the friction, is beyond me. But then, I only have five years of college under my belt.

    The crystal effect is VERY roughly done. It looked like an animatic when it shot out, and distracted me.

    The sky thunders, and a nearly naked woman shows up in a bolt of lightning in a scene that IN NO WAY rips off the Terminator. Cough.

    A guy walks around the corner, sees a girl has just appeared half-naked in a bolt of lightning, straightens his tie, and makes what rational assessment, class?


    B) I'd better get in my car and drive away. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Rationally speaking, this is strange.


    D) Hey, baby. (kisses)

    She chose doooooooooooown!

    Why does she choose down, anyway? Jennifer Connolly is hot, but she was really pretty stupid in that movie. Hoggle should have hit her with a shovel and buried her in the fairie garden.

    In fact, that's the biggest tragedy of that flick. Hoggle didn't take no guff. He peed where he wanted to. Then bang, one hot little girl wanders in, and BOOM. He has to throw down with David Bowie. SCREW THAT NOISE. He has two eye colors and the powers of M. C. Escher, the only DJ that can take M. C. Hammer one on one.

    So yeah, yet again in this show men are portrayed as colossal numbskulls who will do anything for a pretty face. No surprise there. I get the inclination from later descriptions that the men are not in control of themselves. But from the acting, and from the way this is not emphasized, I didn't buy it in action.

    Abject titillation. Dude makes out with Maxima half-naked. It establishes her powers, I guess. But then you have to sit there and say, "She's smart enough to have conquered space travel in search of a perfect mate, and yet she can't figure out who's Kryptonian and who's not?"

    It's like Signs. Except Signs justifies the fact that aliens can't figure out simple doors by the fact that the point of the story is not the damned aliens, it's the characters the aliens revolve around and their internal tragedy. And this is a hot chick in a skimpy outfit as justification. Survey says?

    XXX. Literally.

    Shelby! Whee! Gotta love Shelby. Dog nut here. Though last week my dog stole a burger from me. I will never forgive him. I had a dog that stole food all the time once. I expected it. My current dog is smart and loving, and I trust him. He co-stole a burger! Now it means more. Anyway, Clark was not feeding the dog, and I was thinking, "Shelby stole a burger." Random, yes, but justified. Hey, it's in the notes, it goes in. Bleah.

    And then a perfectly half-cool scene just tanks when Clark pulls out the necklace and looks at it. You know, Clark's kind of creepy, man. I have a few things I take out and look at sometimes. I have a picture of my first dog that I keep on my desk. He died slowly and painfully of renal failure, as longtime readers here'll recall. If I held it and gazed at it longingly, though, I'd feel kinda creepy. I get the idea. They're trying to convey that Lana is missed as a way to justify the fact that he wants someone to stay with him, so he's easily seduced by Maxima. This is, at least, a little thought. But it's undermined by the fact that he seems to be seduced by pheromone, etc, as it's verbally rationalized, and by the fact that he knows she's a FRICKIN' MURDERER.

    So take the necklace and chuck it, buddy. She left you by youtube, and it's consistent with all of her other behaviors over time. To motivation.

    Lois is back in normal reporter's clothes, which is cool. But then, this is countered by Almerac lady in terms of "Hey, let's treat the women like women instead of sex objects who can kickbox!"

    Lois is more actively flirting with Clark, which contradicts her later position that she's hardly even friends with him. They're playing the "destined to be together, and it starts now!" card pretty heavily. I kinda dig it when I'm not thinking about the way that Lois would know who Superman was from day one.

    Apparently Chloe and Jimmy move in with Lois... in the Talon? So Chloe's not the one living at the Talon? When did I miss this? So now she is in the Talon, and Lois has moved to Metropolis?

    For the love of pete, just move them to Metropolis, okay? No one buys the commute, and this show isn't Smallville, obviously, it's Metropolis. We're in year eight, okay, it's not fooling anyone.


    Arbitrary drama. Come to think of it, do not want that either. So Jimmy finds a note, bang, we have instant jealousy of Clark again despite no cheating, etc. Of course, given the way Chloe's started insta-hanging out with Doomsday, it seems like a rational conclusion. Regardless, what's his position after accusing Chloe of potentially cheating? Going out and cheating. Bravo, Jimmy! Good writing there. You go, boy.

