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19 April 2008 @ 11:50 am
Smallville 7.16 Descent  
*takes a deep breath*

I have been in a very cheery, upbeat, relaxed mood all week. This wasn't perhaps the most appropriate mental state for viewing this episode in. In many ways I wish we had not had a wait before this episode. It picked up exactly where the last episode ended, not so much in a cliffhanger sense as in the emotional tone. But on the other hand I'm grateful because it kept me a little emotionally insulated from it. And such was the profundity and magnitude of the emotional journeys of both Lex and Clark in this episode, I think I needed to be or I'd just be wrecked. Despite the inevitability of this moment, my mind rebelled against it. I can imagine that this episode will get a heap of flak in fandom. But I thought it was magnificently executed (except for a few elements) and it rendered me speechless for quite a long time as it 'settled' with me. At first I wasn't sure how I could write about it because of all Smallville episodes I feel it needs the least exposition because it said everything that needed to be said. And staggeringly, that holds especially true of the final scene, in which NOTHING WAS SAID aloud. That's the kind of television that takes my breath away, and no matter how painful it was, I love this episode for that.

So.

No-one will even remember your name
I've been vidding a lot of Lex scenes recently and I've discovered something that should have been obvious to me a long time ago but somehow I'd never picked up on. I knew that the production team used lighting to reflect Clark's emotional state and to show how in danger or at risk he was; but they also use it to reflect Lex's position. This is particularly obvious in the Luthorcorp offices, which have been gradually dulling and darkening for a long time. I immediately found it disconcerting that the episode opened with Lionel arriving at the Luthorcorp offices and looking up. For so long HE has been the figure looking down on everyone. He's already positioned as the weaker of the two Luthors even before he encounters Lex. We also know he's at his most desperate and despairing (barring that time he tried to kill himself for about three episodes). I was really spooked out by the darkness of his office when he entered and was thinking 'this isn't going to end well', but even then my mind couldn't quite confront what was coming. And that's despite the fact that I have been certain this season would result in Lex killing Lionel for a long time.

Lex's entrance from the shadows was chilling and it was with shock that I listened to the inevitable confrontation between him and Lionel. I had suspected that finding out that Lionel deliberately took him to Smallville the day of the meteor shower would be the thing to finally make Lex lose it with him, but I had expected something more rageful, or else an execution from a distance like Julian's. This was SO MUCH better than either of those options but also way more confronting. Lex was far more visibly distressed than I thought he would be at the time he killed Lionel. He was nearly in tears at places: and massive kudos to Michael for a mindblowingly spectacular performance in this episode.

I think I started to break at 'you sacrificed me for the Traveller'. Once he said it, it seemed like it had always been inevitable that he would draw that conclusion. And it's true! I loved that it came after a long silence between father and son. I got the sense that even then Lex had been hoping for something, something more than just slick pat lines, from his father. Instead, Lionel's silence damned him and Lex seems to be speaking to himself as much as Lionel when he says 'you sacrificed me for the Traveller'. He asks 'why?' which is a profound question that Lex himself can't really answer. But then he follows it almost immediately with 'who is it?', and instantly he's back looking to hear from Lionel confirmation of what he already knows.

Lionel's move to tell Lex that HE is the Traveller was genius: it was the very last line of attack that might have worked. Once. As it is, Lex responds immediately with rage and disdain that all he's getting from his father is more lies. But I do believe that once Lionel's spin might have worked. Lex did want to believe that he had a great future, a special destiny, and he strove to make sense of all the strange coincidences in his life, including his miraculous survivals. If Lex didn't have the Veritas knowledge, Lionel might stand a better chance of persuading him. But with it, Lex has another possible interpretation of events--one that joins more dots than Lionel's attempt here to paint it as always having been about Lex. Emotionally this argument rings hollow and Lex knows it.

When Lex pulls out the gun, Lionel shifts into even greater panic. I think he sees the writing on the wall. He knows what he himself is capable of, so he must recognise this capacity in Lex as well. But he still thinks he can reason with Lex by appealing to him. His 'I can't let you go down that terrible path' seems a ridiculously naive argument to the audience (or to me at least!) because WE already know how far down it Lex is. He's killed already, a great many times. He's killed a brother and a childhood friend. Why stop there?

Lex responds with absolute black determination. He has blocked out Lionel's words completely and is focused not on wrestling with the question of what it means for him that he's willing to kill his father, but simply with the matter of obtaining the key. It's a perfect study of someone so focussed on one goal they're blind to how they're achieving that end.

Lionel's final appeal is to Lex's desire for redemption. That's a strong card, because that need has been desperate--until now. But finding out that his entire life has been orchestrated by Lionel, that from the time he was a small boy, Lionel put all his true energy and focus into the 'Traveller', that Lex was always the second son, a disappointing experiment, has changed things for him once and for all. Redemption seems pointless because there is no chance of ever being seen any differently by Lionel. He's been in a struggle with him since the series began, and he's had opportunities to end it as early as the season 1 finale--then he turned and saved his father because he was still invested in the relationship and in the possibility of being a 'good' man. No longer. It's over, with the following perfect line: 'I was raised in your shadow, now you'll die in mine. No-one will even remember your name.'

Before Lex pushes him, it looks to me like Lionel recognises what his fate is going to be. He barely moves beyond shock before falling, but as he falls his face is strangely serene. Is that a last moment of pride in the son who has become his father, at last? I found it chilling.

The construction of Lionel's death was perfect. Lex never had any intention of shooting him. He planned to push him out the window, to completely physically depose him as the head of the company. Visually it allowed Lionel to fall from those heights and have Lex standing in his place. We have heard Lex talking of wanting to be able to look down on the world below and control it. And that's what Lionel's been doing for years. I thought he was signing his own death warrant when he protested that he couldn't control the fate of individuals: that is exactly what he's been doing, consciously and with great relish, for years. And now Lex has taken his place and exercises the greatest control possible over another individual--in ending a life, Lionel's life.

Even more perfect, visually, was the way that Lionel falling was reflected in Lex's eyes. And this was mirrored later by Lex looking into his father's eye on the steps. They have always been defined in relation to one another--and in the final exchange it is Lex who is the killer, Lionel the victim. While Lionel was at peace with that reflection, Lex was deeply unsettled.

The perfect son
I absolutely ADORED Clark's reaction to the events of 'Descent'. There wasn't one beat of the episode where I wasn't blown away by him (and by Tom's performance which was so eloquent and easy to read). From the first moment he heard of Lionel's death, I knew Clark didn't believe it was an accident. And I love that. Once upon a time I would have hated Clark for moving towards the conclusion that Lex pushed him, but I am now so proud of him for doing so--because he's right. And I don't think that he knew it was Lex at first, but when he saw him ID-ing the body, something in Lex's behaviour didn't add up.

