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01 April 2006 @ 12:06 pm
Smallville 5.16 Hypnotic  
This wasn't my favourite episode ever, but I did enjoy some aspects, and it moved the plot arcs of Season 5 along.

Really the end?
Is this really the end of the Clana? Because I think I've finally run out of patience in that area. If this is another fake break-up, I may have to just stick my fingers in my ears and sing 'la la la' through all future Clana scenes, and that's not like me!

For now, I'll take the ep at face value. This wasn't the Clana break-up I wanted--I had wanted Lana to ditch Clark--but it won me over. I started the episode disappointed in Lana, disappointed that she was still being the ever-patient, ever-tolerant, ever-waiting girlfriend. My disappointment in her was compounded even further when she made only a token effort to get Lex to take her to Honduras. Though she looked annoyed at being told again that he couldn't 'put her in danger' (we know she's sick of being treated like a breakable object!), she ultimately accepted it. I had thought Lana's character development was leading her to be stronger than this.

But this episode wasn't about Lana, it was about Clark. In deciding to break up with Lana, he reached a new level of maturity. Firstly it was an independently reached decision. He discussed it with Chloe, and with Martha we presume, but he came to his own conclusions and surprised Chloe, at least, with his resolve. That's a new development for Clark who has always leaned so heavily on others for advice: first on his parents, then on Chloe. Chloe in particular still has a lot of influence over him, but this episode demonstrated that it was waning. When she asked him to 'think long and hard' before making the decision, I groaned internally, expecting another week of agony. But it appears that Clark decided that he had already thought hard enough. I like that. I like that Clark is an independent thinker now.

There was quite a bit of irony at work in this episode--Clark reaches a momentous independent decision after having been hypnotised; the marker of him reaching maturity in adult relationships is his ability to look someone in the eye and lie to them convincingly. Tom's acting was great in that scene, and I found the idea that Clark can now lie about his feelings quite chilling, while also really respecting his decision. I respect it largely because his call that hurting Lana has become a daily occurrence is completely true. I'm annoyed at Lana for staying in an unequal relationship, but that it was Clark who recognised this inequality and who decided to be selfless about it (finally!) was fantastic. In making the decision, he had to accept that Lana would hate him--an enormous sacrifice for the previously love/adulation-seeking Clark. But he recognised that hate in this instance was healthier for Lana. Clark is, finally, growing up.

Lex and Lana
Lex and Lana, and their experiences with Clark, have been paralleled all season. It may appear foolish of Lana to rush to Lex as the 'first person' she wanted to tell about the break-up. After all, she has Chloe and Lois to turn to. However, they don't understand Clark the way Lex does--ultimately it's Clark that is the connecting force between Lex and Lana, and this was drawn out in their conversation. Lana points out that Lex knows what it's like being friends with him; Lex points out that 'Clark isn't the easiest person to be in a relationship with'. The subtext was rife that they'd had the same experience, which, essentially, they have had--a long intimate relationship of supposed 'epic destiny' proportions that is marred by Clark keeping secrets and never really letting them in (physically or emotionally) and which ends in Clark's rejection.

Lex and Lana both displayed the same reactions to this experience. One is to defend Clark. Lana has been defending him, despite everything, all season. In this scene, it's Lex who feels the obligation to do so, and Lana cuts him off. It's refreshing to see her do so and I'm sure both feel relieved that they are past the stage of having to show some token sympathy for Clark. Another typical reaction is to regard themselves as 'stupid'. Lex responded almost angrily when Lana suggested this about herself, yet we've seen how bitter he has been about the very same thing--how could I be so stupid? Lana provides a mirror for him to work through that--it's easier to tell her she's not stupid than to remove that feeling entirely from himself. They are mirrors to each other, both marked by their experiences as Clark's victims.

The conclusion that both Lex and Lana reach is that they put their trust in the wrong person. This is an interesting concept, since Clark is also toying with the idea that he may have been investing in the wrong 'one', although he won't articulate it aloud yet (it's Martha who does so). When Lana enters, Lex is standing alone in front of the fireplace, symbol of his romantic longings. They have both been abandoned on the hearth--it seems completely natural that they will turn to one another.

