Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 9 - Episode 14: "Persuasion"



Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Smallville 914: Terrorist

No, wait, sorry. "Persuasion"


  • Clark is infected with gem kryptonite and gains super hypnosis.
  • Lois becomes a homemaker, and Chloe, well, she kinda acts like usual.
  • Which is incoherent, strangely violent, and protective.
  • Clark destroys Zod's towers.
  • B-dee b-dee b-dee, that's all, folks.


    There is something that strikes me to my core with rage at seeing Superman garbed entirely in black destroying twin towers in what is essentially New York. Flaming towers at Superman's hands. There is something terrifically abominable in that. I am utterly, totally aghast. Rocked to my core. I don't think I can watch this show any more. I could spit tacks right now.

    Does he check for people inside the building? Does he not destroy the mechanisms before the building for a reason? I'm asking what we see, not what we as fans can interpolate.

    What do we see? What is SHOWN?

    We see an act of terrorism. He doesn't demolish the building. The scene is set so that, just as nine years ago, the mid to upper floors are left in flames. Not an unfamiliar image. I refuse to believe they were not cognizant of what this entails and is loaded with.

    We're in a bit of an incubating period here (in the United States, at least, for my outside readers), where terrorism as a concept is going from fringe lunacy of lesser consequence other than human cost (pre-9/11) to a perceived real threat (post-9/11) to where we are now, where it's often relegated back to minor lunacy.

    In that, I do believe I think I can understand what they were thinking. That they could do this and it would pass. But then again, it's wholly inconsistent of yet, and dangerous ground in the moral consciousness at best.


    Black guy tries to blow up a plane with people on it, fails, it's treated as a massive act of stopped terrorism.

    White guy successfully crashes a plane into a federal building, and it's not called terrorism, largely, it's just the "lone loon" largely, in the media. Our definitions and regard are of late screwy.

    In 2001 there was a list (kid you not, younger readers) of songs that were not supposed to be played on the radio after the towers fell. A Superman comic was criticized because, just after 9/11, there was a picture of a tower burning, not unlike the Trade Towers. Bill Maher was fired because (while roundly condemning the terrorist act) he said it takes courage to fly a plane into a building.

    There was an attitude that any and all things that are reminiscent of what happened were not to be seen.

    To be very clear, I was against all of those condemnations and the censorship implied, so I utterly and completely respect the rights of Smallville to put this in their show as a plotline. I still listen to Bill Maher, I still read Superman comics, and when I listen to Disco Inferno (one of the "banned" songs) I don't break down and weep because terrorists hit us, nor do I want to silence someone who disagrees with my take on the situation.

    Nor should you.

    That's what the terrorist want. Inspired terror.

    At the same time my gut tells me that any show that would have SUPERMAN blow up TWIN TOWERS in a city that is the COMIC ANALOGUE OF NEW YORK and then watch as they BURN and FALL without any effort toward saving innocents, and present it as HEROIC?

    That's not something I want to waste my time on any more. At that point all considerations of character and story go right the hell out the window, don't they?

    I can't see any turning back from that.

    This is a lousy episode that, at its core, was all about telling one of the awful, campy 50s stories that made Superman such a laughing stock. Not the cool ones that established trends, but, get this: SUPER HYPNOSIS. With gem kryptonite. Things even the most forgiving fanboy looks back on and titters.

    It was a shippy episode with light bits of plot fluff thrown in that were incoherent. "Oh! We needed the book of Rao, but, uh, I found another way!"

    And Chloe's most unintentionally hilarious line yet, something about not wanting to ally herself with people who kill people.


    I could have forgiven any of that. It spiked the show, but I could have forgiven any of it.

    But all of this, any of this, NONE OF THIS is even remotely touched by the vast overshadow of having the icon for all that is good in America (nay, the world) do something like what happened on 9/11. They don't even touch it.

    How the hell DARE they?

    I am not easily offended. Being vague and considerate of potential children readers, I have watched the "jar guy" video, 2G1C, I visit Rotten regularly, I seek out the irreverent.

    I crack wise about my dead relatives and everything I have lost or held dear in my life is subject to cracks without my malice.

    I hold many and varied opinions that have made people at times want to hit and/or kill me verbally and in print. I understand and applaud the risk entailed in being an artist, and how sometimes you have to go out on a limb and say awful things to prove a point or get attention in media. I have sympathy in this regard.

    The end of this episode is NOT such bravery, and there is no way I can thereby excuse it even theoretically.

    This is an act of creation that, I am solidly convinced, was not thought out, is unintentionally horrible, and serves to give a meaning to the formerly jingoistic phrase that I abhorred and to a degree still do: "Never Forget."