What an incredible scene! Everything about it felt so 'epic', from Chloe and Clark running out of the Daily Planet across the Luthorcorp Plaza, to Lex publicly IDing his father's body in front of a crowd of onlookers. Lex's performance was perfect. The fact that he was visibly distressed worked for him, and I don't believe the Coroner's staff would have suspected anything suspicious from his demeanour--he seemed like a son in shock. Which he was, but just at far more than just his father's death.

I loved the way they showed Lex's shock moving away from his father's body--the slowed time, his laboured breathing, and the first appearance of Alexander. I think it's fitting that he didn't appear until after Lex had killed Lionel. We've seen how well hidden Alexander is these days--Lex has him bullied and cowed. But in confronting what he's done, I think it's natural that Alexander gains a little more 'power' over Lex again--briefly.

But more than anything else in that scene, I loved the way that Clark appeared over Lex's shoulder, as just a shadowy red and blue figure at first. But he's right there--the other person who recognises Lex completely. Clark knows Lex better than anyone. That's what I realised in that moment. And it's a heartbreaking realisation. He is the other person in whose eyes Lex sees his own reflection and recoils. He is exposed before Clark in a way that he is before no-one else in that scene and it feels intensely intimate despite the crowd. Clark looks pained and potentially compassionate, but he receives no signal from Lex that that is appropriate and his expression breaks into one of shock. He doesn't quite know what he's seeing--or doesn't want to believe it. They walk along the barricades, Clark looking anxious and Lex looking annoyed and tired. Lex's last look at Clark seems to ask 'what do you want from me?'

Clark continues to put the pieces together and I totally agree with him that Lionel wasn't the suicide type. Chloe was completely off the mark in that scene. Lionel being distressed and begging her to listen does not suggest that he's about to take his own life! It implies someone with a mission, no matter how crazy that mission is. And why is it odd that Clark would think about the locket? It's a sign that Lionel had something massive at stake before he died--why would he commit suicide if it was still unresolved? In short Clark > Chloe in terms of investigative journalism.

I am very glad that Clark did not utter one word of regret at Lionel's death. He seemed disturbed by it, but not sad, which is appropriate given that Clark too has recently confronted the full extent of Lionel's manipulation. But unlike Lex, Clark did not lash out at Lionel--he simply cut him off emotionally. And a similar restraint and maturity shows in his reaction to his death. He is moved at some level, but his emotions are clearly conflicted. He says that Lionel died 'too soon' and he is clearly unsettled that Lionel's death was unnatural but he seems far more disturbed by what it means about Lex than about losing Lionel. Thank goodness! I couldn't have coped with Clark eulogising Lionel.

I was sure we'd see Clark come to the mansion and confront Lex at some stage during this episode, but somehow I thought we'd see him burst in, as he used to when he had far less proof or reason to suspect Lex of crimes. Instead the scene opens with Clark already inside the mansion. He looks somewhat sad as well as worried when he opens the locket to find the key, and it seems as if for once he wasn't actually intending to confront Lex. What would it achieve? Instead, Lex burst in on him. It's the position of weakness, and this is one of very very few of their exchanges which Lex loses.

It reminded me in some ways of Lionel's confrontation with Lex, with one person attempting to obfuscate, manipulate and 'play' the other, while the other stonewalls and demands something more honest and real. But this time it's Lex using lies and pat lines. Lex does everything he can to emotionally ruffle Clark and to thereby control the exchange. And it's Clark that demands something more real. When he doesn't get it delivers the 'death blow': that he has proof of Lex's crime.

The most heartbreaking line in that scene, and the one where Lex, not Clark, held my sympathy the most, was when Clark said 'they would have felt the same way about you, Lex, if you had of tried'. That was perhaps the cruellest thing Clark could say to Lex because Lex did try, and what he's just learnt is that Lionel's rejection dates back to when he was a tiny boy. What chance did he have when his father had given up on him that early? And far more recently he did try to overcome his baser nature--as he points out to Clark. Clark inspired him when they first met, he thought he'd been given a chance to start his life afresh. And then it all pours out...

Lex blames Clark for rejecting him. 'All I wanted was to be your friend, and you turned your back on me'. Clark meets this with surprising composure. But then he has heard this accusation before. I think he's known for some time that Lex blames him for making him the man he is today. Clark calmly replies that he did try but that Lex only cared about power and control. I think there is truth in both positions: we've seen the tragedy play out and seen how from Lex's perspective Clark's abandonment and rejection was the most devastating thing he could experience. But we've also seen that the seeds of Lex's desire for control had been planted in him firmly before they became friends in Smallville.

It was astonishing to see Lex snap and scream that he had REASON to take control: 'these threats are real'. That is one of the few times he has verbally acknowledged a) that he sees all these things as a threat and b) that he is stepping in to do something about it, that he personally sees himself as Earth's saviour. Clark's call that he's 'lost track of reality' was a brilliant line because it's true (Lex is blind to how much danger there is in this power-hungry behaviour, no matter how he justifies it) but to Lex it's the worst thing Clark could have said. Because from Lex's point of view, it's Clark who is trying to pull the wool over Lex's eyes--and it's Lex who is confronting the 'truth' about the alien threat.

Lex then turns to the thing that eats at him more than anything else: the fact that Lionel accepted Clark as a son, while rejecting Lex. Again, Clark says the worst possible thing from Lex's perspective: 'he just knew he could trust me'. Trust is at the heart of the Clex rift--Lex couldn't trust Clark and Clark couldn't trust Lex. So this is a bitter pill to swallow. He lashes out by bringing up Jonathan. I never thought we'd hear Lex make this call but what a brilliant one it is: 'why was Jonathan Kent so stressed? Was raising the perfect son really so hard? I wonder what strain it put on his heart.' Lex doesn't need to reply to Clark's fury: it's clear that he's ruffled Clark.

Despite that, Clark 'wins' the exchange, at least on the surface level, by saying that he has proof that Lex killed Lionel. And as Clark leaves, Lex's fury shows. He knows he's lost. But I was also proud of Clark that when it turned out that they no longer had the photo, he calmly acknowledged that they couldn't do anything without it. Chloe may have seen Lex in the photo, but they've only got her word and that won't hold up in court.

Lionel's final message to Kal-El was chilling. (And kudos to the props guys for including both Gotterdammerung and Nietzchke's 'Beyond Good and Evil' in Lionel's office.) The torch itself was a beautiful construction--I love the way it projected the Kryptonian symbols onto the wall. It connects Lionel with the legacy of Virgil Swann, as well as Jor-El. But Lionel's message is a disturbing one. While he talks about his greatest achievement being 'protecting and serving' Clark, we know that Lionel was not as selfless as he made out. There are two hidden threads there that disturb me, just as they disturb Clark:
- firstly Lionel glorifies himself in the process (interesting comparison to Gina, who is pleased to play protector to a powerful man)
- secondly it builds a cult of Clark as all-powerful and special, which is not so far distant from the idea that he should 'rule them with strength'. It positions Clark as superior to all others, and I don't think it's really what Clark wants to hear.