Lex's investigative techniques
Mixed feelings here. I was delighted, of course, that Simone turned out to be a ploy of Lex's. I've long hoped that he'd use his gradually increasing collection of freaks against Clark. But oh dear, he walked straight into the double-crossing! When will he learn?

It's a grand pity that this ep didn't see Myx's return (his brainwashing powers would have been fun to watch!) but ok, we're on the WB. *sigh* It was slashy enough to have Lex sending anyone to get it on with Clark as a means of discovering his secrets. Lex's look of 'oh dear god' when she mentioned Clark's great kissing skills was hilarious, though it could have been either 'I know that already', 'dude, he kisses like an 18 year old farmboy--don't kid me!' or 'oh bugger--she's fallen for the kissing.'

At first I wondered what new evidence Lex was really hoping to get from Simone's investigation--after all he already knows about Clark's super-strength and super-speed. I guess it comes down, once again, to Lex's desire for hard proof. Clark throws Lex across the room, and Lex immediately notes that this is because Clark's under hypnosis ('how else could you do that?'). This lets Clark off the hook and at first I thought it was just a cute throw-out by Lex to Clark's ridiculous excuses ('surge of adrenalin' etc). But reflecting on it, it seems that Lex is really hoping for proof of Clark's powers that comes completely independent of excuses.

(Aside: I would have loved them to stay on the scene of wreckage in the mansion just a fraction longer--did Chloe and Clark just go 'oh see you Lex! Sorry we nearly killed you again! Ciao!' and wander out?

Evil aliens
It was with great glee that I watched Fine's return. Oh, Fine, how I have missed you! I hope he'll be around for the Season finale. I really enjoyed his scene with Lex, in particular. Fine played him impeccably, appealing to Lex's darkest fears--that the aliens pose an enormous threat to Earth and must be stopped. Lex requests 'full access' to all Fine's data, which is a typically Lexian request, but we can tell he's going to participate because this appears to be everything he's wanted: collaboration with an intelligent investigative force, the development of a weapon to combat the aliens, insights into alien life, and potentially a whole lot of power.

Multiple Fines? Interesting! I can't wait to see this plot heat up.

Sidelined characters
Probably the aspect I disliked most about this episode was the way some characters were sidelined. But perhaps that's due to the hiatus--it tends to build up expectations and made me long for more screen time for some characters. Notably there was no Lionel at all, despite the teasy teasy Lionel moment in the 'previously on Smallville' intro.

Martha's role was also limited. I did enjoy her scene with Clark at the end, because it demonstrated the subtle changes in their dynamic in the wake of Jonathan's death and with Clark growing up. I also found the Lois-Martha stand off very amusing, and Chloe knocking her out with a rolling pin was hysterically funny.

Lois's role was patchy for me--I enjoyed her interrupting Clark and Simone (so appropriate!), and loved that Lois immediately did the classic girl-buddy thing of telling Chloe so she'd tell Lana. It was particularly interesting to see the female dynamics--the separation between Lana and Chloe-and-Lois was quite marked. While Chloe and Lana are supposedly best friends, they don't always behave like typical best-girl-buddies. Lana doesn't run to cry on Chloe's shoulder--she stays at Nell's instead. Chloe hides the information about Clark and Simone from Lana--that's a little easier to understand, because Chloe is also close friends with Clark.

Lois was also very cute with her 'I might have to take you down' line. However I really feel she's lacking a more permanent role now that Jonathan's dead. She was tag-teaming with Chloe way too much--it seemed like only one character was really needed there, and while I enjoyed her presence, I'd like to see the writers give her her own function. Still, she gets some good-value lines ('not his commanding officer', the call about Chloe's hero-worship of Clark, etc).

So I'm left hoping that we get some Lionel, Martha or Lois development next ep to balance things out. But all in all, an interesting ep.
Current Mood: apatheticapathetic
blowjobs for jesus: Clark Lex ringkristiinthedark on April 1st, 2006 01:42 am (UTC)
First things first. I love your icon. *tries not to giggle too much*

I also love how you watch SV and how much you make me think about it afterwards. While I'm watching, it's all "Clark pretty. Lex sexy." but then I come here and am enlightened.

