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?
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.
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.