K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick! (bop_radar) wrote,
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!

Smallville 6.22 Phantom

This episode, the season finale, took so damn long to download that I was drunk by the time it finally finished. Consequently, the following meta may not be as coherent as usual... ahem... THE PHANTOM ZONE!!! *flails* They remembered it! DAMN, Smallville, you are such a tease! You hold out on the good stuff for so long! Suffice to say that I was greatly relieved to see that they remembered how this season started out.

In all honesty, I wasn't that hyped for the finale--I mean, I was, but there have been lots of other things diffusing my squee this week, and Season 6 hasn't quite delivered in the way I hoped, so while I was excited, I wasn't over-the-moon-omg-this-is-going-to-be-so-good excited. The 'previously on Smallville' totally got me to that place though, with the inter-cutting of Nemesis footage with the Clexana, Lionel's threats, Lois's determination, Lex's masterplan and the Justice League. Squee could not have been higher! And then... WTF?!

This episode wasn't what I expected--it's safe to say that--but I'm impressed with the twists they managed to pull out. It's times like this that I LOVE being spoiler-free!

Lex: chasing a mystery
One of the earliest surprises in this episode was to find myself in Lex's point of view, sympathetically so. He completely broke my heart with 'as hard as it is to believe, Lana actually loves me'. Oh, Lex! You do fall so very hard when you fall in love, and Lionel still outmanoeuvers you. (Psst! Not talking so loudly on the phone would be a good start.) He accuses Lionel of manipulating Lana into obtaining secret information from Lex. We later learn that this was Lionel's intention in having Lana marry Lex. It's the first in a series of confrontations that show Lex as victim.

'You aren't capable of love, Lex' is possibly the worst possible thing that Lana could say to Lex. I admire her for having the courage to stare Lex down after he hit her, but she really goaded him by saying that she loves Clark more than she ever loved Lex. It's been foreshadowed that Lex would flip if Lana left him or betrayed him--he's warned her in as many words. Which doesn't make his assault any more justified, but Lana wasn't the only victim in that confrontation. You can see Lex plunging into a tailspin, into mania and rage.

Lana brings up the baby, the fake pregnancy, but Lex appears to be baffled. I am quite staggered that we've reached the end of the season and still don't know the truth about the pregnancy, but I'm prepared to believe it wasn't Lex behind it--I still vote for Lionel having a hand in there. If Lex did know, he did a very good job of lying about it and appearing completely baffled. But then he's got practice in playing the wrongly accused.

In confrontation with Clark, later in the episode, he appears equally taken aback. He doesn't appear to know about Lana's death, far less have been behind it. But Clark assumes he is. In both Lana's case and Clark's this is a pretty logical assumption, but it's also an assumption based on emotional content--they suspect Lex of being capable of these acts, their worst nightmares and they don't pause to gather proof before confronting him.

Lex stands accused of many things, but in this episode what we see him doing--chasing a wraith, trying to build an army of super-humans--isn't one of them. What a strange state of affairs! It is possible that he's not responsible for Lana's death or for engineering her pregnancy. It's equally possible that he is and is just way more lost in the maze of truth and lies in his own mind than we've realised. I hadn't expected this level of ambiguity around Lex to remain after the season finale.

I am impressed/surprised that Lex has been trying to obtain the Phantoms. That was a connection I hadn't expected the show to make. I thought we were headed towards Clark on the laboratory table, but it turns out it was a wraith that Lex was looking for, a wraith that would help animate his army. One of the more exciting things about this is that the culpability for the scenario that eventuates is mixed. It is Clark who first released the wraiths from the Phantom Zone, but Lex uses them for nefarious means. However, Clark's own methods of confronting them have also been problematic: as we've seen, he's had to kill to remove their threat. So neither man's hands are clean, and both contributed to the resulting showdown at the dam.

A final note re. Lex and his plans: it seems that the army is not cloned. I'm a bit disappointed. :-( But seeing the room of bodies again, some of them look different than others, and Lex says Wes Keenan failed... implying that Wes Keenan was a one-off. In which case, how many soldiers has he obtained?! *boggles* If I was General Lane, I'd have some concerns!

