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Smallville 9x19 - Charade - I worship at the television altar
tariel22
tariel22
Smallville 9x19 - Charade


Clark Kent has come far since we first met him on Smallville. He has accepted each new superpower as it has emerged, and learned to control them all. He has uncovered his Kryptonian heritage, and struggled to define what it means to live as a alien in a human world. He has embraced his destiny, committed his life to helping others, and traveled beyond the boundaries of his small home town to take on evil in the big city. He has even adopted a separate identity with a signature symbol, a mysterious savior the people of Metropolis can look to for hope and inspiration when the darkness looms. He only has a few challenges left to conquer on his journey to become the hero we all know he will one day be, and in Charade we saw him wrestle with two of the biggest: stepping out of the shadows to put a face on the Blur, and choosing the safety of those he protects over the deepest desires of his own heart.

My first impression of Charade was that I loved it. I liked the way the story started out fun and almost campy, with OTT villainy and classic Lois and Clark hijinks, and then snuck up on us to deliver a huge emotional wallop, as our hero was forced to face the reality of the path he has chosen, and the sacrifices it will ask of him. At the end of the episode I was a mess, completely blindsided by the heartache that hit me like a physical blow. Then, as I sat there drying my tears, trying to process what had just happened, my logical brain crept in, and started asking questions. So expect a review that praises, but also ponders.

I'm not a shipper, and I've said all along that the last thing I wanted from Clark and Lois was angst, but the performances from Erica Durance and especially Tom Welling this week just tore me up inside, and made it hurt so good. Clark's panic when he found out about the Fake!Blur was palpable, and my heart went out to him as he reacted blindly to protect Lois, and then agonized over the right thing to do, finally retreating to the mundane task of fixing the tractor to sort out his jumbled thoughts. Was anyone surprised when he chose Lois's safety over both their feelings? Oh, Clark.

The final phone call between the Blur and Lois was devastating. The emotions washed over me like waves: the sweet romanticism of Clark's return to their phone booth, the impossible anguish of saying goodbye forever, the shock of Lois's stunned disbelief, and Clark's heartbreaking resolve in the face of it. Tom was amazing. He hit every note perfectly: the way Clark faltered when Lois said the Blur was the most important part of her life, the tears in his voice as he warned her against Zod's deception, still overcome by the fear of what might have happened, the way he forced himself to look away in those final moments, knowing that otherwise he would never find the strength to say that last goodbye.

Still reeling, Lois kept her rooftop date with Clark, but everything had changed in the space of a day. Lois tearfully shared her big secret, but no declarations of love. Her own needs now seemed insignificant, and besides, her faith in Clark had been shaken by his relentless pursuit of the Blur's identity, for reasons he could never explain. Lois seemed completely lost in that moment, and Erica's performance made the depth of her misery and confusion painfully real. Clark in turn had done everything he could think of to keep Lois safe, but at what price? I hated to see him so tentative, so broken, the man behind the myth, responsible for this pain, and yet the victim of it as well. How will they ever make this right?

Brian Peterson, executive producer of Smallville and the director of Charade, described the episode as a sequel to Idol, and it worked very well that way. Both episodes explored how Clark's anonymity as the Blur made it all too easy for someone to impersonate him, the conflict Clark had between being honest with Lois and keeping her safe, the risks Lois faced because of her special relationship with the Blur, and the anguish she felt being torn between two men who are actually one and the same. I liked the parallels between the two stories, right down to the identical epiphanies Lois and Clark had, each uttering the words, "I know what I have to do," as love led them to make a life-changing decision in order to protect the other. But while Idol gave us a mostly lighthearted look from Lois's POV, Charade gave us Clark's side of the story, and was decidedly more serious.

Charade was gloriously rich in Clark's POV, and it was like a long drink of cool water after an endless drought. As Clark considered telling Lois his secret, we experienced the debate that raged within him firsthand, and saw his love for her pull him in two different directions at the same time. On the one hand he wanted to be completely honest with Lois, keeping nothing from her, and on the other he was determined to do whatever it took to protect her from harm, including stealing her phone, spying on her, and denying her all his secrets after all. Clark made some questionable choices in this episode, but I can't fault him for them. He was frantic with worry after finding out that someone was calling Lois and pretending to be the Blur, and he acted without thinking, desperate to keep her safe.

Clark's need to stay in the shadows as the Blur made it possible for Zod to take advantage of Lois. As long as he remains faceless, anyone can step into his shoes, and potentially destroy everything his symbol has come to represent. How much more inspirational would he be if he could stand proudly before the people of Metropolis, and give a face and voice to the hero they already admire? Clark isn't ready to take that step yet, but he's beginning to see that the consequences of his reluctance are both personal and far-reaching. And even after everything he did this week, cutting himself off from Lois and warning her, both as Clark and the Blur, the truth is, she could still be fooled.

When Lois talked about how knowing the Blur's identity would make her a target, she unwittingly convinced Clark that it was too dangerous to come clean with her. But I don't think she was actually afraid of that. She was just defending the Blur's actions, rationalizing his reasons for keeping her in the dark. Later she passionately told the Blur that she didn't care about the risks, but by then Clark had made up his mind. I still can't wrap my head around his logic. It isn't the actual knowledge of the Blur's identity that puts Lois in danger, it's the perception that she knows, and unfortunately, that ship has long since sailed. She's already a target. And NOT knowing is what made her vulnerable to Zod.

I understand the reasons for it, but I really don't like the Fake!Blur storyline. For starters, I've never been a fan of the Triangle of Two. Taken seriously, it makes a liar out of Clark, and played for laughs, it's a joke at Lois's expense. And once Clark and Lois are in a relationship, throwing around terms like "the one," "always," and "the L-bomb," I don't see any place for it at all. But even if I accept it as Chloe described it, as Clark's way of being as honest with Lois as he can, everything changes when Zod gets thrown into the mix. Now we have an actual triangle, and how are we to know if Lois's tender feelings for the Blur are meant for Clark or Zod?

