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Smallville 8.18 - Eternal - I worship at the television altar
Smallville 8.18 - Eternal
Eternal was an episode full of exposition. In order to set up the events to come in the remaining episodes of S8, the show rewrote Clark's story, reaching all the way back to the Pilot to do so. I don't mind a little revisionist history, especially if it comes with a compelling storyline, but if you mess with something I hold dear, we're going to have a problem. This episode was a bit of a mixed bag in that respect. Along with the retcon, Eternal gave us some intense confrontations, revealed a few surprises, and finally brought Davis's dark secret out into the light, setting the stage for the showdown we've been anticipating ever since we first heard the word "Doomsday" in spoilers last summer.

Most of this episode played out as a series of conversations between two people, bringing an intimacy to the action that infused it with emotion. We saw Davis and Chloe, Chloe and Clark, Clark and Tess, and for the first time ever, Tess and Davis. We even had a glimpse, in flashback, of Davis with Lex. Clark and Davis had a couple of brief encounters, and the second one was chilling in the promise it held for what is yet to come, but the show is wisely keeping these two mostly apart until they come together in final conflict.

Chloe and Clark were not getting along this week, and I can understand why. Chloe has had the year from hell, and Clark has been absent for a lot of it. Most of his time is spent at his new job at the Daily Planet, and that's a life he shares with Lois. When he's not working, he's patrolling as the Red Blue Blur, or helping Oliver with the Justice League. He and Chloe still get together for coffee, but it's not like the old days. He doesn't heed her advice like he used to, or ask for her help as often. Most recently he missed her birthday, and he wasn't there to pick up the pieces when Jimmy dumped her in front of a public audience at Met Gen. The one person who has been there for her without fail is Davis, and now Clark is giving her a hard time about him. No wonder she's a little put out.

Clark, on the other hand, can't understand why Chloe won't listen to him about Davis. All he cares about is protecting her, and he has a bad feeling about this guy. And it looks like Chloe's hiding things from him again. First it was her engagement, then her Brainiac infection, then her memory loss, and then Jimmy's apparent breakdown. How can he keep her safe if she doesn't tell him what's going on? When they made the shocking discovery that the serial killer they were investigating was Davis himself, Clark lost it, overcome with the thought of the danger Chloe had put herself in, and the lives that had been lost. And Chloe was in despair herself, awash in guilt even as she tried to come to terms with the truth. Their argument was a wonderful, passionate scene, and Tom Welling and Allison Mack were electric in it. It seems that Davis has come between Clark and his BFF, with what I fear will be dire consequences.

In the meantime, Tess has been doing some investigating of her own, and there is little she doesn't know, or at least suspect. Thanks to Lionel's journal, she knows the whole Veritas story, and she's gathered other information from Lex's journal, her brief conversation with Faora, and professional surveillance, as well as her own perceptive observations. Frustrated that Clark wouldn't confide in her, she took matters into her own hands, going to great lengths to prove to herself, and Davis as well, just what his destiny is here on Earth. Like Lex before her, she wants to save the world, but she sees Clark as a savior rather than an enemy. Unfortunately, she's a little crazycakes, and has hatched a plot worthy of any zealot, determined to make her fantasy a reality. She's a loose cannon, and we all need to watch out.

The parallels between Superman and Jesus are inescapable, and were evoked in the very first episode of Smallville, when Clark was mock crucified by Whitney and his football thugs. But to baldly state that Clark is like Christ, and Davis is his Judas, destroys the beauty of the allegory, and gives the story religious overtones that are sure to alienate some viewers. Besides, the Judas story is a poor analogy for the role Davis is destined to play in Clark's life. I could have done without all of it.

I can live with all the S1 retcon. It's messy, and I'm not sure it's necessary, but it's not egregious. It was nice to see Martha and Jonathan again (awww, I miss them), and John Glover always played Lionel with just enough ambiguity that I could well believe he knew all about Clark from the start. It was a treat to see Connor Stanhope as Little!Lex again! He's a gifted actor, and his sensitive performance made my heart ache for the little boy who will forever have to live with the consequences of his father's endless quest for power. Little!Davis left me cold. He hatched from a pod, killed Lex's pet, and started his lifelong murderous rampage, all within five days of hitting the planet. He's a monster.

