It was a thrill to watch Clark in action in Rabid; he was confident, decisive, and strong. At the first hint of trouble, when Tess ended up in the hospital, he was on top of the situation, trusting his instincts to tell him there was more there than met the eye. Confronted with her shocking infection, he immediately moved to find a cure, stealing the blood sample intended for the Disease Control Agency labs and enlisting Chloe's help to analyze it. He was in charge every step of the way, and never wavered, even when ending the zombie plague required him to reveal his secret to Emil Hamilton, and submit to risky and torturous kryptonite exposure. Plus seeing him take on a swarm of zombies with Lois in the DP was a treat!
Everything about the zombies exceeded my expectations. They were truly horrifying, and I could barely make myself watch when they were onscreen. Actually, the worst visual of the episode for me was the sight of Lois's saliva pooling on the glass of the copier as Clark approached her from behind. *shudders* Even though I steeled myself for what we would see when she turned around, I still recoiled at the sight. I have to applaud Cassidy Freeman and Erica Durance for their willingness to throw themselves into playing the zombie versions of their characters. They were marvelously unrestrained, and it will be a long time before I can wipe those gruesome images from my mind. The story was intense, the zombie scenes were filmed in a very cool style, and the action sequences had my heart in my throat. Well done, show.
Clark continued to show signs of a new maturity in this episode, and a focus on the future rather than the past. When he told Oliver that he should have listened to him about Davis, at first I thought my head was going to explode. WHAT? But I'm really trying to understand, and this is what I've come up with. Clark isn't about recriminations. He's not going to revisit the past just to express his own frustrations or to make someone else feel bad. He is always going to be the bigger man, and he is always going to take responsibility for any failing in which he plays even the smallest part. Oliver is a weak man. He is ruled by rage, and jealousy, and self-pity. But even so, he has the makings of a hero within him, and Clark is trying to help him find that part of himself once again. So while he has no patience for the ways in which Oliver indulges himself, he will only criticize when he thinks it will be constructive, and he will fully acknowledge anything that might help the man give up his pity party and do some good in the world. Also, I think Clark realizes that Jimmy's death has already pushed Oliver over the edge, and that reminding him of his betrayal would only send him deeper into the pit.
I'm afraid, however, that I am far less noble than Clark, so please let me point out one more time that Oliver shot Clark in the back with a kryptonite arrow and left him in agony, with no way of knowing if he would even survive!! And for the record, what he advocated was killing Davis in cold blood, something I hope Clark would never think is the right choice. I've given Oliver the benefit of the doubt time and time again, mostly because I adore Justin Hartley beyond all reason, but even I reached my breaking point with Rabid. Oliver was a complete and total ass throughout this episode, especially to Clark. I couldn't even believe the things he said to him! I know it was the self-hatred and alcohol talking, but that doesn't make me any more inclined to forgive or forget. And in a particularly self-involved moment, he let Lois fall asleep while staring at his own pretty face in the polished brass panel of the elevator! I was disappointed to see Oliver pining for Lois, especially after that wonderful scene they shared in last season's Bride, but I guess I can see it. He longs for the days when his life made sense, and he felt good about himself, and Lois was a big part of that time. I just hope it's only a symptom of his downward spiral. It looks like Oliver has even further to fall before he can begin to redeem himself. I have no more patience for that; I wash my hands of him.
Similarly, I think Clark harbors no resentment toward Chloe. To be fair, Chloe went through an awful lot last season that messed with her head, and that could have contributed to her error in judgment about Davis. She lied to Clark, manipulated him, and turned her back on him, but I think Clark probably sees all of that as part of the price she paid for being so involved in his life. Even though I think Chloe is more responsible for Jimmy's death than anyone, I'm sure Clark doesn't see it that way. He has taken that burden to bear as his own, and his main concern now is to ensure Chloe is never hurt that way again. He walked away from her awash in his own pain over Jimmy's death, attributing that tragedy to his inability to make the right decisions even when those he loved implored him not to. I think his distance from Chloe now reflects the toll her actions took on their friendship, but it also shows his reluctance to ever put her in that position again. He will never fully blame Chloe for the choices she made with Davis, much less condemn her for them, but he will also never let her make him the center of her life again. Their relationship will never be the same as it once was, and the true test of their friendship will be the struggle to forge it anew.
So I'm taking a cue from Clark and letting go of my problems with Chloe. Besides, I pretty much forgave her everything the moment she cried out in protest at Clark's pain when Emil used a kryptonite-coated needle to collect his blood. She still loves him, and she's still standing by his side, saving the world. Let's hope the rest can work itself out in time. I also liked seeing the side of Chloe that can't resist following the Justice League, ostensibly for their own protection. It reminded me of the tenacity she displayed back in high school, when she couldn't stop investigating Clark's adoption. Chloe's headstrong assurance is sure to get her into trouble, but it's also one of her more fascinating qualities. I'm curious to see where this goes.