I'm with you in the on-more-breakup-and-I'll-scream camp. I keep thinking this is it, and damnit this better be it. Besides, as much as I hate to say it, Lex and Lana DO make sense, especially through their ties to Clark.

it could have been either 'I know that already', 'dude, he kisses like an 18 year old farmboy--don't kid me!' or 'oh bugger--she's fallen for the kissing.'

I'm thinking it's the first one. ;)

Excellent meta, as usual.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clark muffin peddlerbop_radar on April 1st, 2006 01:57 am (UTC)
Heee!! Your icon too! *giggle*

I think Lex's eye-roll/head-hang was my favourite bit of this ep--another possible verbalisation of it: 'Yes, yes... and he's got GREAT hair! *groan*' He was so 'been there, done that'!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Jake Heath publicbop_radar on April 1st, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
Pssst! Sorry you had to read it with crappy bold because of my broken tag! I've fixied now.
blowjobs for jesus: TW- wellingkristiinthedark on April 1st, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
*whispers* it's okay. i managed to read it okay. speaking of apologizing, though, i can do another rewrite on that fic if it's something you can't even make it through. i'm easy like that. (and damn, i need to use that as my new slogan) /*whispers*

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: MR ED life of the partybop_radar on April 1st, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)
Nooooooo!! It's fine! *squishes you* I'm on it, like, right now! I swear! I fell asleep last night, but not because of fic--because of exhaustion from bike. And then I was weak this morning and watched SV first. Sooooorry! I go beta... *trots off*
blowjobs for jesus: Lex pure sexkristiinthedark on April 1st, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
Ack! Oh, no Boppy! Come back! I didn't mean to make you feel guilty. *cries*

We are a pair, huh?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clois don't get me startedbop_radar on April 1st, 2006 03:24 am (UTC)
heh, yes! duffers! *hugs*
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clark muffin peddlerbop_radar on April 1st, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
Re: part I
Ack! I must have been fixing the bold tag right around the time you were reading--sorry!

Lana might be devastated, but she's not so devastated that she doesn't have the presence of mind to ensure the back-up boyfriend is ready to step up to the plate
Hee! Oh, I don't mind your flippancy at all--I went though exactly the same emotions. In fact, if she *hadn't* run to Lex, I would have probably been provoked into 'woah! Lana's lasted a full day without a boyfriend!' remarks. ;) At least in this case, she's got more than just the 'I need to fill the boyfriend-shaped hole in my life' reason to turn to Lex.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clark no clothes?bop_radar on April 1st, 2006 02:32 am (UTC)
Re: part II
Yes, initially Lex's line was a 'wtf?' moment for me too. But something about the delivery being so immediate and matter-of-fact made me think about why that would be Lex's first reaction. It's not to let Clark off the hook, because he's waaay past wanting to do that. And I think we've had some other signs that he's after hard proof now. He must be so sick of 'sort of knowing' about Clark. I guess it's a new way of getting 'full access'. If Clark won't fully disclose, Lex will gather as much hard proof as he can by his own methods.

it's very much a deliberate, conscious choice on their part
Yes, it's becoming very noticeable. They're naive if they think the audience won't tire of that. It's ok to cut away from scenes when we know how they'll pan out, but I honestly don't feel like I DO know how these scenes will pan out between Clark and Lex these days. At best, I have to imagine a brief awkward silent moment and then simple departure on Clark's part.

I agree--the Lex-Fine stuff has some promise, as long as it's actually complex. Lex and Fine need to be shown as equal adversaries. Fingers crossed!
CapnZebbie: stalkerkittycapnzebbie on April 1st, 2006 02:35 am (UTC)
When Lana went to Lex so that he would be the first to know, my thought was that Lex is now her Reserve Guy. Clark seems to have been her Reserve Guy (imo) since season 1, waiting there for her when she wasn't with someone else--Whitney, Adam, Jason, random FotWs. Now that she's an adult, it's acceptable for Lex to be that guy. He has also been presenting himself as someone who will be waiting for Lana whenever she decides it's his turn. Lex, it's your turn. Done with the Clana.