    So Superman's friend, a normal, working class photographer, goes to the local bar in Suicide Slum, the Ace O' Clubs.

    (Willy Wonka steps in): "Actually, strike that. Reverse it."

    So Clark's older senior at the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen, a twit with unrelatable relationship problems, goes to get lit and make out with hot chicks at a yuppie bar called the Ace OF Clubs at the top of a highrise.

    The green dress from Ollie was a nice touch, I'll give 'em that, what with it matching up with Tess too.

    We see a wise bartender who might once have been Davis, one would assume. Strange.

    Maxima is drawn to Jimmy in that crowd as the best possible mate? She definitely wins the dumb as Clark award. And if she can "sense" soulmates, what of Chloe? RETARDATION! Is arbitrary retardation worse than arbitrary drama? Answer: I don't know, put more cheese in my armpits. ZOINKS! A flaming zeppelin!

    Jimmy makes out with Maxima for longer than the dude in the teaser who instantly dropped dead spurting blood from his mouth. He then wanders off, falls, goes to the hospital, and somehow survives. Inconsistent.

    Clark jumps to superspeed to stop Jimmy from collapsing. Why? So Maxima can see him for the effect. Otherwise, no rationale. Is it justified? Well, the effect is kinda cool, until you realize Clark just jumped to superspeed in a room full of people.

    Chloe and Tess' scene fails. Again we have Luthor (or his proxy) being arbitrarily blamed for things by Chloe without evidence. Now granted, Luthor is associated with villainy, but Chloe's never met this lady before. AFTER she threatens Chloe, the attitude would have made sense. Before, it clunks.

    Tess threatens her with the things she garnered from Lex's files. Except those things she mentions happened AFTER Lex had disappeared, making it either a lie that Chloe could easily see through, or impossible.

    Clark tells Jimmy in the hospital that he knows Jimmy was with a woman, despite arriving very clearly AFTER the kiss. Beyond that, the reason he goes to the Ace of Clubs is that he is told by Chloe that a businessman died right outside of the Ace of Clubs. Kinda stretching it to assume that they'd still open doors and there would be no glaring police investigation.

    Jimmy seemed remarkably cognizant as well for a man beyond his own control. I think they were trying to walk the line of "He did it consciously" for some kind of dramatic revelation, but since there's no reason he'd be making out with a strange chick randomly it falls flat.

    Maxima has traveled across the galaxy to bump uglies with Clark. She finds him at the Ace of Clubs, and can move as fast as he can. Clark takes Jimmy to the hospital. Maxima can follow him, and presumably does, because she later knows where he is. Why does she wait until he's examining pictures presumably hours later instead of going for him in the hospital? A to B gap there.

    Lois appears, and gets snooty and mad at Clark for kissing Maxima. Out of character, given her promiscuity in the show, and the fact that she's hitting on another coworker after sleeping with her boss in the same building. It also makes her out to be a colossal ass.

    I realize at this point that Maxima speaks perfect English, which is more than ridiculous.

    Lois gets in her car acting like a petulant idiot. Maxima grabs it and throws it through the air about fifty feet up and then down upside-down. It lands, and Lois is uninjured. This in a show where if you scrape your knee, you're unconscious? At first I was like, "Cool effect! Whoah!" but being drug out by Lois not even having so much as whiplash was awful. She even has dialogue after an attack like that.

    Couple this with "BRING IT, BITCH!" when a woman who threw a car into the air is about to kill her, and we have absurdity for cheesy comedy that falls dead where it starts. Lois is not that stupid. It's just out of character. This is not a comedy, it's a drama. Funny things can happen, but when you put them in life-or-death moments, they'll critically fail. This is not sixties Batman. It's a drama.

    The Luthor SWAT guys arrive WAY too fast. It's like they're just in the neighborhood and BANG, they're all suited up and ready. If it were in front of the Ace of Clubs, it'd be semi-logical, given that she was spotted near there. This is in front of the Daily Planet.

    Clark learns that Tess has the crystal. He lets her continue to have it, and it is consequently stolen by "X." Plot device of little real relevance but much seeming import returns.

    Curse you, Charles Xavier!

