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22 March 2008 @ 08:38 pm
Smallville 7.14 Traveller  
Revelations a-plenty in this episode!

For me, the most interesting part of this episode was Patricia Swann. It was exciting to see Swann's legacy continued into Season 7, and I thought the actress chosen for the role had appropriate poise and presence. And wow, what an amazing reveal about the backstory of Veritas. There are a lot of questions to ask about this group (starting with how they found out about the Traveller in the first place and what their intentions, collective or individual, were). But the potentials it opens up are exciting. And it puts a very, very sinister twist on the way earlier seasons played out, dating right back to the Pilot.

Patricia alleges that Lionel is behind the deaths of the other Veritas members. She claims to have evidence to back the allegation up. She may or may not be correct, but I certainly believe Lionel capable of masterminding this, and I think he also had the megalomaniac motivation. Furthermore, the audience is primed to be sympathetic to the child of Virgil Swann, who, played by Christopher Reeve in such a moving fashion, played a significant role in revealing to Clark his true identity.

To be honest, I'm still reeling from the revelation that these four families--the Luthor, Swanns, Queens and Teagues--were connected prior to the meteor shower. Above all, I keep flashing back to Lionel reading about the deaths of the Queens in the newspaper the day that he and Lex flew into Smallville, the day of the meteor shower. It certainly explains the coincidence of them being there! And it also makes it less absurd, yet far more sinister, that so many millionaires have circled around Clark and his family!

Of course it also puts an interesting twist on the Luthors' tangled relationships with the Teagues in Season 4. And it sets up a frightening pattern. If Lionel is responsible for the deaths of (most of) the parents, Lex has been an active, potentially deadly, adversary of the children. At the end of Traveller, it's implied he orders the assassination of Patricia Swann. He also had a hand in Jason's death and in covering up the death of Genevieve Teague. More recently we've seen Oliver and Lex as opponents. In fact, Oliver comes out as the strongest of the surviving children of Veritas, other than Lex.

So the new symbol in the Luthor crest is the symbol for Veritas. And it seems like the constellation in it has to do with the day of the meteor shower. I'm still intrigued by the inclusion of a framing sun as well. For Lex it's a significant moment since he's uncovering part of his own memory again. One of the most interesting things to speculate about with Lex is to what degree he is driven by his unconscious--which in his case is vast. He's recovered partial memories before, but evidently those related to Veritas remained submerged. However I found his childhood painting similar to that which he drew in Asylum. Except in Asylum, there was a figure in front of the sun. I'm not sure it was deliberate, but it's potentially a sign that Lex has been subcconsciously drawn to these symbols and perhaps to the astronomical mysteries Veritas investigated.

Lex seemed aware that Patricia was very elegantly sending a signal to Lionel. He knows the language of manipulation well. He was happy to run with her plan, and it scared Lionel effectively. Yet from there his actions become somewhat incomprehensible. Why KILL Patricia? Why not try to gain her secrets? *baffled* Or did he try and she refused, seeing Lex as the threat he legitimately is?

It seems that the writers and directors went to give the audience some reasons to trust Lionel. Considering Patricia's message this was probably well needed to maintain some ambiguity in his character. For instance, they played Lionel as very distressed by the letter with the Veritas seal--this lends support to his claim that he thought he was protecting Clark. We also saw him lose his temper with Pierce for torturing Clark. In fact, I felt that Pierce was largely used as a contrast to Lionel, showing a more extreme attitude. His character construction, as ex-security from 33.1, was interesting--another strong effort to tie the episode into the overall mythology.

Yet despite these efforts I really can't extend a lot of sympathy to Lionel. Firstly he employed Pierce. (And there I was thinking it was only Lex who hired minions he couldn't control!) Secondly, he built the containment field--a very sinister construction that would only be required to hold Clark against his will. That's damning enough for me.