I also enjoye Lex's reaction to the kissing 'revelation.' *g* It was definitely, "I know that already."

Really, the writers did let a bit of Clexy stuff get in there--the kissing reaction, the discussion of how hard it is to have a relationship with Clark. I often wish this show was on Showtime.

Great meta!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lana iconbop_radar on April 1st, 2006 03:05 am (UTC)
Yes, miss Lana is the queen of backup-boyfriend-dom! I completely agree. And yes, it's finally Lex as Reserve Guy.

Yeah, lots of Clexy in this ep, all things considered! And I always enjoy Clark throwing Lex around and getting to see how resilient Lex is. ;)

Thanks for the comment!
Nora Norwich: bad daynorwich36 on April 1st, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
There was quite a bit of irony at work in this episode--Clark reaches a momentous independent decision after having been hypnotised; the marker of him reaching maturity in adult relationships is his ability to look someone in the eye and lie to them convincingly

Of course, the ability to lie convincingly is one Clark has actually needed for about 5 seasons, and one that's going to be essential to maintaining his Superman persona.

It may appear foolish of Lana to rush to Lex as the 'first person' she wanted to tell about the break-up. After all, she has Chloe and Lois to turn to.

Not really, though. While I am sure that Chloe is going to try to stay neutral, I'm also sure that it is very clear to Lana that Chloe is in Clark's camp, and likely to stay there (and Lois, too, just by the fact that she's Chloe's cousin and close to the Kent family). I think it's very telling that she went back to Nell after seeing Clark and Simone--clearly she needed feminine sympathy from someone who she felt was authentically on her side. One of the things that actually excites me about the upcoming Lexana is the way it's going to cause all the characters to explicitly choose sides.

Lex points out that 'Clark isn't the easiest person to be in a relationship with'. The subtext was rife that they'd had the same experience, which, essentially, they have had--a long intimate relationship of supposed 'epic destiny' proportions that is marred by Clark keeping secrets and never really letting them in (physically or emotionally) and which ends in Clark's rejection.

Yes, I totally agree. Though I think LaT has a point with Lana's "backup boyfriend" modus operandi, I agree with you that it's natural that Lana would turn to Lex because basically they have the same experience with Clark. And they have bonded in the past ("Reckoning" springs to mind)over Clark's lies, so it makes sense she would turn to him when she is angry with Clark.

I also agree with you that they need to show more of the aftermath of events like the scene in the mansion. (I particularly wanted to see Chloe actually retrieve that piece of kryptonite she so blithely tossed down Lex's hallway! But I also wanted to hear the explanations.)

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: JRM icon black and whitebop_radar on April 1st, 2006 03:48 am (UTC)
Interesing, yes--the Nell thing came out of leftfield for me. She hasn't been mentioned for so long! And I agree, its becoming obvious whose side people are on, and will become more so if the Lexana develops.

Hee! I'd forgotten about the blithe throwing of Kryptonite. I wish I'd seen her be all 'I'll just take this green rock and go!' !!
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on April 1st, 2006 06:16 am (UTC)
"Pay no attention to the rock I'm holding behind my back, Lex!"

What if it rolled under a piece of furniture and she couldn't find it? Next thing you know Lex would be infested with mutant mice, and that is never a good thing!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex juicebop_radar on April 1st, 2006 06:25 am (UTC)
Oh, I'd love to see Lex set his lackeys on mutant mice! ;)

