In Disciple we learned that Oliver has a dark side. Again, some more. Seriously, did we really need to revisit this storyline? This time Oliver learned that although his inner demons will always be there, struggling to break free, deep down he's an honorable man, and one of the good guys. But will the lesson stick? Because evidently it didn't when he learned it in Rage. Or again, in Bulletproof. Or again, most recently and ridiculously, in Roulette. I am so tired of watching Oliver's seemingly endless cycle, where he does something in anger and regrets it, and then self-indulgently wallows, drowning his sorrows in booze, sleeping around, and being an ass to Clark. I desperately need him to man up, once and for all, and be the hero he's meant to be. I pray that Disciple is Smallville's way of telling me that day has finally come.
And speaking of revisiting things, I still don't understand why the show felt the need to resurrect Oliver's romantic feelings for Lois. The scene between them in Bride left their relationship in such a great place, but now, instead of the loving and mature friendship they could be sharing, their scenes together consist of Oliver giving Lois sad, longing looks, and Lois looking back at him with awkward pity. And what about Tess? I thought she was the love of Oliver's life. Not to mention Black Canary, his iconic future wife. The whole thing makes Oliver look fickle, insincere, and kind of pathetic, and I just don't see the point.
All that said, however, I thought Justin Hartley did a good job in Disciple. I prefer the Oliver who faces adversity with devil-may-care courage and a healthy dose of snark, but I found his desperate worry and tortured anguish this week believable, and surprisingly sympathetic. I especially liked his last scene with Mia. You could visibly see that the burden of paranoia and crushing self-doubt had slipped from his shoulders, but you could also tell that the ordeal had left him bruised, and vulnerable. I think this very real lesson affected him in a way that Chloe's crazy charade never could, and in the end this episode gave me hope that Oliver's petulant inner child is finally growing up.
The supporting characters in Oliver's story were mostly forgettable. Elise Gatien does a good enough job as Mia, but I just don't care about her character. I see all her scenes as time that would be better spent on Clark. And Steve Bacic's Vordigan was just a growly bully. I thought it was truly sadistic the way he first fired a warning shot to get his victim's attention, and then reveled in the fear in her eyes as he hunted her down for real. And the fact that all his intended targets were women just made it more disturbing. The moment when he stabbed Oliver's hand, pinning it to a tree, was shocking, but nowhere near as dramatic as when a possessed Lex did the same thing to Lana in Zod.
I pretty much loved the rest of the episode. Clark was everywhere, and as usual Tom Welling hit every note perfectly. I delighted in Clark's flirty fun with Lois at the top of the episode, and when he suddenly turned serious and sexy, he took my breath away. *swoons* I still can't believe Lois turned down his offer to give her "Clark Kent's tour of the galaxy." I'm pretty sure that was farmboy for, "come up and see my etchings," and we all know what that means! To me this is huge, and goes a long way toward smoothing my still-ruffled feathers over what went down in Requiem. Whatever tender feelings Clark will always carry in his heart for Lana, it's clear that the love he has for Lois is decidedly different. He's not making excuses so he doesn't have to be alone with her, or talking about being afraid he will hurt her. He's eager for them to have an intimate relationship, and to give her a part of himself he has never shared before.
Obviously Clark trusts Lois, so why doesn't he just tell her his secret? He's already seen several times over that she would accept him completely. Is he afraid that acceptance might not extend to their romance? If he truly intends to take their relationship to the next level, doesn't Lois have the right to know everything before they quite literally get into bed together? And I don't buy the argument that he's trying to keep her safe from the Blur's enemies. They all seem to know about his double life (Zod, Tess, Metallo, and Toyman do, for starters), so he put Lois in danger the second he asked her out on a date. I'm left with Clark trying to protect Lois from herself, which would seem to imply a lack of faith in the woman he loves, or Clark wanting Lois to be his escape, his Blur-free zone, which would be selfish and immature. Neither of those possibilities sounds like Clark to me. I having a sneaking suspicion that there is no reason within the context of the story Smallville is telling. I think it's nothing more than what Kelly Souders said in a recent interview: "As we know we have to line up with the mythos, in which case she doesn't know his secret." To me that's the equivalent of your mom saying, "Because I said so." :/
I thought Lois's best moments in Disciple were with Clark. I appreciate so much how she doesn't make him feel guilty for running off at the end of their date, or not visiting her more in the hospital. She laughs it off, and instead concentrates on enjoying the time they do have together. I may think she's crazy to want to go slow with Clark, but it makes sense after the string of romantic disappointments we've watched her go through on the show, and it's a clever way for the writers to prolong the UST. I can't even tell you how much I prefer it to what I'm used to seeing on Smallville: messy breakups brought on by misunderstandings, and ongoing battles over Clark's secrets and lies.
Lois was concerned about Oliver, and sympathetic toward him, but she was also unwavering in her commitment to Clark. I don't think we have to worry about a jealous triangle there, thank goodness. And I really liked Erica Durance's acting choices in Lois's scene with Zod. He wasn't blatantly menacing like he was in Pandora, but he had the creep factor turned up to 11, and I thought Lois's polite but wary reserve was perfect. If he thought he could sow suspicion and discord with his talk of the "real" Clark Kent, he was very much mistaken. Lois acknowledged that Clark is a man of mystery, but seemed content to know what he was willing to share, rather than bothered by what he might be keeping from her.
