Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 8 - Episode 13: "Power"



Reviewed by: Neal Bailey


  • Lana has apparently been seeking power by any means.
  • She steals it from Lex, and trains under a guy suspiciously like Hawkman.
  • Clark is okay with that, apparently.
  • Tess is good, and then evil again, but also apparently good. Not sure.
  • Lana Lana Lana Lana Lana.


    "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."

    But that can't really be said about this episode, can it? Why, according to the CW, who trotted out the impact of the last episode, ratings are WAY UP! In fact, it's up forty percent in women 18-34, which is CW'S TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC!

    Unless, of course, one looks at the fact that it was number four in the ratings, beaten by two reruns, and the only competition it beat was two other reruns, one might conceivably argue (as I do) by pandering to the arbitrary girl power aesthetic, something, like an ass in a shower, that will grant temporary ratings but ensure long-term viewership loss, because you can fool a horny boy with an ass, and you can fool a girl who's been picked on by boys who tell her she can't do X with a girl who can do X without any consequence, but ultimately, both girls and boys turn and acknowledge falsity as something to turn away from. And fantasy is the fulfillment of a wish, yes, but it also must be a plausible, coherent wish to be sustainable. In other words, I'll believe a man from an alien world can fly, but I won't believe that a woman who passive aggressively blahs her way through six manipulative years of subplots and romances is suddenly Clark's "equal" because they share powers. Equality is based in merit, and Lana has certainly been found wanting, lo these many years, in anything resembling morality, consistency, logic, or heck, even law and order, considering she's kidnapped human beings to get what she wants and allied herself in love with a murderous psychopath.

    Clark may have accidentally tossed a wrestler guest star into a spike and killed him, yes, but he's never pressed an IV causing a man pain and enjoyed it. He's never killed himself in order to see his dead parents. He's never used his powers as Lana did last season to steal and try and assert her will over others, drunk on abilities.

    This is, quite simply, probably the most arbitrary piece of sh@# Smallville episode I've seen. Velocity was a story of cars that run on Kryptonite. It was an idea that did not stick when thrown against the wall, like kryptonite Gatorade or kryptonite liposuction or kryptonite lipstick. All of those are lousy ideas, but they're trying to do something interesting. This episode didn't even try a novel concept, it just took everything we know to be awful about Lana an emphasized it for a solid hour, retconning any of the character growth Clark has experienced since the new season started moving him forward, and diminishing him as a character by making him seem inconsequential next to the flowing, glowing visage of the woman who's systematically made his life hell for seven years, finally left, and has now returned to manipulate us all again.

    'cuz she hot.

    Let me caveat that I am extraordinarily committed to equality between the sexes. I believe women deserve to have equal credit with men, and equal responsibility. Meaning, if I slap a woman full-on in the face, I go to jail, thereby, so should a woman. If I rape an underage someone, I should go to jail. So should a woman, even if the guy enjoys it. A woman should receive equal pay for equal work. But I will not, arbitrarily, because women have been diminished by society, assume superiority or equality without merit, just as, to me, a degree does not indicate a higher education for a person until I've seen that education displayed. Hell, in theory, the president is the smartest, most capable person in the nation, and this has been repeatedly proven false. So I will not abide by Lana's statement that she and Clark are now "EQUALS!" because they have similar powers.

    Examples of how they are now "equals," he wrote in sarcasm:

    Clark: Seemingly cursed with his powers, always tries to protect the people he loves. For this, he is crapped on by them (and by them I mean Lana), and despite many mistakes, seeks to make good.

    Lana: Seeks out power with money and manipulation and threats, achieves power, and in the process gets many people killed or their lives ruined and has yet to do a single thing of great worth. AFTER already seeking and attaining power once that she used to try and destroy a corporation through thievery and attempted murder.

    Clark: In dumb, stupid, forgiving love with Lana.

    Lana: Passive aggressive to a fault, denying them both a relationship when she clearly would honestly desire it over a secret that is never clearly defined and hurts neither (point of fact, saves her life multiple times). Ultimately leaves Clark repeatedly, then leaves Smallville, and comes back to play dumb when he kisses her, pretending to be demure and accepting because she can now punch through a man's head.

    Clark: Trains by following his heart and lives by a code of conduct his father taught him, starting with "Do No Harm."

    Lana: Blackmails a man to teach her to be strong. Hurts herself with fire and ice to prepare for what invincibility is like. Read that again and try not to have an aneurism.

    Clark: Has virtually no money, and yet gives freely of his time and life to others.

    Lana: Has at least ten million dollars, and yet does nothing to financially aid Clark in his endeavors.

    Clark: Would die to save his friends.

    Lana: Died to see her mother who she never knew, risking Clark's life and her own.

    Clark: Went to Lana's wedding to Lex.

    Lana: Missed her best friend's wedding on her road to seek power.

    Clark: The greatest hero the world has ever or will ever see. Not because he's a man, but because he does the right thing.

    Lana: Somehow more important than Clark, according to Saturn Girl. Because her manipulative ego needs to be stroked in order for Saturn Girl to get more than folded arms and a turn and walk away out of her.

    Clark: Sees the best in everyone, but doesn't trust people who have crossed a certain line.

    Lana: Works with Tess despite knowing Tess is a murderer without any real questioning. Lionel too.

    Clark: Fights for truth and justice. A motive of intrinsically rewarding pragmatism.

    Lana: Wants to destroy Lex and all he stands for without seeking any kind of redemption or judicial recompense. A motive of vengeance and spite.

    Equals. Right? Hello?

    So damned half-jacket.

    Blow by blow:

    "Transdermal evisceration" is what this show felt like, not what we saw on the screen.