Our final indication that Clark is committed to moving forward was the bittersweet moment at the end of the episode when he cleaned out his wallet, and removed the picture of Lana he found there. In direct contrast to the way Oliver mooned over the picture of Lois in his wallet, Clark saw Lana as a cherished part of his past, but not his future. With one last sweet smile at his lost love, and then a look of serious contemplation, he put her picture in a scrapbook and quite literally closed the book on that relationship. I had hoped for something more definitive, some articulation that Clark is moving on for a reason other than the existence of Lana's kryptonite-infused power suit, but I'll take what I can get.
Once again Tess wasn't around much in this episode, but she gave us two heart-stopping scenes of zombie menace. We had our first glimpse of the monsters when the mansion came under attack, and Tess's security team was quickly overcome. She retreated to her study in panicked terror, but then her survival instincts kicked in, and she fought back with a magnificent fierceness, ultimately dispatching the zombies with some impressive swordplay. Later, when she succumbed to the virus herself and was brought to Met Gen, we saw the horror of the infection up close and personal, on someone we know and care about. It was a chilling moment. I was a little disappointed that the first scene Clark and Tess shared this season had Tess completely out of her head, but the compassion Clark showed for her was touching. That's my hero.
Zod was also mostly absent from this episode, but his single scene, the final one of the episode, was stunning in its ruthlessness. Zod is a warrior, first and foremost, and his leadership can suffer no rogue soldiers, even ones with cunning plans that bring in unprecedented intelligence about other Kryptonians on Earth. We knew what was coming, but that didn't lessen the impact of the moment in the slightest. And what a great twist that Zod assumes the Blur is Jor-El. It's the logical conclusion, of course, but one that promises to make everything more interesting. Please don't woobify this villain, show. He is unapologetically ambitious, unrepentantly without mercy, and entirely awesome!
Now it's time for my weekly lovefest celebrating Alessandro Juliani's Dr. Emil Hamilton. :) I don't think it's possible for me to fangirl this character, or the actor who plays him, more. I adore his understated intelligence, his dry wit, and, most of all, how completely unflappable he is. His reactions when Clark whooshes onto the scene are priceless, and his matter-of-fact, "Well, that explains a lot," when Clark revealed his huge secret was too funny. I just love his dynamic with Clark altogether. I also think he and Chloe make a great team. She's passionate and he's reserved, and they each bring something valuable to the table. Together they do no less than save the world. I'm sure he's due to disappear from the show any time now, but I hope they bring him back as much as they possibly can. He is an absolute delight.
And I've saved the love story for last. Against an unlikely backdrop of rampant zombies, we saw Clark allow his feelings for Lois to blossom, and the two of them shared some of their most intimate moments ever. Right from the top of the episode it was obvious that the honeymoon of their reunion had not yet worn off. Their conversation was full of easy affection, with very little of the usual snark, and it seemed obvious to me that Clark was looking at Lois with new eyes, having come to the realization last week that it was time for him to figure out exactly what it is he feels for her. As the events of the episode conspired to throw them together in increasingly stressful circumstances, what emerged was the knowledge that she means a great deal to him, and, in the end, the conclusion that he was ready to take their relationship to the next level.
Their first scene together, at the DP, was all about Clark's efforts to hide any evidence of his activities as the Blur from Lois. At the same time, though, I think he enjoyed how besotted she was with his heroic side, and even puffed with pride over his latest rescue ("Two seconds. Not that anyone's counting."). I was glad to hear that Clark hadn't called Lois as the Blur since he came back to work. Last season the Blur called Lois to lift her spirits, and this season he just wanted to connect with her, and had no other way of doing so. Now that he's back at the DP, he's happy to talk to her across his desk, as himself. I know they'll find another reason for him to call soon enough, but I like that Clark isn't doing it just to amuse himself, or to stroke his ego.
Clark wasn't above making a few inside jokes about the Blur, but they were cute, not mean, and they made me laugh. He also had a little fun with his powers, using his super speed to bring Lois her coffee almost too quickly, and then chilling it with his super breath (have we ever seen him do that before?) when he needed a quick diversion to zip away again. As always, Tom's facial expressions as Clark during these antics were hilarious. I just love his gift for comedy! This lightness of spirit is characteristic of the relationship Clark has with Lois, and is one of the things I like best about the dynamic between them. Things quickly turned serious, however, when the pair went to the hospital to get the story on Tess's apparent mental breakdown, and discovered it was a zombie virus instead. Lois headed back to the DP to write the story, and Clark went to find a cure.
