This was an INCREDIBLE episode, no doubt about it. However, there were some small things that really niggled me. So I'm going to get them out of the way first so that they don't distract me from the SHEER BRILLIANCE. Skip this bit if you don't care!
1. 'The transfer was incomplete'. Um. Why? That's the lamest thing I've ever heard.
2. How did that green K get there (Clark had never been on that part of the farm before?!) and how did Lana know to catch the windwill?
3. Super!sex. Yup, I'm the world's biggest spoilsport, but I was really sad that Lana took his supes virginity as well as his mortal virginity. I guess I'd clung to some small shred of hope that there'd be something left for Lois. :(
4. Um, could it have been any more obvious that Tom Welling can't ride? He could have at least sat on a horse, surely?
Lana's self revealed
This episode obviously reveals a great deal about Lana. She's been carrying secrets for so long now. Not just that, but she's been restraining herself, constantly modulating her behaviour, her speech, her carriage and demeanour to the circumstances she finds herself. The opening scenes really brought home to me how long it's been since we've seen Lana look... free. I've possibly never seen her look so carefree and happy as in the riding scene or their first little superspeed chase.
I thought the riding was a bit crazily out of leftfield when I first watched but having seen the whole episode now I'm glad they started it with something that is quintessential Lana. Horse-riding is her domain and we haven't seen that for a long time. She looked so joyous. It's a total contrast to how she ends the episode in the darkened barn with Clark, although both scenes show her at her most truthful.
Lana's little smile when she finds herself holding the windmill up was too adorably cute. And I loved the exuberant way she embraced her powers. She can't stop herself from expressing what it feels like: 'I was moving and everything else was frozen. Clark, this is so cool! How come you didn't tell me it was like this?' Clark flops his head as if saying 'yeah, well...' It would be easy to argue that Lana never really asked him about it. However, what really struck me is that for once Lana was speaking spontaneously as herself rather than speaking from her role within the relationship. Their relationship is so often about silent communion=--joyous, sad or wistful--but not often about talking openly and expressively about their lives. Contrast this shot of Lana, wide-eyed and babbling happily, with the one of the two of them touching foreheads after Clark saved her from falling from the building in 'Action'. Lana later says that she'd always tried to guess what his life was like but had never been able to truly know him. It's the first sign that this is an empowering journey for Lana.
It's telling, of course, that one of the first things she does is push the sex agenda. I'm not at all surprised--in fact I'm delighted that my sense that she'd been deliberately holding back knowing she would freak Clark out if she pushed the issue (given how things fell out in season five) was right. Which brings us to...
OMG SUPER!SEX OMG! THEY MADE THE EARTH SHAKE. *ROTFL* That will NEVER get old. Never! Smallville has this hidden capacity to shock--it's extremely subtextually sexual beneath the pretty sets and the clean country atmosphere. 'Wrath' was a perfect example--um, they just textualised the fact that Clark makes the earth shake when he fucks. *jaw drop* Yeah, no wonder he's a bit worried about having sex with a regular human. *pats him*
However, Clark made me laugh A LOT in this episode with his earnest innocence. The fact that they had him be so totally bashful and worried when Lana first initiated sex was incredible enough. What
The sex is not that important to Clark, of course. He turned on the romance not, as
For all that, he was cutely proud of himself with his little 'I better go fix the barn' and 'we've been, er, busy' smirks. I also really liked the way he kept his eyes on Lana as he sailed round the kitchen bench when Chloe entered. There was such a tangible sense of intimacy between them. It was as if life had been breathed into the relationship. I also thought the scene was very reminscent of 'Hidden', when Clark and Lana first had sex and she tried to sneak out of the house--complete with Lana in Clark's shirt and Chloe clueing on to what they'd been up to.
LOVED Chloe's whispered 'I thought you couldn't ...?' and Clark's shocked 'You guys TALK about that?' Hee! Again, I'm in shock that they just textualised the fact that Clark has sexual anxieties about having super!sex with normal humans. And Chloe and Lana have discussed this. Oh, please, someone write that fanfic! *pleads* Lana acts all innocent with her 'just Chloe', claiming Chlo as some kind of intimate extension of them. It's true that Chloe is a confidant to both of them, but Clark definitely hadn't factored on the girls sharing that kind of information.
