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Blast From the Past – SUMMER OF SMALLVILLE
Season 1 Ends Sucking

4

Sep

Posted by Steve

It’s been literally three years since I started this blog and this particular feature. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I thought Season 7 was going to be the last.  Now, as I look forward to the tenth (and confirmed ) final season of Smallville with as much anticipation as I’ve looked forward to the release of Star Wars films I feel like the best way I can honor the show is to finish what I originally set out to do.  Work my way through the entire series with my thoughts on each episode.  If you haven’t read the Summer of Smallville entries to this point, I encourage you to go back and check out one of the first unfinished things I ever did for this little experiment I call Geek Out Online.  They’re easy to find.  Just click Smallville in the Categories column and go to older entries….you’ll see them.  For now though, let’s talk about just how much the ending of the first season sucked.

Episode 20 – OBSCURA

To recap, Lana and Whitney are out on a horse ride when they happen upon a gas main explosion.  Let’s not forget, Lana, Chloe, Pete, and Clark will find themselves at the center of all kinds of adventures in Smallville, unlike my high school experience which was in fact, pretty mundane.   Lana is hurt in the explosion which scatters it’s share of meteor rocks all over the place and all over Lana.  Chloe, meanwhile is headed to Metropolis for an interview to be a summer intern at the Daily Planet.  She’s staying with her cousin there.  I don’t think this would be Lois Lane.  In Smallville continuity I think she’d be a little young to be at college just yet.  I could be wrong though.

Chloe comes to the hospital to check on Lana before she leaves but Clark tells her to go ahead to Metropolis.  While in the parking lot, Chloe is kidnapped.  the catch?  Lana sees it all happen through the eyes of the kidnapper.

The main story unfolds in dramatic fashion as Chloe is drugged, bound, and buried alive.   All the while, Lana tries to convince Sheriff’s deputies that the visions she’s had are real.   All of this action makes this episode one of the more dramatic episodes of Smallville not only this season, but in the entirety of the show.

The teen drama is ever present as Clark pines for Chloe and realized that he may very well have feelings for her that run deeper than friendship.  He feels he has to move on from Lana since the passing of Whitney’s dad.  Clark’s a stand up guy.

Lana sees the burial of Chloe and tells Clark that while she doesn’t know where Chloe is the field has a large windmill in it.   Of course that means Chandler’s field.  Clark rushes to Chloe’s rescue and we’re not even halfway through the episode.

The secondary story of the episode involves Lex and Roger Nixon (who has mysteriously lost a lot of the thickness of his southern accent.) (See?  I can be snarky.)  Nixon takes Lex to see a pilot who was dusting crops during the meteor shower.  He saw a meteor bank before it hit, and came to the conclusion that it must be a spaceship.  While Lex doesn’t believe this, he does get a geological survey team out to the field where the ship is said to have crashed.

Of course Jonathan sees this and rejects a check for the herd he lost in the prior episode.  While this may seem like the biggest issue to come from all of this, it’s not.   For it is in this field…(by the way read this whole sentence in a cheesy movie trailer from the fifties voice.)…For it is in this field that Lex Luthor finds THE KEY!!!  That’s right, this is the first appearance of  an item that will carry great importance into season 2 and beyond.

Thanks to the developments in the field, we get one of the now classic Lex/Clark conversations in which Clark tries to deflect any suspicions and Lex doggedly pursues them.  It’s a conversation that defines what makes Lex and Clark’s friendship so interesting.  It also opens up a ton of  speculation of what would have happened if Clark had trusted Lex with his secret.

In the end, Jonathan still doesn’t like Lex, Whitney finds out that his dad is a hero, Lana gets kidnapped by a good cop who is actually a bad cop, well…a crazy cop, Clark deflects a bullet, stops shattered glass, and saves the day, Chloe gets an internship, and she and Clark both get a date to the Spring Formal.

This is one of the best next to last episodes of a season of Smallville.  The drama is intense, the danger is scary, and other plot threads that run well into Season 2 and beyond are introduced.  We’re not only introduced to the key, but also, this is the point in the series where Lex begins to entertain the idea of life elsewhere and that maybe there are aliens among us.  We all know where that idea goes with Lex.