They haven't said it in so many words yet, but clearly Clark loves Lois, and she loves him back. But does she also love the Blur? Maxwell Lord suggested as much, when Lois resisted his mental interrogation even while unconscious. If he's right, who exactly inspired those feelings? The Blur first called Lois in last season's Stiletto, and his contact with her since then has been sporadic at best, although in both Savior and Metallo Lois alluded to many more conversations than we ever saw. Maybe that's a foundation for deeper feelings (although falling for a disembodied, altered voice on the phone seems a stretch), but as recently as last week's episode, Lois was hanging up on the Blur to run after Clark, and confiding in John Corben that Clark "is it for me." Now Lois says nothing is more important to her than her work with the Blur, and she was beside herself with emotion when she spoke to him in Lord's lab. But the only contact she's had with the Blur recently has been with Zod, and all the work that means so much to her was done at his behest. What am I supposed to make of that? And what's so altruistic or rewarding about doing Zod's dirty work anyway? I find it all very confusing.

I've always liked the theory that deep down, on some subconscious level, Lois knows that Clark is the Blur. That would explain her undying devotion to a man she's never really met, her lack of curiosity about the Blur's true identity, her complete acceptance of even the most glaring mysteries surrounding Clark, and the simple explanations she comes up with for all the crazy things that happen to her. But if that theory were true, wouldn't her subconscious also recognize that Zod's Blur was a fake, and give her a feeling that something wasn't quite right about him? I'm disappointed that both Lois and Clark were taken in by Zod so easily.

Maybe what Lois feels for the Blur is closer to hero worship, and the meaning she finds in her work with him is all about redefining herself, and not so much about love. After all, Lois herself said it wasn't like what she has with Clark. I always forget that Lois is on a journey, too. She is not yet the woman she is destined to be, and in Charade we saw her discover what it feels like to be part of something that's bigger than yourself, and realize how important it is to her to make a difference in the world. But I always thought she would get that from journalism, not from being the Blur's sidekick. And I wish it had been Clark who opened her eyes to that instead of Zod. *sigh* Right now that desire to serve the greater good is making Lois pull away from Clark, to put the needs of others before her own, but in the end it will be one of the strongest bonds between them, the common ground that makes them understand each other so well. In the meantime, however, I see a rocky road ahead.

This episode showed us one of the biggest reasons Clark's POV has been relatively scarce this season: Chloe. When they were at odds and barely speaking, Clark's traditional sounding board was gone, and no other character stepped in to take her place. If the price of getting Clark's voice back was complete validation of everything Chloe has done this season, I'm not thrilled about it, but I'll take it and be glad. I accepted that Lana would never be held to my standard of accountability long ago, and I was naive to expect anything different for Chloe. And I just don't see the upside of holding on to my anger. At least the snarky coldness was gone. Who we saw in Charade wasn't the old Chloe, but I think that's a good thing. The stars are gone from her eyes, the wistful looks in Clark's direction are ancient history, and Chloe has moved on to a life that is all her own.

I enjoyed the scenes between Clark and Chloe. The one where Chloe came over to convince Clark not to tell Lois his secret, and ended up talking him into doing the exact opposite, cracked me up. Watching them work together at Watchtower again, seeing their easy camaraderie, was nice, and listening to Clark talk to her, about his thoughts, feelings, and doubts, was nothing short of heaven. And I appreciated Chloe's compassion in the barn. I still love these two together, when the show gets it right. I never minded Chloe disagreeing with Clark, per se, what made me crazy was her deception behind his back and her attitude to his face, and there was nothing like that in Charade.

I thought the scene at LuthorCorp was pretty much a waste of time, although I'm always happy to see Tess. How cool did she look in those shades and that upswept hair, all tall and gorgeous? I guess they were setting up the events of next week's episode, and Tess's snide remark about Chloe was to establish that she still didn't know who Watchtower was. The scene did make me realize that Chloe's romantic relationship with Oliver is actually a good cover for why they're always hanging out together. They should have thought of that a long time ago.

The guest characters, and the actors who played them, were all great this week. Ray Sacks was as blatantly slimy as ever, and I have to admit, the guy has some nerve. Maxwell Lord was appropriately menacing and creepy; I look forward to seeing him again. Franklin Stern was a delight. And not just because his actions were directly responsible for Clark doing manual labor in the barn, with my favorite grey tee stretched snugly across his chest. Yum. No, really, it's about time someone made an issue of Clark and Lois's workplace romance. ;) All the elements of Charade made the episode feel like a classic Superman story. We started out with three different threads of Clark's life: his personal relationship with Lois, his job at the Daily Planet, and his secret life as the Blur. By the end of the episode, all three had converged, and it was very nicely done. Kudos to the writers, and especially to first-time director Brian Peterson. I was impressed. And I'm still figuring the Red Queen has to be Martha, although that was obviously not AOT in that limo.

Finally, there were some adorable Clark and Lois moments in Charade. I loved the freeze frame of Clark getting punched, and their meeting with Stern afterward was hilarious, especially Tom's expressions. Clark and Lois side by side in the elevator, all flirty and fidgety, fingers identically entwined, was too cute. And having Clark quite literally sweep Lois off her feet and out of frame was all the more delicious for leaving the good stuff to my imagination. "Sometimes I swear you have more than two hands." And her coat was completely undone! I always like to see Clark have fun with his superpowers. ;) I also loved the way Clark just knew Lois was going to lunge after Stern, and threw out his arm to stop her without even looking first. Watching them try to use one computer between them was funny. And I liked the way both Lois and Clark ended up at Tony's looking for Sacks.

