I found this episode appropriately titled... it was bizarre. While containing the spectacular action set-pieces, it also left me with a lot of questions about the direction of this season. But plenty of time for that! First of all it's playtime...
I'm you... only hotter
Bizarro was GREAT fun. I am deeply sad that they got rid of him in one episode. My only hope is that Supergirl whisked him off somewhere useful and he can return again at some point. :D I completely *lol*ed when she 'fielded' him from the atmosphere. Anyway, I'm jumping ahead of myself. Bizarro! HOTNESS! And he has a really great roundhouse kick too.
Bizarro is yet another brilliant way of exploring an alternative version of Clark. He has all of Clark's memories and thoughts (which he makes a point of calling 'twisted') but not his conscience. So what does he do with them? He heads straight for Lex, and he knows exactly how to manipulate him. Not finding him at the mansion, he tracks him down in prison and immediately proposes that they team up. How very fascinating! Bizarro gets straight to the point: Lex can protect an ungrateful (and recently murderously rageful) Clark who hates him, or he can get a
Lex shows, I believe, amazing clarity in reminding himself that this is NOT Clark: it's a phantom, an alien, something he detests and wishes to destroy. Bizarro knows exactly how to play him though--he knows that Lex desperately wants the truth about Clark and Lex's momentary indecision costs him. What I found most fascinating about this is that Bizarro gained this ability to wrap Lex around his little finger instantly on acquiring Clark's memories and thoughts. That's textual proof that Clark knows that he's more important to Lex than anything and that there are two parts to this obsession: the part of Lex that wants an ally and friend in Clark, and the part that also wants to know the truth about him. Lex Luthor is, it turns out, incredibly easy to play... as long as you don't have a conscience.
Of course I love that Bizarro zero-ed in on Lois as well. And how funny that her ass made his face distorted. :D OK, I get that there was sunlight there too, but it was great comedy and fabulous to see Lois take him to task for his out-of-character behaviour. It was nicely played too--it seems that Bizarro did not glean from Clark's memories that Lois was a complete hottie; he asks how Clark could have missed what was right in front of him (don't we all ask that?!). So apparently Clark's attraction to Lois is still on a subconscious level.
The slash, however, seems completely conscious! Bizarro feels Clark has wasted his life and all the 'pleasures' in it. Considering that his one focus while briefly in Clark's body was Lex, I think that speaks for itself.
Be careful what you wish for
Just when I'm ready for Lex to go all hotly badass, he's given some more angst to work with instead. Sigh. Despite this, I inevitably got caught up again in Lex's emotions. Kudos, Michael! I was very surprised by the car sequence--it was the last thing I was expecting from the season premiere. But the parallel with the pilot was unmissable. And he did mouth the word 'Clark' as he died, right? I wasn't dreaming that?
I'm really not sure what to make of floaty underwater-fairy Kara and I was doubly surprised when she let herself be seen jetting off into the sky after saving him. I was very intrigued by the shot set-up in that scene: Kara stood over Lex blocking out the sun. It's also interesting to compare to the innocence of the original Clex 'meet violent'--then Clark saved him without forethought. Kara's action seemed extremely premeditated and she made a point of showing herself to be otherworldly, whereas Clark denied that part of himself.
So Lex has been given another chance at redemption. And interestingly he's taken it. I'm a little surprised at this point in time--I thought he'd moved past that. But I'll chalk it up to genuine shock at Lana's death combined with Supergirl messing with his psyche--she certainly tapped a nerve there and he always does a great job at conflating people in his mind: I got the impression that the 'angel', Lana and Clark were all melding into one in his mind when he toyed with his ring and spoke about her being the only thing he was living for.
'Be careful what you wish for' is probably one of the best lines ever delivered to Lex. It was Bizarro's greeting as he 'rescued' Lex from prison. And I think Bizarro may be right that redemption doesn't suit Lex, or rather, it will wear off. For we've been down this path before when he was rescued by Clark. And forgive me, but if Clark can't redeem him, I don't think zippy little Supergirl can either.
I found Chloe's 'death' extremely unsuspenseful because I never for a moment thought they'd really kill her. Sigh. And I had deja vu when she was in the mortuary locker--she's been in a coffin before. *shudders* I did find Clark's 'never mind the details' speech very amusing. Clark, honey, when someone wakes up with a death tag on their toe, they may want a little more than 'you're alright' as reassurance.
I thought finding the death certificate was a profoundly horrible way for Chloe to find out about Lana's death. But I'm not sure watching old videos of her friend was the best way to process her immediate grief... and it also seemed really insensitive to Clark. Clark seemed in real shock--he was very stony and still throughout a lot of the episode and he only briefly relaxed in Chloe's hug, acknowledging some of the underlying pain.
And Lana. YAY! Lana is not dead and I, for one, am happy about this. I think it's fabulous that she's escaped to China. And what a very cool apartment! Not so sure I heart the wig (wouldn't she blend in better without it?) but I'll let that go... Not sure where exactly they're going to take her from here though.