This episode also gives us everything else that makes the first season of the show so great.  An honest conversation about Clark’s love life with his mom, Jonathan’s continuing mistrust of Lex, teen drama, a meteor freakish power, and mysteries yet to be solved.

When I started doing this column three years ago, I would make bullet point notes during the episodes and then try to summarize them into points I like or don’t like about the episode.  Rather than do that from here on, and taking a page from the Dangerous: Memories Podcast and give you, the reader some of my notes on this episode. (Remember I made these three years ago.)

-  The gas main explosion is pretty awesome.  Yes, I’m a fan of explosions.

-  Chloe crashes at her cousins dorm….Don’t think it’s Lois….she’s a little young when we first meet her to be in college while the others are Freshmen in High School.

-  Lex is straight up by not giving the Kent’s more than he owes for the herd and grazing land lost

-  “Safe to say we won’t lose you to journalism.”  Ironic.

-  As much as I love the relationship, sometimes Clark and Jonathan’s conversations feel very Saturday morning lesson/After School Specialish.

-  Pete encouraging Clark to ask someone to the Spring Formal, is perfect best friend talk.

-  Who knew teddy bears could look so creepy.

-  Chloe does a pretty good job of panicking without panicking.  She is a strong person.

-  How is it that this crop duster knows  “aircraft better than most.”

-  Clark tries his hand at storytelling about meeting Chloe.  It’s odd coming from Clark because he so rarely tells stories about his past.  So, while it is necessary to the story, it also feels very out of place.

- Apparently there’s only the one windmill in Smallville.

-  Someone saw Clark save Chloe.  At least that’s what the shot after Clark saves Chloe leads us to believe.

-  Lana taking that last jealous look at Clark and Chloe…another flash and suddenly, she’s in trouble.  You know, it’s better to be a guy and be Clark’s friend.

-  Great scene of loading the grain into the truck.  Schneider does a great job of making it seem like heavy lifting.   And the sound effects are a great addition.

-  The someone is still watching Clark….we are led to believe it’s the kidnapper…but it’s not.

-  If Jonathan is so worried about Lex’s team not tracking anything back to Clark, shouldn’t he play it cool and keep the money?  That’s how I’d play it.

-  Whitney found his dad’s medals.  This is what gets him off the show.    His talk about doing something greater than throwing touchdowns echoes what Glen Ford’s Jonathan Kent told Clark in Superman: The Movie

- Lex tells Clark about the ship story.  “The past is always influencing the present.”  That will be true in the future.  When will then be now?  Soon.

-  Clark Kent leaps tall theories in a single bound.  The thing about these type of statements is that they are directly related to Superman, but there is no Superman…in any form in the show.  So the references are almost like the origin of the things.

-  Of course out of the good cop and bad cop, it was the good cop who did it.

-  Show down at a fun house…feels a bit Jokerish.

-  Lana doesn’t quite respond like Chloe.  Let’s not try to get out ourself, let’s cry out for help.

-  This guy has some real issues.

-  Faster than a speeding bullet and a falling mirror.

-  Does no one in Smallville find it odd that this kid is at all of these crime scenes trying to fix everything?  Well no one but Sherriff Adams….ah how we miss you Sheriff.

-  It’s been Nixon spying on Clark through the episode.

-  Why is Clark wearing gloves while doing his chores….it’s not like his hands are gonna get blistered or anything.

Watching the episode again, it’s a solid 5 out of 5 episode.  Of course, I watch with the blinders of loving the first season and loving this show, but I looked back at my other reviews of prior episodes and I still agree with what I said then.  So I think my reaction would have been 5 out of 5 for this episode even three years ago.  It has everything it needs to have and leads into the finale very well.  Speaking of the finale…

Episode 21 – Tempest

Teleplay of a Story by Philip Levens written by the creators.

