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Smallville 9x18 - Upgrade - I worship at the television altar
tariel22
tariel22
Smallville 9x18 - Upgrade


Writing my review of last week's Smallville was a struggle. I watched and re-watched, I wrote and re-wrote, I pondered, and I agonized. There were things I loved about the episode, and things I hated, but in the end I decided the good outweighed the bad, and my review reflected that. Well, watching Upgrade felt like deja vu all over again. Much like in Checkmate, we had an amazing guest star, great performances from our series regulars, awesome action sequences, Tess intrigue, and a little bit of romance. But this time none of that was enough, because Upgrade had something else in common with last week's episode: a scene between Clark and Chloe that made my head want to explode. I think Checkmate drove me right up to the edge of my limit, and then Upgrade gave me a good hard shove over and into the abyss. Because I just plain hated this episode.

A few days ago, Brian Peterson gave a bunch of interviews about what we can expect from the rest of S9, and either he's a big fat liar, or he uses a different dictionary than the rest of us, because when he talked about Chloe and Upgrade, the two words he used over and over were accountable and consequences, and I saw no hint of either on Friday night. Okay, so Chloe got yelled at and pushed around a little by Red!K Clark. So what? That was Clark under the influence, and that stuff never sticks. Of course Clark came crawling back to apologize, AGAIN, and then, unbelievably, told Chloe she was right to steal millions from Oliver to secretly stockpile Kryptonite weapons all over the country. What's a little deception between friends, even if it puts one of their lives in danger? I guess the end really does justify the means. In return Chloe indulged in a self-satisfied little smile that made me want to slap her. But wait, there's more. Clark just destroyed all those weapons, so it looks like he screwed up. Again. What a shocker.

When Clark returned to Watchtower, we were treated to the sight of poor Chloe, trying to clean up the giant badge of shame House of El symbol he had burned into the wall, and piling on the guilt by complaining about it. Why did the writers have Clark do that? It served no purpose, and besides, the effect looked totally fake. It would have made more sense for him to use his heat vision to destroy Chloe's computers before his big exit, so she couldn't hunt him down after he left. I did like what Clark said to Chloe when he was on Red!K, even if he took it all back later. At least she heard some hard truths for once. It was also interesting to see Clark at the keyboard, effortlessly retrieving the information he wanted. It kind of made it look like he lets Chloe do more than he really needs her to, just so she can feel useful.

Other stuff with Chloe that drove me crazy? Since when is Clark asking her to spy on Lois? So I guess he won't be taking her to task for stepping over the line with her pervasive surveillance, since he's doing the exact same thing! I see what you did there, show. Grrr. They even had Chloe lecture Clark about trust!! Putting a tracking device in Lois's keychain seemed OOC for the honorable guy who wouldn't use his superpowers to peek inside Lois's desk drawer in Conspiracy or eavesdrop on her mysterious phone call in Escape. And how about Chloe with Tess? She told her all about Red!K, blithely helped her take control of a man against his will, and chloroformed her own cousin. Oh, wait, I forgot, she did it all for Clark. Well, except for the part where she gleefully taunted Tess about her days being numbered.

Does Chloe carry knockout drugs with her wherever she goes now, right next to her hunk of Green!K and Clark's Kryptonian key, or did she conveniently find a bottle in the lab? I guess Lois is lucky she didn't get bashed over the head. And how ironic is it that Chloe's relationship with Lois was the inspiration for Clark wanting to get closer to Zod? Chloe and Lois may live together in the same studio apartment (and what's up with that anyway?), but as far as I can tell, they barely see each other. Chloe routinely manipulates Lois and messes with her life, keeping her in the dark about everything, including where Chloe works, and what she does for a living. And obviously Lois isn't exactly giving Chloe full disclosure either. I also didn't appreciate that when Clark tried to open up to Chloe about his complicated relationship with Zod, she made a joke and walked away. Way to be there for your so-called BFF, Chlo.

The only thing I liked about Chloe in this entire episode was that she came clean to Clark about the weapons. That was unquestionably the right thing to do, and it couldn't have been easy to admit. So kudos for that. And of course she saved Clark from the Red!K.