Lionel's actions are even more absurd when we see Patricia interact with Clark. Even if we believe Lionel didn't know what Clark could be facing, it was surely absurd overkill for him to hold him against his will as his first response rather than try manipulation and persuasion? I'm just grateful that this has pulled the veil back from Clark's eyes and let him see Lionel for the threat he potentially is.

Add to that the fact that Lionel lied to Chloe and Lana. He was also happy to pin the blame for Clark's disappearance on Lex. More than anyone else on this show (and that's saying something!) Lionel is capable of lying with confidence and in highly persuasive fashion. His intelligence network is second to none, though Lex is fast gaining on him.

Seeing Clark trapped in the Kryptonite cell was moving and dramatic. It was a very Lexian construction, not dissimilar to the device that Lex developed for entrapping the Flash. In fact, I at first suspected Lex of being behind the capture, before it quickly became evident that Lionel was at the reigns of this one. It is, however, the sort of thing we might expect from Lex in the future. And, as Chloe pointed out, Clark's worse nightmare.

Seeing Clark read Swann's diary was very moving. The 'Traveller' is a much friendlier concept than the 'rule them with strength' message Clark first heard. But he is still wary of the prophecies and worried about living up to them. I enjoyed the scene between him and Patricia. Her message to him was a powerful one. I particularly liked her saying 'Despite the presence of the sun, it's always night on half the planet. For all the good you will do, there will always be darkness.' This is something that Clark struggles with but will ultimately have to accept. It is a realistic message and it left me wishing that she could have stayed longer in his life.

By the end of this episode I was all ready for Clark to dangle Lionel out the window and pummel him senseless. But Clark is so mature these days. I loved the enigmatic restraint in their confrontation. While Lionel grasps at excuse after excuse, Clark let his quiet indignation speak for itself. Considering what had happened, he was extremely composed and had a firm grip on his rage. His response to Lionel saying he was a changed man was perfect: a simple 'no, you're not'.

Is Lionel a changed man? He is, perhaps, less murderous currently than he has been in the past. It's possible that his intentions are slightly more protective towards Clark than they would have been had he not been used as Jor-El's avatar. But that's about as far as I'd go. His interests are still personal and he's deeply possessive about Clark, treating his own son as a deadly adversary. I do not trust him and am glad that Clark is no longer naively putting his faith in him. I know that Clark has preferred to go to Lionel than Jor-El in the past, but I'm hoping this will mean he's forced to deal with the Fortress directly more often now.

Even if we believe that Lionel has modified his behaviour somewhat lately, there is a deeper issue here for me--his complete lack of remorse. He didn't even attempt to apologise for his actions--either currently or in the past. He's the most chilling of villains: one that believes their actions are completely justifiable.

Kara
After the build-up of last week, this week was a bit anticlimactic where Kara was concerned for me. In retrospect the melodramatic burying of the bracelet seems a little pointless since the whole issue was resolved without conflict in the following episode. I wasn't that engaged by Lana and Chloe flailing around trying to save the day, and while it was good to see Kara save Clark, it all felt a little too straightforward. The reconciliation between the two cousins was remarkably cheery and uncomplicated as well. But perhaps Kara is not as ready as Clark to write the Luthors off... it'll be interesting to see what her response to Lex is from now on.

It was not a surprise to see Lex keeping such close surveillance on Kara. After Lana's experience, it would actually be a disappointment if he didn't! And he will be very frustrated that she's escaped his clutches.

Overall a bit of a mixed episode for me. Some fabulous reveals, but as a single episode it felt a bit underdeveloped.

ETA: My concentration span is really shot to pieces at the moment, so I apologise in advance for slow responses and slowness getting to the many interesting posts that have appeared on my f'list in the last few days. Thank goodness it's a long weekend--I just might catch up!
 
 
Current Location: sofa of comfiness
Current Mood: blahblah
 
 
 
tragicllyhiptragicllyhip on March 22nd, 2008 08:20 am (UTC)
I'm not done reading yet, because I want to indulge in every word,I just enjoyed the episode so much.

