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16 March 2007 @ 09:36 pm
Smallville 6.16 Promise  
Conflicted feelings
My viewing of 'Promise' was punctuated by a lot of startled exclamations, ranging from gasps of shock to bursts of laughter. I loved some aspects, I hated other aspects. It was... odd. Visually it was absolutely spectacular, and I'd give it some points for plot twists. The three-part structure and the final reveals worked for this unspoiled viewer. I think I approve of its intentions. However, some of the execution was clunky.

On the other hand, Tom looked absolutely spectacularly beautiful. Oh, Tom, I've missed you! *happy sigh*

Crankiness
For once I'm going to get the complaining over with early.
- Chloe, WHAT THE HELL? Sorry, you do not agree to be Maid of Honour if you think your best friend is marrying a 'monster'. And you get NO POINTS for pulling that two-faced shit, reassuring Lex that she'll show after all and then making emo-face when she does. You think she shouldn't marry Lex? Maybe you should think about YOUR conscience for once, rather than Clark's or Lana's and open your trap and TELL HER THAT. NO LOVE.
- The sudden reappearance of Nell was improbable in the extreme. They suddenly desparately needed Lana to have a parent figure to confide in (to balance Lex confiding in Lionel and Clark in Martha) and so they dredged her up. Great. Pity you couldn't have done that all those times in the last couple of seasons when she might have actually been useful. *eyeroll*
- Martha, WHAT THE HELL? You too get NO POINTS for doing a ridiculous backflip in characterisation and suddenly implying to your son that he's just a bit commitment phobic. This despite you having been supportive of his initial break-up with Lana and then, far more recently, giving him a 'snap out of it already' speech. Oh, and then you have the nerve to show up at the wedding. NO LOVE.
- Lex, I give you slightly more leeway because I love you and I do buy that you're very vulnerable today. Also, because your speech about looking down and wanting to be able to pull strings and make people do what you wanted was wonderfully delivered. But honestly? Talking to your father? Biiiiiig mistake. Thought we were past that. I'll hand-wave that as Lionel having done a superbly good job of fooling everyone that he has changed. HA! No.

The comedic
Some random observations:
- Apparently Lana really clarts on the lippy in Clark's dreamscape.
- I liked Clark taking his angst out on the barn (and the bales of hay).
- I love how Clark totally doesn't need an excuse to bust into the Luthor mansion. Chloe doesn't even tell him she's trapped before he appears. What if she just needed verbal advice, Clark? Huh?! Oh, that's right. You don't do verbal. Also, you really needed to work out some aggression and better the Luthor mansion than your own barn, right?
- Proposing to Shelby? TOO FUNNY.

Lana Lang: tragic heroine
Much has been written about the way Lana is objectified in the Smallville universe, and this episode potentially compounded that, with Lex obtaining the 'trophy' of Lana, stealing him from his enemy Clark. Alternatively the hero (Clark) could have overcome the ultimate obstacle and saved Lana from the 'monster' (Chloe actually uses this language early in the episode). In many classic plots, the hero uniting with the heroine in marriage ('happy ever after') is a symbol of the 'righting' of the universe. All is back in order, the struggle is over, the obstacles overcome. But nothing is 'right' in this universe.

I've always argued that Smallville is a tragedy. Lex's journey most obviously fits this mould. Clark's story is one of great sacrifice; he becomes a hero, but at what cost? His is a life of great loneliness. I could see, I could feel how Smallville was continuing to frame both their journeys as tragedies. However, I was always less sure of how this would work for Lana. In 'Promise' they really showed me how she fit within the tragic structure. Yes, it was ridiculously melodramatic. And I suspect a lot of fans are going to react with a 'meh, it's Lana, why should I care?' response. However, the meta geek in me really really really loves that this part of the triangle has clicked into place at last.

Very few episodes of Smallville have done a good job of putting me in Lana's perspective, but this one did. I've always been aware, as a viewer, of how rarely I have a good handle on Lana's view of things. The vast majority of the time we see things from Clark's perspective (the creators have discussed how even the lighting can reflect where we are in Clark's emotional landscape). We used to be in Lex's perspective more often, but this has been rare since Season 4. We're occasionally in other characters' perspectives (Chloe, Martha, Lois) for the purpose of plot. By structuring this episode in three parts--Clark, Lex, Lana--she was given equal status in this episode as a 'perspective' character, not just an objectified ideal.

But it was more subtle than just structure. Having recently attempted to vid from Lana's perspective, I am super-conscious of how incredibly rare it is for the director, for the camera to put us in Lana's perspective. And yet, they did so on multiple occasions in this episode. Even before we reached Lana's official 'third' of the episode, the director had done a good job of making Lana sympathetic to the audience. We are introduced to her in this episode with a gorgeous shot of her face, so vulnerable and tender, as she watches the ultrasound image of her child. This reminds us that she is being manipulated, since we know there is something suspicious about the pregnancy. We next see her gasping as she's laced into her corset--such a great metaphor for the way her relationship constrains her. It's an hint of what's to come.

