For this installment of the Summer of Smallville we have three episodes to look at. Two are great episodes that explore the characters of Clark and Lex respectively. The third is sandwiched between these two episodes and it explores the character of Whitney. Yes, if this installment were a sandwich, it wouldn’t be a very good one, but you’d really like the bread. It would be that gourmet bread that’s really soft and really tasty….ooh ooh ooh…the cheese bread stuff they have at Subway…mmmmm….great…now I’m hungry. Well, grab a snack with me as we plow through three episodes starting with…
Season 1 Episode 12 – “Leech”
Written by – Tim Schlattmann
Driected by – Greg Beeman
Synopsis – Shawn Asmore (Iceman from the X-Men series) (and twin of Jimmy Olsen in the Smallville Universe) plays Eric, a bit of a nerd/loner type guy with a really strict dad who happens to be Smallville High’s Geology teacher. While on a rock collecting field trip, Iceman (Eric) makes his way to a huge dam where he stands on the edge (like an idiot) and listens to his music while a storm is coming in. The rest of the class is ready to leave and Eric’s dad let’s Clark go find where his son may be. As Clark walks up on Iceman, Iceman slips (must be the ice). Always the hero, Clark rushes in to save emo Iceman as he slips and almost falls. As he grabs Iceman, Clark is struck by lighning. At this point, I should mention that Iceman has meteor rocks in his bag as they had to find some on the rock hunting assignment. The combination of lightning and meteor rocks causes Iceman to gain Clark’s powers, thus transforming him from Iceman to Superboy and Clark into…uhm…well, normal Clark. What ensues is a young man with incredible abilities that scare his parents. While he is accepted by the public at first, he quickly abuses his abilities and becomes a threat that Clark, who has actually enjoyed the stress free life of no abilities, feels compelled to stop him. In the end, Clark has to borrow Lana’s necklace, give up his enjoyment of a normal life, and get his powers back to stop Iceman from causing anymore trouble in Smallville. This episode marks the only time the name Superboy is uttered in the show. Of course, fans of the comics know that this is an updated Superboy series, but due to legal issues surrounding the ownership of the character Superboy, you can bet that we won’t ever really see Superboy brought to the television screen anytime soon. Even in the new cartoon, Legion of Superheroes, the character of Superman is (according to the comics) supposed to be SuperBOY. However, the family of Jerry Siegel has the rights to that character locked up fairly tight. Which is wierd when you think about it. I mean…it’s Superboy…he becomes…Superman. I also think it’s neat to note that Clark doesn’t like the name Superboy. Who would? Oh, wait, Emo-Iceman Eric liked it. Another thing this episode does well is give Clark a new found respect for his dad. As Clark has to do his chores for the first time without his powers, he is amazed that his dad is able to get stuff done. He even asks his dad how he does it. To which Jonathan replies, “One day at a time.”There’s a lot more to say about the character of Jonathan in this story, but first I want to talk about Lex.In this episode, the Lex/Victoria Hardwick storyline comes to a close as Lex meets with Sir Harry and Victoria, and Sir Harry informs Lex that he plans on buying Cadmus labs, a property that Lex had been looking into. With the profits he would gain from Cadmus, Sir Harry planned on buying Luthorcorp out right with no Lex or Lionel in the deal. Later in the episode, we see the beginnings of the evil genius that Lex will become. Lex knew that Victoria was spying on him and led her down a fake trail towards buying the defunct Cadmus Labs. When Sir Harry makes his purchase, he realizes that he is now in a position to be bought out by Luthorcorp. Way to go Lex. When Victoria finally talks to Lex, he gives her the ultimate burn. She says it was all business. Lex replies, “You call sleeping with me business? I hate to think what that makes you.” OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!!! We still love Lex in this first season, so we love to see this. Lex is also put back on the trail of Clark as Roger Nixon shows back up with a computer model of the only possible way the wreck in the Pilot could have taken place. The model shows the car spinning out of control and striking a person before running off the road. This puts Lex on the trail of Clark. By the time Lex gets to Clark to confront him about it, though, Clark has lost his powers and is ordinary. Of course, Clark is angry that Lex is looking into him and his family and even offers Lex a shot with a hammer. Lex declines and later sees Clark with his broken ribs after the first time he tried to stop Eric in the school parking lot. This evidence causes Lex to demand that Nixon lay off the Kents, we know that Nixon won’t however, and the road to the Season finale is now in sight. It’s interesting to see that Lex genuinely seems like he would be safe to confide in. The fact that Clark can’t bring himself to do it helps us understand why they can claim to be such good friends and yet the relationship always seems a bit strained. Lex trying to pry a little too deeply for Clark’s comfort and Clark always dodging the questions only lays the foundation for the broken relationship that is to come.This episode is all about what makes Clark a hero. There is the person that Clark is. Toward the climax of the episode, Clark asks Jonathan if he was ever scared of Clark. Jonathan says, “You threw your tantrums, but you were a good kid.”