    Flaming water? Scientific.

    Clark is in his house watching the breakup video with Lana again, despite the fact that Lana is back in his life. Sensible, and not at all out of character. In opposite land. So great having Lana back.

    The scene with Chloe contradicts itself midstream and is ridiculous. First, Clark points out that Lana was what was holding him back (true) and that this entire season was him basically maturing. Chloe then indicates that Lana left for a reason, which is, presumably, to let Clark mature as he has.

    The conversation then switches midstream, and Chloe mocks Clark, indicating he did the things he did this season because he finally "grew up," despite the fact that she, sentences ago, defended him and his relationship with Lana ending. With a choice quote: "Maybe she isn't the liability you're making her out to be!"

    And maybe my butt squirts potpourri from a kitten fountain. And maybe Saddam Hussein was really a guy who loved giving ice cream to children. And perhaps Doomsday just wants to kill us with misguided love hugs. And maybe this show has lost more than half of its ratings because, uh, because LANA'S CRAP IS PLAYED OUT AND WAS IN SEASON THREE BACK WHEN THE PARIS HILTON "I'M PRETTY SO I GET WHAT I WANT" MENTALITY WAS LAST IN VOGUE FOR IDIOTS DRIVEN BY HORMONES.

    Why is Chloe not with her husband? Why is Lois more committed to Jimmy than Chloe? Because LANA is back in town, that's why. No, Lana's not a cancer on the show. Nope! Why?

    Tess meets Clark in the Talon, which has been ransacked. Why? For that hard drive only Lana knew existed? Tess refers to having learned "The monster that Lex really is" because he tapes his employees' actions. Man! There are monsters EVERYWHERE. Okay, he put them in her eyes without her knowing. That's creepy. It's not evil. She's his CEO. I'd watch her like a hawk too. Any idiot would. She knows Lex uses extreme means, and has sanctioned them multiple times on this show, up to and including murder and recruiting villains for doing her bidding.

    In a bit of retcon, making Lana's video to Clark not something she did voluntarily (every seeming action Lana participates in seems patently designed to make her character look good, logical or not), the series then shows her being kidnapped by Lex and thrown into a van... several months after, if you recall, Lex forgave her for stealing from her and, despite having a gun on her and the ability to kill her, releasing her from any obligation. So either Lex is inconsistent, or they're shaping the show to make Lana look better. You decide. I know where my belief is.

    So her "selfless" decision to run from her problems becomes more selfless, because she's doing it at gunpoint. I can just hear Lex. "I know! I'll have her record a video for Clark saying that she's leaving him forever, then kidnap her for her own safety with two inept goons! Especially since Clark is always saving her life, and since I'm trying to let her live her own life, and since Clark has never done anything save try to be with her that is even remotely nefarious! NYAH!"

    So Lana spends this entire episode showing how her selfish departure was really a selfless attempt to get strong enough to defeat Lex, despite Lex being, uh, incapacitated and legally dead with the new CEO on her side.

    Lana's "maturing" is praised and shown as a hero journey while Clark's is pointed out as an afterthought that might have just been his own fault for prolonging.

    Lana cuts her hair with a razor (why?) in a bathroom, because lord knows her most identifying feature is that hair. Or wait, maybe it's the fact that she's got half-Chinese half-Dutch exotic origins, and the hair is secondary. I know when I'm looking at a gal, my eyes go directly to her... her HAIR! I mean, when Lana cut that hair, I had no idea it was still her on the screen! Amazing! Or maybe it's just another stereotypical girl power scene where "I CUT MY HAIR, THEREFORE I AM LIBERATED FROM BEING JUDGED BY MY LOOKS! Uh, despite using that hair as a symbol of beauty and thereby gaining manipulative power over almost all men who are straight who now simply look at my eyes."

    I studied film symbolism in college (The King of Marvin Gardens), and there was always this cathartic respect for a scene where a woman cuts her hair. I respect that. I had hair to mid-back six months ago, and when I changed it, I was a different person. But that's because it was a decision to change my looks, something one does once in a blue moon. Lana changes her looks, motivation, attitude, alignment, and logic, every thirty seconds, so this "catharsis" read as "excuse to focus on Kristen for no apparent reason."

    It's just... crap. It's playing to stereotypes, it's awful writing, and I've seen it so many times this makes me want to swear away not only from this show, but television entirely. It's disheartening on so many levels. It makes me believe that people will never understand equality or character or Superman.

    So we cut to a guy who is, apparently, Hawkman but not Hawkman. His name is Carter, he has what looks like a Hawk or a Phoenix for a symbol, but bottom line, his service in this show is to make Lana look good, so he became irrelevant to me. If he's there to service Lana as Hawkman, it's a crappy depiction of Hawkman. If he's there to service Lana as a random goon, his character was so paper thin that it added nothing for me.

    If I understand this correctly, Lana, who knows Clark has the incredible powers he has, is suddenly kidnapped by Lex and forced to make a tape. Then, after she escapes, instead of going to Clark and saying, "Hey, Lex kidnapped me." She says, "Well, Clark has those powers, but they're not good enough, because only I can take care of this problem" for some reason heretofore unknown. So, leaving Lex to potentially take control of Clark (the focus of last season's latter half, recall), she bathes herself in ice and fire, which has nothing to do with how to handle things while invincible, and somehow gains a maturity she lacked the last time she had powers, which she then uses to extort scientists into nearly killing her and giving her research that she then destroys, essentially using her newfound "maturity" to kill Lex, or at least his potential to heal himself.

    The A to B there is incredible. I understand that Lana's actress left the show, so they have to have a reason why she didn't go back to Clark. That reason, plausibly, is not "Hey, Clark has powers, so I can't ask him for help, I must become him!" At least, not unless you want the character to come across as selfish, dangerous, and retarded.