Lana's section of this episode is the third of three times that we are led through the day of the wedding. Hers is therefore the 'reveal' section, and this privileges her character. This is Lana's story. This is her tragedy and her sacrifice. We relive scenes from Lana's perspective, seeing the other side of the experience: her conflicted feelings, her uncertainty, her joy, her fear. And then we're shown Lionel's manipulation of Lana, which will explain what is to follow, though Lex and Clark are ignorant of it.

There are so, so many ways in which Lana's story is tragic, some of them immediately obvious, others more subtle:
- Clark feared telling her the truth about his secret would endanger her. He withholds it, loses her, she finds it out anyway and it's still dangerous to her.
- Lana's finally grown to the point where she can tell Clark that he doesn't 'owe' her the truth (and I believe she's genuine in that sentiment, for we've seen her reach that place with Chloe too), yet now's the time when he really would have told her.
- Clark shows at the Church, so that Lana must face him while she says 'I do' to Lex.
- Lana truly loves Lex, I believe that. But due to the manner of the manipulation, she enters the marriage not in a spirit of love. Yet she does want to love him, she doesn't blame Lex for this. I think that's why she manages to summon up some real anger when Clark asks what Lex as done, and certainly why she's able to tell Clark that she loves Lex. But even if the scary pregnancy was out of the picture, it would be so hard for this marriage to be truly happy now.
- Lana (like Lex and Clark) has long been judged on surface level. She was introduced to us as a little girl in fairy princess costume trying to turn a frog into a prince. She's far from perfect, but she's continually viewed that way by others. That's her tragedy. Underneath, her life is full of toads not princes. In the final scenes of this episode, with Lex and Lana leaving the church, the surface level image traps Lana as it always has. She puts on a smiling face, a beautiful 'princess' of a bride, but underneath she's manipulated and devastated. Lionel's trapped her in a picture frame forever.
- In hiding in the wine cellar, Lana gains the chance to observe the truth about not just one best friend, but two. While the emphasis was naturally on her getting complete and unequivocal proof of Clark's powers, she also saw another side to Chloe. She hears her call Lex a 'monster', she hears her say she'd wish that Clark would 'save her' from a terrible life. That's pretty confronting--it leaves Lana in an extremely lonely position. She'd recently rekindled her friendship with Chloe. Now that illusion has been shattered.

There is one key reason why I was finally sold on Lana's plot here. Her sacrifice is voluntary. She has every reason to fear Lionel, and no reason not to believe that what he says about being able to kill Clark. The stakes are set too high for her to risk it. She could lose everyone if she did: Lex and Clark. And it costs her. I do believe that. She walked down that aisle for Clark, to protect him. Supposedly the most selfish character in the Smallville universe, she made a great sacrifice in the belief (mistaken) that she was protecting a great hero.

Lana Lang, this one's all yours! *toasts*

Paralleling Clark and Lex
However absurd it was at a textual level (and it WAS absurd) Lex and Clark are paralleled as equally possible husbands in this episode. We see Clark looking out a suit (a black, funereal outfit), we see Lex toying with a ring. Later we see Lex suiting up, ready for the wedding, and then Clark toying with a ring. Clark digs out a photograph of him and Lana at the ball--in formal outfits, it's as close to a wedding photo as he could find. Both men wore black and white predominantly in this episode. They are dressed surprisingly alike, and at different times black or white costuming was used to indicate their potential 'goodness' or 'evilness' (e.g. Lex white and pure in Clark's dream, Lex in dark suit murdering someone in reality).

This episode was surprisingly 'kind' to Lex. He killed someone with his bare fists in cold blood in a fit of rage. On the journey towards full villainhood, that's got to warrant a mention. However, this act was completely overshadowed by Lionel, who stepped out from behind a curtain and revealed himself once again (where are we? Season One?) as the puppetmaster. Not only has he manipulated Lana into marrying Lex, but he even covers up Lex's killing, gaining yet another advantage over him.

We were in imagery overload with a dead body in the crypt, the bridegroom washing blood off his hands, a spot of blood left on his cuff... Lex's glory moment, walking down the stairs of the church with Lana, is undermined, just as Lana's is. Superficially he gets what he claims to have wanted--Clark there on his wedding day to see him 'win'--but like Lana, he's actually putting a 'brave' face on it. He's just sold himself into Lionel's hands once and for all.

Nightmares: prophecies and recollections
Clark's dream is prophetic. By trying to steal his fiancee on his wedding day, he stabs Lex in the back. Lana then tells him that she loves Lex. He doesn't believe it, but while he's protesting, Lana sacrifices herself and her child, impaling herself on the same knife that stabbed Lex in the back. Their love for each other is what hurts (kills) Lex. It couldn't be clearer.

