K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick! (bop_radar) wrote,
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!

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Smallville 5.17 Void

I don't have long today so I'm just going to jot down the things I found most interesting about this ep and revisit it later.

A Lana-centric episode was not what I was expecting or hoping for at this stage in the season, but I found Void very gripping. Lana, Lex and Clark each see their parents. Clark asserts the 'reality' of the vision, that it was really Jonathan he saw, not, as Chloe puts it, a 'manifestation of desires and fears'. Lana and Lex similarly seem to completely believe in the reality of their vision parents. It's important that they do so, or the visions would not have the power over them that they do. However as audience members we can see to what degree these figures really do function as manifestations of desires and fears. We can see how the characters blind themselves. It is interesting to compare the three visions to see what they reflect about the characters' internal landscapes at this point in time.

Physical context
Lana's parents appear in an abstract space. Lex wakes up in front of the fire, a place I've long speculated represents his longing for connection and intimacy with others. The room is dark but candlelit, and he connects with his mother via the piano. Clark wakes up in the barn--not in the loft, but in the space he shared with Jonathan. But he's alone--he has inherited the space. Jonathan enters flooding the place with light, but ultimately thrusts Clark back into the barn.

This reflects the relationships of each of the characters. Lana is placeless in a sense--without the Talon these days, she's the most uprooted of all the characters. In a show where each character has traditionally had a physical 'space' of their own, Lana is missing that anchorage. Lex's present world is linked to his mother through the physical memento of the piano, something he is able to use to reconnect with her memory. The fire implies the ways her absence creates a void that he tries to fill through intimacy with others. Clark is battling with inheriting his father's role (and space). Although he is 'at home' in the barn, he wants Jonathan to be there too, but he has to face that he's alone now.

Emotional connection
The behaviour of each character's parents is strikingly different. Chloe points out that Lana is seeking out the two people who love her unconditionally, and this is borne out in what we see in her vision. Absent parents, those that have died, can easily be romanticised as the 'everloving' figure. Lana lost her parents very young, she has very little to remember of them, and it's not surprising that all she sees is the love and bliss and physical connection that she never had.

Lex's experience could not be more different. Lillian is almost a threatening, punishing figure in his vision, rebuking him for not following her advice the last time he had his near death experience. She appears as a far more emotionally manipulative figure than we've ever seen her before. Gone is the idealised 'perfect mother' whose memory Lex defended and protected from Lionel for so many years. She reflects, far more now, Lex's internalised fears and guilt. And she has a dark, dark message--that Lex will murder (her words drawing on the imagery we have already seen of fields of shrivelling flowers, and blood raining from heaven). The complexity and darkness of Lex's vision reflects both the circumstances under which Lillian died and where Lex is at in his own life.

Clark's relationship with Jonathan is similarly more complex than Lana's vision. He quickly uses the connection as an opportunity to express his fears and seek forgiveness. Jonathan has a comforting message: the old 'it's not your fault son' and 'you have a destiny'. While it's understandable that Clark would envision Jonathan saying these things, like Lex's vision, Clark's goes further than he could have consciously expected. Jonathan describes Clark as a symbol of peace and justice, and tells him that Lionel knows everything. He goes further than ever before in pushing Clark into his future role. In this way, Clark's vision is more like Lex's--it explores fears and guilt, and ends with a parent figure describing the iconic figure he will become.

But Jonathan also tells Clark that he 'does not belong' in the world of the dead. He physically thrusts him back into the world of the living. This is an interesting reflection on the fact that Clark may be immortal. It's also a fascinating parallel to Lillian, who toys with the idea of 'keeping Lex' in the world of the dead to protect the lives of those he will kill. If she doesn't keep him there, she says there will be 'emptiness that can never be filled'. For whom? For Lex certainly. For many others as well I suspect, perhaps including Clark and Lana.

The three characters also respond differently to each of their visions. For Lana it's pure emotional longing at it's most primitve and physical. She is driven junkie-like to get back there, and it is the physical contact with her parents that she longs for. She admits poignantly to Clark that she only 'almost' got to feel them. That's Lana's tragedy. She also confronts that she feels alone, and in one of her most telling character statements ever says that she has felt alone for a long time, even in the company of others, even with Clark.

Although Lana denies that she sought out the death experience because of the break-up with Clark, I think she is aware that there's a connection between her loneliness and her need to 'fill the void' by finding another intimate relationship. She tells Clark she'll never be that dependent again (and I think we all hope that that's true!). Whether consciously or not, each of these three have sought to fill the void of absent parents by turning to loved ones--to each other. I've explored elsewhere the way Clark and Lex function as parent figures to each other. And Lana's longing for unconditional love from a boyfriend also stems from parental absence.

Lex is far more guarded against the emotional power of the experience. He immediately calls his rational powers to work, remembering that he was injected, and asserting that he's experiencing an illusion. He distances himself intellectually from the experience, yet inevitably gets drawn in. He initially wants to get back to life, but just when he hears his mother's terrifying message, at the point when he most wants to stay, is thrust back into life against his will.

Clark, as we have seen, also wanted to stay for longer to explore his feelings. He feels he can't do it without Jonathan--it's not surprising that he's still working through these feelings since Jonathan passed away only recently. For Clark though, the experience leads to a very immediate course of action. He seeks out his mother to tell her about Lionel and is met with the chilling vision of her leaving on Lionel's arm for a ball.

Lex also received a message from his vision, but unlike Clark he hides it from the person closest to him. He lies to Lana, telling her that his mother is proud of him. It's a lie that Lana buys completely because it's so like her own vision. Her's is the most naïve and childlike of all three, but that's not surprising considering that her parents died when she was so young.

Last week I discussed how Lana and Lex function as mirrors for each other, and this week again we saw that explored. Lex understands the appeal for Lana of the near-death experiences, but compels her to 'look at herself'. He is able to empathise completely with her, in a way that Clark never could. And they continue to be paralleled. Without Clark, Lana turns into a criminal figure. She hurts those she loves, shying away from Chloe, and steals to get what she most desires. Lex too, was plunged into this sort of void in the absence of parental love and experiencing Clark's rejection. Most fascinatingly of all, the consequences of Lex and Lana both being pulled back into life are that they will kill people. Lana faces this far quicker that Lex, killing the med-student in quite a gruesome manner.

Final notes
It was great to see Martha's return to strength. I'm delighted that she's become a senator, and it was great to see her in action. I also loved that she cut Lionel down by calling him on the fact he may be motivated by wanting something personal from their relationship. Yet despite her 'attack to defend' approach, Lionel is smoothly working his way into her life.

I also love that it was Lionel that tipped Chloe off about Fine--nice web of connections there. And I guessed that one early in the ep. Lionel is such a player--it had to be him.

On a more flippant note, I know nothing about Honduras but I'm fairly sure it's more than just one village. How the hell did Clark know where to go? *lol*

Ok, sorry about any typos! Got to fly. Will be fascinated to read other people's thoughts on my return.
Tags: smallville_meta, svseason5

  • Deborah Morgan

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  • Deborah Morgan

    = LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Fuck, 7.1 was epic. This entry was originally posted at http://bop-radar.dreamwidth.org/244312.html.…

  • 5.01 My Bad

    You know... I haven't been very impressed by Dexter as a show for the last couple of seasons. I think it lost its grip on its central character and…

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    It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a bop_radar. Which song was this lyric from? Get your own lyrics: You know what really is?…