    But this is what forgetting is.

    Not forgetting that terrorists hit our major landmarks and scared the bejesus out of us, because no one can or ever will forget that (even if students can't name the year it happened). This is being so calloused and disregarding of actual recent history, this is forgetting in a way so antagonizing that it takes SUPERMAN and puts him in the role of the MURDERERS of three thousand in a way that makes the images spring instantly to our collective consciousness, all done without any attention whatever to context or the passion brought about by their creative actions as evidenced in the play put before us.

    When I was a younger man, I wrote a column that got me death threats. It had one line toward the end that pissed one whole hell of a lot of people off. For a long time, I blamed the people who misread what I wrote. I lost friends. A lot of friends. Why?

    It was bad writing, even if it was a good point, and it hurt people. What I did was wrong.

    However, I can look upon that action without regret (and even without apology), because I did it from a point of exploration and passion, commitment to exploration through words. I did it with the desire to make things better. I did it with a lot of thought and a lot of hope and the belief that I could reach out to people through print in a life.

    I failed.

    But Smallville has failed in a much greater way. They have attempted to show a cool explosion, not make some larger point, and they have set within it the baggage of many years of misery; they have forgotten two wars, our innocent dead, our PATRIOT acts and all our silenced pens that gave them the RIGHT to do this, but the RESPONSIBILITY not to.

    They have taken our icon, run him raw, and now, they have destroyed him. They put Superman in black and had him blow up buildings, sending news reporters screaming for their lives.

    What broader social point is served here?

    I suppose I'll get nasty letters, "Oh, get over it, Neal, they're just trying to show a cool explosion and use special effects!" "You miss the point!" "You read too much into it!"

    Well, all right. Maybe I bloody well do. Then let's make a Batman show with a Jewish villain and have him shove him in an oven without any kind of irony.

    I'm sure that pyrotechnics could whip up some awesome spouting flame for that show, too.

    Beyond that, Clark was going to kill Tess, and would have if Chloe hadn't stopped him.

    This is not Superman in any way. This is not even a moral character in any way.

    This is the third draft of this, and Steve and I have talked over the context quite a bit. He has wisely suggested that I explain a little bit more of the non-9/11 angle as well, because it is (very, very arguably) potentially the case that they didn't understand what they were doing.

    To that end, I offer this. If you are not offended by the connection between Superman and 9/11 implied here, consider this act in a bubble, outside of the idea of our context (which is something no one ever does, but just for the sake of philosophical argument).

    Clark knocks a building down. That kicks up dust. It causes lung damage. It hurts people in long term, drastic ways.

    Buildings need to be scheduled to be demolished for a reason. They have gas lines that explode. Who knows how many people would be left in the dark or without food because of this action?

    Entirely outside of the symbolic context, this is something that Clark Kent would in no way ever do. Even if you grant them the fact that they have towers that need to be destroyed, Clark Kent could literally, brick by brick, take the place apart and put it in nice stacks. We're not talking about Batman, where he's only human. We're talking about a being who can move so fast that time stops. He could dismantle that building without opposition, without explosions, and in SECONDS.

    If you forgive them the fact that the towers must be destroyed, there are still many better ways. Legal action. Imprisoning the Kandorians. Destroying the activation mechanism. Surrounding Zod and his followers with Kryptonite. ANYTHING. Literally anything.

    Steve is right. 9/11 might not resonate like this with everyone across the world. But Clark Kent committing what is inarguably an act of wanton, careless destruction is unpardonable.

    I think I'm done. I really do.

    Nine years of learning to be a hero and we're rewarded with a Superman who blows up buildings? #@$*ing really?

    This isn't Batman leaving the corpse of Harvey Dent (who he didn't kill) and taking the blame for it so that he can make Dent a hero in retrospect.

    I'm going to take a few good, solid deep breaths. Maybe I'm missing something here that some polite or impolite reader will write me and fill me in on. If I can find something I seem to be missing here, I will write another review next week. I put betting odds against it, as infuriated as I am right now.

    I get joking letters about how a vein stands up on my forehead when I watch the show. Let me assure you, ladies and gentlemen, the show has never made me angry before. It was all in the spirit of good faith, critique, and fun.

    Not now. Now they've tarnished Superman irrevocably.

    Batman shot Darkseid with a gun. I can look at that and say, "Well, that's just Grant Morrison being an imbecile."

    Superman can execute villains and I can say, "Well, bad story choice, but they were at least trying to explore the morality of something."

