- Smallville goes 'Da Vinci Code'? Rly? o.O That was necessary WHY?!
- Didn't they learn anything from S4? Teagues + Quests = BAD TV (and I liked S4!)
- No less than TWO sci-fi doctors were cast in this episode: Doc Cottle from BSG and my beloved Voyager Doc. And I tried, I really tried to overcome their familiarity to me, but it did not help that they gave one of them a stupid accent and made the other a psychopath. *headdesk* Oh Smallville.
- The plot was one of the stupidest and most pointlessly convoluted things they've ever written
- Chloe doesn't know who the patron saint of travellers is but DOES know there's only one St Christopher's cathedral in North America? o.O
- I was actually laughing helplessly through the scene where Lex stared at the clock. In my mind his inner dialogue during that scene went something like: 'Yup, not having the minion with me at this point in the quest DEFinitely a good idea because I look like a complete twat right now.'
Don't get me wrong, there were some things I liked about the episode. But I thought it forced the imagery too hard. We all remember the pilot and the iconic image of Clark as 'Angel', in shadow, in the cemetery. We all remember the crucifixion. To evoke those associations we don't need to have it hammered down our throats in dialogue in this ep! Smallville: please, please keep those things as visual metaphor, where you do it so well, as opposed to dialogue which flops like a deflated balloon.
I also thought it a great pity that Clark and Lex did not encounter one another even once during this episode. In terms of scaling up the drama as a lead-in to a finale, I think that would have been far more successful than holing each of them up with her own crazy old dude.
To be fair to this episode, I'm rather distracted this week. My Lex vid is in the final stages of construction and it's rather all-consuming. Also, I haven't written about it, but I'm feeling very concerned about Season 8. I know fandom hates Al and Miles, but their departure felt like a warning bell to me, and the confirmation that Michael won't be returning next season made me actually cry--perhaps especially because I've been vidding his truly superlative performance at Lex. So perhaps that made me a rather demanding audience this week. ;)
Ok, onto the good: they remembered that Edward Teague was STILL ALIVE! Whee! This pleases me greatly because we don't have to fanwank a death for him. Hooray! It startled me not a little that he'd become a crazy monk, but I'd rather have that than the loose end. What I wasn't so happy about was the way that Jason and Genevieve's deaths were reinterpreted. I feel both Clark and Edward are wrong: they didn't die because of OR for Clark. They died because they were power-hungry crazies who were so caught up in their own quest that they lost touch with reality--just like Edward.
I thought it was a pity that they went so overboard with Edward. Having him be a complete NUTJOB meant that it was all too easy to dismiss his rambling, but some of what he had to say was powerful. I particularly liked the fact that he said that interpretations of the Kryptonian messages from Swann varied. The Traveller could either be (seen as) a saviour or a destroyer. That's a powerful concept that harks back to the very first time that Clark heard the 'rule them with strength' message. Clark himself has fought that interpretation--and it's important that he keeps on fighting it. But the subjectivity of the message is interesting.
It was also intriguing that this episode followed on the heels of one where we saw Clark himself consider removing himself from the equation. Jor-El intervened to show him that that selflessness would actually endanger the Earth. Edward says 'I pray that you find peace in this act of selflessness', but the ceremony is being conducted against Clark's will and against Jor-El's judgement. Edward casts suspicion on Jor-El's motivations, saying he just couldn't bear the thought of his own son dying, but I don't buy that: Jor-El is, if anything, painfully objective about his son, and if he thought Clark was doing harm to the world then he'd probably just icicle him again. ;)
Shirtlessness! It's back! Oh, how I've missed it. I guess the writers figured they'd have to milk Michael for at least one more shirtless ep before he left. And yay for paralleled shirtlessness with Clark. *g* Ok, it did involve rather icky disfigurement, but still.
I loved that Clark destroyed the clock completely by accident. Yay! This episode was full of improbable logic jumps and I was glad to be spared one more (Clark magically knows what the clue in the cathedral is!). And I like that he thinks Lex didn't find what he was looking for, that he doesn't realise Lex already has the power in his hands.
The Namaan/Segeth image resurfaces! I'm happy about that, though I found the idea that somehow there could be an outcome to the eternal struggle between good and evil had me seriously tearing my hair out. I get that Lex is power-crazed enough to believe that he could gain ultimate control over the Traveller, but why is Jimmy buying into the idea that there will be an ultimate winner out of the Good Versus Evil battle? Especially since the image involves the melding of the two.
And getting to that... if the image supposedly shows the resolution of the hero/anti-hero conflict, then it's both hilarious and disturbing that it appears to involve them cojoining bodies. And I loved Clark's reaction to Chloe 'buying into' the mythology. He was all eyerolly: 'Chloe, that's sooo Season 3!'
One thing this episode DID do well was show how dangerous the role of 'secret-keeper' or 'worshipper' could be. We've seen several people in this role this season--most notably Lionel, who, like Teague, also tried to control Clark, 'for his own good'. They showed how easily crazy love/worship for a person could flip over into thinking you need to take control of that person. That reflects on Lex and how he would react if he had confirmed for once and for all that Clark is the Traveller. But it also reflects on Chloe. In the absence of Martha, Jonathan, Pete and Lionel, Chloe has inherited the burden of being Clark's secret-keeper, and she's also very inclined to put him on a pedestal, to insist that he's only a force for good in the world. In this episode she goes so far as to insist that he play 'God', demanding that he kill Lex. Wow, Chloe. When did you make Clark your deity?
I think her words are damaging to Clark and his potential as the future Superman. He absolutely should NOT play God and I was glad to see that Clark was perfectly clear that if he killed Lex, he'd be turning into him himself. There would be no win out of the situation. In fact, I would argue that Lex would have won in that scenario, by triggering a reaction so violent and so evil in Clark. It would prove that Clark IS a threat to the world, that he is a 'God among men' in the darkest sense of the word. Keep on resisting, Clark! I don't buy that he doesn't have a choice about being on the pedestal. Even if people (*cough* Chloe) insist on viewing him as all-powerful (either good or bad), Clark doesn't have to buy into that. His own natural humility and selflessness will save him from that, I believe. But it also makes me angry that the person at his side is trying to undermine that.
I'm really hoping that the finale will make this episode look better in retrospect. It probably will.