Or perhaps she was forced to leave it and then we could have had a shot of Lex picking it up after they left with a supervillain-y 'hmmm?'
rumpuso on April 1st, 2006 03:26 am (UTC)
Sometimes I wish they would employ only 2 or 3 regular writers for each season rather than the massive staff of writers they allow for throughout the entire season. The characters in this particular episode had a different feel to them (at least to me). Clark *felt* different; and yes I'm aware that he was hypnotized. Lex *felt* different too. And most of all, I think a lot of my confuzzlement has to do with the way the writers just dove right in with the Simone storyline with no buildup. Before one commercial break began, she and Clark were frantically making out and feeling eachother up outside the Talon. And before the 2nd commercial break began, she and Clark were mostly naked and looking to have intercourse. I didn't feel any connection to Simone. She felt like an intruder in my shiney happy Smallville. I didn't feel this way for Alicia, but for Simone, I did. I didn't care for her interference or her use as a plot contrivance. I wished they had instead worked with the characters already in place; namely Lex, Lana, and Clark. Braniac is welcome. He's been expertly introduced and perfectly set up for evil doings. I love him. But Simone...was an intruder and she offset the balance of the characters and to me, it showed in their performances.

And one more tiny thing...do you think the writing staff wishes they didn't use Metropolis in this episode? Because seriously, how on earth did everyone (who doesn't have super powers) manage to go back and forth, and back and forth so quickly. Couldn't the writers have kept the scenes strictly in the Talon and the barn? They was a crazy oversight for them. And they continued on that path with Metroplis throughout this entire episode.

But your critique was fabulous. I always learn from you and that is priceless in itself. Great review and great incite, once again my dear.

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clark muffin peddlerbop_radar on April 1st, 2006 04:14 am (UTC)
Yes, I think I experienced some of your sense of dislocation too--I didn't really love this ep. And Simone was my least favourite aspect--as you say, a pure plot contrivance, which is a pity.

That's true about Metropolis--they've trapped themselves there. Its hilarious to think that through the whole of the first three Seasons, even in Season 4, Metropolis was 'so far away', and now they're popping back and forth all the time!
Katemskatej on April 1st, 2006 12:17 pm (UTC)
Oh man you have made me see Lexana in a whole new light. I LOVE your interpretation and I completely agree with you. It works on those levels although unfortunately it does make Lana look weak.

And I love your take on Lex's reaction to being thrown across the room. YES.

I like how you make me change my mind about things, Boppy.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clark muffin peddlerbop_radar on April 1st, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
Awww... *hugs*
Well, Lana being weak isn't anything new! ;) (although, as I said, I'd hoped she was growing more of a backbone)
Lola L.: lex reckoning bluelola_thursday on April 1st, 2006 02:47 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, once again you put into words everything so beautifully, and in so doing bring me completely around to an episode I was ambivalent about by pointing out so clearly all the good things in it. I really especially liked Clark's personal growth in this episode--you can see him becoming an adult, a very alone adult. And yes, that scene in which he lied to Lana so lucidly and calmly, despite the weight of the lie, really was chilling--there's no other word for it.

My main frustration was with how stupid Lex seemed to be in this episode. I didn't mind it so much in relation to Clark's sudden strength... because he's always turning a blind eye to Clark, even as he is obsessed with discovering his difference. I'm certainly okay with Clark being Lex's blind spot :) But I couldn't come up with an acceptable reason for it being *so* easy for Fine to play Lex for a dupe. However, you're completely right, it really is believable, as Fine plays Lex masterfully, which suggests that his research into Luthorcorp and Lex goes beyond just how Lex is a ruthless business magnate with dangerous aspirations to who Lex is as a person. That could lead to very interesting developments in the future. (Keeping in mind that I am completely unspoiled...)

So thank you for making me think and bringing me round :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex gossipbop_radar on April 1st, 2006 10:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you for this lovely comment!

The writers have a fine (unintended pun) line to tread with Fine and Lex--to keep both characters believable as powerful figures. In Splinter, Fine demonstrated that his research into Clark's character was deep and mulit-layered, and presumably he's given Lex the same scrutiny. I think Fine was clever in that scene--he was pretty upfront with Lex, telling him without an outright accusation, that he knew he'd taken the ship. I think Lex would respond well to that blend of honesty and absence of emotionalism. I can also well imagine he'd appreciate someone who was his equal in intelligence and argumentative skills. Plus Lex is driven by that drive to gain knowledge and power, but he also still likes a justification for his actions--so Fine's line about the weapon being necessary if the aliens were such a threat would really speak to Lex.

I hope they've got more twists instore in the Lex-Fine plot. This seemed like the first round.