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14 April 2006 @ 11:47 pm
Smallville 5.18 Fragile  
Well, what can I say? This may be my shortest ep review ever.

Meh
I didn't like this episode. I'll say it now and get it over with. I found it poorly written and the plot didn't really draw out any of the overall themes of the show in a new or interesting way. It felt like they were covering old territory. There was a brief attempt to draw in the theme of heredity, but it was simplistically explored at best. I was bored. I thought the kid was a good actor, and I didn't nitpick any glaring holes in the plot--I just found it all a bit 'meh'.

And I couldn't help flashing back to Ageless... whenever Smallville pulls the 'parenting' card, I get a bit queasy. So I had mixed feelings with the Clois parenting scenes--I was glad that Lois was involved and I really enjoyed seeing her be so clumsy and hopeless with the kid, and yet really feel deeply responsible and guilty about her. However, playing surrogate *parent* roles is NOT what I want from Clark/Lois interaction. *sigh*

And I also found myself infuriated by two characters in particular: Clark for not talking to Martha about Lionel (for all their frequent heart-to-hearts, the Kents have the stupidest way of not talking about the really important things!) and Chloe for handling both Lana and Lex in the worst possible way. Admittedly Chloe seemed to recognise that she'd fucked up when Lana confronted her. Chloe is more and more like Clark--and not Clark's good attributes. She has shown zero interest in Lex as a real person for months, but she's more than happy to make blanket statements about him and his life to his face. It was incredibly presumptuous, and her behaviour towards Lana was even more so. Her line about defending Lana against 'anyone that hurts her' felt really two-faced to me, because Chloe took Clark's side in the Clana break-up. And if she was really that close to Lana she would have talked to her and asked her about what was going on instead of jumping to conclusions. Chloe CAN be a good confidant; we've seen that with Clark--so I guess I'm disappointed that she doesn't employ those skills with her closest female friend.

I can't tell whether Tom's directing was ok or not. It certainly wasn't staggeringly brilliant, but that's ok. Tom has other strengths. When he drew that stickfigure and flashed that smile at the little girl? Awww! (toadstoolsmiles: I thought of you! the stickfigure!)

Squee
But WOW the Lexana was hot! My mood was pancake-flat until that last scene. Woah! They were so steamy. I have no words. Bring It On!

And Lois! Lois has been given a role. Thank God. Because I've really been getting very uncomfortable with the way Lois was (not) being used in the recent episodes. As we all know, I like Lois. However, I don't like to see her flailing around for no reason--I want her scripted into the show with a purpose of her own. Not as an alternate Chloe or as a convenient plot device. For most of this episode she still felt wasted, but I like the idea of Martha and Lois teaming up SO MUCH. (I still want a Martha/Lois 'bestest buddies' icon one day!).

OK, I'm going to go and rewind the last couple of mins over and over for a while... If anyone else gleaned anything interesting out of this ep, I'd love to hear it. For me, not so much.
 
 
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Aeloraaelora on April 14th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
*thinks really hard*

Well, the characterization of Lana was spot on, at least. All through the series whenever someone told her something was bad for her, or she shouldn't do it, it's always spurned her on to actually go ahead and ignore their warnings. So seeing her go straight from Chloe's warnings right into Lex's arms worked for me.

Besides that entire last scene, that's really about all I've got.

Chloe's line about Lex being a predator still has me going WTF?!, though.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex alcoholicbop_radar on April 15th, 2006 02:02 am (UTC)
Yes, you are right! That was absolutely the worst thing that Chloe could have done if she wanted to see Lana stay away from Lex. That characterisation was spot-on.

And oh yeah, I was shocked by Chloe's 'predator' line. She has demonised him something terrible. And not only that--it was just so strategically wrong. She knows that Lana is at the very least friends with Lex. I would be so angry if anyone called one of my friends a predator! I'm with Lana on this one. Chloe was out of line, regardless of her good intentions.
Clari Clyde: Seraphim: Funclari_clyde on April 14th, 2006 02:44 pm (UTC)
Of the meh, I didn’t like Clark’s stupidity leaving the girl alone with Lois. Unlike him, Lois can’t assume people are safe to be with without some risk to her safety — unlike they way Clark can.

And I really heart Lois on this one. With Lucy, she struck me as someone who was expected to be a mother to a chid at too young an age so she doesn’t know how to relate to children as an adult, as an older and more responsible peer and as an equal peer. What I really like about Lois is that despite her cluelessness, she really does try. And I picked up that it would be safer for the social worker for the girl to be with Lois than with him because girl getting pissy because Clark’s not there is not the same as girl getting upset at the thought of a new foster family and being ripped away from Clark without saying goodbye to Clark. Also loved how she took responsibility for what happened from being too suspicious of the girl to letting the girl get kidnapped. This was a good episode for seeing glimpses of future Lois Lane.