I love, love, LOVED Lex's dream of his scary freak baby on the big screen. (Oh, Lex!) The baby's image initially appears normal, but Lex is studying it in great detail (zoom in). Suddenly the baby turns towards Lex in a move of acknowledgment that it's being viewed. It's eyes fly open revealing it's vacant, alien status. Lex wakes with a start. Is this dream prophetic in any way? My hunch is it is, and as nightmares-of-one's-own-creation go, that one tops all.

Lana's dream is a memory, one that has recently resurfaced. She relives her moments in the tornado when she thought she'd merely imagined Clark saving her. She'd convinced herself, for years, that this was just a dream. In this episode she acknowledges that it was no dream, but reality.

Fear and reality are intersecting in these dreams. The dream world is no longer one in which the characters face their fears, so they're strong enough to overcome them in reality. Instead, at best, the characters experience a presentiment in their dreams of what is to come. There is no escape--we really are in tragedy territory here.

This episode opened with a song about loss, which clashed awkwardly with the warm opening scenes of wedding preparation. It ended with an uplifting song of exaltation, belieing the tragedy of the wedding. Smallville reminds us once again of the tragic gap between surface reality and hidden truth.
 
 
Current Location: sofa of comfiness
 
 
 
Le courage ne craint pas le crime: Give Lionel!Clark a hug.attaccabottoni on March 16th, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
Haven't watched it yet, but... no Clex? *hopeful look* I just might prefer to read other people's meta this time, because even with your great review (hey, making me sympathetic to Lana's plight is a feat!), I'm not encouraged to download and watch it for myself.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex fascinated with youbop_radar on March 16th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
In all honesty, not much. There's one long, angsty stare across the crowd at the wedding, but other than that... they played this ep remarkably 'straight'. I say 'remarkably' because the recent barn scene had me expecting something a little different.
(no subject) - tragicllyhip on March 17th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 17th, 2007 05:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
Alisonacampbell on March 16th, 2007 02:14 pm (UTC)
"Clarts on the lippy"

Australese?

I'm conflicted--loved parts, hated others, longed for a wee bit of Clex...must rewatch!

Great writeup, as always.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex weddingbop_radar on March 16th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
Oh. Er. It's more likely to be Scots, since that's my family's background, but honestly I'm not sure.
Translation: paints on a great deal of lipstick

Yeah, I was conflicted too... it was not what I was expecting, yet I have to credit them with pulling off some great moments. And others that were just... odd. The Clex crowd stare was just strange, because by the time we got to it, it really wasn't the point at all... But Tom did make wonderful angst!face.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 18th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
Vicki: Lex bare neckmyownghost on March 16th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
yeah, it took me a minute to figure out that clarting on the lippy must be overdoing the lipstick. *g* she did look rather whorish with that garish mouth. in fact, she look horrifying like helen to me.

this is a first, rash reaction. i'll read your post slowly and then comment again, probably. i was very unhappy during and after the show last night, but i haven't posted about it and won't. my reactions tend to be totally emotional and arise from my own felt need as to who the characters should be. but i like reading your analyses. :)
Vicki: MR tenniesmyownghost on March 16th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
uhhhh, horrifyingLY. ack.

>I've always argued that Smallville is a tragedy. Lex's journey most obviously fits this mould.

oh yes, definitely. but you're doing a gorgeous job here of changing the way i see lana. i've disliked her from the beginning of the show, and you're convincing me that i've been unfair. i did feel for her last night. now that i've read this, i know why:

>That's her tragedy. Underneath, her life is full of toads not princes.

excellent post, k. honestly, i feel like you opened this up for me. (as i said, i perceive things on an emotional level, never analytical.)

>This episode opened with a song about loss, which clashed awkwardly with the warm opening scenes of wedding preparation. It ended with an uplifting song of exaltation, belieing the tragedy of the wedding. Smallville reminds us once again of the tragic gap between surface reality and hidden truth.

wow, yeah. i buy this all the way.
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 16th, 2007 10:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 16th, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Beckygiggleloop on March 16th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
You know, you could seriously get a job writing meta for like, a Smallville detailed episode guide or something. And not just SV, of course, but all the shows you do meta for. I love reading it. :D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex lovebop_radar on March 16th, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you for the lovely comment! *hugs*
Becky: Lanacinderella81 on March 16th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
I did enjoy how they did this episode, visually ... the different perspectives and such ...

And yes, I do feel for Lana ... She made a voluntary sacrifice ... she may have just redeemed herself for me
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: KK cutie iconbop_radar on March 17th, 2007 02:08 am (UTC)
Yes, it was one of those rare times when I found her genuinely sympathetic.
Naomi: Lex animated walk of evil by ali-consfrelling_tralk on March 16th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm finding it hard to feel sorry for Lana when she did accept the proposal of her own choice, and had a long time to change her mind after that. Yet it's on the wedding day itself that she suddenly decides to leave a note, and then finds herself forced into going through with it anyway. The mean part of me kind of sees that as poetic justice :P