Especially since he also draws the (logical) conclusion that Lionel died protecting Clark. Clark calls him 'another person who treated me like a son and died because of it'. More than anything, I am proud of Clark for confronting his own culpability about Lionel's death. And it provides a focus for him reflecting on Joanathan's death at all. Lex may be a murderer, but Clark listened to him when he suggested that Clark was responsible for Jonathan's death, and I think this is the first time he's truly faced that. 'Descent' had a lot of parallels with 'Reckoning' and this one is drawn very deliberately.

Of course, the situations are not identical--Clark is not directly responsible for Jonathan's death. But it is true that Jonathan developed heart problems after taking on Clark's powers--and that he died after Clark begged for Lana's life. Clark's decision resulted in Jonathan's death and I'm glad he feels some responsibility for that. It allows parallels to be drawn between him and Lex, who is also coming to terms with having killed his father (far more directly) but whose instinct is to deny responsibility ('I had no choice').

I kind of hated that Chloe tried to make Clark feel that it was all ok, that it all served some greater purpose. That is far too close to Lionel's own belief in the importance of protecting Clark and how it justifies any actions, however terrible, for me to be comfortable with it. I was glad to see that Clark kind of blocked her out. He was lost in his own thoughts asking 'how could Lex do it?' It feels so terrible for him to realise in retrospect that his very existence resulted in three men losing their lives. So how could Lex choose consciously to kill his father? But in asking 'how does a son murder his own father?' I think he's still asking a bigger question about himself as well. How has HE come to be partly responsible for this and what does it mean that he is? What should he do about it?

I think I'll save addressing that for last--just as the episode did.

Gina
It was so obvious that Gina was going to die: Lex opened up to her too much. It was dreadful to see him taking comfort from her--he's so alone that even that she's all he's got. And I loved the immediacy of his reaction to her seeing that he had Lionel's locket. You could seem him thinking 'and now I'll have to kill you too'. But at the same time he was fascinated by her reaction and perfectly willing to use her willingness to cover his tracks for his own ends first.

I gasped aloud when it was revealed that the locket was empty. Lex killed his father for an empty locket. Lionel got the final word even from the grave. And Lex seemed to be sitting there digesting that. His story about the Apollo 11 and 'the right man can make anything happen' fits with him reflecting on his own inadequacies--how he never lived up to his father's expectations; even in their final exchange he wasn't clever enough to check the locket first. I think he rather enjoyed seeing Gina act shocked--he got to be the calm one, instead of the duped. I think he feels he should have expected such an outcome. But in Gina he has someone else to blame and manipulate.

For her part, I found it chilling how happy Gina was at being able to play the part of most loyal and loving minion. She seemed delighted at the opportunity for intimacy that Lionel's death gave her. She's smart and she knows how to read Lex, knows that normally he's far too strong to be interested in any overtures from her. But he's vulnerable in the wake of Lionel's murder and she seeks to exploit that. She rather likes the idea of Lex being dependent on her. And short-sightedly she doesn't see that he would never allow that. Her use of the pronoun 'we' in the scene at the Daily Planet was definitely a step to far.

And as if that wasn't enough to mark her for death, she then discovered Clark's powers. Of course that added an extra twist: she could have told Lex, definitively, that Clark was the Traveller. He's going to be truly pissed when he gets that message! Of course, I don't believe for a moment that Clark doesn't know it's Clark--but I do think he needs someone else to see it, to acknowledge it, to believe it, as well.

Burning the evidence
The mansion is a black silhouette against the sky in the establishment shot before the final confrontation between Lex and Alexander. Lex has entered his darkest period. Alexander says Lex can't run away from him. He doesn't want Alexander's help. 'I have to' (go to Zurich) 'I had no choice' 'it's all I have left'. Alexander offers Lex an alternative--pointing out that he still has him--and Lex's immediate reaction is to deny that completely, to make it true that he has nothing else by drowning/killing Alexander in the flames of his fireplace.

I'm chilled, by the way, at the symbolism of him killing Alexander in that fire. So much has happened in front of the fire. It's a fire that Lex has tended and expressed his hopes in front of for years. It's also where he burnt the evidence of his (fake) child. It is, I realise now, a place where he buries truths, as well as exposes himself. He looks sad and lonely after doing so, there is no joy in it.

The fact that he's buried Alexander clearly signals that he WILL go to Zurich, and that will, as foreshadowed, be the end of the journey for Lex, closing the door on redemption forever.

Future Pulitzers
I love that Lois flipped out at Jimmy in frustration about not being at Luthorcorp when Lionel died. The frustrated journalist is cute! It's also cool that Jimmy can hold his own by having miraculously snapped the shot of Lex killing Lionel. (Though omg, WHAT did he THINK he was photographing at the time?) I also like that Lois was skeptical about the 'blurry blob of pixels'. Because there enters my most hated element of this episode: the belief that somehow the sharpen tool in Photoshop is going to solve the crime. *headdesk* When, WHEN will TV and film writers accept that the resolution of a photo depends not on computer power but on camera settings. And yes, a picture can be sharpened a certain amount by certain programs--and there are high-end tools to do so--but it's not a matter of HOURS OF WORK (what the fuck was Chloe doing at Isis all that time? Pressing 'sharpen' hopelessly over and over?!). The degree to which it can be sharpened is still predetermined by the initial resolution settings. Arrrrggghhh!! (Sorry, it's one of those things that irrits the hell out of me as a suspense device.)

I liked that Lois seemed to be cluing in to Gina in the short period before she got shot. She recognised that Gina worked for Lex and I wondered if she would start to suspect that Lex had a hand in Lionel's death from the overkill-methods that Gina was employing. While her line 'you should have said that before you broke out the heavy artillery' was a play for sympathy but it also made me think she was pondering just why Gina was so desperate to get the picture.

She must have thought that even more after she got shot. (And I loved her shocked exclamation!) It was very Lois that she berated herself for tackling Gina. 'Not the smartest icicle in the freezer' was a cute way to describe herself--I think she feels she misread Gina. I kind of love that Lois DID get shot--she has so much guts and courage but does get herself in trouble because she's only human. And I don't think she'll ever stop putting herself in the line of fire.