    A better solution? Lex kidnaps her and holds her in a cell for a year. But then, there goes the pointless drama at the wedding that we all so loved. Right guys? Guys? Oh yeah. Target demo. I forget.

    This was the one time when someone was training I wanted, and was denied, a montage.

    Clark, on Lana, when he finds out that she's trying to gain powers because she needs to be stronger. "She's always been strong!" Dialogue to reinforce things that aren't true, because actually building a character is hard work, and lip service is easy.

    Lex is so evil! What's he done? But he's bad! No, seriously. Who did he kill? He's ON A DARK PATH! And only Lana can stop him. But she couldn't handle a coffee store, or her parent's untimely demise. But she's amazing! But she kidnapped Lionel, dude! SHE'S ALWAYS BEEN STRONG!

    And we know she's strong, because at the end of her training, she's in LEATHER. OOOH! Tough. In 1995. Or 1985. Or if you pose.

    Chloe and Lana share some stilted dialogue after she returns, and then Clark suddenly starts arbitrarily supporting Lana endangering herself despite having been there the last time she went nuts.

    Tess is suddenly attacked, and instead of using her martial arts, she resorts to the typical girl-in-distress montage, proving again the confused way this show portrays women as angel/whores chaotically and to the detriment of the viewer. She grabs a statue and plugs the guy, potentially killing him despite (if she knows aikido) knowing a way to incapacitate him with pressure points and uncomfortable postures once the gun is gone.

    Then she gang initiation kicks him until her face is covered in blood, and the show takes pains to romanticize her rubbing it from her lips in slow motion. Girl power! She's taking charge of her life! By, uh, killing a dude she could have simply jailed. Moral! Wise!

    You know what girl power is, to me? A girl who can talk to me on a level about philosophy. A gal who fights me in kumite and wins, and doesn't cry when she loses, because I don't cry. A gal who values being a good person.

    Too often, girl power is portrayed, as it is here, by how much power OVER men a girl has, the ability to kill them/control them at will. Now reverse that. What is it when a guy shows how much power over people, particularly women, a guy has. Misogyny! Why is one okay and the other decried?

    Imagine this scene had been a guy being attacked by a woman with a gun, and the guy, despite knowing a way to simply render her unconscious, kicks her until blood spurts up in his face, and then he wipes at it in nearly orgiastic ecstasy. You'd be as close to puking as I am here. It's inhuman, and yet here it's celebrated because Tess is a hot chick.

    Taken farther, how would people react to a story where a girl had almost unlimited power, and yet the boyfriend hurts the hell out of her by leaving, then goes to become as powerful as she is in an attempt to defeat the girl's villain, despite the fact that the girl has already taken her villain mostly out of the picture. It'd be seen as, "Don't worry, little lady, I'll take care of you!" misogyny. Here, it's girl power.

    This double standard is BULLS$#%.

    Clark pulls the safe off, and he grabs it by the plasic. The console would give before the metal of the safe. Bad framing.

    Lana approaches the scientist working on the power suit and says, "You know you can't trust Lex with that suit! So put it on me! I'm just a complete stranger who seems to have good intentions and looks good in leather!"

    Doctor: "Ayuh! Makes sense!"

    Tess, when using her newfound goodness to decide to shoot Lana in the face, "Lana Lang was born to be a martyr!" So Tess again lightswitches back to evil, because she doesn't want Lana to have power? What? I thought they were allies. This is incoherent.

    Lana states that she's Clark's equal, through selfishness, money, lies, and near suicide. Clark sees her when she's got said power, and the reaction isn't, "Holy crap, this inconsistent, selfish, and violent woman has unlimited power!" It's filmed as a triumph moment. A romantic moment.


    Lana, of course, is not angry at Tess for trying to, uh, kill her. She simply admonishes her about the "anger tunnel" and then says, quote, "You are an amazing woman, Tess!"

    This after multiple murders, and attempting to murder Lana. Her judge of character is flawless, and I find it fitting that her own dialogue passes the torch of "Face it, you're amazing!" to the next arbitrary bastion of fake girl power on this show.

    To Tess, from a victimizer: "Don't be a victim any more!"

    Lana to Clark: "You don't have to protect me any more!" Taking bets as to how long it is until that's refuted NEXT EPISODE.

    Lana and Clark kiss on the top of the Daily Planet building. Funny, but that's Lois' thing. Now you're undermining future Superman even more.

    Lamentable, because this show was on a path to something approaching a moral play, and now it's just crap again. And I don't mean crap, I mean the word that starts with S that I can't say because a kid might read it here. Instead, I'll just send you to the dictionary:

    It's excremental in ways that make me want to defenestrate the producers, micturate on their earthly remains, and force their writing's thinly veiled metaphorical postmodern turgidity into a blender for the purpose of Lana's subsequent misandrous mastication. May they fornicate with razor blades for this act of reverse elimination, this gastric emission that makes me wish to reduce their brummagem filth to so many returned physical hematomas and subhuman festering boils of post-nasal leavings rubbed down their esophagus, as watching this program was to me. I defecate on this Philistine garbage a thousand times, and expect more from my denouement.

    I like chicks as much as the next guy, but @$#% this sexist nonsense. As a society, we should have grown beyond this by now.

    -5 of 5

    But since that's impossible, 1 of 5.


    Yawar Amin wrote:

    I just saw s8 e11. Holy crap! Geoff Johns is a master. His Legion is straight out of the pages of Action Comics. When I think about how they must feel running into a Clark the way he's been written in the past few episodes ... but even Clark's attitude and actions take a turn for the better here.