Random thoughts: You can get a life sentence for attempted murder? I know the show is saving the first time Lois actually says the word "love" for Clark's ears alone, but having her say "If we 'L' each other," sounded incredibly juvenile. What were those blueprints we saw on the Watchtower computer monitors? So now the Governor is corrupt? Is that the next public office Martha will hold? Clark is lucky that everyone on Smallville uses low lighting that casts lots of convenient shadows. There was a monorail train going by in the background when the Blur called Lois. Was that a visual callback to the train that brought Lois back to Clark in Savior? And how can the show leave us hanging like that when Lois isn't even in the next episode? It's Crossfire all over again!

This episode made me feel better about Smallville after last week. A LOT better. Charade was all about Clark, and the focus on his relationship with Lois was also a focus on his destiny. The different parts of Clark's life don't exist in isolation, and this week they were all tangled up together. Now is the time for big decisions and hard choices, and Clark is doing his best to sort things out and do what's right. I have so much faith in him, but I also know there will be bumps in the road ahead. And when the dust settles, I hope Clark will see that he can't offer Lois only one part of himself and expect that to be enough, for her or for him. It would be a mere shadow of what their epic love deserves.

Tommy in a tux! Nuff said. Twenty of my favorite caps from Charade:




























































Screen caps courtesy of Home of the Nutty, with my thanks!



Best wishes to Tom Welling on his 33rd birthday today!

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shardsofblu From: shardsofblu Date: April 26th, 2010 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
But the only contact she's had with the Blur recently has been with Zod, and all the work that means so much to her was done at his behest. What am I supposed to make of that? And what's so altruistic or rewarding about doing Zod's dirty work anyway?

I was catching up with "Upgrade" after "Charade", and it made me understand her better taking in the context of that episode. It's all because ZodBlur asking to snoop around that she managed to help out John, and it seemed to me this has been a very profound and acute experience for her. This is the kind of thing she was talking about in "Charade" when she said, "....I'm doing something good, something right. It's something more than what I want, who I want. Something that's bigger than me." That felt just so incredibly true and honest to me.

One very strong memory I had as a young teen (I think I was around 13) was my mom coming to talk with me, eyes red from crying after her uncle's death. She talked about him and his wife, and then suddenly she spoke of how she hoped her children would also find for themselves something that they could always hold on to, when they eventually lose the people they love and depend on. It definitely has to be something "bigger than you".

Maybe what Lois feels for the Blur is closer to hero worship, and the meaning she finds in her work with him is all about redefining herself, and not so much about love.

This is exactly. There's never any doubt for me that her relationship with the Blur is all about the sense of purpose, that higher calling. The connection is still genuine, but not romantically speaking. Even with all its troubling issues, I really appreciate how the episode made Clark & Lois so similar in their need to find meaning in their lives through duty and responsibility to the world. Lois' voiced sentiments in "Charade" reminds me a lot of Clark's in a previous episode (I can't recall which one right now though) in which he said something along the lines of, "Every day I wake up with a sense of purpose", referring to his Blur duties and his job at the DP. Lois herself would need to learn she can be confident in finding that purpose without needing anyone's validation.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 26th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought of Lois helping John, of course, but she did that on her own. Zod played no part in that beyond sending her to spy on Tess. She says she's been working for him for weeks; what else has she been doing? It just bothers me that someone who is actively deceiving Lois, and betraying Clark in the process, should be the inspiration for these feelings in Lois, rather than Clark himself, or at least someone worthy of her admiration. What's the message there?

I do like that the show introduced the concept of serving the greater good. I've never doubted that Lois shares Clark's commitment to that ideal, and I loved that moment of understanding they shared at the end of the episode. I'm thrilled to see the show explore the reasons these two are so right for one another.

Lois herself would need to learn she can be confident in finding that purpose without needing anyone's validation.

I liked that Clark's response to the line you quoted above was, "You don't need me for that." He's right; Lois doesn't need anyone else to find her own higher calling.
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miss_tress From: miss_tress Date: April 26th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I was going to leave my thoughts on the ep but I'm too distracted by the lady in the first picture looking like she wants lick Clark to do so.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 26th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL! In the context of the scene, she's actually supposed to be looking angry at him, but I don't think she could quite pull it off. I wouldn't be able to either. ;)

Look at this promo pic. The girl in the blue dress is following directions and looking daggers at Clark, but the girl in the white dress is thinking, "Wheeee! I'm standing right next to Tom Welling!" She's grinning like a loon, and I don't blame her one little bit.

starry_dawn From: starry_dawn Date: April 26th, 2010 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, so apparently I'm only shutting up about this on my own journal, because I'm suddenly motivated to list out my problems with this episode here! Okay, that's because I know you won't judge, and you always have interesting things to say, and often offer a different perspective that I can think about. So yeah, it's all your fault.

Anyway, I have to agree 100% with your Triangle-for-Two rant. I don't like it for precisely the same reasons you do, and to have that be made so explicit in this episode made me dislike it that much more. I've actually been enjoying the Clark/Lois/Blur storyline so far, but to have it all come crashing down on them because Lois can't decide between Clark and the Blur, and because Clark can't come clean (for very flimsy reasons) is just terrible.

Zod!Blur makes things so much worse. Lois's sense of purpose comes from Zod giving her stuff to do. Clark!Blur never had her do any of his work for him. His connection with her was personal; she was the person he could open up to. He would never have willingly put her in harm's way, just to get his own work done. That's what bugs me, that Lois's "rejection" of Clark (or at least her inability to decide whether he's "enough") comes from feelings of love/hero-worship (I can't decide which one she feels) for Zod!Blur. Which is just mind-boggling, to be honest. The normal triangle is bad enough, but put Zod into the mix and it all goes to hell.

