A Case of the…. Smallville – Episode 7-18

While I really enjoyed last night’s episode of Smallville, it wasn’t without its quirks. As I’ve made it abundantly clear, I think this series has far outgrown the whole Clark/Lana thing, so I was really, really annoyed by the fact that he was willing to give up his EXISTENCE and, in turn, the well being of everybody he’s ever known, because of his super duper Lana love. I mean, c’mon, that was a little much. While it’s fair to say that in this particular instance Lana wouldn’t have been targeted, there were countless times throughout high school that she was at the receiving end of a meteor freak attack. And this episode wasn’t a clear cut “hey, imagine if Krypton — and in turn Clark — never existed.” It was a “imagine Krypton still blew up, but Clark wasn’t sent to his rescue” deal. That means all the meteor freaks and Brainiac still exist, Clark just isn’t there to save the day.

That, in turn, brought up a few inconsistencies that I wish they would have brought attention to. How were frequent meteor freak victims like Chloe and Lana able to survive high school? Meteor freaks rarely preyed on them due to their association with Clark. They were usually in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the particular freak had some sort of infatuation with them. In most of those instances, Clark was a non-issue.

Making matters worse, even when he got to the alternate reality, it seemed like the only thing he cared about was making sure Lana was okay. Hey, listen, your dad is suddenly alive again, but lets not go visit him. It’s not like you can, ya’ know, super speed your way over to that cruise ship or something.

A minor quibble, but I was really bothered by Clark’s constant verbal narration. I mean, who barges into somebody’s house and says — outloud — “that’s right, I never existed in this world” with a total stranger in the room? Tom Welling is a much better actor than he is often given credit for, so I don’t doubt that he has the chops to convey his understanding of the circumstances through various facial expressions. And if they really felt the need to dumb it down, at least have him talk to the octagonal key (hoping to communicate with Jor-El) when he’s alone.

I think my biggest disappointment with the episode, though, was how they completely screwed the pooch by having Clark return to Krypton. This should have been an absolutely HUGE event. One that should have AT LEAST taken up an entire episode. Instead they jam it into the closing ten minutes. Ideally, the episode should have ended with Clark going to the Fortress, with next week’s episode taking place entirely on Krypton. The way it played out, it was completely rushed and anti-climatic.

I think that they can very easily fill an entire episode with Clark searching through Krypton — a place he has never been before — trying to find the location of where the baby version of himself is going to be launched off before Brainiac has the opportunity to kill him and void his entire existence. All the meanwhile, Clark needs to contend with a chaotic civilization of people that are about to become extinct, while also emotionally coming to terms with the fact that he’s standing foot on his home planet. I mean, I’ve seen people brought to tears over returning to their childhood home — imagine the impact of coming back to your home planet, which had blown up over 20 years ago. After Clark and Kara vanguish Brianiac, the final scene can show adult Clark having an emotional face to face moment with Jor-El and Lara (they could shoot the scene from behind Jor-El and Lara’s back — showing Clark’s face — preventing actual actors to portray the Kryptonian parents). It could have been a truly amazing scene, with Clark wanting — but not being able to — save his birth parents. Before Clark leaves, Jor-El can tell Clark (putting his hand on his son’s shoulder) “you cannot change the past, you can only affect the future.” Of course, Clark can later echo this sentiment to Kara back in Smallville.

Best of all, now in touch with his Kryptonian roots, Clark finally achieves the ability to fly. Of course, he doesn’t realize he can do it until a crucial moment in the finale.

I suppose that they could always do ANOTHER back-in-time episode so that Clark can return to Krypton, but you always remember your first time. And they really dropped the ball in that regard.

A lot of people are also claiming that Lex SHOULD be dead, since Clark wasn’t there to rescue him from drowning in the first episode. I disagree with this interpretation. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen that first episode, but it’s my opinion that Lex would never have driven off the bridge if he wasn’t briefly distracted by Clark. He was driving like a maniac and his attention wasn’t exactly keen at the moment, so I don’t doubt that he would have gotten into an accident of some sort, but I don’t think THAT accident would have happened.

One thing I LOVED about the episode, though, was how it was implied that Clark becomes his future self BECAUSE of Lois’ influence. Consider the huge strides he made towards becoming that person once Lana was out of the picture, and his focus was on Lois. While Chloe uses her “magic” and Clark uses his abilities to save the day, Lois relies on her connections and overall cunning. It was really neat seeing these two work together, combining their strengths in order to save the day. I also enjoyed how it is through Lois that he comes up with his “disguise” of a bumbling, suit and glasses wearing reporter. And I loved how she was going to peek in on him changing.

My only fear is that this show has a habit of teasing us by building towards the Clark/Lois relationship, only to totally disregard it a few episodes later. Within a couple episodes he’s back to lusting over Lana, and we’re back to square one. I think this relationship certainly warrants the attention that had been previously reserved for Clark/Lana. Next year should be really devoted to focusing on developing the attraction and chemistry between Clark and Lois.

Another thing I enjoyed was how Kara was, in a sense, evil. While people will likely interpret this as “Kara didn’t have Clark to guide her,” I saw it differently. To me, it was more “this is what happens when you aren’t raised by the Kents.” A lot of people — even good people — wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of using a super being to their benefit. The fact that Jonathan and Martha raised him with such nobility is perhaps the greatest thing that has ever happened for Clark — and, in turn, the lives of the people Clark touches.