Wow. Ranty much? I guess this has been a long time coming. You know what made the dam burst? My absolute dread, slowly turning to conviction, that this season will play out very much like the last. After months of watching Chloe treat Clark with complete contempt, not only does it look like she won't face any consequences, they just might hold a parade in her honor. In the meantime, Clark still wants to cozy up to a megalomaniac who seems hell-bent on taking over the world, and I can't imagine that's going to end well. I've never wanted to be wrong more, but I don't hold out much hope that I am.

Believe it or not, except for Chloe, I mostly liked this episode. Brian Austin Green was amazing, giving us a performance that was heartbreaking, tender, funny, and noble. He is a wonderful actor. John Corben and Lois made a great team, and I really enjoyed their scenes together. I know Metallo is a supervillain in the comic books, but I thought the twist Smallville put on the character was brilliant, especially the part where they gave him a self-sustaining Red!K heart. I'd love to see him come back in S10. I know, he can be Clark's equivalent of a drinking buddy! They can hang, the Red!K pulsating from his heart can get Clark to loosen up and have some fun, and when John sees that Clark has had enough, he can take a few steps back and let him sober up. :) Lois's mention of Dr. Vale was a nice shout-out to Professor Vale, who turns Corben into a cyborg in the DC mythology. It's probably a good thing John didn't make that appointment.

Lois was just the way I like her in Upgrade: smart, loyal, tenacious, and brave. We got to see her work undercover, and she didn't even have to wear a skimpy costume! :) She was investigating a story not for the Daily Planet, but for Zod's Fake!Blur. I don't know how I feel about this whole storyline. When Clark and the Blur were the same person, it was kind of cute to see Lois juggle the two of them. I like the theory that deep down, on some subconscious level, Lois knows that Clark and the Blur are one and the same, so ultimately there is no conflict between them. But now that Zod is in the picture, Lois is actively lying to Clark, and I don't like that. I did appreciate that there was no hint of romance between Lois and Zod; she totally blew him off to go after Clark. There is no question who comes first, in her heart and in her life.

The last time Lois saw John Corben, he gave her plenty of reason to fear and hate him. I thought Lois's compassion for him in this episode said a lot about what kind of person she is. Once she realized how he had been victimized, she became his champion, determined to do whatever she could to help him put his life back together. Erica Durance's performance in their scenes together had a quiet emotional resonance that made their connection seem quite real. I loved that Lois was following her own path, one that was completely separate from Clark's, but still very relevant to his story, and that showed so clearly why these two are perfect for each other. Lois embraces the same ideals that Clark seeks to uphold, and finds her own independent way to fight for them. I like Lois and Clark together, but they're more than just a couple. I like that the show remembers to celebrate them as individuals as well.

Clark and Lois shared only one scene together in Upgrade, and it felt like a bone the writers threw to keep the shippers happy. Clark kissing Lois awake and greeting her with that husky "hi" was undeniably sexy, but the mood fizzled. First they made it look like Lois was getting romantic with Clark to distract him from asking any more questions, and then it was all cut short by a call from the Fake!Blur again. Lois made a lovely declaration to John about Clark when she said, "He is it for me." So why is she pushing him away? If it's so easy for these two to turn off the passion, how am I supposed to believe that what they have is a legendary love? The "all interruptus and no coitus" approach already feels contrived, but I suspect that's all Clark and Lois can look forward to, at least for the remainder of this season.

Callum Blue really had a chance to shine this week. Zod was obviously loving every minute of having superpowers, and I truly believed he wanted to share it all with Clark, but only on his terms. Zod and Red!K Clark were a perfect match, and I think Zod was in love from the moment they first met. And who could blame him, especially when Clark kept staring at his mouth like that? ;) Their conversations were captivating, and offered us insights into both. I loved the tribute the show paid to the relationship between Clark and Lex: "a friend you had a connection with, like you were opposite sides of the same soul." I'm glad they still recognize their friendship as unique, and epic. *sigh*

