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Smallville 7.14 - Traveler - I worship at the television altar
tariel22
tariel22
Smallville 7.14 - Traveler
So, did anyone catch that new show on the CW last night? It was called SUPERMAN!! Yeah, yeah, no flights and no tights, whatever, that was my hero, in every way possible. I loved this episode so much I pretty much want to marry it!! And this week I know I'm not the only one!

In the end this episode was really all about Lionel Luthor. Over the entire course of this series, Lionel has been a mystery to me. The Magnificent Bastard is clearly a genius, a master manipulator, a ruthless businessman, and a twisted father. With parenting like that, Lex never really had a chance. But wait, Lionel can also be fiercely loyal to and protective of his son. He killed his own parents. He's saved the lives of others on more than one occasion. He tried to kill Chloe. He's Jor-El's vessel. He tried to kill Lex. He's Martha's new BFF. He can't be trusted. He's Clark's ally. Is he a force for good or evil? Who knows?

John Glover enhances the confusion with his incredible performance, episode after episode. He makes you believe that all the different facets of Lionel can somehow, impossibly, coexist, and all be true. This week was no exception, as within the House of Luthor we saw the beginning of the fall of the father, and the rise of the son. As Lionel's world began to crack and spin out of control, his evil actions were at war with his compassion for Clark, and he was the definition of a tortured soul. And that's when it hit me. Lionel has been corrupted. Corrupted by good. He hesitates to follow his finely crafted, evil plan, and is lost forever. No longer able to make the heartless decisions that have always ensured his success, he fails utterly.

And as he falls away, Lex steps seamlessly into his place. Fully inured to the hurt and harm he leaves in his wake, he kills where Lionel can't, and becomes the new King. Along with our superhero, it appears we have our supervillain. I have chills, people.

Michael Rosenbaum was masterful as Lex Luthor in this episode. His performance was perfect, as we finally saw Lex use his intelligence and instincts to their full potential. Lex was in turns warm and charming, and then cold and ruthless. This week Lex stopped being his father's puppet and became instead the puppet master. The moment when Lionel tried to pull one of his old tricks, and derail Lex with a scornfully cutting remark, took my breath away. Because it didn't work! Lex barely paused, gave him a smirk, and then continued undeterred. Lex! I knew you had it in you! But dude, you're scaring me!

Lex has also acquired all the trappings of villainy. He's always had the sinister castle, and he's been wearing his trademark long, black jacket for awhile now (hot!), but recently he's added both lackeys and minions, and tonight we saw the coup de grace, the cold stare of a man who's letting his soul die inside of him, one day at a time. I mourn the loss of the Lex I've loved, but on the other hand, game on!

I enjoyed meeting Patricia Swann, and I was sorry she didn't survive the episode. She had a strength of spirit that was beautiful, and I think she helped Clark see himself through her eyes, as the hero she knew him to be. I loved the way she stood up to Lionel, but tragically she guarded herself against the wrong Luthor. She tried to use Lex as a pawn, and underestimating him proved fatal.

The Veritas storyline has me well and truly intrigued. Continuity abounds! Well, except for that new stained glass window, but I'm willing to overlook that. :) We first saw the Veritas symbol as a wax seal on the letter Lana so curiously examined in Lionel's office in Siren. Then, in Fracture, we saw little Alexander painting it on a toy warrior in one of Lex's memories. Later Lex examined the warrior, and for the first time noticed the matching symbol that has never always been part of the Luthor crest in his office window. In this episode, the symbol appears on a painting Lex made as a child, and on the necklace Lex took from Patricia's dead body. There are further mysteries to be revealed, I'm sure, and I can't wait to find out what they are.

This episode was very Old School Smallville. All the regular characters in tonight's episode, except for Kara, were also in the Pilot. It was fun to think about that fact as I reflected on how far each of the characters has come since that first episode, and how much all of them, and the show itself, have changed over the years. And Kara's presence has been an entirely welcome addition for me. I loved her coming to Clark's rescue as he lay on the floor of the cage, desperately reaching out to her. Their reunion was both tender and heartwarming. I wasn't crazy about Clark calling Lex a lost cause when he was talking to Kara in the barn, after he just said in Fracture that he would always look out for the good in Lex, but maybe that's just the recent trauma talking.