    When Maxima is fighting and then talking with Clark, a very distracting guitar soundtrack plays that pulls me out of the scene hardcore. It was just very overbearing.

    Clark expressing his loneliness to Maxima starts to turn into character, and starts to get good. Then he just clicks her bracelet and sends her back. Because she can travel across space, but can't turn off her own return tether somehow. Uh, yeah. I wish the scene had logically unfolded.

    "Bye, lady!" VOOOOOM!

    (Clark brushes his hands together, job well done.)

    VOOOOOOOM! (Maxima appears.) "Idiot!"

    Clark: "Crap! How did you evade my deus ex machina!? And where did those guitars come from?"

    Maxima: "I must stay... to watch the Gossip Girl advertised all through this show annoyingly on the screen!"

    Clark: "Fine. My place. I'll stare at the necklace while you act even more vapidly. But then you go!"

    Maxima: "Woop! Woop! I'm half-naked!"

    The Chloe and Clark resolution is kind of good, if only it were four years ago. Now, since it's been resolved about eighty times that Chloe and Clark are just friends, it's an obvious shipper scene, and thusly dies on the vine.

    Clark stares out the window again. Must have lost his necklace. Dude is so emo. I should mail him some Propagandhi. He'd just stare at the CD longingly though until Lana brought him a CD player.

    Lois comes over to talk for no reason beyond "Hey, Lois and Clark are starting to get together!" I can't hit the "She drove from Metropolis" button, but it's all stuff a phone call could accomplish, so as a dramatic construct, it fails.

    Ultimately, the actress who played Maxima did it in good faith, was hot as hell, and there were a few decent effects. I'll give them that. But the plot was an absolute failure.

    I don't see anything here that I'll remember beyond Maxima's hotness, and that doesn't really mean much with google around. Obviously ratings over story. 1 of 5.


    Bruce Kanin wrote (RE: Toxic):


  • *C+.* The episode wasn't great, but it is still at least a notch or two or three higher than the past few abysmal seasons, and that "feel" continued in "Toxic". However, its two glaring (to me) "missed opportunities" drove it to "C" territory.


  • As reported last week, good that the show is willing to explore origins and aspects of other DC Universe characters. In this week's installment, we witnessed the origin of Green Arrow. Sort of. See MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.

  • There was a good line by Lois when she tells Clark that she doesn't want to hear about the Clark-Lana roller coaster. Neither do we!

  • I do like the budding attraction between Lois & Clark. In fact, Lois has grown way beyond her early days when I couldn't stand her. Erica Durance has matured into the role and could eventually be a legit Lois Lane. She's got a ways to go to stand on the same pedestal with Noel, Margot and, perhaps, Teri, but she's got possibilities, finally.

  • No meteor freaks. No Lana. Hey, you take what you can get.


  • Clark uses his heat vision to zap some transmission poles so that they'd fall on the bad guy. That action didn't kill the bad guy (that treat was left for Tess, later), but could have, between the poles falling on him and the voltage that was clearly running through them. So, once again, rather than show a maturing Clark who super-speeds over to the bad guy and gives him a love tap to put him to sleep, they show a very immature Clark willing to cause someone's death, because heat vision zapping transmission poles make for exciting stuff. Stupid writers.

  • The whole bit about Oliver not wanting to go to a hospital because he knew that they would pump him with drugs that would kill him was SO contrived and lame.

  • As Lois matures and grows on me, Chloe is fading. It's almost as if I want her written out of the show. She no longer seems like a real person (well, ok, she isn't). Like they did with Lana, they're making stuff up for her. She no longer fits. She was a great part of the show, but needs to go. And since she isn't part of the DC Universe - and shouldn't be marrying Jimmy Olsen - she'll probably go, I'm thinking, in spectacular fashion. I will mourn her departure, but also be fine with it, when it comes. It also makes sense that she bites the dust because no one should know Clark's secret ID when he becomes Superman, except for his foster parents (in SMALLVILLE's case, that would be Martha, who we never see or hear about any more, sadly. Say, how did SHE vote on the "bailout" bill? Hmmm....).

  • Too contrived: Mercy is Tess. Come on, guys.