I'm not quite sure how much Zod understood of what was happening with Clark. In fact, almost everything about Zod this week confused me. Did he know Clark was on Red!K? Did Zod flee the Fortress because he saw Corben stab Clark and he didn't want to be next, or because he sensed a change in Clark afterward that made him wary? How did he find Clark in the first place, and figure out their vulnerability to Green!K? Was he playing Krypto-stalker, keeping an eye on Clark from the skies and swooping in to save the day when he saw how exposure to Metallo's heart weakened him? How did he know about the Green!K arsenals, and that Clark had a map to them? Where did he get that knife? Does he know that the Clark who shook his hand in allegiance is no more? And Zod already knew back in Persuasion that Clark was giving the Kandorians false papers with new identities. Why is he accepting that as proof of some new betrayal now? I counted ten Kandorians in the Fortress. Will they be the extent of Zod's superpowered army, or only the first wave? And why is Jor-El letting him get away with it? Is this some new lesson for Clark?

Tess continued to be crazy in Upgrade, magnificently so. She seemed to have bounced back from last week's meltdown, although she was prudently keeping a low profile, and she was still playing dangerous games with Zod. Was she trying to manipulate him into a showdown with Clark because she wanted to align herself with him in the face of Clark's rejection, even though she has seen the deadly future he will bring, or because she was trying to orchestrate his downfall, sure that Clark would defeat him? I'm very worried that she won't escape all her machinations unscathed. *clings to Tess*

I actually enjoyed Tess's scenes with Chloe; some of their verbal sparring was very entertaining, as was their uneasy alliance. I can't begin to express my love for Cassidy Freeman as an actress, and Allison Mack is extremely talented as well; I appreciate her performance even when I don't like the words the writers are putting in Chloe's mouth. Watching their two characters together, I was reminded anew of how ready I am for one of them to bid goodbye to Smallville, and how desperately I want the other to stay. All signs point to things working out just the opposite of what I would like, however.

And I saved the best for last: Clark. We haven't seen Clark under the influence of Red!K in years, and this time was decidedly different. As an innocent farmboy, the inhibitions Clark lost mostly had to do with sex, social niceties, and petty crime, and his indulgences were entirely personal. Now that he is a man, struggling to find his identity and define his destiny, the Red!K freed him to fully embrace the Kryptonian heritage he has been studying so closely of late, with implications that were decidedly global. The only part I didn't understand was, with his human inhibitions gone, why couldn't he fly?

Since Clark's last exposure to Red!K in Crimson, we've learned a lot more about Krypton. The Jor-El we first met in the early years of Smallville was always a ruthless taskmaster who delivered his lessons with a heavy hand, and a callous disregard for human life when it stood in the way of his plans. That's about what I would expect from a computer program, which is what the FoS version of Jor-El ultimately is. But the real Jor-El was a man of compassion, who loved the human race, and stood alone as their advocate on his home planet. Even the FoS version mellowed somewhat after he and Clark came to an understanding. Clark's mother, Lara, was loving and kind. And we saw in Kandor that Zod was a good man, until unendurable loss made him close his heart to love, and seek power instead. Kryptonians aren't inherently bad, but they don't have the same morality that humans do. Science is their religion, and their values reflect that.

On Earth Kryptonians have almost limitless power, a state which in itself must be transformative. Even an inherently good person could be corrupted in a heartbeat. Only Clark, who straddles two worlds, with the strength of both his Kryptonian superpowers and the solid moral upbringing his human parents gave him, can wield such power with a balance between right and might. When Red!K stripped Clark of his inhibitions in Upgrade, it took away his humanity as well, and all that was left was raw power and unrestrained desire. It was a scary combination. Clark, the man who had burdened himself with the task of saving the world, became Kal-El, the god who was ready to make that same world cower at his feet. And this time he had a partner in crime.

Every time Clark is infected with Red!K, Tom Welling brings something different to the table, always giving us a performance that is unique, and that illuminates some new, hidden facet of Clark. In Upgrade we saw Clark's loneliness, his yearning for a family who can truly understand him. I loved Tom's acting choices. When Clark was infected, first we saw his anger and contempt for Chloe, dark and heavy. And then he changed completely with Zod. Seeing Zod's powers, and realizing how much they shared, Clark came to life, with eager curiosity, barely contained excitement, and arrogant amusement. Other times he would go still, and fix Zod with an inscrutable stare. Clark's body language was mesmerizing, and he was sexy as hell. Red!K Clark started out with a very personal agenda, as usual, but once he met up with Zod, he was quickly convinced to set his sights on much bigger things.