But back in Rosetta (Season 2) the message that Swann played across the screen was sent at the same time Clark's spaceship was dispatched, and Clark was an infant then, so I'm guessing Veritas maybe formed then? And it took almost 3 years before Clark landed. So maybe thats how they knew he was coming.

*goes back to reading* :D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW smilebop_radar on March 22nd, 2008 08:26 am (UTC)
Thank you! That's a great reminder and sounds very plausible.
tragicllyhiptragicllyhip on March 22nd, 2008 08:32 am (UTC)
Yet from there his actions become somewhat incomprehensible. Why KILL Patricia? Why not try to gain her secrets? *baffled* Or did he try and she refused, seeing Lex as the threat he legitimately is?

I watched the scene between Lex and Patricia a 2nd time, and I think it was clear she had no intention of telling him anything, she lied and said she knew nothing about what their parents were discussing, I'm not sure why she went to see Lex, maybe to warn him what his father was up to. I think at this stage Lex is beyond trying to persuade anyone to trust him. I think he sensed he'd be much closer to what he wanted and didn't need interference maybe?

You are completely right about Lionel. I think in protecting Clark he was protecting his investment, and he maybe knew that Patricia would tell Clark the truth and then he'd no longer have his trust. Being spoiled I have a bit more patience if things aren't completely answered in one episode. I like that they are continuing things in long arcs and it felt like the beginning of much bigger things.
tragicllyhiptragicllyhip on March 22nd, 2008 08:36 am (UTC)
I wish you could edit comments..lol

But as a complete aside, did Tom get better looking? seriously he was beautiful and I'm so happy I got an HDtv just to watch SV:)..insane I know, lol.

Wonderful review as always and you made some very very good points. And it chilled me when Clark said to Kara: "I want to see the good in people, but the Luthors are a lost cause."

Even Clark has finally given up on their redemption
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex showdownbop_radar on March 22nd, 2008 09:09 am (UTC)
OMG YES! I could have written my entire post about how good Tom looked! He seriously seems at his most perfect. I didn't think that was possible! You make me jealous for HDTV!

And yes, that line was very chilling. I almost had to shut it out of my mind.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on March 22nd, 2008 09:07 am (UTC)
I'm not sure why she went to see Lex, maybe to warn him what his father was up to.
I thought the only reason she went to him was to send a message to Lionel, a threat essentially, that she could out him to his son. And Lex clued into the fact that she was playing him to get to Lionel. I guess he thought she could never be persuaded to spill the true story?

I definitely agree that it felt like the beginning of an arc--it left a lot up in the air and I'm really intrigued and excited to see where it goes.
seacrystal on March 22nd, 2008 09:04 am (UTC)
Patricia alleges that Lionel is behind the deaths of the other Veritas members. She claims to have evidence to back the allegation up. She may or may not be correct, but I certainly believe Lionel capable of masterminding this, and I think he also had the megalomaniac motivation.

I think we have every reason to believe that Patricia was telling the truth, especially when they had Lionel opening the briefcase and we were shown all those documents. Plus, she mentioned that thing about her lawyers. It's like during the Perry episode when we find out why Lionel didn't just have Perry to be killed because he was keeping the evidence of Lionel's murder of his parents with his lawyers.

And it also makes it less absurd, yet far more sinister, that so many millionaires have circled around Clark and his family!

I'd really like to see exactly what were the Queens' stand in this whole thing, the Swanns were shady, the Teagues and Lionel were flat out evil.

Seeing Clark read Swann's diary was very moving. The 'Traveller' is a much friendlier concept than the 'rule them with strength' message Clark first heard. But he is still wary of the prophecies and worried about living up to them.

I'm actually not really a fan of the whole thing about Clark being sent to earth because he has some this grandiose prophecies and expectations to fulfill, and it's also the reason why I'm also not a fan of the whole Naman-Sageeth stuff and all that.

