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31 January 2009 @ 12:40 pm
Smallville 8.13  
It's the heatwave edition of my review. Sorry guys. I'm not expending any more thought energy on this until at least one of the following things happens:
- the temperature drops 15 degrees
- Smallville returns to the show I recognise.

Um. WTF was that? It wasn't what I expected, I know that much. I was completely thrown by all the crazy camera work. It was so heavy handed and didn't enhance the story in any way. Also, I found it actually worked against the material because with a couple of rare exceptions (like the final shot), it didn't work within Smallville's established visual narrative. Smallville builds a lot of its emotional resonance through reptition and long, slow, still shots. There are strengths and weakneses to this approach, but since so much of its storytelling is visual, its very important that it maintains a consistent tone. Then, where an unusual shot choice is made, it is done so purposefully and really enhances the emotional impact. This... was, imo, a trainwreck. I felt completely disconnected from it at a visual level and, like last week's desaturated episode, it felt like 'not my Smallville'.

I know it might sound weird to throw a hissy fit about the visual presentation of an episode, but I relate so strongly to the show this way, it's my usual way 'in' to the meta, I'm just left feeling really disconnected from the episode.

I'm sure everyone will be praising Allison to high heaven, but I don't think imposing your own vision on a show like Smallville is actually a sign of good direction. Taking the Smallville style and doing it really well is a far better sign and I think Tom did better at this.

At a plot level, there was one thing that really really pissed me off, and that was the retcon of the Clana breakup video. What was that? To placate the Clana fans? I don't understand. That tape was one of the most beautiful, amazing, resonant moments in the entire series. I bawled my eyes out. They've stripped it of meaning now, retconning it so that Lana didn't choose to leave Clark. Geez, way to waste more than a season's worth of emotional development. I feel like last night's episode actually took something away from that story.

And beyond that it didn't progress the story any. Last episode ended with a Clana kiss. So did this one. Ok, this time it was Clark kisses Lana-with-superpowers, but it doesn't really make much difference because we know that they still have to break up again and now it's going to be even more rushed.

I don't feel the superpowers help any. And I am really really upset that Lana's empowerment arc is not about becoming empowered as her own character, it's about her becoming empowered in a Clark-like way, to become equal to Clark on HIS terms. AAAAAGJGHJGKDJGDKJGDKJGDKJGAHHHHHHH! Screw that! I wanted Lana to become her own person and I would have preferred an ending that had her leaving to let Clark become the hero he has the potential to be. All I wanted from this arc was to find out how Lana defined her own life. So they've now failed on that front as well.

I'm seriously jaded. Season 8 is beginning to feel like a write-off for me, and that's despite Tess being smashing, and the Tess-Lana material being engaging in this episode.

I'm really unimpressed with the way the new creative team have dismantled Al and Miles's vision. I know that is SACRILEGE to state that in this fandom, because Al and Miles are so hated, but you know what? They had a consistent clear vision and they held their story within certain clear boundaries. They also understood how to use the visual narrative to the maximum potential.

I want that show back.

Yeah, I'm not going to be popular this week but my opinion filter got removed when the temp. clocked 40 degrees. I hope you guys got more out of that than I did.

*slumps off to get an ice pack*
 
 
Current Location: sofa of comfiness
Current Mood: blahblah
 
 
 
Heather: Laid Back Tommiss_tress on January 31st, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
I know it might sound weird to throw a hissy fit about the visual presentation of an episode

It's not weird. I believe it was Greg Beeman in one of the commentaries talked about how SV had a very distinct visual style and they try to impress on new directors that have to fit their personal style into SV's rather than the other way around.

And I am really really upset that Lana's empowerment arc is not about becoming empowered as her own character, it's about her becoming empowered in a Clark-like way, to become equal to Clark on HIS terms.

And that's why I hated this ep so much. Lana empowered herself by getting that training from the military guy and then threw it away by trying to become Clark when she should be happy being Lana.

Edited at 2009-01-31 02:12 am (UTC)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee!facebop_radar on January 31st, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)
Yes! It was Beeman. I miss him. (Even more than Al and Miles maybe.) He understood. SV is soooooooo specific visually. Start moving outside that and you really mess with the whole universe. It's very disorienting. Also, i'd argue that it loses its connection with its comic book origins too, because those too have certain set conventions and ways of framing things visually--SV had developed an equivalent, and it was really SMART.

Lana empowered herself by getting that training from the military guy and then threw it away by trying to become Clark when she should be happy being Lana.
Not to mention how ridiculous the training by the military dude actually was. I mean when did she actually learn the martial arts?! Gah. I didn't like it at all. Become LANA, Lana!
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois reporterbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
Yuh. I tried to go with it, but this arc has seriously regressed the show about 1 1/2 seasons. It's not doing any of the characters any favours.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on January 31st, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I sat on this comment trying to think how to reply.