As for Chloe being presumptuous and then taking it out on Clark when he asked about Lana… Yeah, I didn’t like her in this episode. I do like though how Lex and Lana made it clear to her that she’d made mistakes — Lex’s in particular since it’s true she the reasons why she doesn’t have a bf, she’s presumptuous and has a way of wanting to get a rise out of people.

And back to Clark being dumb, gawd he should have told her about Lionel knowing the morning after her date with Lionel. Doh! Looks like this one is going to bite him next week. *sighs*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois too coolbop_radar on April 15th, 2006 02:07 am (UTC)
You're right--Clark was very cavalier in leaving Lois with the child.

And I totally agree with you on your reading of Lois's character--I too love that despite her cluelessness she really tries. I also love that she immediately confronts her failures--it's so refreshing when other characters (*cough* Clark) so rarely do.

Yes--I liked that Lex and Lana stood up to Chloe, but I was a bit disapointed in Lex's ripostes--the first time he played the 'you've never had a serious relationship' I was fine with it, but the second line was a bit weak. Still, yes--I'm glad someone's calling her on that behaviour. It's grown more and more out of hand, and I don't like that.

Yeah, I couldn't believe that they haven't talked about Lionel! Waaah! And Martha too--she should be reassuring Clark that it wasn't a date, etc. Grr the stupidity!
Kate: Lex smiling!mskatej on April 14th, 2006 02:49 pm (UTC)
I quite enjoyed the episode because of certain elements in it (Lex and Clark mainly) but i thought it was badly put together, and kind of "seen it all before" in terms of the A plot.

OTOH, the Lexana made up for all of the flaws. GUH. It's *exactly* how I hoped it would be: twisted and fucked up and hella sexy. Lex is *so* playing her and he's almost psychotic in his enjoyment of it. Bitching at Chloe and then that little look on his face right after Lana bailed: "Gotcha!" *dies*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex gossipbop_radar on April 15th, 2006 02:10 am (UTC)
Yeah--A plot was very seen it all before. That was my biggest gripe.

But massive love of the Lexana!! MASSIVE. It was brilliantly played and so hot. When she turned back to him... *fans self*
And yeah, Lex is edgy and psychotic--he stares into her eyes and tells her he trusts her completely and doesn't she trust him? And I don't think either's true and that makes it very dark and hot.
Spoiled, self-indulgent, willful, dirty-minded: LOIStextnofantasy on April 14th, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'm also glad Lois has a role; I adore her but have found her marginally annoying (and wasted) the last few episodes.

I thought the ep was boring but at least I finished it, which is more than I can say for, say, Ageless.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clois future couplebop_radar on April 15th, 2006 02:11 am (UTC)
Yes--marginally annoying and wasted in the last few eps. That was exactly how I felt. So I'm delighted about that!

And yeah, it wasn't quite Ageless level of bad. I resorted to reading snide reviews of Ageless during Ageless to get through that... With this one I just fidgeted a little and watched the clock.
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on April 14th, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)
Wow, my reading of Chloe's confrontation with Lex could not be more different. I mean, it was a strategic mistake--he very ably used it to push Lana toward him faster than she might have gotten there normally--but I actually liked the fact that she confronted him about Lana. Really, Chloe at this point doesn't care about Lex qua Lex, and I'm fine with that--she was doing it for Lana's sake, not Lex's. And sure, it was not maybe the most graceful thing to do, but it was very Chloe.

I like Chloe in protective mode. She's seen Lex's history with women--and while I don't think "Bound" showed that Lex is evil, it did paint him as someone I wouldn't really want a friend of mine to date, especially one who was emotionally vulnerable. Chloe also probably thinks she knows a lot more about Luthercorp's shadiness than Lana.

(I am, however, amused, because I'm collecting reviews for eat_crow again, and readings of that scene are SO polarized, depending on whether people identify more with Lex or with Chloe. And I wouldn't have thought I was more of a Chloe person than a Lex person, but I guess my reading of this scene shows that when push comes to shove I am more of a Chloe person. )
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex strollingbop_radar on April 15th, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
Hee! Wow, we came down on different sides when it came to the crunch.

I should clarify that I am ok with Chloe in protective role--it's a good trait. And I liked her 'don't hurt my friend' line. That nearly won we totally over to her side. But then I immediately thought about how unsuccessful she's been at really being there for Lana in the wake of the break-up with Clark. She didn't take this approach with Clark--she took the opposite. Chloe's continued friendship with Clark and implicit acceptance of Clark's actions must really sting for Lana. Yes, we the audience know that there were excellent reasons for the break-up, but Lana doesn't. And I'd want more from a best friend at that time than her jumping to assumptions, not checking with me and then telling me how to lead my life from then on.