Jimmy was adorably comforting, even if he could do little to save Lois. I liked that he clung to an image of the two of them becoming world-famous when they get out of there. It seems like a bond has been forged between the two of them through this, their first case. That vision of the future is tied to Superman as well, and Clark's rescue of them was perfect for reminding us of that. It definitely felt like an iconic Superman rescue, and I love that he unfroze them into their future selves--a future in which they will be at his side.

Chloe
Chloe felt a bit out of place in this episode for me personally. It seemed kind of constructed that Lionel had given the key to her (how much cooler would it have been if he'd sent it to, say, Martha, for instance?). But I didn't mind seeing her be so completely outplayed by Lex. She seemed to think she had it under control once she'd shredded the envelope--how naive! And she should have kept the key on her, like Lionel did. It was all too easy for Lex to open the drawer.

I'm not going anywhere
At the mansion Clark tells Lex that he's 'not going anywhere'. It triggers Alexander to arise in Lex's mind--not surprising since we saw Clark tell Alexander he would never abandon him. Alexander tells Lex that there's still time, that Clark is his friend.

Chloe tells Clark that 'total absence of love' is the opposite of evil. While I don't really buy that in real life, I think it's definitely the opposition that Smallville has set up. There are so many ways to reflect on that line:
- love was completely absent in Lionel for Lex
- love was completely absent in Lex for Lionel, once he learnt how early Lionel abandonned him (until then I think he felt some last strands of love for his father)
- Clark turned his back on Lex and left him 'loveless'.
Clark's response to Chloe's line is to act. He says he won't let Lex kill any more people, and he leaves to attend the funeral. There have been times in the past, many times, when Clark has turned his attention away from Lex--whether because it's too painful to confront him emotionally or because he's distracted by Lana or because he's busy pursuing some other issue (like rounding up the Phantoms). But I do not think Clark will ever take his eyes off Lex ever again. And that's what makes this episode so incredible. I felt we were seeing the future being written before our eyes.

That last scene is probably now my favourite Smallville scene ever. It was spectacularly beautiful and there was no need for any dialogue--everything was said visually which is always where SV is most articulate. ;) Here's what I loved:
- the backdrop: he Daily Planet and the Luthorcorp building side by side in the centre of the screen, symbolising the future
- the framing: two barren trees on either side of the screen, one on Lex's side, one on Clark's. The two men are both in mourning
- the echoes of past episodes, including Reckoning, when Lex attended Jonathan's funeral
- the shot construction: Clark arrives over the rise of the hill, walks forward and turns to face Lex, on the other side of Lionel's funeral mound. Lex holds the slightly higher ground, which is appropriate since he's Lionel's son, but the two men are also clearly on equal footing and nothing in Clark's demeanour suggests that he's an uninvited guest (even though he is).

At first the two men remain focussed on Lionel, with their gaze on him, rather than each other. Clark stays in mourner pose for longer, but then looks up to meet Lex's gaze, acknowledging that his presence is not really (just) about Lionel: it's about Lex. He meets his gaze with determination and I think there was a strong message in that look. He was telling Lex that he wasn't going to play by Lex's rules, challenging him. Lex could have fought with Clark and told him it was inappropriate to come, but Clark was also reminding Lex that he knew the truth of how Lionel died--and that knowledge builds an intimacy between them. Lex would be arguing from a very weak position if he tried. And Clark was also telling him that he would always be there, always watching, that he would never leave Lex's side.

Lex smiles, slightly, in response and in recognition, and then he turns his face stony again and walks away, leaving Clark to pay his respects to Lionel. That smile and then stony glance at Clark destroy me every time I watch. There was so much being said in that silent exchange. It was both a reaffirmation of their relationship and an end to it. I do believe that Lex liked that Clark came to the funeral, but also that he was angry about it at the same time. He's pleased that he and Clark are tied together in this power struggle dance. Without that, he would have absolutely nothing--and that is worse. But he is also so painfully terrifyingly cut off from Clark--he has turned his back on him (literally). Alexander told Lex that he could, even now, reach out to Clark. But he doesn't--and Clark knows he won't.

Once upon a time this would have been far too difficult for Clark to face. Now he takes on Lex Luthor has his own personal responsibility. These two are no longer just rival sons; they've become their future selves, twinned adversaries who will dog each other's steps forever more.

At which point I start tearing up and needing some chocolate, goddamn it! *cries*
 
 
Current Location: sofa
Current Mood: indescribableindescribable
 
 
 
mahaliemmahaliem on April 19th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
I love, love, love this write-up.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 06:57 am (UTC)
Thank you! :) That's very reassuring.
svgurl: clark daily planet luthorcorpsvgurl on April 19th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
Your reviews are always way too intelligent for me. I have to read them a few times before I can figure out something appropriate to say.

If I just read your reviews, I think I would just think the show is brilliant. The way you analyze it is awesome.

I agree with everything you just said.

He is exposed before Clark in a way that he is before no-one else in that scene and it feels intensely intimate despite the crowd. Clark looks pained and potentially compassionate, but he receives no signal from Lex that that is appropriate and his expression breaks into one of shock. He doesn't quite know what he's seeing--or doesn't want to believe it. They walk along the barricades, Clark looking anxious and Lex looking annoyed and tired. Lex's last look at Clark seems to ask 'what do you want from me?'

I completely agree. Tom and Michael did an amazing job but Tom was just at the top of his game this entire episode. I could just see the internal debate he was having as he followed Lex through the crowd. It was great.

In short Clark > Chloe in terms of investigative journalism.

I loved that too! Clark figuring things out ... it's a sign of what he will become. He totally put the pieces together and it was perfect because that is what I want to see. I want to see a Clark who can stand on his own and solve things. Though I love the Chloe-Clark friendship, I fear he has become too dependent on her. I like this Clark ... the one who can trust his instincts and discover things by himself.

I am very glad that Clark did not utter one word of regret at Lionel's death. He seemed disturbed by it, but not sad, which is appropriate given that Clark too has recently confronted the full extent of Lionel's manipulation.

Yes, I completely agree. Clark is disturbed and he should be. That's the future Superman ... the one who believes that everyone deserves a chance to live, not only the good. Lionel may have been awful but he was a human being. If Clark condoned his death, he wouldn't be ... well, Clark.

The Clark-Lex conversation at the mansion was intense.

Lex blames Clark for rejecting him. 'All I wanted was to be your friend, and you turned your back on me'. Clark meets this with surprising composure.

I was proud of Clark at that moment because I'm sick of everyone blaming everything on him. It's a bit frustrating and Lex needs to be held accountable for his own actions. Clark was good and I agree with that he won that argument.

And I don't blame Clark for trying to pull the wool over his eyes either. At this point, Clark has to worry about self preservation. For his own safety, he had to dismiss Lex's rants as delusions because we've all seen what Lex and the Luthors can do.

