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Smallville 8.12 - Bulletproof - I worship at the television altar
tariel22
tariel22
Smallville 8.12 - Bulletproof
Smallville, my love, we need to talk. You know how much I love S8. It's been my favorite season ever so far. And you know I love my boy Clark. Week after week, I'm in your corner. Usually I'm your biggest cheerleader. Other people laugh marvel at the way I adore you. But after watching Bulletproof, I have to ask: what in the world are you smoking thinking?

Fair warning, guys: full blown rant ahead. I hate the Clana. HATE it. I loved it once, rooted for it, even swooned over it. But it's a relationship Clark should have left behind in high school, and every time it rears its ugly head, my hero makes me cringe. First of all, Clark is destined to be Superman, and Superman is destined to love Lois Lane. She is the love of his life, not Lana Lang. Smallville has already raised Lana's importance in Clark's life far beyond where it should be, and to resurrect their romance now, AGAIN, just makes me want to scream. Or cry. I don't care if Clark and Lois get together on Smallville, but someday, somewhere, they are going to share a love for the ages, the kind of love that makes them both better, the kind of love Superman needs to fully become the hero for whom the world so desperately waits. But how am I supposed to believe in that when Clark is still nurturing an obsession which, to hear him tell it, he's had since kindergarten? Show, if you make the legendary Lois Lane look like Clark Kent's second choice, I will never forgive you.

Second of all, I have a problem with Clark still loving Lana anyway. She has done things that should be a deal breaker for the future Man of Steel. Even if you believe (I don't) she was driven to her actions by Clark's secrets and lies, or if you believe (I don't) that the fault lies with Lex and his machinations, she's still responsible for the choices she made. And I'm giving her a full pass for any occasion where she "wasn't herself," like when she stabbed Genevieve in the heart in Commencement, or when she tried to kill Lex in Wrath. I'm talking about how she has had her own share of secrets and lies, how she was going to leave Lex trapped underground to die in Nemesis, how she stole $10 million from Lex and created the Isis Foundation as a front to spy on him, and how she kidnapped and abused Lionel Luthor. And that's just for starters. Of course I expect Clark to have compassion for Lana, but I don't expect him to think someone who has shown such ethical ambiguity is the person with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life, not when he is supposed to be the moral compass for the rest of us. No, show. Just no.

Third of all, I don't like what the Clana does to Clark. I never thought I'd see the day when my superhero would beg another man's pregnant (or so he and she both thought at the time) wife to run off with him. Yeah, it was two years ago. I'm still not over it.


Screen cap courtesy of acampbell.

The last scene in Bulletproof made my head hurt. Watching Clark try to convince Lana to give it one more try, while she selflessly reminded him the world needs him more, was depressing. And if Clark is going to realize there's a woman out there with whom he can share his unique life, why have the subject of that epiphany be a woman we already know is leaving the show forever after two more episodes? At best, it makes Clark look confused, and like he doesn't know his own heart. At worst, especially after Bride, it makes him look fickle and pathetic. And that was the unsexiest kiss I've ever seen. It's hard to believe this is the same couple who gave us this scorcher:


Screen cap courtesy of oxoniensis.

Okay, I feel better now. That's pretty much covers the big problem I had with Bulletproof. Now we can move on to my normal gushing review, where I either fanwank or forgive everything that bothers everyone else. :)

The story of corrupt cops taking the law into their own hands is far from original, but I thought it was a great way to illustrate exactly why Metropolis needs heroes like Clark and Oliver. Criminals who slip through the cracks in the justice system, and vigilante cops who hunt them down, quickly losing sight of what justice truly means, was a moral issue I was happy to see Clark wrestle with, especially because he operates outside the law himself. Just as I did in Prey, I liked watching Clark figure out where he stood, visibly forming the moral code that will be the framework of his life in the future. I loved the way he took everything in and appreciated every side of the story, but didn't let his sympathy for Danny dissuade him from doing the right thing. And in the end his words and actions inspired Danny to find his way back to the right path. Awesome.