After taking care of business, and indulging in a little fun with his powers, Clark took Zod to the Fortress, to show off his little slice of Krypton on Earth. Zod was impressed, and you could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he plotted his next move. Soon he was spinning tales of taking over the world, and Clark was looking intrigued. Luckily, that's when Metallo showed up. Or Corben, I should say, since that's who he became when the chip that controlled him was knocked off in Clark's shower of ice. BAG added so much to that scene, with his character's tragic blend of heroism and pathos. Soon it was all over, and Clark was left alone in the Fortress, soberly contemplating all that had transpired.

All through their adventures together, Clark talked to Zod, opening up to him with all his normal filters turned off. It was a unique opportunity to get some unguarded insight into Clark. Later, when he was himself again, Clark's candor continued, as he tried to make Chloe understand the void he felt in his life. My heart broke for him as he quietly explained that he didn't have much family anymore, and what it meant to him to have a bond with someone who understood so much about him without being told. It sounded to me like he wanted to keep on trying with Zod, but the next scene seemed to show us it was already too late. Was Clark right or wrong to save Zod? How I feel about this whole season just might be riding on the answer to that question.

Random thoughts: How do the sleeping arrangements at the Talon work? Does whoever gets home first call dibs on the bed? Or has Chloe moved in with Oliver at this point? I guess all "monsters" end up in the Talon basement. :) What did Red!K Clark mean when he said, "Or the wrong side of Lois, but that'll never happen again"? One of the meteor rock stashes was in Roswell. hee! Did you see Tom run into the desk in that first Watchtower scene? Where did Lois go after she first dropped John at the trailer? On a snack run? For that matter, how did they even find the trailer? Will the FoS ever be fully restored? When exactly did Lois have a chance to take the Red!K heart? She got knocked out three times in Upgrade. Is that some kind of record? And I never fully appreciated how good Tom is at showing Clark writhing in pain from Green!K exposure until I saw Callum Blue attempt it. Tom not only makes agony believable, he makes it a thing of beauty.

I really should have liked Upgrade better than I did. In an interesting twist on the romantic pairings we're used to on this show, there were three couples forming alliances I never expected. It was awesome to have Brian Austin Green back, the actors made the most of the material, the Red!K added an interesting element, and Tom was prettier than ever. The episode had some spectacular stunts and effects, especially the trailer explosion, and the fight sequence in the Fortress. And it ended with a shocking development that promised to make Clark's choices even more complicated. But Chloe was a deal breaker for me. The way she was written, what that said about how the Smallville writers see Clark, and how it affected my expectations for the rest of the season, made this an episode that reduced me to yelling at my TV screen. :(

Thankfully, this episode brought the pretty in spades. Twenty of my favorite caps from Upgrade:




























































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

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23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
tasabian From: tasabian Date: April 18th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pretty, pretty Clark!

I loved the tribute the show paid to the relationship between Clark and Lex: "a friend you had a connection with, like you were opposite sides of the same soul." I'm glad they still recognize their friendship as unique, and epic. *sigh*
Was it "soul"? OMIGOSH! I thought he said "coin" but "soul" is so much sexier!

What did Red!K Clark mean when he said, "Or the wrong side of Lois, but that'll never happen again."
"I'll only sleep with men from now on!"

Seeing Zod's powers, and realizing how much they shared, Clark came to life, with eager curiosity, barely contained excitement, and arrogant amusement. Other times he would go still, and fix Zod with an inscrutable stare. Clark's body language was mesmerizing, and he was sexy as hell.
To me, it seemed that Tom was tapping in Clark's "little boy" side, wanting to impress his new big bro with all his cool stuff. Very sexy and rather sweet!

And how ironic is it that Chloe's relationship with Lois was the inspiration for Clark wanting to get closer to Zod? Chloe and Lois may live together in the same studio apartment (and what's up with that anyway?), but as far as I can tell, they barely see each other.
That line fell really flat. IMO< one of the biggest slip-ups this year has been to deny Lois & Chloe any sort of relationship - they've had the merest handful of scenes :(

Edited at 2010-04-18 06:56 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 18th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pretty, pretty Clark!

