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The Summer of Smallville

Rolls on….Again…finally

9

Aug

Posted by Steve

Summer of Smallville Logo

In order to move things along, here are a few assumptions you can bring to the table unless otherwise noted:

1.  I think the actors are all the perfect choices for the roles in which they are cast.

2.  Lana Lang’s voice gets on my nerves.

3.  Unless otherwise stated, the acting on the show is great in my opinion.

4. The reviews from here on will focus more on the story aspect of things than anything in the production…though I’m sure I will mention production issues here and there.

So, on with the Summer of Smallville.  Expect a major Summer of Smallville update to follow this one tomorrow.

Now where were we?  Oh yeah.

Season 1 Episode 5 – “Cool”

Written by Michael Green
Directed by Jim Conter

Synopsis – Afer falling through the ice of a frozen over Crater Lake, Sean Kelvin is irradiated by meteors and finds that he can drain the heat out of things. This isn’t just a power, it is a necessity for him to stay warm. In his quest for warmth, this teenage Captain Cold sets his eyes on Chloe after killing his ex-girlfriend. In order to save Chloe, Clark has to abandon Lana on a “just friends” date set up by Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Lex tries to convince Jonathan and Martha to let him partner with them on their farm to help out with their financial situation. Untrusting as ever, Jonathan turns down the offer and widens the gap in the Lex/Jonathan relationship. I’ll be honest with you, I was sure Clark was gonna get super breath in this episode.

While this episode was just what we would now look at as a “filler” episode (an episode that is there because there has to be an episode, no overall plots are moved forward in any substantial way), it wasn’t bad as far as filler episodes go.  While this isn’t an episode that I look back on and claim as one of my favorites, there were some pretty neat moments.  And did I mention that I really thought Clark was gonna get his super-cold breath in this episode.

First, the things that make one shake their head and groan a bit:

*   The meteor freak in this episode was named Sean KELVIN. KELVIN!  As in the temperature scale based on absolute zero.  A temperature scale based on cold.  Kind of cheesy but barely noticeable.

*    Secondly, there are a few times when things like “You’re cold.” “Or that’s cold man” are uttered.  Just slightly lame.  But not so much as to ruin the episode.

*    There are a few times where Clark employs a lame sense of humor.  It’s pretty rough. (see the note under cool moments.)

*    At the end of the episode when Clark is having his final fight with Sean, Sean brings up killing Lana.  There really isn’t any reason for him to bring her up, so it’s a bit of inconsistency. Especially since Sean saw Clark save Chloe, one would think he would have used her name to get Clark riled up.

*  I REALLY thought Clark was gonna get his super-cold breath in this episode.  It could have made sense.

Again, these weren’t moments that ruined the episode for me.  They were actually quite forgiveable if you’re not expecting Smallville to be Citizen Kane…and I’m not.

Here are the cool moments of the episode that either had some neat foreshadowing or referencing to the Superman mythos:

*  As Clark and Chloe are coming into the party at the beginning of the episode, she mentions how cold it is and Clark says he doesn’t really feel cold.  Quote Chloe, “What are you, from an ice planet?”  A sly reference from the writers to the appearance of Krypton in the movie?  That’s the feeling the question evokes to fans like me. 

*  There are a couple of times when we see Clark use his powers in non-heroic ways.  For some reason this is always one of my favorite things to see super heroes do.  Use their powers in everyday ways.  For Clark, especially, it’s just who he is.  It’s second nature and it’s nice to see that.  One time is when the pop tart pops out of the toaster and he’s sped off and speeds back in time to grab it.   The other is when he uses his X-Ray vision to do a card trick for Lana. 

*  We also get to see Clark use his super brain to do some math on the fly, which is great, but I really thought he was gonna get super-cold breath in this episode.

*  As Chloe is helping Clark pick out something to where on his non-date with Lana she holds up a blue shirt and says, “Blue’s a good color on you.”  Indeed it is Chloe…Indeed it will be.

* Clark’s lame sense of humor comes through in this episode.  Yeah, I know I put that under the groans, but it’s great to see that Clark is a bit of a nerd when it comes to his humor sometimes.  It’s also very innocent humor which is one of Superman’s strong suits that we don’t really get to see in the comics very much anymore.  But when he comes into contact with a regular person who he’s having to save or who has never been around him, he has this really light hearted, kind of pick on the person without saying anything mean-spirited, with a splash of lame humor that sets the person at ease.  So it’s nice to see that in Clark’s character.

