tariel22 (tariel22) wrote,

Smallville 8.20 - Beast

This season we've seen Clark move closer to becoming Superman than ever before. He has embraced his destiny, and in so doing has struggled with some of the bigger issues of living as a superpowered alien among men, such as revealing his true identity to the world, and deciding what limitations to place on himself to insure he doesn't abuse his powers and become a tyrant. But I think the biggest adjustment he has faced is the reluctance of his closest allies to fully accept him as a superhero, and to trust him to take a leadership role when his abilities are needed to keep the world safe. Oliver seems to second guess Clark's every move, and is rudely critical of him on a routine basis, while Chloe lacks faith in his decisions, and feels compelled to constantly tell him what to do. Both of them are hiding things from him, and the situation just got worse in Beast. How is Clark supposed to believe in himself when those who know him best don't?

Chloe is Clark's BFF, and outside of Martha, there is no one he trusts more. She has put helping him above everything else in her life, and he would move heaven and earth to keep her safe. But the events of this season have put their friendship to the test, and their lives are no longer as closely entwined as they once were. First Chloe hid her Brainiac enhanced intelligence from Clark, and then they argued over whether her new abilities were a fortunate side effect or an ominous warning sign. Chloe doesn't know that Clark had Jor-El wipe her memories clean of his secret. Clark doesn't know that Chloe killed a man who was a threat to him while under Brainiac's influence. Clark started a whole new life at the Daily Planet, and Chloe wasn't part of it. Chloe developed a deep friendship with Davis, and Clark knew little to nothing about it. Chloe hasn't approved of some of Clark's activities as the Red Blue Blur, and Clark didn't agree with how Chloe reacted when Jimmy accused Davis of being a killer. Most recently they clashed when Clark discovered how much time Chloe was spending with Davis, and how much she had been keeping from him about the anomalies of Davis's life. As devoted to one another as these two clearly are, they've never been more seriously estranged.

Chloe took even more steps away from Clark in Beast. Almost every word she spoke to him was a lie, she ridiculed his assertion that Davis was still alive, and she even sent him on a wild goose chase to Alaska in an effort to buy herself time to get Davis out of town. She has convinced herself that she only has Clark's best interests at heart, but I think her motives are a bit murkier. With her erotic dream that ended so gruesomely, her subconscious seemed to be telling her she has a dangerous attraction to Davis, one that may prove fatal to Clark. The plaintive way she said to Oliver about Davis, "he needed me," spoke volumes, I thought, as did the stricken look on her face when Oliver told her Clark had taken Davis away. In the confrontation with Clark in the Fortress, Chloe's concern for Davis's suffering in the Phantom Zone seemed at least equal to her worry over Clark's guilt about it. Her anger toward Clark was obvious, and the things she said to him were hateful. Even if you theorize it was all an act, that she sought to manipulate Clark for his own protection, I think she crossed a line. When the solution you come up with is just as harmful as the problem you seek to solve, how have you won?

Chloe claimed that she stopped Clark from sending Davis to the PZ because she couldn't bear to see the burden of guilt it would place on his shoulders. Ignoring for the moment all the pain she caused Clark in achieving that goal, does she honestly think the thought of her, out there somewhere with Davis, giving up everything to stay forever by his side in order to tame the beast, will torture him less? Especially after she dropped the bomb of her excuse for everything she had done to betray him: "Anything I've ever done, right or wrong, I did for you." She said herself that she knew Clark better than anyone. What did she think he was going to do with a statement like that?! We need look no further than that crumpled file cabinet to gauge his emotional distress. Way to go, Chloe. I think she's playing the martyr here, and I have no patience for that. Her final words to Clark just made me roll my eyes: "Clark, if there's one lesson I've learned from you, it's that choosing the greater good is never a sacrifice." *rolls eyes* See? What did I tell you? I think Clark said it best: "Chloe, you're wrong! You're wrong, Chloe!"