Tom was breathtaking, especially by firelight!

Was it "soul"? OMIGOSH! I thought he said "coin" but "soul" is so much sexier!

I checked the closed captioning to be sure. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding Callum Blue. It's a great line!

"I'll only sleep with men from now on!"

LOL! Of course! He certainly didn't seem in any hurry to track Lois down for an uninhibited romp between the sheets.

To me, it seemed that Tom was tapping in Clark's "little boy" side, wanting to impress his new big bro with all his cool stuff.

I definitely got that same feeling, especially when they were in the Fortress. Clark was so frustrated when he couldn't get the console to work!

It seemed to me that there must have been a deleted scene between Clark and Zod, one that came before the scene where Zod blows up the trailer.

one of the biggest slip-ups this year has been to deny Lois & Chloe any sort of relationship

I agree. I guess it's partly because they can't talk about anything much. Everything in Chloe's life is a secret from Lois, and Lois is dating the guy Chloe pined after for years. Too many awkward subjects to avoid!
cbrownjc From: cbrownjc Date: April 18th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like this episode more than you did, and liked Checkmate less than you did specifically because I reached my breaking point with Chloe - and the whole Clark-Chloe dynamic - last week. By the time we got to Clark's umpteenth apology to Chloe (with again nothing from her) in this episode, I realized I had already emotionally checked out when it comes to all of this. Last week was the red flag waving high that the rest of the season was headed - story wise - strictly to validate Chloe, so they lost the ability to outrage me about it anymore.

The only hope I have for the rest of the season regarding this whole thing is hoping for limited damage to Clark's character. Though having him lo-jack Lois just to validate Chloe (which yes, is the clear reason it was even done) isn't giving me any confidence about that.

either he's a big fat liar

No "either" about it IMO. He is. I'm just lucky I didn't fall for his BS. And I'm not going to when it comes to the "other" episode Chloe will supposedly "learn her lesson" either.

If it's so easy for these two to turn off the passion, how am I supposed to believe that what they have is a legendary love?

Actually, turning off the passion like this is something they're going to have to do on plenty of occasions after they get married. The show actually isn't just pulling this as a contrivance, if you can believe it. Because, just like now, they are both going to continue to be super busy, especially Clark. That's why they have to be so strong individually and have their own individual things going on to even be together - because they both understand where the other is coming from, and so don't resent the other for not being around all the time, or resent the rest of the world for that matter for taking up so much of the other's time.

So yeah, interruptions when they are just starting to get a little hot and heavy - and having to put that stuff on hold at a moment's notice - is really a comic book staple when it comes to Lois and Clark (at least since the Modern Age and the marriage). The only difference between the way it's happening on SV and in the comics is that, at least in the comics, they both do have some idea what the other is really up to when they have to split.

Edited at 2010-04-18 07:33 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 18th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can certainly understand why so many people found their own personal breaking point with Checkmate. The difference for me was I could at least understand Clark's apology in Checkmate, even if I didn't agree with it, but when he validated Chloe's reprehensible behavior in Upgrade, that was it for me. And I fully acknowledge that I'm more forgiving than a lot of people when it comes to Smallville. :)

My question about BP is, does he believe his own lies? Is he deluded, or duplicitous? And yeah, I don't believe for a moment that Chloe will face any real consequences in Sacrifice. She's already been given a free pass for most of what she's done anyway.

I hear what you're saying about interruptions, but they're not doing this to follow comic book canon. It's contrived stalling because the show isn't willing to let them have sex yet, and it shows, IMO. I just don't think they should tease the viewers if they have no intention of letting the relationship develop naturally. OTOH, I'm not a shipper, and if these scenes are making them happy, then more power to them. :)
emerald_night From: emerald_night Date: April 18th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually like the fake Blur angle. I think it's an interesting and fresh way to bring back the triangle for two in a totally non-romantic way.

And I also think that Clark has completely compartmentalized his life. He has his Blur life (Oliver and Chloe and Zod and Tess on that side, I mean other than Escape when he was forced to play nice with Ollie and Chloe, he really only sees them in Blur situations).