I have no words for the stupid wasted direction of SV at the moment. I mean using Clark's xray vision to find a chain that could have just as easily been lying on the table? That was money right there that could have gone to Erica. :( And god, fake Lex is just farcical.

I will have to try and find a copy of Final Verdict... I'm pretty much at the point where I want her to find another show so I can jump ship and go watch her showcased appropriately!
Nora Norwich: Lana lovelynorwich36 on January 31st, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
Well, the visual thing didn't make much of an impression on me positively or negatively (I wonder if that's a difference between watching on a TV that's 15 feet away v. watching on a computer monitor? Also I'm usually typing notes as I watch), but the reaction to AM's directing has been pretty split, actually.

I'm still reserving judgment on the Lana arc until it's done, but I agree that I wanted to see Lana complete the trajectory that has been set up for her in the past, not start a completely different one when she only has an episode left in the series. (I am not, however, completely convinced that AlMiles wouldn't have gone for Lana with powers--remember Lana's arc in season 4?)
Fleegull: Pinatasfleegull on January 31st, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
They even gave her a wee bit of superpowers waaay back in Season One in Obscura when she could see though the eyes of the killer who kidnapped Chloe. Not to mention her mad martial arts skillz....I think AlMiles would have signed off on Lana Gets Superpowers Again. That's not a knock on them either, hell I made this icon for a reason!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kittenbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
I think they might have too. I just think they would have handled it better. I really, really liked the ep in S7 where she got Clark's powers temporarily. And in theory, revisiting that could be interesting, but I felt it was very sloppily executed and they confused the empowerment issues.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
I'm not actually opposed to a Lana superpowers plot per se. It's the way they've handled this one and the timing that really bugs me. There's all this lipservice paid to it being about Lana growing as her own person, but actually she's doing it both to be with Clark and to be a better Clark than Clark. I think the exploration of that could have been better--even if they went with that idea, please, PLEASE give Lana time and a chance to see how limiting that is and to find a new way of defining herself beyond that. I'd like to reserve judgment but I don't think they've left themselves enough time.
Diana: Elegance -- Tess Mercerbutterfly on January 31st, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
I'm torn, because I feel like Lana was in character, but Clark totally regressed, which made me sad. And Tess was made of awesome, which I've decided to focus on.

I agree with you about the direction. I don't think that AM did a very good job marrying her vision into the general show vision. But after her not-very Brainiac version of that character, I almost wonder if she doesn't actually watch the show (some actors don't watch their own work, but I wouldn't expect that from someone who wants to direct).
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on January 31st, 2009 02:45 am (UTC)
Ha! Yeah, good call... does she watch it? The evidence is mounting up that she doesn't.

I feel Clark is regressing during this arc, yes. And it's really sad for me because he's been the strength of this season until now. I hate the way they've written him in the last few eps though and from being in his pov most of the time this season, I'm suddenly in no-one's...
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois duhbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
I don't want to be spoiled but I also don't need to be to know that the Clois will look like a joke after this arc. I saw that coming last episode when Clark pledged himself to Lana again. Clark's made it clear that Lana's the person he would be with if he could, regardless of any feelings for Lois. I think I'm pretty much breaking up with S8-Clois, because they have stripped the relationship of meaning. :((((
Loony Loopy Lea Lovegoodchickadilly on January 31st, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
And I am really really upset that Lana's empowerment arc is not about becoming empowered as her own character, it's about her becoming empowered in a Clark-like way, to become equal to Clark on HIS terms.

Oooh, yes. Agreed. It was so frustrating to watch - because I actually thought Lana was interesting when she returned - she showed such potential for growth and for realizing who she is ...and then. This?

I've always been disappointed with how the writers have handled Lana - she could have beena really awesome character but they just seem to flip flop so much with her. It's a shame.

(And as a Clois shipper I was disappointed for a wide variety of other reasons ... )


K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 31st, 2009 07:08 am (UTC)
I thought Lana was interesting too! I was optimistic. I guess I still hope there will be at least a good ending, but I would have enjoyed it better if she'd really found a different life.

The Clois-ship woes are just ... I have no words. I hope Lois is partying and finding a better boyfriend in Star City. That's all I got.
Loony Loopy Lea Lovegood: Smallville: Lois (s8)chickadilly on January 31st, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
The Clois-ship woes are just ... I have no words. I hope Lois is partying and finding a better boyfriend in Star City. That's all I got.