But since this time it's played out in an understated manner, and in a simple "you're a force of good, you can make a change" statement, I'm feeling a bit more accessible to what Patricia was trying to say. It's about choices, not simply because of what people tell you to do.

Yet from there his actions become somewhat incomprehensible. Why KILL Patricia? Why not try to gain her secrets?

My guess is that it's not like Patty is going to share anything more with him anyway. She was trying to play both Luthors, and by taking her out of the picture he wouldn't have to worry about that anymore. Patty's telling him about the existence Veritas is already enough, he definitely can find out the rest by himself.

But Clark is so mature these days. I loved the enigmatic restraint in their confrontation. While Lionel grasps at excuse after excuse, Clark let his quiet indignation speak for itself. Considering what had happened, he was extremely composed and had a firm grip on his rage.

Absolutely. TW is completely rocking that scene, and I'm so proud of Clark here.

I know that Clark has preferred to go to Lionel than Jor-El in the past, but I'm hoping this will mean he's forced to deal with the Fortress directly more often now.

Jor-El being sulky and not wanting to give a verbal response struck me as unintentionally funny. But Jor-El and Lionel are pretty much the same to me though, since him giving back Kara's memories to save Clark is not out of some unconditional love for his son, but simply for his own agendas. And that fits Lionel himself.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex showdownbop_radar on March 22nd, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)
It's like during the Perry episode when we find out why Lionel didn't just have Perry to be killed because he was keeping the evidence of Lionel's murder of his parents with his lawyers
It was strongly reminiscent of that, wasn't it? I agree.

I'd really like to see exactly what were the Queens' stand in this whole thing, the Swanns were shady, the Teagues and Lionel were flat out evil.
Well, in the Oliver Queen Chronicles on the S6 dvds, there's a tidbit that might contain a clue... Oliver overhears his father talking to Bridget and it sounds like the Swanns and the Queens were of one mind--they are talking about not trusting someone (Lionel?).

in a simple "you're a force of good, you can make a change" statement, I'm feeling a bit more accessible to what Patricia was trying to say. It's about choices, not simply because of what people tell you to do.
I like prophecies, but only when they exist to be challenged or redefined. And I think with Clark it's definitely a case of him deciding for himself what it all means. I liked the way Patricia talked to him about it--I agree that that personal appeal, the personal choice being central, made it accessible and appealing.

by taking her out of the picture he wouldn't have to worry about that anymore
I guess so. Which is a brutal indication of how far gone Lex is these days.

Jor-El being sulky and not wanting to give a verbal response struck me as unintentionally funny.
Hee! I like that take on it. ;)

There are a lot of parallels between Jor-El and Lionel, for sure.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lollie yogabop_radar on March 22nd, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
it would suggest that the members of the Veritas society knew in advance about the "yellow sun" being Traveler's source of power
Yeah, and somehow that is really chilling.

I guess very soon we'll see if we're going to get satisfying answers to all the questions that have arisen from this set-up.
*nods* I guess so! I'm certainly excited to see this arc through to its conclusion.

That gave me Splinter flashbacks, so yay for continuity! References to past episodes were definitely one of the strong points of this episode.
They were, weren't they? They gave me a real kick. This episode tied together so many different threads.
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on March 22nd, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
I loved how you teased out all the nuances of Patricia Swann's characterization in this. Clearly she struck a chord among fans; I think that's probably the reason why so many of us are baffled that Lex killed her so fast, since she's one of the most interesting antagonists to be introduced in a while.

I also love how you tied this to early events in the show--I hadn't thought about the connection to the Queens dying right before the meteor shower. So ominous! Does that mean Lionel actually knew it was coming, and when? Because that would make his insistence on bringing Lex with him that day so much more sinister. And God knows it makes a little more sense of the whole Teague family fiasco. Good point, too, about Lex taking care of everyone from the second generation.

