As we rush headlong toward the end of Smallville, I keep asking myself, what do I expect from this final season? For it to finally give me everything I've ever wanted? No, of course not. I love this show beyond all reason, but after more than 200 episodes, I also know it. It's long been a mix of good and not-so-good; sometimes it makes me giddy with joy, and other times it drives me crazy. My personal wish list is pretty short: I want to see Clark wrestle with and overcome the final obstacles in his path to become Superman, I want every episode to show us the hero he is and always has been, and in the end I want him to be happy.
But the fact that we're counting down to the last episode ever colors everything. I want to treasure these final hours, to savor every moment that Tom Welling is still on my TV screen, and to celebrate Smallville with my fellow fans one last time. I just want to enjoy the ride while I still can. So do I take the show to task when it fails to step up the way I think it should as we bring Clark's story to a close, or do I give it a pass so I can spend the time I have left squeeing instead of complaining? Probably a little of both, which brings me to this week's episode.
Harvest was supposed to be Smallville's creepy Halloween story, but I'm afraid it left me unsettled for all the wrong reasons. As much as I've enjoyed S10 so far, the focus on Clark's romance with Lois, to the exclusion of their professional relationship or either of their personal journeys, is beginning to worry me. I loved that we saw them working together this week, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the writers decided to downplay Clark's strengths in order to give Lois more room to kick ass. Powers or no powers, Clark shouldn't ever look passive or ineffective. And I have serious misgivings about where the show is going with Alexander's storyline.
On the other hand, Clark and Lois really did make a great team, and wondering exactly how they would escape the Believers kept me in suspense. I enjoyed a lot of the details of the story, like the interesting twist on meteor infection that robbed Clark of his powers, all the callbacks to earlier episodes, and the way Alexander was irresistibly drawn to the loft by memories that were not his own. Connor Stanhope gave us a phenomenal performance, and Cassidy Freeman was her usual brilliant self. Louis Febre's score was both haunting and beautiful. And we ended the episode with two stunning scenes: one full of light, as Clark and Lois found complete happiness in each other's arms, and the other steeped in darkness, as Lex was reborn in the mutated body of his defective clone.
I may want to see more than romance from Clark and Lois, but their scenes together were still my favorites in Harvest. Now that all the secrets are out, and all the protective walls are down, for the first time we can see these two have a real relationship, with nothing held back, and I’m glad we have some time to explore that before the series ends. Right from the first scene of the episode we could tell how much things had changed.
I was disappointed that we didn't get to see Clark tell Lois about his alien heritage, but their conversation in the car, where she ticked off all the crazy things she could never explain, and he owned up to every one of them, was too cute. When they ended up with two flat tires, I loved Clark’s little chuckle when Lois jokingly asked if he needed her to change them, and I could totally relate to her delight as she watched him use his powers right in front of her. It was nice to see Clark smile so much, and unfurrow that beautiful brow for a change.
The next time they were together, their circumstances were dire. Lois was about to be sacrificed by a mob of crazy villagers whose meteor rock toxicity had left Clark powerless. In a nice callback to the season premiere, Clark told Lois about the Blue!K, she made the connection to Zod’s dagger, and Clark learned that she was the one who had saved his life. It was a heartfelt moment in the midst of crisis, and it strengthened their bond even further.
Clark didn’t seem quite himself in the face of this challenge, though. When he returned from town to find Lois missing, he practically panicked. Lois has disappeared before, in Committed and Pandora, for example, and he was determined and proactive then, not helpless. Even when he was powerless in Mortal, he was still the hero in every way when the people he loved were in danger. Clark is so much more than his superpowers. I decided that the overwhelming combination of Lois vanishing without a trace, feeling responsible because she would never have been there in the first place if it weren’t for him, and finding his powers suddenly and inexplicably gone left him reeling, but his reaction still seemed OOC to me.
Clark also seemed at a loss later, as he and Lois tried to come up with an escape plan. He mostly talked about all the things he couldn’t do, while she figured everything out. She even had to tell him to change his clothes. When they attempted to sneak past the Believers in disguise, he stayed in the background while Lois sprang into action, and didn’t do much more than stand there, right up until he was cut down by the villagers’ psycho leader. I loved Lois in this episode, and I’m all for her being a hero in her own right, but it doesn’t have to be at Clark’s expense. Why not let them be awesome together?
We finally did see exactly that, after Clark clawed his way out of a premature grave, and rushed to rescue Lois. First he saved her, shielding her body from the molten Blue!K with his own, and then she saved him right back, putting the fear of Superman into the murderous mob, and getting them to back away enough to allow his horribly burned back to heal, and his powers to return. Clark’s loud “Amen!” to let Lois know she had done enough made me laugh, as did her surprised squeak when he swept her up into his arms to super-speed away.
In the loft the next day, Clark contemplated the darkness he had seen in the Believers, and the powerful influence their leader had over them. They were an isolated community, but similar and more insidious forces threaten Metropolis every day. Clark is struggling to find his place in the world, to define exactly what kind of hero he means to be, and I know going public is something he has considered all the way back to S1. When Lois broached the subject, I was hoping to hear more from him than a cryptic twist on Heinlein (or perhaps it was Exodus). I don’t mind Lois being included in this decision; Smallville has changed the mythology to make her Clark’s soulmate now, before he dons the suit and steps into the light. But when she says so much, and he says so little, it sounds less like a conversation and more like a lecture.