    Yep. Johns didn't care what the past Clark on the show did, he wrote the character as intended. It was contradictory... but beautiful.

    Everything about the episode feels right, like it was plotted out as a whole instead of piecemeal. And I have to say, I really enjoyed some of the lines Chloe (Brainiac) has. Allison Mack is eerie and convincing in her body language and intonations. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    I did enjoy it, compared to the rest of the season.

    Julian Finn wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    I was saying to a friend of mine, and you reiterated it in your review of Legion, that most of the writing this season has felt as though the characterization we've seen the last few years is being ignored in favor of a more traditional(read better)interpretation of both people and events. In some cases (like Clark and Lois' insta-love)this feels somewhat forced and disjointed, in others (Clark suddenly becoming proactive and fighting crime that doesn't immediately threaten Lana and her impressive yet oh so often ineffective Femi-Fu)its all out awesome. All told though I couldn't be happier and, for the first time since season 4, I don't cringe when I hear that there might be yet another season to follow this one.

    And then there's weeks like this, that slap you right back... heh.

    As always, your review of Legion was on point and, as much as I hate having Lana back, I always giggle a little bit harder when I get to see you rip into her for a few paragraphs. The bit where she tries to tell Clark that he's the most decisive person she knows almost made me choke; if that's true she must have spent the last half season hanging out with autistic geriatrics; the "Clark she knows" flip flopped daily on issues as varied as whether or not he loved Lana, whether he should leave the farm, or whether peas should be eaten because they're green and could therefore be laced with Kryptonite.

    And whether or not he should be on a show called Smallville set in Metropolis...

    The only part of this episode that stuck out as flat out bad was the "global power grid" line. Really? Do the writers really think (and I'm assuming this was an edit job after Johns turned in his script because I've never seen stupidity on that level in any of his books)that there's a magical connective tissue between the power grids of every country in the world and that Lana Lang has the tech know-how to hack this Illuminati-esque uber grid without detection? Yikes.

    But... she's AMAZING!

    One question, is it just me or, thinking back on the logo for Veritas on the stained glass in Lex's study, does it not seem like it bears a more than striking resemblance to the Legion symbol? Just a thought.

    Heh. Cool. Hadn't noticed that.

    As always, looking forward to next review a little more than next week's episode.




    thebrakeman wrote:

    Regarding "murdering" Brainiac: At what point does a machine (or anything created by a non-divine being) have enough AI, such that it's destruction constitutes "murder"? Brainiac was self-aware, etc, etc, etc. But still a machine. Not sure you can murder a machine. If so, then Clark should not be able to destroy anything that has any sort of logical control. Like those simple robots (or phones) we can get now that react to voice commands. I think you are getting a bit too emotional about a non-living character.

    Nope. Brainiac is a sentience. A living, thinking being. That's like saying a baby, because it can't talk, isn't human, just because it's different. If it thinks, if it's self-aware, and if it does things it wasn't programmed to do, a machine is a sentience.

    I'm not emotional about Brainiac's death. Hell, I'd kill him. I'm emotional that Clark would kill the machine and then declare he has a code against murder he never breaks. It's contradictory.

    I'm maintained that Clark is growing and learning. Brainiac not included, I think that any other time he's been too tough on a human, it's been a learning process, to the point that he is now able to lecture the Legion regarding a new rule. Now that he has stated this position, I think he can be judged by it. To judge him based on what you know about the Superman he has yet to become is unfair. But I've said that before.

    Right, but they didn't say it was a new rule. In Lana's dialogue, it was portrayed as something he's always believed.

    About Brainiac contradicting his previous plan(s), I think his plans have changed quite a bit. First plan (I think) was to get Clark on his side. Didn't work. Then tried to trick him into releasing Zod. Failed first time, then it worked the second time, then that dropped dead. Then he tried to use Kara...didn't he banished her and assumed her identity. Didn't work either. So then he went after Lana...then Chloe...He keeps trying new plans that get squashed.

    Or the writing is inconsistent. I'm gonna go with that.

    Neal said:

    "I was initially hacked that Clark doesn't immediately destroy Brainiac, but then, it becomes a Brainiac 5 bit, so I forgave it. Good deal."

    WHAT?! First you can't stand that he (a-hem) "murders" Brainiac. Then you are "hacked" that he didn't "destroy" Brainiac? What's your position here?

    I'll clarify again. I think Brainiac is a danger that needs to be destroyed. When Clark says, "I've never killed!" he's full of beans. I think a good writer would not put Clark in a position where he has to kill Brainiac, even though it's morally permissible, because Superman is better than that.

    GVGolwitzer (georgehouseofel) wrote:

    Clue: Lana is NOT destined for greater things than her relationship with Clark. Indicating she will be is not feminism. Inspiring Superman is the height and noble purpose of her comic book existence.

    The one thing I thought they may be hinting at was her becoming First Lady. But, I doubt the Lana of Smallville will marry the Pete from Smallville like they do in the comic books. John's may have meant that in his dialogue ignoring the Smallville continuity and the fact that Lana Lang and Pete Ross will probably never end up together. Just a thought.

    Perhaps. But then, I doubt it.

    Still loving it, keep it up. I hope they keep the show on for another season, if nothing else, for your reviews.


    G.V. Golwitzer (GeorgeHouseofEl)

    Bruce Kanin wrote, RE: Bulletproof:


  • This episode, imperfect like most episodes of this series, had a decent plot and a really good, though unfortunately aborted subplot with Clark posing as a cop. Gets a *B+*.

