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16 October 2005 @ 03:05 pm
Smallville 5.03 Hidden  
I loved it! Here be spoilers...

Adult Clark
I love adult Clark. Ok, he’s not completely adult yet, but Season 5 has a Clark who is developing his human identity independently of his parents and I find that refreshing. I’m not going to focus on Jor-El here, because I think others on LJ have already written well about this. However, I will just mention that I do think it’s significant that while Jonathan no longer has much power over his son (Clark is a stone wall in the face of Jonathan’s anger at seeing him sleep with Lana), Jor-El exercises omnipotence.

When confronted by his parents about sleeping with Lana, Clark defends himself in a new way. First of all, he reminds them of his newly adult status: ‘Just remember! I am 18.’ In response, Jonathan pulls the classic ‘you’re still under my roof’ routine. The Kents have discussed sex with Clark before, in Heat, but then, although Clark was awkward, he was also voluntarily turning to them to help him in his development. In this scene, we see from the face he pulls when Martha asks him if he’d been ‘at least safe’, that he no longer thinks this is an area his parents should be asking about. It’s a different type of embarrassment, focussing not on the sexual act itself, but on having to discuss it with his parents. With Jonathan, he also takes a more adult tack, throwing ‘like you didn’t do it’ at him, and thereby winning the exchange to Jonathan’s frustration. Clark is increasingly confident about drawing his boundaries with his parents.

The demonstration of classic teenage development continues in this episode. The Kents are displaced from being the primary figures in Clark’s life. They even learn of Clark’s death at one remove, through seeing Lana’s grief. And when their son returns to them, he is a silent, stone-faced figure who confides no details of his conversation with Jor-El.

Certainly entering his first adult relationship with Lana is one of the major causes of this evolution in the family dynamic. However, it’s not the only cause: Clark has another confidant now, in Chloe, and he chooses to confide more in her than the Kents. I personally applaud this writing, as it captures eloquently that Clark is a normal teenager who, despite all the restrictions placed on him and the love lavished on him, would rather confide in a close friend than his parents. Chloe offers him a different sort of support and it’s one that the adult Clark needs.

Notes on Clark’s sexuality
Clark thinks his parents haven’t talked to him about having sex ‘because you guys always think I’m not normal.’ He resents this. I’m always intrigued by the way Clark’s sexuality is portrayed on the show, because the affect his Kryptonian part plays on his sexuality is ambiguous. There were some interesting new hints in this episode. Clark himself seems to assert that he is ‘normal’, not just now, but in the past. The implication in Clark’s comment is that he thinks his parents thought he wouldn’t (or couldn’t?) have sex.

I can see why the Kents would have been confident when Clark had powers that he wouldn’t be sexually intimate with anyone, but why did they not confront the possibility when he lost the powers and started dating Lana? Martha says ‘no, it’s just because you’re so much more vulnerable now without your powers’. But for Clark, the powers themselves were not the barrier: the secrets were. I’m not convinced that sex for Superman is as easy (Kal never had sex – why?) but it’s interesting that Clark thinks it is, thinks it will be, or at least needs to assert to his parents that this is so.

Clark’s mishandling of human power
In ‘Mortal’ we saw Clark revel in his capabilities as a human. He was able to rescue his family, confront Lex and win Lana without powers. At first, in ‘Hidden’ Clark seems to be similarly capable: it’s him, not Chloe, who comes up with the idea of finding Gabriel by using Chloe as bait. But in the ensuing scene he tragically mishandles the situation, demonstrating that his faith in his abilities to handle conflict as a human is not justified.

In the confrontation with Gabriel, Clark acts as if he still has his powers. He directly challenges Gabriel, asking him which of the silos the missile is in. Gabriel thus learns, at one remove, that Chloe has betrayed him. Chloe herself does not get a chance to reason with him, even though this would potentially have been their strongest card. Instead, Clark has already angered a dangerous opponent. He then twists the knife in further with ‘Whatever your reasons for doing this, killing everyone is not the answer’ That’s a superman line if ever I heard one: it assumes that Gabriel’s moral compass is the same as Clark’s, it assumes that Gabriel will listen to ‘reason’, and it assumes that Clark will ultimately win the battle and can therefore afford to belittle and lecture his opponent. Of course it doesn’t work with Gabriel, because killing everyone is exactly the answer he wants.

This argument of Clark’s in fact escalates Gabriel’s conviction to the point where he instantly shoots him. Clark has moved within dangerous range without checking who he is up against, assuming himself to be the more powerful figure. Gabriel shoots and Clark pays the ultimate price for his naïve misunderstanding of human conflict.