Directed by Greg Beeman

It all comes together in this episode…with a cliffhanger.  Lionel Luthor shows up at Luthorcorp’s Smallville plant (which has made a profit for the first time in two years) to (everyone thinks) congratulate the plant workers for their hard work.  Surprisingly though, he announces that the plant is closing immediately.  Effectively issueing 2500 people pink slips.  Lex retaliates by trying to rally the plant managers to go in with him on a company buy out of the plant.  As the plant managers agree and begin to refinance their homes, Lionel buys the Smallville Savings and Loan.  But this isn’t the only thing happening in Smallville.  Whitney takes Lana for a little pic nic where he tells her that he is joining the Marines and will be leaving for basic training within the week.  Whitney asks Lana to wait for him, and she responds with a “I’m not sure” kind of answer.    Before he leaves, and as everyone is going in to the prom, Whitney pulls Clark aside, apologizes for their ups and downs and asks Clark to watch over Lana.  Of course Clark willl do that…he watches over her all the time….THROUGH HIS TELESCOPE!!!  So, instead of going to the prom together, Lana and Whitney drive to the bus station and say their heartfelt goodbyes.   There’s more…it hasn’t even gotten good yet.  Clark goes to see Lex to check on him concerning the plant closing down where he spots the piece of the spaceship that will be known throughout the second season as…the key.   Before he ever has enough time to be concerned about all of that though, he is troubled at the thought of Chloe leaving due to the plant shut down, and as he cranks up the truck on the farm the thing just explodes out of nowhere….giving us auto mishap number….     by the way.   It’s our old friend Roger Nixon who rigged the truck to explode when Clark got in.  Of course Clark is safe and Nixon got the whole thing on tape.  His spy efforts pay off when he steals the key from Lex’s office, overhears the Kents talking about what’s in the storm cellar,  and he goes to investigate.

This is where it all gets crazy.  A storm hits Smallville complete with a twister that makes the Twister-to-Oz look like It’s a Small World at Disney Land.   As Lionel and Lex argue about Lex’s proposed company buy out the mansion is hit and Lionel lays trapped under a huge beam with Lex watching and deciding whether he should save his father or not.  Jonathan and Martha catch Roger Nixon in the storm cellar and a bit of a fight ensues.    Just before Nixon is caught by theKents, the key to the ship finds it’s way into the slot that it is designed for and as they are fighting, the ship powers up.  The distraction gives Nixon the chance to run out of the storm cellar with Jonathan in hot pursuit.  And Marthat is engulfed in a bright light.  Clark and Chloe are at the prom and almost kiss as the announcement about a tornado being spotted is made.  As everyone else is ushered to safety in the school, Clark rushes to where Lana is…on the side of the town where the Twister has touched down.  (That rhymes.)  Clark gets to the site of the twister just in time to see Lana’s truck sucked up into the thing…with her in it.  In the end,  to be continued….

Get it? Tornado?  Sucks?  Finale?  It’s a joke.  I love this episode.

I remember thinking nothing could be more nerve wracking than wondering what will become of Lana.  Will this be the point when she learns Clark’s secret?  Where did the ship go?  How are they gonna get out of this whole Nixon thing?  Watching this episode for the first time way back in 2002 made me love the series even more than I had throughout the first season.  I love this type of finale.  Granted, the places we’ve gone with the show since season 1 make this finale seem pretty light weight, but at the time I couldn’t wait for summer to end.

Here’s my notes:

- Watching Lionel be completely fake with all of the plant managers is fun.  How are you?   Good to see you.  Good morning.  GOOOD to see you.   Good morning.  Good to see you.

-   Clark tells Lex to tell people the truth so he won’t look evil in people’s eyes.  Lex would rather look evil than incompetent.

-  One day he’s worried about his english paper, one day he’s putting on a uniform and saving the world. This about Whitney, but it’s interesting how it will affect Clark in season 2.

-  I guess we get left behind Clark.  Lana will…not Clark. (I was convinced the show would stick to the storyline of the comics.  That Lana would be left behind in Smallville while Clark went on to Metropolis.  I was wrong.)

-  What a GREAT EXPLOSION!!!!!

-  I love Clark’s look at the truck.  It’s like someone else would look at a flat tire.

-  “I barely felt the heat this time and the debris left no bruises.”

-  Right now, it’s all about helping the people of Smallville for Lex, Lionel doesn’t care who he hurts or gets involved.  Having to step his game up to go against his dad is one of the reasons Lex becomes who he does.  The ends justify the means.

-  Lex catches Roger Nixon talking to Clark and acts ignorant as to who Nixon is.