    _THE GOOD_

  • Clark going undercover as a cop. So many good things about this, I'll overlook how easy it was for him to join the Metropolis police force. What's so good about it? Clark in a uniform. Clark with a job as a protector. Clark undercover - disguised as someone else. These are all Superman characteristics. Also, I've always loved the idea of Superman going undercover as another profession besides his usual reporter role. Too bad they cut his stint as super-cop short in this one.

  • Clark-as-a-cop has precedence from the Silver Age: SUPERMAN #160. THE SUPER-COP OF METROPOLIS!

  • Loved the partner cop's son as the red blue blur!

  • Kind of a cool revelation about Tess's eyes being bugged by Lex.

  • The return of Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor! Well, only on a /Daily Planet/ front page photo.

  • "Joe" (Clark) is from Coast City - home of Green Lantern! Yee-hah!

    _THE BAD_

  • It had to be this way to advance the plot, but it was a bit too much of a coincidence that Clark was partnered with the bad cops right off the bat.

  • Oh no! More Clark-Lana! GAAA---!

    _THE REST_

  • The whole Tess-Lana situation reminded me of the Seinfeld catfight episode. MREOW! And later, they /do/ have a fight, which, though based on silliness, was kind of fun. Of course, the way they were hitting each other and flying through doors and into furniture, at least one of them should have been KO'd.

  • Now I know that Lana's destiny is not to be Insect Queen - it's /Karate Kid/!

  • So when Lana is exiting the Luthor mansion after confronting Tess, she pauses to unzip her case containing some sort of electronic device. Why? To show us, the audience. No other reason.

  • So where are the pentagon police shields going to take us? Will Clark create his pentagon "S" after them? Interesting idea, I guess.

  • Clark and Oliver have a fairly contrived argument at the Kent Farm over each other's philosophy and methods. I thought they were supposed to be working together. Each does something the other isn't: Oliver observes; Clark investigates. Both ultimately intervene. So why argue? With their friend (Jones) in the hospital, why not join forces? Why? Because the writers needed to fill some space and thought it was cool for Superman and Green Arrow to argue.

  • I suppose I liked the line from one of the bad cops: "Cops have rules. Capes don't". But...capes? Green Arrow appeared with a cape once. No other super-hero has. The red-blue blur isn't known to have a cape.

  • Clark's catching the bullet, saving his cop-partner's life, and then opening his palm to show the bullet, reminded me of the first Superman movie when Christopher Reeve's Clark saves Lois from a bad guy's bullet.

  • I may have said this before, but clearly the show is "Metropolis", not "Smallville". It's only still called "Smallville" as a reference to Clark's nickname. Any scenes at the Kent Farm or the Talon are purely obligatory, to keep the Smallville concept alive.


  • Except for scenes from prior episodes, they didn't show much. I have the feeling it's the end of Lana for all time. Looks intriguing!

    _Bruce Kanin_

    I had more issues with that last episode than fun, but I'm glad you saw the good in it. To me, the contrivance overwhelmed the fanservice.

    Rob wrote:


    I had a random thought the other day. In Superman 2, Jor-El says Clark has to give up his powers to be with Lois. One would assume this is because all the super-sperm would destroy Lois's human immune system. But what happens if he and Lois do it when he's under a tiny bit of Kryptonite? Would the Kryptonite weaken more than just his powers?

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    The Lana-Tess fight looked really silly.

    I agree.

    What did you think was more enthralling: the Doomsday fight or Clark's flying lessons last year?


    This is a bit off topic, but while I know you've mentioned them in other places (Bailey Planet and so on), how did you like Indy 4 and The Dark Knight?

    I'm one of the few who enjoyed Indy 4, I imagine. But for different reasons than most, I'm sure. It was sad for me. It was like, "Oh, so this is what happens when heroes age, and can't be heroes any more." It was a cathartic experience after seeing him as an invincible father figure as a kid.

    As for the Dark Knight, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I think Ledger offing himself was really stupid of him, because he had tremendous talent, and I would have loved to see him best this performance.

    Anyways, I would rate the current season about equal to season five. Not up to the standard of the first three, but more of an effort to connect to the mythos.

    That's about right. I was putting it on a par with three a few back. After this episode, it's about 5.

    Bruce Kanin wrote, RE: Power


    There's a quote from a great old underrated, never-rerun cartoon called "Deputy Dawg" in which Deputy Dawg says to his friend, Muskrat, "Don't go away mad, Muskie. Just go away." And so, I paraphrase..."Don't go out with a bang, Lana. Just go away." As such, because this was effectively a "Lana episode"...a story about a girl who used to be a sweet, sort of innocent small-town DC Universe character who is now gets an *F*.

    _THE GOOD_

    1. Nothing, zero, nada. The low point of Season Eight. Any more like this and I will block CW on my TV and ignore Season Nine, should it happen.

    _THE BAD_

    1. See *OVERALL*.

    2. So now we know it all, I guess, at least until the next episode...that Lana has been trying to become Clark's equal in order the world? Prevent Lex from becoming a SuperGuy? Be with Clark so that they can "get it on" without Lana being crushed? All of the above? Who knows? Who cares?!

    3. So the scene where Lana rises from the Prometheus contraption and super-speeds her way to stop Tess's bullet from killing Lex's scientist guy. (Wait...what a sentence I just wrote! I'll bet no one has ever written that before.) Anyway, in that scene, Lana and Clark's eyes meet...two's a defining moment of sorts. A bad one. Lana has completed her transformation from a simple small town girl to super hero. Something which defies believability and makes no sense.

    4. As well, Lana quickly masters super-speed. Even Barry Allen needed a few trial "runs" to master his skills as The Flash.