    Chuck Austen can have Superman threaten to pop the head of the Silver Banshee and I can wait a few months until his replacement comes along.

    I am not thrown from the saddle easily, as I have proven with this show time and again, and I am the ultimate example of the kind of fan this show and comics in general want. I want to finish a thing just because I started it.

    In this case, that's now foolish.

    How could they let this happen? How could they misuse Superman in this way? The only thing I can think of that would be more contretemps to character would be to have him abuse Lois or blow up a planet. It's like having Batman shoot someone's parents. There are so few things that would make me sit up and call it not subject to interpretation.

    Can you imagine, in 1955, having a story where Superman dive-bombs a harbor off the pacific coast and blows up battleships by flying into them, justified because they were Zod's battleships?

    Can you even imagine that?

    They have their right to tell this story. They own this character, and I do not.

    I have the right when, if properly disgusted, to stop watching.

    I think I'm there.

    Yes. The towers in this story needed to be destroyed. Yes, they were an evil entity run by Zod.

    But EVERY FACET of this story, do not forget, is a choice, not something that just magically happened to the show.

    They CHOSE to give Zod twin towers. Not an empty warehouse. Not a skyscraper. Twin towers.

    They CHOSE to make them evil.

    And then they CHOSE to think it a good story choice to have Clark Kent, Superman, destroy twin towers with fire on the upper floors in front of screaming, fleeing reporters in what is essentially New York.

    These are CHOICES. You can't excuse them because they were the only way out of a scenario they concocted.

    I don't think anyone of any sense would be angry with me if I gave up on this show right here and now for that very reason.

    I mean, have some human decency, you #$@%. Show some #%@$ing respect for the best continuing original American myth.

    Shame on everyone associated with that scene. I think I'm done here.

    Check please.

    1 of 5.


    Derek wrote:
    "I DID, however, love the bit where Clark throws the can at the robber, just for its sheer hilarious absurdity. It's actually been nagging me since I saw the preview, but I know I've seen this before. This is a riff on someone else's movie, I just can't place it in my mind. For some reason, I see The Rock doing the same move. Someone, for bonus points, write me in and tell me what movie has that long throw. I can't remember the original, but I remember a similar laugh."

    Not sure if it the same one you are thinking of but it reminded me alot of Justice League Unlimited, the one with all the girl fights. There is a scene with a tired Black Canary and Huntress where Canaray gets beaten up by a normal street thung and he starts running away, Huntress is sort of mocking her for a bit, Canaray says he is getting away then Huntress gets a trash can lid and chucks it at the guy and hits him in the head.

    That's one! But not the one I was thinking of.

    Lisa wrote:
    You said:
    You take Lois Lane, a proto-feminist figure, and you send her into a bathroom in a fit of jealousy over Zatanna, and have her come out in a Wonder Woman (another proto-feminist figure) outfit that reveals a little more, even, for no apparent reason, and you're kind of abusing the privilege.

    Neal, Lois didn't go into the bathroom in a fit of jealous rage. She went into the bathroom to change into an outfit that she had selected BEFORE Zatanna even entered the picture. That part with Clark selecting the outfits in that episode? That's when Lois told Clark to grab that outfit for her. So the outfit had NOTHING to do with Zatanna and I don't see how you could have misconstrued that moment to mean something that it did not.

    I know this might be a tough notion, but there are two major flaws in what you say above. The first is that you assume I'm saying she was wearing less to compete. I didn't. There were two separate assertions, that they sent Lois to the bathroom in a rage, and that she comes out wearing less. I was actually criticizing both as examples of actions that don't befit anyone who is strong and secure in themselves. She put on a skimpy outfit (ridiculous act 1) and she got jealous over a girl just because she was pretty (ridiculous act 2). The irony is that you get mad at me for misconstruing the moment to mean something it did not while misconstruing my writing to mean something it did not.

    Now all that's left is for you to storm off in a fit of rage and come back in a skimpy outfit, and your failure will be complete, Obi-Wan.

    Not only that, but the reason why Lois changed outfits was actually explained in the episode itself. In the very beginning of the episode, Chloe tells Lois that she's not exactly "approachable" in her Stormtrooper outfit. Lois is there on assignment and wants to get closer to people so she decides to change.

    I know this is also a hard concept, but that situation was created by the writers. It didn't really happen. They chose to put her on an assignment and decide to change. It didn't just come out of thin air. It's a crappy explanation.

    Of course the outfit, as hot as she looked in it, shouldn't have been used because you are right and we have seen Lois wear too many of these "sexy" outfits for no other reason than to tantalize viewers and that gets old. So I agree with you main critique but I don't agree that Lois did any of this because she was acting like a "jeaous woman".