It doesn't help that Clark keeps coming back to the same flimsy reasons for not telling Lois his secret. Lois's relationship with the Blur is almost public knowledge right now, so whether or not she knows his true identity is pointless. Doesn't she already get into trouble without knowing? And seriously, if she kept it a secret, it really wouldn't make a difference to other people. I think my biggest problem is that I don't see a problem with Lois knowing about Clark/Blur, and the show is obviously not going to go there, like EVER. And while I can accept that normally, it just becomes that much more obvious and frustrating when it is brought to attention as glaringly as it was in this episode.

Moving on, however, I have to agree with what you said, re: Clark and Chloe. I actually really enjoyed their interaction here, and it makes such an enormous difference when AM plays Chloe without the snark and the cold attitude. I saw none of that in this episode, and it really made their scenes so much more palatable. Yes, she's still being let off scot-free for everything she's done, but at least she's not actively annoying me by being needlessly snippy at Clark. Small mercies, huh? I hope we don't revert back to usual, bitchy S9 interaction by the next episode, but I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.

Yeesh, sorry for the rant! I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer on your journal. It's just that I feel so much safer talking about this stuff here, where I know your reply will make me feel better. You truly are the eternal optimist, IMO. I could use some of your sunshine. :)
shardsofblu From: shardsofblu Date: April 26th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Clark!Blur never had her do any of his work for him.

Isn't this exactly what he did in "Metallo" though, when he asked her to find information about Corben? Of course, Clark doesn't contact her anymore to ask for her help after that, but to Lois he would just simply seem to go on a hiatus. So when ZodBlur called her to ask for help again, she doesn't have any reason to suspect anything was different.
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jlvsclrk From: jlvsclrk Date: April 26th, 2010 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my! I was going to leave some hopefully intelligent commentary on your review but all the pretty short circuited my brain. Guh! And I thought that was the best performance Tom had ever delivered. Magnifique!

I too am a little confused at what exactly Lois is fealing for the Blur but think its much less about love then the power of making a difference. And I agree that EVENTUALLY Lois will find that power within herself through her journalistic endeavours, but for now she's got sidekick status stuck on her brain. I too agree that she does know subconsciously that Clark and the Blur are the same - certainly, she did before the events of Idol convinced her otherwise. I thought in Metallo she was starting to question the Blur a bit, but not enough to knock him off the pedestal she'd put him on.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 26th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tom was AMAZING in this episode. I hope BP appreciated it. :)

Once Zod fooled Lois into thinking he was the Blur, I had to conclude that she was clueless even on a subconscious level. And it really bothers me that the show seems to be saying that Clark and Zod are interchangeable in the role. Zod inspired Lois in a way that Clark never has.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 26th, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Emotional episode...

Thank you for the optimistic and thoughtful review. I have to come out and admit that I've been downright exhausted lately with Smallville fandom. On the one hand, I know that this show has always presented opportunities for lively debate. On the other hand, I feel like I'm tired of all the criticism. Make no mistake, it's not that I don't respect people's right to have it: I'm just personally exhausted with it.

I have no doubt that the feelings of warmth and affection that Lois developed for the Blur were feelings that she developed for Clark and not for Zod. The conversations that Lois had with the Blur in Stilleto, Doomsday, Savior, Metallo and Idol were laced with warmth. (Also, I think we are to assume that there were MORE conversations between Savior and Metallo that we did not see.) We were not given any evidence onscreen that Lois' conversations with Zod had any of the characteristic warmth or affection that she experienced early in the season.
Then, I was thinking that we got two pivotal scenes in this episode that led to Lois' emotional confusion at the end of the episode. That drove her over the edge. We got the sad and poingnant moment when Clark stood behind her and held her hand wearing the shield AND we got the final conversation between them on the street. BOTH of those experiences were with Clark. Even though he didn't speak to her while he held her hand...I do believe she felt his presence and it affected her emotionally. To me, what shook Lois to the core was the presence of CLARK as the Blur. Notice that prior to this episode she didn't seem to be having any trouble seeing Clark as her heart's desire. It was only when Clark as the Blur came back into the picture that she felt conflicted again. I know...it gives you a headache, right?

I know a lot of people feel like it's unrealistic for Lois to have emotion and affection for someone she only has spoken to over the phone. Yet, I was thinking about it....and as with many things I think about my own husband and our connection. The way I instantly feel better (and always have even before we were together) even knowing he's in the same room. Could I honestly say for sure that I couldn't fall victim to the same thing if I was speaking to the man I loved over the phone and didn't know it? Am I positive that I wouldn't feel that pull? I can't say that I wouldn't. Love can be a powerful force of nature and there are times when we feel a pull to someone that we just don't understand for reasons that defy logic.

The tough thing about the Triangle for Two is that it's been over simplified over the years. It's been dumbed down for laughs. Honestly, 20 plus years as a Superman fan and I've never seen it played to this level before with this much complexity.

Lois loves Clark. She has made that clear. But right now, Clark is only sharing half of himself with her. Lois is drawn to his hero side like a magnet. She has no idea why. She’s the first woman to not just “accept” that hero side of Clark but to actually love the entire persona. THIS is what the triangle for 2 is about.

Clark can’t deny his hero side anymore than Lois can. We saw last year in “Hex” that he didn’t feel complete when he was just Clark. This ties in with the Superman canon that we know from the comics. In the comics, after Lois was shot, Clark wondered if his duties as Superman had brought more pain to the world than good. But he came to the conclusion that he couldn’t stop being Superman. He LOVES being Superman. Then he added…”I love being Superman FOR HER.”