  • So they showed how Oliver learns to build arrows and hone his sharpshooter skills. A little rushed, but I'll accept it, because it's only an hour show. Cool, they showed him put a hood on, to keep out the sun. Fine. But then Ollie gets captured after becoming poisoned. To escape, he uses Tess's rubber band thingie to shoot-poke one of the bad guys in the eye. All right, I guess; his archery training helped him there. But the colossal missed opportunity was: they didn't show him using his arrows to fight the bad guys. They should have had (a) a larger bunch of bad guys, (b) Ollie escape to reach his supply of arrows and (c) him USE the arrows to defeat the bad guys. Granted, Tess would have seen him in action and perhaps have been able to surmise that he's GA, years later, but so what - it would have been a tremendous sequence. Instead, Ollie and Tess escape, fairly easily. Ho-hum. Stupid writers.

  • Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Clark learns from super-Chloe that the antidote comes from a plant in Brazil. I immediately hearkened back to "Star of Fate", a decent second season "Adventures of Superman" episode in which Lois has succumbed to poison from a mystery box. Superman flies to Egypt, LIFTS a pyramid and takes off with a unique flower whose properties can save Lois! So, what does SMALLVILLE do? Um, later we learn that Clark retrieved the antidote from a local Queen Industries facility. Ho-double-hum! Could they not have shaved off five to eight minutes of fluff (or commercials - yeah!) and instead (a) have super-Chloe Mapquest out the shortest land route for Clark, (b) show Clark super-speeding across the USA, Central America, the jungles of South America, etc. all the way to "wherever" in Brazil - and back - with the antidote? Wouldn't THAT have been wild? But once again, the writers have no imagination. Stupid, dumb, stupid stupid writers.

  • Minor nit, but it would have been nice to show Oliver with facial hair on the island, almost looking like the Denny O'Neill/Neal Adams-rebooted Green Arrow. Presumably his razor survived the plane wreck, but why bother shaving? Tom Hanks didn't. And after two years by himself, why no imaginary companions, like a Wilson or something. Or perhaps, Titleist? (Who knows - Kramer had a pretty mighty golf swing that might have reached the tropics).


  • Tess bailed out the bad guy? The guy who murdered her best friend on the tropical island? Besides the fact that it wasn't clear as to why she did that, it just made no sense.

  • The scene towards the end between Clark and Oliver re: Clark knowing that Lionel Luthor killed Oliver's parents was unnecessary and contrived.


  • Another DC Universe character arrives - Maxima! Ok, well, she was never high on my list, but let's see how they handle her. I still sense that the quality of the show will remain "decent", so that's a good thing. I've a mix of cautious optimism and pessimism.

    Bruce Kanin

    I was thinking about Tess bailing him out this week, and was wondering why she didn't just pay a dude to shank him in jail. I mean, that's really easy to do and doesn't put you with a witness next to the dude you killed. Heh.

    Kyle Nelson wrote:

    Hi Neil. You seemed to enjoy the episode "Plastique", but I found some things I would like to nit-pick about and feel free to express your thoughts.


    First Tess wants to see Clark in her Daily Planet office. Who is Clark's direct supervisor or boss? If the main boss wants to see someone low in the hierarchy like Clark wouldn't she have to go through his boss/supervisor and possibly to the editor in chief (which apparently Tess is because she gave an assignment to Lois in the following episode?! I thought she ran all of Lexcorp, not all of the Daily Planet she must put in 100 hour work weeks. But Apparently Lex had the "authority" to fire Chloe.

    Yeah, she's apparently the editor, running Luthorcorp, has time to kickbox AND be a marine biologist while in no way being an arch-feminist archetype. Face it. She's amazing!

    Does the CEO of Warner Brothers met with a writer on a Superman comic without going through the head of DC Comics or fire them without again, going through the head of DC comics) If I were Clark's boss and my boss wanted to see him in her office without telling me that would make me a little nervous. I guess that scene explains why Clark got that job in the first place, so Tess could keep tabs on him

    I have no idea how corporate infrastructure works. But I have an idea that any major figure from my editor to the CEO at DC can fire me at will.

    Then in the next scene Bette is leaving the hospital and Chloe is worried where she will stay. Really? The hospital staff would let a 15 year old girl with no parents back on the street without contacting social services. Maybe she ran out before social services got to her, but then why sit in the waiting room eating a sandwich?