I also liked Clark with Zod. He's trying hard to give the Kandorians the freedom to find their own place on Earth, but it's quickly becoming apparent that their leader is both unpredictable and dangerous, and already resembles the megalomaniac Clark saw in Pandora. I don't think befriending Zod will end with a peaceful settlement of their differences, but if things escalate between them, it won't be because Clark never gave him a chance. In the meantime, Clark is gaining valuable insight into what makes Zod tick, and also letting him know exactly what's in store for him if he continues to pursue superpowers for his people. There was no mistaking the warning in Clark's words of advice: "Earth is not another Krypton. And trying to make it one is a dangerous plan." When Zod responded by subtly threatening Lois, we saw the full extent of Clark's wrath: "You go near Lois again, I will destroy you all." *shivers* Tom's delivery was chilling. And HOT.
I continue to enjoy Callum Blue's Zod. He's deliciously overwrought, frighteningly relentless, and capable of anything. Plus he lies constantly and convincingly, so I never know when to believe him. Sometimes he comes off as genuinely scary, and other times he seems more like an angry, tearful gnat buzzing furiously around Clark's head, but he is always entertaining. I'm glad Clark has Lois's memories of the future to remind him of the very real threat Zod poses; otherwise I think it would be easy to underestimate him. I get the sense that Clark is in a little over his head when it comes to the Kandorians, but I still believe in him, and I wouldn't want the fate of the world resting in any other hands.
Clark's plan really is working for me so far. I just have one little question: WHAT ABOUT THE FREAKING TOWER?! When I saw that shot of it at the end of the episode, nearly complete, my jaw dropped. What the hell? Future!Clark's whole plan was to send Lois back so she could prevent it ever being built. And yet there it is. Why isn't Clark tearing it down faster than they can build it? Oliver and Chloe both know about it, too (although I'm not sure they know what it looks like). Why didn't Chloe hack into the city computers and hopelessly snarl the building permits? Isn't the tower a LuthorCorp project? Why didn't Oliver just pull the plug? And what about Tess? After seeing what the future holds, wouldn't her top priority be to halt construction? What are they all waiting for?
We saw a lot more of Chloe in this episode than we have in a long time, and it was a treat to have Allison Mack back on my TV screen, even if Chloe's actions continue to baffle me. As she hurled false accusations at Clark, it really brought home to me how completely estranged these two have become. Chloe used to know Clark better than anyone, and now I don't think she knows him at all. And I don't think Clark has a clue about what's going on inside Chloe's head. I know I don't. I was glad to see them have it out, even briefly. Fighting can be a good thing if it helps clear the air. I share Clark's concerns about Chloe's isolation, but it's obvious she doesn't see it. I just hope they can find their way back to one another before the season is over.
I thought it was interesting to note that Chloe called Oliver first when Lois was hurt, not Clark. Was that because of the circumstances of the attack, or has he become her go-to hero? Will Oliver end up in the middle when Clark and Chloe disagree? And with more Chloe screen time came all those lines you'll find only on Smallville, the ones the writers love to give her, that either make you say, "huh?" or, "who talks like that?" My favorites from this episode: "It's been years since you and Lois steamed up any elevator glass," "If it had been just a centimeter to the right or the left, her artery would have been seviche," "I'm starting to think our favorite archer isn't all green," and "I hate to add another boxcar to the bad news train." But the award for the worst line of all goes to Mia, for this gem: "Next time you're being an unselfish hero, I could use some explaino... Green Arrow?" Ouch.
Tess was notably absent from this episode. After Pandora, I was dying to see what Tess would do next, how she would react to the knowledge that she was going to play an instrumental role in the future eradication of the human race, and that she herself would lose her life at Chloe Sullivan's hands. Would she switch sides, and join Clark against Zod? Or would she continue to play along, all the while plotting how to take the Kandorians down from the inside? Would she go after Chloe? Is it possible she would actually continue her alliance with Zod? Did Tess kill Jor-El? Does she have the Book of Rao? I would much rather have come back to an episode exploring all that than this rehash of Oliver Queen's inner struggles.
Random thoughts: Those were long previouslies. I wonder if the show was expecting some new viewers due to all the promotion for Absolute Justice. I still love that big, beautiful, always-full Metropolis moon. Would an arrow through your shoulder really render you instantly unconscious? Even if it were a little baby arrow and you were a big, muscle-bound man? Exactly how much time has gone by since Pandora? Roulette was "a few weeks ago," Clark and Lois have been on five dates, and Zod's behemoth solar tower has gone from the planning stages to being all but finished. *is confused* Oh, and Justin still looks gorgeous shirtless. I just love how comfortable that man is in his own skin.
After all the articles, interviews, trailers, clips, and promo pics we've seen over the winter hiatus, I've never been more excited to see Smallville return. My focus has been squarely on Absolute Justice, but I shouldn't have been so quick to discount Disciple. It exceeded all my expectations, and left me even more pumped for next week's two-hour event. I do so love my show! ♥
Oh, and did I mention the Tommy pretty? My top 20 caps from Disciple:
Screen caps courtesy of Home of the Nutty, with my thanks!