Lana and fear
Lana is a character driven and haunted by fears, most prominently fears of death, loss and secrets. She confronts these in Hidden with courage and conviction, and ultimately with no-one there to support her who is not intimately linked to the fears themselves. For this reason, I feel that Lana deserves our respect and she’s won mine.

In Lana’s first scene in Hidden, she is caught sneaking out of the Kent house. Lana wants to be accepted by the Kents, so for her to step forward and accept mutual responsibility for their actions is brave. I’m glad she didn’t sneak out the window and I was glad that Clark had found a girlfriend who would stand by his side and not leave until he signalled to her to do so.

Lana’s relationship with Clark has, no doubt, bolstered her courage. We see that she will fight for him when she returns home and finds Lex at her apartment. Although Lex deliberately plays on her fear that she is not able to share the darkest parts of herself with Clark, she gives him no ground and makes him leave.

Of course, the ultimate and most important test of Lana’s courage comes when Clark is shot and she faces her greatest fear: that he will die. We have seen before that Lana hates to be around sick people: she avoids hospitals and it was Chloe not Lana who sat with Clark the last time he was sick. This time though, Lana’s love for Clark gives her the strength to be there, yet it results in her living through her worst nightmare.

It is a nightmare that proves to her that intimacy results in loss. Lana says ‘All those times I pulled away, it’s because I knew this day would come’. Clark looks at her from the pillow (an echo of the opening scene in which they woke up beside one another) and then dies. The link between sexual intimacy and loss is made so strongly here that I would not have been unconvinced by a full mental breakdown on Lana’s part. Her worst fears have come to pass. Even the nurse telling her ‘you’re not supposed to be in here’ would haunt Lana.

But Lana has yet more fears to confront: Clark disappears and in seeing the empty hospital bed and then his return at the Clark house, battered but intact, Lana comes as close to seeing proof of his alienness as she did on the day of the tornados. In her final scene, we see Lana defend Clark’s normality to Lex. ‘Do you really believe that or is that what you have to tell yourself to stay in a relationship with him?’ Lex asks her calmly. She has no reply, but she leaves. She has done everything she can to protect both herself and her boyfriend from Lex on the day that has thrown more obstacles in the path of their love than any other.

Lana has earned her hero stripes, but there is only more loss ahead of her.

I also have a lot I want to write about Chloe, but I'm going to make that a separate entry.
 
 
Current Mood: enthralledenthralled
 
 
 
Juxtoppozedjuxtoppozed on October 16th, 2005 09:04 am (UTC)
(edited..
I love your thoughts on the show..you always seem to bring something new to the table. I'm kind of ambivalent about this episode b/c, while it was strong, I was afraid that they regressed Clark wrt accepting himself/his heritage….and uneasy about all the disturbing implications of Clark being (henceforth) forced to listen to a sociopathic, omnipotent force b/c Jor-El had dealt him the ultimate blow for not listening.. but you expound on things I didn't think about...he really is breaking away from his parents, gone is the sheltered kid that would sit around with a cup of milk (perfect example being Hourglass, after the Zoe rescue) and discuss the latest problem/meteor freak/relationship issues with his parents. They are simply beyond helping him now..thank goodness for Chloe.

I read the Gabriel scene the exact same way..he was behaving as though he still had his powers (nitpick: why did Chloe go along with such a flawed plan? He may have a skewed perspective, he may be used to dealing with things this way.. but what exactly was the plan that they agreed to?)...it reminded me of that scene in Superman Two where Clark gets up and just *glares* at the creep harassing them and clenches his fist...as if he still had his powers...then gets the crap beaten out of him.

About Lana...see, this (your post) has been my view about the current Lex/Lana/Clark dynamic. I felt like she was covering by saying Clark didn't believe her about the aliens, to keep Clark off Lex's radar (as best as *she* possibly could, anyway)...b/c the last we saw was Clark taking her seriously about the Aliens ("Actually, I do [believe in life on other planets]")..and she has to know about the set up..and then later on I felt like she was putting on a front for Lex. She is not a moron, she *knows* something is off about Clark rising from the dead. Lex isn't enlightening her or planting seeds in her head...she saw the supreme oddity with her own eyes (and we really don't know her reaction to it, I mean independent of how she acts in front of Lex.)...so I got that "stand by your man" vibe. But..I saw about two other people out of many who saw it like this. Every one else thought it was Lana being played by Lex, or at least both scenes were him planting seeds of doubt in her mind and resulting with her frustration. The thing is, I can't read Kristin very well, and I think our views of the scene depend largely on how we read her reactions to Lex’s poking. I think now that the other option is more likely (Lex playing her, frustrating her), because Lana feigning all of that attitude to protect her man gives her more depth than I think tptb actually care to give her... So I'm waiting to see where this goes. I will be pleasantly surprised if our initial readings of those Lexana scenes came to fruitation.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 16th, 2005 09:49 am (UTC)
Re: (edited..
Cool! Thanks for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate it.