The real tragedy is that with Chloe's cooperation, Clark's plan would have worked perfectly. We saw in the Fortress that Davis physically can't doom out when Chloe is near, and even loses his strength in her presence. With Chloe by his side, Clark could have opened the portal and sent Davis to the PZ quickly and without a struggle, minimizing the likelihood of Zod escaping, or Clark being sucked in. And I really do think Clark's solution was the best one. The PZ was created to hold the worst criminals the universe had to offer, and that certainly describes the killing machine known as Doomsday. As Clark pointed out, at least Doomsday could be himself there, and no longer fight against his true nature. If Chloe really is interested in the greater good, she should listen to Clark. Her plan is infinitely more dangerous to the human race. What if something happens to her, or separates her from Davis? What if her soothing effect wanes over time? Then you have Doomsday fully realized, in the midst of humanity. And that would be bad.

Obviously I feel no sympathy for Davis's plight. I never have. He's been a monster from the moment he arrived here on Earth, he exists to kill my boy Clark, and he must be stopped. End of story. My take on Doomsday is, he was created to adapt and survive, and the Davis persona is just one of the tools in his arsenal, the one he uses to manipulate the humans who surround him. Isn't that what we saw in this episode, as he lied to Chloe, and acted differently when she wasn't around? With Chloe he plays the woobie, because that's what works, but he was positively chilling in the basement with Jimmy and Oliver, and he couldn't wait to throw down with Clark once he saw that his attempt at emotional blackmail wouldn't do the trick. I don't know if the part of Doomsday that is Davis could ever be separated from the monster within, but it doesn't look likely. Anyone care to haul out the Black!K and try for a Hail Mary pass in the last seconds of the game? Even if that were possible, I shudder to contemplate the undiluted version of Doomsday that would unleash upon the world.

I both hated and loved Oliver this week. I wanted to kick him for the way he spoke to Clark, especially at the end of the episode. Ollie, you're such an ass sometimes! But at least he's consistent in his expectations, and I suspect he's got an agenda as well. If he can convince Clark to kill Doomsday, maybe that will somehow make the way he murdered Lex seem less awful. [You're grasping at straws, Ollie, but ease your mind. That wasn't the real Lex anyway.] And why does Oliver assume that killing Doomsday is simply a matter of Clark agreeing to do so? The guy was already dead, and he came back! In any case, the growing discord between Oliver and Clark worries me. They're the heroes in this story, and they need to stick together. Oliver needs to swallow some of his arrogance and see that Clark's is the better way, and Clark needs to tell Oliver to shut up.

On the other hand, Oliver was a wonderful friend to Jimmy in Beast. He didn't beat around the bush in confronting his drug addiction, but he didn't humiliate him with it either. And he offered to help without preaching or proselytizing. Oliver really is one of the good guys. He was also great with Davis in the basement, trying to calm him down and keep him that way until Chloe arrived. He's no dummy. But where he earned my undying devotion was in the glorious smackdown he delivered to Chloe. No, he wasn't very nice, but I don't blame him. Her actions almost got him killed. And she needed to hear what he had to say, for all the good that it did. Or maybe I just needed to hear it, because it's what I've been thinking since the moment Chloe took Davis in, and it was immensely satisfying to hear someone speak the words out loud on the show.

Jimmy continued his downward spiral in this episode. Not only did he find out he was right about Davis all along, he learned that Davis was also the beast who destroyed his wedding day and nearly killed him. Worst of all, he found out Chloe had been willingly hiding him in the basement of the Talon. In his weakened, drug-addled state, the news proved to be too much, and he lost all hope, lashing out at Davis and daring him to kill him. Luckily Oliver stepped in to save him from himself, and he escaped, battered but still alive. Oliver extended another helping hand when he offered Jimmy a job. There was a world of difference between the nervous, shifty Jimmy who approached Oliver for a loan early in the episode, and the one who accepted the job from him at the end. Maybe there's hope for Jimmy yet!

Beast was a little light on Clark, probably because Tom Welling was busy preparing to direct next week's episode, but I didn't really notice, because the scenes he was in were all so good. Once again, as far as I was concerned, Clark didn't make a single wrong move. He investigated his suspicions about Davis, discovered the truth about his resurrection, and formulated a plan to save the world from the threat of Doomsday without the loss of a single life, not even the monster's. Nothing Chloe or Oliver said kept him from doing what he knew was right, and he was every inch the hero. He truly had compassion for Davis, but he knew there was no place for him on Earth. Hey, Oliver? Clark makes tough decisions all the time. And Chloe? He's a big boy, I think he can handle living with those decisions. Let's give the guy a little credit, shall we? Davis chose to fight rather than face a world without Chloe in it, and his brief showdown with Clark before Chloe intervened was a thrilling preview of the inevitable and final conflict still to come. I can't wait!