    Nor do I, which is why it's very important to read something critically before criticizing it, or you look silly.

    What she did do as a jeaolous woman is rush off with that Sparta guy. That she clearly did out of frustration with Clark. But the outfit? That was just Lois being Lois.

    And that's a third ridiculous act. But apparently it's okay when Lois does it, as a gal, because it's just Lois being Lois. Which is, to wit, sexism. Oh, you silly broads. (Sorry, that's just Neal being Neal?) And yes, that's meant ironically, toots.

    Colin MacArthur wrote:
    Hey Neal, I'm a man of few words and not much time to write blah blah blahs, so I'll make this short. I love the reviews, figured I'd chuck you a bone on the can throw thing. I don't think it was spoofed anywhere else, but the scene with the robber was bang on with the end of the supermarket chase scene in Hot Fuzz. Hope I scratched the itch in your brain. Keep up the good work. Later!

    THIS is what I was looking for. I had seen the others mentioned in the letters, but this was the one sticking in my mind.

    Joe Costigan wrote:
    If you did not get the answer to the can throw, it was Crocodile Dundee

    I did, but this is another valid one.

    Julian Finn wrote:

    I have finally figured out why your (and mine too for that matter) expectations for this show are never met; we're operating under the delustion that this is actually a series!

    I don't know if I am any more.

    We sit down every Friday night (or Saturday morning if I just can't bear to follow up the genius of Caprica with the continuing adventures of the Blur of Non-Specific Hue)and watch this show, a show that has the same characters each week, some semblance of a continuing plot, the occasional nod to forward motion and and a basic understanding that some sort of conflict is required to get from minute 1 to minute 34.5. We see all of this and naturally we assume that these components form a tether linking one episode to the next and so we judge each episode on how well it adresses what has come before while balancing the ongoing drama. We are wrong to this, sir! Wrong wrong wrong.

    I am learning.

    While watching Warrior this week, I noticed a funny thing happening to me. It was the same thing that happened during the first two Harry Potter movies and a similar phenomena occured while watching the first two seasons of Smallville. A little nagging voice in the back of my mind started whispering, "Relax, it's just a..."

    With Potter that sentence was," Relax, it's its own separate entity from the books, enjoy it for what it is."

    I get a lot of letters that begin with "Relax! It's just..." that end with some paraphrasing of "accept mediocrity!"

    With Seasons 1 and 2 of Smallville that voice (we'll call him Compromise the Wonder Opiate) said, "Relax, it's an elseworlds/reimagining/teeny pop culture burp but at least you're getting some "Superman" on T.V. and hey, look, wasn't that Richard Donner fan service neato?

    Ah Compromise, you've been a sweet and loyal companion these last nine years and no less so during the recent teleplay of "Warrior." See, it was in Warrior that the Wonder Opiate told me the truth. "Relax," he said, "it's just a stand alone issue."

    And that's when I realized. We can't expect things on Smallville to make sense in the grander scheme of itself, we need to just relax and appreciate each episode as it's own completely self contained bubble of fun and treat any similarities to past story lines or character traits as purely coincidental and fabrications of the writer's "imagination." The individual fan service moments ARE the story, they're not there to SERVE the story.

    You're not convinced? You'd like proof?

    Actually, I am convinced. But go on.

    Go back and take a look at all of the marketing for Absolute Justice. The vast majority of it indicated that A.J. would be a stand alone, super fan servicy bonanza of Friday night C.W. movie magic. And what did we get? Tess Mercer, agent of Checkmate.

    Also, you may have noticed that serious wounds or broken bones that are sustained by non-Superman influenced characters are completely healed by the next week. Is this an ongoing conspiracy of deliberate oversight on the part of the make-up department? No! It's just a stand alone issue!

    Where is Smallville anyway, and why does its distance from Metropolis tend to fluctuate depending on whether the show got a new cellphone company or a new car company to be its sponsor of the week? Who cares! It's a stand alone issue! Next week Metropolis could be on Bermuda, it's all part of the wacky fun!

    In this context Warrior was great fun. Zatanna hottying it up and sticking her tongue in Clark's ear? Thank you! Kid steals priceless antique only to have it be destroyed while in his care and no consequences ensue? Meh, if this show were about moral lessons Olive would have died horrifically in a fire lit with an arrow with booze as the accelerant months ago. The only lesson here is, always make friends with super heroes immediately after breaking the law. Or something. And the cherry on top? Chloe and Oliver boozing it up like real co-dependent grown ups before using archery as a sex metaphor.

