Since about midway through the second season of Smallville, fans have realized that when it comes to the origin of Superman and Clark Kent, that the creators of the show were gonna take a lot of liberties and bend the original tale where they saw fit to do so.
Bend it they have. Over and over again, and completely without breaking it. The bending continued with “Lara.”
In season 2 when the Kiwachi caves came into play, I kind of scratched my head and said, “Huh?” Since then, the idea of Kryptonians visiting Earth has become not so far fetched. Jor-El himself came to Earth in 1961 where he fell in love with a relative of Lana. But you remember all of that.
Also, we’ve learned to forget all we know….or think we know. (Anyone remember WILLOW?)(The movie, not the character from Buffy.) “Lara” continues that Smallville tradition in a really good way.
From the outset of the show, we realize this is going to be special as this is the first time we ever really see Krypton in Smallville. It is a war torn planet on the verge of destruction and Zor-El is sending his only daughter away as he is apparently going to stay behind and try to defend Kandor against the forces of General Zod. I was struck with the effective use of the Fortress of Solitude set pieces and the great blue screen work that helped us feel familiar with the planet, but no so much so that we look and say, “Hey, that’s the Fortress.”
The whole scene is a flashback Kara is having while she’s chilling out in mid-air. Thus, we get one of my favorite things about Superman television shows: the use of powers simply because they’re there. In other words, Clark toasting bread with heat vision, using his bare hands to drive fence posts, and now Kara just laying back in mid air and letting her mind wander.
This whole opening segment does a great job of once again helping us get inside the head of and understanding Kara, a character in which I have never found much interest or understood. Here we feel for her because her memories of life on Krypton aren’t a dream of what could have been, or a look at the past through some crystal or past-viewing machine (Silver Age anyone?). Rather, they are actual memories and seeing the people and the place she lost helps us to understand that she’s not over it. It’s still fresh to her that her home was destroyed. It builds sympathy. And that’s a good thing.
Kara is on a mission to find her crystal, and she is using every tactic at her disposal to get it. A lot of her methods are just a teenage girl with super powers lashing out because of the way she was hurt by Clark and J’onn in action, but the problem is that the more she puts herself out there, the more she, and by proxy, Clark are in danger of exposure.
Meanwhile, Chloe is dealing with her problem by trying to plug into an support group for the meteor infected. It is still strange to me that Chloe fears her ability so much. I understand her fear of dying, but her fear seems to be deeper than that. It’s almost as if she fears what other meteor freaks have become. I would think that knowing what has happened to other members of the meteor infected community would help her determination not to go nuts. However, nice nod to DC comics yet again in the form of the name of the organization – Isis. Isis, of course, is not only the name of an Egyptian goddess, but also a character in DC comics that plays heavily into the Captain Marvel family. The twist? The company is run by Lana. She set it up, she claims, to help the people whose lives were ruined by Lex’s 33.1 experiments. However, Chloe and the rest of us see differently.
Lionel is back in full form in this episode. When he and Clark have a reunion moment, there is a hug exchanged and wow! How weird was that?!? Of course, Clark turns around and lies to Lionel about Kara’s origins. My thoughts? Lionel knows Clark was lying. He knows who Kara is. Lionel is, once again, the keeper of knowledge on the show. He let’s Clark know about Starhawk (The One Who Knows), the project that the Department of Domestic Security has set up to study extraterrestrial life.
Kara finds out about the project as well, she just uses a different method…her feminity. (Read that as “hotness.”) However, by the time she breaks in to the facility and gets to where the crystal is supposed to be, it’s gone. Honestly, at this point, I expected Clark to have gotten in and taken the crystal, but I wasn’t sure.
Kara and Clark have a great confrontation and Kara says some things that, while out of anger, have a germ of truth to them. Particuliarly when she tells Clark that he acts like a hero but he only thinks of himself. While that’s not completely true, there is some truth to it. Why did Clark destroy his ship? To stay in Smallville and be happy with Lana. Why did Clark run away and spend three months in Metropolis on Red Kryptonite? He was too hurt to stay in Smallville and face the consequences of his actions. Why did Clark not continue his quest for the stones after finding the first one as Kal-El? He just wanted to enjoy senior year. Why did Clark not go back to Jor-El and finish his training? Again, because he wanted to be happy with Lana in Smallville. Every time Clark has lost his abilities, what has been his reaction? Relief at not having them.