When Clark finally realized how completely Chloe had deceived him, he was devastated. He knew she had lied to him about Alaska, but when she showed up in the Fortress, key in hand, there was no longer any question that her involvement with Davis was voluntary. As Clark stared at her, stunned, and quietly asked, "Chloe, what are you doing?" he broke my heart. When she proceeded to berate him for even considering sending Davis to the PZ, of course he stopped and listened. He has always valued Chloe's opinion. Her condemnation, combined with the shock of her betrayal, made him freeze in confusion, and gave her the time she needed to whisk Davis away.

When Oliver found Clark later, using the bank of monitors at Isis to search for Chloe, he looked grim. He refused to rise to the bait of Oliver's asinine remarks, but his face told a story of frustration and cold fury. He couldn't make sense of what Chloe had done, but he never lost faith in her, and never stopped believing the best of her. I wish Chloe could have had that same faith in him. When she called to tell him she was okay, and to ask him not to look for her, he grew desperate, frantic in his need to save her from the reckless path she had chosen. After she hung up, lost to him again, his control finally broke, and we saw the toll this crisis had taken on him emotionally. Oh, Clark.

The acting in this episode was amazing. Sam Witwer seemed to delight in showing us another side of Davis, letting a creepy coldness peek through, giving us just a glimpse of the monster who simmers right below the surface, and who lives to kill. *shivers* Justin Hartley's Oliver was the arrogant, flawed hero I have come to love, even as he infuriates me, and I found his performance both consistent and compelling. Aaron Ashmore blew me away, especially in Jimmy's bitter conversation with Davis in the basement. How his acting talents have been squandered on playing little more than Chloe's jealous boyfriend! Allison Mack perfectly portrayed Chloe's strength, and her vulnerability, showing us her steely resolve as she fought to save Davis from both beast and banishment, and her tearful despair as she faced the true cost of life by his side. And Tom Welling was phenomenal. Clark faced challenges everywhere he turned in Beast, going from confident leadership and unshakable determination at the beginning of the episode, to hurt confusion and blinding frustration at the end, and every moment was unmistakable in Tom's hands. In the scene with Oliver at Isis, I couldn't take my eyes off of his face, as a world of emotion played out in his eyes and even in the set of his jaw, telling us so much more about what Clark was feeling than any dialogue ever could. We may be heading for the final countdown on this season, but this wonderful cast is still bringing everything they've got to the game.

Random thoughts: Dream!Davis was charming and sexy. Rowr. It totally cracked me up that the two fake movie posters the art department designed to put on the wall for Chloe and Davis to make out against were "Casa Bronte: A Love Story," and "Zytron: The Clock Is Ticking, The Last Day Is Today." Love! And aliens! :D Clark's dead torso, strung up and dripping blood, was easily the most horrific thing I've ever seen on this show. I liked Dr. Emil Hamilton. Can we have more of him, please? I know I keep harping on this, but the plates of cupcakes on the counter and the buckets of flowers by the door seem to indicate the Talon is open for business, but what exactly are their hours of operation? And I love Clark's new blue-on-blue combo. It's so pretty! :)

Beast was a dark episode, showing us the shadow Doomsday has cast over Clark and his friends. It explored the conflicts in Clark's life, and resolved none of them. It was dramatic, suspenseful, and intense, leaving me impatient to find out what happens next. I may dread where this storyline is heading, but I can't wait to get there! I see tragic endings ahead, as Oliver is forced to face his demons, Chloe risks losing everyone she holds dear, and Clark finds himself at odds with those he once trusted most. Not to mention we still have Doomsday to consider. I hope Clark doesn't lose faith in himself, and that he can weigh the doubts Oliver and Chloe have expressed against Lois's open admiration for the RBB, and the public's appreciation for all he does. This isn't the first or last time our hero will be tested, but this challenge feels particularly personal, and the possibility that Clark will face his greatest enemy completely alone is daunting indeed.

Cross-posted at Starkville House of El Podcast.

Clark is very pretty when he's sad. Poor Clark. My top ten caps from Beast:

Screen caps courtesy of Home of the Nutty, with my thanks!
Tags: picspam, smallville, sv episode review, tom welling
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