    You're not helping me want to continue reviewing, but you are making astoundingly astute points.

    Relax, it's just a stand alone issue and besides, almost none of it will be remembered by next week, especially not by my good friend Compromise who's ever ready to fight the never ending battle.

    Bend over!

    All kidding aside, I miss the long form reviews, dude. :( I understand why you've scaled them back and I agree with your motives, but there was something nice about knowing that the blow from a bad episode would be absorbed by 10 miles of biting critique by the end of the weekend.

    Keep up the good work and cheers,

    This has been the major guilt that has kept me writing these, because I do see the letters, I am a completist, and I can't stand the idea of letting people down. I'm a people pleaser, and I do get letters from folks who say they truly enjoy these. I struggle weekly with the idea of whether or not this is good for me or bad for me.

    I don't write things for response any more. I used to, but I put that away. Now I write because I enjoy it, primarily, and I'm trying to force myself to stop writing anything that doesn't directly profit me.

    I get a ton out of the fan interaction here, and I get an awful lot out of my friendship with Steve, and I adore interacting with creators and commentating. That's what keeps me going.

    This show is a negligible percentage of why I am doing these writings.

    Now I'm looking at it, though, as a matter of principle. Can I support a show that made Superman look like Mohamed Atta? Can anyone? Should anyone?

    Here's the biggest problem I have, and maybe someone can solve it. I have enormous energy for literary criticism on occasion, but it has virtually no utility in terms of television, because television, on a whole, delivers what Smallville is. But if I write an extended critique of, say, Henry V, there's almost no point to it. We have teachers for that, and the essay market is about as big as that fart that just came out of my butt. Somewhat substantial, but not enough to fill a room.

    If I can focus on novel writing (and I have, with the last year seeing me finish three complete drafts and two edited pieces in a series I have placed with an agent), and if I can work toward more magazine gigs, why give Smallville its undue? The answer is because other folks enjoy it, the readers of the review, but at a certain point I ask myself if that bears any fruit for me? Is that selfish? I don't know.

    I know I can't ask for cash for these, because Superman is a trademark, and because their utility is largely transitory and based in the week they come out. I mean, I could say, "If someone randomly gives me a hundred bucks, I promise to write a column." But then that's considered a dick move, as is almost any attempt to make money writing on the internet.

    My motivation is A) A now crappy show and B) Letters like these.

    But it is my firm belief that if the notions put forward in these fan letters are sincere, they'd follow me to my private writings. And while some have, most haven't, which inclines me to believe that I'm just being a clown for Smallville. That without this context, I would not be given a chance, which is cheating me of the fair chance my writing on my own would give me.

    So tell me. Should I demand some kind of token gesture to have you guys (who are good to me) put your money where your mouth is? Or should I quit? Or should I continue writing for free about something I currently loathe that I do not believe is going to get better out of the nerd's desire to complete something?

    To be honest, I've put my life in line. I put out three books this year, but I could do more. I'm happy, I'm hopeful, and I've got a grasp on my writing despite the seemingly endless toil and difficulty associated with getting published and finding readers.

    At the same time, Smallville's creators are laughing to the bank with their cash, and I have been coping with a broken down car, an annihilated desk, shoes that flap, and horrid budgeting coupled with bankruptcy as a penalty for putting more thought into the show than they ever did, would, or could.

    What would you do?

    Gislef wrote:
    Enjoyed the review, as always, but was a little confused by one thing:

    "As anyone who's ever dealt with an alcoholic relative will know, the idea of someone who was recently alcoholic and is now "cured" sitting around drinking a single malt in a healthy way is absurd, and almost insulting to the fight alcoholics have to face."

    I guess I didn't follow this. It seems to suggest that Oliver is an alcoholic (or a "cured" alcoholic). He drinks, yes. And the show's always been big on presenting drinking as a "cool" thing to do: you'd think liquor companies were paying major advertising on the show. Maybe they are. But Oliver also has a lot of sex, probably a comparable amount to the booze, and I wouldn't call him a sexaholic. Maybe he is one or both, though. I just don't think the show has presented Oliver as an alcoholic, though.

    Having sex doesn't make you an abusive imbecile. Alcoholism does. They have mentioned him hitting the bottle hard, and I struggle to think of any other reason he'd be down in the mouth. Murdering someone will make you an emo kid, yeah, but they were heavily implying it was the bottle.

