Aieeeeee!!! I love you Lex!!! Oh how I love it when he gets his villain on! *fans self* That last sequence was smokin'! I adore seeing inside level 33.1. Oh, Lex! *loves* It was so gloriously OTT--his swagger, the music, the outstretched hands... the inhabitants are all at Lex's mercy, and he's not giving them a drop. (The sequence did make me wonder, though, how Level 33.1 has changed over the years, because when Lex took Myx there I doubt it was as scary looking as this--surely Myx would have bolted if that were the case... *ponders*)
Before I write any further about this episode let me say upfront that part of me was hanging my head in my hands at the hideous racial stereotyping and the ridiculously bad Spanish. However, this is Smallville... so, I'll suck it up and take what I can from it. I actually liked this episode quite a lot in a low-key kind of way. It was a surprise to have a return to a meteor freak episode, and it certainly wasn't a high-adrenalin ep for the last ep before hiatus, but there's some interesting stuff going on here...
Personally I adored the fact that they've (finally!) articulated the parallels between Clark and illegal immigrants. And I love it ten times over because Clark made the connection. Oh, that darling boy! How he has grown! His empathy for Javier was spontaneous and instinctive and built on a real sense of similarity. Until Javier related his story, Clark was going to act in his usual way and call in the authorities. But Javier's story resonates with Clark: like Clark, Javier was sent away from his home to a new land. He was supposed to connect with his parent, but ended up in a situation where he was abused instead. I'm sure Clark feels that his own story could have been similar, had the Kents not found him but somebody else. Increasing the similarities between them is the fact that Javier's father has died. Clark really connects with the fact that his mother must miss him. This also show's that Clark's personal morality is built on compassion for individuals. He upholds the law because he's been taught to trust the law by the Kents, but when it comes to a choice, he puts his loyalty to personal relationships first. That's interesting, and I like it, but I wonder what it means for him as Superman.
Clark also has a self-sacrificing mother and I adored their heated exchange about what to do about Javier. I loved Clark's 'I thought you of all people would understand'. Because Martha is a compassionate woman, even in politics, as we see in the brief phone call discussing classrooms versus budgets. However, she's also a public figure, and I was not at all surprised to hear her argue passionately for calling the authorities. I loved that Clark brought his A-game arguing skills to bear in pointing out the parallels between himself and Javier. And I love 'if I don't protect him, who will?' as Clark's ethos. He really was my hero in this ep!
I had issues, naturally, with the convenient loophole that somehow allowed Martha to get Javier and his mother legal status--and the fact that they were treated as 'extraordinary'. However, I recognise the limitations on such a mainstream network tv show: they could hardly show Martha setting out to overturn the entire US immigration system. However, this does show a problem with Clark's personal approach--it's haphazard and not necessarily directed at the most deserving, just those that stumble across his path.
I got the sense that Javier trusted him innately, that they had a very real connection. They're starting to show Clark has having the sort of compassionate authority that makes people trust him and respond to him without even knowing why. And Clark returns that trust. His smile when Javier says 'I've become an expert at keeping secrets' suggests that Clark believes him--after all, their situations are so similar. And when Clark breaks the news about Francisco, we know he sees himself in Javier's reaction because he says 'I've lost people close to me too'.
The Clex is buried these days--we've got to look beneath the surface to see it. But I was interested to see Clexian echoes in this ep. This is the second time this season that we've had a FoTW episode with two male friends, one of whom dies. In the first instance we didn't get to see the boy's emotional response to that death, but this episode went far further. (And we've also had Reunion, in which we learnt of Lex's youthful friendship with Duncan, an echo of his later relationship with Clark.) It's an interesting shift from the earlier seasons where the deaths caused by meteor freaks were principally those of their parents. This shift parallels a shift within Clark. In the earlier seasons it was his absent parents that he had not come to terms with emotionally. But now we see a mature Clark who's handled both Jonathan's death and taken on Jor-El's legacy. But there's still an unresolved, denied pain in Clark's life--and that's the loss of Lex as best friend.