Except for that last scene, Clark was great in Bulletproof. He was smart, focused, determined, compassionate, and heroic. He had the courage of his convictions, and wasn't swayed by anyone else's opinion or argument. But he was also open, truly wanting to hear what Danny thought of the "capes" who fought crime in a different way. It was fun to see him go undercover, and a thrill to see him blur in to save the day. And Tom Welling in a police uniform, towering over all the other cops, made me weak in the knees. Not to mention how dreamy he looked in all the other clothes he wore in this episode. Can we all say welcome back to the delicious grey short-sleeved tee/white long-sleeved tee combo? Yum. And Tom's hair looked gorgeous. I love that they're letting it get a little longer.



I also enjoyed the scenes between Clark and Oliver. I know some people get tired of Oliver busting Clark's chops all the time, but that's just who Oliver is. He's arrogant, he's kind of a hothead, and he can be an ass, but he's also passionate about helping people, and I think the way he pushes Clark is good for him. Their conflicts help Clark articulate his own beliefs, and serve to remind him that he can provide the world with a different kind of hero, one who would never argue that the end justifies the means, or appoint himself judge and jury over a man's life. I think Oliver covets Clark's powers (who wouldn't?), and it frustrates him that Clark doesn't use them the same way he would. But Oliver is all too human, and can never truly understand what it means to be Clark, and to wield almost limitless power.



Never were the differences between them more apparent than when Oliver came to confront Clark at the farm. Oliver was all about jumping into the fray and knocking some heads together, while Clark was determined to take the time to understand why these men did the things they did, and find a way to pull them back from the edge. I think Oliver has been trying to be more like Clark since he got back from Cuba, and it grated on him to hear Clark seem to defend the same vigilantism he's been struggling to leave behind. But Clark doesn't know any of that, and he has no idea just how well Oliver understands the forces that made those cops cross the line.

I like it when Clark and Oliver hang out together, being all manly and saving the world, with the occasional snarky remark (from Ollie) or exasperated look (from Clark). They're cute together. :) Clark needs a guy friend, and he and Oliver have a lot in common. So I was happy when by the end of the episode, Oliver saw that Clark's faith in the human race was not misplaced after all, and the boys resolved to work together rather than apart.

I'm always glad to see Phil Morris guest star as John Jones. I enjoy the adult presence he brings to the show, and the mentorship he provides for Clark. Plus, even in small doses, he's just plain cool. That scene in the hospital with Clark, Oliver, and John was completely made of win. And how cute was the little Martian in the spaceship hanging from John's rear view mirror?



Chloe only had one scene in this week's episode, and I was curious to see if she would say anything more about her experience with Brainiac. The only thing she expressed was regret over losing her super brain power. Maybe she's more resilient than I expected, or maybe she's just keeping it all inside. Time will tell, I guess. It was great to see Chloe and Clark working together again, without any tension between them. I've missed that. And the scene had its poignant moments as well, as Chloe warned Clark not to run roughshod over her smitten cousin's heart in his rush to Lana's side, and we could see on her face that the pain of unrequited love was one she remembered all too well. We know Lois loves Clark, but we have yet to hear him say how he feels about her. For now, anyway, his actions seem to suggest that Lana alone holds his heart. AGAIN, some more.



Tess was awesome this week, aside from an all too predictable case of Lana worship. Why does Lana have to be so fabulous, anyway? Can't she just be a real person? She's so perfect, an expert at everything, better than everyone else in every way, and loved by all. Way to make her relatable, show. *rolls eyes* Anyway, back to Tess. I love her exquisite combination of hard edges and surprising vulnerability. I just can't figure her out. One moment she's shooting someone in cold blood, and the next her big eyes are overflowing with tears. But mostly she's smart, and cold, and unapologetically ruthless. I love her! And Cassidy Freeman plays her perfectly, making her a fascinating mystery.