The truth is that the most selfless act Clark commits as Superman is becoming Superman. While that shouldn’t be an easy choice, Clark does need to realize his potential to live beyond the farm on Smallville. Chloe sees it, Lana sees it, even Jonathan Kent saw it. Clark just refuses to accept it. Which is what this season is apparently all about.
The real meat of the show comes, though, when Agent Carter captures Kara and subjects her to the same process that opened Clark’s mind to his earliest memory in season 3. With out the big tub of kryptonite water.
Kara sees herself in the Kent barn talking to Lara, played superbly by Helen Slater. Lara and Kara obviously have close relationship, and Kara is excited to learn that Lara is pregnant. In fact, Kara even suggests the name Kal-El, which apparently has something to do with the stars or the sky. This, to my knowledge, is the first time we are ever given a hint of what the name Kal-El means. lara is on Earth to see where her son may be raised. At this point in Kryptonian history, Jor-El probably already recognizes that Krypton is headed for destruction and has discussed what must be done with Lara. While walking through the Kent farm house, Kara snaps a picture of Lara and hides it in a frame behind a picture of Martha. The symbolism here is not lost, and it is neat that the picture has been there the whole time.
As Clark arrives to try to save Kara, he is weakened by the kryptonite present. Still he forges on to help his cousin. As he touches one of the sensors connected to her, he becomes privy to her memory. For the first time he sees his mother, and Zor-El, who followed Kara and Lara through the last remaining portal to Earth. Zor-El is in love with Lara and tries to put the moves on her (pretty roughly). Kara witnesses the whole thing, but thanks to the House of El crystal, she has forgotten that whole ordeal. During the scuffel, Zor-El mentions putting Lara’s DNA in a crystal so that she can live beyond Krypton with him. Thus, the true importance of the crystal to Zor-El is brought to light.
Clark wakes up to find that Kara’s vitals have bottomed out and she is dying. Just before Agent Carter can attack Clark, he is shot by Lionel, who apologizes to Clark for not realizing the danger of the place. Clark does some super CPR and Kara is revived.
At this point, we know that Starhawk (The One Who Knows) doesn’t have the crystal, Lex doesn’t have it, and Kara doesn’t have it. Get ready for the big twist.
Clark and Kara have a good conversation in which Kara apologizes to Clark for the way she’s been acting. She tells him that she’s decided to calm down and focus on her future here on Earth. In other words, she’s going to go try to “fit in” with Jimmy.
Lex and Lionel have an amazing confrontation. Lex has become the man that Lionel wanted him to be and more. In fact, this is the first conversation in a long time, if ever, where neither Lionel nor Lex have the upper hand until the very end. In the past, either Lex has come in to a talk one up on Lione or vica versa.
Finally, Clark takes Lana out to the barn to show her the picture of his mother and reveal something else. HE HAS THE CRYSTAL. Why? It has his mother’s DNA. See? Told ya he was a bit selfish.
This episode was great. I love the looks into the origins of Clark and the deepening of the Smallville mythology. I was actually surprised to see the crystal wind up in Clark’s hands so soon. I guess I’ve gotten so used to the Smallville way of stringing us along until the very end of the season that things have seemed to move pretty fast this season. It’s refreshing and it feels like the creators of the show know exactly where they’re going. It also portends the end of the series to me. All of the talk about Clark’s destiny is pointing to him finally accepting it eventually.
Mentions of the Council, General Zod, and the reveal that Jor-El designed the Brain Interactive Construct (Brainiac), made for some great squeal with glee moments. The Smallville twist (sounds like a lame dance) during the commercial has begun the excitement for the return of James Marsters as Brainiac.
I have been so pleased with this season, and “Lara” just continued the ride for me. I give this episode 5 out of 5 whatever I give 5 of for it’s look at the past, it’s furthering of the overall arc of the season, and for being that dang good.