-  Lex starts to protect the Kents, but as he tells Lex that he will run to Lionel, Lex lightens up and agrees to see Nixon’s evidence.

-  Lex and Clark have a discussion about their relationship.  Lex mentions that any relationship with a foundation of lies and deceit is destined to fail.  “Lucky we don’t have that problem.”  Great reaction from Clark…”Lucky us.”  How true Lex’s statement is.

-  Lex almost warns Clark as he says that no matter what happens in the next few days that they are still friends.  I got a bad feeling…like smelling the air change before a storm hits.  It makes you wonder…would things have been different if Lex knew from the start?  Or would he have used Clark the way he uses everyone else.  I think eventually, the latter would hold true.

-  Storms are a part of life Lex, trick is not to get caught out in the open.

-  Why does Clark get dressed in the barn?  I mean, I’m from a small little farming type town, but that just seems weird.

-  As the kids go to the dance, the excitement is very real.  Chloe can’t believe that things are going the way she hoped.  It’s a very real scene.  The awkward moments at the beginning of the date, everything is very real.

-  I don’t know how old Allison was when she filmed this, so I hope my tv crush on her which started at practically this moment isn’t too weird.

-  The sound editing gets a little weird here as the storm effects start to ramp up.  The voices seem to come in too much and too clean.

-  Things even out when Whitney and Clark talk from a technical standpoint.   It’s a good scene too.

-  Mark Snow’s music as Whitney and Lana leave the school is wonderful.

-  Lana sends her necklace with Whitney…nothing to stop Clark now.  Except his own blasted sense of right and wrong.

-  While Lana doesn’t know how she feels, it is a very real thing she does by getting out of the truck and running to say goodbye one last time.

-  Remy Zero at the prom.  The guy looks depressed to be singing at a prom.

-  Somewhat iconic shot for Smallville of Lana seeing the three twisters.

-  The storm is raging and Lionel is coming to confront Lex about his business decisions.  Not as smart as you want everyone to think are you Lionel.

-  “You’re not my enemy, you’re my son.”  “I never saw the distinction.” Lex and Lionel make this show sometimes.

-  “I believe the term is cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”  There wasn’t a better quote to use?

- Lionel snaps, I love it when Lionel snaps.

-What’s up with Lana’s face?  Let’s not look that way again.

Another 5 out of 5 as far as I’m concerned.  There are so many dramatic angles that are left dangling on the proverbial cliff.  Will Lex find out?  Will Lana find out?  Will Clark go after Lana or stay with Chloe?  The action beats that leave us hanging are good too.  What’s gonna happen in that twister?  How will Jonathan survive the storm?  What happened to Clark ordering a red bow tie?  The last is not really a cliffhanger…but it IS a continuity error from the previous episode.

Greg Beeman is THE driector for these early seasons of Smallville and his choices in this episode from the shots he uses to the use of music (or lack there of in parts) is superb.

It’s a great ending to a great first season of TV and it’s hard to think that things only get bigger and better from here.

Now, get yourself some Smallville and support the site:

 

2 Responses to “Blast From the Past – SUMMER OF SMALLVILLE
Season 1 Ends Sucking”

  1. Wayne Chamberlain Says:

    Steve … you’ve sold me on giving this series a chance. While I may be a pushing-40 geek, I must admit I was never into Superman or comics growing up. I was pretty much focused on Star Wars and cheesy 1980s TV shows (Airwolf, Knight Rider, etc).
    And I’m a huge Supernatural fan, so the amusing this is I’ve often seen the last 2 mins of Smallville episodes as my digital video recorder likes to jump the gun so I don’t miss any Supernatural goodness. I’ve written Smallville off as 90210 meets Superman. But I’m gonna give the show a shot and will be heading out to pick up season 1 in the next week.
    Keep up the great work. I enjoy your podcasts and your numerous podcast appearances. I recently did an episode of Star Wars Book Report with your buddy Jesse and it was an absolute blast.
    So thanks again for keeping me entertained while I work here editing news stories at this paper up in the wilds of Canada. All the best.

  2. Watch Prom Says:

    This movie is great, cant wait to watch hop online, fantastic movie.

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