I'm not sure what I think of this latest development in the Lex plot. I completely understand how Tess would feel both betrayed and violated, to have technology implanted in her body, and her every experience watched and no doubt recorded, all without her knowledge or permission. I keep imagining all the things Lex has seen through her eyes, and don't tell me Oliver naked didn't spring to your mind right away, too! No? That was just me? :) But what is her plan? I kind of wish she would reconsider and remain loyal to Lex, but if not, I don't want her to destroy LuthorCorp just for the sake of lashing out. She's better than that. And she's already demonstrated she can play Oliver, so I hope she has a brilliant master plan up her sleeve to go with her proposed merger. I do think it was a miscalculation on the show's part to flash that newspaper with a photo of Michael Rosenbaum's Lex front and center. A stab of longing went through me when I saw his face, and I was reminded anew of how terribly I miss seeing him on the show, and how Tess, as good as she is, will never begin to replace him.



Random thoughts: Did everyone recognize Trevor from Hothead? Clark's undercover name was Joe Fordman. Was that a double shout out to Jor-El and Whitney? Lana thinks she was Lex's equal? Yeah, honey, you just keep telling yourself that. That was a cool shot of Clark catching Oliver's arrow. Did anyone else want to wipe that dribble of blood off of Tess's mouth? And I loved Clark's "oh, hell, no" face when the bad cop was about to shoot him. :)


Screen cap courtesy of Home of the Nutty.

Last week we saw Clark unequivocally state that he doesn't kill, ever. This week he showed us that he never gives up on anyone. He's embracing the concepts that will define the superhero he's destined to become, and we are actually witnessing the journey we signed up to see all those seasons ago. In spite of my major problems with this episode, I still love this season and this show. I just need to somehow find the strength to survive the next two episodes.

Cross-posted at Starkville House of El Podcast.

To the Lana/Clana fans on my flist, I apologize for the rant. I respect your love for this character and this relationship, but I don't share it, and I had to get that off my chest. I hope we can still be friends, but you should probably skip my Smallville reviews for the next two weeks.

And because the pretty always makes it better, here are my top ten screen caps of Tom from the episode:






























Except where noted, screen caps courtesy of KEakaCK, with my thanks!

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Comments
drusplace From: drusplace Date: January 24th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
"A stab of longing went through me when I saw his face, and I was reminded anew of how terribly I miss seeing him on the show, and how Tess, as good as she is, will never begin to replace him."

*CRIES* LEX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 24th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
*cries with you*

I had such an emotional response to that picture! And I was torn between wanting Tess to stay loyal to Lex, because he deserves to have just one person who remains true to him, and wanting her to cut herself off from him, so there will be less temptation for the show to use Fake!Lex again.
legendarytobes From: legendarytobes Date: January 24th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to say that I don't Clois and haven't enjoyed the pairing this season, but, honestly, this whole Lana returning after Bride AND after Chloe gave him the basic "If you hurt my family member, I will beat you to death with Kryptonite speech" was awful. At best, if you try and give him the benefit of the doubt, it makes Clark look immature and foolish and too head over heels to think straight or to bother considering another person's perspective. It also shows he has short term memory problems since Chloe just told him point blank "Clana hurts people and be careful to others this time around."

At worst?

It makes it look like he was using Lois for some comfort/as a placeholder until Lana came back and, no matter whom you ship, that really, really sucks. I would like to go with scenario A in which Clark is merely a moron. But either way, he comes off as self-absorbed, callous, and petty.

In essence after an episode spent trying to defend Dan Turpin and show off his Supermanly attributes (props to using his ID to be able to scan hospital records and look for Dooms), he regresses back to a 14 year old who feels the world can go to Hell as long as he can suck face with Lana.