On the other hand, I completely reject the retcon of the Kawatchee legend of Naman and Sageeth. Sageeth is Lex. Not only is Talisman one of my favorite episodes, the legend perfectly describes the lifelong relationship Clark and Lex are destined to share (we're all clear that Lex isn't really dead, right?). Besides, the Starblade disintegrated at Lex's touch. I say the idea that Davis is Sageeth is just Tess's interpretation of the legend, and she's wrong.

Because of my rampant anti-Davis bias (he's here to kill my boy!), I was mostly unmoved by Davis's plight, and Chloe's anguish over it, but I do think both Sam Witwer and Allison Mack turned in stunning performances. When Davis started to doom out in front of Clark, I was genuinely scared, and just like Chloe, I would have pulled that lever in a heartbeat if I thought Clark were in danger, no matter what I once felt for Davis. Of course I think Chloe is woefully misguided in choosing to stay with Davis, and I'm sure there will be a terrible price to pay for that decision, but I appreciate that she is just trying to protect Clark at all costs. The only thing that bothers me is that ultimately, I think her actions show a lack of faith. If she truly believed in Clark, wouldn't she trust him to find the solution to this problem? But perhaps she knows him a little too well, and still sees not the superhero he will become, but the sweet, shy boy she kissed in the loft, and still holds close to her heart.

Just as in Turbulence, my favorite scenes were between Clark and Tess. Cassidy Freeman is an incredible actress, and her Tess is wonderfully complex, and a joy to watch. Together, she and Tom Welling are nothing short of explosive. Their chemistry is breathtaking. At the top of the episode, Tess saw Clark in her office, and I swear she was flirting with him, even as she turned his story idea down flat. She gleefully baited him by dissing the RBB, and openly called him a liar! And Clark responded with complete insubordination! "You need to print it!" hee! I love these two! *draws hearts around them* Later, when Clark came to see her in the hospital, she shocked him by telling him what she had read in Lionel's journal, including the secret of his alien origins. She then theorized that Davis, too, fell from the sky that fateful day. Clark tried to laugh off her wild assertions, but Tess remained undeterred.

Their best scene was their final one. Tess came to the Kent farm, happy and eager to have an honest conversation with Clark. He shut her down completely, all self-righteous indignation and angry denial as he lied to her face! It was so Clexy I got chills! Clark was rudely dismissive of Tess as he went about his chores (looking absolutely delicious in his snug blue tee), and the sparks flew between them as Tess finally gave in to frustration and let Clark see her hurt, and her fury. The whole scene was unbelievably HOT. And when Tess calmed herself, quietly called Clark "Kal-El" (she knows!), and then went home, opened a locked cabinet, and pulled out the Orb (GASP!), my jaw dropped. OMG!!

All four of the featured actors this week were phenomenal. I honestly think Eternal had some of the best acting I've ever seen from Tom Welling on Smallville. His performance was focused and controlled throughout the episode, and I don't know that I've ever seen him more engaged. It amazes me how he can bring new depth and strength to the character of Clark Kent after all these years. He owns this role, and he owns this show. I'm beginning to get seriously excited about S9!

Random thoughts: Watching Eternal made me go back and watch the Pilot again. If you haven't watched it in a while, you should. It's glorious! The scene of the Kents walking away with Baby!Clark, as Little!Davis watches, must have been a new insert. Because those were definitely NOT the original actors. Little!Lex's Warrior Angel comic was the same one we saw in Ryan, from S2. It cracks me up that Clark no longer wears his red jacket/blue tee combo unless he's patrolling, for fear of being recognized as the RBB, but the blue jacket/red tee combo is perfectly fine. :) I liked the black jacket Clark wore in his last scene with Chloe, at the Talon. And in spite of all the clues, I don't think Clark or Chloe realized that Davis was Doomsday until he said, "I was sent here to destroy you, Clark," and started to doom out. I loved that even though Clark was clearly shocked when Davis's voice changed and his eyes went red, his first instinct was still to protect him. That's my Superman.