And he has Clark Kent. And that's Lois and the farm and the Planet. He no longer calls Lois as the Blur since they started dating which I think was a very interesting choice by the writers. And I honestly think HE thinks at this point that as long as the Blur life doesn't touch her (outside of the occasional save) then it's all good. In Escape, he even made sure his saves were done and had someone watch the city for him, so I feel like CLARK feels he's got it figured out. The Blur is a job, a super secret one, and hey, well Lois isn't in danger because she doesn't know and he can have his cake and eat it too.

But clearly he's wrong, and it's a lesson he needs to learn. By having Zod pose as the Blur and use Lois, when Clark finds out? Those two 'compartments' bust open and collide and he has to deal with it.

And I think they are going for the idea that Lois is safer knowing, which I think could be something that plays out in the last few eps of the season. Also, that Clark HAS to merge those two sides together in order to be the hero he's meant to be.

I also like it because it's SO frustrating to watch! I mean I GET why Lois isn't telling Clark about it. We saw how Chloe's tirade against her in Persuasion affected her, she felt like she had betrayed the Blur's trust with that press conference. They laid the groundwork for her not breathing a word nicely.

And that would be cool, IF it was Clark. But it's not. WE know that, and so I scream at my TV "OMG TELL HIM!". And then in turn, I scream at Clark, "OMG TELL HER" because Lois would KNOW this was a fake if she knew the secret!



Edited at 2010-04-18 07:31 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 18th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
But it's not the triangle for two if there are three people, is it? Throwing Zod in the mix changes everything. For me, the charm of the triangle for two is that Clark is in on it. It's cute and harmless fun. You add Zod, and things suddenly get serious. Lois could get hurt. And Clark and Lois could break up over it.

Honestly, the thing that bothers me the most about it is that I'm afraid it will make Lois look gullible or less than smart. :( Show canon says that Lois and the Blur have had many phone conversations, some of them quite lengthy. Zod isn't anything like Clark, and I think Lois should be able to tell he's a fake.

Also, I don't want Clark to be forced into telling Lois his secret. I want him to tell her because he loves her and wants to share every part of himself with her. But it all depends on how this story plays out. It could be just as you say, a catalyst for some exciting story developments. I'm not condemning it, I'm just saying I have to wait and see before I make up my mind. :)
emerald_night From: emerald_night Date: April 18th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
True, and the voices aren't the same.

But, to play Devil's Advocate, Lois put a lot into those phone calls earlier on because she wasn't with Clark yet. It was a connection to someone she craved. As the therapist hinted in Idol, Lois was throwing all these feelings onto the Blur, but it was really Clark she wanted, the man right in front of her. Now we know they are the same, but she doesn't.

But now she has Clark, and she's happy with him. So perhaps, outside of the first time he called her in Escape which I think was mostly guilt on her part for what she sees as betraying his confidence in Idol, it's more businesslike (it seemed that way in Upgrade, with Lois more interested in getting off the phone with him and going after Clark).

I agree, I want Clark to tell her because he wants to, and actually I think he will. I could see him initially going the opposite way, and doing what he did after Metallo the first time - cutting her off.

But I think he may come to realize that's not the answer either, not only because of her safety, but because he does genuinely want her to know.

At least that's what I hope!

Edited at 2010-04-18 09:34 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 18th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking more of Savior, when Lois told Chloe that the Blur had been confiding in her, and then Clark called her at the end of the episode and said he couldn't stay away. And in Metallo Lois says, "After all our phone calls, I finally have you standing right in front of me." I got the impression that they were having regular heart-to-heart conversations, at least back then. But recently, of course, he's stopped calling her altogether.
jlvsclrk From: jlvsclrk Date: April 18th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your paragraph at the end summarized my feelings as well: so much interesting stuff, but ultimately negated by the Chloe ass kissing. And like you, I want one actress to go and another to stay, and fear I'll wind up with the opposite. I'm so hoping AM sticks to her statement from last year - at this stage, why would the show throw money at her for her to stay? Oh well, it's not my show.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 18th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think the show can let go of AM, and if they offer, I can't imagine her turning the money down. It's frustrating to me because I don't think they know how to use her now, except to undermine Clark, and she has got to be costing a fortune, that could be better spent on location shoots, special effects, stunts, and guest stars. But only time will tell what is actually in the cards for S10. I'm still afraid they'll bring Lana back!