I've also had a bit of a build up of growing distaste with Chloe's simplistic sweeping statements about Lex. She's demonised him. I think it's grown out of her closeness to Clark, but it's very black and white thinking for someone who wants a career as a journalist. And her behaviour in this ep is too close to Clark at his pissiest and most interfering and sanctimonious. That's not what I want from Chloe! I want her helping Lana through this time. I want her investigating Lex but also telling Clark when he's overstepping the mark where Lex is concerned. I want her willing to deal with Lex if that's what it takes to get a story... etc. I feel let down by her character development.

But you know I'm going to read what you say on the matter with interest, and yes--you're right. It comes down to who you most empathise with/use as your pov character--because we're all willing to forgive some indiscretions in our favourite character. (I forgave Lois her clumsy handling of the child, for example, which other people could find really annoying about her). I'm also a little surprised that I'm more with Lex at his most manipulative and 'evil' than with Chloe. Eep!
Nora Norwich: kiss the girlsnorwich36 on April 15th, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
You're making me realize I completely left Lois out of my review. I did cringe when she interrupted the Maddie-Clark bonding moment, especially because it was so clear that her expertise as an older sister was not carrying the day. (Hopscotch???! Ok, I'm the oldest of five, and NO. That would not appeal to a girl Maddie's age). I did think she really redeemed herself later in the episode, though. I was very amused at her picnic proposal, and her behavior after the kidnapping really redeemed her earlier clumsiness for me. And I'm pretty happy they're going to give her something substantive to do. The nice thing about the whole Martha-as-senator plot is that it makes it possible for the plots next season to move into the political realm and actually set Lois up for the move into journalism.

I agree with you that Chloe was completely ineffective in protecting Lana, and I can certainly see why Lana would be pissed at her. On the other hand, they are sharing a room. If Lana really wants Chloe to keep her nose out of Lana's business, she needs to move out. And I can't think that Lex isn't using the fact that they're living together to manipulate the situation. (Why else would he be encouraging Lana to keep classified government documents in the same room she shares with Chloe. Clearly he's planning something, and may have expected Chloe to do exactly what she did).

But as to Chloe painting Lex as black and white--well, look, I'm a huge Lex apologist. But if I lived in the SV verse and I knew about him what Chloe knows about him (human experimentation without the subject's consent/ creepy meteor experiments / his habit of one-night stands) *I'd* certainly be pretty upset if it seemed like he was pursuing one of my friends romantically. I think there's a real difference between journalistic objectivity and watching out for the people you love.

It would be nice, of course, if SV did more showing than telling in the Lana-Chloe friendship, but I suspect that just like Lex-Clark, here we're getting lip service concerning the Lana-Chloe friendship because it's about to have a rift of its own, continuing the Chloe-Clark parallels you were mentioning.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois Chloe comfort foodbop_radar on April 16th, 2006 09:58 am (UTC)
Yeah--I wouldn't have been that happy with Lois's clumsiness either, if it had been left at that--but they did explore her more sympathetic aspects in this ep too. And I really like the idea of the Martha-Lois alliance in politics--both because it moves Lois forward into the world of adult politics, and also because the power women thing is refreshing in SV. It seems like it could have good plot potential too, so it's a solid decision.

Yeah--I'd forgotten about the scene at the start of this ep. I actually started out really feeling for Chloe. Having shared houses, I know how it sucks to come home and find your flatmate 'entertaining' someone and feel like you should give them space--*your* space. I guess in a world where space is so symbolically important, Lana staking her claim to that space and having Lex enter their shared space could be quite threatening to Chloe--so perhaps her ostracisation by L&L at the beginning of the ep helps explain her approach.

Yes, I agree that I'd do everything I could to keep a friend of mine away from Lex. But it was the simplicity of her argument--he's a 'predator'?--that bothered me. Of anyone in the show, Chloe has the chance to really sway Lana with a decent argument. But name-calling is not the way to go. And is not even fair. Lana is not just one more of Lex's one-night stands, so any argument along those lines come across as naive. But anyway--enough with that.

I think you're spot on about them just playing lip-service to the Lana-Chloe friendship, as with Clark-Lex. And in that scheme of things, it's not really fair of me to gripe about it!
Nora Norwich: kiss the girlsnorwich36 on April 16th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
And in that scheme of things, it's not really fair of me to gripe about it!

Hey, if we couldn't gripe about the show, a lot of the time we'd have nothing to say!

I agree with you, btw, that Chloe should have told Lana exactly *why* she thinks Lex is dangerous--at least the not-related-to-Clark parts. But here I think the writers are actually using Chloe's tactlessness effectively; if Lana knew everything Chloe did, the rift wouldn't happen. Possibly, anyway.
tragicllyhiptragicllyhip on April 14th, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC)
I;ve only seen half the ep--my lovely WB affiliate decided that they needed to show stupid baseball instead, and torrents are not cooperating---so I don't know how it ends yet..but I liked what I;ve seen so far. Its very much a stand alone ep, with a little plot forward motion thrown in. I like it for what it is, and I enjoy Clark not being angsty for a moment at least.

