First, let's celebrate the return of Justin Hartley! Yay! I loved Green Arrow on the show last season, and I've been a huge fan of the actor ever since I heard his interview on SHoE a year ago. As billionaire Oliver Queen, who lives a secret life as Green Arrow, he brings sexy charm and snarky humor to Smallville, always treats us to exciting action sequences, and has a few things to teach Clark about the difficult decisions that lie ahead in his life. How cool is it to see Clark and Oliver talking man to man, hero to hero, sharing the unique perspective they have as men who are destined not only to save the world, but to lead others to do the same, and perhaps to leave love behind as they answer destiny's call?
It's about time Oliver came back to give Clark a kick in the butt! I loved his impassioned speech about Clark's reluctance to use his powers to help anyone beyond the Smallville city limits and his circle of friends: "I'm selfish? You know, some of us sacrifice being with the people that we really care about so that we can go make a difference! What do you do? You sit around in domestic bliss, curled up on a couch, while a world of trouble spins outside your door!" Sorry, Clark, but I have to agree. What are you waiting for?
Last year Clark said he wanted to join Oliver's little group of superheroes, but that first he had to take care of all the trouble he had inadvertently unleashed on Earth when he escaped from the Phantom Zone. Well, as of last week, that mission is now complete. Clark isn't going to college, training in the Fortress, saving Metropolis in tights and a cape, or even looking for Kara. As far as I can see, he's running the farm and playing house with Lana. And yet when Black Canary invites him to join the budding JLA along with her, he only says, "Maybe someday." Dude, I think Ollie has a point.
So, let's talk about Black Canary. I thought she was fabulous! Gorgeous, strong, capable, and passionate, she also had a wicked sense of humor. And I loved her costume, especially her beautiful mask of makeup. Her only mistake was being misled by Lex Luthor, and once she learned the truth she made immediate amends, and aligned herself with Oliver. I guess he really made an impression when he yelled at her, "I'm the good guy!" :) Alaina Huffman seemed to have fun with her role, and she had great chemistry with everyone from Oliver to Lois to Lex. The knife action was also very cool. I'd love to see her return in the future. I was only sorry that the sound effect used for her cry in that awesome trailer for the episode was changed for the actual broadcast. I loved the original version.
Speaking of Lex, Michael Rosenbaum is giving me chills with his portrayal of our beloved boy gone seemingly irretrievably over to the dark side. When Lex shot Black Canary without an iota of hesitation, I was shocked! At the same time, Lex in lethal mode is awfully hot. Rowr. I know there was a lot going on in this episode, but I wish Lex had been given more screen time. Not only because Michael is a joy to watch every moment he's on camera, but also because these may be our final moments ever of Michael's Lex Luthor. I truly can't imagine the show without him.
Tonight we had a wonderful story full of action, special effects, and stunts, but in addition to the adventure, we also had some of the best emotional scenes I've ever seen on this show. Clark had amazing conversations with Lana, Chloe, and Lois this week, and both he and we, the viewers, had a lot to learn from his interactions with these three important women in his life. Lois and Oliver shared a revealing and heartbreaking scene as well. All across fandom shippers were drawn in, and the debate over all the possible interpretations of these scenes has already begun.
What was especially interesting for me was how these scenes flowed into one another, and how each one either related to or contrasted with the one that followed. It was very well done, with the end result being that Clark arrived at the end of the episode with perspectives changed and important lessons learned. Oh, show, you still find ways to impress me!
We begin with Lana and Clark in the kitchen at the Kent farm, going through their morning routine. I don't know if it's the morning after the night we saw at the end of Persona, or days later, but things are beyond awkward. Clark can barely look at Lana, and while he's clearly upset, he's not talking. Things are definitely chilly. Lana is frustrated when her overtures are rebuffed, and leaves in a huff. Ouch.
Next we see Clark visit Chloe at the Planet, and the contrast couldn't be more drastic. Clark is pouring out his troubles to Chloe, expressing his anger, disbelief, and hurt over the situation with Lana. He's animated, he's emotional, and he's talking so fast his words are tumbling out, as if he can't keep a single one inside. Evidently, Lana makes him close down, but Chloe makes him open up. Who do you think has the key to his heart? The scene shifts gears as Clark notices an injury Chloe received while helping Oliver, and Lana is forgotten in the onslaught of outraged concern that sweeps over Clark. It doesn't help his emotional state that Chloe seems oblivious to the danger she was in. In fact, she seems positively giddy with excitement over the adventure she and Oliver shared. Now Clark is really wound up!
