Although I found the Black Canary well cast, I didn't really warm to her as a character. As a guest star I thought she worked well and I found the fight sequences and effects in this episode really well choreographed (the Oliver-Lex fight was my favourite), but BC herself didn't hit my squee buttons. Perhaps it had something to do with her calling Lois a 'squawking parrot'. ;) Despite that, I thought her character was well handled on the show. I liked the banter they gave her and the tension they set up between Dinah and Lois. Seeing Lois snark at anyone is fun, and Dinah knew how to punch back where it hurt. In having her use Oliver's return as her slapdown, they established that the two women knew of each other already, and I liked that not only because it added layers to the dynamic for this episode, but also because it made Lois seem like she's a rising star in Metropolis.
While I'm not queuing up to be a BC-GA shipper, I did like the symbolism in having Black Canary shatter Green Arrow's arrows. Parallels between BC and Lois were well drawn--both are snarky, confident and like to one-up the men in their lives. So BC ending the episode by saying Oliver has bad taste in women was amusingly ironic. Clark seems so determined to ship Oliver with someone--he's instantly beamy about Dinah making the moves on Oliver. And while I don't think Oliver's quite ready for that yet, he clearly likes and respects Dinah, so the stage has been set for their future canoodling.
What I was truly excited about was having both Lois and Oliver back in an episode. Together! And oh, wow, their shippy stuff was heartbreaky. I'd forgotten how adorable they were together and part of me, despite my Clois fan status, really wanted them to work things out. In fact I may have been muttering the words 'oh please, pleeeaaase' in their final scene together.
I love Lois's armour against romance--comfort food, talking to herself, pacing. Despite her best efforts not to get played, Lois was clearly still strongly attracted to Oliver. And yes, he was seducing her pretty determinedly, but it was hard to begrudge him that when he was also so open about his own emotions, saying he would have been on her doorstep and he'd missed her so much. I loved Lois's reaction when she caught sight of Black Canary. And I was genuinely surprised that she didn't get conveniently concussed during that scene. I'm really glad she didn't though--it took the episode in an interesting direction.
I loved Oliver's patient but pissed off expression when they were tied back to back and Lois started mouthing off at him. I found that scene adorable--I remember how much I enjoyed the fact that these two could both peel shreds off each other but still love each other to bits. Lois remembering her make-out session with Clark-as-GA was very funny, as was Oliver's response. Aww, poor Ollie really didn't want to remember that! (And I've missed Justin's facial expressions.)
It was very cute of Lois to try and protect Oliver's identity, and this cute was matched by Oliver's sheepish 'sorry'. I was glad that they didn't have to clumsily hash out the details: Lois 'got it' very quickly. And I think Lois was very glad that Oliver wanted to give it another chance with her. I even think she was really moved that he was so fragile and hopeful in that scene, his identity exposed before her. In some ways, it felt like it balanced the scales to have Lois end things with Ollie this time, but it was a painful scene. It was obvious that Lois didn't want to reject him, that she felt compelled to do so, and Oliver knows her well enough to know her first answers are red-herrings.
It was very telling that despite Oliver's digging for the truth, she didn't disclose all her reasons with Oliver, but did so with Clark instead. With Oliver she simply calls herself 'selfish', casting herself as the 'bad guy', the one with a flaw. Lois is right that Oliver would never admit it himself, and it's so very Lois to take on someone else's responsibility and burden and make it her own pain to carry. To cast herself as the bad guy to protect someone else from playing that role.
Like Oliver, Clark knows Lois well and he knows there's more to the break-up than meets the eye, pointing out that when things get difficult she usually redoubles her determination. Why is this different? Because it taps directly into Lois's greatest vulnerability. We have never heard Lois grumble about being the General's daughter. She bore the pain of coming second, even after her mother's death, silently. But that doesn't mean the pain's not there. She's chronically self-critical for what she considers to be her 'selfishness' in wishing she'd come first in his eyes. She believes the flaw in the scenario is her. So to choose a life with someone else who has great public repsonsibiliy would mean, for Lois, that her greatest flaw was constantly on display. So while superficially this episode dealt with Oliver's identity being exposed, Lois too ends up feeling stripped bare--emotionally.
Clark was trying really hard to empathise with Lois and Lois was more open and vulnerable than we've ever seen her. She took real comfort in Clark's arms and though her comment about not settling for hot, rich and famous could have been played as a tension-defuser, it came out more as a genuine statement of affection, especially since she snuggled deeper into Clark's arms. This Clois shipper is happy!
This episode provided a very interesting journey for Clark. He listened to two women tell him that he couldn't possibly understand what it felt like to look into his eyes and come off 'second'. Lois asks him if he knows what it feels like to know that your partner's destiny is so much greater than yours, that you will never compete, that you will always be left behind. He doesn't know but he does see Lois's genuine pain, and it leads him to acknowledge Lana's grace in dealing with his dual identity. I do believe that Clark's always been appreciative of this from Lana, but it was a timely reminder.