As I have already stated, this episode is just a filler episode.  While it does nothing to really move the overall story forward, it is not a completely throw away episode.  We get to see Chloe really start to come into her character.  She is that girl that is independent and smarter than everybody else, but still cool, if a little headstrong and offputting to some.  Like every other teenager, though, she is just insecure enough and looking for that special someone enough to be duped by a heat sucking meteor freak.  Poor Chloe, I hope she gets a happy ending in the series.

The Clark/Lana (Clana) relationship is further complicated as they go out on a “non-date” that is ruined by Clark choosing to save Chloe.  This is the first of many times we see Clark have to leave Lana to help someone else.  This is also one of the factors that fueled the show for 6 years. 

You see, one of the main keys to a good teen drama is to set things up to go the way the audience wants them to go and then rip the carpet out from under them. This episode does that well, along with beginning to show the decisions Clark will have to make as Superman. Maintaining his secret really adds to the drama with his friends, especially Lana.  At the end of the episode Clark asks why she’s still withWhitney and Lana tells Clark, “He makes me feel safe.”  What a slap in the face that has to be.  Who safer to be with than a guy that can and will save your life on countless occassions.  At this point there are a lot of people (not me) screaming, “TELL HER!”   All of this drama is key to why this show caught on. It’s a neat formula for future shows focusing on super heroes…focus first on the human relatable aspects and then go the sci fi route and everybody’s happy.

Ultimately, the story here felt a little lacking after The Pilot and X-Ray. The real highlight of this episode for me now is getting to see Chloe finally come into the limelight a little more. She does nothing but enhance every episode that she figures prominently into. I have to give it a 3 out of 5 whatever I’m giving a potential 5 of simply because of the fact that nothing truly progressed and I am still disappointed that we weren’t surprised with the emergence of super breath.  However, we did learn a lesson.  Don’t fight with your girlfriend while driving when a heat sucking meteor freak is on the loose or you get wreck number 3 for the season. That’s right, in five episodes, there have been 4 vehicles wrecked or blown up. 

While looking back, this episode doesn’t get me super excited that’s ok, because we get to follow it with….

Season 1 Episode 6 – “Hourlglass”

Written by Doris Egan

Directed by Chris Long

Synopsis –

Clark agrees to help out at a retirement home for his high school community service because Lana is volunteering at the same place. He meets Cassandra, and interesting blind lady with the ability to tell a person’s future by touching them. Things get crazy as an old man disappears from the retirement home because the meteor rocks turn him into the Olsen twins’ brother. The Olsen boy goes about Smallville killing people related to members of a board that prevented him from attending the Metropolis Conservatory as an aspiring pianist. Clark, told by Cassandra that someone close to him will die obsesses over the safety of those around him.  In the end, Lex gets involved and we see an interesting future for him, Clark begins down the road of embracing his destiny, and Martha Kent finds herself in one of the creepier situations we ever see anyone in on Smallville.

Right out of the gate I will go ahead and say that while the main story of this episode isn’t all that compelling, the main strength of this episode is the talk of Clark’s destiny.   I am a sucker for anytime the creators of the show give us glimpses into Clark’s future.  This episode not only speaks to Clark’s destiny, but Lex’s destiny comes to the front and center by episode’s end.

There is potential for some teen drama stuff to be played out in an interesting way as Lana discovers the Wall of Wierd in the torch.  However, other than a conversation between her and Clark where she confesses her unhappiness with people treating her like she’s fragile because of her parents dying and the fact that she became that little girl on the cover of Time Magazine.   This could have led to some interesting stuff between Lana and Chloe, but instead it kind of got shoved to the back for all the other stuff that was going on.  It IS a neat juxtaposition to what’s going on with Clark.  While Clark is struggling to go after his destiny, Lana is struggling to not be defined by her past.  Oooh, that could be deep.

Instead, here are some of the cooler moments of this episode.

* I feel like this may be a line to pay homage to a line that was in most of the Superman movies in the seventies and eighties.  Clark comes home and freaks out on Jonathan and Martha about how dangerous the stuff they do is.  Jonathan replies, “Well, this is a farm, it kind of goes along with the territory.”  In the Superman films, Lois and Jimmy told Clark on a couple of occasions, “Danger goes with the territory.”

*  Clark has a conversation with Lex about Cassandra, Lex is skeptical, and Clark tells Lex, “You sound like my parents.”  To which Lex quickly replies, “That’s gotta be a first.”