When I first watched Eternal I had a LOT of problems with it. [Want to read about them? Go HERE.] But I find myself watching it again and again, and each time those things bother me less, as I lose myself in the acting, the drama, and the emotion. I give a lot of credit to the actors, of course, but I also give major props to the director, James Marshall. That shot of the kryptonite raining down on a writhing Davis, while Clark mirrors him, collapsing in front of the containment unit, is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen on this show. As we've lost more and more of the veterans from the Smallville production staff over the years, I can't even begin to express how fortunate I feel that he has chosen to stay. He has been instrumental in making this show great since the beginning, and this episode is a perfect example of what a gifted director he truly is.

Cross-posted at Starkville House of El Podcast.

How about some pretty? Here are my top ten caps of Tom from Eternal:

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

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14 comments or Leave a comment
jlvsclrk From: jlvsclrk Date: April 9th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
So how is it that an episode with so MANY flaws, and which tries to make us empathise with such a detestable creature, still succeeds in being so good? Thanks Tom for such a great performance! I had problems with the other characters, but that was mainly because of the script. I hated the argument between Chlark so much, because its not fair to complain about Clark not being around when you deliberately lie to him about what's happening in your life. And Davis just utterly creeps me out: I can't see why she's attracted to him. But that's kind of the beauty of it: watching her get pulled into the darkness and wondering how she'll ever get out. Certainly makes me keen for the next few episodes!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 10th, 2009 08:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I just think the actors on this show are so good, many times they can spin gold out of dross. And in this episode, we had strong performances from all the principal players, plus a director who knows how to find the heart of the show. It wasn't the best episode of the season by a long shot, but it had some of the best moments, especially for Tom.

The one good thing to come out of all the retcon, IMO, had nothing to do with Davis. It was getting Tess involved in the Doomsday storyline. Not only did that give me my favorite scenes of the episode, it also renewed my interest in seeing how it all plays out.
anakaliaandrea From: anakaliaandrea Date: April 9th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
yeah this episode had very little I cared for. Of course all Clark was love, naturally. But this whole Chloe crap is irritating me, If she really loved Jimmy she would have broken everything off with Davis and talk to Jimmy about everything except for Krypton like stuff she can leave for Clark. It really seems like she is just moving on to Davis already. and the ending with her locking herself with Davis irritated me. Knowing he is meant to kill Clark, don't you think he's going to complete his mission? or try, he can't control himself? She needs to put Clark first. I really am not liking what they are doing with Chloe this season. She's only known Davis for a few months and she's known Clark and Jimmy so much longer. She should be running to them! And where's the investigative reporter in her? It's not like her to not look into things, she finally did in eternal but how it ended was irriatating.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 10th, 2009 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)
She's only known Davis for a few months and she's known Clark and Jimmy so much longer. She should be running to them!

I agree with you, and I don't know why she isn't. It doesn't make sense. I suspect the writers are setting her up to make some misguided decisions, with tragic consequences, for the sake of a shocking season finale.

When she locked herself in with Davis, I think she thought she was putting Clark first. She thinks she can control the beast Davis carries inside, and in so doing keep Clark safe. I think she's wrong, but I also think she means well.

Of course all Clark was love, naturally.

Absolutely! Tom was wonderful, and so was Clark. And that's enough to make me love just about any episode! :)
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: April 9th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always have to read these, even if I didn't watch the episode.

If they want to go with a Jesus/Judas metaphor, Chloe would be Judas. DUH!

And I just have to say, Clark's secret identity must be the worst kept secret EVER!

Miss you! *hugs*
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 10th, 2009 09:31 am (UTC) (Link)
You're so nice to me! *hugs you tight*

A lot of people are saying that about Chloe/Judas. I have my doubts about Ollie, too.

