One of the things I loved about Reckoning was how believable Clark was in both realities. While I was staggered by the first reality and at least at some point empathised with Lana when she asked ‘is this really happening?’, I could well believe that Clark would be driven to reveal his secret by the extreme fear of losing Lana. Clark’s method of showing Lana was so typically Clarkian. The words were still difficult to find: he showed her physically. He showed her the physical reality of his existence in all its beauty. The scenes in the caves and in the Fortress were surreally beautiful.
Lana’s response is initially awe at the sheer beauty and wonder of what she’s seeing. Then she turns to Clark with admiration. It mirrors Lex’s reactions to discovering Clark’s secret in Shattered/Asylum. Both times, we see that when the secret is revealed to someone who loves him, they respond with almost worship-like intensity. Having said that, I was also glad that Lana admitted to herself that the revelation may change her feelings towards him. Her honesty is one of her best attributes.
In the second reality, we see Clark return to his more usual closed-off self, complete with secrets and flimsy excuses. For me, this felt like the more logical conclusion of the set-up that we’ve seen in the first-half of season 1. The cracks have showing in their relationship for some time. If Clark didn’t reveal his secret, it would drive them apart… and so it is. In despair Lana asks him to tell her the truth or nothing and he responds with silence. Once again, this mirrors Clark’s experience with Lex. They reached a stage where Clark had lied so many times that any excuse was incriminating and he started responding simply with silence. This can only be sustained so long and both relationships falter in the face of it.
Lex and self-destruction
Self-destruction defines Lex in this episode. It was shocking to see him in such a state of unguarded despair. His alcoholism has increased over the years, as has his unbalanced mental state. What is rare is for him to display it in front of others. He acknowledges that ringing Lana is a mistake. He pushes the boundaries of their freshly formed friendship to breaking point and at some level he knows that’s what he’s doing. Lana proves her worth as a friend by showing up. In the first reality it’s an act of true friendship: she chooses to be there for him on the biggest day of her own life. In the second reality she is far more self-motivated, admitting that she had wanted to escape from being around Clark following their fight.
Lex tells Lana that he has alienated everyone he cares about, which we know is true. Lana is the final straw, as he acknowledges: ‘I can’t lose you too’. He discovers he has already lost her when he finds the ring on her finger, which marks her as Clark’s.
Yet Lex is also partially responsible for losing Lana. In the first reality he tells her ‘thank god you never had a father to endure’. This reference is painful for Lana, whose life is influenced as much by the absence of her parents as Lex is by his father’s presence. Lex knows that he’s hurt her, yet he still says it. In the second reality, he responds to Lana’s rhetorical question ‘why would you lie to someone you love?’ with ‘I wouldn’t. This question cuts to the heart of things for Lex, who has recently promised to be truthful to Lana and whose past relationships were characterised by full revelation of self. He is eager to prove himself to her and moves from his trademark intense shoulder-grip to kissing her. It’s too fast, and he knows it. His regret is instantly palpable.
Both Clark and Lex have difficulty accepting that they don’t have absolute control of not only their own destinies but other people’s. Both display a constant need to ‘fix’ things. Against all reason Clark screams to Jor-El ‘there must be a way to fix this!’ While Lex is in self-destruction mode in Reckoning, Clark is at his most active and interventionist. He rushes to the Fortress and demands a way to ‘right’ things, knowing that the consequences are going to be terrible.
His sense of responsibility and his desperate need to make amends at all costs stems from the experience of having Lana’s blood literally on his hands. Chloe briefly attempts to point out to Clark that there may not have been the inevitable conclusion of revealing his secret, but he quickly dismisses this. While my first instinct is to agree with Chloe, there is also a sense in which it’s true that Lana dies because she knows Clark’s secret.
The ring marks Lana out as having privileged access to Clark. Lex discovers it and he knows that she’s stepped into Clark’s inner circle, into the small circle of people that know Clark’s secret. Previously both Lex and Lana have been mutually excluded from this circle of knowledge, and this has inevitably drawn them into empathy and alliance. Lex recalls the experiences they both acknowledge as being weird – Clark rising from the dead, Clark disappearing to Metropolis. The second one dates back several years, underlining the length of time that they have been ‘together’ in being excluded by Clark. If either Clark or Lana had thought about it, they would know that Lex would know Lana was lying. The three of them are drawn too tightly together. Lana tells Clark she can tell when he is lying; Lex has many times told him the same thing; they can all see through one another. The pretense that there ‘is no secret’ cannot be continued because the shift in behaviour is so obvious. For Lana it was potentially fatal.
Yes, I do think Clark reacted out of sheer gut emotion, just as Lex did in Lexmas. Neither, in their grief, was rational. Their hearts were at stake. Martha talks about there only being ‘so many beats in a lifetime’. Where the heart is concerned, noone is that rational. We may not like it, but we can understand it.
The music choices could not have been more appropriate in this episode. The James Blunt track at the beginning clued me on to something not being right. It’s recurring lyric of ‘you’re beautiful’ is so very Clana-y, but that sense of ‘destined not to be after all’ that embues the song made me think the break-up was nigh. I was temporarily confused when it didn’t occur at first. So when I realised that the reality was ‘reset’, it finally clicked into place! The ‘we shared a moment’ line was perfect for Clark and Lana: in the scope of his life, their relationship really is a ‘moment’, a perfect image that turns out to be substance-less but which is haunting and beautiful (ok, defriend! I praised Clana! But backhandedly, guys, backhandedly!)
I don’t know the final track but it was perfectly haunting. ('Nothing has really sunk in. Looks like it always did...') The lines of the song were used so well to reflect on the characters, it was practically vid-like!
- 'it's so hard to move on' (Chloe and Lois turning to look at Clark and then moving away)
- 'still loving what's gone' (Lex watching from a distance--this moment just *broke* me. I howled!)
- 'they say love carries on' (Lionel passing Martha by)
And even the final lyric 'Did I dream this belief or did I believe this dream?' really encapsulated the episode and its mirrored sides.
Some other little first season echoes
Clark told Chloe the Spring Formal would be ‘a night she’d never forget’ and it turned out to be aborted by him rescuing Lana. In Reckoning Clark has told Lana she’ll have ‘a day she’ll never forget’. While that’s true in the first reality, in the second it ends in tragic disappointment and the end of their relationship. (Clark! Don’t ever give Lex or Lois that line, yo!)
The funeral scene was very reminiscent of Whitney’s father’s funeral (with the beautiful cinematography in the rain). Whitney was the second character whose father died on the show (if you count Lana in the Pilot). He followed in his father’s footsteps… to his death. Father’s die but they cast long shadows. Martha tells Clark that even without Jonathan there, Clark is a man that he could look up to: a man that 'knows what's right and wrong' and this will lead Clark into his future.
Chloe and the cows
About the only things I haven’t covered in this ep. They were pretty! ;-)
I've run out of words, so I'm going to go watch the images again... I love my show! *g*
I am off to the beach this weekend, and I'm late late late for much-needed sleep. So I may not be able to reply to comments or posts immediately. I am dying to hear everyone's thoughts though and will be rushing to it on my return. Please leave pearls of wisdom below. ;)