A real glimpse into the mind of Jimmy Olsen
I like Jimmy--he's really endeared himself to me this season, but the radio-nerd idea they played with for him in Static bugged me at the time for the implausibility (ha! like I should care in Smallville!). However, I found the idea of him as a classic movies nerd really cute and was totally able to run with it--so in retrospect I see that they've built up this kind of 'old world' nerdiness for Jimmy, and it's quite lovely.
I found Noir very interesting as an insight into how Jimmy sees the other characters. It was a great concept and brilliantly executed in terms of production, music, cinematography, costuming, the works. All of the black and white flashback scenes were magnificent--an absolute delight. And I think the episode did a good job of continuing the 'noir' feel outside of the flashbacks without it feeling too jarring. It was really fun to see Smallville play with a different set of tropes and for the most part I think they worked really well. But there were some jarring elements and frustrations for me, I'm afraid, which prevented it from being the scintillating perfection it could have been. It's still one of the most fun episodes this season, but ... well, I'll grumble later.
I think Jimmy's characterisation was awesome in this--I genuinely got a sense of him having a photographer's instinct (he snaps the fleeing 'killer' with his cell phone), and an investigator's curiosity, both of which will serve him well in the future. Despite the blatant product placement, it was cute to see him snap his farewell with Chloe and leave her with a souvenir soundtrack. Awww! There was some nice subtext about Lois there too--Lois and Jimmy both scan the crime scene for evidence, honing in on the same pieces. In fact, the flash of Jimmy's camera is going off over Lois as she does so--that made me squee to think how well they could work together in the future. And the only other person we've seen give a playlist to someone is Lois. Hee! (sorry--nerdy love for Lois and Jimmmy here!)
I really felt sorry for Jimmy in the scene between him, Chloe and Clark. He put forward completely relevant ('am I the only one that thinks it's weird that she was wining and dining with daddy warbucks instead of Lex?') questions and was completely ignored in favour of emotional nonsense from Clark ('I've always been there for her until now'). It was a scene that worked well though for drawing us into Jimmy's view on things--we're so used to Clark's emotional reasoning, but it was interesting to watch him blind himself to the objective questions that would have led to uncovering the truth.
The Noir world
Noir isn't really my thing, so I'll look forward to hearing from people that know the genre well. At the superficial level, Smallville's recreation worked really well for me and was a heap of fun. It looked like the actors were having a ball too. Especially Tom! And, ok WOW! Did he look hot, or what?! *flails* It took me about ten minutes to get through that scene of him as a bumbling report (*swooooooooooon*) because I was freeze-framing every second! And then he pulled the suave as WELL! I don't know which noir!Clark identity I like better! Lionel was so much fun! And Michael must have had a ball playing his death scene! They were both heaps of fun.
As for the girls, Kristin was phenomenal! She totally sold all her scenes and of all the characters in Jimmy's vision, hers was probably closest to her 'real' self, in being both victim and villain. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her and she looked stunning. Unfortunately Allison Mack's lines fell flatter than lead--particularly in the first scene which made me wince. That fast-talking dialogue and sharp accent is hard to pull off, I'm sure, but it was just obviously too much for her. Ah, well. Erica had next to nothing to do but she looked staggeringly beautiful.
As I mentioned above, the Noir world was an interesting insight into how Jimmy views everyone--sometimes with amusing effect. Turning the Talon into a place of mysterious connections was particularly gigglesome. But perhaps not as funny as the subtext (there was subtext!) between Jimmy and Clark. Which I am totally disturbed by, btw--so not a pairing I want to see. I guess Tom's just too good at 'bringing it' these days and he was totally heavy on the charm, but 'kid's with me', the check-out glances, followed by 'eyes back in your head, Olsen' was unavoidablly flirty. The fact that Jimmy replies with 'I didn't peg you as the kind of guy with a secret identity' was even funnier--this is the kind of playful subtext Smallville used to throw out all the time! (But why Clark and Jimmy?! *weeps*)
One of the reasons Noir didn't totally work for me was because it was a bit of a hybrid between Jimmy's view of the world, and the writers playing with the universal character patterns. For instance, casting Lois the sultry nightclub singer worked to play with the idea that both Clark and Lex are interested in her (and Lex gets there first--hee!) just as they're both after Lana right now. However, it doesn't make a lot of sense from Jimmy's perspective--I've never got the sense that Jimmy crushed on Lois at all. We know from 'Crimson' that he already has Lois and Clark paired off in his mind. It would have made more sense for Chloe to be in that role from his perspective, and for Lois to be the person who actually worked with him to protect him--Chloe constantly cuts him out of things and undermines him professionally but in his vision she was all supportive. I guess I have to take the leap and assume that he idealised everyone in his vision--which ends up making me feel that Jimmy is attracted to everyone, which I confess quite honestly is something I'm not that comfortable with! (Hee!)