Gina was definitely creepy ... she has a scary obsession with Lex. She was smarter than Lex's other minions but she still didn't know her boundaries. The whole "we" thing was definitely going too far and we could tell on Lex's face that she was. Did he kill her? I'm not sure.

The Lois-Jimmy scenes were great. Jimmy telling her how epic they're going to be made me smile. And Clark saving them ... that was just a perfect glimpse of the future.

Chloe totally should've kept the key with her. I thought it was silly how she put it in the drawer.

Poor Alexander! That was sad. I can't believe Lex went there. He's definitely gone over the deep edge, that's for sure.

The final scene was chilling. But I didn't like how they had Clark put the dirt into the grave. That felt like a kick to "Reckoning" and Jonathan.

It wasn't great but compared to the rest of season 7, it was definitely much better.

Sorry for going off. I tend to rant. :)

Great review!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: K Lexbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC)
Your reviews are always way too intelligent for me. I have to read them a few times
Really? That probably just means they're not clearly written enough. ;)

If I just read your reviews, I think I would just think the show is brilliant. The way you analyze it is awesome.
*blush* Well, thanks! I kinda geek out over this show, I know.

I could just see the internal debate he was having as he followed Lex through the crowd. It was great.
Yeah--wasn't it!!! It was

If Clark condoned his death, he wouldn't be ... well, Clark.
*nods*

Gina was definitely creepy ... she has a scary obsession with Lex. She was smarter than Lex's other minions but she still didn't know her boundaries. The whole "we" thing was definitely going too far and we could tell on Lex's face that she was. Did he kill her? I'm not sure.
Really. I was absolutely certain he did.

But I didn't like how they had Clark put the dirt into the grave. That felt like a kick to "Reckoning" and Jonathan.
I was kind of OK with that because I think there were some striking differences. As a point of comparison, I found it acceptable because I think they were showing how different it was. Jonathan's funeral was beautiful and he had lots of mourners, Clark and Martha were grief-stricken and had lots of sympathetic friends around. In contract, Lex is (by his own choice) alone on a stark lonely hill. Lionel is not in any way venerated. And his own son turns and leaves. I felt Clark was paying his respects in a 'everyone deserves this' kind of way. Not in the emotionally-overwrought way he did with his own father. And he doesn't have anything to say to/about Lionel, so I felt like he 'gave' Lionel the bear minimum respect he thinks anyone deserves. But maybe that's just my optimistic spin on it.
Carolcarolandtom on April 19th, 2008 08:52 am (UTC)
Clark's decision resulted in Jonathan's death and I'm glad he feels some responsibility for that.

I'm sorry but I couldn't disagree more on this. Jonathan was responsible for Clark running away, in the first place; even Jonathan acknowledged that to Clark. Clark didn't ask Jonathan to go to the caves and be empowered by the AI. Clark didn't ask Jonathan to make a deal that involved taking decisions that affected Clark's life and never telling him. Clark didn't exchange Jonathan's life for Lana's, he just tried to save her life. All "the AI is God and can take lives at will" is one of the most stupid things the show has ever done. But Clark never chose between Lana and his dad. In spite of that, he blamed himself from what happened from the very beginning because Clark is too hard on himself, as we know. He certainly didn't need Lex's mean accusations to make him reflect on that particular and painful subject.

Lex's bringing out the matter was a cheap blow, a desperate way to shed part of his guilt and place it on others, as Lex usually does. Lex knows very well that if Jonathan was stressed it was mainly because of the Luthors and the threat the Luthors represented to his family. They were the ones who delivered the final blow to Jonathan

There can't be a comparison between what happened to Jonathan and Lex murdering his father in cold blood, none at all!

Great review. I don't always agree on everything you say but you always make very good and insightful points.

Edited at 2008-04-19 08:53 am (UTC)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 01:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks for commenting. I respect that you feel differently and I won't argue with you that there is a profound difference between the Clark-Jonathan relationship and Lex killing his father. You made me reflect about why I do feel strongly that Clark should consider the way in which his actions led to Jonathan's death and I think it comes down to the fact that I would do so if I was him. Which is perhaps not the best frame of reference but I just think if I made such a momentous decision--to change time--and it resulted, however unintentionally, in my father's death (or anyone's death!) I would feel guilt and sorrow and I would hope that it would teach me to think through the possible consequences of my actions and not act so drastically while in shock and grief. If/while I'm being completely honest, I think I'm also comfortable with Clark reflecting on the matter because I'm also confident that this Clark, who has grown so much, will not get caught up in unnecessary guilt. He used to be way too hard on himself but I think he can see the reality of the situation and know that there is a huge distance between what happened with Jonathan and what Lex did to Lionel, while at the same time reflecting on the fact that he's had three father figures die protecting him.

Lex knows very well that if Jonathan was stressed it was mainly because of the Luthors and the threat the Luthors represented to his family. They were the ones who delivered the final blow to Jonathan
A very good point. From that perspective it was the height of hypocrisy (and cruelty) to bait Clark with that.

I don't always agree on everything you say but you always make very good and insightful points.
Likewise! I always appreciate your comments and perspective.
(no subject) - suex on April 20th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on April 21st, 2008 07:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - suex on April 21st, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
darluludarlulu on April 19th, 2008 10:37 am (UTC)
But more than anything else in that scene, I loved the way that Clark appeared over Lex's shoulder, as just a shadowy red and blue figure at first.

That was my favorite visual from the episode.

They walk along the barricades, Clark looking anxious and Lex looking annoyed and tired. Lex's last look at Clark seems to ask 'what do you want from me?'

There was some great dialogue in this ep, but for me, it was the two silent stretches of communication between Clex at the barricades and then later at the funeral that really 'spoke' to me.

I kind of hated that Chloe tried to make Clark feel that it was all ok, that it all served some greater purpose. That is far too close to Lionel's own belief in the importance of protecting Clark and how it justifies any actions, however terrible, for me to be comfortable with it.

I've always had a problem with Chloe in this regard. For being the best friend, she sure seems to buy into the cult of Clark a lot of the time. Mirroring Lionel, her behavior over the past few seasons seems to suggest that she too considers Clark to be better than everyone else, more important because of his abilities and origins, and while we all know the significant role Superman will one day play in world affairs, I still find that brand of thinking dangerous. I seriously think Chloe's capable of almost anything when it comes to protecting Clark, although ironically enough, I think the show would have us lump her in with Jonathon Kent and all that is good and right in embracing and protecting Clark's exceptionalism while their previously golden Lana would be the one whose protective machinations are supposed to fall under the morally grey Luthor heading. Personally speaking, there have been times when each of said four characters scared me in their fervent protection of Clark, but it was always the overwhelming righteousness across the board that really got my hair standing on end.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex here with youbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
That was my favorite visual from the episode.
Wasn't it magic?! The vidder in me was spazzing out through so much of this episode.