Circles of intimacy
Farewell, Martha! I'm kind of in denial that she's leaving though her touching farewell with Clark did make it seem more final. It was a very moving scene--fitting for this most important of relationships in Clark's life (and Tom acted beautifully, as he did throughout this episode). But I wanted to talk about it for a more specific reason.

Martha suggests that Clark leave the farm in order to gain some distance from Lex and Lana, who he can't escape in so small a town (no pun intended). Clark seems genuinely baffled by this suggestion and cites the fact that the farm is his legacy. He has a strong sense of family tradition and obligation. His pride lies in shouldering his given burden, which is fitting given the greater burden he will carry as Superman, a legacy of his Kryptonian parents. But leaving Clark's dedication to duty aside, Martha has a good point. Many people would seek out some healthy distance under these circumstances, and I think it's really telling that Clark doesn't, that he can't even imagine doing so. For all that Clark fights his own destiny, he's also very unwilling to let go of the important figures in his life, even when he's entered direct open animosity with him. Step away from Lex and Lana? Gain some distance? Why would he do that?

Lana is the next to suggest that distance would be useful--but in her case, she's suggesting that she should leave Smallville. Clark is equally shocked and baffled by this suggestion, despite Lana explaining that remaining there leaves them in danger from Lex.

The Smallville world is an intimate one and these three characters have opened themselves up to each other over the years. While remaining in Smallville there is no escape from each other--this makes sense at an emotional and symbolic level. At a logical level, it makes less sense, since Lex could in theory track Lana or Clark down anywhere. But the point here is about Clark's (lack of) willingness to remove himself from this most tortured of scenarios. He doesn't. He can't conceive of it. And he doesn't even view it as a burden.

I was incredibly moved my Clark letting Lana see his powers. It shows how much he'll risk for her. But far more moving was to hear him speak the words. This is not the romantic dream of Reckoning, where he showed her silently the powerful beauty of his origins. This was a faltering, vulnerable speech from a man that has never said these words, in this way, to anyone. To say aloud that his parents sent him here to save him before his planet was destroyed was momentous for Clark. Saying so makes it more real and leaves him completely vulnerable--which he acknowledges, saying 'please say something' almost as soon as the words are out of his mouth. Lana gives him the best answer he could hope for: loving acceptance and the message that he's still the same in her eyes. He's never received this before. His parents carried the secret of his origins as their burden even before he knew it, Pete freaked out on him, Chloe went into hero worship. But Lana gives him unqualified love and acceptance--it's little wonder that he concludes that they can now be together.

But Lana carries her own secret and in this case it's hers that necessitates their separation. I can imagine that some people will condemn Lana for revealing Lionel's threat, or for revealing it only now, having gone through with the marriage. But I found it convincing that she would return Clark's openness with openness of her own. It leaves both of them completely vulnerable, and it does endanger their lives--but they're fully honest with each other for the first time ever--and that was beautiful to see.

It also made me worry for Lana's safety, even before she broke up with Lex. We saw in Reckoning that knowing Clark's secret is not safe for Lana. She is not a good secret-keeper and running was her only possible option. Though, she did not get to run very far. Do I think she's really dead? Not really--they've got out of worse so far, and this was very reminiscent of the Season 3 finale where Chloe's safe house got bombed. However it did make for a tense finale to see Clark and Lex assuming Lana was dead.

The strongest girl I know
Chloe and Lois--we don't get to see them as cousins and supportive friends often enough, but their relationship was really foregrounded in this episode in a very moving way. When Chloe finds Lois investigating the numbers Wes said as he died, Chloe's concern for Lois is very well-intentioned. She knows how dangerous the Luthors are and she'd like to protect her cousin. But I didn't think for a moment that Lois would listen. She doesn't think she needs protecting, and she's run headlong into danger many times before now. However, it was actually reassuring to hear that Chloe had told Lois about what happened to her mother (and presumably to her?)--I'm glad Lois knows the full extent of the Luthors' abuses on her family, and I'm also glad to see this proof of the cousins' close friendship. But Lois is not to be stopped so easily.

Chloe didn't have an easy time this episode. I felt for her when Clark told her that Lana knew his secret. Chloe's special role has been usurped by Lana, and Lana's response (a kiss) was more than Chloe was able to give Clark--each girl's reaction reflecting their pre-established relationship with Clark. But to her credit, Chloe held it together and said 'that's fantastic'--but she must have been hurting.

