A Case of the…. Smallville

Note: I am writing this column previous to the airing of the March 29 episode of Smallville, and have not yet caught last week’s either. This column is just referring to the wedding episode .

Yeah, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written about the show. And, honestly, it’s not because I no longer enjoy it. As I’ve said in the past, numerous times, I think this season as a whole has been very interesting and well written. That said, Lana’s character STILL takes a significant amount of the enjoyment out.

It’s as if the writers, at a whim, decide they suddenly want Lana to be likable, so they suddenly write her as sensitive, understanding, and protective. The end result (to me anyway) isn’t that Lana becomes likable, instead she just seems very inconsistently written.

On top of that, the show desperately needs to break away from this relationship. Again, I’ve said this a number of times before, but Lana is supposed to be Clark’s first love. Lois is supposed to be the love of his life. The way they’re repeatedly relied on this relationship as a plot device only makes it hard to believe that he’ll ever love somebody as much as he loves her. I understand that the show needs to drift away from the traditional Superman mythology to a certain extent, but THIS is something they need to stay true to.

All of that said, I did think this was an extremely well scripted and enjoyable episode. As such, I will separate this posting in two categories: “What I liked” and “What I didn’t like.”

WHAT I LIKED:

The Episode Format. I greatly enjoyed the method of storytelling, with the viewers getting a different point of view of the same day from Clark, Lex, and Lana’s perspective (with each starting off with a distressing nightmare). I also thought the use of the bumper, giving us the time of day in the guise of Lex and Lana’s wedding invitation, was very clever and effective.

I want to emphasize how impressed I was with the scripting of the episode. I especially liked how Clark’s interaction with Chloe in the wine cellar was seemingly ordinary, but once we saw Lana’s role in what had happened it became clear that it was actually a very significant moment. I also think that the way we found out that Lana overheard the conversation was more powerful than the alternative, or just regularly scripting it in one fluid scene from the third person perspective.

Come to think of it, despite the fact that I was pretty rough with her earlier (and have been since pretty much last year), I actually think that Lana’s portion of the episode was the strongest (which makes sense, since she’s the link between Clark and Lex). Her quick change of emotion when Lex approaches her the morning of the wedding at first seemed like typical wedding day jitters. However, we later discovered that she was more or less feigning the emotion, having begun to put together the pieces of Clark’s secret.

I’ve often said that Lionel Luthor is one of the most complex characters on television, and this particular episode only solidified that status even further. For the entire season, and much of the latter part of last season, he’s shown his loyalty to Clark (coming to his defense to hide his secret and even attending Thanksgiving at his home). It was quite shocking to see him not only show his allegiance to Lex, but to even threaten Clark’s life. Indeed, there is yet another layer to this enjoyable character.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

The Continued Clark/Lana Relationship. Once again, I really think the show desperately needs to move past this relationship. The most unfortunate thing is that Clark needs to be the one who actively decides to walk away from it. Ideally, Clark should come to the realization that while he does love Lana (and probably always will), she isn’t the love of his life, since he’s unable to tell her his secret. Then, near the series finale (whenever that is), have Clark actively decide that he wants to tell Lois about his abilities, and the scene will seem that much more poignant in contrast.

In so many ways, Clark has made such incredible strides this season. He’s fully realized how dastardly and evil Lex is, he’s learned to trust new people (particularly Chloe and Oliver), and he’s broadened his view of the world, as he’s realized that there are life-threatening things going on in the world beyond Smallville and Metropolis. In so many ways, he just needs the costume to be Superman, and in that sense his lack of growth as it relates to the Lana relationship is striking.

And while I did appreciate how well scripted the scene was in which Lana discovered Clark’s powers (as well as her consequential self-realization that she isn’t truly in love with Lex), to me, this is only furthering the relationship between the two of them, whereas the show should be drifting from it. Along with that, of the series regulars Lana, Chloe, Lionel, and Martha all know Clark’s secret, leaving Lex and Lois pretty much the only two characters that don’t.

While I also like the continued complexity of Lionel’s character, I was a bit disappointed that he would turn on Clark the way he did. Especially since I so enjoyed the way he came to Clark’s defense in the Justice League episode. However, this shows that Lionel has not completely changed, and I’m sure that we’ll soon discover why he did what he did.

Another nitpick is Martha’s presence at everything regarding Lana and Lex’s wedding. The wedding itself is not so much a big deal, since Lionel was the best man and he was there, and even Clark was invited (and was going to go). However, a few episodes ago when she was at the dinner party, I was scratching my head. First off, Lionel wasn’t even there. Secondly, no matter how close she may be to Lana, shouldn’t her allegiance be with her son? Especially considering how much he hates the groom. And if it was about politics, I’m sure nobody would blame her for not attending the wedding of her late husband’s political opponent.

Other than that, there isn’t much that I didn’t enjoy. I do hope, though, that the Clark/Lana relationship doesn’t extend any further than this season. I imagine they’ll have him long for her for a while as she tries to figure out how to get out of her marriage to Lex without putting Clark’s life in danger. I’m guessing that will come to a head in the finale. Next season, though, should truly be about Clark moving on.

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