Investigative skills 101
One of the things I both loved and hated about Noir was the fact that it showed a clear hierarchy in investigative skills. Jimmy, Lois and Lionel came out on top.
Everyone was trying to solve the crime, but Chloe and Clark were ridiculously bogged down in their emotional connection to Lana. I'm not even going to start on Chloe and secret-keeping. OK, I am. Could she just for once keep one of Lana's secrets?! Sheesh! She totally let Clark guess that Lionel was behind everything. At least I'm assuming that's the 'one other person' Clark meant since he didn't seem anywhere near uncovering the senator's involvement. To be fair to Chloe and Clark, they had some really cute moments in this episode--the stairwell fall and catch was adorable. But they were also the slowest investigators to get anywhere near the point. And, you know, I never ever mention this, but it does bug me quite a bit that Clark still hasn't shown any flair as an investigator or journalist.
Running a close second was Lex, who appears to be blinded by his view of Lana--he was startled she was carrying a gun. But he's more likely to catch on quickly since he already has more pieces of the puzzle.
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Lois both honed in on the piece of evidence that held the key information. But Jimmy only saw the surface (the compact), whereas Lois acquired the actual item (she's getting better at using those girlish charms and sneaky reporter tricks) and the flash drive within it. I geekily loved the meta in that--Jimmy captures the surface essence, but Lois drills to the truth in it. But the fact that both Jimmy and Lois were completely ignored and dismissed by everyone else drove me a little batshit, I confess. They even ignored each other--I guess because the show doesn't want to push too far forward into the Daily Planet world, but in an episode set at the Daily Planet, it felt like a bit of a waste.
This is where Lionel gets major points from me. He was the only person to pay attention to the fact that Lois was totally muscling in on the scene. He took that seriously and followed it up. None of the 'team good' guys even cared that she was there! And Lex probably didn't even notice her. Gah! Count me a frustrated Lois fan. Because the episode ended with a death threat hanging over Lois, and no-one even knowing, let alone caring! To return to Lionel, I also love that he had to take a heavy along to intimidate Lois. Hee! (Does he realise Lois could take him in a fight? I bet Lex would be more arrogant and come alone.)
Don't get me wrong--I love that the subtext in this episode was that Lois is a shithot investigator, but the blindness of all the characters to her is really getting to me in the same way that their blindness to Lana's 'dark' side used to annoy me. I also feel for Lois because she's so good at validating other characters. I was particularly pleased to hear her giving props to Lana for double-crossing the Luthors, for example. No matter how snarky she is, she's always quick to acknowledge the achievements of others, even Clark when it doesn't clash with her constructed 'blindness' to him. But when do any of the other characters validate her? As I say, Lionel looks good in this context simply by noticing her.
And wow, this turned into a huge Lois rant! Oops! *bites tongue*
I did love the eppy. To return to the good:
- it made me adore Jimmy even more and I'm in total denial that he's leaving :-(
- Tom was TEH AWESOME and TEH HOT, and I *died* a million times over in his scenes. One thing the Noir world did really really well was allow them to capture the hotness of the split identities--the supreme alpha hotness of Superman and the dorky adorable nerdiness of Clark Kent.
- Kristin: SO MUCH LOVE!
- Lois rocks, and I can't wait for her and Jimmy to actually work together. It hurts to think we may never see that.
- the production team: massive props! The black and white movie feel was spot on. Smallville is such a playground, and you could see how much fun they had with this.