I actually liked Lana in this episode. She and Chloe made a great team. Lana knew Lex's secrets, and Chloe knew Clark's, and together they were able to retrieve Kara and put a rescue plan into action. Maybe it was the fact that Lana didn't have any scenes with Clark that won me over, though. :) And speaking of Chloe, how awesome was she?! Talk about a hero!! As soon as she found out that Clark was missing, she went into action and led the rescue charge, completely determined to do whatever it took to bring him home safely.

Chloe continues to shine as Clark's sidekick this season. Only she knew where to find the key. Only she possessed the investigative skills to see through Lionel's diversion and find where Clark was being held captive. Only she knew how to use the key to take Kara to the fortress. And in a moment that is destined to become legendary, a moment none of us will ever forget, only she could convince Jor-El to restore Kara's powers and memories. Because no words can adequately describe the feeling Chloe's impassioned plea evoked, let's just experience it again here:

"Jor-El! Out of all the planets across the universe, you decided to send your only son to this one, to Earth! You trusted us to protect him. Now, please, Jor-El, I need you to trust me. I love your son! He's in danger, and he needs our help!"

Allison Mack's delivery of this speech was beyond awesome, truly. And to top it all off, when Kara is once again super, we get just a hint of that famous music! That is the last we see of Chloe in the episode, but I can't stop thinking about her. Everything about her actions in this episode served to remind me that whether her friendship with Clark eventually becomes something more or not, this is the most important relationship in Clark's life right now, and without her, he wouldn't have survived the torment of this episode.

Okay, like dessert, I've saved the best for last. Could you believe Clark in this episode?!?! We start in the barn, where he is attacked and taken, and even armed with kryptonite, it takes at least a dozen commandos to bring him down. There's a true fight scene, a rarity on Smallville, and it's glorious! The next time we see Clark, he's imprisoned in a kryptonite-laced plexiglas cage, and his sadistic keeper, Pierce, tortures him with increasing levels of exposure, seemingly for his own entertainment. Clark never breaks, never begs. He is brave, strong, and steadfast in the face of impossible pain, and as heroic as I've ever seen him. And who knew he could look so gorgeous while he writhes in agony? :)

We soon learn Lionel is behind it all, and that he is prepared to use Clark as a bargaining chip in a power struggle with Patricia, but we also see him wrestle with the feelings he has developed for Clark, and in the end Pierce overpowers both Patricia and Lionel, and increases the kryptonite to lethal levels. Kara explodes into the building to save the day, Lionel kills Pierce, and Clark learns the depths of Lionel's betrayal. Their eyes meet and we know their alliance has come to an end. What will Clark do next?

And here's where we see just how far Clark has come. Remember the last time Clark thought Lionel had betrayed him, in Phantom, when he found out Lionel had forced Lana to marry Lex? Clark was completely out of control, and on the verge of killing Lionel when Martian Manhunter intervened. Well, that boy is gone, and with him his uncontrollable anger and reckless endangerment of human life. The man who goes to see Lionel in this episode is calm, logical, intelligent, and determined to uncover the truth. He is no longer ruled by his emotions, and no longer vulnerable to Lionel's lies and machinations. His anger is unmistakable (and hot!), but so is his control. He stands tall, resolute, and righteous, and he is every inch my hero. When Lionel claims to be a different man than in the past, one who is still worthy of Clark's trust, Clark considers, decides, and says, "No you're not." And walks away. Lionel may not have changed, but our boy sure has!

Tom is stunningly handsome in this episode, particularly at the end, in the warm yellow sunlight of the farm and the cool blue atmosphere of Lionel's office. He is once again rocking the Superman look with his short hair, piercing gaze, chiseled features, flawless skin, and impressive physique. What can I say? Even on a show with a ridiculous amount of pretty, the man stands out. What I truly appreciate about him, however, is the way he has come to embody this character. Witness his quiet dignity in his final scene with Patricia. This is the man who is my Superman.

Random thoughts: Did everyone figure out that Pierce was also the good cop from Obscura? And did all the Supernatural fans recognize Haley from Wendigo? Kara's fake yearbook page quote said, "I will be modeling this summer." When Lana said she would kill Lex, I believed her. Tom is directing the 150th episode, which will air on May 1, 2008. Yay!