More importantly, are the parents that Clark has. Jonathan and Martha stand in direct contrast to Eric’s mom and dad. When everything is going well for Eric after he breaks up the purse snatching attempt, his mom is scared and his dad has made calls to have Eric researched. Eric tells his father, “You’re my dad, you’re supposed to protect me.” That is exactly what Jonathan and Martha have done for Clark. For twelve years, the Kents have had in their possession a spaceship and some kind of device with writing they can’t decipher. Instead of being curious and going all over to get answers, they just took care of their son. Also, they raised him to be a good person. The statement is made twice, “You’re abilities are part of you, but they don’t define you.” How true! When people talk about Superman, yeah they speak of his incredible powers, but they ultimately turn to talk about how inspiring he is, how good he is, and the fact that his character defines him. His powers are a part of him…but they don’t define him. We’ve seen this again and again and again in the comics, tv shows, and even in the films. The reason he is who he is though? His parents. His earthly parents.
Throughout this episode, as Clark deals with the loss of his powers, Jonathan is right there not only offering wisdom and platitudes, but also love and support. Here are some statements that define this love and wisdom:
– “Clark, you’re our son whether you can benchpress a tractor or not.”
– “Life is hard whether you’re SUPER or normal. (and I’ve made mention of this.) Your abilities were a part of you, but they didn’t define you.”
– Then Clark spells it out for us when he tells Jonathan, “Eric didn’t have my two greatest gifts. You and mom.”
This episode also paints for us the struggle that Clark has when it comes to his abilities. He finds himself enjoying losing a basketball game after being able to give it his all. He is able to get around Lana even when she has her necklace on. When Lana is talking to Clark and asks, “Can you imagine waking up one morning and having powers?” Clark seriously responds, “It’s scary.” The abilities are a gift, but they are a burden as well. Clark isn’t just burdened by his secrets, he is burdened by the fear of what his powers could ultmately cause, he always has to be careful.
Bigger still is the hero we see. Not the one Clark will become, but the hero he IS. When he goes to face Eric for the final time, he knows that he could literally be walking to his death. He is the only one that can do it though. He knows what needs to be done and he courageously heads out to do it. This is Clark Kent…this is SUPERMAN.
Also of note in this episode is the beginning of the Talon saga. Nell decides to sell the building much to Lana’s dismay. Her parents first met in the old theatre, and it is a special place to her. This is all resolved and The Talon becomes a perminant set piece beginning in the next episode.
God bless Greg Beeman as he gives us auto mishaps 10, 11, 12, and 13. When Eric lifts up a truck to go after the jock that had given him a hard time when he hit on the jock’s girlfriend, he throws the truck aside destroying it. Then when Clark steps in to try to stop him, he chucks Clark across the parking lot and Clark lands on top of a car smashing all of the windows and denting the top pretty severely. Numbers 12 and 13 happen off camera, but the they merit a mention. There are two cop cars that we see destroyed back at Eric’s house one turned upside down and burning in the street and one thrown through the roof. B-E-A-UTIFUL!
Clark and Lana have a pertinent scene at the end as he returns her necklace in the lead box that Lex gave him. Not only is he protecting himself, but Lana sees the box as a passive aggressive way for Clark to tell her to let the past go. He doesn’t deny it. So the necklace situation is handled. For now.
I loved this episode. Like so many others in the first season, this episode does a wonderful job of showing just how good Clark is and just how much he has to credit his parents for that. And it does this again without feeling stale. This episode definitely merits a 5 out of 5. The best episodes are always the episodes where we get to see Clark step further into the role that he will one day play. They never go too far with it though. They never push him too far into the role too soon. So, a great episode…once again followed by…eh…and that “eh” comes to us in the form of….