    Look! A bunny!

    Lois is investigating the bus explosion. Was she specifically assigned to report on that by her boss or do reporters just get to pick their stories willy nilly hoping no one else reports the same story?

    In my experience, romanticized reporters can do whatever they please. But when I show my press pass at a comic book convention, they make me wait in line like everyone else. Except the Calgary con. They rocked.

    Then we see Chloe and Bette at the Talon apartment in Smallville (who owns the Talon now, and they still let Chloe rent it out?). Now the bus exploded when Clark was coming into work, lets say about 9:00 am By the time Bette got to the hospital, was looked over with non life threatening injuries, and "released" it had to be about 11 or noon right? Then Chloe drives her 3 hours from Metropolis to Smallville, its about 2 pm. Clark shows up lets say 3 pm and he drives Bette 3 hours back to Metropolis to find Tommy. It has to be 6 or 7 o'clock by now. Next we see Chloe at the Isis Foundation and she tells Davis "Bette had a rough day and she needed space" Bette was left alone at the Talon in Smallville. Can you imagine Chloe saying to Bette "stay here alone and if you need anything I'll only be 3 hours away". Who took Bette back to Smallville and when did Chloe drive back to Metropolis?

    Good catch. Even I missed that.

    Lois and Clark are at the hospital trying to get Tommy's file. Clark runs into Davis and Davis says "patients are on another floor". Clark replies "I thought I got off the elevator early". I was under the assumption Lois and Clark were snooping around the emergency room which are usually on street level, at least all of the hospitals I know of; so Clark got on the elevator and right back off? Duh, Dumb as Clark award? Then Lois and Clark casually walk around the dimly lit may I add, halls of the emergency room looking through a file they just stole? No hospital staff seems to notice or care. Then Lois pushes the elevator button to get back on street level?

    Yeah, it was pretty obvious and bad.

    Chloe decides to drive 3 hours back to Smallville in the middle of the night to talk to Bette. It's got to be close to midnight or 1 am by now. Chloe drove back and forth between Smallville and Metropolis 4 times and 12 hours today. Neil what happened to your Smallville to Metropolis count? You used to be so good at those.

    I did. But then, I used to care more. The show has inspired apathy in this respect. Now it's just ridiculous to the point of me not checking unless it's obvious.

    Thanks for letting me rant about his episode and just another note. Does Clark have a place in Metropolis or does he just tell people he commutes to work 3 hours a day and back?

    Chloe, Lois, AND Clark all commute, apparently. In this continuity, gas must be cheap, because next week I am moving from Tacoma, WA to Vancouver, WA to save about 400 bucks a month in gas for a ONE HOUR daily commute.

    thebrakeman wrote:

    Neal said:

      Apparently, Clark has never told Ollie that Lionel was behind his parent's deaths. Why? Because he was afraid Ollie would kill Lionel. Now that Lionel is dead, Clark has no reason not to tell him, so he WOULD HAVE, in character. Instead, this is supposed to be an OOOOH! SECRETS AND LIES!

    Again, we/you have no basis to believe that Clark was born with all of the "rightness" of Superman. There is NO reason to presume that he "WOULD HAVE" done anything at this point in his life. He is learning. Why do you assume that Clark should have made perfect choices since birth? Honest question! I know this is your review and I enjoy it. But this is a constant with your reviews (calling foul when Clark makes a wrong decision), and I'm curious.

    Because he would have even as a semi-decent person. And as the future moral arbiter, he has to at very least be mostly formed as a person by the age of 22, one would assume.

    I am very hard on Clark as a moral figure because learning is learning and failing is failing. If I try to make love to a woman and she turns me down because my armpits smell, that's a learning experience. If I disregard potential safety and cause the death of my unborn baby brother/sister, I have achieved a critical moral failure that is irredeemable.

    If Clark has learning experiences, I typically have no beef. Okay, so he isn't so slick with Lana at first, or Lois, and the relationship burgeons. Okay. That's Clark LEARNING to be a good, normal person.

    When he uses heat vision to drop a telephone pole with live wires into a guy he can knock unconscious without being seen gently, that's a critical moral failure. When he puts on a Kryptonite ring and robs banks because he's being a whiny emo kid, that's not learning to be an adult, that's a critical moral failure.