    5. Also, why do Tess and Clark refer to Lana's newfound abilities as a "suit". It's not her clothing that give her superpowers - unlike "The Greatest American Hero" - no, we saw that nanites (ah...the first of a few Star Trek references here) were injected into her, seemingly giving her superpowers.

    6. Tess is too late to catch Lana from destroying records of the Prometheus design. But Lana erasing a hard drive? A CD or DVD? Perhaps melting a tape? An /eight-track/ tape? No, she's throwing /papers/ into the Luthor fireplace. So, an incredibly important design that would have presumably been backed up a zillion times in LuthorCorp has as its last copy...a few papers.

    7. So Clark, in Chloe' Lois' Lana's apartment...(I am so confused as to whose apartment that is over the Talon), with Tess watching him like a hawk, uses his x-ray vision to see that bird-like medallion sitting in a drawer. And then Clark, after staring at it, with Tess watching him like a hawk, walks to the drawer and opens, isn't that dumb of him? Why not pretend to fumble around and pretend to happen to find the bird-like medallion, knowing that Tess is watching him like a hawk. And then the dumb Smallville writers don't even have the very smart Tess show a glint of a " did he know that was there? Lex told me that Clark was something special" look.

    8. There was much, much more wrong with this episode. It would have been easier to list the things that were "right" with the episode, and I have...nothing!

    _THE REST_

    1. They give us a long, slow shot of Tess wiping the blood from her face after killing Lex's henchman at the Daily Planet. Why? Did they need filler?

    2. When Clark gets Chloe to flashback to her encounter with Lana...the third flashback of four or five about reminded me of the movie /Airplane!/ when Robert Hays would tell his seated neighbor a story about the past and they would commit suicide. Why? Because by the time of the third flashback...that's what I wanted to do!!

    3. When Tess tells Lex's Hench Guy, "find me Prometheus!" it reminded me of the Klingon Commander Kruge from "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock", when he kept barking "bring me the secret of Genesis!"

    4. Directed by Allison Mack! How'd she do? Hard to tell. No worse than any of the other directors!

    5. Once locks on doors, no security. People walk in to the Kent farmhouse, Lana's apartment, the Luthor Mansion, etc.

    6. During one of the flashbacks I was convinced that Lana was training to be...not Insect Queen.,..but Batgirl! She was going through the same trials that Bruce Wayne went through to be Batman. Cool! (Not)

    7. Another Star Trek tie-in! In the teaser, when one of Mister Luthor's scientist guys turns up the heat on Lana in her Prometheus water bed, he says: "Energizing!" Aye, Cap'n!

    8. What a strategically placed cylinder around the otherwise naked Lana in the Prometheus water bed thing.


    The return of Michael Rosenbaum! Well, no, but the return of Lex Luthor! Yes, it did appear to be Lex. And here's my final Star Trek reference of the day. That brief scene in the coming attractions reminded me of Captain Pike in "The Menagerie". Whereas Jeffery Hunter played the healthy Pike, some other guy played the disabled Pike, stuck in that super-wheelchair - you know, the one that had a light that would allow Pike to blink yes or no. Same here, on Smallville: Michael Rosenbaum played the healthy Lex...some other guy, next week, will play a disabled, partly visible Lex. Boo-hiss! We want the real, er, McCoy, or, er, McRosenbaum!

    More importantly, it looks like Lana finally does "go away" in the next episode. If so, Amen. That will guarantee a grade above *F*.

    _Bruce Kanin_

    It appears we are of a like mind on this. You caught that paper thing, though, very cool catch. I missed that.

    Daniel wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Hope this email finds you well.

    Thanks! I'm going bankrupt, but I'm happy otherwise.

    Just watched the latest episode... Power I believe it's called. It was possibly the worst episode of Smallville history. I cannot think of a single worse one. I think it deserves a rating of -1 and that would be kind.


    Lana Lang gets powers at the end... she and Clark are equals. All this time we were led to believe this was a show about a young Clark Kent, but no, apparently this show is all about how Lana Lang becomes a superhero. It's her origin story. That sucks!

    Agreed times two.

    Not only did this story make no sense and completely undid the few good things of Lana's departure (i.e. the realization she holds Clark back though technically it should have been Clark's realization), they gave her powers and made her equal to Clark (which apparently is his dream). Sometimes I'm all for the throwing out ideas and seeing what sticks but I cannot imagine anyone actually thinking this was a good storyline. Part of the whole reason why Clark and Lana do not end up together is because she is supposed to be a bit too simple (for lack of a better way to put it) and not part of the world Clark embraces when he becomes Superman. If she is Clark's equal, any reason they don't end up together is BS. Which makes his relationship with Lois BS. I know you've been saying this for quite some time, though personally I was more or less okay with it in light of the end of last season (at least the reason she left, though out of character, was good - now if only Clark had had this realization instead of Lana). But now that they undid that, I have completely lost faith in their understanding of what the Lana/Clark dynamic should be (not that I had much left).

    This was a snapping point for many folks, I am reading.

    The worst of it is that this incarnation of Lana Lang does not deserve these powers. Had this happened to Chloe it would have been bad, but it is worse that it is Lana. At least Chloe is an actually heroic character. For this version of Lana to suddenly be considered heroic is insulting. And for the writers to actually say she is Superman's equal is a smack in the face. I find it more believable that Lex Luthor would suddenly become Superman than Lana Lang having an ounce of heroism. NOT THIS LANA LANG!


    To me there was only one decent part of this episode when Lana said that as long as you hate Lex, he still controls you. It is actually a salient point about Lex though it was hopelessly undermined by the fact that Lana said it. That's a line for Superman... that's part of the reason he is able to fight Lex. Superman does not fight because he hates Lex. He fights him out of love for humanity which proves to be the greater force and one of the fundamental morals of the Superman story. But since Lana said these words, they're mostly empty of meaning.