Season 1 Episode 13 – “Kinetic”
Written by – Philip Levens
Directed by – Robert Singer
Synoposis – A group of thugs breaks into Lex’s mansion while Chloe is trying to conduct an interview. They seem to appear out of nowhere because they have the ability to walk through walls. During the robbery, Chloe is hurt and Lex’s vault is cleaned out. The thieves find a disc with sensitve LuthorCorp information on it and use it to blackmail Lex. We discover that the three thieves are all former jocks from Smallvile who are using meteor rock laced tattoo ink to tattoo themselves. The ink has a temporary effect of allowing them to be intangible and move through solid objects. As their bodies are developing a tolerance to the ink, they search for new blood to join them. They choose Smallville’s favorite Jock, Whitney Fordman. (Who will be playing the role of misguided jerk in this episode.) He lost his scholarship so he’s sad and depressed about being stuck in Smallville. Whitney quickly realizes that he’s in over his head. Clark steps in to try to help as Lex takes matters into his own hands. Meanwhile, Lana decides to set out to save the Talon. She approaches Lex with a sentimental story that doesn’t sell Lex on the idea of keeping the building around at all. Not one to see Lana hurt, Clark tells her Lex is challenging her and she comes up with a business proposal that transforms the Talon from abandoned theatre/flower shop into the new hang out for the gang. In the end, Whitney is redeemed, Lana is happy, and Lex is more entrenched in everyone’s life and has definitive proof of the effects of the meteor rocks…oh yeah, and one of the stupid jocks dies. You have just read the longest portion of the review of this After School Special edition of Smallville.
First off, how many times can a couple of characters use the term “bro?” It was overkill in the script of this episode, and I didn’t care enough about this episode to count. Sorry. Actually, that’s not true, I started counting about halfway in just for the heck of it and quit when I got to ten. Yeah, bro, too much.
This episode also shows us the overall problem with Whitney in the first season. The writers didn’t quite know what to do with him. Except make him the after school special fodder for the show. He picks on Clark and Lana gets mad, so he apologizes. His dad gets sick, so he’s a jerk, but he learns that the people he cares about are strong enough to be there for him. Now, he loses his scholarship, so he’s gonna be stuck in Smallville so he’s a jerk, gets in trouble, and learns a lesson. After. School. Special. (Ugh!) And they need to decide if “bro” is a term they use affectionately or hatefully. There’s no substitute for good vocabulary skills.
The real story of this episode is that Lex gets to see that meteor rocks can have an effect on people for the first time. Outside of Earl Jenkins, he didn’t have any definitive proof. Now, he does.
Then there’s The Talon saga. I’m glad that Lana was able to convince Lex to go into business with her. I’m glad that we get The Talon. I love that set. But more than all of that, I’m glad that Lex is as unmoved by Lana’s crappy sentimental storytelling as I am. It isn’t until she steps it up and does her research that Lex is sold on the idea. This is Lana Lang that will be. The smart, resourceful lady who knows how to get things done. This is like her first step into that world. As an adult, she is a force to be reckoned with, whether it’s in the comics, the animated series, or even Superman 3.
The best line of the episode comes from Lex when he is trying to help Clark deal with his guilt over Chloe’s injuries. (By the way, hospital visits stand at Chloe 1 Lana 0. This surprises me.)(Don’t worry, Lana will make a comeback in that contest.) Lex tells Clark, “You can’t save the world. All you’ll end up with is a Messiah Complex and a lot of enemies.” I don’t know about the complex, but he does end up with the enemies. (Of which Lex is chief. Hmmmmmm.)
This episode was and “eh” episode. It tried to explore the character of Whitney and I just don’t care enough to invest a lot of interest in his character. These types of episodes are a necessary evil though. Not every episode can be a home run. You need a few base hits or even walks to set up for a grand slam. And there is one coming. I give this episode a 2 out of 5 because it’s not Pete driving a car, (A reference you’ll understand afer Season 3) but it’s not all that good.