It’s all interconnected. His love for saving people, his duty to the world, his love for Lois, her love for him, her love for his heroism. Superman and Lois' relationship in the modern Superman canon is much more complex than a lot of people realize. Love, Passion, Duty, Honor, Heroism....they are all connected. The love that exists between Lois and Superman is so powerful because she loves all sides of him with equal passion. She loves the reporter and she’d gladly die for the hero. He's devoted to being a hero but he'd gladly die for her. The passion for her and the passion for being a savior are so interconnected that it's difficult to seperate them.




tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 27th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Emotional episode...

I think I love Smallville more than most people, but I'm afraid you'll find no shortage of criticism for the show in my journal. :) I find this fandom to be quite exhausting as well. What wears me out is the close-mindedness of some people, the inability to tolerate any viewpoint but their own. I think it's all too easy to forget that this is just a TV show we're talking about. Bros before shows, I always say. :)

I already expressed my concerns about Zod's Fake!Blur to you upthread, so I won't rehash that here. If I were to have my preference, Smallville would keep Lois's romantic feelings for Clark and her hero worship of the Blur completely separate, with no blurring (no pun intended) of the lines between them. Lois feeling even a moment of guilt because she has feelings for them both and is torn between them is the biggest reason I dislike the Tof2.

The love shared by Superman and ILL is legendary, and has always been one of the primary elements that draws me back to this story, in all its forms. It will be interesting to see how the show develops the relationship between Clark and Lois over the next year, presuming that S10 is the last. Smallville has the path of their love running parallel to Clark's journey; will they choose to intertwine them before Clark's journey ends? I have no problem with most of the unique twists and turns Smallville has added to their Superman story, but I draw the line at Clark needing Lois to find his way to his destiny. There are some steps he still needs to take on his own.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 26th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Emotional episode (cont.)

Cont:

Tom Welling blew me away in this episode. He had me close to tears several times. I was watching the episode with my husband and he was completely riveted. When it was over he looked over at me and said, "That was a really really good episode. I actually felt like I was getting a little emotional." The last time I saw my husband get emotional about something on television was when we watched "Marley and Me."

I thought that Tom and Erica were intensely sympathetic. I felt like I could understand both sides. I knew where he was coming from and I felt pain for him but I understood where she was coming from.

I loved that they FINALLY allowed Clark to articulate what many viewers have known for a long time: That he feels SELFISH taking something for himself. And my God, what a brilliant callback to the Superman mythos. One of the most powerful moments in Superman II is the moment where Clark challenges his birth parents (his father in the Richard Donner cut) about feeling "selfish" about loving Lois. Then you think about the way Lois has stated before that she knows it's "selfish" but she doesn't want to share someone with the world. Yet, here she feels the same call to duty and service that Clark does. She doesn't want to be selfish but she can't deny her passion for him any more than he can deny it for her. I found it very emotional and moving.

Thanks for your comments and thank you for welcoming me into your chats.

Kindest Regards,
MJ
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 27th, 2010 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Emotional episode (cont.)

That's so funny that you mention Marley and Me. I have a friend who works at a movie theater, and he told me that was the only movie he's ever seen where more men came out crying at the end than women. :) There's just something about dog stories and guys, I guess.

Tom was incredible. I really do think this was one of his best performances ever, and I was taken by surprise at how deeply it touched me. He may have a crazy busy life, with projects and responsibilities pulling him in all different directions, but his commitment to his role as Clark Kent has not lessened in any way. What a guy!

I was so tied up in knots watching this episode! I could totally see both sides. Lois was all wrong about Clark's motivations, but her conclusions were completely understandable. It was an impossible situation!

I, too, loved that moment where Clark gave voice to his feelings, and that it was in response to recognizing those same feelings in Lois. I think the show is going to break these two up (they have nowhere else to go with them), but moments like that make me okay with it, because I know they will find their way back to one another, and they will only be stronger for the challenges they face now. I'm excited for S10!
cbrownjc From: cbrownjc Date: April 26th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Part I

One thing I'm confused about when reading around various reviews is some people's confusion about what Lois' feelings for the Blur are. Because I honestly don't know how much more direct they could have framed it. Lois said it herself, what she felt about him was not the same as what she feels/has for Clark. It just made her want for Clark and her desire for Clark seem selfish. Not that it made her want him any less or desire him any less. Just that, when weighed again the higher purpose of helping the Blur, it made her wants and desires seem less important by comparison.

Lois said last year in Stiletto, (which was episode 8x19 like this one was 9x19) when Clark first called her as The Blur, that without her job at the DP, she didn't know who she would be without it. The only way she had to define herself at that point was by her job, and she obviously didn't like that. Being helpful to the Blur gave her something she felt was bigger than herself, made her feel that she was part of something bigger than herself. Like Clark, it gave her a sense of purpose.

What Lois has to do now, is take that feeling of purpose and find a way to achieve it on her own. I liked that you pointed out that Lois, just like Clark, is on a journey to her full iconic self. I think many people forget that, or just ignore that point and have expected Lois to be her fully formed iconic self ever since season four when she first arrived. No one expects that of Clark, and I think they miss it with Lois because we know she ends up as his true love and wife. And Clark has been hurt so much when it comes to love over the years, people sort of knee-jerk if Lois' isn't acting 100% perfect the closer and closer she and Clark have gotten.

So to the Zod-Blur thing, I must be the only one on the planet who's not bothered by the fact that Zod duped Lois and doesn't think Zod fooling her means that it was only though Zod that Lois found that sense of purpose. Because IMO this helping Zod twist was only an extension of what Lois was already feeling about the Blur and his place in her life. It goes back to Rabid and that weird dialog Lois had when she "confessed" her dark secret to Clark, and talked about doing "good work" with the Blur. Yes, they should have actually showed some of this, even if it was just Lois publishing a story about the Blur's heroics, but that scene, in retrospect, was actually the set up for what Lois said here IMO. It wasn't about Zod specifically giving her something to do. It was about helping the Blur period. And no, IMO, that doesn't make Lois a sidekick. It just made her one part of the bigger picture.