    Yes. And hypocritical.

    Sorry, kind of rambled here - really did not have a single unifying thought except that they've finally absolutely destroyed the character of Lana Lang. They finally figure out how to actually make her worse. And now, she's beyond all hope - just as she's about to exit stage left. This season they seemed to want to rectify her character before she left, but now, they've managed to put the nail in the coffin.

    And she's still around next week. Sweet god.

    Usually I would be against Clark Kent or Superman killing anyone. But, I'll make an exception for this Lana Lang. After all, she's more monster than human anyways.

    I hope she dies. I do. Continuity be dinged.

    And, they had this piece of s$*t episode despite the actually intriguing storyline of Doomsday which apparently is secondary. Nice to see that their priorities are in the right place.

    Which is a pretty face over substance, apparently.

    Sorry for the never ending rant Neal. Thanks for being my forum of despair. Good luck with your review for this one.

    Thank you.


    Lork wrote:

    Dear Neal,

    I have tried, really tried but I guess banging my head against the wall has not helped in any way. I am so mad at mad that I can not think straight. Thankfully, I am caught up in manga/anime till Clark gets back his brains and till Smallville gets a huge knock of sense(we all know that this may not happen)

    Till then, I am off lanaville...ooops, I meant Smallville. Long Live Lana, it seems thats the message they want us to take.

    Sorry to hear you go, but sympathetic to the plight.

    Angry Lork

    Michael Dingess wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    I just watched "Power" on youtube... and I have to be honest, the entire episode your voice was "commentating" on the episode. It was just... ugh... every time Clark's saying "She's not a distraction" I just could picture you on your couch screaming at the tv. It was pretty funny. That made the episode "enjoyable." Besides that, I really can't say anything else but that you shouldn't rate an episode a "negative." ;)

    Funny you mention that (see above).

    And obviously I am looking forward to your shall we say "colorful" review.


    I dreaded it so much, honestly.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:

    Re: Bulletproof


    As always, you rock and you're right. You see things that I don't, or things I see but I want to ignore.

    Hey, I just watched (for the nth time) the Smallville pilot excerpts with Cynthia Ettinger as Martha Kent, just for fun (on YouTube). It reminded me of how the show had evolved from a truly wonderful unfolding story of a kid growing up and learning to live with his super-powers to a mindless exercise in random events designed to catch the eye of the lowest common denominator.

    Bingo, and thus my shame and anger.

    The shame is, after watching only a handful of scenes between Clark and Jonathan, scenes that seemed like neither was acting, with dialogue and situations that came from the core of what should have been the theme for the series (described above), I realized that the show went astray not long after this.

    Since Jonathan left, there seems to be no core, honestly.

    Yes, the first couple of seasons were terrific, but once they settled in on the freak-of-the week, and once the Clark-Lana situation dug in deep, the show lost its way. When they struggled to find things to do for Chloe, Lana and Pete, when they forced a divide between Clark and Lex that felt as unnatural as wedgies on an elephant, the show got away from a superboy we have a chance of identifying with and how he grows up.

    And look at it now. It's not the same show as the one offered in the pilot. It's Smallville on the worst drugs imaginable. What a damn shame.

    It's really not the same show. It's reset itself so many times... it's too bad. You watch a show like, say, Six Feet Under, that is consistent and beautiful, and then you watch this, it's like pulling teeth.

    Hope you are doing all right...

    Take care,


    Thanks! I'm trying. I have a comic coming out and I'm going bankrupt in the same month. Fun!

    Next week, the last Lana ever. And good.

    Don't forget to check out the updated KO Count.



    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    Clark is flip flopping about kissing Lana when Chloe shows up and tells him it's ok instead of shoving kryptonite up his nose like she threatened last week. Clark goes off to make earthquakes with Lana only to find Lady Lex snooping around her ransacked apartment instead. Turns out Lana is missing and not just... you know... not home. A quick use of X-rays finds a medallion linking Lana to a guy working for Tess and flash backs ensue. During our time in the past we learn Girl Power Lana was on a quest to become GI Jane and earn the right to wield the world's ultimate power. To do so she enlists the help of an ex-commando or something like that (I wasn't quite clear) and goes about being tortured until she is somehow ready to be a superhero. (Yeah I didn't get it either). Between the present and the flashbacks we also learn Lana is undergoing some secret experiment designed by Lex which turns out to be an early form of his powersuit which will give the wearer unlimited power. Clark gets desperate and whinny to find Lana. Meanwhile Lady Lex takes out a bit of the competition by inserting her high heels in the man's eye socket. Clark finds a not-so-well-hidden safe in Isis that somehow went unnoticed until now and learns Lana's full plan and luckily the address to where she is. He superspeeds to the place a second too late only to see Girl Power Lana bust out and snatch a bullet out of thin air. After a nice longing and loving look at superspeed she tears off leaving Clark in the dust... Because for some reason he didn't chase after her using his own superspeed. Then to wrap it up Clark and Lana end up in Clark and Lois' future special spot making out all happy because now they are the DCU's new World's Finest.

    Oh My God. I do not even know where to start with this one. One thing I've always said about Smallville over the years was that even in the bad episodes there was something worth watching. A scene, a moment, or even just one of the actors playing their part well. Not with this one.

    Look, I said it before I don't like Lana's place on this show. The way they elevate her importance in Superman's life and existence. The way they try to make her this symbol of girl power and just a bunch of other stuff that saying again would be one more re-hash after a long length of re-hashes so I am not even going to bother.