I echo your nitpick about Chloe going along with such a flawed plan. It didn't seem right to me either. I think Chloe idolises Clark a little too much still - she did the whole self-effacement thing at the end of Mortal, even though it was *her* as much as Clark who saved the day. She defers to him when he's mortal, even though she's the better thinker of the two. The only reason I could see for this in this episode was so that Clark would be responsible for his own death...

Good call on Lana - I will be pleasantly surprised too, as tptb have always done better at writing her reacting to other characters than acting in her own right. However, this was honestly my spontaneous reaction to this latest ep - I was impressed.

I agree we have to play a bit of a guessing game about Lana at the moment, since we don't see her independent reaction. However she is not an idiot and I think she will have her own concerns. She just won't share them with Lex. Yet.

I think Lex *is* playing her, but to a certain extent she knows it and is going to make up her own mind what to do about it. For now, she's making it clear to him she's sticking with Clark. However he has successfully ruffled her enough for her to feel the need to come and wave Clark's medical records under his nose to prove a point. That in itself, is a victory for Lex, because he gets the opportunity to unsettle her further. I don't see Lana as Lex's equal in these games, but I respect her for having developed a backbone of her own.
Cris: Clark - arrivalduskwillow on October 16th, 2005 10:16 am (UTC)
Re: (edited..
"I think Lex *is* playing her, but to a certain extent she knows it and is going to make up her own mind what to do about it. For now, she's making it clear to him she's sticking with Clark."
I think it's easy for Lex to try to manipulate her now because he's using truth to do it, and she knows it so she really can't deny it.
She's sticking up for Clark now, understandable since she loves him. But like Alexander said in Onyx - Lex could have figured out the truth about Clark long ago if he wasn't blinded by friendship, love.
And since Lana is against secrets, when Clark starts not telling her the truth now - I wonder if she'll after some time turn to Lex so she could learn what he knows about Clark.
It would be tragic I guess - two people closest to Clark, and he drown them away just by not being honest.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: mystery Lexbop_radar on October 17th, 2005 08:13 am (UTC)
Re: (edited..
Yes, I can definitely see Lana turning to Lex in the future. You are right that Lex is using the truth - that's why it's so powerful! When Lex said 'or is that just what you need to tell youself to stay in a relationship with him?' it definitely sounded like he *knew* that stage ;)
Lex: 'oh yeah, that stage. the stage where you kid yourself he's being honest with you. ah ha!'

It is tragic, definitely: going to be interesting watching!
rhiannonhero: SV Clark Lex (B'Lane)rhiannonhero on October 16th, 2005 03:32 pm (UTC)
Re: (edited..
Re: the Lex/Lana interaction. I think it could be a little bit of both. Lana could have gone to Lex in that final scene under the motivation of trying to protect Clark, but with the unconscious knowledge that she was also going to the one person who would likely call bullshit on her declarations. I think it is possible that she went to him with the unconscious need for someone to tell her that she was full of it and that she knew as well as he did that Clark wasn't normal. And the excuse for going was to "protect Clark".

Many might say that this is probably too layered a reading to be TPTB's intention, but I don't necessarily agree with that. They can be pretty layered when they want to be...or sometimes even unconsciously they make things more layered than necessary. And, of course, the meaning is in what it does, i.e. what I, the viewer, take away from it is more important than TPTB's intentions. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: mystery Lexbop_radar on October 17th, 2005 08:16 am (UTC)
Re: (edited..
I think it is possible that she went to him with the unconscious need for someone to tell her that she was full of it and that she knew as well as he did that Clark wasn't normal. And the excuse for going was to "protect Clark".
Nicely defined. Yes, I agree that there was an unconscious need at work for Lana. There is just no way she could repress what had just happened to her without some outlet, and transferring her confusion and rage onto Lex would work well. It displaces the doubts from inside her, at least temporarily, because for now she wants to believe in her idyllic relationship. But I doubt that will last long. Lana is not that easy to fool.