When Lois and Clark finally do come together in every way they are supposed to, Lois will continue to be part of that bigger picture, but fully with her own part and identity. And in that way, she will be a full partner to Clark when she helps him and covers for her when he has to slip away and be Superman, and when she writers stories about him and his heroics that allows the world to see him though her eyes.

ETA: One point of the phone-connection thing. I do wonder if people who question this had problems with movies like The Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail. Two movies in which you are supposed to believe that two people were able to form a connection via letters or emails. They didn't even talk to each other via phone calls like Lois and Clark were doing. I guess it's just my way of saying, I bought it in those movies, so yes, I can buy it here too.

Edited at 2010-04-26 06:54 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 27th, 2010 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Part I

Lois said it herself, what she felt about him was not the same as what she feels/has for Clark.

I agree with your interpretation, but Maxwell Lord said Lois loved the Blur, and I think people didn't know if we were supposed to take that as a truth that Lois doesn't herself realize (she was resisting him while unconscious, so presumably at a subconscious level), or if we were supposed to think he was wrong. Some people took it to mean that the show was suggesting that subconsciously Lois knows that Clark and the Blur are the same person.

What Lois has to do now, is take that feeling of purpose and find a way to achieve it on her own.

I look forward to seeing that on the show!

Because IMO this helping Zod twist was only an extension of what Lois was already feeling about the Blur and his place in her life.

Honestly, that wouldn't surprise me at all, but that's not what I saw play out on my TV screen. It wouldn't be the first time the show wasn't clear about what they were trying to say. I just don't want Zod tarnishing the special connection the Blur and Lois share with his evil, plotting ways. :)

And in that way, she will be a full partner to Clark when she helps him and covers for her when he has to slip away and be Superman, and when she writers stories about him and his heroics that allows the world to see him though her eyes.

Yes. And that's what makes their relationship so compelling to me, that Lois is so much more than Superman's LI, and that she is never diminished by standing at his side.

I do wonder if people who question this had problems with movies like The Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail.

I think it all depends on the content of the communication. My own issues are twofold: that any communication with the Blur by phone could never compare to the relationship Lois has in person with Clark after six years of friendship that has grown into love, and that Lois should have been able to figure out that Zod was a fake. I've had someone text me from my sister's phone and pretend to be her before, and they couldn't fool me for long. They just didn't "sound" right.
jeannev From: jeannev Date: April 26th, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a brilliant review.

As always, you are much better at looking for the silver linings in SV eps, and articulating what you like about them. I sometimes think of you as a bit of the yin to my yang, LOL

But, like you, I also found myself very confused about some of Clark's reasoning. As FABULOUS as it was to have this much POV from him in an episode, I did find myself a little baffled by his decisions. I felt for him throughout though, and thats because Tom gave a brilliant performance. One of his very best of the season.

I do have to say that this ep reminds me of how annoyed I am that they couldn't be bothered overly much to give Clark this much POV prior to this ep in S9. That will remain my biggest knock on this season.

And I also found Lois a bit puzzling in this ep too. But like Tom, Erica's gave a tremendous performance, so it was easy to feel for her. I won't repeat what you wrote, but I agree 100%. I think throwing the Zod!blur into the mix really has me questioning what sort of bond Lois really has with Clark's Blur. I think the show is trying to have it both ways, a bit. But its taking me out of the whole T-for-2 thing a bit.

Also, like you, the traingle-for-two is just not one of my favorite aspects of the Superman tale, in any incarnation. I especially didn't want it for SV. I appreciate that they are trying to make it unique for this version. But I'm still not quite on board with it.

I had a bit more of a problem with the Chloe/Clark scenes then you did, EXCEPT the one in the barn, which I thought was quite nice. And I appreciated that Chloe was trying to make Clark feel a bit better about the whole thing.

This ep did a lot right. But like I said in my review, I have some big issues that aren't easily resolved.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 27th, 2010 10:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Awww, you're way too nice to me, but I love it. *blushes*

And I admire you so much for your unflinching honesty, and your gift for going right to the heart of the matter, pinpointing with unerring accuracy what does and doesn't work on this show.

There were a lot of things in Charade that raised questions in my mind, but I think I was completely seduced by the performances from Tom and Erica. When Clark confronted Lois on the street immediately after realizing that someone was impersonating him as the Blur, that argument was so real. They perfectly captured two people who are desperately trying to communicate with one another, and failing miserably, their frustration level ratcheting up with every word they speak.

I really can't say enough about Tom. I thought he was amazing in every single scene. I know how professional he is, but still, to see this level of concentration and commitment to a deeply emotional episode, when I know how many other things clamor for his attention on a daily basis, truly touched me. And I just know he was doing everything in his power to make Brian's directorial debut a success, because that's how generous he is. I would love for BP to do a commentary on this episode, because I'm sure some wonderful Tom stories would be told.

I keep seeing people make reference to how well this episode addressed Clark's duality, and how clear it now is why Clark can't tell Lois his secret, and why Lois doesn't want to know, and honestly? I have no idea what they're talking about. And when they start to wax poetic about the beauty, complexity, and nuance of Smallville's Tof2, they might as well be speaking a foreign language. I am definitely missing something here.
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cbrownjc From: cbrownjc Date: April 26th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Part II

As to the final, last line - "Am I enough?" I took that two-fold. First of all, at the beginning of the season, when Lois had the Blur in her life, but Clark was gone, Lois missed Clark terribly, as we saw. Now, the Blur is gone, she has Clark, but is obviously hurt that the Blur cut her out of his life completely.

At two points this season, Lois has now only had half of Clark. One is a romantic connection, one is not. But they are both sides of him that are important to her. So, on a meta level, why should she be content with only half of Clark?