I'm feeling the same about Clark as well. He had plenty of time to think about Lana marrying Lex, then it's the day of the wedding when he decides to reveal the secret, and try proposing. It reminds me of him crashing the Crimson engagement party with a proposal, and Lana calling him on his timing. But really I'm most stuck on the fact that Lex gave Lana months to think through the proposal, and make sure of what she wanted. And it's not until the wedding has been planned out and paid for, and everyone arrives, that she sets out to find out the secret and run away with Clark. And I know that her tears over the marriage were meant to move the audience, but honestly I'm more stuck on how intensely selfish Clark and Lana both came across as, and that's not even taking into account the issue of Lana carrying Lex's child
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya Raibop_radar on March 17th, 2007 02:11 am (UTC)
When I take the big picture approach, I agree with you. Clark and Lana have made this bed for themeselves. So has Lex. And I do hate the Wait Until the Wedding Day trope. The writers were just piling on the melodrama--I'm not surprised it alienated some. I enjoyed the episode in isolation. Big picture, pretty much everyone's actions are STOOPID. *considers* Yup, everyone's. Lois gets a pass for not being in this episode. ;-)
(no subject) - jakrar on March 17th, 2007 04:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
HeroHunter.  I, Storyteller.: lexyourtruth by painted_bottlesherohunter on March 16th, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC)
The only but for me is (and someone else pointed it out to me) :

I've always argued that Smallville is a tragedy. Lex's journey most obviously fits this mould. Clark's story is one of great sacrifice; he becomes a hero, but at what cost? His is a life of great loneliness.

Except for Clark's life isn't once he "finds" Lois. Lex has never been loved, NEVER. I have not seen Clark suffer even a fraction in his teenage years as much as Lex has since before he was 9.

I liked the episode, even if they're still giving Lana more attention than she had ever deserved. Thebig BIG rift? Will be all about her, just watch.

Lex was hot, though.

:D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex purple evilbop_radar on March 16th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm not suggesting that they can or should be measured against each other--just that each character's journey is structured as a tragedy. With Clark, I think the interesting thing about the Smallville universe is that they've implied that Clark's immortal, that he may outlive all his loved ones. They've also heavily emphasised the sacrifices he has to make to become Superman. Not to mention his own partial culpability for creating the man that Lex is becoming/the loss of that friendship. All of those things are a deliberate attempt to frame his journey as one of tragedy. Whether we, as viewers, are sympathetic to him (or to Lana) is still another matter entirely.

There was some great Lex moments in the eppy, I thought! And Michael shone as always. :-)
(no subject) - herohunter on March 16th, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jakrar on March 17th, 2007 04:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - herohunter on March 17th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jakrar on March 17th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: DW Madame Pompadourbop_radar on March 16th, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC)
whereas with Clark, I think she privileges being his compass ahead of being supportive. Ideally, she strives to be both things for both Clark and Lana, but I do think she prioritizes what they want/need from her differently.
Great point! I usually strive to give Chloe the benefit of the doubt and to see how she navigates her friendships. Perhaps it was post-hiatus distance, or the fact that the episode was dragging me so strongly into Lana pov (strange place!), but I just reached my breaking point with Chloe and couldn't summon up the energy to justify her actions. I'm grateful someone did, and I think the point you make about her emphasising different priorities with each of them is very insightful.

I feel bad for Martha. :-( Grrr, writers!

I had very conflicted feelings about Promise. I had to fight through initial disbelief that they were seriously using that Wait Until the Day of the Wedding trope. But I'm delighted that Lana's sacrifice is noble. The show hasn't always given me hope that it would be. As you point out, Lionel could have blackmailed on other grounds, in which case I'd have far less sympathy. But an act of grace, it was.
Nora Norwich: KK pink dressnorwich36 on March 16th, 2007 10:41 pm (UTC)
I've been being rather cranky in response to people's reviews to this episode, so I waited a bit to comment so I wouldn't be cranky at you. And I was going to send you to LaT's review for a good unpacking of Chloe's motives, but I see she's actually gone into more depth here already.

I love your comments on Lana's tragedy. While I kind of gnashed my teeth at the way the writers decided to get us there, I still loved where it ended up: in the most devastating possible solution to the triangle for all parties! A tragedy indeed. And I agree with your observations about how unique it was to get to see things from Lana's perspective. In fact, this was Lana's "Reckoning" and her "Lexmas," and there were callbacks to both of those episodes that I discussed a little bit in my review, including the blending of dreamscapes with reality and the alternating perspectives on different events--yet they did something new, too, with the time-shifting. I really loved the structure of the episode a lot.

Lana (like Lex and Clark) has long been judged on surface level. She was introduced to us as a little girl in fairy princess costume trying to turn a frog into a prince. She's far from perfect, but she's continually viewed that way by others. That's her tragedy. Underneath, her life is full of toads not princes. In the final scenes of this episode, with Lex and Lana leaving the church, the surface level image traps Lana as it always has. She puts on a smiling face, a beautiful 'princess' of a bride, but underneath she's manipulated and devastated. Lionel's trapped her in a picture frame forever.