So, do we all agree on this one? It was one of the good ones, right? :) I am totally pumped for the rest of the season! I'll see you back here next week for the final pre-strike episode. I can't wait, it's supposed to be huge!

P.S. On a completely personal note, remember how I told you guys that I'm named after St. Patrick? May I just express how thrilling it was to hear my name spoken by JG, MR, and TW, over and over again? *swoons* Okay, so I go by Tricia, and only my mother and one of my big brothers ever call me by my full name, but still. Thrilled. To my core. *is a dork*

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Comments
jeannev From: jeannev Date: March 21st, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not only do I want to marry this episode (and Tom Welling), but I want to marry this review (and Tom Welling).

I don't want to say too much, because I have my own review to do later, and then I feel like I can start making with the comments. But, I have to say, my review is likely to mirror yours very closely. Because you are awesome! :)

This was a terrific episode. For this week, I felt like SV really had its eye on the ball, didn't waste time with subplots, and every single character fared very well. It was a total homerun.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 21st, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was a total homerun.

That is the perfect way to describe this episode! Every character had an important part to play, every actor's performance was great, and there were no jarring moments that seemed out of place or didn't make sense. I am positively giddy over this episode, and the first thing I'm going to do when I get home from work tonight is watch it again!

I just knew you would love it, too! Thanks for the wonderful comment, and for sharing the squee! :) I can't wait to read your thoughts on the episode.
From: seacrystal Date: March 21st, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
EEP! I can't wait to see this episode! Will comment more later after I've watched it. :D

n a completely personal note, remember how I told you guys that I'm named after St. Patrick? May I just express how thrilling it was to hear my name spoken by JG, MR, and TW, over and over again?

:D
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 21st, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought it was definitely the best episode this season. I'm looking forward to reading your reaction to it!
carolandtom From: carolandtom Date: March 21st, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful review! It was a pleasure to read it!

Tom is stunningly handsome in this episode, particularly at the end, in the warm yellow sunlight of the farm and the cool blue atmosphere of Lionel's office. He is once again rocking the Superman look with his short hair, piercing gaze, chiseled features, flawless skin, and impressive physique. What can I say? Even on a show with a ridiculous amount of pretty, the man stands out. What I truly appreciate about him, however, is the way he has come to embody this character. Witness his quiet dignity in his final scene with Patricia. This is the man who is my Superman.

So much WORD!!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 21st, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for reading, and commenting! I'm glad you liked it! I swear, I'm still on a high from this episode. :)
goodvibe From: goodvibe Date: March 21st, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
We can ::definitely:: agree that this was one of the good eps. :-) And I love the way you've described TW and his presence and performance---needless to say, ITA.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 21st, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Much better than last week, that's for sure! :) I keep going back to watch those critical Clark scenes again and again, especially the one with Lionel. Even after 6+ seasons, Tom continues to grow as an actor, and surprise me with the depth of his performance. I think he has a crystal clear vision of who Clark is, and who he will become, and in S7 in particular, I find his portrayal to be more commanding with each episode. I have high hopes for the rest of the season!
norwich36 From: norwich36 Date: March 22nd, 2008 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your review, especially your discussion of Lionel Luthor. Great analysis, especially the part about Lionel being corrupted by good and the fall of the father/rise of the son.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 22nd, 2008 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I really appreciate you reading, and your kind comment! I thought John Glover was phenomenal last night. He's such a gifted actor, and Smallville has been so fortunate to have him as Lionel. It was his performance, his nuanced expressions and the depth of emotion in his voice, rather than the actual words in the script, that inspired my take on the episode. He portrayed Lionel's crumbling hold on the situation perfectly.
(Deleted comment)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 22nd, 2008 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much! *blushes* I can't tell you what that means to me. I really did love this episode beyond all reason, and I honestly think I've watched that last scene between Lionel and Clark about ten times. I hope we can look forward to more like this before the season is over!
From: seacrystal Date: March 22nd, 2008 09:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Lionel has been corrupted. Corrupted by good. He hesitates to follow his finely crafted, evil plan, and is lost forever. No longer able to make the heartless decisions that have always ensured his success, he fails utterly.