Clark was much more eloquent when it came to expressing his feelings for Lois. He gave her Virgil Swann’s journal, the key to all his secrets, the story of his origins from the very man who first told him about Kal-El and Krypton. For her, his life is an open book; there is nothing he won’t share with her. He looked into her eyes and told her who she is to him: the one, the love of his life, now and for all time. And then he took her into his arms.
The final scene between Clark and Lois was another long-awaited and highly anticipated milestone in their relationship. It was beautiful, romantic, and joyful, just what a first time making love should be. And easily the most intimate moment I've ever seen on this show. I was swept away. I had to smile at all the candles; it wouldn't be sex on Smallville without them, would it? I even imagined Lois watching in anticipation as Clark brought forth each flickering flame with his carefully controlled heat vision.
I was moved by the tenderness Clark and Lois shared in Harvest, and I hope we'll experience many more facets of their love in the episodes ahead, like the hunger we saw when the Blur kissed Lois goodbye in Salvation, the playfulness of the rooftop scene in Homecoming, and the sexual confidence that made me weak in the knees when Clark tossed Lois up on the kitchen counter and started tearing her clothes off in Escape. And next time I'd better see those amazing pecs that have been teasing me from beneath Clark's shirts since the season began!
The other storyline this week was about Tess and Alexander, and I found it much creepier than the main plot. Connor Stanhope was so good, giving us a complex character who was both heartbreaking and scary, a mix of the sweet little boy we saw last week, Michael Rosenbaum's Lex, and the dark, damaged mutant we know him to be. It was disturbing to see how twisted Lex's memories became in his mind. I was riveted by his conversation with Tess in the loft, and his final scene, where the camera panned up to reveal a perfect mini-Lex, was positively chilling. *shivers*
Tess went through a whirlwind of emotion in Harvest. When the episode started, nothing was more important to her than saving Alexander's life, and by the end she was resolved that he must die. In spite of his rapid growth, she tried to give him the touchstones of a normal childhood, and the 13th birthday party we saw seemed to be the happier flip side of Lex's lonely 12th birthday in Memoria. It was a fantasy, however, and reality soon intruded. We could see Tess's desperation as she struggled to understand and soothe Alexander's fears, but when she followed him to Clark's loft, and saw the depth of his obsession, everything changed. Her fierce loyalty remained with Clark; when Alexander lashed out at her, her cold, hard core emerged, and his fate was sealed. The scene where Tess announced her ruthless intent to Dr. Lamell (played by the fabulous Lexa Doig) was tragic, and Cassidy Freeman's performance was devastating.
I still have the same questions about the clones. Who was running Cadmus Labs, and why? Are they out there now, trying to rebuild? We've been told Lex died in Requiem, but I don't buy it. I still think Fake!Lex was a clone, and besides, if they're using DNA from two years ago to create new clones today, how do the memories from Lex include the Blur's symbol, Zod, Tess's allegiance to Clark, and Clark's love for Lois? Is this one of Smallville's many continuity errors, or proof that Lex lives on? We've already seen Connor play a younger version of the real Lex; if Alexander doesn't grow up to look exactly like Michael, that's going to be a problem. At the same time, if Michael does return, I don't want to see him play a clone. I want the one and only Lex, who really did help Clark dress for the dance in Tempest, and held Clark in his arms as the Fortress fell down around them in Arctic.
Random thoughts: I'm always happy to see Smallville shoot on location. Loved the little snippet of Superman music that played when Lois said, "Looks like a job for..." Have we ever seen Lois wear fingernail polish before? Where did Tess get those kids who were at the birthday party? The strength of the Blue!K seemed to vary from scene to scene, but I suppose the effects of Green!K haven't been all that consistent over the years either. How much do you want to bet that Clark found a way to go back for his favorite blue shirt/red-striped tie combo? ;) And who knew Tom Welling looked so hot in an Indiana Jones fedora? Rowr.
Harvest explored the concept of faith: faith in your leaders, in a higher power, in those you love, and in yourself. Sometimes faith gives us strength and makes all things possible; other times it can be misguided and blind us to the truth. Tess's confrontation with Alexander broke her, stripping her of the faith she had so recently found. Clark and Lois's harrowing experience at the hands of the Believers, however, only made their faith in each other stronger, showing them that together they can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and that although Clark's powers may falter, the love they share never will.
The last three episodes of Smallville have all ended with big relationship moments for Clark and Lois, and a significant part of the episodes themselves has been devoted to the development of their romance. It's been wonderful to see TPTB finally let this couple progress naturally, I'm thrilled that there are no more secrets between them, and I've loved those final scenes. But now that Clark and Lois are well and truly together, I'm ready to see stories that focus more on their professional relationship at the Daily Planet, their individual journalism careers, and most of all, Clark's very personal journey to become the Man of Steel.
Tom in an Indy hat, Tom in a henley, Tom in nothing at all. *THUD* Twenty of my favorite caps from Harvest:
Screen caps courtesy of Home of the Nutty, with my thanks!