As I flip through the television DVDs that fill my shelves, I notice a trend. Most of the shows I watch again and again feature a couple, a couple who must get together, but maybe won't. A couple I care about as if they were my RL friends. A couple I root for, agonize over, and even shed a tear for. Mulder and Scully. David and Maddie. Lois and Clark. Buffy and Angel. Ross and Rachel. Luke and Lorelei. Rory and Dean. Seth and Summer. Veronica and Logan. Jim and Pam. The list goes on.
Often, for me, the ship is everything. On the X-Files, I cared more about whether or not Mulder and Scully would ever finally kiss than if the aliens were real, or what was behind the government conspiracy. So it should come as no surprise that I have been keenly interested in Clark's relationships on Smallville, right from day one. And yet today, on Smallville at least, I ship no more.
Smallville has always been different from my other shows. First of all, it's about the young life of an iconic figure, a figure whose adult story has already been written. So we know going in that Lois Lane will be the love of Clark Kent's life. That is the ship, the only possible ship, right? Secondly, my ship has always been a steadfast ship, a one and only true love. But on Smallville, I think I've shipped Clark with just about every girl possible at some point. It's been a crazy ride, to say the least!
In Season 1, I fell for Clark before the end of the Pilot, and my first ship was Clana. I wanted Clark to have whomever he wanted, and he wanted Lana. I was on board. But the bloom went off that rose before too long. Hug was the episode that made me look twice at Lana. She treated Clark horribly in that episode, and never apologized, even after it was obvious she was wrong. As the season went on, Lana displayed other character traits that were less than admirable, especially towards Clark. She seemed fickle, judgmental, and selfish, and she didn't seem to have faith in Clark. What was happening to my ship?
Then I started to notice Chloe. She was everything Lana wasn't, completely loyal to Clark, and devoted to him as well. She was smart, independent, cute, and snarky, and all of a sudden, I had a new ship! And the second half of the first season seemed to agree with me, as Chloe and Clark grew closer. I was thrilled when, in a sweet, romantic moment, he finally asked her to the dance. Even as Clark abandoned Chloe to rescue Lana in the last moments of Tempest, I had high hopes for Chlark.
Everything changed in Season 2. In a move that some say was calculated by TPTB, Chloe came back a completely different person. First she pushed Clark away, and then acted like a jealous harpy most of the season, culminating in a dirty deal with Lionel to spy on Clark. Some episodes, like Fever, made me love Chloe more than ever, while others just made me annoyed with her, or even downright angry. But I didn't like Lana any better than before. I momentarily fell for the romantic loft scene in Calling, because Clark was so sweet in it, but by the time I saw the sucking face scene in the next episode, I was over it. I finished Season 2 confused, and a little lost.
In Season 3, my Chloe was back, and better than ever! She and Clark fought their way back from betrayal and abandonment, and their relationship seemed stronger for it. When Chloe used the pen name of Lois Lane in Delete, my heart soared, and I Chloised with the best of them. I was momentarily distracted by the explosive chemistry between Clark and Alicia in Obsession, but she turned out to be buckets-o-crazy before the episode ended. By season's end I was a true blue Chlarker, and distraught that they might have killed off Chloe in Covenant.
In Season 4, I was shocked to see Lois Lane show up on Smallville, and I struggled to shift gears. A devoted fan of LnC and the Superman movies, I was all about Lois and Clark, so I gave the iconic ship my best shot. At first I adored Lois. She was tall, gorgeous, full of life, and a real breath of fresh air on this angsty show. The Clois snark was hilarious, and there was no denying that Lois and Clark made an attractive couple. But Devoted broke my Chlarker heart, and as the season went on, Lois looked less and less like my iconic heroine, and just seemed dangerously reckless, and not terribly smart.
I was also sidetracked when they brought Alicia back. I still think Alicia and Clark had amazing chemistry, and I could have shipped Clalicia in a heartbeat, but of course they killed her off after two episodes. I went back to Chlark. With Pete gone, Chloe's friendship with Clark grew even deeper, especially after she learned Clark's secret in Pariah. Blank was a brilliant episode, both funny and deeply moving, that was a high point for Chlark. I finally had my Smallville OTP!
Season 5 did nothing to sway me from Chlark. Lana and Clark were together in the beginning of the season, but their relationship was burdened by the secrets they kept from each other. Chloe and Clark were true partners, drawn ever closer together by the same secret that was tearing Clana apart. The season ended with the glorious Vessel kiss, and I was convinced Chlark would finally have their moment in the sun.
Season 6 drove me crazy. I felt like TPTB were stringing every shipper along, teasing and taunting with scenes that went nowhere. Some episodes were wonderful, while others were awful. Some, like Labyrinth, were both. Chloe was happily paired with Jimmy, while Clark pursued another man's pregnant wife. Oliver displayed all the heroic qualities I wanted to see in Clark, while Clark disappointed me, time and again. Not only was my ship floundering, so was my hero, and I wasn't sure which bothered me more. By the end of the season, I began to realize that my shipper hopes were coloring my view of the show, and not in a good way.
I spent the summer before Season 7 watching old episodes and falling in love with Chlark all over again. But when the season started, and I found myself lamenting that Chloe and Clark weren’t getting together, and searching every episode for clues that they had feelings for one another, I finally figured out that this show isn't about Clark's love life, or at least it shouldn't be. It's the story of Clark Kent’s journey to become Superman, and as Lex said in Action, “when you're destined to save mankind, you're destined to be alone.” That line was the final wake-up call for me, and it convinced me it was time to give up my shipper ways.
Sure, I still want Superman to find true love, someone who can love the man as well as the hero. But I'm more concerned with Clark finding his destiny than a girlfriend at the moment. And letting go of all my hopes and dreams for a Chlark pairing, or any pairing for that matter, has been tremendously liberating. No longer do I gauge my enjoyment of an episode by how many Chlark moments it contains. No longer do I need to curse the slightest hint of affection between Clark and Lana, or worry if Lois appears to have a future at the Daily Planet, thereby undermining the Chlois theory. I can revel in the awesomeness that is the Chlark friendship, without pining for the Chlark romance. I'm enjoying the show more than ever, and I feel free.
No shipping also allows me to completely disengage from the wank that arises from time to time in fandom. Evidently, being invested in a particular pairing compels some people to disparage any other female character who might be considered competition. Some fans take it further still, attacking the fans of any potential love interest, and even the actress who plays her. It's ugly, and unnecessary, and unworthy of the celebratory nature of fandom as a whole.
So, if you made it all the way to the end of this marathon post, what about you? Are you a shipper? Why or why not? If you are, what made you fall in love with your ship, and how has it enhanced your experience as a fan? What about ships on other shows? What's your all-time favorite ship? To ship or not to ship? Tell me your story.