I think that's an interesting perspective -- Lionel being corrupted by good. IMO it's more about Lionel crumbling from all directions, he's starting to lose all sense of self. All those years of fooling and manipulating, are coming back to bite him in the ass. He's finding himself to be the one to be cut from those very strings that he's been pulling on everyone else.

Lex! I knew you had it in you! But dude, you're scaring me!

That's the mark of a bonafide villain. ;)

There's a true fight scene, a rarity on Smallville, and it's glorious! The next time we see Clark, he's imprisoned in a kryptonite-laced plexiglas cage, and his sadistic keeper, Pierce, tortures him with increasing levels of exposure, seemingly for his own entertainment. Clark never breaks, never begs. He is brave, strong, and steadfast in the face of impossible pain, and as heroic as I've ever seen him. And who knew he could look so gorgeous while he writhes in agony? :)

Totally. Cark's iron will thoroughout the ordeal is such a perfect characterization of this character I've known and loved for years.

Kara explodes into the building to save the day, Lionel kills Pierce, and Clark learns the depths of Lionel's betrayal. Their eyes meet and we know their alliance has come to an end. What will Clark do next?

I just love how Lionel simply dropped his jaw to floor when he saw both Clark and Kara there. Game over.

So, do we all agree on this one? It was one of the good ones, right? :)

Good doesn't even begin to describe it! LOL. I simply LOVE this episode to pieces, this is easily becoming one of my new favourite episodes of the entire series! :p

Definitely can't wait for next week!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 22nd, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Clark's iron will throughout the ordeal is such a perfect characterization of this character I've known and loved for years.

When I first started watching Smallville, I was really into the premise of those early seasons, how every teenager has problems, but that Clark's puberty was just that much more difficult because of his abilities (as they were called then, have you noticed they call them powers now?). I loved the episodes where Clark had to deal with feeling even more alienated than a regular teenager, or when he had to cope with a newly emerged superpower.

As the seasons have gone by, though, I felt like Clark reached a certain point in his journey and then got stuck there. In Season 6 in particular, I felt like he was stalled. But this season has been awesome in the way that Clark appears to have begun to shoulder the mantle of his destiny. It's been more in the subtle touches of Tom's performance than in any major plot points: the way Clark holds himself, the look in his eye, even the timbre of his voice.

In this episode, however, I felt like we got the whole package. Clark embodied the qualities of Superman on every level, in his bearing, his thoughts, his decisions, and his actions. And I realized it's been as if I've been holding my breath in anticipation of this moment. I am so excited for this show again, and I really hope this episode wasn't a fluke, but was rather an indication of more awesomeness to come!
jude_judith82 From: jude_judith82 Date: March 22nd, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi! found you via the wonderful little community eat_crow
the House of Luthor we saw the beginning of the fall of the father, and the rise of the son. As Lionel's world began to crack and spin out of control, his evil actions were at war with his compassion for Clark, and he was the definition of a tortured soul. And that's when it hit me. Lionel has been corrupted. Corrupted by good. He hesitates to follow his finely crafted, evil plan, and is lost forever. No longer able to make the heartless decisions that have always ensured his success, he fails utterly.

This whole section. Just wow. I hadn't thought about it but Lionel has been corrupted by good. He doesn't know what to do with himself.

"Jor-El! Out of all the planets across the universe, you decided to send your only son to this one, to Earth! You trusted us to protect him. Now, please, Jor-El, I need you to trust me. I love your son! He's in danger, and he needs our help!"

I'm not ashamed to admit I might have teared up a little bit here. It could have easily been cheesy here sreaming at the walls in that manner but it worked.

Okay, like dessert, I've saved the best for last. Could you believe Clark in this episode?!?! We start in the barn, where he is attacked and taken, and even armed with kryptonite, it takes at least a dozen commandos to bring him down. There's a true fight scene, a rarity on Smallville, and it's glorious! The next time we see Clark, he's imprisoned in a kryptonite-laced plexiglas cage, and his sadistic keeper, Pierce, tortures him with increasing levels of exposure, seemingly for his own entertainment. Clark never breaks, never begs. He is brave, strong, and steadfast in the face of impossible pain, and as heroic as I've ever seen him. And who knew he could look so gorgeous while he writhes in agony? :)


Umm word on all of this. I basically wanted to copy the whole last section. Those final scenes with Clark and Lionel were intense. I had such a visceral reaction to them.

