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

Lana essay

I'm sorry. I had to get it out of my system. If you put yourself through reading this, you should totally go and watch the vid 'Company of men' by Talitha as therapy afterwards. :-)

The pink wonderland of Lana

Early in my SV-watching, I resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to respond to Lana as a character. However I have sometimes been able to appreciate her role in the show (when I remind myself to look past the pink clothes, tiaras and headbands). In Season 4, Lana plays an important role, whether we as fans like it or not. I *hated* the witch-plot and all its absurdities, but I found Lana’s own characterisation convincing. In this essay I want to explore what we learn of her by the end of Season 4 and what she says about the Smallville universe.

 

Character establishment

Often we focus so much on the way that the meteor shower defined the Lex, Clark and Lana that we forget what defined them before it. In the pilot we got to see brief flashes of each of them in their pre-meteor-shower forms. Lex is a frightened child dominated by his father and told that he is responsible for things that are actually not within his control (the helicopter landing). Clark is a cheery alien child desperate to bond with a family. Lana is dressed as a princess and is waving her wand over some stone frog statues, trying to turn them into princes. These three retain these defining characteristics in the show and I don’t think we should ignore the importance of these establishing scenes.

 

Turning frogs into princes

Lana is always the princess character in the dramas that she creates in her life. She is a fantasist, a reality-escapist, a romantic and a nostalgic. This is what traps her as a victim of her own nature. The meteor shower robbed her of her parents who could have shaped her into a different woman. She is destined to forever be the little girl in fairy costume trying to change the ugliness of the world into a romantic ideal.

 

Lana’s expectations in the romantic arena are all derived from classic fairy-tale romance. She likes being rescued, she likes being idolised, she likes romantic gestures like roses and candles. With Whitney then Clark then Jason she hopes to gain fulfilment of her romantic ideal. They all fit her mould of potential princes in both their looks and their apparent one-dimensionality and willingness to play at romance. I don’t think Lex ever fully fitted this mould for her, although she engages with him when he acts as a hero-saviour figure for her.

 

The ultimate ‘froglike’ characteristic for Lana is secret-keeping. She is badly scarred by her relationship with Clark and is at her most sympathetic for me when she rails against him. However, I do think Lana’s reactions to secrecy stem from a very self-centred part of her psyche. She can’t stand not being the central defining figure in her romantic partner’s life.

 

Lana’s cycle when faced with a lying boyfriend is first to try and regain their attention (e.g. offering to sleep with Jason) and then to enter righteous indignation. In the indignation phase, she expresses desires to escape the relationship. She seems frustrated by her own behaviour patterns, and this comes to a head at the end of season 3 when she takes the ultimate step in fighting her destiny and moves away from Smallville, even abandoning the home of her nostalgia-obsession: the Talon..

 

Lana in Season 4

Lana’s path matches that of the other major characters in Season 4; Clark and Lex cannot escape their destinies and neither can she. It’s particularly creepy that in trying to escape from the limits of romantic love, she travels to Paris, the capital of romance. And sure enough she reverts to type, falling in love with another clean-cut American boy-hero and trying to live out her romantic ideal.

 

Her pattern of needing male saviour-figures is shown to be not confined to her romantic life. Men define and control Lana’s entire world. Without their approval, she is emotionally destroyed. Without Clark’s physical protection, she would have died. Without Lex’s continuing financial aid and support, she would not be able to pursue her romantic goals in life: the only goals she sets.

 

**pause while I scream around the room about how much she abuses and takes advantage of Lex emotionally*

 

In Season 4 Lana accepts that she cannot escape her destiny. Jason, whom she had hoped would forge a new healthier relationship with her, turns out to be both duplicitous and dangerous. In what reads as resignation to me, she returns to Clark.

 

What is more interesting is that she chooses to remain in Smallville, reversing the decision she made at the end of Season 3. In doing so, she faces the other defining force in her life: her death-fear. In the episode ‘Scare’ we got to see that Lana’s worst fear is that everyone around her dies. This is a convincing and justifiable fear. Not only has she lost her parents, her first boyfriend and her childhood best friend Emily, she’s been forced to face death again and again throughout her adolescence as the victim of meteor freaks.

 

Psychologically Lana has a guilt complex that she survived and her parents died. She idealises them to a massive degree. She is also afraid that there is something in her that attracts death. She faces these fears directly when she kills Genevieve Teague. I think in this moment she subconsciously accepts how trapped she is, lost to the fear that deaths will define her existence. Physically and emotionally shaken, she tries to wash the blood from her hands but cannot get it off. For Lana, the bloodstains of those who have died will stain her for life.

 

In her shock, Lana again looks to men for protection. But this time she does not opt for a single saviour figure. Hedging her bets, she gets Lex to fly her out of Smallville but delivers the stone (and murder weapon) to Clark. She trusts neither of them completely but is prepared to get what she can from each of them, at a time when Clark and Lex are lining up as opposing forces. Lana will be caught between them, but having learnt that she can never have the pure single love affair she longs for, she may yet be able to struggle between them, retaining what she can of her romantic existence.

 

The character of Lana ultimately works to reinforce many of the recurring themes of the Smallville universe.

Tags: smallville_meta, svseason4
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