And I noticed the direction immediately. The camera was very fluid, and subtle, with gorgeous shots throughout, I was absolutely proud. I always notice the different styles of each director and can pretty much tell who directed without actually looking it up. I love that Tom used his opportunity to explore new angles of the barn, and just new ways of moving the camera that we dont see as much on the show. So I think if he wants to direct, its a very good start. Directing children is difficult too, either you can or can't it seems, and the little girl was very good and natural.

I'm a huge Clark and Tom fan, so eps like these will always please me, but for purely personal reasons.

I had no problem with Chloe confronting Lex, I don't know if I;d let anyone willingly be led into his clutches, whether they were my friend or not, no good can come of being associated with Lex at this point in his life, and I like that CHloe is showing that she can no longer be intimidated by a Luthor.

Not sure why Lois was being so abrasive to a child.,.but again, i have half an ep to watch yet..

Always an interesting read though bop_radar:)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on April 15th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
Oh grr, how annoying! Hope you get to see the rest of it soon.

Thank you for highlighting Tom's strengths as a director--it made me feel a lot better about it. I really wanted this ep to be a success for him! And while it was a bit of a flop for me personally, I didn't feel that had anything to do with Tom--I just didn't like the writing. You're right about the kid though--she was really good, and it can't be easy to direct children. So it suggests she and Tom had a real connection, which I have to say did come through.

My disappointment with Chloe is about the manner of her approach, not about her standing up to a Luthor. I've felt she's been able to stand up to Lex for quite some time now (although she was briefly intimidated by him at the start of the season). And yes, I liked the idea of her rushing to protect Lana. But she basically got both of their backs up and threw them into each others' arms--they are both so stubborn, it was like pouring oil on the flames.

I kind of giggled about your 'not sure why Lois is being so abrasive to a child' line, because to me that's just very Lois. I'm hopeless with kids myself, so I relate to it. She's pretty uncomfortable around them--true. Whereas Clark is a natural. You'll find there's not really any further explanation of that--it's just part of her character. For me it made instinctive sense.
tragicllyhiptragicllyhip on April 15th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC)
I FINALLY just finished watching the entire ep. And it didn't address any earth shattering themes, but it highlighted in Clark one of my favorite aspects of Superman--his incredible compassion, and humanity and his infinite patience and kindness. It was nice to see Clark not so riddled with guilt and doubt for once. And I thought Martha saying how proud Jonathan would be and Clark mentioning his Dad was really very touching.

And I will reiterate what a fine job Tom did as director. I loved especially the use he made of the farm, highlighting its charm and simple beauty, he really did better than I expected. And you're right, directing children is difficult, and I think the difference between the first two Harry Potter films and the 3rd is a good example, I think chris columbus is crappy at directing kids. Tom is a natural fortunately and that girl never seemed like anything but a real kid.

After seeing the rest of the ep, and your comments I realized that Lois was just being Lois, I guess I personally have a natural like of kids so I was like, 'leave that kid alone!' lol. but you're right, Lois was being Lois.

I see what you mean about Chloe..I didnt have a huge problem with her approach and I think her confrontation was meant to push them together. I was brave and didn't hide my eyes during the kiss..I watched it all. I know many think its hot, and you know, to each their own, but Lex is just so..terrible and Lana so clueless, that its uncomfortable to watch for me.

Well next week's looks interesting at least:) I hope you enjoy it, because one of my favorite things after an ep is to read your indepth reviews.
tragicllyhiptragicllyhip on April 15th, 2006 03:55 am (UTC)
Oh and one more thing, I did notice how they were driving the whole Jor-el/Maddie's Dad thing, and the whole your destiny is your own..so I wonder if they are setting up revealing something about Jor el..
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya lanternbop_radar on April 16th, 2006 10:04 am (UTC)
Oh, I hope so! Yes, they revived the whole destiny versus paternity thing. So hopefully this is actual foreshadowing and there'll be some interesing plot reveals soon. After all, it's getting close to the end of the season!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex strollingbop_radar on April 16th, 2006 10:02 am (UTC)
Clark IS sooo charming! That's for sure. I think the fact that he wasn't riddled with guilt and doubt is another sign of his growing maturity. And I'm pleased with that too.

You're right--it's clear that the writers intended Chloe to inadvertedly thrust Lex and Lana together. I guess I hadn't seen that coming and was a bit uncomfortable with it. But I've settled myself about it now. There IS something uncomfortable about the Lexana, that's for sure--it's pretty dark to have it be made so clear that Lex is manipulating her. But yeah, I do find it sexy--and it should make for interesting plotting, fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed for next week too: thank you!