(Though now, dammit, I'm wanting Oliver to somehow rescue Patricia and carry her off somewhere in hiding and she can become a superhero on her own. Hee. I really liked her character. Actually I realize she's not really superhero-ly; her ambiguity and manipulation is one of the things I liked about her--I'm just said she is dead._

I also agree with you re: the Kara resolution. BIZARRE how quickly they wrapped it up; they might as well have not introduced that plotline at all! (Though, to be fair, this must have been one of the last episodes written before the writer's strike and that may have affected some things--maybe they wanted to wrap that storyline up faster in case of a shortened season?)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on March 22nd, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
I think you're right about our reaction to Patricia's death. I loved her too and I'm probably just really pissed off at Lex. ;)

Lionel reading the paper in that helicopter in the pilot ... gives me the shivers TOTALLY now. I really do believe he knew when the meteor shower was going to happen. If the constellation was a sign to that, then he would have known for sure. It also, of course, makes it far more interesting that Lionel chose to give Lex the Smallville position when he was older... did he count on Lex running into Clark?

And yeah, it's made me REALLY want to rewatch the Teague plot. But then you know I quite liked them. ;)

I'd have loved to see Patricia and Oliver interact--not least because I'd like to know what Oliver would make of the news about his parents. I've been watching the S6 DVD extras at long last (hee!) and there's a bunch of Oliver related stuff that ties in really interestingly. The animation and voicing is appalling bad, but I'm finding some pay-offs in plowing through it.

I did wonder if the Kara plot was affected by the strike--it really rings like that to me, but I'm not sure of the timing. There was a lot of build-up that went nowhere.
jude_judith82: CKjude_judith82 on March 22nd, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
You made some interesting points which I'm thinking about now but this was very curious to me because well it's something I hadn't seen mentioned before.

I know that Clark has preferred to go to Lionel than Jor-El in the past, but I'm hoping this will mean he's forced to deal with the Fortress directly more often now.

I'd definitely like to see how that's going to work out for Clark. Since neither one ever seemed that trustworthy. Maybe it would shed light on what Jor-El's purpose has been really.

One more thing that stood out for me before I hit post comment. LOL

Her message to him was a powerful one. I particularly liked her saying 'Despite the presence of the sun, it's always night on half the planet. For all the good you will do, there will always be darkness.' This is something that Clark struggles with but will ultimately have to accept.

It's something that Clark needed to be reminded of and I'm glad she said it in such a kind way. I think Clark knows this and I could definitely see a lot of maturing in Clark at this point. There was a lot of character development for the Clark and Lex in this episode.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on March 22nd, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's a long-running issue of mine, the Fortress/Jor-El/AI and its portrayal. ;) I agree that there are a lot of parallels between Lionel and Jor-El, and I think the show has left the motivations of Jor-El deliberately murky for a long time. However I think they've also foreshadowed strongly that whereas Lionel is ultimately revealed as self-serving, the AI's motivations will be revealed as more selfless. While I do understand why Clark fears the Fortress, I don't think all of the fear is justified. And Clark has deliberately turned his back on the Fortress at times when it could have helped (like he could have undertaken the training to help him find the phantoms). With Lionel it's the opposite: Clark has turned to him and trusted him, when he perhaps really shouldn't have. I suspect we're about to see a reversal and it could work out better for Clark. Especially now that he's more mature and better able to handle himself.

This season we also learnt about Zor-El, and I strongly believe that Zor-El is the one responsible for the 'rule them with strength' message. Jor-El's ultimate goal is a more peaceable one for Earth: he wanted to protect them from Zod and his minions.
jude_judith82jude_judith82 on March 22nd, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
. However I think they've also foreshadowed strongly that whereas Lionel is ultimately revealed as self-serving, the AI's motivations will be revealed as more selfless.

and

I suspect we're about to see a reversal and it could work out better for Clark. Especially now that he's more mature and better able to handle himself.