There was some great dialogue in this ep, but for me, it was the two silent stretches of communication between Clex at the barricades and then later at the funeral that really 'spoke' to me.
I agree--they were stand out moments. I felt like I was seeing such iconic television, especially in that final scene.

For being the best friend, she sure seems to buy into the cult of Clark a lot of the time. Mirroring Lionel, her behavior over the past few seasons seems to suggest that she too considers Clark to be better than everyone else, more important because of his abilities and origins, and while we all know the significant role Superman will one day play in world affairs, I still find that brand of thinking dangerous.
I completely agree--I've been coming to this conclusion slowly over some time, but this episode in particular made me flip out about it.

I seriously think Chloe's capable of almost anything when it comes to protecting Clark
Yeah. Well didn't she say she'd climb Everest to save him recently? That was an oddly creepy line. Yes, ok, Chloe, we *get* it!

Personally speaking, there have been times when each of said four characters scared me in their fervent protection of Clark, but it was always the overwhelming righteousness across the board that really got my hair standing on end.
Oh, you've expressed that beautifully! Thank you. Yes, I completely agree. I've been disturbed whenever any of the characters fall into that pattern, but right now it feels like Chloe alone has become the successor to that pattern of behaviour (and belief). And I fear how much influence she has over Clark. I was really pleased to see him not really listening to her. I think he may be getting sick of hearing the sort of Clark-aggrandising platitudes that they serve up to him.
Enderenderwiggin24 on April 19th, 2008 11:18 am (UTC)
i dont really understand everything you write, but i am sure, you made sense of the show :)
I have faith in you!
and whoever made you cry *kicks them*.
*feeds you some of my non-so-secret haribo stash*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
Hee! Thanks for your faith in me, Ender! I'm sorry if I get confusing.

And thanks for the chocolate offering! *snacks*
I'm sorry if I get confusing. - enderwiggin24 on April 19th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I'm sorry if I get confusing. - bop_radar on April 20th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
weeee! - enderwiggin24 on April 21st, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Vicki: David Thewlismyownghost on April 19th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
oh, this is so very good. you've helped me sort out my reactions (i just got to see the episode last night), and as always you're sensitive to color and composition in a way that i'm not, or am maybe only subliminally. what's best here is that you tie it all together at the end in a way that's not exactly hopeful, but does at least leave lex not completely alone and clark becoming the man he will need to be. i feel better about the whole thing!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It was a pretty tough episode, but I did feel the ending was ... mixed. The fact that Lex smiled in recognition really moved me. It wasn't exactly hope, it was more like sad acknowledgment of what's lost, but also of what's to come. And it does make me happier that Lex is not completely alone. Like Lionel, he maybe won't deserve to have a good man like Clark mourn him. But he'll have one anyway--he'll have Clark with him, in one sense at least, all his life. Clark will never let him get away with anything--and I think that's an expression of love. It's certainly a balance to the evil that he will commit. I was deeply moved by it.
goodvibe: clexlovegoodvibe on April 19th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
//Despite the inevitability of this moment, my mind rebelled against it. I can imagine that this episode will get a heap of flak in fandom.//

I think this was a great ep for both Clark and Lex, though. And for the Clex dynamic as well.

I love your reading of that final, beautiful Clex scene. ITA, in that it was so incredibly poignant and powerful.

I loved the ep. And am really looking forward to seeing what comes of this set-up - Clark and Lex both going after those keys.

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex showdownbop_radar on April 20th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
Yeah, it WAS a great episode for Clark and Lex. I too can't wait to see what happens from here. This episode felt so complete it's hard to imagine where else it goes!
Nora Norwich: Gorgeous Glovernorwich36 on April 19th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)
This is going to be a fast response, because I have to go to work (on a Saturday! Evil!)

Lionel's move to tell Lex that HE is the Traveller was genius: it was the very last line of attack that might have worked. Once. As it is, Lex responds immediately with rage and disdain that all he's getting from his father is more lies. But I do believe that once Lionel's spin might have worked.

Yes, I thought that was brilliant, too--and actually kind of interesting, because there are many ways that the fact that Lex was in Smallville that day gave him some qualities similar to the Traveller, not that that was Lionel's intent, of course. I love the way you have analyzed this whole scene, especially Lex's feelings of betrayal.

But finding out that his entire life has been orchestrated by Lionel, that from the time he was a small boy, Lionel put all his true energy and focus into the 'Traveller', that Lex was always the second son, a disappointing experiment, has changed things for him once and for all. Redemption seems pointless because there is no chance of ever being seen any differently by Lionel.

Oh, that's a really good point, especially as the "Clark as the good son" theme is so underscored later in the episode.

And am I the only person in fandom who was gutted by Lex's memory about the Air and Space museum that came later in the episode? Because to me, that actually read like there was a time when Lionel authentically didn't want to displace Lex as his son, but wanted to connect to him/bring him into the role of "protector" of the Traveller. (Ok, I know my mushy desire for father-son reconciliation by those two is not widely shared--or frankly, possible, because of the trajectory of canon, but I can't help it. And now it is gone forever.)

I loved the way that Clark appeared over Lex's shoulder, as just a shadowy red and blue figure at first. But he's right there--the other person who recognises Lex completely. Clark knows Lex better than anyone. That's what I realised in that moment. And it's a heartbreaking realisation. He is the other person in whose eyes Lex sees his own reflection and recoils. He is exposed before Clark in a way that he is before no-one else in that scene and it feels intensely intimate despite the crowd. Clark looks pained and potentially compassionate, but he receives no signal from Lex that that is appropriate and his expression breaks into one of shock.

I just want to say, I really love all your unpacking of the visuals of this episode, especially in this scene!

firstly Lionel glorifies himself in the process (interesting comparison to Gina, who is pleased to play protector to a powerful man)
- secondly it builds a cult of Clark as all-powerful and special, which is not so far distant from the idea that he should 'rule them with strength'. It positions Clark as superior to all others, and I don't think it's really what Clark wants to hear.


Oh, wow, SUCH an interesting observation, the parallel between Lionel and Gina. I can't believe I didn't pick that up, but it makes perfect sense--complete with Lex being responsible for both of their deaths. And thank you for unpacking the Nietzche/cult-like references of this scene, because so many people have been reading that as if the audience is supposed to be taking Lionel's claims at face value, when it's obvious we shouldn't.