    Beyond that, the rationale is very simple and I think fair. Clark Kent, AKA the future Superman, is the person who will be in his future the most moral person on the planet, period. He pragmatically does the right thing EVERY SINGLE DAMNED TIME he makes a decision. He has to, because his power is so great. If you want a hero that learns his way into his goodness, I suggest Spider-Man, but Superman is a higher calling in terms of a person.

    Even when he's a kid.

    When I was a kid, I had the foresight to be able to cope with alcoholism, friends who turned to drugs, the prospects of pregnancy and homelessness, all kinds of awful stuff. I didn't turn into a druggie, I have waited to have kids, I'm not a booze hound, I'm a journalist with a head on his shoulders and some debt he is putting in check. A novelist with some learning experiences under his belt. I've been this person, for the most part, since I was fourteen years of age, when I started buying my own clothes and paying for everything I did. If I can do it, being the schmuck that I am, compared to Superman, Clark should damn well better be a sight for sore eyes compared to me. Instead, on Smallville he's a wretched, irresponsible ass at times. I don't see that as a man learning to be who he will be. I see it as writers seeking an arbitrary point of drama with a character they shouldn't be allowed to tamper with in such a way.

    tom wrote:

    Dear Neal,

    I've just read your review for "Toxic", and I have to tell you I came down completely on the other side of the fence. This was not a perfect episode by any stretch, but nowhere near as bad as you make it out to be. I didn't see any arbitrary tension with Lois and Tess, I think Tess is being established as someone with a lot of grey to her, not some idiot boss who fires people for disagreeing with them. The acting was great and the writing has been pretty good with the two of them so far, I think you just want to see the bad in the good when it comes to that.

    Which is why I just wrote two good reviews preceding it when I could very easily have made the choice to arbitrarily spike the review and not get the flak I got for being honest?

    As for the Chloe/Davis thing, yea I'll give you that they're just forcing that down our throats to either free up Jimmy later, or give us arbitrary tension now. But, I disagree that their interactions are unnatural. They've already had like 3 life/death experiences together, and that does not make people perfect strangers, it binds them. Not to mention Davis is clearly interested, so how is it at all unusual for him to come around and try to strike up conversation? Again, you want to see the bad (arbitrary tension) with the not unusual (a guy trying to pick up a hawt chick).

    (who he knows has a fiancee and still courts, and who has just appeared from nowhere). It's arbitrary because there are hundreds of other people the cast meet from show to show who do not show up in the next scene who are "hawt."

    I promise, I'm not just looking for the bad. The bad is there. But if you enjoy it, don't let me diminish that, good for you.

    I also don't see a problem with them giving us the Green Arrow origin story. He is a main cast member, and in this continuity he has a lot of importance, just as Batman would have if they would have let Smallville use him. (As an aside, as far as I'm concerned any publicity for Green Arrow is good publicity, because I want Supermax to be made something awful. In case you don't know, its a script being bandied about that frames Green Arrow for murder and then throws him in jail with a plethora of superpowered criminals that he's caught, and he has to kick ass and prove himself innocent. Only problem is no one knows who Green Arrow is, and interest is low, so go Ollie!)

    I know about Supermax, and it sounds rad. I didn't have a problem with them giving us a Green Arrow origin story. I had a problem with it being all crappy.

    This is only the third episode, and I'm already seeing a hell of a lot of progress from last season, and they're clearly trying to set up a web of relationships that makes sense. We've already seen that just because Ollie is a hero, he doesn't always do right with women ala Lois, so screwing things up with Tess and pushing her away is pretty plausible. Not to mention he never hid from the pirates, he made his way over to take a look, got poisoned and fell, where is the arbitrary caution in that?

    When you're on a deserted island for two years and you suddenly see people, you say, "HEY! WOOO! I'M SAVED!" It was absurd to stop and analyze them like a warrior. That's why it was arbitrary. I do agree that they're making progress from last season... at least to the last two episodes.