I'm starting to think the Bruce/Lois shippers are onto something ...
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lollie yogabop_radar on January 31st, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)
Ha! Yeah, I tell you... I would alternaship in a heartbeat right now.
Jen: Exposed Clark by Ivory Kissjlvsclrk on January 31st, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
We pretty much agree. I didn't pick up on the camera work but it certainly didn't feel like a traditional SV episode (a fact that made me take a point off Bulletproof as well.) I loved that idea from way back in S1 that if Clark is feeling safe (ie, in Smallville esp at the Farm) the colours are BRIGHT. And we get more blues for Metropolis giving a cold, metallic feel. Not orangey mush. Anyways, I thought Allison did a good job but I've seen other posts that made me wonder: as director, shouldn't she have pushed back at the writers to get more consistent characterization? IDK.

And yes, ITA about Lana. If she'd stopped at being Lanafu, that would have been terrific. She could have become a batwoman, or some other "normal" superhero. But no, she wants it all. Its a true act of hubris and I'm still hoping there'll be a massive payoff next week. But mostly, I'm waiting for March 5 to see if they can overcome this trainwreck.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 07:12 am (UTC)
I couldn't even really think about what AM coaxed out of the actors (maybe it wasn't bad? KK seemed on form and so was Tess) because the camerawork was so crazily distracting.

I have tiny, ever lowering hope... I can't imagine how they're going to dig themselves out of the hole they've made for Clois though. Probably by ignoring it completely, knowing SV. :/
tariel22: lois-character studytariel22 on January 31st, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
I had such high hopes for Lana's return. I have loved the changes S8 has brought to Clark, and I honestly thought we'd see something similar for Lana, that she would return mature and thoughtful, with a sense that her path to greatness lies elsewhere. I was excited to see what her story might be, with that same anticipation you feel when you graduate from college and realize that the whole world is spread out in front of you, ripe for the taking. I felt like she could do ANYTHING! Wheeee!

Alas, the reality didn't measure up to the dream. And the truly sad part is that I think KK could have given real life to a story like that, and imbue her performance with some of the giddy excitement she must feel on a personal level after having escaped working on a show where her character is reviled by fans everywhere, and is probably a complete bore to play to boot.

I appreciate your insights into the visual aspects of the show. I felt like the look of the show was off, but I couldn't begin to articulate why that was.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 07:15 am (UTC)
No, the reality didn't live up to that. ITA re. KK. I really like her and I wanted to see her have an opportunity to play a more empowered ending for Lana. I think her acting in this ep was excellent, but it sure wasn't a Lana-got-her-own-destiny plot.

There were a lot of very low camera angles, like when the camera followed Lana at knee height into the bathroom when she cut her hair, or when it angled up at Tess so unflatteringly when she killed that guy. Also it would swoosh off into corners as a way of showing flashbacks. And there was also a lot of swirling, circular work.
serenographyserenography on January 31st, 2009 06:59 am (UTC)
I didn't dislike it as much as you did (mostly because I'm determined to try and enjoy Lana's last few episodes), but I was very disappointed with the entire SuperLana storyline choice. I am hoping like hell that they dial that back in the next episode (although, I'm not holding my breath on it).

Taking the Smallville style and doing it really well is a far better sign and I think Tom did better at this.

Absolutely. Allison had some really beautiful and interesting shots, but you're right, it felt "off" for how SV is usually presented.

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 31st, 2009 07:17 am (UTC)
Yeah, SuperLana wasn't really what I wanted... not with the precious time left.

It's entirely possible that I would have been more zen or gracious if the weather hadn't been so disgusting, but I do have a big feeling of disappointment about this arc.
Amalthiaamothea on January 31st, 2009 07:44 am (UTC)
wait, Lana has a special power? my husband and I couldn't finish watching because this episode was just BAD like bad bad. except for the Mercy stuff...
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee lolbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, she got a superpowered 'skin' suit, so she basically has Clark's powers now. And she's like SUPER happy about it because now she can DO GOOD in the world, the way Clark could, and they can be together, and they snog on the top of the Daily Planet after a speech that was basically the reverse of last week's ending: Lana saying that maybe they could be together after all rather than Clark.
Amalthiaamothea on January 31st, 2009 07:48 am (UTC)
man, I really didn't want to re-download this episode to see the part where her powers are revealed...will head on over to youtube...
Amalthiaamothea on January 31st, 2009 07:51 am (UTC)
ignore last comments!
I figured it out! I thought you were talking about last week's episode 8x12 because I finally saw it on Wed...I still need to download the newest episode but not sure I want to see it if it's going to suck like the previous one. Really season 8 has been great until they brought Lana back. :( I don't even miss Lex really...but she's just not working for me. I like Lois better.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Blair sulkbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)
Re: ignore last comments!
Oh shit, sorry to spoil you then! And yeah I wouldn't be rushing to this week's ep. Bascially same shit except Lana gets superpowers (from Lex's technology).
Amalthiaamothea on January 31st, 2009 08:02 am (UTC)
Re: ignore last comments!
8x12 was just god awful. I felt betrayed. My husband was like WTF...it was decent the week before! If 8x13 also had the bad acting and anvil like story...not sure i want to tune in.