So there’s the “eh” part of this really good bread sandwich. That brings us to the next really good piece of bread…
Episode 14 – “Zero”
Teleplay of Story by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar by – Mark Verheiden
Directed by – Micheal Katelman
Synopsis – Smallville jumps off the beaten path a bit as we get our first look (since the Pilot) at Lex’s past. From the opening of the show, Lex is in trouble. The show opens with him beat up, tied up, and hanging upside down answering to a mysterious gunman. The gun man wants the truth of what happened at Club Zero (which was mentioned in “Hug”). At this point we get the first of a few flashbacks to three years ago at the club. Lex brings a friend, Amanda, to Club Zero. They are ushered in by Kasage, a bouncer who is friendly with Lex…for a price. Amanda’s fiance, Jude, is supposed to be gone for a couple of days on business, but in truth he is running around on her at the club. This is why Lex has brought Amanda, so that she would catch Jude in the act. In his anger, Jude attacks Lex. A fight ensues and Lex is stabbed. Jude is shot by Kaisage. Lex’s captor doesn’t believe him and reveals himself to be Jude who is supposed to be dead. The show teaser ends with a gun shot right before the opening credits roll. The show then takes us to Smallville one week prior. Clark’s class is assigned to write student biographies on randomly selected classmates. Clark of course winds up with Lana, and Chloe is assigned Clark. While trying to uncover the facts about Clark’s life, Chloe beins to look into his adoption which, as Jonathan reminds him, is a bit “complicated.” As the story unfolds, Jude shows up in Smallville to apply for the job of Assistant Manager at The Talon. Things get crazy as Jude torments Lex by messing with his car, killing Kasage and delivering his severed hand to the Talon, and finally dumping chemicals from Luthorcorp’s plant onto the Kents’ grazing land killing their cattle. When Juse finally kidnaps Lex, we find out that it’s not Jude, but a look alike paid by Amanda’s brother to do all these things. The shot fired at the end of the opening teaser is Amanda’s brother (who is also the contractor doing the remodelling work at the Talon.) shooting the fake Jude. He reveals that Amanda has killed herself – he thinks because of how much she loved Jude. Of course, Clark gets to Lex just in time to save him. In the end, Clark has to learn that Lex is a friend with a shady past, it was really Amanda who killed her fiance, Chloe and Clark have a falling out about her methods of digging into his past, and a wedge is driven further between Jonathan and Lex. The synopsis really doesn’t do the show justice.
If Leech was a look into the character of Clark and Kinetic was an After School Special look into the character of Whitney, then Zero is a gritty look at the person who is Lex Luthor. From the beginning, we see that Lex is always out for Lex. It may seem like he was trying to help Amanda out by showing her what kind of guy she was going to marry, but I have to think there was either some type of rivalry between Lex and Jude, or he just wanted to be the friend to be there for Amanda to come to when it was over between her and Jude. Also, we see that Lex will go to many lengths to protect his friends. He let Kasage take the blame for shooting Jude to keep Amanda out of any trouble, even as he was about to die, he altered the story enough to hide the truth but still try to placate his captor.
However, his unwillingness to come completely clean even after the death of Kasage shows his “ends justifies the means” philosophy of life.
It’s interesting to note (do I use that phrase too much) that Clark becomes frustrated by Lex’s secrets, but expects Lex ust to accept his. If I didn’t like Clark so dern much I’d call hypocrite.
There are no real auto mishaps in this episode. There aren’t really any incredible foreshadowing moments or Superman references. But we do get mention of two great DC cities Central City and Bludhaven, the future stomping grounds of the Flash and Nightwing respectively.
While this episode didn’t do much to further the storyline, you can’t deny that it’s a great episode. We see Clark save Lex yet again. We get the beginnings of the story of Clark’s adoption which, to quote Jonathan Kent, is “complicated.” We don’t get the rest of the story until Season 2, but it is a great question planted in the mind of the viewer…”How did the Kents pull that off?”
Finally, you have to remember that Chloe is a character introduced in this show so we don’t know her fate. We don’t know if she will be Clark’s greatest friend in Smallville or if she’ll eventually bring him down. The creators obvioiusly were up in the air about this as well because at the end of the episode we see her debating with herself whether or not to delete the information she has on Clark’s adoption. She doesn’t delete it. Now, we know where the story goes, but we didn’t back in 2002, so this was a great way to make us wonder what role Chloe would play.
This episode merits a 4.5 out of 5 for me. Why? I don’t know. I just feel like I can’t give it a full five. It’s a gut feeling kind of thing. I loved this episode though. As I said in the synopsis, the synopsis doesn’t do the show justice. This review doesn’t really do the show justice. It was just a good solid episode. It stands on it’s own. The great thing about Smallville at this point was that it wasn’t too full of itself. The creators really worked to put out the best possible television every week, but they never assumed the show would last. So every arc they began could be neatly tied up if needed. The wedge driven between Lex and Jonathan due to the loss of the cattle really comes full circle in the next episode, the Chloe stuff takes care of itself by the season finale, and at any given moment Lex could turn on Clark. That’s smart writing. However, we know what is to come and quite honestly, it only gets better.
Well, I know it’s a lot to take in, and the task of making it through 5 other seasons seems daunting this late in the Summer…but I will continue to try. Check back often for more updates. Oh, and don’t feel bad about helping the site out with a digg or a stumble. Thanks for reading.