Agree totally with second para. Especially with a show like SV, where there are so many sources of creative input it's impossible to trace what's deliberate and what's accidental: at the end of the day it doesn't matter if it works for the viewer!
Cris: KK2duskwillow on October 16th, 2005 10:08 am (UTC)
Once more - excellent inside in the episode. I realized that after every episode I keep looking when you'll post your thoughts. :)

I especially enjoyed your view of Lana/Clark hospital scene.
This really was a very good Lana episode.
And after all this, it will be interesting to see how she will react when she realizes Clark is lying to her again.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 16th, 2005 10:22 am (UTC)
Awww thanks honey! It was a great Lana episode. I have reached a very happy place with her now - I will be very interested to watch her development this season.
Cris: Lanaduskwillow on October 16th, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC)
Good to hear there are more Lana tolerant people out there. :) I don't feel so lonely anymore. lol
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 16th, 2005 12:42 pm (UTC)
I've been trying to like Lana for some time... as you know from my Lana essay when you gently prodded me in the right direction with her. And now I am *actually* liking her. She and Clark have been as cute as a couple of little kittens in the last two eps...
Cris: Chloe - suspicious mindduskwillow on October 16th, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC)
I know. I find them cute as well. Very unusual. lol
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 16th, 2005 10:34 am (UTC)
Hey the MAS girls and I are chatting on Yahoo if you want to join us...
Crisduskwillow on October 16th, 2005 12:24 pm (UTC)
I went to lunch. I just got back. Still there? And um, where would that be? *g*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 16th, 2005 12:37 pm (UTC)
We're still here! We are on Yahoo chat: do you have an id on it?
Cris: Clark - all by myselfduskwillow on October 16th, 2005 01:53 pm (UTC)
:( I though you've left so I decided to watch Hidden one more time and cap it.
Ah well, maybe next time.
I'm velvetgirlcris on yahoo.
supacatsupacat on October 16th, 2005 10:48 am (UTC)
for Clark, the powers themselves were not the barrier: the secrets were.

Yes, whenever he's had/almost had sex the secrets have been removed from the equation at least in his mind: with Lana and with Alicia. The more we learn about his sexuality, the harder it is to imagine him having sex with someone who believes that he's human. Like, for him it would be this miserable impersonation of normality. A human's first time can be anxiety-ridden in terms of 'doing it right'. For Clark, this would be amplified to a different order of magnitude.

I keep coming back to Clark's line about "because you guys think I'm not normal" as the most interesting part of the ep. What is implied here? Clark's parents think he wouldn't/couldn't have sex because he's an alien? Have they talked about this with him?! Or is Clark picking up on parental 'hints'? Or is Clark projecting his own feelings and anxieties onto his parents?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 16th, 2005 11:06 am (UTC)
The more we learn about his sexuality, the harder it is to imagine him having sex with someone who believes that he's human. Like, for him it would be this miserable impersonation of normality.

Exactly. I think that's one of the reasons he longs for his powers to be out of the equation - he simply couldn't bear to pretend. To lie during the most intimate act possible.

And what *is* implied in that line? I am fascinated by the writing of that scene. I don't think there is any clear answer within the show. So entering into fanwank land here... I think Clark is picking up on parental hints that sex would be hard for him. I can just imagine them telling him or hinting to him that he might not be able to control himself, might hurt someone... etc. I really liked seeing Clark frustrated with them in this ep.
supacatsupacat on October 16th, 2005 12:11 pm (UTC)
I don't think there is any clear answer within the show.

Agreed -- there is no clear answer within the show. Entering into fanwank land... considering how much time and energy Clark poured into thinking about how he could work his powers playing football, I can imagine that he's thought (and thought) about sex and would indeed be sensitive to any offhand comments made by his parents. I wonder if it's possible to rewatch those football conversations with Jonathan as a metaphor for The Sex Talk? Joking! Kind of... Actually from memory Clark was all (denial) "I can do it the same as everyone else!" and only after much soul searching was he, "I guess I um probably shouldn't although I really WANT TO sometimes being an alien sucks".

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 16th, 2005 12:17 pm (UTC)
Oh I would LOVE to revisit those football conversations with that in mind... I think the whole football-as-metaphor-for-sex thing is great - it's kind of funny, but it's also true. Just as there's no level playing ground for Clark with football, he is not on a equal footing with humans in terems of sex.