Great post and you've given me a lot of food for thought. Thank you.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 23rd, 2008 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Hi! *waves* Thanks so much for coming over to read, and especially for commenting!

It could have easily been cheesy here screaming at the walls in that manner but it worked.

I honestly think no one but Allison Mack could have pulled this off. Just as she can deliver exposition better than anyone else on the show, she can also infuse emotional scenes with complete sincerity and absolute passion. Her performance rises above the written word time and time again, I think. I'm so glad she was given the opportunity to make this scene memorable!

Those final scenes with Clark and Lionel were intense. I had such a visceral reaction to them.

That final confrontation between them was my favorite scene of the episode. I've already watched it more times than I care to admit. :) The anger and emotion that fills Clark's voice when he asks, "Why would you even build that thing?!" just kills me, as does the sorrow and finality in his last words to Lionel, "No you're not." It was a perfect performance by both TW and JG.

I can't wait to see the next episode!
jude_judith82 From: jude_judith82 Date: March 24th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I honestly think no one but Allison Mack could have pulled this off. Just as she can deliver exposition better than anyone else on the show, she can also infuse emotional scenes with complete sincerity and absolute passion..
No question. Sometimes the things they have her say I'm like no one else can pull them off but she does it marvelously.
(Deleted comment)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 24th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Traveler is making my top ten list for all-time favorite episodes, I think. There really wasn't anything about it that I didn't like. I'm totally pumped for this week's episode! But I love Smallville more than most. :)

Thanks so much for your kind words about my review. That means the world to me, truly.
acampbell From: acampbell Date: March 25th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC) (Link)
As often happens with SV, the ep is growing on me with each repeat viewing.

his evil actions were at war with his compassion for Clark, and he was the definition of a tortured soul. And that's when it hit me. Lionel has been corrupted. Corrupted by good. He hesitates to follow his finely crafted, evil plan, and is lost forever. No longer able to make the heartless decisions that have always ensured his success, he fails utterly.

OMG, I do believe you may have put your finger on it!

And as he falls away, Lex steps seamlessly into his place. Fully inured to the hurt and harm he leaves in his wake, he kills where Lionel can't, and becomes the new King. Along with our superhero, it appears we have our supervillain. I have chills, people.

In conjunction with what you said about Lionel, it's ironic to the max: if Lionel hadn't spent so many years inflicting just about every possible cruelty on Lex, Lex wouldn't have become so thoroughly inured. Because it was Lionel's "nurture" that made him the sort of person everyone else in his life would wind up leaving.

I wish they'd reveal that Lionel, not Lex, had Patricia killed, but recalling how I waited in vain for a reveal that Lionel was behind Fake!Baby, I'll forego holding my breath. With SV, WYSIWYG, more often than not.

Writhing!Clark is one of my favorite characters.

You know, if they wanted a graceful exit for Lana, they could have her mention to Clark how Chloe clearly knows so much more about his life and is privy to so much more information that she doesn't think he loves her (Lana) as much as she says and she's going away to think things over for a while. However, I don't think they'd give us anything that organic.

And here's where we see just how far Clark has come.

You're right--he has, and I hadn't realized it until you pointed it out.

What I truly appreciate about him, however, is the way he has come to embody this character.

It's truly amazing: he looks and seems more like Superman all the time!

Hee, I get a kick out of it in the commentaries when our guys refer to "Allison" (Mack--though I'm a "one-l" Alison, the two versions SOUND the same) and in "Heat," when Clark alerts Lex that his new wife's real name is "Alison Sanders." So, I hear ya!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 25th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Lionel has orchestrated his own downfall, hasn't he? Be careful what you wish for, right? :)

I, too, liked Writhing!Clark, especially those hip thrusts! :) I was especially gratified that THRJ was left behind during the kidnapping. Clark really does justice to a simple tee and jeans, doesn't he?

I agree about Lana. When Chloe knew all about the key, and the fortress, and Jor-El, I would have been asking myself, how come she knows everything and I don't? What's wrong with this picture?

I'm still giving Tom most of the credit for Clark's Supermanly bearing this season. It feels like an acting choice to me. And the rumor is that the haircut was his idea.

Yeah, if my name were Chloe, I'd be dead by now! :)
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