    Just generally you nitpick alot of stuff and you're reall over analyzing it all. I've gone a few days without eating, and never once has a leech or any type of insect made my mouth water in that time. Why should a billionaire playboy who dines on nothing but the best immediately succumb to the law of the jungle? Seems absurd to me and its not at all unreasonable that he would turn away his first leech. The paramedic stuff may be valid but its a 40 minute show and Davis, if you may recall, has already seen first hand that Clark saves people and wants to bang Chloe, and that's enough for a regular guy to have a little faith.

    Just generally you nitpick a lot of stuff and you're really over-analyzing my review.

    But to answer your question, because if he doesn't eat, he'll die, put simply, and put in a more complex way, if you're trying to show the desperation of a situation in a show, it works best to show that he's so scared he'll eat a centipede rather than have him coyly turn it away.

    I don't recall the scene where he tells Chloe he wants to bang her, but I'll take your word for it...

    I would agree that this is the worst episode of the season so far, but its still a solid episode and its telling us an important part of the new season 8 story, bringing in Tess, bringing in Ollie, and giving us more character development. For this I can't complain, and would give the episode a solid 3.5. Keep up the good reviews, but try not to forget that you aren't the moral absolute and just because you wouldn't do something that everyone else would act the same.

    Never claimed to be the moral absolute. But then, I can only look at something the way I would look at something. And it's perfectly logical for me to assume that folks should want to act the same as I do. You just did. Where the world would have an issue is when a person says, "YOU MUST act as I do." And I have not done that, merely presented my own lens.



    Thanks for the letter.

    Shafi S wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Last Episode was terrible, but I did see that new character Tess can act. It didn't save the episode, but showed her acting chops. Neal, do you think if she becomes popular enough, that she might show up in the comics? I know theres Mercy, but who knows just replace and toss her in there.

    I doubt she'll show up in the comics, because she already has two analogues... and they have yet to do Chloe yet. But I do like her as a character so far, inasmuch as she's basically Lex, and I enjoy Lex.

    Also, wanted to ask you, people have been bugging you about this, and it shames me that I'm also doing it. But what do you think of the Graysons. I mean DJ....what the hell is that. The story is not interesting to me. IGN did do an article related to this and explained that Dick Grayson's life became interesting after Bats. Do you think its a good idea, a good replacement show, and could it be a good show?

    I'm not interested in it at all, frankly, but I'll give it a shot for one episode if it's associated with the Smallville folk.

    Neal, we will be seeing another death soon in the comics. (SPOILERS) That Pa Kent will might go six feet down. Do you think its a right idea for now or a right idea overall. Byrne did away with that in Man of Steel , and we had him for years without any problems. People are comparing this to Spider-man and even Batman's conflicts. Neal, what do you think of all this?

    Oy. How to respond. The truth is, I love Geoff Johns as a person and his work, but I disagree with this decision on several fundamental levels. I think he wrote a good story. I think Brainiac is an AWESOME story. I do not want Pa Kent dead. I think Pa Kent alive serves Superman better than Pa Kent dead. I believe that if Superman needs a family member to die for catharsis, Lana is the logical choice.

    But I just can't speak ill of Geoff given all the awesome work he does. I will forgive him this. People pin the end of Byrne on this event and are calling for Geoff's head. Truth is, Byrne ended with the first Loeb issue, and sadly, that era is gone.

    I just want well-written Superman stories without gimmicks, that's what I think of it, and beyond that death, the story was just that.

    Well thats it for me. Thanks for reading every time.

    No prob! Thanks for awesome letters.


    Bruce Kanin wrote (RE: Maxima):


  • My DVR has decided that HD Channel 711 (CW) doesn't exist and is unable to record it. As such, I missed the first ten minutes of this episode, which likely consisted of Maxima landing in Metropolis and applying her death-smooch to a few men folk. All this after Tess has unleashed the Kryptonian crystal, like a beacon, to attract Maxima to Earth. That's all a good guess. So, I'll conclude that I didn't miss much. It was a fairly unimpressive, bland episode. Call it *C-*.


  • The introduction of a DC Universe character almost always warrants a check mark. It suggests that the writers - or somebody on the SMALLVILLE staff - have read the comics. And this one was pretty much consistent with the comics version, in terms of her motives and power.

  • Beyond this, there wasn't much that was good about the episode.


