“Well in this world you killed my parents.”
“In mine too!”
Great line, and delivered with such perfection.
So I was looking extremely forward to this episode of Smallville, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. It’s not like it was being promoted as a particularly significant episode. And, for that matter, I didn’t even know the details of what would happen. Then I realized, I’m enjoying Smallville so much now for the same reason I enjoyed season four of Lost. With both shows, we knew a semblance of the end game (Clark becomes Superman, the Oceanic Six somehow get off of the island) and the fun is finding out how they get there. Slowly but surely, Smallville is feeding us bits and pieces in the journey from “Smallville” to “Superman,” so without even knowing what’s going to happen in a given episode, I still find myself looking forward to it.
That’s not to say that this episode couldn’t stand on its own two feet, because it could. Hey, any episode that features classic characters like Lionel, Martha, and sorta Lex is fine by me. When Martha Kent returned last season and was revealed as the Red Queen, I was slightly disappointed as I felt like it stripped Clark of the one person who was still truly “human.” At that point, Chloe had completely degraded into something you could barely understand or relate to, and Lois wasn’t in the know yet, so while she was a departure from Clark’s alter ego, she wasn’t somebody he could fully turn to for support either. The Kents, meanwhile, were always Clark’s connection to reality and humanity. Through thick and thin, Clark, and the audience, could always depend on Jonathan and Martha to keep things grounded. When we learned that Martha was actually orchestrating some intergalactic war by competing with top secret organizations, it seemed to really cheapen that relationship. Admittedly, they saved face a bit by telling us that Martha had inherited Lionel’s Kryptonian knowledge when he was killed, and she WAS baking and all, but it still didn’t feel right. Thankfully, she was back to her warm, motherly self this go around.
Another thing I really loved was Clark’s heart to heart with Martha at the conclusion of the episode, where Clark talked about the backwards nature of making “Clark Kent” his disguise, and the Blur his actual face. When you stop to think about it, you come to realize how much Smallville has done in making Clark Kent an actual personality. If you used to watch The O.C., you may remember a speech Zach (who would later go on to play Lex’s cloned brother) gives in which he marvels at Superman’s complex lifestyle, in which his every day persona is actually a disguise, while the costumed superhero is his actual self. And for the history of the Superman character, that was probably true. Yet after watching Smallville for the past decade, I can’t help but feel like Clark Kent is a relatable, “real” person. Almost to the point that the idea of Clark Kent becoming a ruse almost feels disrespectful to the character. Instead of brushing this under the rug, the writers rightly acknowledged the point and resolved it, so that this crucial aspect of the Superman/Clark Kent mythos can begin to take shape.
I was also generally pleased with Lionel’s anticipated appearance in this universe. If you recall, I had been critical of the fact that this season, Clark has been pretty harsh in his view of Lionel, since Clark had viewed Lionel pretty favorably by the time that he died. Was Lionel a perfectly altruistic character? No. I still think he got off on the fact that he was working alongside the most powerful person on the planet. But he had developed into a relatively selfless person in his own right. I mean, he sacrificed his life in order to keep Clark’s secret safe from Lex. That’s pretty noble. And like I’ve said in the past, Lionel’s funeral was meant to mirror Jonathan’s. That certainly shows that, to an extent, he stepped into a father figure role for Clark in the absence of both of his parents. As such, I was curious to see how Clark and Martha, in particular, would respond to Lionel’s appearance in their world. To my delight, there was some sense of reluctance to simply write him off as some evil entity. Sure, they recognized that this wasn’t the same man they knew, but at the same time they were thrown off by the fact that this man they once knew is back in their lives. I especially enjoyed Martha’s interaction with him, as she attempted to be steadfast in protecting her son, but also defended her friendship with Lionel as something special, but innocent. And for some reason, I also really loved the fact that Lionel was bothered by Lex’s attacks on her (first when he found out he shot her, and then again when he knocked her out in the mansion).
If I were to criticize anything, it would be Lex’s virtual non-reaction to Lionel being alive. Sure, Lex himself is a clone of a dead person, so I suppose he’s in no position to be skeptical, but how about asking a few questions?
For that matter, I feel like Lionel’s reintroduction into society was handled fairly poorly. The show basically had two choices: Lionel flies under the radar, or he comes back full force and takes over the life of this universe’s Luthor patriarch. I would have been fine with either. They went with the latter, but they didn’t really devote any attention to how Lionel could possibly explain how he faked his death when his body was discovered after being flung out of a 40 story building, and how there could be no legal consequence for such an action. On the contrary, he’s welcomed back with open arms and just given control of his company and fortune? It just seemed a tad….lazy.
And I also have to ask, is this the first time we’ve seen an alternate view of the Luthor mansion?
Tags: Clark Kent (Superman), Smallville, the cw