I think my reactions to the premiere will be really different from other people. Having watched the first four seasons all at once, I was able to skim over bad episodes without too much trauma. My philosophy is ‘when it’s bad, just focus on the eye candy’. I’m not denying that it can be very bad. However it can also be multi-layered and intellectually engaging as well. I thought ‘Arrival’ demonstrated this well.
Clark and the promise to Jor-El
Smallville often draws on great mythic traditions for its plots. This time it was the ‘broken promise’ myth. Jor-El has set conditions for Clark before and Clark has fought against them. However, this time Clark consciously accepted the condition (that he return to the Fortress by sunset) and verbally vowed to return. This made his betrayal of Jor-El more significant than previous occasions.
Why does Clark decide to ignore Jor-El? Firstly he is driven to save Chloe. She is suffering because of him and he cannot bear it. Secondly he is driven to protect his family and his home. He checks that his parents are physically safe but he does not remain with them, even though they no doubt long for his emotional support at this difficult time. Thirdly, he faces the Kryptonians and protects Lana. Then we see him notice the sunset and make the decision to stay with Lana. Lana is in no immediate physical peril. She is the only person that Clark feels the need to stay with after the immediate danger is over. He chooses to stay *emotionally*, and frankly I can see why Jor-El says this human emotion of his *is* what makes him weak.
When Clark tells his parents he has lost his powers, he is calm. He thinks being human is going to be easy. He’s embraced his weakness. He tells Lana ‘no more secrets, no more lies’ because he honestly thinks he can just remove confusion by denying his Kryptonian nature. Well we know where this myth journey will take us… I can’t wait!
Chloe and friendship loyalty
I love the character development Chloe is getting at the moment. She is convincingly the most loyal friend that Clark could wish for. I loved her ‘SuperClark’ line and her telling him that he was a ‘superhero’. I am glad that Chloe got to be the one to first see him this way.
Clark rewards her for this loyalty? By *leaving her in the Yukon*. I think Clark has double standards. He finds it difficult to forgive friends (Pete, Lex, Chloe), but he expects his friends to demonstrate absolute loyalty in the face of any actions, even his own apparent indifference. Clark’s relationship with Chloe is one of passivity. He accepts that she has uncovered his secret (he is reactive to her), but he was not the one to tell her and he doesn’t seize the opportunity to forge a new type of friendship with her.
Chloe has the reverse relationship with Lex. Lex is frequently instrumental in shaping Chloe’s development and he actively challenges her to respond to him. We saw this when Chloe testified at Lionel’s trial. In the Season 4 finale, Lex took Chloe to the caves because he takes her seriously as a serious player in the competition for the stones. And it is Lex who searches for her and finds her in the Yukon. She is useful in uncovering his secret. But ironically, he is therefore also more invested in her than Clark is. (do you sense that I’m a little bit frustrated by Clark? *g*?!)
James Masters = yay!
Lois was a hero and I love her for going back to the Clarks. I feel she really loves Martha and was scared to lose a second mother figure.
And oh wow, Lex was great! I love this new Lex and his 'just be straight with me, Clark' lines. He was amazingly in control throughout this whole scene. What I can't help but call his 'multitasking' skills came to the fore: he checked on the Kents, he harboured Lana, he got the hexagon key, he confronted Clark, he confiscated a spaceship and he found Chloe in the Yukon). While Clark was making a naive decision to pursue romanticism, Lex was making multiple complex decisions that furthered his own goals but also helped others.