I just had to quote that in its entirety because it's a beautiful statement of Lana's tragedy. You should totally make that vid, you know.

In hiding in the wine cellar, Lana gains the chance to observe the truth about not just one best friend, but two. While the emphasis was naturally on her getting complete and unequivocal proof of Clark's powers, she also saw another side to Chloe. She hears her call Lex a 'monster', she hears her say she'd wish that Clark would 'save her' from a terrible life. That's pretty confronting--it leaves Lana in an extremely lonely position. She'd recently rekindled her friendship with Chloe. Now that illusion has been shattered.

And for me, that almost justifies the writers decision to NOT have Chloe directly confront Lana, because it makes the scene that much more powerful. Though I'm not sure it will, necessarily, alienate Lana from Chloe, because the other thing Chloe is doing in that scene is encouraging Clark to tell Lana his secret before it is too late . Lana's big fear this season has been that Chloe and Clark were deliberately excluding her from the "we know Clark's secret" club--and here she has concrete evidence that Chloe, at least, has not been deliberately excluding her. (And honestly, Chloe has expressed doubts about Lex to Lana before--that was even referenced in the discussion they had when Lana asked Chloe to be her bridesmaid--so I'm not sure hearing what Chloe thought about Lex was completely new information).
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois searchingbop_radar on March 16th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
I'm grateful for LaT's insights into Chloe's actions. I was in despair. Regarding her overhearing Chloe's words: You may be right that it will not alienate Lana from Chloe. However I found that scene appallingly written in its extremity. Having your best friend call your partner a 'monster' is, imo, very different from having her express doubts about him being a good person or her asking you if you're really sure about marrying her. I think Lana may forgive Chloe; I may not be able to. I think part of my annoyance is just loss: there was once a time when I found Chloe the easiest character to identify with on the whole show. She may now be, for me, the hardest.

The structure of the episode did a lot to save it for me, and I'll be very interested to read your thoughts on its relationship to Reckoning and Lexmas.
(no subject) - norwich36 on March 16th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 17th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
~*~isilweth on March 17th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)
I loved this analysis, especially your focus on the structure of the show as a tragedy. TPTB have repeatedly stated that the show isa tragedy and the execution of the show itself bears this out. It's one of the things I most love about it.

I hadn't noticed the parallels between Clark and Lex in this episode, while I was viewing it, but you are so spot on. It makes me feel (a little bit) better about Clark preparing to propose to Lana. As funny as that scene was (and it was lol funny!), I just couldn't get Clark's POV in that scene. Your right, textually is absurd, but as a parallel to Lex, it makes a skewed sort of sense.

Love your dream analysis, especially about Lana's, as I've been struggling to see how it fits into the larger episode, but you've articulated it very well.

Smallville reminds us once again of the tragic gap between surface reality and hidden truth.

*hearts you and the show*
I LOVE this about Smallville, the sublimation wrt to truth and lies and their impact is actually rather masterful. (Sometimes)

Oh, but I did like Chloe and Martha in this episode and said so in my review. *wins at delurking for making three posts in a row, then commenting to f'list*

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex here with youbop_radar on March 17th, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)
The tragedy is definitely one of the things I love most about it as well. And yes, you have been very prolific recently! I've been so busy this week I haven't had a chance to comment, but I saw your post on why you watch and thought it was terrific.

textually is absurd, but as a parallel to Lex, it makes a skewed sort of sense.
Totally absurd! But Smallville really does lose it textually quite often. It so often pays to take a step back and look at the big-picture symbolism. Frustrating as the need to do that can be! ;-)

rather masterful. (Sometimes)
Indeed!

And I'll be keen to read your Chloe and Martha thoughts. I felt so conflicted about this episode I could only do the emotional work required for about half the characters--and I copped out on those two and through my hands up in despair! ;-)

You DO win!
(no subject) - isilweth on March 18th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 18th, 2007 07:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
CapnZebbie: stalkerkittycapnzebbie on March 17th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
This is a great meta. I enjoyed the episode, but I wasn't really feeling the sympathy for Lana (been hatin' her too long, I guess) until you put it into perspective for me.

What the writers do to Martha frequently annoys the crap out me. "Lex is dangerous and evil." "You need to give Lex a chance." "You need to move on from Lana." "You need to cling to Lana with the strength of a thousand limpets." Aaaagghhhh!

Lex is breaking my heart. That last look between him and Clark--SO ex-lovers! *sniff*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on March 17th, 2007 05:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! And yeah, I knew I might be quite lonely in my newfound appreciation for Lana... those old habits/prejudices are hard to break! And yeah, the writers are being completely unfair to Martha in my opinion. I feel bad for Annette, who I think is a great actress and deserves some clearer direction. I hope she gets some better treatment before the end of the season.