The abdominal wound that Lois received was incredibly nasty. But there was one thing I loved about that conflict and that's that despite Lois's martial arts skills, she wasn't able to avoid being stabbed. As soon as one combatant has a weapon and the other doesn't, there's a huge imbalance, and knives are incredibly dangerous. One slip and it's all over. I could buy that Lois could knock a gun out of his hand by taking him by surprise but hand-to-hand combat against a knife wielding opponent was different--rightly so. It was also a good way to show that however determined she is Lois on her own is limited in what she can achieve--if only when met with brute force. As everyone knows, I'm more than excited that Lois is determinedly taking on the Luthors, but I wasn't disappointed with how this panned out--it felt tough and believable and also a valuable lesson for Lois to learn.

I loved that Lois called Chloe and that Chloe came running. Girls to the rescue for once, not relying on Clark! Chloe's speech to the dying (dead?) Lois was beautiful. 'The strongest girl I know' was a wonderful acknowledgment on Chloe's part of Lois's toughness. It's something Lois herself might be surprised to hear: she's usually so much more conscious of the ways in which she's failed to achieve her goals, she doesn't see the qualities that make her so special (because they haven't been proved externally in formal achievements yet). Chloe's words to Lois also echoed what we could imagine Clark feeling about losing Lana: 'I can't lose you. I love you too much.' Clark brought Lana back to life in Reckoning... it seems that Chloe has become a hero in her own right and brought Lois back here... but at what cost?

The power to give life--so very beautiful a power--if that's Chloe's mutation then it is the most beautiful form we've seen. And at a symbolic level it works really well because Chloe has 'given birth' to Lois Lane in the SV universe in other ways--her own death was the trigger that brought Lois to Smallville, she foreshadowed Lois's role in early seasons, she started at the Daily Planet and triggered Lois's interest in journalism. I've always enjoyed the connection between the two girls, and this was the pinnacle.

The Kryptonian agenda
So we have a clear(er) take on Lionel now--wooot! With Lex still shrouded in mystery, it's a relief to have at least one of the Luthors pinned. Lionel is still very much Lionel. He may have become possessed of Jor-El's knowledge, but he still retained Lionel's Machiavellian inclinations. He still wanted to be the puppet master, and if he could protect Clark while still pulling the strings in his son's life, then all the better. Because I do not believe that manipulating Lana into marrying Lex by saying he would kill Clark if she didn't was the only way to go about doing so. Why not just recruit Lana to the cause and tell Clark the truth, damn it! He was never going to like it no matter when he heard it. This was the world's most convoluted way to achieve that goal--which suggests that Lionel was just as invested in the power it granted him over his own son's life.

Jon Jonzz! Jon Jonzz was back! Despite the fact that he's barely a blip on Clark's radar ('another alien fighting for good on Earth? Saves my life? Pfft! What do I care about him?!'), the show had not forgotten him. I'm delighted! He returns in order to prevent Clark from killing Lionel, stopping hin from straying from his path. Of course, Lionel also makes this appeal, calling Clark Kal-El, but not surprisingly Jon Jonzz is a more persuasive force. Though I did love Lionel saying he was going to try to stop Clark from doing something he'd regret for the rest of his life (killing Lex), because yes, he would.

I squeed to hear that Jon knew Jor-El, fought crime for him. Can he please stick around long enough to have a proper conversation with Clark about this stuff? This whole 'watching from a distance thing' is kind of lame. Because, love him as I do, Clark hasn't exactly done a great job on the wraiths this season. He's got side-tracked from that mission on many occasions. Equally, he's neglected to confront what Lex is doing in building an army--despite Oliver's warning. And now the two have come together with frightening consequences. I gotta say--it's a little karmic.

And again in this episode, Clark's absorption in his own intimate world leads him to ignore the big issues with damning consequences. I'm not condemning Clark for this--I just think it's clever construction. Clark, overwhelmed by grief at Lana's death, rushes headlong to confront Lex, despite knowing that Lex is trying to obtain a wraith, a wraith that is searching for a Kryptonian host. Without knowing it, he runs straight into danger (just like Lois did, incidentally!) and the consequences are terrible... though kinda hot! *g* 'I'm like you only a little more bizarre'?! COOL!

Next season?! CAN'T WAIT!
Tags: smallville_meta, svseason6

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