I actually liked Chloe's brain upgrade more, too bad it had to be Brainiac. :(
Re: ignore last comments! - bop_radar on January 31st, 2009 08:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
goodvibegoodvibe on January 31st, 2009 11:09 am (UTC)
//Um. WTF was that?//

My exact same reaction upon watching it too. I'm right there with you in the disappointment (and that's putting it waaay mildly, because what I feel is more akin to disgust) with this ep. Every character managed to piss me off, save perhaps Tess I think, and the story was bizarre, and the direction inexplicable for the most part. I miss the early half of S8. I had such hopes.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Blair sulkbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
I felt nothing. Which is a really BAD sign, I think. I actually felt so disonnected from what I was watching that i didn't have an emotional reaction to anything. Like you, every character except Tess was annoying and the direction inexplicable.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clois snugglesbop_radar on January 31st, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was the same, I hung on to optimism despite Al and Miles's departure. Please feel free to vent to me, I am really struggling to hang on to my Smallville fannishness. I really NEVER wanted to leave the show, I am very loyal, but they are testing it to an extreme... I don't want to become a jaded fan, but... oh, hell I already am. :(
Beck: SV - Lois Fighterbeck_liz on January 31st, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
...

I'm still trying to decide whether to even watch the episode or not, as when I sat down on the sofa to watch it the other night, I fell asleep before it came on. I've heard such widely divergent opinions of this episode, though, I don't know what to think.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 31st, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
Well... I don't think you'll like it, but it's probably best to make up your own mind. You could always fastforward bits?
Beck: SV - Lois Fighterbeck_liz on January 31st, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
I ended up watching it while focused on other tasks, and it ended up being... not horrible. I am highly unlikely to watch it ever again, however.
daybreak777: lana - badassdaybreak777 on January 31st, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
Wow, I totally missed this. How'd that happen, I have been looking for it? Anywho, on to the comment!

there was one thing that really really pissed me off, and that was the retcon of the Clana breakup video.
That was the worst retcon ever! No way one could recreate that video of her crying. And that it was at gunpoint? Um, no. Yo are right, they took something away. Why? What is with these show creators? I do not understand.

All I wanted from this arc was to find out how Lana defined her own life.
Well, Boppy, this may be as good as they get. Seriously, I don't have much faith in SV writing. I'm only 18 months in but they are so inconsistent. I'm just glad Lana is not the mother of superboy. Seriously.

Maybe your ranting is contagious? No, I'm not really ragey but disappointed. I had accepted the break up. This is the meaningless booty call back to my OTP in the middle of the night. And I didn't feel anything when they kissed, Bop. That is sad, I used to love that at the end of every episode. I want to love it again, but they broke it and are using cheap ways to bring it back.

I'm not sure if I'm answering my OTP's call, Boppy. . . . :-( I still like Lana, though her hair is driving me nuts. Let have her own short hair, it's so pretty!

Edited at 2009-01-31 08:04 pm (UTC)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 31st, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, ... I have a feeling that Smallville has drifted irrevocably from the show I love. You've never known it any different, but...

I'm sorry your OTP isn't working for you. That is the WORST. :( But I might be the same in a few weeks time...
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on February 1st, 2009 01:12 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah, there was bad direction and bad writing too... the shooting choices were just the final straw for me. And yes, I don't recognise these characters either.
Ms Cranky Pants of the Depresso Blogbofoddity on February 1st, 2009 12:07 pm (UTC)
Haven't seen the episode myself yet, but this convinced me to give it a skip. I'm a little too irritated at the moment to watch the Lana-hate reach a new peak.