Yes, that one last look was sooooo emo! (And again, gold for vidders!!)
Denise: Field trip cousinskdsch123 on March 17th, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC)
I actually found this episode to be such a parody of everything it puports to be about, Bop. In spite of your meta (which was brilliant as always), I still have no great sympathy for Lana. I really feel she's equally guilty in her entrapment with the Luthors. She chose Lex long before this episode. Her venom at Clark in "Vessel" really tempered my ability to see any genuine feelings of love now. Instead, it struck me more as Lana's pattern of wanting what she didn't have. Clark now represents freedom and innocence lost. Way to go, Lana. The time to accept Clark for who he was and reap the benefit was back at the beginning of season 5, the latest.

Chloe and Martha were once again caught on the pendulum Millar/Gough use to measure Lana's character. If Lana is good, they are confused and support Clark in loving her. If she is neutral or sliding toward the Luthor side, even if Martha and Chloe are not part of that story, they are against Clark reconciling with her, encouraging him to move on. I'm tired of the revolving door characterizations Smallville writers indulge themselves in. Lionel as well. He was this figure of doom, sweeping in like the black fairy in Sleeping Beauty to destroy anything and everything. I really wasn't impressed...

Sigh...wish I could share your opinion. I had more fun laughing at this episode than trying to read the deeper context. I feel obvious metaphors for fixing what you broke (the hayloft railing) and self examination (Clark, Lex and Lana all in front of mirrors, thinking) were ignored.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Tom's backbop_radar on March 17th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, as I said to frelling above, my sympathy for Lana only extends to this episode in isolation. In the bigger picture, she's responsible for the position she finds herself in. As I say, I had very conflicted feelings, and the way Chloe and Martha were once again abused by the writers really pissed me off. However, unlike you, I actually enjoyed Lionel's role--I guess I get such a kick out of evil!Lionel I could roll with that. Plus, I've been expecting him to reveal his hand for some time.

I feel obvious metaphors for fixing what you broke (the hayloft railing) and self examination (Clark, Lex and Lana all in front of mirrors, thinking) were ignored.
Haha! Great call! It was a strange jumble, this episode, and definitely had me detached and laughing at moments when I should have been engaged. I think they stretched too far with it, which personally I find a pity, because I was genuinely excited to see them putting us in Lana's pov (and Lex's!) for once. Plus, I love it when they use dreams. But it was a strain...

I want Lois back. :-(
Cris: Clark - glassesduskwillow on March 17th, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
Great meta.
I'm kinda disappointed with the episode. They went way over the top and it ruined it for me.

Lex looked pathetic - Lionel outplayed him, hit him and what does Lex do? Promises to do anything he wants and thanks him. *head desk*
And I have a feeling Lionel will want the baby.

Clark fulfils his dream and stabs Lex in the back - I can't see it any other way. I know he wanted to know why Lana didn't show up, but come on man - you do not go to your ex best friend's wife and beg her to be with you. Grow a pair and move on.

And Lana would get more sympathy from me if they didn't degrade the character to where it was in the first part of season 5 (like the last year never happened) and actually had her be brave enough to face Lex. And not write a note, and go behind his back kissing Clark.
We know that Lex is up to something with the baby, but she doesn't.
She's two timing Lex, and Clark is playing a role of a home wrecker. No love Smallville, too soap operish for me.

I miss Lois. :(
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois duhbop_radar on March 17th, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC)
Yup, everyone's pretty despicable right now, aren't they? The melodrama was totally OTT. And oh, yes, I miss Lois SOOOOO MUUUUUCH. She would have been slapping them into line and telling them all to get over themselves. :-)
Billie Bones: The perfect visual representation.literaryll on March 18th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
I have a confession to make. I've had you friended ever since the last SV love meme and not only have I been too lame to come and poke around your journal and say a proper hi to you (Hi!!), but this is the first time I've actually read any of your SV meta. See. I'm a little scared of SV meta. As I think many of us do, I find SV 99% retarded. I've found that I love it for it's flaws - it's a very lovable, unique, charming kind of retarded imo - and to just let the rare stuff that does manage to piss me off roll right off my back and re-focus on the things about it that I enjoy. Most of my experiences with more recent (the last 3 seasons) SV meta have messed with my happy place and made me feel things - disappointment, anger - that I'd rather keep far, far away from my special, silly show. I came to feel that logic and depth was something best kept away from SV because well, it tries and I love it dearly, but it can't hold up to that kind of inspection.

The point of all that? Reading this made me realize that I was wrong to avoid the meta. You've illuminated so many things for me here and got me thinking about so much and instead of feeling angry or disappointed - it's like you've shown me a new side and WOW LOOK AT ALL THESE NEW THINGS FOR ME TO LOVE ON.

I liked Clark taking his angst out on the barn (and the bales of hay). - I already forgot about that! Oh Clark ♥.