I swear, any time she's on the show, his brain disappears. It happened in season six where he was progressing well until about Labyrinth and then turned in to baby!momma stealer (I have rarely hated Smallville as much as I did in Promise. Even shipper leanings aside, there is something fundamentally wrong with watching Superman try and steal someone's wife). In season seven, we had about two episodes of Clark being heroic and mentoring Kara and then we went back to Clark loves Lana and never questions her "divorce settlement," illegal activities or secret labs (and why isn't THAT plot about what the Hell she really was doing at ISIS coming back up now?).

Now it's just "The world can go to hell with Lana back!" and "Lois who? She has feelings?"

Thus proving the ONLY reason he got a job at the DP or started being the RBB was because Lana was gone and he had to kill time until she could show back up again to make his life super complete/he could grovel to her.

Edited at 2009-01-24 06:13 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 24th, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
...he regresses back to a 14 year old who feels the world can go to Hell as long as he can suck face with Lana.

Exactly. I swear the Clana is the anti-Clark. This makes Clark look bad. Why in the world would PS3 want to revisit this dysfunctional relationship? Are they pandering to Clana fans? Or did they truly drink the Kool-Aid during their years under AlMiles, and are rabid Lana worshippers themselves, who can't imagine a Clark Kent who doesn't place Lana above everything else?

And then I saw the DC for Power, and my head exploded. What the fuck ever, show.
tasabian From: tasabian Date: January 24th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why does Lana have to be so fabulous, anyway? Can't she just be a real person? She's so perfect, an expert at everything, better than everyone else in every way, and loved by all. Way to make her relatable, show.
The writers have always seemed to feel that if Lana isn't constantly praised, the audience will miss the point of the character. Whereas characters that slip up and fall on their ass from time to time are far more likeable.

I hate that Tess lost a fight to Lana and went to Ollie for help. Mercy would have wiped the floor with both and been honoured to be Lex's eyes and ears (which yes, is unhealthy, but that's how they roll in the comics.)

Thanks for the beautiful 'caps - that grey t-shirt never fails to delight me!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 24th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
The endless Lana worship makes me dig in my heels and refuse to join in. I have an anti-Lana bias that even I think is unreasonable, but I can't seem to let it go. It makes me hyper-sensitive to everything she says and does. In Bulletproof, when she said to Clark, "You've become the man that I've always known you could be," I took it as a condescending, backhanded compliment, when I know it was meant to be heartfelt and sincere. I'm hopeless. :(

I know very little about Mercy, but I always got the impression that she was fiercely loyal to Lex, even pathologically so. And known for her hand-to-hand combat skills. Don't have Ollie call Tess Mercy if you have no intention of honoring the character, you know? That just guarantees you're going to infuriate people.

That grey tee is one of the best things about S8! :)
acampbell From: acampbell Date: January 24th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent Clana rant. It did my heart good! As you well know, I'm still not "over" "Promise," either, and I know when even you have serious issues, they've gone too far.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 24th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I truly thought I was open to Lana's return, and I was so curious to see what the show would do with her within the context of what I consider to be the new and improved Smallville this season. I'm so disappointed in the show, and in Clark. And after watching the DC for Power, it seems clear that it's only going to get much, much worse.

I know when even you have serious issues, they've gone too far.

I know! LOL! I find a way to love just about everything on this show, but this episode broke me. How can they do this to my boy? It reminds me of what they did to Lex at the beginning of S7. It's just wrong.
jlvsclrk From: jlvsclrk Date: January 24th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
First off: thanks for all the lovely pictures. It was definitely a show that brought the pretty, but my favorite of all is Clark in that kinda grubby grey T-shirt.