I feel bad that BAG was in an episode I can't embrace. He really was so good! I especially loved him in the Fortress with Clark, and his scene with Lois at the end. I'm so happy they didn't turn him into the big bad after all. I hope he'll do another SHoE podcast for this episode!
huzzlewhat From: huzzlewhat Date: April 18th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tess continued to be crazy in Upgrade, magnificently so. She seemed to have bounced back from last week's meltdown, although she was prudently keeping a low profile, and she was still playing dangerous games with Zod. Was she trying to manipulate him into a showdown with Clark because she wanted to align herself with him in the face of Clark's rejection, even though she has seen the deadly future he will bring, or because she was trying to orchestrate his downfall, sure that Clark would defeat him? I'm very worried that she won't escape all her machinations unscathed. *clings to Tess*

Tess is completely fascinating to me at this point, because I have absolutely no idea what they're doing with her. Part of me is, "Well, there has to be a plan here, I just have to look close enough and I'll figure it out..." and part is just sort of laughing at the sheer randomness of it all, like they're just throwing stuff at the wall with her.

Right now, I'm toying with the idea that the "good" side's rejection of Tess — all three of them, Chloe, Oliver, and Clark, have now had a chance to interact with her and refuse to help her — is the alternate pivot point from the Pandora Universe. In the Pandora timeline, Clark treated Zod as an enemy; now, he's convinced that approaching Zod with compassion, if not complete trust, was the key to averting that future. But it's like everyone forgot that there was another side to the apocalyptic future — Tess was right there, kneeling to Zod, and bringing about the downfall of humanity. And they're not granting her the same compassion as Clark has chosen to grant Zod — In fact, they're writing her off, leaving her to her death, and actively alienating her. Their callousness toward her is shocking to me ... it's not that she's a wounded angel and deserves instant forgiveness; it's that they're supposed to be heroes. So now I'm wondering if it serves a narrative point, and if any progress Clark manages to make with Zod and the Kandorians is going to be scuppered by an alienated Tess.

Like you, I'm afraid that I'm going to lose Tess at the end of S9. I so want her around for S10. Cassidy Freeman is just wonderful.



Edited at 2010-04-18 08:55 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 18th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree that Tess is all over the place. What makes it work for me is how well Cassidy sells it. :) No matter what crazy turn Tess takes next, it seems utterly believable in Cassidy's hands. And I always want to know what is going to happen next.

I had a hard time reconciling the Tess who so fearlessly bedded superpowered Zod with the seemingly helpless woman who was destroyed by fear last week, but perhaps that was because Tess knows exactly what Checkmate will do to her, while Zod remains a somewhat unknown (and therefore underestimated) quantity.

I want to say that Clark would still help Tess, were she to ask, but his overt hostility whenever they meet, which in itself seems OOC to me, makes me wonder. Does Clark know that Tess approached Oliver, and that he said no?

That's an interesting parallel that you draw to Pandora. I would like to see the show come back to that episode, and convince me that it had a greater mythological purpose, and wasn't just conceived as an excuse to get Clark and Lois into bed together.
miss_tress From: miss_tress Date: April 18th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lois's mention of Dr. Vale was a nice shout-out to Professor Vale, who turns Corben into a cyborg in the DC mythology.
My favorite part about that was that Lois was taking him to a military base in South Dakota. I perked up and was all "I work on a military base in South Dakota! I wish there was something amazing going on with cyborgs and the such."

And I just want to sign my name to all your thoughts. There was so much I could like/love about the last ep and this one but it's all just ruined by the horrible taint from the Clark and Chloe happenings. And it was just made worse in this ep with Brian's interviews and what he said about Chloe.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 18th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know I thought of you when Lois said that! :)

I just don't understand the mentality that allows the show to not only excuse and glorify arguably criminal behavior, but to do so at the expense of the hero! These people don't deserve to write Superman's story!! And what the hell was Brian thinking? Does he honestly believe that there were consequences in that episode?