I've always argued that Smallville is a tragedy. Lex's journey most obviously fits this mould. Clark's story is one of great sacrifice; he becomes a hero, but at what cost? His is a life of great loneliness. I could see, I could feel how Smallville was continuing to frame both their journeys as tragedies. - That right there. Damn. It's impossible not to see Lex's story as a tragedy, but it never occurred to me that they were framing Clark's as a tragedy as well until this episode and even then I thought maybe I was just letting Clark's ginormous emo affect the way I was viewing things. Huh. My brains not sure what to make of all of that. *makes a thinking face like Clark's*

I was talking on my journal about how the idea of Superman being a sad eventuality tinges the inherent Gayness of the show - what that means if Clark's journey is indeed a tragic one. Have you talked more in depth about the Clark as tragic thing? I'll have to go looking through your memories.

Clark feared telling her the truth about his secret would endanger her. He withholds it, loses her, she finds it out anyway and it's still dangerous to her. - Ah yes. That resonates so strongly with me. Yet more guilt for him to load up on.

Lana (like Lex and Clark) has long been judged on surface level. She was introduced to us as a little girl in fairy princess costume trying to turn a frog into a prince. She's far from perfect, but she's continually viewed that way by others. That's her tragedy. Underneath, her life is full of toads not princes. In the final scenes of this episode, with Lex and Lana leaving the church, the surface level image traps Lana as it always has. She puts on a smiling face, a beautiful 'princess' of a bride, but underneath she's manipulated and devastated. Lionel's trapped her in a picture frame forever. - I was already shocked by how much I felt for Lana in this episode and now I am further shocked by exactly how much you are drawing out of me. You just made me find her beautiful. YOU MUST BE MAGIC.

You've enriched this episode for me. Thank you for that. I should have come around ages ago ♥
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW smilebop_radar on March 18th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
Wow! Well, it's totally worth you not reading my journal for months if it results in this comment. You just made my day! \o/ :-)

I completely agree with you: 99% retarded is a great summation of Smallville. I also have a rule: 'Never apply logic to the Smallville universe' (at the textual level). Textually it makes NO SENSE. At a metaphorical, symbolic level it sometimes makes sense, and it often makes more sense when you take visual symbolism and subtext into account. I'm sure many fans find me ridiculously chipper about the show--I tend to concentrate in my reviews on what did work for me, what was interesting or successful, rather than the stuff that didn't. This can be misleading. :-) The show is daft as all get out, but none of us would be here (still) if it didn't also charm us, and I'm more interested in exploring where the charm comes from that griping about what it could or should be.

Yes, I have talked more in depth about Clark's tragedy. Um, I discussed it most formally here: Tragedy essay, in an (unfinished, darn!) essay series on plot structure. However, that essay drew on some points I'd raised elsewhere. So it's probably worth summarising by saying that the main reasons that first drew me to thinking that Clark's journey was framed as tragic were:
- the implication (in Cassandra's vision) that he's immortal and will outlive his loved ones
- the collapse of his friendship with Lex being framed as deeply significant and scarring to Clark
- the partial culpability of Clark in making Lex the man he is to become (and therefore long-term guilt).
Additionally, they've heavily emphasised the loneliness of the hero's journey through all six seasons. Even now, with Chloe as confidant, Clark is shown as alone (e.g. the Thanksgiving dinner where Clark's smile hid the fact that he was aware of himself as the only one without intimacy with someone--he was self-sacrificingly 'fixing' other people's relationships then--tolerating Lionel for his mum, reuniting Oliver and Lois).
People always bring up Lois when I mention Clark's journey being a tragedy. But a) I don't believe Smallville will end with them happily united, and b) I think it has established that there's a world of sacrifice and guilt beyond that. I'm not downplaying Lois's signifcance, but I do think Smallville's constructed things so that Lois is not the shining prize at the end of the journey who he unites with to make everything right. The tragic implications of the destroyed friendship with Lex will, for example, still be unresolved.

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on this.

And I'm delighted that my review helped you find Lana beautiful. This episode was exceptional in making her a sympathetic character--I only wish it had been done more often. I initially hated her (as so many fans do!) and she still frustrates me a great deal, but I've come to understand how she fits within the tragic universe AI have constructed and that's helped me in regards to her character.

Good to meet you! :-)
(no subject) - literaryll on March 20th, 2007 02:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 20th, 2007 08:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
anna: kk at nightsnarkist on March 18th, 2007 04:59 am (UTC)
Ooh, so many good thoughts in your meta! Where do I start?

Okay, I agree that the way the episode played out really worked for pointing out how this is totally Lana's story, and it did play very tragic. Usually, the climactic plot points totally pull anvil thuds on SV, but I thought that this actually played out surprisingly well. Also, I thought KK did a great job in that scene when she's sitting at the mirror after the wedding with Lex standing behind her, and you can just see that she's trying to smile instead of just totally sobbing. Awesome work.

BUT. I also really dislike the whole waiting until the day of the wedding business, both on Clark and Lana's parts, but mostly Lana. Mainly because I just think that standing someone up on the day where EVERYONE YOU KNOW is already waiting to watch you get married is just completely cruel. It's bad enough to not have the person you love show up to marry you, but to stand in front of everyone while you wait is just horrifying. I didn't want Lana to have to be forced into marriage, but when Lex was standing at the front of the church and whispering, "She's not coming," and looking heartbroken, I was thinking, "Oh my fucking god, you bitch, you best be walking in that door RIGHT FUCKING NOW." Ahem. Just saying.