    As for the plot, it was okay. I kinda liked them building up the Clark/Lois relationship a bit. On the other hand, I liked the cursed comic book plot a lot more when they did it on Friday the 13th: The Series, back in January 1988. When you're using nearly identical plots from a syndicated blood-and-gore horror show...

    Never saw that show... for a reason, heh.

    Serethiel wrote:
    Hey Neal!

    You know how when you expect something to be completely awesome, and after the said event all you feel is sucker-punched?

    That was me with "Absolute Justice."

    I had a lot of expectations going in. You'd think after season 4 or 5 I would have learned not to expect too much out of the series... but alas, I still do, hence the reason I still watch. You could call me a glutton for punishment, I guess.

    Probably the worst disappointment for me was the casting of Hawkman. I remember I completely GEEKED out when I heard Michael Shanks had landed the role of Connor. I'm a huge fan of "Stargate SG-1," and Daniel Jackson is one of my favorite characters. He's a fantastic actor, and I just knew he was going to bring his A-game to the episode.

    But he didn't. After seeing years of his performance of "Stargate" I could tell that he only gave half of what he's capable of. It stung very badly. Was his dialogue well written? Sure. But the was the Christian Bale growl voice really necessary? I mean, really? I don't know what he was thinking... or if he was thinking. And on top of that, he just seemed bored.

    I have a video response:

    It's also my process for reviewing Smallville, as an added bonus.

    The special effects were pretty top-notch for a mid-season episode, but over all I can't say that the "event" episode impressed me at all. Very little stood out, and what I do remember, especially from the B-story, made sense.

    But as pointless as most of "Absolute Justice" was, I found "Warrior" to be even worse. Honestly, what was the point of bringing Zatanna back? They wasted her character when they could've used her for something more important. Granted, her appearance last year wasn't all that special, but this one was even worse. But really, I didn't expect "Warrior" to be anything special after I saw the Lois-Wonder Woman promos, and read the episode description.

    The best part I remember was Lois as a Storm Trooper with the token "I can't see a thing in this helmet" reference. That, and it was nice for Smallville to remember their own continuity by bringing up Warrior Angel again... although it did seem odd to have them referencing Warrior Angel in an episode without Lex. *sigh*

    Anyway, that's my two cents worth, if it's even worth that. Thanks, as always for letting me rant a little.

    You take care of yourself and keep writing. I look forward to your reviews every week :)



    Gislef wrote:
    "I DID, however, love the bit where Clark throws the can at the robber, just for its sheer hilarious absurdity. It's actually been nagging me since I saw the preview, but I know I've seen this before. This is a riff on someone else's movie, I just can't place it in my mind. For some reason, I see The Rock doing the same move. Someone, for bonus points, write me in and tell me what movie has that long throw. I can't remember the original, but I remember a similar laugh."

    There is a very similar scene in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Affinity." Teal'c, who might be mistaken for The Rock, does about the same thing. The injoke may be that the person watching him in that episode is a character played by Erica Durance.

    Interesting. Didn't know she was on that show. But that's four, although that's not the one I was looking for.

    David wrote:
    The movie you are looking for is Crocodile Dundee. In regards to the can being thrown to stop the thief.


    AJ Bhowmik wrote:
    Neal - I hope this letter re: the Zatana episode makes it in to your next column because I don't know if this point has been made.

    The whole episode - as well as in others - Clark complains that he does not understand why people wear costumes and capes. At the same time, Clark is wearing his neo-costume which completely contradicts all the comments he made against costumes at the convention. Plus, the writers keep putting the costume idea at issue while never explaining why Clark needs to dress up as Batman to fight crime.

    I'd like your feedback as to whether I am missing something, or the writers are just completely oblivious of these points.

    It seems the writers are completely oblivious, another screwy part of this situation.



    Ryon Elliott wrote:
    Neal, the movie scene that alludes you is from the brilliant Crocodile Dundee. Dundee throws a can to stop a purse snatcher in the middle of a corwded sidewalk in New York City. What aim! I consider it brilliant because it sits on a high shelf of nostalgia along with movies like The Goonies. So don't review it, because you might change my mind.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence! I actually liked the movie when I was a kid. It's kind of weird, if I'm negative on something it changes people's minds or hacks them off, but if I'm positive, it gets forgotten, heh.

    While this whole season has reeked of fail for the most part, I feel this episode was actually better than most. And that maybe, just a little, you might be getting unfair with it. Did the story completely ignore everything that's supposed to be going on this season (i.e. Zod's army and an impending red sun event that Clark has foreknowledge of and yet doesn't seem worried), but maybe that's a good thing. Because honestly, the overall story arc of the season is weak, and having a break from that is nice.