And I just have to say, Clark's secret identity must be the worst kept secret EVER!

LOL! I think Lois is the only one who doesn't know!

I miss you, too! Did you watch Harper's Island? I chickened out, the previews were scary! I taped it, though, so if someone tells me it's not too bad, I'll watch it. I'm such a baby! :)
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: April 10th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I could see Ollie in that metaphor, too. If they absolutely must go there.

I think Harper's Island is going to keep me in knots. It was good. Lots of SN alums and Christopher Gorham, who I love. And I didn't think it was any scarier than an episode of Supernatural. Also, gore. Watch in the bright light of day and you should be fine.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 11th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll watch it tomorrow during the day. :) Thanks for the lowdown on it. I have a lot of catching up to do. I didn't watch any TV during my vacation because I was too busy, and then this week I was working late. Plus I couldn't watch this week's shows until I had caught up on last week's shows! :) Suffice to say, I have two episodes of everything to watch.
gildinwen From: gildinwen Date: April 9th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
For Tess, to try and place herself, or Davis in the place of Judas, means she's got a really screwed up reading of the biblical text. Because frankly the only person who fits the description of Judas is Chloe. Because to betray someone implies that there was trust between the betrayer and the betrayed in the first place. And if this is where they are going with Chloe, it's makes me worried for her (no matter how much I wanted to smack her) Because what's Judas's canonical? He kills himself. And if that matches what happens with Chloe, it just shows how dark she's gotten. (I have a delicous meta brewing regarding Chloe and her possible ending, regarding these spoilers, not sure whether to put it up or not )
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 11th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't see Davis as Judas at all. Tess has it all wrong. Judas didn't fight Jesus, or challenge him in any way; he pointed him out to those who would kill him, in exchange for the proverbial thirty pieces of silver. As you say, Chloe could fit, but I can't imagine they would take things that far with her. She's undoubtedly doing it wrong, but I don't think she would ever knowingly betray Clark. I think Ollie could fit, too. After all, he killed Fake!Lex, he has that kryptonite ring, and I have no idea what he's up to. But Davis? No.

Your meta sounds fascinating! I read all the spoilers, but I can't ever bear to speculate about them. The possibilities get me all worked up and worried, so I try not to think about it, and just wait for the episodes. :)
jude_judith82 From: jude_judith82 Date: April 10th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)
This is completely off-topic because well I'm still not sure what I felt about the episode whatever I enjoyed was really overshadowed by the Bloom/Chloe story line. But I finally heard the podcast you posted about. Duude. I didn't find it mean at all the asked all the questions I've had for like ever but I can understand why some people may find it offensive. Back on topic the best part of your posts the picspams. Damn Tom is hot. You almost take for granted how good looking he is.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 11th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you listened to the podcast, and liked it! I, too, can understand why some people would be offended by it, but I also think we all need to try to lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously. I don't think I've ever seen this fandom more divided than it is right now, and it really is too bad.

Isn't he pretty? I think my favorite cap of all is the one in the barn with Tess. He has the most beautiful profile, and I love how his hair is falling down over his forehead. That whole scene just killed me, both visually and emotionally. *sighs*
jeannev From: jeannev Date: April 10th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Great review. Well, actually 2 great reviews. Given how I felt about this episode, I'd probably lean more towards the other one.

I'd love to go into more detail, but I'm currently on my laptop in a hotel in Whistler, BC, with napping roommates.

But I wanted to make sure to say how awesome your reviews are.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 11th, 2009 08:29 am (UTC) (Link)
You took time from your vacation to comment on my reviews?! I am so honored, and touched! *hugs* Isn't it too much fun to have your laptop with you for your travels?

First I was in Colorado for a week with wonky internet access and no free time, and then I was back to working insane hours to make up for taking a week off. I'm just now able to go back and read what everyone else thought of Eternal. TGIF! \o/ My first stop is your journal. *runs off*
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