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02 October 2005 @ 07:58 pm
Arrival (Season 5 Smallville Ep 1)  

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.

(Spoilers under the cut)

 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*?!)

Just Squee!

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.

Ok... enough with the worship, K! I just hope others enjoyed it too!

 
 
 
rumpuso on October 2nd, 2005 12:25 pm (UTC)
Fantastic review! You understand these characters and this show and your review unfolds with this refreshing incite. The only point of contention I have is that I'm not entirely sure Clark just left Chloe without thought to returning. I think we, as viewers, are to assume quite a bit happens off screen. Once he returned to Smallville, everything happened rapid fire, and towards the end, we see that Lex is the one who retrieves Chloe before Clark goes back to her. Perhaps we are to assume Clark felt she was in good hands since she was in a hospital recovering safely away from all the destruction and danger currently happening in Smallville...maybe it was better for her to remain where she was until she recuperated.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts. Very nice job.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 3rd, 2005 03:19 am (UTC)
Yes, you are right. It's not that Chloe was actually left in any danger. And it could quite possibly be that we are expected to assume that Clark was going to contact her family to get her home safely. (I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation!) Thanks for pulling me up on being hyper-critical of Clark - it's an unfortunate tendency of mine and I wish I didn't have it.

I'm glad you liked my review - thanks for your comment! *g*
supacatsupacat on October 3rd, 2005 02:43 pm (UTC)
LOL, to me it totally read like he forgot, and I have this mental picture of Jor-El and Chloe getting together up north and ragging on him. "Seriously, I told him to be back by sunset," "I know, right, and I'm like stuck here in the *Yukon*..."

Both our readings are valid: I guess the point is that Clark chooses Lana and the romantic ideal couched in unreality/lies (by this I mean that his new mortality is not the truth of who he is) over Chloe and her real, open-eyed acceptance of his truth. It's the same choice he always makes, and I think he's going to keep making it until he's ready to accept his powers and his super-identity.
amandajane: smallville clarkamandajane5 on October 3rd, 2005 04:42 pm (UTC)
I read it more as, by the time Clark had checked on everyone he worries about in Smallville, Jor-El had taken his powers away so he just *couldn't* zip back up to the Yukon. And he probably did feel like she was safe there, unlike the people in Smallville, which is why he didn't bring her with him initially.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 4th, 2005 02:53 am (UTC)
Yes, Clark made the right decision when he left Chloe safe in hospital and went to Smallville. But he did choose to stay with Lana even though Jor-El had threatened that the whole of humankind was in danger. I hope we will see Clark/Superman better able to balance the needs of others as he matures. I think he can do it! And I'm not saying it's not tough on a teen boy to be faced with these choices.

(But aaaghhh it's *Lana*!)