    I agree. Especially given this week, which has probably killed the show for me. I am writing this leaving myself an out, which is sad, but I don't see how I can come back next week right now.

    Sure, just because I'm comparing it to something horrible doesn't mean it, by default, is good. The story of a kid who desperately wants to be a hero because of his life's current status, is something we (most comic book fans) should be able to relate to. That's what makes it a decent episode. It seems unfair to call a child homicidal when you later explain his downfall is predetermined by magic. Though, I did wonder why Clark needed to have a face-to-face with the kid about responsibility of power, when it wasn't the kid's own free-will that was the problem.

    Yeah, that is kind of weird. Especially given that they didn't fight and/or interact much.

    I hadn't thought of the Zatana situation as a "sexual assault" sort of thing, but you're dead on. Sometimes fishnets get me distracted. That classification may sound strong at first, but seriously, when you switch the roles, most people are repulsed. Oddly, the double standard of women being able to hit/rape mean, only seems to victimize women even more.

    Yeah. It's not rape if a guy is the victim, generally, in the public's eye. Very strange how that works.

    Also, it seems a little harsh to blame Chloe for not realizing Warrior Angel was a kid. Sure, they live in a universe where they've seen the old become young, and had minds switched between bodies, but I don't expect these writers to remember anything more than 3 episodes old. Sure, Chloe should have been wondering if this guy had a serious learning disability. Sure, she shouldn't be inviting guys up to her room with promiscuous intentions when they clearly have at least a mental development issue. But no, she probably shouldn't be expected to guess he was really a 12 year old.

    True. But it's still their choice to set up that situation. It doesn't come out of thin air. I think they could have chosen better. Like, instead of making him a love interest for Chloe, make him hang around with Clark. These are choices.

    I think your review this time around might have been a little severe. I think the episode had the potential of being a 3.5. Decent, but certainly not great.

    Glad you liked it.

    Folks, if this is the last review, I will still wrap it up with letters for this week, if Steve is cool with that. If it's not, then you must be a persuasive crowd. I know a guy who kept threatening to never speak with me again and it bugged the hell out of me, and I know I've hemmed and hawed about continuing these reviews for some time, and that's unfair. It's a complex decision, though, so I want to give it due diligence. I hope you'll accept my apology in that regard.

    One suggestion that won't work, I'll tell you in advance, is suggesting a letter writing campaign. I don't believe in writing people and telling them how to write, or what to write, or in what capacity they should or should not write. This is a critique that they can choose to read or not read, but I get enough letters that tell me how I should do a thing that I'd never want to put it on others.

    My suggestion, and I think I may take this advice, is to simply stop watching the show and supporting it in any capacity.

    A very clear line has been crossed for me. It's not Superman abusing a child, but it's still a fundamental line you DO NOT CROSS.

    It was bad when the JLA as a group destroyed an abandoned warehouse. But the twin towers, thinly veiled, is just too damned far.

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



    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    Super Short Summary: After snooping around the Clone towers with Lois, Clark ends up inhaling powdered Kryptonite which gives him mind powers that cause all sorts of hijinks from Lois thinking she is June Cleaver to Chloe thinking she can actually kung fu fight. Even Clark isn't immune when he ends up believing he should follow some sort of Kryptonian revenge right and goes after Lady Lex before getting his mind back and going wrecking ball on a couple of buildings.

    I really liked this episode except for one brief moment. One and only one thing and it only lasted 30 seconds if even that. Yet that one tiny little thing was such a huge WHAT THE HECK?!? moment that I ended up sitting there with my jaw on the floor after the episode wondering why in the world did they just do what they did.

    The worst thing about it is that the moment I speak of occurred right at the end of the episode. To have a pretty gosh darn good episode just fall flat on its face at the end like that is amazing.

    It is kind of like Alien Resurrection, which is actually a pretty good movie if you stop it about 20 minutes before the end and pretend the movie ended there. That's what you should do here. Just pretend Clark is determined to stop the Clones from activating Clone towers and turn off the TV. Then you can come in next week believing that Clark went through and busted up the machinery off screen and everything is ok. Why? You will be better off for it.

    Why? Because then you wouldn't have to sit there and watch our "Superman" blast apart two sky scrapers in the middle of a Major Freaking City that's why!

    Seriously? In the post 9-11 world you think it's a cool idea to show Superman blowing apart and knocking down two "twin" towers in the middle of your world's biggest city? Not collateral damage in a fight with a villain, not in a pre-planned demolition zone. But just standing across the street and blowing the building apart with massive heat rays. (They looked pretty cool though).