Real heart beneath the comedy
With Chloe on death's door, Lois heads off to get some answers from Lex. Clark tries to stop her. She reacts by telling him she's 'not stupid', that she knows 'he won't just cough up all his deep dark secrets'. I thought this line could have potentially been played for comedy, because that's exactly what Clark's tactic and expectation have been for the past three seasons... but I'm also glad they didn't play it this way. I found Erica's performance in this episode outstanding, spanning not just her usual comedy but also intense emotion. Lois was deeply shaken by what happened at the dam and Erica brought an appropriate intensity in her performance. That scene in the hospital with Clark was really sad to me--Lois assumed that Clark was going to share another episode in the Clana saga. Under normal circumstances, I might have laughed because Clark has been known to emo inappropriately mid-emergency, but in this instance he was struggling with the enormity of having learnt of Lana's death. To his credit he tried to tell Lois this but she cut him off and he was left looking bereft and utterly alone in the hospital corridor as she tore off to save the day.
I absolutely adored the 'forgiveness' scene between them at the end. Lois had obviously done a lot of thinking about what could possibly have led Clark to behave in such a way towards her. It's wildly amusing that she thinks it could have been a kind of mental schism following Lana's death. I can see her thinking to herself 'Clark was completely not himself! Oh, that's probably because he doesn't know how to process grief.' And then she went to forgive him, so magnanimously! *giggle* The really sweet side of this scene is that Lois and Clark really connected. She acknowledges Lana's death and gives Clark a hug, which seems to genuinely touch him. When I got to thinking about it, I realised it was very rare for people to be physically affectionate with Clark without demanding something (comfort) from it for themselves. I think that's what gave this scene a special resonance. And Lois was able to be compassionate and empathetic because she's experienced her own losses. When Lois says to 'trust her' that he'll make it through, Clark really seems to believe her.
While Chloe gave Clark a good pep talk as a friend, ironically only Lois (despite the frivolity and comedy) was really able to connect with him in terms of where he was emotionally. Even the body language in that scene was powerful. Chloe and Clark sat side by side and Clark was quite closed off to her the whole time. But when Lois spoke, they made direct eye contact, facing one another. Lois may be the last person Clark expected compassion from, but once again she did what she does best and took him by surprise.
J'onn J'onzz rocks! He is totally my new favourite. I thought he did a fab job of mentoring Clark in this episode. He didn't chastise him for doing exactly what Jor-El tried to prevent (deja vu!); instead he focussed on what Clark's strength was. In fact, he drew out of Clark the strong assertion that he is proud of his humanity and won't apologise for it. Yay! By challenging Clark, J'onzz is making him assert his own unique identity.
And I'm delighted that the sun link has become textual. It's true that Clark has taken it for granted every day. I loved the way the sunlight was used in this episode; it was so beautiful.
Clark had some really tough emotional territory to work through in this episode. In his rage at Lana's death he wanted to kill Lana--it seems that this is the one time he's felt that kind of pure murderous rage. And he thinks that he truly understood Lex in that moment. That line was profoundly sad but I don't completely agree with Clark there. Clark thinks the only thing he doesn't understand about Lex is his capacity for rage blackouts. But rage is only one extreme of Lex's psyche--the other is obsessional love. So while Clark says that loving someone is hard (duh! we know, honey!), he doesn't see that Lex too is also caught up in that--perhaps to an even more extreme degree than Clark. Clark and Lex are not, after all, so different--which makes this episode both interesting and unsettling. Clark calling hate 'clean' was fascinating. I think it's going to make him stronger to understand the relationship between love and hate and the appeal and complexity of both.
Overall I enjoyed this season opener. It had shirtless Clark, lots of slash, cool actions and effects and completely random hilarious scenes like the fishing dad falling over and conveniently hitting his head so he won't witness Clark's superpowers. Oh, Smallville, I heart you!
However I really don't know what to make of the new chick. Not being spoiled at all, I have no idea what her plot will be and this gave me no clues. It was baffling! So, what? She's been hanging around Smallville just watching everybody for yonks? She chooses to save Lex (with bonus melodramatic floaty costume) and she hangs around in the atmosphere in case Clark hits some phantoms for six? *baffled* And what's with her little cuff thing? I do like her zippiness and they've got the look right for Supergirl. But her nose is kind of bizarrely short, and I find myself making observations like this because so far there is nothing to comment on but her exterior. We were not allowed 'in' to this character at ALL yet. And I think that left me feeling a little perplexed about what they've got planned for her and for this season. She feels like a side issue frankly. Yet she's a big character to bring on board in the final season... I hope she gets explained soon. (I also hope she can act.)
I desperately want to know who took Lionel. If it wasn't a Lex minion I thought at first it might have been J'onn Jonzz as he had the motivation, but on rewatch I don't think so.
Also, I miss Martha already. The Kent house felt empty without her.
But Jimmy's made it to the credits! Woot! Go Jimmy!
I think that's all I've got for now, though I have much to ponder.
ETA: Apparently my brain wasn't on--it was clearly J'onn J'onzz whisking Bizarro off.