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27 September 2005 @ 11:38 am
Heroism in the episode 'Scare'  

Some thoughts and meanderings on the episode 'Scare' (Season 4 spoilers in place!)

Lex as hero

I loved Lex in this episode. We got to see how charismatic he is as a CEO. He is a risk-taker, certainly, but he faces the consequences of his actions. He watches personally as the antidote is tested on an employee and fails, resulting in the employee’s death. While Lex could be condemned for stepping outside medical and scientific convention here, the man would have died anyway. It was a risk worth taking, I would argue.

One of the most powerful indications of how deeply Lex is affected by the accident at the plant is when we see him lose it with Clark and order him out. Double motive here: he wants to protect Clark, but also he has no time for Clark (and the inevitable faffing around that accompanies him) when he has a major professional crisis on his hands. I think this is the only time we see him angry at Clark for barging in: normally he drops everything for him. I was proud of Lex in that scene.

Finally, Lex does not hesitate for a second to risk his own life for his employees, injecting himself with the untested antidote. Of course, one of Lex’s defining characteristics is his capacity to face his fears head-on. And I found his fear-sequence incredibly beautiful. Supacat pointed out that out of all the characters in the episode, Lex is the only one whose fear does not involve his past or relationships with other characters. Lex is alone in his fear-vision. A part of *him* (the ambition? the destructive impulse?) is his own worst fear. And his fear is the only one that will actually come to pass. Hence, **sobs** when Clark tells him ‘you’ll be ok’. No, he won’t!! Waaaah!

Clark and self-sacrifice

When Clark recovers from his vision and rushes out of the hospital, I had a bit of a giggle-groan for the poor medic who asks him to stay and be studied because he’s the only one to come out of the coma-condition. I should have known it wouldn’t be that simple.

Clark heads for the plant and offers himself to Lex. This is a *massively* trusting act on Clark’s part. He could have stayed at the hospital in relatively controlled circumstances, but instead it’s Lex he gives himself up to as lab-rat. Even though he has every reason to fear LuthorCorp’s practices. Even though he knows he is giving Lex access to his secret. For all his discomfort with Lex’s obsession, Clark ultimately trusts him with his secret. Therefore ‘Use me’ made me squeal, not just because of its sexual connotations.

Clark knows he will have to persuade Lex: he clarifies ‘I want you to use me.’ Once before, Clark considered offering himself as a lab-rat. When he found out that his blood had the capacity to cure people, he told his parents that perhaps that could be his way of helping humanity. He faced a future of physical suffering, reduced to an object of scientific research. He has every reason to fear this, for he watched both Ryan and Lex suffer in the hands of obsessed researchers.

Lex is overwhelmed by Clark’s offer and the implicit message beneath it. This is the closest Clark comes to admitting his ‘specialness’. Yet Lex can’t call Clark on this because one of his staff members is present. Instead Lex declines Clark’s offer and tells him the samples need to be heated. Clark is so comfortable with Lex knowing/not-knowing about his powers, he quickly heats the samples. Lex displays no surprise. Clark offers no explanation. I pity the poor LuthorCorp employee who has no idea what is going on. The ‘non-verbals’ (nods to Lois) say it all in this scene. Ultimately, I think it’s the fact that Lex has tolerated Clark’s repeated silences when Lex asks about the unexplained coincidences surrounding him and his life that allows them to reach this stage. Clark trusts Lex because he knows he will allow him to walk away without verbalising anything. (We’ve just seen that part of Clark’s worst fear is having to admit verbally that he is both special and at fault.)

Lex as sufferer for both of them ... 

It’s inevitable that it will be Lex who actually puts himself through the physical and mental suffering of self-sacrifice. Clark has made it clear that this is a form of heroism and it has continually been Lex’s gift to him, as ‘bearer of darkness’. In the future too, Lex will take on the role of victim; he will allow himself to be weakened, tortured, abused, vilified, reviled and destroyed if necessary, as the counterbalance to Superman’s active self-aggrandising heroism. And it’s beautiful that Clark will know just what heroism this takes. I think Clark honestly will see this as the more heroic path. It’s the one he couldn’t quite take himself.

If anyone has thoughts on the fear sequences of any of the characters in this ep, I'd love to hear about it.

rhiannonherorhiannonhero on October 10th, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC)
Wow. You've got the only S4 meta that I've ever found that makes sense to me. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I've added you to my friends list, I hope that's okay. I don't talk much about SV these days--mainly just myself. But I'd like to read your posts. :D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: mystery Lexbop_radar on October 11th, 2005 12:16 am (UTC)
Thank you. I really liked parts of S4. There sure isn't much meta out there on it... I'm flattered.