    I know why Clark did it. I actually was pleased to see Clark stand up and take action. But this? Burn them maybe but they clearly looked like they were doing more than burn to me. They looked like they were collapsing. And we know there were people under them because we just saw them in the scene with Zod. Reporters and what not. Did Clark blur them away? I didn't see it. What about the surrounding buildings? It sure looked like they were surrounded by other buildings. Ok. Maybe in the comics world buildings can fall without damage to surrounding buildings but that doesn't change the fact that there were people on the ground next to them.

    Yes, yes. I know. It was actually a giant machine that was going to ruin everyone's Easter and Clark did need to do something to make them nonfunctional but that might have been a bit too much.

    The wife says I am over reacting to it. Maybe I am. What do you think?

    Now with that off my chest I did really enjoy the episode. Seriously.

    Sure the mind whammy thing was sort of a 'been there, done that' in a way, but I did find the effects pretty gosh darn amusing and different enough that it didn't feel stale.

    Clark's initial whammy on Chloe was really great because it came at a moment when Clark was being assertive and kind of putting her in her place. I don't mean that as a rip on Chloe but I do think it's important that Superman is clear and forceful to the other "heroes" around him when he is not willing to compromise on his beliefs. He's a nice guy to a fault but not at the expense of his morals and it was good to see that on display here.

    Chloe going after Tess and Lois was just awesome. I think Allison Mack plays tough Chloe very well and it was oddly amusing when she tore into Lois. I was so glad they didn't pull a Lana with her and magically make her a good fighter when she tried to engage Lady Lex in a kung-fu fight. Lady Lex basically wiped the floor with her but it was fun to see Chloe go basically "all in" and kept going at her until she was blurred away by our boy in black.

    The best stuff though was Lois and her trying to turn the Kent residence into the Wally and June Cleaver homestead. Of course Lois would have an off the wall, insecure view on what Clark would consider "traditional". That sort of twisted over re-action view of reality is just what we would expect from this Lois when she's been mind whammied by Kryptonian hypnosis.

    I was pleased to see Clark stand up right away and take notice. Not only did he notice something was wrong beyond just a joke but he quickly deduced what was the likely cause and started investigating, trying to put it right. This is a big step up from Clark of the past who either wouldn't have figured it out until the final 5 minutes or would have had to have someone else figure it out for him. Sure he got a little help from Dr. Hamilton but then that's what the guy's job is. The fact Clark went to him shows how much Clark has grown in his hero roll. Spot the problem, investigate the problem, solve the problem. No stopping to whine about the problem or pretend there isn't one.

    Plus it was also nice to see him stand up and keep Lois from leaving in her dazed state. Why do I get the feeling if it was Lana saying goodbye Clark would have let her leave and then patched things up after the mind whammy was fixed? Not this time. He stopped her at the stairs and I was pleased to see that. Plus I love the little look of realization that Tom Welling gave Clark as he said he really meant what he was saying. It was fun to see that moment in Clark where he realized it was true and that he was in this with Lois for the long haul. If anything that was maybe the best thing to come out of this episode.

    Not sure what happened between Clark and the Zod-Clone though. Maybe one of you readers has a better idea than I. I took the scene where Clark tried his new power on Zod-Clone two ways...

    Either Clark mind whammied Zod-Clone and then somehow mind whammied himself (which I don't really get how)... Or somehow when Clark did the whammy on Zod-Clone, the Clone somehow gained the power as well and was able to mind whammy Clark right back.

    Kind of an iffy scene but I did like it if only for the fact that it showed Clark standing up to the villain and keeping to his guns about his intentions to help the Krypto-Clones.

    It did lead to a cool scene with Clark and Lady Lex. The heat vision effects were fantastic this week. Having Chloe step in and "protect" Clark from himself was a good way to wrap it up too. It makes sense that Green-K would kill off the Rainbow-K (or whatever color it was) since we've seen that before. Plus it showed that even if Chloe went a bit too far in her "protection" she is still on Clark's side.

    I was glad to see Clark standing by his promise to help the Clones find lives. Sure in the end we saw he had to take action but it's important that he tried reaching out a hand instead of a fist and he kept on that path until there was absolutely no other choice. Only then did he step up and take more drastic action. Even if I didn't like how they showed him taking down the buildings, it was a good story point that he did take them out.

    I'm going with 3.5 out of 5 for this one. Call it a 5 with a -1 for the tower imagery at the end and another -.5 for the iffy scene with the double back-at you (or self) whammy with Clark and the Zod-Clone.

    See you next week!


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