I don't think it's weird to be put off by the visual representation of the episode. If there's anything Smallville has been always consistent and strong with, it's its visuals, and whenever they stray from their usual style I'm always horribly distracted (I remember being confused once by Luthor-blues showing up in non-Luthor context, though in small dose). Not to mention that Smallville has used the visuals as part of storytelling before, so yeah, directors should pay attention to it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kittenbop_radar on February 1st, 2009 12:23 pm (UTC)
It was a hard episode to swallow.
brokenmnemonic: Clois - Strange Timebrokenmnemonic on February 1st, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
I've decided not to watch the 8.5 episodes until I've finished my vid - I don't want to get my headspace screwed up, and just the recaps of the episodes so far are driving me a little batty.
opusnone: san miguelopusnone on February 1st, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
one thing that really really pissed me off, and that was the retcon of the Clana breakup video

I agree. To me it seemed as if they were even retconning the current arc. The Lana that came back in "Bride" (and even the one that showed up in "Legion") is a completely different creature from the Lana in the rest of the Arc. "Bride" Lana meshed with the original take on the video, "Legion" Lana seemed completely unaware of even the possibility of a Super-Lana, and even "Bulletproof" Lana seemed more focused on more plebeian forms of manipulation to achieve the "greater good", than the one that showed up in "Power."


I've enjoyed Season 8 up until now. I've found it, on the whole, and again excluding this most recent arc, more consistent in its narrative then the last couple of seasons. I had been looking forward to the return of Lana so that we could get some final closure on the Clana once and for all . It doesn't look like that is going to happen, especially when KK is available for screen time. Funny that the closest we got was the rushed video goodbye while KK was forced to be off filming elsewhere. If only TPTB would take that performance to heart and realize it is ok to have Lana be portrayed outside THEIR comfort zone. Maybe in absentia they'll manage a good-bye once and for all.

In terms of the directing, I remeber thinking with both TW's novice effort and MR's turn, there seemed to be an almost gratuitous use of special effects - as though that would appeal more then being given a decent narrative to direct. Perhaps it does, but I must admit too many special effects, especially over-the-top stagings have lost their appeal for me. I spend more time trying to figure them out out then in following the story. Perhaps it's because I grew up on Star Trek (the original) or as I've become lately enamored with Doctor Who/Torchwood/Merlin where the special effects budget seems more of an afterthought, but yeah, bells and whistles do nothing for me.


K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on February 2nd, 2009 09:57 am (UTC)
Wow, thanks for your comment--I think you're spot on. You nail one of the things that unsettled me most about this last episode: it doesn't gel with the Lana we saw in 'Bride' or 'Legion'.

Like you, I was really looking forward to the return of Lana so we could get full closure. In retrospect it seems like I will prefer the rushed video farewell because it at least had raw, real poignancy.

I do agree that when offered a chance at directing everyone seems to rush for the SPFX button. ;) That was in evidence here too--the scene where Clark had to x-ray to find the Hawkman necklace springs to mind--but the camera shots annoyed me even more. All the low angles? Ugh.
Carol: Double Tomcarolandtom on February 2nd, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
I agree with a lot of what you say. This was a dreadful episode, badly written and directed. IMO. And I find this super Lana arc stupid, badly handled and a waste of valuable screen time. This must be a first for me but I can't think of anything to like about this episode, not a single thing! The scenes that didn't annoy me bore me. Conclusion: one of the worse episodes ever.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW smilebop_radar on February 2nd, 2009 09:59 am (UTC)
It was dreadful, and I hate finding nothing to like... but yeah, there was nothing redeeming it that I can think of and I've been thinking all week.
svgurl: clark s8svgurl on February 5th, 2009 08:29 am (UTC)
Um. WTF was that?

Yeah, that was basically my reaction to the episode. You know, after "Legion", I thought they could give Lana a good sendoff and Clana some closure. Hell, even after the "Bulletproof" kiss, when Clark looked confused, I was like "hey, maybe they can still do this". But now? Now I have zero hopes and no expectations. :(

The Clana kiss annoyed me because it was on the DP rooftop with the globe spinning behind them. But I won't go into that, I've ranted enough on the topic.

Screw that! I wanted Lana to become her own person and I would have preferred an ending that had her leaving to let Clark become the hero he has the potential to be.

Personally, I wanted a mutual breakup where they both released that their time is over and went to fulfill their separate destinies, maybe remaining friends while doing so. I honestly don't feel the Clana breakup will be real unless Clark has something to do with it. That's just me though.

I love Tess but she couldn't save this episode for me. I really liked the first half of s8. This? Not so much.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Blair sulkbop_radar on February 5th, 2009 08:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, I've bottomed out in terms of expectations and hopes too. :(( Boo!

By the time it got to the rooftop scene I was bracing myself against everything that was happening. The ep had gone from bad to worse and I think I just disconnected emotionally. So I saw the DP thing but I didn't get annoyed, mostly because I just felt numb with the nothingness of the ep.

A mutual breakup is what is needed, definitely. Clark needs to come to his own decision about it. I can't understand how the writers could think any different! GRR!