So, yeah, I also was annoyed by the way Chloe was acting, and her little speech. The problem is, I think, that the writers feel like they always have to have someone to vocalize Clark's internal struggle, like they can't just show it somehow through Clark's actions, and the people who get used to do this the most are Chloe and Martha, probably 'cause they're his usual confidants. So this is constantly putting both those characters into the positions of having to totally contradict themselves on numerous occasions. It annoys me on so many levels, not just because of the contradictions, but also because it so totally takes away from those characters, and makes them into nothing but speaking points for Clark's actions. It drives me nuts.

OKAY, I know I'm typing way too long a response, but just two more quick comments! One, I found the music during Lex's scene in the church basement with the doctor so awful. All that organ music was way over the top. Also, all that fog on the ground... WTF? They aren't standing in an old graveyard at midnight, just in a basement of a church IN THE MIDDLE OF A SUNNY SPRING DAY. Oy. Two, I though it would have been so hilarious if the suit that Clark pulled out of the closet at the beginning of the ep was the one he wore as Lex's best man when he married Desiree. Because, seriously, Lex has now gotten married THREE TIMES! Also, it would have been so awesome if he could have worn that to Lex's wedding. Okay, yes, it would have taken away from the gravitas of that moment, but still... hilarious!

So, I lied. One last thing!

I love how Clark totally doesn't need an excuse to bust into the Luthor mansion.

Ha! I know! He did it, like, three times! And when he kept doing it, I was like, "Seriously, where's Lex's so-called security? They really suck." I mean, really, three fucking times! In one day! Heh.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex bad days!bop_radar on March 18th, 2007 10:17 am (UTC)
Yes, I think [Bad username: latxcvi"] had a legitimate rant about the Wait Until the Day of the Wedding trope. It's really appallingly cliched as well as making everyone involved seem like a total asshat! And yes, I had heart pangs for Lex as well--this is the second time he's stood at the altar waiting for a bride he doubted would turn up--Helen did this as well.

I agree about the writers using Chloe to vocalise Clark's struggle. My complaint is not really directed at Chloe the character, so much as the way the writers use her (and Martha).

Never apologise for long responses! (Have you seen the length of my initial post?!) The episode was really OTT--the score especiallly so. I think someone mentioned that with the fog and the organ they were expecting Lex to turn into a Vampyr! ;-)
darenothope: Lois drinking water in Sneeze.darenothope on March 18th, 2007 06:03 am (UTC)
I haven't seen Promise. It'll air here in like 2 months or something. I like your whole Lana as tragic heroine. I'm not too kind or objective when it comes to Lana so I tend to be just hate hate hate. You almost made me feel for Lana, not quite but almost. lol.

I wish the other characters would confront her about her actions instead of just walking on eggshells around her. I think she's needs some tough love. Chloe's advice to Lana of late has just been a bit soft. Friends tell each other the truth. If they're making a mistake you tell them. You don't encourage them if you feel it's the wrong decision. I wish at some point Lana would have just gone "Enough is enough. I'm not going to be this person anymore." I hope she breaks free of this whole tragic heroine thing that's going on. Learn from her mistakes and be a stronger, better person for it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex purple evilbop_radar on March 18th, 2007 10:20 am (UTC)
I'm not that kind where Lana is concerned either. And I wish the other characters would confront her too--however, to be fair, Chloe has laid it on the line with her recently, saying she won't betray Clark's confidence and Lana has fully lived up to that. She found out Clark's secret completely independently and has made a point of saying to Chloe that she doesn't want Chloe to disclose anything. However, as you saw, Chloe did not stand up to Lana about marrying Lex.

As for the tragic heroine thing: she won't get over it. That's who she is, even if we hate it.
sarmoti: Smallville - Clexsarmoti on March 18th, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
Just had to comment and say that I actually watched this episode, so I think this is the first time I've read your SV meta. :) I haven't watched the show much this season, but since it was the wedding episode I just had to tune in! I really liked the structure of this episode becaus I think if the story was laid out in the usual linear fashion, it wouldn't have been as interesting.

Chloe, WHAT THE HELL? Sorry, you do not agree to be Maid of Honour if you think your best friend is marrying a 'monster'.

Omg, yes. But you know, if people actually spoke up when they needed to, what would they do for drama on this show? :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex here with youbop_radar on March 18th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
Hee! I really liked the structure as well. I like it when they play with different conventions.

if people actually spoke up when they needed to, what would they do for drama on this show? :)
Indeed! I know... you really just have to let go of these things when watching Smallville. :-)
serenographyserenography on March 18th, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC)
ILU, boppy. No time for a longer response now, but I had to get that out.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee hey!bop_radar on March 18th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
:-) Thank you! Awwww, ICON!!!! *bleedy heart*