The next scene is between Clark and Oliver, but it's all about Chloe. Clark is enraged as he charges into Oliver's penthouse, and I honestly don't know if I've ever seen him this angry or emotional in the history of the show without being in some kind of altered state. He's positively distraught that Oliver would allow Chloe to be placed in the path of danger, and he's yelling! A lot! The situation quickly escalates into a shouting match, complete with insults hurled, until Clark visibly reins himself in so he can regain his composure. An immensely powerful scene, and so telling. Is there anyone else who could inspire this reaction in Clark?
And then we come to the most awesome scene in the history of Smallville, truly. Clark goes to Lana to see if her surveillance of Lex has shown any sign of Black Canary, who is the one who injured Chloe. Lana, in an attempt to escape Lionel's blackmail, confesses to Clark some of her activities with Bizarro while Clark was away. And then it's just too much for Clark, and the wall of silence suddenly comes down. For once, he holds Lana completely accountable for all she's done, and is brutally honest with her. We can see the depth of his doubts about her character, and it's not pretty. As Lana tries to explain herself, you can see she feels horribly wronged, and Clark simply cannot see her side. The last look he gives her can only be described as one of disgust. Things look pretty bleak for this couple, and I have to wonder if Clark would ever have been this open with Lana if he hadn't already had his defenses shattered by his concern for Chloe before he came to see her.
Next we have a classic scene of Chlark scoobying, which just brings home what a perfect team these two make together. It starts with a sweet apology from Clark for freaking out earlier, and we see them brainstorming, doing research, solving the mystery, and thwarting the bad guys, all the while grinning like fools and having the time of their lives. It's adorable! It's also notable that Clark calls Chloe the best sidekick in town and reaffirms that she's all his, not Oliver's. And Chloe drops the bombshell that she may not be a natural blonde, which sends a shock wave through the Chloiser community.
In the aftermath of learning Oliver's secret, Lois shuts the final door on their relationship. Clark goes to see her at the Talon, and we have another Smallville first, an intensely emotional Clois scene. Erica Durance is phenomenal in this scene, portraying Lois's anguish over her inability to cope with a relationship with a man whose destiny is bigger than her own. As she tearfully expresses her fears of being insignificant in Oliver's life, for the first time Clark begins to understand what Lana must be feeling about him, and it's an epiphany that gives him a renewed compassion for her weaknesses. And fandom is already divided over the significance of Lois's rejection of Green Arrow in this episode. Some think it's proof positive that this Lois will never be the love of any superhero's life, while others interpret it to mean that only for Superman will she be able to make the sacrifices that seem impossible with Oliver. The issue is further obscured by a Superman: The Movie reference Oliver drops in the following scene.
In the final scene of the episode, Lana is packing to leave the farm when Clark reaches out to her. This is where I think all the scenes with Lana, Chloe, and Lois come into play. Clark has a new understanding of how hard it can be to stand in his shadow, so he shares some of the mistakes he made while under the influence of Red!K in an attempt to bring himself down off any pedestal Lana may have erected. At the same time, he realizes they face some big issues as a couple, and so he makes no promises about their future. I think he also realizes they don't share the common ground that comes so easily between Chloe and himself, and maybe even that his feelings for her don't quite measure up to the passion he felt when he thought Chloe's safety was in question. Suffice to say, Clark has some serious doubts. We end the episode on a big question mark, but I personally think the writing is on the wall for this relationship.
Tom Welling showed an unusual range of emotion in this episode, and I was quite impressed with his performance. His new shorter haircut is beginning to grow on me. He looks more like Superman that way. John Glover was also a pleasure to watch, as always, although I still have no idea what mix of new/good/Jor-El's Vessel and old/EVOL/Magnificent Bastard is swirling around inside him now.
Random thoughts: Thank you, Justin Hartley, for once again giving us one of your patented shirtless scenes. Yum. I love how Lois doesn't slap Ollie when she's mad at him, she punches him instead! hee! Another beautiful song over the final scene this week: 11/22, by Buddy. Awesome shot of Ollie and Chloe looking down from the roof of the DP building, with the globe spinning behind them. Lana in glasses was weird, but kind of cute. Clark kicking the refrigerator shut was a nice touch, very natural. And evidently Lois and Oliver did sleep together, from what Lois said in the episode. I thought they were "all interruptus and no coitus." Hmmm.
In case you weren't sure, I loved, loved, loved this episode! Well done, show! I guess we're really counting down now. Next week I'll be spending my Valentine's Day in the romantic glow of my television screen. How about you?