Following the revelation that Chloe and Lana talk about their sex lives together, it was a little hard not to read Lana's 'I wish you could know how this feels' chat as partially about the sexual euphoria she was feeling. This foreshadows the fact that the episode will explore the way that sex and power (and love) are intertwined. It was also rather femslashy. And the Chlana subtext was definitely strong in this episode, with Chloe playing Clark to Lana's Lex.
The first sign of the potentially corrupting influence of Clark's powers on Lana was when she overheard Clark asking Chloe to keep an eye on her. The anger that she feels about their secret-keeping (irony much!) is expressed physically--she smashes a mirror. We discover that the powers have not just given Lana greater physical strength--they've also made her less able to control her emotions. This was a very Lexian moment, with echoes of him smashing his glass into the fireplace in 'Reckoning'. She's overcome with sudden rage and can't hold back. It's not something we normally see in Lana. She sees herself reflected in the broken mirror--I'll come back to that later. Beneath the shards of the broken mirror she picks up a photo of her younger self in a horse-riding competition: that controlled girl is left behind in the past.
The second significant 'shadows of Lex' moment I had watching Lana was when she tells Chloe she's been 'given a gift'. That's what Lex said when he was granted Zod's powers. Like Lex, Lana immediately thinks of ways to use her powers to gather more power. She's not at all concerned about morality or laws when she says 'I can break into any locked door'. For Lex the emphasis was on his physical strength and healing powers (he shot himself in the hand); in the short term Lana's more concerned with the way this will allow her to cross boundaries, to be free of restraint and to uncover other people's secrets.
It's not hard to see where this desire stems from. We've already seen that having to live in Lex's mansion with all it's secret rooms and compartments, and with constant video surveillance has driven Lana to turn the tables. She's behind the camera now, watching all the secrets. But now she can go one step further and not just watch Lex open a secret vault, but do so herself. She's completely free of the restraints he placed on her and she's absolutely reckless in doing so.
Seeing Lana throw Lex around was both chilling and strangely cathartic. While clearly Lana is out of control here, I was still excited to see her turn the tables after all this time. She was so trapped, abused and stripped of all power by Lex. It was a little like seeing Lana tear out the knife with which Zod speared her to the wall. We saw then, even when she loved Lex, that she was willing to risk killing him to defeat Zod and that same stop-at-nothing approach comes through here. It may be rare for Lana to hold this much power, but when she does: watch out!
I love that Lex knew about Isis and knew that Lana was stalking him. So all this season he's known she's been watching? *shivers* That makes me wonder if his transformation is, in part, a performance for her--he's very quick to remind her that he hasn't hurt anyone since being rescued by Kara. And he appeals to her about the 'creatures', the aliens he's been investigating and who they once investigated together. Lex as the prophet of the alien invasion--another textual reference to something that has been hinted at but never spelled out so clearly before. Lex is completely genuine in his exchange with Lana: he's desperate and he speaks with raw emotion. And yet, his words often also work as the perfect manipulation. For example he appeals for his life by telling Lana it would be a release for him and only torture her. Seconds later he tells her 'we understand doing whatever it takes to survive'. *blinks* Lex knows the only thing that will stop Lana is Clark and as she chokes him he reminds her that she would 'lose Clark forever' if she killed him.
The powers may be pushing Lana to extremes, but like Clark on RedK, they only reveal truths that were already there. Lana is driven in rage to speak her deepest feelings about Clark, and the hidden reality of their different moral positions comes to the surface. Lana says Clark is 'too afraid to get blood on his hands' and asks 'How many people would still be alive if you'd had the guts to get rid of Lex a long time ago?' It's a valid question and one that Smallville has posed before. She also cries out 'You could do anything and all you've done is hide out on some farm.' Wow! So that's what Lana was really thinking at the end of 'Action' when she coaxed him so gently to consider a greater destiny.