I have to run to work now, but I hope to come back and say more this evening.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex purple evilbop_radar on April 20th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
there are many ways that the fact that Lex was in Smallville that day gave him some qualities similar to the Traveller
Yes, totally! And of the two, it's Lex who has embraced the idea that he should 'rule them with strength'. It's as if there were two roles being determined that day--the good and the evil--and by taking Lex there, Lionel ensured it would be his own son who played the counterpart to Clark's goodness. Acquiring that god-like survival was, I think, actually very dangerous for Lex's psyche because we've seen how it's played into and enhanced his delusions.

And am I the only person in fandom who was gutted by Lex's memory about the Air and Space museum that came later in the episode?
I think it was eclipsed for me by everything else in the episode. There was just so much going on! But I was fascinated by it, and I love your reading of it

Because to me, that actually read like there was a time when Lionel authentically didn't want to displace Lex as his son, but wanted to connect to him/bring him into the role of "protector" of the Traveller.
Wow. Yeah, that opens up a really tragic take on the reason why Lionel took him to Smallville--he wanted Lex to be his successor in that role. I guess he recoiled from him a bit when he got hurt in the meteor shower because he couldn't imagine this little broken boy being his successor as 'protector'. And remember Clark reaching out to Lex? That face-stroke implied a protective role for Clark towards Lex. It was Lex that needed protection. Wow. You've got me so thinky!

Oh, wow, SUCH an interesting observation, the parallel between Lionel and Gina. I can't believe I didn't pick that up, but it makes perfect sense--complete with Lex being responsible for both of their deaths.
I think Gina kind of snuck up on me as a character, but I do think she plays the 'protector' role in this episode for Lex, very strongly. And she gets this glowy feeling of glory from it while supposedly remaining 'selfless'. Also the measures she's willing to take for him are disturbing. All of that seemed like a parallel to Lionel. (Though it's hard to imagine Gina locking him up for his own 'protection'--perhaps with ten more years!)

The other person Gina (disturbingly) parallels is Chloe. Chloe is shaping her life around being Clark's protector, his secret-keeper. And she's not done such drastic things for him, but she certainly has crossed some lines. With Lionel gone, and Martha and Jonathan gone, Chloe is going to be alone in this role and I worry that she's inherited the worst aspects of the Kents' (particularly Jonathan's) parenting/care-taking of Clark: namely this belief that his 'specialness' makes everything that happens justifiable.

And thank you for unpacking the Nietzche/cult-like references of this scene, because so many people have been reading that as if the audience is supposed to be taking Lionel's claims at face value, when it's obvious we shouldn't.
Oh, goodness no. I think we're supposed to be very wary of them, and him.

Thanks for your comments--you've got me thinking even more!
(no subject) - norwich36 on April 21st, 2008 06:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on April 21st, 2008 08:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
serenographyserenography on April 19th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to resist reading other reviews of the ep until I get the chance to finish writing my own up, but I just couldn't resist yours (and dawnybee's.

I'm not even sure where to start with responding to your review. And sadly, I don't have time to really give detailed feedback right now. But I do want to say that it's so evident to me why you are such a great overall reviewer: You really are an incredibly visual person (vidder, hello?), but you also have the added bonus of being remarkably insightful when it comes to characterizations and motivations - not to mention your writing skill.

Great stuff, K.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: K Lexbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks for such a lovely comment! :) I kind of thought I just rambled madly--this ep was so HUGE to process. It's extra special that you find I pick up on visual stuff: somehow I never thought of myself as a visual person so it still gives me a thrill.
Heather: B/W Lex by violetsmilesmiss_tress on April 19th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
- the echoes of past episodes, including Reckoning, when Lex attended Jonathan's funeral

I was also reminded of in S1.17 'Reaper', when Lex told Clark that kings would come to Lionel's funeral while friends would come to Jonathan's. It was interesting that Lex made it so no one at all could come to Lionel's.

And the fact that Lex didn't have Lionel buried in the Luthor plot with Lillian is even more telling.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: K Lexbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
Lex told Clark that kings would come to Lionel's funeral while friends would come to Jonathan's
OMG, so true! Thank you for that connection.

You're right: it's very telling that Lex controlled the funeral so heavily. And buried him there not with Lillian. Wow. *still reeling*
(no subject) - beck_liz on April 20th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on April 21st, 2008 06:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
Talitha: letsey_x lextalitha78 on April 19th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
What a fantastic review. I'm getting so much pleasure out of the reactions to this episode--it's very exciting to see so much emotion coming out of the fandom.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: K Lexbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
Oh cool! :) The fandom has been rather blah and emotionless for ages, hasn't it? So yeah, I agree.
Diana: Clark Kentbutterfly on April 19th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
That final scene was so brilliant. And visually amazing (and with no dialogue to muck up using it in vids).

I'm with you in finding Chloe's actions this episode to be... odd and out-of-place. Just... weird.

Clark's instincts were definitely in the right place (and wow, he and Lex really showed us that they still know how to hurt each other).

Lois and Jimmy are adorable. *squishes them*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW smilebop_radar on April 19th, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
Hee, yes, it was a great gift to vidders! :)

I'm glad I wasn't alone in finding Chloe weird.
jude_judith82: Clarkjude_judith82 on April 19th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
I wish I had a better comment. But I'm just like I love you Boppy. Great review. I may come back with more comments when I've digested it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on April 19th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks hon! :)
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: EssayGirlbop_radar on April 20th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Ha! That makes the hours I spent on it worthwhile. ;) Not that they were a chore--it was very much a case of having so much I needed to write out of my system about this episode.
seacrystal on April 20th, 2008 09:46 am (UTC)
Oh man. I don't even now where to start responding, there are just so many things I love about this review. I'll just pick out a few here.

I immediately found it disconcerting that the episode opened with Lionel arriving at the Luthorcorp offices and looking up. For so long HE has been the figure looking down on everyone. He's already positioned as the weaker of the two Luthors even before he encounters Lex.

Very spot on observation. They have been showing Lionel's descent gradually in a very convincing manner and that particular scene with Lionel looking up is a very fitting touch.

I had expected something more rageful, or else an execution from a distance like Julian's. This was SO MUCH better than either of those options but also way more confronting. Lex was far more visibly distressed than I thought he would be at the time he killed Lionel.

It's a great contrast between the two murders. It is his father after all, though I'd really like it if we've been shown a flashback of Lionel's own killing of his parents and compare it to Lex.

I kind of love that Lois DID get shot--she has so much guts and courage but does get herself in trouble because she's only human. And I don't think she'll ever stop putting herself in the line of fire.

Same here. It actually reminds me of how she refused to leave Clark in Combat, even after she had every chance to save herself.

Chloe tells Clark that 'total absence of love' is the opposite of evil. While I don't really buy that in real life, I think it's definitely the opposition that Smallville has set up. There are so many ways to reflect on that line:

That line had came off as very odd, and didn't work at all for me so it's very interesting to read your thoughts about it.