Lana's own appeal to Clark focussed on what it felt like to 'fail' in the eyes of someone you loved. It's very powerful to hear this discussed so openly, since it's been a common experience for both Lana and Lex in their relationships with Clark, and they've tugged at our sympathies for this reason. It IS a horrible feeling to be judged by the one you love. But Clark's reply to Lana is actually very astute. He says 'I don't think it's me you can't face'. It's the mirror that Clark provides to both Lex and Lana that proves truly confronting for them. The reflections of themselves that they see in his eyes have challenged their deepest assumptions about themselves. Lex dealt with it by embracing his reflection. Lana is still struggling with hers, but seems to believe she can subsume it.
Lana says that sometimes justice comes at too high a price. But the price she names is not morality, it's losing her relationship with Clark. She says Clark pulled her back from the edge--she didn't do so herself, and I think that will prove crucial. It's not really a change of heart for her, it's a strategic move to keep her relationship. This does, as Lionel points out, make her very Luthorian.
I thought it was very interesting that Lionel went to Lana--there was some well-hidden desperation in play there, I believe. Lana held and tortured him not that long ago. But Lionel wants to be able to tackle Lex about Grant's death--either because he is genuinely upset about it or simply because it will regain him some leverage over Lex. And Lana is his best chance of getting evidence. I'm glad his attempt at blackmail did not work.
Very interesting that Lana referred to herself as 'Lady Macbeth': she says she was 'turned into' this figure in the eyes of others, but the allusion to Lady Macbeth was made on the show a long time before Season 7, trying to wash Genevieve Teague's blood from her hands at the end of Season 4. Meta nitpick aside, Lana had every right to point out the hypocrisy in Clark turning to her for help.
I really felt for Clark when he found out that Lana had told the Phantom (but not him, until now) about the woman she was 'treating'. That scene between Clark and Lana was very well played and my sympathies oscillated between both of them. Lana did hide the truth until she was threatened. But she's also right that Clark is hypocritical in his judgemental attacks on her. Long before she knew of his powers, she suffered confusing cruelties at his hand that he expected her to forgive without any explanation being given. Perhaps it was shocking to hear Lana call Clark 'self-righteous' but I like her better for doing so. He can appear so, and he doesn't realise that. He is caught up in his own pain and doesn't see that in raising his voice and criticising Lana he's only pushing her further away.
'I stole a lambourgini' may be the funniest make-up line I've ever heard. But it WAS moving to hear Clark admit that he was far from perfect, and acknowledge at least some of the morally grey things he's been responsible for. I still wonder whether Lana will struggle to tell Clark the whole truth from now on, but I did find their exchanges in this episode refreshingly frank. I particularly liked Lana saying 'I think you doubt that I'm the one you're really going to end up with'. It's interesting that she's noticed that, and points to how intuitive she is.
Overall this episode provided a very mature exploration of the issues surrounding dual identities and maintaining relationships with them. There were no clear 'bad guys' in these relationships.
I'm not going to talk about Chloe because she irritated me so much it'll ruin my squee, as well as other people's, if I do so. However, I did feel she had the better of Clark when he came to d&m about Lana. I don't know why but I'd somehow expected him to internalise his emotions about the Phantom, but instead it seems like he can't shut up about it! Until he hears the awkward truths.
I was amused at Clark showing how close he is to Oliver by virtue of skipping social niceties. Ah, yes! The TRUE sign that you're in Clark's inner circle. And I'd forgotten how much I loved these guys' banter. Once again the question being asked this season is why is Clark still on the farm? Why does he not use his powers to tackle problems on a bigger scale? Oliver's always been open about his own stance on this and it didn't take them long to rehash the same argument. I'm always up for that!
Lana was super-spunky in those glasses. That's the first time she's worn them, yes? She looks more and more composed and professional every day.
Was it just me or was Clark's eyebrow raise to Lois's 'there's parts of him you've never seen' a little more 'you'd be surprised' than 'that's a given'? ;p
Irony abounded in this episode. It's hard to pick the best example. Perhaps it was Oliver's 'when the earth cracks open and time ticks backwards' snark, or maybe Lois referring to Clark and Lana as the perfect destined couple. Or, less obviously, Lex saying 'I'm not much for philosopohical debates'.
There was, of course, one big gaping hole in this plot--Lois didn't react about or even mention Grant's death. Does she not know? That seems impossible. It's more likely it was just deemed to complicated for the writers to deal with.
And saving the best for last... that fight scene! Lex held his own very well against Green Arrow, and the choreography team deserve lots of kudos. This scene, of course, set up a fascinating dilemma for Clex fans: how to interpret Clark's 'saves'? It is perhaps predictable that the show's left it pretty grey. Pessimists can point out that Clark chose to save Black Canary over Lex. But more optimistically, he actually saved Lex first, before anyone. Oliver's arrow was much closer to killing Lex. And it's also possible that Clark thought a bullet was the more damaging weapon. A knife in the shoulder is painful but not deadly. And it's hardly the first time that we've seen Clark hesitate to save Lex. Actually he didn't really hesitate in this scene--it seemed to me far more as if he weighed the odds and took action based on what would result in least damage overall. In doing so, he was very Supermanly--making sure that no-one was killed, despite their differences.