Like Lex, Lana justifies her actions by saying she's protecting herself. There's a point at which protection becomes aggression. Lana also pulls the 'I'd do anything for Clark' line. Like Lex, she would kill for him--but not with Clark's approval, or Chloe's. Chloe confronts Lana about lying just as Clark used to confront Lex. Both Lana and Chloe are trying to protect Clark--I'm pretty sure they are being set up for a showdown.
Clark looked very unhappy about having to go to Lionel to ask for help--and fair enough. I should know better by now but I was still shocked that he'd rather go to Lionel than Jor-El. Jor-El would have been an obvious choice as well, but Clark's fears quickly come to the surface in his exchange with Lionel when he lashes out with 'if you're saying this because you think I'm wasting my time with Lana instead of pursuing some masterplan that Jor-El laid out for me...' Woah there, Clark! No-one mentioned anything of the kind. That was clearly Clark's guilty conscience speaking: he's very defensive about it. Lionel's 'er...yuh' response was BEAUTIFUL. That's kind of how I imagine the AI responding internally every time Clark turns up for another tantrum.
Lionel asks if Clark has ever 'taken a really honest look' at Lana. Good question. Later Lex says that he can see in Clark's eyes that Clark doesn't trust her. And Lex's assertions about Lana hiding the Isis Foundation from Clark resonate with Clark's inner feeling that there's something 'darker' about Lana these days. Clark takes that honest look at Lana at the end of the episode--and she notices, saying 'I wish you wouldn't look at me as if you hadn't seen me before'. It comes down to the extremes that Lana will go to to protect the person she loves. Lana puts a strong case--Clark has crossed moral boundaries to save people he loves, but the difference is that he does see that as a failing, and it's something he chooses not to do in the future. Lana sounds completely calm about the prospect of doing so again.
Oh yeah. It was back in spades. Starting with Lex showing up IN CLARK'S HOUSE. *reels* It was full-on enough to see him go there to meet Lana earlier in the season, but I loved it so much more that he'd pulled a Clark and let himself in in order to accuse Clark of something. *BG* Beautiful reversal! Clark's demeanour with Lex is so completely different than how we see him with anyone else--he immediately starts channeling his inner pissy bitch--with very camp undertones. Try imagining Superman delivering the line 'I'm sure you would see it that way' with that same bitchy inflection, petulant pout or camp head wiggle and you'll see what I mean.
While on the surface Clark and Lex discuss Lana, every exchange had heavy subtext about their own lost friendship. When Clark says 'she has a lot of reasons not to trust you' he loads his delivery with such a spiteful tone that it's clear he's saying 'and so do I'. When Lex replies 'funny, I thought she'd moved on', he's also talking about Clark. And yes, Clark finds that 'cord' hard to cut. Lex says revenge is like an addiction--he speaks from first-hand knowledge, but there's also an implication that Clark has sought revenge in the past--he could be speaking about all of them.
And yet when Clark asks if Lex is going to seek revenge on Lana, Lex says he will do nothing--does this imply his addiction to/obsession with Lana is over? Lex recognises the passion in Lana's hatred (he capitalises on it with that kiss-distraction). He says obsession outlives everything... even love. He says this TO CLARK. *dies* Clex = canon. In fact he pauses mid-sentence, scans Clark with his eyes, then looks away when he says 'even love' to take a drink. He looks up again to gauge Clark's response. Clark doesn't really notice Lex's subtextual stab there, at least not consciously. He responds by blaming Lex for Lana's transformation.
Good question: IS Lex to blame? I don't think so. Lana's always had fewer moral boundaries than Clark. Lex, of course, blames betrayal--Clark's betrayal to be specific--for turning Lana bad. He would, since he blames Clark for turning him evil as well. It was a brilliant moment to see Lex stare down Clark and point out how hard it is to 'face what you've created'. That knife cuts both ways, Lex! You two have forged each other into enemies. But at another level I don't completely buy it--the capacity for these acts was in Lana and Lex before Clark came along.