    I get it. I don't like her so it goes beyond saying an entire episode devoted to Girl Power Lana Lang is going to not sit well with me. I'll just come out and say it. I hated it. Seriously. It is by far the worst episode I've sat through of this series. There was nothing there I liked. Everything came off as a pandering and pathetic attempt to make Lana into something she is not, something she never was, and something she should not become.

    If they played it like a drug addict having a relapse then it would have been just right. Lana had Clark's powers before. A drive to get that back is realistic and would have made good drama. Instead they had to go the Girl Power route and have Lana sacrifice her safety and comfort to prove she is worthy of the burden of having unlimited power... You know because she just wants to help people, make the world a better place, and pet kittens.

    Then to make things worse in order to fluff up Lana's path to a hero they had to go and regress Clark two years. Seriously. Where is the Superman who was around in the beginning of the season? Gone. Nowhere. Back is the whinny panicked 15 year old who's main power is his ability to barge into someplace and level accusations at someone with no proof or even a clue.

    Lana? They couldn't even figure out how they wanted her to act. She was bordering psychotic. One second she is all tough and full of girl power talking with her angry voice. Sounding ready to kick tushy and take names and the next she completely changes her voice to the soft nice little farmer's daughter girl next door with the sweet demeanor and says "but I just want to help people and save the world." It really was psychotic. Like some kind of split personality.

    What was, I think, an attempt to make her seem like a strong woman trying to do right came off as selfish and pandering. Even my wife, who does not share my bias when it comes to Lana, thought she was acting psychotic. At first we thought they might have been building to a solution where Lana was power-mad but it turned out that no, actually they were trying to make her a superhero who is more selfless than Superman. Which I guess explains why Saturn Girl didn't do something to stop her when she read her mind a few weeks ago.

    She bested and scolded the Green Arrow, supposedly inspired Clark to be the hero he is, and now is being set up to be this DCU's number 2 super hero. Forget Batman and Wonder Woman people. We have Girl Power Lana Lang. The Little girl from Smallville who will crush you, stab you with a pitch fork, shoot you, kidnap you, kill you, lock you in a bear trap, and growl at you angrily for hours on end because you didn't tell her everything about you but really just wants to help people and save the world because she is just so gosh darn nice. Oh yeah and pet kittens.

    I like the idea that Lex was building a power suit to fight Clark and save his battered body but the only way Lana's timeline in flashbacks work is if he was building it before he was wounded in the Fortress. Sure he had deals going on like Aries that led to it but Lana seemed to be on to it way sooner than she should have. That was cool but everything about it here just fell totally flat. There is no way Lex would have let it get out to Lana like that, especially after the Fortress when he needed it the most.

    I had a moment when I thought Clark and Tess were going to bond and maybe even team up which actually might have been cool. Sadly she split off to do her less than exciting sub story about Lex's goon and Clark went off to use his super barging and accusation power on the guy who trained Lana. The way Clark went from aggressive to begging in that scene at the Luthor mansion made me want to vomit. First of all he had no idea what the guy's connection was. He just found what he thought was his medallion. It was in a drawer. As in put for safe keeping. Not found busted on the floor like it was torn off in a fight. If anything the logical conclusion would have been Lana stole it from him for some reason. It was not a situation where you go barging in and leveling accusations that the man kidnapped her. You question and determine the connection before going that route. Maybe even follow him first. Then maybe after you learn he was on her side you get a bit panicked about your friend's safety because your lead didn't pan out and you beg him to help.

    Tess killing Lex's right hand man could have been interesting because it would show she still has an evil side even if she's sworn off Lex but since it was a clear cut self defense situation I don't know where she is anymore. Good? Evil? Something else? It was a waste of time other than getting an ending to a character some of us were wondering about.

    And the safe where they find out everything about Lana? Really? No one noticed that before? Chloe never bothered to check what Lana was doing over there? You could see it through the radiator when Clark moved it aside. It wasn't even that well hidden. A set design mistake maybe but in an episode already filled with bad ideas it was just hard to ignore.

    How did Lana get away from Clark after she caught Tess' bullet? Did he not chase her? Is she faster? More powerful? What's the deal? It made no sense that one minute they are gazing longingly at Superspeed and the next Clark is alone in the Daily Planet and later claiming to have looked everywhere for her. (Umm why didn't you just follow her then?)

    There was another flash of light at the end when Clark actually sounded reasonable about Lana's power-up. That he was expecting it to end bad. Almost as if he didn't, gasp, trust her. Sadly that quickly evaporated into thin air at the simple bat of Girl Power Lana Lang's eyes. All it took was a declaration of her awesomeness and sincere wish to use and control ultimate power to help people, save the word... and you know... pet kittens.

    Next thing I know they are kissing on the Daily Planet roof. The place in the future where Clark and Lois will share some moments. It just felt wrong. Dirty. Insulting. I hated it.

    I could keep going on but I'd just be rehashing things I've said in the past about Lana's place on the show.

    Lastly Chloe. Last week she was tossing out threats if Clark messed with her cousin's emotions and this week she is just blowing it off as nothing when Clark says he was playing vacuum cleaner with Lana's face? What? Did they not read last week's script over before filming this one? Come on.

    I give this one a 1 out of 5 only because my wife said a zero was too harsh (even though she said she hated it too) I think she just wanted me to give it a point because they still have Justin Hartley shirtless in the title montage. If I was still doing letter grades this would be an F.

    Next week looks like more of the same. God I hope they can turn it around. I'll be there and I am interested to see how they wrap up Lana's story but I personally can't wait to get back to watching the show we had at the beginning of the season. You know the one where Clark was actually being Superman? Where he and Lois were growing closer. Where Clark was actually the most important person on the show. Man I miss that show.


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