Once upon a time this would have been far too difficult for Clark to face. Now he takes on Lex Luthor has his own personal responsibility. These two are no longer just rival sons; they've become their future selves, twinned adversaries who will dog each other's steps forever more.

Just perfect. I love how you've also described the graveyard scene and what it conveyed to the audience.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex showdownbop_radar on April 20th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
I'd really like it if we've been shown a flashback of Lionel's own killing of his parents and compare it to Lex.
Oh, interesting! I think I feel instinctively that the two murders are very different. But perhaps there were more similarities between them than we know. Lionel has had a position of extreme power over Lex for so long, I feel that's what this killing was about. It's hard to imagine Lionel as a young man being in a similar position. I think in my own mind I've imagined Lionel's murder of his parents as 'worse', but that makes me question my own biases.

That line had came off as very odd, and didn't work at all for me so it's very interesting to read your thoughts about it.
It WAS an odd line in many ways. I joked about it being Chloe's 'love is the answer' line. But I do think in Smallville universe they set up Love versus Evil. It is a pretty strange parallel to draw (love can lead you do many things, some of them evil), but in SV it seems like there is a construct of some kind of 'pure' love that will somehow redeem you. That's certainly the myth that Lex hangs on to: he blames Clark for not giving that love.

Thanks for commenting! :)
(no subject) - seacrystal on April 20th, 2008 11:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on April 20th, 2008 11:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
Naomi: Clex at grave by lidifrelling_tralk on April 20th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
It's over, with the following perfect line: 'I was raised in your shadow, now you'll die in mine. No-one will even remember your name.'

Oh I adored that line, I had to rewind the episode several times just to watch it again *g*

as he falls his face is strangely serene. Is that a last moment of pride in the son who has become his father, at last? I found it chilling.

When I originally watched that scene, I took it to be Lionel having a moment of pride in Lex becoming the father. Even when Lionel was supposedly reformed and wanting Lex to change too, he still despaired of Lex's weakness in Promise with the murder of the Doctor, so I think that he would have appreciated Lex finally being ruthless enough to carry out the murder of his father. And in a way that he managed to make it look like suicide too (although would a person really have been able to hurl themselves out of that glass window just using their own body weight??)

But with Lionel's hands out stretched as he he fell, and all of the guilt at misjudging him that came later, I wasn't sure whether we were supposed to associate his content expression with his believing that he had protected the traveler to the end. Lionel obviously had a great deal of pride in himself for "protecting and serving" Clark, and he managed to cheat Lex out of the key in his final moments. Lionel being impressed with how things ultimately ended with him and Lex works for me far more as I was always more invested in Lex/Lionel scenes than in the role that Lionel later played with Clark, but I wasn't sure if we were supposed to take it as Lionel going to his grave protecting Clark
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex showdownbop_radar on April 21st, 2008 02:58 am (UTC)
Oh I adored that line, I had to rewind the episode several times just to watch it again *g*
It was very very cool.

I think that he would have appreciated Lex finally being ruthless enough to carry out the murder of his father.
*nods*

would a person really have been able to hurl themselves out of that glass window just using their own body weight??)
Probably not. ;)

I wasn't sure whether we were supposed to associate his content expression with his believing that he had protected the traveler to the end.
Oh, you're right. It could be read that way. I don't like that idea nearly so much though! ;) Perhaps it's a bit of both. Certainly he got his own back with the locket. He probably thought it was safe with Chloe, but he couldn't have been sure. Still, he did safeguard things by leaving Clark that message. It makes it more fitting that Clark did acknowledge that even though he was a bad man, Lionel did protect him in some way. Lionel has been an important connection between Clark and Kryptonian knowledge, which Clark has benefitted on at times. It's not always been an easy relationship but there have been mutual benefits. I like the complexity of that even if I find it emotionally hard to swallow that Lionel got to play the martyred protector after all.
gildinwengildinwen on April 20th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
That ending broke me. The idea that will always be just over Lex shoulder, never letting him out of his sight? And that in some ways welcomes it, that he has Clark's attention on him. It's a very strange form of love/obession/idolatry these have got going on, but it's a form that will last through the years.

Also their futures being in the centre of the screen, mirroring the postitons of the two men? brilliant.

Perhaps this is what promts Clark to go into journalism?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex fascinated with youbop_radar on April 21st, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
It's a very strange form of love/obession/idolatry these have got going on, but it's a form that will last through the years.
I know--very strange, and I never thought they could sell these two reaching such a dark place in such a moving way. But I totally loved both of them in that graveyard scene. I understand how Lex got to this point (though it kills me) and I understand why Clark sees him as his personal responsibility (and that both breaks my heart and makes me love him).

their futures being in the centre of the screen, mirroring the postitons of the two men? brilliant
SO brilliant! I love that the two buildings are side by side anyway, but their use in this shot was massive payoff for them establishing that.

Perhaps this is what promts Clark to go into journalism?
That would be brilliant! His deductive reasoning was so on the nail in this episode and he's been getting better at it for some time. I think the fact that he's turned his focus on Lex will eventually mean he has to turn it on Metropolis. So yes, maybe!
Fleegull: My Supermanfleegull on April 20th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
Great review! I think I saw two reviews on my F-list that called bullshit continuity on this episode and I don't see that at all and you beautifully showed why!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex lovebop_radar on April 21st, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
Thanks! It's interesting to hear people thought the continuity wasn't there. That's very odd to me.

And he is SO my Superman! *loves your icon*
CapnZebbie: stalkerkittycapnzebbie on April 20th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
Great commentary! I really liked this episode, even though it's so heartbreaking to see Lex becoming so cold and isolated. I love what you said about Clark taking personal responsibility for Lex. Yes, perfect!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex here with youbop_radar on April 21st, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
Yes, it is heartbreaking but it was such iconic television! It felt so mythic and epic and waaahhhh! ;)

I just felt like I was falling in love with Clark afresh, seeing him do that.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex fascinated with youbop_radar on April 22nd, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
*flails more* It's almost too much for me! It's just so moving and tragic but somehow also beautiful and waaaahh!!
(no subject) - ladylavinia on April 22nd, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ladylavinialadylavinia on April 22nd, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
"Once upon a time this would have been far too difficult for Clark to face. Now he takes on Lex Luthor has his own personal responsibility."


Why? Why would Clark feel that Lex has to be his own personal responsibility? That strikes me as a condescending attitude to have.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex here with youbop_radar on April 23rd, 2008 08:41 am (UTC)
Well I think the reasons Clark takes on Lex as his personal responsibility in this episode are very complex, but perhaps the simplest aspect is that he's someone who shoulders a lot of responsibility across the board, and he knows Lex poses a possible danger to Earth if he gets his hands on the means to control Clark: he wants to stop that