Let the gods hear you. You always have such wonderful insights and such a fresh perspective.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on March 24th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC)
Thanks! :)
atemkpjmm on March 23rd, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
Great re-cap!

I recall reading on Operation Clark Kent the mintues of meeting of Veritas (wasn't even called that in the minutes) for that Justice & Doom game that the show did last year. I need to re-read it, but Lionel came off as really jealous of Oliver's Dad (I forget his name...I think Robert?) as he was the one that was appointed to build the army to fight the 'invaders'. I can't recall what Lionel was in charge of, but he was really way behind everyone and the others in the group were sort of making fun of him. Anyway, I need to look that up again!

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Boppybop_radar on March 23rd, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Thank you, and yes, I really feel I need to go do some investigating myself. This episode is joining the dots on a lot of that backstory.
goodvibe: sexyTWgoodvibe on March 23rd, 2008 10:42 am (UTC)
I thought it was a fascinating ep, especially wrt all the reveals, and Lionel. And Lex was superb as well.

ITA with you on the Clark/Patricia scene. I noted in my lj too that the dialogue really stood out to me, in particular the "sun and darkness" line. I could really see this exchange resonating with Clark, too.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on March 24th, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
*nods* It was a lovely piece of dialogue and I was busy getting excited about this new influence in Clark's life... it made her death a real shock.
suex on March 23rd, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC)
Wow! I'm not sure I have anything to add to your great review Boppy, only that you really nailed it on the analysis of the episode, and likewise with all the other wonderful comments that followed.

Lionel is certainly an interesting character, and although his ambiguity has been confusing at times, it has certainly kept the storyline from becoming too predictable.

I too loved the Clark/Patricia scene and would have also loved to see a relationship develop between them. And I was totally shocked with Lex having Patricia killed, I know he's fallen, but to kill a childhood friend really blew me away, all so he could get her pretty necklace. ;)

Great observation about Lex's painting of the sun. Its interesting that they've used the sun to tie in so much with Clark's mythology. The name Kal-el being the name of the Kryptonian sun, and the Earth's sun being the source of his powers and now we have the Veritas symbol using the sun as well, and Lex having some sub-conscious connection with the sun.

I love all this mythology stuff, and cant wait for the next episode, the trailer looked awesome.

Great review!!!


K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on March 24th, 2008 01:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! You're so kind. :)

Patricia's death really shocked me too. I didn't want to believe it was Lex (I wanted it to be Lionel because I was so angry at him already), but that ending was unambiguous. I guess Lex has shown himself capable of killing is brother this season already... so a childhood friend is one more boundary crossed. It's chilling.

I love the mythology stuff too--and I'm definitely enjoying all the sun metaphors of late. If Clark is to bring light to the world, you'd think Lex would be connected with darkness... but he's not. The show's taken a more ambiguous look at him than that. I think Lex is drawn to the sun, which makes sense given his relationship with Clark. But he also rejects it (for instance, he builds his strongholds underground). It intrigues me... I don't think I've quite wrapped my head around it yet.
suex on March 24th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
The only connection I could ever make with Lex and his underground stuff was with Lex from the Superman movies, but once you've wrapped your head around it all I would love to hear your interpretation of it.

I had kind of forgotten about Lex killing Julian, but Julian was a clone and a creation of Lex's so I could have a better understanding of why he thought he could dispose of him as he pleased. Patricia however, was really shocking.

I love the mythology stuff too--and I'm definitely enjoying all the sun metaphors of late. If Clark is to bring light to the world

I love how you've connected Clark bringing lightness to the world with the sun. It's so simple yet so beautifully strong.
~*~: clark Supermanisilweth on March 28th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
I loved the enigmatic restraint in their confrontation.
What a perfect way to describe it. I thought Clark's confrontation with Lionel was brilliantly Superman-y.

Completely agree about Lionel's lack of moral compass/capacity for remorse. Even when he tries to do the right thing, he goes about it completely the wrong way because he just doesn't get right and wrong. Creepy.