From that point on, the night turned crazy, and Clark spent his time rushing between rescuing Lois and helping Chloe and Emil effect a cure. Seeing Lois in danger helped him realize how deeply he cared for her, and fighting side by side for their very lives brought them together with an emotional intensity that could not be ignored. When Clark swept an injured Lois up in his impossibly strong arms, cradled her against his massive chest, and carried her effortlessly up the stairs of the DP, it was one of the most romantic moments this show has ever seen. *swoons* And yet it was surpassed just a short time later, when Clark confronted a zombie-infected Lois after Oliver failed to keep her awake.
Watching Clark go flying through the window of the DP and out onto the street after Lois punched him has to be one of my favorite action sequences on this show ever. As she advanced on him and attacked again, he grabbed her in his arms and held her tight, immobilizing her as he waited for the healing rain to come. When the downpour started, and all traces of the virus were washed away, we were left with a man and a woman, soaked to the bone, in an incredibly close embrace. Overjoyed to find Lois out of danger, it seemed to be all Clark could do not to kiss her, but he contented himself with gently stroking her hair, and wrapping her in his arms once again. Awww.
The next day at the farm, Lois, looking absolutely beautiful, breezed in to thank Clark for saving her, and told him she had seen a whole new side of him: the hero side. Really, Lois? How many times do you have to see this side before it sticks? After all, this IS the guy who took a bullet for you! But I suppose she meant she never dreamed he had it in him to take on and defeat a crowd of cannibalistic zombies. :) This scene was full of flirty looks, and positively steeped in UST. Finally, Lois stepped close and called him Smallville, and went to give him her customary punch in the arm. In a breathtaking moment, Clark caught her arm in midair and held it there, looking into her eyes with such intensity, I was shocked his heat vision didn't kick in. Then he smiled, and the moment passed, but we had all received the message, loud and clear: we're not just friends anymore. Oh, my.
There was one scene in Rabid that made absolutely no sense to me. It rivaled the barn scene in Infamous for WTF dialogue, and almost made me roll my eyes right out of my head. I'm talking about the scene where Lois poured out her feelings for the Blur to Clark. First of all, the jump from "we might be infected" to "we're all going to die, I need to confess something" was way too abrupt. Second, what the hell was she talking about? When did she and the Blur do good things together? And how can she feel this special connection to someone she's never actually met? Why would she feel the need to confess her feelings for the Blur to Clark, especially if it's a "we might not live to see tomorrow" kind of confession? What about the guy standing right in front of her?
Clark is a living, breathing, real-life man who is one of her closest friends, has saved her life several times over, including about five minutes ago, and who just literally swept her off her feet. Not too long ago she passed a polygraph professing her love for him. If there's a deep, dark secret she should admit to Clark before they die, isn't that it? He's sweet, he's gorgeous, and lately she's been having erotic dreams about him every night. If she doesn't want to be alone, why isn't she confessing her love for HIM? I say the zombie virus made her temporarily insane.
Random thoughts: Rabid had a scene that was actually shot on location. Wow. I thought it was too funny how Clark found Lois by picking up on the sound of her heavy metal music with his super hearing. As much as Ollie infuriated me, I still laughed at his pet rock line. Lois called the Blur Studly Do-Right. :D Since everything in Lois's visions seems to be something that must be prevented, does that mean she and Clark hooking up is a bad thing? The trailer for next week had a new shot of them, and Clark's face was hurt. What's up with that? How in the world did Coats know that the zombie antidote was made from Clark's blood, much less get a sample of it? And did this episode have massive amounts of the pretty or what? I'm sorry, Ollie, but Clark in a white ribbed undershirt or a see-through, rain-soaked dress shirt beats your bare, chiseled chest every day of the week. *thud*
This week's episode advanced everyone's storyline at least a little bit. Clark is back at the Daily Planet and is exploring his feelings for Lois, having put his relationship with Lana behind him. Lois's nightmare visions are getting worse, and have now invaded her waking hours. Chloe is secretly monitoring the Justice League. Oliver is falling deeper into his own private hell. Tess is scouring the globe for the Kandorians. And Zod now knows there is a superpowered Kryptonian in Metropolis. All that, and zombies, too! I don't know about you, but so far I am loving Smallville's S9.
Well, there was way too much pretty this week for me to hold myself to my usual limits. Here are 40 gorgeous screen caps from Rabid:
Screen caps courtesy of Home of the Nutty, with my thanks!