I just couldn't let myself get all that worked up about the kiss. It went on longer than I thought it would and definitely wasn't close to the Red hot kiss. I kinda fanwanked it in my review. The boy needs closure because all their stated reasons for past break ups have been pretty poor (fear, lies, misunderstandings, more fear and then the worst reason of all: I have to leave so you can save the world). ITA that I don't see why he would WANT to be involved with Lana given her past actions, but that's been a longstanding issue with Clark. Hand in hand with why everyone has to gush about how wonderful Lana is. *Shrugs* It'll all be over soon.
jlvsclrk From: jlvsclrk Date: January 24th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, forgot to add, ITA about everything else. I've even decided to shelve my vendetta against Ollie. You're right: he does make a useful foil to make Clark articulate his values. And it was an interesting contrast between Ollie's gung-ho lets just start shooting people and Clark's more measured investigations. I loved how Ollie ultimately saw the force of Clark's argument about how to change people.
chrisluvstommy From: chrisluvstommy Date: January 24th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love your reviews they always mirror what I'm thinking but can't think to say LOL.. especially about Lana-fu warrior princess I mean come on does anyone have anything bad to ever say about her besides us ? LOL but really I mean they laid it on so think in Legion only to have Tess lay it on some more ? I mean geez well enough Lana bashing.. you were spot on in all your points as usual and the pretty definately made up for the eye gouging kiss moment LOL thanks again for the pics and great review
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 24th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for your comment! I couldn't believe it when Tess started gushing over Lana, I never saw that one coming. I shouldn't be surprised, though, she has that effect on everyone. After all, she already successfully emasculated Lex, woobified Bizarro, and defanged Lionel.

I don't want to be a Lana basher, truly, but I just can't stomach the effect she continues to have on Clark. And that kiss was weird.
jude_judith82 From: jude_judith82 Date: January 24th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ay this episode that ending killed me it's like Clark loses his brain whenever Lana is around.

E.T.A
Your note to SV in the beginning is made of win. I think you should send it seriously.

Edited at 2009-01-24 10:56 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 25th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I really thought Clark had moved on. I was looking forward to Lana coming back and giving us some true closure. The last thing I wanted to see was the romance resurrected. :(
jeannev From: jeannev Date: January 24th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was a good rant. See, why do I have to rant when you and others will do it for me. :)

And thanks so much for the pretty pictures. Tom looked very beautiful in this episode. All hail the grey t-shirt!!

There was a lot of good Clark stuff to be had in this episode, and I think you expressed that quite well. And I loved your fanwank for Clark/Oliver. It totally works. Its the type of story that would play great ON SCREEN. Can you get a job writing for SV, please?

Phil Morris is always great, and he brings so much to every one of his scenes. The hospital scene between him, Clark and Oliver was probably my favorite of the whole episode.

And I totally want that martian for my car mirror.

I think what I really like about Tess is that I don't get a "poor woobie" vibe off her at all. Even when we see her reacting to what Lex did. And I appreciate that quality. The reasons I like her are the same reasons I can't give a crap about Davis. And I adore CF.

I love the "oh hell no" face cap. Thats totally what his expression suggests. Love it!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 25th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a feeling I may be able to supply you with another rant around this same time next week. ;) Not that I'm going into Power with preconceived notions or anything...

This episode had a harder edge visually than usual, darker colors and harsher light in all the scenes with the cops. I really noticed it when I was picking out the caps. I kept imagining Tom is some gritty action drama.

I agree about Tess. And compared to her, Davis is a big old crybaby. :) She even bounced back from the Lana rapture fairly quickly, so I doubt we're in danger of seeing her go all emo. I think Cassidy Freeman has a clear understanding of who she wants this character to be, and I like it.

And I do love that icon. :)
carolandtom From: carolandtom Date: January 25th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I totally agree about Lana and the Clana.

I disagree on Oliver. He's too often annoying, tiresome and hypocritical.

Tess losing a fight to Lana and worshipping her? No, please!

I don't miss Lex. I think his storyline has already been told.

I love Clark and always will.

Tom looked gorgeous.

That's my review.

Thanks for yours!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 25th, 2009 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for commenting, Carol! I love Clark, too. This season more than ever.

It's funny, I don't actively miss Lex as a character when I watch the episodes, but I guess I miss Michael, because I had a surprisingly strong emotional reaction to that picture.
(Deleted comment)
legendarytobes From: legendarytobes Date: January 25th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Do you think maybe KK got rusty over the time in Bangkok?

