I knew this episode had no Lois so I expected to be bored. I was not bored! The teaser established the premise of the episode and I was impressed by the effects used to reflect Chloe's memory loss but I wasn't thrilled about the premise itself. I didn't honestly expect to be in a different place at the end of the episode than at the start. Perhaps I am too used to the Smallville of old! I also didn't expect to be moved by Chloe's story because I long ago stopped caring, I thought. But I was! This episode actually managed to evoke the Chloe I remember loving. *jawdrop*
The parts I was startlingly moved by were her losing her memory of learning about Clark's powers and then losing the first kiss (which was adorably reenacted!). This journey back through Chloe's past really made me think about her development over the seasons and the point where it lost me. And it was her knowledge of Clark's powers that were the biggest problem. Not at first, because at the time Clark so desperately needed someone to know that I was happy about it. I remember being moved that Alicia gave him that as her final gift. However, the effect on Chloe's character, the weight and burden of that knowledge, proved problematic. To me, she became increasingly unlikeable: possessive, controlling, demanding, self-righteous. She idolised Clark to an unhealthy degree.
One of the things I loved about this episode was that it put all that in context. Clark was already very important to Chloe--she'd crushed on him at a young, impressionable age and they were best friends with romantic subtext. But when she found out about his powers that solidified his position as the central figure in her subconscious, a position not even her (loved) fiance could shake. I found that so true to what I've seen on the show. I believe Chloe loves Jimmy but that does not make her a good girlfriend automatically, and it also does not mean she doesn't still prioritise Clark over him.
From an internal character perspective, Chloe's knowledge of Clark's powers has cost her a LOT. I stopped caring, but if I did care, I would say that it has isolated her from others, cost her her career and reshaped her ambitions around someone else rather than living her own life. It has endangered her life continually, and combined with her meteor power brought her close to death. It nearly cost her her soon-to-be marriage.
I completely understand and admire why Clark chose to erase Chloe's knowledge of his powers. I *know* there will be outcry from fandom, but I love it. I see it as a mature decision on his part. Yes, it's deciding something for another person and it's probably not what Chloe would herself choose. But Clark's looking at the bigger picture here. And his act is selfless: he will miss her. But he's also learned to function without her now. Gone are the days when he ran to her for advice on every small crisis. He's an independent thinker and one who utilises fully his ability to reflect deeply on things. YAY YAY YAY! \o/
I'm loving Davis still. I was fascinated to see a shift in confidence in this episode. I do not know yet what decisions he has made regarding his powers--perhaps no deliberate ones yet--but this played to me as if the mere fact of having an invincibility had made him more assertive and then, towards the end of the episode, pushier. That was really well acted by Witner who is managing to tread a great line between being likeable and creepy now. The final scene really made it seem like a new identity was growing in Davis. He says he tries to be the good guy and return Chloe to Jimmy: that is definitely the Davis we first met. Feora's attack seems to have kickstarted a new, more conscious, demanding persona, that won't take no for an answer. That's sort of what I thought might happen and I'm finding it interesting to watch.
And yay PURPOSE for the whole Davis/Chloe plot! Though it did amuse me that Brainiac really wanted to make out with Doom. :D (I still really wish someone would write fic that explored Brainiac's strange voyeuristic sexuality. I swear he has one!)
You've made great progress, my son
Now let's talk about the REALLY COOL part of the episode. :D The Fortress! AI!Jor-El! \o/ LOVE! I have waited YEARS for this scene and omg, the payoff was brilliant. We got no less than THREE Fortress scenes.
Overlooking Clark's first pissy and completely inaccurate claim that he had wanted to learn about his destiny and Jor-El had 'torn it away', his behaviour in the Fortress was EXEMPLORY. Clark honey, I buy that *now* you've plausibly reached a place where you do want to know about your powers and maybe even (SHOCK!) actually do your training (though I doubt we'll get that far...) but last season you were still showing no interest. Ah well, it gave Jor-El a chance to explain clearly the Fortress's self-destruct mechanism, one which seems entirely sensible.
I love, love, love that Clark was able to articulate exactly what Jor-El had done. OMG, he really thought about it! Yes, Jor-El was willing to sacrifice his only son if he became a danger to the world. For Clark, of course that knowledge hurts at some level. But here he handles it with such dignity. He understands personal sacrifice so well and when he says that he understands now 'what it truly means to protect people' I completely believe him because we've seen it, and the follow up clause 'not just my friends and family' made me even happier.
I must say I was VERY amused at the 'you treat me like an enemy'/'your trials have matured you' exchange. And I know how happy it will make some fans (latxcvi?!) that Clark asserts that Jor-El punishes him and treats him like an enemy. I disagree that AI!Jor-El ever saw Clark as an enemy and his 'punishing' has often been misconstrued--he frequently tried to warn Clark of the consequences of his actions, consequences Jor-El was powerless to control, but Clark ignored him. If Clark constructs that as punishment it's not strictly accurate. Some things were more direct (icicle!) so I give Clark a pass on the 'punish' part of that statement. I also am completely onboard with him telling AI!Jor-El to trust him now. Atta boy! And I love that AI!Jor-El didn't bother arguing about the past--he immediately recognises the shift in Clark and validates it. This completely confirms my long-held view that if Clark would stop screaming around like a rebellious teenager in the Fortress, he'd see that the AI was not his enemy.
So. With the slate clean, adult Clark and the AI discuss the situation. Clark wants help with Chloe/Briainac. As usual, the AI lays out what he can do but also the fact that there may be unforeseen risks involved. Usually Clark rashly ignores these, but in this case I feel he really thought about it, and accepted that. Of course, the consequence in this case turns out to be the Fortress being infected by Brainiac. So Clark loses his father just as he finally accepted him.
The AI accepts Clark's decision and also acknowledges what a big step it was for Clark to suggest that Chloe not remember his identity. This is the type of intereaction I've always wanted them to have--instead of AI trying to advise and being accused of being cruel and unfeeling, Clark acting selflessly and maturely and the AI demonstrated the closest thing to programmed 'sympathy'.
I was already thrilled by the progress made in this episode but the final scene completely blew me away. Clark did not begin by YELLING! He said 'Jor-El' really calmly! And then the words I thought I would NEVER hear--a thank you--a sincere thank you!--came out of his mouth. OMG Clark! Usually when the Fortress does something you want you ignore it until the unforeseen consequences bite and then you return only to scream in rage at how annoyed you are that it did what you asked.
More than that, Clark comes to the Fortress to commune emotionally with the AI! He admits his feelings maturely--he has lost a lot. And the AI IMMEDIATELY recognises that AND goes further and asks him what is on his mind. OMG I LOVE THE AI SO MUCH! When Clark interacts with it like an adult, it is completely awesome. This is the potential it always had but which we never saw because Clark and the Kents were too busy being fearful of it--the Fortress can be a place where Clark goes to think about the problems he faces. \o/ He also gets useful information.
Now let us pause for a tear of happiness at these lines:
'I am here for you as well, my son.'
'Thank you... Father.'
Let us not speak of the subsequent Brianiac infection. It sucks, but let's face it, we've been there done that. It will all come good again, I'm sure.