Now I'm just getting myself all worked up again. *takes deep breaths*
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tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: June 9th, 2010 08:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, the only good thing about me waiting almost two months (!!!) to reply to your comment is that now we both know you were absolutely right about Sacrifice! :) After the joy of Salvation, plus the news that AM will only be returning for a limited number of episodes next season, I guess I can let go of my lingering frustration with Chloe this season. I just hope that when she does appear in S10, it's without the snarky attitude.
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: April 18th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't get to see the episode this week, but, seriously, Chloe's attitude is really beginning to grate. She used to be so cool.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 19th, 2010 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Sadly, I think the change is permanent. :(
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: April 19th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm seriously starting to think that Chloe needs to be the Big Bad next year. Because there is no where else for her character to go. All leading to a descent into crazyville. Sorry Chloe!
duskwillow From: duskwillow Date: April 18th, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can I co-sign your review and especially your rant?
I had to ignore all the bad parts, because my head would have exploded otherwise.
I focused on John and Lois, as they were both amazing, and that made the episode so much better.

I loved the tribute the show paid to the relationship between Clark and Lex: "a friend you had a connection with, like you were opposite sides of the same soul."

tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: April 19th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I've done that myself, ignore the bad parts, but with this episode, my cup runneth over. :(

I agree, the John and Lois storyline was awesome. And John was so heroic in the Fortress! Even though Tess and Chloe used him horribly, when he was released from their control, he saved Clark because it was the right thing to do. BAG was so good.

Clex forever. They can never take that away from us. :)
jeannev From: jeannev Date: April 19th, 2010 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Believe it or not, I never really want you to be as big a cynic as I am about this show, and the people that run it. But I can certainly understand why this episode would push you over, onto my side of the street. The fact that Peterson straight up lied is pretty hard to take.

But then again, maybe we should've known when he referred to a whole storyline arc for Clark that wasn't actually taking place ON SCREEN.

I think its becoming more and more obvious, with each new ep, that Clark is basically screwed again at the end of a season. It would've been so amazing to have the show actually stand behind their main character. Knowing they won't has become the norm, but still stings.

And I expect they'll muck Clark up a whole lot more before they are done. I look at the spoilers now, and I'm just figuring out how everything will be blamed on Clark.

I'm hoping that the things that happened in this episode will give Lois some reasons to doubt that the Blur she's currently talking to is the real guy. Namely him lying about saving her at the lab, and him blowing up Corben. I really hope they don't drop all that, because that will make Lois look clueless, and I like it a lot better when they write her sharp, and curious.

Even though SV will never be known as a show that constructs its episodes with great care, I did find this episode particularly full of holes in the plot. Some stuff just didn't make any sense, and some other stuff seemed to have happened in that other show we don't see....Offscreensville. Which, BTW, I suspect might be a better show.

Was Clark right or wrong to save Zod? How I feel about this whole season just might be riding on the answer to that question.


I really feel like the show has already answered this question. And it doesn't shake out well for Clark. I suppose there could always be a last minute reprieve, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. With this show, I just can't.
goodvibe From: goodvibe Date: April 19th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really, really great read. Reassures me I'm not just being overly sensitive or critical. I'm so exhausted by this show now, and you pointed out here things that were wrong with the ep that illustrate exactly why that is - things even I failed to notice.

How sad that there seems to be this 2nd-half-of-season curse almost, when it comes to the writing for Clark, ever since S5. And notice how each season it just gets progressively worse.
tjw_jaypat From: tjw_jaypat Date: April 19th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, the incurable optimist cured? It´s sad, isn´t it? :(

I don´t know how much of it was due to the writing or to Tom´s acting choices, but I think that RedK Clark did not behave like RedK Clark at all: I was watching Bizarro. Well, not quite, but Tom seemed to act more like Bizarro than RedK Clark. Nothing made sense to me in RedK Clark´s behavior. Nor in Clark´s behavior for that matter. A total mess. (Sorry, if I seem to doubt my most beloved Tom, but I am starting to wonder about how he thinks about all this. Why isn´t he intervening in the sense of "Clark wouldn´t do this"...???)

And Lois acts out of character too. Her not being able to distinguish the Blur´s warm way of talking from Zod´s cold lies is incredible and makes her look bad too. Also, her neglect of Clark and her active lying doesn´t help either.

So the two best characters looked bad, so that Saint Chloe can shine... :(
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