I was sort of stomach churning by that point so wasn't paying attention but I've seen so many reviews that just painted it as the anti-passionate.
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bop_radar From: bop_radar Date: January 25th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Now we can move on to my normal gushing review, where I either fanwank or forgive everything that bothers everyone else. :)
Hee! Yeah, I usually do that too. But the Clana broke me. I'm not feeling generous enough to give Smallville a real review this week.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 25th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I understand the feeling! LOL! That last scene had me screaming at my TV.
goodvibe From: goodvibe Date: January 25th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
::bows humbly to the awesomeness of your rant::

Honestly, I feel like I'm so talked out on this. I ranted a-plenty in my own thoughts on the ep, but you've just gone ahead and stated perfectly my displeasure with the show right now. So I will just nod along and leave it at that. Heh.

Oh, and Teh Pretty was out in full force. Atleast there's that to gush over, if nothing else. ;-)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 25th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
At this point I just want to get through the next two episodes and move on. I've already resigned myself to a Clana ending that's going to disappoint me, now I'm just hoping they'll let Clark move on without lingering over his lost love. *sighs*

Between the cop uniform and the glorious grey tee, Tom looked amazing in this episode. I'm shallow enough that it made up for a lot. :)
gyri From: gyri Date: January 26th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I do think it was a miscalculation on the show's part to flash that newspaper with a photo of Michael Rosenbaum's Lex front and center. A stab of longing went through me when I saw his face, and I was reminded anew of how terribly I miss seeing him on the show

YES. I couldn't have said it better.

I'm really glad I've stopped watching. You made really good points in this review.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 26th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
The strength of my reaction took me by surprise. But at this point I don't want Michael to come back to Smallville, I just want to see him act again. I think he made the right move for him, personally and professionally, and I'd rather look forward to his new projects now.

You've stopped watching altogether? I guess there are a lot of Michael/Lex fans that have done that. I certainly wouldn't watch if Tommy weren't on the show anymore!
stoodupforlove From: stoodupforlove Date: January 26th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved the episode until that last moment. It just ruined the whole night for me. Honestly, I couldn't even enjoy "Supernatural" because I was so angry and disgusted about that stupid, pointless kiss. WTF???? WHAT THE...Seriously. Haven't we already done this plotline, and then done it again, and again? And now we're going to do it AGAIN? My God, Clark just needs to grow some balls and tell her to go to hell. I mean it. It was so bad that the second their lips met, I held up my hands to block it. I could not even watch them kiss. It was just...pointless. WHY are we doing this again? WHY? Ugh. Lana needs to leave. NOW.

So that's my take. Great episode until they ruined it completely. And the scenes between Lana and Tess bothered me, too. Lana acts like she's better than she is, I'm sorry. Ugh.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 26th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Hi! *waves frantically* It's so good to see you!!

I was spoiled for the kiss, which helped a little, but, yeah, I just got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and looked away. As you say, been there, done that, again and again and again. *sighs* I've watched the kiss half a dozen times now, because people have analyzed every second of it with wildly different results, and I wanted to see if I saw what they saw. As kisses go, it wasn't pretty, IMO. It makes me cringe every time.
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: January 26th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
*hugs*

I didn't think your rant was that bad, actually. I've seen much worse.

Mmmm . . . Ollie . . .
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 27th, 2009 10:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Whimsy. I worked through a lot of my anger before I posted my review. You should have seen the first draft. :) I stayed up most of Thursday night taking my rage out on my keyboard. Now I'm much calmer, and even looking forward to the next episode.

Ollie was gorgeous, as usual. And hilarious. Here's a sample:

Clark: You know, if he didn't sacrifice his abilities to save my life, that bullet wouldn't have left a scratch.
Ollie: And now you feel guilty, and that's your thing, and I get it, that's great. But standing here doing nothing's not gonna solve anything.

hee! He's so snarky! :)
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