I love all the ways people look at each other, and themselves, in this episode. There are a lot of appeals to each other based on the look in one person's eyes. Lex says 'I can see it in your eyes'; Lana sees a difference in the way Clark looks at her; Clark and Lex see what they've created (in each other and in Lana) in one anothers' eyes. That also made me think of Lana seeing herself in the fractured glass at the beginning. She is so insistent that she's crafted herself: she broke the mirror, she stared at her own creation.
OMG BARN SCENE. This is possibly my favourite Clana barn scene ever. The one where Clark revealed his powers was pretty damn good but this one was so darkly powerful. It totally reminded me of the end of 'Bound' (yeah, I know everyone hated that ep but it was a very important Clex barnscene!). Clark admits he's thinking about Lex--saying Lana sounds like him. He's been in a situation like this, in this very barn, before: seeing the darkness inside someone he loves.
I got the feeling in this scene that Clark was trying to reverse what he did with Lex. With Lex he threw the blame onto Lex himself. He demonised Lex, seeing a monster where there wasn't one--yet. And by doing so, he forced that monster into being. Here he faces up to his own part in it, his own collusion in the secrecy, and he admits he's trying to see a part of Lana that he recognises (with Lex he focussed on what he didn't recognise). But Lana is swift to spot what's going on and tells him not to 'Take all the blame so you don't taint the image of me that you created'.
Clark admits that looking below the surface has never been part of their relationship. OMG, that might be the greatest revelation of the whole episode! We know this. We've seen for six and a half seasons how the Clark/Lana relationship has sustained itself on the surface only. But I never thought I'd hear them admit that aloud.
Given that Lex and Lana are so paralleled and compared in this episode, it was particularly powerful that Clark considered the possibility that Lex may have nothing to hide. Chloe asks whether Clark really wants to believe in Lex's metamorphosis or is just trying to exonerate Lana. I think the answer is both. And Clark's reply--'do you know what it feels like to wonder if someone close to you isn't who you think?'--works for both those relationships, as well as Clark and Chloe of course (real sensitive, Clark!).
I've never seen Lana assert her independence more than when she said 'I have to live with the decisions that I made'. Of course a moment later she asks Clark the impossible--to give her unconditional love--the one thing he really CAN'T give her. Someone's asked this of him before in this barn, and their initials were also LL.
Note on song choice
I was filled with (selfish) fear that the barnscene would actually be played to Samson. *shameless self-pimp* SV loves to draw on songs that highlight aspects of an episode's themes. I didn't listen to the songs in great depth but I did notice that both the opening and closing song contained lyrics about what one character (a male singer in the opening song, a female singer in the closing one) sees in the eyes of another. Despite the upbeat feel of the opening song, it mentions tears and says there will soon be tears in both peoples' eyes. It also mentions 'birds of a feather' (Lana and Lex?). The closing song contains the lyrics 'eyes tell me the truth' and 'spell on you'. The Clana relationship was a bit like a spell--but in the end, the truth was there in the characters' eyes.
It would be easy to forget that Lois was in this episode. I enjoyed the Grant/Lois snark but I don't actually want them to date.
Right now Lois has a blinkered view of the Smallville/Metropolis landscape. She trusts Lana even though she attacked her ('she wouldn't have come to us if there wasn't truth to it') and she jumps to the wrong conclusion about Grant. It seems transparently obvious that he's a minion, but Lois concludes that his odd behaviour is due to the sexual tension between them. *facepalm* Oh, Lois! Of course Lois needs to have this limited vision--in the future she'll remain blind, against all odds, to the fact that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same. So I don't mind her looking a bit daft at this point in time--I believe she'll learn and grow when the truth comes out about both Lana and Grant.
Lana appears to forget she knows Lois, but I'll forgive that if it's the means by which Lois gets a lead on Lex's latest project.
Another one of those random SV *rotfl* moments: Clark bursts into the DP with 'Chloe, Lana didn't pick up!' Oh, noes, Clark! You have no plan B! She didn't pick up?! Wow, you're totally stymied--better go get Chloe to help. o.O
Love the return of the black X-files-y goop! *waves at Fine*
I am SOOO far behind on f'list reading and comments--will catch up tomorrow.