'Sometimes being an alien sucks' is about right. Poor Clarky. I feel for him with this issue. If i could write fic I would write it about this issue...
Juxtoppozedjuxtoppozed on October 16th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
This is funny b/c during the summer there was a lot of debate about Clark's decision to football on twop (well, it was more like 2 or 3 of us arguing that if you limit his rights wrt enjoying activities like this, you can't feasibly stop at football since he needs to *constantly* reign in his abilities...any mundane action could kill a people around him; that if you replaced "alien" with any other description of origin there's no way in hell it would be considered just to prohibit him from playing, etc)...except I didn't have as much sympathy for the sex... because he kept vital information from his sexual partner when she has a right to know and make an informed decision, and b/c (unlike the full range of physical activity and conscious restraint he's already honed to perfection, over a life time)..this is entirely unknown territory for him.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: mystery Lexbop_radar on October 17th, 2005 08:23 am (UTC)
That's an interesting argument... it's definitely hard to know where Clark should draw the line in terms of interacting with humans. But I think both football and sex (lol) put him in a position where he is more than usually likely to lose control of himself temporarily. And thereby hurt someone. Of course, I also think Clark needs to learn just what human limitations are and what 'reasonable force' with them is (he is so damn careless!). And simply limiting him from interaction doesn't do this...

Perhaps I'm being too generous to him, but I think Clark really does think it's a problem to be intimate with someone and not tell them who he is. I know he doesn't tell Lana, and I think that's terrible and still counts as lying, but in *Clark's* mind, I don't think he does think he's lying. He honestly thinks he is (just) human at that time. Of course now he'll never have that 'get out of jail free card' ever again!
rhiannonhero: SV: The Bitter Endrhiannonhero on October 16th, 2005 03:35 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it's possible to rewatch those football conversations with Jonathan as a metaphor for The Sex Talk?

I think this is brilliant! And I wish someone who had access to those eps (I still haven't bought S4 yet due to the Princess Sparklepony storyline not appealing to me) and going all the way back to S1 football conversations would make such an analysis. That'd be awesome.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 17th, 2005 08:43 am (UTC)
*nudges Supacat!* Cat? That sounds like a fun challenge, yeah?! We have S4... I think it could be fun. I'll put that on my to-do list! ;)
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on January 20th, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC)
Hey there--there isn't nearly enough discussion of *Lockdown* going on, so I've been reading your back entries on Smallville. And I want to totally encourage you and Cat to rewatch the whole football arc in season 4 with an eye to football as a metaphor for sex--what a great reading of that arc! (Which I hated with a fiery passion, at the time, because I agreed with LaT that it was a regression to an earlier stage of Clark's development towards superherodom. I think I look back on it with more tolerance now that they're actually working on his character development this season!)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clark pretty dumbassbop_radar on January 22nd, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
Yeah I hated it too. Except when Lex *bought the team*. I adored that bit!! And yes, I totally still want to do this, because I remember there being a few eerie moments in convs with Jonathan where if you shut your eyes it was totally a chat about sex! And I agree it's better in retrospect... especially given his new *articulated* sexual anxieties which are so similar to the anxieties about football and it not being 'fair'.
president of the back seatvibrantharmony on October 16th, 2005 10:59 am (UTC)
Wow, I'm impressed that you can get so much out of this episode! I really enjoyed reading your analysis.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 16th, 2005 11:07 am (UTC)
thank you!
rumpuso on October 16th, 2005 12:52 pm (UTC)
Your review is fantastic. I always look forward to what you will put on the page. Brilliant incite, clear thought processes, and remarkable introspection. GREAT GREAT job, again.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: mystery Lexbop_radar on October 17th, 2005 08:23 am (UTC)
thank you! it's great to know you guys are reading...
Becky: purply lexsadface on October 17th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC)
um...i read it and commented with something intellectual. Just like I said I would
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: mystery Lexbop_radar on October 17th, 2005 11:13 pm (UTC)
You are cute! ;)
*hugs*
nehellania on October 18th, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
I have nothing to say at all. But I've commented. And I read it :)

It's great. You're brilliant.

That's all I got. *waves at our essay girl*

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Madnessbop_radar on October 19th, 2005 02:34 am (UTC)
Awww.... and you did it with a cute BtVS icon! You're ace for commenting (I know you understand the value of comments!). *hugs*

-Essay Girl
*g*
Beckysadface on October 19th, 2005 11:43 am (UTC)
Um...just so you know. My journal post, not aimed at you. I have nothing but love for you. *huggles*