  • When Clark and Maxima are getting it on at the Isis foundation, she suddenly says, "not here", meaning that a desk at Isis isn't the best place for them to do their thing. So where do they end up? On their own South Pacific Isle? The Sahara? Perhaps the Moon? A Motel Six, at least? The Kent Farm? No, a Daily Planet elevator, convenient so that an exiting Lois can run into them. How contrived!

  • So now there's yet another Kryptonian McGuffin - another crystal. My god, how many times has that plot device been recycled?

  • Lois and her car are thrown by Maxima pretty high in the air. Lois has but a few scratches? Tess is thrown by Maxima into a fairly solid marble-looking structure at the Daily Planet and she's "OK"? Ye gods.


  • Maxima herself was fairly unimpressive. I expected someone more Amazonian. This version seemed to have almost a Valley Girl aspect to her - like Kara.

  • I'm hoping the Clark-Chloe-Jimmy triangle has been put to rest. It was as nauseating as Clark-Lana.

  • I haven't decided if it was a good thing that Lois & Clark's bond - future bond - was the reason for Clark being able to break away from Maxima. Could be a good thing, but then having Maxima tell Lois that there's something "deep" going with Clark on is wrong, to me. Lois should figure this out on her own, over time.

  • And now "Jor-El" is regarded by Clark to have been a super-intelligent computer. Must have been an awfully powerful one, being able to communicate with him anywhere and do small things like take away his powers. The only "good" aspect of this is that now we know all along that the real Jor-El died back on Krypton. The Earthly version was not unlike the Superman movie version - a computer.


  • Looks unimpressive. Perhaps SMALLVILLE is recharging its batteries in time for the November sweeps.

    Bruce Kanin

    I hope they're recharging batteries, because this was obviously grasping a bit. The pictures for next week's episode with Lois all tied up to a chair with a low cut shirt are hotter than hot, but it looks like it's thereby gonna be a soap opera and low cut shirt affair, sadly.

    You didn't miss much, by the way.

    Rob wrote:

    Dear Neal,

    I thought that last episode was okay in places. In your opinion, how many good episodes would it take for you to declare the show had jumped back?

    A solid season, at least. It's not going to happen.

    You know, the more I think about it, the less the premise of Superman Returns makes sense.

    Superman goes into space to find Krypton because he heard it might NOT have exploded. Uh, Supes, if Kryptonite didn't blow up, WHERE DID ALL THAT FREAKIN' KRYPTONITE COME FROM!? Kryptonite is clearly a pre-established concept by Superman Returns. I suppose in Smallville it existed before the planet exploded in season four, but seriously, how much did Superman think this through?

    Probably not that much.

    Also, when he has awesome telescopic vision, why did he have to travel as far as he did to find the place?

    Another fine point.

    Of course, I was watching the original Superman Movie the other day and even it had its questionable points. One part that stuck out was when Pa Kent died at the farm, and Supes rushes out of the barn. I just think a guy with super hearing (presumably developed by that time, right?) would detect the change in heartbeat of someone he was just talking to.

    This is back before it was established that his hearing was that sensitive. Still a good point in 20/20.

    Following Smallville in some ways is being like a sports fan for a team that falls short year after year. They might win a few games at the start of the year, and people get their hopes up and think this is the year, but then things go south. Then, maybe they show some promise later on enough to get your optimism back up for next year, if that. I hope that doesn't happen this year with the promise of the opening episodes.

    I know, being a Mariners fan and a Seahawks fan, what metaphor you speak of.

    Tom Roberts wrote:

    "I came when I saw your Kryptonian beacon." Maxima says, but she's speaking English, then she mistakes a human cell phone for a Kryptonian beacon. I remember quite clearly Max in the comic books is a mind reader, so she wouldn't make such a mistake.

    As for the signal starting at the Luthor Mansion and Maxima landing in Metropolis, that's no biggie. Teleporting thousands of light years and missing the mark by a few miles is plenty accurate, relatively. She could have ended up in Toledo or Gotham just as easily.

    Astronomically, the crescent Moon over the Luthor Mansion is wrong. It should be facing the Sun, which has already set.

    Interesting. I missed that.

    Red hair, poisonous kiss--why are the writers turning another character into Poison Ivy?

    Because watching a hot chick make out with a dude will get young men tuning in, pretty much.

    Thanks, all! More next week!

    Check out the updated KO Count.


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