*  Cassandra is sitting with Clark and explains to him that she’s seen him before.  She says, “I’ve seen such pain and despair, but then you were there and the pain was gone. I think that’s your destiny Clark, to help people to save them from fear and darkness…you can fear the future, or you can embrace it. ” 

*  This is followed by Clark reaching out and sharing one of Cassandra’s visions with her so that he will know where he is needed.  It is a great moment to see Clark begin to embrace his destiny of helping people…not just people he knows.

Then there’s the vision of Lex at the end. I want to try to break it down and dissect what we have just a bit.  There is another time in a later episode where we get to see more of this vision, but for now, let’s run with what we’ve got.

First, there is Lex in the White House.  This, of course points to his future to one day be President of the United States.   In the comics at the time, Lex was President.  It made for some interesting interaction between he and Superman, in this context it’s a great nod to what was going on in comics at the time.

Then, there is the fact that he is wearing white.  The thing about Lex Luthor (at that time) in the comics was that everyone thought he was great.  People saw Lex as the hero of America.  The truth is that on Smallville he’s maintained some great outward appearances while carrying on some pretty underhanded things.  

The white suit could also be a representation of how Lex sees himself.  I realize that he can’t see the vision with Cassandra the way Clark could, but his personal vies of self may affect the way Cassandra sees him in her vision.

Then there’s the black glove.  It’s only on one hand.  As he touches a flower with it, death spreads outwardly.   This could be representative of a couple of things.   First, it could be the whole Lex doesn’t get his hands dirty thing.  It his actions that cause death and destruction.  But it’s not actually his touch on the situation.  So the glove could be representative of that.  Secondly, it could be the hand that was amputated because of the cancer caused by the kryptonite ring he will one day wear on that hand…it happened in the comics.  In fact, during the Byrne era right up to the time that Superman died and shortly after there were some crazy things go on with Luthor.  So, I’m just saying, it could be something very concrete and not an abstract part of the vision.

Everything else in the vision is pretty self explanatory.  Lex causes death, and he embraces it.  If you are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about or you’ve never seen this episode, check this out to see the vision of Lex in the future.

This episode also sets up the first situation where Clark realizes that Lex is looking into the events from the day they met.  Lex still has the wrecked Porche, and he shows Clark.  It’s interesting, as I think I’ve said before, that these type of things are the things that tear Lex and Clark apart.   Up to a point, the deterioration of the relationship is as much Clark’s fault as it is Lex’s because Clark insists on being so secretive (with good reason).  However, we will see Lex cross the line.

Finally, this episode has one of the creepier moments in Smallville.  As Mary Kate and Ashley’s cartoon-monkey-looking brother goes to kill Jonathan, Martha gets in his way a bit so he begins to chase her down.  This whole sequence carries with it several elements of fears people have and scary stories that have been told all over the place.  First there’s the stranger showing up claiming to be something he’s not, in this case, the gas man.  Then, there’s the realization by the victim that the stranger isn’t who he claims he is.  The phone line has been cut.  The stranger makes his way inside the house.  All ways of being able to escape except for running are taken away.  Then there’s claustrophobia and the fear of being smothered when Martha and Harry (Olsen twins brother) have their fight in the silo/corn bin thing.

There was no auto mishap in this episode (slackers) but an old man and his wheel chair did tump over into a lake…does that count?

I have to give this episode a very strong 4 out of 5. Why only four? The main story of Harry Volk just didn’t really capture my interest like the Cassandra story did. But, you couldn’t make one interesting without the other. Also, the writers missed a great opportunity to flesh out some conflict over the Wall of Weird situation which never really comes back up. Ultimately, it is the talk of Clark’s destiny and the final vision of Lex that really kicks this puppy up a notch for me. As a geek, I’m already Jonesing for some full on Superman action and hints toward who Clark will become and what Lex will become only served during this first season to really keep me locked in. This episode can’t be labeled a filler and while it doesn’t necessarily do anything to move any story arcs along, the seeds are planted for future stories and the big thing that will ultimately tear Lex and clark apart when Lex shows Clark his wrecked Porche…I guess it’s just not a Smallville episode without a wrecked vehicle in it somewhere…even if we have seen it before.

Tomorrow we will continue with six whole episodes. (Don’t know how I’m gonna swing that one.) Starting with a krypto diet gone awry and leading up through a couple of the best episodes of the season and one of the coolest Lex and Clark moments of the Season. Oh…and Jimmy Olsen’s twin makes his Smallville debut before going on to be Iceman.

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