Now, on a non-meta level, look at everything that happen to Lois in this episode. In Stiletto, just a year ago, she said she didn't know who she'd be if she didn't have her job. Helping the Blur in any way she could (not just doing the Tess investigations that Zod asked of her) gave her a greater feeling of purpose that didn't just make her define herself by her job.

Now what did this episode do, by the end? It took both of those things away. She doesn't feel like she has something greater than herself, and she doesn't have a job that she could fall back and define herself by. In a way, she has now become what some people (in fandom) were claiming that it's all she ever was - which is Clark Kent's girlfriend.

So no, I'm sorry, I love Clark to death, but if Clark had lost his job (which yes he did) but say, along with that, has lost his ability to be the Blur and help people every day - lost the ability to wake up every day with a purpose as he said in Turbulence I think - would anyone honestly think Clark should be content to just be Lois Lane's boyfriend?

Lois needs to define herself, and have a purpose for herself, outside of Clark; just as Clark should have a definition outside of Lois. It was one of the things I liked about Upgrade last week - Lois and Clark were both off doing their own things. So no, by that token, Clark shouldn't be enough. Because the two of them will never be strong together if they aren't strong individually and know who they are outside of each other.

That, IMO, was always one of the reasons why Clark and Lana didn't work. Because Lana IMO could never define herself out of a relationship. Whitney, Adam, Jason, Clark, Lex . . . it was a vicious cycle for her. To the point that she changed herself completely by getting that power suit to feel equal to Clark.

To be with Clark - heck, to be with Superman - is going to take a strong person who is secure fully in who they are independent from him. And Lois is still trying to shape that part of herself. Because she's looking to do so - she inherently needs that for herself. And so no, as much as she loves Clark, just being with him isn't enough to fill that.

Edited at 2010-04-26 06:42 pm (UTC)
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tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 27th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Clark is in an impossible situation, where his desire to be honest with Lois is at war with his need to protect her. Clark will always have to lie to the people in his life, but only because it's necessary, and I know he hates doing it. He wants to tell Lois, and obviously I think he should, but only Clark can decide when the time is right.

I understand what you're saying, that it seems like Clark has a double standard. I don't agree with some of his choices in this episode, like stealing Lois's phone and spying on her, and I hope he realizes that's a line he doesn't want to cross in the future.
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: April 26th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday, Tommy!

I enjoyed the episode, despite the no Ollie. *pouts* ;)

(Also despite Gil Bellows' hair. Very creepy, that hair.)

Poor Lois! When the Blur was saying good-bye, she just broke my heart. I think she does know he and Clark are one in the same from that sound mix-up thingy. She just buried the knowledge. And if her sub-conscious has linked the Blur and Clark, that was enough of a reason to fight Lord. Memories are not concrete; perception has a lot to do with it. If she envisions the Blur with Clark's face, even just for daydreaming, she puts Clark in danger.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 28th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Ollie will be back this week, big time, but I'm so freaked out about the spoilers I don't know how I'm going to bear watching it. It reminds me of when I found out Xander was going to lose his eye in Buffy. I have a feeling I'm going to seriously want Zod dead after this. It took me months to warm up to Nathan Fillion again. What? I never said I was rational. ;)

I love your description of what Lois knows and feels, and I want so badly to embrace it, but I don't know how the whole Zod thing fits in there. Obviously, I need to just let go of that. *sigh* I'm not quite there yet, though. *ponders it some more*
goodvibe From: goodvibe Date: April 26th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was sort of emotionally exhausted after watching this and way more than a little confused about how I was supposed to view this relationship and these characters - and that's just never a response I like having to a SV ep. ::sighs::

I have to say, for me, I've watched it twice now, and I realize this might be a very unpopular opinion - but I'm not even noticing a whole lot of Clark POV. He seems to merely be agreeing with Lois' (IMO) halfbrained reasoning for most of the ep, endlessly flipflops and then has that last scene where yeah, he briefly articulates his thoughts.

I think I had a lot of expectations from this ep, given how terrificly well it started, and for me, it just imploded towards the end in the worst possible way.

Thankyou for allowing me to express my opinion so freely here. Please know that I still tremendously enjoyed reading your review. :-)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 28th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to say, for me, I've watched it twice now, and I realize this might be a very unpopular opinion - but I'm not even noticing a whole lot of Clark POV.

That's very interesting to ponder! Now I want to watch it again. I know I was disappointed when he let Lois's speech about why the Blur was keeping her in the dark sway him from telling her the truth. For Clark's POV, I liked the kitchen convo with Chloe and the barn scene the best.

I was completely swept up in the performances, especially Tom's, and had a rare moment where I totally embraced the angst. It really was worlds apart from my normal experience watching this show. My cold stone of a heart felt nothing during the final loft scene in Requiem, for example. :) And now, with some distance, I have to admit I'm leery about what happens next.

I think we're headed for a breakup, and I'm fine with that, I'm just worried about how the show is going to handle it. I would love to see both Clark and Lois spend some time alone, figuring out who they are as individuals, outside of this famous couple.

Thank you so much for your comment! You know I always love hearing your thoughts on the episodes.
anakaliaandrea From: anakaliaandrea Date: April 26th, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
lovely in depth review. beautiful episode. It was great yet sad to watch. but it was definitely one of my faves.

oh the ending was a beautiful place for them to kiss, and they didn't. ugh!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 28th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful and sad, indeed. But in a good way, and I don't say that about many episodes. This one touched me.

The show wouldn't let them kiss, because they wanted to leave the question unanswered, and us hanging. :(
tasabian From: tasabian Date: April 26th, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great review love, as always, and LOVE all the gorgeous 'caps!