Forgive me, but I found Javier and Fernando ridiculously slashy. Unlike Clark at fourteen, they actually looked their age, so apologies for kiddy-slashing them! Javier appeals to Francisco: they've known each other all their lives, he's never let him down, he can trust him, he's 'like a brother'. It's not quite on the scale of an appeal to destiny, but it's pretty grandiose. Yet Francisco dies and Javier feels responsible. He couldn't control it, but he feels as if there was something that he could have done--if only he'd given him his mother's necklace/good luck charm... I see an echo of Clex here because I wonder if that's how Clark feels: if only he had done something different, if only he'd offered more to Lex, if only they could have traded places... No, Lex is not dead. But he is lost to Clark, and I think it's interesting to explore what the FoTW stories say about that.
The scene between Clark and Lex was also interesting. As soon as Lana's out of the building, we suddenly get both the Romeo-Juliet balcony set up, and Clark and Lex facing each other in front of the fire again. (Oh, boys!) Of course, they're all pissy at each other, but the undercurrent's still there. Lex's 'did I swat a fly with too much force?' cracked me up. And this was such a classic exchange between them--partly because we learnt that Lex really didn't know about the murders until later. I love it when they're both right.
In similar fashion, the Clana scene later on played well because both Clark and Lana had a good case. Clark is close to the truth in suggesting that the concern for the workers masks a darker truth, and in the implication that Lana is being played. But Lana did come up with this plan independently (that's what's so brilliant about it), so she's also indignant for a reason.
Calculation and strategy
One week I hate it, the next I love it... again, forgive me, but I found the Lexana in this episode brilliant. I love that she hasn't said yes to him. That's so great! I love that she's insomniac and fretting about it. It shows that the Lexana relationship is one of tension--between sweeping romance and effusive declarations on the one hand, and fear, doubt and suspicion on the other. I also loved Lex's speech about usually being more calculated and strategic. HA! As if his proposal was not calculated?!! Hell, you don't whip up a room like that in 30 seconds! (Or maybe your minions do...) At one level, though, it's true that Lex was impulsive in his declarations Static. Therefore this scene worked really well for me. Lex is at once honest and multilayered. And I like that he admits he's calculated to Lana and lets her see exactly how he's 'playing' her with the trip to Amsterdam. (Nice!) Telling her that she can have as long as she wants to decide, telling her he almost wishes he could take it back... also the perfect things to tell Lana at this point in time. I loved their exchange: 'Nice strategy, boss!' 'Only if it works!' It shows how Lex has created a situation in which Lana feels she's open-eyed about the relationship but she doesn't see the full level of the manipulation (Lex's expression in the hug that followed!). But it also shows that Lana retains some power--the power to walk away.
Of course, she doesn't walk away... it really seems as if Lana is turning into the typical charity-running billionaire's wife. And what's fascinating about that is the way in which it provides a smokescreen for Lex's activities. Lana herself is genuine: she wants to help others. That just makes the cover all the more effective. I loved Lex's expression when Lana articulated that money is power: he's trying to read her, trying to see how far down this journey he is. Power hasn't corrupted Lana... yet, but that doesn't mean that this won't work to Lex's advantage.
Oh, Jimmy! You are so funny! He's so embarrassing it's amusing. His little 'showdown' with Clark was hysterical, especially Chloe's facial expressions. It's interesting though that she's still awkward calling him her boyfriend, while Jimmy just loves dropping 'my girl'. Aside: did the Chlarkers really plague TPTB so badly they had to textualise 'that ship's firmly at anchor'?! WOW, that's harsh! Personally I don't mind because I love Chloe and Clark as friends far better than any potential relationship between them, and I'm greatly reassured that this will continue. However, I worry for Chloe's relationship. Jimmy's a good guy, even if he is a little cringe-enducing, and I'd like to see her comfortable with that.
Ok, now I want more Villain!Lex!! *bounces*