This episode showed us one of the biggest reasons Clark's POV has been relatively scarce this season: Chloe. When they were at odds and barely speaking, Clark's traditional sounding board was gone, and no other character stepped in to take her place.
That explanation for the absence of Clark POV hadn't occurred to me, but you're absolutely right. It makes Chloe's plotline from late S8-9 make even less sense. Why deprive Clark of his sounding board when there is no one to take her place? (A role that could have gone to Oliver, if not for HIS S8-9 plotline.)

I've always liked the theory that deep down, on some subconscious level, Lois knows that Clark is the Blur. That would explain her undying devotion to a man she's never really met, her lack of curiosity about the Blur's true identity, her complete acceptance of even the most glaring mysteries surrounding Clark, and the simple explanations she comes up with for all the crazy things that happen to her. But if that theory were true, wouldn't her subconscious also recognize that Zod's Blur was a fake, and give her a feeling that something wasn't quite right about him?
That would have been a cool way to play it, if something about the recent Blur calls just felt "off" to Lois, even if she wasn't sure why.

Now Lois says nothing is more important to her than her work with the Blur, and she was beside herself with emotion when she spoke to him in Lord's lab. But the only contact she's had with the Blur recently has been with Zod, and all the work that means so much to her was done at his behest. What am I supposed to make of that? And what's so altruistic or rewarding about doing Zod's dirty work anyway?
I guess we're supposed to extrapolate that Zod has told her about some grand purpose....but then Lois practically hung up on him last week, to run after Clark, seeming impatient with Zod!Blur. So that was the plot point that took me out of this ep. - I just don't find it feasible that Lois could value the Blur over Clark. (Admittedly, there's some Tom-bias there.)

Clark's panic when he found out about the Fake!Blur was palpable, and my heart went out to him as he reacted blindly to protect Lois, and then agonized over the right thing to do, finally retreating to the mundane task of fixing the tractor to sort out his jumbled thoughts.
Both Tom & Erica were great - the little panicked stammer that Tom introduces into Clark's voice when he thinks about the impostor, the anxiety in his eyes: perfect. And I liked their quarrel on the street better than the rooftop scene - it felt very much like a real couple, very convincing.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 28th, 2010 09:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! *hugs* There's something about Tommy in a slightly mussed tux that is especially delicious. :)

Why deprive Clark of his sounding board when there is no one to take her place?

I would have loved for Oliver to step up and be a true brother in arms for Clark. I had such high hopes when he called Chloe on her shenanigans in Beast, but then he served up his own brand of betrayal. At least we got a taste of what could have been in Kandor. I also would have been quite happy to see Clark confide in Emil. I enjoy his dynamic with Clark. His unflappable demeanor and dry intelligence allow Clark to set the emotional tone of their conversations, and he doesn't compete with Clark's POV for center stage.

So that was the plot point that took me out of this ep. - I just don't find it feasible that Lois could value the Blur over Clark.

I feel the same way. One is a living, breathing god of a man (remember her "hello sailor!" in Echo?) who has been her friend for six years, and the other is a disembodied, weird-sounding voice on the phone. They've both played the hero, and both saved her life, so I don't even give the Blur much of an edge in the rescue department.

Both Tom & Erica were great - the little panicked stammer that Tom introduces into Clark's voice when he thinks about the impostor, the anxiety in his eyes: perfect. And I liked their quarrel on the street better than the rooftop scene - it felt very much like a real couple, very convincing.

Me, too! The rooftop scene was pretty, and poetic, and heartbreaking, but their argument on the street drew me in and had me on the edge of my seat. Tom was so good! I loved the way Clark, almost overcome with worry, struggled to find the words that would make Lois understand. And when they were both so upset, wanting desperately to communicate with the other but failing miserably, it all felt so real.

Tom and Erica both outdid themselves this week, and that's what made the episode work for me.
emerald_night From: emerald_night Date: April 27th, 2010 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually thought they did show a bit of difference between Lois' reactions to ZodBlur and ClarkBlur.

In Upgrade, she had no qualms about cutting off Zod and going after Clark.

But when talking to Clark again as the Blur, even if she didn't consciously know the difference, there was definitely more of a connection. And I think that's because Zod sent her on missions. Clark's first words to her (as the Blur) were that he wanted to talk to her in a place that meant something to both of them.

Clark, as the Blur, made an emotional connection with her, which made it equally devastating (to both of them) when he severed it.

To me, there was no question that Lois' romantic feelings are all about Clark. And that what they did was allow Clark to see that the same struggles he has every day, balancing his two lives and that feeling of selfishness - well there is someone who understands that.

I liked the ending question, because really, Clark is not enough for CLARK. He wouldn't be happy giving up the Blur. And he wouldn't be happy JUST being the Blur. He needs both sides of his life in order to truly be a whole and happy person. And Lois needs both sides of him as well.

But Clark needs to understand that and merge those two sides of his life. Until then, he's two 'halves' instead of one whole.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 27th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that was sort of why I didn't have a huge critical problem with it. I've said several times that I think there was a writing error. But I thought her behavior in "Upgrade" where she cut him off really fast and didn't seem that invested emotonally was pretty telling.
It still seemed clear to me that cutting off the connection became devastating when it was Clark on the other end of the phone. Obviously we'll never know, but I'm not positive it would have been so devastating if it was Zod doing the breaking up. Plus, the way Lois said that she hadn't realized it meant that much to her until that moment. So, she clearly hadn't realized how important it was to her to help the Blur until it was Clark on the other side again. Her moment of revelation about how much working for the Blur meant to her and that it was "the most important" part of her life came AFTER the moment when Clark stood behind her and held her hand and after Clark tried to sever it. It didn't come BEFORE that. So I never really had a question about it for that reason.

But I totally get that this is just a difficult thing to deal with for some people. And that's cool.

MJ
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